Category Archives: Africa – International

Nigeria – Buhari appointed as one of APC’s trustees

Punch

Buhari, Atiku, Tinubu, 71 others make APC BoT

Akande, Buhari and Tinubu.

The All Progressives Congress has appointed at least 74 persons, including a former Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari; and a former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu as members of its Board of Trustees.

The list has not been officially released by the party but our correspondent learnt on Wednesday that the list comprised others like a former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar; Chief Tom Ikimi, Chief Ogbonnaya Onu, Chief Bisi Akande and Chief Audu Ogbeh.

Other prominent members of the party in the APC BoT include Alhaji Baba Magaji, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, Chief Tony Momoh, former Bayelsa State Governor Timi Sylva, Yusuf Ali, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Masari; Senator George Akume and Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, among others.

The BoT also comprises serving APC governors and former governors, who are members of the party.

It was learnt that some of the appointed BoT members met at the national secretariat of the party on Wednesday.

It was also learnt that the Board would elect its executive members next week

South Africa – ANC’s Brigitte Radebe joins EFF call to curb mining transfer pricing

Mail and Guardian

ANC member Brigitte Radebe has joined calls by the EFF for government to curb the controversial practice of transfer pricing in the mining industry.

ANC member Brigitte Radebe has joined calls by the EFF for government to curb the controversial practice of transfer pricing in the mining industry. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters have found a powerful ally in their call for the government to investigate the so-called transfer pricing in the mining industry.

Malema couldn’t contain himself and applauded during a meeting of parliament’s portfolio committee on mineral resources on Wednesday, when mining magnate and ANC member, Bridgette Radebe called on Parliament to urgently act and curb the practice of transfer pricing in the mining industry and ensure compliance with the mining charter.

Radebe suggested that a number of problems in the sector – including the labour unrests and service delivery problems in mining communities could have been avoided if it was not for the “off-shore ownership” of South African mines.

Radebe was addressing the parliamentary meeting on behalf of the South African Mining Development Association, a body representing black-owned mining companies. The committee had invited the mining sector unions and other bodies including the Chamber of Mines to discuss challenges facing the sector.

‘Sleeping on the job’
Radebe called for the government to take steps against mining companies that fail to comply with the transformation and empowerment targets of the Mining Charter, as she accused the “foreign-owned” companies of failure to honour the ownership, local procurement and beneficiation targets. “For as long as you have people owning your economy, they will dictate your destiny and the time has come for us to be charter compliant. We can’t continue to be sleeping on the job,” said Radebe.

Radebe pointed out that the charter states that by May 1 2014, mining companies should not have less than 26% of ownership in the hand of the historically disadvantaged South Africans and this was not happening. She said her association did research looking at 49 companies listed in the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, and found that those companies are worth R2,57-trillion. “If each of those 49 companies had at least 26% active participation of the historically disadvantaged South Africans, we should have R669-billion of active participation in the hands of black people, but that is not happening.”

She blamed the alleged transfer pricing for this and added that the practice has led to service delivery unrest, charter non-compliance, “Marikana” and lots of labour unrest, and also affects rural communities and the country at large and has become a crisis.

She also said it would be important to interrogate how many of the listed companies had black CEOs and how many of them had white or black women. “How many of them employ foreign blacks instead of promoting our local blacks to try and make a mockery of our transformation and say we are BEE, when the people come from the neighbouring countries?”

Radebe said while South Africa needed to partner with neighbouring countries, it should “not be at the expense of making a mockery of transformation”.

Radebe said all these issues were not being addressed by the sector because of “off-shore ownership”. The EFF has brought the issue of multinational companies’ alleged practice of transfer pricing and offshore profit shifting since its arrival in Parliament in May this year. The party has been calling for the government to investigate the matter and perhaps ban the practice.

Trickle effect
During a sitting of the National Assembly on Tuesday, EFF MP, Floyd Shivambu proposed that Parliament hold a debate on the matter.

Radebe, who is also the chairperson of Mmakau Mining, spoke very strongly against the practice on Wednesday. She described the practice as arrangements involving the transfer of goods and services at an artificial price in order to transfer income or expenses from one enterprise to an associate enterprise in a different jurisdiction. “The trickle effect is that taxation is not declared as it should be,” she said.

