Category Archives: West Africa

Nigeria – PDP demands Attorney General’s resignation over Kogi election

Premium Times

Olisa Metuh, Spokesman, PDP

Olisa Metuh, Spokesman, PDP

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has asked the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, to immediately vacate his office for “harrying and misleading” the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) into arriving at “an unconstitutional decision” to allow the APC to substitute its candidate in the inconclusive Kogi state governorship election.

“The party is shocked that INEC, a supposedly independent electoral umpire, could allow itself to succumb to the antics of the APC by following the unlawful directive of an obviously partisan AGF to substitute a candidate in the middle of the ballot process,” said a statement signed by the PDP spokesperson, Olisa Metuh.

“We are all aware that the two legal documents guiding INEC in the conduct of elections; the Constitution and the Electoral Act, have provisions for electoral exigencies as well as empower the electoral body to fully take responsibility for any of its actions or inaction without undue interference from any quarters whatsoever.

“We are therefore at a loss as to which sections of these two relevant laws, INEC and the AGF relied on in arriving at their bizarre decision to substitute a dead candidate in an on-going election even after the timelines for such has elapsed under all the rules.”

The PDP said INEC as a statutory body has the full complements of technical hands in its legal department to advice it appropriately and we wonder why it had to wait for directives from the AGF, an external party, if not for partisan and subjective interest.

“Consequently, the PDP rejects in its entirety, this brazen move by the APC and INEC to circumvent the laws and ambush the yet-to-be concluded election by introducing a practice that is completely alien to the constitution and the electoral act.

“The clear implication of this action of the AGF and INEC is that the APC would be fielding two different governorship candidates in the ongoing Kogi election, meaning that INEC would be transferring votes cast for late Abubakar Audu to another candidate, scenarios that have no place in the constitution of the land.

“Whereas the PDP, in honour of the sanctity of human life and respect for the dead, had since Sunday refrained from making comments on the conduct of the election, we can no longer maintain such in the face of the barefaced attack on our democracy,” the party.

The party said the INEC under the leadership of Mahmood Yakubu has shown itself as partisan, morally bankrupt and obviously incapable of conducting a credible election within our laws.

“In view of the foregoing therefore, the PDP demands an immediate resignation of the INEC chairman, as the nation’s democracy cannot afford to be left in the hands of an electoral umpire that cannot exert its independence and the sanctity of the electoral process,” the PDP said.

In view of the developments, the National Working Committee of the PDP summoned an emergency National Caucus meeting on Wednesday to take a decision “on this obvious threat to our democracy”.

China’s role in Africa and its global footprint

Mail and Guardian

China has been spreading its wealth around to increase its influence, but what can the recipients of its largesse learn from its actions in Africa?

Guangzhou, China. (AFP)

China’s ties to Africa are likely to get stronger this year as the world’s biggest economy appears poised to once again double its investments across the fast-growing continent.

The run-up to the sixth Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) to be held early next month in South Africa is under way. The forum – in its 15th year and the first held under President Xi Jinping’s administration – has been the main venue for setting the investment, trade and integration agenda between China and countries in Africa.

But has this relationship been as good for Africa as it has been for China? And what can other countries beginning to receive more of its largesse learn from it?

Spreading wealth
As the poster child for economic growth in recent decades, China has been increasingly keen to spread its wealth and influence around.

Even though the country is suffering from a slowdown and expected to achieve “only” single-digit growth rate in the coming years, it remains one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Its success has been, in part, the result of it being the recipient of huge amounts of foreign direct investment itself.

As China gradually embraces the roles and responsibilities of the world’s biggest economy as well, it is increasingly reversing that flow of cash and is expected to soon surpass the US as the largest investor in other countries.

The inauguration of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a rival to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, is a sign of that, with its US$100 billion in financial firepower, as is the new China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which will run from Gwadar in Pakistan to China’s western Xinjiang region, supported by a historical agreement of over $46 billion.

Indeed, the amount of investments made by China abroad is estimated to be $531 billion in outward foreign direct investment, with 4% of it – $22 billion – going to investments in natural resource extraction, finance, infrastructure, power generation, textiles and home appliances in Africa.

That’s a small sum at first glance, but its economic impact to the region is both huge and far-reaching, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the biggest investments made in Nigeria, Sudan, South Africa and Angola.

In addition to investment projects, China has quickly become the continent’s biggest trading partner, with trade volume of $166 billion in 2014. This is likely to continue to increase and reach an estimated $1.7 trillion by 2030.

