Monday, April 30, 2018

No doctors

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation has revealed that Africa loses about $2 billion a year due to doctors and health practitioners leaving the continent.

Only three countries in Africa, namely Libya, Mauritius and Tunisia, have at least one doctor per thousand people, says the document. 

 In sub-Saharan Africa, the average health expenditure in the private sector is 57.4 percent, more than double at the level of Europe and Central Asia.

Burundi remains the African country having difficulty keeping its brilliant professionals, while Algeria, Mauritania, Chad and Guinea Conakry complete the top five nations that are victims of the brain drain.

A study by Canadian scientists found that South Africa and Zimbabwe suffer the worst economic losses due to doctors emigrating, while Australia, Canada, Britain and the United States benefit the most from recruiting doctors trained abroad.

A study by Canadian scientists found that South Africa and Zimbabwe suffer the worst economic losses due to doctors emigrating, while Australia, Canada, Britain and the United States benefit the most from recruiting doctors trained abroad. Experts say the migration, or brain drain of trained health workers from poorer countries to richer ones exacerbates the problem of already weak health systems in low-income nations battling epidemics of infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) and malaria.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Fighting against poverty wages

The South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) says the proposed National Minimum Wage Bill indicates "a ferocious declaration of war" on the working class which will "entrench poverty".
Members of Saftu and affiliated unions marched in a number of cities across the country including Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban to protest against the proposed minimum wage of R20 an hour.
"Workers, in particular, are campaigning against a ferocious declaration of war by the ruling class of white monopoly capitalists, who are trying to get Parliament to pass new laws which will entrench poverty and threaten the workers' constitutional right to withdraw their labour," read a Saftu memorandum that was handed over to various government officials on Wednesday.
In Johannesburg, Numsa's acting national spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said the union had joined the strike to reject government's proposed minimum of R20 an hour.
"This government is in power today because of the suffering of the working class. We are the ones who sacrificed ultimately in order for them to make it into power. For them to negotiate R20 per hour is a betrayal of workers and their families," she said.
"We are no longer willing to suffer high unemployment, poverty and inequality while CEOs take home fat paychecks."
Hlubi-Majola said the unions were also voicing their concerns about government's proposed amendments to the labour bill which "would effectively make it impossible" to strike.
"These processes are designed to frustrate trade unions so that workers never go on strike," she said.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Remittances - a Life-line

Immigrants sent a $38 billion (€31.1 billion) back home to Africa in 2017, according to a new World Bank briefing paper.  Nigeria accounts for the lion's share of this with $21.9 billion, followed by Senegal with $2.2 billion and Ghana with $2.2 billion.
"The [African] diaspora … are making a lot of money and they are willing to share that money with the countries which they first came from," said Africa commentator Ayo Johnson, who hails from Sierra Leone but is based in the UK. "Remittances are going back to their host countries in huge, huge volumes."
Remittances have now become one of the most important external sources of finance for Africa. Numerous studies have found that remittances directly benefit the welfare of those receiving the money. In poorer regions and countries, such payments can often buffer the vagaries of poverty or instability by covering basic necessities such as food, school fees, rent and health care. One of the big benefits of remittances is that, unlike development aid, they flow directly into the pockets of the intended person.
"Remittances are a lifeblood," said Nikki Kettles from Finmark Trust, a South African-based organization working to make financial services more accessible to the poor. She said it was families, especially to women and children, who benefited from remittances in southern Africa where her organization worked. "People working in South Africa send money home, for example, to Zimbabwe, DR Congo and Malawi. People are using the payments to feed or educate, not for other reasons," she said.
In some of Africa's smaller or impoverished nations, remittances are literally keeping their economies afloat. 

The money could go further if it wasn't more expensive to send money to Africa than anywhere else in the world, the study finds. It costs more to send money to Africa – the world's poorest region – than anywhere else in the world. This means expensive fees eat up a chunk of cash that could otherwise help the receiving families. The average fees for transferring remittances to Africa was 9.4 percent in 2017

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Congo's Forest

The DRC has the world’s second largest rainforest, about 135 million hectares, which is a powerful bulwark against climate change. Thousands of logs loaded into makeshift boats at the port of Inongo at Lake Mai-Ndombe stand ready to be transported to Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Inongo is the provincial capital of the Mai-Ndombe Province, a 13-million-hectare area located some 650 km northeast of Kinshasa. The logs have been illegally cut from the Mai-Ndombe forest, an area of 10 million hectares, which has some trees measuring between 35 and 45 meters.