Radebe warned that if Parliament fails to interrogate transfer pricing to establish how much money has been exported through the practice it would be impossible to interrogate whether mining companies can afford the R12 500 that miners demand.

Radebe was one of the senior ANC members who stood up at the party’s national general council in September 2010 and proposed that the ANC conducts research on the then calls by the ANC Youth League for the nationalisation of mines.

On Wednesday, she told Parliament that her association supported strongly that the state becomes the custodian of the mineral rights so anyone could go to the state for access.

Earlier, Malema clashed with the Chamber of Mines chief executive and ANC MPs when he asked the chamber to give details of how much it had allowed “white capital” to get out of the mining sector. He questioned why it was easy for the chamber to state the amounts it spends on black economic empowerment and on mining communities, but was reluctant to give the figures of how much was spent on white bosses.

ANC MP, Mandla Mandela led a charge by ANC MPs to stop Malema from asking the questions, saying the meeting was only meant to discuss challenges in the sectors. After an angry exchange, Malema was allowed to pose his questions to the chamber.


Ebola – Liberian army seals off slums area in Monrovia

BBC

Ebola crisis: Liberian troops impose slum quarantine

A boy rakes faeces into a hole on the beach in the West Point slum on 19 August 2014 in Monrovia, LiberiaWest Point, Liberia’s largest slum, lies on the Atlantic Ocean

Security forces in Liberia’s capital have deployed to enforce a quarantine in a large slum area in Monrovia in order to contain the spread of Ebola.

The isolation of West Point and a countrywide night-time curfew are the latest anti-Ebola measures to be ordered by the president.

Since the beginning of the year, more than 1,200 people have died of the virus in four West African countries.

In Nigeria, a top Lagos doctor has just died of the virus.

We have been unable to control the spread due to continued denials… disregard for the advice of health workers and disrespect for the warnings by the government” Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Liberian president

That brings the number of people who have died of Ebola in Nigeria to five, the health ministry said.

Colleagues said consultant Stella Ameyo Adadevo was the first medic to order that a sick patient from Liberia be tested for Ebola when he was admitted in July.

“We owe her a lot; she managed the situation like a thorough professional that she was. She had helped Nigeria to contain the epidemic in her own way,” Akin Osibogun, the chief medical director at Lagos University Teaching Hospital, told Nigeria’s Premium Times newspaper.

Officials says five people have recovered from the virus in Nigeria and have been discharged from hospital in Lagos. Two are still being treated.

Since the outbreak spread to Nigeria in July, several airlines have stopped flights to the region.

Liberian soldiers on the streets of Monrovia. Photo: 19 August 2014Liberia is already under a state of emergency

Kenyan travel restrictions have now taken effect, blocking travellers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea – the three countries most affected by the outbreak.

According to the AFP news agency, some Air France flight crews are refusing to board planes bound for Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria because of fears over the outbreak.

line

Analysis: Umaru Fofana, BBC News, Sierra Leone

Fighting the myths and fear surrounding Ebola is as tough as fighting the disease itself. They range from the bizarre to the ridiculous: Some see it as the culmination of some bio warfare gone awry; others say it is a cannibalistic ritual.

In the latest flashpoint – some people in Lunsar, about 120km (74 miles) east of the capital, Freetown, say the new cases are not Ebola patients at all. In fact, they insist that witches are flying around the country in aircraft and one of these crashed, causing casualties.

All this, and the notion that an Ebola patient cannot recover, have led many sick people to stay at home, hoping they have something else. This is despite the fact that about 30% of patients have recovered.

The authorities have been encouraging those who become ill to report to hospitals for testing and treatment, if needed. But as the messengers are distrusted, the message is not getting through.

line

Last week, the WHO reiterated that the risk of transmission of Ebola during air travel was low as the virus was not airborne.

It is transmitted by direct contact with the body fluids of an infected person. Initial flu-like symptoms can lead to external haemorrhaging from areas such as eyes and gums, and internal bleeding which can cause organ failure.

