MonitorsPublished on Mar 08, 2016
Africa Monitor | Volume V; Issue V

The Continent

Africa: French Minister for a transformational strategic partnership with Africa

During a on a 48-hour working visit to Côte d'Ivoire, the French Minister of the Environment, Energy and the Sea, Ségolène Royal, met with Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, on February 26 at the Bank's headquarters in Abidjan. They discussed cooperation between the pan-African financial institution and her country, France.

The visit of the French Minister, who has just taken on the role of presidency of COP21 and who is conducting a tour of Africa, also coincides with preparations for the first meeting for the 14th replenishment of the African Development Fund (ADF), ADF-14, to be held on March 17 and 18 in Abidjan, the economic capital of Côte d'Ivoire.

Discussions between Adesina and his guest were around implementation of the commitments made at COP21. "I am pleased that the opinion of Africans was taken into account at COP21," said Adesina. "We must now put this ambitious initiative, the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI), into action." Royal stressed that her African tour was crucial for quickening the pace of the COP21 project and AREI. "France is listening to the AfDB." The Minister said that it was crucial to put the financial engineering in place that is needed to rapidly and concretely translate what was said at COP21 into action.

France is a key partner for the AfDB. It is the fourth-biggest contributor to ADF-13, with a subscription equal to € 420 million (a 5% increase in comparison with ADF-12). What is more, France, through the French Development Agency (AFD), signed a co-financing agreement with the AfDB in November 2015. This agreement aims to mobilise € 1.5 billion over 3 years, and is set to be a powerful lever for increasing the development of access to energy and fighting climate change.

Source: African Development Bank Group, 26 February 2016

Africa has the biggest reservoir of green growth

The Economic Commission for Africa (Office for North Africa) launched on 1st March in Rabat its 31st Intergovernmental Committee of Experts (ICE) under the theme: "Green economy to speed up industrialization in North Africa". During four days, more than 150 delegates, experts, academics, private sector and civil society representatives from across the region will examine North Africa's evolution on the macro-economic and social level and will make recommendations to achieve a more environmentally sustainable industrialization.

"Two things must be combined to achieve continued and inclusive development: infrastructure development and the deepening of the integration process. I believe that these two conditions will enable Africa, and the Maghreb, not only to emerge but also to reduce their dependency to traditional markets and the kind of goods they have been exporting until now", said Arab Maghreb Union Secretary General Habib Ben Yahia.

"During this ICE meeting, we will examine how green economy can help accelerate the transformation, improve the competitiveness of industrial fabrics and facilitate their integration in global value chains. Green economy is also about generating jobs, reducing poverty, social inequalities and improve the living conditions of populations", said Nassim Oulmane, acting Director of the ECA office in North Africa. These objectives will require the establishment of strong synergies between national strategies and programmes, especially in areas such as training, employment, innovation, trade and public-private partnerships.

Moroccan Minister of Environment and Special Climate Envoy for COP22, Hakima El Haité stressed that Africa's only available choice is to aim for an economic structural transformation based on green growth and low carbon industry. "Africa has the biggest reservoir of growth", she said, stressing that although Africa is developing later than other areas, "We have an opportunity to choose a second, more appropriate development option. Industrialized countries have settled in their industry. Presently, the price of their adaptation and resilience is much higher than it would cost us to choose a low carbon development model. One cannot talk about low carbon development models without mentioning green growth".

During this meeting, the ECA Office in North Africa released its report on "Industry and the green economy in North Africa: Challenges, practices and lessons learned". An expert meeting on "Industrialization through Trade in North Africa in the Context of the Continental Free Trade Area and Mega Trade Agreements" is also taking place parallel to the ICE meeting on 1-2 March 2016.

The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) is one of the five regional commissions of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). In North Africa, ECA's sub-regional office aims to support development across the region (Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Tunisia and Sudan) by helping the countries set up and apply policies and programmes that can contribute to their economic and social transformation.

Source: United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (Addis Ababa), 02 March 2016

UNESCO seeks partnership in implementing development agenda

UNESCO has underscored the need to strengthen partnerships for implementation of the new development agenda. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted at the United Nations Sustainable Summit on 25 September 2015. The UNESCO Assistant Director General for Africa, Mr Firmin Matoko said that, coupled with the adoption of a legally binding global climate deal in December 2015 at the COP21, world leaders have demonstrated the urgent need to join efforts to save our Planet Earth.

Mr Matoko was delivering a keynote address at the just ended Second International Workshop of the Green Economy in Biosphere Reserves Project. He emphasized that partnerships should be at international and local level. He pointed out that, the governance structure in most African countries was becoming more decentralised with local communities being empowered to have a say in the development plans of their localities through their representatives, such as the district or municipal authorities.

"Via our own networks and platforms, we can lend a voice to communicate the new development agenda to the grassroots of our communities," Matoko stated, adding that the GEBR project reflects the essential need to mobilize partnerships and join efforts the human race wants to succeed.  Opening the workshop, Vice President, Samia Suluhu Hassan warned that, Tanzania's pride of being one of the 12 mega-diverse countries with high endemism in the world could be hurt if steps to protect and preserve the endowment are not taken urgently.