“We witness this kind of spectacle every day, whereby tons and tons of logs and timber find their way to the capital either via the Congo River or by road, where they will eventually be shipped overseas, or just sold to the black market,” environment activist Prosper Ngobila told IPS.
Mbo, the truck driver who brought the load, confirmed: “This stock and others that are already gone to the capital are destined for overseas export. I’m only a transporter, but I understand that the owner of this business is a very powerful man, almost untouchable.”
The forests of Mai-Ndombe (“black water” in Lingala) are rich in rare and precious woods (red wood, black wood, blue wood, tola, kambala, lifake, among others). It is also home to about 7,500 bonobos, an endangered primate and the closest cousin to humans of all species, sharing 98 percent of our genes, according to the WWF.
The forests constitute a vital platform providing livelihoods for some 73,000 indigenous individuals, mostly Batwa (Pygmies), who live here alongside the province’s 1.8 million population, many of whom with no secure land rights. Under the DRC’s 2014 Forest Code, indigenous people and local communities have the legal right to own forest covering an area of up to 50,000 hectares. Thirteen communities in the territories of Mushie and Bolobo in the Mai-Ndombe province have since asked for formal title of a total of 65,308 hectares of land, reports said, adding that only 300 hectares have been legally recognised for each community – a total of only 3,900 hectares.
Marine Gauthier, a Paris-based expert who authored a report on the sorry state of the Mai-Ndombe forest, told IPS in the aftermath of the report’s release, “In DRC and more specifically in the Mai-Ndombe, the history of natural resources management has always been done at the expense of local communities.
“Industrial logging concessions have been granted on their traditional lands without their consent and destroyed their environment without any form of compensation, and protected areas have been established on their lands prohibiting them to access to the forest where they hunt, gather, conduct traditional rituals, hence severing them from their livelihood and culture – again, without their consent.”

Monday, April 16, 2018

The Prophets

The church business in Ghana is booming and with it a new group of leaders has emerged: the prophets. Ghanaian church leaders are powerful. The promise of wealth and good health has filled their collection plates with money. On the African continent evangelical, pentecostal and charismatic churches are attracting the greatest numbers. According to the Washington-based Pew Research Center, there were around 3 million evangelicals in Ghana in 2000, and 5.5 million by 2015. Pentecostals and charismatics numbered around 6.5 million in 2000 and 10 million by 2015. Many of the churches were founded and are currently managed by just one person, one prophet, or one pastor. Ghanaian church leaders are powerful. Their word travels far and is not limited to Sunday mornings and mid-week services. There are TV channels and web TV channels that reach a large audience far beyond their own congregations.

Daniel Obinim was 40 when he created an empire with his International God’s Way Church. In a recent interview, he stated that Jesus granted him over 20 houses, eight Range Rovers, five SUVs and three Chryslers. He has built three of the largest churches in Ghana. He has been arrested for hitting a journalist, and whipping a boy and a girl who were in a relationship in front of his congregation.

Prophet Nigel Gaise runs a church called the True Fire Prophetic Ministry. He claims to hear the word of God and is known to make predictions on politics and celebrity news

Friday, April 13, 2018

Big Baccy

If Americans and Europeans think the tobacco giants have been slain, however, they are sorely mistaken. Far from accepting defeat, Western tobacco companies like British American Tobacco (BAT) and Philip Morris International (PMI) have instead set their sights on Africa to protect their profit margins. Tough tobacco regulation in their home markets has led them to export their deadly business to the Global South.

These companies stop at nothing to target vulnerable populations on the continent, bribing corrupt government officials and attacking anti-smoking activists, while threatening African governments. They exploit poverty, pushing the narrative that tobacco cultivation will bring prosperity to cash-strapped regions, and luring African farmers with the tantalizing opportunity to be paid in cash at the end of the season.

These tactics have proven effective: African countries south of the Sahara saw smoking rates rise 52 percent from 1980 to 2016. As the World Health Organization's (WHO) director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus remarked a few weeks ago, Africa has become "ground zero for the war on tobacco."

Full article here

Congo Catastrophe Continues

Starving children are the glaring face of Congo's humanitarian crisis, but millions more people are suffering slow onset malnutrition which could have harmful effects for generations, the United Nations said. 

"The problem with chronic malnutrition is that you don't really see it. It is silent and invisible," said Alexis Bonte, country representative of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Between 60 and 70 percent of people in Kasai and Congo's other conflict zones have chronic malnutrition, which stunts children's physical and mental development and makes them less likely to attain better opportunities as adults, he said.

13 million of the Democratic Republic of Congo's 80 million people are in need of humanitarian aid - 50 percent more than last year - since fighting in the central Kasai region and other areas forced millions to flee their homes. Although violence has subsided in Kasai, fields are still barren and many people have not received food aid due to lack of funding. People are starting to re-plant fields, he said, but it will take one to two years to regain normal crop production.

Aid agencies are racing to help the 10 to 15 percent of people who need food urgently to survive, but those suffering a long-term lack of nutrients are harder to assist, Bonte said. 

