Zimbabwe’s scaled-back Christmas celebrations

Africa, economy, Politics
Box of Christmas crackers

Most Zimbabweans have been unable to afford Christmas treats because of soaring inflation, writes the BBC’s Shingai Nyoka from the capital, Harare.

Two women with large trolleys had come prepared to stock up for the holiday season, but they looked at each other in dismay.

“What kind of a party are we going to have?” one asked the other.

They were staring at a notice taped to the supermarket fridge door which said: “2 units per customer”.

This was the drinks section of a shop in the centre of Harare, and the units referred to were the 300 millilitre bottles of soft drinks and beer.

The Christmas and New Year’s holidays are usually a time for Zimbabweans to loosen their belts for feasts and celebrations.

Notice saying "2 units per customer
The rationing of drinks has affected people’s ability to hold parties

During the break the whole country shuts down. Factories close for the month, and the rains herald the start of the agricultural season.

Many Zimbabweans travel to their rural homes to see their extended family and to plant maize, to provide a year-long supply of the staple food.

On Christmas Day most people attend church, while throughout the season family gatherings are at the centre of the holidays.

Avoiding Christmas trimmings

This year, however, things are different, and belt-tightening is the order of the day.

The country is in the middle of an economic crisis.

People queuing outside a bank
At times, there have been long bank queues of people hoping to get hold of much-needed cash

According to the latest inflation figures, prices rose overall by 30% in the last year and each month that figure seems to be going up.

Supermarket shelves may be abundant with goodies but shoppers’ trolleys are uncharacteristically sparse as they face the consequences of rising prices.

The chicken that just over a year ago cost $3.50 (£2.76) is now priced at $7.19, while the price of 400g of muesli has risen from $5 to $12 and a pack of nine rolls of toilet paper has gone up from $8 to $19.

Salaries, however, have not kept up with inflation. In fact, the average wage of $300 a month is the same as it was a year ago.

A man wearing a hat decorated with worthless note bearers' cheques during a protest against government plans to introduce bond notes
Zimbabweans have held a series of protests to show their money has become worthless

Given that, the trimmings that can give a meal an extra sparkle might be avoided.

For example, an ordinary pack of 12 Christmas crackers with a joke, a hat and a small gift is selling at $40, compared to less than $15 last year.

Parties cancelled

It explains perhaps why some party invitations have been withdrawn and planned celebrations have been scaled back.

One businessman told me that he had to cancel his usual holiday party and turn it into a more abstemious lunch, thereby removing the burden of having to buy lots of drinks.

Back at the supermarket, a man was standing in an aisle next to shelves of rice, carefully comparing prices and products.

His eye rested on an unfamiliar product, Broken Rice.

Bags of broken rice
Image captionBroken Rice is made up of pieces of rejected rice

The 2kg package was priced $4.69 and was the cheapest brand available.

“Broken” is a euphemism for tiny imperfect pieces of rejected rice.

It had been packaged in time for the festive season, where no meal is complete without chicken and rice, an imported luxury.

‘More suffering in post-Mugabe era’

In a way the broken rice is a metaphor for the season, which feels imperfect.

“I started seeing it in the shops about a month ago,” the man, who introduced himself as Shupi, told me.

“We are used to having rice at Christmas. It is supposed to be a treat but it has become so expensive.

“Initially, people had shunned this rice because it is in small pieces and in different sizes. Some complain it doesn’t cook evenly, but at least it is affordable.”

A protester with a fuel container, due to the continuing fuel crisis,as Movement For Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance party members gather in the Africa Unity Square, in Harare, Zimbabwe, 29 November 2018, to protest against the current economic situation facing the country.
Discontent with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government is growing

Many, like Shupi, remember the promises made when President Emmerson Mnangagwa swept to power in November 2017 after Robert Mugabe was ousted.

“He promised us better years ahead and blamed our suffering on years of being under Robert Mugabe.

“But he has been in power for more than a year and the crisis has gotten worse,” Shupi added.

Runaway inflation

Zimbabweans have endured much over the last decade.

Ten years ago, supermarket shelves were mostly empty and record-breaking inflation was estimated to have topped 79 billion %.

It meant that prices for basic commodities would double or triple in a day, and bank balances for ordinary people could range from trillions of Zimbabwean dollars to octillions, that is a one followed by 48 zeros.

In 2009 the government scrapped the local currency and adopted the US dollar.

Emmerson Mnangagwa delivers a speech during a "Thank You" rally on November 24, 2018, in Murombedzi, Zvimba, Mashonaland West, Zimbabwe
President Emmerson Mnangagwa took power in November 2017
with a promise to improve the economy

Then, in 2016, in order to get over a shortage of physical cash, the authorities introduced a surrogate note, known as a bond note, that was supposed to have the same value as the US dollar.

In other words, a two-dollar bond note was supposed to be worth $2.

But the bond notes, or “bollars”, have lost value because of a lack of foreign currency backing the note. They are now worth 30 US cents each on the black market.

Zimbabwean companies are not producing enough to satisfy local demand or to earn foreign currency by exporting goods. Instead, the country is importing more, and struggling to pay.

In the six months from February to July this year, the country brought in goods and services worth $3.43bn, a 26% rise for the same period in 2017.

Driving the imports are the demand for fuel, electricity, soya beans, rice and wheat.

Businesses that want to import goods have been forced to buy US dollars on the black market at a premium price. This in turn pushes up the prices in the shops.

In order to increase its stock of hard currency, the country’s largest fast food franchise, Simbisa Brands, announced last Thursday that it had introduced a two-tier pricing model, offering discounts to customers who pay in US dollar notes.

‘Give us your cash’

“We need something like $1.2m in hard currency every month, but on average we are only managing to get about $100,000, so we need the foreign currency to meet our obligations.

“We are simply asking our clients to be able to support to get the forex we need,” chief executive Warren Meares told local daily paper Newsday.

But not everyone is complaining.

Man loading goods into a minibus
Image captionPeople transporting goods across the border are doing a roaring trade

The Beitbridge border post which connects Zimbabwe to South Africa is the busiest in the region, and Christmas is the busiest period of them all.

Cars, pick-up trucks, lorries and buses are laden with groceries from South Africa ready to be delivered to Zimbabwean homes.

The cross-border traders known as Malayitshas – meaning “one who carries goods” in the Ndebele language – have been among the biggest beneficiaries of the crisis.

They offer a courier service for those with foreign currency. They buy goods – anything from soft drinks to building materials – across the border and deliver them for a fee of 30% of the value.

‘Austerity for prosperity’

In Musina, on the South African side of the border, business is picking up and small Indian and Chinese-owned shops are coming back to life.

Many had closed in 2009 when the economy began to improve, but they have recently reopened as the prices have spiked in Zimbabwe.

Solomon Chakauya, waits for customers in his grocery store, in Chinamhora district north-east of Zimbabwe's capital Harare on December 10, 2018.
Image captionMany shopkeepers say business has been bad this Christmas

Despite the Christmas woes Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube has expressed confidence in the future of the economy.

He says it is “just a matter of time” before the country is “restored to its glory days”.

Zimbabwe was once the breadbasket of southern Africa feeding its neighbours and providing economic refuge and jobs in times of crises.

The government has now introduced what it calls “austerity for prosperity” measures. These include lowering government expenditure while increasing duty on items such as cars to reduce imports.

The optimism is not shared by those whose Christmas meal will consist of reject rice and miniscule portions of chicken washed down with small amounts of drink.

