Dr. Kingsley Bosah Chiedu Moghalu is the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and head of the Bank's Financial System Stability directorate. He is responsible for the regulation of banks and financial institutions, which entails the management of systemic risk, and the development of finance programs .
Dr.Moghalu presented his latest book, Emerging Africa: How the Global Economy's 'Last Frontier' Can Prosper and Matter at Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC. The presentation was co-sponsor by the Africa Program and AllAfrica.
Talking Points for the presentation of the book as was written out by Dr.Moghalu.
1. What is Africa as 'Last Frontier'?
(a) The phrase could be interpreted from the perspective of the expansion of the world economy to new poles of global economic growth and transformation such as the BRICS countries and the Asian Tigers.
(b) It could also mean Africa as a virgin new territory for conquest by the unflinching advance of globalization and global capital, operating mainly through international trade and foreign direct investment.
2. Why Africa Matters to the World Economy
(a) It could matter as a source of extraction of raw materials and natural resources but not as a contributor to global prosperity through its own economic transformation. This is "negative mattering". It continues a trajectory that has remained fundamentally the same since the transatlantic slave trade and the period of colonial rule. This kind of mattering - extractive importance - is the current phase of the economies of most African countries. We should also note that, in this context, growth could be taking place but no structural transformation, which is what creates real prosperity, is happening. Even this source of importance may be in decline with the discovery of fracking and shale oil and gas.
(b) But Africa should matter as a growth pole in its own right, like Asia increasingly does. For this to happen, however, I argue that a paradigm shift must take place because the current paradigm, based on unrestrained free markets without a conceptual grasp of the opportunities, limitations and kinds of capitalism, and the structure of world trade, cannot create an enabling environment for Africa to matter in the world economy. With 3% of world trade and 5% of total global FDI, the continent still plays a negligible role in the global economy.
(c) This paradigm shift must take place in the minds of Africans first, based on new, fundamental understandings about the world, the continent's place in the world, and how to alter Africa's trajectory. These understandings must then be translated into better, more effective public policy and governance.
Dr. Moghalu with Professor Mohammad Pate at the conference, who was the former Minister of State for Health who recently resigned to take up a position of Professor in Duke University's Global Health Institute, US
3. What are these paradigm shifts?
First, globalization, though a fact of economic and cultural life, is not neutral. It has drivers and passengers. African countries cannot assume that globalization is benign in its intent or agnostic in its belief when a careful examination will show that African countries are mostly consumers of the products of globalization. So, how Africa engages with the phenomenon of globalization will play an important role in the continent's economic trajectory.
Second, Africa will not matter economically until African countries become industrial, manufacturing economies rather than predominantly agricultural economies.
Third, for Africa to prosper, African countries need to develop a clear and comprehensive worldview. This is the essential philosophical foundation of prosperity - and the West and Asia provide important examples.
Fourth, based on the foregoing, the myth that Africa is rising needs some pause and evaluation. Let us ask some fundamental questions. Yes, growth rates have been better over the past decade, but are we seeing signs of real transformation? Are manufacturing economies now the norm, or will they likely soon be?1 Is growth outpacing population growth, or could population growth and non-inclusive economic growth without jobs create a youth bulge in future? What is the role of science and technology and innovation in African economies?
Fifth, African countries must move towards economic diversification and complexity, manufacture the consent of their citizens to clear visions and strategies for economic transformation, and strengthen weak institutions.
Based on these perspectives, African countries need to re-evaluate commonly held assumptions about globalization, foreign aid, free markets, foreign investment and so forth if they are to prosper.
This is why I wrote Emerging Africa - to decode and address the real factors that have held Africa back, and the secrets of prosperity they need to understand and apply in order to prosper, rather than merely repeating conventional wisdoms that have not brought about a fundamental change in the African condition.
US President Barack Obama may be trying to woo Africa but the continent's leaders seem more attracted by China's cold, hard cash. With Obama's African tour barely over at least three African leaders have rushed to China to sign deals worth billions of US dollars.
Obama visited Africa from late June to July 2, pledging US$7 billion to upgrade electricity infrastructure. But China's growing financial might appears to be holding sway over US influence.
During Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan's visit to Beijing last week, US$1.1 billion of loan deals were signed, including a US$500 million Chinese loan for the construction of four new international airports in Abuja, Lagos, Harcourt and Kano.
China's investment in Africa has increased 30-fold since 2005, with 2,000 Chinese firms now present in 50 African countries.
Over the past 10 years, Britain has invested the most in Africa, with 437 deals totalling US$30.5 billion, law firm Freshfields Bruckhaud Deringer said in a report this month. France came in second with 141 deals totalling US$30.5 billion. China was the third-largest investor with 49 deals worth US$20.8 billion.