The Vice-President said that the country hosts over 10,000 plant species, 6,000 species of insects and 1,000 species of birds with one third of the entire country being protected in these areas. She said that having one of the fastest growing populations in Africa, at an average rate of three percent per year, Tanzania's populace highly depends on natural resources for their livelihoods and for their energy demands. "We are all aware of anthropogenic activities that lead into deforestation and environmental degradation accounting for more than 17.3 million hectares of village and general land," she said

Source:  The Citizen, 04 March 2016

UN registered 99 sex abuse claims against staff in 2015

There have been 99 new allegations of sexual exploitation or sexual abuse against United Nations staff members across the UN system last year, a new report has said. The UN report from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, released to Reuters on 3rd March, came in response to a new UN "name and shame" policy for UN peacekeepers implemented after a series of allegations of rape and sexual abuse by international troops in Central African Republic (CAR). In 2014, there were 80 allegations. The majority of the allegations in 2015 involved personnel in 10 peacekeeping missions, the report said, listing 69 such cases. The military and police personnel accused of sexual crimes while serving for the UN involved some 21 countries.

Most of the allegations involved peacekeepers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, seven in all, serving in CAR. There were also allegations against several European countries and Canada. There were allegations against troops and police from Burundi, Germany, Ghana, Senegal, Madagascar, Rwanda, Congo Republic, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Tanzania, Slovakia, Niger, Moldova, Togo, South Africa, Morocco, Benin, Nigeria and Gabon. In addition to CAR, the allegations involved peacekeeping missions in places like Haiti, Mali, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ivory Coast.

The report includes recommendations for member states to make it easier to identify suspected perpetrators and prosecute them. It calls for the UN General Assembly and troop-contributing countries to allow prosecutions inside the countries where the alleged crimes took place and creation of a DNA registry of all peacekeepers.

One of the problems, human rights groups say, is that it is currently up to UN troop-contributing countries to prosecute their soldiers accused of abuse. When such prosecutions happen, the groups say, they often take place quietly and it is difficult to follow up on the results and punishments, if any. In December an independent review panel accused the United Nations and its agencies of grossly mishandling numerous allegations of child sexual abuse by foreign troops in CAR in 2013 and 2014.

Source: Al Jazeera (Doha), 04 March 2016

Central Africa

Angola: Vice-president denies Portuguese media reports

The Angolan vice president, Manuel Vicente, on 2nd March, in Luanda considered false and damaging to his good name, the media reports about his alleged involvement in facts being investigated in Portugal in connection with what is known as "Operação Fizz". In a communiqué, the vice president says he did not know whether what was being reported in the media corresponded to what was actually being investigated.

However, he adds, the reports in various media organs about him were not true, are damaging to his good name, honour, image and reputation. In fact, he also argues, he was not aware of the hiring of the services of a Portuguese attorney for duties in the private sector, neither of any payment he benefited from, as reported in the media, regarding a society he was by no means associated with, and had never been a subsidiary of the Angolan Oil Company (Sonangol).

As to the shelving of the case, the note explains that a lawyer had been hired to investigate into the origin of the funds used in the purchase of a building, proving their clean source. While asserting that his being investigated was groundless, the vice president offered to provide any clarification about facts concerning him and thus put an end to any suspicions. However, in his note Manuel Vicente vows he would do all in his command for reparations of the damages caused to his name.

Source: Angola Press, 03 March 2016

Congo: Home to $ 24 trillion minerals

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of the least developed countries in the world. Yet it is also home to $ 24 trillion worth of untapped mineral reserves. In the eastern hills of the country, the "three Ts" - tantalum, tungsten and tin - are mined by hand, eventually making their way into electronic devices across the world.

For a decade, campaign groups in the US and Europe pressed technology companies to pay attention to violence-linked "conflict minerals" in their products. They successfully lobbied to include a resolution called Section 1502 in 2010's Dodd-Frank Act, requiring all publicly traded companies to track whether they are receiving minerals from Congo. Soon after the law was passed, the mineral trade in eastern Congo came to a standstill. Buyers took their business elsewhere.

Fault Lines travels to the region to hear from miners who have been struggling to make ends meet and questions advocacy groups that say Dodd-Frank 1502 has been a success. With evidence of fraud and smuggling, how can some of the biggest brands in the technology industry take credit for reducing violence and claim to be sourcing "conflict-free"? Fault Lines investigates if the highly publicised campaign to stop "conflict minerals" is protecting the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in Africa, or if it is doing the opposite.

Source: Al Jazeera (Doha), 03 March 2016

CAR: UN pledges support for president-elect

The United Nations, in a joint statement on 04 March 2016, with other multilateral organizations, welcomed the final results of the second round of the presidential elections in the Central African Republic (CAR) announced earlier this week, congratulating President-elect Faustin-Archange Touadéra. On 1 March, the Transitional Constitutional Court announced the outcome of the run-off between two former prime ministers, Mr. Touadéra and Anicet-Georges Dologuélé. About 62 per cent of voters chose Mr. Touadera, according to media reports.

The UN, the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the European Union (EU) and the International Organization of La Francophonie expressed their support for the determination of the President-elect to further the efforts to promote dialogue and national reconciliation. They also paid tribute to Mr. Dologuélé and the Central African people, who have demonstrated their commitment to efforts to find durable solutions in support of peace, reconciliation, and economic and social development in their country.

