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Aid to Africa: donations from west mask ‘$60bn looting’ of continent, Mark Anderson, theguardian.com, Tuesday 15 July 2014 11.57 BST


UK and wealthy states revel in their generosity while allowing their companies to plunder Africa’s resources, say NGOs.

Western countries are using aid to Africa as a smokescreen to hide the “sustained looting” of the continent as it loses nearly $60bn a year through tax evasion, climate change mitigation, and the flight of profits earned by foreign multinational companies, a group of NGOs has claimed.

Although sub-Saharan Africa receives $134bn each year in loans, foreign investment and development aid, research released on Tuesday by a group of UK and Africa-based NGOs suggests that $192bn leaves the region, leaving a $58bn shortfall.

The report says that while western countries send about $30bn in development aid to Africa every year, more than six times that amount leaves the continent, “mainly to the same countries providing that aid”.

The perception that such aid is helping African countries “has facilitated a perverse reality in which the UK and other wealthy governments celebrate their generosity whilst simultaneously assisting their companies to drain Africa’s resources”, the report claims. It points out that foreign multinational companies siphon $46bn out of sub-Saharan Africa each year, while $35bn is moved from Africa into tax havens around the world annually.

The study, which also notes that African governments spend $21bn a year on debt repayments, calls for the aid system to be overhauled and made more open.

It says aid sent in the form of loans serves only to contribute to the continent’s debt crisis, and recommends that donors should use transparent contracts to ensure development assistance grants can be properly scrutinised by the recipient country’s parliament.

“The common understanding is that the UK ‘helps’ Africa through aid, but in reality this serves as a smokescreen for the billions taken out,” said Martin Drewry, director of Health Poverty Action, one of the NGOs behind the report. “Let’s use more accurate language. It’s sustained looting – the opposite of generous giving – and we should recognise that the City of London is at the heart of the global financial system that facilitates this.”

Research by Global Financial Integrity shows Africa’s illicit outflows were nearly 50% higher than the average for the global south from 2002-11. The UK-based NGO ActionAid issued a report last year (pdf) that claimed half of large corporate investment in the global south transited through a tax haven.

Supporting regulatory reforms would empower African governments “to control the operations of investing foreign companies”, the report says, adding: “Countries must support efforts under way in the United Nations to draw up a binding international agreement on transnational corporations to protect human rights.”

But NGOs must also change, according to Drewry: “We need to move beyond our focus on aid levels and communicate the bigger truth – exposing the real relationship between rich and poor, and holding leaders to account.”

The report was authored by 13 UK and Africa-based NGOs, including: Health Poverty Action, Jubilee Debt Campaign, World Development Movement, African Forum and Network on Debt and Development, Friends of the Earth Africa, Tax Justice Network, People’s Health Movement Kenya, Zimbabwe and UK, War on Want, Community Working Group on Health Zimbabwe, Medact, Healthworkers4All, Friends of the Earth South Africa, JA!Justiça Ambiental/Friends of the Earth Mozambique.

Sarah-Jayne Clifton, director of Jubilee Debt Campaign, said: “Tackling inequality between Africa and the rest of the world means tackling the root causes of its debt dependency, its loss of government revenue by tax dodging, and the other ways the continent is being plundered. Here in the UK we can start with our role as a major global financial centre and network of tax havens, complicit in siphoning money out of Africa.”

A UK government spokesman said: “The UK put tax and transparency at the heart of our G8 presidency last year and we are actively working with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to ensure companies are paying the tax they should and helping developing countries collect the tax they are owed.”

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2014 in Africa Development

 

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Vocational And Technical Skills In The Informal And Rural Sector In Africa – Chofor Che , posted at Africanliberty.org on 18 Feb 2014


The mismatch of skills in the informal and rural sector to the needs of the labour market in Africa has been identified as one of the reasons for serious youth unemployment and the continent’s underdevelopment. According to an African Economic Outlook (AEO) study, the most difficult areas for recruiters to have employees are those areas which demand technical qualifications, such as the oil and gas sector, the mining sector, the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, the manufacturing industry, the agri-business sector and the logistics sector. Most of Africa’s tertiary educational establishments focus on public sector employment rather than on the private sector labour demands. How can the continent overturn this impediment especially as there is much talk of Africa’s renaissance?

