The effects of AIDS/HIV in Africa

HIV and Aids in Africa

Africa is the region most affected by HIV and AIDS in the world. Approximately 22.4 million people, which is around two thirds of the global total of people living with HIV, can be found in Sub-Saharan Africa alone.

The spread of AIDS/HIV in Africa, and the resulting death toll, varies between African countries. Somalia and Senegal are the least affected with only 1% of the adult population suffering from HIV. The percentage rises up to 15%– 20% of adults in Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Three southern African countries, namely Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland have an HIV prevalence rate exceeding 20%. In comparison,

We need LOVE to win against AIDS

HIV and AIDS seems to be less prevalent in West Africa. Some countries, however, are experiencing the rampant spread of HIV. In Nigeria, there are around 2.6 million people affected with HIV.

What mainly causes the prevalence of AIDS/HIV in Africa?

Primarily, there is not enough money to prevent the disease. Prevention methods mainly include education, condom use and testing and counseling. Unfortunately, these methods are rarely available in Africa. Due to a lack of HIV education, the people are unable to understand the implications of their lifestyles and are, thus, unable to change their behavior to stop the spread of the disease.

Consequently, the continuous rise in HIV and AIDS prevalence in Africa has had a dire effect on its society as a whole. First, there is an effect on life expectancy. Millions of people die from AIDS at a young age. Life expectancy in sub-Saharan Africa is now averaging at 47 years. Without AIDS, it could have risen to 62 years.

The AIDS epidemic also has a harsh effect on households. Many families lose their bread winners. Children with parents affected with AIDS end up as orphans, having no choice but to fend for themselves. Similarly, there has also been a dire effect on labor and productivity. This, in turn, negatively impacts economic activity and social progress. Most of the people living with HIV and AIDS are in their late teens to early fifties, which is usually the working class. Employers and institutions have to acquire new staff in order to replace those who have become too sick to work.

Finally, it is hard to ignore the effect on the health sector, because there are a greater number of health care workers affected due to the epidemic.

International support has been provided in order to help Africa in the fight against HIV and AIDS. A prime example is the Global Fund, which was initiated in 2001 and has since collected over US $7 billion to help fight AIDS, TB and Malaria in over 130 countries. Even though this funding has been positively effective in helping Africa, more money is still needed because of the huge scale of the epidemic in the country.

Providing a solution to the HIV and AIDS epidemic in Africa is a long-term task that needs efforts not only from the country itself, but from the international community as well. Africa and its people can only continue to strive and hope for the best.

References:

https://www.avert.org/hiv-aids-africa.htm

https://aids.about.com/cs/aidsfactsheets/a/africa.htm

Irobiko Chimezie

Ebola: New case of the virus confirmed in Congo (DRC)

A new case of Ebola virus disease was confirmed today in the city of Beni in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

“While not welcome news, this is an event we anticipated. We kept response teams in Beni and other high risk areas for precisely this reason,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

As part of the active Ebola surveillance system in place to respond to this ongoing outbreak in DRC, thousands of alerts are still being investigated every day. An alert is a person who has symptoms that could be due to Ebola, or any death in a high risk area that could have been as result of Ebola.

As with all confirmed cases, efforts are already underway to find everyone who may have been in contact with the person in order to offer them the vaccine and monitor their health status.

“WHO has worked side by side with health responders from the DRC for over 18 months and our teams are right now supporting the investigation into this latest case,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

“Although the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic adds challenges, we will continue this joint effort until we can declare the end of this Ebola outbreak together.”

The news of the confirmed case came minutes after the conclusion of a meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Ebola in DRC.

The Emergency Committee will reconvene next week in order to re-evaluate their recommendations in light of this new information.

Prior to this, the last person who was confirmed to have Ebola in DRC tested negative twice and was discharged from a treatment centre on 3 March 2020.

As of 10 April 2020, 3456 confirmed and probable cases and 2276 deaths have occurred as a result of the outbreak.

UK to exploit Africa’s fast-growing economies for post-Brexit survival

The United Kingdom sees numerous opportunities in Africa and considers the continent an economic lifeline in post-Brexit era.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prince Harry touted the U.K. as an ideal business partner for Africa on Monday as their country prepares for post-Brexit dealings with the world.

Africa and the UK

But Britain faces tough challenges as it seeks to assert itself on a continent with several of the world’s fastest-growing economies and whose youthful 1.2 billion population is set to double by 2050.

Far fewer of Africa’s 54 heads of state or government were attending the first U.K.-Africa Investment Summit than the dozens who attended the first Russia-Africa summit last year or the gatherings China regularly holds.

The U.K.’s department for international trade says two-way trade with Africa in the year ending in the second quarter of 2019 was $46 billion. Meanwhile, Africa’s two-way trade with China, the continent’s top trading partner, was $208 billion in 2019.

Johnson told attendees the conference “is long overdue.” He acknowledged that British officials and companies need to work to convince African nations to do business with the U.K. “We have no divine right to that business,” he said. “This is a competitive world. You have may suitors” — especially China and Russia.

Britain is due to leave the European Union on Jan. 31, and Johnson said the U.K. would become a free-trading “global Britain after Brexit.” He pledged that the post-Brexit immigration system would “put people before passports,” acknowledging a common frustration across Africa.

While other global powers including Gulf nations and India have been increasing their diplomatic and economic presence in Africa, some observers have wondered about the interest of Britain, a former colonizer.

When Theresa May visited Kenya in 2018, even Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta noted it was the first visit to East Africa’s economic hub by a British prime minister in more than three decades. Britain said 16 African leaders were attending Monday’s summit in London, including the leaders of Nigeria, Congo, Kenya, Egypt, Ghana, Senegal, Malawi, Mozambique, Ivory Coast, Uganda and Rwanda.