‘Coast guard patrols’

There is no known cure for Ebola, but the WHO has ruled that untested drugs can be used to treat patients in light of the scale of the current outbreak – the deadliest to date.

The experimental drug ZMapp has been used to treat several people who contracted Ebola in Liberia. Two US aid workers and three doctors in Liberia have reportedly responded well to the treatment, though a Spanish priest died despite taking the drug.

The US pharmaceutical company that makes the drug says it has for now run out of it, so the only way to stop the current outbreak is to isolate the victims and those who have come into contact with them.

The BBC’s Jonathan Paye-Layleh in Monrovia says security forces are patrolling in West Point, the country’s largest slum which sprawls along the Atlantic coast.

Eyewitnesses report seeing coast guards boats monitoring the coastline, he says.

line

Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)

A fruit bat is pictured in 2010 at the Amneville zoo in France. Fruit bats are believed to be a major carrier of the Ebola virus but do not show symptoms
  • Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage
  • Fatality rate can reach 90% – but current outbreak has about 55%
  • Incubation period is two to 21 days
  • There is no vaccine or cure
  • Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help recovery
  • Fruit bats, a delicacy for some West Africans, are considered to be virus’ natural host
line

A mob attacked a health centre in West Point on Saturday. Seventeen suspected Ebola patients went missing during the attack, but they have since been traced and are receiving treatment.

“We have been unable to control the spread due to continued denials, cultural varying practices, disregard for the advice of health workers and disrespect for the warnings by the government,” President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said on Tuesday evening.

Because the disease had spread widely in densely populated areas of Monrovia and its environs, the additional sanctions to curb Ebola’s spread were needed, she said.

Dolo Town, about 40km (25 miles) from the capital, has also been put under quarantine, “under full security watch”.

“This means there will be no movements in and out of those areas,” she said.

The president also said that all entertainment centres were to be closed down and video centres were to shut by 18:00 local time, although she did not specify which areas these measures applied to or if they were countrywide.

Map: Ebola outbreak in West Africa

BBC

Kenya – 1.5 million people facing threat of starvation as rains fail

Capital FM/allAfrica

Photo: Capital FM

Drought and hunger in Kenya.

Nairobi — The government says 1.5 million people are facing starvation across the country specifically in arid and semi-arid areas due to low rainfall.

Cabinet Secretary for Devolution Anne Waiguru explained that the National Government will be responsible for food relief and distribution in a bid to mitigate starvation.

In a joint statement with Governors of affected areas on Tuesday after the annual drought assessment in counties, Waiguru said the County Governments will be responsible for water distribution, veterinary and human health.

The assessment was carried out between July 21 and August 1 to evaluate the impact of this year’s long rains on food security.

“Only a few places in the Coast and Ukambani received 90-150 percent of the normal though with uneven distribution,” Waiguru stated.

“The assessment has forecast impending food crises in certain places including central parts of Turkana, Western parts of Marsabit, and some parts of Samburu, Mandera, Wajir, West Pokot and Baringo.”

Some of the areas affected are Mandera, Garissa, Taita Taveta, Tana River, parts of Laikipia and Meru North.

The assessment found that in most, “arid and semi-arid lands counties, the amount of rain was 50-60 percent of the norm, meaning that most places did not receive the expected amounts both in space and in time.”

Mandera County Governor Ali Roba on his part said following the discussions, all the set interventions towards addressing the situation will be set in motion at all levels.

The National Treasury has since allocated Sh1 billion to support the programme.

On August 8, Deputy President William Ruto said the government would do all it can to ensure no Kenyan dies from hunger.

“Sh1 billion has been released to the responsible ministry to ensure food is made available to the affected people. In fact, we have food worth Sh10 million for Samburu County,” he said.

Ruto however asked the county governments in arid and semi-arid areas of the country to invest heavily in irrigation, pointing out that provision of relief was not a lasting solution to famine.

He urged the county governments to invest heavily in irrigation in bid to realizing food security in their respective counties.  allAfrica

Nigeria – British military aircraft to help in search for Chibok girls

Punch

UK sends warplanes to find Chibok girls

Abducted Chibok girls

The Britain’s Royal Air Force has planned to send three fighter jets to help in locating the more than 200 abducted schoolgirls by Boko Haram insurgents since April 14 this year.

