Light at the end of the tunnel for the “Dark Continent”?
June 4, 2014 | 1 Comments
“Making predictions is hard. Especially about the future”, said the famous American baseball player, Lawrence “Yogi” Berra facetiously. Likewise, predicting whether there is light at the end of the tunnel in 2050 and beyond is hard. Especially about the Dark Continent. Making predictions about Africa based on the facts of the last half century will surely make one a doomsayer. Not looking in the rear view mirror would make one a soothsayer. I am neither. As a political scientist, I am grudgingly guided by the reputed “founding father” of “modern” political science, Nicolo Machiavelli, who instructed that “Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past; for human events ever resemble those of preceding times.” Machiavelli took a dim view of the human capacity to learn from mistakes. He must have believed man is doomed to incorrigibility. As a lawyer, I take cue from Jean Paul Sartre who unabashedly declared, “Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.” Sartre was preempted by his intellectual forbearer Jean Jacques Rousseau who proclaimed, “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains. Those who think themselves the masters of others are indeed greater slaves than they.” Are Africans condemned to be free and live under the rule of fair and just laws; or are they damned to perpetual slavery in the service of African tyrants who are themselves enslaved by their former colonial and neocolonial masters? In making “predictions” about the future of Africa mid-century, I am guided by two questions: Is Africa’s “future history” determined by its “past history”, or is it yet to be written by free Africans yet unborn? Will the cradle of mankind become the graveyard of freedom and human rights in 2050 and beyond? I shall use neither a rear view mirror, a crystal ball nor mathematical models to predict Africa’s future. I will leave that to the professional futurists and turbaned seers. I choose to look into Africa’s future as a “political lawyer”, a human rights advocate looking through the opaque prism of justice, freedom, rule of law, equality and other such sublime virtues. The question for me is not whether demographics, economics, sociopolitical change, the environment, and human development factors will shape and determine Africa’s future in 2050 and beyond. These factors are unquestionably decisive. My concern is how the rule of law and good governance in Africa can avert the doomsday scenarios of socioeconomic, political and ecological collapse in Africa. There is an old Ugandan saying which cautions, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” Where is Africa going in the next 50 years? Will Africans take Mandela’s long walk to freedom and prosperity as they march to 2050 and beyond, or find themselves caged in a poverty and tyranny trap and self-destruct in an Armageddon of ethnic strife, sectarian warfare, corruption and uncontrolled population growth? Will Africa be the Promised Land for Africans in 2050 and beyond or remain a newer unkinder and un-gentler version of the “beggar continent” that it is today? Will there even be an Africa as we know it today in 2050 and beyond? Is it an exercise in futility to even venture to make predictions about Africa? The (Machiavellian) political scientist in me whispers prophetic words of doom and gloom in my ears. “Africa emerged from the colonial tyranny of the white man only to be trampled by the tyranny of the black man. Over 50 years of independence, Africa has fallen into a bottomless vortex of dictatorship, corruption, poverty, war, ethnic strife, famine and disease. It will be Apocalypse Africa in 2050. Africa will remain chained in Plato’s Cave where she can see only shadows but never light. It will be the end of times. Africa has no future.” The defense lawyer in me whispers prophetic words of optimism and exuberance. “Africa’s future is bright as the sun. Tyranny will be swept into the dustbin of history in the inexorable march of freedom across Africa. Dictatorship will inevitably be replaced by genuine multiparty democracy; injustice and inequality vanquished by the rule of law; corruption will evaporate in the sunlight of transparency and accountability; prosperity will grind down poverty; peace will prevail over war; ethnic strife will be overcome by ethnic harmony; famine will be consigned to oblivion by plenty; and ignorance will be banished by enlightenment. The rule of law will replace the rule of evil men. There is bright sunlight at the end of the tunnel. It will be the beginning of times, a new epoch in African history.” So here are a few audacious “predictions” for Africa in 2050 and beyond as “calculated” by the political scientist and the lawyer. The Political Scientist: Africa’s principal problem in 2050 and beyond will be famine and starvation, or “food insecurity” as the international poverty pimps conveniently call it. By 2050, Africa’s current population of 1.1 billion is estimated to increase to at least 2.4 billion. Nigeria’s population of 174 million will increase to 440 million. According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, “Ethiopia, in particular, with an estimated fertility rate of 6.0 children per woman in 2011, is projected to vault from 13th to seventh on the list of most populous countries by 2050, tripling in total population from 91 million to 278 million.” In 2050, Africa will find herself in a “poverty trap”(intergenerational poverty perpetuated by bad governance and economic mismanagement) and a “Malthusian cage” (population growth will outstrip food supply). Africa will be unable to increase food production and will implode from runaway population growth. The “population bomb” will finish off Africa by mid-century. The Lawyer: An estimated 70 percent of Africa’s population today is under 35 years of age. The youth bulge will likely persist through the middle of the century. Improved education for Africa’s youth and changing youth aspirations and values will reduce the traditional large family size. The younger generation will adopt effective family planning practices and birth control measures and delay child bearing. Africa’s youth will take advantage of innovation and entrepreneurship opportunities. They will take control of the helm of government and practice good governance as part of their value system. Africa will have genuine multiparty democracies with functioning independent judiciaries and legislatures, a free and independent press and civil society institutions and regular free and fair elections. Africa will be the breadbasket for the world with abundant fertile land and water on the continent. Africa’s best days are yet to come! The Political Scientist: George Ayittey observed, “Africa is poor because she is not free.” In fact, Africa is not poor. Africa is the richest continent in terms of natural resources. Africa is poor because her leadership is morally bankrupt. Africa’s leaders are scraped from the bottom of the barrel. Despite alleged runaway economic growth in Africa (‘seven out of the ten fastest growing economies in the last decade are African’), often trumpeted by the international poverty pimps and indolent Western media parrots, poverty shall persist as an inescapable fact of life for the descendants of the 85 percent of Africans who today live on less that USD1 per day. In 2050, poverty and disease will reduce the average African life expectancy to no more than 37 years. Africa will remain shackled in a poverty and tyranny trap. The Lawyer: The coming generations of Africans will rescue Africa from the poverty and tyranny trap. They will not be addicted to Western aid. They will forswear the culture of beggary. They will use their knowledge and technological sophistication to solve problems and liberate Africa from the poverty trap. They will take responsibility for their own failures. They will not blame colonialism, imperialism, communism and all of the other ‘isms’ for Africa’s failure. They will stand proud and self-confident. They may not be able to solve all of Africa’s poverty problems but they will surely solve Africa’s bankruptcy of leadership. They will pull up Africa out of its poverty and tyranny trap by its bootstraps. The Political Scientist: It is written that ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish.’ Africans today are perishing by the millions in South Sudan, the Central African Republic, Mali, Chad, Somalia and elsewhere. Africa is cursed by visionless (benighted and blind) leaders. The Mo Ibrahim Prize for African Leadership, the largest annually awarded prize in the world (USD5 million over 10 years, and a lifetime endowment of USD200,000 per year), has been given out only three times since it was established in 2007. The awardees have come from Mozambique, Botswana and Cape Verde. None of the “new breed of African leaders” sanctified by Bill Clinton and Tony Blair made the cut. The leadership bankruptcy in Africa will economically bankrupt Africa in 2050 and beyond. The Lawyer: By 2050, Africa’s leaders will be proactive and not as reactive as their forbearers. They will be well-educated and trained (in contrast to the benighted and corrupt ignoramuses who hold the reins of power today). They will plan to avoid problems instead of muddling through problems after the problems have become insoluble. They will be flexible and adopt to new circumstances. They will listen to their young population and act to meet the needs and desires of their generation. They will be open-minded, open to change and resourceful in solving and anticipating problems. Africa’s leaders in 2050 and beyond will be honest, transparent, accountable, self-confident, creative and inspirational. They will be guided by Mandela’s prescription: “It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.” The Political Scientist: “Africa is a continent of failed states. Africa is a failed continent.” So say many in the Western media. The euphemism of failed and fragile states is used to hide the truth that African states are actually thugtatorships, kleptocracies and corruptocracies. The African state is a glorified criminal racketeering organization for the elites to rip off the national treasury and resources. Nowhere on the planet does one find more corruption, political and economic mismanagement and human rights violations than on the African continent. By 2050, nearly all African states will be failed states or “thugistans” ruled by thugtators. Few African states will be able to deliver the most basic political goods to their citizens. Few African states will have legitimacy in the eyes of their citizens; almost all African states will be held in contempt by their citizens and others. The African state will be an object of contempt and derision throughout the world. Recently, US Senator John McCain giving advice to President Obama said, “I wouldn’t be waiting for some kind of permission from some guy named Goodluck Jonathan to go into Nigeria to search and rescue some 300 girls abducted by the terrorist group Boko Haram.” Goodluck Johnathan has yet to deploy significant military assets in a mission to search and rescue the girls. The US has sent troops and drones to “help” the Nigerian military rescue the girls since Nigeria cannot do it on her own. Such has been the fate of the “Giant of Africa”. Likewise, when the Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire and Mali faced internal strife, they called in their former colonial masters to save them from themselves. By mid-century, Africa will be fragmented into bite size ‘thugistans’ (more than one hundred bite size countries under the rule of thugtators, warring warlords and mercenaries). Africa will be transformed from a continent of failed and fragile states to completely flopped states by mid-century. The Lawyer: Africa will complete her transition from dictatorship to democracy by mid-century because she is condemned to be free. Much of Africa in 2050 and beyond will be like today’s Botswana (I deplore and condemn the displacement and “resettlement’ of the “San” people (“Bushmen”) by the Botswana government). They will have free and fair multiparty elections. African countries will take the democratic path like Ghana and South Africa, led by the cheetah (young) generation. There will be robust institutions including independent courts, professional civil servants and civil society institutions. The rule of law will be institutionalized and human and property rights respected. Africa’s newer generations will be raised in a culture of openness and tolerance. They will condemn the culture of impunity and corruption that has kept the continent at the tail end of the community of nations. As Africa’s enlightened youth begin to control the destiny of the continent, they will reject the benighted ways of the preceding generations. By mid-century, Africa will have made up for its democratic deficit by greater and more effective and widespread use of communication technologies. Africa’s youth will join with the worldwide youth community and spearhead unprecedented change throughout Africa. They will have the knowledge, wisdom and technological sophistication to solve Africa’s problems not only with borrowed ideas but also original ideas rooted in African cultures and societies and dreams. Africa’s long, cold and hard winter of tyranny, poverty and discontent will be made glorious by a bright and gleaming African Spring by mid-century. Looking through a glass darkly at the Dark Continent, it is impossible to see light at the end of the tunnel. The fog of tyranny, corruption and abuse of power that shrouds the continent is impregnable to light. The miasma of uncontrolled population growth, unmanaged urbanization, endemic corruption, cataclysmic income inequality, catastrophic climate change, ceaseless brain drain and cyclical conflict and strife is blinding. Yet, I am certain as the sun will rise tomorrow that there is a bright future for the Dark Continent in 2050 and beyond. I, free from the trappings of profession and occupation, am a die-hard optimist about Africa’s future. It is in my nature; after all, I am a utopian Ethiopian. There is not light at the end of the tunnel for the Dark Continent. There is a bright African sun! *Professor Alemayehu G. Mariam teaches political science at California State University, San Bernardino and is a practicing defense lawyer. This commentary appeared on Pambazuka.org on May 29, 2014 as part of a mid-century outlook on possible scenarios in Africa. I make my “predictions” debating myself as a political scientist and a defense lawyer.]]>
Latest News May 28, 2014
May 28, 2014 | 0 Comments
news From All Africa
- South Africa: Offsets to Cushion South African Carbon Tax
[IPS]Cape Town -To curb greenhouse gas emissions, South Africa wants to put a tax on carbon emissions from big polluters.
- Niger: Areva Agrees Nuclear Mining Deal With Niger
[RFI]French nuclear energy group Areva has signed a deal with Niger’s government to renew its operation of two uranium mines in the north of the country.
- Tunisia: Attack Interrupts Tunisia's Newfound Calm
[Deutsche Welle]Unidentified gunman have attacked the family residence of Tunisia’s interior minister, killing four policemen. Lofti Ben Jeddou was not at home. The assault interrupts several months of relative calm.
- Mozambique: Dialogue Still Deadlocked Over Foreign Observers
[AIM]Maputo -The political dialogue between the Mozambican government and the former rebel movement Renamo remained deadlocked on Monday as yet another meeting failed to make any headway on the terms of reference for the foreign observers who should monitor a cessation of hostilities.
- Sudan: Woman Sentenced to Death for Becoming Christian Gives Birth in Prison
[Sudan Tribune]Khartoum -A 27-year-old Christian Sudanese woman sentenced to death for her religious views earlier this month has given birth to a baby girl in prison. Meriam Yehya Ibrahim’s husband and legal team have reportedly been denied access to the new mum, who gave birth early Tuesday at Omdurman Women’s Prison, where she is being held in custody with her 20-month-old son. Amnesty International said it had no information on her condition as yet.
- Zimbabwe: 'Missing' Zim Election Report Resurfaces in SA
[SW Radio]The ongoing saga surrounding a Zimbabwe election report, which has been kept secret by the South African Presidency for over a decade, has taken a fresh twist after the ‘missing’ document resurfaced.
- Nigeria: U.S. Announces New Visa Renewal Process for Nigerians
[Premium Times]The U.S. Mission to Nigeria on Tuesday announced a new visa renewal process for applicants, tagged Expanded DHL Drop Box Visa programme.
- Ethiopia: Dozens Killed in Village Attack
[VOA]Nearly 40 people are dead after al-Shabab militants attacked a village on the border between Ethiopia and Somalia.
- Malawi: Opposition Party Opposes Vote Count
[VOA]Malawi’s main opposition Democratic People’s Party (DPP) says it is strongly against the recount of all ballots from the May 20 election saying the country’s High Court has the sole responsibility to order an election recount.
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Rio Tinto and Chinalco sign $20bn Guinea iron ore deal
May 28, 2014 | 0 Comments
Big mining companies have been eyeing the iron ore deposits at Simandou for many years[/caption]
Rio Tinto, Chinalco and the International Finance Corporation have signed a deal to develop Guinea’s iron ore deposits.The Simandou project, which has been delayed for years, would be the biggest iron ore and infrastructure project developed in Africa, the firms said. The $20bn (£12bn) “investment framework” provides legal and financial backing for the project. The framework will now go the Guinean National Assembly for ratification. If ratified, the three parties said they would complete a feasibility study, including timeline and costs, within about a year. President of the Republic of Guinea Alpha Conde said: “With massive infrastructure investment, this project is of critical importance for the people of Guinea. “It’s a nationwide priority that goes beyond the mines and far beyond our generations. With transparent and fair deals, our mining sector has the potential to be a game changer for Guinea.” ‘World class’ As well as mining the iron ore, the three partners said they were working together to raise the funds to build a 650km railway and a deep-water port to transport the rocks and minerals. They said the project had the potential to double Guinea’s GDP and create 45,000 jobs. “Today is an important milestone in the development of this world-class iron ore resource for the benefit of all shareholders and the people of Guinea,” said Sam Walsh, chief executive of Rio Tinto. Rio Tinto will take a 46.6% stake in the project, Chinalco 41.3%, Guinea 7.5% and IFC 4.6%. Rio was first awarded concessions to Simandou almost 10 years ago, but was forced to give up those in the northern part of the range of hills in 2008. These were then given to BSG Resources, a company controlled by Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz. Last month, the BSGR permits were rescinded by the Guinean government, paving the way for the deal between Rio and Chinalco. * Source BBC]]>
Cameroon’s $1b China-Funded Port To Boost West African Cargo Flows
May 25, 2014 | 0 Comments
Africa’s blue economies vital for development
May 25, 2014 | 0 Comments
The notion of blue economies is one that has recently gained attention as an avenue for development in Africa. The fairly new concept encapsulates all of the potential of oceanic resources and was at the centre of the AU’s Agenda 2063, where it was unanimously declared ‘Africa’s future’. Speaking at the African Development Bank’s 2014 Annual Meeting, Ministers from South Africa, Ivory Coast and Seychelles echoed this view and discussed ways ofmaximizing these blue economies through building relevant infrastructure and capacity. “The real challenge is infrastructure and finding people to invest in it. Once the infrastructure is in place, the traffic in the form of coastal trade will come in,” said Patrick Achi, Minister of Economic Infrastructure for Ivory Coast. Pierre Laporte, Seychelles’ Minister of Finance, Trade and Investment, voiced the same concern highlighting the financial constraints that the small island of 90,000 has struggled with in trying to exploit its marine resources. “Over 30,000 ships fish in our waters every year with 300 tonnes of tuna caught and shipped away,” explained Laporte. “We cannot do anything about this because we have no commercial fishing fleet of our own, ships of this kind cost between US $ 30-40 million.” The efforts to develop blue economies, however, will have to go beyond building infrastructure and take into account issues of climate change, dumping of toxic waste and sustainable supply chains. According to Achi, aquatic life has been vastly affected by dumping and overfishing, something that he believes can be resolved by creating awareness around how best to use and preserve marine resources. “There is a lot of work to be done in setting up proper policies and making sure all those involved understand how damaging dumping is,” he said. In addition, Trevor Manuel, South Africa’s Minister in Charge of the National Planning Commission, emphasized the important role of regional cooperation in ensuring these economies are properly developed. He argued that the effects are not limited to coastal countries and that the benefits are spread to neighbouring landlocked countries that rely on these ports for export and trade. He added that the inability of African countries to work together on this issue is what continues to hinder meaningful development and allows others to benefit from Africa’s resources. The AfDB was commended for creating a platform for African countries to discuss possible avenues to work together in developing blue economies and putting this at the forefront in discussing the continent’s economic future. “We have a right as a continent to benefit from our terrestrial and marine resources, there is a commercial case to be made for choosing to support the development of Africa’s blue economies,” said Donald Kaberuka, President of the AfDB. *Source AFDB]]>
‘The winds of change are massive!’ Tech innovator calls African diaspora to come back and make a difference
February 21, 2014 | 0 Comments
What do the Apollo space missions, laser eye surgery and sustainable cocoa have in common? These are just some of the historic breakthroughs that IBM research labs across the world have helped become a reality over the years.