“The wealth of Africa is undisputed,” said Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo, noting that one in four people in the world in 2050 will be African. Leaders stressed the need to tackle growing inequality and the continent’s dire need for better infrastructure, especially as millions of people migrate to booming cities.

Aside from the sluggishness of its top two economies, South Africa and Nigeria, Africa is showing economic momentum as the recently launched African Continental Free Trade Area gathers steam. Last year, economic growth slowed in all geographic areas except Africa, the United Nations reported last week in its annual World Economic Situation and Prospects 2020.

The U.N. said GDP growth in Africa is projected to reach 3.2% in 2020 and 3.5% in 2021. And 25 African countries are projected to achieve economic growth of at least 5% this year. Britain should take a wider investment approach to Africa’s growing middle class and increasingly sophisticated consumers, the Overseas Development Institute reported this month. It said more than 80% of Britain’s investment in Africa is focused on mining and financial services, and 30% of investment in the continent goes to a single country, South Africa.

Reasons behind the increasing number of deaths by Islamist militants in West Africa

France’s president and his counterparts from the Sahel region are due to meet to discuss military operations against Islamist militants in West Africa. We look at the figures behind the conflict, which is slipping out of control.

Attacks on army positions and civilians across the region are occurring with increasing regularity, despite the presence of thousands of troops from both the countries affected and France. Last year saw the highest annual death toll due to armed conflict in the region since 2012.

Last week, 89 soldiers from Niger were killed in the latest attack to see dozens of deaths among regional armed forces. France has also suffered significant casualties, losing 13 soldiers in a helicopter crash in Mali in November.

The Sahel region, a semi-arid stretch of land just south of the Sahara Desert, has been a frontline in the war against Islamist militancy for almost a decade.

However, it is increasingly clear that the problem facing Chad, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso and Mauritania (known as the G5 Sahel) is not just the presence of armed groups, and that more than military action is urgently needed to address a worsening humanitarian crisis, climate change and development challenges.

The overarching worry is that the crisis could spread further across West Africa.

1. A fast deteriorating crisis

Africa.png

The security crisis in the region started in 2012 when an alliance of separatist and Islamist militants took over northern Mali, triggering a French military intervention to oust them as they advanced towards the capital, Bamako.

A peace deal was signed in 2015 but was never completely implemented and new armed groups have since emerged and expanded to central Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.

Casualties from attacks in those countries are believed to have increased fivefold since 2016, with over 4,000 deaths reported last year alone.

2. The most deadly places

Africa 2.png

A stretch of land covering the border areas of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger is at the centre of the insurgency and counter-terrorism operations.

Armed groups, including some linked to al-Qaeda and others the Islamic State group, have expanding their presence and capabilities.

The reasons behind their expansion are multiple:

  • Porous borders and little state presence in some areas
  • They have set up lucrative money-raising activities, such as imposing taxes, and trafficking drugs, weapons and people, which help fund their activities
  • Soldiers fighting the militants appear to be under-trained and poorly equipped, despite the regional and international support they receive

In addition to the joint G5 Sahel countries, which have an estimated 5,000-strong force battling the militants, the French have had 4,500 soldiers deployed in the Sahel since 2013.

The UN also has over 12,000 peacekeepers in Mali, while the US has two drone bases in Niger, providing intelligence and training support throughout the region.

Amid the rising insecurity, so-called self-defence groups have been formed. In Mali and Burkina Faso, these militias are believed to be behind a number of massacres.

The link between governance and economic growth in Africa

Lots of countries have not always been able to understand the essence of politics from the economic perspective over the past several decades and thus have not transferred the focus of national work to economic construction. Some countries have ignored the fundamental goal of economic development over a long period and became deeply entangled in meaningless political strife.

Poverty and backwardness are sources of political unrest, conflict and even terrorism. If a government is not concentrating on economic development, trying to improve livelihoods, and maintaining a stable and effective state system, it will not be able to accomplish meaningful goals, and it will be brought down sooner or later.

Over the years, western countries have advanced political reform in Africa.

For today’s African countries, economic construction and social development are the main priorities goals.

African nations need to implement political reform. But, the starting point should be ways to enhance African economic development and improve living standards. Then it will be possible to put in place  political  reform  through the  advancement  of  economic capacity,  rather  than mechanically copying western political systems.  Similarly, today’s African countries need to maintain stability in order to better promote economic development and livelihood improvement.

If the eradication of terrorism and stability are achieved at the expenses of economic development or do not contribute to the promotion of development, the stability eventually will not be maintained and the elimination of terrorism will prove difficult to achieve as well.

The importance of establishing long-term development goals

A big problem faced by contemporary Africa is how to establish long-term economic stability  and  development  strategies.

African  countries  should  engage  the domestic populations in determined efforts to solve African issues through self-reliance and hard work, rather than relying on foreign assistance to get the problems solved quickly.

At present, lots of African countries are still very backward, so, we should not expect to solve all problems in the short-term. Toward this end, the international community should encourage African governments and people to have the faith and determination to work hard and persevere toward the achievement of long-term objectives.

For example, the important impetus for China’s development has been its ability to adopt a long-term strategy and to pursue it with a spirit of hardworking persistence. Therefore, in its aid to Africa, China has paid attention to supporting the construction of African infrastructure, as well as maintaining the political stability and sovereignty of African countries.

National ideas and national identity are the foundation supporting the survival, development and stability of a state.

Having a strong national identity means that the people living in a territory have a basic sense of belonging to their country and have recognition and respect for their country’s history, heritage, culture and national interests from the bottom of their hearts, and they take a sense of responsibility for the rise and fall of the state.

However, the long-term political unrest and ethnic separation experienced in Africa has often resulted in the lack of a powerful national identity and common core value system. This has made it difficult to construct a sense of national interest to maintain and mobilize the people. Given the weak sense  of the national  identity, competitive political groups and adversarial ethnic parties have not been able to jointly formulate and persistently pursue national long-term strategies and development objectives. This is a structural and conceptual barrier that must be overcome by African countries.