The three RAF Tornado GR4s outfitted with surveillance equipment, according to Daily Mail, are being deployed to Nigeria to “fly reconnaissance missions” over the Sambissa forest the Islamist extremist sect is known to operate in.

A source at the British government told The Times that the fighter bombers would help the Nigerian authorities by tracking the movements of Boko Haram militants.

The report added that the mission was dependent on a nearby nation giving them permission to use a runway.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman did not deny the report about the deployment of the planes.

“The UK continues to work with the US, France, Nigeria, its neighbours and international partners to provide advice and assistance to the Nigerian Government.

“Together with our allies we have provided continuous surveillance support to the Nigerian authorities, including satellite imagery. We are still in discussion with partners on the deployment of further surveillance capability,” he said.

On Friday, last week, Britain’s Minister for Africa, James Duddridge had condemned the abduction of over 100 people in Nigeria and had pledged that the United Kingdom would continue to support in the fight against the terrorist group.

He said, “I am appalled to see reports of another large abduction by terrorists in the north east of Nigeria. Officials at the British High Commission in Abuja are urgently looking into the details. The UK stands firmly with Nigeria as it faces the scourge of Boko Haram.”

The group on Monday killed at least three people and kidnapped 15 others in a fresh cross-border attack in northern Cameroon. Punch

 

Daily Mail

Britain ‘to send three Tornado reconnaissance jets to Nigeria’ to join hunt for kidnapped schoolgirls

By Sam Webb for MailOnline

Four months ago Boko Haram, which is fighting to reinstate a medieval Islamic caliphate in religiously mixed Nigeria, abducted more than 200 schoolgirls from the village of Chibok and they remain missing.

Now, three RAF Tornado GR4s outfitted with surveillance equipment are being deployed to the African nation to fly reconnaissance missions over the region the group is known to operate in.

Eye in the sky: Three RAF Tornado GR4s  are being deployed to  search for the 200 missing Nigerian schoolgirls

Eye in the sky: Three RAF Tornado GR4s are being deployed to search for the 200 missing Nigerian schoolgirls

Taken: Boko Haram abducted more than 200 schoolgirls (pictured) fom the village of Chibok four months ago

Taken: Boko Haram abducted more than 200 schoolgirls (pictured) fom the village of Chibok four months ago

Daily Mail

Nigeria – fire destroys football federation HQ as power struggle for control continues

Not suspicious at all – wonder who gains and which possibly incriminating documents have been burned? KS

BBC

Fire rips through NFF building in Abuja

Nigeria Football Federation building on fire

A huge fire has ripped through the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) building in the capital Abuja on Wednesday.

Flames were spotted coming out of the building at about 1000 local time and it took fire fighters almost two hours to extinguish the blaze.

Nigerian Fire Service official Eyo Ime said it is suspected an electrical fault caused the fire.

“The fire started from the chief accountant’s office as I was told,” said NFF general secretary Musa Amadu.

“I just arrived at the office and saw the smoke and was not allowed to go upstairs, obviously, for safety reasons.

“Staffers would have been able to reduce the impact of the damage, but could not gain access into his office and as such could not quell or trace where the smoke was coming out from.

“But we must not engage in blame games and thank God that no life was lost. But this is sad and unfortunate.”

The disaster is another blow for the NFF, coming at a time when it is locked in a bitter leadership crisis which has seen president Aminu Maigari sacked and reinstated twice.

The African champions are also without a coach as the football authority continues to negotiate with Stephen Keshi, whose contract ran out in June, over his return to the job.

However, Keshi told BBC Sport he “cannot wait much longer”, adding “it should only take the 24 hours or 48 hours to agree a contract; this is taking too much time”. BBC

Nigerian Eye

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The headquarters of the Nigeria Football Federation in Abuja, the Glass House was gutted by fire on Wednesday.

The office of the NFF general secretary was reportedly razed down, along with those of other principal officers of the federation.

