OOH Africa!!!

One may say, Nkrumah stretched it a bit when he said, “Ghana, our beloved country, is free forever”. Sure, at that time, Ghana could be described as free, but forever? Really? Look at us.

We shamelessly beg these people we drove out of our countries, for money. I imagine how smug they must feel, when the same people who drove them out and openly declared that they could do it without them, now come crawling on both knees, begging for assistance.

It is no surprise that they struggle to find any respect for us, when our elite and the leaders of our lands submit to their dictates, in exchange for loans and aid. Is the black man really capable of handling his own affairs?

Many of our own people are quick to blame our leadership. They say the solution is a change of leadership from one person to another. But Africa still struggles with chronic poverty and under-development since the advent of political independence more than fifty years ago.

The fact that we keep returning to the Bretton woods institutions for assistance corroborates the assertion that leaders are to blame. Instead of seeing through the implementation of holistic policies to solve problems once and for all, African leaders tend to do what is politically expedient, tinker on issues and tackle serious problems with make shift solutions.  The end result is that the problems continue to recur and new cosmetic arrangements made to please the electorate. The continuous cycle keeps the African nation suckling on the breast of donors.

The problem is not that African nations do not know what the causes of their problems are. We know what the problems are, what the causes are and how exactly they can be solved. The problem is the will to religiously carry out policies that would lead to true development. Why would a politician go through the pain of doing what he knows is best for the country when he can do just enough to please the electorate to stay in power for one more term?

Every form of economic recovery program Ghana has embarked on with the help of the IMF and World Bank had produced some results in the form of getting the economy back on its feet but has always led to another downturn in the long run. This proves that leaders do not look beyond their terms of office and hence are not committed to seeing out long term policies. From the structural adjustment programs to the HIPC of the early 2000s and the recent IMF bailout package, a clear pattern of recession and recovery can be noticed. Unfortunately this would continue to happen unless a holistic all inclusive long term development plan is adopted and carried out by successive leaders regardless of their party affiliation.

There are lots of complains from different quarters about the status quo in Africa. A huge chunk of this blame is laid on the doorstep of leaders. These leaders are probably guilty but the focus should be on changing the system that allow for such insipid leadership to thrive. The way forward is to have a binding national development plan that would not be aborted under any circumstances whatsoever. This plan would guide all leaders and the nation as a whole to prosperity. When this is done, then African States can have some hope of self-reliance and true independence.

Written by: Jeremiah Acquah and Alvin Ofori

http://www.modernghana.com/news/271860/1/foreign-aid-and-underdevelopment-in-africa.html

Africa: The New Taskmaster

source: cartoonstock.com
source: cartoonstock.com

On October 2nd and 3rd, more than one news agency reported the “arrest” of former Nigerian oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke  in London by the UK National Crime Agency’s recently formed  International Corruption Unit. The NCA did not name suspects however it did confirm that it had arrested five people in connection with fraud and bribery offences. Mrs. Alison-Madueke served under former President Goodluck Jonathan. During her tenure in office it was alleged by Nigeria’s former Central Bank governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi that tens of billions of dollars in oil revenues had not been transferred to state coffers by the government-run oil company Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation between January 2012 and July 2013. Previously, Mrs Alison-Madueke has denied any wrongdoings when questioned about missing funds and grants. Her arrest comes right after newly elected Nigerian President Buhari declared that prosecution of those suspected of misappropriating the NNPC’s revenue under past administrations would begin soon.

source:independent.co.uk
source:independent.co.uk

President Buhari’s main concern has been to end corruption in the country’s government. Personally, we met his declarations with a degree of skepticism. We were not doubting his sincerity, intentions or abilities but rather we had grown accustomed to the complex and seemingly impenetrable web that was African corruption. We could not see how he was going to manage to break through these complex systems to enact real change. Also, at this point we were more than accustomed to African leaders who made promises, got elected and never seemed to be able to deliver on what they had promised. So imagine our surprise when news of the former Minister’s arrest broke. It seemed that the tides were actually turning in this oil-rich country’s dealings. Although the arrests were not made in Nigeria, it was reported by Reuters that the sealing of one of the former minister’s houses in the upmarket Asokoro district in Abuja indicated a coordination with Nigerian authorities.