"That is one that we cannot handle by ourselves because we don't have the money and we don't have the capacity," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Last year assistance reached only a third of people in need in the massive Central African country as funding fell short.  Oxfam said it was forced to half food rations for 90,000 people last year due to lack of funding, and this year cut back even more.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

“To get lost is to learn the way.”

Africa is second only to Latin America in economic inequalities. Dollar millionaires in Africa doubled to 160,000 between 2000 and 2015, while people living on less than $1.25 a day—the poverty threshold—increased from 358 million to 415 million between 1996 and 2011, according to the Brookings Institution, a US-based research group and think tank. Brookings Institution adds that by 2024 the number of African millionaires will rise 45%, to approximately 234,000.

 Ecosystem-based adaptation (EBA).agriculture relies on biodiversity and ecosystem services to help people adapt to climate change effects. The ministers said that both sectors can boost agricultural productivity through value addition and curtail postharvest losses, which are currently about $48 billion per annum. In addition to the huge postharvest losses is the $35 billion African governments spend annually on importing food. Reversing postharvest losses would mean recovering lost food while saving billions that could be invested in other sectors.
Labour productivity on the continent is currently 20 times lower than in developed regions, notes the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals Report 2016. An optimised agro-value chain and its ancillary chains of clean energy and logistics could create high-value jobs and increase labour productivity.
The off-grid micro-hydro power offsets carbon emissions in energy generation, incentivizes EBA use for climate adaptation and creates income opportunities along the agriculture, clean energy and ICT value chains—all enhancing socio-economic resilience.
 EBA-driven agriculture increases production by 128%.
Minimizing postharvest losses in a consolidated agro-market dominated by raw commodity exports could rake in an extra $20 billion annually, according to the World Bank.
Experts project the raw commodity value added, currently $150 billion, to increase to $500 billion by 2030. Such a market could significantly boost agricultural industries. At 12% of its total trade, Africa has the lowest rate of intra-regional trade for any region. (Europe’s rate is 65%, North America’s 45% and Southeast Asia is 25%). Only 11 of Africa’s 54 nations offer 100% access to other Africans. This contrasts with the European Union, where member states’ citizens enjoy 100% freedom of movement within the EU countries.
Strict visa requirements constrict deployment of continental labour and complicate efforts to create income opportunities and combat poverty. The poor are disproportionately vulnerable to climate change, as they lack the resources to adapt to, or quickly recover from, climate shocks, reports the World Bank.
The African Union’s plan for a visa-free continent for Africans by 2020, if fully implemented, will foster human capital flow for income generation and, by extension, increased climate resilience.

Friday, April 06, 2018

The new slave trade

African footballers are in high demand in Europe; they're talented, eager and, most importantly, inexpensive. Shady football agents lure underage players to Europe but those unable to cough up the cash are left behind.

Seraphin Fodjo is from Cameroon and coaches young players who ended up here trying to follow their big dreams. “Most of them are from Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso,” said Fodjo. Their stories all follow a similar path: “Phony football agents, who know nothing of the sport, meet with families and promise that their kid will sign a contract to arrive in Europe,” said Fodjo. “Struggling parents do the impossible to pull the money together and send their child to Europe. To make the scheme more believable, some ‘agents’ bring European partners into the equation. They take care of the passport and all necessary documents for the trip. Some families end up paying up to €10,000 ($12,500) for this service.” Children head to Europe with great hopes but they are usually left in a hotel, said Fodjo. “He [a phony agent] then tells them he will soon be back but he never returns. The children are left alone without a passport and eventually are kicked out of the hotel.”
Aloys Nong, a Cameroonian footballer went through a similar situation. A so-called agent “discovered” him and convinced him to fly to Europe to pursue a career as a professional footballer. “I had a try-out at Nice’s academy. The sporting director wanted me but my agent asked for too much money. Nice were not in the position to invest that much in me.” The deal fell through. Nong, along with eight other boys, slept in a family’s living room. They weren’t allowed in the apartment during the day. “It was January, it was cold outside and we didn’t have warm clothes,” he said. The boys often went hungry. “We would go to the supermarket and would eat there. The guard would turn a blind eye as long as we didn’t take anything out of the store.” A year later, Nong and the boys were kicked out of the apartment. Nong was able to stay in France with family members to continue his training and ultimately signed a contract with a Belgian side. He currently plays in Iran.
But that is not the case for most young players. “Whoever does make it, can earn lots of money,” said Cristophe Gleizes, a French journalist who wrote a book on “the modern enslavement of African footballers.” An African footballer can earn from 500 to 1000 times more at a European club than they would do playing in Africa.
“It’s not unusual for parents to say they have a gold mine at home,” said Gleizes, who traveled throughout West Africa for nine months to research the topic. “African players are handled as traded goods, as if they were a kilo of cacao or cotton. European clubs come here to find cheap labor.”
Another problem is that young players willingly become part of the system as they blindly follow their agent’s advice. They take on many risks, going as far as forging documents to fake their age. A 15-year-old has better chances of getting looked at than an 18-year-old.
The so-called agents are not the only ones making a profit – the European clubs benefit, too. Congolese international Junior Kabananga started his European career at Anderlecht. The current Belgian champions were interested in the striker but wanted to avoid paying the Congolese club FC MK Etancheite a compensation package for developing the youngster as they should according to FIFA statutes. “We’re talking about the top scorer at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations!” said Gleizes. “If Anderlecht want a player from Club Brugge, they pay the fee. If Paris Saint-Germain sign Kylian Mbappé, the club will pay Mbappé’s first club, FC Bondy, a fee for developing him. But when it comes to African clubs, European clubs refuse to pay.” Gleizes claims their tactic is always the same. “Either they wait until the other club gives up legally pursuing the case or they pay the club’s heads under the table to close the deal.
Sophie Jekeler is a lawyer in Brussels who is familiar with the fate of young footballers from Africa. Jekeler is the founder and executive director of Samilia, a foundation that fights against human trafficking. She says that, while there are laws that protect victims, they are often difficult to enforce.
“Most of these boys enter the European Union through Slovakia, Hungary or Greece. Once they are in Belgium, there’s nothing that can be done to help them. First, they would need to go back to the country where they entered the EU to handle administrative formalities and that just isn’t possible for them,” said Jekeler.
It’s difficult for these young players to understand whenever professional footballers of the likes of Aloys Nong come out against the system that brought them to Europe. Why would someone who succeeded then try to prevent them from going on an adventure?  