A source in Abuja told NigerianEye that the offices of the President and the accounts department might also be affected by the inferno.


This comes on the heels of acrimonious events leading to the August 26 congress meeting.

Senior federal fire service chief Imo Eyo described the damage as “huge” and said there was no immediate indication of foul play.

“We suspect a circuit fault to have led to the fire but a proper enquiry would be carried out by the authorities,” he added.

Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) technical director Emmanuel Ikpeme said the blaze appeared to have started in the office of a senior accounts manager.

“We thought it was something that could be contained by the fire extinguisher,” he told reporters.

“But before we knew it, the fire spread to the general-secretary’s office and from there, there couldn’t be any control.”

The NFF has been in crisis for several months and FIFA suspended the organisation in July over what it said was “government interference” in its affairs.

That followed a Nigerian court ruling that sacked the NFF high command and the government appointed a sole administrator to run the game.

The ban, which threatened Nigeria’s participation in the FIFA under-20 women’s World Cup this month, was later lifted.

But the NFF executive board then gave a vote of no confidence in president Aminu Maigari and sacked him over allegations of financial misappropriation, misapplication and maladministration.

Maigari was however reinstated because FIFA said that correct procedure had not been followed. He returned to work this week.

NFF secretary-general Musa Amadu cautioned against attributing blame for the fire but added: “Thank God no lives were lost but this is sad and unfortunate.”

Ikpeme added: “It’s very sad, more so that Nigerians know that we have been having some challenges in the Nigerian Football Federation.

“When we thought it was all over only for us to come this morning and experience this kind of thing. It’s a very, very serious matter.

“You can imagine, most of the NFF’s sensitive and important documents of the NFF are in the secretary-general’s office and for the fire to destroy the accountants’ office is very sad.

“It’s a set-back for the NFF.”  Nigerian Eye

Nigerian schools and violence in the north

IRIN

School tries to heal the divide in northern Nigeria

MAIDUGURI, 18 August 2014 (IRIN) – The kidnapping of more than 200 girls from a secondary school in Chibok in northeastern Nigeria’s Borno State in April by Boko Haram militants, and a so far unsuccessful high-profile campaign to free them, exemplifies the insecurity-driven education crisis in the area.

Since March all public schools have been closed in Borno State – one of the three states in the northeast hardest hit by the violence. The tragedy is that, according to a 2010 national literacy survey, Borno already had the sixth worst literacy rate for youths in any language out of Nigeria’s 36 states. What formal education currently exists in Borno has been through a handful of private schools that have kept their gates open.

One of these is a school for orphans and vulnerable children in Maiduguri, providing free primary education. What sets Future Prowess Islamic Foundation apart is the deliberate policy of its founder, Zannah Mustapha, to care for children from families on both sides of the conflict – Boko Haram and the security forces.

“We are trying to avoid a catastrophe,” said Mustapha, a lawyer, who has played a role in abortive mediation efforts between the government and Boko Haram. “We want the two sides of the divide to grow as friends, not a case of ‘You killed my father, you killed my mother, I must have revenge’. No. They must learn together. We are providing that security.”

The seven-classroom school delivers a blended curriculum of Islamic tuition, and the standard syllabus approved by the state education board, taught in English. Although Boko Haram is notorious for its rejection of “Western” education, and some parents (many of them widows) objected to what they viewed as “pagan” lessons, the school was able to challenge those beliefs.

“English is just a language, many British people are also Muslims,” said Mustapha. “And mathematics, how is that Western? It was invented by the Arabs.”

The five-year conflict has exacerbated the northeast’s historically bad social indicators. More that 42 percent of children are stunted by malnutrition (compared to just 16 percent in the southeast), according to the government’s 2013 Demographic and Health Survey. The deep disruption of the local economy by the violence has worsened the situation, driving up prices and shrinking employment.

The school’s response has been a breakfast feeding programme for its 420 pupils. “It’s rice and beans or moi-moi [a bean-based sponge], something that can fill the stomach for some time,” said headmaster Suleiman Aliyu. “There is no way a child can learn properly on an empty stomach.”

It is funded by local benefactors, and “as a result of the programme a lot of parents are registering their children – not for the learning, but for the breakfast alone.”

