Category Archives: East Africa

South Sudan parties want creation of prime minister post

Sudan Tribune
.July 29, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudanese political parties are demanding the creation of a prime minister’s position in the proposed interim government between the country’s ruling party (SPLM) and its opposition wing.

The group, in a position paper, said the president and prime minister’s posts shall be occupied by nominees from the rival factions of the SPLM, while the vice presidency be given to another party.

“The president and prime minister shall, respectively, be from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in government (SPLM IG and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO). The vice-president shall be from the political parties other than the two mentioned above,” partly reads the position paper obtained by Sudan Tribune.

“The speaker of the national parliament shall be an agreed national figure,” it added.

The document also recommends formation of a 21- member cabinet and 18 other independent commissions, suggesting the prime minister as head of government, but reporting to the president in accordance with the conduct of government business regulations.

According to the position paper, some of the functions of the interim government will be the implementation of the peace agreement; conduct of census; registration of the political; oversee an integrated process of national reconciliation and healing; convene national constitutional conference, produce draft permanent constitution prior to conducting a popular referendum for adoption, prepare ground for the conduct of free and fair national elections, expedite reparation of the internally displaced persons, consolidate relations with foreign countries.

The country’s political parties also proposed a 60% to 40% power-sharing arrangement with the majority going to the governing party and its rival faction. The council of ministers, parliament, state assemblies, and state governments, it says, shall be composed of political parties as follows: SPLM factions 60% and other political parties taking 40%.

It also proposes dissolution of one branch of the national legislature, saying there shall be one national parliament composed of 250 members, while the 10 state assemblies each take 48 members.

“It cannot be overemphasised that our country will enjoy sustainable peace, just a stop of war, when and only the suggested and agreed reforms are implemented during the transitional period,” the proposal adds.

President Kiir

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http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article51845

Kenya – ICC puts pressure on government over Kenyatta financial documents

Standard

By Alphonce Shiundu
Updated Wednesday, July 30th 2014 at 09:59 GMT +3
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ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.
International Criminal Court judges stepped up the pressure on the Jubilee administration to make available all the crucial information, including financial records the prosecution hopes would buttress the case against President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The judges dismissed the Government’s plea, through the Attorney General Githu Muigai, that they could not help Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in her job.

“The Chamber considers that requesting the information from official sources, maintained by relevant government agencies, constitutes an appropriate means of seeking to obtain such information,” the judges noted, as they pointed out that the prosecution was specific in the time period, the individual involved, and the nature of the information that it seeks.

In the ruling Tuesday, ICC Judges Kuniko Ozaki, Robert Fremr and Geoffrey Henderson, also gave Bensouda’s office express permission to “pursue all possible means” to get the telephone records linked to President Kenyatta. The records date from June 1, 2007 to December 15, 2010.

The judges said the prosecution was right in specifying the time because it was the only way to establish a “pattern of activity”, so that the “unusual communications or transactions” pop out.

“In the Chamber’s view, investigative inquiries need not be confined merely to the immediate period of the violence,” the judges noted in their signed ruling.

See Also: CAMAC supports African leaders summit in US
The ruling means Prof Muigai and the Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku, under whose docket the work of co-operation with ICC falls, would have to work harder to get the bank, land transfer, vehicle, company and even telephone records linked to Uhuru.

The State would also have to surrender intelligence reports and any other police report regarding the President’s activities in the same period.

Kenyan officials would also have to manually comb through the paper records at many of the Government offices, especially those at the Ministry of Lands, and those at the Registrar of Companies, to get information on companies that President Kenyatta owns directly or indirectly.

“It is noted that such information is not normally sought primarily for its own evidentiary value but rather to facilitate the subsequent requests for transactional records, including in respect of land transfers and bank account details. In the chambers view, it is a reasonable investigative premise that an accused with access to substantial resources may choose to act through various intermediary entities as this would in particular reduce the traceability of transactions intended to further a criminal purpose,” the judges noted.

The judges said they understood the “practical difficulties” in getting the information, but even so, “practical difficulties that may arise in carrying out a request do not invalidate it”.

“The Chamber notes that the Prosecution has indicated a willingness to provide additional resources, if required, to assist in conducting manual searches,” the judges said.

They noted that the difficulties “might be mitigated or overcome” if the Prosecution and the Government worked in good faith.

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http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/mobile/?articleID=2000129896&story_title=icc-piles-pressure-on-kenya-to-release-uhuru-records&pageNo=2

How gold and diamonds fuel sectarianism in Central African Republic

Eye Witness News

Gold, diamonds feed CAR religious violence

FILE:A protester holds a placard reading “No to the injustice of Samba Panza, No to partiality, Equality and freedom for all” as residents demonstrate in the ‘Muslim enclave’ of the PK5 district in Bangui to express their anger on 31 May, 2014. Picture: AFP.

 
NDASSIMA – Three young rebels, their AK47s propped against wooden stools in the afternoon heat, guard the entrance to the giant Ndassima goldmine carved deep into a forested hilltop in Central African Republic.

Sat in a thatched shack at the edge of a muddy shantytown, the gunmen keep the peace – for a price – among hundreds of illegal miners who swarm over the steep sides of the glittering open pit, scratching out a living.

The mine, owned by Canada’s Axmin, was overrun by the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels more than year ago. It now forms part of an illicit economy driving sectarian conflict in one of Africa’s most unstable countries, despite the presence of thousands of French and African peacekeepers.

Seleka fighters – many from neighbouring Chad and Sudan – swept south to topple President Francois Bozize in March last year. Months of killing and looting provoked vicious reprisals by Christian militia, known as “anti-balaka”, that pushed the rebels back, splitting the landlocked country of 4,5 million people into a Muslim north and the Christian south.

“We control the mine. If there is a problem there, we intervene,” said Seleka’s local commander Colonel Oumar Garba, sipping tea outside a villa in Axmin’s abandoned compound. “People don’t want the French peacekeepers here because they know they’ll chase them away from the mine.”

Axmin suspended activity at the mine in late 2012 after rebels occupied its camp. The firm says it is monitoring the situation. CEO Lucy Yan did not respond to requests for comment.

Thousands of people have died and more than a million fled their homes in Central African Republic amid the violence between the Muslim Seleka rebels and Christian militia.

Scenes of cannibalism and the dismemberment of Muslims by Christian mobs in Bangui sowed fears of ethnic cleansing, prompting France to deploy 2,000 peacekeepers to its former colony. After tens of thousands of Muslims fled the south, the United Nations agreed to a 12,000-strong mission from September.

A ceasefire signed last week in the capital of neighbouring Congo Republic raised hopes of an end to the conflict. But many fear local warlords on both sides will resist attempts to break their grip over resources, especially diamond and gold mines.

At Ndassima, 60 km north of Seleka’s military headquarters in the northern town of Bambari, sweat-soaked labourers toil beneath the gaze of Seleka gunmen to produce some 15 kilos of gold a month – worth roughly $350,000 on the local market, or double that in international trade.

Weighing gold on a balance in a hut at the foot of the mine, Jimmy Adoum says buyers are scarce but some pay their way past rebel checkpoints to carry gold to Bangui and east to Cameroon.

Further north, diamond fields around Bria and Sam Ouandja provide revenue for rebels, who extract protection money and sell diamonds to dealers in Sudan and Chad, experts say. From there, the gems are trafficked to Antwerp, Dubai or India.

“Commanders on both sides are profiteering from this conflict. Both the anti-balaka militia and Seleka are involved in gold and diamonds,” Kasper Agger, field researcher for the Enough Project, a Washington-based think-tank. “If we are going to make peace, we need to offer them an economic alternative.”