"The various MOUs (memorandums of understanding) signed between Chinese and Nigerian companies will lead to stronger economic ties between the two countries," said Jonathan in Beijing last week.
In recognition of the strategic trade link between China and Nigeria, the Central Bank of Nigeria recently converted part of Nigeria's foreign reserves from US dollars to yuan, Jonathan announced last week. During Jonathan's visit, Beijing agreed to expand tenfold its demand for Nigerian oil from the current 20,000 barrels per day to 200,000 barrels per day by 2015.
Chinese companies are already building roads across Nigeria in contracts valued at US$1.7 billion. On July 11, state-owned China Machinery Engineering Corp (CMEC) signed a US$201 million agreement to build a 120-megawatt power station, oil storage tanks and other infrastructure in the Nigerian city of Bauchi in 33 months, the Hong Kong-listed firm announced.
On the same day, CMEC signed a US$420 million contract to build a 500MW power station within 31 months in Benin City, Nigeria.
Nigeria is not the only African nation lining up for mainland funding. During a trip to China this month, Ugandan Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi visited CMEC's headquarters in Beijing, where he said: "Our government is concentrating on a few priorities due to insufficient funding and China is to fund a number of these."
Uganda would offer most of its infrastructure projects to Chinese companies, because they could be repaid from Uganda's future oil revenue, unlike Western businesses that expected advance payment, Bloomberg quoted the office of the Ugandan prime minister as saying.
On July 8, China Harbour Engineering, a subsidiary of China Communications Construction, signed a US$700 million contract to build a new airport in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, in 40 months. The project will be financed by a loan from the Export-Import Bank of China.
Sierra Leone President Ernest Koromo last month said he signed US$8 billion of infrastructure deals on his visit to China.
This includes a US$1.7 billion contract with China Kingho Energy Group for the construction of a port, mine, power facilities and a 250-kilometre railway; and a US$300 million contract with China Railway International for a new international airport 60km from Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone.
Dam builder Sinohydro on July 2 signed 13 contracts to build 3,482 flats in Algeria, said Sinohydro's website.
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition.
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma on Sunday congratulated Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe on his re-election, in sharp contrast to Western governments which questioned the credibility of a rushed, disputed vote.
African monitors broadly approved the conduct of the election but Mugabe's main rival, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai, has said he will challenge the results in court with evidence of massive vote-rigging, irregularities and intimidation.
The sharply divergent views of Wednesday's vote surfaced after Zimbabwe's election officials declared a landslide win for Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party, giving Africa's oldest president five more years at the helm of a nation he has ruled for 33.
The standoff raises some fears the southern African nation risks repeating the turmoil that followed another contested vote in 2008. Election violence then forced Zimbabwe's neighbours to broker a shaky unity government between ZANU-PF and the MDC.
But Sunday's "profound congratulations" extended to Mugabe by Zuma, leader of Africa's economic powerhouse, reflected a willingness by the continent's diplomatic bodies to swallow the re-election of Mugabe, 89, for the sake of regional stability.
Mugabe, one of the grand old men of southern Africa's liberation fight that ended white minority rule, is admired as a defiant nationalist by some Africans, though others share the West's view of him as a ruthless despot who wrecked Zimbabwe.
"President Zuma urges all political parties in Zimbabwe to accept the outcome of the elections, as election observers reported it to be an expression of the will of the people," the South African leader said in his statement.
Zimbabwe's capital Harare was calm on Sunday, with many residents going to church. Newspaper billboards proclaimed "ZANU-PF gloats over victory", "Mugabe romps to victory" and "Tsvangirai disputes election results".
Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai gestures during a news conference in Harare August 3, 2013. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
Western observers were barred from Wednesday's elections.
Monitors from the African Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) who observed them made a point of stressing that they were peaceful, in contrast to the violence of 2008 polls, and also endorsed them as broadly free.
In contrast, the United States and European governments, which have sanctions in place against Mugabe over past election-rigging, listed a litany of alleged flaws in the vote, from lack of availability of the voters' roll to pro-Mugabe bias in the media and security services that skewed the election run-up.
In Zimbabwe, independent domestic monitors had described the election as "seriously compromised" by registration problems that may have disenfranchised up to a million people.
Anti-corruption watchdog Global Witness, citing links between mining companies, ZANU-PF insiders and Zimbabwe's pro-Mugabe military, has also alleged that state diamond revenues may have been spent on securing the Mugabe re-election.
ZANU-PF has angrily rejected all vote-rigging allegations.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spelled out Washington's distrust of the result in no uncertain terms.