Many Africans are concerned that projects such as this construction site in Lubango, Angola, only enrich their leaders at their expense. (Reuters)

Losing hearts, minds and jobs?
But despite the substantial investments, most of them have been routinely cast as detrimental to Africa’s overall competitiveness.

The projects are dependent on deals made at the highest political levels. They lack competitive and transparent bidding processes, and most of the work force employed at these ventures has been Chinese. Promises of job creation have not been fulfilled. Further, when Africans are hired, local rules and regulations are often flouted, leading at times to poor safety.

For instance, at Chinese-run mines in Zambia’s copper belt, employees must work for two years before they get safety helmets. Ventilation below ground is poor, and deadly accidents occur almost on a daily basis.

More frequently, jobs are lost to Chinese employees, who are ferried in project by project. For example, the growing Chinese presence in South Africa may have cost the country 75,000 jobs from 2000 to 2011. In Nigeria, the influx of low-priced Chinese textile goods has caused 80% of Nigerian companies in this industry to close.

Africans’ impression of Chinese firms could also be shaped by illegal practices carried out by them.

For example, by law, mining on small plots of 25 acres or less is restricted to Ghanaian nationals. However, many Chinese continue to explore for gold in conjunction with local landowners, even though regulations have made it clear that such practice is illegal. The result: many Africans see themselves to be exploited by the newcomers.

One-sided trade?
Perhaps making matter worse, the kinds of goods that the two partners trade with each other have done little to change such perception.

Whereas China buys from Africa mainly natural resources – minerals and metals – African countries import primarily the finished results, ranging from machinery and electrical goods to plastics and rubber.

Such an arrangement could benefit both parties, but it’s more often seen as China exploiting Africa’s natural resources to feed its need for industrial output.

At the same time, by exporting cheap – and often shoddy – manufactured goods to African countries, local companies not only become less competitive but they also grow increasingly dependent on China.

Recent research has also suggested that the Chinese presence has failed to bring significant skill developments, adequate technological transfer or any measurable upgrade to the productivity levels to this part of the world.

Jobs and infrastructure, not just oil and mines
Recently, China has become more tactful in its approach to Africa, trying to preempt the perception that its presence in Africa may be one-sided only.

In this year’s China-Africa forum, for example, the Middle Kingdom is believed to be making efforts to mitigate the broad criticisms of its “mercantilist” approach toward Africa by, among other things, offering more access to capital for local companies. The fact is that China’s Export-Import Bank extended $62.7 billion in loans to African countries from 2001 to 2010, some $12.5 billion more than the World Bank.

And contrary to what many may believe, China’s investment is not concentrated in countries with inadequate rule of law. The biggest recipient is in fact South Africa – though the Chinese presence is often more visible in other countries from which Western governments have shied away.

Indeed, as researchers have pointed out, Chinese investments are not concentrated in natural resources: services are the most common sector, with significant investments in manufacturing as well. This suggests that China is now doing more to help African countries to build up their competitiveness.

Lately, the Middle Kingdom has tended to reduce to publicize major oil and mining contracts and instead has focused more on areas where it’s creating jobs, investing in infrastructure and transferring technology. And the latest Forum on China-Africa Cooperation is meant to showcase that.

But will loans to support new railroads and other infrastructure projects be enough to make up for concerns that African resources are being exploited?

The challenge for Xi, and China, is to further develop the relationship and at the same time alter sometimes negative perceptions. That’s the opportunity presented by the forum, which could be a game changer for China, its external policy model and its growing footprint beyond its borders.

Key to that is ensuring Chinese companies operating in Africa comply with local rules and regulations. They also have to change their views of the locals, so that the latter are seen as equal business partners.

Only by making such fundamental shifts can China capture people’s hearts and minds and not just their mines.

Mark Esposito, Professor of Business & Economics at Grenoble Ecole de Management and Harvard Extension School, Harvard University and Terence Tse, Associate Professor of Finance / Head of Competitiveness Studies at i7 Institute for Innovation and Competitiveness, ESCP Europe

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Nigeria – Soyinka rejects faith-based uniforms in schools


Femi Makinde

Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, on Monday frowned on the situation where pupils wear uniforms depicting their religious affiliations to schools across the country.

Soyinka spoke during the inauguration of a N750m school built by the Osun State Government in Ejigbo. The school was named after him.

Though Soyinka expressed happiness at the honour done him by Governor Rauf Aregesola, he warned against diving the pupils along religious lines by allowing them to wear uniforms that typified their religious affiliations.