“JEALOUSY, NOT RELIGION”                                                                                                            

Before Seleka seized power in March last year, Central African Republic ranked as the world’s 12th largest diamond exporter. Thousands of artisanal miners produced more than 300,000 carats a year from thin alluvial deposits.Much of the fiercest fighting centred on these deposits, especially in the west. In the mining town of Boda, nestling in forests 100 km west of Bangui, the anti-balaka militias have besieged thousands of Muslims in the market district.

French troops, their armoured personnel carriers aligned on an escarpment overlooking the town, now keep the two sides apart. Opposite the Muslim enclave stand ruins of Christian homes destroyed in fighting after Seleka withdrew in January.

Both sides accuse the other of starting the clashes. Christians have seized Muslims’ mining equipment and cattle from nearby pastures. Some who venture from the Muslim enclave have been killed by militia, their bodies dumped in the river.

“If the Muslims stay there 40 years, we’ll wait for them. We want to kill them,” said Nicaise Wilikondi, 45, an ex-teacher who lives in a camp for displaced Christians.

Like elsewhere in Central African Republic, in Boda it was Muslim middlemen who controlled the diamond trade and reaped its profits, while most of the poorly paid mine labourers were Christians, fuelling sectarian resentment.

Cherif Dahirou, Boda’s main Muslim diamond trader, said the Christian militia had seized the nearby artisanal pits, but he refused to leave the town where he has lived for 38 years.

“This isn’t about religion: it’s jealousy,” he said under an awning in the grounds of his large house in Boda, in the besieged Muslim enclave. Originally from Chad, he spoke in Arabic, not the local Sango language: “I know the anti-balaka commanders, Romeo and Malou: they used to work the mines.”

The region west of Bangui is controlled by Christian militia leader Alfred Yekatom, a veteran soldier known as “Rombhot” after the movie hard man Rambo, who has profited from several uprisings. He collects thousands of dollars a week from roadblocks staffed by his fighters, according to UN experts.

In Boda, militia leader Habib Saidou, a former soldier loyal to Rombhot, said the Muslims would be left in peace provided that 14 people who controlled the diamond trade – including Dahirou and Mayor Mahamat Awal – left the town forever.

“Until then, the Muslims have to stay behind the red line. If they cross over, we’re going to kill them.” EWN

Ethiopia denies support for South Sudan rebels

Sudan Tribune
By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

July 27, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – The Ethiopian government on Sunday dismissed allegations that it was providing support to opposition forces led by South Sudanese former vice-president Riek Machar.

Last week, Gordon Buay, an unofficial South Sudan army (SPLA) spokesperson claimed Addis Ababa was allegedly providing medical treatment to wounded opposition fighters in its Gambela region.

He specifically cited the recent clashes between government forces over control of Upper Nile’s key town of Nasir, alleging that rebels wounded in the battle found their way to Gambella town for medical aid.

“More than 54 wounded rebels are being treated in Gambella right now”, claimed Buay in a statement.

He urged the Ethiopian government to respect the border security agreement signed with Juba in 2010, and keep wounded rebels out of their territory.

“Therefore, the Ethiopian government must implement the agreement by preventing wounded rebels to have access to hospitals in Ethiopia, particularly in Gambella region,” further noted the statement.

Officials from Gambela could not easily be reached for reactions on the matter.

A senior Ethiopian government official, however, dismissed Buay’s claims that South Sudanese rebels were allegedly receiving support from the East African country or using its territory to distabilise the new nation.

Addis Ababa has never been partisan to any of the conflicting parties in South Sudan, Dina Mufti, Ethiopia’s foreign affairs spokesperson told Sudan Tribune o Sunday.

He however said Ethiopia was only providing the necessary assistance to any South Sudanese refugees crossing into its borders irrespective of their political position on humanitarian grounds.

Mufti reiterated that Ethiopia would continue to extend support aimed at finding political solution to the seven month-old conflict in South Sudan.

“As a chair of IGAD [Inter-governmental Authority on Development] and as a closest friend of people of South Sudan, Ethiopia is doing its level best to bring lasting peace in south Sudan,” said Mufti.

Ethiopia, which is considered as neutral country by South Sudan’s warring factions, has been hosting the peace negotiations since January this year.

REBELS DISMISS ALLEGATIONS

Meanwhile, members of the SPLM in Opposition in Addis Ababa described as “fabricated” accusations that Ethiopia supported their military struggle.

The IGAD-led South Sudan Peace negotiations are due to resume on July 30 in Addis Ababa following its suspension for nearly a month.

According to the East African regional bloc, the agenda of the next session will be to finalise and sign the cessation of hostilities matrix and negotiation on details of the transitional government of national unity.

(ST)
South Sudan’s rebel leader, Riek Machar, gestures as he talks to his men in Jonglei state on 31 January 2014 (Reuters: Goran Tomasevic)

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http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article51825

Is Africa really rising?

allAfrica

document

Photo: Tami Hultman/AllAfrica

Kingsley Moghalu

London — Public Lecture at the London School of Economics by Dr. Kingsley Chiedu Moghalu, Deputy Governor (Financial System Stability), Central Bank of Nigeria and Author, Emerging Africa: How the Global Economy’s ‘Last Frontier’ Can Prosper and Matter (Penguin Books, 2014)

Is Africa Rising?

In the past decade Africa has emerged in the world’s consciousness in the context of an evolution in the continent’s image. Africa is not yet seen as the place to be, to go to, or to be envied in terms of economic and societal progress. Indeed, still too many people around the world hold a decidedly different view. Gradually but surely, however, Africa is increasingly viewed less as a “hopeless” continent and more as one with promise for economic development, less as a haven of poverty, war and natural disaster and more as a continent that offers economic opportunity. In short, Africa is seen more as a “normal”, even if less prosperous place than many other parts of the world, than as the decidedly “abnormal” place off the map of the mental imagination that it once was.

This recent emergence and the positive evolution of the continent’s image has led to the growth of an “Africa-Rising” industry of analysts, commentators, scholars and business executives in which the continent is seen as the next big thing in the world’s economy. The continent in this view can lay claim to a looming African century close on the heels of the economic rise of Asia in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Three main factors have shaped this trend.

First, many of the wars for which Africa was famous have ended. The wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia, the Great Lakes region of Africa including Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the long armed conflicts in the Horn of Africa in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan were and are only a few of the destructive orgies of annihilation of human capital, political stability and economic possibilities that shaped perceptions of Africa as a war zone writ large in the 1980s, the 1990s and the 2000s. As most of these conflicts have ended, more recent ones have raged in Mali and the Central African Republic, keeping the world’s peacekeeping armies in business. But the continent is far more at peace now than it once was, clearing the path for a shift in attention to democratization and economic development.

Second, macroeconomic stability has been broadly established across the continent in the past decade. Inflation is down, at an average of 10 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa compared to the nearly 25 per cent in the 1980s and the 1990s. This trend can be traced to the evolution of better monetary policy by increasingly independent central banks, as well as improved fiscal management. At the same time, GDP growth has continued apace. Average GDP growth in sub-Saharan Africa in the decade leading to 2013 was 5 per cent, with a third of Africa’s countries reaching growth rates of 6 per cent and others, such as Nigeria, growing at average rates of 7 per cent.

According to the African Development Bank, Africa’s economies are growing faster than those of any other continent. Nearly half of Africa’s countries are now classified as middle income countries, the numbers of Africans living below the poverty line fell to 39 per cent in 2012 as compared to 51 per cent in 2005, and around 350 million of Africa’s one billion people are now earning between $2 and $20 a day.

The third factor is the global financial crisis and the subsequent recession in the Eurozone and other Western economies at a time in which African economies were growing rapidly. This has led to opportunistic focus on Africa by several multinationals and global investment funds as the “final frontier” for wealth creation, with returns on investment that can only be the stuff of dreams in the world’s industrialized countries.