"Make no mistake: in light of substantial electoral irregularities reported by domestic and regional observers, the United States does not believe that the results announced ... represent a credible expression of the will of the Zimbabwean people," he said in a strongly worded statement on Saturday.
Former colonial power Britain expressed "grave concerns". Foreign Secretary William Hague said the reported irregularities "call into serious question the credibility of the election".
The 28-nation European Union has also pointed to "identified weaknesses in the electoral process and a lack of transparency," completing a picture of general Western scepticism.
WHAT NOW FOR SANCTIONS?
It remained to be seen how energetically the West, with little public appetite at home for overseas interventions and facing muscular Chinese trade and investment rivaly in Africa, would press its questioning against the apparent African endorsement of the vote as imperfect but acceptable.
China is already a significant investor in Zimbabwe, which has rich reserves of chromium, platinum, coal and diamonds.
Mugabe had defiantly ignored a request by SADC in June to delay the election beyond July 31 to allow more time for steps to create a "conducive environment" for a free and fair vote.
At issue now will be the future of the Western sanctions against Mugabe and Zimbabwe, where the economy is still struggling to recover from a decade of slump and hyperinflation that ended in 2009 when the Zimbabwe dollar was scrapped.
Trevor Maisiri, senior analyst for southern Africa of the International Crisis Group, said the priority of the African Union and its regional satellites like SADC was avoiding conflict and civil strife. This often took preference over technical perfection in electoral processes.
"I don't think there is going to be any major social unrest. Some people are disappointed but they have already gone back to their lives," he told Reuters by telephone in Harare.
The MDC, facing political annihilation after its third failure to oust Mugabe through the ballot box, has said it could consider challenging Mugabe's win through street protests.
But this could trigger a crackdown from pro-Mugabe security services, militias and supporters. In the 2008 electoral violence, 200 MDC followers were killed in such a crackdown.
In Harare, after the tense, rushed weeks of electioneering, many seemed anxious to get on with their daily lives.
"The elections have come and gone, and people have different opinions about the outcome but we still need to pray for our welfare, for national peace," said one woman as she went into a service at the main Anglican Cathedral in the city.
"Politics is important, but it's not everything," she added, declining to give her name.
Africa cannot rely on outside people to come and feed our poor or treat our sick, says African businessman and philanthropist Mo Ibrahim. The key is good governance, in both the public and private sectors.
Africa is the second largest continent on earth and has immense resources, yet African people are poor. The question is “why are we poor” if we have all this wonderful land, sea, shores? We are poor because of misrule, because we are badly governed. I don’t subscribe to the narrative that Africa is backward because of colonialism. Africa has been independent for 50 years now. Let’s forget the past, we need to get up and dust-off ourselves and get on with life.
What actually happened in the last 50 to 60 years is that we missed a lot of opportunities. At the moment of independence, many African countries like Ghana and Egypt had higher income per capita than China, India or Singapore. Where are we now? And where are those guys?
I think the blame should rest squarely on the way we have governed ourselves.
Not any amount of aid is going to move Africa forward. The only way for us to move forward is to ensure good governance – the way we manage our economy, our social life, our legal structures and institutions – that is the basis for development. We cannot rely on people to come and feed our poor or treat our sick. This is the responsibility of our governments.
Governance is not just about corruption or transparency or human rights or democracy or roads etc., it is about all of this. There is no compromise. All this is a basket of deliverables which governments must deliver to their citizens. If it is about deliverables then it is measureable. What we need to do is look at numbers and not wonderful leaders’ speeches. I want to know what leaders did in the last 12 months. We need to measure this every year and we need to produce a scorecard. This is how the Ibrahim Index of African Governance came about.
Leadership is also important. It became obvious to us that we need leaders that understand that they are running their country for the benefit of every single individual. Every child in this country is his responsibility; we need people who really believe in that, who cannot go to sleep because some people cannot eat or cannot find medicine. This is the kind of leadership that we need in Africa – an enlightened and dedicated sort of leadership. With this in mind, we came to the decision that we really need to go out searching for these heroes. We need role models that are important. This is why the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement is in African Leadership.
These were the two main issues we really cared about: the issue of leadership and the role of the leadership in transforming the society and how they started building the institutions. Societies are not sustainable without institutions.
Right now, the most important challenge, in my view, is African youth. We have a huge bulge of youngsters coming forward but where do the jobs come from, and what will happen to those people? The other day someone in our research team worked out that the average age of an African president is about 63 years old when the average age of the citizen is 19 years old. So you can really see the gap between our leadership and our people.
One major problem we have is the education system which, unfortunately, is not doing very well. If you are African, the more educated you are, the less chances you have of getting a job. This says something – education is too serious to be left to the few bureaucrats in ministries of education who have no connection to the real world. This is an area where you really need a national debate between business people, education specialists, and young people to know exactly what kind of work force we need to build in Africa.
