Craig Eisele on …..

January 13, 2014

Some info on Ghana and West Africa

The race to become West Africa’s central port hub intensifies

Two substantial port investments have been announced recently by Ghana and Nigeria: the awarding of contracts worth US$2.5bn to double Ghana’s port capacity by 2018 and the approval of Nigeria’s first deep-sea port at Lekki, which will take around four years to complete at an estimated cost of US$1.35bn. These announcements are indicative of the competition between West Africa’s ports, all of which are seeking to become the primary gateway to the region. However, it is the more western ports of Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire) and Dakar (Senegal) that are proving most successful in attracting transit traffic.

West Africa’s proliferation of competing ports—six ports in the region handle more than 300,000 containers a year—is attributable to the concentration of economic activity along the coast. Although this competition encourages investment, it has also split it: West Africa has more projects than any other region (16) under the African Development Bank’s Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa, but they have a lower total value (US$6.2bn) than any other region bar North Africa.

A 2011 study by the African Infrastructure Country Diagnostic (AICD, a group led by the African Development Bank) showed that the region’s ports, together with those of Central Africa, had the highest average dwell time, truck processing time and container cargo handling charges on the continent. Fragmentation means that the region lacks a single efficient hub. Furthermore, although West Africa has the potential to be one of the world’s fastest-growing regions in the coming years, gridlocked ports represent a major threat to economic expansion.

Ambitious plans across the region

While Tema in Ghana and Lagos in Nigeria may be the two largest hubs in terms of current traffic and proposed investment, others are making efforts to close the gap. This year Guinea signed a deal with Mubadala Development and Dubai Aluminium to develop port facilities in Kamsar, as part of a US$5bn investment. Elsewhere, a consortium consisting of APM Terminals, Bolloré Africa Logistics and Bouygues was chosen by Abidjan Port Authority to build and manage a second container terminal, with plans to invest more than €450m (US$585m) over the 21‑year concession period, and the International Finance Corporation, the private-sector funding arm of the World Bank, arranged a €225m debt package for Lomé Container Terminal, representing Togo’s largest-ever direct foreign investment. In November alone, The Gambia announced plans to construct an inland port at Kuar; the Liberian presidential delegation to the UAE and Kuwait made ports and infrastructure a focal point of its trip; and the Sierra Leone Ports Authority reiterated its openness to partnerships and investment.

Inland infrastructure will be a driver of port demand

As the landlocked economies in the region grow—Burkina Faso and Niger are among West Africa’s fastest-growing economies—more attention will be paid to inland transportation. Progress in intra-regional tariff liberalization and the lowering of non-tariff barriers has led to increases in transit traffic, enjoyed predominantly by the western ports of Abidjan (a 126% increase in transit traffic volumes between 2008 and 2012) and Dakar (a 125% increase). These increases have been at the expense of ports further east, such as Ghana’s Tema, which experienced a 43% decrease over the same period.

Inland infrastructure developments will further this trend. A railway connecting Niger and Burkina Faso with Cote d’Ivoire, due to begin construction next year, will help Abidjan to increase its share of transit traffic. Road transportation, which accounts for 90% of inland transportation in West Africa, is expensive because of an oligopoly of trucking companies that enjoys profit margins of 30-40%: rail transportation in the Abidjan-Ouagdougou corridor is already 30% cheaper on average than road transportation. Niger and Benin are also planning to extend and rehabilitate the existing railway line between Cotonou and Niamey; Niger wants the work completed by 2015, although that is optimistic.

Piracy makes eastern ports less attractive

The rise of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea—there were 67 attacks in the first half of 2013, compared with 34 in the same period of 2012—will also push port traffic westwards. These attacks have a substantial impact on shipping: when 22 attacks occurred off the coast of Benin in 2011, the subsequent categorization of Beninese waters as “high risk” by insurance companies—a category that already includes Nigeria and Togo—led to a 70% decrease in port traffic, according to a report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

Although there have been three attacks off Côte d’Ivoire this year, one off Sierra Leone and one off Guinea, the overwhelming majority of incidents occur east of Ghana, at an estimated cost of US$740-950m in 2012. This challenge is unlikely to be solved as effectively as it has been in the Gulf of Aden: the required regional co‑operation is likely to be hampered by the same bureaucratic challenges that have affected other regional efforts in the past, and the necessity of vessels to queue for port access—rather than passing through the waters off Somalia—makes them vulnerable.

Ghana and Nigeria lose out to Abidjan and Dakar

Investments in the port infrastructure of Ghana and Nigeria will help them to ease congestion and more effectively serve their growing economies. As the two largest economies in in the region, their domestic markets alone could ensure their position as the largest ports in the Gulf of Guinea. However, without accompanying efforts to improve inland transportation corridors and combat piracy, it is unlikely that either will become a dominant transit hub for the wider region. Instead, transit traffic will increasingly move westward. Abidjan and Dakar, which are already the two largest ports west of Ghana (handling 18m tons and 113m tons of cargo respectively in 2011), stand to gain the most from this shift.

Watch for Ghana to develop significantly greater Energy exports by the end of this decade. 

June 4, 2013

Egypt and Ethiopia Move Closer to War Over Nile River Water

Filed under: Africa,bule nile,Egypt,Ehtipoia,Nile,Water Wars,white nile — Mr. Craig @ 8:45 am

Egypt and Ethiopia Move Closer to War Over Nile River Water.

April 21, 2012

Africa: Huge Water Reserves Under Continent

Researchers have found thatAfrica has huge reserves of water underground, which they estimate are more than a hundred times the annual renewable freshwater resources.

Their findings, published in the academic journal Environment Research Letters, show that the largest reserves are in aquifers in the north African countries of Libya, Algeria, Egypt, Chad and Sudan.

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The scientists used existing data, but for the first time this data was collated to give a continent-wide picture. They estimate that there are 0.66 million cubic kilometres of groundwater storage under Africa.

However, the researchers emphasise that it is important to take into consideration the rate at which this stored water can be replenished.

Whilst the largest reserves lie across the arid region of north Africa, these were filled five thousand years ago when the region was much wetter. There is plenty of water under this area, about seventy five meters deep, but whatever is taken out is not replenished.

Other factors to be taken into account are the geological characteristics of the underground water reservoirs. For example, if the groundwater is very deep underground it cannot be accessed by hand pump.

The researchers find that “for many African countries appropriately sited and constructed boreholes will be able to sustain community handpumps and for most of the populated areas of Africa, groundwater levels are likely to be sufficiently shallow to be accessed using a handpump”.

One of the report’s authors, Helen Bonsor of the British Geological Survey, told AIM that it is not appropriate to downscale the report’s findings, and that their work does not deal with the quality of the water stored. It thus does not deal with the issues of salinization or contamination, although she said that in general the stored water is purer than surface water. She stressed that the report is intended to encourage debate and more local research.

There is certainly a large amount of water under Mozambique, and the paper estimates that there are 6,290 cubic kilometres of groundwater stored under the country, with particularly large reserves under Maputo province.

The groundwater in Mozambique is replenished at a rate of between 25 and 100 millimetres per year, and is stored relatively close to the surface. The paper shows that the aquifer productivity for much of Mozambique is high.

The British Geological Survey has also been undertaking a one year research project funded by the British government’s Department for International Development, looking at the resilience of African groundwater to climate change.

That research found that “groundwater possesses a high resilience to climate change in Africa and should be central to adaptation strategies”.

February 18, 2012

Strange Disease Killing Africa Children Spreads World Wide

An Unknown Disease with Unknown Origin is killing Children mostly in Africa but has now been reported world wide. See articles below for news reports from around Africa

 

Could mysterious nodding disease in Africa have global implications?

Nodding syndrome — a disease with epileptic-type symptoms prevalent in parts of northern Uganda — is a medical mystery that is confounding medical researchers and scientists alike.

The disease causes young children and adolescents to nod violently in an apparent seizure. It happens frequently throughout the day, including when they eat.

Over the past year there has been a growing outbreak in northern Uganda, specifically in Kitgum, Pader and Gulu. It is believed that thousands of cases have developed, but officials from the U.S.-based Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have only been able to confirm a couple hundred.

A team from the Atlanta-based health organization is returning to Uganda in February to consult with local officials about a treatment trial.

Some researchers have suggested the disease may be linked to river blindness, which also affects all three communities.

River blindness, carried in bacteria inside a nematode worm known as onchocerca volvulus, is transmitted to humans by a bite from a black fly infected with the worm. The disease affects 18 million people, mostly in Africa.

The worms burrow into the skin, reproduce and release millions of offspring that spread throughout the body. After they die, they trigger a severe immune inflammatory response in the body which causes vision loss and severe itching.

It isn’t clear how it is related to nodding syndrome, researchers admit. At the moment all they know is there is an association between the two diseases.

History of Syndrome

The first cases of nodding syndrome — or descriptions of what could have been the disease — date back to the early 1960s in Tanzania, said Scott Dowell, director of Global Disease Detection and Emergency Response for the CDC, in a phone interview with the Star.

Over the past decade, clusters of the disease have popped up in South Sudan and Uganda. The onset in Uganda seems to have begun in 2003 with several thousand cases in Kitgum, Dowell said.

The disease appears to strike most children and adolescents between ages 5 and 15. Children appear healthy until about age 5 and then they begin having strange head-bobbing episodes.

Dowell describes it as a kind of perpetual motion, with the head constantly nodding up and down as if to say yes.

The nodding outbreaks differ in individuals, according to Dowell. In some patients it happens every few minutes. In other cases, it happens only three or four times a week. In many cases it makes eating and drinking difficult.

Those who experience it often appear disoriented and not aware of their surroundings when it’s happening, he explained. “It’s very unusual. There is nothing like this anywhere else in the world.”

It is 40 to 100 times more common than epilepsy, he added.

Causes and treatments?

Researchers had hypothesized it might be caused by a new viral encephalitis, but that didn’t bear any fruit. They also thought perhaps it was a prion disease — such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease — but they have ruled that out, as well.

Now scientists are betting on the possibility that nodding syndrome is associated with river blindness. In all three CDC investigations so far, said Dowell, researchers have found an association.

Children and adolescents with the disease are more likely to have antibodies against river blindness and were more likely to be exposed to it. But scientists don’t know how river blindness transforms itself into nodding syndrome.

None of the children or adolescents who suffer from nodding syndrome recover. “Once they have it, it is forever,” said Dowell. It is very debilitating — they can’t eat, they are malnourished and they have cognitive problems, so they drop out of school and become totally dependent on their parents and the community, Dowell said.

Currently, sufferers are being treated with anti-epileptic medications and family members report the children are experiencing some relief.

The CDC has also recommended that they be treated for river blindness and malnutrition.

Global Significance

“Because we don’t know what causes it or its transmission routes, we don’t know what implications it may have for the rest of the world,” said Dowell.

Some diseases in Africa are local and others turn out to be globally important. He cites as an example “slim disease” — a wasting disease in West Africa. “It turned out to have been caused by HIV before HIV was discovered.”

In the case of nodding syndrome “we don’t know the implications of this for the rest of the world,” Dowell said. “It’s quite clear it has huge implications for those living in Kitgum district in Uganda, but it could turn out to have just as huge implications for the rest of the world.”

 

‘Nodding disease’ confounds experts, kills children

TUMANGU, Uganda (AFP) – Patrick Anywar, 14, lies curled up naked in the dust and midday heat of a Ugandan village, struggling to look up at his younger brother and sister playing in front of the family home.

After a minute’s effort to face his siblings, Anywar’s head slumps onto his chest and his emaciated body is gripped by convulsions.

Anywar is one of more than 3,000 children in northern Uganda who are suffering from a debilitating mystery ailment known as nodding disease, which has touched almost every family in the village of Tumangu.

For several years, scientists have tried and failed to determine the cause of the illness, which locals say has killed hundreds of youngsters.

What they do know is that the disease affects only children and gradually devastates its victims through debilitating seizures, stunted growth, wasted limbs, mental disabilities and sometimes starvation.

Anywar’s mother, Rugina Abwoyo, has already lost one son, named Watmon, to the disease in 2010. Now she says she can do little but watch on helplessly as another child slips away.

“Before he was walking and running like other children, but now someone always has to stay home to look after him,” Abwoyo told AFP. “The disease is terrible — it does not let him drink or eat by himself.”

Walking along footpaths cut through the sorghum plantations, Joe Otto, a volunteer health worker, explains how nodding disease has ravaged Tumangu, about 450 kilometres (280 miles) north of the capital Kampala.

“There are 780 people living in this village and we have 97 cases of the disease. It has affected almost every family,” Otto, 54, told AFP.

Whenever sporadic deliveries of medicine arrive at the local health centre several kilometres away, Otto pedals his bicycle to fetch the drugs. But he knows that they only offer a short-term solution.

“We are giving out drugs for epilepsy, like carbamazepine, but this disease is different from epilepsy,” Otto said.

Instead, as the disease has torn through their community, local residents have moved from fear to a grim acceptance, Otto says.

“We started saying that the patient who had died was the one who had been cured, because finally they were at rest from this painful disease,” Otto said.

Scientists are trying to find a cure: since 2010, researchers ranging from epidemiologists to environmental experts, neurologists, toxicologists and psychiatrists have carried out a range of tests.

Investigations have looked at possible links between the disease and everything from a parasite that causes river blindness, to malnutrition and the after-effects of a civil war that ravaged northern Uganda for decades.

“We looked at all this, but unfortunately we were not able to pinpoint any significant contributing or risk factors,” said Miriam Nanyunja, disease control and prevention officer at the World Health Organisation in Kampala.

“The search for the causative agent is still ongoing,” she added.

Often the results have thrown up more questions than answers. Scientists do not know if the disease is linked to similar outbreaks in neighbouring South Sudan and Tanzania.

Efforts continue to understand if the disease is still spreading or has peaked — and why it is seems confined only to certain communities.

Last month, after pressure from lawmakers from affected areas, Uganda’s health ministry produced an emergency response plan to try to identify and control the disease.

However, Nanyunja says that while the search for the cause and a possible cure goes on, for now, doctors can only focus on trying to alleviate the symptoms.

“There are many diseases that we continue to treat symptomatically, without knowing the exact cause,” Nanyunja said.

But for Patrick Anywar, any attempts to curb or cure the disease may come too late.

“We are hoping that the doctors work very hard to get the cure for this disease,” his mother Abwoyo says.

“There is no future for us as so many children have already been affected, but we hope that our youngest can be saved.”

 

Nigeria: Strange Disease Kills 13 Children in Borno

BY ABDULKAREEM HARUNA, 9 AUGUST 2011

Maiduguri — About 13 children have died and 14 others are in hospital following the outbreak of a strange disease that shares the traits of mumps in Kimba village, Borno State.

The children died within the period of seven days when their lower jaws and necks swell as though they were infected by mumps and then died after some few days.

Dr Edward Dika, the Principal Medical Officer of Biu Council, said most of the killed children did not make it to the hospital as the parents resorted to traditional medication, until it degenerated to near epidemic levels.

He explained that but for the quick intervention of the Biu Council which ordered the immediate evacuation of all the affected children to the Biu General Hospital more would have died.

Council Caretaker Chairman, Yusuf Adamu, said the people took the outbreak for granted; “instead of taking the first infected child to hospital they sought the services of a Wanzam (traditional surgeon) who merely made some marks on the inflamated area and the inflammation reduced. But it wasn’t the same to others who died after some few days.

“We had to rush down to Kimba village, a distance of about 30 kilometres away from Biu to force them to take these children (13 of them – one was later added on Tuesday), to General Hospital Biu for intervention.

“We also quickly released the sum of N160,000 to the Primary Healthcare Department for the procurement of all the prescribed drugs for their treatment.”

Edward said the lack of capacity of the Biu General Hospital in carrying out laboratory tests and the fatality rate make it difficult to conclude that the disease is mumps.

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Uganda: Strange Disease Kills 30 In Gulu

BY SHEILA C. KULUBYA IN KAMPALA &OKETCH BITEK, 14 OCTOBER 2000

Kampala — Thirty people including a family of eight have died following the outbreak of a disease identified as Viral Haemorrhage Fever (VHF).

In a statement released Oct 12, the director of general health services, Dr. Francis Omaswa, said the disease is characterized by high fever, severe muscle pains and bleeding from the mouth, nose and anus.

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http://www.ntvuganda.co.ug/ The Ministry of Health and Members of Parliament from Northern Uganda are in the Northern region on a fact finding mission investigating the possible causes of the mysterious Nodding disease that has killed dozens over the past few months. The Health officials and the Acholi members of parliament today visited several areas in Kitgum which are most affected. Resolutions have been made but no mention of a cure as the cause of the disease still remains unclear.

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strange disease has hit Namutumba district killing 16 children within one week. The district woman MP Florence Mutyabule says the disease mainly affects children aged between one month and 4 years. She says she has tried to contact the ministry of health but has not received any response and is calling for urgent attention from the government.

Nsoola village in Magada sub-county is the most hit with over 100 children affected so far, 4 of whom have been rushed to Iganga hospital in very critical condition. The symptoms of the strange disease include swellings which hit the babies heads and spread to the rest of the body. The skin then begins to peel off and the children die within few days.

The Ministry of health says it is still investigating the outbreak, whose cause has not yet been established. The ministry’s in-charge of surveillance Dr. Issa Makumbi says some of the symptoms with which the disease presents such as high fever, vomiting and diarrhea point to malnutrition. Makumbi says a team of experts is to be sent to Namutumba to investigate the outbreak.

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Ghana News

‘Nodding disease’ confounds experts, kills children

TUMANGU, Uganda (AFP) – Patrick Anywar, 14, lies curled up naked in the dust and midday heat of a Ugandan village, struggling to look up at his younger brother and sister playing in front of the family home.

After a minute’s effort to face his siblings, Anywar’s head slumps onto his chest and his emaciated body is gripped by convulsions.

Anywar is one of more than 3,000 children in northern Uganda who are suffering from a debilitating mystery ailment known as nodding disease, which has touched almost every family in the village of Tumangu.

For several years, scientists have tried and failed to determine the cause of the illness, which locals say has killed hundreds of youngsters.

What they do know is that the disease affects only children and gradually devastates its victims through debilitating seizures, stunted growth, wasted limbs, mental disabilities and sometimes starvation.

Anywar’s mother, Rugina Abwoyo, has already lost one son, named Watmon, to the disease in 2010. Now she says she can do little but watch on helplessly as another child slips away.

“Before he was walking and running like other children, but now someone always has to stay home to look after him,” Abwoyo told AFP. “The disease is terrible — it does not let him drink or eat by himself.”

Walking along footpaths cut through the sorghum plantations, Joe Otto, a volunteer health worker, explains how nodding disease has ravaged Tumangu, about 450 kilometres (280 miles) north of the capital Kampala.

“There are 780 people living in this village and we have 97 cases of the disease. It has affected almost every family,” Otto, 54, told AFP.

Whenever sporadic deliveries of medicine arrive at the local health centre several kilometres away, Otto pedals his bicycle to fetch the drugs. But he knows that they only offer a short-term solution.

“We are giving out drugs for epilepsy, like carbamazepine, but this disease is different from epilepsy,” Otto said.

Instead, as the disease has torn through their community, local residents have moved from fear to a grim acceptance, Otto says.

“We started saying that the patient who had died was the one who had been cured, because finally they were at rest from this painful disease,” Otto said.

Scientists are trying to find a cure: since 2010, researchers ranging from epidemiologists to environmental experts, neurologists, toxicologists and psychiatrists have carried out a range of tests.

Investigations have looked at possible links between the disease and everything from a parasite that causes river blindness, to malnutrition and the after-effects of a civil war that ravaged northern Uganda for decades.

“We looked at all this, but unfortunately we were not able to pinpoint any significant contributing or risk factors,” said Miriam Nanyunja, disease control and prevention officer at the World Health Organisation in Kampala.

“The search for the causative agent is still ongoing,” she added.

Often the results have thrown up more questions than answers. Scientists do not know if the disease is linked to similar outbreaks in neighbouring South Sudan and Tanzania.

Efforts continue to understand if the disease is still spreading or has peaked — and why it is seems confined only to certain communities.

Last month, after pressure from lawmakers from affected areas, Uganda’s health ministry produced an emergency response plan to try to identify and control the disease.

However, Nanyunja says that while the search for the cause and a possible cure goes on, for now, doctors can only focus on trying to alleviate the symptoms.

“There are many diseases that we continue to treat symptomatically, without knowing the exact cause,” Nanyunja said.

But for Patrick Anywar, any attempts to curb or cure the disease may come too late.

“We are hoping that the doctors work very hard to get the cure for this disease,” his mother Abwoyo says.

“There is no future for us as so many children have already been affected, but we hope that our youngest can be saved.”

Africa: Women Filmmakers Tell Their Stories

Filed under: Africa,Culture — Mr. Craig @ 3:33 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Africa: Women Filmmakers Tell Their Stories

17 FEBRUARY 2012

INTERVIEW

Filmmaker Salem Mekuria (Photo Courtesy Salem Mekuria)

Documentary film making holds a special place in the history of African women’s cinema. In 1972, Senegalese filmmaker Safi Faye became the first sub-Saharan African woman to make a commercially distributed feature film when she directed “Kaddu Beykat”. The film, a mixture of fiction and documentary, depicts the economic problems suffered by Senegalese village farmers because of agriculture policies that Faye says rely on an outdated, colonial system of groundnut monoculture. Faye would go on to direct several documentaries often focused on rural life in her native Senegal.

African women who have taken documentary film making to new levels come from across the continent and handle a wide range of topics. The films show an Africa that is not often seen, according to Beti Ellerson, director of the Center for the Study and Research of African Women in Cinema. Ellerson, who teaches courses in African studies, visual culture and women studies in the Washington, DC, area, is also the producer of a 2002 documentary, “Sisters of the Screen: African Women in the Cinema.”

Much has changed since Faye’s early Senegalese films. The emergence of the Internet, social media and crowd-funding platforms such as Kickstarter now offer a new generation of African women documentary filmmakers the tools to realize their visions. To learn of the challenges and opportunities facing African women filmmakers, AllAfrica’s Genet Lakew and Rahwa Meharena asked three women – Salem Mekuria, Rahel Zegeye and Sosena Solomon – to share their stories. They represent two generations of Ethiopian documentary filmmaking.

Salem Mekuria – The Challenge of Funding

When I left Ethiopia some 40 years ago to attend college in the United States, I had every intention of going back. But plans changed and I stayed to build a film career and family.

Despite my love for science, neither the science department nor the faculty at Haile Selassie I University, now Addis Ababa University, were ready to accept women in the field. It was a very difficult place to be. I was considered an anomaly, along with other female students. An exciting scholarship to study in the U.S. presented itself to me and I jumped at it.

Although I arrived at the height of the civil rights movement, I had no historical knowledge of the African American experience. But I find one of the motivations for me to make films is curiosity. Exploring African American subjects was my way of acknowledging the struggles of this community, which paved the way for opportunities for me in this country. I got a chance to work at a television station in California. From there, I moved to Boston in 1981 to work at WGBH television, a member station of the Public Broadcasting Service.

My first film was “Our Place in the Sun,” a 30-minute documentary that looked into the history of African Americans on Martha’s Vineyard Island off the coast of Massachusetts. Over time, I started shifting my focus to explore Ethiopian history, people and places because there are fewer people of African descent telling African stories. Films like “Sidet: Forced Exile,” “Deluge” or “Ye Wonz Maibel,” “IMAGinING Tobia,” “Ruptures: A Many Sided Story,” and “Square Stories” were all made in this spirit.