Poor corporate governance and economic development in Africa

One  of  the challenges  faced  by contemporary  African  countries  in  governance  and development is the trend toward the weakening or even the dissolution of national sovereignty. Some countries’ administrative abilities are insufficient, and their state systems and governmental functions are  gradually sliding toward   degeneration and collapse.

First, what is the most important task or core issue for contemporary African countries’ political development? What kind of government systems are feasible, effective and can be stably maintained? Second, for the young countries in Africa, what is the best way to set up and choose standards for political systems and state regimes? Third, should these post- independence African countries set up the endogenous  localized political systems and structures to form centralised and powerful governments that contribute to promoting economic  development,  social  stability  and  improved  living  standards, or  transplant the parliamentary systems and  election systems that seem  to have so-called  moral legitimacy under the background of western cultures and according to western political ideology? Fourth, should we establish a powerful government that can centralize national resources, in order to make joint efforts to achieve the state’s long-term development goals, or establish a weak government that only pursues its own immediate interests or partial interests, and thus leads to continuous mutually exclusive cut-throat competition?

All these issues have not been well understood much less resolved. While behind this confused theory and idea, the African political reality has increasingly presented long- term turbulence and confusion.

How best to reconcile ethnic cleavages and the discreteness of tribal societies and promote the construction of unified modern sovereign states through ethnic integration, is the biggest political challenge faced by most of the African countries that won independence in the mid of 20th century. It is also the fundamental premise for realising state stability, economic growth and social security. However, in some countries, from the beginning, this process has been affected by various factors, and has thus resulted in slow progress. Nowadays, some African countries are even gradually falling into anarchy, with the dissolution of state system and the collapse of governmental functions. Today, the factors that make negative impacts on the unified construction process of African countries and dissolve the basis of the state have become very complex and varied. Generally speaking, the following have become the most obvious challenges..

The first challenge is the economic globalisation and political liberalisation process that is dominated by western developed countries. For the poor countries in Africa, this process has been dissolving the sovereignty of African countries and eroding the political authority of African countries to take action. In general, African countries have passively got involved into the globalisation tide, in an environment where the domestic integration process is far from complete and the construction of a unified state with a clear national identity is far from resolved. As weak countries, African nations often face pressures of the loss of the sovereignty and being divided into several parts.

The second challenge is that, under situations in  which ethnic  integration  and  the construction of the state were far from complete, some African countries were forced to transplant or mechanically copy western competitive multi-party systems and electoral politics, which often caused continuous ethnic, religious and cultural conflict. Again, this eroded the African countries’ unity, sovereignty and ability to rule from the interior.

The third challenge is the rapid emergence of large numbers of nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) and the adversarial political appeals put forward by these organisations over the past two decades. These NGOs often are supported and controlled by foreign powers. However, to a certain extent, they have contributed to the dissolution of African countries’ internal tolerance, coherence, state authority and ability to take action from the interior.

In fact, nowadays, without sovereignty and government management, no country could gain the social stability, national security and economic growth that are necessary for social development. In some African countries and regions, the government’s capacity is severely deficient, The basic political regime has existed in name only, and the functional networks, and management systems with coherent and clear divisions of responsibility and functional connections between the top and bottom political levels are nonexistent. Under a situation of “having tribe societies  without a central government,”  thousands of civilians  suffer from  feelings of helplessness  and  get into difficult situations. The dissolution of state unity and the loss of governmental management capacity has resulted in huge disasters. Although African countries presently have enormous human capital and a large and growing young population, the population bonus is far from being fully utilized, because there is no organised and coherent system to mobilize this large population into the large force needed for the countries’ construction.

5 African princes captured and taken away by colonialists

Millions of Africans were forcefully taken from their homes and sold into slavery during the years of the Transatlantic slave trade.

Unfortunately, it is hard to trace every single African who found themselves in the Caribbean, America or Europe mainly because white slave traders had not kept names in documents. Moreover, the names of Africans were changed by their white owners for easier identification and pronunciation purposes.

Through the outstanding lives they lived, a few enslaved Africans and their children have been identified and traced back to their African roots while several living blacks in the diaspora have been able to trace their roots to Africa as well.

African royals were also not spared in the days of the Transatlantic slave trade as several kings and queens, princesses and princes were captured or taken for one reason or the other. Due to their royalty, it was easier to trace and document their lives.

Here are five African princes who were heir to powerful thrones but were taken away by Westerners at very young ages.

1.jpg

William Ansah Sessarakoo – Ghana

Prince William Ansah Sessarakoo whose original name was Eno Baise Kurentsi was the son of a chief in Ghana’s Central Region. In 1748, hoping that he could gain a western education in England, his father Chief John Corrente put his 12-year-old son in the care of British officials making a return to England. Unfortunately for the prince, he was sold into slavery by Captain David Bruce, the captain of the ship and taken to Jamaica where he worked as a slave until he was recognized by a Fanti trader who sent information to Chief John Corrente. He was taken back to England under the protection of George Montagu-Dunk, 2nd Earl of Halifax. Eventually, Prince William Ansah was returned to his father and later worked in the Cape Coast Castle as an interpreter and writer.

2.jpg

Prince Alemayehu – Ethiopia

At the age of 7, Prince Alemayehu is believed to have been stolen by British soldiers who looted his father’s imperial fortress in 1868. His father was Emperor Tewodros II who ruled over Ethiopia from 1855 till his death in 1868 during the Battle of Maqdala. Prince Alemayehu died of an illness at the age of 18 after suffering racism and was buried at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle at the request of Queen Victoria. For 150 years, Ethiopians have been fighting the British to return looted items from the Emperor’s fortress including his hair and the remains of his son.