But the prestigious tech firm had a glaring omission on their global map. Africa is now the fastest growing continent in the world, according a recent report from the African Development Bank. And yet IBM didn’t have a single hub there — until recently.
Last year, IBM opened its 12th research facility in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, its first in the continent. Spearheading this innovation center is Uyi Stewart, a Nigerian scientist who has spent more than 20 years overseas working on software answers to real-world problems.
Armed with this international experience, the researcher has now returned to the continent to help create innovative solutions for African everyday challenges.
“It’s easy to talk about giving back but when the opportunity presents itself — such as IBM Research Africa that allows you to create innovations in science and technology to begin to make a proper impact in the lives of more than a billion people — I don’t know what more can stop anybody,” says Stewart.
Conquering the “new world”
As a teenager Stewart was interested in computer sciences. But his country’s lack of infrastructure prompted him to look abroad as a way of” intellectual escape.”
The bright Nigerian managed to secure a scholarship at the University of Cambridge in England and with only a plane ticket and bus fare he set off for, what he called, “the new world.” After completing his education in England, Stewart moved to the U.S. where he began his career in software and services research.
Stewart went on to work in IBM’s Services Innovation Lab — an international program where he was responsible for the technical strategy at eight global facilities. Today, having returned to the continent, he wants to leverage the strong growth of Africa’s emerging markets and continue IBM’s longstanding tradition in research breakthroughs.
“As I build and design I have got to understand that the majority of my people live [on] under less than two dollars a day,” he says. “[The] majority of my people only speak one language — so think about those things — that whole holistic view allows technological innovation to be relevant to the community. That is what we’re calling Africanized solutions.”
“Let’s come back”
That approach is central to Stewart’s work.
“All innovators in the continent of Africa should be problem centric,” he says. “What problems are we trying to solve and ask yourself, at the end, ‘who is going to use it?’ If you ask those two questions then we can begin to talk about sustainability.”
In recent years the Kenyan government has actively encouraged ICT development in the country. Christened the “African Silicon Savannah,” the $9.2 billion project known as Konza City is an ambitious undertaking that could help Kenya become a technology and innovation hotspot.
The country’s technological boom has also been spurred by a rise in the number of innovation centers, where young coders and aspiring entrepreneurs join forces, network and work on their trailblazing ideas.
Similar hubs have also mushroomed across the continent in recent years — from Nigeria to Tanzania and Egypt to Madagascar. But while there is a boom in tech spaces across Africa, many of the apps created there often fail to take off. Stewart says tech entrepreneurs need to be cautious about starting businesses without any commercial foresight.
“Sustainability of innovation comes from commercial viability,” he says. “If you innovate for fun, then we wouldn’t be where we are today and I think that is the kind of ecosystem we see right now.”
After more than two decades abroad, Stewart is committed to reverse the continent’s so-called “brain drain,” the exodus of brilliant minds relocating to countries outside Africa.
“I am part of the diaspora and I am home,” he says. “And I am saying ‘let’s come back, there is just so much’; the winds of change [are] massive — let’s come back and make a difference,” adds Stewart. “There is a tremendous potential for skill of impact when you innovate.”
'The winds of change are massive!' Tech innovator calls African diaspora to come back and make a difference
February 21, 2014 | 0 Comments
Lillian Leposo, Nima Elbagir and Lauren Said-Moorhouse* What do the Apollo space missions, laser eye surgery and sustainable cocoa have in common? These are just some of the historic breakthroughs that IBM research labs across the world have helped become a reality over the years. But the prestigious tech firm had a glaring omission on their global map. Africa is now the fastest growing continent in the world, according a recent report from the African Development Bank. And yet IBM didn’t have a single hub there — until recently. Last year, IBM opened its 12th research facility in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, its first in the continent. Spearheading this innovation center is Uyi Stewart, a Nigerian scientist who has spent more than 20 years overseas working on software answers to real-world problems. Armed with this international experience, the researcher has now returned to the continent to help create innovative solutions for African everyday challenges. “It’s easy to talk about giving back but when the opportunity presents itself — such as IBM Research Africa that allows you to create innovations in science and technology to begin to make a proper impact in the lives of more than a billion people — I don’t know what more can stop anybody,” says Stewart. Conquering the “new world” As a teenager Stewart was interested in computer sciences. But his country’s lack of infrastructure prompted him to look abroad as a way of” intellectual escape.” The bright Nigerian managed to secure a scholarship at the University of Cambridge in England and with only a plane ticket and bus fare he set off for, what he called, “the new world.” After completing his education in England, Stewart moved to the U.S. where he began his career in software and services research. Stewart went on to work in IBM’s Services Innovation Lab — an international program where he was responsible for the technical strategy at eight global facilities. Today, having returned to the continent, he wants to leverage the strong growth of Africa’s emerging markets and continue IBM’s longstanding tradition in research breakthroughs. “As I build and design I have got to understand that the majority of my people live [on] under less than two dollars a day,” he says. “[The] majority of my people only speak one language — so think about those things — that whole holistic view allows technological innovation to be relevant to the community. That is what we’re calling Africanized solutions.” “Let’s come back” That approach is central to Stewart’s work. “All innovators in the continent of Africa should be problem centric,” he says. “What problems are we trying to solve and ask yourself, at the end, ‘who is going to use it?’ If you ask those two questions then we can begin to talk about sustainability.” In recent years the Kenyan government has actively encouraged ICT development in the country. Christened the “African Silicon Savannah,” the $9.2 billion project known as Konza City is an ambitious undertaking that could help Kenya become a technology and innovation hotspot. The country’s technological boom has also been spurred by a rise in the number of innovation centers, where young coders and aspiring entrepreneurs join forces, network and work on their trailblazing ideas. Similar hubs have also mushroomed across the continent in recent years — from Nigeria to Tanzania and Egypt to Madagascar. But while there is a boom in tech spaces across Africa, many of the apps created there often fail to take off. Stewart says tech entrepreneurs need to be cautious about starting businesses without any commercial foresight. “Sustainability of innovation comes from commercial viability,” he says. “If you innovate for fun, then we wouldn’t be where we are today and I think that is the kind of ecosystem we see right now.” After more than two decades abroad, Stewart is committed to reverse the continent’s so-called “brain drain,” the exodus of brilliant minds relocating to countries outside Africa. “I am part of the diaspora and I am home,” he says. “And I am saying ‘let’s come back, there is just so much’; the winds of change [are] massive — let’s come back and make a difference,” adds Stewart. “There is a tremendous potential for skill of impact when you innovate.” *Source CNN]]>
10 Reasons African-Americans Should Invest in Africa
February 3, 2014 | 1 Comments
G. Thorpe* Africa has the most natural resources in the world. For example: Just one country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is estimated to have $24 trillion worth of untapped deposits of raw mineral ores, which is equivalent to the combined total Gross Domestic Product of Europe and the United States combined. These raw minerals include cobalt, copper, niobium, tantalum, industrial and gem diamonds, gold, silver, zinc, manganese, tin, uranium, coal, petrol and timber. It is believed that 80 percent of the world’s coltan is in the Congo. Besides the raw resources, there are plenty other investment opportunities in Africa and with proper organized initiatives many African-Americans that may want to invest can make plenty of money for their efforts. According to Jerome Almon, a businessman and an economist, “African Americans spend well over a trillion dollars annually, and it does us no good, however investing in Africa through business ventures can create thousands of new millionaires, and dozens of new billionaires in a wide range of categories.” Below are 10 solid reasons why African-Americans should organize campaigns or join other solid initiatives to invest in Africa.
ONE Joins D’banj and African Partners to Launch ‘Do Agric’ at AU Summit
January 30, 2014 | 0 Comments
New campaign aims to help lift more than 85 million Africans out of poverty through targeted investment in agriculture and “enhanced CAADP” policies The ONE Campaign (http://www.one.org) today released a new report and launched Do Agric, It Pays, a campaign calling for African governments to commit to spending at least 10% of national budgets on effective agriculture investments, through transparent and accountable budgets. At the heart of the Do Agric campaign is an effort to push political leaders to adopt better policies that will boost productivity, increase incomes and help lift millions of Africans out of extreme poverty. Nigerian singer-songwriter D’banj was on hand for the Do Agric, It Pays kick-off event in Addis Ababa today. Civil society partners at the launch included the Pan African Farmers Association (PAFO), ActionAid International, Acord International, Oxfam, East and Southern African Farmers Forum , ROPPA, Southern African Confederation of Agriculture Unions, the Africa Union Commission, Becho Welisho and the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). Campaign champions include Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, Beninois President Dr. Thomas Yayi Boni and Côte d’Ivoire footballer Yaya Touré, with Touré starring in a new ONE PSA, which debuted today onhttp://www.one.org/doagric. The launch of Do Agric in Addis Ababa coincides with the 2014 January African Union (AU) summit, where heads of state have gathered to discuss key development challenges across the continent. The AU has declared 2014 the Year of Agriculture in Africa. “Now is the time to get our leaders to commit to a big push toward implementing effective agricultural policies, scale up public investment in agriculture and catalyze private sector participation in agriculture development,” says ONE Africa Director Dr. Sipho Moyo. “Of the more than 400 million Africans living in extreme poverty, 70% live in rural areas that depend on agriculture. Remarkably, the multiplier effect of agricultural growth in sub-Saharan Africa is estimated to be 11 times greater in reducing poverty than in other non-agriculture sectors, such as utilities and mining.(1)” D’banj said, “There are massive untapped business opportunities in agriculture that could create jobs for millions of Africans on and off the farm. I want Africans to know that farming is not only the foundation of the economy, but also that farming is cool. I believe that, if the needed attention is given to agriculture, we Africans will not only feed ourselves, but also the rest of the world.” “While other African leaders have made statements of good will, currently only eight countries have kept their promise to invest 10% of their national budgets in agriculture. It is therefore essential to do more, to go further. Agriculture is not only important, it is also vital. Agriculture pays,” said Yaya Touré. A new ONE report, called Ripe for Change: The Promise of Africa’s Agricutural Transformation, calls on African governments to implement an “enhanced CAADP” package of policies to accelerate economic development in Africa through an African-led agricultural transformation agenda steered by the AU’s own CAADP (Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme). The package of policy recommendations, which was developed after a lengthy consultation process with African farmers and farmers associations from all over the continent, includes: 1) Make time-bound commitments to meet the Maputo pledge of spending at least 10% of national budgets on effective agriculture investments, through transparent and accountable budgets. 2) Eliminate the gender gap in agriculture. 3) Strengthen land governance and security of tenure rights. 4) Reduce barriers to intra-regional trade. 5) Increase R&D investment to at least 1% of agricultural GDP and bolster extension services. 6) Integrate sustainability and climate resilience into national agriculture plans. 7) Prioritise the reduction of post-harvest loss in national agriculture plans. 8) Design nutrition goals into agriculture sector strategies. 9) Foster an enabling environment for smallholder integration and responsible private sector investment. 10) Accelerate implementation of agriculture plans and ensure results for smallholder farmers. The report also highlights recent success stories resulting from increased agriculture investment and enhanced CAADP-style policy reforms, such as those in Ghana, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso. In Ghana, agriculture is the biggest driver of poverty reduction, with initiatives such as credit reform, targeted subsidies for farmers, and new infrastructure supporting private sector investment, particularly in the cocoa sector. Perhaps no country illustrates the opportunities that agricultural investment can unlock better than Ethiopia. Three decades after experiencing a devastating famine that captured the world’s attention, the country has boosted cereal production and emerged as a leader in agricultural innovation, with an agriculture growth rate of 7% on average since 2003. In Burkina Faso, the government spends 10% of its budget on agriculture, resulting in growth rates of more than 6% per year in the sector. Following reforms, cotton production has tripled, leading to export earnings of $165 million and household income growing by between 19% and 43%. Dr. Moyo added, “The good news is there are real success stories across the continent to build upon. These African-led successes must now be scaled, adopted and adapted across the region so that small farms can become small firms, young people can find good jobs and African economies can thrive. This virtuous cycle of agriculture-led industrialization will bring stability and prosperity across Africa. This is the future for African agriculture we can create together, if we seize the great opportunity of 2014.” Citizens can learn more and sign a petition in support of agriculture investment and the enhanced CAADP reforms at http://www.one.org/doagric.]]>
More Productive Jobs for Africa’s Youth Vital for the Region’s Economic Progress, says New WB Report
January 28, 2014 | 0 Comments
With more than half of Sub-Saharan Africa’s population now under the age of 25, and as many as 11 million young Africans expected to join the labor market every year for the next decade, creating millions of productive, well-paying jobs will be vital to boost economic growth, significantly cut poverty, and create shared prosperity in Africa, according to a new World Bank report on youth employment in Africa. While many African economies have registered impressive economic growth in recent years, poverty levels across the region have not fallen as much as expected and young people looking for better-paying work have been at a great disadvantage. This is partly because many African countries rely heavily on oil, gas, and mineral extraction which boosts economic growth but does little to create new jobs for the region’s fast-growing youth population or reduce overall rates of poverty. In a new comprehensive regional report on the subject, ‘Youth Employment in Sub-Saharan Africa’ notes that close to 80 percent of the workforce will continue to work on small farms and in household businesses in the near future. While the modern wage sector is growing very fast in some countries, it cannot create enough jobs to meet the youth employment challenge now preoccupying governments in every corner of the continent. “Attracting investment into large enterprises that create wage jobs in the mainstream ‘formal’ economy is critical, but it is only part of the solution to Africa’s youth employment challenge,” said Makhtar Diop, World Bank Vice President for Africa. “For the millions of young people who are just surviving in the hidden ‘informal’ sector, they will need greater access to land, skills training, and credit to thrive. This will be a game-changer for small farmers and entrepreneurs who will prosper as African economies grow, in close cooperation with the private sector.” Diop adds that making high-quality science and technology education more accessible to young people and shaping higher education courses to fit the skills needed by the modern jobs market was increasingly a high priority for many African countries. New development partners such as China, India, and Brazil are actively working with the World Bank to help develop these science and technology skills for Africa’s youth. The new report notes that manufacturing, services, and agriculture are traditionally labor-intensive sectors that can generate productive work for young people. As working populations age in other parts of the world, young Africans could find their labor and skills increasingly in high demand internationally if their governments pursue policies that improve education and job training for their youth. For example, the report notes that young people who received cash grants from the Northern Uganda Social Action Fund to pay for their vocational training and assets needed to start a business later earned 41 percent more than others who did not receive this support. They earned more because nearly three-quarters of them took the opportunity to pay for training and enter a skilled trade. The program was particularly successful in helping young women to break free of poverty. Recent evidence also shows that programs that help young people acquire a range of complementary skills are very promising. In Liberia, a program that offered a combination of technical, behavioral skills and business skills to adolescent girls and young women was highly effective in increasing their levels of employment and income. The business and professional-behavioral skills training allowed them to raise their monthly incomes by an average of US$75—a 115 percent increase. “Governments can approach the youth employment challenge in two important ways—by helping to improve the business environment to spark more private investment, and also by investing more in young people’s education and other skills to create brighter life prospects for them,” said Deon Filmer, Lead Economist at the World Bank and a co-author of the report. Louise Fox, former Lead Economist at the World Bank and currently a visiting Professor at UC Berkeley, notes: “In addition to promoting investment and competitiveness, the quality of primary education, the right nutrition for young children, and basic healthcare for all are a must to improve the quality of life for Africa’s young people and their future productivity.” *Source APO]]>
From Maasai market to facebook success
January 28, 2014 | 0 Comments
Imbuhira Lamba: Owner of Facebook page Willing Buyer, Willing Seller[/caption] Local markets are known to be crowded, noisy and sometimes mucky. To avoid all this, young generations have founded their markets. All they need is Internet and a mobile phone, and they sell their products to the world. Welcome to the world of virtual markets. With the escalating costs of rent, exorbitant goodwill and many business licences, young people are skipping all the bureaucracy to sell their wares online, get paid through M-Pesa, and deliver the goods at the home or office of the buyer. Imbuhira Lamba, a young businesswoman in her mid-20s set up Willing Buyer, Willing Seller page on Facebook, and within weeks, the page had attracted thousands of members and now receives more than 2,000 views per day. “It is basically a market. If you have anything to sell, or you want to buy anything, you post it online and the interested parties will contact you,” says Lamba. She says most young people, fresh from universities have brilliant business ideas but are held back due to lack of capital. With the virtual market, a business owner can now skip the exorbitant costs of setting up business but work from home, and sell their wares online. “It has made it very easy for young people, when you are fresh from college, you don’t have to step a foot into anybody’s office, but work from your bedroom, and sell whatever product you have online,” says Lamba. A beneficiary of virtual markets, Shish Maya, 23, is still in college, and uses her spare time making bangles, and necklaces. “I have been in business for the past one year. I used to go sell my products at Maasai Market but then I realized, there was a lot of competition and sometimes I would spend a whole day and make minimal sales,” says Shish. She set up a Facebook profile, and sells her handmade jewellery. All she does is post pictures of her products and how much each costs. “It also helps because a buyer will also decide if I can custom make a necklace or bangle to their specification.” Shish delivers her products to her clients and is paid upon delivery or via M-Pesa. Wiling Buyer, Wiling Seller founder Imbuhira Lamba says the biggest challenge in hosting a virtual market is trust. “Most Kenyans, especially senior citizens would want to know where your shop is. If you tell them you work from home, they will dismiss you and think you are just another struggling young person,” says Lamba. *Source –The Standard]]>