Source: BBC News

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Sudan protests: Police fire tear gas at football fans

Africa


Police in Sudan have fired tear gas at football fans demanding an end to President Omar al-Bashir’s rule as protests spread across the country.

demonstration in Atbara on 20 Dec
Image captionThe demonstrations have been under way for five days

Police in Sudan have fired tear gas at football fans demanding an end to President Omar al-Bashir’s rule as protests spread across the country.

Hundreds of demonstrators blocked a road near a football stadium in the capital, Khartoum, on Sunday before clashing with riot police.

Opposition figures say 22 protesters have been killed since Wednesday, but officials say the figure is much lower.

The protests erupted after bread and fuel price rises were announced.

But they have escalated into calls for an end to Mr Bashir’s 29-year rule.

Over the past year, the cost of some goods has more than doubled, while overall inflation has risen to nearly 70%, the value of the Sudanese pound has fallen sharply and shortages have been reported in cities including Khartoum.

Doctors embarked on a strike on Monday to increase pressure on Mr Bashir, who took power in a coup in 1989, the Associated Press news agency reports.

What is the latest?

Sunday’s clashes happened as crowds of people spilled out of a football match in Khartoum.

They blocked roads and chanted anti-government slogans before riot police fired tear gas in an attempt to disperse them.ADVERTISEMENT

Earlier, footage on social media appeared to show continuing protests in a number of areas.

The Central Sudanese Committee of Doctors said its members had seen protesters in hospitals with gunshot wounds and said there had been a number of deaths and injuries.

Twitter post by @Shaimaakhalil: “The people want the downfall of the regime” chants I’ve heard so many times covering the #ArabSpring...They now sound on the streets of Sudan. Video via Amr Khalifa ...

On Saturday the authorities arrested 14 leaders of the National Consensus Forces, an opposition coalition, including the grouping’s 85-year-old leader Farouk Abu Issa, a spokesman said.

“We demand their immediate release, and their arrest is an attempt by the regime to stop the street movements,” spokesman Sadiq Youssef said.

What is the opposition saying?

On Saturday Sadiq al-Mahdi, leader of the main opposition Umma party, condemned “armed repression” and said the protests were fuelled by the “deteriorating situation” in the country.

He also called for Mr Bashir’s government to agree a peaceful transfer of power or face a confrontation with the Sudanese people.

It will be a losing confrontation for the regime, as it will increase its failures and closes its horizons,” the Paris-based Sudan Tribune website quoted him as saying.

Sadiq al-Mahdi in Omdurman
Mr Mahdi said 22 people had been killed so far

Mr Mahdi – who was was prime minister from 1966 to 1967 and again from 1986 to 1989 – returned from almost a year in exile on Wednesday.

His government was the last to be democratically elected in the country and was toppled in the coup launched by Mr Bashir, who has since been accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan’s western region of Darfur by the International Criminal Court.

How did the protests begin?

They started in the eastern town of Atbara, where demonstrators burned the offices of Mr Bashir’s National Congress Party (NCP).

Witnesses said that in some areas the military was not intervening and even appeared to be siding with the demonstrators.

But in a statement on Sunday the military pledged loyalty to Mr Bashir and said it would safeguard the “nation’s security, safety along with its blood, honour and assets”.

A presidential adviser, Faisal Hassan Ibrahim, said the protests were being directed by “organised entities”, without giving further details.

Omar al-Bashir (R) seen visiting President Assad in Syria in December 2018
Image captionMr Bashir – seen here visiting Syria’s President Assad earlier this month – has said he will step down in 2020

Demonstrations spread to Khartoum and its twin city Omdurman as well as other areas.

On Saturday AFP quoted witnesses in Wad Madani, south-east of Khartoum, as saying police used tear gas and beat protesters calling for Mr Bashir to step down.

In El Rahad, south-west of Khartoum, the NCP office and other administrative offices were set ablaze and protesters chanting “no to hunger” were tear-gassed, another witness said.

Why is Sudan’s economy in trouble?

Mr Bashir was accused of sponsoring terrorism by the US in the 1990s and Sudan was placed under a trade embargo.

In 2011, South Sudan seceded from Sudan, taking with it three-quarters of the country’s oil resources. That followed a civil war that claimed the lives of 1.5 million people.

Meanwhile, the conflict in Darfur drove about two million people from their homes and killed more than 200,000.

US sanctions were lifted in 2017 but there has been little improvement in the country’s economy since.

Source: BBC Africa News

Of Buhari, Tinubu, Macbeth and Odu Isa

2019 Elections, Africa, APC, Corruption, economy, Facts, Nigeria, PDP, PMB, Politics, Power, relationship

Of Buhari, Tinubu, Macbeth and Odu Isa.

“Owe ni Ifa npa, Omoran ni imo” Ifa’s revelation is always in parables; only the wise can understand their meanings.

In his analysis of the Shakespearean Tragedy “Macbeth” Michael Stratford argues that the essence of human pride was covered in three dimensions by this work. He asserted in supports of the works of Majorie Garber on the play which concluded that Macbeth’s confrontation with morality at the end of the play portrayed “real recovery” and completed the depiction of the phases of pride in men. He went further to outline these stages as: The hubris that hurls a man into sin and error, the false pride that secure and justifies all and perpetuates us in evil acts, and the final realization of our immortality and futility of all things.

The play Macbeth has been analyzed by many due to its relevance in everyday human progression. Macbeth was a young and virile soldier honored for his love of Scotland and bravery at war by King Duncan. He was at the zenith of his profession as a soldier and revered titled gentleman in Scotland when the story started. A chance meeting with the “three witches”, their predictions of Macbeth as the King of Scotland, transported this gentleman into a murderer and usurper and finally his death.Given the level of public exposure to education and the current public discourse about the ruler of Nigeria which pulls towards lack of proper formal education, maybe this narrative could be brought home more.

Curiosity recently made me look into the Ifa esoteric and cosmogony and I was amazed at the level of sophistication of the Odu Ifa in explaining and predicting main pattern of human conscious, and unconscious acts; going even further to reveal the purpose and destinies of humans on earth. I was further impressed by the manner with which knowledge and wisdom for managing pride and power were expressively itemized thorough the use of parables.For noninitiates, the Ifa divinity comprises of sixteen major quadrant of ancient Yoruba Ifa cult, which was subdivided into 256 distinct sub-heads detailing all areas of human: wisdom for proper interrelations, truth and moralities, science, cosmology, metaphysics, medicine and other established norms of the Yoruba People of Southwest Nigeria as established by Orunmila. Orunmila the first Ifa priest was reputed to have started the accumulation of this knowledge base, handing it over to his sixteen children, who continued to practice and develop the Ifa practice.

In Odi Isa, amongst the Odu Ifa, Orunmila tried to balance power and pride; where he depicts the travail of the Tiger, the king of the jungle when the entire animal challenged him to battle. The tiger despite his acclaimed overwhelming power, applied wisdom and appealed to the elders for help. The elders asked the Tiger to perform a sacrifice and in respect to the words of the elders, the Tiger performed all necessary rites. And to this day, no animal was able to conquer the tiger.

Tiger’s powerful could have stupidly against public opinion challenged the whole animal kingdom. which will then overrun him and take over his kingdom. When faced with adversities, he went begging the elders for advice. Instead of ruin and death as in Macbeth case, the tiger excel and its kingdom expanded.

Many writers in the pre-2015 era had lauded the achievements of the new progressives led by General Mohamadu Buhari and Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The duo in conjunction with other heavy weights in Nigerian politics had performed the first presidential election upset in Nigerian history; the defeat of a sitting president in a general election. The global press was agog in the spirit of the wave of change coming to Nigeria politics.