But the reality is more nuanced. Contrary to the breathless prognostications of enthusiasts, while Africa has become an economic opportunity in the world economy, the continent is yet to fully emerge, let alone rise, as an economic presence and a co-creator of global prosperity.

Let us look at another set of statistics. Africa’s share of world trade is a minute 3 per cent, with less than 4 per cent of global Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows going to the continent. With a combined GDP of S1.6 trillion, the combined GDP of the continent’s 54 countries is just about that of Brazil. The GDP of the entire sub-Saharan Africa, including South Africa, is just about equal to that of Belgium or that of metropolitan Chicago. All the electricity produced in sub-Saharan Africa, half of which is, in fact produced by South Africa, is equivalent to that of Spain which has 20 times fewer people than Africa.

The Argument for a New Paradigm of African Development

What all this suggests is that real questions regarding the “rise” of Africa include that of what parameters are used for measuring the continent’s progress and who does the measuring. Is Africa aspiring to holistic development that encompasses human development as a reflection of the real quality of life of Africans or is it focusing on economic growth statistics that do not necessarily translate into more jobs for its citizens and better education and healthcare? Have African economies become industrialized manufacturing economies, and will job creation outpace population growth and put Malthus to shame? What is the role of science, technology and innovation in African economies? Is Africa assessing its own progress against benchmarks it has set for itself, or is its “rise” the received wisdom from global institutions and the ambassadors of global capital seeking new frontiers of profit?

In Emerging Africa I make the case that Africa needs an endogenous growth model that is inside-out in its perspective, rather than the presently dominant one that is outside-in and globalization-centric. Africa needs to manufacture goods for its own markets as a first foundation, spreading out regionally from that base and emerging as economic power in its own right through competitive advantage or at least self-sufficiency. What is being celebrated as Africa’s rise is the fact that the continent has increasingly become a market or a playground for globalization.

Africans appear to have become excited merely to be participating in the wider globalization process, and the external economic players for whom the continent has become the new frontier are excited at the novelty of playing in new territory and the benefits it has brought or potentially will. This is quite a different thing from structural economic transformation, which is what has happened in many Asian economies and which is what Africa really needs to achieve for itself and its peoples. Without a doubt, GDP growth is necessary for such a transformation, but is not an alternative for it because the two are not the same thing.

Africa’s recent economic growth statistics have been derived largely, but admittedly not completely, from a structural dependence on primary commodity products. This growth is thus not transformative, and it is only transformed economies that can truly rise, in the manner in which we speak, for instance, of the rise of China. The continent needs to decide whether it will continue to engage with the world as (a) a destination market for consumer goods and ideas, (b) a self-sufficient player based on endogenous growth, or (c) as a dominant actor. I argue that the first option is not an option for real progress, the third one is not realistic in the near to medium term given how far behind Africa really is in terms of the structure of its economies, while the second is realistic and achievable within the next 30 years.

The required approach to creating the real economic rise of Africa must be based on at least three things. The first is what I call fundamental understandings, a philosophical approach to wealth creation and economic prosperity that prioritizes the role of individual and collective minds in economic and social progress. In this context, what is required is nothing short of the reinvention of the contemporary African mind. That mind must better understand foundational realities and its inherent power to alter these realities in favour of the continent. The second approach is the need for strategy and the active management of risk. The third is the role of governance, the rule of law, and institution-building.

Fundamental understandings – worldviews and globalization

The point of departure for Africa is the need for African states, their governments and their citizens to understand how the world is structured in reality, and why this is so. They will then need to develop mechanisms that can enable them arrive at a different interpretation from their own perspective, and stamp that interpretation as an alternative reality in their environment. That is to say, African governments must create worldviews, and in that context develop a proper understanding of globalization as a dominant economic context, the implications of this concept and context for Africa in the world economy, and the possibility of creating an “African century”. Nothing is written in the stars in terms of Africa’s destiny. The continent can create the destiny it wants, just as other parts of the world have done.

This requires a reappraisal of a number of fundamental assumptions that have prevented Africa’s economic development and transformation such as a misunderstanding of where responsibility lies for the continent’s transformation. From this point of departure, the fundamental understandings of issues such as globalization, foreign aid, capitalism and international economic governance as a framework for economic development, and so forth, can be applied to economic activities such as industrialization, finance, agriculture, foreign investment, science and technology, and world trade.

I argue in Emerging Africa that the fundamental reason for Africa’s condition of underdevelopment is the absence of a futuristic worldview. This is the most fundamental aspect of the African development dilemma. A worldview is basically how we see the world, understand and interpret it, and how we engage with the world around us and beyond us. It is that inner world of the mind of an individual or group, which he or she or they project in their outward actions, and which influences the world around them by creating certain realities.

The Belgian philosopher Leo Apostel and his research collaborators identified seven core components of a worldview. These are: (a) a model of the world – an understanding of how the world is structured and how it functions; (b) an explanation of where we have come from and why the world is the way it is; (c) rational futurology, which addresses the question of where we are going, the possible destinations, and the options and alternatives to promote or avoid; (d) values, including systems of ethics that guide what we should or should not do; (e) action – how to get to our goals by developing and implementing plans; (f) knowledge – how to construct knowledge systems, addressing the questions of what’s true or false; and (g) building blocks that construct a worldview from what already exists in theories, concepts or models across various disciplines or ideologies.

Worldviews matter enormously, because their outcomes are never neutral. Indeed they are often reflected in or as world orders. Although initially subjective, they can with dogged application result in “objective” reality. The transatlantic slave trade was a world order based on a worldview – repugnant as it was – of the “superiority” of slave owners and the “inferiority” of the enslaved peoples. Emancipation and the abolition of slavery was also based on another worldview, and the hardiness of the worldview of the transatlantic slave trade, faced with a strong opponent in abolitionism, transmuted into colonialism in order to ensure and continue the economic benefits of the exploitation of Africa and the Africans.
Thus, the projection of these worldviews, backed up by the sustained deployment of certain comparative advantages such as military prowess based on technology, established realities that are accepted as “facts of life”. This has been demonstrated in diverse climes such as the Western world, with its worldview of scientific rationalism and individual freedoms leading to economic progress along a certain model, and the East, which has risen, represented by China, along another model of stability as an end in itself, and the importance of the clan or society above the individual.

From this foundation we can then situate globalization, its impact on Africa’s economic trajectory, and why Africans need to engage the phenomenon from a somewhat different and more sophisticated standpoint. Globalization is the process of increasing interconnectedness of the economies of previously well demarcated nation-states; the phenomenon of the instant transmission of ideas, events and culture over long distances through the instrumentality of technology, and the impact of these processes on local environments.
Thus, for our purposes here, there are two highly relevant dimensions of globalization. The first is that it has two main elements, the economic and the social, with technology as its chief instrument. This is why we all believe that the internet has made the world a much smaller place, and Africa now has over 600 million mobile telephone users, more than the United States and Europe.

Second, a more comprehensive understanding of globalization must involve both its scope and its motives. We must go beyond issues such as the extent and the geographies, the boundaries of which have been breached by globalization, to the questions of who is globalizing and why. [1]

This is what has been termed “global intent” or strategic intent, without which globalization will not be what it is and would not have had the economic and other impacts it has had.

Economic globalization has, in fact, hurt Africa more than it has helped the continent, contrary to the received wisdom. The gains for African countries from opening up to international economic forces without adequate internal preparation have been limited and far outweighed by the adverse of the continent’s engagement with economic globalization. Economic policies enunciated by the Bretton Woods institutions in the 1980 and 1990s led to lost decades of development opportunities and outcomes. Structural adjustment and liberalization without the proper foundations as a core condition led to the effective de-industrialization and unproductiveness of the continent by weakening the manufacturing sector and promoting import-driven economies. Trade liberalization under WTO regimes has not brought benefits. It has removed incomes from tariffs that have not been replaced by effective internal revenue mobilization.