Welcoming the essential role played by the Transitional Authority in support of a return to peace, the organizations reiterated their commitment to continue efforts to support the completion of the transition, including through the holding of the second round of legislative elections. The international community will continue to lend its support to the efforts of the new Central African Republic authorities through a responsible partnership, they said. The country plunged into a crisis in early 2013 when François Bozizé, President at that time, was ousted by mainly Muslim Seleka fighters. Christian anti-Balaka militias responded by attacking the Muslim minority.

The UN has played a major role in seeking to restore peace in the country, with military and police units from the 11,000-strong UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the country (MINUSCA) joining soldiers from the French Sangaris force and local security teams at polling stations to ensure a peaceful vote on 30 December 2015.

Source: UN News Service, 04 March 2016

North Africa

Tunisia: UNDP will continue to support democratic transition in Tunisia

Director-General of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Helen Clark reasserted, on 2nd March, the commitment of the UN organisation to carry on supporting the democratic transition process in Tunisia. Received, on 2nd March in Tunis, by Speaker of the House of the People's Representatives (HPR) Mohamed Ennaceur, she added that "the democratic transition process pledged by Tunisia after the Revolution, is a model for the Arab world”.

Clark emphasised the need to support the House of the People's Representatives which, according to her confessions, constitutes the most important democratic institution in the country. She also underlined the UNDP readiness to help the parliamentary institution to perform its functions in optimum conditions and reach the expected objectives. In another connection, the UN official voiced understanding of the different economic, social and security challenges faced, now, by Tunisia.

In turn, HPR speaker commended co-operation between the parliamentary institution and UNDP underlining the start in Tunisia of the second phase of the United Nations Programme for Development. The meeting was attended by UNDP resident representative in Tunis Mounir Thabet.

Source: Tunis Afrique Press (Tunis), 02 March 2016

Algeria: Sahrawi people ready to receive Ban Ki-Moon

The Sahrawi people are ready to host the Secretary General of the United Nations Ban ki-moon, expected to visit the Sahrawi refugees camps in Tindouf on 5th March, and hope this visit will visit speed up decolonization of Western Sahara. Many Sahrawis hope that Ban's visit to the camps will send a strong message to the Moroccan occupier who undermines the process for the resolution of the conflict, adding that the UN must act to push Morocco to assume responsibilities. After Spain, the Secretary General of the united Nations visited Burkina Faso to "congratulate the country's authorities after the success of the political transition," according to media.

The UN Secretary General will also visit the Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf and will hold talks with the Secretary General of the United Nations Mohamed Abdelaziz. “We are a pacific people; we have supported the UN by accepting the ceasefire. We acted in conformity with the international legality. We have tried to use all possible means to exert our legitimate right to self-determination”, stressed Mohamed Salem Bedda, Spanish teacher at Mahfoudh-Ali-Biba primary school, regretting the fact that "the UN failed in its mission."

He also said he was indignant at the Moroccan occupier's acts, which continue its colonialist policy while violating all UN resolutions. "As far as I think, what has been taken by force can be recovered only by force," Bedda said in a statement to APS. "If there is no change, we will take our weapons against Morocco," he added. Armed struggle still on agenda

Many other Sahrawi people told APS that the military choice is always on agenda, expressing the wish that Ban Ki-moon revives in clear and genuine manner negotiations for the settlement of the conflict opposing Morocco to the Polisario Front. "The international community must act to support this just and legitimate cause, and denounce Moroccan violations and aggressions", said Bedda, adding that "solidarity recently expressed towards our cause encourages following the path."

However, he did not ruled out the military option, stating that the "king of Morocco does not know the Sahrawi people as they did not engage in an armed conflict with us, unlike his father Hassan II who knew this era well," he stressed. For her part, Saadani Ambrick Al-Kharachi stated that "Ban must tell the truth to the Sahrawi people and find a solution to this conflict that has already gone on for too long."

Besides, Makhouta Mohammed Cheikh highlighted the role of the Sahrawi woman in the struggle of her fellow citizens for self-determination, adding that "the Sahrawi woman fulfils her duties, even those relating to security and surveillance in the refugee camps."

Source: Algerie Press Service (Algiers), 03 March 2016

Egypt: El Sisi meets Japanese Deputy Minister of economy, industry and trade

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, on 03 March 2016, met with Japanese Deputy Minister of Economy, Industry and Trade Yosuke Takagi, said Egyptian Presidential Spokesman Ambassador Alaa Youssef. The Japanese official, who is also an MP, lauded a speech delivered by president Sisi at the Japanese parliament on February 29 and his fruitful meetings with Japanese officials during his Tokyo visit. The Japanese official also underlined his country's keenness on extending modern technology to Egypt in all domains along with encouraging Japanese companies to invest in Egypt as part of efforts for pushing up the current all-out development process in Egypt, said the spokesman.

He added that the president expressed his appreciation for the efforts exerted by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Industry and Trade for promoting economic and trade cooperation between the two countries and its support for the Egyptian institutions operating in the industrial and foreign trade fields, according to the spokesman.