The emergence of Buhari as the new government leader was heralded as a milestone in Nigerian political arena. Given the sixteen years politicking before his emergence as the president, people were thoroughly misled that the “Buhari presidential dream” was driven by passionate goals for real change. When the new government started showing signs of unpreparedness to rule and obvious lack of cohesion were being revealed, the Nigerian people still believed and attributed it to huge challenges emanating from long period of institutionalized corruption by previous governments. Nigerian new government was later revealed to have been distracted by huge amount of propaganda, vain retribution, illegal and unnecessary arrests and prosecutions in its first year in power.

Apparently, governance and economy finally start to show negative growth. Before the end of the second year, the country which was reputed as one of the ten growing global economies was in recession. Economic indicator aside, the failing security architecture has been witnessed in all theaters of operation. Conflict escalations in most areas were being witnessed. Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) continued to rise as conflicts engulfs the state. Youth and elites migration have more than doubled within three years, and statistics on youth unemployment is reading above one third of population. The national currency’s value in international trade fell by over 200 percent in the first year of this government and it took direct intervention of the Central Bank of Nigeria to shore up the Naira to its current 360 to one dollar status.

Failed economy, repetitive conflicts, insurrections, low school attendance, thriving illicit economies, and high youth emigration, according to Mary Kaldor are signs of failing states. The constant stay outside the country by the president was a minor issue until the whole world was treated to the caricature of Nigerian President’s show of shame in faraway Poland on the Saturday Night Show recently. The lack of grace and charisma that goes with the esteemed office of the president of Federal Republic of Nigeria, the representative of over 200millon people and one of the fastest growing states globally by this current president reflects his depth of understanding of the power and privilege of Nigeria in global politics.

Tinubu’s rise to stardom in Nigerian politics was midwifed by the NADECO movement against military rule in the late eighties and early nineties. The movement which led to the emergence of this ongoing republic equally blessed BAT with the governorship of the most priced state in Nigeria, Lagos. Lagos represents the hub of commerce and economy of Nigeria. Nigerian position as a giant in Africa business resides in the economic performance of Lagos State. Eight years of his direct rule, twelve years of his protégés ruling, characterized by unashamed plundering of Lagos state’s resources has created a new Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The Czar of Southwest Nigeria was born. By 2014, Tinubu had in his control a war-chest big enough to start and prosecute any political war in Nigeria against any opposition.

When Tinubu pitched his tent against President Goodluck Jonathan, midwifed a coalition of parties to form All Peoples’ Congress (APC) in supports of Buhari, the die was cast. Tinubu’s prowess and political machinery was founded on the Lagos State dynasty. This base he has always controlled since 1999. Experts have posited that the loss of Lagos by the Tinubu gang will surely sound the kernel of his political demise. Recent happenings have shown the arrival of the new Tinubu. Four month to general elections, Tinubu unilaterally influenced the removal of the name of the incumbent governor of Lagos State from the ballot and imposed a new man as the party representative. A move that has been reported irked many locals and party faithful.

Obviously, Tinubu’s power as sole godfather and power broker in Lagos politics is on test as 2019 February elections looms. Buhari’s reign and reelections as president is being supported by the Tinubu’s camp. The alliance many agreed was based on the pact to return Tinubu as president in 2023. This ambition has fueled the unalloyed support from Lagos APC for Buhari’s return. It’s a big gamble on the path of Tinubu and Buhari. Like the proverbial fly, Buhari has tasted the wine and is ready and willing to die in the same cup of wine.

Tinubu’s ambition also has turned him to the fly that refused to heed the warnings of the elders and has decided to follow the corpse into the earth. Ambition is necessary to achieve and progress in life, yet ambitions should be ethically based, no normal leader will continue to aspire to hold and office in which he does not have capacity for managing, and no normal human being will sacrifice the future of his people, merely for his own selfish ambition.

Ambition contaminated by acute pride surely begets disaster. Macbeth ambition was fueled by greed and selfish ambition to rule Scotland, never because he was a pushed by a need to work a better society for his people. His endgame led to war and carnage pushing Scotland which was growing as a nation into complete recession and pillage by ravaging armies. Equally, the Tiger would have resorted to use of might against his enemies as he was in power, but wisdom led him to the elders. Tinubu and Buhari have achieved the impossible in Nigerian politics; the time has come for them both to respect the people and leave the scene. Unrestrained pride and ambition, the elders says always lead to death and destructions.

Don Michael Adeniji                                                                                          Director, African Initiative for Peace and Human Development, Abuja Chicago Illinois. December, 2018

Negotiating new Leadership for Nigeria

Africa, PMB, Politics, Power, SEcurity

Leadership have been identified as a service which combine all human and nonhuman resources nurturing them to produce real and measurable results in any organisation or society. Any society without leaders with inherent ability to manage people and resources properly always fail.

The failure of the Nigerian society is regtetable given inherent human reaources and immeasurable minerals deposits. The paucity of able men to steer the affairs of this nation to Eldorado has been blamed on obvious lack of capable hands to manage these inherent potentials.

In 2015, a desperate move by the public led to hugely aclaimed judgemental error. The people elected an ancient and tired hand to manage a festering modern problem. Several schools have concluded that the uniqueness of the Nigerian problem requires a more agile and dedicated decision maker hence current leaders cannot nd might not be the batch to negotiate a new deal for Nigerians.

Great leaders are known by their acute listening and negotiation senses. Unfortunately leadership in Nigeria is based on the use of blunt force to overwhelm all nad any opposition. Government suspends rthe ruke of law and imposes the rule of force to serve their personal ends.

As the 2019 elections approaches,aside from all rhetorics there exists need for an academic look at basic qualifications for a new president for Nigeria. While many analyst and public commentators have contribute to this discussion, I will love to add these few qualities to the till.

For Nigeria to succeed, its leaders must be willing to understand the neeed to articulate national interest and move from self or regional interest. We must have leaders willing to stand and negotiate with global leaders using articulated national interest to design a place for Nigeria in International finance and trade. No nation can develop and geow without playing a major role in international trade. Effective leaders seek to understand the interests of those they lead and to find ways of satisfying those interests in order to achieve organizational and societal goals.

Nigerian are fleeing the country in thousands because of lack of business opportunities and means of achieving their individual and collective aspurations within Nigeria. It is ab I it time the Nigerian State recognise that human security goes beyond proviso of physical armed guards. Nigerian economy needed a boast and noone will give you what you never asked for. Nigeria cannot continue to attend international organisation meeting as a side show. A nation of over 200 million people, the largest market and biggest economy in Africa should be able to negotiate trade deals that give advantage to its people.

The leader Nigeria need should be firm and meliable enough to negotiate local and international business and trading relationships. The era of illmanaged international agreements and negotiations should come to an end. The new leader shoukd look at government as viable concern with potential for growth.

Relationships are the basis of trust. Positive relationships are important because they engender trust – a vital means of securing desired actions from others. People will be willing to sacrifice more when the leaders visions are clearer and are communicated in more friendly environment.

The right leadership is the voice of the people and uses his voice to negotiate a vision for the people using collaborative approach The age of know all solution leadership shoukd be jettisoned. New leasers must be able to fave squarely the challenge of forging a single vision out of the multiplicity of visions held by the group’s members.

National consensus are not easy to achieve but with the right voice, which the people can trust it’s achievable.