Graduates in the fields on humanities and social sciences find it difficult to get employed than those who specialize in the information technology, agriculture and the engineering fields. A 2013 Mo Ibrahim study shows that the social sciences and the humanities have higher enrolment rates and graduates. Those in the engineering, manufacturing, construction and agricultural sectors tail the list in terms of higher educational enrolment and graduation. Just 2 per cent of youth in Africa are studying agriculture and the continent is in dire need of specialists in these fields to move the continent forward especially as agriculture contributes on average 25 per cent of Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Sub Saharan Africa has the lowest share of engineering graduates in the world. Natural resource sectors such as the mining, oil and gas industries employ less than 1 per cent of Africa’s workforce. Despite these disturbing statistics the continent suffers from serious brain drain because employment conditions in these sectors remain vulnerable.

An African Development Bank (ADB) study purports that in Sub Saharan Africa; non wage employment represents more than 80 per cent of total employment for women and more than 60 per cent for men. 9 to 10 rural and urban workers have informal jobs in Africa most of whom are women and youth. The largest employees in Africa are the retail, agriculture and hospitality industries which remain insecure. Almost 90 per cent of jobs furnished by the agricultural sector for instance are vulnerable.

There is therefore a need for joint efforts to make technical and vocational skills more appealing to African youth and women. African states in collaboration with universities and think tanks need to encourage enrolment especially at the university level for specializations like the engineering, manufacturing, construction, natural resource and agriculture sectors. Central governments in collaboration with regional and local governments need to make jobs for instance in the agricultural sector more secured. If these jobs continue to be vulnerable, African youth and women will not be interested in enrolling in areas like agriculture thus a lacuna in the private sector labour demands. As existing public and private employment capacity is too small, investing in the informal and rural sector can be seen as an opportunity if the challenges of wages and productivity alongside education and training are overcome as well. It is thus time for African states to rethink matching of skills in the informal and rural sector to meet the needs of the labour market in Africa.

– See more at: http://www.africanliberty.org/content/vocational-and-technical-skills-informal-and-rural-sector-africa-chofor-che#sthash.0mCUZZbA.dpuf

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2014 in Africa Development, Local government

 

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France and Francophone Africa: A marriage of inconvenience. By Chofor Che, 29 April 2013


France colonised a great part of Africa prior to independence in the 1960s. Former colonies of France include the North African states of Morocco, Algeria, Egypt and Tunisia. In West Africa, former French colonies include Ivory Coast, Benin, Mali, Niger, Guinea, Mauritania, Senegal and Burkina Faso. In the Central African region and French Equatorial Africa, former French colonies comprise of Chad, French Cameroon, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Gabon, Congo Brazzaville and São Tomé and Príncipe. In French Africa, former French colonies include Madagascar, Mauritius Seychelles, Comoros and Réunion. Some analysts, like Placide Moussounda of Nouvelle Afrique, argue that Francophone Africa has benefitted very little from France since independence.

I am one who has always viewed the on-going relationship between France and Africa as suspicious and detrimental to the continent’s growth and development. My position is fortified by a statement made in 2006 by former President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy during his presidential campaign, where he said “France does not need Africa”. During President Sarkozy’s term of office, Francophone Africans were repatriated in their numbers from France. Despite such humiliation and expulsion of Francophone Africans from France, French presence in Africa remains firm.

Another area where Francophone Africa continues to suffer from the marriage with France is the imposition of the franc CFA, a currency utilised by former French colonies in the Central African region. CFA stands for Financial Cooperation in Central Africa (Coopération financière en Afrique centrale). The CFA franc represents two currencies utilised in Africa which are guaranteed by the French treasury. The two CFA franc currencies are the Central African CFA franc and the West African CFA franc. Although theoretically separate, the two CFA franc currencies are effectively interchangeable.

