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Displaying items by tag: African Union

Bobi Wine, the main challenger of incumbent Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in the election, said early on Friday that Thursday’s vote had seen “widespread fraud and violence” but the opposition leader remained positive as ballots are being counted under an internet blackout.

Uganda Elections 2021 Results: Bobi Wine vs Yoweri Museveni - Electoral Commission results show Museveni in early lead

“Despite the widespread fraud and violence experienced across the country earlier today, the picture still looks good. Thank you Uganda for turning up and voting in record numbers,” Wine tweeted shortly after midnight (21:00 GMT), managing to bypass the blockage.

The 38-year-old former pop star-turned-legislator did not give details about his accusations, which contradicted the government’s account that Thursday’s vote had been peaceful with no extensive cases of violence reported.

The Electoral Commission is expected to release the results within 48 hours.

The internet remained down for a third day as vote counting continued in the country. Results are expected by Saturday afternoon.

President Museveni is seeking a sixth term in office and Wine has been arrested multiple times during the campaigning, is his main competitor among 11 opposition candidates.

The election took place after one of the most violent campaigns in years, with harassment and arrests of the opposition leaders, attacks on the media and dozens of deaths.

The run-up to polling day was marred by a sustained crackdown on Museveni’s rivals and government critics and unprecedented attacks on the nation’s media and human rights defenders.

In November, at least 54 people were shot dead by security forces loyal to Museveni during protests against one of Wine’s numerous arrests.

The US, EU, UN and global rights and democracy groups have raised concerns about the integrity and transparency of the election.

Meanwhile, the African Union (AU), has sent monitors, along with an AU women’s group.

On Wednesday, the United States, a key aid donor to Uganda, announced it was cancelling a diplomatic observer mission after several of its staff were denied permission to monitor the election.

On Tuesday, Museveni announced the suspension of social media networks and messaging services like Instagram, Twitter and WhatsApp in response to Facebook closing accounts linked to government officials that the technology giant said were spreading misinformation.

 

Source : AL Jazeera

Published in Economy

The African Union (AU) Commission called for addressing non-tariff barriers in order to realize the major aspirations of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement.

In a statement released on Sunday, the AU said that the African continent is about to become the world’s largest free trade area. But that effort might be slowed down if non-tariff barriers are not addressed.

According to the AU, although the negative impact of non-tariff barriers on intra-regional trade is recognized, “so far there has been limited success in addressing them.”

“The success of the AfCFTA depends in part on how well governments can track and remove non-tariff barriers,” an AU statement quoted Albert Muchanga, AU Commissioner for Trade and Industry, as saying.

Amid the urgent need to remove non-tariff barriers towards the success of the continental free trade deal, the AU has launched a new campaign to spotlight and remove non-tariff barriers in intra-continental trade launches this week.

According to the AU, the “Trade Easier Campaign” envisions promoting the uptake and use of the African Union’s trade barriers platform, a non-tariff barriers reporting mechanism tool, it was noted.

The tool, developed by the AU in partnership with UNCTAD, supports efforts to make continental trade easier and less costly by helping African businesses report such barriers and supporting their elimination with the help of governments, it was noted.

Noting that non-tariff barriers slow down the movement of goods and costs importers and exporters billions of dollars annually, the AU also stressed that non-tariff barriers “stand in the way of the success of the AfCFTA.”

“If we want the AfCFTA to thrive, we have to ensure operational barriers are dropped and businesses and traders, especially small ones; don’t suffer from undue limitations placed on them as they try do the basic thing that makes economies work — trade,” Muchanga said.

The AU, however, stressed that trade barriers require bold solutions.

“Every day many African traders and businesses face barriers to trade. From quotas to excessive import documents or unjustified packaging requirements, these barriers are a big hindrance to trade between African countries and make it complicated and expensive to move goods across the continent,” the AU said.

According to the AU, regulatory and procedural barriers include customs operations and border documentation requirements, rules of origin documentation and pre-shipment inspections.