A traumatized community

This is a community traumatized by violence – shootings, bombings and kidnappings by Boko Haram; retaliatory beatings, arrests and extra-judicial killings by the security forces. “We are serving as teachers and parents for the orphaned children,” said Islamic teacher Hassan Sharif al-Hassan.

“English is just a language, many British people are also Muslims. And mathematics, how is that Western? It was invented by the Arabs.”

“Many of them have no guardians at home. When they come to school we give them what they can use in their lives in terms of respect, in terms of behaviour. But it’s not a normal childhood. Sometimes you can ask a pupil why they are silent, and the child can start crying. Psychologically we can understand they have internal problems.”

Abubaker Tijjani is aged 14 and wants to be an accountant. But right now he would just like to have his father back, who died a year ago. “I’m sad about that, I miss him,” he told IRIN. “I’m not OK with life.”

A local hospital is providing monthly counselling sessions for the members of a widows’ association the school has formed. “People didn’t realize their symptoms of stress, high blood pressure, headaches, sleepless nights were related to psychological problems,” said Aliyu. ‘We’ve seen positive changes.”

The association’s revolving micro-credit fund also tries to provide some financial help with a little business capital. In the vulnerable households the children are out on the streets after school selling groundnuts, sweets and water.

The community has supported the school and some prominent people are sponsoring individual students. Mustapha has, according to the headmaster, ploughed much of his own money into keeping the school open. That has included building a fish farm that provides a measure of financial independence, helping pay teachers’ salaries, and providing the free uniforms and books the students need.

But aside from the US Agency for International Development recently agreeing to provide some desks, and the Swiss embassy paying for the trauma counsellor, there is no other outside assistance.

“International partners don’t often come here because of the insecurity,” Mustapha said. “Individuals can’t do what we need. We need institutions like the UN, UNICEF, to help.”   IRIN

SADC leaders urge mass movement of Rwandan Hutu rebels from eastern DR Congo

VoA/allAfrica

By Sebastian Mhofu

Victoria Falls — Leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) want the United Nations to assist in removing members of a Rwandan rebel group from eastern Congo.

The 15-member bloc made the appeal at the end of a two-day summit in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

The leaders of southern African countries also resolved to speed up the industrialization of their countries to fight poverty.

They said the region was “generally peaceful and stable,” but appealed to the United Nations to help address the situation in the Great Lakes region.

The Democratic Republic of Congo, a Southern African Development Community member, is hoping to rid its eastern provinces of rebel groups that have kept the region in the grips of chaos and violence for years.

“On the Democratic Republic of Congo, [the] summit also called upon the United Nations in co-operation with the African Union, to play its role in repatriating the FDLR elements that have voluntarily surrendered and disarmed or provide them with temporary resettlement in third countries outside the Great Lakes Region,” said Stergomena Lawrence-Tax, SADC executive secretary.

FDLR refers to the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, a Rwandan Hutu rebel group, comprised in part of men who took part in Rwanda’s genocide in 1994.

The region’s leaders noted “humanitarian assistance and malnutrition still remain a challenge” and they endorsed a 10-year regional food and nutrition security strategy to improve food security.

The leaders were silent on issues of human rights abuses and poverty, which civic organizations had wanted them to address at the summit. allAfrica

Cameroonians flee Boko Haram attacks

VoA/allAfrica

By Moki Edwin Kindzeka

Yaounde — Fotocol, a Cameroonian town across the border from Nigeria’s Borno state – the base of the Islamist group Boko Haram – looks deserted.

So, too, are many surrounding villages where stray bullets regularly strike houses, killing people and animals, when Boko Haram gunmen carry out attacks.

Cameroon’s border area are becoming increasingly deserted due to persistent attacks, looting and kidnappings by suspected members of the militant group.

Government officials are pleading with the former residents to return, but the residents say they fear for their safety.

Government posts

In addition, many government workers sent to the border localities are leaving the area.

Secondary school teacher Asanji Paul is promising never to return to Fotocol.

“You cannot be in a place where there is no peace. You know that at any one point in time, your life is not safe,” Paul said.