According to former French minister of finance, René Pleven, the CFA franc was created on 26 December 1945, in French colonies to spare them the strong devaluation, thereby facilitating exports to France. Today the creation of the CFA has grossly impoverished Francophone Africa. This currency is regulated by three central banks in Francophone Africa, Banque des États de l’Afrique Centrale, or the Bank of the Central African States (BEAC) located in Yaoundé, Cameroon, the Banque Centrale des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest, or the Central Bank of the West African States (BCEAO ) located in Dakar, Senegal and the Comoros Bank in Comoros. French citizens who constitute part of the board of directors of the above mentioned banks have veto rights on decisions of these banks, which means decisions concerning the CFA are influenced enormously by the French. The structuring and composition of the central banks makes it possible for a colossal flow of finances from Africa to the French public treasury. This means that very poor countries in Africa finance France. There happens to be over 8 000 billion of CFA from Africa stocked in France. This means over 40 million Africans are deprived of their revenue. This can be connoted as monetary slavery which is the outcome of the marriage of inconvenience between France and Francophone Africa.

Time for a new Africa has come. This new Africa needs to get rid of the shackles of colonialism which continue to plunge the continent down the drains of poverty. Africans need to nurture the spirit of free markets and stop relying on aid especially from France. Maybe it is time for Francophone Africa, to have its own currency as other currencies like the South African rand. Allowing impoverished African states to continuously finance the French treasury is not the way to go.

Additionally, Francophone Africa can curb the numerous trade barriers inhibiting commerce amongst them. Francophone Africa can ease trade with Anglophone Africa and benefit from a fruitful relationship which would benefit the continent as a whole, rather than relying on a marriage of inconvenience which has done nothing but plunge Francophone Africa and the entire continent into poverty.

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2013 in Africa Development

 

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Combatting the influx of counterfeit medicine in Africa, by Chofor Che, 28 February 2013


International health specialists have warned of a growing health calamity in several parts of Africa as a result of an influx of counterfeit medicine from Asia and other parts of the world. According to an article by The Guardian, dated 23 December 2012, negligent central governments in Africa coupled with indifferent oversight from states like China are combining to turn the continent and its pressing health issues into a ‘free-for-all for maverick manufacturers’, some of whom are producing fake medication with no active ingredients at all.

In 2012 the Secretary General of the national pharmaceutical order in Cameroon appealed to the government to fight against counterfeit medicine in the state especially in Yaoundé and Douala. Eric Sunjo, a member of the national pharmaceutical order in Cameroon, added that some of these counterfeit medicine was exposed to solar rays and therefore toxic for human consumption. Since then very little has been done to combat the sales of counterfeit medicine in the streets of Cameroon. Many Cameroonians die because of such medicines.

The problem of counterfeit medicine is not only peculiar to Cameroon. Counterfeit medicine is sold in the poor neighbourhoods of Cape Town in South Africa, in the streets of Ghana, in townships in Rwanda right up to ghettos in Cairo, Egypt. According to The Guardian, precise data is difficult to track down because of the informal nature of African health systems. But many recent studies warn that as many as one-third of malaria drugs in Tanzania and Uganda are fake or below average, with most believed to originate from Asia especially India. There has been great reluctance to call the scourge of killer medications in Africa a crisis.

The vice president of the US Pharmacopeial Convention’s global health impact programmes, Patrick Lukulay, alludes that it is no secret that the majority of fake medications came from India and China. According to Lukulay, China is not doing much to better this precarious situation. On the other hand, India is trying to ensure that the quality of medicine sent Africa is of commendable quality.

Though it may seem like an enormous amount of trouble to counterfeit a £3 packet of malaria pills, Lukulay adds that the global trade is estimated at £46bn a year. Counterfeiters master their markets properly. Efforts to combat the fake medication in Africa remain timid.

This indeed is a great calamity which adds to the death rates in Africa. Attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 especially in Africa, remains far-fetched if serious measures are not taken. Central governments in Africa remain reticent in combatting this ill. Instead of ensuring that fake medications do not inundate African markets, central governments allow the influx of counterfeit medicine while discouraging local markets.

Fighting fake medications is not an issue only of central governments. “If you want to be efficient in fighting it, you have to have a very strong regulatory authority, very strong collaborations, very good distribution networks and good co-operation between governments,” opines Sabine Kopp, who manages the anti-counterfeiting and medicines quality assurance programmes at the World Health Organisation. All the same this should not be an excuse for central governments in Africa to clamp down on viable manufactures with robust regulatory powers, because over regulation kills the purpose of regulation and thus free markets.