It is against this backdrop – that of an uncritical embrace of globalization and its institutions or agents in the mistaken belief that these forces are benign in intent or impact, or agnostic in belief, or that African countries are obliged to do so as members of a presumed “international community” or “global village” – that Africa’s “rise” must be evaluated. The road to progress begins with asking and answering the right questions, and African countries must do so. Who is responsible for Africa’s development? Who will shape Africa’s destiny?

The answer: Africans and no one else. Not foreign investors; not development “partners”; not the supposed international community; not foreign aid.

Nevertheless, one of the paradoxes of globalization is that the phenomenon has so opened up the world and its inhabitants to each other that the prospects and opportunities economic advancement are now almost universal. This process, underpinned by the invention and innovation of industrial technology, is not a secret. It is open to any country or region of the world that is prepared to harness it. Perhaps the secret lies in what’s beneath the surface – the full understanding of all the dimensions of that process and the preparation to harness the recipe. It does not have as much to do with presence or absence of natural resources, with Africa is endowed more than any other continent. If it did, Africa would be the richest continent rather than the impoverished one it has been for far too long.

Paths to Economic Transformation

The first application of these fundamental understandings to take a very clear-headed approach to capitalist economics, the paradigm through which virtually all African states are now seeking to develop in the aftermath of the Cold War and the collapse of communism and socialism. Most of the growth of Africa’s economies is driven by the private sector. That’s ok, but not unreservedly so. To be clear, I am a capitalist.

But, to drive real economic transformation, capitalism must be managed by the state in a number of ways. The first is that clear choices must be made between the different kinds of capitalism –indeed there must exist in African governance and public policy an understanding of these different strands, and the implications of each as a possible choice for each African country. Thus, African states must choose between state capitalism as practiced by China, welfare capitalism, crony or oligarchic capitalism, and entrepreneurial capitalism. I recommend a blend of at least two of these according to the peculiarities of each African country, but have a bias for entrepreneurial, small-business capitalism because that is what most suits Africa’s historical development, societies, and its large informal economies.

Second, African countries must revisit the role of the state as a guiding hand as opposed to the misguided abdication of the responsibility of the state to the private sector. This creates wealth but with too much inequality in the distribution of that wealth, which is in itself a long-term risk. There must be a public-private private approach to the three fundamental requirements for successful capitalism – access to finance, property rights, and innovation.

The next step in the application of fundamental understandings is that African countries must embrace industrialization. This imperative also extends to the industrialization of agriculture, a mainstay of many African economies but presently largely at a subsistence level. It would be foolhardy to be caught in the fanciful conceptual trap of a supposed post-industrial society that is assumed to have developed in the West, with 3-D manufacturing supposedly threatening traditional industries and service economies challenging manufacturing ones.

Africa must first create industrial societies because that is what creates jobs, which African countries need to outpace population growth and maintain economic growth and social stability by avoiding a youth bulge in the future. Moreover, 55 per cent of world trade is based on manufacturing, while 7 per cent is based on agriculture. And massive infrastructure networks of electric power and transport infrastructure connecting the continent’s countries to one another and their component parts have rightly been recognized as a priority by many African governments which are moving to create such infrastructure over the next decade.

The next two key drivers of economic transformation are science, technology and innovation on the one hand, and education and human capital development on the other. Both must be linked. African countries need to make technology and innovation a strategic priority from the standpoint of a worldview that Africa can invent and innovate, and must do so if it is to liberate itself from the oppressive dominance of globalization. Some African countries such as Kenya are making strides in the development of innovation with the development of an ambitious, $15 billion “silicon savannah” in Konza, a 2,000 hectare city 60 kilometres outside Nairobi that is designed to turn Kenya into an attractive location for technology businesses and incubators, and challenge South Africa’s dominance in this area.

Science, technology and innovation is one of the main paths which Africa can exploit to make a great leap forward in the world economy. Talent abounds in the continent, but African governments need to create an enabling environment for innovation and create incentives, institutions and markets to support it. Here the link between innovation and taking innovations to market as commercial products that are priced competitively to counter imports is key. Human capital development in which African countries improve the falling quality of education in several countries and focus on education that builds technical and technological skills that are linked to industrial policies and job-creation strategies will play a major role in economic transformation.

Governance, Leadership and Institution-Building

The intervention of military governments in most African countries in the three decades between the 1960s and the 1990s set back the hand of the clock in Africa’s economic development because it led not to benign dictatorships that drove economic development as happened in some Asian countries, but to the restriction of the space for the evolutionary development of good, accountable governance. With the return of virtually all African countries to democratic status, this challenge remains, alongside that of economic development.

Governance and leadership determine to a large degree how much progress a country can make on the economic front. If the governance of an African country is based on the search for the economic progress of citizens, and the effort is well directed and managed, economic transformation can occur. But if governance is based on rent-seeking and competition for the spoils of public office, the resources of the state will be drained far more than real wealth can be created, in which case the dividends of democracy become questionable.

The best way to utilize governance as a tool for creating the wealth of Africa’s nations is for governments to create a number of paradigm shifts through public and economic policy. These include the establishment of economic complexity through an industrial policy that supports manufacturing. Countries such as Nigeria and Ethiopia are making progress in this direction. Building strong, independent institutions that will ultimately have a positive impact on economic activity by assuring the rule of law and protecting investments from arbitrariness, and creating a level playing field for economic actors is also critical. Another fundamental requirement of good governance as a wealth creator is the manufacturing of consent of the citizens to a vision of economic transformation to which a nation’s collective energies can be channelled in a united manner.

The difference between the wealth and poverty of nations, their success or their failure, lies in the existence or absence of strong institutions. Institutions, when they function well, function dispassionately as systems that make predictable decisions based on benchmarks and thresholds that are clear to all. They serve to remove the system of economic incentives from the tyranny of the whims and caprices of individuals. Where institutions are weak and caprice reigns, there will be little or no progress because there is no meritocracy. Rewards are aligned not to creativity or productivity, but along lines of unproductive patronage networks that sustain political power but do not create wealth for a nation. A society that functions in this paradigm is fundamentally unable to transform its economy because the playing field is not a level one. Rent-seeking is rampant, but creates pools of plenty for the tiny few that are linked to the patronage network within vast pools of poverty.

The manufacture of consent is absolutely essential for economic transformation in Africa. Because development is the result of the deployment of creative talent and economic activity in a productive direction, it is necessary for African governments to define economic policy visions and directions and obtain the buy-in of the citizens to such a vision. We have seen this approach utilized by every dominant economic power in the world, whether it is the United States which applies a free-market oriented economic culture or China, which has achieved massive leaps in economic development in the past 30 years through an adaptation to state-directed capitalist activity while maintaining the dominance of the Communist Party. In all instances, this has been achieved through propaganda and mass mobilization.

Strategy and Risk Management

African countries have often not lacked an understanding of what the challenges to their economic development are. The real challenge has sometimes been to just get on with “doing it” effectively and creating the required transformation. This requires an understanding of strategy as a modern management concept and its application to governance. Sadly, this is still lacking inside African governments, with only very few exceptions.

Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, had a famous strategy unit in 10 Downing Street that drove his governance agenda and ensured that a single thread of vision, communication and execution priority – in this case, education – ran through all the narratives actions of his ten years in office. Strategy and risk management have just come into their as legitimate functions in Africa’s private sectors. Their application to the role of the government and the effectiveness of the state – which encompasses the private sector commercial space – is even more consequential for the future of Africa.

Strategy and risk management need to become embedded in governance thinking and architecture in Africa. Strategy is about shaping the future. It is about how to create the future of our imagination. If we are to create an African century, African countries will not succeed without a clear strategy and strategic thinking. That “how” is the difference between dreaming and visioning, and bridging the gap in between.