Tobacco Kids

Davidzo, a 15-year-old tobacco worker in Zimbabwe, has told Human Rights Watch (HRW) about feeling sick when carrying harvested leaves.

"The first day I started working in tobacco, that’s when I vomited. I started to feel like I was spinning. Since I started this work, I always feel headaches and I feel dizzy."

According to HRW, Zimbabwean law sets 16 as the minimum age for employment and prohibits children under 18 from performing hazardous work, but does not specifically ban children from handling tobacco.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Radioactive Africa

There’s ongoing power struggle in Africa by the world superpowers, China, Russia, US, France, UK, Germany. These are dark days for Africa. It’s time for reasonable youth of Africa to rise and call the end to the dictates of the old cabal and chart a new path that will restore the sold integrity of the African continent.

 Chinese company Molybdenum announced it was buying one of Africa’s largest copper mines and one thing was soon clear: the acquisition was about far more than the red metal.

The $2.65bn deal, the biggest private investment in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s history, is instead designed to secure China’s supplies of cobalt, a once niche raw material that is crucial to developing nuclear weapons to boast the Chinese military capabilities in it quest to usurp the United States of AmericaAttachment.png as the world’s military powerhouse. The purchase of the Tenke mine, which contains one of the world’s largest known deposits of copper and cobalt, shows how Chinese companies are now moving to take a dominant position in nuclear warhead supremacy as the country prepares to bypass the US and Russia in the unending war of military supremacy in the world.

Cobalt is a dangerous radioactive materials used in making cobalt bomb, a type of "salted bomb": a nuclear weapon designed to produce enhanced amounts of radioactive fallout, intended to contaminate a large area with radioactive material. Cobalt fires off just enough radioactivity upfront to kill you (or at least cause serious cancers), but holds onto enough reserves to make wherever the cobalt rain settles inhospitable for future generations, too.

Again China entered into a deal dubbed China-Africa Development Fund to develop uranium resources in Africa-China National Nuclear Corp, the nation's largest nuclear power plant builder, it was announced that its subsidiary China Uranium Corp has signed an agreement with China-Africa Development Fund external link to jointly develop uranium resources in Africa. In a statement posted by CNNC said that both parties will set up a joint venture in Beijing to invest in and develop uranium.

Mali, Burkina Faso, South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Niger etc..research has proven that these are countries blessed with these scare raw material used in making nuclear arsenals therefore the friendly invasion of these countries by the Western world including Russian should not come as a surprise as the scramble for these all important resources hit a new wave of global interest.