3.jpg

Prince Abdulrahman Ibrahim Ibn Sori – Guinea

Abdulrahman Ibrahim Ibn Sori was born in 1762 in Timbo, modern-day Guinea, of noble blood, more specifically, of the Torodbe Fulani Muslim tribe and also held the title of commander. In 1788 at the age of 26, his father bestowed upon him the title of Emir. He was in charge of a 2000-man army. During one of their military operations, he was captured and enslaved, eventually being sold to the British. The British subsequently sold him to Thomas Foster, a slave master located in Natchez, Mississippi. Sori was enslaved and owned by Foster for 40 years. In 1826, Sori sent a letter to his family members in Africa. The letter was intercepted by a Dutch newspaper printer named Andrew Marschalk. The Sultan of Morocco, Abderrahmane read the letter and asked then-President John Adams and Secretary of State Henry Clay to release Sori. In 1829, Foster agreed to the release of Sori for no payment in return. The caveat was that Sori had to leave the U.S. immediately and return to Africa. He embarked for Monrovia, Liberia. After living in Liberia for four months, Sori contracted a fever and died at the age of 67.

4.jpg

Prince Ayuba Suleiman Diallo – Senegal

Ayuba Suleiman Diallo was born in 1701 in Bundu; present-day Senegal. Also known as Job Ben Solomon, Diallo was a descendant of Muslim Fulbe religious leaders. His grandfather was the founder of Bundu. Diallo was also a merchant and scholar. In 1730, Diallo and his interpreter Loumein Yoas also referred to as Lamine Jay, Lahamin Joy, Lahmin Jay, Lamine Ndiaye and Loumein Ybai were captured by members of the Mandinka tribe. This occurred by the Gambia river. They were subsequently sold to the Royal African Company.  Diallo was settled in Annapolis, Maryland, where he continued practicing his faith until he became a person of interest due to his knowledge of theology. In 1733, Diallo was sent to England upon request. It was there that he learned to communicate in English. He was also able to infiltrate the clique of the London elite. In July of 1734, Diallo was finally able to return to the Gambia. His newfound homeland had been destroyed by war, his wives were remarried and his father dead.

5.jpg

William Kofi Nti – Ghana

His real name is Nana Kofi Ntim, son of (Asantehene) King Karikari who was the 10th ruler of the powerful Ashanti Kingdom in present-day Ghana. Like several royals in the Gold Coast (now Ghana) Prince Nana Kofi Ntim was sent to the UK to gain an education. He was sent to Barbados which had better weather conditions after the death of another Ashanti prince he embarked on the journey with. He was educated and later worked with the British army. He is most remembered for designing and leading in the construction of a Victorian-style building in 1883 on the hills to the west of Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago which was then used as a signal station for the port and army. Inspired by the designs from home in Africa and Britain, Prince Kofi Ntim was given the contract by the British to design the signal station which replaced parts of Fort George. Prince Ntim returned home later in life but resettled in England after inner conflicts he had with his people’s tradition and culture.

Corruption, a major obstacle to economic growth in Africa

The paper, titled ‘A Governance Dividend for Sub-Saharan Africa?’ stated that countries in the region tended to lag behind those in most other regions in the world in terms of governance and corruption.

Eighty per cent of sub-Saharan African countries (36 out of 45) score below the global average in the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index and only three of the 30 sub-Saharan African countries included in the International Country Risk Guide’s governance indicator have above-average scores.

In light of this, new leaders coming to power in Angola, Ethiopia and South Africa, besides others, have placed the fight against corruption at the top of their agenda.

“Weak governance undermines economic performance through various channels, including deficiencies in government functions and distortions to economic incentives.

“While the process would take considerable time and effort, moving the average sub-Saharan African country governance level to the global average could increase the region’s gross domestic product per capita growth by about one or two percentage points,” the IMF reported.

However, the authors of the paper pointed out that there was no “one size fits all” approach to improving governance and reducing corruption.

The experience of countries such as Botswana, Chile, Estonia and Georgia suggests that multiple factors may have contributed to their success, including political will, measures to reduce opportunities of corruption – such as less red tape and lower trade barriers, and measures to increase constraints on corrupt behavior – such as an independent judicial system, and improved fiscal institutions.

“We expect the focus on reducing corruption and improving governance to remain high on the agenda of policymakers, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, as illustrated by the high-level discussions at the 2018 African Union Summit.

“Strengthening governance and fighting corruption are not easy tasks and the process is often time-consuming and requires considerable political effort but they are worth pursuing given the potentially large payoffs.”

How the IMF and World Bank destroyed Africa

 

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were set up during the end of the Second World War (WWII) to rebuild the economies of Europe.

However, in order for the World Bank and IMF to implement their policies, they global financial institutions began offering loans to poor countries but only if the poor countries privatized their economies and allowed western corporations free access to their raw materials and markets. That was a poverty trap and many poor countries realized this when it was already too late—we were in deep waters.

That was the beginning of much of the problems we face today in Africa. Now we are in a vicious cycle of poverty and there seems to be no way out. The western corporations flourish while the poor countries die in poverty. In other words, the poor in Africa continue to feed the greedy rich corporations in the western world. The poor get poorer while the rich get richer.

Cartoon.jpg

People continue to die from extreme poverty and hunger in Africa and other parts of the world but not so many people know that the World Bank, IMF and the World Trade Organization (WTO) are behind almost all of these. It is a new form of war whereby the rich western corporations employ the poverty of the poor and the ignorance of the innocent as top weapons of mass destruction. In other words, the IMF, World Bank and WTO are the triple enemies of progress in almost every developing country in the world today. Now, let’s see how the World Bank, IMF and WTO operate in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Take a country like Ghana for example. Ghana is blessed with abundance of natural resources. The World Bank and IMF are very interested in countries such as Ghana, where they can easily control the natural resources and the markets. There used to be some prosperous rich farming communities in the northern parts of Ghana and the government of Ghana used to give those rice-producing farmers some subsidies to increase productivity, thus, providing enough food to feed the nation and increasing National Income (NI).