Kenya may adopt ‘free market’ airline policy
January 28, 2014 | 0 Comments
Senegal to host new company for Generic Drugs in Africa
January 28, 2014 | 0 Comments
Africa will soon have unbridled access to generic drugs for some of the most common ailments plaguing the continent with a daring move by some young Africans to set up a specialized company in Senegal. Led by Dr Ousmane Diouf, the project known as Sub-Saharan Generics intends to give Africans access to cheap and safe treatments for their most common ailments. Educated in some of the best Universities in Europe and with stints in prestigious pharmaceutical companies, the Team is not just out for business but also has the strong desire to give back to Africa. Herman Brodie. working as consultant for the project says it will manufacture “high-quality generic drugs locally to treat the five most common complaints – diabetes, tuberculosis, pain, malaria and hypertension – and sell them at ethical prices.” Brodie says the interview has already been registered with a management team in place and there are expectations that with the right partners, production should start by 2015. First in your own word words can you give us a background into Sub-Saharan Generics? If you were a seasoned executive in the pharmaceutical industry and you wanted to give something back to your native Senegal, what would you do? If you had earned a Master’s Degree in Drug Design and a PhD in Organic & Medicinal Chemistry, what is the greatest contribution could you make, not only to your home country, but to the entire sub-Saharan region? Some might say support research towards a cure for HIV or some other cutting edge development, but Dr Ousmane Diouf would disagree. To help the maximum number of people using hard-to-come-by capital resources, it would be better to simply give Africans access to cheap and safe treatments for their most common ailments. The project Sub-Saharan Generics intends to do just that. It will manufacture high-quality generic drugs locally to treat the five most common complaints – diabetes, tuberculosis, pain, malaria and hypertension – and sell them at ethical prices. Why the focus on the five diseases you have in mind and how prevalent are they in Africa? Generic drugs exist for all of these ailments and they can be manufactured cheaply. In the developed world they are so readily available most people take them for granted. In sub-Saharan Africa however, the cost is sometimes so prohibitive the sick often have to make the choice between buying food and buying essential medicines. Even when they are able to pay, supply disruptions sometimes mean treatments have to be delayed or interrupted. Alternatively, people rely on drugs from informal distribution channels, many of which are counterfeit and potentially dangerous. In 2000 it was estimated that some 7.5 million adults between the ages of 20 and 79 suffered from diabetes. This figure is much higher now of course and is set to double over the next 25 years. The prevalence of hypertension is also growing rapidly because of changing lifestyles and diets on the African continent. In the case of malaria, it is estimated that 90 percent of the annual 300 million acute cases worldwide, and the more than one million deaths, occur in Africa. Malaria is also responsible for a fifth of all child deaths on the continent, and approximately 200,000 newborns die each year because of infection during pregnancy. Similarly shocking are the numbers on tuberculosis: a quarter of the almost 10 million cases globally occur in Africa. Finally, who in the developed world can imagine not having access to basic painkillers like paracetamol, ibuprofen or aspirin? So at what stage is Sub Saharan Generics now? Have you started producing the requisite medical products and if not, when should people expect to start using your drugs? S2G was registered as a limited company in Senegal in July 2013 and has already assembled a management team led by Dr Diouf. It is still in the process of raising capital from would-be investors, but already enjoys the support and endorsement of some key strategic actors including the country’s sovereign wealth fund and the Senegalese government. It has also acquired a plot of land at new industrial development just outside Dakar and will shortly begin construction of the manufacturing installation. Drug production is expected to begin in 2015. How different are your drugs expected to be from the ones that are produced by western pharmaceutical companies? No different. This is precisely the point. S2G drugs will be manufactured to the same exacting standards as those sold and consumed in Europe and in the US with respect to the cGMP (Current Good Manufacturing Practices) recommended by the US Food and Drug Administration, the National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products, and the World Health Organisation. What has been the reaction of the public to your initiatives? So far, only potential investors and key regional actors have been exposed to the project. The response, however, has been universally enthusiastic. Even investors who for reasons of geographical or sectorial constraints have not been able to commit capital to the project, have recognized the necessity and the merit of S2G’s ambitions. About your team or the brains behind this initiative, may we have an idea about the expertise you have or that is there to help in the success of the project? The management team is composed of experienced pharmaceutical industry professionals in the functions of R&D, finance, logistics, market research and technical analysis. Each member brings more than 20 years of experience to their respective domain and has been recruited from senior management positions. Collectively, they have considerable experience of drug design and production, and of construction and management of a drug production facility. Dr. Ousmane Diouf, Director of the Steering Committee and future President of the structure. Boumy Mr Gueye, Head of Buildings Design in compliance with cGMP and Site Director, Conakry, Guinea Mr Abdou Diagne, Business Analyst, Recruitment Officer, Human Resources Director and Chief Financial Officer Mr Cheikh Ahmadou Tidiane Diouf, Director Key Accounts, Project Manager Dr. Moustapha Diawara, Chief Operating Officer Dr. Jerome Theobald, Director of Strategy and Development Dr. Pierre-Yves Leroy, Technical and Scientific Director Dr. Birane Ba, Director of Marketing and Communications Mr Mamadou Sow, Chairman of the Supervisory Board In what way do you intend to strike a balance between the economic realities of the continent where many cannot afford drugs and profit incentives that drive business or at least to sustain your project? [caption id="attachment_8159" align="alignright" width="85"] Herman Brodie[/caption] The ‘economic realities’ you mention include severe poverty. Millions of people in the region live on less than one US-dollar per day. And even though, the vast majority of S2G’s output will be sold to the public sector, healthcare budgets are stretched in Africa in the same way as they are elsewhere in the world. The key, therefore, is to produce essential drugs more cheaply. In the price of a generic drug imported from a developed economy, labor probably accounts for up 80 per cent of the manufacturing costs. In Africa these labor costs are far lower, allowing for profitable production even with much lower retail prices. Also, we believe pharmaceutical companies need to be more intelligent with the packaging when operating in sub-Saharan Africa in order keep costs low. One way is to make sure that the package contains no more of the drug than the patient actually needs to consume. As unfortunate as it is, many African governments trivialize health issues, from budgets, to infrastructure, training of Doctors and so on, what is the situation like in Senegal where the project is located, what has been the response of the government? We do not believe this statement applies to Senegal. The current government has made the implementation of universal healthcare a major political goal. For under-5s and over-65s this is already a reality. Similarly, out of concern for public health, some drugs, like those for the treatment of tuberculosis, are already purchased centrally and distributed freely to the population. On the education front, the Universite Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD) in Dakar specializes in Pharmacology and is recognized in the West African region as a center of competence. Africa, well some parts of Africa are living through very exciting times and projects like yours are part of the reason people are growing increasingly confident, what does the continent need to get that break through, what needs to be to be done so that some of the genius of the Africans like you and others can be adequately put to the service of development? Africa simply needs more success stories. Who are some of the other partners that Sub Saharan Generics is working with? S2G already has the financial support of the sovereign wealth fund (FONSIS), the sovereign loan guarantee fund (FONGIP) as well as a number of domestic institutional investors. Among these are ASKIA Assurance Senegal and CNART Assurances (Compagnie Nationale d’Assurance et de Réassurance des Transporteurs), both insurance companies; and CSTT-AO (Compagnie Sénégalaise de Transport Transatlantique – Afrique de l’Ouest), a transport and logistics company. LOCAFRIQUE, a company that specializes in financing agricultural equipment, will support the venture in kind through the favorable conditions for leasing some of the equipment. The future suppliers of active ingredients for S2G’s drugs will include Navasep Synthesis (France), Axyntis (France), and Amyris (USA).]]>
Latest News December 16, 2013
December 16, 2013 | 0 Comments
news From All Africa
- Nigeria: Chieftaincy Title – Village Heads Beat Up Ogun Monarch
[Vanguard]Abeokuta -Pandemonium broke out in Ayetoro, the political headquarters of Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State, when at least 10 village heads allegedly beat the Alaye of Ayetoro, Oba Azeez Adelakun and destroyed his traditional beads.
- Namibia: Nam Records Strong Economic Growth
[Namibian]THE Namibian economy has registered a strong growth of 5,3% during the third quarter of the year, despite some sectors performing poorly.
- Africa: Weather Info Project Aims to Help African Farmers Adapt
[AlertNet]Farmers facing long periods of dry weather and floods have expressed hope that a new climate change adaptation initiative being rolled out in Tanzania and Malawi will spell an end to dismal crop yields.
- Liberia: 'No Regret' – Liberia Police Chief Massaquoi Breaks Silence On Cockrumgate
[FrontPageAfrica]In the wake of calls from several quarters of the country for Police Boss Chris Massaquoi to step down for his alleged role in the escape of the indicted former head of the Liberia Airport Authority, Ellen Cockrum, the police chief says he has no regret for his action.
- South Africa: Ahmed Kathrada – Hamba Kahle, My Dearest Friend!
[Daily Maverick]Nelson Mandela’s close friend bids farewell to his ‘elder brother’ at the funeral in Qunu on Sunday.
- South Africa: Why Is Corruption Getting Worse?
[ISS]As the world remembers the passing of global icon Nelson Mandela, the fact that he was a man of principle is a clear element of his success as a leader and overall greatness.
- Africa: Are 'Failure Fridays' Secret to Innovation?
[SciDev.Net]This week Chatham House hosted an event for the co-founders of UNICEF Innovation, Chris Fabian and Erica Kochi. The group is responsible for identifying and scaling technology for development to support UNICEF’s programming objectives.
- Nigeria: Doctors Begin Strike in Public Hospitals On Wednesday
[This Day]The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Sunday said its members would embark on strike in public health institutions with effect from Wednesday.
- Nigeria: Anambra Controversy Exposes Troubles Facing the Electoral Commission
[ThinkAfricaPress]With the 2015 presidential elections looming, Nigeria’s electoral body will have to learn from its recent mistakes, and quickly.
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Latest News December 15, 2013
December 15, 2013 | 0 Comments
news From All Africa
- South Africa: Malawi Comment Lifts Mood at Mandela Funeral
[SAPA]Qunu -Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s sombre mood lifted for a moment when a joke was made about a faux pas by President Jacob Zuma, at Nelson Mandela’s state funeral in Qunu on Sunday.
- South Africa: Standing Ovation for Malawian President Banda's Speech at Mandela Funeral
[SAPA]Qunu -Malawian president Joyce Banda was amazed by former president Nelson Mandela’s humility and leadership, she said on Sunday.
- South Africa: Continent Indebted to Mandela – Ethiopian PM Desalegn
[SAPA]Qunu -Africa is indebted to former president Nelson Mandela for the sacrifices he made to the continent, Ethiopian Prime Minister and African Union chairman Hailemariam Desalegn said on Sunday.
- South Africa: Light Moment on Solemn Day for Mandela
[SAPA]Qunu -Guests at the state funeral of Nelson Mandela in Qunu in the Eastern Cape laughed as his granddaughter reminisced about the former president’s mischievous nature on Sunday.
- South Africa: Mandela Taught Forgiveness – Obituary
[SAPA]Qunu -It was through former president Nelson Mandela that the world learned the spirit of endurance and forgiveness, read an obituary delivered at his state funeral in Qunu, in the Eastern Cape on Sunday.
- Sudan: Thousands Displaced in South Kordofan Bomb Attacks
[Sudan Tribune]Khartoum -The Sudanese government is continuing its scorched earth policy in South Kordofan, with a series of recent bomb attacks displacing thousands of people and causing widespread destruction of property, the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) said in a statement.
- Zambia: Was the Nurses' Strike Necessary?
[Times of Zambia]Beyond the News returns this week and after nearly a month of recess, the column is anchored by a new author, relishing the privilege of interacting with all the dear followers of this file.
- South Africa: Mandela Has 'Joined the A-Team' of Ruling Party – Kathrada
[SAPA]Former president Nelson Mandela has left to join the “A-team” of the ANC, struggle veteran Ahmed Kathrada said at Mandela’s state funeral in Qunu on Sunday.
- Nigeria: The Night Lagos Stood Still for Madiba
[This Day]An evening of tributes for Nelson Mandela hosted by Professor Wole Soyinka at Freedom Park, Lagos provides a platform for unsparing criticism of the Nigerian government. Nseobong Okon-Ekong reports.
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Nelson Mandela changed the course of history – for South Africa and the US
December 7, 2013 | 0 Comments
– Rev Jesse Jackson
President Nelson Mandela was truly a transformative force in the history of South Africa and the world. My heart weighs heavy about his transition, but we are reassured because his life was full, and we know the imprint he left on our world is everlasting.
If ever the teaching that “Suffering breeds character. Character breeds faith. In the end faith will not disappoint” rang true, it did in the life of Mandela.
Despite imprisonment in Robben Island for 25 years and 8 months, Mandela never lost faith in winning freedom for the South African people. Suffering breeds character.
Mandela was a transformational figure; to say he was a “historical figure” would not give him his full due. Some people move through history as being the “first this or that” – just another figure in a lineage of persons. To be a transformer is to plan, to have the vision to chart the course, the skills to execute. To be transformational is to have the courage of one’s convictions, to sacrifice, to risk life and limb, to lay it all on the line. “Historical figures” will reference Nelson Mandela.
I recall marching against apartheid with Oliver Tambo and the enormous rally at Trafalgar Square in November 1985. I later met with the prime minister, Margaret Thatcher to decry Britain’s economic, political and military support of the apartheid regime. Let us not forget that Britain, the US, all of the western powers, labelled Mandela a terrorist and steadfastly propped up the apartheid regime – they were on the wrong side of history. I appealed to her to support the release of Mandela, and departed for South Africa.
My heart burst with excitement on that day of Mandela’s release from Victor Verster prison, 11 February 1990. When word got out about his impending release, maids started doing the toya toya in the hallways, beating pots and pans, weeping and demonstrating. “In the end, faith will not disappoint.”
I met Mandela and Winnie at City Hall, and when we spoke later at our hotel, he thanked me and recalled hearing about my 1984 convention speech. Even from his jail cell, he was keenly aware of the outside world, and the ebbs and flows of the world. Three years later, as part of the official US delegation, I was honoured to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s inauguration as president of the new, free South Africa.
We forged an everlasting relationship. We’ve welcomed him to our home and headquarters in Chicago. We’ve met numerous times in South Africa – the last time in 2010 where we spoke about boxing, sports, politics and traded baseball caps.
Mandela was a giant of immense and unwavering intellect courage and moral authority. He chose reconciliation over retaliation. He changed the course of history.
Now, both South Africa and the US have unfinished business to complete.
Nelson Mandela is not gone, he remains with us always. He’ll always be a chin bar to pull up on. He has indeed forged South Africa as a new “beauty from ashes”. He has left this earth, but he soars high among the heavens, and his eloquent call for freedom and equality is still heard amongst the winds and the rains, and in the hearts of the people the world over.
Lighting up Africa: Can DR Congo’s Inga dam project power Africa?
November 15, 2013 | 1 Comments
By Maud Jullien*
It has been a long-held continental dream to harness this renewable energy, but given the Democratic Republic of Congo’s chequered past, it seemed likely to remain just that.
However, thanks to a recent deal signed by South Africa promising to buy electricity from a planned hydroelectric project, in eight years’ time it may start to become a reality.
The Bundi valley, which lies parallel to the Congo River and where some 30,000 villagers live, will be flooded with water and dammed to become a giant lake.
The whole project is known as Grand Inga – and when fully completed will be the world’s largest hydroelectric plant with more than twice the power generation of the Three Gorges Dam in China.
The site for the project is in Bas Congo, a province at the extreme south-west of DR Congo, about 50km (30 miles) from the mouth of the river where there are powerful rapids and waterfalls.
“There will only be one dam wall,” Bruno Kapandji, DR Congo’s minister of hydraulic resources and electricity, told the BBC.
“But there will be six different hydroelectric power stations around it to produce up to 40,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity.”
Each of these power stations will represent a separate phase in the project, but the electricity is supposed to come online by 2020 when the first, Inga 3, is due to be completed.
It will produce 4,800MW of electricity, 2,500MW of which will go to South Africa and 1,300MW to Katanga, where it will be used in the region’s rich mines.
Mr Kapandji says there are such huge needs across the continent that DR Congo is guaranteed to find customers when the other sections of the dam are built.
“We already have a deficit of more than 300MW today in Katanga,” he says.
“In 2020 we’ll have a deficit of more than 2,000MW in the main mining province, if we stay in this situation, but there is also the deficit in South Africa, the deficit in Nigeria.
As well as building the dam wall and Inga 3 hydropower plant by 2020, two new power lines will also be laid.
One will go to South Africa and another to the capital, Kinshasa, as existing cables do not have sufficient capacity to carry the huge volumes of power expected.
The construction works for the first phase of the project will be funded by the World Bank, the African Development Bank and private investors yet to be found.
“Now that we have a credible customer, South Africa, finding investors to build the dam won’t be a problem,” says Mr Kapandji.
The total cost of about $11bn (£6.8bn) for the first phase is under DR Congo’s annual revenue of $17bn.
As for the following phases of Grand Inga, there are no confirmed customers yet, but the minister says Nigeria has already expressed interest in buying 3,000MW.
The 145m (475 ft) tall dam will be adjustable, and as the project reaches its next phases, the wall will be adjusted to let more water flow in.
Preliminary feasibility studies done by Canadian firm AECOM and France’s EDF have been positive.
But trying to provide for the whole continent seems ambitious for a country where barely 10% of the population have access to electricity.
In the capital only wealthy families have power generators at home, and for the vast majority of people, electricity is a luxury.
“We have power a few hours a week, never in the evenings,” says Armel, a student who lives in one of the poorest areas of the capital.