Russian has a good relationship with African countries such South Africa, Angola, Russia. Recently Russia signed an agreement to develop Namibia’s vast uranium deposits, which reportedly included an investment commitment by Russia of up to $1 billion. Russia has succeeded in negotiations to sell military helicopters to Mozambique, although it has made as-yet-unsuccessful overtures to help the country develop the infrastructure necessary to exploit its substantial oil and natural gas.Russia and Algeria had signed an intergovernmental agreement to cooperate in nuclear energy, paving the way for possible construction of a nuclear power plant in the North African country, Russia's state-run nuclear corporation Rosatom said. It envisages cooperation in the construction of nuclear power plants and research reactors, the use of nuclear reactors for heat generation and desalination of seawater, joint prospecting and mining of uranium deposits, nuclear fuel handling and processing of nuclear waste. Russian and South Africa recently laughed a Setelite called Russia-South Africa surveillance project aimed at surveilling the entire continent.

France and Algeria have had a nuclear power accord, including uranium exploration and production. France and former colony Algeria signed defence and civil nuclear power accords. An accord on the peaceful use of nuclear energy provides for cooperation in research, training, technology transfer and the exploration and production of uranium, sectors of interest to French nuclear plant builder Areva. 

Mirroring Ghana into the discussion, the recent deal with the United States granting the US military personnel’s and other civilian contractors unfettered access to enter Ghana and exit anytime with just ID cards they so wish as if Ghana is a toilet or a Setelite state of the US fits the argument of Western exploitation. Again, the United States is known for protecting its interests globally, it doesn’t matter being private owned enterprise or joint, the Department Of Defense (DOF) will do everything possible to protect its interest.

Let’s end this madness going in Africa else Africa will forever be regarded as a hub of poverty, diseases, corruption,intellectual-illiteracy and exploitation of our land will live forever.

Who is caring about CAR?

Timber is Central African Republic’s number one official export
In Bogani village, The nearest health clinic, which is a difficult walk through six kilometres of thick natural forest, has no doctors, only first-aiders. “We are suffering,”  says Zibè.
Child mortality rates are desperately high here. In fact, life is precarious for all in Bogani, an indigenous pygmy village of around 100 huts - made mostly from bamboo and palm tree branches - which lies 146 kilometres south of the Central African Republic’s (CAR’s) capital Bangui in the district of Lobaye. Bogani suffers from the same lack of essential infrastructure – no electricity, no phone lines, no tarred roads, no school and hospitals – as the rest of the Central African Republic, which has endured years of institutional decay and a devastating civil war.
Yet while the people are desperately poor, they’re surrounded by vast natural wealth in the shape of dense tropical forest. And every day they see that wealth transported away on the back of lorries.
Michel Agnandjian, theheadman of the nearby Bobèlè village,  speaks with bitter irony: “Foreigners export our timber to their countries. Locals don’t get any profit. Look at my house. It’s appalling.” The house is made of uncooked bricks which are starting to crack, while the sanitary conditions are wretched.  While timber is everywhere, many of the schools in the region don’t have wooden tables or benches and the buildings are constructed out of palm leaves. Locals are frequently arrested for breaking the law if they cut wood to use for such purposes.
Even those who work for the timber companies, like André Zibè,  see little benefit: “I am tired of working for little money for logging companies,” he said. The work - frequently backbreaking - involves removing tree stumps and chopping large trees. Often, he says, he has to ask several times before he is paid: an example of the enduring discrimination that pygmies face. For this reason, Zibè, like others in the village, is drawn back to the life of hunting and gathering that his people led for millennia.
Maurice Mondjimba, deputy headman of Bogani, also says his people are “marginalised”, adding that: “Most of the time, we are not consulted before our forests are exploited.”
This daily struggle for survival is echoed across the country. Despite its vast natural resources, in 2016 CAR was ranked last in the U.N.'s Human Development Index of 188 nations. Meanwhile 2.5 million out of a population of 4.6 million are estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance, and average life expectancy languishes at 51.5 years. 
In March 2013 the country descended into civil war. One of the war’s causes was the deeply unequal distribution of wealth that attract armed groups to combine under the Séléka banner. After they overthrew the government, violence reigned, with whole villages and towns pillaged and mass atrocities committed. Thousands lost their lives; many more lost their homes.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Devastation in DRC

The vast central African country of Democratic Republic of Congo has been hit by waves of violence, rebellions, protests and political turmoil in recent months, leading to worries about a new civil war like that which killed five million people between 1997 and 2003.