I am no exception to the perennial challenge independent filmmakers face: money. Efforts to raise funds are particularly harsh on Africans who make films on African subjects. I wish we could educate our people to want to be interested in investing in these films. If we do not succeed in doing that, then I have no idea where the future of funding is.

Before 1993, I did not plan to go into teaching but it’s very difficult to make a living as an independent filmmaker. My teaching position at Wellesley College gives me the flexibility to take a couple of months off every year, which I often use to travel to Ethiopia.

I’ve been lucky enough to earn various fellowships and grants to conduct research, fund my films, and provide exposure for my work. The Fulbright Scholar Award allowed me to spend a year in Ethiopia researching historical women leaders, which I’m hoping to make into a screenplay. I shot “IMAGinING Tobia” as a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.

Partly as a response to financial limitations, I began using triptych video installations, which use three different screens to show a film, designed to give the audience an interactive viewing experience. I also no longer use dialogue in my films, meaning the people in them don’t talk so I’m mostly presenting my stories in images.

Distribution is not any easier. Two of my films are at Women Make Films, a nonprofit organization that distributes independent films made by and about women. But I primarily self-distribute my films when people, schools and international organizations request them. Museums and galleries, and festivals are great ways to showcase and promote my work. Most recently, “Deluge” and “Square Stories” were shown at Film Africa 2011 in London.

At the present moment, I’m writing grant proposals in hopes of securing funding for a new project about a Nigerian human rights lawyer and women who are dealing with Sharia law in northern Nigeria. If I succeed in getting the money, it will be the first single channel documentary I will make in 14 years.

Rahel Zegeye – Fantasy Versus Reality

Ten years ago, my plan was to jet off to Beirut in search of domestic work without telling my family. My military veteran father was unemployed and our family had to pinch whatever pennies we had. Besides, there were limited opportunities to continue my education after high school, especially without high grades and test scores.

Unfortunately, they found out about my secret mission two days before I was to leave Addis Ababa. My father was especially upset because of the negative reports he heard about girls who went off to work in Arab countries.

Like thousands of African, Sri Lankan, Indian and Filipino women, I saw Beirut as a place to improve my economic outlook. But I was met with a reality much starker than my dreams. With this opportunity also came reports of verbal, physical and sexual abuse as well as withheld payments, excessive work hours, and confinement to the employer’s house.

I experienced some of this mistreatment during my early years [in Beirut]. Four days after my arrival, I was on the balcony of the home where I was assigned to work, brushing my hair. I saw an Ethiopian woman on the top floor who looked down and warned me to be careful. As she said, there came a day when I feared for my life in that house. The woman I was working for was very strict and made work difficult for me.

Fortunately, the agents who made my arrangements moved me to another house. My second employer seemed much nicer. I found myself in a better situation and tolerated the new challenges I faced. I kept working, telling myself that this house was better than the last. That’s mainly because I had no other choice. Life was hard but I could not do much to change it.

After six years of silent obedience, I could not take it anymore. There came a day when my employer refused me food and water for 13 days. I finally decided to leave and asked her to give me the money she owed me. She refused to pay me the two months worth salary she had withheld from me and kept all of my clothes.

I found myself on the move again. I was lucky enough to find a third employer who is kind and compassionate. I haven’t budged from his home since, working for a man of mixed Lebanese and Armenian descent. He’s good-natured and supportive of my ambitious goals of filmmaking. Now I’ve found a bit of freedom.

This new environment allowed me to begin documenting the stories of less fortunate Ethiopian domestic workers. Five years go I made a film, “Beirut,” which chronicles the lives of a group of women. It is a personal look into their social interactions and aspirations outside of work. I set out to show the reality of their lives, which sometimes include prostitution, drinking and smoking.

I used the money I saved from four years of working to fund the film. I paid two cameramen U.S.$200 each to film once a week on Sunday afternoons, my day off. The actors are all domestic workers themselves who portray the real stories of women I’ve encountered over the years. “Beirut” took a total of two years to make and had to be edited down from four hours to about an hour and a half.

My aim is to advise prospective domestic workers in Ethiopia to learn from my own experience and the experience of many women like me. There are many problems they could find themselves in after arriving. It is important for them to understand the potential dangers that come with the job. This is the spirit of the film.

I would not recommend for young girls to come to the Middle East to wash dishes and clean homes. It is dead end labor that leaves no room for personal advancement. In the 10 years that I’ve been here, my place in Lebanese society hasn’t changed much. I make a mere $250 a month. People still hurl insults at me as I walk down the street. I don’t enjoy the same rights and privileges as the natives or the freedom to pursue business opportunities. But this reality is not broadcast in the romanticized brochures young women in Ethiopia read, desperate to go abroad for work.

I’ve reached a roadblock in the distribution efforts for “Beirut” since the Ethiopian embassy [in Beirut] denied final approval of the film. But I’m working on drumming up support, such as from the wife of famed Ethiopian runner Haile Gebrselassie. I am determined to show the film in Ethiopia, where it really counts.

Sosena Solomon – Making Merkato

I panicked when my internship supervisor at WHUT television in Washington, DC, handed me a video camera to make a mini documentary about the city’s robust Ethiopian population, specifically the small business owners along U Street’s unofficial “Little Ethiopia” strip. How could I, a mere high school student at the time, bear the burden of accurately capturing the essence of this community? It seemed too great a task so I backed out of the project.

Now, two film degrees later, I know that storytelling through film is my path. My latest documentary, “Merkato,” was born out of an idea to possibly use it as my thesis film at the School of Visual Arts in New York, where I studied social documentary film. Before my first trip in December 2008 to visit my dad, I had never been to Ethiopia.

I fell in love with Merkato during that first trip home. Situated in Addis Ababa, it is the largest open-air market in Africa where thousands of merchants set up shop to sell all types of goods, from sugar and spices to clothing and electronics. I saw Merkato as a microcosm of the country’s society and culture, an exciting way to get a taste of many different things. I felt inspired to document the energy of the place before parts of it disappeared at the hands of big development projects that threaten the space.

On a personal level, I love that Merkato represents a piece of my own history. Although I was born in Nairobi, Kenya, and grew up in the U.S., I’ve always identified as Ethiopian. It’s where my parents are from and what I grew up knowing. Even if I was not physically there, the culture was never too far away from me.

From the very beginning, I knew that I did not want “Merkato” to have a political tone, one that criticizes the changes that are inevitably coming or urges viewers to “Save Merkato.” Instead, I sought to make portraits of the people who live and work in Merkato, to capture their personal journeys.

I set out to tell these stories with my DSLR camera and a small crew that consisted of my supportive mom, a driver, a bodyguard and a translator to facilitate the interviews. I was ready to get the reel going but was instantly met with a reality check. The people I talked to at Minalesh Tera, a section of the market that focuses on recycling plastics, initially gave me very surface responses and reactions. I had to prove myself to them. It was almost like Merkato will push you out just to see if you’re going to come back. I had to show up everyday for four months to get them to open up to me.

Of all the people I interviewed, the stories of four individuals and a set of brothers made it into the final film. I felt a genuine connection with Hawa, Ashenafi, Wurro, Gedion, Abde and Abdella. They are a diverse group who represent universal struggles and dreams.

Ashenafi is the young boy who spends his summers collecting plastic to recycle and resell. With that seemingly simple summer job, he is able to support himself and his family through his entrepreneurial spirit. Wurro is the 19-year-old who represents the hardcore rebel type, with big dreams to get out of Merkato. She’s a tough woman who constantly has to protect herself from the male-dominated section of the market. Abde and Abdella are the welding brothers who provide the comic relief in the story. Like many siblings, they have a sort of rivalry going on but still work together despite their differences. Hawa is my 92-year-old hero who posses a strong work ethic and determination. Finally, Gedion, or Mr. Merkato, is my bodyguard turned film character. I’m glad I had the chance to capture him in front of the camera at the last minute.

To address the expensive toll of filmmaking, I decided to pursue community fundraising for “Merkato” because I felt that this was everybody’s story. Using Kickstarter, a crowd-funding website, 224 backers pitched in to help me raise $14,710, about $2,000 above my posted goal. That was a great start but I’m still seeking official sponsorships, donations through PayPal, and hosting events to raise money and promote the accompanying photo book.

The greatest gift I can give to the people I spent months with is a screening of the film in Merkato. I look forward to the priceless moment when they see the piece they created and feel empowered by knowing that their story is important and others do care to see and hear it.

Tagged: AfricaArtsEast AfricaEthiopiaHuman RightsSenegalWest AfricaWomen

February 1, 2012

The Threat of a Water War Egypt and Sudan to Stand Together

Egypt and Sudan draw battle lines with upstream nations over access to the Nile

NATIONS FIGHT over water, especially when access is curtailed or threatened, and there are the ingredients for a battle over the 4,100-mile long Nile River. Egypt and Sudan have counted on the abundance of the Nile’s life-giving flow. Now upstream nations want to keep more of the abundance for themselves. Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Congo, Burundi, and Rwanda are asserting their rights to more of the river’s relentless flow. Washington needs to intervene to forestall hostilities between the countries.

Britain conquered Uganda and Kenya in the 19th century in part to protect the precious Nile waters from being diverted away from their critical possession of Egypt, the Suez Canal, and the Red Sea route to India. Without the yearly sustaining floods of the Nile, agriculture and settlement in the valley of the river from Luxor to Cairo and Alexandria would have been impossible.

When Britain in the 1920s controlled all of the waters of the Nile, bar those sluicing down the Blue Nile from Ethiopia, it signed a pact that gave Egypt and Sudan rights to nearly 75 percent of its annual flow. This 1929 agreement was confirmed in 1959, after Egypt and the Sudan had broken from Britain but while the East African countries were still colonies.

A new 2010 Cooperative Framework Agreement, now signed by most of the key upstream abutters, would give all riparian states (including the Congo, where a stream that flows into Lake Tanganyika is the acknowledged Nile source) equal access to the resources of the river. That would give preference to large scale upstream energy and industrial, as well as long-time agricultural and irrigation uses.

Egypt and Sudan have refused to sign the new agreement, despite years of discussions and many heated meetings. Given climate change, the drying up of water sources everywhere in Africa and the world, Egypt, which is guaranteed 56 billion of the annual flow of 84 billion cubic meters of Nile water each year, hardly wants to lose even a drop of its allocation. Nor does Sudan, guaranteed 15 billion cubic meters.

About 300 million people depend on the waters of the Nile. The upstream countries, with still growing populations, believe that their socio-economic development has long been unfairly constrained by Egypt’s colonial-era lock on the river. Ethiopia and Uganda have not been able to support agricultural schemes. Nor have they been able fully to harness the river or its tributaries for industry and power. Both have suffered from major hydroelectric shortages in recent years.

Egypt has declared the continued surge of the Nile waters a “red line’’ that affects its “national security.’’ There is discussion in Egypt about the use of air power to threaten upstream offenders, especially if Ethiopia becomes too demanding. In theory, Ethiopia could divert much of the Blue Nile to its own uses. Or Ethiopia and others could charge Egypt for water that has largely escaped modern pricing.

Egypt is sufficiently disturbed by Ethiopia’s potentially aggressive water designs that it has recently made friends with Eritrea, Ethiopia’s arch enemy. In 1998, Ethiopia and Eritrea went to war over slices of insignificant mountainous territory. Although the shooting ended in 2000, a peace settlement handed down by the World Court in 2006 has still not been observed by both sides. If Egypt attacks Ethiopia, Eritrea might join in. Egyptian generals claim that Israel is on the other side, helping the upstream nations by encouraging their thirst for water and by financing the construction of four hydroelectric projects in Ethiopia.

All these issues provide conditions for a war over water. Washington, Egypt’s largest donor, has significant leverage to de-escalate tensions and mediate between the haves and have-nots. After all, Washington supports both Egypt and Ethiopia lavishly and militarily. It needs to demand that all sides stand down.

January 30, 2012

Dated Case Study on the Nile River Water Conflict

 Case Background

1. Abstract

The Nile river is the main source of water for the nine nations which make up the Nile basin. As is, the water provided by the river is barely enough to satisfy the enormous water demands of the region. By the year 2000, it is expected that at least six of the nine nations which share the Nile’s water will experience acute water stress (Ohlsson, 50). Access to the Nile’s waters has already been defined as a vital national priority by countries such as Egypt and Sudan. It is an issue over which the two nation’s have professed themselves willing to got to war over. Current tensions between Egypt and Sudan, its neighbor to the south, are merely a continuation of a two thousand year-old struggle over who will control the regions scarce water resources. As more of the nations in the Nile valley develop their economies, the need for water in the region will increase. And while the demand for resources increases, the supply is likely to remain unchanged, drastically increasing the chances for armed conflict over the waters of the Nile river. In addition, development projects that are aimed at increasing the flow of the Nile remain endangered by tension and instability in the region, as well as by environmental and financial concerns.

2. Description

The Nile probably gets its name form “nahal” which means “river valley” in Semitic, later “neilos” in Greek and “nilus” in Latin. It is the world’s longest river, stretching 4,187 miles from its source in the mountains of Burundi. The source of the river is so far from the Mediterranean that it took man until the middle of the 20th century to find it (Adv, 1). For centuries, the most accurate source of knowledge on the location of this source were the writings of Herodotus (Greek Historian, 460 BC), who wrote that the Nile’s source was a deep spring between two tall mountains. When Nero ordered his centurions to follow the flow of the river in order to find its source, they got no further than the impenetrable valley of the Sudd. John Henning Speke thought that he had finally found the source when he reached Lake Victoria in 1862, only to be later proven wrong and forgotten by history. In 1937, the source was finally stumbled upon by the little known German explorer Bruckhart Waldekker (Collins, 4-8). 

The Nile is formed by three tributaries, the Blue Nile, the White Nile, and the Atbara. The White Nile rises from its source in Burundi, passes through Lake Victoria, and flows into southern Sudan. There, near the capital city of Khartoum, the White Nile meets up with the Blue Nile which has its source in the Ethiopian highlands, near Lake Tana. Over 53% of the Nile’s waters come from the Blue Nile. The two flow together to just north of Khartoum, where they are joined by the waters of the Atbara, whose source is also located in the Ethiopian highlands (Ody, 1).

The river then flows north through Lake Nasser, the second largest man-made lake in the world, and the Aswan Dam before splitting into two major distributaries just north of Cairo. The two distributaries are the Rosetta branch to the west and the Darneita to the east. In ancient times, the number of distributaries was much greater, but slow water flow, human interference, and the accumulation of silt had led to the disappearance of all the other major distributaries. This has effectively led to the desertification of large stretches of Egyptian land.(Ody, 1)

The Conflict

In ancient Egypt, the Nile, and its delta, were worshiped as a god. The god Hapi, who came in the shape of a frog, represented the Nile delta. Several times throughout history, Egyptians have tried to unify the Nile valley under their rule by conquering the Sudan. The lands to the south of them that bordered the river were in constant danger. The Sudan was invaded during the reign of Queen Sheba, during the Roman rule of Nero, and countless other times. This is because the Egyptians have always feared that one day the Nile’s waters would no longer reach their country. People believed, that since the flow of the Nile was so unpredictable, something had to have been affecting it. A legend says that during one particularly bad famine in Egypt, the Egyptian Sultan sent his ambassadors to the king of Ethiopia in order to plead with him not the obstruct the waters. A Scottish traveler in the 18th century recounted a story that the King of Ethiopia had sent a letter to the pasha in 1704 threatening to cut off the water. Given this fear it is quite natural that the Nile countries desire to secure their water supplies.(Collins, 3-4)

The modern history of the Nile conflict began with the 20th century. The English were quick to realize the importance the river would have for their colonies. Over the centuries, in the swamps of the Sudd, strong winds and the force of the river had created natural dams made up of plants and soil, similar to those made by beavers. These dams had made all navigation up the Nile past a certain point completely impossible. Soon after Sudan was reconquered in 1898, the English began to free the Nile of the vegetation which was obstructing the passage of ships. By the time enough blockages had been removed to clear a path through the Sudd in 1904, the English had already begun drawing up massive alternative drainage plans in order to ameliorate the flow of the Nile. However, the British did not control the Ethiopian portions of the Nile, from which over 80% of the Nile’s waters come. Therefore, they had to sign an agreement with the Ethiopians in 1902 in order to assure themselves that the Nile would not be interfered with. They also had to assert a significant amount of pressure on the Italians and the French so that they would not interfere with the french dominance of the Nile basin (Collins, 67-100). This approach worked well with the Italians, but a little less well with the French. The Egyptians caused the most problems for the English as planned developments on the Nile became a disputed matter between the two governments. In 1929, Great Britain sponsored the Nile Water Agreement, which regulated the flow of the Nile and apportioned it use (Glassman, 150).

After World War II, the British government commissioned a complete hydrological study to be made of the Nile Basin as a whole. Unfortunately, the study was not able to include the Ethiopian portions of the Nile due to political problems. The rest of the Nile valley was included. The study was finally released in 1958 as the Report on the Nile Valley Plan. It was the culmination of 50 years of study. The report suggested various ways to increase the amount of water which reached Egypt. The most important of these suggestions was the construction of the Jonglei canal, which would divert the flow of the Nile in southern Sudan (in the Sudd) to avoid the enormous evaporation losses which occur there. The report, however, treated the entire Nile Basin as a single unity, which was unacceptable to the newly independent African states, especially since it was published just two years after the Suez Canal incident (Ohlsson, 31-34)

Furthermore, the Egyptians had already planned a major construction which would significantly improve the flow of the Nile in their territories. They had decided to build the High Aswan Dam in order to control the yearly floods of the Nile and in order to harvest the hydroelectric power of the river. However, this project was to have major repercussions on the lands of northern Sudan. Building this dam would mean that whole sections of northern Sudan would be inundated by what was to be Lake Nasser. There were also severe environmental concerns as to how the dam would change life on the banks of the Nile. To deal with this problem, the two nation signed an agreement on the “full utilization of the Nile waters” in 1959. This agreement stipulated that Sudan’s yearly water allotment would rise from the 4 billion cubic meters stipulated in the 1929 agreement to 18.5 billion cubic meters. The Sudan would also be allowed to undertake a series of Nile development projects, such as the Rosieres Dam and the Jonglei Canal. In exchange, Egypt would be allowed to build a huge dam near the Sudanese border which would regulate the flow of the river into Egypt and provide water during droughts. The result of this dam, however, would be the inundation of over 6,500 square kilometers of land. The treaty also formed a joint committee which would be in charge of supervising and directing all development projects which affected the flow of the river (Ohlosson, 35-40).

This agreement was only bilateral and did no include any of the other riparian countries of the Nile despite the fact that it portioned out all of the Nile’s water. Ethiopia, from which 80% of the water comes from was not even consulted and no water was even allotted for future usage by any upstream country except Sudan. All of the Nile’s average water flow is divided between the two most downstream countries. Nevertheless, this 1959 agreement is still the most comprehensive agreement ever signed on the use of the Nile’s waters.

Apparently, the residents of northern Sudan and southern Egypt were not consulted on the treaty either. In the 1960’s, over 100,000 Nubians lost their homes due to development projects stemming from that treaty.(Pearce, 29) Some of these same people had to be moved again in the 1990’s in order to build another dam, this time near the border with Ethiopia. The government of Sudan says that these people will be compensated, but the overwhelming feeling amongst the villagers is that they will not be. One villager claimed “We were not informed when the government decided… to build a dam in our area. They just sent tractors with a large number of strangers. These strangers were surveyors.” (Nhail, 1-3). 

Construction of the High Dam at Aswan began in 1959 — as soon the agreement with Sudan was signed. When it was finally finished in 1970, the dam was more than 17 times the volume of the Great Pyramid at El Giza. It now stretches 4 kilometres across the river’s path, rises over 100 meters for its base, and is almost a kilometer thick. Behind it, the waters have formed Lake Nasser, which is 600 kilometers long and 50 kilometers wide in some places. This reservoir is the second largest man-made lake in the world. The Aswan Dam is arguably one of the great architectural accomplishments of the 20th century. To build it, Egypt had to obtain outside funding, because it was to cost over one billion dollars to build. Rebuffed by the United States and the World Bank, Nasser had to turn to the Soviet Union, which was only too glad to help (Pearce, 28-29)

In the 1970’s Sudan and Egypt began the joint construction of the Jonglei Canal, which would have increased the flow of the Nile waters by diverting the Nile away from an area where a great deal of water is lost to evaporation. Unfortunately, construction was stopped in 1983 one hundred kilometers short of completion due to “rebel action”. The civil war in the Sudan has taken its toll on the development project, which was funded in large part by the World Bank. The failure of this project was a great failure for both the Sudanese government and the World Bank. Over 100 million dollars were spent on the Jonglei Canal project (Pearce, 31).

The most complete agreement on the use of the Nile waters remains the 1959 agreement between Sudan and Egypt. This agreement, however, did not put an end to the conflict over the rights to the Nile waters. A strong tension still exists between the Nile basin countries whenever a new Nile development project is proposed. The water needs of all of these countries are barely being met now and will probably not be met in the future, especially in view of the development plans in Ethiopia and Sudan. In addition, Egypt, as the country most in danger of losing access to the Nile waters by development projects in other countries, remains willing and able to intervene militarily in order to keep the status quo.

In August 1994, it was reported that Egypt had planned and subsequently canceled an air raid on Khartoum, in Sudan, where a dam is being built. This is in addition to the tensions between Sudan and Egypt over the attempted assassination of President Muhbarach in the summer of 1995. Border clashes became common between the two neighbors and conflict seemed probable. The tensions have now seemed to subside, but there is no telling when and if they will resume.(El-Kohdary, 1-3)

Egypt has also acted against Ethiopian development on the Nile in the past. In the early 1990’s, it is believed that Egypt blocked an African Development Bank loan to Ethiopia for a project which might have reduced the flow of the Nile’s water into Egypt. This behavior is not unwarranted given predictions by USAID that Egypt will experience a 16 to 30 percent water deficit by the end of the century. This will probably be further increase by further Egyptian development projects planned for the Nile. (El-Kohdary, 1-3)

In 1997, Egypt is to begin the construction of a new valley of the Nile, but creating a new, self-sustaining, river which would flow through the Western Desert. To do this they would cut a canal, called the New Valley Canal, which would connect a series of oases to one another. This would allow Egypt to settle a large number of people far from the Nile; something which has proven impossible up until now. Over 62 million people live on just 4% Egypt’s land. This project would allow Egyptians to take advantage of the good soil quality which is prevalent throughout the country. However, the estimated cost of the project is 2 billion dollars, which Egypt does not have. However, the real problem remains that of where Egypt will find the water to fill the canal and to keep it flowing as it already its full allotment of the Nile’s water (Daniszewski, A1, A16)

3. Duration: In Progress (1904 to now)

4. Location

Continent: Mideast

Region: Mideast Africa

Country: Egypt

5. Actors: Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Burundi, Zaire, Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya

The main actors, for the moment, are Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia. However, as populations continue to grow and water needs increase in the region, all of the countries in the Nile Basin will be affected.

II. Environment Aspects

6. Type of Environmental Problem: WATER

In Northeastern Africa, water is a scarce commodity. Yet it is also a vital one, as it is needed for irrigated agriculture, industrial expansion, and human consumption, In the Nile basin, the river remains the only reliable source for renewable water supplies. Underground water supplies, or aquifers, an only ba harvested once and will eventually run out. This place the Nile basin countries in a position of reliance on the waters of the Nile. (Postel, 1-23) 

The waters, however, do not flow in sufficient quantities to satisfy the future water requirements of all these nations. The nations are barely satisfied by what they now receive and it is foreseen that their needs will increase as populations rise, industrial growth takes place, and more land is irrigated with Nile water for agricultural use in nations besides Egypt. Egypt’s cropland is already 100% irrigated, fostering an amazing reliance on the flow of the Nile. It is estimated that Ethiopia and Sudan could achieve high levels of food production if they chose to irrigate as much land as possible.