Soyinka said there should be nothing to divide pupils along religious lines, adding that the feeling of holier than thou was one of the factors that brought about the abduction of the Chibok girls by Boko Haram insurgents.

He said, “One of the ways we can reduce this fatalistic sense of holiness is to reduce the element of difference. I wish to implore that we do not distinguish our children by their religions.”

Soyinka, however, commended the governor for what he had done to improve the standard of education in the state.

Aregbesola inaugurated the school established by his administration in Ejigbo.

The governor described Soyinka as the greatest scholar in Africa.

The Wole Soyinka Government High School, Ejigbo is a 3,000-capacity complex with 72 classrooms of 49 square-metres, each capable of sitting 49 students and has six offices for study groups.

Speaking on the occasion, the governor said no amount of money spent on education was too much, saying it deserved the utmost attention.

He said that in the first quarter of next year, his government would also inaugurate another set of schools in the same category.

Aregbesola said, “We can construct a good road that will last for 50 years and we are doing that, but this can never compare to the enlightenment an educated person receives in terms of its value to the society and humanity.

“The state of education prior to our coming was appalling and frighteningly so. Zoos were better than the places where the pupils were receiving education. Many of them were dilapidated and falling down.

“These schools were, therefore, not encouraging any serious learning or character building. The result was that the pupils themselves were behaving like animals. They were forming cult groups, fighting regularly with dangerous weapons and engaged in all immoral acts.

“These are children, aged seven and above. My heart bleeds to see the public education system disintegrate and become dysfunctional.”

Copyright PUNCH.

Ghana – ruling NDC votes overwhelmingly for Mahama 2nd term bid


Ghana’s ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) voted massively to affirm President John Mahama as its candidate for elections next year, setting the stage for a tight race between him and his main 2012 rival.


Many expect the 2016 contest to be tough for Mahama, whose administration is grappling with economic challenges and has signed a three-year aid deal with the International Monetary Fund to restore fiscal balance.

Mahama, who won 95.1 percent of the valid votes declared on Sunday, said the overwhelming renewal of his mandate had re-energized him to face the challenges and improve the livelihood of Ghanaians.

“It has been a challenging three years … market fires that affected almost every region of our country; nationwide strike actions; serious challenges of the economy and most serious of all, power shortages that is still with us,” he told party supporters in the capital after the results were announced.

“I will continue to work hard. … The path is not an easy one but we’re on the right track,” he said.

Ghana is considered a model of African democracy because of its peaceful elections, regular changes of power and respect for the rule of law. The West African state has also seen years of strong economic growth from its exports of gold, cocoa and oil.

But since 2013, the country has been grappling with high deficits, rising public debt and high inflation. The local cedi currency slumped 30 percent last year.

Mahama vowed to pursue prudent economic management to eradicate poverty and create jobs, adding that Ghanaians should have faith in his government.

Mahama, 56, was the sole presidential candidate in the election held in some 8,000 polling stations. Some 275 parliamentary candidates were also elected for the 2016 polls.

His 2016 rival, 71 year-old Nana Akufo-Addo, secured 96 percent of votes cast in the primary of the New Patriotic Party a year ago.

(Reporting by Kwasi Kpodo; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Mali – what led to the Bamako attack?

Mail and Guardian

After a week in which Europe was rocked by terrorism on the streets of Paris, gunmen entered the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, the capital of Mali. A hostage situation unfolded and French and Malian security forces battled for control of the building. It is a hotel that is known to be frequented by foreigners and represents an escalation of violence that has been building in Mali during 2015.


Islamist attacks have been concentrated in Mali’s north, but spread during 2015 to the centre of the country – and then to the south and the borders with Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso. On March 6, there was a terrorist attack on the restaurant La Terrasse in Bamako, in the south-west of the country. Five people were killed and nine were injured.

On June 10, there was an attack by armed men on Malian security forces in the town of Misseni, near the border with Ivory Coast. And on August 7, armed men attacked the town of Sévare in the Mopti region, north-east of Bamako. The attack lasted several hours, including a siege at a local hotel. Twelve people died, including two foreign nationals.

Coup, rebellion, intervention

The current cycle of violence in Mali, a former French colony, began in 2012 when Tuareg soldiers returned to northern Mali after fighting in the Libyan civil war. Forming the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), they fought against the Malian government to win independence for the northern region of Azawad.

This conflict led to a coup that removed the president, Amadou Toumani Touré and the suspension of the constitution of Mali. Following this, the MNLA took control of three cities in the north and proclaimed Azawad’s independence from Mali in April 2012.