Strategy is first of all about thinking and about a way of thinking, before it becomes a matter of plans. As Max McKeown writes in the context of corporate organizations, but also applicable to nations, it is about “outthinking your competition”. Thus strategic intent and ability are linked to the concept of worldviews, since strategy first requires strategic thinkers whose minds are open to vast possibilities. Second, worldviews, strategy formulation and strategy execution are intricately linked. Many African countries have been “planning” for decades but without the sort of strategic intent that has moved Asia forward in massive leaps. This requires focused objectives, an understanding of strategy management, especially in the context –framing choices and strategic possibilities, making the choice, and strategy execution management.

Africa’s Future

To conclude, then, contrary to the prevailing popular view about Africa Rising, the continent has no automatic, inexorable future. Growth, though a significant factor in economic development, is quite a different thing from transformation, which is what Africa really needs. Transformation means fundamentally improved indicators in such things as education and healthcare, infant mortality, life expectancy, infrastructure, and industrial production, not resource-driven economic activity or subsistence agriculture that produces a “growth myth”, the myth that increases in GDP will make poor countries catch up with rich ones based on numbers that, while generally accepted as a standard of measurement, in fact have debatable exactitude.

The Cambridge University economist Ha-Joon Chang makes the provocative but thoughtful point that a society can become better off without marked increases in GDP [2]. Thus the focus for African countries must remain that of a fundamental transformation in the structures of their economies, not the growth numbers that the current structures throw up. This implies a transformation away from the prevailing model that is presently being celebrated as the Africa “rising”.

Africa’s future is thus not on auto-pilot to some gilded age, but will be one that Africans create by their economic and public policy choices. What exists now, without doubt, is an opportunity for a turn-around in the continent’s trajectory from that of its not-too-distant past. In this context, then, there is no need for a return to defeatist Afro-pessimism, but what the continent needs is realism and a determined focus on the right priorities.

The most important factors that will influence Africa’s future, then, include: (a) whether African countries can develop and execute transformation strategies effectively and with discipline; (b); how Africa handles the continent’s burgeoning population, projected by some estimates to hit 2.4 billion people by 2050 – will it yield a demographic dividend or a youth bulge?; (c) how African countries handle the challenge of jobless and non-inclusive growth; and (d) whether the continent can develop and effectively deploy its human capital, the most important investment for competitiveness in a globalized world.

All of this, of course, will have to be anchored on the foundation that is the real secret for the success of Africa’s quest for prosperity – the African mind. That mind-set needs to change from one that is predominantly focused on day-to-day or short-term survival or “progress” as defined through this prism – not of a well-ordered society but of individual affluence in the midst of mass exclusion from prosperity – to one in which the mind-set takes a long term, past and future view of the world and the place of the African in that world, and what it takes to get to that place.

The African mind-set needs to place greater emphasis on “thinking it through” because action that is transformational is one that is guided by a philosophical or conceptual compass – a worldview. As we have seen, worldviews are the secret of the rise of the societies of the West and the Rest (mainly Asia). These worldviews develop through a combination of historical and cultural evolutions, on the one hand, and through the instrumentality of propaganda and public diplomacy to the citizens of a state and the rest of the world. The place to begin is in the educational system. It is that combination of well-inculcated worldviews, knowledge and skills that produces human capital – the secret of transformation.

I rest the case for a truly Emerging Africa.

Thank you.

[1] Alex MacGillvray, A Brief History of Globalization (Constable and Robinson, 2006), 27.
[2] David Pilling, “Has GDP Outgrown Its Use?”, Financial Times Magazine, July 5/6 2014   allAfrica

© Kingsley Chiedu Moghalu, 2014

South Sudan – UN warns of catastrophic hunger

UN NEWS SERVICE

UN warns of ‘hunger catastrophe’ for South Sudanese children

25 July 2014 – Two United Nations humanitarian agencies today called for action to stop a potential famine in South Sudan which they said is being allowed to happen, just as it occurred in Somalia and the Horn of Africa three years ago.

“The world should not wait for a famine to be announced while children here are dying each and every day,” said Anthony Lake, Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). “We all have to do more, and quickly, to keep more children alive.”

Mr. Lake and World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director Ertharin Cousin visited with displaced families seeking shelter at a UN base in Malakal, in the Upper Nile state of South Sudan.

The agency heads said they fear a repeat of famines in other parts of the world, where early warnings of extreme hunger and escalating malnutrition went largely unheeded until official famine levels were announced.

“WFP, UNICEF and our partners here on the ground have been working tirelessly to bring assistance,” said Ms. Cousin. “But if we are to rapidly expand our operations and save more lives, then we need more resources, and the international community has to act now.”

Nearly one million children under five years of age in South Sudan will require treatment for acute malnutrition in 2014, according to the UN. In addition, one out of every three people in the country, the equivalent of 3.9 million people, is estimated to be dangerously food insecure.

An estimated 1.5 million people have been uprooted in fighting that started with a political impasse in mid-December 2013 between President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar.

At a press briefing in Geneva, WFP spokesperson Elisabeth Byrs said that the situation was particularly worrying for displaced people who have not been able to plant crops this year.

If the world fails to provide the help needed right now to accelerate and scale up life-saving food and nutrition efforts, UNICEF estimates that 50,000 children could die from malnutrition in the course of this year.

In addition, the children are at further risk from insufficient health care and access to safe water and sanitation facilities, according to the UN.

Also speaking out about the dire humanitarian situation was the Security Council, which expressed grave concern in a press statement about “the catastrophic food insecurity situation in South Sudan that is now the worst in the world,” as well as deep alarm that the crisis in South Sudan may soon reach the threshold of famine as a result of continued conflict, civilian targeting, and displacement.

The 15-member body urged all UN Member States, who together pledged more than $618 million in new funding for both South Sudan and the region in May at the Humanitarian Pledging Conference in Oslo, to swiftly fulfill those pledges and to increase their commitments.

The Council, in a separate press statement, strongly condemned the series of attacks launched on 20 July by armed youth and opposition forces, and the 23 July attacks by Government of South Sudan forces, as they fight for control of Nassir Town in Upper Nile state.

“The members of the Security Council expressed deep regret at the lack of progress towards peace and reconciliation in South Sudan,” the statement added.

“They reiterated their full support for the mediation efforts of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and urged all parties in South Sudan to immediately cease hostilities in accordance with the signed cessation of hostilities agreements, and to resume comprehensive and inclusive peace talks.”  un

BBC

South Sudan’s food crisis ‘worst in the world’ – UN

South Sudan’s food crisis is the worst in the world, the UN Security Council has warned, calling for urgent action.

It said there was a “catastrophic food insecurity” in the country, urging donor nations who pledged $618m (£364m) in aid to make good on their promise.

The UN children’s fund, Unicef, said some four million – a third of the population – could be affected.

It said that 50,000 children may die of hunger in the conflict-torn country unless international help increased.

More than a million people have fled their homes since fighting erupted between different factions of South Sudan’s ruling party last December.

Thousands have now died in the conflict that started as a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his deputy Riek Machar but has since escalated into ethnic violence.

Months of fighting have prevented farmers from planting or harvesting crops, causing food shortages nationwide.

The onset of the rainy season has added to the problem, dashing hopes that displaced farmers plant crops to feed themselves in the future, the BBC’s Rob Broomby reports.