Water stress is present when nations find themselves with less than 2000 cubic meters per person of renewable water supplies. By the end of the century at least five nations in the Nile basin expect themselves to be suffering from water stress. This figure does not include the water that would be needed to feed the citizens of the Nile countries. It is unlikely that the flow of water in the Nile could be increased without the completion of the Jonglei Canal, which, given Sudan’s internal problems, seems highly unlikely in the near future. (Ohlosson, 178-194)

In addition, the environmental situation is further complicated by the problems surrounding the Aswan Dam. Even though the environmental damage to Egypt’s environment caused by the Dam has been much less than originally predicted, it is still quite significant. One major problem is that the silt from the river which for millennia fertilized Egypt’s cropland is no longer being allowed to flow down the river. This means that more chemical fertilizers are being used. It is also causing erosion along the banks of the Nile, which were previously replenished by the silt carried down the river. Much of the Nile delta is now being swept into the Mediterranean. In fact, if barriers near the Nile’s outlet continue to erode, much of low lying Egypt could find itself in the sea, as the sea slowly advances. The Nile is also bringing more salt to the fields of Egypt because of the increased evaporation which takes place in Lake Nasser. (Pearce, 32)

This evaporation also presents a severe problem. Over 2 metres of water evaporate from the surface of Lake Nasser every year. this is because or its location in the middle of the desert. For this reason many opposed the construction of a dam in that location. A similar dam in the highlands of Sudan or Ethiopia would lose much less water. However, if the dam were located elsewhere, Egypt would lose out on the hydroelectric power the dam provides (roughly one third of Egypt’s electricity) (Pearce, 31-32).

7. Type of Habitat: DRY

8. Act and Harm Sites:

Act Site       Harm Site           Example

Egypt          Sudan               Plans for diversion of the Nile

III. Conflict Aspects

9. Type of Conflict: INTERSTATE

Although war has not yet broken out between the nations involved, some believe growing demands may eventually lead to armed conflict. Signs of this trend are already surfacing. There have been numerous skirmishes between Sudanese and Egyptian troops as well as a number of statements made. The nations of the Nile basin have also classified access to the waters of the Nile river as a vital national interest over which they would be willing to go to war.

For now, there has been enough water to satisfy most of the nations’ needs, but in the near future those resources which have been left top them will cease to suffice.

10. Level of Conflict: THREAT

11. Fatality Level of Dispute: >10

III. Environment and Conflict Overlap

12. Environment-Conflict Link and Dynamics: DIRECT

The dynamics are the result of feedback between water resources and development needs, especially water. The internationalization of the issue adds another element.

Causal Diagram

              /--------------------(+)----------------\

              |                     +                 |

           ___V_              _____________          _|__________ 

         /     \ ---(-)->   /             \ -(+)-> /            \ 

        [ Dev't ]     -    [  Water Supply ]  -   [ Agriculture  ] 

         \_____/   <-(+)----\_____________/ <-(-)- \____________/ 

             \                 /\       |               /\        

              \----------------|---(+)--|---------------/

                               |        |

                              (-)   -  (-)

                               |        |

                               |        V

                             ______________

                            /              \

                           [  Int'l Tension ]

                            \______________/

13. Level of Strategic Interest: REGION

14. Outcome of Dispute: YIELD

IV. Related Information and Sources

15. Related ICE and TED Cases

TED Cases
EGYPT Case
ATATURK Case
DANUBE Case
MARSH Case
DEADSEA Case

ICE Cases
BLUENILE Case
LITANI Case
CAUVERY Case
JORDAN River Case

16. Relevant Websites and Literature

  1. Ohlosson, Lief. Hydropolitics: Conflict Over Water as a Developmental Constraint. Zed Books; New Jersey, 1995
  2. Bol Nhail. “Sudan-Environment: Eviction Threat Over New Dam”, Interpress Service, Feb. 28, 1995 as quoted by
  3. El-Kodary, Nabil.”Sudan-Environment: Eviction Threat Over New Dam: Response” March 3, 1995 as quoted byhttp://Sun.nlib.ee/other/infoterra/1995/03/meg00036.html
  4. Glassman, Johnathon, “Nile Waters” Journal of African History. Vol 33, iss 1, pg. 149-150
  5. Postel, Sandra Last Oasis: facing water scarcity. WW Norton and Co., NY, 1992
  6. Collins, Robert O. The Waters of the Nile. Clarendon Press, Oxford: 1990
  7. Abu-Zeid and Saad “High Dam, 25 Years On” UNESCO Courrier. May 1993, p.37
  8. Daniszewski, John. ” Egypt Plans a New Valley to Rival the Nile” L.A. Times, Nov. 18, 1996, A1
  9. Pearce, Fred. “High and Dry in Aswan.” New Scientist. May 7, 1994, pg 28-32

10. Relevent Web Sites

Odyssey Down the Nile
Egypt Page 


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August 5, 2011

Special report: The “shorts” who popped a China bubble – Yahoo! News

Special report: The “shorts” who popped a China bubble – Yahoo! News.

China has engaged in economic warfare for many years now. Fraud in these companies should not be a surprise. Africa has been a prize for China in its economic policies and now Brazil is seeing such huge activity by China it is overwhelmed by them and will take years to see how China has hurt them more then helped them in growth.

This Article only touches the tip of the iceberg that is China.

Although I have been silent on economics and China the last 2 years I believe NOW is an appropriate time for me to bring more posts on where we are and what the USA in particular should do… and why it may never get done thus prolonging this economic boondoggle we are in.

Stay tuned for more in the near future.

July 13, 2011

What is a non-traditional Strategic Planner?

What is a nontraditional Strategic Planner?

The easy answer is one that does not use the same format as Boston Consulting Group or Booz Allen. But that is too easy. See the large firms are often brought in to help boost someone else’s plan or to Design and implement a Management Information System. But who challenges the Top Management of Major Companies today. The short answer is almost nobody. And the reasons are as obvious as fear and as subtle as brown nosing.

A NON traditional Strategic Planner can come in many forms but for the sake of this post… and of course to bolster my own work,,, I would like to share with you my approach to Strategic Planning.

Let’s start with a simple idea. Often the problem that a person or company thinks they are facing is not really the problem but a symptom. There are other times that the problem is misstated. But realizing that the core issues are not being addressed is an afterthought most of the time.

Then there is the failure to see the future with greater accuracy. A bold statement given that NO ONE can see the future but we can predict with greater accuracy the further we extend our information sources outside of the Core Business.

In deciding a future for a company it is always important to identify issues affecting the employees, the Supplies and the Customers.

The Non traditional approach will see what is happening in these entities world and what is the potential that their business or behavior will be affected. Not just stopping there but going even further as to what may be happening in the Communities from Local to National to International and then what is happening in Technology outside of your core.

The purpose of this extensive network information gathering is to provide not only data for current operations but to see where the future may  be affected by those external forces.

One need only look at Facebook’s phenomenal growth and now Facebook is facing n uncertain future in how to grow as the number of subscribers is flattening out and they look to Apps to grow or to change the paradigm in how their growth is measured.

Changing the paradigm is always an interesting way to change the future of a company… the Companies that are most successful do this on a regular basis and are leaders. The rest are followers and will grow or decline in response to how quickly they can adapt.

But there is another approach that is often over looked. When companies/ organizations or even societies face uncertain futures the Questions that are posed are usually a knee jerk reaction to a change in environment. WE HAVE A PROBLEM they say… but as I said above the problem they state is usually just a symptom and if treated as the sole problem does not address what is really going happening.

Sometime the problems are “unsolvable” in the context that they are presented. This is where my favorite technique is used the most and to the greatest advantage,

“IF YOU CANT SOLVE THE PROBLEM YOU ARE FACING YOU ARE FACING THE WRONG PROBLEM”

The second part of this is also appropriate in evaluating if the supposed problem is really a problem or just a symptom

“CHANGE THE DEFINITION OF THE PROBLEM TO COME UP WITH WORKABLE SOLUTION”  

This also opens the door to not only being an industry leader but ancillary business with limited windows of opportunity and fabulous returns on investment.

A Practical Example;

Egypt: a Country of 80+ million people that depend on the Nile River.. There is a nearly a century old Treaty brokered by the British that dictated the amount of water that must flow to Egypt from the riparian Countries (those upstream and on the Blue and White Nile Rivers). This was not just for the use of the Egyptian people but to prevent the salty water of the Mediterranean from moving up the Nile River and contaminating Fresh water (potable water) supplies.

Most of these countries are breaking the treaty for various reasons. The most egregious of these is Ethiopia which claims the water as its own for purposes of Industrial, Hydro Electric, Dams, Commercial, Agricultural and human consumption without regard to Egypt’s critical needs. Adding to this siphoning off of water is the study by Egypt that even with all the water previously guaranteed by the treaty it would have water shortage problems by 2016.

The PROBLEM that is stated is that these riparian countries must release the water to Egypt. In all frankness that will not happen. Egypt has said it vies the taking of this necessary water as an act of war, and they appear to be justified. But WAR in a conventional manner is not a resolution to the problems Egypt really faces.

Some have suggested that Egypt use Desalinization plants that consume power that is still in short supply in Egypt and if Fossil Fuel is used then the huge cost is difficult to bear for the industrial nations of Europe and North America let alone Egypt Egypt has authorized a nuclear power plant they hope will help but it does not sole the REAL PROBLEM.

From my statements above you know that I have attempted to redefine the problem. The problem is how much water flows through the Nile River. You may at first say that is obvious and given the current attempts to resolve the problem as most see it (that being the Riparian countries excessive use) that there is little hope of getting more water to the Nile. But you would be wrong in assuming that the above listed actions are the ONLY methods of getting water to flow in the Nile.

There is another way to bring water to the Nile… and yes I have found it… but I will not give it away at this time. This is how I do strategic planning… not only can I bring more water to the Nile for less than 500 million US Dollars but I can create and sustain 10’s of thousands of new jobs in the process. These jobs go a long way to improve the economy of Egypt and to foster greater stability as well. Basically this plan addresses several of Egypt’s needs at the same time.

How can Egypt pay for this… that answer is simple as well. With the exception of maybe 5 million dollars upfront the Entire project can be paid for with no other funds from Egypt or loans Guaranteed by Egypt or even by giving away things to outsiders. Others will pay if for no other reason than peace

This is the type of strategic planning I do. Find issues that appear to have no solution redefine those problems, devise a strategy that will not only address that particular problem but also other problems in the environment, incorporate other “benefits” into the solutions presented, and just as important find the economic benefit that pays for the solutions as implemented. It is a NON traditional manner of Strategic Planning… but something I think should be more main stream in all areas of business, government and society.

To be a truly effective Strategic Planner we must look beyond the reality presented to see if that is truly the reality. Challenge the conventional thinking and come up with creative but executable methods that incorporate benefits that are far reaching assure a future positive outcome.  It is not easy although it may appear to be. It takes a mindset that is not rigid, is flexible, and a think tank type approach. Simply it takes thought and creativity which few have today.

I am not soliciting business as I turn down 50 times more projects then I take on because most who seek my skills are not really looking for ideas they are looking for approval for their own. I am very very selective and of course expensive… but I generate returns far greater than most as I believe the economic realities demand profits in one way or another.

I am better in explaining things in person then I am in writing… as is the case for many my mind is usually faster than my fingers but I hope I was able to at least give you food for your thought processes

Craig Eisele

June 17, 2008

CRAIG EISELE on BBC “World Have Your Say”

UPDATE at Bottom:

I was flattered and very pleased to have been invited to participate in the Monday June 16 broadcast on BBC “World Have Your Say” on the topic of Aid to Africa and the Question if we should stop or at least wean Africa off of Foreign Aid. No, I was not a featured guest…. but I was invited and did participate in the discussion.

What made me happy is that I am finally able to gain a bit of a forum for my views on Africa and hopefully more in the future where I can espouse the virtues of Specific types of Aid to Africa and more importantly the inclusion of private enterprise in building the backbone infrastructure of Africa.

My “jubilation” on this event, however, was cut short by a deterioration in my daughters medical condition. As many of my readers already know, I am a single father of a disabled Child. I was forced to stay up with her all last night and sought professional help for this morning. Today, June 18, I have been forced to hospitalize my daughter. I am not sure when she will be released but I have hopes that she will at least improve her condition while there.

Until the complete diagnosis and treatment plan is ascertained I will be very limited in my ability to answer and questions posed via this blog. Thank you for your understanding.

Mr. Craig (Eisele)

UPDATE 06/24/2008:

Thank you for your concern about my daughter… she has been released from the hospital on Monday Afternoon June 23 and is recovering now at home

April 27, 2008

African Aid… Is It Really Aid Or Just Makes Us Feel Good??

African Aid… a study in inefficiency

OK… maybe I am not going to actually do a study… most of my data is allegoric (from stories). But it is a reality that Aid to Africa is not efficient for many reasons that are solvable.

When aid is given with strings attached such as the mandated use of the donor counties personnel or equipment and supplies then it is not aid to Africa it is aid to the Donor Countries’ manufacturing or consulting firms. Expert costs can be triple or even quadruple the cost of the same services in the Donor Countries because of travel, housing (to the donor countries standards) and high salaries of Donor country employees sent to Africa.

I have traveled to Africa frequently and have been in approximately 20 countries in the continent. While Greed, fraud and corruption do exist, it is the cost of goods and services that donor countries provide that takes a great deal of the AID that is supposedly given. Cash sent to most African Countries is subject to redistribution because of other more pressing needs. And sometimes the Strings on the aid have profound negative effects on other parts of the recipient African Countries economy and existing farming or manufacturing enterprises. There is an article in this blog about Namibia and Angola and the Cattle ranching that has been devastated by some of those strings to aid there.

I understand that Donor Countries want to try and maximize benefits to their domestic enterprises when giving aid… but competition for those aid funds can significantly reduce costs and maximize the benefit of the AID to the recipient countries.

Let me move to a different part of this issue… the raising of funds for Aid Organizations. Former President Bill Clinton has stated (paraphrased) that if there was profit to be made in solving global poverty then there would be no global poverty…. But that statement is based upon a false premise… that global poverty can be solved… I am adamant on this.. GLOBAL POVERTY CANNOT BE SOLVED…. Not in my life time… and not even in this century… poverty will always be with us as long as we are a society that functions on money… someone will always be at the bottom of the scale and hence we will always have poverty. This is a fact of life that cannot be dismissed out of hand. (Please note I am not tackling the issue of the measurement of poverty or its definition at this time… maybe later)

What we can do is significantly reduce poverty by revamping and reorganizing the AID that is given and the manner in which it is given.

People think that AID is free… it is not… every aid organization has to raise funds.. that take time, personnel and money… however we can make guidelines on how much of the aid given is actually used for those ongoing fund raising and strategizing efforts as well as the Organizations basic operations and expenses.. For this I am in favor of a sliding scale ranging from 3.5% to 20% depending on the total amount raised per year. This is not include the actual administration of the project (for which I feel not more than 20 % should be allocated to non-resident administration of the ACTUAL Project)

From personal experience:

I have been forming a new NGO (Non-Government Organization) and NPO (Not for Profit Organization) called the Africa Genesis Project. The mission is to “rehabilitate” the sub Saharan “trade routs” in this region. The studies have already been done showing the benefit in trade for the respective countries (a cost benefit analysis). But it does not even begin to show the increase in employment, local economies and the attraction to FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) that would accompany such a project.

The Cost for this is fast approaching 50 BILLION US Dollars. Is that a lot of money?? Yes it is… but in comparison to the 60 Billion dollars in aid for AIDS in Africa than this is smaller and brings more advantages (in my opinion) and allows the aid for AIDS to be delivered more effectively and efficiently to a greater number of people. I agree with the need for AIDS assistance… but I also know that the people of Africa need more.When it costs only 1,000 dollars to send a container to a Kenya Port but 10,000 dollars to take it inland at twice the time and takes 5 days to repair the truck afterwards,… this is an abomination and the extra costs are something the Africans cannot afford.

Roads bring JOBS, and jobs bring economic prosperity and that in turn brings peace and stability to Africa!!!

But how can we raise such amount of funds for the overall rehabilitation of Africa?? If ANYONE expects that Africa can finance this with its current economic situation and with the Debt that it already has, then that person is not fathoming the realities of the condition of Africa and worse is dismissing the prolonged suffering of hundreds of millions of people in Africa. Further it has allowed countries like China to take advantage of this situation to give “no string” loans that continue to exacerbate the problems in Africa.

The ONLY way to really help Africa is one MASSIVE injection of Aid that can transform most of Africa into a productive society. That aid can ONLY come from Governments around the world. That raises a major problem in how to even start such a fund raising effort to implement this project.

My calculations indicate I need 50 million dollars to START this project and 500 Million Dollars to continue to promote and administer the Africa genesis Project over 7 years.

Why so much?? One word answer… POLITICS!!!

I cannot even get an appointment with my own congressional or senate representative in the United States to present this project… and the form in which I presented is not in “proper form” with the relevant brochures and packages needed to promote such a massive project. Multiply that effort with my need to approach the governments of the United Kingdom, France and the rest of the EU, Japan. Australia, Canada, and the Middle East as well as many other countries, (as this is a global issue requiring a global solution) then you start to see not only the massive size of the Africa Project in Rehabilitating these trade routes, but the Global Efforts needed to see it though. And the ONLY way is to hire (at a significant cost) “Consultants” (lobbyists) who can effectively get this project into the hands of those who can make it happen in their respective Governments.

The Africa genesis Project will Guarantee that 96% of ALL money raised for the project will be spent directly on the project and not on fundraising, promotion or administrative expenses of the organization itself. Further that NO Distribution will be to any government organization UNLESS that Organization has actually performed or is performing real work on this roads project. Simply ONLY those actually working on the Road Project will be paid and 80 percent of ALL work must be by Local African Companies and using African employees.

We realize that a lot of Equipment must be purchased for this project. It is expected that Caterpillar and John Deer will receive about 500 million dollars each for equipment and spare part orders… HOWEVER WE MUST be able to negotiate process to reduce costs and maximize benefits to AFRICA. We will NOT tolerate paying even list, let alone OVER list as Caterpillar and John Deer have indicated in my limited discussions with them. The same for every other manufacture and supplier of other equipment, materials and supplies… COSTS will be PARAMOUNT in our vigilance to assure that this work can be done UNDER BUDGET. It is though our “lobbying” efforts that we will make sure that any “strings” attached to the aid given by donor countries for domestic purchases allow us to make bidding and negotiations fair practice in our efforts to supply this project. We cannot allow unfair profits (windfalls) to accrue to anyone on the backs of Africa and its people.

And yes, even I need to get paid, as I am not independently wealthy. So for those of you questioning that, I assure you I am NOT working for free and expect compensation that is reasonable for a project of this size. However I will note that I already know that there are many problems and issues that will need to be addressed on a project this size that will NOT be in the budget … hence my “compensation” will mostly be used for the resolution of those issues and to support the Africa Genesis Organization in its endeavors. Fist Aide Stations, water well drilling, education assistance and the like are just some of those things that are NOT in the Budget for this project and need to be taken care of but NOT from the 96% of the funds that were donated and are to be used ONLY for the Road rehabilitation project as already identified.

If you are a regular reader of this blog you know I have proposed creating a “backbone” infrastructure project that would transverse Africa as well as circumnavigate the Entire Continent, that would end up being approximately 70,000 Kilometers in length. This “backbone would have a 4 to 6 lane modern highway, an Electric Power line transmission, a railroad, and Fiber Optics and Oil and Gas and water pipelines, ALL TO BE FINANCED AND OPERATED BY PRIVATE (non governmental) INVESTMENT. This Investment could approach 1 trillion dollars over 10 to 15 years.

My plans for Africa my be grandiose to some… but a real vision was needed to solidify the continent for economic, and political and peace issues and the overall heath and welfare of the people of Africa… this is my mission… to transform Africa into a place where aid is not needed as much as it is now, and to improve the human sprit of all Africans.

Craig Eisele

April 20, 2008

US Losing out in Africa Projects at Critial Economic Times.

France and South Africa signed three economic accords Friday. French leader Nicolas Sarkozy was near the end of a two-day state visit to South Africa at the end of February. While the President of France has talks with Britain and the US, this was his first to an English-speaking country since he took office in France.

The energy accords were signed during a business conference in Cape Town between France and South Africa.

In a major part of the France-South Africa energy deal, French energy giant Alstom will build a 1.36 billion coal-fueled power plant in South Africa, where energy is in desperately short supply. South Africa’s electricity crisis has been called a national emergency by the government. South Africa is one of the few African nations with a booming economy, and it needs power for its many activities such as mining and manufacturing.

Bravo, the name of the planned French-constructed power station, will be erected in the northeastern Mpumalanga province and will have a capacity of 4,740 megawatts. Alstom of France signed the deal with Eskom, South Africa’s state power utility, with the President of France and South African chief Thabo Mbeki looking on.

The second contract between the French Development Agency and Eskom was worth 100 million euros and will fund new power-generating wind turbines. A third deal, between the South African government and French nuclear giant Areva, will provide professional training. The apartheid regime that ended in 1994 kept the country black majority uneducated and most lack the skills training necessary to work in nuclear energy.

The French company Areva is bidding against the U.S.’s Westinghouse to construct up to 12 nuclear reactors between now and 2025 in South Africa, whose government has not awarded the contract to either yet. South Africa sees nuclear power as its best chance to solve its energy crisis in the future. Sarkozy voiced his strong ambitions for France to win all the coal and nuclear power plant contracts up for grabs in South Africa.

The energy accords were only the latest in a sweeping list of relationship-changing initiatives put forth by the President of France during his South African visit. Many other agreements covering energy, transport, science and tourism were also signed by France and South Africa. French leader Sarkozy further discussed overhauling France’s participation with South Africa in the areas of defense, democracy and human rights.

The President of France stressed that France’s relationship with South Africa, never a colony of France, should serve as a model for the West’s new relationships Africa countries. Carla Bruni, Sarkozy’s new bride, visited an employment project for women in the poor township of Khayelitsha, and joined him at a visit to an AIDS clinic. Bruni also met Wednesday with wives of disappeared Chad opposition leaders.
France’s President arrived in South Africa after a brief stop in Chad, a former French colony that has seen almost ten years of turmoil and never yet enjoyed true democracy.

March 31, 2008

Caterpillar Video on the Benefits of Road Construction in Africa

This may be a PR piece by Caterpillar for their benefit… nonetheless it is also a good PR piece for those who espouse the Highway building as necessary infrastructure for Africa. Madagascar may be an island but it is the same story on the Continent of Africa.

Click here: 

Caterpillar Madagascar Video

or cut and paste:

http://www.cat.com/cda/layout?m=8703&x=7&f=177263#/madagascar/

March 30, 2008

Outragous Costs of Domestic transport in Africa Shows Needs that Can Be Addressed by Private Enterprise.

The two arms of Coega, South Africa’s newest port, extend into the Indian Ocean in graceful arcs. These breakwaters — one is 2.6 km long, the other 1.3 km — are built from thousands of dolosse, huge, oddly-shaped, 30-ton concrete blocks that interlock. They are designed to protect the vessels that, when the port is fully operational in 2007, will use this facility to ship manganese, iron ore and other South African products to China, India and the rest of the world. The government-funded Coega Development Corporation (CDC), which is building an industrial zone on 11,000 hectares of farmland next to the port, likes to think of the massive complex on South Africa’s southeast coast, 20 km from Port Elizabeth, as a symbol of industrial Africa flexing its muscles. “If you want to change lives and the history of this continent, you need to develop infrastructure,” says Vuyelwa Qinga-Vika, spokeswoman for the cdc. “We’re not going to advance if we don’t even have the roads to bring medicine to the rural areas. We’ve got to start building.”