However, the IMF and World Bank stood in and told the Ghanaian government that they (the global financial institutions) would not offer any loans unless there’s reduction in the amount spent on farming subsidies which benefitted poor rice farmers—with significant impact on the Ghanaian economy. The main reason for this was that Ghana had to import rice from western countries such as the United States (a major partner of the World Bank and IMF).

Now, Ghana imports most of its rice from abroad at huge costs every year. So, at the end of the day, Ghana owes the World Bank and IMF huge amounts of money. However, the money did not remain in the Ghanaian economy because Ghana had to use the loan to import food from abroad. Meanwhile, the rice-producing communities in Ghana could have helped produce enough rice to feed the nation—and even export some abroad to make more profit. At this time, the northern communities in Ghana remain the poorest in the country with no better jobs and no opportunities at all in most parts. Young boys and girls—some as young as 9 years old—are migrating to the southern parts of the country to major cities and towns such as Kumasi and Accra (a very dangerous journey for kids) all in search for jobs so they can take care of their poor dying families back home. Most of these kids—locally known as “Kayayo”—never return home. Some die along the way and some return worse than before and all thanks to the IMF and World Bank.

IMF Cartoon.jpg

Although part of the borrowed fund was returned to the IMF and World Bank, we still owe them a lot. That is why most developing countries have piled up loans over the years. Sometimes you hear “debt cancellation” and you may think they forgive poor countries their debts but that is not how it works in reality. The World Bank and IMF never forgive because the outrageous amount of money owed to these financial institutions, including the WTO and United States of America (a major partner to the IMF and World Bank) is directly and indirectly controlling almost all the affairs of those poor countries. In other words, if you don’t obey what the IMF and World Bank say then you must pay back the debt, and since you cannot pay back the owed money, you have no better option than to whatever you are told.

Any leader who doesn’t obey the World Bank, IMF and WTO, among others, is considered a “terrorist” and must be assassinated in most cases. For example, when there is an oil discovery in a developing country (that owes money to the global financial institutions and their partners) and the leader refuses to corporate (and allow western corporations take over oil exploration business), these “errant” individuals are quickly unseated—dead or alive. The case of Libya’s Muammar Ghaddafi and  war in Iraq explain this factual theory.

In summary, the World Bank and IMF elect only “obedient” leaders to rule in poor countries because such political situations aid hijacking of the countries’ economy and markets.

IMF.jpg

Major problems facing Africa in 2019

SAFRICA-POLITICS-SOCIAL-STRIKE
Thousands of members of the South African Municipal Workers Union march through the city centre of Cape Town, on May 6, 2015, during a strike calling for better wages for standby staff and for female firefighters to retain their allowances during pregnancy. AFP PHOTO / RODGER BOSCH / AFP PHOTO / RODGER BOSCH

Russia struggling for presence in Africa, against the US and China

Putin in Africa.jpg

Russia has never had an African colony. It stayed out of the scramble for Africa, only engaging with African states in the 19th Century. In 1869, for instance, the Russians gave Ethiopia military support to threaten the position of the British in their quest to control the Suez Canal. They did this because Britain was one of their main European rivals.

It wasn’t until the Cold War started in 1947 that Russia began to develop diplomatic relations with several African countries. This was a way to counter the influence of its rivals such as the US.

The Cold War dictated the former USSR’s relations with many African countries for decades. This was followed by a period of relative inactivity. But more recently, relations have become increasingly important for Russia as well as some African countries.

The result is that some African countries no longer need to choose between the American and the Chinese way of development.

Ostensibly, China has the most pragmatic engagement with Africa. Its policy is not to interfere with the internal workings of nation states or play geopolitics by pitting countries against each other. But it has become increasingly difficult for the country to resist using its military power to protect its economic interests.

For its part, the US’s ultimate aim is to tip the regional balance of power in its favour while also gaining access to Africa’s resources.

This article explores Russia’s current relationship with the continent. The research examines Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strategy to redress the global balance of power by countering America’s influence in Africa and trying to match China’s large economic footprint on the continent. It therefore concludes that Russia’s primary goal is political influence. This is achieved by gaining control of natural resources and providing military support and intelligence. Yet, despite making massive inroads, the Russian Federation is still less influential than the US and China on the continent.

From the African point of view, Russia offers a strategic alternative to America’s global hegemony, China’s economic diplomacy, and the lingering influence of Africa’s former colonial masters.

The history

During the Cold War the Russians provided diplomatic, economic, military, and educational support for numerous African liberation movements. These included Algeria, Angola, Cape Verde, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Guinea, Madagascar, Sao Tome & Principe, and Tanzania. As a result many young Africans were educated in Moscow.

Russia began to trade and interact with these states routinely. It sent in military intelligence officers to establish a strong presence and ensure that Africa was not purely influenced by the West. The Russians developed relations with Africa so intensely that for the 10 years between 1950 and 1960 it surpassed the influence of colonizing powers.

That influence would remain more or less intact until the Boris Yeltsin era. Between 1990 and 1999 Russia’s impact on the continent was spectacularly lowered. Nine embassies and three consulates were closed. The number of personnel subordinated to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was drastically reduced. Russian cultural institutions were closed, and economic relations were unilaterally terminated. Previously generous aid programmes were scrapped.

This all changed when Putin came to power in 1999. Under his leadership Russia has started to regain its economic and political clout in Africa. Putin has jumpstarted Russia’s diplomatic, economic, and military ties with its former African allies.

Russian interests in Africa

From my research I can conclude that Russia’s primary intent is to build political alliances by supporting nation states economically and militarily while remaining non-judgemental about their internal governance structures.

