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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 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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Africa’s Aviation Industry: Challenges and Opportunities, By African Development Bank Group, 20 November 2012


The performance of the African aviation industry is still lagging behind those of the rest of the world. Nonetheless, demand for air transport has increased steadily over the past years with passenger numbers and freight traffic growing by 45% and 80%, respectively. Over the period 2010-2015, Africa will be the third fastest growing region in the world in terms of international traffic with an average growth rate of 6.1% compared to the global average of 5.8%, and 7.9% and 6.9% for the Middle East and Asia Pacific, respectively, while Europe, Latin America and North America are projected to record lower international passenger growth of 5.0%, 5.8% and 4.9%, respectively.

This trend is expected to continue in the coming years due to a number of factors, notably robust economic growth, demographic boom, increasing urbanization, and emergence of the middle class. Air transportation plays a vital role in the country’s growth process by accelerating convergence of goods and persons. The contribution of air transport far exceeds that of road transportation sevenfold. Growth in air transportation has directly maps into economic growth due to spillover effects through creation of direct and indirect jobs in the industry and other auxiliary sectors such as tourism and other service sectors. Expansion in air transportation creates market opportunities for local entrepreneurs by creating regional and global economic centers. In 2010, the aviation industry in Africa supported about 7 million jobs (including 257,000 direct jobs) through the impact on travel and tourism which translated into USD67.8 billion of the continent’s GDP. Forecasts indicate that the aviation industry’s impact on African economies is set to grow. Over the next 20 years, implied job creation by the industry is projected at 879,000.

Africa can maintain the growth of its aviation industry if more and more people can afford to pay for the cost of air travel. Currently, only 10% of Africans travel by air but given the current rate of economic growth and emergence of the middle class, there be high demand for services linked to air transportation. In recent years, growing alliances with counterparts in other regions of the world have played an important role in the development of the African aviation industry. These alliances have permitted African companies to gain access to new long haul routes resulting in higher economies of scale and skills exchange.

Challenges to the African aviation industry

The rapid expansion in Africa’s aviation industry is hampered by a number of factors. Poor record of safety and security, lack of adequate resources and infrastructure, distance and limited connectivity, lack of regulation and government actions are among the main constraints the industry is facing. These constraints add to competition and high operating costs resulting from surging oil prices. Addressing these challenges could significantly unlock the industry’s potential for future growth.

Safety and security challenges: Safety is the most pressing challenge facing the aviation industry in Africa. In 2011, the average number of air traffic accidents was nine times higher than the global average. The frequency of accidents stems largely from inconsistency in the implementation and enforcement of internationally accepted safety standards and practices. Increasing the level of safety should be a key priority for the development of the African aviation industry. The African authorities have endorsed an African Union backed plan aimed at addressing deficiencies related to aviation safety and security and strengthening the regulatory framework. Accordingly, the International Air Transport Association jointly with the International Civil Aviation Organization and other organizations have committed to supporting the Africa Strategic Improvement Action Plan of the African Union. The plan encourages African governments to foster regulatory oversight through the adoption of globally accepted safety and security standards.

Inadequate infrastructure: The air transport industry faces various challenges including poor airport infrastructures, lack of physical and human resources, limited connectivity, and lack of transit facilities. Although substantial progress has been made during the past decade, Africa still lags behind other regions in terms of “soft” and “hard” infrastructure. It is therefore critical that African countries invest in the soft as well as hard infrastructure to support the industry.

Lack of regulation and government actions: Despite the growing awareness of the role that the aviation industry could play in the development of the continent, the industry is still not the top priority of African governments. More, despite increased liberalization of the African aviation industry and the growing presence of foreign companies, some African governments are still reluctant to open their skies fearing foreign competition could undercut national airlines, some of which are short of commercial viability besides being just symbols of sovereignty. These challenges require governments to enhance regulation of aerospace management, consumer protection and safety of airlines. Lack of aviation experts and skills, high airport taxes and fees, the weak connectivity and restrictions on transit visas and facilities add to the menu of impediments affecting Africa’s aviation industry.

Opportunities to the African aviation industry

Air travel is essential to the prosperity of Africa as it opens up opportunities that did not exist before. Fostering the African aviation industry may be one of the driving forces of regional integration on the continent. Better connected African countries and regions through a viable air transport industry could be the catalyst that can boost intra-African business, trade, tourism as well as cultural exchange. Developing the aviation industry may also represent an opportunity to mitigate chronic transport problems faced by the 16 landlocked African countries.

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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