Corruption In Africa 2019

By Paul Ndiho

Transparency International has released a new global corruption index that tracks perceptions of corruption in 180 countries.  The report reveals that the performance of countries Sub-Saharan Africa paints a bleak picture of inaction against corruption. SSA_753_449-1

As world leaders gathered with billionaire executives at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, tens of thousands of people demonstrated in cities around the world, demanding that action be taken to tackle growing inequality and corruption.

A new report released by Transparency International highlights the scale of the problem.  The annual corruption perception index states that winning the fight against corruption continues to be an uphill battle for Sub-Saharan Africa nations.

With a score of 66, Seychelles earned the highest mark in the region, followed by Botswana 61, Cape Verde 58, Rwanda 53, and Mauritius 52.  Not surprising are the countries at the bottom of the index; Somalia 9, South Sudan 12, Sudan 16, and Equatorial Guinea 16.

A majority of citizens surveyed in more than 35 African countries think that corruption is getting worse and that their government is doing a poor job of fighting the vice.

Angola is waging a fight in its battle against corruption.  The nation’s judiciary is investigating billionaire Isabel Dos Santos over alleged mismanagement and misappropriation of funds while she was chairwoman of the state oil firm Sonangol.  Her bank accounts and assets in her home country have been frozen and the nation’s chief prosecutor says authorities could issue an international arrest warrant if she fails to cooperate with a fraud probe in which she has been named a suspect.  Dos Santos denies any wrongdoing and says the allegations are politically motivated.  Dos Santos’ father, Jose Eduardo dos Santos ruled the oil-rich, but impoverished country for nearly 40 years.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists obtained more than 715,000 documents pertaining to Isabel Dos Santos, stoking fresh claims she siphoned off hundreds of millions of dollars in public money.

In a separate investigation, the anti-corruption N-G-O, “Global Witness”, has discovered the apparent theft of more than $50 million in public funds from the Republic of Congo by Denis “Kiki” Sassou-Nguesso, the son of the President Denis Sassou-Nguesso.  The report alleges that he laundered millions through six European countries.  “Kiki” Sassou-Nguesso is denying all allegations of wrongdoing.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, has made fighting graft his number one issue, but critics say he has been slow to pursue top officials.  No high profile convictions have occurred since he took office.

Nairobi governor Mike Sonko, late last year, pleaded not guilty to corruption charges, in a rare example of a sitting governor facing court in the graft-wracked country.

Widespread corruption continues to hinder development and disproportionately affects Africa’s poorest citizens, who many times have to pay bribes to access public services.

HISTORICALLY BLACK COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES (HBCUs) OPENING SATELLITE CAMPUSES IN AFRICA

 

By Paul Ndiho

Historically black U.S. colleges and universities – also known as HBCU’s, play a critical role in higher learning for African-Americans, Africans, and students of all races.  As HBCUs seek to expand, they are looking to build satellite compasses in Africa.

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Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the United States are a source of great pride for African Americans. The principal mission of an HBCU is the education of black Americans.

HBCU’s produced many of the American civil-rights era leaders.  Most notably, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who graduated from Morehouse College, Dr. W.E.B. DuBois graduated from Fisk University, Reverend Jesse Jackson from North Carolina A&T, former U.S. Ambassador to the UN and Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, graduated from Howard University — and Congressman John Lewis graduated from Fisk University.

However, less is known about the immense contributions HBCU’s had in molding and developing leaders in the struggle for the independence of countries in Africa.  Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, who became Nigeria’s first president in 1963, graduated from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Prime Minister of Ghana, the first black African country to gain independence, also graduated from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, Malawi’s first president, graduated from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee.

Now, a diaspora initiative, dubbed HBCU Africa homecoming is in the process of creating satellite campuses of HBCU colleges in Africa.  Kwabena Boateng leads the effort.

Morgan State University, a public historically black research university in Baltimore, Maryland, is leading the way and will initiate degree programs in Ghana this year.  Dr. David Wilson, President of Morgan State has played a crucial role in the launch of Ghana’s first satellite compass with All Nations University.

The African University College of Communications has signed a partnership agreement with Morgan State University.  The agreement enables the two universities to exchange faculty and students and provide study opportunities abroad for both schools and to encourage joint research and publications.

The Partnership also allows the AUCC to run Morgan State University’s Bachelor’s and Master’s programs in Global Journalism & Communication as well as Entrepreneurship.  Kojo Yankah is the founder and Chairman of AUCC.

Analysts say that the time of the inaugural HBCU Africa Homecoming Summit could have come at a better time.  Ghana dubbed 2019 the “year of return,” as the country welcomed over one-million Africans in the diaspora to visit the nation and discover their African roots nearly Ghana 400 years after the first enslaved Africans arrived in English America in 1619.   Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo launched the year of return campaign in Washington, DC in September of 2018.  So far, high profile visitors, including several African American celebrities, members of the U.S. Congress, and other notable personalities, have visited the country.