China is already running out of labour, moving production houses out of China. We all know about the one child policy and that is one of the outcomes. Who is going to be the next factory of the world, is it going to be Africa? We have a lot of attractions – geographic locations, cheap labour, etc. but we are not ready because we need to build the infrastructure and we need to train our young people and give them the right skills. We need people who can really build and do things. This is a big challenge for us.
That challenge is immediately linked to the question of regional integration. People talk about Africa as if it is one country. Africa is not one country, Africa is 54 countries, which are not necessarily trading or communicating among themselves. It is more difficult to pass goods from East Africa to West Africa than taking it from China to West Africa and is more expensive.
If you are an African, and you decide to visit every other African country and you are unfortunate enough to have an African passport, you are going to spend a year trying to get visas for all those 53 countries. I have to travel to the country with my British passport, not my Sudanese passport because it takes me a month to get a visa with it.
We need to lay down the basis for the free trade area across Africa. We have been talking about regional integration for ages and its progress is proving very slow. Many African countries will not be viable without regional integration, full stop. We have to accept that, we need each other; we really need to open-up our borders to have free movement of goods, people and capital across our borders. Everywhere I go in Africa, I raise the question of why the Germans need the European Union and keep bailing people out? The answer is simple: they need it because they want to move their goods around.
We have almost 600 million mobile users in Africa, which is much more than European users. We have much more users than the United States but are we really proud of that? How many mobile phones were manufactured in Africa? None. If we don’t have the economies of scale, we are unable to force the trade required; we are unable to get a good deal for our manufacturers. Can Siemens sell a single mobile phone in China without building a factory there or transferring know-how? No way.
We are not able to force our demands on any of these companies or businesses because we are 54 failed voices; we need one big voice. And we cannot have that unless we force ahead with this integration.
Good governance in the public sector is a prerequisite for development but it is not enough. We cannot have it without also having good governance in the private sector; people need to understand that. If we have a go at corruption we really need to deal with it in the private sector, there is no question about that. Political leaders don’t corrupt themselves; they have partners in the private sector.
The illicit transfer of funds is another important issue. The illicit transfer of funds out of Africa is at least double the amount of aid that Africa receives every year. This speaks for itself. We need multinational companies to pay their taxes. Small African countries have very weak tax collection systems. We don’t have fantastic lawyers and forensic accountants who can really challenge these companies.
Britain has also discovered that it has the same problem; everybody has the same problem, even the United States. It is interesting that this issue – which we have been screaming out about for decades – suddenly, came to be in the forefront of the political debate in the UK and many European countries.
We hope that, at last, people in the developed countries are going to move forward now to stop all this nonsense. It is not acceptable anymore. Where is your leadership, where is good governance in your institutions? The light of transparency is shining over all of us now. It is impossible to keep secrets now because everything is leaked. We can find out everything about everybody. So if we are all naked, why don’t we behave and act in a decent way?
We are really seeking transparency everywhere. And we need to insist on transparency in the private sector because, believe me, we cannot have good governance in the public sector unless we also have good governance in the private sector. These two must really go hand-in-hand.
• This article originally appeared at the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship, the premier international platform for accelerating entrepreneurial approaches and innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing social issues.
• Mo Ibrahim is the founder and chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.