This former Nigerian minister is most definitely not the first African leader to be prosecuted for corruption and bribery suspicions however what marks this instance as different is that it follows assurances by an African leader to take people who have wronged their country to task. Does this mark the beginning of the end of international intervention when it comes to taking wrongdoers to task? Another example of this is Senegal’s decision to try the former president of Chad, Hissène Habré in Dakar. The New York Times reported that “If a trial does go ahead in Senegal, it will be the first time the president of one country is tried before in another country’s court on charges of crimes committed at home, officials said. Other heads of state who have been prosecuted have appeared before international courts or tribunals”. News like this gives us hope that Africans might finally be taking a step towards seizing control of corruption and starting to take on the responsibility of taking to task suspected corrupt officials and even going a step further as to actually prosecute them on our own land.

Viva L’Africa!

by: Naa Adukwei Quarcoopome & Paul Isaac Kwofie

 

 

sources:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/02/us-nigeria-oil-arrest-idUSKCN0RW21020151002

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/nigerias-ex-oil-minister-reportedly-arrested-in-london-for-money-laundering-a6678136.html

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/02/us-nigeria-oil-arrest-idUSKCN0RW21020151002

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-34430597

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/21/world/africa/senegal-to-prosecute-former-president-of-chad-hissene-habre.html?_r=0

BOOM! BOOM!! AFRICA AT WAR!!!

images (1)

For more than 300 years, the African continent has suffered an extended term of what Europe would call the Great Depression. We have been shut down by a somewhat stronger force which is either us or anybody other than us.

Conflicts, have been the underlying factor of Africa’s demise, however, we have been knee-jerk quick to point fingers on the white man. While it is true that, he played a great role in whatever happened to the African heritage, it always comes down to us and the heart at the core of our actions. The white, I hate to say, only made us more conscious of the kind of motives we had, he shone the light on the apparent ‘communal spirit’ we had initially.

I would take very quickly the ousting of Gaddafi by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). Now this case, when a lot of Africans hear it today, get really excited and start to thank whatever gods made them for the killing of a man as ruthless as that. But when the smart ones among them look at Libya today, and the Libya Gaddafi made, we see today’s Libya as a failed state. A state rotten to the bone! Libya was getting somewhere until the uninvited guests from the US interfered.

The Rwandan genocide, is undoubtedly not a laughing matter. But a conflict between two groups of people, who have similar names (Hutus and Tutsis) is something that beats my imaginative consciousness. The Hutus who history refers to as ‘dark and short’ and ‘less educated’ had to rise up and fight their counter tribesmen because they had the power to. If there’s ever a conflict in Africa, it has to be because someone believes they wield a greater power and have to exercise it. They suddenly had to show the others that they were now in charge and in an almost mysterious way, they realised they didn’t need the other group anymore. They have been living with this same groimagesup of people years before the colonial master arrived and yet when the masters left, they no longer wanted to live with them. And yes, the colonial master, is also to blame.

There has to always be a western power to blame in these things. The Belgians came into the town, used a method of colonisation called divide and conquer, which basically serves as the root of the inherent division of the two peoples. When they finished exploiting them however (which I don’t think they ever actually completed), they gave the opportunity for the people to choose which group would exert political power. The Hutu people, won hands down since they’re in the majority, bringing the Tutsis, the Belgian’s favourites, to the hated side of the coin. War broke out; in fact, it was a genocide.

Now, interestingly there was something happening around 1967 in the country now known as Nigeria. Nigeria and oil had a harmonizing tune in the late 90’s because oil was found in the southern part of Nigeria; Biafra which was somewhat poorer than her northern counterpart at the time. After the discovery of oil amidst severe corruption on the part of highly dominated northern government, Biafra wanted to be a country on its own. Once again, there has been a taste of power by one party. Wealth in essence was the power that was tasted and was the reason for the war between these parties at the time. Now, as afore mentioned, the white man always has to have a role to play; the French were supplying arms to the Biafra peoples which prolonged the war more than was supposed to. And why were the French doing this? They wanted to take part in the oil partitioning!

Now after all these occurrences, we look at Africa today and we see a nation of great poverty! Even the poverty is unevenly distributed, which then begs the question: “Who currently has power in African states?” The white men are no longer physically here, but we keep blaming them for all that’s going on. While it might be true that they actually have great influence on the things we did as in the French connection, they don’t directly influence our actions today. We’ve spent too much time lamenting that we’ve lost sight of our own actions that took us to state of deprivation.