Taking advantage of this conflict, several Islamist groups moved in to intervene. Ansar Dine – which is Arabic for Defenders of Faith – and two other jihadist groups, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb (AQIM) and the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), were originally allied to the MNLA, but escalating violence led to international intervention by a French and African force that effectively destroyed the organisational structure of these groups.

The French government deployed its air force and 3 000 troops in 2013 to secure the north of the country at the request of the newly installed president, Dioncounda Traoré. Known as Operation Serval, the intervention lasted until July 2014 when the troops were redeployed as part of a wider offensive to combat unrest in the Sahel region.

A UN force, MINUMSA, has been on the ground since April 2013 with the aim of securing the north of the country – and, as of the end of June 2015, had just over 10 000 personnel in Mali.

Tuareg nationalists and Islamists struggled to reconcile their conflicting views for the newly independent region and, after several clashes, the MNLA renounced their claim of independence for Azawad and engaged with the Malian government in negotiations on its future status in 2014.

Despite talks resulting in in June 2015 in a UN-brokered peace between the main factions on both sides, the continuing violence illustrates the differences between the Tuareg nationalist and Islamist groups, but also the difficulties in maintaining peace in the country.


Malian defence minister Tieman Coulibaly surveys the damage after a hotel siege in August in Sevare, Mali. (Reuters)

According to a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW), several armed groups have increased violence against civilians accused of supporting French and UN troops deployed in the country. Small groups of Islamists and some Tuareg groups wedded to independence have managed to remain active and carried out occasional attacks in the desert.

HRW says that continuing criminal violence by these groups, as well as widespread abuses by the security forces, represents a serious threat to the population of Mali. HRW regards these two elements as fuelling discontent among the general population that could lead to increased recruitment to both Islamist and Tuareg groups and a threat to the gains made since the Franco-African intervention in 2013.

Localised terror

The similarity of the violence to other Islamist attacks should not, however, lead to us regard Mali as part of a monolithic Islamist threat. While there are several Islamist groups in Mali, such as the group Al Mourabitoune, they do not all share the same values or represent a global view of Islam. Much like the Nigerian Islamists of Boko Haram, the Islamists of Mali are products of very localised conditions, specifically decades of neglect and marginalisation in the north of the country.

Many of the Malian Islamists have been openly split on the question of affiliation with AQIM. MUJAO, for example, has defined itself specifically as a regional group with a local West African agenda rather than a globalised aim. Ansar Dine, one of the biggest groups in Mali, was sufficiently divided as to form a splinter group, the Islamic Movement for the Azawad and has been ambivalent towards both engagement with the government and also rejecting “all forms of extremism”.

Seeing the current increase in terrorist attacks in Mali as just another tentacle of globalised Islamic terrorism therefore misses the point. The mixture of groups within Mali are primarily the product of local historical conditions, not an externally imposed ideology.

Tensions between approaches to local issues and international, globalised aims and methods have themselves led to factionalism within both the Tuareg–nationalist groups and the Islamists.

Marginalisation of the Tuareg over decades, coupled with the alienating approach of successive southern-led governments in Bamako have led to the creation of ripe recruiting grounds for those who seek to perpetrate violence. By portraying the issue as an all-encompassing global Islamist threat, the international community fails to engage with the underlying structural issues of governance that produce these groups and escalate the threats in places like Mali.

Paul Jackson, Professor of Politics, University of Birmingham

Critical report on slow global ebola response in W Africa


Ebola global response was ‘too slow’, say health experts

Health workers in isolation ward, southern Guinea (1 April)AFP Healthcare workers were among those most at risk of catching Ebola

A slow international response and a failure of leadership were to blame for the “needless suffering and death” caused by the recent Ebola epidemic, a panel of experts has concluded.

Led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the panel’s report said major reforms were needed to prevent future disasters.

More than 11,000 people died in the outbreak, which began in 2013.

Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone were the countries most badly affected.

The report said these countries were unable to detect, report and respond rapidly to outbreaks – something which allowed Ebola to develop into “a worldwide crisis”.

But it reserved most criticism for the World Health Organization, saying it was too slow to declare Ebola an international public health emergency – five months after Guinea and Liberia had notified it of outbreaks.

The report said the WHO had also failed to meet its responsibilities for responding to the outbreak because of a lack of leadership and accountability.

Volunteers bury the body of an Ebola victim in Sierra LeoneReuters 11,000 people died in the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak

When a global response did eventually materialise, towards the end of 2014, it was deemed to be slow, inflexible to conditions on the ground, inadequately informed and poorly co-ordinated.