His neighbourhood, Camp Muganga, looks like a huge village.
There are small stands with noisy generators where you can charge your mobile phone battery for a few hours at the cost of a few hundred Congolese francs, the equivalent of a few cents.
“You organise your life around the power shortages,” says Armel.
“We do as much as we can during the day and in the evening we use flashlights and candles.”
Following President Jacob Zuma’s visit to Kinshasa last month when he signed the electricity deal, many of the city’s residents have been questioning why electricity produced by the Congo River will go south when there are such huge needs at home.
The Congolese government says it aims to avoid repeating past mistakes – it wants to make sure the Inga project can be a viable business.
In the 1970s and 1980s, when former President Mobutu Sese Seko oversaw the construction of the Inga 1 and 2 dams, most of the electricity produced was for domestic consumption.
But 10 years after they were built, both dams were dilapidated because of a lack of funding.
“If things didn’t work out the way we wanted them to, it’s because we didn’t have money,” Daniel Yengo, the former head of the public electricity company, Snel, told the BBC.
“Our only source of income was electricity sales, and our biggest customer was the state, which consumed about 40%,” he said.
“But the state never paid its bills. So I knew what needed to be done to ensure a proper maintenance of the dams, but I just couldn’t do it because we didn’t have the necessary means.”
Even today, Mr Yengo says the government only pays about two thirds of its bills to Snel.
During Mobutu’s time in power, corruption was endemic and inflation was so high that prices in shops could change several times a day.
Inga was only one of several of the former president’s ambitious projects to fall prey to mismanagement.
Today the country is still estimated to be one of the most corrupt in the world, but the economy has stabilised.
Mr Kapandji says the new venture will be completely different.
“Grand Inga will be privately managed and privately funded, it won’t be a public company with all the risks that that would comprise,” he said.
But several local non-governmental organisations are sceptical about the government’s intentions.
“All they would have to do is renovate Inga One and Two. That would be enough to provide electricity for the whole country,” says Jean Marie Muanda from the rights association Action for Development and Life.
“Why start this project when there are already so many management problems with the existing ones?”
He is also worried about the social impact such a project could have on the people who live near the dam.
When construction begins in two years’ time, a transfer canal will be built from the river to the valley which will be flooded.
The village of Mvuzi Three is one of the closest to the future site of Inga Three.
“I remember when they told us Inga One and Two would be built,” recalls the village chief, Joseph Mvuzi.
“They promised us jobs, and we thought things would get better – but we got nothing. We don’t even have electricity and running water.”
Now he does not expect anything positive from the new project and he worries for the future.
The villagers have not yet been told where their new home will be, although the government says it has identified a site for them and they will be financially compensated.
“How will we live? Will we have farmlands, will our children be able to go to school?” Mr Mvuzi said.
Mr Kapandji says he is aware of the scepticism, but he is adamant that this time President Joseph Kabila’s political leadership will make the difference.
For Mr Yengo, failing to take advantage of this opportunity would be a mistake for all of Africa.
“Inga is an exceptional site and it has to be used,” he says.
“The electricity demands are always growing in the country and in the region.
“The country’s development and the continent’s development depend on it.
“I think if everyone pays their bills, if the maintenance is properly done and the machines are not overused, there’s no reason it shouldn’t work.”
Latest News November 14, 2013
November 14, 2013 | 0 Comments
news From All Africa
- Tunisia: Sponsors of Dialogue Meet With Salvation Front Parties
[Tunis Afrique Presse]Tunis -A meeting took place late on Wednesday evening between the dialogue sponsoring quartet and delegates of the salvation front parties.
- Africa: Time for a Revolution to Save Ourselves From Fossil Fuel
[SACSIS]This week the latest round of climate negotiations, the 19th Conference of the Parties (COP19) is meeting in Warsaw Poland, to grapple with the stalled Climate Change Convention.
- Mauritania: Beyond Boundaries – How to Help Nomadic Refugees
[IRIN]Mbera -Nomadic or semi-nomadic populations often struggle when hemmed into refugee camps.
- Kenya: Does Hague Case Against Kenya Undermine Peace?
[ISS]On 5 November 2013, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) began handling the request to defer the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) cases in the Kenyan situation. The request, which was submitted on 1 November for consideration by non-permanent members Rwanda, Togo and Morocco under instruction from the African Union (AU), relates specifically to the cases against Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy, William Ruto.
- Africa: Bruising Year in Africa's Media Wars
[African Arguments]It has been a bruising year for African media.
- Kenya: UN Scheduled to Vote on Kenyatta Trial Delay
[AI London]The UN Security Council must not give in to political pressure to defer Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s trial at the International Criminal Court for a year, Amnesty International said ahead of a scheduled vote on Friday.
- South Africa: Were One Million Households Electrified? Testing Zuma's Claim
[Africa Check]President Jacob Zuma claimed recently that more than a million South African households have been connected to electricity over the past five years. But, as Africa Check found, the source for the claim is unclear and numbers provided by different government departments vary significantly.
- Africa: Digital Divide to Power Divide
[AfricaFocus]”The success of many African countries in addressing the digital divide masks a large, yawning hole into which many are about to fall. The more successful they are at addressing the digital divide, the more it turns into the power divide. The shortage of electricity access and poor quality of supply will begin to undermine what has been achieved. … The kind of political focus that has been bought to bear on the digital divide just does not exist to address this problem.” – Russell Southwood,
- Africa: UN High-Level Briefing Addresses Humanitarian Crises in Africa
[MediaGlobal]United Nations -On Oct. 1, the fourth annual meeting on the work of African Regional Economic Communities (RECs) took place on the sidelines of the United Nations 68th General Assembly.
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Hand washing: A lifelong Vaccine to Diseases (Ugandans’ love for spoon feeding costly)
November 11, 2013 | 0 Comments
By Nelson Kukundakwe
06th Nov 2013.
“Building toilets alone does not solve the problem nor does providing free soap. Countless “unwanted” toilets are scattered around the world, and, even though most poor people have soap, it is rarely used for hand-washing. To tackle the problem effectively, efforts to provide wash infrastructure must always come hand in hand with efforts to change attitudes and behaviors around sanitation and hygiene”. Those were assertive remarks made by the chairperson LC5 Isingiro district Ignitions Byaruhanda while talking to residents on the day to mark international hand washing celebrations at Kanywameizi primary School in Kabuyanda subcounty. In our communities and other family settings, many lack something as basic as a hand washing facility despite the convincing figures that shows its vitality.
Dr. Edson Tusherure the District Health Officer says Ugandans’ love for ‘spoon feeding’ costs both them and the government. “even when the government tells it’s folk to wash hands they wait to be told to also use soap, and even when they are told to use soap, they want the government to articulate it cyclically or even plead to them” he noted with a profound concern. In Uganda’s rural communities washing hands is an inconvenience adding that it becomes worse if you tell them to use soap. But Patience Byensi the Local council three chairpersons says families are too poor to afford buying soap alongside other family needs “families are too poor to consistently use soap because many of them leave under chronic poverty” she said. But Dr. Tusherure trashes this school of thought on the forced costly expenditure made while treating diseases that consequently come as a result of the would have been a life saving act. He said it’s a question of attitude that needs to be dealt with. “You prefer spending 100,000shs and more on a patient than a 3,000shs for bar of soap a fortnight” he said “we can’t keep buying drugs for patients lets equip them with skills on how to prevent them and make sanitation a lifelong Vaccine to many diseases” he added to argue insightfully. Byaruhanga who also was a guest of honor on the event called for a deliberate move agitating for a perpetual practical hand washing act starting from lower primary.
Statistics and survey
According to statistics a simple basic activity of washing hands can reduce respiratory tract infections by up to 25% and save at least a child who dies every after 20 seconds somewhere in the world, but the act is limitedly practiced due to a number of manageable challenges including but not limited to lack of toilets and clean water apparently, only 3 out of 10 Ugandans can wash hands properly using soap and only 29% Ugandans have access to hand washing facilities this explains why over 70% of the disease burden in Uganda is linked to Inadequate Sanitation. Statistics from the Uganda demographic health survey (UDHS 2005/6) show a total number of 190,000 children die every year due to only diarrhorea whereas over 400 Ugandans succumb to waterborne infection diseases not limited to dysentery, cholera, typhoid and the deadly Marburg and Ebola.
The event was organized by the millennium development project Mbarara region with the aim of achieving MDGs number 5and 6 and goal number 4 that intends to reduce child mortality rate. Unbelievably, the provision of improved sanitation and safe drinking water could reduce diarrheal diseases by nearly 90 per cent hence saving 12% of money spent on the health budget in sub Saharan Africa.
Globally, 3.5 children die before celebrating their fifth birthday due to diahorrea and other sanitary prevented diseases also about 2.5 billion people live without access to a toilet, exposing them to risks of catching Diarrhea that emanates mostly from lack of toilets and poor hygiene making it and pneumonia the biggest silent killer worldwide.
Where does aid money really go — and what is it spent on?
November 1, 2013 | 0 Comments
By Charles Lwanga Ntale*
What is the value and impact of international aid? In an era of global austerity, this is a question that is frequently posed by policymakers and the citizens they represent.
The truth is, it is actually quite hard to measure. But there are important questions about both the quantity and quality of aid that must be answered.
Contrary to popular perception, aid is not one homogenous entity or a single transfer of money from donor to recipient countries. The term “international aid” actually covers a wide variety of things, including food and commodities, advice and training, and debt relief.
In 2011 — the last year we have comprehensive data for — total development aid from rich countries stood at nearly $150 billion, according to the Investments to End Poverty report. Only $59 billion identifiably involves the transfer of actual cash to, for example, recipient governments, NGOs operating on the ground or special project funds.
Aid in kind makes up another $25 billion. Most of this is food aid, which is used to tackle acute hunger — but even this form of aid is not without controversy. Many donors avoid shipping actual food to developing countries, aware that it destroys local markets and harms local farmers.
Research demonstrates that food aid can be poor value for money, especially when food grown in donor countries is shipped to the developing world. Sorghum shipped from the United States is 200% more expensive than it is in Chad and almost 100% more than in Sudan, according to Development Initiatives calculations. Despite this, the United States and Japan continue to make extensive use of food shipments.
Perhaps even more surprising is the fact that large amounts of aid money never actually leave rich countries.
As much as $22 billion — or 20% of bilateral aid spending — is spent on activities in donor countries or put towards the cancellation of debt. This includes funds to cover housing, food and other services for the first 12 months of refugees’ stay in the donor country. It also includes public spending on universities to cover the costs for students from developing countries. In 2011, $4.5 billion was spent on refugee costs, $3.5 billion on university costs and around $7.5 billion on debt relief.
As important as these expenditures may be, they do not result in any transfer of resources to developing nations. These schemes may of course be beneficial to recipient countries in the long term — for example, contributing to capacity development if students return to their countries. But it is undeniable that these schemes are at odds with the common perception of aid as financial support transferred from donor to recipient countries to fight poverty.
These different elements of aid obviously have very different effects on economic development and growth. A dollar of cash will have a very different impact to a dollar’s worth of food or a dollar’s worth of a consultant’s time. It is difficult to understand just how bundling all of these items into one lump sum can allow us to draw meaningful and reliable conclusions about the value of aid.
This lack of clarity was part of the motivation for Investments to End Poverty — a major new report that analyzes aid in all of its complexity. At Development Initiatives we reviewed each individual record of foreign aid from OECD donors over the period 2006-2011 — over a million rows of data. Now, for the first time ever, we can see just how much aid flows between specific countries and, crucially, what that aid consists of.
The results are striking. For example, according to our calculations, Italy and Denmark both gave very similar levels of bilateral aid, just above $2 billion, in 2011. But almost 70% of Italy’s aid stayed in the country, spent on refugee costs and debt relief, whereas around 70% of Denmark’s aid resulted in a transfer of resources to developing countries.
On the recipient side, some countries that appear to receive considerable funds in fact receive a lot less than advertised. Our research found that of the $7.5 billion in aid reported as given to the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2011, more than $5 billion was not transferred to that country, and consisted instead of debt relief.
All of this matters because we are at a crossroads in international development. In the last few decades, we have seen unprecedented progress in alleviating poverty, as recognised by world leaders meeting at the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September. There is a growing consensus that we can end extreme poverty by 2030.
The truth is that we cannot meet this goal without international aid. While FDI and remittances undoubtedly contribute to economic growth in developing countries, aid is the only international resource flow which can be targeted explicitly to improve the lives of the poorest people around the world.
In sub-Saharan Africa alone, 400 million people live in extreme poverty and require interventions that are targeted and complementary to existing support to lift them out of it. Without the support of international aid, most poor people will be left behind.
If we want to maximize the impact and reach of international aid, we need to ensure that every dollar is spent as efficiently as possible. We can only do this with better information and a clear understanding. Then policymakers in both donor and recipient countries can make better and more informed decisions, and civil society can better monitor progress and hold them to account.
Uganda: Museveni in Trouble? FUF Shifts Gears In Bid for Regime Change
October 27, 2013 | 3 Comments
Freedom and Unity front (FUF) – Situation Analysis Report
From now until the liberation of Uganda from the corrupt and dictatorial regime, Freedom and Unity Front (FUF) will be publishing regular Situation Analysis Reports, with the view to informing Ugandan citizens and the entire global community of the political and socio-economic situation in the country, as well as providing updates on the progress of the struggle to free the country from repression.
You are all welcome to the first FUF Situation Analysis Report focusing on the latest developments in Uganda, which indicate a clear worsening of the political climate and the desperation and panic within the regime, resulting in widespread state persecution and intimidation of the people of Uganda.
Analysis Focal Points:
- Visible deterioration of the political and economic affairs of the country, amid growing regime intolerance.
- Population purge and repression by Museveni regime under false pretences of clamping down on ADF, M23 rebel recruitment and camps within Uganda.
- Deliberate sowing of disharmony within the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) and the related purging and arrests of military officers suspected of sympathising with the growing anti-regime opposition.
Visible deterioration of the political and economic affairs of the country, amid growing regime intolerance:
The current situation in Uganda is a real cause for concern. Freedom and Unity Front (FUF) would like to alert all Ugandan people to the impending political implosion and catastrophic disharmony resulting from the deliberate divisive and ill-intentioned approaches being deployed by Yoweri Museveni in his single-minded determination to hang on to power
In the last few months, President Museveni has proved utterly incapable of running the country in an effective and meaningful way.
The country’s economic development has ground to a halt and the financial state of affairs has totally crashed.
Civil servants, as well as police and army service men and women are not being paid their salaries and allowances, leading to widespread suffering and frustrations.
The country is grinding to a halt, with country-wide labour strikes, and a growing state of chaos in sensitive institutions like the army and the police, where service men and women are deserting by the thousands.
The health and education services are non-functional health.
Every homestead across the nation is engulfed by calamitous poverty and the consequent inability to feed families, take children and young people to schools, colleges and universities.
The state of corruption in Uganda in recent times is indescribable. According to a newly published Human Rights Watch report titled ‘Letting the Big Fish Swim: Failure to Prosecute High-Level Corruption’, “…the lack of political will has crippled Uganda’s anti-corruption institutions, undermining their efforts through political interference, harassment, and threats.”
Unemployment is destroying the majority of Uganda’s youths, who now feel imprisoned in a state of helplessness, without hope and faith in possible improvement of their lives under the current political leadership.
In the meantime, land-grabbing scandals have become a daily occurrence, as powerful individuals within or linked to the first family help themselves to huge chunks of land after evicting thousands of local resident using large deployments of police and Special Forces Command operatives. The latest stories from Sembabule involving Kellen Kayonga, the sister to Joviah Saleh the wife of Museveni’s brother General Salim Saleh, where land spreading across six villages is being grabbed is just one example of the intensified lad grabs around the country.
The political situation in the country has broken down irretrievably. So messy is the political environment that the majority of Ugandan citizens are now demanding for an immediate change in the way the country is being managed.
Very few Ugandans are left with any trust in the situation being rectified through the 2016 electoral process. Already most opposition parties, key civil society organisations and simple people on the streets do not believe that the 2016 elections will deliver anything of value, other than entrench political animosities and the repressive autocratic rule of Yoweri Museveni.
To add to the commotion, senior leaders and cabinet ministers are now speaking out on a daily basis against what they see as a very dangerous culture of intolerance and repression by the ruling regime against any Uganda who dares to criticise the defective way the affairs of the country are being managed.
In recent weeks, the clampdown on those suspected of nurturing any type of sympathy towards the emerging freedom struggle.
Population purge and repression by Museveni regime under false pretences of clamping down on ADF, M23 rebel recruitment and camps within Uganda
As Uganda’s political and socio-economic circumstances go from grave to catastrophic, the Museveni regime is intensifying its repressive actions against the people of Uganda.
Innocent citizens are being arrested in their hundreds on mere suspicion of being anti-Museveni. These include civilians as well as military personnel serving within Uganda and on external missions, especially in Somalia.
Reports reaching the intelligence department of Freedom and Unity Front (FUF) confirm on-going widespread regime purges of the populations in many parts of Central, Western and Northern Uganda, with particular focus on the home communities of the leaders of the newly established FUF.
The regime’s repressive and intimidatory actions in places like Sembabule in Buganda and several areas of Lango, Acholi, Ankole and elsewhere, are aimed at sowing fear in the citizens of Uganda so that they do not support the struggle for change.
All this is being disguised under the pretext of countering recruitment and training drives by the Congolese rebel group M23 as well as the supposed Ugandan rebel outfit, ADF.
Government operatives have been seen taking photos of villagers and intimidating them with threats that their photos will be taken to newspapers to show proof of their support for FUF.
Freedom for Unity Front (FUF) has been informed that peasants are being framed and wrongly accused of being rebel sympathisers.