"The Allan Gray Orbis Foundation has identified its top 100 secondary schools in South Africa through its Circle of Excellence initiative. The Circle of Excellence, launched last year, evaluates excellence in education and consistent delivery of successful candidates in the Allan Gray Fellowship. These schools will receive recognition, support at various levels and encouragement from the foundation to ensure their high standards are maintained. Schools remain a part of the Circle for three years." - BYLINE
1. Grey College South Africa
2. Rift Valley Academy Kenya
3. King Edward VII School South Africa
4. Hilton College South Africa
5. St. George’s College Zimbabwe
6. Prince Edward School Zimbabwe
7. International School of Kenya Kenya
8. Accra Academy Ghana
9. Lycée Lamine Guèye Senegal
10. Adisadel College Ghana
11. St John’s College Houghton South Africa
12. Maritzburg College South Africa
13. Lycée Guebre Mariam Ethiopia
14. Selborne College South Africa
15. St Alban’s College South Africa
16. Lycée Lyautey Morocco
17. Durban High School South Africa
18. Grey High School South Africa
19. St Andrew`s College South Africa
20. Gateway High School Zimbabwe
21. Glenwood High School South Africa
22. Rainbow International School Uganda
23. Lycée Moulay Youssef Morocco
24. Kearsney College South Africa
25. St. James High School Zimbabwe
26. Wynberg Boys High School South Africa
27. Pretoria Boys High School South Africa
28. Lycée Français de Tananarive Madagascar
29. Mauritius College of the Air Mauritius
30. International School Moshi Tanzania
31. Le Collège Mermoz Ivory Coast
32. Strathmore School Kenya
33. Parktown Boys’ High School South Africa
34. International School of Tanganyika Tanzania
35. Holy Child School Ghana
36. Christ The King College Onitsha Nigeria
37. Graeme College South Africa
38. Jeppe High School for Boys South Africa
39. Alliance High School Kenya
40. Hillcrest School Jos Nigeria
41. Kingswood College South Africa
42. Hamilton High School Zimbabwe
43. Lincoln International School Uganda
44. Lycée Victor Hugo Morocco
45. Alexandra High School South Africa
46. École Normale Supérieure Guinea
47. Ghana International School Ghana
48. Arundel School Zimbabwe
49. Rondebosch Boys’ High School South Africa
50. Starehe Boys’ Centre Kenya
51. American International School of Johannesburg South Africa
52. Victoria Park High School South Africa
53. Methodist Boys High School Sierra Leone
54. Harare International School Zimbabwe
55. Methodist Girls High School Sierra Leone
56. Lenana School Kenya
57. St. Andrew’s High School Malawi
58. Benoni High School South Africa
59. Waddilove High School Zimbabwe
60. Roedean School South Africa
61. Wykeham Collegiate Independent School for Girls South Africa
62. Lycee Francais du Caire Egypt
63. Christian Brothers’ College Bulawayo Zimbabwe
64. Kamuzu Academy Malawi
65. Mount Pleasant High School Zimbabwe
66. Mfantsipim School Ghana
67. Chisipite Senior School Zimbabwe
68. Gayaza High School Uganda
69. Kutama College Zimbabwe
70. Wheelus High School Libya
71. Michaelhouse School South Africa
72. Westville Boys’ High School South Africa
73. Namilyango College Uganda
74. Government College Umuahia Nigeria
75. Muir College South Africa
76. Wesley Girls High School Ghana
77. Alexander Sinton High School South Africa
78. Lycée Faidherbe Senegal
79. Royal College Port Louis Mauritius
80. Lycée La Fontaine Niger
81. Lycée Lyautey de Casablanca Morocco
82. Settlers High School South Africa
83. Nyeri High School Kenya
84. Pinetown Boys’ High School South Africa
85. Kings’ College Lagos Nigeria
86. Lycée Français Liberté Mali
87. Paarl Boys’ High School South Africa
88. St. Paul’s College Namibia
89. Tafari Makonnen School Ethiopia
90. Wynberg Girls’ High School South Africa
91. Bingham Academy Ethiopia
92. Port Shepstone High School South Africa
93. Clapham High School South Africa
94. Hillcrest Secondary School Kenya
95. South African College School South Africa
96. Lycée Blaise Diagne Senegal
97. St Mary’s Diocesan School for Girls South Africa
98. Townsend High School Zimbabwe
99. St.Gregory’s College Nigeria
100. St. Patrick School Zimbabwe
The released Gallup research about the optimism of countries in 2012 showed that Africans are perhaps the most optimistic about their future. By far Africa was more optimistic than Europe. While many African countries Gallup scores were in high 80s and 90s, European counterparts were in low 20s and 30s.
Business Insider reported that “Gallup research about the optimism of countries in 2012” was released July 18, 2013. “The data was compiled by asking respondents to rate their lives on the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale, where zero is the worst and 10 is the highest. Respondents were asked to rate their lives now, and then to rate their lives five years in the future. The difference between the two scores is used to calculate a country's optimism, or, conversely, their pessimism.”
This overflowing optimism coming from Africa is something to be highlighted and appreciated to fully comprehend the rate of change taking place in Africa. Africa is beginning to understand that its destiny lies in its hand, not in some foreign utopia. See the chart below:
In a recent Capitol Hill policy discussion on U.S.-Africa trade, an African ambassador passionately proclaimed that the best thing the United States can do for Africa is to remove the negative stereotype that if one nation has a problem then the continent as a whole is damned.
The point is hard to argue with when all we hear about is Africa’s epidemic diseases, famines and despotic leaders. Too often, Africa’s trade and investment potential for American business is overshadowed by a false notion that the continent is a tinderbox, ready to ignite at any moment.
President Barack Obama’s recent visit to South Africa, Senegal and Tanzania underscores that the time has finally come to dramatically reframe how we think about and how we engage with Africa’s 54 nations. We as Americans must lose our tunnel vision and learn to see Africa as a continent of immense opportunity.