Paul also told VOA that he was advising other Cameroonians to move away from border areas with Nigeria.

“My own opinion [is that] I will not advise them to stay there,” he said.

The fear of the militant group is affecting those doing in business in the border areas as well.

Truck drivers are refusing to transport food items to the border area, and huge quantities of cotton, onions and other farm produce are piling up. Some business owners have fled for their lives.

Ngum Peter, who has been a barber in Fotocol for eight years, left the region with his wife and three children.

Peter told VOA that those who are still in Fotocol should be on the alert.

“I am really afraid of them [Boko Haram]. If you are not secured where you are, just better leave the place. I am still afraid of the zone, so I can’t let my people stay there,” Peter said.

Citizens say they are at risk

Late last month, Boko Haram militants kidnapped the wife of Cameroon’s vice prime minister and killed at least three people in a cross-border attack involving more than 200 assailants in the northern town of Kolofata, Cameroon officials say.

The fleeing residents argue that if the wife of a high-level official could be kidnapped from the border area, then they as civilians are at great risk from Boko Haram.

Fotocol shares a boundary with Gamboru, a Nigerian village that is frequently attacked by Boko Haram fighters.

The extremists opened fire on residents in May in an attack people said left at least 300 villagers dead.

Kolofata, a town not far from Fotocol, is deserted.

Cameroon government officials have been pleading with the people to return.

Babila Akao, the highest government official in Mayo Sava division where Kolofata is located, said the military is able to protect the population from Boko Haram.

“Many people have left their villages and gone away because of insecurity. Measures have been taken to ensure security along the border localities. For defense forces the hierarchy is aware of the difficulties they are facing on the field and some measures have been taken and in a few days they will be at ease to carry out their activities,” Akao said.

However, residents have not heeded his suggestion to return.

The hardline Boko Haram group has massacred, kidnapped and looted several times in the areas, even with the government military nearby.

About 500 soldiers have been deployed in Kolofata, Fotocol and the surrounding area to provide security for residents.

Cameroon shares a 2,000-kilometer border with Nigeria and is increasingly targeted by Boko Haram.  allAfrica

Africa Rising: “In Economics, the Majority is Always Wrong”

Think Africa Press

Stories of Africa’s economic boom rest on shaky foundations. John Kenneth Galbraith can help.

US Secretary of State John Kerry being attentively listened to at the US-Africa Leaders Summit. Photograph by USAID/Robb Hohmann.

The US-Africa Leaders Summit, held at the start of this month, fell at a time of rising concern over the sustainability of Africa’s economic emergence. In particular, many watch with excitement, as well as anxiety, at the ravenous investor interest in African debt and in new joint ventures that aim to serve the continent’s consumers. The boom in investment has been so striking of late that these flows could soon be Africa’s leading source of hard currency.

However, while these trends continue to inspire hope in some quarters, in many other circles faith in the idea that this capital surge will generate full employment, reduce inequality and eradicate poverty is waning. Instead, various commentators now worry about overheating, overreach, resource misallocation and non-performance. Meanwhile, stories such as excessively-indebted Ghana’s recent expression of interest in subjecting itself to another course of International Monetary Fund (IMF) medicine provide further fodder to those that emphasise the potential for bubble trouble south of the Sahara.

Nevertheless, the US-Africa summit ended with a promised $14 billion in new US private investments in areas such as energy and infrastructure. This was also served up with the potential carrot of extended trade preferences under the US African Growth and Opportunity Act, and bathed in a thick glaze of philanthropic feel goodery sprinkled with a sugary, anodyne dash of corporate social responsibility. Africans might want to consider taking this meal with a lorry load of salt.

From the perspective of Corporate America, Africa offers a deep well of potential profits. Big US energy players, for example, understand that Africa’s unmet power and electricity needs represent an unprecedented investment opportunity. In fact, US agencies such as the Overseas Private Investment Corporation have already been tasked with cutting the costs of American efforts to maximise returns from African energy.