#justkukukilllme

Interview: Western countries need to understand Africa-China relations, says Kenyan official – Xinhua

News

ken.jpgHenry Rotich, Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury of Kenya, speaks during an interview in Nairobi, Kenya, March 28, 2018. Henry Rotich has urged Western countries criticizing Chinese loans to Africa to try to understand the Africa-China relationship first, calling such criticism as “unwarranted”. (Xinhua/Lyu Shuai)

NAIROBI, March 29 (Xinhua) — A senior Kenyan government official has urged Western countries criticizing Chinese loans to Africa to try to understand the Africa-China relationship first, calling such criticism as “unwarranted”.

Chinese loans and development support has transformed Africa’s development and Africa-China relations are expected to get even stronger with time, Henry Rotich, Cabinet Secretary for The National Treasury, told Xinhua on Wednesday in an interview in Nairobi.

“Attacks on Chinese loans to Africa are unwarranted,” Rotich told Xinhua. “Those criticizing do not understand the relationship we have with China.”

He said Africa’s cooperation with China is “well structured” under the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit which defines the direction of the relationship and development milestones that each country wants to reach with China.

“People need time to understand the relationship. China is walking with Africa to help the continent to get to the level of the developed countries faster. This is a partnership,” he said.

“The days of conditioning support are over,” said Rotich, in reference to the Western-controlled World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s demands for Africans to undertake some economic reforms and policies before they could receive development loans.

“The way to go is mutual cooperation,” Rotich said.

Kenya adopted China as its preferred development partner in 2002 when Kenya was under the leadership of retired President Mwai Kibaki.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has continued with a strong China-Kenya policy which has resulted in support for construction of the 500 kilometer Standard Gauge Railway from coastal city of Mombasa to the capital Nairobi and constructions of several hundreds of kilometers of roads, the Treasury official said.

Empowering young women to stand up for conflict resilience

News, SEcurity, Terrorism

However, risk can be reduced through conflict resilience led by young women. Conflict resilience is defined as the capacity for societies and communities to recover quickly from violent disputes and reduce their vulnerability to a resurgence of such conflicts. Women, as described in UN Resolution 1325, should play a more active role in efforts to achieve peace and security. Given the vulnerability of young women during violent conflicts, it makes sense to capacitate them to do so.

Identifying young women in affected conflict areas who are motivated to transform their communities into pillars for peace and development is the first step. This is the basis of partnerships between young women and governments in the resilience process. The second step is for governments to infuse conflict-resilience education into school curriculums as the foundation for future initiatives.

Recognising young women who are already leading their communities in conflict transformation can inspire others. Organisations led by young women that have begun to emerge in Africa include Messengers of Peace Liberia and the Borno Women Development Initiative. The latter, a Nigerian-based organisation, aims to place women under the age of 35 at the centre of resilience efforts to combat Boko Haram in Maiduguri.

Unique to the Borno Women Development Initiative is the fact that a young woman, Fatima Askira, leads this initiative. A biological science graduate, the 30-year-old has learnt that her career is not defined by her studies but by the state of her society.

In a forthcoming podcast produced by the Institute for Security Studies and Igarapé Institute’s Innovation in Conflict Prevention project, she tells how supporting and helping people affected by conflict is a responsibility and not a choice. Young women like Askira are an asset to the continent and more young women need to be afforded the opportunity to undertake similar initiatives.

The ability of young women to champion resilience is, however, limited by the marginalisation of youth in general from African peace and governance processes and by the lack of sufficient investment in youth education. These contribute to a longer-term problem for young women, because they are not expected to become engaged in conflict resilience, particularly as leaders.

This kind of structural inequity prevents young women from championing resilience to conflict in other ways too. Firstly, societal expectations for young men and young women in Africa diverge once they transition from childhood to adulthood. This moment is often the point at which the world expands for boys and contracts for girls.

Cultural restrictions such as marriage prospects dictate the future for many young women while young men conversely start to enjoy increased autonomy and social mobility. To help address these concerns, United Nations (UN) Women developed a youth and gender equality strategy in 2017 that aims to foster gender equity championed by youth.

The second structural challenge is that young women are typically labelled as victims in conflict situations, rather than actors with the ability to protect and rebuild their communities. As a result, priority is not given to the potential role of young women in ending conflicts, for example as mediators. Closing this gap is not easy but it is crucial.

Building resilience needs to be multi-dimensional to ensure success. This means a strong partnership between young people, government, civil society and development partners should exist. At a community level, development partners such as the African Development Bank could fund intervention studies assessing the vulnerabilities of communities and their capacity to accommodate young women in conflict resilience.

This, when done in partnership with civil society and government departments responsible for education, can lead to effective training of young women and their community leaders. Building awareness and skills on conflict and trauma, and coping strategies, is the basis for resilience.

Governments should engage with development partners and regional economic communities to build the necessary human resources to enable young women’s role in community resilience. This would have the added benefit of building trust between governments and young people.

Making young women champions of conflict resilience is a missing part in the peacebuilding puzzle and is long overdue in Africa. Once the partnerships and actions outlined above between government, civil society and development partners get stronger, the trust and empowerment that young women need will follow.

Muneinazvo Kujeke, Junior Research Consultant, Peace Operations and Peacebuilding, ISS Pretoria

AIDF ASIA Summit: Increasing disaster response and resilience in Asia

News

AIDF_Africa_Summit_Banner-900x300px_A_General.png

02 May 2018

London, 26 April 2018: More than 2 million people – an average of 43,000 per year – have been killed by natural disasters in the Asia-Pacific region since 1970, according to the latest United Nations’ figures. The principal causes were earthquakes and storms, followed by floods. 

In 2016 alone, disasters caused around 5,000 deaths and economic losses worth $77 bn in the region, home to 60% of the world’s population and its most disaster-prone area. Natural disasters displaced 60.4 million people globally between 2013 and 2015 – more than half were in Asia-Pacific, including in the Philippines (15 million people), China (13.1 million) and India (9.2 million).

Developing countries in Asia and the Pacific need to invest $26 trillion in infrastructure from 2016 to 2030, or $1.7 trillion per year, if the region is to maintain its growth momentum, eradicate poverty, and respond to climate change, according to the Asian Development Bank.

The UNDP reports that the total amount of aid being spent in South East Asia has increased by 23% since 2015, withUS$11.1 bn spent in 2017 from US$963.36 m in 2015. Similarly, every country in the region experienced an increase in aid between 2016 and 2017. The exception being Thailand where aid spending remained the same.

In this current climate, it is imperative to have a platform conducive to knowledge exchange, engagement with key organisations in the sector and access to the latest products and services. The AIDF Asia Summit will return for its 4th year on 20-21 June 2018 to facilitate this.

The Summit will take place at the United Nations Conference in Bangkok, Thailand, a selection based on the city being the hub for all international key agencies and the infrastructure in place for our partners to attend the event.
The AIDF Asia Summit offers an exclusive channel to engage with 300+ senior representatives and advisors from regional governments, UN and donor agencies, NGOs and development banks, looking to drive effectiveness of aid and development programmes in Asia.
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Background for editors

About AID & International Development Forum (AIDF):
The Aid & International Development Forum (AIDF) strives to be a catalyst of cross-sector collaboration and innovation in humanitarian and development sectors by bringing together governments, UN agencies, intergovernmental agencies, national and international NGOs, development banks, investors and the private sector. AIDF brings together key humanitarian and development practitioners, influencers, investors, thought leaders, policy makers and entrepreneurs. Our events and insights are based on comprehensive research and contributions from world leading experts including government ministers, FAO, UNESCAP, WFP, Asia Development Bank, UN OCHA, World Vision, UNOPS, USAID, GIZ, Red Cross, World Bank and many others.