According to a UNCTAD report, if these barriers are removed, the African economy could gain 20 billion U.S. dollars – much more than the 3.6 billion U.S. dollars it could recover by eliminating tariffs.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) also estimated that the AfCFTA has the potential to boost intra-African trade by 52.3 percent by eliminating import duties and could double trade if non-tariff barriers are also reduced.

The AfCFTA, which was launched in March 2018 in Rwandan capital city Kigali, has so far garnered 54 signatories, offering new hope and continental exhilaration in terms of boosting intra-African trade, and eventually facilitating Africa’s development and industrialization.

 

- Xinhua

Published in Business

President Muhammadu Buhari has urged African leaders to ensure the immediate actualization of the Common African Position on Assets Recovery (CAPAR), as the continent celebrates Anti-Corruption Day, July 11, 2020.

In a letter to South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa, Chairman of African Union, the Nigerian leader asked for a re-commitment to the anti-corruption war by leaders on the continent to engender an “integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens, representing a dynamic force in the international arena.”

The President laments that “the massive corruption being perpetrated across Africa’s national governments has created a huge governance deficit that has in turn created negative consequences that worsen the socioeconomic and political situation in Africa.”

The letter by President Buhari reads in part:

“As Your Excellency is aware, the continental fight against corruption has been premised on an irreducible minimum that can pave the way for Africa’s transformation. In this effort, the emphasis has been on the continent’s collective determination to forge resilient partnerships among our national governments, civil society organizations and other interest groups, such as women, youth and the physically challenged, to ensure improved socio-economic, political and security development and ultimately, the improvement of our continent.

“The concern of the African Union is that the massive corruption being perpetuated across our national governments has created a huge governance deficit that has in turn created negative consequences that have worsened the socio-economic and political situation in Africa.

“Your Excellency may recall that these continental concerns led our colleagues at the African Union, to appoint my humble self as the African Union Anti-Corruption Champion. I believe that the efforts and focus of the Nigerian Government at home, partly informed this decision as well as the need for Africa, as a continent, to recommit herself to the fight against corruption and the imperative to free resources for meaningful development.

“I am, therefore, in full support of the call for the issuance of a continental message to commemorate this day, on July 11, 2020, to re-commit the African Union to the continental fight against corruption, including through a robust approach to assets recovery, hence the need for a strategic framework on a Common African Position on Assets Recovery (CAPAR).

“Happily, in February 2020, at the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa, CAPAR was adopted. In my view, the African Union must go beyond the mere annual celebration of the Africa Anti-Corruption Day by moving swiftly to operationalize the African Common Position on Assets Recovery by all member states. This is an excellent way to drive Africa’s Agenda 2063, for an ‘integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens, representing a dynamic force in the international arena.’

“As current Chair of our Union, I sincerely commend to you, this suggestion that seeks to call our leaders in Africa to recommit ourselves to this very important task of reclaiming our continent from the vice of systemic corruption.

“Please accept, Your Excellency and Dear Brother, the assurances of my highest consideration.”]

 

Credit: Daily Post

Published in Economy

Leaders of Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt said they were hopeful that the African Union could help them broker a deal to end a decade-long dispute over water supplies within two or three weeks.

Ethiopia, which is building the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) which worries its downstream neighbours Egypt and Sudan, said it would fill the reservoir in a few weeks, as planned, providing enough time for talks to be concluded.

Tortuous negotiations over the years have left the two nations and their neighbour Sudan short of an agreement to regulate how Ethiopia will operate the dam and fill its reservoir, while protecting Egypt’s scarce water supplies from the Nile river.

Ethiopia’s water minister, Seleshi Bekele, said that consensus had been reached to finalise a deal within two to three weeks, a day after leaders from the three countries and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who chairs the African Union, held an online summit.

Billene Seyoum, a spokeswoman for Ethiopia’s prime minister, said that in Friday’s agreement there was “no divergence from Ethiopia’s original position of filling the dam.”