South Sudan, which gained independence from Sudan in 2011, topped the list of fragile states in this year’s index released by The Fund for Peace, a leading US-based research institute.

line

Map of South Sudan states affected by conflict Fighting erupted in the South Sudan capital, Juba, in December 2013. It followed a political power struggle between President Salva Kiir and his ex-deputy Riek Machar. The squabble has taken on an ethnic dimension as politicians’ political bases are often ethnic.
News graphic showing the ethnic groups of South Sudan Sudan’s arid north is mainly home to Arabic-speaking Muslims. But in South Sudan there is no dominant culture. The Dinkas and the Nuers are the largest of more than 200 ethnic groups, each with its own languages and traditional beliefs, alongside Christianity and Islam.
Map showing the location of oil fields in South Sudan Both Sudan and the South are reliant on oil revenue, which accounts for 98% of South Sudan’s budget. They have fiercely disagreed over how to divide the oil wealth of the former united state – at one time production was shutdown for more than a year. Some 75% of the oil lies in the South but all the pipelines run north.
Map showing the geography of South Sudan The two Sudans are very different geographically. The great divide is visible even from space, as this Nasa satellite image shows. The northern states are a blanket of desert, broken only by the fertile Nile corridor. South Sudan is covered by green swathes of grassland, swamps and tropical forest.
Map showing access to water in South Sudan After gaining independence in 2011, South Sudan is the world’s newest country – and one of its poorest. Figures from 2010 show some 69% of households now have access to clean water – up from 48% in 2006. However, just 2% of households have water on the premises.
Map showing education levels in South Sudan Just 29% of children attend primary school in South Sudan – however, this is also an improvement on the 16% recorded in 2006. About 32% of primary-age boys attend, while just 25% of girls do. Overall, 64% of children who begin primary school reach the last grade.
Map showing food insecurity rates in South Sudan Almost 28% of children under the age of five in South Sudan are moderately or severely underweight. This compares with the 33% recorded in 2006. Unity state has the highest proportion of children suffering malnourishment (46%), while Central Equatoria has the lowest (17%).

BBC


 

Kenya – US and Australia to pull out aid workers over security; tourism suffering

Nation

Inspector General of Police David Kiamiyo (L) and Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku during the recent crackdown on terror suspects.  The police operation against terrorism has now turned to businessmen who are believed to be funding the al-Shabaab. IG Kiamaiyo says police are now investigating some sympathisers, financial institutions and prominent financiers suspected to fund terror activities in the country. AFP PHOTO / TONY KARUMBA

Inspector General of Police David Kiamiyo (L) and Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku during the recent crackdown on terror suspects. American and Australian volunteers are withdrawing from Kenya due to deteriorating insecurity that has taken a toll on tourism. AFP PHOTO / TONY KARUMBA

By PETER LEFTIE 

American and Australian volunteers are withdrawing from Kenya due to deteriorating insecurity that has taken a toll on tourism.

A statement from the US State Department said the decision to pull out about 70 Peace Corps volunteers was made on June 30, “based on the overall security picture.”
Kenya has been attacked by the Somali terrorist group Al-Shabaab since its incursion in the strife-torn country in 2011.

Hundreds of people have been killed in the attacks that have targeted churches, public service vehicles and at the Westgate shopping mall in Westlands, Nairobi.
Insecurity has deteriorated at the Coast where more than 100 people have been killed in the last one month in Lamu, Tana River and Mombasa counties.

The decision by the Americans and Australians is likely to adversely affect education, health and environment projects run by the volunteers in rural communities across the country.
The Australian High Commission in Nairobi said that it was withdrawing its nationals from various volunteer programmes for “safety” reasons.

“Australia has made the difficult decision to withdraw the Australian Volunteers for International Development (Avid) Programme from Kenya by June 30, 2015.

“The assignments of the 39 volunteers will be phased out over the next 12 months,” said Leisa Gibson, the First Secretary for Development Cooperation.
The Australian volunteers working on aid projects in Nairobi and Mombasa are to leave Kenya by August 17.

Some staff may be deployed to safer regions while others will return to Australia or be redeployed to neighbouring countries.

Head of the International Programme at the Australian Red Cross Peter Walton wrote to volunteers saying: “It is with great regret … that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has made the difficult decision to withdraw the Australian Volunteers for International Development (Avid) programme from Kenya.

Raft of measures
The move by the two governments is the latest in a raft of measures taken by Western nations that are adversely affecting Kenya’s economy.

The US Government recently increased the number of security personnel at its embassy and stationed armed marines behind sandbag bunkers on the roof. The State Department also reduced the number of US personnel based in Kenya by moving a regional USAid office out of the country.

Earlier this year, several Western countries issued travel advisories warning their nationals against visiting certain parts of Kenya considered unsafe. This resulted in massive tourist cancellations.
The US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has designated Kenya as a “high risk” sky for American civilian aircraft.

The insecurity, particularly at the Coast, has also seen several international conferences cancelled at the last minute.
In May, a conference organised by Inclusion International (II) and the Kenyan Association for the Intellectually Handicapped, which was to be held in Nairobi was called off following a spate of terrorist attacks that month.

Others organised by USAid as well as the International Aids Vaccine Initiative were cancelled. The two conferences were to take place in Mombasa. The World Bank also followed suit over similar concerns.
Two test rugby matches between Kenya and Portugal scheduled for June failed to take place because of the travel advisories.

Last month, the organisers of the Africa Hotel Investment Forum moved a planned meeting from Nairobi to Addis Ababa over what they called “limited space.” The meeting is scheduled for October.

The only major international conferences which have been held in the country despite the security concerns are the United Nations Environmental Assembly (Unea) and the International Conference on Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).

The Kenya Tourist Board (KTB) said tourist bookings dropped by 17,000 this year, compared to the same period in 2013.

Major markets

“The number of tourists has gone down drastically after the travel bans issued by some of the major markets such as the United Kingdom and the US,” KTB managing director Mureithi Ndegwa said Friday.

He said the government had put in place a major recovery programme to mitigate the dwindling fortunes.

They include a Sh700 million kitty to aid the recovery of the tourism sector. The government has also reduced park fees for domestic tourists by about Sh200 while air ticket processing has been exempted from the VAT.

The State has lifted the ban on the public service holding seminars and conferences in private hotels, he said.
The government has been faulted over a reactionary approach to the insecurity problem.

“The government must be proactive. We need an overhaul of the security apparatus.

“The team that we left in 2002 is still intact. We need fresh ideas and new energy,” said former Internal Security permanent secretary and current Kuresoi South MP Zakayo Cheruiyot.
Security expert George Musamali accused the government of paying lip service to the fight against insecurity.

“The government is assuring us every day that things are alright, but they are not. Things are getting out of hand.

“The question we should ask is whether other countries have shared intelligence with our agencies and what our security organs have done with it,” said Mr Musamali, a director at the Centre for Risk Management in Africa.

“We are running around in circles. But there are obvious signs we are not doing the right thing. It has been said by many people that you can’t win any war on crime without proper intelligence. Involving the public is critical.”

The chairman of Coast Tourist Association, Mr Mohammed Hersi, said the State needed to do a lot more.

Mr Hersi Friday told the Saturday Nation that the government interventions had partly helped in sustaining the industry, but it needed to double efforts.

“State intervention has led to a lot of domestic inquiries. More people are coming in to attend conferences especially during weekends.

“It is a bit slower during weekdays…under the circumstances, but this has helped us. This is what is mainly sustaining us,” he said.

Additional reporting by Kevin J Kelley nation

US-Africa summit – the struggle to get leaders to step down

Mail and Guardian

Obama may struggle to persuade African leaders to step down timeously at leadership summit.

Still popular: Burkina Faso nationals cheer for their president, Blaise Compaoré (seen in the portrait). He has been in power since 1987. (AFP)

When United States President Barack Obama faces the large group of heads of state he invited for the first US-Africa Leadership Summit in Washington on August 6, he will almost certainly be aware that many of them came to power while he was still a university student.

Civil society organisations are urging him to use the opportunity afforded by the summit to remind the long-serving African leaders about the need to step down after their terms expire.