The president highlighted that investment opportunities in Egypt are promising for Japanese businessmen in light of the current positive economic development in Egypt which are aimed at attracting more investments through easing up measures and permits for starting business and encouraging the private sector to participate in several projects. The president also underlined the importance attached to the role of the Japanese Ministry of Trade in encouraging Japanese companies to contribute to the implementation of investment projects in the Suez Canal zone and benefiting from the incentives that prompted several foreign companies to set up projects there, added the spokesman.

For his part, the Japanese official lauded the measures adopted by Egypt for attracting more foreign investments highlighting at the same time the role of his ministry in encouraging Japanese companies to operate in Egypt, said the spokesman. The Japanese official noted that new Japanese investments were pumped into the Egyptian market in the period from 2011 to 2013 together with expanding already-existing investments in Egypt.

After the meeting, the president attended the inaugural session of the economic forum that was organized by the Egyptian-Japanese Business Council in cooperation with the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Japanese Organization for International Trade.

Source: Egypt State Information Service (Cairo), 03 March 2016

Southern Africa

Swaziland drought

The drought in Swaziland that its absolute monarch King Mswati III declared was over has devastated the kingdom, a United Nations report revealed. About 300,000 people, one in four of King Mswati's subjects, have been targeted for assistance because of the drought. Rural people are in danger of severe malnutrition and there is only enough water to supply the Swazi capital Mbabane for between one and three weeks.

The report that covers February 2016 stated that, 'maize production fell by 31 percent in 2015, and is expected to be lower in the 2016 crop season, placing at least 300,000 people in dire need of assistance, specifically for food and water.' The report issued by the Office of the Resident Coordinator of the UN Country Team in Swaziland said, 'Nearly one-third of the rural population has a high expenditure on food, thus having little capacity to cope with the combined effects of production shortfalls and increased market prices, and can quickly fall further into food insecurity. Swaziland has seen an increase of food insecurity in the country with many households unable to eat three meals a day.' It added, 'Acute malnutrition rates have increased by 2.5 per cent from the average of 3 to 5.5 percent .'

The report stated, 'The Hawane Dam, which feeds the capital, Mbabane, stands at 17 percent, enough from one to three weeks only. The city has started water rationing for the first time in its history.' The Swazi Government declared a national emergency on 18 February 2016, only weeks after King Mswati preached to his subjects that God had saved Swaziland from the drought. Now, the Swazi Government is asking for international assistance to pay for drought relief. The United Nations estimated donors would have to raise US$64 million for Swaziland.

The irony is that the bulk of this money will come from countries that are multi-party democracies. King Mswati rules Swaziland as an absolute monarch and political parties are banned from taking part in elections. Groups advocating for multi-party democracy are banned under the Suppression of Terrorism Act. The King and the Government he hand-picks often decry multi-party democracies and advocate their own 'monarchical democracy' as a preferred model of governance.

The UN report stated, 'Ninety percent of Swaziland's sugar cash crop relies on irrigation, which has significantly been hampered by the rationing of water. Sugarcane harvests, which accounts for a staggering 21 percent of Swaziland's GDP, has been hit hard, spelling trouble for government finances and possible service delivery.'

The report added, 'The reduction of water has impacted the education of children as (especially urban) schools depend on flushing toilet systems; but even in the rural areas, existing boreholes are running dry. In all 189,000 learners and 8,157 teachers and support staff has been affected nationally of which 23,633 learners and 1,654 teachers and support staff are from around Mbabane, according to recent assessments. 'The situation also puts almost 197,157 students, teachers and workers nationally, at risk of water borne diseases and malnutrition, due to the water, sanitation/hygiene conditions. Another main concern is the contamination of water which can increase the number of water-borne diseases in the country.

'The country has one of the highest prevalence of HIV-infected adults (26 percent of people aged 15-49). Food insecurity in the country affects anti-retroviral (ARV) intake as ARVs are meant to be taken with food and water. It also affects access to medical facilities as some people are unable to make the journey to the facilities due to illness, weakness or lack of finances.'

Source: Swazi Media Commentary (Gaborone), 02 March 2016

Zimbabwe: Chiadzwa diamonds haunt Zimbabwe again

Psychological scars of the violence that visited thousands of villagers in and around the controversial Chiadzwa diamond fields were reopened last week after State security agents were deployed to enforce a government directive that saw all companies which used to extract gems from the claims being shut out of the area.

This time around, it was not the 50 000 illegal diamond panners who were driven out of the world's eighth largest gems fields as was the case about six years ago. It was the nine companies that had been granted permits to exploit diamonds in Chiadzwa from 2009 that were on the receiving end of government's often haste and ill-calculated heavy-handedness. Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa took the opportunity presented by the expiry of the companies' operating licences to pull the plug.

Chidhakwa had spent about two years trying to arm-twist these companies to accept a take-it-or-leave it arrangement whereby they were to be swallowed into a purported "joint venture". Government argues that the compulsory merger was the only way through which it could enhance transparency in the running of the diamond fields as well as plugging loopholes that had led to smuggling, fraud and tax evasion.

The nine affected companies that include Mbada Diamonds, Anjin, Diamond Mining Corporations, and others, were last week caught flatfooted. At the stroke of the pen, they have been left with equipment worth several millions of dollars, which now lies idle. Some of these companies had valid commitments with their suppliers and bankers, which they can no longer meet now that they have been kicked out of business.