The Egyptian presidency said in a statement after the summit that Ethiopia will not fill the dam unilaterally.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is being built about 15 km (9 miles) from the border with Sudan on the Blue Nile, the source of most of the Nile’s waters.

Ethiopia says the $4 billion hydropower project, which will have an installed capacity of 6,450 megawatts, is essential to its economic development.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister’s Office said that the three countries agreed that the Nile and the Grand Renaissance Dam “are African issues that must be given African solutions.”

Friday’s round of talks brokered by the African Union, is the latest attempt to move forward negotiations which have repeatedly stalled due to technical and political disagreements. They also signal an intention to solve the issue without foreign intervention.

Ethiopia’s statement said the African Union, and not the U.N. Security Council, will assist the countries in the negotiations and provide technical support.

Cairo had appealed to the Council in a last-ditch diplomatic move aimed at stopping Ethiopia from filling the dam. The Council was expected to hold a public meeting on Monday to discuss the issue.

 

Reuters

Published in Engineering

President Mnangagwa has challenged Africa to pursue the vision of the founding fathers and promote economic integration and sustainable development for the continent.

In his address to the nation today to mark the 57th anniversary of the founding of the Organisation for African Unity, now the African Union, on May 25 1963, the President commended Africans for defending the continent's independence.

"As we celebrate Africa Day, we are jubilant that the vision of our founding fathers has been by and large realised, kept and is jealously defended," he said.

"Above all, that vision continues to be elaborated upon, notably through Agenda 2063 which envisions an economically integrated continent of Africa which will be a global powerhouse by 2063.

"Our continent's desire is to achieve sustainable development, through concrete manifestations of the Pan-African drive for unity, self-determination, freedom, progress and collective prosperity."

President Mnangagwa said the African Continental Free Trade Area that seeks to create a prosperous future was now in force and called for the scaling up of integration and cooperation at all levels. He said cooperation was imperative in the continent's quest to achieve food security and to mitigate the impact of climate change and threats posed by disease outbreaks.

"Conscious of Agenda 2063, we must continue to explore and exploit our vast natural resources. The value addition and beneficiation of our various resource endowments must be harnessed to modernise and industrialise Africa's economies.

"In this 'Decade of Action', let us give impetus to innovation. We must drive all facets of socio-economic development, leveraging on science, technologies as well as our rich heritage, history and cultures," said the President.

The promotion of human development and the economic empowerment of youth and women must result in an Africa that produces goods and services for itself through its own innovations and initiatives.

"The realisation of sustainable development and the great vision of an improved standard of living for our people must remain a top priority."

President Mnangagwa called on Africans to deepen the culture of democracy and good governance as taught by the continent's founding fathers. Former colonial powers had no authority to lecture Africa on democracy as the continent had fought to achieve the democracy being enjoyed to this day. Africans should not be shy to express the rich cultural heritage, languages and identities.

"Zimbabwe continues to pursue robust cooperation with our neighbours and the continent as a whole; subscribing to a fully integrated continent of Africa. We must now urgently consolidate the implementation of cross-border projects, to improve our road networks, water, energy and ICT infrastructure, among others. This will inevitably accelerate multi-faceted sustainable development in the region and on the continent," he said.

The continent continued to face various challenges despite development made in other areas with civil wars and terrorism being experienced in some areas. He said the Extraordinary SADC Organ Troika Summit recently met to address the terrorism scourge experienced in some parts of Mozambique.

"Let me reiterate our unequivocal rejection of terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations, and our strong condemnation of all terrorist acts, which will never be justified.

"Zimbabwe remains committed to play its part in all regional and continental initiatives as our modest contribution towards a prosperous and peaceful world order," he said.

President Mnangagwa condemned some Western nations for meddling in the internal affairs of countries on the continent. Zimbabwe continued to suffer from unwarranted interference and endure illegal sanctions imposed as punishment for reclaiming land.

"However, we are buoyed by the fact that we have re-united with our land, which is now irreversibly reposed into our hands, we its true owners," he said.