“The reputation and credibility of the WHO has suffered a particularly fierce blow,” the report said.

The panel also criticised some political leaders for playing down the outbreak and not calling for international help.

Early reporting

The report makes 10 recommendations for improving systems to cope with future outbreaks.

These include calls for a global strategy to help poorer countries monitor and respond to infectious diseases.

Those countries that delay reporting outbreaks and sharing information should be named and shamed, it says.

The report also recommends creating a dedicated centre for outbreak response at the WHO, which has a protected budget.

And a global fund should be set up to finance research and development of drugs and vaccines to treat infectious diseases.

The panel, made up of 20 experts in global health from around the world, was chaired by Prof Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and co-discoverer of the Ebola virus.

Molecular model of parts of the Ebola virusImage copyrightScience Photo Library
Image captionEbola scientists studied the virus to find drugs that would slow the spread of the disease

He said: “Major reform of national and global systems to respond to epidemics are not only feasible, but also essential so that we do not witness such depths of suffering, death and social and economic havoc in future epidemics.”

‘Game changer’

Prof Piot added: “The AIDS pandemic put global health on the world’s agenda. The Ebola crisis in West Africa should now be an equal game- changer for how the world prevents and responds to epidemics.”

Ashish K Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute and a professor of medicine, said: “People at WHO were aware that there was an Ebola outbreak that was getting out of control by spring… and yet it took until August to declare a public health emergency. The cost of the delay was enormous.”

Dr Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, said the report offered “some sobering lessons”.

“Particularly welcome are the calls for greater investment from governments to build a core capacity to detect, report and respond rapidly to outbreaks, as is the idea of creating a dedicated centre for outbreak response within the WHO,” he said.

“It’s vital that the lessons learned are translated into concrete action if we are to avert another crisis on the scale of Ebola.”

Global response to ebola in West Africa slow and inadequate


Photo: Liberia Government

Ebola survivor Beatrice Yardola was one of Liberia’s last Ebola patients. There could have been many fewer deaths with better national and global responses.

Dr. Samuel Kargbo and his colleagues in Sierra Leone’s health ministry were in despair.

West Africa’s first Ebola epidemic was ravaging his country and its neighbors, Guinea and Liberia. Doctors and nurses experienced in treating hemorrhagic fevers were dead or dying. There were no laboratory tests to distinguish Ebola from illnesses with similar initial symptoms. Across the region, hospitals and clinics without the means to protect either patients or staff were forced to close.

Watch the livestream of a discussion of an Independent Panel’s report at 9:30-12:30 GMT today, 23 November in London. The report is available for open access on the website of the British medical journal The Lancet.

Life-saving supplies were widely unavailable, as international airlines and shipping companies stopped services. MIT’s Humanitarian Response Lab issued an appeal for immediate action, saying pallets of urgently needed caps, gowns, boots and masks contributed by Boston area institutions were left sitting at New York’s JFK Airport. Similar blockages of critical supplies were happening around the world.

Two carriers, Royal Air Maroc and Brussels Airline, provided fragile lifelines. By July 2014, even before the epidemic’s, Brussels officials said the airline had flown in thousands of passengers, including health workers, and 2000 tons of freight, mostly humanitarian supplies.

Masmina Sirleaf, a pediatric health administrator volunteering withHeartt, a capacity-building organization for the Liberian health sector, was one of those who relied on Brussels Airline. When she flew into the capital, Monrovia, she took tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of donated gloves, IV fluids and other materials.

But the flights brought more than supplies and infectious disease experts.

“They helped us feel that we weren’t completely alone,” said Kargbo, who monitored the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health’s Ebola response. In an interview this month in Washington, DC, where he traveled as anAspen New Voices Fellow, Kargbo said he is determined to work towards national and international systems to prevent future Ebola-like catastrophes.

 That goal may be advanced by a strong critique of the global Ebola response published today in the British medical journal The Lancet.

Among the recommendations of the report is that the World Health Organization (WHO)”must confront governments that implement trade and travel restrictions without scientific justification, while developing industry-wide cooperation frameworks to ensure private firms such as airlines and shipping companies continue to provide crucial services during emergencies.”

The report – Will Ebola Change the Game? – is issued by the Independent Panel on the Global Response to Ebola, a joint initiative of the Harvard Global Health Institute and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. It makes ten recommendations grouped into four themes: preventing major disease outbreaks; responding to major disease outbreaks; research that produces and shares data, knowledge and technology; and a global governance system for preventing and responding to outbreaks.