African states have the potential of encouraging the domestic private sector to manufacture good medication. Of course, this must be done under the scrutiny of quality control mechanisms. Encouraging local producers in no way shelves out competition from foreign competitors. All the same foreign competitors must ensure that they furnish proper medication to Africans and not counterfeit medicine which has contributed enormously to the loss of life of many Africans.

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2013 in Africa Development, Uncategorized

 

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African brands: The Rising stars, By Billie McTernan, Theafricareport.com,14 January 2013


The market for luxury African goods was once the preserve of rich expatriates and tourists, but as incomes soar across the continent, retailers report a growing appetite among local buyers.

Bridging the gap between traditional craftsmanship and luxury, high-end African brands are out to make a global impression.

From clothing and jewellery to wine and tea, refined luxury is increasingly being packaged and sold by Africans.

Continental consumption is rising steadily.

According to a report by consultancy firm McKinsey, consumer spending in Africa is set to increase from $860bn in 2008 to $1.4trn in 2020.

The number of households with disposable income is due to grow by 50% over the next 10 years to 128m.

The CapGemini/Merrill Lynch World Wealth Report found that the number of high-net-worth individuals in Africa rose by 3.9% between 2010 and 2011 to 100,000.

This means that the number of people looking for high-quality consumer goods is growing rapidly.

While China’s economic slowdown has worried some luxury brands, others have been quick to take note of Africa’s growth.

US company General Motors’ sales of Chevrolet vehicles grew by more than 50% from 2010 to 2011 in sub-Saharan Africa.

In Kenya, the Captiva is the most popular, with a starting price of $47,000.

In Ghana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, the majority of buyers prefer the Cruze, which costs $30,000.

Bruno Carraz, managing director for Africa of jewellery brand Cartier, hopes that a recent rise in sales will go “on and on”

“We have recently strengthened our relationship with our Nigeria partner and improved our distribution channels in many countries like Angola and Côte d’Ivoire.”

While sales of non-African brands on are on the rise, home-grown brands are also taking the opportunity to establish themselves, not only in Africa but on the global market.

Patrick Mavros, a Zimbabwean jewellery company, opened its flagship store in London in 2004. After 33 years of business, the company’s clientele ranges from taxi drivers to film stars and heads of state.

“African luxury isararity,”says Forbes Mavros, son of the brand’s founder and head of the Mauritius atelier.

“There are not many brands that have touched the international pulse and remained African in their identity.”

Swaady Martin-Leke, the founder of YSWARA, a luxury tea brand with its headquarters in South Africa, also believes that it is important to maintain a country or region’s heritage and culture when building a global brand.

“If you look at European or Japanese luxury brands, you find the essence of the country of origin is in the detail,” he says.

For many producers of luxury goods, customers have traditionally been ex- pats and visitors. But demand for African products is increasing.

Euromonitor International revealed spending on luxury goods in South Africa rose from $628.5m in 2007 to more than $1bn in 2012.

South Africa’s global wine exports grew by nearly 40% between 2006 and 2012.

Over the same period Kenya became its largest African importer of wine, buying 6.1m bottles in 2012.

At home, Waterford Estate’s “The Jem” 2007 is the flavour of the month.

Bottles start from R680 ($80). Martin-Leke believes that typical African luxury consumers, having travelled abroad, want products that reflect their identity.

“They might want a Chanel watch, but they also want a beautiful couture ankara dress.

“They have the money to buy Yves Saint Laurent, but they want African designers”

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Mali’s dilemma and French intervention: Aid with strings or ‘the messiah’? By Chofor Che,14 January 2013


African states remain fragile despite much praise of Africa having the emerging economies in the world. Having emerging economies in an atmosphere of conflict is bad for development. Many a time when African states are hit by conflict, western nations step in to intervene. There has been a lot of debate about foreign intervention in African conflicts. Is the west assisting because of interest or they care about peace, democracy, good governance and development in Africa?

An African state which has been recently plagued by conflict, and is benefiting from foreign intervention especially from France is Mali. Mali is a vast, landlocked state situated in the Sahara Desert and whose borders touch Algeria to the north and Ivory Coast to the south, linking North Africa with sub-Saharan Africa. Mali also borders Senegal, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Guinea. Mali’s north is currently under the rule of radical Islamists, whereas the weak central government is in the country’s south.