Contact information:
Press inquiries: Madeleine Giles, madeleineg@aidforum.org

National Dialogue and Peace in Africa

Africa, Politics, Power, Terrorism, War

africa.png

We Feel safe If we trust our institutions, and we trust our institutions if we see them acting effectively in crises’ (Mary Kaldor Old War, New Wars: organized Violence in a Globalized Era” 1998).

Generally, we all feel safe when threats are alleviated from our cherished values, which if left unmanaged threaten our survival or that of a referent object in the near future. Security is important and forms the basis of our existence and expression in society. Imagine what life will be without any form of threat, where security is normal, passive and not priorities and politically demanding issues? Absence of threat to a certain level is a prerequisite for growth and development of any society. Increase threats level drive down local production and inflow of foreign investments.

Security matters and absence of threats in our society remained a major illusion in our highly politicized society. Globalization and advent of technological development has continued to expose our societies to different forms of threats. Politics has continued to be instrumental to endangering security. While positive political environment allows for integration and development of peaceful co-existence, several political actors privy to command resources for eliminating threats have resolved to make politics a major issue in threat escalation.

Political nature of security has made the definition of the term security an object of argument based on the perspective of analysts and writers on the topic. Traditional understanding of security emphasizes the physical accumulation of military power to defend the state from external and internal aggression. African states at independence were incorporated into the geopolitical East – West polarization. The need for expression of influence by super powers was reflected in the strength of allied states armies.  Big armies were used to prop up and maintain loyal stooges as powerful rulers in states without proper understanding of principle and operation of statehood.

The period between 1956 and 1989 when the Cold War ended, dictators like Idi Ami in Uganda (1971 -79), Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt (1954-1970), Ahmed Sekou Toure in Guinea (1958-84) and Mengitsu Haile Mariam in Ethiopia (1974-1991) ruled with iron fists in defense of their countries territorial integrity and redefined state security as security for the few ruling elites at the expense of the masses. The states employed the “Kill and go” mentality in elite securitization to defend their territory and unleash terror on dissenting public. The armies and the police in African states now become instrument of public oppressions, as there were no external aggressions to address.

The end of the Cold War brought new realities in international relations understanding of security. Emergence of “new wars” –intra-state wars– in Africa and Eastern Europe led to new thinking about the effects of globalization on security planning. Buzan Barry in 1983 introduced the theory of a shift from physical or critical security thinking towards a focus on human security. Mary Kaldor also emphasized the need for new directions for security in her work “Old War, New Wars: organized Violence in a Globalized Era” (1998). They both postulated the need for newer roles for states armies as numbers of inter-states wars have continued to reduce in the world while organized violence from non-state actors emerged as new threats to developing states in Africa and Europe at the turn of the century.

Emergence of organized insurgent groups and terrorists that targets civilians and non-combatants has been blamed on the lack of a shift in the roles of states security operations from elite centered towards public supports. The need to defend states sovereignty with the security forces at the expense of securing the people while crime and threats to lives grow due to lack of resources to achieve basic human development have ennobled the need for the shift of focus of citizens security to Private Security Companies (PSC) and ethnic militias in most areas of Africa.   Initial goals of the public supports for these militias; remain in achieving security towards protection of cherished values in most states.

Regrettably, lack of states’ control and management of the growth and development of militia groups, expanding influence of militias has resulted in abuse of power and such influences. Most militia has turned from their roles as defenders of the people to direct anti-state organisation. Thereby increasing people’s exposure to more threats.

Security is a relative and controversial term which relevance can only be surmised by the presence of object for security. People was traditionally ascribed the object of security in developing world however within international relation, the UN and other developed nations states empanelled the state as reverent object of all security discourse before the turn of the millennium.

The United Nations through the UNDP at the end of the Cold War, introduced in 1993 “Human Security” as the main focus of state security. The UN maintained that states duties to their citizens should include the assurance of their survival and securing their access to humane living conditions. States have to provide all basic amenities to secure citizens needs and aspirations. Human Security Index was introduced as the measure of legitimacy of states.

herdsmenAfrican states that have hitherto experienced patronage from international superpowers to maintain strong armed forces and equipment based on mere east/west alignments at the end of the cold war were unceremoniously left to dry. Low revenue for most states led to high inflation, unemployment, poverty and low capital formation. With huge and unmanageable security bills to supports and growing hunger, many states fell under the gun to coups and counter coups by the same armies that had helped in wasting the national fund.

The harsh military rules of the late eighties and nineties in Africa helped in building a new form of public resistance and anti-state movements. The growing need for re-organisation of condition for statehood in most states was blocked under the need to defend states’ territorial integrity. This challenge continued to form basis for ethnic strengthening instead of nation building. Challenging the traditional roles of states as sole controller of violence became more rampant as ethic armies demands emancipation and control of their territories in several states like Somalia, Nigeria, Chad, Mali, Niger and Sudan from the late eighties.

Lack of trust in weakening states institutions due to years of oppressions and high level of official corruption continued to contribute to stress of the political landscape. The failure of states to empanel proper conflict management and internal law enforcement mechanism to ensure justice, accountability and equity, finally sounded the knell on the popularity of the states in Africa. Public supports for the institutions of states waned and growth of radical thought escalated unbridled.

The growth of terror organisation in Africa becomes inevitable as poverty expanded. Lack of proper planning and finance for states’ internal security and inequalities in the sharing of resources of state has made radicals out of the youth with low life expectancy. Growth of illicit economies with huge rewards for participants in an environment with high incidence of poverty, have resulted in the development of a new class of African youth; ready to make it by every means necessary.

The Al-Shabab, Boko Haram, MEND, OPC, Bakassi Boys, MAJOC, AQIM, and others are the products of a system of elite security that have complete answer to all issues. The apparent lack of dialogue in African state is so appalling.  The states are being run by an elites who are used to decrees and pronouncement without consultations. The elites have shown the public that security can only be achieved through the use of violence. State policies in most African states have always favoured ex-militants and violent individuals. The youth in Nigeria look at ex-Niger Delta militants that have become leaders in political discussions and businesses and choses their heroes and Kenyan youths’ hero is President Kenyatta himself, the President with cases of human rights abuse in the ICC.

There is urgent need for complete reformation of the African state focus of security; the people should be the focus of national security while the people in turn through their trust in national institutions, support and uphold the sovereignty of the state. How we lose our African heritage of love, peace, equity and justice to these common criminals remain an issue. If we don’t address the issues of leadership and equity in Africa, there will always be another violent struggle to further endanger the peace of the people.

ISS Spotlight: building a new corps of dedicated African counter-terrorism experts

Africa, Boko Haram, Terrorism
With its skilled staff, professional networks and wealth of original research, ISS helps Africa tackle an evolving threat.

2018-04-11-training-spotlight-banner.jpgThe Institute for Security Studies (ISS) is helping African police to understand and combat terrorism on the continent, and to investigate and prosecute terrorism cases. Willem Els, a senior training coordinator at the ISS, is building a corps of well-trained African counter-terrorism experts while adapting international best practice to local conditions.

Threats include Boko Haram in Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin, al-Shabaab in Kenya and Somalia, and al-Qaida affiliates across the Sahel and North Africa. Three African countries – Nigeria, Somalia and Egypt – are in the global top ten countries most affected by terrorism, according to the 2016 Global Terrorism Index. Terrorism on the continent is particularly lethal, with six African states (Nigeria, Tunisia, Chad, Niger, Kenya and Cameroon) in the top ten countries with the highest average deaths per attack.