REFLECTIONS OF PAN AFRICANISM

By Paul Ndiho

Pan Africanists believe that solidarity among people of African descent will enable the continent to fulfill its potential to independently provide for all of its people.  Historically, the Pan-African movement often takes shape in the form of a political or cultural movement.

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The “scramble for Africa” conference chaired by German chancellor Bismarck in 1884 ended with almost all of the continent being divided between a small group of Europeans countries – known as the partition of Africa in Berlin in 1884. Only Liberia and Ethiopia were not colonized.  As a consequence of colonialism and imperialism, the majority of African nations lost their sovereignty and control of their natural resources.

The Pan-African movement was born as a result of colonialism – initiated by blacks whose ancestors came from Africa.  There are many well-known pan Africanists such as DR. W.E.B Dubois, Marcus Garvey, George Padmore, and henry Sylvester-Williams and Paul Robinson.  Other notable Pan African legends are DR. Kwame Nkrumah, DR. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Jomo Kenyatta, DR. Kamuzu band and Leopold Sedar Senghor.

This generation of leaders were more outspoken about fighting for the rights of Africans. While some became Pan-Africanists merely out of curiosity and sentiments of black pride.  The majority of the leaders fought for the independence of new African nations.

W. E. B. Dubois, an African American civil rights leader, founded the us-based national association for the advancement of colored people.  He moved to Accra in 1961 and lived there until his death in august of 1963.

Today, he is still considered a symbol of pan-Africanism. Morandon Henry was part of a delegation that visited the home of W.E.B Dubois’s final resting place.
Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, prime minister of Ghana, the first black African country to re-gain independence, graduated from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.

Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, who became Nigeria’s first president in 1963, was a classmate of famed American poet Langston Hughes and former U.S. Supreme court justice Thurgood Marshall also at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.
Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, Malawi’s first president, graduated from Meharry medical college in Nashville, Tennessee.
Jomo Kenyatta was a Kenyan anti-colonial activist and politician who fought against British rule.

The pan-African movement also played a significant role in 1960, when 17 sub-Saharan countries became independent from their European colonizers, 14 of them from France.

Pan Africanism was highlighted in 2019, as Ghana dubbed 2019 the “year of return”, as the country is welcomed over one-million Africans in the diaspora to visit the nation and discover their African roots.
The year of return campaign was launched by Ghanaian president Nana Akufo-Addo in Washington, dc, in September of 2018. So far, high profile visitors, including several African American celebrities, members of the U.S. Congress, and other notable personalities have visited Ghana.

 

 

RUSSIA – AFRICA RELATIONS – OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES

 

By Paul Ndiho

The “Compact with Africa” conference, which promotes private investment by G20 countries in Africa, is underway in Germany.  The event is being held nearly a week after marking the 30th anniversary of the Berlin Wall collapsed and the end of the Cold War.

Screen Shot 2019-11-21 at 7.50.32 AM German Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted the leaders of 12 African countries in Berlin Tuesday for discussions on boosting business investment in Africa.

Merkel announced that incentives would be created for German companies that decided to invest more in Africa.

“We believe — and I am deeply convinced about this — that more transparency can encourage more investment in these countries because for investors from G20 countries such as German medium-sized companies, it is very, very important that there is trust and that there is transparency, so that it’s clear where one is investing and under what conditions.”

Germany already has “reform partnerships” with a number of African nations including, Ghana, Tunisia and Ivory Coast, Senegal, and Ethiopia. Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo talks about African products being sold on the international market.

“On the minimum price on the global market for the sale of cocoa beans from ivory coast and Ghana. The facts that are being put out about the farmers who produce the raw material, who earn a tiny bit of the value chain of the raw material. So we now make the conscious decision that we’re moving away from the situation whereby we’re just exporters and producers of raw material, to ramping up the value chain in our own countries.”

Germany put Africa and inclusive growth high on the G20 agenda when it held the rotating presidency in 2017.  The European nation addressed the root causes of mass migration from underdeveloped to developed countries.  Rwandan President Paul Kagame says Africa has a fertile business environment.

“We are showcasing how Africa is ripe for business, for investment and how far we can go. For example, the partnership we have had, Rwanda has had, with Volkswagen, Siemens now coming in, and SAP demonstrates the competitiveness of the economies of our continent, of our different countries. “

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently led a series of commemorations to mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which divided the city during the Cold War. The wall was built by Communist East Germany to prevent its citizens from fleeing to more freedom in the West.

 On November 9, 1989, East German border guards, overwhelmed by large crowds, threw open the gates to West Berlin, allowing free passage for the first time since the Berlin Wall was built.   For many Africans the fall of the Berlin Wall ushered in new hopes of freedom. In South Africa, the long and hard anti-apartheid struggle had been gaining momentum nationally and globally — and in 1994, the country became the last African nation to be freed from white rule.

