Wednesday, July 30, 2008

In Cape Town, Africa was shy

The problem with Afro-optimism is the way its acolytes skirt around the issue. Once there are white business people in the room (and they are often more in number than the hosts, whether you are in Dubai, Rio or Nairobi) African discussants start to deny that our leaders are short sighted, are not bravely confronting the demons that keep us down and are in fact, part of the problem than the solution.,%20Africa%20was%20shy

Cocaine Finds Africa

West Africa is under attack. The region has become a hub for cocaine smuggling from Latin America to Europe. States that we seldom hear about, such as Guinea-Bissau and neighboring Guinea, are at risk of being captured by drug cartels in collusion with corrupt forces in government and the military.

Every line of cocaine means a little part of Africa dies

Drug traffickers seek the path of least resistance. In Africa, they have found the weakest link. West Africa is a trafficker's paradise, partly because of its geographical position as a link between Europe and South America, partly because its national governments are unable to mount effective security exercises against the drug traders.

The right kind of foreign investors

I don't like rumours and as a journalist I believe it is necessary to substantiate issues before makng them public. But this issue about cocaine and its peddling via West Africa is becoming worrisome.
My worry is its effect on Africa's future generation who are the people employed by South African barons who have come to see the closeness of West Africa to Europe as a viable opportunity that must be explored in their quest to expand their 'business' frontiers and escape the tight searchlight that Europe and the U.S is beeming on their traditional route.
I see a couple of these guys around my area in Accra, and sometimes you just wonder what business they do. Much as Africa wants foreign investors, and my host nation - Ghana - has a culture of hospitality that is unparralleled, I think that government of Ghana and indeed other West African countries, must begin to scruitnize the foreigners in our midst.
Democracy comes with its challenges. However, the freedom it offers must not be abused or taken for granted. The easiest way to loose your freedom is to abuse it. I think the government of Ghana and indeed other African countries must begin to scruitnize more seriously the foreigners amongs us. Before the drug barons take over West Africa, we must begin a serious war against them. Local collaborators must also be fished out and be made to face the full wrath of the law.
Every West African youth recruited by these barons is a generation destroyed. The warning by the United Nations Office for Drug Control that South American barons are taking over our region must be taken seriously by all governments in ECOWAS.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Africa: A Marginalized Continent in the ‘Free and Fair World’?

The African experience in this ‘free and fair world’ has been tragic one revealing that the mythical and/or ideological imposition of neoliberal policies has marginalized a whole continent within the last three decades.

SA mulls introduction of carbon taxes, cap-and-trade mechanism

Cabinet has mandated the National Treasury to investigate the possible imposition of a tax on carbon-dioxide (C02) emissions as part of South Africa's voluntary commitment to climate-change mitigation, Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said on Monday.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

NEPA when will it be over

I never stop to wonder what goes through the minds of Nigerian leaders when they visit other countries where public utilities work. I know that power outage is a continentwide problem in Africa, but the magnitude differs considerably.
Nigeria's is perhaps the worst. The irony is that the country has all it takes to fix the power problem. But it just keeps worsening by the day. Former president Olusegun Obasanjo reportedly spent $10 billion trying to fix the problem, but at the end of the day, the situation became worse than it was in 1999 when he took over power.
I have just visited Lagos again and I am confronted with perpetual darkness. Streets terribly dark in the night providing safe havens for criminals. President Yar'Adua, I believe that tackling the power problem is the biggest good you can do to Nigeria and Nigerians.
I've observed this past year and nothing but complains about the perceived weaknesses of your predecessor has dominated discourse at the national assembly. The legislators seem to derive great excitement in villifying Obasanjo. I think they need to get down to business. Enough of bad-mouthing of OBJ. It is time to work. Nigeria would not make significant economic progress unless the energy problem is tackled. The new government has a golden opportunity to remake Nigeria. My hope is that it is not further deformed at the end of the day. Lagos, alone needs nothing less than 8,000 megawatts. For the whole nation to be hovering around 2,000 to 2,500 megawatts, shows it is not yet ready for development. If the government is serious of making Nigeria one of the top 20 economies by 2020, it's time to walk the talk by fixing power.