Recommendations in all three areas are specific – “concrete, actionable and measurable” in the words of the report. Examples are: establishing “a transparent central system for tracking and monitoring” resources, to ensure accountability from donors as well as from recipients of funds; a Global Health Committee as part of the United Nations Security Council; and “economic incentives for early reporting” of disease outbreaks by countries, through “committing to disburse emergency funds rapidly when outbreaks strike and compensating for economic losses that might result”.

The 22-person panel includes its chair, the London School’s Dr. Peter Piot, a Belgian microbiologist who identified the first known Ebola outbreak in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Three African members are panel co-chair Dr. Muhammad Ali Pate, an infectious diseases physician and health policy specialist who led Nigeria’s successful effort to eliminate polio; Valnora Edwin, a civil society activist with advanced degrees in human rights, peacebuilding and transitional justice, who heads the Campaign for Good Governance in Sierra Leone; and Dr. Mosoka Fallah, an epidemiologist and immunologist who grew up in Liberia’s civil wars before earning degrees from the re-opened University of Liberia, the University of Kentucky and Harvard.

Fallah played a central role in containing the disease for Liberia’s health ministry but he has no time to mark the report’s release this weekend. His team is swamped doing contact tracing on three new Ebola cases in one family – two and a half months after Liberia was declared Ebola free by international health authorities.

Harvard’s Dr. Suerie Moon, who directs multiple global health research initiatives, is the panel’s Study Director. She says the members’ expertise and diversity led to vigorous debates and multiple drafts and revisions before panelists were satisfied.

By focusing detailed attention on a failed international response, the report differs from many previous evaluations of how Ebola spiraled out of control – and from the thrust of a large volume of media accounts – which often assigned the bulk of blame to weak health systems in the three most-affected countries. It was common, as well, to blame the victims, who were portrayed repeatedly as superstitious and ignorant, with strange cultural practices that spread the disease.

Moon is quick to say that the panel is “not alone in recognizing that Ebola revealed a global system for managing outbreaks that was extremely fragile and full of gaping holes.”

The report recognizes, she says, that “what happened with Ebola was an extremely delayed response. It should have happened much, much sooner.”

At the same time, she says, the goal of “an independent panel that drew its participants from academia and civil society and think tanks was to offer a perspective that had a bit of an arms-length distance from the policy makers who were responsible for launching the global response.”

The panel finds fault nearly everywhere. Some national authorities, the report says, initially downplayed the problem. It mentions that Guinea did so, out of fear of creating panic and disrupting the economy, despite “warnings about the unprecedented scope of the outbreak”.

International action, according to the report, was slow to develop; was inadequate at the critical period for containing the epidemic; and was inflexible in responding to changing realities.

Examples on the ground are everywhere. When AllAfrica’s Boakai Fofana toured the first Ebola Treatment Center built by the U.S. military, he reported that by the time it opened, there were few Ebola cases left. The center sat empty of patients in a country whose health system, just beginning to recover from decades of conflict, had been shattered by Ebola. The U.S.-built facility was not designed to meet any other critical needs – such as treating malaria or intervening in a difficult childbirth.

Medicine Sans Frontiere (MSF), the international medical crisis group whose work played a central role in bringing Ebola under control, supplied expertise and facilities but relied primarily on thousands of courageous local staff. Its poignant appeals for greater international assistance elicited little response when help was needed most. The group’s July 2014 report – Where is everyone? – which discusses failures of the global emergency response in three health crises, sounds similar alarms as the Ebola panel.

Without the early intervention of international charities, private companies, and the massive deployment by MSF, the toll would have been far higher than over 28,000 people infected and more than 11,000 deaths. But none of those entities could compensate for the lack of a massive response that only large international organizations and governments could have provided.

“An excessive burden,” the panel’s report says, “fell on national and international non-governmental organizations and local communities to do the highest-risk work, such as patient care and burials.”

Nigerian epidemiologist Chikwe Ihekweazu, managing partner of health consultancy EpiAFRIC, has been conducting an evaluation of the Ebola response by the African Union (AU), an organization of 54 African member states. He says AU assistance was important in several ways. It mobilized African medical and research experts from previous epidemics, who were in many cases able to reassure frightened populations and gain their cooperation in seeking treatment for themselves and others. It was able to field as many as 700 or 800 doctors, nurses and other health professionals at a given time, and they stayed an average of five months – longer than most international volunteers.