The regime is so worried and in in total panic that it has been sending ministers like Okello Oryem to rush to their home villages to frighten the population with threats of dire consequences should they join or show support to Freedom and Unity Front.
Okello Oryem’s recent rants in Kitgum were also meant to frighten the people by sowing inter-ethnic hatred and animosities, but reports reaching FUF show that the people of Kitgum gave him and his boss Museveni the cold shoulder.
As if that was not enough, the regime is also resorting to arbitrary closures of peoples businesses citing collaboration with FUF. The closing down of the foreign exchange bureaux shops in the Kampala city suburb of Bugolobi and along Entebbe road were the beginning of a systemic purge of the business fraternity, who in actual fact have nothing to do with the liberation struggle.
The business community purges, have been followed by kidnappings of suspected rebel collaborators, who actually were no more than simple people going about their daily business. For example, two people Kenya, whose names can’t be revealed here, as their relatives continue hunting for them, were grabbed in the border town of Busia and their whereabouts are still unknown.
Calling London a crime
FUF has established that in recent days the police and Special Forces Command covert agents raided houses in Kampala and arrested many people, who until now are still being held in safe houses. The crime they committed? That they were monitored calling United Kingdom numbers. Currently, a number of FUF leaders are based in the UK.
It is worth noting that hundreds of thousands of Ugandans have relatives who work in UK. They is now a total scare in the population, as they can no longer readily reach their loved ones.
Deliberate sowing of disharmony within the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) and the related purging and arrests of military officers suspected of sympathising with the growing anti-regime opposition.
The rampart persecutions and intimidation of innocent Ugandans is also being felt deeply in Uganda’s military, police and security services. For example, officers, men and women in uniform were warned to stop calling London. There is now a blanket ban on communication between soldiers and their relatives in UK. The regime fears that soldiers might be able to contact FUF leaders like General Sejusa, Colonel Ogole and others.
In addition, divide and rule tactics designed to set soldiers against soldiers, rank and file against officers, and military citizens against civilian citizens, are now being deployed, in a ploy meant to disorganise and weaken the military. The end result is meant to sabotage any organised action by disaffected and disillusioned service people.
Freedom and Unity Front (FUF) condemns the arbitrary arrests, kidnappings, and the other totally unjustified intimidation methods being used by the Museveni regime against innocent citizens.
FUF calls upon the international community to condemn the wanton human rights violations by the Museveni regime, which actions are causing immense fear and alarm within the entire population.
FUF believes that Ugandans deserve to live a better life, in a country where democracy and respect for human rights is the norm.
Way forward for Ugandans
The solution is for Ugandans to set themselves free from Museveni’s adverse violations of the people’s rights.
What the regime must know is that it is exactly because of these types of anti-people actions that Freedom and Unity Front (FUF) has launched the struggle for liberation.
The people of Uganda have decided to come together in order to put an end to political repression and dictatorship.
Unfortunately for Museveni, instead of the people being subdued and frightened, they are seeing Freedom and Unity Front (FUF) as a liberation tool that has come to free them from oppression.
Signed: Dr. Vincent Magombe
Press secretary, Freedom and Unity Front (FUF)
AfDB launches 3-year USD 500 million Inaugural Green Bond
October 12, 2013 | 0 Comments
On Thursday, 10th October 2013, the African Development Bank (AfDB), rated Aaa/AAA/AAA, launched its inaugural Green Bond transaction.
As the momentum in Africa builds toward development embedded with climate action, the AfDB Green Bond program is providing countries with financing for programs in sustainable energy, resilient rural coastal and forest landscapes, and globally scalable knowledge on low-carbon and climate resilient solutions. Investors can make a difference with their investment by financing climate change solutions through AfDB’s Green Bonds.
The proceeds of the Green Bond support the financing of low carbon and climate resilient projects in line with AfDB’s long term strategy which focuses on inclusive and green growth. Projects to be financed include those in renewable energy generation, energy efficiency, vehicle energy efficiency fleet retrofit or urban transport modal change, biosphere conversation projects, solid waste management, fugitive emissions and carbon capture, urban development, and water supply and access.
With the market clear of competing USD supply due to the stalled US budget discussions, the AfDB decided to take advantage of the clear issuance window and announced their inaugural 3-year Green Bond transaction in the London afternoon of Wednesday, 9th October. Initial pricing thoughts for the 3-year USD 500 million transaction were shown at midswaps plus 5 basis points area and quickly attracted indications of interest from US and European socially responsible investors. Following continued interest overnight from US and Asian accounts, the lead banks officially opened books for the transaction in the London morning of Thursday, 10th October. Books finally closed at around 14.30 London time with orders approaching USD 550 million, and the oversubscribed transaction was priced at midswaps plus 5 basis points later on in the afternoon, in line with the initial guidance of the transaction.
“This first Green Bond of the African Development Bank is part of its quest to use public-private partnerships to meet the challenges of development in Africa. It is another opportunity for private capital to earn market rates of return, while supporting sustainable and low-carbon growth in the continent,” says Donald Kaberuka, President, African Development Bank Group.
The transaction was placed with 36 investors including the Third Swedish National Pension Fund, AP4, BlackRock, CalSTRs, Calvert Investment Management, Inc, Nordea Investment Management, Pictet Asset Management, Praxis Intermediate Income Fund, State Street Global Advisors (SSgA) for their High Quality Green Bond Fund, TIAA-CREF, and Trillium Asset Management, LLC.
Very strong support came from investors focused on socially responsible investing, who bought 84% of the bonds. The distribution by investor type was as follows: 43% with asset managers, 28% with central banks and official institutions, 28% with insurance companies and pension funds, and 1% with retail and private banks. In terms of geographical distribution, 52% of the bonds were placed with accounts in the Americas, 39% with EMEA, and 9% with Asia.
“Nordea Investment Management has integrated ESG in the investment processes. In the International Fixed Income Team it is a part of our analysis and ESG methodology. We only invest when the risk/reward looks attractive. AFDB´s Green Bond is an attractive investment in a trustworthy AAA-rated Organization,” says Rolf Ohlson, Senior Portfolio Manager at Nordea Investment Management.
“The African economy is growing fast and through the green bonds we get exposure to this interesting market. Green bonds that help to finance the transition to green growth in Africa is important for us as a long term investor. This bond will be earmarked for climate friendly projects,” says Christina Hillesöy, Head of Communications & Sustainable Investments at Third Swedish National Pension Fund.
“With this inaugural Green Bond, AFDB successfully demonstrated that its platform of projects for Green growth is meeting specific demand in the capital markets from investors willing to be involved in the financing of those projects. The success of this transaction is another milestone in the development of the Green bond market and it will help increase both awareness around the product and confidence for more investors to get involved.” says Matthieu Batard, Frequent Borrowers Syndicate at J.P. Morgan.
“With their inaugural $500mm Green Bond transaction, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has emphatically announced its presence as a major force in promoting climate change solutions in Africa. AfDB dedicated significant time to engaging with SRI focused accounts ahead of this transaction, and the deal’s success is reflected in its oversubscription and in the number of new investors that have been attracted to the AfDB name. Morgan Stanley is very proud to have been involved in this outstanding bond issue, as part of our ongoing commitment to developing sustainable finance,” says Navindu Katugampola, Vice President, SSA Origination, Morgan Stanley.
“SEB are proud to support AfDB in launching their inaugural Green Bond transaction. AfDB has by this transaction reached a wider group of investors and the continuous effort to support awareness and development of positive climate change initiatives have been reinforced by including such a well reputed issuer. The format and platform under which these securities have been issued reinforces the Green Bond structure initially developed together with the World Bank, providing investors with a solid framework and a recognizable structure that is becoming a standard through the financial community,” says Hans Beyer, Global Head of Capital Markets at SEB.
- Issuer: African Development Bank (AfDB)
- Format: Global Debt Issuance Facility (SEC exempt)
- Amount: USD 500 million
- Settlement date: 18 October 2013
- Maturity date: 18 October 2016
- Issue price: 99.707%
- Coupon: 0.75%
- Issue yield: 0.849%
- Spread: Midswap +5 bps and +15.5 bps over the 0.625% UST due October 2016
- Denomination: USD 1,000 or integral thereof
- Listing: Luxembourg Stock Exchange
- Joint-Lead Managers: J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley and SEB
- ISIN: US00828EAX76
- *Source ADB
U.S African Policy is rooted in its people says Senior State Department Official
October 4, 2013 | 0 Comments
-Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs, Assistant Secretary Linda Thomas-Greenfield sheds light on U.S Foreign policy in African. PAV shares a complete transcript of the event from LiveAtState,the State , the State Department’s online interactive video program for engaging with international media.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, thank you very much. I am really excited to be here. I have been in the position of Assistant Secretary for African Affairs all of two months. I’m delighted to be working on Africa issues again, having served for four years as the U.S. Ambassador to Liberia and previously as a Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Africa Bureau. It’s really, really exciting to meet the press in Africa, and I think it says a great deal about our policy on free press and encouraging press freedoms, so I look forward to getting to know all of you, talking about issues in Africa, and at some point, visiting the countries you’re calling in from and meeting you face to face. So again, thank you very much.
MODERATOR: Thank you so much. As we get started, we’ll start pretty broadly. How would you define U.S. interests in Africa, and how are they changing?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: That’s a great question. Let me just start by saying that our interests in Africa are in the people of Africa. Every policy initiative that we have taken over the past few years focused on Africa’s people. And as we look at the four pillars of our U.S. foreign policy, it’s strengthening democratic institutions that, again, focus on people. We want to promote regional peace and security. We want to engage young African leaders like all of you who are sitting in the room. And we want to promote development, trade, and investment.
So those are the core policy pillars, but for those of you who followed the President’s visit to Africa a few months ago, he announced three major initiatives. And again, these are initiatives that focus on people. He announced Power Africa, which will look at the possibility of working with some of our African colleagues to bring electricity to 80 percent of the population who have never had electricity. He announced Trade Africa, which is an initiative that will look at trade in East Africa to start, how African countries can better trade among themselves, but also to encourage the trade with the United States. And then third, and one of the most important initiatives, is YALI, the Young Africa Leaders Initiative, which will have us work with young leaders all over the continent.
As you know, more than 60 percent of Africans, almost in every country – and this figure might be quibbled with a little bit – but about 60 percent are ages 35 and below, and we really want to focus on helping to build the leadership skills of those young people so that they can move into positions of authority in the future.
So I look forward to hearing your questions and having this discussion. Thank you very much.
MODERATOR: Getting us started, we have Bridget Mananavire from the Daily News, Zimbabwe. She starts off with a very current affairs issue. She asks: How will the U.S. Government shutdown affect its policies in Africa, including investment and funding?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: That’s an excellent question, and it’s a question that we’re getting a lot across the world. The State Department and USAID are major, major funders on the continent of Africa, are national security agencies. And because of that, we are able to continue operations, albeit sometimes at lower levels as we move forward. But most of our funding right now is 2013 funding, and that funding will continue. We’re hoping that this is short-lived and we will be able to move forward, but I think most of you will not see any difference in what we’re doing in Africa on the development front or on the investment front.
MODERATOR: Ajong Mbapndah from the Pan African Visions, he asks – or he explains: Terrorist acts seem to be on the rise in Africa with recent attacks in Kenya and the continuing chaos in Nigeria as a result of Boko Haram. In what concrete ways is the U.S. assisting African countries to cope with the threats of terrorism? With all its atrocities, it appears that the U.S. does not consider Boko Haram in Nigeria a terrorist group. It has bombed a United Nations building, killed people in churches and mosques, and most recently, students. What definition of a terrorist group is missing from the activities of Boko Haram, or why is the U.S. reluctant to label it as one?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Let me start with that question. We do consider Boko Haram a terrorist group. We have sanctioned all the top three leaders of Boko Haram. And we are working very, very closely with the Nigerian Government as they address this security threat. We believe that terrorism anywhere affects people everywhere, and we want to be involved in assisting our colleagues, whether it’s in Kenya or Somalia or Nigeria, in addressing this threat.
I want to offer my condolences to the people of Kenya following the Westgate terrorist attack, and I want to announce again that in Nigeria, we are horrified by the attack on young people at this college, and we do see that as a terrorist act. And I offer my condolences to the people of Nigeria as well.
MODERATOR: Speaking of Westgate, Kevin Kelley, the USUN correspondent for the National Media Group in Kenya, asks: How does the Westgate mall attack affect U.S. relations with President Kenyatta, and will there be a modification of your predecessor’s warning of consequences should Kenyatta be elected? And how have those consequences been manifested to date?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, we – the Westgate event was an event, again, that affected many, many people, not just the Kenyan people. There were nationals from many other countries who were affected by that. As you know, President Obama called President Kenyatta to express our condolences and offer our assistance to the Kenyan people. So we will continue to support the Kenyan people as they deal with terrorism, as they have dealt with the fire at the airport, and as they move forward to provide security for all of their people. The position of the U.S. Government, as I started out at the beginning, we work with the people of Africa. And the people of Kenya are important to all of our policies.
MODERATOR: Scott Stearns from VOA asks – he has two questions on Mali, and he asks: What is your assessment of the new government’s control over the military? In his speech at the UN last week, President Keita said that there has to be a regional approach to fighting terrorism in the Sahel because it’s bigger than the resources of any one country. And how is that going?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you for that question. One of my first trips as Assistant Secretary was to attend the inauguration of President Keita in Mali, and it was really an amazing event. There were 20 heads of state from around Africa, as well as the President of France and the King of Morocco. All of that says how much we, as an international community, support Mali.
The election, I think, happening 18 months after the coup d’etat sent a strong message to those who would use coups to overturn governments that that is unacceptable. We are looking forward to working with the Government of Mali as the government moves to address many of the issues that resulted from the coup d’etat. And we are very, very – we have made very, very strong statements that the military must be subordinate to civilian leaders. And we will work with the Mali Government to ensure that that’s the case in Mali as well as in other locations where the military might be looking to do the kinds of things that were done in Mali.
MODERATOR: Moving along to Miriam Kaliza of Matindi FM in Malawi, and she asks: In terms of conflicts in Africa, how much is the U.S. doing to ensure that people resolve whatever is wrong – for example, the lake wrangle between Malawi and Tanzania, the conflicts in Madagascar, and others?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: That’s a good question. We are actively involved in Africa. And of course, conflicts in Africa are not beneficial to the people of Africa. One – again, my very first trip as Assistant Secretary was to the Great Lake regions to meet with the Government of Rwanda and the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo as tensions were rising in that region. We’ve been proactively involved in the situation in CAR to ensure that that conflict does not spread, but also to help that country address the issues that have resulted in the conflict. We’re working very, very closely with the Government of Somalia to ensure that conflict there does not occur again.
So again, I think all of this is to say that we are concerned about conflict. We want to ensure that African countries benefit from prosperity, that they take advantage of the opportunities that are there so that Africa can move smartly into the next century.
MODERATOR: Our next question comes from Rebecca Chimjeka from Joy FM in Malawi. It says: Malawi has not taken a clear position on gay rights and same-sex marriages, which countries like yours have been campaigning a lot for. What is your stance on this and the dilemma that Malawi has found herself in coming from a conservative society background?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: That’s a great question. The United States believe that all people are created equal. I’m an African American. I have gone through the experience of being in a country where there were questions about that. So for us, it is unequivocal that regardless of people’s sexual orientation, regardless of their gender, we want all people to be treated with all the rights and protections of human rights that we expect in all countries. So we are prepared, as the United States with very strong values in this area, to work with countries in Africa to help them develop the legislation that will provide human rights to all of its people.
And in the case of Malawi, we’re prepared to work with that government. We’re prepared to work with other governments that have issues in this area. But I think I can say without any doubt that human rights are a core value of the United States, and that plays into all of our relations with every government we’re involved in.
MODERATOR: Jenny Clover from Reuters Rwanda asks: Are you convinced that Rwanda is no longer supporting the M23 rebels?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We have had meetings in the region with the Government of Rwanda, with the Government of DRC. As you know, Secretary Kerry appointed Senator Feingold to work on conflict in that area. We have made it clear in our discussions that any support of any rebel group, whether it’s M23 or FDLR, any support of those rebel groups is seen as contributing to conflict in the region. So we have expressed our views to the Government of Rwanda, to the Government of DRC, and we’re working closely with partners in the region to ensure that groups like M23 are demobilized, disarmed, and held accountable for all actions that they have taken against the civilian population in DRC.
MODERATOR: As a quick follow-up to that same question, can you confirm reports that the U.S. has stopped military support to Rwanda and some other countries because of their use of child soldiers?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We – under the Child Soldiers Prevention Act, we have just announced those countries that are being sanctioned under that act, and Rwanda is one of those countries. Our goal is to work with countries that have been listed to ensure that any involvement in child soldiers, any involvement in the recruitment of child soldiers, must stop. In this case, it was related to M23, and we will continue to have discussions with the Rwandan Government on that issue.
MODERATOR: Going back to the Daily News Zimbabwe, Bridget Mananavire asks: What have seen – or we have seen nations that had previously imposed targeted restrictions on officials and companies in Zimbabwe ease them. Recently, the EU lifted sanctions on the government diamond body Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation. What is the U.S. stance on diamond companies, and will it maintain them, and for how long?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I’m not sure I know the answer to that question, but I can say to you that, in the case of Zimbabwe, our sanctions continue. We will be reviewing those sanctions on a regular basis, and if there are additional individuals who should be sanctioned, we are prepared to add them to our sanction list. And if there are people who we think can be removed from the sanction list, we will remove them from the list.
I will add that we were disappointed with the election. While it was violent-free, we’re not convinced it provided an opportunity for all Zimbabweans to express their views in the election. And again, we will be reviewing our sanctions in light of that.