Even if the white man gave you the machete to kill your brother, he didn’t hold your hand to kill him. We are responsible for where we are today; enough of shifting blames!

Written by Eric Korku Gbekor and Rejoice Hormeku

www.africamasterweb.com/BiafranWarCauses.html

www.history.com/topics/rwandangenocide

http://www.rt.com/news/233283-libya-crisis-consequence-nato/

 

IMF & World Bank : The Neo-Colonial Masters

Once upon a time, the Gold Coast (currently Ghana) comprised several tribes and kingdoms, which coexisted and interacted through an elaborate system of trade and diplomacy, and despite hosting a poorer economic region than our prospective colonial master back then, we had our liberty; our traditional leaders made the decisions after doing their ‘own thinking’ without any duress or external control. Then came the British, who through a combination of craftiness and gun powder, managed to subjugate the Gold Coast. After a long period of exploitation from our colonizers, some of the educated natives decided to retaliate and restore the system of self-rule. Nevertheless, the British, as well as other European masters, had thought light years ahead and discovered that they need not be in their colonies to rule them, but they could create a better system of master-slave manipulation and exploitation from afar, a situation which prompted a school of thought to conjecture the dependency theory.

credits : chikaoduahblog.com
credits : chikaoduahblog.com

Since 1967 to date, Ghana seeking aid from international financial bodies, especially the IMF, hasn’t been something that is new to the country. These include programs in 1967, 1972, 1983, 1999, 2001, and 2009. The IMF program with Ghana between 2009 and 2012 was a programme called Highly Indebted Poor Countries initiative under the former NPP administration in 2001. HIPC sought to provide debt relief to cash-strapped countries based on the implementation of poverty alleviation strategies prescribed by the IMF and the World Bank. After Ghana exited the HIPC programme, it became a lower middle income country. The most recent encounter with the IMF was 2015. After the 2015 bailout which came with its conditions (including cutting down the number of jobbs in the public sector), the country hasn’t got any better. Just recently, there had been rumours that the country was to be put on the HIPC programme again because the country’s debt to GDP ratio is currently around 65-75%.

With respect to these rumours, The Daily Graphic, sought to find out whether the IMF would consider advising Ghana to consider a HIPC debt relief but the IMF answered that Ghana had already had its chance and could not do so again. These events and occurrences show how Ghana still relies on western countries(or former colonial masters) and institutions even after we have had political independence.

IMF deputy managing director and Seth Tekper credits: citifmonline
IMF deputy managing director and Seth Tekper
credits: citifmonline

We concur with the dependency school of thought that infrastructure and the administration of our public institutions remain our key challenge, but the current state of the economy of Ghana presents a bit of a dilemma with respect to the our next move to generate the needed capital. There is a possibility of getting revenue from taxes, but the government has failed to establish a system to effectively collect taxes from the informal sector, which contributes to about 88% of the workforce. The country is replete with natural resources like gold ores and crude oil, but those have been donated to some of our creditors, so we stick with cocoa, which is still inadequate to support government expenditure. This affords us only one option: to borrow more from international financial institutions i.e. IMF and World Bank…and we all know by now that there is no such thing as a free lunch in this world.

So we ask ourselves, can the economy of Ghana survive for 10 years, there will be no IMF bailout?

Written by Ayishetu Seidu and Norbert Sackey

links :

http://www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/50081-imf-clears-the-air-on-hipc.html

http://www.fesghana.org/index.php?page=informal-economy

http://www.myjoyonline.com/politics/2014/September-10th/imf-bailout-sad-moment-in-ghanas-history-nana-akufo-addo.php

http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/features/Bawumia-s-Lecture-IMF-Bailout-Will-the-Anchor-Hold-351788

KABOOM IN THE SINAI PENINSULA!!

KABOOM IN SINAI!!!

BOOM

The Egyptian Government has begun an operation to literally destroy all homes and buildings along the Gaza border to eliminate the smuggling tunnels . This operation is in line with a counterinsurgency campaign established following a surge in attacks by militants through tunnels under the border with Gaza. These attacks have claimed the lives of 3,600 civilians, security personnel and militants (more than two-thirds of them the plans for the buffer zone were announced).