Interestingly, the State-run Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC), which was all along meant to go into joint ventures with the private diamond mining firms, is yet to be established. In the meantime, at least 5 000 workers who were dependent on the nine diamond companies that have been stampeded out of Chiadzwa, have been thrown out of employment. Looking at it from another perspective, it means that a combined 30 000 people have been condemned to downright poverty, if the families of these affected employees are to be taken into account.

In the coming weeks, these affected workers will face a cruel world outside the diamond fields. There is serious gnashing of teeth countrywide already following the emergency of the ruthless El Nino weather phenomenon this year, which has caused a drought. Three million people are facing starvation and the cash-strapped government has to scrounge around for US $ 1.5 billion to buy food aid. With those in Chiadzwa losing their jobs, the number of families in need of government support can only grow.

Economist, John Robertson, said the authorities have created a very unstable and threatening investment environment by being hostile to business. "No matter which sector you invest in in Zimbabwe you will be interfered with," said Robertson. Sentiments by Robertson are being echoed internationally.

Reuters, a global news agency, noted last week that the latest move by President Robert Mugabe's government could further tarnish the country's image as a risky investment destination, with investors already unnerved by his drive to force foreign-owned firms to sell majority shares to locals. In a way, these sentiments are spot on.

Investors have been skirting the country, as can be gleaned from figures from the Zimbabwe Investment Authority. Also, there has been lack of transparency and accountability in the running of the Chiadzwa diamond fields. Observers believe millions of dollars, which were meant for the fiscus, could have gone into the back pockets of individuals. In 2014, about 4.7 million carats of diamonds were extracted from the fields, but only US $ 23 million was received in royalties. This demonstrates the depth of lack of accountability on the part of State actors overseeing this critical area. It also reinforces suggestions that something untoward could have been going on.

The operations of these mines had remained clouded in secrecy ever since they moved into their claims, with government taking up about 50 percent shareholding in eight of them except Marange Resources, which is 100 per cent State-owned. The nine diamond companies also invited this upon themselves. There was a sharp decline in taxes and fees due to government despite robust growth in production levels between 2010 and 2013.

At least US $ 1 billion in potential revenue due to government was being salted away because those entrusted to manage the diamond resource had either failed in their stewardship role, or were colluding with shadowy dealers. In 2012, mismatches between government's revenue projections from diamond mines and actual remittances hit US $ 555 million, while in 2013 Treasury received nothing out of the US$61 million originally earmarked to be earned from the diamond fields. Yet output from diamond mines rose by over 500 percent to over 12 million carats in 2012, from about 1.3 million carats in 2009. Revenues from the sector were expected to track the robustly growing output, but, instead, they declined.

Official statistics indicated that royalties from diamonds retreated by US $ 12 million to US $ 22,5 million in 2011, from US $ 34 million in 2010. "There has been a steady decrease in terms of non tax revenue contribution by mining companies from 2010 to 2013," the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) said. In a report, entitled; "Tracking the Trends: An assessment of diamond mining sector tax contributions to Treasury with particular reference to Marange diamond fields," ZELA warned of extensive pillage of the gems through the manipulation of taxes and related fees.

The increase in diamond production and the number of companies operating in Marange has, regrettably, not been matched by a corresponding increase in diamond non tax revenue contributions to Treasury. During the same period when diamond resources were not transparently managed, a few connected people have been amassing wealth from the resource. There has been luxurious spending inside the corridors of power which could be linked to these leakages.

"There has been a significant expenditure by individuals and firms linked to Marange (Chiadzwa) including expenditure on luxury apartments and houses, even high rise buildings in South Africa and substantial investments by certain individuals connected to the Marange operations in many areas of Zimbabwe, including the purchase of buildings," observed former legislator, Eddie Cross. The Consolidation of diamond firms has worked in other jurisdictions.

In Botswana, where a joint venture along these same lines has functioned for many years, the State receives two thirds of gross sales, noted Cross, who has carried out independent investigations in Zimbabwe's diamond fields. "Education is free and the people do not pay personal taxes. Botswana has an income per capita today of nearly US $ 9 000 (2012) and is rated a middle income country. Zimbabwe has an income per capita of just US $ 390 in 2012 and is rated one of the poorest countries in the world," Cross said. He criticised at government's refusal to take up an offer by African Consolidated Resources (ACR) in 2006 to consolidate diamond mines. Had government agreed to ACR's offer, this could have created a workable model for Zimbabwe. Now, the frenzy of networks created by a mish-mash of mostly shadowy investments has made it difficult for the country to enforce the complex consolidation strategy.

"ACR proposed a similar arrangement to the Ministry of Mines for the exploitation of the fields as that used in Botswana through a joint venture between the State and De Beers mining company. In their proposal, ACR suggested that a new company be formed with the equity held by both the Government of Zimbabwe and ACR in the ratio of 50/50 - with ACR being responsible for management and all mining activities. Such an arrangement would have meant that over 70 percent of the revenues from the diamond fields would have accrued to government. For unknown reasons, this proposal was rejected by the Ministry of Mines and ACR was forcibly removed from the claims which were then taken over by the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, even though they had no expertise or the required capital to exploit the discovery," notes Cross.