 In December 2018, U.S president Donald Trump unveiled a new U.S. strategy for Africa, to combat what was characterized as the “predatory” practices of China and Russia and their growing influence on the continent.

 Last month, the first Russia-Africa summit was held at the Black Sea resort of Sochi. It opened a new chapter in relations between Moscow and Africa.  Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted the African leaders at the conference aimed at boosting economic ties with Africa.

 Across Africa and around the world, the day the Berlin wall finally collapsed is still vividly remembered as one of hope happiness and freedom.

Using the power of Chess to young people

 

By Paul Ndiho

This a fascinating story about a Ugandan man who grew up in the slums of Kampala. His ability to use chess as a tool to mentor young people to overcome daily challenges and escape slum-life is just remarkable!  It is a story of hope and resilience.

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Ugandan influencer, Robert Katende was until recently relatively unknown at home and abroad. His story of keeping hope alive, and mentoring slum kids through the game of chess, is the subject of a 2016 Disney movie dubbed ‘queen of Katwe. A film that chronicles Phiona Mutesi– a young Ugandan girl raised by her single mother Harriet, played by Kenyan Oscar winner, Lapita Nyong’o. And Robert Katende played by David Oyelowo the Nigerian – American actor.

In his memoir, a knight without a castle, a story of resilience and hope, Katende says his SOM chess academy in the Ugandan capital Kampala has attracted significant attention for its work. The center encourages children from impoverished communities to play the board game to enhance their critical thinking, improve patience and develop other life skills.

“We are having so many social challenges, but the way the kids are growing up, they have not been allowed to be self-reliant, to make personal decisions, to be accountable for their actions. Now when they come to the chess game, the philosophy of the SOM chess academy and the basic is to use chess as a platform to instill these concepts into the lives of these kids so that we can be able to nurture the life skills required for them to be successful.”

Like Phiona Mutesi in the movie “queen of katwe,” who becomes very passionate about chess and so good that she ends up playing in international tournaments on the Ugandan team as a teenager in the 2010 chess Olympiad in Russia.   Sharif Waswa Mbaziira is making his mark too at the SOM chess academy.  The 17-year-old says he always plays to win and in 2018, his focus paid off when he won the bronze medal at the world junior chess a championship for the disabled in New Jersey, USA. He is the first Ugandan with a disability to represent the country in an international chess tournament.

“I won a trophy and medal and brought it back at home. Many people were like, they were not accepting what I have done there, and that is how my life changed. Now i go to school without any problem. I do what I want because of that chess.”

Despite all the hardship he has gone through, Robert katende’s ability to mentor people is impressive– and his journey to international stardom is incredible. His big break came when sports illustrated writer Tim Crothers wrote a book titled “the queen of katwe,” describing his role in Phiona’s life.  Amos Mwesigwa, a chess player, is one of Robert’s apprentices.

“If I keep playing chess, I become a chess master. I will have enough money to satisfy my needs to buy a car, to build a house, and to help other disabled persons who are like me.”

“Disability is not a curse, it’s not an inability. They can still make it irrespective of, that is why I say, okay, we are doing the same thing but differently. So, that is what I tell them, you are differently-abled, but you can still thrive.”

Robert’s success against all the odds illuminates a situation many may find difficult to imagine. However, perhaps, his life’s story will inspire you to achieve even greater things if you stay focused on what you really want. Robert’s work has caught the attention of world leaders, including bill and Melinda gates as well as the Obama Foundation, where he serves an African ambassador.

CAMEROON’S ANGLOPHONE POLITICAL CRISIS

By Paul Ndiho

The US is cutting Cameroon from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) over allegations of human rights violations in the English-speaking regions. The crisis has cost more than 3,000 lives and displaced more than 500,000 civilians from their homes.

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In a letter addressed to Congress on Thursday last week, President Donald Trump said the West African nation failed to address concerns over its “persistent gross violations of internationally recognized human rights” allegedly committed by Cameroon’s security forces against the separatists in the English-speaking Northwest and Southwest pushing for secession.   Cameroon’s longtime Leader Paul Biya succumbed to pressure last month and called for a national dialogue to forge a way forward. However, leaders invited to the highly anticipated talks boycotted saying they will not take part in any negotiations.

“I want to tell you that we invited nearly every one of them. They were invited, and some of them didn’t feel comfortable coming for reasons they know best, we wanted them to come and to take part in the discussions, this was a wonderful opportunity for them to come and air their views, and they didn’t come.”

Analysts say Cameroon’s national dialogue could have opened the door to a historic peace agreement, ending the unrest, which began in October 2016. Lawyers and teachers in English-speaking cities went on strike protesting having to use French in schools and courtrooms.