In 2013, Egypt troops began razing buildings within 1km (0.6 miles) of the Gaza border to create a buffer zone in a bid to completely eliminate the smuggling of weapons and militants via the clandestine tunnels.

The border before the demolition
Satellite image of the border before the demolition
After
Satellite image of the border one year later

According to the Human Rights Watch (HRW), the Egyptian government has destroyed more than 3255 homes in the Sinai Peninsula along the Gaza border, which is clearly an act in violation of International and basic human rights. Also, Egyptian troops have reportedly begun flooding tunnels under the border.

These actions by the Egyptian government may seem harsh even inhumane as clearly violates international law irrespective of the fact that it has extraterritorial rights in the Sinai peninsula. The government has vehementy denied allegation of the Human Rights Watch. It says that the locals are in favour of the demolitions as it prevents insurgents from gaining access to Egypt via the tunnels. However the lack of compensation and housing has rendered some locals homeless. In addition some locals no longer have a reliable source of income as the farmlands they relied on are reduced to cinders.

The counterinsurgency campaign to level buildings by the Egyptian government may be a strategic approach to curb the influx of insurgents but there are some immediate implcations it would have to take into consideration.

@authors Benjamin Annan-Baidoo and Judah Lafia-King

Sources :

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-34317654

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-34288465

No Strings Attached….

The chains of imprisonment fell and in their place cleverly placed strings. Slaves are now puppets. A current state no different from the former. As long as it is a mutually accepted and voluntary relationship, we can turn a blind eye to its savagery. Freedom, self-dependency, autonomy, independence all dubious machinations of an elaborate illusion.  Patronage to neopatrimonialism. Neopatrimonialism the neo-colonisation. The hope of Africa has worn thin, leaving zealous warriors to do the wisest thing left – grab what they can from who they know in their privileged position. For a period it seems ingenious, festive even. Leaders have used the ‘unfortunate’ status of third world nations to further personal ambition, taking its populace from frying pan to fire (I will explain in a few minutes). The wind blows, and into thin air goes billions of state money yearly. With ailing structures of governance, transparency has no place in these nations. In fact we are far led away from the core ethos of pan-Africanism in securing for our selfish gains, resources that are meant to better serve and forward the collective dreams of the hopeful citizens of Africa. Perhaps Scientific can better express my pain.

It hurts to sit and watch the sacrifice of visionaries traded for fleeting ‘riches’ that are in fact liabilities. Liabilities because aid received often dig deeper wedges between us and our goals. Often momentarily injecting the economy with money but the debt afterwards puts us in a worse situation. Loyalties are forged with the exchange of bilateral pleasantries but our resources are. We accepted the new and kicked out the old. We neglected our very culture and blindly built systems developed with no consideration for our environment. Pitcher mentions in Rethinking Patrimonialism and Neopatrimonialism in Africa that our actions a recipe for disaster because ancient practices used the accumulation of wealth by leaders (Kingdoms) as a means of maintaining control of the people being governed. By neglecting the significant role our past plays on our move for contemporary change, sets us in perpetual backwardness. A different mind set has been carried into a different setting that propounds the active participation of the populace (democracy).

It comes as no surprise that many are crossing oceans from Africa to find ‘work’. We are back at square one working for others when we should be managing our affairs freely and independently. Why are people leaving their free countries back into the previously detested slavery? Neopatrimonialism is simply for a few select, leaving the rest suffer bitterly. Libya is among the most recent to lose to the system in question.

migrants

In years gone by, men, women and children have risked their lives and left their homes to seek greener pastures in the golden lands of Europe and America. Many are the times that these journeys to a ‘better place’ are unsafe and could possibly lead to serious injuries and even death. Yet, these people take that seemingly unreasonable risk to escape the barren lands of Africa. In a recent news story, roughly 4,700 people were rescued of the coast of Libya as they were trying to get to Europe. It was found out that during this dangerous journey, one woman lost her life in her quest to reach the promised land.

dead

The coast guards that under took the rescue mission reported that twenty rescue missions were coordinated to save over 4,300 migrants that were travelling on non-seaworthy rubber boats and barges. A further 335 migrants were picked up by Greece rescue missions and were directed to Italy to disembark. These rescue missions were the collective efforts of the Italian coastguard and navy, humanitarian agency Doctors without Borders, the Malta-based Migrant Offshore Aid Station, a merchant boat, a Croatian vessel under the European Union’s Triton rescue mission and naval ships from Germany and Britain under the EU’s EUNAVFOR Med mission. Now Europe is having a hard time coping with the unwanted migrants as they leave Africa to seek a better life.

migrant-boat

Perhaps the new Africa that our independence icons dreamed of was not meant to be. After all we did waltz back into the control of our so called oppressors. From independence, to begging , to selling our loyalties, to losing the pan-African spirit and back into chains and the vessel has been neopatrimonialism by our very selves. No strings attached? They lied.