MODERATOR: Isaac Ongiri from the national media in Nairobi, Kenya, asks: Kenya is in the process of pulling out of the ICC after parliament passed a motion urging the government to withdraw from the court where the president and his deputy are facing charges. What is the position of the U.S. Government regarding this?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: The decision by the Government of Kenya to pull out of the courts – and we don’t know that they have, in fact, made that decision – doesn’t have an impact on the current cases against the president or the deputy president. As you know, we are not a signator to the Rome Convention, but we work very, very closely with the member states to ensure that the ICC is able to carry out its responsibilities and its duties. We will look forward to continuing to work on those issues and hear what African governments have to say about this. But our efforts are to ensure that the court is able to continue to function in a way that allows it to deal with some of the issues that are before the court.
MODERATOR: We now have a question from our watch party in – at the U.S. Embassy in Ghana. Edmund Smith from Asante Daily Graphic in Ghana asks: What areas of partnership does the U.S. have with Ghana?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: That’s a great question. I just – I was in New York last week, and I met with your president. We have a very, very strong partnership with the Government of Ghana. We are very, very pleased with the results of the Supreme Court decision where Ghana had a free, fair election and it was confirmed by your senate, and it was accepted by the opposition. I think that says a lot about how far Ghana has come as a democracy and how strong Ghana’s democracy is. So again, we look forward to working with Ghana. We have lots of investments in Ghana. Ghana is a recipient of a Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact. We again encourage the people of Ghana to continue to move forward as a strong democracy and as a model in the – on the continent, and particularly in the region of West Africa.
MODERATOR: We’re going to go to another watch party which is in Abuja. They ask: Corruption is the bane of Nigeria’s economic growth. How can the U.S. assist?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: That’s a great question, and corruption, as I’ve been quoted saying many times, is a cancer. Corruption thwarts a country’s ability to prosper, and we are working with the Nigerian Government, with its justice sector, and other elements to ensure that Nigeria builds the infrastructure and the capacity to deal with issues of corruption. I think it goes without saying that Nigeria’s prosperity has been affected by corruption. It’s a reputation that Nigeria will have a hard time living down, and we hope that we’re able over the next few years to work with the government to ensure that those individuals who are involved in corruption are held accountable in the legal system of Nigeria.
MODERATOR: Our next question comes from Manjakahery Tsiresena of the AFP Madagascar: How the U.S. did see the election of October 25th in Madagascar?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We are hopeful that this election is one that will allow the Madagascar people to move forward, that the election will allow – the next election will allow all candidates who are eligible to run for president, and that there’s a free, fair, transparent election that, again, will get Madagascar off of the list of countries that have been sanctioned by us and others because of the problems that they have had and Madagascar can start moving forward economically, as well as, as a democratic and a politically stable country.
MODERATOR: Soafaniry Rakotondrainy asks: How would you involve young sub-Saharan young people in the resolution of conflicts in sub-Saharan countries, as they are numerous here?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: As I mentioned at the start, the population of youth in Africa is significantly high. I won’t quote the statistic because it changes depending on who’s quoting it, but African youth have been the victims of conflict all over Africa – they have been victims of recruiting, they have been victims of violence – and we want to see young Africans also be beneficiaries of prosperity in Africa. So the Young Africa Leadership Initiative that the President announced in June when he was in Africa is our effort to start addressing the youth bulge and helping develop the capacity of youth to take on leadership roles in the future, whether it’s in politics, the private sector, academics. We are hoping over the next few months to start the recruitment process for a leadership forum for young African leaders that will take place next summer in the United States. They will spend
about three months here where they will get – have courses on leadership. And then we hope they go back and they use what they have learned to help build the – build on the prosperity that is possible in the countries that they’re from. And then on top of that, we hope that they develop relationships across borders so that when there’s conflict, they’re able to talk to each other because they know each other.
MODERATOR: We’ll move along to another watch party in the Republic of Congo. They ask – they state: In 2008, when President Obama visited Africa, he spoke on the importance of strong institutions, not strong men. What is the U.S. doing to help African countries build strong institutions?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: That’s a great question, and I’ll use the example of Liberia, where – I know better than any country; I served there for almost four years – and we work very, very closely with that government to help rebuild their institutions after more than 15 years in conflict. And this is a policy that we have across Africa. So we are working in ministries of health, we’re working in ministries of education, we’re working with the justice sector, with the minister of justice to build the institution of justice, we’re working with court systems. So this is an important contribution that we are making to help countries move forward in the future.
Power Africa is an amazing example where we will be working with institutions in that country to build not only the regulations that allow for power to be developed in Africa, but also working with the private sector to help build up initiatives that will allow us to bring electricity across the continent.
MODERATOR: The next question comes from – BelAfrika Media Belgium asks: What do you think about the rape of women in Congo and in general, and what are your plans?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: What do I think about the – I think it’s horrible. I think women, whether it’s in Congo or any place in the world, women are greater victims of violence and conflict than any other population. And we have worked very, very closely with the UN, with NGOs, using funding from USAID, from our office of Population, Refugees, and Migration, to deal with women who are victims of violence. It is something that we all have to address, and we also have to work to hold those accountable who are involved in raping women in conflict. And in several cases in DRC, some have been held accountable, but I think more needs to be done. We all have to add our voices of horror to the attacks that have taken place on women across the world, not just in Africa.
MODERATOR: Going back to the watch party in our U.S. Embassy in Ghana, we have a question: The U.S. President pledged seven billion to help combat frequent power blackouts in sub-Saharan Africa. Has Power Africa already begun, and how was the selection done?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Power Africa has begun in the sense that the initiative is moving forward. We are working with private companies as well. Six countries were selected; I think they are just a start for what we would want to do. USAID is leading the initiative on Power Africa. We’re working, again, with our energy office in the State Department as well, and our economic office, and we’re hoping that we can work with institutions on the continent of Africa to develop this initiative. I think this is going to be an initiative that will have a widespread impact, because with power, companies are able to invest. With power, children are able to go to school. With power, health and hospitals are able to function. So this is major for Africa. And while we will – it will take some years for the results to be felt, it’s going to take a lot of work and we are – we’ve started.
MODERATOR: Elias Gebreselassie from the News Business Ethiopia, who’s coming to us from the watch party in Addis Ababa, asks: What do you have to say about – say to the charge that the U.S.’s new focus on the African continent is countering the influence of emerging economies like China?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: That’s a great question. I get asked that question everywhere in Africa. And my answer to that question is: we’re not competing with China in Africa. The U.S. has core values that promote the development of Africa, and we have been in Africa since the beginning. And so, our efforts are not in competition with China. Our efforts are in support of the desires of African people. And the needs in Africa are great, so I think African countries can work with the Chinese to work to get what is in their best interest. But they should not see it in their interest a competition between the United States and Africa, because that doesn’t exist.
MODERATOR: Haguma Christine asks a pretty broad question. She says: Do you have some programs in trade and investments in Africa, and how exactly do they work?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, let me just talk about AGOA, the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act initiative. Ethiopia hosted a very, very successful AGOA forum a few months ago, and more than a hundred representatives from the U.S. Government participated in that. AGOA provides an opportunity for African countries to bring tariff-free trade into the United States, and I think the figure is around $34 million – $34 billion in trade in the past year. And we’re hoping to continue with efforts like AGOA. We have a very strong investment initiative that is being supported by our U.S. Trade Representative’s office, and we work very, very closely with businesses that are interested in investing in Africa. So we have a lot going on on the investment side, and I think those of you who are on the continent right now probably see evidence of that.
MODERATOR: Going back to the watch party in Ghana, Issac Aidoo asks: With Ghana’s present economic challenges, donor countries have expressed concerns about government’s reckless spending. What is the U.S.’s concern going forward, and are you willing to still offer support?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We are very supportive of the people of Ghana and the Government of Ghana, as the government moves forward. We are working to help countries have more transparent budgets. We’re working with countries to help them deal with issues of spending. I don’t have the exact information that you’re referring to on Ghana right now, but I can tell you that we will continue to work with Ghana to address their requirements, and we will continue to support the government’s movement to help the investment climate, so that there are more businesses coming to Ghana, creating more jobs, and hopefully, creating more opportunities.
MODERATOR: From our watch party in Zambia, Stuart Lisulo from The Post asks: Does the United Nations take seriously President Sata and other African leaders’ call for more representation in the UN Security Council?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: That’s an interesting question, because, yes, I think the United States – the United Nations does take that seriously, and I know that there are efforts of reform that are – and discussions about reform that are taking place. African countries are members of the General Assembly, and they need to make their views known as we move forward and have those discussions.
MODERATOR: Going back to the watch party in Addis Ababa, Birhanu Fekade, the reporter from the newspaper in Addis Ababa, asks: The recent attack in Kenya by the al-Shabaab and the attack in Nigeria by Boko Haram are taking place in Africa while the U.S. and allies are watching it happen. Could something have been done to stop these events prior to their happening?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: My answer to that question is simple: If something could have been done to stop those events, it would have been done. We, in the United States, have been victims of terrorist acts in the United States. We’re working very, very closely with the security services both in Nigeria and Kenya and across Africa. In Mali, for example, to address terrorism, to work to thwart terrorist efforts to attack countries, and I think, many terrorist acts that might have happened have been stopped. So if we can stop terrorism, we will do it, and we’re putting a lot of energy, a lot of effort, and a lot of resources on the continent of Africa and elsewhere to stop these horrible acts that lead to the deaths of many civilians – innocent civilians, such as those who died in Westgate Mall.
MODERATOR: Staying at U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Elias M Eseret from the Associated Press and Afro-FM radio asks: The new U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia, Patricia Haslach, has set out that one of her priority will be promoting the rights of the LGBT community, which is mostly not approved of by both the government and the society. Does her stance show a change in policy by the government towards the African continent in general and in Ethiopia in particular on that issue?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: This is a U.S. Government policy. It is a U.S. Government’s value that we believe in human rights for all people despite any laws that might exist that would deny people their human rights. We strongly believe in the rights of people to choose their partners, to choose the person – as President Obama has said, to choose the person they want to love, and not have laws that deny them those rights.
So our Ambassador in Ethiopia is following the policies of the U.S. Government. It’s a broad policy; it’s not a change. It is a policy that reflects our values in – across the United States.
MODERATOR: Going back to the U.S. Embassy in Lusaka. Stuart Lisulo, The Post: When will Zambia receive the next U.S. ambassador to replace former Ambassador Storella?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: That’s a great question. We do a have an ambassador in line to come to Zambia, and I hope that he or she will be there soon.
MODERATOR: Okay. Jason Straziuso says: This is Jason Straziuso from AP in Nairobi. FBI agents have been on the scene at Westgate Mall for several days now. What can you tell us about what they have discovered, particularly as it relates to any evidence the hostages were held by the attackers and many have died inside? Also, is there any progress being made on how many, where from, and who these attackers were?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I can’t answer those specific questions. We do have FBI agents there assisting the Kenyan security authorities in investigating what took place in Westgate mall. They’re providing forensic support. They’re providing other investigative support, and the results of their efforts are being shared with the Government of Kenya. I don’t have access to that information nor do I think it would be appropriate to share it with you here. But I just want to confirm that we’re there to help the Government of Kenya, to help the people of Kenya determine what exactly happened there so that we can find those who were involved and also prevent this from happening in the future.
MODERATOR: Georg Otumu, the NigeriaStandardNewspaper.com, asks: Does the U.S. Government think African Union and ECOWAS leadership – leaders are doing enough to abate the spread of terrorism through various leadership virtues or defects of African leaders in the African continent?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We have a very strong partnership with the AU and with ECOWAS to deal with terrorism and other security incidents throughout the continent. The AU has been a strong partner in Somalia, in Mali, in other countries in Africa. ECOWAS has been amazingly supportive in Mali. ECOWAS was very much involved in the situation in Liberia. So we think that both of those organizations have been strong partners and have had a tremendous impact on providing a – security for Africa.
There’s a lot more work to be done, but we continue to support their efforts through training and providing equipment and support so that African troops can be deployed throughout the continent.
MODERATOR: Elita Nkalo, Capital Radio Malawi, asks: America has increased its military visibility in Africa, and this is leading to speculation that it intends to establish its U.S.-Africa Command Military Base whose current headquarters are in Stuttgart, Germany. How true is this?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We have always had a military presence in our embassies and we’ve worked closely with African militaries across the continent. AFRICOM is in Stuttgart, and as far as I know AFRICOM will remain Stuttgart. There are no plans at this time that I’m aware of that would move AFRICOM to the continent of Africa.
That said, we will continue to develop our military-to-military relationships with African countries and continue to help build the capacity of African militaries to address security issues across the continent. We will continue to work on training African troops so that they can participate in peacekeeping operations, and all of this is being done by our military with AFRICOM’s involvement. But as far as I know, they will continue to operate out of Stuttgart, Germany.
MODERATOR: Our next question comes from the watch party at the U.S. Embassy in Brazzaville: Regarding the Central African Republic, it seems as though the United States is absent. What is the United States doing to support a peaceful future in the CAR?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We’re not absent. We have been very, very actively involved with the neighbors and with our partners to address the very worrisome situation in CAR. We are very concerned that the conflict there has turned this country into a place where terrorists might look to operate, and we want to work closely with the civilian government in CAR to ensure that the Seleka rebels are disarmed and that they are no longer terrorizing the population.
We have a special advisor who has been in the region, has been involved actively in the discussions, and we’re working very, very closely with the AU to support efforts to build up an African force there.
We participated in meetings in New York. I met with your Prime Minister in New York as we looked at ways that we can continue to be actively involved. But we are actively involved, and I want to make sure that that’s understood.
MODERATOR: From the U.S. embassy watch party in Ghana – from Sandra Manu, a student at the Ghana Institute of Journalism asks: How is the U.S. combatting racism against African living – Africans living in the U.S., in other Western countries, in relation to access to equal opportunities? Are there any policies?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: That’s a good question. I think we have strong laws in the United States that provides equal rights to all citizens, whether it’s based – discrimination based on race, sexual orientation, region – I think it goes without saying that those laws are on the books. We are – and we address any complaints in our court system. So I don’t think that there is an issue that the U.S. Government is not supportive of populations that are different.
We are a country that is extraordinarily diverse, and we see diversity as strength. And we have seen many individuals who have come from Africa who are now American citizens who are contributing to the growth of our country but also contributing back to their countries of origin. And this is something that we support as a government, and it is something that we’re proud of as a government. So if individuals are experiencing discrimination, there’s a way to address that in our legal system.
MODERATOR: Okay. We’ve got time for about two more questions. We’re going to take the next one from the U.S. Embassy in Brazzaville, from Eric Goguillot, the TerrAfrica Newspaper: Will the Republic of Congo expect you to visit and meet President Denis Sassou Nguesso?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I am sure that the Republic of Congo will expect me to visit, and I think all countries in Africa will expect me to visit, and I will do my best to do that. It might take some time: remember how many countries there are in Africa. But as the Assistant Secretary, I represent the President and the Secretary to every country in Africa. We have ambassadors that are there to represent our interests, and as the Assistant Secretary, I would like to, at least once, visit every single country in Africa. So if the Republic of Congo is expecting me to visit, I encourage them in their expectations. I can’t say when it’s going to happen, but I can say that I plan to make that trip.
MODERATOR: And our final question will come from the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa from the watch party. Birhanu Fikade – for The Reporter newspaper asks: Will AGOA extend for 15 years ahead?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: That’s a good question. I can’t say that AGOA will extend for 15 years, but I think I can say categorically that we are working on the extension of AGOA, and I’m confident that we will get an extension. How long that extension will be will be determined by our Congress. And again, we just know it will be extended. So I think you can feel confidence about that, and we’ll see how it goes over the next few months.
MODERATOR: Well, that looks like that’s all the time that we have for questions. First of all, we’d like to thank you, Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield, for joining us today and taking the time to ask – to answer all these questions.
For our participants, we’d like to let you know that we’re going to send audio and video files to you as soon – and also a transcript – as soon as we can after this program is over so you can go ahead and file your stories.
And again, we’d like to remind you that you can follow us on Twitter @StateDept, you can follow the U.S. Department of State. But you can also follow the Bureau of African Affairs @AfricaState.
Thank you so much for your time, and we hope that you’ll join us again at our next program soon – for another program of LiveAtState. Watch video here
September 7, 2013 | 0 Comments
A Conversation With Macky Sall
Since it gained independence from France in 1960, the West African country of Senegal has been a bastion of stability and democracy on a continent that has seen relatively little of either. During the presidency of Abdoulaye Wade (2000–2012), however, the Senegalese exception seemed under threat. The elderly Wade grew increasingly authoritarian and corrupt, and he managed to run for a third term even though the constitution prohibited him from doing so. But in March 2012, Senegalese voters dealt Wade a decisive defeat, electing the reformist candidate Macky Sall instead. Trained in France as a geological engineer, Sall had served in a number of government posts under Wade, including prime minister, before publicly breaking with him in 2007. In opposition, Sall created a new political party; served a second term as mayor of his hometown, Fatick; and organized an anti-Wade coalition. Sall spoke with Foreign Affairs senior editor Stuart Reid in Dakar in June, days before U.S. President Barack Obama’s arrival in Senegal for a state visit.
Since independence, most African countries have suffered from coups and civil wars. But Senegal has enjoyed over five decades of stability and multiparty competition. What’s your secret?
It stems from a long historical process. Senegal’s first revolution came at the same time as America’s. In 1776, there was a revolution in the north of Senegal — what we call the Torodbe revolution — that set out new guidelines for governance. There was colonization afterward. But even during the colonial era, beginning in 1848, people could vote for the colonial authorities. In 1914, we elected the first black member of the French National Assembly, Mr. Blaise Diagne, a Senegalese. So before independence, there was already electoral competition.
Another secret can be found in the Senegalese constitution. We have a semi-presidential regime, which means that the government is responsible not only to the president but also to the parliament. There is one chief executive, in contrast with some countries that have two — something that creates tensions that can end in coups. Senegal’s flexible and robust constitution has protected us from coups for 53 years since independence.