What is important to note in Zimbabwe's case is the involvement of government in the proposed nationalisation of diamond operations. With a poor track record of managing parastatals, very few would be happy to partner government in any business. Even now, private firms are resisting government's overtures for partnerships. Yet this is seen as the only way out of the plunder of diamonds by an elite few which has persisted for many years.

Source: Financial Gazette (Harare), 03 March 2016

Namibia: Refugee status revocation postponed

THE execution of the relief order directing the government of Botswana not to revoke the refugee status of Namibians living at the Dukwe refugee camp has been postponed. This means the planned deportation of about 730 Namibian refugees, who have been living at the camp since 1998 and 1999, has been halted. The Botswana government was supposed to respond to why the order should not be made permanent by the Lobatse High Court, but the matter was postponed to 18 March 2016.

The refugees, whose status was initially set to be revoked by 31 December 2015, took the Botswana government to court over the festive period, citing fears of arrest, detention and torture in their home country and claiming that they will be treated like the 30 men convicted of high treason in the country's longest-running case which lasted for 15 years. The men are part of those who launched violent attacks in Katima Mulilo during August 1999. They were sentenced in December 2015 to between three and 18 years' imprisonment on charges of murder and attempted murder.

The Dukwe refugees' joint urgent application was brought by the group's spokesperson, Felix Kakula, who asked the court for the July 2015 report on their 'Go and See, Come and Tell' mission to support their choice to stay in Botswana or return to Namibia. Thirteen refugees, under the supervision of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), visited Namibia and compiled the report, but their mission was brought to an abrupt end due to allegations that the group was politically mobilising for the United Democratic Party (UDP).

The UDP was banned in Namibia in 2006 after reports that its members, including now-exiled leader Mishake Muyongo, were behind the secessionist attacks in Katima Mulilo in 1999. The party's mission was to secede the Zambezi region, then Caprivi, from the rest of Namibia. A total of 3 000 people fled the region into Botswana, of whom 2 100 have since returned through the tripartite agreement, while others died there.

Source: The Namibian, 04 March 2016.

East Africa

Rwanda, Ethiopia sign open skies agreement

Rwanda and Ethiopia have signed an air service agreement, where the two countries agreed to open their airspace allowing their national carriers to operate without restrictions. According to the agreement, signed between the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority (RCAA) and Ethiopia Civil Aviation Authority, all air service operations will be conducted under the fifth freedom arrangement.

The fifth freedom means an airline has the right to carry passengers from one country to another and from that country to a third country. This means that RwandAir can now fly to Addis Ababa without any limitations, Silas Udahemuka, the RCAA director general, said. "The exercise of fifth freedom traffic rights beyond Africa shall be subject to approval of the aeronautical authorities up on request submitted through diplomatic channel," the agreement indicates.

Under the deal, the airlines of the two parties can operate unlimited frequencies per week for both passenger and cargo services. The deal covers the national carriers of the two countries - RwandAir and Ethiopian Airlines, as the only designated airlines to benefit from the agreement. Each contracting parties will exempt the airline designated by the other contracting party from payment of any taxes on its revenues earned while operating international air services.

Gobena Guangul, the Ethiopia Civil Aviation Authority deputy director general in charge of aviation regulation, said this opens doors for a code share arrangements between Ethiopian Airlines and RwandAir. John Mirenge, the RwandAir chief executive officer, said the arrangement will boost the airline's operations. Rwanda has so far signed similar agreements with 37 countries in Africa and elsewhere. The country, together with other Northern Corridor states - Uganda, Kenya and South Sudan, recently agreed to liberalise the airspace along the corridor.

Source: The New Times, 01 March 2016-03-05

East Africa: South Sudan's entry must add value to EAC

Editorial: The republic of South Sudan has been admitted as a member of the East African Community (EAC). This makes it six member states: Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan. In order to be admitted to the EAC, the following criteria have to be met: adherence to universally-acceptable principles of good governance, democracy, the rule of law and observance of human rights and social justice. A verification committee was sent to South Sudan in 2012 to find out whether the country passes the test and, it appears, they were satisfied, thus the admission. Any entry to EAC must add value to its member states. The community should not be turned into a club of politicians who decide to admit a member on the premise of the prevailing good relationship between leaders. Perhaps this entry should have been subjected to a referendum among member states.

South Sudan remains an underdeveloped country and with a disorganized economy. The entry of a country that poor and that big would place unbearable strains on the EAC economy. Moreover, South Sudan is yet to chart its democratic path. For instance, even if a peace agreement was achieved between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and his rival and former vice Riek Machar, all is not well.

There are still divisions based on tribes and clans. Its human rights record is unacceptable. Many Ugandan traders have occasionally been forced to abandon their investments in South Sudan and return home. There is no known court system that can settle disputes over property ownership and business. Foreigners, especially those from Uganda, are still discriminated against, jailed without trial, and later deported.

Although South Sudan has huge oil resources, its wealth is unequally spread, meaning that many citizens are dispossessed, unemployed and unskilled. Their entry is likely to mean that the community would have to bear a huge burden of unskilled and unemployed migrants, which may cause civil strife in the region. Membership should add value, but not increase insurmountable burdens. Otherwise, we welcome South Sudan to the community, and only hope they will work hard to dispel fears of pessimists.