Conflict broke out in Mali and the state cried out for assistance especially from the west.Mali slid into dictatorship after gaining independence from France in 1960, but then a 1991 coup led to elections the next year. Mali’s then-president stepped down after the maximum two-term limit and Amadou Toumani Toure, known as ATT, was peacefully elected in 2002.

Toure was just months away from the end of his term when mutinous soldiers overthrew him in a coup in March 2012. The coup leader nominally handed over power to a weak, interim civilian government but is widely believed to still be controlling the country. The turmoil has left Mali’s military in disarray, raising questions about how helpful Malian soldiers can be during the French-led intervention.

In as much as assistance from the west especially France is welcome in trying to curb the conflict in Mali, such intervention is not a sign of love for Africa. Of course such assistance comes with strings. According to Krista Larson of the Associated Press, the country’s third-largest export after cotton and livestock is gold. There is definitely some interest in the west benefiting from this resource.

The African Union has still proven to be a toothless bulldog with respect to this conflict. The African Union proved to be ineffective during the Libyan crises and allowed the west to dominate peace efforts. Libya remains in a critical situation despite foreign intervention to instill so called ‘democracy’. This same scenario will play out in Mali.

The continent of Africa needs to take a drastic stand via institutions and actors especially the African Union, in ensuring that leaders are accountable to the people and there is participatory development. One of the root causes of conflict is because the people are usually not given a chance to participate in government affairs via concrete measures like decentralisation and/or federalism. Such is the case of Mali. If Africa wants to conveniently harbour the acclaimed emerging economies in the world, then we need truely democratic states. Africa, especially francophone Africa cannot always rely on France especially to curb conflicts, because instead of curbing these conflicts, the west continues to encourage weak states in Africa.

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Africa: Brics Seeks New Dialogue With Africa, re pulished from Africanliberty.org, 7 January 2013


Johannesburg — South Africa plans to boost links between Africa and its partners in the Brazil, Russia, India and China alliance at a landmark summit, which will be held in this country in March, Xavier Carim, deputy director general at the Department of Trade and Industry, told IPS.

“The summit theme is BRICS and Africa – a partnership for development, integration and industrialisation,” explained Carim of the meeting to be held in Durban, South Africa.

“We want to align our interests to support the integration agenda in Africa, not just to focus on access to resources.”

There have been suggestions that because South Africa is the smallest of the BRICS nations in terms of population and GDP, it therefore may not deserve a place in this club of leading developing nations.

However, one answer to this criticism is that South Africa can offer its BRICS partners better access to the mineral-rich African continent and hence plays not just a national role, but a regional one, in the BRICS.

The heads of government who will be attending the BRICS summit will be invited to a meeting immediately after the main event with the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Steering Committee.

“This will be at presidential level and will help to link the BRICS with Africa,” explained Carim.

Pretoria-based international affairs consultant John Maré welcomed the plan to boost relations between Africa and the BRICS grouping at the Durban summit.

“This is important. In particular, it means South Africa is facilitating an Africa-China business dialogue.

“It is important that business deals ensure there is no exploitation of Africa by the Chinese,” he told IPS.

He emphasised the importance of China in particular for Africa, suggesting that the Asian giant is the key member of the original BRIC grouping from Africa’s perspective.

“The BRIC grouping invited South Africa to join, making it the BRICS, as we are seen as the most suitable gateway to Africa,” he said.

“If there is this emphasis on Africa at the Durban summit, it will mean South Africa is playing the role everyone assumed we would play when we were invited to join.”

Maré suggested that the BRICS should seek a new dialogue with Africa along the lines of this continent’s existing one with the European Union (EU).

“The EU has a specific dialogue with Africa, through the African Union Secretariat,” he noted.

“This linkage between NEPAD and the BRICS could be a mirror image of that – and would give the BRICS a relationship with Africa which neither the United States nor Japan has.

“I am sure this Durban meeting will be the first of a regular dialogue.”

Johannesburg-based independent analyst Ian Cruickshanks also welcomed the prospect of South Africa facilitating a closer link between Africa and the BRICS.

“I welcome any extension of South African influence in global economic and political groupings,” he told IPS.

“The BRICS is seen as a new vibrant group with political and growing economic clout, access to capital, able to influence new fixed investment in Africa – which is the last frontier in exploitable energy and industrial commodity reserves.”