"As we commemorate and celebrate the unity of our continent, we in Zimbabwe deeply thank our Sadc region and the whole continent of Africa for standing with us. Africa has rejected and denounced the sanctions against Zimbabwe and the Sudan, urging those responsible for these illegal, heinous measures to immediately lift them without conditionalities.

"They are illegal, unjust, spiteful and undeserved. Above all, they go against the grain and spirit of civilised international relations as espoused in the United Nations Charter. We reiterate that sanctions have no place in modern international relations."

President Mnangagwa also urged Africans to remain alert to the threats of Covid-19 pandemic despite the continent recording low infection and mortality figures as compared to other continents.

"We must therefore, continue with the concerted efforts towards a continental response, and a united global response under the World Health Organisation. Covid-19 knows no borders; hence our response both on the continent and beyond must reflect this undeniable reality," he said.

The President urged Africans to re-dedicate themselves to defend the continent's liberty and unity and commit to fight for lasting justice and sustainable development, which leaves no one behind.

 

Source - The Herald Zimbabwe

Published in Business

The violent conflict that erupted in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon in 2016 continues unabated. It was triggered by the government’s repression of protests over the increasing influence of French in the English-speaking legal and educational institutions, and by the perceived marginalisation of the country’s Anglophone regions.

Some Anglophones are demanding increased decentralisation, while others are violently struggling for an independent state called “Ambazonia”.

The conflict has had devastating consequences for the Anglophone regions. According to Crisis Group around 3,000 people have died and half a million have been displaced. One in three people in the Anglophone regions are estimated to be in need of humanitarian aid.

Attempts have been made, including the involvement of other countries, to resolve the crisis. For example, Switzerland led a mediation initiative in 2019. But, for its part, the African Union, has been largely silent on the conflict.

It supported the Swiss-led initiative. It was also party to a joint statement on a tripartite commitment to supporting Cameroon’s ongoing peace and reconciliation process. And the African Union head, Moussa Faki Mahamat, visited Cameroonian President Paul Biya in July 2018 and discussed the need for a national dialogue to resolve the conflict. He visited again in November 2019.

But the conflict is conspicuously absent from the African Union’s Peace and Security Council, its decision-making body on the “prevention, management and resolution of conflicts”. This, despite the council being mandated to “facilitate timely and efficient response to conflict and crisis situations in Africa”.

The reason for this, we believe, is that a major part of the struggle in Cameroon is separatist in character. Cameroon’s territorial integrity is therefore at stake. In 1963, the Organisation of African Unity, predecessor to the African Union, adopted the principle of the inviolability of borders inherited from colonisation.

Since then there has been little support for secessionist movements in Africa. Eritrea and South Sudan were able to become independent states and many African countries support Western Sahara’s quest for self-determination. But a host of others – including Biafra, Katanga, Bioko, Zanzibar, Darfur, Casamance, Somaliland – have not seen much support.

Many of Cameroon’s neighbours, and a few on the Peace and Security Council, face similar challenges and are, therefore, not sympathetic to this cause. Indeed the African Union chairperson, during his visit to President Biya in 2018 had reconfirmed the African Union’s “unwavering commitment to the unity and territorial integrity of Cameroon”.

But the African Union is vital to finding a sustainable solution to the conflict in Cameroon. It needs to overcome this difficulty, and step up its lacklustre conflict management response.

Who should be doing what

The United Nations (UN) is tasked with the responsibility of preventing and managing conflict globally. In 2017, it and African Union signed a joint “framework for enhanced partnership in peace and security”. It emphasised collaboration and predictability in dealing with conflict in Africa.

Regional organisations are tasked, where appropriate, to respond to conflicts in their respective regions. There are many positives about this division of labour. But, there can also be challenges when there is a lack of capacity or unwillingness to respond to conflicts.

The UN Security Council attempted to discuss Cameroon in May 2019, but had to be content with an informal discussion after African members blocked a formal tabling of the matter.

For its part, the African Union has established a robust peace and security architecture. Besides the Peace and Security Council, it also has the

The African Union also has a mediation unit and, more recently, established a post conflict reconstruction centre.