The call to construction is ringing out across Africa. Infrastructure is the new buzzword, pushed by leaders from South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki to Senegal’s Abdulaye Wade. It’s also a key topic at this week’s World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Cape Town, where political and business leaders from Africa will meet with heads of some of the world’s biggest companies to discuss, among other things, how Africa’s priority infrastructure projects can boost growth. According to a Gallup International survey commissioned by the WEF, Africans “focus more heavily on economic issues than do citizens in other parts of the world.” One in three Africans fear a failure of the economy compared to just one in five globally.

Despite a commodity boom that pushed growth to 5% in Africa last year, the continent’s leaders want better infrastructure to win more business. The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), an African initiative that aims to lure $64 billion in annual investment by tackling bad governance, ending conflicts and making the continent more business-friendly, has put improved infrastructure near the top of its to-do list. “There can be no meaningful development without trade,” reads NEPAD‘s infrastructure action plan. “And there can be no trade without adequate and reliable infrastructure.”

The need is as obvious as it is urgent. Africa’s roads and railway lines, ports and power grids are neither adequate nor reliable. Outside of southern Africa and Mauritius, much of the continent’s infrastructure is crumbling or nonexistent. Consider the Democratic Republic of Congo. You could fit France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain and Britain inside it, and the country is packed with timber and minerals, yet it has only a few thousand kilometers of paved road and 10,000 fixed telephone lines, and produces about the same amount of power as Albania. In other war-torn countries, such as Somalia and Sierra Leone, public buildings have been destroyed by years of fighting. Corruption and mismanagement have left public utilities in places such as Cameroon and Nigeria run down and inefficient.

The lack of infrastructure deters many companies from investing — and drives up costs for those that do. The World Bank estimates that to ship a container from Baltimore in the U.S. to Tanzania costs about $1,000, but to transport that same container from Tanzania to neighboring Burundi costs $10,000. “In many countries, companies have to generate their own power, dig for water, pay heavy distribution and telephone charges,” says David Hampshire, chairman of Diageo Africa, one of the continent’s biggest marketers of beer and spirits. “All these costs add up, and they end up being paid for by the consumer.”

To attract more investment, Africa has drawn up plans to spend billions over the next few decades. Zambia and Burkina Faso, both landlocked, want to build new rail lines through neighboring states to improve their connections to the sea. In East Africa, the Kenyan government and the rebel movement in southern Sudan plan to build a new railway track — at an estimated cost of more than $4 billion — from Sudan more than 1,000 km south to Rongai, Kenya, about 170 km northwest of Nairobi, where it will connect with the existing line to the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa. That notoriously inefficient harbor, along with some half a dozen others around Africa’s coast, is set to undergo a massive expansion and modernization program over the next few years.

The next decade may also finally see the completion of the Trans-Saharan Highway from Algeria to Lagos, Nigeria. Equally bold is the West African Gas Pipeline, which will tap natural gas from the Nigerian oil fields in the country’s southeast and then run almost 700 km along the coast with links to power plants in Lagos, Benin, Togo and Ghana. The most ambitious plan is for a massive dam on the lower Congo River which would eventually produce more than twice the power generated by China’s controversial Three Gorges scheme — enough to sell electricity across the continent as well as export it to Asia and Europe. But that project is at least 20 years away.

Surprisingly, funds for new projects aren’t lacking. Africa’s richest countries are eager to build. South Africa’s government, for instance, is funding the new Coega port and industrial zone. “Private business is not too keen on putting money into infrastructure, so the government has said it will take the lead,” says Lionel Billings, manager for Coega’s enterprise development and investor interaction. Rich donor nations in the West often help finance schemes in poorer countries, as does the World Bank. A growing number of private and foreign government-backed infrastructure funds based in Europe and the U.S., such as AIG African Infrastructure Fund and New Africa Infrastructure Fund, are also supplying capital.

The problem is confidence. Financiers, whether private or public, need projects that they can rely on. “We’ve got liquidity we’re embarrassed about,” says Keith Palmer, chairman of the London-based Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund and vice chair of the U.K. investment bank NM Rothschild & Sons Ltd. “But there’s a lack of well-structured, creditworthy opportunities.” Business leaders cite numerous hurdles to investment: corruption, political instability and African governments’ lack of capacity to run huge projects and reluctance to hand over control of projects to the private sector. Richard Laing, chief executive of the Commonwealth Development Corporation, Britain’s agency for investment in the developing world, says the problem is dealing with African governments which have “an unwillingness to let go and a lot of distrust.”

There’s also a catch-22: Africa needs investment and improved infrastructure to develop, but finds it hard to attract the capital such projects need without more development. Thormählen Schweisstechnik, a German company that last year won the right to construct and operate for 25 years the planned railway line from Southern Sudan to the Kenyan coast, is already running into problems with the Kenyan government. Klaus Thormählen, head of the company, says, somewhat euphemistically, “the decision-making process [does not] maintain its dynamics during the times of our absence.” A spokesman in the Kenyan President’s office says that Kenya backs the scheme and is working with the German company to make sure the line is built.

Back at Coega port, a huge crane lifts another concrete block into position. The dock area, which was constructed behind a dam wall, has now been flooded, and is awaiting its first ship. “One of the things that will make it meaningful for South Africans is to see the first businesses set up here,” says Qinga-Vika. “It may just be concrete and steel and new roads, but this is a symbol of hope that we’re doing something to turn this city and continent around.”

Interesting Article on Kenya

Ad but interesting Article on Kenya

Click here

or cut and paste:

http://www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/detaylar.do?load=detay&link=132845

Kenya: Africa’s troubled jewel on the Indian Ocean

A herd of elephants walk with Mt. Kilimanjaro in the background

Kenya was once one of the most prosperous and tourist-friendly countries in Africa.

A country situated on the Indian Ocean, the nation has been in the media limelight for some time due to internal war, suffering up to $1 billion in losses in the tourism sector due to the bloody turmoil following President Mwai Kibaki’s disputed re-election on Dec. 27, 2007. Unfortunately, Kenya’s beauty has fallen under the shadow of the recent turmoil; however, this nation is truly unique in terms of its landscape and wildlife.

With its population of 31 million, Kenya is one of Africa’s most important countries. It is a former British colony but gained its independence in 1963. Uhuru Gardens serve as Nairobi’s freedom square. There are statues of Jomo Kenyatta, who was elected Kenya’s first state president in 1964, all over this city. Some of the world’s finest athletes are Kenyan.

Kenya could be called East Africa’s locomotive. Its coastline runs along the Indian Ocean and the equator cuts across the country, meaning that half of Kenya lies in the northern hemisphere and the other half in the southern hemisphere. Kenya’s neighbors are Uganda, Tanzania, Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia. The country also boasts Africa’s second-highest peak (after Mt. Kilimanjaro), Mt. Kenya, which reaches 5,199 meters.

Ethnically, Kenya has a panorama of 42 different ethnic groups, each with their own distinct dances and traditions. You can sense the differences between these tribes in the way they dress, the instruments they use and even the melodies and songs they sing. Perhaps the best known of all these tribes are the Kikuyu.

The Swahili language, spoken across Kenya, is a mixture of Bantu and Arabic. This is in fact Kenya’s national language, while English remains its official language. Swahili is not just a language, but also a culture for East Africans.

The Kenyan capital, Nairobi, is one of Africa’s most developed cities. With modern buildings and skyscrapers, it stands apart from many other African cities and also acts as the heart of business and culture not just for Kenya, but also for many neighboring countries. In the Masai language, “Nairobi” means the “place of cool waters.” Throughout the year, whether summer or winter, the weather here is neither hot nor cold. This nation truly has one of the best, most temperate climates in the world. There are no signs of the chimneys or heaters that you grow so accustomed to seeing in other nations. And during the summertime here, you don’t need air conditioning.

The Trans-African highway, which starts in South Africa and goes all the way up to Cairo, cuts straight through the center of Nairobi. This is Africa’s longest roadway and its Kenyan section is called the “Uhuru Highway,” the freedom highway.

In Nairobi’s Giraffe Park, you can feed giraffes with a special mix of wheat and minerals. These animals are surely deserving of the “graceful” adjective often used to describe them. Interestingly, giraffes live about 15-20 years and can weigh up to a tremendous 750 kilos. They generally live in groups of about 12-15 animals and each group has an adult male leader.

Rift Valley

The world-famous Rift Valley starts in the north at the Red Sea and goes all the way down to southern Mozambique. It lays 2,666 meters above sea level, cutting East Africa in a north-south direction. The valley is the result of the collision of tectonic plates. Some astronauts have commented that one of the sights they were most affected by while viewing the Earth from space was of this chasm running through East Africa.

The Kalanjun tribe in the Kenyan mountains is known for producing some of the best athletes in Kenya. Athletes from this tribe train at mountain heights of 2,500 meters and despite rainy weather. They do not have the proper training equipment or easy conditions, but they continue to put train skilled Kenyan athletes year after year.

Kenya’s Sinyalu Kakameyga region is populated by people from the Luya tribe, known for organizing bull-wrestling matches to mark circumcision rites and other important cultural days. For these matches, each group first brings forward a bull to represent them in the match. They are of course bulls that have been specially prepared for this event and as such have not been allowed to come into contact with other animals before the match. Some of the viewers arrange safe spots for themselves in surrounding trees to make sure they don’t receive blows from the bulls’ horns. These tribe members know what to expect from a bull-wrestling match, and take precautions.

Tea and coffee

Kenya is also a nation famous for its tea and its tea gardens. In fact, there are tea gardens everywhere you look in this country. Because of its temperate climate and equatorial position, Kenya is the perfect spot for growing tea. Strangely enough, the thousands of hectares of tea grown here are almost all British-owned; only a few belong to the Kenyan government. It is a rich country with fertile land, but the tea gardens seem to belong to the whites, not the blacks. While Kenya has most certainly won its independence, there are still distinct traces of colonialism here.

It is relevant at this point to note that in addition to its tea, Kenya is also an important producer and exporter of coffee. A great opportunity to see Kenyan traditions is at the Masai open market. This open market is set up on Fridays and Sundays and features many wares, including lots of bead jewelry and craftwork. Be forewarned that initially offered prices will be around five times their normal level; you need to be patient and work to bargain goods down.

The Jamia Mosque is one of Kenya’s most beautiful mosques. Hearing the call to prayer in Nairobi fills us with emotion. Around 20 percent of Kenyans are Muslim.

The city of Mombasa has a higher proportion of Muslims than Nairobi. This is due in part to the number of Muslims traders from various regions who visited this port city over the years, forming trade relations with local residents.

Visas: You can receive a Kenyan visa at the border; the cost is $50. It used to be that Kenya did not require visas from Turkish citizens, but this also changed in 2004.

How to go: Until last June, one was able to reach Nairobi from İstanbul directly with Kenya Air. But since Kenya Air cancelled these flights, you can only travel there indirectly. There are Emirates flights everyday from Istanbul through Dubai to Nairobi.

Where to stay: You should have no trouble finding hotels, especially in Nairobi. There are many clean, appropriate hotels for every budget.

Cuisine: You might have some trouble finding food that you’ll like. Try to avoid food sold on the street, even if you just want to try it. You can always find restaurants with international selections in five-star hotels, though.

Things to pay attention to: Do not drink water from the tap; always drink bottled water only. Also, don’t drink the “bagged water” found so often in Africa, mostly because the taste is terrible, especially if it has been sitting under the sun. Before going, make sure you get your Hepatitis A and B vaccinations as well as a yellow fever vaccination. Try to avoid contact with mosquitoes, as malaria is still a rampant problem. Also, Nairobi is not necessarily a safe city in terms of security. Make sure you know where you are staying and walking and what elements you need to look out for. Mombasa, Kenya’s second-largest city, is much safer.

When to go: Both January and February are great months to visit Kenya and are when most of the tourists come though. For a less crowded time in Kenya, try June and September, which are the driest months. Even though Nairobi is temperate and not too muggy, Mombasa has a much moister climate due to its coastline position.


[QUICK FACTS]

Capital: Nairobi

Official languages: English, Swahili

Government: Republic

President: Mwai Kibaki

Vice president: Kalonzo Musyoka

Area: 580,367 square kilometers

Population: 34,707,817*

Gross domestic product (GDP): $48.33 billion**

Main religions: Christianity (70 percent), Islam (20 percent), traditional religions (10 percent)

*July 2005 estimate **2005 estimate

Some Photos of the existing Trans-African Highway

For a good look at the condition of some of Africa’s “highways” please see the web site listed below.

“Trans-African Highway Shots” 

or cut and past the following:

http://www.virb.com/design4/photos/1103703

Lagos-Mombasa Highway Map and Information

For information on the Lagos (Nigeria) to Mombasa (Kenya) highway with Map from Wikipedia please go to the following web site:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lagos-Mombasa_Highway

or click below:

Lagos-Mombasa Highway 

Road reflects why $568 billion in aid to Africa has largely failed


    

 

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Road reflects why $568 billion in aid to Africa has largely failed

By CHRIS TOMLINSON Associated Press Writer
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP)

To judge how far aid has helped Africa along the road to prosperity, just look down at the pavement _ or the lack of it.
The most important highway in East Africa starts at the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa. Tens of thousands of trucks every year carry food, fuel and other goods to 100 million people in east and central Africa up a bone-jarring two-lane road.
Despite millions of aid dollars spent on roads, the wear and tear is so bad that journeys take weeks. And the cost makes it cheaper to have a container of corn shipped from Iowa than to truck it 500 miles (800 kilometers) to western Kenya.
In the 50 years since the first African countries won independence, the world has spent US$568 billion (euro394 billion) on Africa. Yet Africans are poorer now than a quarter century ago, and much of the money has ended up on the road to nowhere. This dismal record is sparking a vigorous debate on how best to help the world’s poorest continent, and to what degree aid is the answer.
A growing chorus of Africans is saying what they need is not handouts, but investment so they can rebuild on their own.
“Africans….are tired. They are tired of being the subject of everybody’s charity and care. And what is happening in many African countries now is the realization that nobody can do it but us,” said Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a World Bank managing director and former finance minister of Nigeria, at a talk on a changing Africa. “We can invite partners who support us, but we have to start.”

___

Roads are the lifeblood of an economy, the delivery system for agriculture, mining, tourism and other mainstays of African industry. But roads in Africa are few and bad. When foreign companies calculate the price of doing business on the continent, they look at figures like the cost of transportation and decide to go somewhere else.
“No one would ever have 100 million people in the rich world along a broken-down, two-lane, undivided road as we do here,” said leading economist Jeffrey Sachs about Nairobi. “If the donors were thinking about what would really provide development, it’s a proper, divided highway on which truck traffic could go.”
Truth is, they did think of it _ and almost built it _ 40 years ago. But today, the east-west Trans-African Highway exists only on maps. On the ground, it turns into a muddy footpath in the jungles of eastern Congo.
The story of the highway shows why aid to Africa has largely failed in the past, and what can be learned for the future.
Back in 1969, the Japanese government proposed extending the Mombasa Highway to Lagos, Nigeria on the Atlantic Ocean. The four-lane, 4,400-mile (7,080-kilometer) paved highway would be slightly longer than Interstate 90 running from Boston to Seattle across the United States. It was to bring modern trade to six African countries.
By 1971, the deal had the support of the six countries, nine other rich countries and six international aid agencies. They hoped to have at least two lanes of all-weather road open by 1978.
It did not take long for problems to emerge. Dictator Idi Amin took control of Uganda and threatened neighboring Kenya, which then closed the highway.
The fight reflected a constant plague for foreign aid to Africa _ corrupt dictators, and donors who gave them money to protect political and economic interests. Nowhere was this exchange clearer than in Zaire, now known as Congo.
Zaire needed to build roads from scratch. But the Central African country was ruled by Mobutu Sese Seko, one of the most brutal dictators in African history.
Mobutu took power during the Cold War, at a time when the United States and the Soviet Union were scrambling for influence in Africa. In the mid-1970s, he was a funnel for arms flowing to anti-communist rebels.
And so billions of dollars poured into Zaire to keep him happy, and to maintain the flow of Zairean gold, diamonds and copper to the West. Western nations largely looked the other way as the aid money disappeared into his offshore bank accounts and into the pockets of dozens of corrupt leaders.
Mobutu stopped plans for the highway in 1974, after stealing the money Belgium gave him for initial surveys. In a well-known African joke that reflects the thinking of the time, a young African dictator calls Mobutu for advice after coming under rebel attack.
“Did they come by sea?” Mobutu asks.
“No,” the younger ruler would reply.
“Did they come by air?” Mobutu asks.
“No, they came by road,” the protege answers.
“Tsk tsk, my son, I always told you,” Mobutu says. “Never build roads.”

___

Despite Mobutu in Zaire, the highway was in good condition in Kenya. In the 1970s, the East African country’s economy was booming, with trucks filled with valuable coffee and tea running downhill from mile-high (1.6-kilometer-high) Nairobi and across breathtaking African savanna to the port of Mombasa.
But roads do not last forever. The average African highway is designed to last 15-20 years, if properly maintained, says Andrew Gitonga, the Kenya roads project officer for the European Union. Since 1983, the European Union has spent US$200 million (euro139 million) to repair Kenya’s section of the highway and has about US$120 million (euro83.2 million) more of road projects planned this year.
Gitonga says the road needs to be completely rebuilt.
“There has been no standard maintenance program for 15 years, so the roads are falling into disrepair until they collapse,” he says. “Some government contracts in the past were given in an untransparent manner to unqualified contractors without clear standards.”
The transition between good road work and bad is painfully obvious when you hit a pothole at 50 mph. A close examination of the hole will show that whoever built it skimped on the thickness of the rock bed and the asphalt surfacing, pocketing a little extra profit.
Almost every day road workers can be seen patching the holes. One man sprays in some tar, a second shovels in a little asphalt and a third goes over it twice with a compactor. Within five minutes the lane is open, with hundreds of cars every hour driving over a repair that will probably last less than six months, or until the seasonal rains wash it away.
The same neglect for maintenance has led to the slow deterioration of thousands of donor-funded projects over the years.
Just off the Mombasa highway in Nairobi, the International Committee of the Red Cross maintains its distribution hub for eastern Africa. Trucks loaded with food and supplies set off to deliver aid to some of the world’s most desperate people.
The biggest obstacle: The roads.
“The roads are in a desolate state and they are not getting any better,” says Bent Korsgaard, logistics director for the Kenya office.
A University of Minnesota study determined that big trucks cost about 43.4 cents a mile (1.6 kilometers) to operate on normal roads. In Africa, the cost for Red Cross trucks is US$2.88 (euro2) a mile (1.6 kilometers).
A truck that follows the Trans-African Highway for the 1,500 mile (2,400-kilometer), 21-day roundtrip to Butembo, Congo requires five days in the workshop when it gets back. It’s cheaper to hire a Russian cargo plane than to drive a truck to some cities within 620 miles (1,000 kilometers).
That doesn’t even count the bribes truckers have to pay on African roads. A recent survey in West Africa found they range from about US$3.33 (euro2.3) per 60 miles (97 kilometers) in Togo to US$25 (euro17) in Mali.

___

Roads are hardly the only aid fiascos. Kenya alone is littered with dozens of half-baked, half-built projects funded by wealthy countries, monuments to good intentions gone awry.
Often donors did not understand Africa or talk to Africans. The Norwegian government built a fish processing plant on Lake Turkana in the 1970s to provide jobs for nomadic cattle herders _ soon doomed in part because the local community had no fishing culture.
In a self-assessment in 1987, the World Bank found 106 out of 189 African development projects audited _ almost 60 percent _ had serious shortcomings or were complete failures. African agriculture projects failed 75 percent of the time.
The World Bank did better when it worked more closely with communities and better monitored projects. But a recent report on aid from the World Bank’s private arm, the International Finance Corporation, found only half of its Africa projects succeed.
Aid is also hampered because it is often determined not just by what poor countries need but by what rich countries want to give to boost their own economies.
Much so-called foreign aid never leaves the country that promised it, because donor governments spend it to buy domestically-produced products or hire its own citizens as consultants. The World Bank estimates that throughout the 1980s, more than half of all aid was tied to what donor countries wanted to export, often at higher prices than could be found on the market. This practice reduced the value of aid by anywhere from 11 to 30 percent.
Under the Buy American Act, the U.S. Agency for International Development must spend aid money to buy products and services from U.S. suppliers whenever possible, and then deliver them aboard expensive U.S.-flagged ships or planes.
“Foreign assistance is far from charity,” J. Brian Atwood, the USAID director under former President Bill Clinton, told Congress in 1995. “It is an investment in American jobs, American business.”
Other rich nations do the same. Japan, one of the largest donors to Africa, provides a lot of aid in the form of four-wheel-drive vehicles _ despite the roads.
Sachs, the Columbia University professor, argues past aid failed because not enough was invested at every level, in every sector. In 2004, Sachs and the United Nations started the Millennium Project experiment to supply 12 African villages with all they need, all at once, and see if they can be self-sufficient in five years.
“The speed of results is astounding and the point is that if the resources are there, the rate of improvement is wonderful,” Sachs says. “I believe that we’re at the cusp of that now.”
Sachs’ nemesis, economist William Easterly of New York University, retorts that Sachs’ results are on a very small scale. He says only a free market can lift a nation out of poverty, and wants to see far more limited aid for specific programs with good track records, such as health care.
Easterly argues that aid bureaucracies are now rewarded for giving money that never reaches those who need it.
“It’s just not possible for outsiders with their experts to create economic development and prosperity in another country,” he says. “We should say: `There are a lot of problems and as rich outsiders we can’t fix everything, but where can we do the most good for the most people?”’
The stakes are high. The outcome will decide if _ and how _ the world spends another US$568 (euro394) billion on Africa.

___

The dream of a world-class road network for Africa is still alive, at least on paper. The African Union has a plan to build it, but it would take tens of billions of dollars that could come only from rich countries.
The east-west Trans-African Highway is still missing about 1,826 miles (2,939 kilometers). But West African states are building a regional network that will run from landlocked Chad to the Western port of Dakar in Senegal, and from Mauritania to Nigeria. Kenya is also building a road to neighboring Ethiopia.
Aid to Africa is going up again to about US$37 (euro26) per capita, from a low of US$24 in 1999. But this time the world has learned something. Aid to countries with more democratic systems has tripled at the expense of those whose leaders have unchecked power, according to the World Bank.
These days, when a new road is under construction in Kenya, white cars with European Union flags on the doors visit every day to make sure every inch of the highway is built to specification.
And a maintenance contract comes with it.

 
To judge how far aid has helped Africa along the road to prosperity, just look down at the pavement or the lack of it.

The most important highway in East Africa starts at the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa. Tens of thousands of trucks every year carry food, fuel and other goods to 100 million people in east and central Africa up a bone-jarring two-lane road.

Despite millions of aid dollars spent on roads, the wear and tear is so bad that journeys take weeks. And the cost makes it cheaper to have a container of corn shipped from Iowa than to truck it 500 miles to western Kenya.
————————————————–
“Africans do not want to be viewed as a charity case,” adds Okonjo-Iweala, a World Bank managing director. “Ninety-nine point nine percent of Africans are people who are getting on with their own lives. All they are asking for is….a set of tools.”