Cruickshanks noted that Africa presently only contributes about three percent of global GDP, with South Africa accounting for around one percent.

“But Africa has the potential to advance faster than the developed world, provided that there is better access to capital, and this could be tapped through the BRICS industrial powerhouses,” he predicted.

He noted that South African resources are already significantly exploited, but questioned whether shale oil might provide new energy reserves, with the possibility of these reserves being developed through partnerships with BRICS partners, with export potential to the rest of Africa.

“South Africa’s advanced financial sector could provide the basis of a gateway to Africa for the BRICS, bringing a huge economic boost, and contributing to funding President Jacob Zuma’s promised 900-billion Rands in infrastructure development plans,” said Cruickshanks.

In another development, Carim said that there was work underway to try to anticipate and defuse trade friction within the BRICS.

He gave examples of applications for South African anti-dumping duties against chicken imports from Brazil and against paper imports from China.

“These things do come up, and it’s inevitable when you see how our trade is growing,” he explained.

“The more you trade, the more frictions – it’s a normal part of the relationship.”

However, he said that in dealing with BRICS partners “we are looking at ways of taking the sting out of these matters, before they happen.”

Carim insisted that companies which believe they are the victims of dumped goods – goods sold in a foreign market at lower prices than they are sold domestically, and which do damage to foreign rivals – do have the right to apply to their governments for protective measures.

He said that ways must also be explored to get a better balance in trade with South Africa’s BRICS partners.

“When South Africa’s imports go up, there is an impact on our domestic industries,” he argued.

“There has to be some way to alleviate the pressures, to find outlets for our exports and to find ways to support our exports – such as wine to Brazil.”

However, Carim said that the conditions are not yet ripe for a Free Trade Area among the BRICS nations.

“No one is talking of a Free Trade Area (FTA), because with an FTA you open your markets, and you can lose sectors,” he explained.

“India is vulnerable with its agriculture, and if you look at manufactured goods, the Chinese are extremely competitive. Meanwhile, Brazil is extremely competitive in agriculture.

“You run risks from a free-trade perspective.”

He emphasised that there is a lot of scope for the BRICS nations to learn from one another, and gave the example of the ways in which Brazil has an effective development finance institution – from which South Africa’s Industrial Development Corporation can learn lessons.

Meanwhile, the Chinese and Indians are good at developing Industrial Development Zones – an area in which South Africa has yet to excel.

“We should look at sharing experiences, rather than destructive competition,” Carim concluded.

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Africa CEO forum opens in Geneva: Showcasing the continent’s private sector leaders, By African Brains, 23 November 2012



THE FIRST AFRICA CEO FORUM, a high-level meeting for the African private sector, opened on Tuesday November 20, in Geneva in the presence of 560 delegates from 32 countries, including more than 300 leaders of major private African enterprises. Approximately 100 investors and financiers, among the most influential in Africa, as well dignitaries from Africa and the rest of the world, attended the event.

The opening ceremony was co-chaired by Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank Group (http://www.afdb.org), and Amir Ben Yahmed, Vice-President of the Jeune Afrique Group. The meeting was an opportunity to discuss what is needed to boost African development through the dynamics of growth offered by the continent’s private sector.

According to Ben Yamed, one of the major objectives of the forum was to facilitate discussions to ensure African countries find themselves at the forefront of growing emerging economies, supported by a strong private sector managed by internationally recognized leaders.

President Kaberuka held a similar perspective: “Africa has entered the 21st Century determined to throw back shackles of poverty, to converge with the rest of the world, to get the African Lions into the same territory as the Asian Tigers.”

This forum falls perfectly in line with the AfDB mission in its bid to “to do more in supporting and promoting the private sector.” Moreover, the Africa CEO Forum is an ideal platform for the Bank to exchange ideas and reinforce its ties with private sector leaders.

A better understanding of African private-sector initiatives, enabling the exchange of ideas and different viewpoints, while creating the conditions for an ongoing dialogue with private business people, these are the aspirations of Donald Kaberuka, who proposed “the establishment of an External Consultative Committee of private sector leaders with whom I will readily work hand-in-hand.”

Read more at Africa CEO forum opens in Geneva: Showcasing the continent’s private sector leaders

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Informing the People: Oil Contracts Demystified, By Zara Rahman, Think Africa Press, 21 November 2012


With oil economies booming in Africa, OpenOil has published a guide to help ordinary citizens understand the complex and jargon-filled oil contracts their governments have signed.