In no less than six African countries, most of them Francophone, there are plans afoot by heads of state to change their Constitutions to stay in power for longer than legally permitted.

The rumours and allegations on changing term limits have led to political strife and, in some cases, violent protests in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Burkina Faso, Benin, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi.

“The bids by leaders to change their Constitutions to stay on are one of the main sources of instability in many countries in Africa today,” says DRC legal expert Jean-Pierre Fofé Djofia Malewa.

Speaking at a conference on international justice organised by the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa in Senegal earlier this month, he said all eyes are on Obama to see whether he will mention the issue at the summit.

“The message should be [to] keep things simple [and] stick to the Constitution,” he said.

In the DRC, President Joseph Kabila has been in power for more than 13 years. His party is flighting the idea of either scrapping the constitutional term limits, as many of his peers have done, or changing the electoral system to a proportional one similar to that in South Africa.

The second option would allow Kabila to turn back the clock and run in the next two elections.

Ample time
Kabila could learn from his Angolan neighbour José Eduardo dos Santos, who has been in power since 1979 and only changed the electoral system in 2010, ensuring that he has ample time for two constitutional mandates.

Could a word from Obama make Kabila change his mind?

Civil society activist Jeggan Grey-Johnson, from the regional office of the Open Society Foundation in Johannesburg, says Obama is being encouraged to use the summit as a platform to urge heads of state to recommit to prior engagements and instruments on good governance.

But he thinks the summit is mainly in reaction to the many previous Africa-China, Africa-Japan or Africa-Europe summits, in which politics did not play a big role.

“Obama has to tread carefully because speaking about governance could be seen as contentious,” says Grey-Johnson.

In May, US Secretary of State John Kerry stated on a visit to Kinshasa that the US is prepared to give the DRC $30-million in aid to hold elections “in accordance with the Constitution”, which was seen as a clear warning about sticking to the presidential term limits.

Swaying the other Francophone heads of state might be more difficult. In Burkina Faso, for example, plans by the ruling party to hold a referendum to change article 37 of the Constitution in order for long-time President Blaise Compaoré to serve another term has led to huge political strife.

In an interview with the weekly pan-African news magazine Jeune Afrique earlier this month, the man who took over from the popular Thomas Sankara as president in 1987 after Sankara was slain, refused to say whether he is going to push for a third term next year.

But he did say that after 27 years in power “you don’t think about yourself, but about the future of your country”.

Asked whether he is talking to his peers about constitutional term limits, notably to presidents Kabila, Thomas Boni Yayi of Benin, Denis Sassou-Nguesso of the Republic of Congo and Paul Kagame of Rwanda, he admitted: “I would lie if I said no, but actually [we talk] very little.”

Of this group, Sassou-Nguesso is certainly the most experienced. Having ruled the Republic of the Congo between 1979 and 1992, he again came to power in 1997, won elections in 2002 and 2009 and still seems fit enough to try for a third term in 2016. The Constitution currently forbids this.

In Rwanda, Kagame has been in power since 2000 and was elected with overwhelming majorities in 2003 and 2011. The Constitution limits the head of state to two seven-year terms, but there have been persistent suggestions by his supporters that he should change the Constitution in order to stay on beyond 2017.

These rumours and frequent media articles are seen as an effort to gauge international opinion.

The same can be said about the rumours about a third-term bid in Burundi, where President Pierre Nkurunziza is supposed to quit power next year. Political conflict, especially involving the youth wing of the ruling party, has raised concern among observers, including the United Nations and the African Union.

m&g

Chatham House attacks “scaremongering” over GM crops in Africa

CHATHAM HOUSE

GM Scaremongering in Africa is Disarming the Fight Against Poverty

21 July 2014

Rob Bailey

Acting Research Director, Energy, Environment and Resources

Biotechnology offers an opportunity to boost the security of staple crops in sub-Saharan Africa. We ignore this at our peril.
Image by Getty/Stringer.Image by Getty/Stringer.

Transforming agriculture is central to sub-Saharan Africa’s development prospects. Three-quarters of people in extreme poverty – existing on less than $1.25 a day – live in rural areas, and crop yields across the region are often a fraction of those in developed countries.

Increasing productivity could help close that gap and increase farm incomes and food availability, in turn reducing hunger and poverty. But the transformation must go beyond raising farm productivity – it must also build resilience to climate change, which, in the absence of significant investment and adaptation, threatens to devastate African crop yields.

Biotechnology offers an important opportunity to improve crops. In particular, genetic modification (GM) enables plant breeders to increase the potential of crops and reduce the timescales involved. It is especially useful in the case of African staples that have narrow gene pools or are slow-growing or difficult to cross.

Governments, donors and philanthropic foundations have invested considerable resources in the development of GM varieties of staples such as sorghum, cassava, matoke and cowpea in an attempt to bolster nutrient content and resistance to pests, disease and drought. These crops are crucial to the food security and livelihoods of millions of sub-Saharan Africans, but are shunned by private-sector researchers, mainly because of the small market opportunity they offer.

This investment has yet to translate to anything more than successful field trials: no GM trait developed for African farmers has been cleared for release by a government. There are many reasons why this is so, but chief among them is the polarized debate about GM crops.

As my fellow authors and I note in a Chatham House research paper, opponents have waged effective campaigns against GM technology based on misinformation and scaremongering. Consider Uganda, where the banana crop is under attack from pests and diseases, spurring the government to develop genetically modified, resistant varieties. Anti-GM campaigners have linked the technology to obesity, cancer and infertility and used images of deformed cattle to heighten consumer fears about health risks.

Unsurprisingly, public support for GM is low and politicians see only downsides in promoting the technology. Consequently, a proposed biosafety law to regulate and control the release of GM varieties has been suspended, and Uganda’s modified bananas remain at the field trial stage.

This is not to say that there are no risks associated with the introduction of GM varieties, or that regulation is not needed. The release of any new variety, GM or otherwise, entails risk that must be assessed and managed accordingly.

But what typically determines whether a GM crop is approved for release in Africa is not a balanced, independent assessment of risks and benefits, but a political judgment shaped by distrust and suspicion of the technology.

Politicians are reluctant to progress biosafety legislation or take decisions towards the release of GM varieties. Even when a functioning biosafety regime exists, regulatory decisions may be unpredictable and subject to political interference.

As a result, GM crops are stuck on a treadmill of continual field trials. Governments are in effect attempting to balance the demands of pro- and anti-GM lobbies: proponents have a pipeline of technologies; opponents are appeased by the failure of any to gain approval.

This balancing act may be politically expedient, but it represents poor value for money for the public bodies and foundations funding research and does nothing for the farmers and consumers who could potentially benefit from GM crops.

This article was originally published by the Guardian

- See more at: http://www.chathamhouse.org/expert/comment/15204#sthash.4evVoEqa.dpuf

BBC

Africa ‘missing out on biotech green revolution’

Farmer digs a whole in a cassava field (Getty Images) Biotechnology could help improve African agriculture’s resilience to future climate changes

Related Stories

Sub-Saharan Africa’s agricultural sector needs to harvest the fruits of biotechnology in order to establish sustainable development, says a report.

A key challenge is to attract funding for biotechnology projects on staple crops, such as cassava, it added.

These crops were often ignored by commercial funders because they had a limited market, the authors suggested.

Africa missed out on the previous green revolution that boosted food output in many Asian and Latin American nations.

The report, On Trial: GM Crops in Africa, published by think tank Chatham House, said: “Increasing agricultural productivity and adapting farming to climate change are central to Africa’s development prospects.”

It added that there were opportunities to boost yields and increase resilience by improving existing crop varieties, and that “in some cases, biotechnology, and in particular genetic modification (GM), offers advantages over conventional plant-breeding approaches”, such as drought, pest and disease resistance.