Roads are the lifeblood of an economy, the delivery system for agriculture, mining, tourism and other mainstays of African industry. But roads in Africa are few and bad. When foreign companies calculate the price of doing business on the continent, they look at figures like the cost of transportation and decide to go somewhere else.

“No one would ever have 100 million people in the rich world along a broken-down, two-lane, undivided road as we do here,” said leading economist Jeffrey Sachs about Nairobi. “If the donors were thinking about what would really provide development, it’s a proper, divided highway on which truck traffic could go.”

Truth is, they did think of it and almost built it 40 years ago. But today, the east-west Trans-African Highway exists only on maps. On the ground, it turns into a muddy footpath in the jungles of eastern Congo.

In conversations with some colleagues and a few so-called friends, I’ve often been the subject of strong criticism for my view that aid money would be better spent on infrastructure and institutions that facilitated the free flow of business and international trade as opposed to food shipments. It’s hard for non-supply chain/logistics people to understand that if you don’t have the necessary infrastructure in place it doesn’t matter how much you throw at the system, it simply isn’t going to move well and all your money is going to be eaten up in logistics costs. It’s no different than looking at international trade – countries with poor infrastructure make trade difficult and expensive. It’s no different with aid logistics. And I think this article is accurate in stating that what most Africans want is not a handout, but simply the means to stand on their own two feet and support themselves. This guy gets it. Although to get Africa’s infrastructure off the ground will take more than micro-credits the concept is still there.

 

http://www.taipeitimes.com/

Published on Taipei Times
http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2007/12/22/2003393678

Trans-African Highway mirrors failure of Africa aid

Africans are poorer now than a quarter century ago, despite the US$568 billion in aid poured into the continent in the past 50 years. Many say what is needed is investment, not more aid By Chris Tomlinson
AP, NAIROBI
Saturday, Dec 22, 2007, Page 9

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/photo/2007/12/22/2007112964

ILLUSTRATION: MOUNTAIN PEOPLE

To judge how far aid has helped Africa along the road to prosperity, just look down at the pavement — or the lack of it.

The most important highway in East Africa starts at the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa. Tens of thousands of trucks every year carry food, fuel and other goods to 100 million people in east and central Africa up a bone-jarring two-lane road.

Despite millions of aid dollars spent on roads, the wear and tear is so bad that journeys take weeks. And the cost makes it cheaper to have a container of corn shipped from Iowa than to truck it 800km to western Kenya.

In the 50 years since the first African countries won independence, the world has spent US$568 billion on Africa. Yet Africans are poorer now than a quarter century ago, and much of the money has ended up on the road to nowhere. This dismal record is sparking a vigorous debate on how best to help the world’s poorest continent, and to what degree aid is the answer.

A growing chorus of Africans is saying what they need is not handouts, but investment so they can rebuild on their own.

“Africans … are tired. They are tired of being the subject of everybody’s charity and care. And what is happening in many African countries now is the realization that nobody can do it but us,” said Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a World Bank managing director and former finance minister of Nigeria, at a talk on a changing Africa. “We can invite partners who support us, but we have to start.”

LIFEBLOOD

Roads are the lifeblood of an economy, the delivery system for agriculture, mining, tourism and other mainstays of African industry. But roads in Africa are few and bad. When foreign companies calculate the price of doing business on the continent, they look at figures like the cost of transportation and decide to go somewhere else.

“No one would ever have 100 million people in the rich world along a broken-down, two-lane, undivided road as we do here,” said leading economist Jeffrey Sachs about Nairobi. “If the donors were thinking about what would really provide development, it’s a proper, divided highway on which truck traffic could go.”

Truth is, they did think of it — and almost built it — 40 years ago. But today, the east-west Trans-African Highway exists only on maps. On the ground, it turns into a muddy footpath in the jungles of eastern Congo.

The story of the highway shows why aid to Africa has largely failed in the past, and what can be learned for the future.

Back in 1969, the Japanese government proposed extending the Mombasa Highway to Lagos, Nigeria on the Atlantic Ocean. The four-lane, 7,080km paved highway would be slightly longer than Interstate 90 running from Boston to Seattle across the US. It was to bring modern trade to six African countries.

By 1971, the deal had the support of the six countries, nine other rich countries and six international aid agencies. They hoped to have at least two lanes of all-weather road open by 1978.

It did not take long for problems to emerge. Dictator Idi Amin took control of Uganda and threatened neighboring Kenya, which then closed the highway.

MOBUTU

The fight reflected a constant plague for foreign aid to Africa — corrupt dictators, and donors who gave them money to protect political and economic interests. Nowhere was this exchange clearer than in Zaire, now known as Congo.

Zaire needed to build roads from scratch. But the Central African country was ruled by Mobutu Sese Seko, one of the most brutal dictators in African history.

Mobutu took power during the Cold War, at a time when the US and the Soviet Union were scrambling for influence in Africa. In the mid-1970s, he was a funnel for arms flowing to anti-communist rebels.

And so billions of dollars poured into Zaire to keep him happy, and to maintain the flow of Zairean gold, diamonds and copper to the West. Western nations largely looked the other way as the aid money disappeared into his offshore bank accounts and into the pockets of dozens of corrupt leaders.

Mobutu stopped plans for the highway in 1974, after stealing the money Belgium gave him for initial surveys. In a well-known African joke that reflects the thinking of the time, a young African dictator calls Mobutu for advice after coming under rebel attack.

“Did they come by sea?” Mobutu asks.

“No,” the younger ruler would reply.

“Did they come by air?” Mobutu asks.

“No, they came by road,” the protege answers.

“Tsk tsk, my son, I always told you,” Mobutu says. “Never build roads.”

REPAIRS, REBUILDING

Despite Mobutu in Zaire, the highway was in good condition in Kenya. In the 1970s, the East African country’s economy was booming, with trucks filled with valuable coffee and tea running downhill from 1.6km-high Nairobi and across breathtaking African savanna to the port of Mombasa.

But roads do not last forever.

The average African highway is designed to last 15 to 20 years, if properly maintained, says Andrew Gitonga, the Kenya roads project officer for the EU. Since 1983, the EU has spent US$200 million to repair Kenya’s section of the highway and has about US$120 million more of road projects planned this year.

Gitonga said the road needs to be completely rebuilt.

“There has been no standard maintenance program for 15 years, so the roads are falling into disrepair until they collapse,” he said. “Some government contracts in the past were given in an untransparent manner to unqualified contractors without clear standards.”

The transition between good road work and bad is painfully obvious when you hit a pothole at 80.5kph. A close examination of the hole will show that whoever built it skimped on the thickness of the rock bed and the asphalt surfacing, pocketing a little extra profit.

Almost every day road workers can be seen patching the holes. One man sprays in some tar, a second shovels in a little asphalt and a third goes over it twice with a compactor. Within five minutes the lane is open, with hundreds of cars every hour driving over a repair that will probably last less than six months, or until the seasonal rains wash it away.

MISGUIDED DONORS

The same neglect for maintenance has led to the slow deterioration of thousands of donor-funded projects over the years.

Just off the Mombasa highway in Nairobi, the International Committee of the Red Cross maintains its distribution hub for eastern Africa. Trucks loaded with food and supplies set off to deliver aid to some of the world’s most desperate people.

The biggest obstacle: The roads.

“The roads are in a desolate state and they are not getting any better,” says Bent Korsgaard, logistics director for the Kenya office.

A University of Minnesota study determined that big trucks cost about US$0.434 per 1.6km to operate on normal roads. In Africa, the cost for Red Cross trucks is US$2.88 per 1.6km.

A truck that follows the Trans-African Highway for the 2,400km, 21-day roundtrip to Butembo, Congo requires five days in the workshop when it gets back. It’s cheaper to hire a Russian cargo plane than to drive a truck to some cities within 1,000km.

That doesn’t even count the bribes truckers have to pay on African roads. A recent survey in West Africa found they range from about US$3.33 per 97km in Togo to US$25 in Mali.

Roads are hardly the only aid fiascos. Kenya alone is littered with dozens of half-baked, half-built projects funded by wealthy countries, monuments to good intentions gone awry.

GOOD INTENTIONS

Often donors did not understand Africa or talk to Africans. The Norwegian government built a fish processing plant on Lake Turkana in the 1970s to provide jobs for nomadic cattle herders — soon doomed in part because the local community had no fishing culture.

In a self-assessment in 1987, the World Bank found 106 out of 189 African development projects audited — almost 60 percent — had serious shortcomings or were complete failures. African agriculture projects failed 75 percent of the time.

The World Bank did better when it worked more closely with communities and better monitored projects. But a recent report on aid from the World Bank’s private arm, the International Finance Corp, found only half of its Africa projects succeed.

Aid is also hampered because it is often determined not just by what poor countries need but by what rich countries want to give to boost their own economies.

Much so-called foreign aid never leaves the country that promised it, because donor governments spend it to buy domestically-produced products or hire its own citizens as consultants. The World Bank estimates that throughout the 1980s, more than half of all aid was tied to what donor countries wanted to export, often at higher prices than could be found on the market. This practice reduced the value of aid by anywhere from 11 to 30 percent.

Under the Buy American Act, the US Agency for International Development must spend aid money to buy products and services from US suppliers whenever possible, and then deliver them aboard expensive US-flagged ships or planes.

“Foreign assistance is far from charity,” J. Brian Atwood, the USAID director under former President Bill Clinton, told Congress in 1995. “It is an investment in American jobs, American business.”

Other rich nations do the same. Japan, one of the largest donors to Africa, provides a lot of aid in the form of four-wheel-drive vehicles — despite the roads.

MILLENNIUM PROJECT

Sachs argues past aid failed because not enough was invested at every level, in every sector. In 2004, Sachs and the UN started the Millennium Project experiment to supply 12 African villages with all they need, all at once, and see if they can be self-sufficient in five years.

“The speed of results is astounding and the point is that if the resources are there, the rate of improvement is wonderful,” Sachs says. “I believe that we’re at the cusp of that now.”

Sachs’ nemesis, economist William Easterly of New York University, retorts that Sachs’ results are on a very small scale. He says only a free market can lift a nation out of poverty, and wants to see far more limited aid for specific programs with good track records, such as health care.

Easterly argues that aid bureaucracies are now rewarded for giving money that never reaches those who need it.

“It’s just not possible for outsiders with their experts to create economic development and prosperity in another country,” he said. “We should say: `There are a lot of problems and as rich outsiders we can’t fix everything, but where can we do the most good for the most people?”‘

The stakes are high. The outcome will decide if — and how — the world spends another US$568 billion on Africa.

DREAM STILL ALIVE

The dream of a world-class road network for Africa is still alive — at least on paper. The African Union has a plan to build it, but it would take tens of billions of dollars that could come only from rich countries.

The east-west Trans-African Highway is still missing about 2,939km. But West African states are building a regional network that will run from landlocked Chad to the Western port of Dakar in Senegal, and from Mauritania to Nigeria. Kenya is also building a road to neighboring Ethiopia.

Aid to Africa is going up again to about US$37per capita, from a low of US$24 in 1999. But this time the world has learned something. Aid to countries with more democratic systems has tripled at the expense of those whose leaders have unchecked power, according to the World Bank.

These days, when a new road is under construction in Kenya, white cars with EU flags on the doors visit every day to make sure every inch of the highway is built to specification.

And a maintenance contract comes with it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans-African_Highway_network

Capetown to Nairobi
Nairobi to Lagos
Lagos to Dakar
Dakar to Kano
Kano to Algiers
Algiers to the 21st century.

 

Would you try to off-road?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Map_of_Trans-African_Highways.PNG


http://www.expertafrica.com/



 


Andrew Maykuth, The Inquirer’s Johannesburg bureau chief, and photographer Michael Wirtz journeyed through East Africa, accompanying a food aid truck into rebel-held territory in Sudan. Their odyssey through Kenya and Uganda into Sudan is chronicled here in articles, photos, and multimedia presentations.


http://www213.pair.com/maykuth/odyssey/pages/start.html

Andrew Maykuth, The Inquirer’s Johannesburg bureau chief, and photographer Michael Wirtz journeyed through East Africa, accompanying a food aid truck into rebel-held territory in Sudan. Their odyssey through Kenya and Uganda into Sudan is chronicled here in articles, photos, and multimedia presentations.

Trans African Highway 1 on Flicker Photo Sharing: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11707386@N06/2201934782/

 



Start the year off right. Easy ways to stay in shape in the new year.

TOO Many Committies May DOOM a “Trans-African Highway” System

The below are a reason why a “TRANS-AFRICAN HIGHWAY”  is so difficult to realize. How many committees are necessary?? Would it not be better to handle ALL of these from the AU (African Union)???

  • Lagos-Mombasa Trans-African Highway Authority
  • Coordinating Committee of the Dakar-Ndjamena Highway
  • Algiers-Lagos Trans-Saharan Coordinating Committee
  • Tangiers-Lagos Trans-African Highway Coordinating Committee
  • Ndjamena-Masawa-Djibouti Trans-Sahelian Highway Coordinating Committee
  • Tripoli-Windhoek Highway Coordinating Committee
  • Beira-Lobito Trans Southern African Highway Coordinating Committee
  • Tangiers-Cairo Trans-African Highway Coordinating Committee
  • More Proof of the Need for a NEW Paradim for African “Aid” in Infrastructure Development


    Published on Taipei Times
    http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2007/12/22/2003393678

    Trans-African Highway mirrors failure of Africa aid

    Africans are poorer now than a quarter century ago, despite the US$568 billion in aid poured into the continent in the past 50 years. Many say what is needed is investment, not more aid

    By Chris Tomlinson
    AP, NAIROBI
    Saturday, Dec 22, 2007, Page 9

    To judge how far aid has helped Africa along the road to prosperity, just look down at the pavement — or the lack of it.

    The most important highway in East Africa starts at the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa. Tens of thousands of trucks every year carry food, fuel and other goods to 100 million people in east and central Africa up a bone-jarring two-lane road.

    Despite millions of aid dollars spent on roads, the wear and tear is so bad that journeys take weeks. And the cost makes it cheaper to have a container of corn shipped from Iowa than to truck it 800km to western Kenya.

    In the 50 years since the first African countries won independence, the world has spent US$568 billion on Africa. Yet Africans are poorer now than a quarter century ago, and much of the money has ended up on the road to nowhere. This dismal record is sparking a vigorous debate on how best to help the world’s poorest continent, and to what degree aid is the answer.

    A growing chorus of Africans is saying what they need is not handouts, but investment so they can rebuild on their own.

    “Africans … are tired. They are tired of being the subject of everybody’s charity and care. And what is happening in many African countries now is the realization that nobody can do it but us,” said Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a World Bank managing director and former finance minister of Nigeria, at a talk on a changing Africa. “We can invite partners who support us, but we have to start.”

    LIFEBLOOD

    Roads are the lifeblood of an economy, the delivery system for agriculture, mining, tourism and other mainstays of African industry. But roads in Africa are few and bad. When foreign companies calculate the price of doing business on the continent, they look at figures like the cost of transportation and decide to go somewhere else.

    “No one would ever have 100 million people in the rich world along a broken-down, two-lane, undivided road as we do here,” said leading economist Jeffrey Sachs about Nairobi. “If the donors were thinking about what would really provide development, it’s a proper, divided highway on which truck traffic could go.”

    Truth is, they did think of it — and almost built it — 40 years ago. But today, the east-west Trans-African Highway exists only on maps. On the ground, it turns into a muddy footpath in the jungles of eastern Congo.

    The story of the highway shows why aid to Africa has largely failed in the past, and what can be learned for the future.

    Back in 1969, the Japanese government proposed extending the Mombasa Highway to Lagos, Nigeria on the Atlantic Ocean. The four-lane, 7,080km paved highway would be slightly longer than Interstate 90 running from Boston to Seattle across the US. It was to bring modern trade to six African countries.

    By 1971, the deal had the support of the six countries, nine other rich countries and six international aid agencies. They hoped to have at least two lanes of all-weather road open by 1978.

    It did not take long for problems to emerge. Dictator Idi Amin took control of Uganda and threatened neighboring Kenya, which then closed the highway.

    MOBUTU

    The fight reflected a constant plague for foreign aid to Africa — corrupt dictators, and donors who gave them money to protect political and economic interests. Nowhere was this exchange clearer than in Zaire, now known as Congo.

    Zaire needed to build roads from scratch. But the Central African country was ruled by Mobutu Sese Seko, one of the most brutal dictators in African history.

    Mobutu took power during the Cold War, at a time when the US and the Soviet Union were scrambling for influence in Africa. In the mid-1970s, he was a funnel for arms flowing to anti-communist rebels.

    And so billions of dollars poured into Zaire to keep him happy, and to maintain the flow of Zairean gold, diamonds and copper to the West. Western nations largely looked the other way as the aid money disappeared into his offshore bank accounts and into the pockets of dozens of corrupt leaders.

    Mobutu stopped plans for the highway in 1974, after stealing the money Belgium gave him for initial surveys. In a well-known African joke that reflects the thinking of the time, a young African dictator calls Mobutu for advice after coming under rebel attack.

    “Did they come by sea?” Mobutu asks.

    “No,” the younger ruler would reply.

    “Did they come by air?” Mobutu asks.

    “No, they came by road,” the protege answers.

    “Tsk tsk, my son, I always told you,” Mobutu says. “Never build roads.”

    REPAIRS, REBUILDING

    Despite Mobutu in Zaire, the highway was in good condition in Kenya. In the 1970s, the East African country’s economy was booming, with trucks filled with valuable coffee and tea running downhill from 1.6km-high Nairobi and across breathtaking African savanna to the port of Mombasa.

    But roads do not last forever.

    The average African highway is designed to last 15 to 20 years, if properly maintained, says Andrew Gitonga, the Kenya roads project officer for the EU. Since 1983, the EU has spent US$200 million to repair Kenya’s section of the highway and has about US$120 million more of road projects planned this year.

    Gitonga said the road needs to be completely rebuilt.

    “There has been no standard maintenance program for 15 years, so the roads are falling into disrepair until they collapse,” he said. “Some government contracts in the past were given in an untransparent manner to unqualified contractors without clear standards.”

    The transition between good road work and bad is painfully obvious when you hit a pothole at 80.5kph. A close examination of the hole will show that whoever built it skimped on the thickness of the rock bed and the asphalt surfacing, pocketing a little extra profit.

    Almost every day road workers can be seen patching the holes. One man sprays in some tar, a second shovels in a little asphalt and a third goes over it twice with a compactor. Within five minutes the lane is open, with hundreds of cars every hour driving over a repair that will probably last less than six months, or until the seasonal rains wash it away.

    MISGUIDED DONORS

    The same neglect for maintenance has led to the slow deterioration of thousands of donor-funded projects over the years.

    Just off the Mombasa highway in Nairobi, the International Committee of the Red Cross maintains its distribution hub for eastern Africa. Trucks loaded with food and supplies set off to deliver aid to some of the world’s most desperate people.

    The biggest obstacle: The roads.

    “The roads are in a desolate state and they are not getting any better,” says Bent Korsgaard, logistics director for the Kenya office.

    A University of Minnesota study determined that big trucks cost about US$0.434 per 1.6km to operate on normal roads. In Africa, the cost for Red Cross trucks is US$2.88 per 1.6km.

    A truck that follows the Trans-African Highway for the 2,400km, 21-day roundtrip to Butembo, Congo requires five days in the workshop when it gets back. It’s cheaper to hire a Russian cargo plane than to drive a truck to some cities within 1,000km.

    That doesn’t even count the bribes truckers have to pay on African roads. A recent survey in West Africa found they range from about US$3.33 per 97km in Togo to US$25 in Mali.

    Roads are hardly the only aid fiascos. Kenya alone is littered with dozens of half-baked, half-built projects funded by wealthy countries, monuments to good intentions gone awry.

    GOOD INTENTIONS

    Often donors did not understand Africa or talk to Africans. The Norwegian government built a fish processing plant on Lake Turkana in the 1970s to provide jobs for nomadic cattle herders — soon doomed in part because the local community had no fishing culture.

    In a self-assessment in 1987, the World Bank found 106 out of 189 African development projects audited — almost 60 percent — had serious shortcomings or were complete failures. African agriculture projects failed 75 percent of the time.

    The World Bank did better when it worked more closely with communities and better monitored projects. But a recent report on aid from the World Bank’s private arm, the International Finance Corp, found only half of its Africa projects succeed.

    Aid is also hampered because it is often determined not just by what poor countries need but by what rich countries want to give to boost their own economies.

    Much so-called foreign aid never leaves the country that promised it, because donor governments spend it to buy domestically-produced products or hire its own citizens as consultants. The World Bank estimates that throughout the 1980s, more than half of all aid was tied to what donor countries wanted to export, often at higher prices than could be found on the market. This practice reduced the value of aid by anywhere from 11 to 30 percent.

    Under the Buy American Act, the US Agency for International Development must spend aid money to buy products and services from US suppliers whenever possible, and then deliver them aboard expensive US-flagged ships or planes.

    “Foreign assistance is far from charity,” J. Brian Atwood, the USAID director under former President Bill Clinton, told Congress in 1995. “It is an investment in American jobs, American business.”

    Other rich nations do the same. Japan, one of the largest donors to Africa, provides a lot of aid in the form of four-wheel-drive vehicles — despite the roads.

    MILLENNIUM PROJECT

    Sachs argues past aid failed because not enough was invested at every level, in every sector. In 2004, Sachs and the UN started the Millennium Project experiment to supply 12 African villages with all they need, all at once, and see if they can be self-sufficient in five years.

    “The speed of results is astounding and the point is that if the resources are there, the rate of improvement is wonderful,” Sachs says. “I believe that we’re at the cusp of that now.”

    Sachs’ nemesis, economist William Easterly of New York University, retorts that Sachs’ results are on a very small scale. He says only a free market can lift a nation out of poverty, and wants to see far more limited aid for specific programs with good track records, such as health care.

    Easterly argues that aid bureaucracies are now rewarded for giving money that never reaches those who need it.

    “It’s just not possible for outsiders with their experts to create economic development and prosperity in another country,” he said. “We should say: `There are a lot of problems and as rich outsiders we can’t fix everything, but where can we do the most good for the most people?”‘

    The stakes are high. The outcome will decide if — and how — the world spends another US$568 billion on Africa.

    DREAM STILL ALIVE

    The dream of a world-class road network for Africa is still alive — at least on paper. The African Union has a plan to build it, but it would take tens of billions of dollars that could come only from rich countries.

    The east-west Trans-African Highway is still missing about 2,939km. But West African states are building a regional network that will run from landlocked Chad to the Western port of Dakar in Senegal, and from Mauritania to Nigeria. Kenya is also building a road to neighboring Ethiopia.

    Aid to Africa is going up again to about US$37per capita, from a low of US$24 in 1999. But this time the world has learned something. Aid to countries with more democratic systems has tripled at the expense of those whose leaders have unchecked power, according to the World Bank.

    These days, when a new road is under construction in Kenya, white cars with EU flags on the doors visit every day to make sure every inch of the highway is built to specification.

    And a maintenance contract comes with it.

    More Wildlife CAMS and Trips from National Geographic

    Filed under: Africa,African,Craig Eisele,Uncategorized,wildlife — Mr. Craig @ 9:27 am

    The Wildlife links from my prior posts are still quite popular so I decided to expand it with the following I received from National Geographic. I encourage you to View the Web Cams as well as become a subscriber for at least one of the magazines.

    Below is from a National Geographic Newsletter I get… for those interested in Wildlife Cams here are some other links from National Geographic as well as two unique trips to view Wildlife up close and in person.