Source: The Observer (Kampala), 04 March 2016

Tanzania: Criticism will not soften my resolve to combat graft - JPM

President John Pombe Magufuli responded to critics on the 3rd March, of his drive to ' open up boils' and vowed he would not relent on the war against corruption and misuse of public funds. He said he had been criticised on the way he has conducted the crackdown on irresponsible public officials but affirmed that would not scare him because he has the support of Tanzanians who elected him. He admitted when addressing a gathering at Tengeru outside Arusha during a launch of a road project that he still had an immense task ahead of him because fighting against corruption was a difficult task.

"It is a difficult job. If not done properly there is no need of me being called a president with executive powers", he said to the applause of scores of people who turned out at a brief ceremony on the road side.

Dr Magufuli, who has been in Arusha for days hosting the East African Community (EAC) meetings, said he was ready to make a sacrifice for Tanzania if he was hard pressed between fighting graft and unwarranted pleas for mercy. He stated that although his crackdown on people who squandered public resources had the support of majority of Tanzanians, it has equally earned him a bad name among those who benefitted from the scam, including those suspended to pave way for investigations.

"I would not mind if the number (of those forced to step aside) reaches 2,000 as long as it is for the benefit of 50 million Tanzanians", he said as his fellow leaders Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda looked curiously as the new Tanzanian leader spoke for nearly an hour on one measure after another on how to tame graft.

He diverted the attention of the audience from the launching of a key road project in the region to his war against impunity which has been received well even beyond the country's borders but which has received veiled criticisms from a section of people for the way it is conducted. In his address at Tengeru on 03 March 2016, he openly admitted before fellow leaders from the EAC partner states, foreign diplomats and representatives of the development partners that there was every justification for his 'house-cleaning' drive. "For many years Tanzania has been turned into 'shamba la bibi' ( a cash cow). It is now time to work for the Tanzanians", he said, remarking that the measures his government is taking was for the benefit of the ordinary wananchi who have suffered for years.

Dr Magufuli said having served for over 20 years as a cabinet minister he seen a lot of tricks used by smart public officials to steal money from the government and its corporations, constraining the state coffers' capacity to provide medicines to public hospitals and desks to the schools. He reiterated a promise he made on 02 March during the EAC Summit at Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge outside Arusha that if he was given chance he would deal with the reported misuse of funds at the EACV Secretariat. His mandate as Chair of EAC Summit of Heads of State was extended by another year by the Summit. He cited the recent disappearance of Sh 400 billion at the state-run Tanzania Communications Regulations Agency (TCRA). This led to the suspension of three senior officials. The money, according to him, was enough buy large airbus jets.

South Sudan second vice president James Wan Iga said by electing Dr. Magufuli the fifth Union President, Tanzanians have made the right choice. "He is the right leader, taking the country ahead,especially his determination to combat corruption and elevate this country economically. Very soon this country will see a real change", he explained.

Source: The Citizen, 04 March 2016

West Africa

Liberia: World Bank, Govt sign U.S.$ 13.2 million agreements

The World Bank Group and the Government of Liberia have signed two financing agreements totaling US $ 13.25, 000.00. The agreements are geared towards providing apprenticeships to vulnerable youth in urban areas and to support agricultural transformation and value chain addition, using productive public works and community-driven development approaches particularly for youth in rural areas. The two financing agreements are the Youth Opportunities Project in the amount of US $ 10M from the International Development Association (IDA) as credit and the Emergency Monrovia Urban Sanitation (EMUS) project totaling US $ 3.25 as grant.

The World Bank Group was represented by Inguna Dobraja, Liberia's Country Manager, while the Government of Liberia was represented by Finance and Development Planning Minister Amara M. Konneh at the signing ceremony. Minister Julia Duncan-Cassell of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Minister Len Eugene Nagbe of Information, Saah Charles N'Tow of Youth & Sports, including Clara Doe-Mvogo of MCC and LACE Julius Selee were others who graced the occasion. Minister Duncan-Cassell expressed delight with the signing of the agreements, adding that it will help thousands of vulnerable girls, while MCC Clara Mvogo stated that the agreement will also enhance the collection of over 50 percent of both primary and secondary waste in Monrovia and its environs.

Youth and Sports Minister Saah Charles N'Tow explained that the process leading to credit started since 2013, but its fruition has made him glad. He said the program has been designed to impact young people across the country. According to him, the youth project targets over 15,000 young people for a period of over five years. Minister N'Tow said the project is broken into three components and it is comprehensive in design. He said it tends to look at young people before employment, households enterprises and productive public works.

In remarks World Bank Liberia's Country Manager Inguna Dobraja said the Youth Opportunities Project will help transform the lives of Liberia's large youthful population. Ms. Dobraja noted that the MCC EMUS project will increase access to solid waste collection in Monrovia, thus making the city a clean and healthy place to live. Ms. Dobraja indicated that the youth project will improve access to income generation opportunities for about 15,000 youth aged between 15 and 35 years. She said the project seeks to mitigate the impact of future shocks and will also improve efficiency in the delivery of cash transfers to targeted households.

For his part, Minister of Finance and Development Planning Amara M. Konneh said the signing of the agreements reflects the commitment of the government in terms of raising the standard of living of its people, particularly the youth. Minister Konneh said the youth project is geared towards helping young people become entrepreneurs at the end of the project implementation. He explained that the other component of the project ensure capacity development for the social cash transfer program implemented by the Gender ministry.