However, amidst this rush to profit from Africa’s energy needs, it ought not to be forgotten that US economic thinking may have fuelled this problem in the first place. Many economic governance ideas linked to neoclassical economic models developed primarily in the US and exported via the IMF and the World Bank have long been big stones in African shoes. And African public power and utility projects floundered in the 1980s as conditional or ‘policy-based’ loans pushed by the Fund and the Bank aborted Africa’s flirtation with the state-guided paths to development that Germany, South Korea, Taiwan and the US itself once followed.

If Africa’s economies are to develop, they must do so not simply through the reanimation of misguided market fundamentalist orthodoxies. One clear way in which the continent could do things differently − and banish long and painful memories of the politics associated with Western economic ideas − would be through the newly-established BRICS New Development Bank, which is set to have $100 billion at its disposal. Disbursements from this Bank could speed up the development of private and public sector corporations and be used to support the public provision of education, electricity, healthcare, museums, parks, water or any other unmet public need.

The BRICS bank could be hugely significant, though how exactly it is to function remains to be seen. But the New Development Bank is not the only option available to Africa. Another route the continent could take which is worthy of great consideration would be to turn to the ideas of celebrated economist John Kenneth Galbraith.

Turning to JK

The first possible Galbraithian way forward is rooted in his efforts to call out the shaky foundations of ‘accepted’ economic beliefs. The Canadian-cum-American economist famously referred to the tendency for political and economic elites to unthinkingly regurgitate ideas or explanations that their audiences assumed to be true as conventional wisdom.

His searing critique of viewpoints that departed from reality but were nonetheless esteemed for their acceptability resonates in Africa today. For decades, adherents to the neo-classical approach have attempted to control the parameters for the production and application of ‘respectable’ economic knowledge. Leading hardcore believers have actively narrowed the range of African governance options or systems subject to serious debate. For too long, the theoretical preoccupations of this knowledge cartel have obscured or discounted the ideas, institutions and power relations that actually move and constrain Africa.

Take last year’s scholarly revelations regarding the apparently ‘poor’ state of African statistics on economic growth. This attention was well warranted, but lost in the hype over ‘poor numbers’ was the reality that figures such as GDP may be unhelpful to begin with. GDP, for example, does nothing to count the contributions that hundreds of millions of unremunerated women make at home and in their communities to keeping Africa moving day in day out. Africa would be significantly helped by better-resourced efforts to gather new kinds of numbers that would enable the continent’s genuine progress to be tracked.

A second application for Galbraith in Africa can be drawn from his insights regarding the power of big corporations. As more and more transnational companies setup shop across the continent, our reference points for understanding how power is exercised must shift. Multinationals increasingly contribute to the growth of industry and professional networks unconnected to domestic centres of political power. Many also provide services in the absence of effective public provision such as sanitation and schools, and as such, private corporations now play larger roles in African governance.

Galbraith documented many innovations that mitigated corporate power, including anti-trust laws and industrial policies, that permitted the US to add more value to its exports and diversify away from its colonial-era specialisations. Similar initiatives could prove hugely useful to African economies today.

Finally, Galbraith’s work on advertising and marketing could help African leaders better understand the forces that work against the sovereignty of African consumers. His writing on this topic challenged the notion that the US was all about free choice. He showed that adverts cooked up by Madison Avenue’s ‘Mad Men’ were ultimately designed to make consumers serve corporate needs, and he detailed the centrality of advertising to the internal planning systems of consumer goods groups. In this light, corporations exerted increasing control over individual preferences over time, and underwrote the emergence of a fast food and mall culture that further entrenched their interests.

As Big Retail increasingly eyes the continent, Africa could employ these ideas to help the continent’s ‘widening’ consumers to avoid snatching underdevelopment from the jaws of emergence. The disbursement of resources that would enable whistles to be blown on false advertising and that could fund the promotion of healthy living choices would be a good start.

Galbraith is, of course, not a silver bullet. Without a doubt, there are many other wellsprings in Africa and elsewhere that could and should be tapped to refresh political economic thinking. But Galbraith does matter. And he certainly offers rising Africa a drink of political economic pluralism more revitalising than the market fundamentalist Kool-Aid that has long passed its use by date and more energising than the bogus PR that was imbibed so headily at the US-Africa summit.

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