We also have stable institutions. Only seven days elapsed between the election of March 25, 2012, and my swearing-in. In the meantime, the legal system issued a ruling, and democratic institutions prepared the transfer. The army and the police complied with the results of the election. A country that does not have stable institutions and a clear constitution cannot be successful.
Senegal is also something of a regional exception in that 90 percent of the population is Muslim, yet the state is secular.
Actually, 95 percent are Muslim. In Senegal, the state has the duty to protect people of all religions — Muslim, Christian, animist. People have the freedom to believe in what they want. That is a fundamental element of our constitution. This does not mean that the majority or the minority cannot express themselves; rather, the state is there to respect the freedom of each citizen to believe in what he or she wants to believe in.
Why did voters choose you instead of Wade? What did your victory represent?
My victory certainly meant that the Senegalese people chose change. The country was divided. The partisans of the former regime were committed to a path where the term of office was no longer limited, even though the constitution of 2001 was clear that no one could have more than two five-year terms. Then, the people came together to stand up against a proposed bill that would have allowed a president to be elected with 25 percent of the vote.
A great deal of hope is what put me in power. I’m quite aware of that. So my role is to strengthen this democratic choice. That’s what I’m trying to do through the institutional reform commission that I set up, which must work to strengthen democracy and not to bring about a new regime.
You promised to crack down on corruption. What have you done, and what do you have left to do?
It’s important that everyone, including those in government now, realize that the era of impunity is over. And we have done a lot in one year. I revived the anticorruption court, which was created by President Abdou Diouf in 1981 but eventually stopped functioning; it was there, but you couldn’t nominate the attorneys and magistrates. I nominated magistrates who agreed to work according to the procedure of the court, which hasn’t been changed. I have submitted a bill on budget transparency. From now on, the government has to make its accounts public on a quarterly basis. The law will also require budgetary officials to declare their assets publicly before they take office.
I also created OFNAC, which is an office to combat fraud. When there are allegations of corruption against current officials, that office has the power to conduct an investigation and refer the case directly to the justice system. These are new measures to increase transparency and good governance, which are important for guaranteeing investment.
Isn’t it true that all politicians, including you, benefited from corruption under Wade?
As far as I am concerned, we benefited from privileges related to our position — prime minister or president of the national assembly — which is completely normal. It has nothing to do with embezzlement or corruption. When you can prove that your assets are in line with your income, there’s no problem. That’s not what is being challenged. What is being challenged is the accumulation of resources that has nothing to do with legal and justifiable sources of income, including mine when I was with President Wade.
Senegal’s neighbor Mali has had a difficult year, with a coup d’état, the Tuareg rebellion, the Islamist takeover of the north, and French intervention. What can Senegal do to improve the prospects for Malian democracy?
First of all, we would like to recognize the role played by the international community, without which Mali would have lost its territorial integrity and independence. This is why we have commended the efforts made by the United Nations, which voted for a resolution that permitted France, along with African forces from ECOWAS [the Economic Community of West African States] and Chad, to stop the jihadist terrorists and reclaim Malian territory.
Today, we are in the final stages of consolidating the peace. The agreement that was just signed in Ouagadougou [Burkina Faso] will help organize elections for July 28 across the country — including in Kidal, a Tuareg stronghold. I believe that Senegal’s role is to continue to side with Mali, to support it in its reconciliation policy as well as in its development policy. We share a long border, more than 400 kilometers [about 250 miles], which must be watched closely. Our fates are linked. What is happening in Mali could happen in any of our countries.
What role should countries such as Senegal play in regional security compared with outside actors such as the United States and France?
We cooperate with France, which is an ally and a friend. It is of course a former colonial power. But France understands the stakes in and the sociology of our countries. The United States also has a security policy in the region, and it is our partner through AFRICOM [the U.S. Africa Command] and everything that it does in terms of military cooperation with various countries.
It is clear that terrorism is a plague in our countries. It compounds our development problems. We have to ensure the security of our populations, the inviolability of our borders, and the stability of our states so that we can focus on such issues as development and poverty.
Senegal, like most members of ECOWAS, can be considered a pivotal country, because it has a military that can intervene at home just as it can abroad. Senegal has more than 2,000 soldiers in operations across Africa. We are present in Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Darfur, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and other countries. There could be better-thought-out cooperation that would enable Africa, in case of a challenge like the one we experienced recently in Mali, to have special forces capable of reacting first to stop the danger and neutralize the threat and, afterward, to cooperate economically and strategically.
So can Africa take care of its own problems now?
No. Africa cannot handle its own problems, because we are not yet at the point where we have the logistical capabilities to deploy troops in case of emergency. It’s simply a matter of means, not a matter of men. Remember, when our troops intervened in Mali, they deployed over land. Today, Senegalese troops are in Gao, which is 2,400 kilometers [almost 1,500 miles] away. They had to travel there in convoys of trucks and four-by-four vehicles. That’s a problem. So as long as the logistics are not sorted out, we will always be lagging behind. But we are handling matters with our community organizations, with our respective countries, and particularly with our partners, such as the United States, France, and the European Union, among others.
After much delay under the previous administration, the former dictator of Chad, Hissène Habré, will now be tried for crimes against humanity by a Senegalese court, not by a court in Europe. Does this represent a new model for African justice?
Yes. The world has changed, and in 2013, it’s not acceptable for us to still be expelling African leaders to European countries. Africa should have the means to try people who have been accused of crimes. In the case of Mr. Habré, an African Union resolution demanded that Senegal, where he has lived in asylum for the past 20-plus years, organize his trial. Under my predecessor, the Senegalese government accepted this mandate. This mandate must be enforced, and that’s what we’re in the process of doing.
If Habré is convicted, will you go after his assets?
It is not our duty as a state to make a decision. It’s the duty of the justice system to do what it has to do. We cannot interfere with his personal affairs or his assets. The justice system will shed some light on it and decide what must be done.
If Senegal is committed to justice for Habré, then why is your current prime minister Habré’s former banker?
I did not appoint my prime minister because of the Habré case. Now, if it comes out that he is truly linked to the Habré case, or if he is charged with anything, then I will make a decision. But for the moment, there’s no reason to doubt him or take measures against him so long as a ruling has not been made.
What did the election of Obama mean to Africans?
Africans took a lot of pride in the election of Obama, because it proved wrong those who believed in racist assumptions, that a black man could not live up to a white man. Of course, President Obama is the president of the United States, not the president of Africa, so he stands up for the interests of America. But his election broke down barriers.
Some say that Obama has done less than President George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton in terms of promoting trade with Africa or assisting with public health efforts there.
You cannot ask President Obama to do something that he can’t do. He came to power in a time of historic difficulties in the United States. The economy was on the brink, there was a war in Afghanistan and a war in Iraq, there was the subprime mortgage crisis. All these crises led him to take care of his country first, to put an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I think he can be judged at the end of his tenure. None of his predecessors could do anything real during their first terms. It’s in the second term that they enjoyed more freedom and could take the initiative. I do hope that he’s going to do something that will be important. There’s no doubt about it. That’s the feeling I have.
Much of the budget of the Senegalese government, 20 percent, still comes from foreign aid. What can African countries do to wean themselves off international assistance?
Aid indeed represents 20 percent of our budget. But there was a time when it was 60 percent. We need that aid for development, but more than aid, we need investment. We are working today to establish public-private partnerships and attract private investment. That development will trigger productivity that will enable us to have a balanced budget and eventually no longer need aid, which is not easy to raise. African countries also have high levels of debt compared to elsewhere, and we cannot develop infrastructure without getting out of debt. Africa needs help.
Senegal’s rate of economic growth is lower than those of its neighbors. Why does it remain so low?
Well, what accounts for Senegal’s slow growth — in 2013, it will be 4.3 percent — is that we are handicapped by the energy sector, which is making the economy less competitive. We have initiated bold measures to provide for a sustainable response to the energy crisis. We also have another handicap: our agricultural sector, which should be the engine of growth, remains traditional, with low yields and the inefficient use of land. So we have decided to modernize the agricultural system, while protecting the family nature of some holdings, with seed capital to increase yields and productivity through mechanization.
What about reducing the role of the state in the economy?
I’m a liberal, so I believe the economy is not something that the state creates. It is business, it is competitiveness, it is productivity that does that. But the state has a fundamental role: to secure an environment conducive to business. Thus, it is necessary to have the rule of law and make sure that private investment is protected. Above all, we have to fight against factors that limit investment — in particular, corruption and red tape. I have launched major initiatives to fight corruption and illegal enrichment, as well as to remove administrative constraints. Very soon, you will see our reforms aimed at speeding up the time it takes to start a business. Our single-window system gathers together in the same place — in APIX, which is the agency to promote investment — all the services that foreign or national investors need, to save time, in terms of procedures.
What about human capital? In Senegal, over 60 percent of women over the age of 15 are illiterate. Many people suffer from malaria or malnutrition. Sixty percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day. What are you doing about these problems?
Most of Senegal’s population is young, as is characteristic of Africa. We have a high population growth rate, around 2.5 percent, so if the economic growth rate is not three times that, it is very difficult to create wealth. As a result of this very fast-growing population, we have youth unemployment. We need to educate young people, ensure their health, and make sure that they are required to attend school at least until they turn 16. There are more than 300,000 youths who enroll in primary school each year, so we need enough classrooms and teachers. Senegal made major progress in education before I even came to power, and we are continuing it, because we are deeply convinced that it is human capital that will make the difference. And then there are our major efforts in higher education, which we are continuing to pursue despite some difficulties. But we have no choice. We have to invest in vocational training in order to ensure the full development of our people through employment. And even if they do not get a job here, they can emigrate with their skills. Many countries need doctors, engineers, and technicians; Senegal can provide them.
Women’s rights are correlated with economic growth; what are you doing regarding girls in school?
We have a law on gender parity for elected positions. It’s really an extraordinary leap forward made by Senegal. We also have basic incentives so that young girls stay in school as long as possible. We are pleased to see the quality of training for girls in school; more and more, in secondary school and at university, they earn better grades than boys. Increasingly, women are getting trained in all areas. Initially, they studied literature and the law; now, they are in all fields — scientific, medical, everything. But we must persevere. In cities, there isn’t a problem. But we want to see the same improvement in a rural areas, where there are still battles to be fought. But given our high rate of universal access to education, this is a fight we have almost won here in Senegal.
China has ramped up its investment in Africa. Some fear this is not good for the prospects of African democracy. Are they right?
Well, I can’t see why the development of Chinese investment would constitute a danger for democracy.The cooperation with China is much more direct and faster than the cooperation we have with Western countries — the United States, European countries, and other bilateral donors. There are a lot of criteria on governance, on this and that, and a lot of procedures. That’s one of the obstacles to effective cooperation: too many procedures. Each partner has its own list of these procedures, and so countries spend a lot of time dealing with procedures. I’m not saying that what China is doing is better, but at least it’s faster. And we need speed.
Are you optimistic about the fate of Africa?
I am very optimistic, because I am aware that Africa today has every chance to catch up. Africa has a young population, natural resources, and, now, democracy. Africa is stable, democratic, and secure, and its natural resources are better managed thanks to transparency in the extractive industries. For investors, Africa provides a faster and more exciting return on investment, because everything remains to be done — infrastructure, energy, and development. Development has gone around the world, to Europe, to America, to Asia. It’s Africa’s turn now.
*Source Foreign Affairs Magazine
Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters to fight poll
September 6, 2013 | 0 Comments
South Africa’s former African National Congress Youth League leader, Julius Malema, has registered a political party to contest next year’s elections.
The party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, will seek to redistribute land and nationalise South Africa’s rich mines, he said.
He launched the EFF in July but did not say whether it would take part in the 2014 poll.
Mr Malema was expelled from the governing ANC in 2012 for indiscipline.
He also faces corruption charges, which he says are politically motivated.
Mr Malema described the launch of his party as “the beginning of [a] real radical, militant and decisive political programme which will lead to real emancipation of the people of South Africa, Africa and the world”, the South African Press Association quotes him as saying.
“The oppressed and exploited people of the world should now expect real anti-imperialist actions and political programmes which will practically and programmatically undermine neo-liberalism and global capitalism.”
As well as redistributing land and nationalising the mines, he promised to provide free, quality education, healthcare and sanitation.
BBC South Africa analyst Farouk Chothia says Mr Malema is popular, especially with the young and the poor, but it is not clear whether he will be able to set up a nationwide party, capable of grass-roots campaigning and mobilising voters.
Once a close ally of President Jacob Zuma, Mr Malema has become one of his strongest critics and campaigned for his removal from office at the ANC’s national conference in December 2012.
He has accused the president of not doing enough to help the poor black voters who had helped to elect him.
The ANC has a huge majority in parliament and has governed since the end of white minority rule in 1994.
But analysts say that increasing numbers of South Africans are losing faith in the party, accusing it of corruption and failing to improve the lives of ordinary people.
South Africa is the continent’s biggest economy, largely based on its mineral wealth, but it has experienced sluggish growth in recent years.
Musings on the July 14th African soldiers parade in Paris
July 29, 2013 | 0 Comments
By Jacques Sotero Agboton*
vis-à-vis the Europeans. At this point, if these Africans were reactive as one should expect, we will be able to say that this was a predictable response. However, that is not the case and perhaps, it must be seen as an incurable pathology.
The reason we think there is something wrong is because there is no greater insult to a whole continent of people when the France military named its so-called rescue war in Mali by the code words of operation “Serval”. If the laymen may be excused, Presidents in Africa and the cohort of educated leaders do not seem to have grasped the connotations of these words. On the other hand, the French and for that matters most westerners knew without a doubt that a Serval is a wild cat which characteristically urinates on several outposts to demarcate its territory. Thus, France was obviously redrawing her territories in Africa.
One may wonder if such consideration was important to Africans given the debacle of the Malian army as some rag-tag Jihadists invaded the country after fleeing Lybia because of attacks by NATO forces. These fanatics were able in a record time to seize half of Mali to create Azawad. Other African head of states watched powerlessly the people of Mali get underpinned by a junta of clueless junior military officers who after overthrowing a corrupt regime cannot counter religious fanatics from the north.
Our consternation is not the result of the blemish on some African pride though we expected that leaders of a regional community called the ECOWAS with more than 200 million inhabitants to muster the courage to confront less than 10 thousand terrorists. By God, we could not even rely on the African Union which marched to the whims of our Arab enemies. Why do we want to believe in a brotherhood with Arabs when Blacks are still slaves in their countries? That’s another matter.
But truly, our anger is to know that for decades, France deviously kept the armies of African countries ill-equipped, weak and with incompetent cadres under special military conventions such that tragedies like these ones were inevitable.
Those who applauded France’s François Holland as the savior when he intervened in Mali have yet to understand the machination of criminal minds in the new world order. Obviously, we could not expect much from those stooges we hold as presidents or head of states in Africa because not a single one of them has the courage to defend the dignity of our people.
Could we expect anything when someone like the selected and undemocratic transition president Dioncounda Traore of Mali travelled to Paris while free French men and free French women commemorated their liberation from tyranny? “Is it better to be under European oppression than Islamic slavery” as some persons may contend. But, the symbolism of this pathetic figure standing behind François Holland during the parade which included African soldiers brings back old memories. The memories of Mali then called Sudan (French Sudan) with its battalions of Askaris. This vast land, far greater than Western Europe, and where many Africans were massacred, murdered, crippled, maimed and made captives of the French Republic.
How could this fact have escaped the serious student of African history, the conscious men and women as well as the so-called educators? How can the African military commanders share any delight in sending troops to parade in France like the French did with slaves before their sale like commodities at the auctions?
Have Africans lost their minds such that history is repeating itself?
Do Africans suffer from a singular amnesia such that they cannot remember just that only segment of their experiences with Whites or Arabs because one cannot fathom how repeating events leading to their annihilation escape them?
Lastly, one can but shudder at the bounties accrued to the French republic because of France’s war in Mali. Operation Serval was swift contrary to the 10 year war in Côte D’Ivoire; a residual casualty of one long episode of France’s wars throughout Africa. How can we forget in Nigeria, the Biafran war? Nigeria survived crippled while retaining Biafra but Ethiopia lost Djibouti and then, Eritrea.
We have no place for denials when a whole continent is impoverished. We know how in the past, French Sudan assured France’s prosperity for another 50 years with the “cooperation” of her former colonies ( and future colonies) after their so-called independence. Vive la France-Afrique!
Arguably, if the slaves do not complain of their fate, then they deserve any suffering that comes to them. The lethargy of Africans is mind boggling to say the least.
*Jacques Sotero Agboton is an international political analyst and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Zimbabwe Elections: Youth playing their part
July 24, 2013 | 0 Comments
By Grace Ruvimbo Chirenje*
For the past year and a half, I have had the opportunity to work with young people in Zimbabwe on the electoral processes namely, the constitutional referendum and now the harmonized national elections. What stands out for me is how the young people of Zimbabwe have slowly become active on the political scene. Surely the numbers may not be where they should be but the levels of consciousness are encouraging in an era where one would think that the young people have ceased to care about the direction of their nation. Zimbabwe has been a protracted crisis that has eroded its socio economic and political fabric but, in the midst of all the doom, the young people of Zimbabwe have chosen to redefine their narrative by becoming active players of their destiny. One such way that they have chosen to participate actively on the political scene is by coining the X1G Campaign that has been critical in mobilizing young people to go out and register to vote and now to actually go and vote.