Across the country the security situation has deteriorated markedly as government authority has collapsed, emboldening rival militia groups who hold sway over large areas of territory, often competing for the DRC’s rich resources. The president, Joseph Kabila, is desperately clinging to power as various groups and individuals use violence to gain cash, territory and support before possible elections later this year.
he humanitarian situation is dire. More than 13 million Congolese need humanitarian aid, twice as many as last year, and 7.7 million face severe food insecurity, up 30% from a year ago, the United Nations said in March. Many humanitarian officials complain that global attention has been diverted to more heavily reported crises in the Middle East. More than 4.5 million people are displaced, the highest number in the DRC for more than 20 years, latest figures show. There are outbreaks of cholera. The fighting is getting worse.
In recent weeks, thousands of army soldiers attacked villages across the province of North Kivu, where rebel groups are based. Around the town of Beni, DRC’s army is fighting an Islamist-inspired militia blamed for killing 14 UN peacekeepersin November, the worst loss of life in a single incident for the organisation for 25 years. Dozens have died in frequent ambushes and skirmishes. Though Goma, the biggest city in the east, remains calm, militias have clashed with security forces on its outskirts. Elsewhere in the east, ethnic tensions have led to massacres. Around the town of Bunia, hundreds have died. There have been fierce battles west of the town of Masisi, as government troops attacked the base of a powerful local warlord known as General Delta.
One of the few international NGOs still working in the area is Médecins Sans Frontières. It supports, among other projects, a hospital with more than 300 beds at Masisi, where 17,000 people received care in 2017, a health centre in Nyabiondo, a network of mobile clinics and a fleet of ambulances. The work is increasingly dangerous. In the last two months, MSF personnel and vehicles have been attacked five times. Logistics pose enormous challenges too. It can take an entire day to drive the 60km from Goma to Masisi on muddy dirt tracks. There are no paved roads and many remote communities can only be reached by motorbike, some only after days walking on forest tracks. Patients regularly die when roads are cut by landslides, torrential rains or fighting.
The United Nations mission in the DRC is the largest and most expensive peacekeeping effort, but five UN bases near Masisi were shut last year, following a US-led push to cut costs.
“There is a lack of political will to crack down on the militia ... The only way this regime can keep power is to maintain a situation which allows them to keep pillaging. Each armed group can be tied to an official in Kinshasa, either in government or in the army,” said Fidel Bafilenda, an analyst in Goma.
DRC observers are particularly fearful of the growing tension between ethnic communities. Despite fertile soil and plentiful water, there is fierce competition for land in the heavily populated green hills above Lake Kivu, as well as for lucrative mines where gold, coltan and other key commodities prized in the developed world are scratched from the ground by artisanal miners.

South Africa's Inequality

"The country was very unequal in 1994 [at the end of apartheid] and now 25 years later South Africa is the most unequal country in the world," says Victor Sulla, a senior economist for the World Bank in charge of southern Africa. "There is no country that we have data about where the inequality is higher than South Africa. The people at the bottom in South Africa, they get wages comparable to the people who live in Bangladesh. It's very, very poor. Wages of less than $50 a month," Sulla says. "If you take the top ten percent, they live like in Austria. So it's very high level even by European standards or even by U.S. standards. And we are talking just about employees, people who are getting paid." 

And not the super-rich who are earning income from factories or property or other investments.

 The World Bank finds that the top 1 percent of South Africans own 70.9 percent of the nation's wealth. The bottom 60 percent of South Africans collectively control only 7 percent of the country's assets. 

The number of South Africans living below the national poverty has actually been increasing since 2011. In 2015, 55.5 percent of South Africans or more than 30 million people were surviving on less than $5 a day.

 The nation's official unemployment rate is currently at 27 percent compared to roughly 4 percent in the United States.

"South Africa is really facing the triple challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality," says the former head of the African Union, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma who now heads up a national planning commission in President Cyril Ramaphosa's cabinet. "We are a relatively rich country but with a lot of poor people," she says.

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Cocoa, not chocolate

Africa produces about 75 percent of the world’s cocoa though Africa gets just 5 percent of the $100 billion annual chocolate market value.  CNN anchor Richard Quest visited Côte d'Ivoire and made a startling revelation: most cocoa farmers he talked to had never even tasted chocolate.
Africa has been unable to extract a larger share of the global chocolate market value because it exports just raw cocoa beans. “Africa is stuck at the bottom of the cocoa value chain, dominated, instead of dominating, despite being the leading producer!” exclaims Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank. He says: “African farmers sweat, while other eat sweets. While the price of cocoa has hit an all-time low, profits of global manufacturers of chocolate have hit an all-time high. It's time to process Africa's cocoa in Africa, and end Africa being at the bottom of global value chains. Africa must not be locked at the bottom…it must rapidly add value to what it leads the world in producing”, says Mr. Adesina, adding that “it is time for Africa to move to the top of the global food value chains, through agro-industrialization and adding value to all of what it produces”.

"What is the French army doing in Africa?"

In the name of fighting terrorism, the writer said, France is aiming to gain political influence through military operation in Africa,  the French writer Raphael Granvaud said.