The African Union has used these various avenues to resolve conflicts in a number of countries. These have included the Central Africa Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Somalia, Gambia and Sudan.

Its track record in conflicts mixed. It did well in managing the conflict in Sudan, but not so well in Libya or South Sudan. The reasons often cited for the failures include the near absence of regional leadership, reliance on external funding, problems of harmonisation with the regional economic communities and a lack of capacity.

There is also a lack of political will on the part of the African Union’s peace and security council to get involved in a conflict deemed largely as an internal matter.

The fact that an African Union head has visited the country could point to some “quiet diplomacy” taking place in the background. But, that is not enough.

Way forward

If the African Union does not become more proactive in resolving the conflict in Cameroon, it risks seeing it escalate, and possibly fuelling instability in the region.

For many years Cameroon was considered a haven of peace in Central Africa, one of the more unstable regions on the continent with conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Burundi and Chad. The region does not have a single democratic state.

There are a number of different issues that need to be simultaneously addressed in the management of the conflict in Cameroon.

Firstly, the African Union and UN need to coordinate their efforts in addressing the humanitarian needs of the refugees and displaced persons. And the African Union Commission on Human and Peoples Rights must investigate the many complaints of human rights abuses in Cameroon, and to take appropriate action.

Secondly, the continental body needs to deploy its “Panel of the Wise” to determine how best to manage the conflict. Thirdly, it must also send a special envoy to the Anglophone region to implement a conflict management strategy that will lead to a sustainable peace agreement.

Fourthly, it must settle the disputes over the right to self determination through the appropriate UN structures.


Read more: Why Cameroon must move beyond dialogue to solve its Anglophone crisis The Conversation


Cheryl Hendricks, Executive director, Africa Institute of South Africa, Human Sciences Research Council and Gabriel Ngah Kiven, PhD candidate in Political Studies at the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Johannesburg

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Published in Opinion & Analysis

Ghana has been chosen by the African Union (AU) to host the secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area. It beat other competing countries including Egypt, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar and Senegal to win the bid.

As a free trade area, member countries have come together and agreed not to impose tariffs, quotas and other trade barriers on goods and services. The agreement is expected to enlarge markets and diversify exports, particularly manufactured goods. According to US-based think tank the Brookings Institute, intra-African trade stands at about 14%, while the share of manufactured goods to the rest of the world stands at 18%. Trade among Asian countries is much higher – at 59% – and even higher among European countries at 69%. The hope is that the African free trade area will boost trade across the continent by 52% by 2022 .

The core mandate of the secretariat will be to implement the free trade agreement, which has been ratified by 25 out of 54 countries. Once all have ratified the deal, it will create the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organisation in 1995.

Africa’s free trade area will cover a market of 1.2 billion people with a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of US$2.5 trillion.

The secretariat’s job will be to recruit personnel, train them, and develop organisational capability. The secretariat will also have to implement policies handed down by the governing body, keep the media informed, organise conferences and identify potential funding sources. It will also monitor and evaluate the progress of policies and programmes.

This is a first for Ghana which has not hosted a continental secretariat. The hope is that it can emulate the success of other African capitals that have befitted from hosting the AU and the United Nations. Addis Ababa is home to the AU headquarters while Nairobi hosts two of the UN’s biggest bodies. For its part, South Africa hosts the Pan-African Parliament.

The presence of the AU in Addis Ababa has been credited with an increase in property valuations as well as job creation.

In making its bid, Ghana took advantage of its strategic geographical location in West Africa. It has put a great deal of effort into making the country a gateway and a trade hub in West Africa.

Hosting the free trade area secretariat will come with costs and benefits - direct and indirect.

Why Ghana

In establishing its credentials to host the secretariat, the Ghanaian government would have set out the country’s most notable achievements.

These would have included the fact that it’s been an exemplary member of the AU. For example, in 2007 it was among the first countries to be reviewed by the African Peer Review Mechanism – the self-assessment mechanism used to measure good governance.