    CraneCam: Live!
    Through April 6, 2008
    Join the revelry of birds and birders alike by watching the splendor of sandhill cranes on CraneCam. Each year, more than 500,000 migrating sandhill cranes converge on the Platte River in Nebraska to replenish their energy stores during the long migration to their Arctic breeding grounds. In addition, several species of waterfowl can be seen, including snow geese, Canada geese, and mallards. The sounds of red-winged blackbirds can be heard over the cacophany of crane calls. Best viewing times: dawn and dusk, central time.

    Our new camera has been installed and satellite equipment refurbished, restoring the continuous live viewing of all the happenings at Pete’s Pond. Thank you for your patience while we got the new system up and running. Please enjoy the latest animal antics on WildCam Africa, as the countryside begins to dry out after the rainy season.
    Inspired by you, our loyal community members and WildCam fans, the WildCam program and National Geographic Expeditions have partnered to develop unique trips to both WildCam Africa and WildCam Grizzlies.
    This specially crafted National Geographic Expedition will be based at Mashatu Game Reserve, Botswana, home to seven of Africa’s giants—the elephant, giraffe, eland, ostrich, kori bustard, lion, and baobab tree. An active day-by-day itinerary includes morning and afternoon game drives accompanied by expert guides, bush walks, a mountain-biking safari, and an evening under the stars in a kgotla open-air boma. Travelers will be accompanied by a National Geographic expert, and groups will be limited in size.
    Sign up for trip today >>
    Experience WildCam Grizzlies in Alaska—join us for a trip to Alaska in August 2008! The expedition will be based in Homer, on the southwestern Kenai Peninsula, and will feature a behind-the-scenes visit to the Pratt Museum, where WildCam Grizzlies was born. A highly active day-by-day itinerary
    will include bear-watching, sea kayaking, hiking, and whale-watching.
    Space is limited, so sign up now >>
    Hope to “see” you online soon! or in person this summer on one of our WildCam trips. Space is limited, so be sure to sign up as soon as you can.
    Warm regards,
    Your WildCam Team
    www.nationalgeographic.com/wildcam

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    Another Example of the Need for a NEW Pardigm in Road Infrastructure Building in Africa

    The Article below is an example of how traditional methods of building Infrastructure, especially roads, is not working in Africa. It should be self-evident that a new Paradigm is necessary.  It has been the focus of Trans-African Development Strategies to build this Infrastructure and to bring jobs and prosperity to ALL Africans. It is our fervent hope that the Governments of African Countries can agree to this and work together to make this change for the sake of their people. 

    Where is the Lady in Boots?
    Vanguard (Lagos)
    COLUMN
    27 March 2008
    Posted to the web 27 March 2008

    By Ochereome Nnanna
    Lagos
    SHE came into the job, tall and stately. She also came in well dressed for the job. She is not the first lady that graced the plum chair of Minister of Transport (now Transporta-tion).

    But her dressing alone when she was appointed gave hope and expectation that she was all business. She toured major airports in the country as well as some of the worst roads.

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    When she arrived at the collapsed sections of the Sagamu-Benin expressway, she put on black boots and a yellow helmet.

    With cameras beamed on her, she broke down and shed profuse tears over the level of decay of the road and the concomitant human suffering that had been the order of the day for years but which the regime of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo simply ignored.

    When she wiped tears from her eyes, she told newsmen: “We have a lot of work ahead and four years is not a lot of time. I hope everybody is ready to go with us”. Shortly after that at a National Council on Works meeting in Kano, she disclosed that the Obasanjo regime spent over N450 billion on roads in eight years but failed to give value for the money.

    Just before the Minister for Transportation, Diezani K. Allison Madueke, was sworn-into office, there had been a concentration of media reports on the deplorable condition of this particular highway, which is easily the most strategic stretch of the nation’s 34,340 kilometres of federal roads.

    LET me justify this claim. This road drains vehicular traffic from the nation’s economic capital and mega-cities of Lagos and Ibadan in the West and connects to the South East and South South zones, the oil and gas powerhouse of Nigeria.

    It is part of the yet-to-be-developed pan-African highway.

    With this road in a state of total disrepair, the grinding pace of the economy of this country is exacerbated, especially as road transport moves 90 percent of our goods, services and personnel.

    Media reports had it that commuters on this road spent up to 48 hours to cross a distance of less than 150 kilometres. Many tankers and trucks lost their goods, thus, impoverishing many struggling traders.

    And so, when Diezani Madueke made her well-publicised tour, many people expected immediate action. Indeed, Nigerians are “ready to go” with her, but, alas! she is nowhere to be found.

    We were told that work would start immediately after the rains stopped in 2007. When I decided to visit the East by road over the past two weeks, I was full of expectation that repair work on this road would have reached a stage of substantial accomplishment.

    I expected a buzz of activities, as construction juggernauts ply the length and breadth of the bad portion of the road from the western border of Ondo State to the western wing of the Benin bypass (which is already fast deteriorating less than six years it was put into use!).

    But what did I see. A mere nothing! No sign of construction activities, even though seven months of hardcore dry season have passed since the minister staged her Nollywood teary caper.

    Instead, I did see obvious signs of heavy construction work at the Owerri end of the Onitsha-Owerri dualisation project and Julius Berger was firmly on ground to the delight of many.

    These days, when we hear of the Minister of Transportation, it is either Diezani Madueke is in a power tussle with her colleague in charge of aviation, Felix Hyat, or Hyat, along with top chiefs of the aviation agencies, is misleading the nation with false information about the missing aircraft at Obudu and recanting later.

    Some people are saying that the current budget stalemate could be responsible for the freeze in reconstruction activities on this road. It is easy to come up with excuses for failure to live up to expectation.

    It is already the end of March. Before the budget is finally signed into law and the capital vote is released, it will be May. The rains would have set in. Then, we will be told once again to wait until the rains stop.

    When the rains stop in November, it will take, at least, another month before contractors mobilise to site. It will be the end of December and the money will be returned to the treasury as “unspent fund”! In Nigeria, any excuse will do so long as it justifies failure.

    LET me close with this parting shot. Yar’Adua’s female ministers do not seem to be raising the flag of women as much as the women in Obasanjo’s cabinet. Neither are the men in Yar’ Adua’s cabinet, come to think of it. Can youth think of any Yar’ Adua minister who stands out? We want to hear from you.

    Which one among them kicks up mettle as much as the Nasir el Rufais, the Ngozi Okonjo-Iwealas and the Oby Ezekwesilis? Almost one year later, Yar’Adua’s ministers do not seem to have taken Nigeria one step forward in their respective areas of operation.

    The President has quite a number of deadwoods to send home as he clocks one year this May.

    A Good Source for Mining Information in Africa

    The post below is a News Letter I subscribe to for Mining News in Africa. At the end of the News Letter you will find their Web Site and you can subscribe there. By the way…. it is FREE!!!
    http://www.infomine-africa.com/

       
       

    There is a dirge being sung all over the world. Its sombre tones sound ominous. It is sung so often that at the mention of the title listeners want to switch off but they don’t. It is as if they are waiting for a more cheerful variation to be introduced, but so far each variation has been more disturbing than the foregoing variations. The theme of the song is Energy.

    How Eskom plunged South Africa in darkness

    In a previous newsletter I referred to the increase in the number of emails received from investors abroad who are anxious to know what impact the Eskom fiasco is making on the economy.

    The questions are pertinent:

    What has gone wrong over the past eight weeks?
    How soon will full energy supply be restored?
    What is the likelihood of another massive collapse in the future?
    What are the direct implications for the mining and minerals sector?
    What type of capex is required to meet short term demand?
    How much will have to be spent to meet energy demand in the long term?
    What action is being taken right now to cope with the crisis?

    Most people in South Africa know the answers to these questions – or they think they do. For the benefit of persons who may have a skewed picture of the energy crisis in South Africa and also for the benefit of investors and other interested parties abroad who would like to know more about the latest developments, I will I will try to sum up the situation.

    What has gone wrong over the past eight weeks?

    Ask a Black South African man whether he is looking forward to his wedding day and he will say: “Too much!” That is his way of saying that he is really looking forward to the occasion. Ask him whether his job is being affected by power failures, he will say: “Too much!”

    So, what has gone wrong over the past eight weeks? Too much!

    The sudden collapse of Eskom, a government utility, was the culmination of a series of errors over a period of several years.

    • The South African government had been warned of an impending ‘meltdown’ four years ago and on numerous occasions since. The warnings have been ignored. The result: no expansion took place over the past four years.

    • Bad planning.

    • Incompetent, bungling and greedy managers who were more interested in lining their pockets than in performing their duties. It was recently revealed that Eskom will pay its under-performing top management R7,2-million in performance bonuses.

    • Inadequate procurement policies. SA’s power crisis follows years of under spending by Eskom on generators.

    • Electricity exported at lower prices than that paid by the South African public while two major gold, two platinum and two manganese mines were compelled to close down on Black Friday, 25 January and during the following week.

    • An acute skills shortage.

    • Poor maintenance.

    • Eskom has blamed wet coal for dismal power station performance. It is true that the country experienced extremely wet weather for weeks since January but depleted coal stockpiles also played a part.

    How soon will energy supply be restored?

    • First priority is to replenish depleted stockpiles. Eskom is aiming to secure 45 million tons of coal over a 2-year period. So far Eskom has contracted 37m tons to augment its stock pile. Stockpile stood at 3.3 days in January. Now at 5 days. Eskom is looking at 5.4m tons before winter.

    • The next step would be to modify coal handling facilities to prevent coal from getting wet.

    • Procurement policies would have to be reviewed.

    • Scheduled load shedding is seen as an immediate way of reducing the shocks experienced by industry and commerce as well as households.

    About a week ago, in a reply to an enquirer I naively stated that with cooperation from all sectors – reducing power consumption by 10% – Eskom can just about cope. The very next day the country’s vulnerability was exposed when it was hit by untimely cold weather. Immediately everything went wrong for Eskom.

    Wet and cold weather during February and March resulted in a huge surge in the demand for electricity. Eskom was unable to cope. On 18 March, nine overworked generators tripped. A further nine were down due to planned maintenance. Many Johannesburg suburbs were without power causing heavy traffic congestion and delays.

    What is the likelihood of another massive collapse in the future?

    The situation is now totally unpredictable. Reuters UK reported that South Africa’s power system is stable but vulnerable. Just how vulnerable is demonstrated by what has happened in just the past few days.

    When Eskom said power to the country’s vital gold and platinum mines may have to be cut if more generators failed, local mining shares tumbled immediately.

    Is Eskom insolvent”?

    This question was asked on a radio programme. It is not unlikely that the question will echo in parliament. There is a lack of transparency on the part of Eskom especially as far as its finances are concerned. Just when it seems that Eskom is playing open cards, new revelations about irregularities are reported.

    Raymond Parsons, the business convenor at Nedlac, the government, labour and business negotiating chamber said on 19 March 2008 that Eskom’s credibility could be restored only if it’s costing and finances were independently audited. So what does that tell you?

    What are the direct implications for the mining and minerals sector?

    Needless to say coal miners and coal transport contractors will benefit greatly.
    Mines, all operating mines, new mines and mines poised to start producing are apprehensive. The Chamber of Mines of South Africa and member mines have undertaken to cooperate with Eskom by reducing power consumption, but confidence in the government’s ability to deal with the situation is flagging.

    What type of capex is required to meet short term demand?

    Eskom is opening up three power stations that were mothballed in the 1980’s when Eskom had excess capacity. Capital expenditure needed to refurbish and open up Camden (in ?), Grootvlei (2009) and Komati (2010) power stations will cost R16 billion (US$2bn)

    How much must be spent to meet energy demand in the long term?
    A new coal-fired power station called the Medupi Plant which is to be built in Limpopo, the northern province, will cost R78 billiion ($10bn). I’m prepared to stick my neck out and say that expenditure will be considerably higher and that Eskom will not be able to meet the deadline of 2015.

    Why the negative remark?

    Eskom is asking for a 60% price increase. A private-sector generating company, who wished not to be named, reportedly said: “That 60 percent average price increase implies that Eskom’s marginal cost of bringing on its mega coal projects is way, way higher than we, as a private sector company, are building capacity for.”

    Brian Dames, head of Eskom’s generating division, is speaking about a R300 billion ($48bn) investment drive. With so many factors, including load shedding, that could have a negative effect on economic growth, will Eskom succeed in attracting investors?

    How can investors be confident when Xstrata/Merafe Resources JV, for example, are deferring plans to double the capacity of its Project Lion ferrochrome smelter because Eskom told users they could not guarantee supply.

    How realistic are Eskom’s plans? Must we believe that all factors had been taken into consideration? Eskom must supply 150Mt coal to power stations in the provinces of Mpumalanga and Kwa-Zulu where most of the power stations are situated. Road and rail networks are inadequate. Tutuka power station near Standerton needs 10.6 Mt but New Denmark colliery can only supply 5.1Mt. The rest will have to be trucked and that at a delivery capacity of one truck every 6 minutes. Roads are already crumbling.

    Like a scalded cat Eskom is running around to find quick solutions to its problems. Its first move was to resort to unscheduled power shedding. Following outcries from various sectors a system of scheduled power shedding was introduced. Realising that its appeal to its users to reduce electricity consumption by 10% fell on deaf ears Eskom resorted to a plan to raise its tariffs by 14,2 percent this year.

    On past occasions when I drove through Johannesburg’s affluent suburbs at night I often wondered how much electricity was being consumed by owners of well-lit properties. Rows of lights mounted on exterior walls, houses illuminated like movie sets and illuminated swimming pools conjured up a magical picture. Some lights were burning throughout the day.

    Eskom, realising that customers in the higher income bracket people were not going to switching off security lighting or underfloor and pool heating, air conditioners and other electrical gadgets, then planned to introduce a new “time-of-use” tariff structure aimed at getting affluent domestic users to slash consumption by 10 percent.

    Unable to deal with the power crisis Eskom called for power hikes that would hit consumers hard in the pocket. So the latest move is the power utility’s call for an increase of 60% in tariffs.

    The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry described Eskom’s proposal as “very radical”. The Chamber said the move would hamper business competition and growth.

    Trade unions, the ruling political party, the ANC, as well as the opposition parties came out strongly against the proposed price hike of 60% and said that the increases would lead to a higher cost of living, making electricity inaccessible to poorer customers and threaten thousands of jobs.

    Along came a columnist who argued that when the price of electricity is increased it is unlikely that consumers will reduce intake. More electricity will be used than can be supplied. A 100 percent increase might make a difference but South Africans, used to low energy prices, will not be moved to cut down on energy usage. “Fuel prices have risen 500% over a relatively short period, but that has not stopped people from driving”, he said.

    Eskom is in a terrible predicament:

    • Increase tariffs, and the economy will suffer.

    • Use the money generated by increased tariffs to fund its multi-billion-rand build programme, and be left without sufficient funds to cover the costs of primary energy inputs such as coal and diesel. Eskom is now paying 25%-30% more than budgeted.

    • Avoid dealing with really competent and reliable overseas suppliers of capital equipment because of not being BEE compliant, and prepare from some high-voltage shocks.

    • Fail to restore credibility or to be more transparent, and destroy investor confidence.

    • Raise all the funds needed for implementing plans to build another 10 or 15 or 20 power supply facilities, and see whether this will reduce the time needed to construct such facilities.

    • Try to transport of coal by road from new and existing coal mines to new and existing power stations on deteriorating roads, and see how long it will take the government to upgrade such roads. Already all South African roads are in a bad state. Some 50-billion rands will be needed over the next five years to bring roads up to international standards.

    • Build more coal-fired power stations, and get walloped by clean air legislation,

    • Pump more foul fossil fuel emissions into the air, and make a handsome contribution to earth warming.

    • Get approval form the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) for the increase of 60% on top of R60-billion provided by the treasury, and see how crippling inflation is going to affect the economy.

    QUIZ

    1. What is a market for shares called?

    2. What is a block of cast metal called?

    3. Many mining companies are concentrated in this city on the Canadian west coast

    4. Platinum-bearing pyroxenite layer originally termed the Lombaard Reef was later changed to the name of a well-known geologist. Who was he?

    5.The thickness of the lithosphere, the solid portion of the earth.
    50 km
    !00 km
    200 km

    6. A woman who marries a man for his money is called;
    a. A gold-digger
    b. A gold coiner
    c. A gold prospector

    7. Where was the world’s richest concentration of gold discovered?
    a. Klondike
    b. The Witwatersrand
    c. Barberton

    8. Besides Johannesburg, there is another city in Africa that is also called the city of gold. Is it:
    a. Accra in Ghana
    b. Addis Ababa inEthiopia
    c. Timbuktu in Mali

    9. Co is the symbol of a hard, brittle, metallic element. Is it:
    a. Cobalt
    b. Corundum
    c. Copper

    10. When a letter or document is to be read by a person other than the addressee, we c.c. it. What does c.c. stand for?

    Click here for the answers

    Humour

    A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a man below. He descended a bit more and shouted, “Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him half an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.”
    The man below replied, “You are in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You are between 40 and 42 degrees north latitude and between 58 and 60 degrees west longitude.”
    “You must be an engineer,” said the balloonist.
    “I am,” replied the man, “but how did you know?”
    “Well,” answered the balloonist, “everything you told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I am still lost.”
    The man below responded, “You must be a manager.”
    “I am,” replied the balloonist, “how did you know?”
    “Well,” said the man, “you don’t know where you are or where you are going. You made a promise which you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. The fact is you are exactly in the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it’s my fault.”

    Give us Your Feedback

    We value your feedback and opinions! If you have any comments or suggestions relating to this newsletter, any additional information about any of the topics raised in the newsletter that you would like to share with our readers or would like to contribute any material for future issues of Mining e-News, just reply to this email and have your say.

    That’s it for this edition! We hope you enjoyed it enough to forward it on to someone whom you think will find it interesting. If you wish to unsubscribe, see the subscription information below. If you liked this newsletter and want to know how you can access the latest information on mining companies and mineral-producing countries in Africa, click here.

    Regards

    The Infomine-Africa Team

    www.infomine-africa.com    |    info@infomine-africa.com

    March 28, 2008

    Infrastructure Development Tops AfDB Projects in Africa

    I have read the article below and am in awe of the lack of strategic planning and the failure of appropriate methodology to bring to Africa this much needed Infrastructure. This lack of this basic “backbone” infrastructure is what hold Africa back more than any other issue that faces Africa today. Trying to develop Africa in the same way as North America or Europe is NOT feasible. There has to be a unique and special plan such as the one developed by Trans-African Development  Strategies and the sister Company Trans African Development Company to bring this “backbone” Infrastructure to fruition. The current approach will hold Africa back for at least 50 years. When I read articles like this I can honestly say I am furious at the lack of true understanding… but then I remember that organizations like AfDB are NOT inclined to think “outside the box” …. As those who know me will tell you I subscribe to the basic philosophy “If you cannot solve the problem you are facing…. then you are facing the wrong problem” If AfDB and others would redefine the problem as I have then the realistic and implementable solutions would be obvious!!! But I have tried to discuss this with AfDB and others… and to my dismay they are not interested in even considering anything but the “Status Quo” thus dooming Africa and it’s people to decades of unnecessary poverty and suffering. My offer to AfDB and others interested in truly and honestly solving these and other issues that face Africa remains open but I am NOT optimistic that closed minded individuals will ever consider other pragmatic approaches.
    Infrastructure development tops AfDB projects in Africa
     
     
    The announcement was made during a recent conference on African infrastructure held in Senegal, which brought together donors, government ministers, and representatives of regional bodies such as the African Union and its intergovernmental development initiative, NEPAD.
    An AfDB press release notes that the promised funds will come from the bank’s low-interest lending window, the African Development Fund (ADF). In December, the Bank secured commitments from donors to contribute a record $8.9 billion to replenish the ADF for the next three years.
    It has earlier been reported that the loans will finance regional infrastructure projects, including the construction of “a number of major road and rail projects aimed at crisscrossing the continent with transport corridors.”
    Proposed projects would include transcontinental transportation corridors that would require a huge outpouring of money. They would serve to benefit exporters and, by extension, transnational companies that profit the most from Africa’s commodities.Some of the more ambitious proposed projects include the construction of “Trans-African highway projects to connect Beira in Mozambique to Lobito in Angola, Dakar in Senegal to Lagos in Nigeria, and Lagos to Mombassa in Kenya.”
    While Africa suffers from an acute lack of infrastructure, it is important to consider what type of infrastructure is most needed to help alleviate poverty on the continent. By and large, transcontinental highways and railroads will require a huge outpouring of money and serve to benefit exporters and, by extension, transnational companies that profit the most from Africa’s commodities. Roads and high-quality railroads are indeed necessary to move goods to and from land-locked countries such as Uganda.
    The sheer scale of transcontinental projects, however, could distract effort and funds from these more manageable projects, and in the end the more grandiose projects have a higher likelihood of being abandoned because of unmet expectations.
    At the same time, Africa’s poor will likely remain cut off by the lack of basic local road networks and adversely affected by the intense footprint that such large-scale physical infrastructure projects often entail.
    A recent study by International Rivers and Environmental Defense also shows that large, capital-intensive infrastructure projects such as these tend to be the most prone to corruption. Questions also remain as to whether the AfDB has the requisite experience to identify and mitigate the serious potential impacts of these projects, and whether it wields sufficient leverage to ensure that its social and environmental safeguards, which are strong on paper, are enforced.
    Since it resumed regular operations after facing a financial crisis in the early 1990’s, the AfDB has sought to define itself as a lender with special expertise on infrastructure in Africa. It has consistently allocated a significant portion of its lending to the sector, and was chosen to coordinate regional infrastructure initiatives, such as NEPAD’s Infrastructure Action Plan and the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA). However, the AfDB has made limited progress in its convening role, and few of its ambitious plans to create regional energy, transportation, and water initiatives under NEPAD have come to fruition.
    While African governments appear keen to benefit from this and other regional infrastructure schemes, it remains unclear the extent to which this latest initiative is demand-driven or being pursued at the behest of donors. The lion’s share of new donor commitments at the AfDB have been earmarked for infrastructure, while a new high-level panel (see “High-level panel issues report on prospects for African Development Bank”) on the Bank recognizes that the board of the ADF is disproportionately influenced by its donors. A recent Financial Times article suggests that AfDB President Donald Kaberuka “is facing dissent from some African staff concerned that efforts to carve out an independent role for the AfDB are being undermined by some western donors.”

    March 5, 2008

    China Encounters Labor Relations Troubles in Africa

    Chinese beaten up in Zambia mines

    A Chinese manager at a copper smelter in northern Zambia has been admitted to hospital after being assaulted by workers demanding better conditions. An estimated 500 workers at the Chinese-owned Chambishi mine site started throwing stones at the managers as they attempted to hold talks.

    Police came in to restore order and rescue the Chinese who had taken refuge by locking themselves in their offices. Several buildings were burned in the violence and a protester was injured.

    Last year, China’s president cancelled a visit to Chambishi fearing protests.

    A blast at the copper mine killed 50 people in 2005.

    Holiday rumours

    Chambishi Smelter, which is under construction, is part of a huge multi-million dollar Chinese investment in the area.

      The Chinese are not respecting Zambian labour laws
    Teddy Chisala
    Workers’ representative
    The BBC’s Boyd Chibale in Kitwe says a kitchen for Chinese workers and a guard’s house were set alight and hostel windows smashed in the violence.

    Our correspondent says the workers have now gone home, and the Chinese management are in talks with the unions.

    The protest was sparked by rumours that members of the Chinese management team were about to go on holiday, which workers feared would delay negotiations to improve their conditions of service.

    “The Chinese are not respecting Zambian labour laws,” workers’ representative Teddy Chisala told the AFP news agency.

    In recent years, China has emerged as one of the biggest buyers of Zambian copper.