"France's military operations in Africa are not legitimate," he said. Instead of solving problems, Granvaud said, France is creating "troubles" in the countries where it intervenes militarily. "For example, about the Operation Licorne in the Ivory Coast in 2002, France had said these were humanitarian operations and aimed to prevent genocide, but we saw when the operations concluded, France did not solve any problems," he added. Speaking about the Operation Sangaris in Central African Republic, the writer said no problems were solved in the country and the militias there also did not leave their weapons.
The military operations launched by France in the African continent led to civilian causalities which are kept hidden by the country. The number of civilian causalities as a result of the military operations in Africa for nearly 50 years are "unclear as there is no research or extensive knowledge about it".
"The French army is doing everything it takes to hide civilian casualties, this is why we do not know the exact number of civilian casualties caused by the military operations by France," he said.
Granvaud said that the investigation into the deaths as a result of France’s military operations claimed there were no civilian casualties occurred.
"It is clear that France's military operations in Africa led to civilian casualties," he added.  Granvaud said that there could also be other crimes committed by French soldiers, adding the military hid the fact that children were subjected to rape during Operation Sangaris in Central African Republic.
"France has only intervened in Africa to defend its interests, so France will be the last country to launch a military operation to solve the problems in Africa," he said. Granvaud said if France would have wanted to conduct a neutral intervention in Africa, it would have put its troops at the service of the United Nations.
Granvaud stated that the "Operation Serval" in Mali is an example to show France’s economic dimension behind its operations on the African content. In January 2013, France launched its "Operation Serval" against several militant groups in the country's north that ended in July 2014.
With its colonial activities dating back to 1524, France dominated more than 20 countries in the west and north of Africa. Between 1962 and 2011, France conducted 228 military operations worldwide including in Africa. Since August 2014, nearly 4,000 French troops have been deployed in five West African countries -- including Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Chad -- to help fight against militant groups in the Sahel region, especially in Mali.

The Agooji

In the 19th century the Kingdom of Dahomey was a small but powerful kingdom. Located in the region of modern day Benin, the West African kingdom expanded from the 17th Century, against the much larger Asante and Yoruba Kingdoms. Dahomey was feared for its annual slave raids deep into its neighbor’s territories and the ruthlessness of their women warriors, a terrifying all-female fighting force known as the Agooji.

Up to 6,000 strong, the Agooji battled to protect one of the continent’s last independent kingdoms, fighting as elite regiments against colonial male armies in the Franco-Dahomean Wars. The Agooji fought as elite regiments in the two Franco Dahomean wars in 1890 and 1892. They defended the kingdoms’ independence, fighting and winning against colonial male armies but they also took part in human sacrifice and supported Dahomey’s gruesome slave trade to the Americas that de-populated large areas of West Africa.

“The Agooji regiments were recruited from slaves, some of them captured as early in age as 10-years old,” explained Dr. Terri Ochiagha, Teaching Fellow in Modern African History, King’s College London. “The story of the Agooji was an extraordinary story of subversion, of empowerment and of unbridled military and social power.”

“The legacy of the Dahomey warriors speaks to us in particularly striking ways,” said Harvard University Professor Suzanne Blier. “There is that memory of this enormously important period, in which basically much of the power remained in the hands of women.”

Weapons to Africa

 Russia in 2017 received orders for $16 billion worth of defence equipment, bringing Russia’s order book to $45 billion. Most equipment went to China, India and Vietnam, which ordered helicopters, engines, and vessels.
A number of African countries took delivery of military hardware from Russia last year, such as long-time customer Algeria. It received the last six of 14 Su-30MKA fighters; six more Mi-28NE attack helicopters (42 were ordered in 2013) and T-90SA tanks (out of an order for 200).
Although not mentioned by the Commission for Military-Technical Cooperation, Algeria has also recently acquired TOS-1 rocket launchers and Buk-M2E surface-to-air missiles and ordered BMPT Terminator tank support vehicles from Russia, while it is expecting delivery of Kilo class submarines.
Algeria’s receipt of four Iskander-E short range ballistic missiles was confirmed. The system has a range of around 300 km with a 480 kg warhead (fragmentation, blast fragmentation or penetration warheads). Each launch vehicle carries two missiles and each missile regiment includes around thirty vehicles (launchers, loaders, command, logistics vehicles etc.). Algeria is the second export customer for the system after Armenia.
Egypt is another important African customer, and in 2017 began receiving the first of 46 MiG-29M/M2 fighters that were ordered in December 2015 – 15 were delivered last year. Egypt also received 19 Ka-52 attack helicopters, out of an order for 46 for the Egyptian Air Force. The country has yet to decide on ordering the navalised Ka-52K for the Egyptian Navy’s Mistral class landing helicopter docks (LHDs).
Although not mentioned by the Commission, Russia last year also began delivering S-300VM missiles to Egypt and AT-9 and AT-16 anti-tank missiles for its Ka-52s. It has expressed interest in T-90 tanks and Buyan class corvettes.
Other deliveries to the continent in 2017 included a single Mi-17V-5 to Kenya (for its police); two Mi-35Ms to Nigeria (out of 12 ordered in September 2015); two Mi-35Ms to Mali (apparently two more are on order for delivery by 2019) and the first of 18 refurbished Su-30Ks to Angola (originally the order was for 12 but another six ex-Indian Air Force examples have been added).
Another contract that was confirmed was for two Pantsyr-S1 (SA-22 Greyhound) air defence systems for Equatorial Guinea. This is armed with twelve 57E6 surface-to-air guided missiles and two 2A38M30-millimetre automatic guns developed from the two-barreled 30mm GSh-30 gun.
Not mentioned by the Commission was an order announced in August last year for two Mi-171Sh armed helicopters for Burkina Faso’s military.
 Russia expects its 2018 order book to be roughly the same as last year, although possibly a bit lighter due to American sanctions.