The fact that it put its hand up sent a signal to other countries that the peer review process was credible.

Other factors that would have played in Ghana’s favour are that the country’s economy has been showing strong growth.

It is one of the fastest growing economies in the world with an average GDP growth of about 6%. In addition, it comes second to Cape Verde in West Africa in terms of the United Nations Human Development index.

In one of the most unstable sub regions in the world, Ghana also has a tradition of relative peace and security, a key parameter for hosting a secretariat.

In addition, Ghana has had the advantage of learning about trade collaboration through its membership of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas).

Costs and benefits

Ghana has been part of the 15-member Ecowas since its formation in 1990. The regional body introduced a common external tariff in 2015 .

While Ghana has enjoyed benefits from the arrangement, like many other West African States, it has not been able to harness its full potential. For example, border controls remain cumbersome, delaying transits due to the numerous check points, huge unofficial payments at the borders.

The most direct cost to the country will be the $10 million pledged by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to support setting up the secretariat. The AU is also expected to contribute funds and appeals have been made to international funding agencies.

Ghana’s hope is that hosting the secretariat will boost the hospitality sector – and more broadly the services sector – and generate increased international exposure.

There should also be a boost for job creation as the secretariat hires staff; ranging from economists to translators, administrators and technicians.

There is no clear deadline on when the secretariat is expected to be up and running. The AU itself still has to clear a number of hurdles,, including adopting a structure, staff rules and regulations, and the secretariat’s budget.The Conversation

 

Adu Owusu Sarkodie, Doctor of Economics, University of Ghana

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Published in Economy

African Union (AU) leaders will gather in Niger on 7 July for an Extraordinary Summit to discuss the African Continental Free Trade Area.

They will be meeting at a critical moment for the continent. Many African countries are experiencing uneven growth and rising debt. All face an uncertain global environment and need the boost that closer and more dynamic continental trade relations could deliver.

In our view the AU leaders should also use their meeting to reinvigorate their efforts to create an African Monetary Fund. This would be used to encourage African states to engage more actively in regional trade by offering them financial support for managing the risks associated with closer regional integration and expanded intra-regional trade.

Over the past 10 years, most regions have developed regional arrangements that can supplement the help that the IMF provides to countries facing balance of payments problems. Ten years ago, US$100 billion was available through these regional funds. Today more than US$900 billion is available through these arrangements. Africa is currently the most prominent gap in the evolving global financial safety net.

The African leaders signed a treaty to establish this fund in 2014. Unfortunately, progress to set it up has stalled. So far the treaty has been signed, but not ratified, by eleven AU member countries. Fifteen must sign and ratify the statutes for the fund to become operational. Once operational, it will have a capital subscription of up to US $22.64 billion and the ability to provide member countries with loans equivalent to two times their contributions to the Fund’s capital.

Managing the ripple effects

The free trade area offers states new growth and employment opportunities. But by increasing economic linkages between African states, it could also increase the risk that economic problems in one country can spill over and have a strongly negative effect on growth, trade, investment and employment in others. For example, both positive and negative developments in the US economy will have a powerful impact on Canada and Mexico.


Read more: More work lies ahead to make Africa's new free trade area succeed


To help mitigate these effects, participants in other regional trade arrangements have established regional financial arrangements. These provide financial support to their members to manage balance of payments crises.

The evidence suggests that when states have access to this type of financial support they are less likely to take actions that impede intra-regional trade flows. For example, the Latin American Reserve Fund, which provides its members with financial support during balance of payments crises, has helped the recipient countries to maintain their intra-regional trade arrangements. This, in turn, has reduced the risk that the recipient’s problems would cause a crisis in its neighbours.

The failure of an adequate number of states to sign and ratify the African Monetary Fund treaty is an embarrassing challenge to the credibility of the AU’s efforts to promote a more integrated, dynamic, sustainable and equitable African economy. These efforts have been going on for more than 40 years. Steps along the way have included the former Organisation of African Unity’s Lagos Plan of Action for Economic Development of Africa signed in 1980 and the Abuja Treaty signed in 1991.