Police and prosecution services need specific skills to detect, combat, investigate and prosecute terrorism. The ISS helps to build these capacities through its expert staff and professional networks.

Els has an abundance of skills and experience. He served 28 years as a police officer in South Africa, with leadership positions in the national bomb squad, and time as an undercover sky marshal in the aviation anti-hijacking unit. He is a member of the International Association for Bomb Technicians and Investigators, with experience preparing disposal experts to work in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Now Els is sharing his knowledge with African police and prosecutors, working in partnership with policing organisations in East and West Africa, as well as Interpol, the United Nations, African Union and the EU.

‘It is rewarding to see my skills and experience embraced and integrated into the daily operations of people who deal with terrorism in Africa,’ he says. ‘We are investing in and empowering the next generation of passionate and competent counter-terrorism experts.’

Effective counter-terrorism requires an integrated training approach. The ISS has helped to create the official counter-terrorism manual for police agencies in East, West and southern Africa. Essentially an African counter-terrorism training handbook, it covers intelligence, explosives and bomb disposal, crime scene handling, weapons of mass destruction, causes of radicalisation and the evolution of terror.

ISS training spans national, regional and international legal instruments, extradition, state-sponsored terror, counter-intelligence, border control, biological weapons, dirty bombs and collection of evidence. ISS trainers are supported by African experts with world-class experience in subjects ranging from hostage negotiations, incident management andprosecution of terrorists.

Discussions are underway with a top South African university to accredit the training to diploma or post-graduate level and then offer it as a distance learning module.

The recognised value and impact of ISS training is based on its comprehensive and integrated counter-terrorism curriculum, and the deep working relationships with African police services and Interpol offices across the continent.

‘We go well beyond professional relationships based on technical expertise,’ says Els. ‘We bond as friends and comrades who face a common threat.’

‘The ISS is welcomed and respected as an African organisation which cares deeply about the continent’s security. We are embraced as true African partners who find local solutions to African challenges.’

Working with east African police, Els and other experts have produced standard operating procedures which serve as an investigators’ field guide following an incident. Terrorism is a threat that keeps evolving, so Els runs refresher courses for investigators, and specialised training when required. This includes bringing together frontline bomb technicians and intelligence experts from different terror hotspots to share their experience.

Annual field training supported by the ISS sees hundreds of police from across Africa participate in simulated hijackings, hostage negotiations, tactical interventions, defusing explosives, working with dogs and investigating a terror scene.

The ISS also hosts annual workshops where African heads of counter-terrorism and crime investigation discuss and agree regional priorities and identify new focus areas, such as the role of women in extremism. These discussions are informed by the wealth of original ISS research on violent extremism in Africa.

Working as a counter-terrorism trainer is not without its emotional challenges. Els tells a harrowing story of a late-night call from Somalia where three policemen had been blown up after following on-site instructions to approach a suspect vehicle. The caller survived the incident because he followed protocols learned in his ISS training.

For more information contact:

Willem Els, ISS: +27 82 554 7695, wels@issafrica.org

Picture: Jacqueline Cochrane/ISS

Can Africa be the big Brexit winner?

Africa, Business, economy, International Finance, Politics
Starting at next week’s Commonwealth summit, smart moves from both sides could benefit the UK and Africa.

Following the 2016 Brexit referendum, Britain needs to forge new and strong strategic alliances and trade relationships. Where and how does Africa feature in this equation?

Despite significant challenges, both Britain and Africa could emerge as winners from a rapidly shifting and uncertain global landscape. Smart policies and diplomacy could allow Britain to capitalise on the indifferent economic attitude the rest of the Western world has towards Africa. And African countries with strategic clout and collective bargaining acumen could broker favourable trade and investment deals rather than have terms dictated to them, as has been in the past.

First, to offset the detrimental effect of a split from Europe, Britain needs to look to alternative trading partners to catalyse its economy. Using foreign policy as an economic stimulus is vital in achieving this, and Africa is appealing in this regard. For British businesses, Africa’s high growth rates, urbanising population and growing consumer market provide a marketplace for British goods and services.

For Africa, the nature and scale of its development challenges, combined with its commodity export dependence, means that improved partnerships and increased demand for goods and services are welcome. Through trade, investment and donor support, there is huge scope for UK Inc to grow a more prosperous Africa while boosting its own economy.

Second, the ‘pivot to Commonwealth’ is a strategy that has long been flaunted as a positive spin-off from Brexit. Indeed, many advocates of Brexit had argued that once the UK was freed from the chains of the European Union (EU), it could pursue a buccaneering future as ‘Global Britain’.

Given the cultural affinity with its former colonies, the linguistic, legal and educational symmetry, and sizeable diaspora in the UK, Britain has an advantage over other countries regarding Africa. Its deep historical (albeit controversial) relationships with regional powerhouses like South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria could help secure trade and investment deals.

This year’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London from 16-20 April is a clear attempt to both solidify and expand the UK’s network of influence with historical allies in a post-Brexit world.

Third, British rapprochement with Africa is likely to be well received in terms of trade policy. Africa’s relationship with the EU has often been tense, largely on account of the protectionist and distortionary polices Europe employs in the agricultural sector through the Common Agricultural Policy.

The UK has long been a proponent of freer and more equitable trade and would probably generate better opportunities for African markets to export their produce. This could be positive news for countries like Ghana (cocoa), Kenya (flowers and tea) and Ethiopia (coffee) in particular, who will benefit from fairer deals and better market access.

Thus disaffected countries may now see scope for more beneficial bilateral deals with the UK. Sensing this opportunity, Tanzania in 2016 refused to ratify the Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU, holding out for a more favourable deal with the UK. This could well be a sign of positive things to come – for both the UK and Africa.

But there are challenges.

Given the tight timelines for renegotiating trade deals with the World Trade Organisation, African countries’ placing on the list of priorities is unclear. African countries will likely fall behind larger trading partners like China, India and Brazil in the pecking order of who would offer more immediate and scalable benefits. Europe alone – with at least 759 treaties to be renegotiated – will probably receive most of the time and attention of British policymakers.

There is thus a risk that Africa’s status will be relegated to a ‘nice-to-have’ rather than a ‘must-have’ – especially given its low levels of integration into the global economy in terms of global trade (2% according to the World Economic Forum).

Success will also depend on the institutional bandwidth of the British government to execute ambitious plans. The country’s bureaucracy is already stretched and suffers from a lack of co-ordination, according to Nick Oliver, an infrastructure financier with NMS International Group.

If a new relationship with Africa is going to thrive, it also needs to be ‘business unusual’ for the UK. Given the country’s colonial past, any new relationship must be a strategic partnership of equals. Any attempt to re-engineer ‘Empire 2.0’ will fail.

Further, the UK will be negotiating from a position of weakness rather than strength. Europe remains Africa’s largest trading bloc and the multiple market access offered is still attractive to African countries. Britain will need to offer a compelling value proposition to counter the surety and scale that the EU offers.

Success in Africa for the UK will require not only cultural sensitivity, but also an appreciation of what African states actually want from a trade and investment perspective. This is an unenviable task on a continent with 54 vastly different counties, each with different priorities and preferences.

Symbolically, too, Britain needs to show Africa that it matters. The last UK head of state to visit Africa was Tony Blair in 2007. Emmanuel Macron’s first overseas trip, just a week after his inauguration as French president, was to Mali in 2017, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Africa in 2016. Both leaders knew that these visits were important in shaping their strategic interest amid changing geo-political and economic influences in Africa. Britain is at a disadvantage here and needs build trust among African policymakers.