However, the continent was in danger of missing out on capitalising on innovations offered by the 21st Century green revolution, just as it had done in the previous century.

“If you look at what happened in Latin America and Asia in the second half of the 20th Century with the Green Revolution, there was a range of technologies, new high-yielding hybrid varieties of wheat, rice and maize, new irrigation platforms, etc,” explained co-author Rob Bailey, research director for energy, environment and resources at Chatham House.

‘Growth spurt’

He added that this acted as a “growth spurt for development” because it delivered a big increase in yields and agricultural productivity allowing food prices to fall, increased food security and a diversification in economic activity in other sectors.

Vegetable stall, India (Image: BBC) Crops that do not have a global market do not attract the same level of private sector R&D investment

“Now, we are in a situation where Africa needs this growth spark in its agricultural sector, because it is primarily where most of the poorest people are, and it makes up a significant share of African GDP,” Mr Bailey said.

“But they are also in a race against time because climate change is gathering pace because the forecasts suggests that this is going to have a very profound impact on farm productivity.”

He explained that the need to increase resilience to forecasts of a changing climate was likely to increase the importance and need for innovation and R&D offered by biotechnology projects.

“The key challenge that African agriculture faces is that a lot of food security and livelihoods are dependent on these so-called orphan crops, such as cassava and sorghum, which do not have large commercial markets in the way that maize or wheat do. Therefore they are not attractive to large private sector researchers,” he told BBC News.

“So the first thing that Africa has to do is attract and mobilise public sector money to fund research into these sorts of technologies.”

Mr Bailey explained that biotechnology offered a range of advantages over traditional breeding methods: “A lot of the staple crops that are grown in Africa have quite narrow gene pools. There are not huge seed banks, with lots of different varieties of cassava or sorghum, that can be tapped into. It is not like maize or wheat.

“Biotechnology can be useful there because it provides plant-breeders with the opportunity to introduce genes or traits from outside of the species’ genomes.

“If you can identify a trait for pest resistance in another species and cannot find a trait like that within the cassava genome, then a conventional plant breeder is a bit [stuck].

“If you are using transgenics then you have the opportunity to bring that trait in from another species.”

Growing support

But he added that this was easier said than done because many sub-Saharan governments had limited resources and scientific capacity, and there was a danger of simply adopting models developed for Western food crops.

Mr Bailey said: “The problem with these sorts of models is that they do not properly engage the farmers.

“They have to be careful to make sure they are working with farmers from the outset so then they can understand what are the farmers’ needs, how they can be addressed and included in the technological process so they are more likely to use and adopt it when it is ready.

“A key message from the report is that you need to start with the farmers, understand their context and their market environments. This is the platform you use to judge whether or not you can develop a technology-based solution.

“If you come in and try to parachute something in from elsewhere because it has worked in Europe or North America then the risk of that technology failing or not being used are much higher.”  BBC

Sudanese woman in apostasy case arrives in Italy; audience with pope

Mail and Guardian

Meriam Ibrahim, whose death sentence was overturned after international outcry, has arrived with her husband and two children in Italy.

Meriam Ibrahim and her family have successfully arrived in Italy in their second attempt to leave Sudan. (AFP)

Meriam Ibrahim, a Christian Sudanese woman spared a death sentence for apostasy after an international outcry, has arrived in Italy.

Italian television showed the 27-year-old leaving an aircraft at Rome’s Ciampino airport accompanied by her husband, two children and Italy’s vice minister for foreign affairs, Lapo Pistelli.

Ibrahim was sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery and to death for apostasy in May, sparking an international campaign to lift the death sentence. More than a million people backed an Amnesty International campaign to get her released, with British prime minister David Cameron and US civil rights activist Jesse Jackson among world leaders who clamoured for her release.

While on death row, Ibrahim, a graduate of Sudan University’s school of medicine, gave birth in shackles in May. It was a difficult birth as her legs were in chains and Ibrahim is worried that her daughter may need support to walk.

Because of the baby, Ibrahim was told that her death sentence would be deferred for two years to allow her to nurse.

International outrage
Under the Sudanese penal code, Muslims are forbidden from changing faith, and Muslim women are not permitted to marry Christian men.

During her trial in Khartoum, she told the court that she had been brought up as a Christian, and refused to renounce her faith. She and Daniel Wani – an American citizen – married in 2011. The court ruled that the union was invalid and that Ibrahim was guilty of adultery.

Her convictions, sentences and detention in Omdurman women’s prison while heavily pregnant and with her toddler son incarcerated alongside her caused international outrage.

After an appeal court overturned the death sentence, Ibrahim, Wani, and their two children tried to leave the country in June, but were turned back. The Sudanese government accused her of trying to leave the country with false papers, preventing her departure for the US.

Her lawyer, Mohaned Mostafa, said he had not been told of her departure on Thursday.

“I don’t know anything about such news but so far the complaint that was filed against Meriam and which prevents her from travelling from Sudan has not been cancelled,” Mostafa told Reuters.

Ibrahim and her family had been staying at the US embassy in Khartoum. – © Guardian News & Media 2014

BBC

Sudan ‘apostasy’ woman Meriam Yahia Ibrahim meets Pope

A Sudanese woman who fled to Italy after being spared a death sentence for renouncing Islam has met the Pope.

Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag flew to Rome with her family after more than a month in the US embassy in Khartoum.

There was global condemnation when she was sentenced to hang for apostasy by a Sudanese court.

Mrs Ibrahim’s father is Muslim so according to Sudan’s version of Islamic law she is also Muslim and cannot convert.

She was raised by her Christian mother and says she has never been Muslim.

Welcoming her at the airport, Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said: “Today is a day of celebration.”

Meriam Ibrahim looked relieved as she arrived at Rome airport

Mrs Ibrahim met Pope Francis at his Santa Marta residence at the Vatican soon after her arrival.

“The Pope thanked her for her witness to faith,” Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi was quoted as saying.

The meeting, which lasted around half an hour, was intended to show “closeness and solidarity for all those who suffer for their faith,” he added.

‘Mission accomplished’

The BBC’s Alan Johnston in Rome says there was no prior indication of Italy’s involvement in the case.

Lapo Pistelli, Italy’s vice-minister for foreign affairs, accompanied her on the flight from Khartoum and posted a photo of himself with Mrs Ibrahim and her children on his Facebook account as they were about to land in Rome.

“Mission accomplished,” he wrote.

A senior Sudanese official told Reuters news agency that the government in Khartoum had approved her departure in advance.

Mrs Ibrahim’s lawyer Mohamed Mostafa Nour told BBC Focus on Africa that she travelled on a Sudanese passport she received at the last minute.

“She is unhappy to leave Sudan. She loves Sudan very much. It’s the country she was born and grew up in,” he said.

Daniel Wani in Rome airport Mrs Ibrahim travelled with her husband Daniel Wani

“But her life is in danger so she feels she has to leave. Just two days ago a group called Hamza made a statement that they would kill her and everyone who helps her,” he added.

Mrs Ibrahim’s husband, Daniel Wani, also a Christian, is from South Sudan and has US nationality.

Their daughter Maya was born in prison in May, shortly after Mrs Ibrahim was sentenced to hang for apostasy – renouncing one’s faith.

Under intense international pressure, her conviction was quashed and she was freed in June.

In June, Meriam spoke to the BBC as she entered the US embassy, as Reeta Chakrabarti reports

She was given South Sudanese travel documents but was arrested at Khartoum airport, with Sudanese officials saying the travel documents were fake.

These new charges meant she was not allowed to leave the country but she was released into the custody of the US embassy in Khartoum.

Last week, her father’s family filed a lawsuit trying to have her marriage annulled, on the basis that a Muslim woman is not allowed to marry a non-Muslim.  bbc

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