In a policy brief published by the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria and the Global Development Policy Center at Boston University, we propose three concrete steps to jumpstart the push for the fund.

Action plan

First, the creation of the fund must be explicitly linked to the success of the free trade area. The AU leaders can do this by making the case that, just as has happened in other regions, the presence of a regional financial arrangement will support the efforts to boost intra-regional trade in Africa. It will help participating countries mitigate the balance of payments challenges that greater regional integration may cause.

Moreover, the fund, by quickly providing its members with financial support, can offer them more time to negotiate a larger support package with richer institutions, such as the IMF. In this regard, it should be noted that eight of the AU member countries (Cape Verde, Comores, Djibouti, Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, and Somalia) will be able to borrow more resources from the AMF than the IMF.

Second, one AU member state should become the champion for the fund. This country would become the first country to sign and ratify the fund treaty. It would lobby other AU member countries to ratify the African Monetary Fund. It would advocate for the AU to reconstitute the steering committee created in the treaty and provide it with adequate resources. Since Cameroon is the designated host country for the AMF’s headquarters, it has an incentive to be a champion for the institution.

Finally, the steering committee should develop a plan for overcoming the substantial resource constraints in the region. This will require balancing the fund’s need for sufficient resources to be credible with the limited ability of some states to contribute. This could be addressed by negotiating an arrangement in which richer regional countries and institutions contribute a disproportionate share of their capital contributions up-front.

These additional contributions will be reimbursed as poorer countries make their capital contributions. It’s important to note that the AMF Board of Governors has the authority to extend the period for a country to make its contribution for up to eight years. To further incentivise small to medium sized member countries to contribute capital, they should be allowed to treat their capital contributions as part of their international reserves. Such an arrangement is not unprecedented and was used effectively in South America. These measures would make an implementation plan more feasible.

Africa has tried valiantly for decades to overcome the substantial challenges hindering the development of robust intra-regional trade. The free trade area agreement is the most recent of these efforts. The credibility of the continent’s leaders and institutions will be influenced by its success or failure. The establishment of the African Monetary Fund would demonstrate the continent’s determination to promote intra-regional trade and development.

 

Hadiza Gagara Dagah is a co-author of the policy brief, Jump-starting the African Monetary Fund , on which this article is based.The Conversation

Danny Bradlow, SARCHI Professor of International Development Law and African Economic Relations, University of Pretoria and William N Kring, Assistant Director, Global Development Policy Center, Boston University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Published in Opinion & Analysis
With 60% of arable land globally and a projected demographic dividend of more than one-quarter of the world’s total under-25 population by 2030, Africa is set to become the future bread basket of the world and the largest contributor to the global workforce.
 
Despite this, one thing that was clear at this year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos was that the continent had moved to the periphery in the face of rising concerns about advanced world economy issues, including climate change, data governance issues and geopolitical tension.
 
Climate change and its related effects were the major themes for this year’s WEF. Of the top five global risks outlined in this year’s Global Risk Report, released prior to the commencement of the forum, three related either to climate change or negative weather-related effects.
 
Although climate change has featured at previous Davos meetings, its severity and resulting effect was brought home by natural historian Sir David Attenborough. In his acceptance speech at the Crystal Awards Ceremony for individuals who have excelled in various fields, Attenborough related his personal experience of how nature had changed over the years, including more extreme weather patterns, increased pollution in the oceans and a dramatic decrease in biodiversity.
 
Technology was also a key theme, both as a risk to jobs and a source of progress to the business community, government and individuals.
 
Data governance, however, remained a critical issue, along with information security.
 
The adoption of three different and far-removed approaches to data management by Europe, the US and China highlighted the gap that had manifested as a result of the destruction of multilateralism.
 
Through highly regulated data protection laws that came into effect last year, Europe had taken a strict stance in terms of privacy laws.
 
By contrast, the business-led US approach was more practical and pragmatic, looking at what the data would be used for to determine how it would be protected and stored.
 