Its long-term goal is to become a political, economic and military mediator that can stand behind Africa’s global interests and count on the continent’s support in return. Here are some of the areas where Russia are mainly active:

Economic interests: Russia is now seeking to exploit conventional gas and oil fields in Africa and elsewhere. Part of its long term energy strategy is to use Russian companies to create new streams of energy supply. For example, Russian companies have made significant investments in Algeria’s oil and gas industries. They have also invested in Libya, Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Egypt.

Russia is also expanding its African interests in mineralsUranium – which is key to the nuclear power industry – is at the top of its list.

In addition, Russian companies are producing aluminium in Nigeria, and have constructed hydropower stations in Angola, Namibia, Botswana.

Russia is also on track to build nuclear plants in EgyptNigeria and Algeria. These investments are a means to becoming an integral part of Africa’s energy sector.

Russia has also improved its commercial relations with its African partners. In 2009, it established the Coordinating Committee for Economic Cooperation with sub-Saharan Africa to assist in promoting Russian business interests.

Defence interests: Russia has traditionally been one of Africa’s main arms suppliers. During the Cold War many armed liberation organisations and African countries – among them Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Guinea –bought military equipment from Russia. More recently Russia has made significant arms deals with Angola and AlgeriaEgyptTanzaniaSomalia, Mali, Sudan and Libya have also bought arms from Russia. The Russians also provide military training and support.

Aid: Under Putin Russia has made sizeable aid donations to a variety of African countries averaging about $400 million per year. Around 60% of Russian aid is delivered through international organisations; global humanitarian organisations like the World Food Programme and the UN refugee agency. The remaining 40% gets to Africa in a framework of bilateral cooperation. It also makes donations to support education, health care, agriculture, environment and energy.

The danger for Moscow is that, the more progress it makes with African governments, the more likely it is that its interests will collide with those of either China or the US – or both.

Little things that matter most in life

Cultural day.jpg

A visit to my kids’ cultural day celebration today was an eye-opener. I’d rather describe the chain of events as morally-charged, thought-provoking and inspiring.

“Daddy, I’m so happy that you’re going to be there when I present my recital today…,” my 7-year-old son said earlier in the morning. Excitement and gratitude blazoned on his face.

Although the memorable day started with battering rains, the chilly breeze from such unexpected early morning showers was soothing—and a huge blessing in disguise. Unknown to many parents who failed to show up at the school for different reasons, there was soul food to be shared by the charismatic school director whose humility, friendliness, invaluable wisdom, and powerful speeches continuously mesmerised attendees while the event lasted. I was lucky to be there.

In her emotionally-charged speech, the school proprietress clamoured for cultural revival among all ethnic groups in Nigeria, citing the economic and socio-political consequences of colonialism which, in her words, “destroyed the culture and traditions of many African communities.”

She acknowledged the developmental contributions from ICT but unequivocally blamed lack of parental control for poor academic performance and unruly behaviours, an assertion collaborated by her husband who watched admiringly from the podium.

Proceedings from the day’s event were both entertaining and educating; lovely traditional outfits from parents, teachers and children showcased Nigeria’s cultural diversity but, most importantly, the joyful atmosphere, love and understanding shared by everyone deeply stirred my emotions. The flawless academic recitations, fashion parade, songs, and jaw-dropping cultural dance steps—especially from the mothers who competed without reservations—weren’t just an eye candy. The spellbinding moments lasted some hours without signs of boredom from anyone—except for those grumbling for lack of storage space for pictures and videos.

Amid the revelry, I learned that little things matter most—in certain situations.

SLGE4943[1].jpg

Nothing motivates children like parental support; it significantly impacts on their mental balance, self-confidence and academic performance.  In addition, raising god-fearing, respectful and intelligent kids isn’t always money-related. Watching the excited kids perform in the full glare of their parents proved this assertion to be true.

I’m most grateful to God for the opportunity to encourage my kids and their friends at the cultural day event and, surprisingly, the results were heart-warming.

‘Today is the best day of my life…I had lots of fun,’ Henry and Stephanie echoed with energy and enthusiasm back at home.

‘Daddy, did I embarrass you with my performance today?’ He probed my face for signs but found nothing except admiration, love and motivation. The gifts stashed away somewhere in the house proved him wrong to the point that he couldn’t help asking, ‘What’s the biggest gift I’ve ever received, daddy?’

You are an inspiration to someone out there no matter your profession. With every opportunity that comes your way—through your actions or inactions—leave a lasting impact in the lives of others, especially young children who look up to us as role models with innate potentials to transform lives.

Amazing facts you should know about Africa

 

Despite its delayed development, Africa is the most populous and only black continent. The geographical location is famed for its abundant natural resources, including lots of tourist attractions, unique talents and great potentials. Unfortunately, there are ample online data about all other continents except Africa, which is rarely recognized for its contributions to world economic development.

Here are 10 fun facts about Africa that will certainly tickle your fancy:

  1. Lake Victoria

Africa is endowed with many natural wonders which make it a tourist’s best location for holidays. Covering an area of 26,830sq miles (about 69,490 square kilometres), Lake Victoria is Africa’s largest lake and second-largest among all freshwater lakes in the world. Lake Victoria is famed for its spectacular sheets of falling water which is also largest in the world.

Lake Victoria.gif

  1. The Nile

River Nile is one of the wonders of the world. Closely associated with Egypt even though only about 22% of its course runs through the North African country, the rest flows through Sudan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania. History has it that oldest civilization in the world started from the banks of River Nile.

River Nile.jpg

  1. Home to the Largest Mammals

African elephants are the largest known mammals. The continent provides home to these largest living land animals which weigh about 7 tons, with the males and females measuring up to 13 and 9 feet high at the shoulder respectively. African elephants are found in the east, south and west regions of the continent.