  • Makafui Amezah and Christian Biassey- Bogart

Link to the news story:  http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/19/us-europe-migrants-italy-idUSKCN0RJ0PG20150919

Pitcher, A. & Moran, M. H. & Johnston, M.(2009). Rethinking Patrimonialism and Neopatrimonialism in Africa. African Studies Review 52(1), 125-156. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved September 20, 2015, from Project MUSE database.

LET THE TOOTHLESS DOGS BARK

The hope of Burkinabes to see a new democratically elected government was dashed on the 17th of September 2015, when news spread of the occurrence of a coup d’etat. According to BBC news Africa, the coup, led by General Diendere was born out of the displeasure of members of the presidential guard (RSP),a unit set up by former President Compaore, over the new electoral law banning candidates linked to last year’s bid to extend the president’s time in office. The RSP anticipates that the election of a new president will mean an end to their existence as a unit, thus causing them to revolt via the coup.

Military-of-Burkina-Faso
The African Union, Africa’s continental international body, has renounced the actions of the RSP. Being a body which has promoting democratic principles and institutions in Africa as one of its core objectives, it is no surprise that they have been quick to lash out against the RSP. They have suspended Burkina Faso’s membership status and the coup leaders have been given a 96 hour grace period to restore civilian rule lest sanctions be placed on them. Considering that this is not the first of such occurrences in Africa, one question that may be bugging the minds of the continent’s citizens is whether or not the AU has made any progress or improved on it’s ability to appropriately handle such phenomena. Nora McKeon, in her paper African states and the OAU tells of how the series of coups that ravaged West Africa right after the formation of the OAU (parent group to the AU), and how these weakened the institution. More than 5 decades afterwards, has the African Union gained enough technical know how to better handle the coups in Africa?

African_Union_flag.svg
Maybe not. It must be said that the union has put a fair amount of effort into dealing with coup d’etats in Africa. In 2000, the Lome Declaration was drafted by the African Union, spelling out clear guidelines on the AU’s line of action should an unconstitutional change of government occur. These guidelines include public denouncement of the coup d’etat by the leader of the AU, suspension of the country in question’s AU membership, and sanctions on the coup leaders. These guidelines were intended to be a deterrent to any attempt to stage a coup d’etat. However, historical records show that the African Union has been woeful in dealing with the spate of coup d’etats on the continent. Since the Lome Declaration was put into force, there have been no less than 12 coup d’etats on the continent with General Diendere’s seizure of power in Burkina Faso being the latest. This is no different from their inability to handle the coup d’etats that occurred in the onset of post-colonial era. In several cases such as the Congo crisis and the West African coup d’atat epidemic of the 1960’s, the OAU at the time showed serious deficiencies in their capacity to curtail these instances of military seizures of power. At that point in time, several salient reasons could be used to explain why the OAU couldn’t deal with the spate of coup d’etats. For one, it could be said that the union and the leaders of the member countries were only just getting the hang of democratic rule and its complexities and as such, they lacked the know-how to deal with these problems. However, those reasons do not hold anymore. The union’s inability to handle these issues cries out that they have always been and probably always will be unable to deal with coup d’etats in Africa.
With this knowledge, it wouldn’t be too surprising to find that General Diendere and his men are taking the African Union’s threats and remarks with a pinch of salt. The possibility of and implication of sanctions on them may be the least of their worries. After all, if the AU turns out to be ineffective once again, General Diendere and his men will only make the AU seem like a large, restrained, toothless dog barking away at a band of thieves. We wait to see the outcome of events and sincerely hope that the AU will prove us wrong.

Written By: Anna Addei and Mawuli Adjei.

Sources:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-34277045

http://www.jstor.org/stable/2612179

http://www.au.int/en/about/nutshell

http://dspace.africaportal.org/jspui/bitstream/123456789/30819/1/P197.pdf