But African leaders must also play their part in getting this arrangement to work effectively. African states must use their negotiating power to their advantage. With other global powers jockeying for influence in Africa, both commercially and otherwise, competition is intense. But a strong and engaged Western partner to the continent is currently lacking, and this is where Britain could act as a counterweight to China’s muscular approach and increased interest from India and Japan.

To take advantage says Rohitesh Dhawan, director of strategy at Eurasia, African countries must be aware of the negotiating tactics used by countries such as Australia, New Zealand and India who have built fertile ground for detailed trade talks. ‘Keeping abreast of the acts of other countries can also help African nations know which issues the UK is more able to make concessions over (and is less hamstrung for negotiating space) than others, and where they should place their bets.’

Tactics, pragmatism and scalability are key – especially in light of the muscle that Africa could wield through the newContinental Free Trade Area agreement. By using its collective power, and prioritising agriculture, the continent’s leadership could broker a potentially game-changing deal that could reshape the nature of UK-Africa relations.

With Brexit negotiations at a critical juncture, it is still unclear whether the UK will emerge as ‘Great Britain’ or ‘Little England’. But the deadline is fast approaching and Britain would do well not to ignore Africa as it charts forward. With some out-of-the-box thinking, there are compelling reasons why the continent may yet emerge as a huge ally to the UK.

Ronak Gopaldas, ISS Consultant and Director at Signal Ris

UAE condemns Somalia over seizing cash ‘sent to army’

Africa, Boko Haram, Corruption, international News, Military, Terrorism, War

Somali soldiers

Somalia said on Sunday it had seized almost $10m from a Royal Jet aeroplane that arrived at Mogadishu airport.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has denounced the seizure of what it described as a civilian aircraft carrying nearly $10m by Somali authorities at Mogadishu airport.

The government of Somalia said on Sunday it had seized several bags of money containing $9.6m in cash from a plane arriving from the UAE capital Abu Dhabi.

According to a statement carried on Tuesday by WAM, the UAE state news agency, the sum was intended to support the Somali military and trainees.

“Money allocated to support the Somali army and trainees was seized at gunpoint by Somali security personnel, who disrespected some members of the UAE forces,” it said.

The money was found in three unmarked bags on a Royal Jet plane, according to the Somali interior ministry, and its seizure resulted in an hours-long standoff between airport officials and UAE embassy staff in Mogadishu.

Royal Jet is an airline based in Abu Dhabi, servicing the luxury market between the UAE and Europe.

“The seized money is worth $9.6m. Security agencies are currently investigating where the money came from, where it was going, the individuals involved and the reason for bringing money worth this amount into the country,” Somalia’s interior ministry said in a statement late on Sunday.

Relations between Somalia and the UAE have been frosty since June last year.

Mogadishu resisted Emirati and Saudi pressure to cut ties with Qatar following a dispute between the Gulf neighbours. Somalia said it was neutral in the Gulf diplomatic rift.

Last month, Abu Dhabi agreed to train security forces in Somaliland – a region in northern Somalia seeking to secede from the country. The UAE has also signed with Somaliland a 30-year concession to manage Berbera Port in the semi-autonomous region. It has also started building a military base in the port city.

Somalia dismissed the agreement between Abu Dhabi and the northern Somali region as “non-existent, null and void” and called on the United Nations to take action.

Speaking at the UN Security Council last month, Abukar Osman, Somalia’s ambassador to the UN, said the agreement between Somaliland and the UAE to establish the base in Berbera is a “clear violation of international law”.

Osman called on the Security Council to “take the necessary steps” to “put an end to these actions”.

“The Federal Government of Somalia strongly condemns these blatant violations, and reaffirms that it will take the necessary measures deriving from its primary responsibility to defend the inviolability of the sovereignty and the unity of Somalia,” he said.

 

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

Somalia disbands UAE programme to pay and train soldiers

Africa, Boko Haram, Military, War

Somalia said it seized several bags of money containing $9.6m in cash from a plane arriving from the UAE.

Somalia has disbanded a United Arab Emirates programme to train some of its troops in a new sign of rising tensions in bilateral relations.

The Somali government announced on Wednesday that it will take over paying and training the soldiers in the programme, Defence Minister Mohamed Mursal Abdirahman told Somalia’s state news agency Sonna.

“Somalia will fully take over [its troops] trained by the UAE… Those forces will be added to the various battalions of the Somalia National Army,” Abdirahman said, adding the soldiers would be integrated into other units on Thursday.

The UAE has trained hundreds of troops since 2014 as part of an effort boosted by an African Union military mission to defeat an al-Shabab uprising and secure the country for the government, which is backed by Western nations, Turkey and the United Nations.

There was no immediate comment from the UAE government.

Rising tensions

The move came after the government of Somalia said on Sunday it had seized several bags of money containing $9.6m in cash from a plane arriving from the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi.

On Tuesday, the UAE denounced the seizure of the money, which it said was destined to pay the soldiers.

“Money allocated to support the Somali army and trainees was seized at gunpoint by Somali security personnel, who disrespected some members of the UAE forces,” it said.

The money was found in three unmarked bags on a Royal Jet plane, according to the Somali interior ministry, and its seizure resulted in an hours-long standoff between airport officials and UAE embassy staff in Mogadishu.

Royal Jet is an airline based in Abu Dhabi, servicing the luxury market between the UAE and Europe.

“The seized money is worth $9.6m. Security agencies are currently investigating where the money came from, where it was going, the individuals involved and the reason for bringing money worth this amount into the country,” Somalia’s interior ministry said in a statement late on Sunday.

Relations between Somalia and the UAE have been frosty since June last year.

Mogadishu resisted Emirati and Saudi pressure to cut ties with Qatar following a dispute between the Gulf neighbours. Somalia said it was neutral in the Gulf diplomatic rift.

Last month, Abu Dhabi agreed to train security forces in Somaliland – a region in northern Somalia seeking to secede from the country. The UAE has also signed with Somaliland a 30-year concession to manage Berbera Port in the semi-autonomous region. It has also started building a military base in the port city.

Somalia dismissed the agreement between Abu Dhabi and the northern Somali region as “non-existent, null and void” and called on the UN to take action.

Speaking at the UN Security Council last month, Abukar Osman, Somalia’s ambassador to the UN, said the agreement between Somaliland and the UAE to establish the base in Berbera is a “clear violation of international law”.

Osman called on the Security Council to “take the necessary steps” to “put an end to these actions”.

“The federal government of Somalia strongly condemns these blatant violations, and reaffirms that it will take the necessary measures deriving from its primary responsibility to defend the inviolability of the sovereignty and the unity of Somalia,” he said.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

AfDB sets $200m to aid farmers 600,000 African farmers

economy, International Finance, Politics

adeshna

Akinwumi Adesina, President, African Development Bank Photo: AfDB

The African Development Bank’s (AfDB) has signed a $200 million Soft Commodity Finance Facility agreement with the Export Trading Group.

According to a statement from the bank on Thursday, the facility, which will benefit 17 African countries, comes as part of its strong commitment to promote agriculture in Africa.

The AfDB said the facility was structured to run as two successive loans of $100 million each with a tenor of up to two years.

The bank said it was aimed at helping local farmers and soft commodity manufacturers to produce quality goods that could be exported.

“The intervention will help local farmers and soft commodity suppliers grow their revenues and produce quality crops for export.

“Specifically, the facility will be used to finance the procurement of identified agricultural commodities from over 600,000 farmers.

“Upon purchase of the soft commodities, the SCFF will provide working capital to ETC thus enabling the company engage in processing of the soft commodities such as cashew nuts prior to export.