The data speaks for itself.
For more than a decade now, the world’s fastest-growing economies have been in Africa. Countries including Nigeria, Angola, Ethiopia and Mozambique have annual gross domestic product growth of 8 percent to 11 percent. With more than a billion people living on the continent and rapidly expanding middle-class and youth populations, opportunities abound to leverage new consumers and engage new leaders to connect with each other and global markets.
In 2012 alone, we saw the transition of power in several African nations to illustrate that peaceful changes in leadership are the norm rather than the exception. In Ethiopia, Malawi and Ghana, three African leaders died in office, and their successors transitioned in without military intervention or major protest.
Frankly, the United States can’t afford to cede Africa’s economic momentum to foreign competitors such as Brazil, Russia, India and China, known as the BRIC nations. While we as a nation continue to tinker with our Africa policies, China’s trade with the continent continues to expand. Last year alone, China’s trade with Africa totaled some $200 billion; we lagged behind at $95 billion.
These numbers are particularly troubling when we consider the reservoir of good will the United States enjoys on the continent, spanning both Democratic and Republican administrations.
One of President Bill Clinton’s signature accomplishments was signing into law the African Growth and Opportunities Act, which eliminates trade tariffs for African goods exported to the United States. And no one can forget the success of President George W. Bush’s efforts to address the HIV and AIDS crisis through the President’s
Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.
Obama has similarly contributed to these legacies with efforts such as the Global Health Initiative, Feed the Future and the Young African Leaders Initiative. Despite being bogged down with a global recession and wars winding down in Afghanistan and Iraq, Obama has focused his policy on some of Africa’s most enduring and persistent challenges that have kept Africa from reaching its full potential.
During Obama’s first term, he also launched the Doing Business in Africa program to promote U.S. trade with the continent and announced the first-ever trade mission to Zambia, doubling bilateral trade between the two nations.
The affinity Africans have for the United States, which was significantly strengthened by Obama’s 2008 election, must be leveraged to ensure America holds its seat at the table and doesn’t lose ground to economic competitors.
Africa is ready to leverage trade opportunities over tired, old aid paradigms. Africans en masse say they no longer need only aid to solve their problems. Africans confidently signal that they are ready to engage the United States on trade and investment terms that will be far more transformative than the aid-based solutions of the past.
The next major event on the horizon is the reauthorization of the African Growth and Opportunities Act, set to expire in 2015. It’s our nation’s pre-eminent trade arrangement with the continent and has employed hundreds of thousands of Africans, pulled millions of people out of poverty and grown industries where none previously existed.
In sum, Africa’s 54 nations are experiencing something close to a renaissance. The challenge before us is whether America is ready to participate in this new era of engagement or whether we’ll stand on the sidelines and let other nations take the lead.
Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif.,District: 37th District, West Los Angeles; Culver City, is ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations.
New HIV infections among children have been reduced by 50 per cent or more in seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the United Nations agency spearheading the global AIDS response said today.
Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, and Zambia have reduced new HIV infections among children by half since 2009, while Tanzania and Zimbabwe are also making substantial progress.
This is according to the latest progress report on the Global Plan towards the elimination of new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive (Global Plan), which was launched in July 2011 at the UN General Assembly High-level Meeting on AIDS.
The Plan has two main targets for 2015: a 90 per cent reduction in the number of children newly infected with HIV and a 50 per cent reduction in the number of AIDS-related maternal deaths.
It focuses on the 22 countries which account for 90 per cent of new HIV infections among children. The current report presents the progress made by the 21 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and some of the challenges they face in meeting the agreed targets for 2015. Data from India was not available at the time the report was written
Overall, the report shows that there were 130,000 fewer new HIV infections among children across the 21 countries in sub-Saharan Africa – a drop of 38 per cent since 2009.
“The progress in the majority of countries is a strong signal that with focused efforts, every child can be born free from HIV,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), which spearheaded the Global Plan initiative along with the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
“But progress has stalled in some countries with high numbers of new HIV infections. We need to find out why and remove the bottlenecks which are preventing scale-up,” he added.
UNAIDS noted in a news release that Ghana showed the greatest decline in the rate of new infections among children since 2009 (76 per cent), followed by South Africa (63 per cent).
However, the pace of decline in some of the Global Plan priority countries has been slow and in Angola, new HIV infections have even increased.
New infections among children in Nigeria, which has the largest number of children acquiring HIV (nearly 60,000 new HIV infections among children in 2012), remained largely unchanged since 2009. Without urgent action in Nigeria, the global target for 2015 may not be reached, the report warns.