Hope for Journalism in Africa

Last week I had the priviledge of taking part in some events during the finalists programme for this year's CNN African Journalist of the Year Awards. Though not one of the finalists, somebody very close to me was, and I was his guest during the programme.

It's really great to be reassured of the abundant of talents Africa has. I have always known that besides natural resources, Africa is blessed with abundant human resources. I consider focus on mineral resources as opposed to the development of human resources, one of the primary cause of Africa's underdevelopment.

To be close to some of the best that Africa has to offer in journalism for almost a week, was a very special feeling for me. The event was not just for the finalists, many editors, publishers and media owners from across the continent attended.

Among the hightlights of the programme was a workshop that examined journalists role during conflict. The recent violence in Kenya and the xenophobic attacks in South Africa were major case studies. The questions were - Do journalists incite violence? Can they predict violence? Can they prevent violence?

The panelists were mostly editors and journalism teachers from Kenya and South Africa. Their thoughts on the above questions were quite profound. So also were those of other practitioners from other parts of the continent.

At the end of the day, the majority view were that journalists could incite violence; and they can also predict it. The opinions were divided as to the extent to which they can help stop violence once it's erupted as in the case of Kenya several months ago.

The panelists, however, agreed that that despite the challenges confronting the practice in Africa, journalism has significantly advanced on the continent. But the battle for supremacy between 'envelopmental journalism' and 'developmental journalism' still looms.

However, going by the quality of the entries this year, one can say without any doubt that there is hope for journalism in Africa. I saw in most of the entries, journalism that asks the real question about the various challenges Africa faces; journalism that goes the extra mile to tell the African story.

It was indeed a great experience. I have lived in Accra for about a year now, but has never felt the city the way I did this last week. Congratulations to all the finalists. God bless Africa.

Friday, July 4, 2008

New scramble for Africa

This is a very detailed assessment of the emerging biofuel industry in Africa. We risk making the same mistakes that have compounded the poverty situation in oil producing countries like Nigeria if we don't consider the issues raised here very seriously. I believe that there is need for some measure of domestication in most of our resource-induced industries in Africa.

The new scramble for Africa
Corporations and energy-hungry countries are pouring money into Africa for agrofuel crop production, fuelling a land rush reminiscent of Europe’s initial colonial expansion. Joining the foreign invasion are Africa’s governments and business elites. Pushed to the sidelines, some groups are speaking out about the devastation all this will cause to people’s livelihoods, but it is difficult to hear them over the clatter about Africa’s great opportunity to capitalise on the world’s energy and environmental crises.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Can Greed Save Africa?

Thanks to the global commodities boom of the past few years, sub-Saharan Africa's economies, after decades of stagnation, are expanding by an average of 6% annually—twice the U.S. pace. And like bees to honey, investors are swarming into the region in search of the enormous returns that ultra-early-stage investments can bring.

Rich nations are 'betraying' Africa

I must say I've not closely followed Geldof's campaign for Africa. All the same I cherish his love for the continent and its people and his desire to see poverty reduced. As for the G8, it is difficult to prove that they really care about Africa beyond their interest in the continent's resources. The article below makes an interesting reading, nevertheless.

Rich nations are 'betraying' Africa
The world's richest nations will today be told by Gordon Brown to stop backsliding on their pledges to double aid to Africa by 2010. The Prime Minister will risk a clash with world leaders at next week's G8 summit in Japan over their failure to honour pledges to boost aid made three years ago.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Ghana’s drive to become West Africa’s high-tech hub

The effective use of ICT is becoming the most critical factor for rapid economic growth and wealth creation across the world. As Godwin NNANNA in Accra writes, despite its recent oil find, Ghana sees its economic future on this trajectory