“The SCFF will also provide funding to procure farm inputs to be supplied to farmers so as to ensure consistency and quality of the commodities being supplied to ETC.

“This Trade Finance intervention along the agricultural value chain will enable the Bank to reach many small-scale farmers indirectly through ETC,’’ the bank said.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Josephine Ngure, AfDB Director General for the Southern Africa Region, said the facility would contribute to improving food production in Africa and also add value to it.

“The facility would also contribute to smallholder farmers’ access to inputs like seeds and fertilizers, mechanisation and access to international markets thereby ensuring significant revenues to farmers.

“It will also lead to sustainable process of economic growth and development; regional integration by developing sustainable platforms to supply local and regional markets.

“Lastly, it also has strong gender and youth impact as agriculture employs significant numbers of mostly youths and women,” Ms Ngure said.

Originally established in Kenya in 1967, ETC’s operations connect commodities sourced from the local economies to the broader marketplace and emerging markets to each other and the world.

ETC’s principal activities include: farm inputs and farm implements, processing of agricultural commodities and distribution.

ETC promotes agribusiness in countries where agriculture is, on the average, the biggest employer, providing in excess of 70 per cent of total employment and 77 per cent of all women’s jobs.

(NAN)

Exposed: Oyegun’s ‘hidden agenda’ on tenure extension

2019 Elections, Africa, APC, PMB

Exposed: Oyegun’s ‘hidden agenda’ on tenure extension

Oyegun2

Rather than go away, tenure elongation is still haunting the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Some of its members yesterday cried out over the content of a memo presented to the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting on Monday by Chairman John Odigie-Oyegun.

They claimed that a portion of the memo was aimed at achieving tenure extension through the backdoor.

But the party leadership denied having any hidden plan to extend its tenure.

Referring to the committee’s report, Oyegun insisted that the February 27 decision of NEC neither violated APC constitution nor the 1999 Constitution.

Sources said yesterday that the adopted memo may “trigger problems”, especially if the proposed congresses and convention are not held

The Nation, April 11, 2018

2019 elections: Mass defection looms in APC

2019 Elections, Africa, local news, personality, PMB, Politics

SarakiAs reactions continue to trail Monday’s declaration by President Muhammadu Buhari that he would seek re-election in the 2019 general elections, there are indications that some chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC) would dump the ruling party ahead of the polls.

The looming defection, New Telegraph learnt, is because the President’s confirmation of his second term bid has foreclosed the ambitions of some APC chieftains also eyeing the party’s presidential ticket.

A party source, who disclosed this to our correspondent, said the presidential hopefuls, mostly outgoing governors of northern extraction and top ranking federal lawmakers, have to look elsewhere to realise their respective ambitions.

New Telegraph, April 12, 2018

South Africa and Nigeria are crucial for continental initiatives

Africa, Facts, International Finance, international News, Politics, World Bank
South Africa and Nigeria are crucial for continental initiatives
Africa will benefit from both countries backing free trade, and from cooperation between the continent’s two giants.

The impressive turnout at the African Union’s Extraordinary Summit on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on 21 March showed the continent’s united fervour to boost its economic opportunities. Delegations from 50 countries, including 27 heads of state, attended the summit in Kigali.

NasarawaThe fact that there were almost as many leaders present as attend the bi-annual AU summits contrasts with the majordivisions within the AU on much-needed reforms of the institution. Countries seem to agree on boosting intra-African trade, but disagree on strengthening the AU itself.

At the January AU summit, 23 countries signed up to the Single African Air Transport Market and 30 have signed the AU’s Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community on Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment.

Even though many hurdles lie ahead in establishing the free trade area and even more in allowing free movement of Africans across the continent, these agreements are important first steps. The AfCFTA initiative in particular has been hailed as a major achievement, paving the way for greater intra-African trade and more economic opportunities for all African states.

However while 44 countries signed the agreement, two of Africa’s biggest economies, South Africa and Nigeria, didn’t. Due to their economic, military and diplomatic strength and their history of driving change in Africa, these two countries are crucial for such initiatives. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa did attend the Kigali summit, and made upbeat statements about the benefits of the AfCFTA.

South Africa did sign the Kigali Declaration – showing its intent to sign the free trade deal in future, pending finalisation of outstanding aspects of the agreement. South Africa in fact proposed the drawing up of such a declaration, says the country’s Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies. Ratification of the AfCFTA would also need the nod from South Africa’s Parliament.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari decided at the last moment not to attend the summit, citing the need for further consultation. According to local reports, concerns were raised by private-sector organisations such as the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria. This came as a blow to Rwanda, the event’s host, and its President Paul Kagame, current AU chairperson.

Nigeria has a major role to play in Africa’s free trade deal. In fact, Buhari leads a country that has historically been at the forefront of getting the AfCFTA off the ground. The creation of such a free trade area was first mooted in the Lagos Plan of Action that followed a summit in Nigeria’s commercial capital in 1980. The 1991 Abuja Treaty on establishing the African Economic Community was the forerunner of the AfCFTA and trade experts often still refer to the process as the Abuja road map.

Nigeria initially proposed to host the secretariat of the AfCFTA. The country is also the undisputed leader of the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) – one of Africa’s most pro-active regional economic communities. Within the AU, Buhari has also been appointed the lead head of state on the AU theme for 2018 – winning the fight against corruption: a sustainable path to Africa’s transformation.

So why did Nigeria stay away?

While the only official explanation has so far been that the decision was put on hold ‘for further consultation with local stakeholders’, it is also clear that some Nigerians might not see intra-African trade in the same way as, say, South Africans do. Nigerians have in the past been on the receiving end of South Africa’s strong economic drive on the continent – the cellphone giant MTN being one obvious example.

This was also one of the reasons given for strong opposition in Nigeria to Morocco’s application to join ECOWAS at the end of 2017. Morocco is one of the biggest investors on the continent, especially in West Africa – and there have been fears that greater access via ECOWAS agreements on free movement of people and goods could threaten local businesses in Nigeria.

However Nigeria is also a major exporter and investor on the continent in financial services, manufactured goods, agricultural products and the like. Trade experts concur that in the long run, the AfCFTA can be a win-win for all, especially the bigger economies. Former United Nations Economic Commission for Africa head Carlos Lopes commented during the summit that Nigeria would come around on the trade agreement – although he later tweeted that it had missed a symbol of historic significance by not signing.

Clearly the two giants of sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria and South Africa, both have a lot to gain from greater intra-African trade. In the past, strong cooperation between South Africa and Nigeria has led to major advances, such as the transformation of the Organisation of African Unity into the AU.

In his new book on Nigerian and South African foreign policy, The Eagle and the Springbok, University of Johannesburg Professor Adekeye Adebajo calls South Africa and Nigeria the two ‘Gullivers’ in their respective regions. After a ‘lost decade’ where ‘Africa’s indispensable bilateral relationship’ between South Africa and Nigeria was marked by competition and diplomatic squabbles, there is a need for greater cooperation between these African powers, together with others such as Algeria, Ethiopia or Angola, he says.

‘The combined political clout of these two states represents a potentially formidable force in shaping Africa’s integration and representing the continent’s interests on the world stage,’ he says.

The AfCFTA and other AU initiatives need both South Africa and Nigeria. Ramaphosa has so far indicated that he is committed to regional integration and intra-African trade. Now is a good time to strengthen diplomatic links with Nigeria to keep the Abuja road map on track.

Liesl Louw-Vaudran, ISS Consultant

Source: ISS