Israeli arms sales to African countries are growing steadily, with defence exports increasing 70% between 2015 and 2016 to reach $275 million. 2017 numbers are not yet available, but Israeli ministry of defence sources say that last year the numbers were even higher.
The Israeli ministry of defence and defence companies seldom release detailed information on sales to African countries but it is known that African armed forces are interested in different types of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), loitering weapons, communications systems and radars.
Supplying weapons to African countries will likely be on the agenda of Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, who is due to begin a four-day visit to Africa on Wednesday. This is the first official visit by an Israeli defence minister to the continent in decades.
Liberman is scheduled to visit Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia. He is expected to hold a series of diplomatic meetings with heads of state and their defence ministers in all three nations.
According to the Israeli press, an Israeli security mission made a secret visit to Rwanda last month in an effort to sell weapons and military technology to the country. According to the reports, the move apparently comes after Tel Aviv signed a deal which would see Rwanda receive asylum seekers which are being forcibly expelled from Israel.
It was previously reported that the Rwandan Army is equipped with Israeli made Tavor assault rifles, and in 2016 it emerged that Rwanda had received ATMOS 2000 155 mm self-propelled howitzers from Israel’s Soltam.
Nigeria is a big potential customer for Israel systems. There are no details on specific deals but sources say that the army of this country has evaluated different Israeli made UAVs. In 2006 the Nigerian Air Force received a number of Aerostar UAVs from Israel’s Aeronautics Defence Systems. The company in December 2017 announced it had signed a contract for the sale of its Aerostar UAVs to an African country. The contract is valued at $13 million, with deliveries to take 18 months. In February it was revealed that the Amisom mission in Somalia is receiving Aerostar UAVs.
The Aerostar is 4.5 meters long, has a wingspan of 8.7 meters and a maximum takeoff weight of 230 kg. The UAV has a 12 hour endurance and a maximum speed of 200 km/h.
Israeli UAV manufacturer Innocon has supplied its systems to at least one African country but refuses to elaborate on the deal while Meteor Aerospace is offering its systems to at least two African countries. The company is developing a new 1 300 kg Medium Altitude Long Endurance unmanned aircraft, named Impact-1300, after developing the Impact 700, with a total takeoff weight of 730 kg. The Impact-700 UAV system is currently in series production.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s (SIPRI’s) Arms Transfers database, over the last several years Israel has supplied armoured vehicles and other equipment to Africa. This includes five Musketeer armoured vehicles and 16 Thunder armoured personnel carriers (APCs) to Cameroon; 11 RAM armoured vehicles to Chad; 75 Thunder APCs to Ethiopia; and 55 RAMs to Senegal.
Deals not yet reported on by SIPRI include Angolan Cessna Citations configured for maritime surveillance by Israel’s BIRD Aerosystems; and an order from an undisclosed African nation for $240 million worth of defensive aids, communications and avionics equipment from Elbit Systems.
SIPRI notes that “Israel is one of a range of smaller suppliers of major weapons and other military equipment to sub-Saharan Africa. It has long sold or given weapons to a host of developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, and the deals are often accompanied by serving or retired Israeli military personnel and Israeli civilian contractors as instructors. Although Israeli arms exports, especially of major weapons, to sub-Saharan Africa are limited, Israeli weapons, brokers and instructors are likely to sometimes have a more significant impact than mere numbers of supplied weapons imply.”
Over the last decade, Israeli exports to Africa have included targeting pods, self-propelled guns and mortars, UAVs, multiple rocket launchers, armoured vehicles, patrol craft and radars, amongst others. Aircraft and vehicle upgrades are also a service Israel has provided to African militaries.

Israel reports exports of major weapons systems to Africa, but is not so transparent regarding small arms. It is known to have supplied Galil assault rifles to half a dozen African nations, including South Sudan, Chad, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Djibouti, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Rwanda and Swaziland. Negev light machine guns and Uzi sub machine guns have also appeared in countries such as the DRC and Equatorial Guinea.