The young people of Zimbabwe have sought to utilize the social media for more than just sharing about their social networks and how that has worked for them. The young people of Zimbabwe, through the X1G Campaign, which is a forts time voter’s initiative, have used Facebook and Whatsupp to mobilize each other to go out and register to vote and now vote. Despite the Zimbabwe Election Commission led process being laborious, the young people used such social media to inspire each other to be resilient and ensure that they register to vote. At the present moment, the young people from all over the country are using the social media to mobilize each other to go and vote come 31 July 2013. Moreover, the use of such social media has given the youth a voice in a country like Zimbabwe that utilizes draconian laws such as Access to Information and privacy Protection Act (AIPPA) and Public Order and Security Act (POSA). By utilizing social media, the young people are able to exercise their right to freedom of expression and association and thus share ideas to transform the nation through democratization that is brought about by young people going out to vote.
As Zimbabwe draws even closer to the harmonized national election, the X1G Campaign has managed to maintain a presence in the various high-density suburbs of Zimbabwe. This has meant that young people form all walks of life are able to come together and interface on national electoral issues which has not really been
happening in Zimbabwe. Through such a campaign, Zimbabwean youth have managed to have first time voters seeing the importance of their vote and also curb voter apathy, which has been reported to be one of the critical factors of youth’s lack of participation in political issues. A report by Action aid Denmark March 2013 argues that young people of Zimbabwe are interested in political participation as long as they are engaged and this campaign has seen the mobilization and motivation of the youth and especially young women going out to register to vote and now to actually vote.
The curtain is lowering on the Zimbabwe harmonized national election and the youth are not just excited over nothing. The X1G Campaign has also given the youth a reason why it’s critical for them to participate in this cortical election. Moreover, the ability of young people to begin realizing that they are the masters of their own destiny and that they are able to transform their lived reality through their vote has also been something critical for the young women especially. In light of this, the young women are not just voting blindly but are able to identify what candidate fits into their needs and they vote for such a one. As the day of election draws even much neared, the encouragement to all the young women is that they should not give up as the journey is finally coming to an end. They should go out in their numbers to vote and facilitate a process to democratize Zimbabwe…Aluta continua!
* Grace Ruvimbo Chirenje is a young feminist leader from Harare, Zimbabwe. Currently she is the Director of Zimbabwe Young Women’s Network for Peace Building (ZYWNP). Grace sits on the board of Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and Centre for Community Development in her efforts to contribute to the democratization process of Zimbabwe
Mandela’s health: Zuma sings in praise of-ex-president
June 26, 2013 | 0 Comments
South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has sung a rousing anti-apartheid song for Nelson Mandela, 94, who is critically ill in hospital.
Mr Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, was admitted to hospital on 8 June with a recurring lung infection.
On a visit to the hospital on Tuesday, a cleric prayed for his “peaceful end”.
Also visiting on Tuesday was Mr Mandela’s daughter Zindzi, who said her father had “opened his eyes and smiled”.
Mr Mandela’s condition became critical on Sunday.
He is being treated at a private hospital in the capital, Pretoria.
On Wednesday, Mr Zuma told delegates at a conference of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) that he remained in a critical condition and “we must keep him and the family in our thoughts and prayers every minute”.
Mr Zuma opened the conference in the main city, Johannesburg, with a popular song about Mr Mandela, the South African Press Association (Sapa) reports.
“We are walking a long distance, so said Nelson Mandela to his supporters,” he sang in the local Zulu language, as the crowd ululated, Sapa reports.
Mr Mandela, known by his clan name Madiba, is revered for leading the fight against white minority rule in South Africa and then preaching reconciliation despite being imprisoned for 27 years.
He left power in 1999 after five years as the country’s first black president.
On Tuesday, Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba prayed with Mr Mandela’s wife Graca Machel at the hospital.
“May [we] be filled with gratitude for all the good that he has done for us and for our nation, and may [we] honour his legacy through our lives…”reads the prayer, which was posted on Archbishop Makgoba’s Facebook page.
“Grant Madiba eternal healing and relief from pain and suffering. Grant him, we pray, a quiet night and a peaceful, perfect end.”
Zindzi, the youngest of Mr Mandela’s three daughters, told the US broadcaster ABC News in a phone conversation on Tuesday night that she had held her father’s hand whilst talking to him about recent events, including the news that US President Barack Obama was due to visit South Africa at the end of the week.
During the conversation he opened his eyes and smiled, she said.
Ms Mandela felt like she was walking on air, and walked out of the hospital with a “huge sense of hope”, she added.
Meanwhile, a friend of Mr Mandela and the leader of the opposition United Democratic Movement (UDM) party, Bantu Holomisa, denied that a row had broken out in the ex-president’s family over funeral arrangements.
Mr Holomisa, along with Mr Mandela’s children, grandchildren, traditional leaders and government ministers, met on Tuesday in Qunu, the village where Mr Mandela grew up and spent of his time after he stepped down as president in 1999, South Africa’s Star newspaper reports.
“The purpose of the meeting was to brief the elders about Mandela’s condition…. One does not want to leave the elders behind,” Mr Holomisa told the local Mail and Guardian newspaper.
The Star reports that it has learned from three sources that Mr Mandela’s grandson and his traditional heir, Mandla, wants the former president to be buried in the nearby village of Mvezo where he was born.
However, other family members want the burial to take place in Qunu. They also want the bodies of three of Mr Mandela’s children, including his son, Makgatho, who died of an Aids-related illness in 2005, to be exhumed from Mvezo and moved back to Qunu, the paper reports.
The former South African president has children from his two previous wives, Evelyn Mase and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, both of whom he divorced.
He retired from public life in 2004 and has rarely been seen at official events since.
He has a long history of lung problems, and was diagnosed with tuberculosis in the 1980s while he was a prisoner on Robben Island.
After his release, Mr Mandela said that the tuberculosis was probably caused by dampness in his prison cell.
UN Security Council debate on conflict and natural resources: Remarks by Kofi Annan
June 21, 2013 | 0 Comments
I will limit my remarks today to what concerns Africa, although I believe the challenges facing the continent also have relevance for many other parts of the world.
For years, we have seen that natural resources have been a presence in – and at times a driver of – internal or regional conflicts in Africa. Over the past 15 years alone, rivalry for access to natural resources has fuelled wars and rebellions in Sierra Leone, Liberia the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and South Sudan, and elsewhere. Oil has also played an important role in the recurring violence in the Niger delta.
This close and recurrent association between natural resources and war has led some people to describe the discovery and exploitation of natural resources in Africa as a curse.
Such a view is far too simplistic. For every conflict, one can find several contrasting examples of African countries where natural resources are now fuelling sustained high growth and are improving their citizens’ daily lives.
Natural resources are neither a curse nor a blessing. They are simply a source of opportunity. They can be used for tremendous good or they can be wasted.
Over the past decade, Africa’s economies have been riding the crest of a global commodity wave. Surging demand for natural resources in China and other emerging markets has pushed export prices to new highs. Africa’s petroleum, gas and natural resources have become a powerful magnet for foreign investment. With new exploration revealing much larger reserves than were previously known, Africa stands to reap a natural resource windfall.
The challenge facing the region’s governments is to convert the temporary windfall into a permanent breakthrough in human development.
Let us remember: natural resources do not cause war. Violent conflict happens when national institutions are too weak to contain political, ethnic or religious tensions within a peaceful national dialogue. But the competition for natural resources can often amplify and accelerate conflict, tearing apart the already weakened fabric of such fragile states, or raise the stakes in latent conflicts between neighbouring countries.
The discussion therefore needs to focus on how natural resources can contribute towards higher human development outcomes and reduce inequality; the actors involved in their extraction; and the rules that govern international commerce can help prevent such centrifugal forces from occurring. Effective and transparent management of a country’s natural resources is a priority for conflict prevention, fighting corruption and promoting sustainable development.
For societies to function and prosper, we need three inter-related conditions: economic and social development; peace and security; and the rule of law and respect for human rights. If exploited well, natural resources, can contribute to strengthening all three.
The responsibility for ensuring this lies primarily with African governments. The starting point is for all countries to develop national strategies that set up the terms under which their natural resources will be developed, including fiscal policies, contractual arrangements and tax regimes. These strategies should replace short-term calculations with the necessary long-term thinking.
Critically, these national strategies must identify extractive projects that can generate more jobs, by linking effectively to the existing, local economy. Africa cannot build dynamic growth and shared prosperity while extractive projects operate within enclaves or countries export natural resources without value added.
Above all, national strategies have to set out how the extractive sector fits with plans for poverty reduction, inclusive growth and social transformation.
Success will require leadership, transparency, and accountability. Transparency is a powerful tool and there is no substitute for public scrutiny in developing effective and equitable policies.
However, African governments cannot resolve all these governance challenges on their own.The international community must also shoulder responsibility. When foreign investors make extensive use of offshore companies, shell companies and tax havens, they weaken disclosure standards and undermine the efforts of reformers in Africa to promote transparency.
Such practices also facilitate tax evasion and, in some countries, corruption, draining Africa of revenues that should be deployed against poverty and vulnerability. This year’s Africa Progress Report found that anonymous shell companies were used in five deals that cost the Democratic Republic of the Congo nearly US$ 1.4 billion between 2010 and 2012. This sum is equivalent to almost double the country’s combined budget in 2012 for health and education. Indeed, Africa loses more money every year through a tax avoidance technique, known as trade mispricing, than it receives in international development assistance.
Conflicts driven by natural resources can and should be prevented long before they start. Once arms are drawn it is too late.
By securing international rules to close down opportunities for tax avoidance, rules that limit the use of shell companies and other tools that contribute to secret, murky and exploitative deals, the international community may help prevent the conditions that lead to armed competition for the spoils of natural wealth.
Once an armed conflict has already started, natural wealth both drives it by increasing the reward for victory, and fuels it by providing revenue to buy arms and ammunition.
The Council can play an important role in ending the plunder of minerals and other natural resources that perpetuate violent conflict. In West Africa, for example, the Council took vigorous action to ban the traffic in diamonds and timber, the proceeds of which was funding armed groups. Without those measures, UN efforts to end the wars in that region would have been harder. The Kimberley Process to prevent “blood diamonds” was not ideal, but it showed that the international community is able to work together to cut off illegal revenue streams that fuel wars.
What we need today is a much more ambitious and comprehensive framework for transparency, fair tax practices and asset pricing so that the conditions that contribute to conflict over natural resources can be eliminated.
The Africa Progress Panel, which I chair, looked in detail at how natural resource wealth best can contribute to improved wellbeing and equitable growth for African nations. Our outlook is optimistic.
For the first time in over a generation, the number of people in poverty in Africa has fallen. Child death rates are declining. There has been progress in combating major infectious diseases. More of Africa’s children are in school. All of this is evidence that a combination of stronger economic growth and strengthened policies can deliver results.
Building on a decade of strong growth, economic governance continues to improve in many countries, providing protection against the boom-bust cycle fuelled by earlier commodity booms. Across the region, democracy is sinking deeper roots – and the accountability that comes with democracy strengthens natural resource management.
Some foreign investors show they can make a healthy return from African investment while also adhering to the highest international standards of social and environmental protection.
Economic collaboration across borders have shown to be a very strong peace-builder, and such cross-border collaboration should be strongly encouraged by governments with private sector partners when it comes to the exploitation and processing of natural resources, whether it is through multi-country pipelines, iron ore smelters, refineries or other down-stream industries based on extraction.
It is encouraging that today, a shared agenda is emerging. What is striking is that change is happening, and fast, as the demand for greater transparency and fairness extends globally and accelerates.
For example, for citizens everywhere, in Africa, in G8 countries and across the globe, current tax practices are raising questions about fairness, social justice, and citizenship.
In the past year, the US and European Union have introduced new transparency requirements; we have seen the UK and France sign up to the EITI; now Canada has announced its intention to introduce mandatory transparency requirements for its extractives sector; and Switzerland has just voted to draft a payment disclosure law similar to the ones in the US and the EU.
The international community has a major responsibility in putting in place such an environment. The G8 Summit in Lough Erne earlier this week was a [major] step towards creating such an environment. I hope the United Nations can continue to play its role in helping to make this happen.
Full Video here
Africa investment boom sees beyond conflict-driven headlines
February 26, 2013 | 0 Comments
* Africa equity funds expand nearly fivefold in last 6 years
* Investors include local pension and sovereign wealth funds
* Nigeria banking stocks among top picks
* High returns, low correlations attract funds
By Carolyn Cohn*
Turmoil in Tunisia? Conflict in Mali? Fraught elections in Kenya? Investment in Africa is thriving regardless.
African investment funds have grown nearly five times in value in the past six years and are attracting new forms of capital, from local pension money to sovereign wealth funds.
Conflicts are still making the news and corruption remains a concern. Elections in Kenya next month and a probable vote in Zimbabwe in July are also stoking unease.
But investors have worked out that economies and markets vary widely in this large continent, and that businesses can carry on through difficult political times.
They are also looking beyond the region’s natural resources.
Favoured investment plays now include banking stocks, particularly in Nigeria, with demand seen for financial services from a growing middle class. Telecoms, pharmaceuticals and breweries are also in demand, while mining stocks remain attractive, though these are often listed outside Africa.
Investors have become more knowledgeable about Africa, and focus more on how, rather than whether, they will commit funds.
“When I was in Europe a few weeks ago, I noticed that people no longer ask so many questions about Africa but more about us,” said Sven Richter, head of frontier markets at Renaissance Asset Managers. “They have come to a realisation that Africa is not one country – if you heard there was a problem in Slovenia, would you worry about investments in France?”
Equity funds that badge themselves Africa or African held assets of less than $1 billion in 2006, according to Lipper data. That rose to over $3 billion by the end of 2011, and to nearly $5 billion by the end of last year.
That is small compared with over $38 billion in funds labelled Latin American at the end of 2012 but with a much stronger growth — a near five-fold increase in six years for Africa funds, versus less than 40 percent growth for Latin American ones.
African equity funds include major names like Templeton and Morgan Stanley as well as Africa specialists such as Investec and Renaissance.
The sum covers funds bunching north Africa and the Middle East or focused mainly on north or south, but excludes those invested mainly in better developed South Africa and the Africa component of many frontier funds.
The economies of Africa, the world’s poorest continent, are among the fastest-growing, though it’s from a low base, at only a few percent of the world’s GDP.
The change is driven by youthful populations coupled with improving mortality rates and an expanding middle class, as well as by exports to richer economies.
Analysts point to economic reforms in many countries, even when this does not go hand in hand with democratic reform.
“Countries are starting to enter into their second series of free and fair elections, but to paint all of Africa as a Switzerland is pushing it,” said Gus Macfarlane, director of political risk consultancy Maplecroft, who added that corruption has not lessened significantly in recent years.
Nevertheless, economic reforms have allowed local pension funds to set up, while intra-regional trade has also risen.
Sovereign wealth funds, particularly from the Middle East, are increasingly enamoured of the high returns in the riskier markets of Africa, compared with the developed world.
African stocks can be volatile, dropping 30 percent in 2011. But they have outperformed broader frontier and emerging market indices since, climbing 38 percent in 2012 and over 9 percent so far in 2013.
Some of the best-performing stocks in the past year have been Nigerian banks like Guaranty Trust and Zenith , as investors reckon financial services will catch up with ballooning demand for mobile phones and consumer brands.
Big Pharma is also attracted by opportunities to treat chronic diseases afflicting the new middle classes, rather than just fire-fighting infection.
Private equity deals in Africa have attracted mainstream houses like Carlyle, which last year set up offices in Johannesburg and Lagos, and invested in a cashew nut trader in Tanzania.
Standard Chartered invested in Zimbabwe last year and said this month it was looking for more deals there, while local bond markets across the continent are also in the radar, alongside several billion dollars of hard currency bonds.
African markets have avoided much of the lock-step trading that has characterised bigger markets during the global crises of the past few years, making them a useful diversification play.
They are neither closely correlated to the larger emerging markets like those of the BRIC countries — Brazil, Russia, India and China, nor even to one another.
Kenyan stocks and Egyptian stocks have a 200-day correlation of only 0.1, for instance, where a reading of 1 would signal perfect correlation.
There have been flashpoints across the continent over the past few years, starting with the Arab Spring regime changes in Tunisia and Egypt two years ago.
But that failed to deter veteran emerging market investor Mark Mobius, who was in Cairo’s Tahrir Square at a time of protests late last year and kept Egypt holdings in his $1 billion frontier fund, while local stock Orascom Construction has attracted the attention of Bill Gates.
In Mali, where French troops are among those trying to crush rebels in the north, investors point to the distances in this vast country, insulating southern-based mining companies.
Senegalese telecoms company Sonatel, which has 64 percent of the market share in Mali, beat 2012 profit forecasts.
But investors may grow more cautious ahead of the Kenyan elections, after a vote in 2007 set off unexpected post-election violence. And in Zimbabwe, a March 16 referendum on a proposed new constitution should pave the way for presidential and parliamentary elections in July in a country where violence overshadowed disputed polls in 2008.
Low volumes also make getting in and out of trades difficult and expensive, while governments may not always pay up – Ivory Coast restructured debt in 2010, only to default on it less than a year later, following civil war.
The continent is so complex that investors also complain the level of analyst research on various markets is not always sufficient, favouring specialist emerging market investors who are able to carry out their own on-the-ground checks.
Local Africa-watchers say investors may not take into account the fact that new-found wealth is not trickling across the populations – in Nigeria, the gap between rich and poor is rising, even though the country is expected to grow nearly 7 percent this year.
Investors may ignore these issues at their peril, as social unrest can hinder investment.
It’s a concern for Alquity Investment Management, which runs an Africa equity fund on a sustainable model, taking into account environmental, social and governance factors. Failing to take account of those risks can destroy long-term shareholder value, Alquity says.
David Mcilroy, chief investment officer of Alquity, says Africa investors also have to take a longer term view and not be afraid to ride out short-term turbulence.
“You have to roll with the punches,” he said. “We are long-term investors, we are not traders.”