Think of the oil industry and, along with spills and environmental problems, many people think of secrecy and corruption. But transparency is increasing, albeit from a low base and poor historical record in the area. The tide is gradually turning with more and more data being put online, and there are many initiatives doing great work on making machine-readable data accessible and understandable. But until now, oil contracts have remained extremely difficult to unpack.

Limitations of transparency

There is a trend emerging in governments publishing, or putting online, the contracts they sign with international oil companies. This is undoubtedly a great success for the transparency movement globally. There are now seven jurisdictions around the world who publish their oil contracts, with more to come, and transparency of oil contracts is being written into constitutions and emerging as a best practice globally.

Publishing these contracts is the first step towards allowing citizens to know what is happening – something that will increase democratic ties between citizens and the state. But there remains one key problem – a typical oil contract is over 100 pages long and written in complicated legal jargon. It is not the kind of document that someone without a law degree, or years of specialisation in the topic, can pick up and hope to understand.

Tools to help people understand these contracts have, until now, been overwhelmingly aimed at industry employees or those with elite levels of education. These have generally taken the form of private courses (costing $3,200 per person for two days, and held in London or Abu Dhabi) or expensive legal text books aimed at the postgraduate law student. Clearly, neither of these is going to help a civil society activist in the Niger Delta make sense of the contracts governing their oil industry.

Bringing open thinking to the oil industry

To address this, OpenOil convened a group of ten world-renowned experts at the beginning of November to come together for a week and collaboratively write a book on how to read and understand oil contracts, in what is known as a ‘book sprint’.

To many, the idea of writing a book on a topic as complex and involved as oil contracts seemed crazy. Even more so, perhaps, considering that no preparation was done beforehand; no planning chapter titles, or organising who was going to write what. All work began at 9am on the Monday, and involved having a lot of faith in the facilitator of the method, who has now used the book sprint method to produce over fifty books.

The result was ‘Oil Contracts – How to Read and Understand them’, released under the Creative Commons license and thus free for all to download.

How does a guidebook help?

The terms decided in contracts can have long reaching effects, and be valid for anything up to 20 or even 30 years. And it is in the oil contracts that many factors are decided on, such as: the environmental standards that companies have to abide by, clauses relating to the effect of the project on the local economy and, most importantly for many, the amount of money that the government is going to get.

Read more at Informing the People: Oil Contracts Demystified

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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World Bank Group : Kenya’s Bold Move to Improve Performance in Delivery of Judicial Services, By 4 Traders, 16 November 2012


WASHINGTON, November 15, 2012-Kenya has embarked on a major transformation of its judicial system to improve key functions to promote better administration of justice and delivery of quality legal services to court users.

“Kenya’s new constitution has created a window of opportunity for the judiciary to address the problems that have for many years frustrated the delivery of justice, especially to the poor,”says Johannes Zutt, World Bank Country Director for Kenya. “Through this project, the World Bank will support the government to strengthen the capacity of the judiciary to deliver justice in an effective and efficient manner”. The project comes at a time of growing public confidence in the judiciary, following recent major institutional and managerial changes pursuant to the new constitution, which Kenyans overwhelmingly voted for in a referendum in August 2010.

Through the Judicial Performance Improvement Project, the Judiciary will improve court administration and case management, including automating the courts and clearing a backlog of court cases, training of its judicial officers, and improving court infrastructure by constructing new courts and rehabilitating existing ones.  These activities are reflected in the Judiciary’s Transformation Framework 2012-2016.

“In approving the project, the World Bank’s Board of Directors indicated its belief that there is a real opportunity to undertake judicial reforms in Kenya.  Since this is the first stand-alone and largest project to the judiciary in Africa, its success will be a model for other countries in the region. The challenge is to scale up the important legal and institutional reforms that have already been initiated to deliver quality and timely judicial services to the public.  The project will need to improve the rule of law and the climate for doing business in Kenya,” says Nightingale Rukuba-Ngaiza and George Larbi, Task Team Leaders of the project.

The project is financed by the Bank’s International Development Association (IDA)* under its standard terms, which include a term of 40 years with a grace period of 10 years.

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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