Elephants 2.jpg

  1. Population and Language

Africa is home to about 15% of the world’s population (around 1 billion people) and its cultural diversity explains why over a quarter of languages originate from the continent. For example, English is the first language (lingua franca) in Nigeria but there are dozens of local dialects though Hausa, Ibo and Yoruba are considered the major languages. Africa is synonymous with underdevelopment, population explosion and low life expectancy rates and a large number of the population are below 30 years old.

languages.jpg

  1. Sahara Desert

Africa’s Sahara is the world’s largest non-polar desert. It is located in the northern part of Africa, covering a surface area of 9 million square kilometres (about 3.5 million square miles).

Sahara.jpg

  1. Origin of the Human Species

According to historical data provided by the Human Origins, early humans first migrated from Africa into Asia about 2 million years ago before entering Europe about 200 years later. Modern human species found everywhere on the planet, as shown in the image below, points to the fact that first civilizations and rudimentary agriculture started about 12,000 years ago from this part of the world.

Human species.jpg

  1. Lake Assal

Research findings show that the lowest point in Africa is Lake Assal, which is located in Central East Djibouti at the west end of the Gulf of Tadjoura. Situated between Tadjoura Region and part of Dikhil Region, atop the Great Rift Valley, Lake Assal measures around 160 meters below sea level and its level of saltiness is 10 times more concentrated than samples taken from the sea. Lake Assal ranks third for low land depression behind the Dead Sea (1st) and Sea of Galilee (2nd). In addition, Lake Assal has the largest salt reserve in the world and media reports confirm this natural resource is currently exploited under four concessions awarded in 2002.

Lake Assal.jpg

  1. Hippo-scary

In Africa, hippopotamus kills more people than any other large animal. This is because most African communities depend on rivers as their only source of good drinking water, a circumstance which brings them in constant territorial wars with hippos. Findings show that male hippos are more aggressive while defending their territories which, most times, include river banks—especially if they perceive any kind of threats towards their young ones which normally stay far off in the water while mother hippos search for food on the river banks. Hippos have good dentition with jaws that hold canine teeth measuring up to 20 inches.

Hippo

  1. Continental Pride

Africa is the 2nd largest continent in the world—both in population and land mass. It covers about one-fifth (6%) of the world’s geographical land mass.

Pride of Africa.jpg

Africa’s 30.3 square kilometres include adjacent islands but one important theory, most importantly,  claims that the continent was once (in the early Mesozoic era) connected to Australia, Antartica, North/South America, India and Asia. However, the links were today separated by what researchers called “continental drift”. Abraham Ortelius first proposed this theory in 1596, citing fossil evidence, but in 1912 another researcher Alfred Wagener’s theory “plate tectonics” inquired into Ortelius’ hypotheses and findings which were found to be true.

Corporate governance and the development of African nations

Africa

For a long time, capacity deficiencies and the low level of governance performance among  African  countries  lead  to  turmoil of  “having  tribe  societies  without  a central government”. This is an important factor that caused slow development in Africa. Thus, we must rethink the development and governance issues of Africa, to seek Africanised solutions for African issues based on the characteristics of Africa. Among these, the most important task is to establish efficient government and political parties that are devoted to development and have the ability to promote it. This is the significant field of sharing governance experiences and development knowledge between China and African countries.  Also, it makes Chinese development experience more attractive to Africa.

Disputes related to the African development approach

Even today observers and researchers around the world hold very different views on the contemporary political development issues of African countries. The relevant differences and arguments are concentrated on the following complicated issues.

First, what is the most important task or core issue for contemporary African countries’ political development? What kind of government systems are feasible, effective and can be stably maintained? Second, for the young countries in Africa, what is the best way to set up and choose standards for political systems and state regimes? Third, should these post- independence African countries set up the endogenous  localized political systems and structures to form centralised and powerful governments that contribute to promoting economic  development,  social  stability  and  improved  living  standards, or  transplant the parliamentary systems and  election systems that seem  to have so-called  moral legitimacy under the background of western cultures and according to western political ideology? Fourth, should we establish a powerful government that can centralize national resources, in order to make joint efforts to achieve the state’s long-term development goals, or establish a weak government that only pursues its own immediate interests or partial interests, and thus leads to continuous mutually exclusive cut-throat competition?

All these issues have not been well understood much less resolved. While behind this confused theory and idea, the African political reality has increasingly presented long- term turbulence and confusion.

Africagovernance dilemma lies in the lack of governance ability

One  of  the challenges  faced  by contemporary  African  countries  in  governance  and development is the trend toward the weakening or even the dissolution of national sovereignty. Some countries’ administrative abilities are insufficient, and their state systems and governmental functions are  gradually sliding toward   degeneration and collapse.

First, what is the most important task or core issue for contemporary African countries’ political development? What kind of government systems are feasible, effective and can be stably maintained? Second, for the young countries in Africa, what is the best way to set up and choose standards for political systems and state regimes? Third, should these post- independence African countries set up the endogenous  localized political systems and structures to form centralised and powerful governments that contribute to promoting economic  development,  social  stability  and  improved  living  standards, or  transplant the parliamentary systems and  election systems that seem  to have so-called  moral legitimacy under the background of western cultures and according to western political ideology? Fourth, should we establish a powerful government that can centralize national resources, in order to make joint efforts to achieve the state’s long-term development goals, or establish a weak government that only pursues its own immediate interests or partial interests, and thus leads to continuous mutually exclusive cut-throat competition?

All these issues have not been well understood much less resolved. While behind this confused theory and idea, the African political reality has increasingly presented long- term turbulence and confusion.