The report also notes that more pregnant women living with HIV were receiving antiretroviral medicines to prevent HIV from being transmitted to their children and for their own health in 2012 than in 2009, with coverage levels exceeding 75 per cent in many countries.
Increased coverage has reduced HIV transmission rates from mother to child in most countries. Botswana and South Africa have reduced transmission rates to 5 per cent or below.
“We have the tools required to reach the Global Plan’s goals, and recent data show that we are moving ever closer to their realization,” said Ambassador Eric P. Goosby, US Global AIDS Coordinator.
“This month, as US Secretary of State John Kerry announced, the one millionth baby will be born HIV-free due to PEPFAR’s support. Now, we must all continue working together to see the day when no children are born with HIV, which is within our reach,” he added.
At the same time, the report also shows that only half of all breastfeeding women living with HIV or their children receive antiretroviral medicines to prevent transmission of HIV. It outlines that breastfeeding is critical to ensuring child survival and strongly emphasizes the urgent need to provide antiretroviral therapy during the breastfeeding period.
More than half of the children eligible for treatment in South Africa and Swaziland now have access. Chad, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe have doubled the numbers of children accessing treatment from 2009 to 2012.
While the report outlines that the number of children requiring HIV treatment will reduce as new HIV infections decline, urgent steps need to be taken to improve early diagnosis of HIV in children and ensure timely access to antiretroviral treatment.
Also, the number of pregnant women living with HIV receiving antiretroviral therapy for their own health has increased since 2009, the report adds. In Botswana, Ghana, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zambia, more than 75 per cent of the pregnant women eligible receive antiretroviral therapy and more than 50 per cent in Kenya, Lesotho, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.
President Barack Obama's 26 June-3 July visit to Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania is an important statement of his intent towards Africa during his final term.
His election as president of the United States in November 2008 raised expectations around the world about the emergence of a more consistently and strategically engaged US policy approach to diplomacy and international relations. Given his own mixed African and American ancestry, these expectations were especially strong among pro-African communities within the United States, just as they were in cities and villages across sub-Saharan Africa.
Early in his first administration, Obama visited Ghana in July 2009. The speech he gave in Accra had few specific pledges other than a promise to cut down on funding American consultants and administrators. Instead, President Obama’s Ghana trip was mostly about symbolism, offering an effective backdrop for a sharp critique of corruption and repression on the continent, and advocating home-grown governance and stronger institutions and remedies. Ghana was chosen to illustrate an African country that enjoys political pluralism and a growing economy.
A further trip by President Obama had been planned for Sub-Saharan Africa (Michelle Obama visited South Africa and Botswana) but domestic demands such as the US economy in meltdown, pressing foreign policy priorities such as Afghanistan, Iran and North Korea resulted in low-key engagement in comparison to his predecessor George W. Bush, and a policy marked by greater continuity with previous administrations rather than change.
There were highlights during Obama’s first term: Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State made Africa a diplomatic priority, visiting 23 African states (out of 54); the 2011 referendum, and then the independence of South Sudan; the changing fortunes of Somalia and discreet mediation efforts by key officials in Malawi, Guinea, Senegal, are all examples of what US good offices can achieve. The $3.5 billion African food security initiative of the Obama administration had impact and the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), enacted under the Clinton administration, has increased US trade with Africa. It is due for renewal by 2015 but early action on this would be a positive statement of America’s desire to deepen trade partnerships with Africa.
There were also disappointments: slowness of appointments to key Africa jobs, such as no permanent assistant administrator of the US Agency for International Development for Africa until 2012 and a US Strategy toward Sub-Saharan Africa was not released till June 2012 - hardly the signal that Africa was an Obama administration priority.
Hopefully for Obama's second Africa trip, African expectations are more realistic. Symbolism plays a role again: Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania are important democratic US partners. There is also a need to ensure geographical spread, so West, Southern and Eastern Africa is covered. Two key countries are missing from the list because of their current political condition, Kenya and Nigeria. Avoiding Nairobi while the uncertainty of the International Criminal Court cases hang over President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto is prudent.
The decision to avoid Nigeria is questionable. Nigeria will soon host the third largest population in the world and Africa’s largest economy but President Goodluck Jonathan and his administration are facing multiple security and governance challenges that require international partnership. A good initiative during the first Obama administration was to re-open a US Consulate in northern Nigeria given the crisis there.
Sadly, spiralling security costs, and a lack of appetite for opening new US diplomatic footprints in dangerous places following the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi has shelved those plans. Yet the US administration can ill afford to be as blind as it is today to northern Nigerian politics.