On the other hand, China’s approach was that data was a public good with no requirement for protection.
 
More importantly, a significant takeaway from the conversations was that Africa’s data was stored outside the continent, raising pertinent questions about ownership, storage, right of access and privacy.
 
It became clear that there was no centralised architecture for governance over this data, which had accelerated and multiplied at a rate that had left the continent lagging behind on governance and the protocols on which all the protection mechanisms could be delivered.
 
The need to avert future data breach crises was real and the absence of global governance structures and institutions that were relied on in the past to lead the way in the creation of global governance standards was concerning.
 
There was great concern about decelerating global trade, with the business community particularly anxious about the US-China trade war and the self-inflicted Brexit quagmire.
 
Contestation of leading the next technological revolution was seen to be a factor that might prolong the spat between the two nations.
 
Closer to home, Africa continued to encounter challenges implementing the Continental Free Trade Area agreement signed last year, particularly on the creation of value and benefit for the signatories.
 
Although infrastructure remained a major obstacle to Pan-African trade, the focus had been on tariff barriers. Making our way into the fourth industrial revolution implied more interconnectedness and serious considerations about education, including introducing technology and being technologically savvy at a young age.
 
From an investment perspective, compliance burdens continued to plague South Africa and were a serious concern for investors, including crime and, to a lesser extent, black economic empowerment.
 
But, with the immediate challenges, there were upsides – including showing how South Africa was tackling various issues, such as Eskom, governance failures in state-owned enterprises; and serious efforts to tackle corruption. We did not convince anyone that we had a magic wand to transform the economic status quo and it was regarded that there remained a lot of work to be done, especially around regaining investor trust and confidence and where we saw economic growth coming from.
 
It could be argued that the WEF demonstrates a disconnection between the global elite and the general population. But it could be a good platform to take stock of what plagues the world, and to explore how business and government working together could tackle those issues and be a force for good.
 
 
Source: Business Insider
Published in Business
Monday, 12 November 2018 09:04

How intra-African trade can grow

With an estimated volume of trade between countries in Africa currently valued at about $1 trillion every year, Executive Vice President, African Export-Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK), Amr Kamel, says there were prospects for growth if identified barriers were removed.
 
Mr Kamel who is in charge of Business Development and Corporate Banking, was speaking on Friday at the opening of the AFREXIMBANK Annual Customer Due Diligence and Corporate Governance (ACDICOG) Forum in Casablanca, Morocco.
 
He identified key constraints to intra-African trade to include dearth of strong corporate governance and due diligence practices among operators.
 
Besides, he said the problem could be attributed to over-estimation of African risks, which tend to be much bigger than the actual.
 
To ignite intra-African trade and drive economic growth, Mr Kamel emphasised the need for structures to re-establish correspondent banking facilities to boost the continent’s risk profile.
 
Concerns about limited capacity to finance and sustain trade, he noted, has resulted in the exodus of large global banks and financial institutions with capacity to finance trade in Africa.
 
To redress Africa’s trade finance needs, Mr Kamel told participants in the forum AFREXIMBANK has undertaken a number initiatives that would enable it fill the existing gap.
 
“We (AFREXIMBANK) have a number of programmes and initiatives to bring together African financial institutions, corporate entities and regulators on customer due diligence and corporate governance to learn from best practices, reposition the continent and improve its risk profile,” he said.
 
The initiatives include the African correspondent banking initiative, to expand African banks’ access to correspondent banking facilities tailored to suit their needs.
 
The initiative, he added enables participants from across the continent to deliberate on the effectiveness of current measures and to assess whether these are adequately promoting good governance and due diligence practices.
 
It provides a platform for sharing ideas and for the implementation of best practices in addition to paving the way for a collaborative approach to de-risking issues affecting Africa.
 
The theme for this year’s forum was “Developing Capabilities to Minimise Negative Perception about Correspondent Banking in Africa: Enhancing Compliance, Governance and Financial Inclusion”.
 
 
Source: Premium Times
Published in Opinion & Analysis
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