How best to reconcile ethnic cleavages and the discreteness of tribal societies and promote the construction of unified modern sovereign states through ethnic integration, is the biggest political challenge faced by most of the African countries that won independence in the mid of 20th century. It is also the fundamental premise for realising state stability, economic growth and social security. However, in some countries, from the beginning, this process has been affected by various factors, and has thus resulted in slow progress. Nowadays, some African countries are even gradually falling into anarchy, with the dissolution of state system and the collapse of governmental functions. Today, the factors that make negative impacts on the unified construction process of African countries and dissolve the basis of the state have become very complex and varied. Generally speaking, the following have become the most obvious challenges..

The first challenge is the economic globalisation and political liberalisation process that is dominated by western developed countries. For the poor countries in Africa, this process has been dissolving the sovereignty of African countries and eroding the political authority of African countries to take action. In general, African countries have passively got involved into the globalisation tide, in an environment where the domestic integration process is far from complete and the construction of a unified state with a clear national identity is far from resolved. As weak countries, African nations often face pressures of the loss of the sovereignty and being divided into several parts.

The second challenge is that, under situations in  which ethnic  integration  and  the construction of the state were far from complete, some African countries were forced to transplant or mechanically copy western competitive multi-party systems and electoral politics, which often caused continuous ethnic, religious and cultural conflict. Again, this eroded the African countries’ unity, sovereignty and ability to rule from the interior.

The third challenge is the rapid emergence of large numbers of nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) and the adversarial political appeals put forward by these organisations over the past two decades. These NGOs often are supported and controlled by foreign powers. However, to a certain extent, they have contributed to the dissolution of African countries’ internal tolerance, coherence, state authority and ability to take action from the interior.

In fact, nowadays, without sovereignty and government management, no country could gain the social stability, national security and economic growth that are necessary for social development. In some African countries and regions, the government’s capacity is severely deficient, The basic political regime has existed in name only, and the functional networks, and management systems with coherent and clear divisions of responsibility and functional connections between the top and bottom political levels are nonexistent. Under a situation of “having tribe societies  without a central government,”  thousands of civilians  suffer from  feelings of helplessness  and  get into difficult situations. The dissolution of state unity and the loss of governmental management capacity has resulted in huge disasters. Although African countries presently have enormous human capital and a large and growing young population, the population bonus is far from being fully utilised, because there is no organised and coherent system to mobilise this large population into the large force needed for the countries’ construction.

Africacountries should implement governance for development purposes

Lots of countries have not always been able to understand the essence of politics from the economic perspective over the past several decades and thus have not transferred the focus of national work to economic construction. Some countries have ignored the fundamental goal of economic development over a long period and became deeply entangled in meaningless political strife.

Poverty and backwardness are sources of political unrest, conflict and even terrorism. If a government is not concentrating on economic development, trying to improve livelihoods, and maintaining a stable and effective state system, it will not be able to accomplish meaningful goals, and it will be brought down sooner or later. Over the years, western countries have advanced political reform in Africa. For today’s African countries, economic construction and social development are the main priorities goals. African nations need to implement political reform. But, the starting point should be ways to enhance African economic development and improve living standards. Then it will be possible to put in place  political  reform  through the  advancement  of  economic  capacity,  rather  than m echanically copying western political systems.  Similarly, today’s African countries need to maintain stability in order to better promote economic development and livelihood improvement. If the eradication of terrorism and stability are achieved at the expenses of economic development or do not contribute to the promotion of development, the stability eventually will not be maintained and the elimination of terrorism will prove difficult to achieve as well.

The establishment of long-term state  development objectives is more important

Another big problem faced by contemporary Africa is how to establish long-term economic stability  and  development  strategies.  African  countries  should  engage  the domestic populations in determined efforts to solve African issues through self-reliance and hard work, rather than relying on foreign assistance to get the problems solved quickly.

At present, lots of African countries are still very backward, so, we should not expect to solve all problems in the short-term. Toward this end, the international community should encourage African governments and people to have the faith and determination to work hard and persevere toward the achievement of long-term objectives. The important impetus for China’s development has been its ability to adopt a long-term strategy and to pursue it with a spirit of hardworking persistency. Therefore, in its aid to Africa, China has paid attention to supporting the construction of African infrastructure, as well as maintaining the political stability and sovereignty of African countries.

National ideas and national identity are the foundation supporting the survival, development and stability of a state. Having a strong national identity means that the people living in a territory have a basic sense of belonging to their country and have recognition and respect for their country’s history, heritage, culture and national interests from the bottom of their hearts, and they take a sense of responsibility for the rise and fall of the state. However, the long-term political unrest and ethnic separation experienced in Afria has often resulted in the lack of a powerful national identity and common core value system. This has made it difficult to construct a sense of national interest to maintain and mobilise the people. Given the weak sense  of the national  identity, competitive political groups and adversarial ethnic parties have not been able to jointly formulate and persistently pursue national long-term strategies and development objectives. This is a structural and conceptual barrier that must be overcome by African countries.

Chinshould become an important force for boosting African development

With the rapid development of Sino-African cooperation over the past 10 to 20 years and the advancement  of Chinese  influence  in Africa, China’s  development  experience and  ideas have brought positive changes  in African social  development thought and political development theory, and  the ties between Africa’s stable development and China’s national interests are also increasingly close. In this circumstance, helping African nations realise political stability, promote reforms, further market opening and accelerate development as well as improve capacity with more active cooperation and innovative policy, has increasingly become a basic element in the implementation of China’s strategy toward Africa.

Conclusion and the way forward

In the field of South-South cooperation and South-North dialogue, China not only needs to respect and maintain the right of developing countries to pursue economic development ,but also maintain the discourse on development based on equality and cooperation. China also needs to strengthen its collaboration with African nations’ think tanks to provide advice and share knowledge. Looking at the trend toward future development, China should take an active and steady role in the development of African internal affairs based on mutual respect and equal dialogue in order to share experience and ideas. In this way, China can help Africa eliminate those barriers that continue to hinder socially sustainable and healthy development, and thus support the reform process in Africa countries.