    But correspondents say Chinese investment in mining and manufacturing has not been without controversy – with constant industrial disputes amidst allegations of poor working conditions.

    In elections in 2006, opposition candidate Michael Sata ran on an anti-China ticket, calling for “Zambia for Zambians”.

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    February 13, 2008

    Shot in Arm for Private Health Promoted by World Bank

    Shot in Arm for Private Health

    The East African (Nairobi)
    NEWS
    28 January 2008
    Posted to the web 28 January 2008

    By Francis Ayieko

    THE WORLD BANK AND ITS Partners are to mobilise up to $1 billion over the next five years to strengthen the private healthcare sector in Africa.

    The move is part of the Bank’s new strategy for addressing Africa’s health challenges and recognises the continent’s private sector as a key player in alleviating health problems.

    The African Development Bank has declared its support for the initiative and agreed to collaborate with the World Bank in establishing the equity investment vehicle to help realise the goal.

    According to a new report from IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, sub-Saharan Africa needs between $25 billion and $30 billion to meet healthcare spending, which is expected to double over the next 10 years.

    Entitled, The Business of Health in Africa: Partnering with the Private Sector to Improve People’s Lives, the report says the private sector already plays a significant role in delivering and financing healthcare for the region’s people. On average, the private sector delivers 50 per cent of healthcare goods and services.

    The report is the product of a study jointly funded by IFC and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to study the role and impact of Africa’s private health sector. The $1 billion will be used for investment and advisory services geared at boosting “socially responsible healthcare,” according to the report.

    “This is a chance to increase access to healthcare for millions of Africans,” says Lars Thunell, IFC chief executive. “If we can get all the critical players – governments, donors, investors and providers – to leverage the private health sector and integrate it effectively with public systems, we can also greatly improve the quality of care.”

    NOTING THAT THE PRIVATE Sector already provides about half of healthcare goods and services in the region, Mr Thunell adds, “A poor woman in Africa today is as likely to take her sick child to a private hospital or clinic as to a public facility.”

    It is estimated that Africa’s healthcare expenditure is likely to reach $35 billion by 2016, up from $17 billion in 2005. The report says that people in sub-Saharan Africa have the worst healthcare on average in the world. The region, according to the report, has 11 per cent of the world’s population but carries 24 per cent of the global disease burden.

    With less than one per cent of global health expenditure and only three per cent of the world’s health workers, Africa accounts for almost half of the world’s deaths of children under five, has the highest maternal mortality rate, and bears a heavy toll of HIV/Aids, tuberculosis and malaria.

    The IFC report is said to be the most comprehensive analysis to date of the private health sector in sub-Saharan Africa.

    IFC’s new funding strategy has been hailed as reflecting important first steps to act on the report’s findings. A more encouraging aspect about the IFC project is that the African Development Bank was one of the first development financial institutions that supported the initiative and agreed to collaborate with the World Bank.

    AFRICA’s Power Crisis demands action NOW!!

    Power Crunch – Southern Africa Must ‘Run While Others Walk’

    The Herald (Harare)
    NEWS
    28 January 2008
    Posted to the web 28 January 2008

    By Munetsi Madakufamba
    Harare
    AS southern Africa enters its second year of crippling energy shortages as accurately predicted by the Southern African Power Pool about four years ago, massive short-term projects of close to US$8 billion will need to be fast tracked over the next couple of years to get the region out of the present situation.

    Electricity shortages have in recent weeks severely affected some Southern African Development Community member states leading to scheduled and, in some cases, unscheduled power cuts. From last year, load shedding has been introduced in countries such as Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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    Faced by mounting pressure from industry and domestic consumers, South Africa’s power utility Eskom announced mid-January that it will discontinue electricity exports to neighbouring countries to meet local demand.

    The Sunday Independent quoted Andrew Etzinger, Eskom’s chief of demand side management as saying South Africa’s electricity reserves had dropped during the past year from seven percent to minus 17 percent due to a decline in generation performance.

    Etzinger said it would take at least another seven years before the situation could get back to normal. “The fact is in this country, for a long time we have had a surplus of electricity at a cheap price — far cheaper than in other industrial nations. “So it has made sense for the giant investors, whose plant needs massive amounts of electricity, to invest here,” Etzinger said.

    “All that’s happened now is that we have to manage the resource differently. “It is simply going to cost investors more — this does not mean that they have to halt their future projects,” he added. South African industrialists say the power shortages are costing them billions of Rand, especially the mines and smelters, which consume most of the country’s electricity.

    Southern African countries, which relied on South Africa for their energy sources have had to turn to other sources in the region.

    For example, Swaziland which imports 80 percent of its electricity from South Africa is currently in talks with Mozambique.

    In a major development for the southern African region, Mozambique recently took over ownership of the giant Cahora Bassa Dam and the hydroelectric power company from former colonial power, Portugal.

    Sadc member states agreed last year to fast track short-term generation projects, which will add 6 700 megawatts by 2010 to the regional power grid at a cost of US$7,88 billion.

    SAPP, which administers the regional power network, predicted that beginning 2007, the combined power generation reserve capacity in the region would be lower than the peak demand.

    In response, Sadc member states have initiated a number of short, medium to long term generation projects as well as some rehabilitation projects that will guarantee the region the much-needed energy security.

    Current installed capacity in the region is 53 000 MW of which dependable capacity is only about 41 000 MW against demand of 42 000 MW.

    The region requires a reserve margin of 10 percent if its economies are to operate smoothly.

    With some of Africa’s fasted growing economies, Sadc’s electricity generation capacity has not increased in tandem with the growth in demand.

    Available statistics show that power growth demand in the region has averaged three percent a year over the past decade on the back of economic expansion of around five percent.

    With the region having already run out of surplus capacity, SAPP says the problem would likely be overcome by 2010 if planned projects are implemented and commissioned on schedule.

    Energy security becomes more pertinent given that the Sadc Free Trade Area, which takes effect this year, is set to spur even more growth in the region. Sadc would also be seeking to enhance its preparedness ahead of the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

    If the current situation is to be brought under control, southern African countries may need to take heed of a famous statement by the visionary Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.

    Mwalimu once said of the continent’s development, “Africa needs to run while others walk”.

    That is perhaps what southern Africa needs to avoid dampening investor confidence generated by the Free Trade Area and the 2010 World Cup. Power pooling is at the core of regional socio-economic development.

    SAPP, which manages the Southern African Energy Grid connecting most of the landlocked Sadc member states, has developed a roadmap which seeks to address current challenges.

    The SAPP roadmap seeks to boost southern Africa’s electricity generation capacity, with almost 50 short- and long-term projects underway or planned for future development.

    The long-term generation projects alone are expected to add 32 000 MW to the regional grid at a cost of US$32 billion.

    The plan is to double the region’s generation capacity over the next 20 years through new plants and transmission inter-connectors.

    Since 2004, SAPP member utilities have also commissioned rehabilitation projects that have contributed 1140 MW to the regional grid.

    Once implemented, the current short-term projects are expected to clear the current 1 000 MW shortfall while creating a regional generation surplus of 5 000 MW or 10 percent by 2013.

    The major proposed power plants include the Inga III in the Democratic Republic of Congo with a capacity of 3600 MW, the Kudu Gas Plant in Namibia with a capacity of 800 MW and the Kafue Lower with a capacity of 600 MW.

    Notable inter-connectors include the Westcor inter-connector extending from the Inga III in DRC to Angola, Namibia, Botswana and onward to South Africa.

    Regional energy cooperation also seeks to facilitate the development of other energy resources such as biomass and biofuels, to augment the power sector capacity.

    There is also potential for the region to strengthen self-sufficiency in petroleum and gas resources by undertaking joint regional exploration and development.

    African Leaders Have ‘Elusive’ Visions

    Filed under: Africa,Africa Development,African,Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 9:23 am

    African Leaders Have ‘Elusive’ Visions

    New Era (Windhoek)
    NEWS
    28 January 2008
    Posted to the web 28 January 2008

    By Frederick Philander
    Windhoek
    The acquiring of entrepreneurial skills development doesn’t only mean how to start a business alone, but also to take chances and absorb accompanying risks.

    So said the executive director of the Unisa Graduate School of Business Leadership, Dr David Abdulai, on Thursday. He was the guest speaker at the opening of the 2008 academic year of the Polytechnic of Namibia.

    “In essence entrepreneurs are critical thinkers, risk takers, creative problem solvers, self-confident and innovative thinkers. These people by and large take initiatives and are ready to take on any business venture successfully because of their positive approaches to business,” Abdulai said.

    A large number of lecturers and students attended the 2-hour paper on the campus in which he accused African leaders of having elusive development visions.

    “Most of the African Heads of State have these elusive developmental visions that normally lead to nothing because of their integral cultural mindsets.

    Africa cannot excel in business unless we free our minds from the myths of ‘I cannot do this or that, I will fail.’ We have to break out of such a mindset if we want to compete with the rest of the world,” he warned.

    According to Abdulai, who hails from Ghana, Africans are too complacent and lack a driving force in business.

    “We need to be resourceful and self-reliant, be diligent and creative and take chances and initiatives. We are not poor in Africa, we just lack initiatives and are afraid of the consequences of failure.

    “At the same time we do not want to accept positive change and embrace it. Also, we need to learn to accept suggestions and critique in a positive manner, otherwise we will never grow strong,” the learned academic said.

    He also said that Africans must learn to think outside their own comfort zones.

    “A good entrepreneur is a person who literally can see with his or her eyes closed. They are analytical, have foresight and are by nature optimists. They go where there is no path and leave a trail for others to follow. True entrepreneurs are slowed down by obstacles, but they never stop in achieving their goals,” he said encouragingly.

    The academic year at the Polytechnic starts on February 4.

    African Continent in the Dark

    Continent in the Dark

    The Monitor (Kampala)
    NEWS
    29 January 2008
    Posted to the web 28 January 2008
    Kampala
    THE signing of a 92 million euro ($136 million) loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB), last week, to finance the construction of the 250 megawatt Bujagali hydro-electric power project is a shot in the arm for Uganda’s efforts to attract increased direct foreign investments.

    This project, slated for completion in 2011, gives Uganda an edge over Africa’s economic powerhouse, South Africa, which is reeling from continued daily power cuts following generation and other operational problems at Eskom, the country’s power company. Eskom generates 95 per cent of the electricity used in South Africa.

    (shortage of) power to neighbouring countries because of acute domestic shortages. Zimbabwe, which imports about 40 per cent of its electricity from South Africa, and Mozambique are the worst affected.

    Eskom Enterprises has operations on the African continent with its head office being located in Johannesburg, South Africa, and other offices in Uganda, Nigeria and Mali.

    Although the power cuts have affected the whole country, the commercial capital, Johannesburg, has been worst hit and Eskom says it would be foolhardy to attract major industrial projects until the situation has been resolved by the middle of next decade.

    Eskom’s finance director, Bongani Nqwababa, was quoted by Business Day last week as saying “it is a question of supply and demand. It would be irresponsible now to aggressively pursue energy-intensive businesses.”

    Investments

    Though these may not be the kind of businesses that the Ugandan Investment Authority (UIA) is gunning for at the present stage of the country’s industrial development, there can be little doubt that there are plenty of other related investments that UIA can pick up as a result of the crisis in South Africa.

    Small and Medium sized businesses (SMEs) have been hit hardest by the power cuts with dozens forced to shut and more closures expected if the crisis continues, says South Africa’s black business umbrella body, the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NAFCOC).

    Nafcoc President Buhie Mthethwa says the body, which has 300000 members, will approach the government soon with requests for compensation for small enterprises which had lost perishable goods during the blackouts and cannot afford to buy generators to protect their remaining stocks.

    Dozens of Nafcoc members, who represent black, coloured and Indian enterprises, are forced out of business by the chronic power outages which add to problems they already face from rising interest rates and restricted access to credit.

    Growth in the economy has steadily accelerated since democracy was introduced in 1994 and the government wants to boost the pace to a sustainable rate of 6 per cent from 5.4 per cent in 2006 -a 25-year peak. It also aims to halve unemployment and poverty by 2014.

    But now, there is mounting concern that power shortages will put more constraints on a growth rate hampered by a global slow-down as well as higher interest rates.

    Credit Guarantee economist Luke Doig says the impact of the power cuts will lead to an escalation in liquidations and debt insolvencies. It will hit Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (SMEs) hard as they didn’t have many resources.

    Jeff Osborne, the chief executive officer of Retail Motor Industry Organisation, says power shortages were hitting used car dealers, petrol stations, motor mechanics and panel beaters, which were mainly SME).

    These are the same mid-term, long-term knock-on problems Uganda is attempting to avoid or mitigate with the construction of the Bujagali power project; problems that its detractors seem oblivious to.

    According to an economic and financial evaluation study carried out three years ago by an independent consulting firm Power Planning Associates Limited (UK), Uganda’s electricity demand is expected to grow by 7.6 per cent per year on average between 2005 and 2020.

    To help meet this demand, between 2006 and 2010, Uganda is expected to lease and commission 150 MW of oil fueled power generation as well as some generation from bagasse, a sugar-cane derivative used for renewable power generation, and from small hydro-power plants.

    Private generation

    Last week’s announcement that Electro- Maxx, an indigenous private power company, will start producing 10 megawatts (MW) of thermal power by June this year is part of the planned exercise to add capacity to Uganda’s power sector.

    Electro-Maxx was granted a power generating licence from the Uganda Electricity Authority (ERA). ERA’s decision was communicated in a letter to the company dated January 21 following public hearings last December in Tororo where local leaders and the community gave the project the go ahead.

    The $32 million project to be erected at the Tororo power substation will use Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO). And is expected to feed into the national grid.

    A power purchase agreement has been executed between Electro-Maxx and the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company to supply power for 18 hours daily.

    According to ERA, heavy-fuel oil is much cheaper than light diesel oil and Electro-Maxx will not require additional subsidies.

    The government currently pays out billions of shillings in subsidizing expensive power to consumers.

    Uganda’s current power demand is estimated at 380 MW while the maximum supply capacity stands at 251MW leaving a gap of about 129 MW.

    “The 10 MW heavy-fuel project by Electro-Maxx is therefore highly needed to contribute towards reduction of the current deficit,” ERA said.

    Currently, Uganda has a thermal installed capacity of 100 MW but it’s all generated through burning of diesel whose price has continued to rise.

    Electro-Maxx chairman Patrick Bitature said the company would later apply to double or triple its capacity.

    The plant was originally planned to be built in Mbarara but was shifted to Tororo to lower the cost of fuel transportation through Kenya.

    Bujagali

    The power supply generated from Bujagali would also enable 50-100 MW of expensive oil fueled thermal generation capacity to be retired. It is also expected that the commissioning of Bujagali in 2011 would help reduce the average cost of supply to end-users by up to 10 per cent compared to prevailing prices in constant terms.

    The study found that the commissioning of Bujagali will have a small but positive impact on economic growth, balance of payments and the fiscal balance.

    Uganda’s workforce is expected to double over the next 15 years, making the creation of jobs through expanded industry, tourism, and commercial services critical.

    EU Stands to Increase Market Share in Africa With EPAs

    EU Stands to Increase Market Share in Africa With EPAs

    Inter Press Service (Johannesburg)
    NEWS
    26 January 2008
    Posted to the web 26 January 2008

    By Julio Godoy
    Paris
    While the real impact of the economic partnership agreements (EPAs) on the economies of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries will be “small”, the pace of negotiations and of the liberalisation of their markets is too fast and will damage their economies, according to numerous French economists and development experts.

    “The main problem with the EPAs is that the European Union wants to go too fast with the negotiations, too fast with the regional integration in the ACP group, and too fast with the market liberalisation in there,” says Bénédicte Hermelin, research director at GRET, a Paris-based umbrella organisation of international cooperation groups.

    The EPAs, supposed to take effect as of January 1, 2008, propose to create a free trade area between Europe and the 79 ACP signatories of the Lomé Convention. The convention goes back to the 1970s.

    EPAs are part of the Cotonou agreement — a much wider agreement signed between the European Union (EU) and the ACP countries in June 2000 in the capital of Benin. It covers aid, trade and political cooperation between the two groups of countries.

    The Cotonou agreement replaced the Lomé convention, which gave ACP countries special access to sell certain products in European markets.

    EU officials defend the EPAs as trade and development tools, as Peter Mandelson, EU commissioner for trade, has put it. In a speech on January 20, 2005, Mandelson described the EPAs as “potentially a crucial, hugely positive contribution that Europe can and must make to trade and development” in Africa.

    The EPAs’ “purpose is the successful integration of the ACP economies in the global economy — and by that I mean putting the ACP on a ladder of prosperity that ends the grinding poverty which is the daily experience of so many ACP citizens,” Mandelson said.

    But numerous ACP governments and European non-governmental organisations oppose the EPAs, for they consider them an instrument of “European economic neo-colonialism”, which would destroy these low developed economies by forcing ACP countries to open their markets to subsidized agricultural goods from Europe.

    However, says Hermelin, at least regarding agriculture, “for Africa, the imports of poultry from Brazil are more dangerous than those from Europe”. Similarly, she says, Africa will need to import milk from Europe “still for a long time, until its milk production can satisfy the local demand”.

    Other experts believe that the EPAs will strengthen Europe’s trade position in Africa at the cost of inter-Africa trade.

    “If African coastal countries, such as Senegal, completely open their markets to European agricultural products, then the Saharan countries producing livestock will lose their market shares in those neighbouring countries,” Benoit Faivre-Dupaigre, an economics researcher at the French Institute for Research on Development, told IPS.

    Like Hermelin, Faivre-Dupaigre denounced the pace of negotiations on the EPAs imposed by the EU. “This fast-track liberalisation contradicts the experience of industrialized countries, which needed decades to build up their domestic markets before they opened them up to international competitors,” he said.

    According to a study by the Paris-based Research Centre in International Economics (CEPII, after its French name), the impact of EPAs on ACP economies would be negative, if small.

    On the one hand, the liberalisation of trade with the EU would represent a 22 percent growth of imports from Europe. But, if 20 percent of these new imports are blocked by the “sensitive products” clause, that growth would fall to 16 percent, representing some 3.5 billion euros in new imports from Europe.

    However, these new imports from Europe would substitute goods the ACP countries presently bring in from the U.S., Brazil, China, Japan and other countries, thus reducing the new trade debit balance for the ACP countries to 1.8 billion euros.

    As the CEPII notes, given that the ACP countries imported a total of 102 billion euros in goods and services in 2005, that new deficit is insignificant.

    More important is the ACP custom revenues loss due to EPAs, as estimated by the CEPII. These losses could go up 3 billion euros per year for the ACP countries, with individual impacts going on from five to 35 percent of the state budget.

    In the cases of the poorest countries, such losses can be of enormous importance for states almost deprived of income, notes the CEPII.

    Such data lead Roger Blein, French development advisor for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS, a regional group of fifteen West African countries), to believe that “even if the impact of the EPAs would be modest, it is clear that the EU is trying to expand its market share in the ACP countries.

    “When the European Commission says that Europe does not have any economic interest in the EPAs negotiations, it is lying,” Blein added.

    In general, French critics of the EPAs recall that while the EU farmers do enjoy of massive subsidies — some 50 billion euros in 2005 — small agricultural producers in the ACP do not.

    The French group ATTAC, for instance, argues that these subsidies for European agricultural goods already encourage overproduction and, if added to so-called free trade agreements such as the EPAs, will also promote export dumping.

    This will lead to the destruction of livelihoods in developing countries, representing a real and palpable menace for those countries’ “food sovereignty”.

    ATTAC stands for Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions for the Aid of Citizens and opposes neoliberal globalisation in general, from the World Trade Organisation to the policies of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

    In a position paper published last December, ATTAC recalls that the production of tomatoes in Ghana was affected by the structural adjustment programmes imposed by the International Monetary Fund in the 1980s and 1990s. “The import of tomatoes skyrocketed, from 3,600 tones to 24,000 tones,” ATTAC says in its paper.

    This growth in imports led to “weakening of the Ghanaian farmers, traders and the food processing industry in the country”. EPAs would launch a similar process in the whole of Africa, ATTAC claims.

    World Leaders Issue Call to Action on Millennium Development Goals

    Personally, I believe this (article listed below)is too little too late… and the basic NEEDS of Africa to meet and even exceed these goals are not congruent with the basic need for infrastructure like a drivable road!! 

    World Leaders Issue Call to Action on Millennium Development Goals

    World Economic Forum (Geneva)
    PRESS RELEASE
    28 January 2008
    Posted to the web 28 January 2008
    Davos
    World leaders have issued a joint statement at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos vowing to make 2008 a turning point in the fight against poverty.

    The world is facing a “development emergency”, they said. “We pledge to work together to help the world get back on track to meet the MDGs.”

    Leaders spearheading the call to action include Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General, United Nations, New York; Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, President of Nigeria; Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; H.M. Queen Rania Al Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and Member of the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum; William H. Gates III, Chairman, Microsoft Corporation, USA; Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum; Bono, Musician, DATA (DEBT, AIDS, TRADE, AFRICA), United Kingdom; and John T. Chambers, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Cisco, USA.

    “We are here to say one thing loud and clear: Not on our watch!” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

    “I speak to those who are most vulnerable to climate change and those who suffer the most grinding poverty. Let 2008 be the year of the bottom billion,” he said.

    “We all agree that it is time to move from promise to performance …. Let us put our promises back on track for all the world’s children,” said Queen Rania.

    “This is a moral compact, not a legal contract. To take a concrete step forward, we must take this from a moral compact to legally binding contracts,” Bono told a packed press conference. “Thanks to African leadership and debt cancellation, 29 million children are now in school,” he said.

    “For us in Africa, the achievement of the MDGs is our sacred duty,” said Nigerian President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. “One of the major challenges in Africa is the infrastructure gap that is one of the key enablers of the achievement of the MDGs. I welcome this initiative from the global community.”

    “It is right that, here in Davos, we tell the truth that there is a development emergency and that we must summon everyone in a call to action to take measures to meet the MDGs by 2015,” said British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

    “This [call to action] fits in with the idea of creative capitalism,” said Gates. “We can make more progress and it is important to be part of this endeavour,” he said. “I want to challenge the business community” to join the renewed efforts of governments and NGOs, said Chambers. “It’s the power of collaborative innovation that makes a difference,” he said.

    The joint statement said:

    “At the Millennium Summit in 2000 the international community – every world leader, every international body, almost every country – vowed to spare no effort to achieve the seven key Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

    Halfway to 2015 we have made some vital progress:

    • 3 million more children survive every year
    • 2 million people now receive AIDs treatment
    • There are 41 million more children in school
    • 2 million lives are saved every year by immunization
    • Polio, leprosy and neonatal tetanus are on the verge of elimination
    • African economies have been growing at 6% for the past three years, and are set to grow faster in the years ahead

    This progress inspires us all to do more. We know we can make a difference. But we still face an enormous challenge – a development emergency:

    • 72 million children are still not in school and many who are receive a very poor quality education.Half of the developing world lack basic sanitation.
    • If current trends continue, the world is likely to miss the MDG sanitation target by almost 600 million people.
    • Over half a million women still die each year from treatable and preventable complications of pregnancy and childbirth.
    • Over 33 million people are living with HIV, and more than 1 million people die of malaria every year, including one child every 30 seconds.
    • 980 million people still live on less than US$ 1 a day.

    So without an extraordinary effort we will fail to achieve the MDGs. 2008 is a critical year. If we don’t begin to get back on track we will fail. Today in Davos we – the undersigned – commit to work to make 2008 a turning point in the fight against poverty. We are pleased to join the 19 countries and 21 private sector companies that are now signed up to the MDG Call to Action. And we pledge to work together to help the world get back on track to meet the MDGs.