Clashes broke out in the following weeks. Some protesters were killed; hundreds were arrested and put on trial for charges carrying long sentences or the death penalty. Critics said talks were not inclusive and did not involve any discussion about a return to federalism — that many say is the solution to the conflict.

 “I think the dialogue was that it was very frank and sincere. For those of us who were in the hall could tell you how honest it was and the debates were very heated, I saw how I mean, some people in government acknowledge the fact that some of the positions that we were raising were the right position.”

Political analysts say support for secession continues to grow, as hundreds of thousands demand a breakaway state called Ambazonia. By 2017, newly formed armed groups were attacking army posts in the Anglophone regions. The army responded by burning down villages and shooting civilians.

“I’m not very satisfied because the root causes of the problems are not addressed, the root causes of the problem are from the state, and if the form of the state is not addressed, then we’ll not solve the problem. But yes, we’ve come, we’ve talked, proposals have been made, certain opportunities have been provided.”

Longtime leader President Biya has struggled to contain this unrest. He rarely speaks in public or meets with his government. In addition, is said to be spending months each year holidaying in Switzerland.  Last month, his government announced that that they would drop charges against 333 prisoners held about the crisis. Still, the move failed to appease separatists and moderates alike. They say thousands more remain imprisoned on trumped-up charges.

“I did not go to jail so that we could always steal the elections and have a single electoral code. No, I went to change that and fight for the happiness of all our children. I went to prison because I said no to the war in the north-west.”

“We went back to prison for no reason, and we come out with no reason. We went to prison for our ideas, and we are ready to go back to our ideas. We are not fighting anyone. We fight for Cameroon. You can be against a government, but you stay for your country.”

In what was seen as a positive move,  last Month President Paul Biya ordered a military tribunal to halt legal proceedings and the release of main opposition leader Maurice Kamto, and other opposition figures who have been imprisoned for nine months. They had been arrested after calling for peaceful protests against alleged irregularities in the October 7, 2018, an election that saw Biya easily win a seventh term.

Biya, 86, has been President of Cameroon since November 1982. He is the second longest-serving leader on the continent, with nearly 37 years in office.

RUSSIA SEEKS TO STRENGTHEN TIES WITH AFRICA

 

 

RUSSIA SEEKS TO STRENGTHEN TIES WITH AFRICA

By Paul Ndiho

The first Russia-Africa Summit at the Black Sea resort of Sochi opened a new chapter in relations between Moscow and the African continent. Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted African leaders for a summit aimed at boosting economic ties with Africa.

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Speaking at an extraordinary first-ever Russia-Africa summit, in the southern Russian resort of Sochi Russian President Vladimir Putin said he wanted to trade with the continent to double over the next four to five years.  He announced that Moscow had written off over $20 billion of African debts.

    “Our country is taking part in an initiative to ease the debt burden on African countries. The total sum of debt written off currently amounts to 20 billion dollars.

Trade between Russia and Africa has more than doubled in the past five years to more than $20 billion. Putin said Russia would be looking to “double this trade, at least” within the next four to five years.

Moscow was a crucial player in Africa in the Soviet era, backing independence movements and training a generation of African leaders.

The first Russia-Africa summit is part of a Kremlin drive to win business and restore influence that faded after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. Back then, the Kremlin-backed leftist governments and movements across the continent throughout the Cold War.

Ladies and gentlemen, Africa is stepping into a new phase of its economic development, linked to a unique opportunity of the markets. Industrial potential and digitalization of Africa are on the increase, which is a result of the creative efforts of our nations and the policy of the states that encourage the aspiration of the people.”

Putin congratulated Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on winning the Nobel Peace Prize this month, hailing his efforts to make peace with long-time rival Eritrea and discussed cooperation in defense, education, and increased trade relations.

“I would like to thank the government of Russia for always standing alongside Ethiopia when it was forced to defend its independence and sovereignty. We acknowledge Russia as a key partner in our development, and Ethiopia wants to strengthen this cooperation further.”

President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Felix Tshisekedi, said his country is keen to strengthen the relations between the two countries.

“It’s the reason that we are here in Russia because we want to strengthen the relations between our two countries. You spoke about an investment that still needs to increase, and we are takers; we are here to drive Russia’s interest in our country.”

Analysts say Russia is Africa’s largest arms supplier. Currently Russia has military cooperation agreements with more than 30 African nations and says it wants to help in combating extremism, including exchanging information between their security agencies. .

Critics say the summit is, in many ways borrowing from China’s playbook. Even though Russia cannot match China’s economic might, it is prepared to support African leaders with controversial rights records in exchange for access to the continent’s riches.

In 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama hosted dozens of African leaders in Washington DC to discuss trade, business opportunities, and security issues. A $33 billion trade and investment pact was announced to spur African development and support tens of thousands of American jobs. There were also significant new commitments to fund the Power Africa initiative.

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