Source: The News, 26 February 2016

Senegal: U.S. Led Flintlock counter-terrorism exercises end

A joint military and counter-terrorism training exercise codenamed Flintlock ended in Thiès, Senegal on 29 February. African Special Forces took part in operations led by the United States. "Fire in the hole, fire in the hole," an American soldier shouted as a suicide car bomb blasted off. It's a controlled explosion but law enforcement personnel had to mine the scene after to pick out any relevant information.

The United States' Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) led the operations. Billy Alfano, one of the lead FBI trainers said the focus of Flintlock 2016 is on "counter terrorism investigations, post blast investigations, and how you exploit a crime scene to gather intelligence and leads." "The information provides those officers in the field to actually assist in countering the threat," Alfano added.

Amid rising collaborations between Islamist militant groups across North Africa and in the Sahel, many hope this US led counter-terrorism trainings will help boost preparedness on the African continent. Some 1700 soldiers from more than 30 nations including 14 African countries took part in field and classroom exercises at various locations in Senegal and Mauritania. With jihadists in Africa increasingly resorting to attacks on markets and security forces, the training exercises focused mainly on improving police and military preparedness, particularly for urban warfare.

"It is better that people are prepared, in case we are targeted like everyone else," a Senegalese police officer, who asked not to be named, said. The officer is a member of an investigation unit based in Dakar. She took part in the post bomb investigation scenario for the first time in her career. "At the moment terrorism is spreading across the world. Here, next to Senegal, at the border with Mali, we are seeing this phenomenon grow," she added.

Not every day police officers get to blow up a vehicle.  Issa Diack, a Major in the Senegalese national police, said the real-life scenarios in the operations pushed the exercises to another level."We don't always have the opportunity to blow up a vehicle, so it's a sizable learning experience to see the life-size explosion of vehicle and to be able to look for evidence that will allow us to establish leads for the investigation," Diack said. The operations in this year's Flintlock exercises took a global dimension but also put much emphasis on the African regions where terrorist activities are rife.

The FBI trainers grouped police officers and gendarmerie custom officers from Mauritania and Senegal in a team and gave them tactical and operational trainings. "Obviously terrorism doesn't recognize any borders and we see a lot of times where there's a nexus to multiple countries," Victor Lloyd, an FBI supervisory special agent said. Lloyd was flown in specifically to oversee this aspect of the training exercises. "We want to be able to say, for instance, collect evidence here in Senegal that may be relevant to a case that we're working on in the United States or in France or anywhere else in the world," he added.

"One of the major failures and one of the reasons why 9/11 happened was because there was not a lot of cooperation and sharing of intelligence between intelligence and law-enforcement entities.  So having learned that lesson, we wanted to make sure that we have other countries learn from us," Lloyd said.

This year's Flintlock exercises were held only weeks after an attack in Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou, which left 30 people dead. It also follows another deadly attack at a hotel in Mali a few months ago. The Sahel based Islamist group, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, claimed responsibility for both attacks. It is the third time since 2006 that Senegal is playing host to the US led training exercises.

Source: Deutsche Welle, 29 February 2016

Gambia: How is border closure impacting on ferry revenues, tourism?

As part of the updates on the ongoing closure of the official Gambia-Senegal borders, which is on its fifteenth day, this reporter visited Amdalai-Karang on 1 March, 2016 and observed that the impasse is still impacting negatively on the flow of traffic on both sides. While at the border, few vehicles were seen discharging their passengers from the two sides, including one Gambian registered air conditioned coaster coming with tourists from the Gambia en route to Senegal who were transferred to one of this modified vans called 'Gele Gele'.

As for the other passengers crossing into Senegal, they have to walk a short distance on foot before getting on to scooters (motor bicycles) or horse carts with their luggage to take them to the car park which is almost a kilometre away. Fama Ly, a woman vendor who comes from Karang Town to sell fruits to travellers at the border, speaking to this reporter again, complained about low sales due to the closure. "Look at some of my fruits, they are here with me for more than a week and are even drying up because no one is coming to buy them," she said.

She appealed for a speedy resolution of the crisis so that her source of livelihood, which is selling fruits, would be restored. On the two legs of my journey to the border, I have seen both the Banjul and Barra ferry terminals almost empty of vehicles which certainly impacts on the level of revenue being derived from the service. In fact, the passengers were compelled to wait for long hours, apparently in a bid to get more passengers and vehicles, before departure. The passengers were even complaining about this delay.

An official working with the ferry services told this reporter that there is no doubt that their revenue earnings this year will plunge as the flow of traffic at the two most important revenue earning crossings namely Banjul-Barra and Bamba Tenda-Yeli Tenda are being hard hit by this ongoing border closure. "Unless the authorities in the two countries sit down and resolve this issue, the people whose livelihood depend on the free movement of goods and traffic between Gambia and Senegal such as the petit traders, drivers and workers at the ferry service are going to suffer," said the GPA worker. He appealed to the authorities to resolve the problem amicably for the sake of their populations.

Source: FOROYAA Newspaper (Surrekunda), 02 March 2016.

The Monitor is prepared by Harish Venugopalan, Research Intern, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi.

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