Relations with South Africa 'awkward'
Senegal and Tanzania are straightforward visits for Obama but not South Africa which theoretically is a strategic partner of the US. South Africa proudly flaunts its membership of the BRICS and sees itself as a vanguard of a new global governance order. Its African National Congress regularly issues communiques condemning US imperial aggression, offering solidarity to Havana, Tehran and Ramallah. The 2011 Libyan intervention in particular is still a raw issue as despite backing UNSC resolution 1973, South Africa's official position was against the NATO bombing and in support of the African Union's 'road map to peace'.
The US-South Africa relationship has been awkward for many years, following a fairly constructive period during the transition from apartheid until the late 1990s. This is despite a US-South Africa Strategic Dialogue and the fact that the US is still one of South Africa’s key trading partners in the world.
President Obama's visit will not immediately change this prickly relationship but given South Africa’s leadership role in Africa including as a member of the G20, it is important the US and South Africa can understand their respective strategic concerns, improve bilateral relations and trade, and seek common solutions to shared common goals, such as poverty reduction, global health and education.
With elections in Zimbabwe and Swaziland in coming months, a deepening political crisis in Madagascar, continued instability in eastern Congo, and armed violence erupting in Mozambique threatening 20 years of peace, South Africa’s neighbourhood does not look stable and Pretoria and Washington will need a better strategic partnership than the one they have currently.
Alex Vines is Research Director, Area Studies and International Law; and Head, Africa Programme of Chatham House.
With more than 85% of its population under the age of 35, the most naturally rain fed arable land in the world, a huge power deficit, and over 650 million mobile phone subscribers, “Africa has arrived,” says Ugandan businessman Ashish Thakkar, founder and chief executive of pan-African business conglomerate Mara Group.
Mara Group operates 16 companies in 26 countries from its base in Dubai. It has over 7,500 employees across industries ranging from tech and call center businesses to glass manufacturing, steel, agriculture, sugar, banking, and insurance. The group has a billion-dollar portfolio, according to Thakkar.
He notes that today, Africa is where India and China were 10 years ago.
“The Indian tiger and the Chinese dragon have had their days, it’s now the African lion’s turn,” says Thakkar, emphasizing the huge market opportunity and the massive potential the continent presents. ‘Lion’ is also the logo of the Mara Group.
According to a World Bank report, the number of mobile phones has grown 40-fold since the year 2000, and Africa now has more mobile phone users than either the United States or the European Union. Internet bandwidth has grown 20-fold as hundreds of thousands of miles of new cables have been laid across the continent to serve a billion people.
Thakkar’s group hopes to disrupt this booming market as it leverages its offline presence in 19 African countries. Mara Ison Technologies, one of largest IT service providers of Africa, recorded $25 million in EBITDA this year.
Mara Mentor provides online mentorship to budding entrepreneurs. It has logged over 130,000 users, according to Thakkar, who serves as a mentor himself. Mara Launchpad, yet another initiative, is a model built on lines similar to Y Combinator and 500 Startups.
Talking of the business incubator, Thakkar said, “It is very sexy to be working out of your bedrooms and garages in [the West], but in our part of the world, people don’t trust you. Therefore, we’ve set up incubation centers for entrepreneurs.”
The group recently launched Mara Connect, which it calls its “competition to Skype,” and is working on bringing an instant messenger and a social media network to market very soon.
The company is looking to partner with investors from Silicon Valley for Mara Online, its online and mobile platform that constitutes Mara Mentor and Mara Connect. Mara Online allows users to communicate and collaborate with one another through various applications. The plan is to add more apps this year.
“My dream is I want to make Mara the most exciting African brand,” a modest Thakkar told VentureBeat, with a sparkle in his eyes. The young billionaire wants you to think “Mara” when you think “Africa.”
An official advisor to presidents of Uganda and Tanzania, and Africa’s second astronaut, Thakkar also aspires to “make Africa self-sustainable in all respects.” Think big, start small, scale up, and be positive is his advice to fellow entrepreneurs. Thakkar started his billion-dollar business conglomerate from a briefcase at age 15, when he saw his parents struggling.
Having lived through the Idi Amin saga of 1972, and Rwandan genocide of 1994, the Thakkar family lost everything they built two times. The second time around, Thakkar decided to drop out of school, pack his bags, and head to Dubai to support his family.
“I went to Dubai, filled my suitcase with motherboards, processors, and hard drives, came back to Uganda, sold Monday to Friday, and went back to Dubai on weekends, filled my suitcase. … I did this for four months,” he says.
Humble beginnings started yielding big results when the shrewd teenager set up base in Dubai to get credit from his suppliers, and in turn gave it to his African counterparts. “I got 45 days of credit by giving postdated checks, and I would give 21-30 days of credit,” recalls Thakkar.
Today, with a presence in 26 countries, the maverick business magnate hopes to put Africa on the world map of opportunity.