    We know we will only succeed if governments, the private sector, faith groups, civil society and NGOs work together.

    And to catalyse, inspire and focus activity within this broad coalition – and to measure progress towards the 2015 pledges – today we agree that the world community should set some 2010 milestones towards our 2015 goals, including:

    • 75 million more people lifted out of extreme poverty in Africa
    • 25 million more children in school
    • 4 million more children’s lives saved
    • 35 million more births need to be attended by skilled health personnel between now and 2010
    • 70 million more people given improved access to water

    A series of international meetings throughout 2008 will identify what more we all need to do to meet these goals and agree concrete action plans:

    • In the spring, the private sector will meet and announce new measures to help achieve the MDGs.
    • In June, European leaders will set out what more the EU can do to accelerate progress towards the MDGs.
    • In July, the Japan G8 Summit will focus on development and climate change.
    • In September, at the UN – and for the first time ever – governments, businesses, civil society organizations, NGOs and faith groups will all convene to mark the halfway point to the MDGs, take stock of progress and agree additional steps the international community will take to accelerate action.
    • And the Italians have agreed to take this forward into 2008 with their G8.
    • The world is witnessing a development emergency, and we need a worldwide effort to get back on track to meet the MDGs. We commit to join and redouble our efforts.”

    More than 2,500 participants from 88 countries are in Davos, Switzerland, including 27 heads of state or government, 113 cabinet ministers, along with religious leaders, media leaders and heads of non-governmental organizations. Around 60% of the participants are business leaders drawn principally from the Forum’s members – 1,000 of the foremost companies from around the world and across all economic sectors.

    Malnutrition Takes a Heavy Toll On Children

    Malnutrition Takes a Heavy Toll On Children

    The East African (Nairobi)
    NEWS
    28 January 2008
    Posted to the web 28 January 2008

    By Zachary Ochieng
    Nairobi
    DESPITE THE USE OF WHO guidelines in hospitals for the care and management of children with severe malnutrition, many in Africa still continue to die, raising doubts on the efficacy of the world health body’s protocol.

    The findings are contained in a new study published in PLoS Medicine, a peer-reviewed open access medical journal of the Public Library of Science.

    Titled Children With Severe Malnutrition: Can Those at Highest Risk of Death Be Identified with the WHO Protocol?, the study was jointly conducted by the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri), the University of Oxford and the Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College, London.

    The study was carried out to verify the widely held belief that case fatality rates above 5 per cent were unacceptable and could be attributed to inadequately trained health staff, poor compliance with WHO treatment guidelines, or even faulty practices.

    It is worth noting that WHO has developed guidelines for the management of severely malnourished children in hospital. However, death rates among children admitted to hospital with severe malnutrition are still high, mostly 20 per cent, or sometimes even higher. Whereas a number of hospitals have recorded declining death rates following the introduction of the WHO guidelines, the WHO’s acceptable level of 5 per cent has not been achieved.

    For purposes of this study, the researchers conducted a retrospective surveillance of 920 severely malnourished children admitted to Kilifi District Hospital in Kenya’s Coast Province for clinical and nutritional rehabilitation.

    The hospital serves a rural population of over 230,000. Malnutrition is endemic within the community, with over 40 per cent of children less than 5 years old being malnourished.

    The hospital’s paediatric ward admits more than 5,000 children each year, with severe malnutrition being the fourth commonest cause of admission to hospital and second commonest cause of in-hospital fatality. The hospital currently reports a death rate of approximately 19 per cent among children admitted with severe malnutrition, even with the implementation of the WHO guidelines.

    According to their findings, the quality of care delivered by this hospital could be considered excellent in terms of its paediatric staff – trained in paediatric emergency triage assessment and treatment, scientific experience, equipment, and laboratory services. However, the hospital still recorded higher fatality rates – about 19 per cent.

    THE RESEARCHERS STUDIED all severely malnourished children over three months of age who were admitted to the hospital. The children were treated according to the WHO guidelines, and the research group collected data on the condition of the children after treatment, as well as for relevant clinical signs and symptoms.

    They then examined the data to see which characteristics on admission were associated with early death (less than 48 hours) and later deaths. They found that four clinical features, which could be easily ascertained at the bedside on admission, were associated with a large proportion of the early deaths. These four signs were slow heart rate, weak pulse volume, depressed consciousness level and a delayed capillary refilling time.

    Of the 920 children in the study, 176 (19 per cent) died, with 59 (33 per cent) deaths occurring within 48 hours of admission. The researchers conclude that there is insufficient evidence to indicate that the practices are faulty

    Removal of Trade Tariffs Not Solution for Continent

    Removal of Trade Tariffs Not Solution for Continent

    New Vision (Kampala)
    OPINION
    28 January 2008
    Posted to the web 29 January 2008

    By John Ssempebwa
    Kampala
    REFERENCE is made to the article titled “African Governments Should Remove Trade Tariffs”, published in The New Vision, January 9. Removing trade tariffs is no solution to Africa’s problems; it cuts government revenue, worsens trade deficits and poverty. In May 2007, the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) collected sh228b of which sh122b was from imports.

    Without import duties levied, especially on finished goods that are also produced in Uganda and ostentatious goods, how will government fund roads, hospitals, drugs and arms without donors?

    Whereas Europe can depend on indirect domestic taxes levied on red light districts, casinos, tobacco and alcohol, Uganda cannot remove import duties because its per capita income is less than $400 meaning that less than 1% of all Ugandans have entered a casino.

    Uganda has an increasing trade deficit of sh$1.4b. Trade deficits cause massive lay offs as imported goods subject domestically produced goods to competition, forcing sub-optimal capacity utilisation and laying off workers.

    This malignant tumour in the Ugandan economy is the reason why impressive growth rates have not translated into better welfare for many Ugandans (Gross Domestic Product is an inverse function of the trade deficit).

    Removal of import duties will encourage consumption of imports, worsen the trade deficit, jobs will be lost and markets for agro produce will dwindle. Poverty will worsen.

    Before import duty is removed, consumers should have sufficient purchasing power to spend and pay indirect taxes without the consumer feeling the tax burden. This requires industrialisation. In fact, Europe’s industrial development was shaped by fierce protectionism called “Fortress Europe” during which Britain levied an average tariff of 32%, France developed its current agricultural protective system, Bismarck dumped the German Free Trade Policy and average industrial tariffs stood at 19% in Europe.

    More so, Intra-African trade liberalisation needs a cautious approach since the EU has already signed free trade areas with leading African economies such as South Africa and Egypt.

    Removing tariffs on goods from South Africa in the absence of appropriate rules of origin means offering the EU duty free market access to Uganda yet “EU” has no offensive trade interests in Uganda. Why offer a lift to a rich man who has several Rolls Royces?

    The principle of asymmetry has to come into play when discussing removal of trade tariffs and any other trade controls in Africa. Some countries are at higher levels of development because of advantages bestowed upon them by European colonial masters. Full and immediate liberalisation of trade with such countries can only mean jobs lost in Uganda.

    In lieu of liberalising Africa’s trade, if the EU is interested in enabling Africa to benefit from world trade, the EU must compensate Africa for the damaging effects of liberalisation implied in the Economic Partnership Agreements.

    Africa’s true allies will not be those who impose liberalisation but those who help Africa adjust to the liberalisation by solving its supply side constraints, for example, building the big dam in neighbouring Congo (The dam could reduce the cost of power in Central and Eastern Africa by 50%), building an alternative route for Uganda’s imports through Tanzania.

    These projects have been identified by Africa and are contained in the development matrix of the Economic Partnership Agreements Negotiations.

    It is unfortunate that the EU agrees to the development matrix but hates a detailed one that identifies the costs and exact projects. Africa seems to know its problems better now. Liberalisation is surely not the solution to our problems.

    The writer is the Director of Trade at the Private Sector Foundation

    February 12, 2008

    Some (NOT me) claim that AfDB Should be Africa’s Premier Development Institution

    I am personally NOT convinced that the ADB/AfDB is actually the best… or even that good for African Development. I have spoken to them several times concerning projects and have found them to be… well let me just say indifferent to projects that are not traditional and conservative in their approach Africa not only needs but deserves aggressive lending practices for development… I do NOT find that with this bank… however in difference to fairness to them am posting this article.

    AfDB Should be Africa’s Premier Development Institution – Says Panel Report

    Accra Mail (Accra)
    NEWS
    28 January 2008
    Posted to the web 28 January 2008
    Accra
    An Independent High Level Panel has said in a report released on Tuesday in Tunis that given the huge development challenges it faces, Africa, more than any other region, needs a premier continental development bank.

    The report, “Investing in Africa’s Future: The ADB in the 21st Century,” says while poverty reduction and promoting growth and economic integration will be the overarching objective of the Bank, it should foster economic integration and, particularly, undertake regional investments in which returns are greater than those for any individual country and which may otherwise not be financed.

    It says the AfDB of the 21st Century should provide a range of regional public goods, particularly knowledge and advisory services, to transfer experience and best practice, and to be an African voice on development internationally.

    The report says the Bank should also channel development capital efficiently to all African countries on reasonable and predictable terms. The report lists four interlocking priorities for the Bank:

    - Investing in infrastructure: Africa will never become competitive, or realize its productive potential, without massive improvements in infrastructure, with needs estimated at US$20-30 billion a year. Infrastructure is a precondition for, and an enabler of growth for private sector development. The report notes that the ADB already has solid experience in infrastructure, adding that the Bank has generally performed well on its mandate from the African Union to implement the infrastructure component of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) as well as lead several multi-donor initiatives.

    The panel, however, believes that the Bank must be more proactive and take more leadership in defining needs and priorities, designing strategies and action plans, bringing stakeholders together, and coordinating and managing implementation. It should help Africa build infrastructure to effectively mitigate and adapt to climate change through clean energies (hydro and wind power), all-weather transport and irrigation projects. More of the resources available for infrastructure should be channeled through the ADB.

    - Building capable states: The report says effective and accountable institutions are essential for sustained economic growth and social progress, explaining that building capable states must be at the heart of the ADB’s work just as engaging in fragile and post-conflict states is an imperative rather than an option.

    The Bank should have a leading role in issues of governance but intervene selectively, consistent with its other areas of focus. Its assistance must be flexible, fast, and consistent, well coordinated with other players. Additional financial and human resources will have to be directed accordingly.

    - Promoting the private sector: The report asserts that that the private sector will drive growth in Africa noting that it behooves the ADB to help it do so by promoting an enabling environment, by facilitating investment and entrepreneurship. This means listening to the private sector, lending directly to private interests, and helping governments reform their legal and regulatory frameworks to strengthen governance and accountability.

    The ADB must better exploit the advantages of its integrated structure, building up country and regional strategies that encompass both the private and public sectors and foster the synergies between them, the report says, noting that the Bank’s direct private sector operations tripled in the last year and should grow further.

    - Developing skills: The advisory panel urged the AfDB to help Africa build the skills it needs to be competitive, noting that in 2030 half of Africans will be under 25. The continent will have transitioned to a primarily urban population. Only economic growth can provide Africans with opportunities. However, to grasp these opportunities, they will need the right skills.

    The report says that given the heavy involvement of other donors in primary and basic education, the ADB should concentrate on vocational training, higher education, and science and technology. The priorities should be building centers of excellence, providing the necessary infrastructure for education, and developing mutually supportive links with the private sector to promote the use of local skills.

    This 13-member Independent High Level Panel on the Bank Group, co-chaired by former Mozambican President Joachim Chissano and former Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, and including the Nobel Laureate in economics, Joseph Stiglitz, was established by President Donald Kaberuka as an independent advisory body to provide recommendations on the AfDB’s strategic vision and on the operational strategies needed in the medium to long term.

    January 25, 2008

    African bank to champion infrastructure financing

    African bank to champion infrastructure financing

    Fri 25 Jan 2008, 5:33 GMT
    By Diadie Ba
    SALY PORTUGAL, Senegal (Reuters) – Sixty percent of the African Development Bank’s $8.9 billion soft loan resources for 2008-2010 will go towards infrastructure projects on the continent, a bank official said on Thursday.

    Last month, donor countries agreed a record level of support for the bank’s soft loan window, the African Development Fund, amounting to $8.9 billion for the next three years, 52 percent up from the 2005-2007 period.

    The AfDB, whose shareholders include Africa’s 53 nations and 24 non-African donor countries, lends commercially to Africa’s richest nations and at concessionary rates to poor ones from its Development Fund, financed largely by Western donors.

    Addressing an African ministerial conference in Senegal on Infrastructure Financing, Youssouf Ouedraogo, special adviser to AfDB President Donald Kaberuka, said $4.8 billion of these funds for concessionary lending were earmarked for infrastructure.

    This included a number of major road and rail projects aimed at criss-crossing the continent with transport corridors.

    “These resources are insufficient …. the bank will spare no effort to try to mobilise additional resources coming from multilateral and bilateral partners, sub-regional banks and the private sector,” he told delegates at the conference in the coastal resort of Saly Portudal.

    Ouedraogo said the bank was already financing and carrying out feasibility studies in major existing transport corridor projects, such as those to link Djibouti on the Red Sea with Dakar and Libreville on the Atlantic coast to the west.

    It would also support trans-African highway projects to connect Beira in Mozambique to Lobito in Angola, Dakar in Senegal to Lagos in Nigeria, and Lagos to Mombasa in Kenya.

    Financing was also earmarked for three major bridge projects, at Rosso over the Senegal River between Senegal and Mauritania, over the Gambia River in Gambia and the Kazangula bridge over the Zambezi between Zambia and Botswana.

    In addition, the bank was contributing to the financing of the rehabilitation and expansion of the giant Inga dam hydropower project in Democratic Republic of Congo.

    In his speech to the conference, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade urged African countries to work together to develop the continent’s deficient infrastructure under the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), which aims to fight poverty and improve governance.

    “For several years, nobody wanted to hear about infrastructure. Today, we are unanimous,” he said.

    Historically, Africa’s infrastructure has been geared to old colonial markets in Europe, resulting in economic isolation for the 40 percent of Africans who live in landlocked countries, and starving local markets of cross-border roads and railways.

    “Without infrastructure, there’s no development. We need a single voice and a single agenda,” Bernard Joba, commissioner for infrastructure at the African Union, told the conference, which was attended by representatives of regional and international organisations.

    December 9, 2007

    Nigerian President Overwhelmed by Corruption.

     

    Nigerian leader finds power a problem

    by Jacques Lhuillery

    Umaru Yar’Adua has been in charge of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and biggest oil producer, for six months and is already struggling against endemic corruption and political infighting.

    Most observers agree that Yar’Adua, a Muslim from northern Nigeria, is well-intentioned and more sincere than his predecessor, military man Olusegun Obasanjo. They also agree that he lacks the clout and decisiveness of Obasanjo.

    Yar’Adua has pledged to turn round Nigeria’s economy, to quell unrest that has slashed oil production in the Niger Delta, to restore law and order, and crack down on omnipresent corruption.

    The new administration has also striven to dismantle the system it inherited from Obasanjo.

    It annulled his firesale of state assets to cronies and booted out once untouchable officials, such as former House of Representatives speaker Patricia Etteh, removed after a corruption scandal.

    The opposition and analysts say it has performed less well on security and on the economy and social infrastructure. Power and clean water remain in short supply and armed robberies are on the increase.

    While most observers agree Yar’Adua has done more in six months to calm the Niger Delta than Obasanjo ever did, attacks on oil and government targets there continue.

    “The months since the April elections have seen increasingly incendiary threats from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta and continued volatility in the creeks,” François Grignon of the International Crisis Group, said this week.

    “The Yar’Adua government must urgently come to grips with the core issues that have defined the agitation and conflicts in the region for two decades,” he said.

    The main opposition party has been scathing about the government record.

    “It is clear that this administration has not even begun to define the problems, not to talk of finding solutions to them,” the Action Congress party said this week. Its complaints ranged from law and order to “dilapidated roads”, “worsening unemployment” and power shortages.

    The ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is also in turmoil. According to one analyst, it is “plagued by a dispute between the old timers from the Obasanjo era and the new guard” who want to distance themselves from the “Obasanjo system”.

    Yar’Adua’s health, however, which gave cause for concern during the election campaign, no longer appears to be giving him trouble.

    But there are still doubts about whether Yar’Adua will make it through his first year if electoral tribunals, which are still hearing suits calling for the annulment of his victory, decide to void the presidential election.

    Former vice-president Atiku Abubakar and a former president Muhammadu Buhari, both beaten by a wide margin, are still fighting to obtain that.

    “Why Yar’Adua might lose Aso Rock?”, said Tell magazine this week, referring to why the presidency, which is known as Aso Rock, could be lost.

    Tribunals have already reversed the victories of several governors from the April polls.

    “Other annulments could follow,” predicted a Nigerian politician, who asked not to be identified.

    Yar’Adua’s lawyers on Thursday submitted to the presidential election tribunal what they said were documents proving the president was the rightful winner. The court will rule on January 28.

    “Since Yar’Adua took office in May, he has taken bold measures to increase his popularity and standing with the Nigerian people,” Sebastian Spio-Garbrah, an analyst with Eurasia group, wrote in a recent note to investors.

    He cited the way the president, in addition to reversing unpopular taxes and privatisation plans, publicly declared all his family assets and released from jail two popular southern secessionists, concluding that even if fresh polls are ordered, “Yar’Adua will likely win a convincing electoral victory”.

    Libya Opens Natural Gas Exploration to Foreign Firms.

    Gazprom, Shell, Sonatrach and Polski win first gas contracts in Libya

    Libya on Sunday awarded four potentially lucrative gas exploration contracts to fuel giants Shell, Gazprom, Sonatrach and Polski, the first ever given to foreign firms as relations warm between Tripoli and the West.

    The biggest award went to Algerian firm Sonatrach in association with Oil India and Indian Oil, which was given four blocks covering 6,934 square kilometres (2,677 square miles).

    Russian giant Gazprom was awarded three exploration blocs with a total area of 3,936 square kilometres in the southern Ghadames basin.

    Gazprom beat off competition from Gaz de France, Inpex of Japan, Russian rival Lukoil, Britain’s BG and Polski, agreeing to cede 90 percent of its eventual production to Libya’s state-owned National Oil Corporation (NOC).

    Anglo-Dutch company Shell was handed a two-block contract to explore a 1,790 square kilometre area in the northern Sirte basin and Polish firm Polski was also awarded a two-block area in the southern Murzak basin.

    Shell was awarded its exploration rights following a bid of 93 million dollars and 85 percent of its eventual production.

    Sonatrach outbid Gaz de France, BG, Polski and Germany’s RWE and proposed 87 percent of its production go to the NOC.

    A total of 35 companies had been pre-selected to bid for the dozen contracts awarded Sunday to explore 41 gas blocks in the Mediterranean, the Sirte basin in the north-central area of the country, Cyrenaica further east and Murzek and Ghadames in the south.

    The blocks cover a total of 72,500 square kilometres (almost 28,000 square miles), an area the size of Scotland.

    It was the first time Libya invited tenders for natural gas exploration.

    Regarding eight as yet unattributed blocks, National Oil Company president Shukri Ghanem said the NOC “will decide next week if it will award licences or if it will keep them for a second invitation to tender.”

    With the end of UN sanctions after Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi’s dramatic decision in December 2003 to abandon weapons of mass destruction programmes, oil and gas exploration has picked up at a frenetic pace.

    OPEC member Libya is the African continent’s second largest oil producer at 1.7 million barrels per day. It also has natural gas reserves estimated at 1,314 billion cubic metres (46,403 billion cubic feet).

    Among the notable losers on Sunday was French company Gaz de France, which imports large quantities of Libyan natural gas.

    Earlier, a company official said it was keen to “get a foothold” in exploration in the country.

    “Libya interests us the most and we wish to work there,” head of exploration and production at Gaz de France Renato Gurrero-Serreau told AFP.

    Kadhafi, whose country spent years in diplomatic isolation for its alleged support of terrorists, begins a high-profile visit to France on Monday during which he will hold talks with President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris.

    Briton Continues to Antagonize African Countries… Now it is Kenya.

    Filed under: Africa,African,Kenya,Trans Africa,Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 10:31 pm

    Kenya tells Britain to keep off after grim pre-election assessment

    by Bogonko Bosire

    Kenya on Sunday angrily told the British House of Lords to keep out of local affairs days after it received a grim assessment of the situation in the east African nation ahead of this month’s polls.

    Justice Minister Martha Karua said the House of Lords should keep off Kenyan pre-election affairs and concentrate on Britain’s own “grand corruption scandals and other rot”.

    “They (House of Lords) are our friends but we want to remind them we are not their colony nor do we depend on them for survival,” Karua told a rally in central Kenya.

    “You must look at issues holistically before passing judgment on the performance of our government in its war against corruption,” Karua said, explaining that Nairobi was keen on ending graft.

    On December 4, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for International Development, Baroness Vadera told the Lords there was little hope that Kenya’s December 27 polls would boost governance and end graft.

    Vadera said President Mwai Kibaki came to power in December 2002 with a raft of pledges that made Kenyans look “forward to change, growth, jobs, free primary education and zero tolerance for corruption.”

    “This time, perhaps, disappointment has tempered hope,” Vadera said.

    “Ethnicity and patronage are still important determinants of the outcome of elections and a career in politics is still one of the quickest ways of accumulating wealth. The incumbents and the opposition are mostly cut from the same cloth.”

    “I fear that, whatever the outcome of this election, we cannot expect a dramatic step-change in governance and corruption,” Vadera said in a grim assessment of Kenya.

    Kenya, which got its independence from Britain in 1963, has in the past locked horns with its former colonial master over rampant corruption.

    Meanwhile, Kibaki on Sunday appealed for calm as pre-election mayhem gripped the country, where campaign rallies have regularly turned chaotic in recent weeks.

    At least 39 people have been killed since July, dozens of houses razed and around 16,000 displaced in poll-related violence, particular in in the Molo district, about 170 kilometers (105 miles) northwest of Nairobi, police say.

    “There is no need for anybody to be violent and abusive,” Kibaki said in Nairobi.

    The European Union poll monitors have warned the violence will undermine the credibility of elections in Kenya, east Africa’s largest economy and a bastion of stability in a region beset by conflicts.

    The Commonwealth and African Union are expected to deploy their observer teams.

    More than 14 million Kenyans are registered to vote in the December 27 polls to choose a new president, parliament and local councils in the country’s fourth multi-party election since pluralism was introduced in 1992.

    Opinion polls put sharp orator and opposition leader Raila Odinga slightly ahead of incumbent Kibaki in the presidential race, with former foreign minister Kalonzo Musyoka trailing far behind.

    Kibaki, 75, has been credited with advancing basic freedoms, but criticised for failing to rein in corruption within government ranks.

    Odinga, who casts himself as a champion of the poor, has vowed to re-organise every government sector and accused Kibaki of totally failing in his leadership.

    Political observers expect the elections to be the closest ever in this east African nation of some 35 million people.

    BioFuels and the Future of Africa

    Biofuels: danger or new opportunity for Africa?

    by Romaric Ollo Hien

    The growing promotion of environmentally-friendly biofuels is raising questions for Africa: are such fuels a threat to food security or a golden opportunity to cut down on fossil fuel bills.

    Some 300 experts from the continent and further afield in the Americas and Europe, gathered earlier this month in the impoverished capital of the non-oil producing west African nation of Burkina Faso to debate the pros and cons of biofuel generation on the continent.

    “No matter what we say, today biofuels represent a pragmatic solution in light of the energy problems in relation to soaring oil prices,” said Paul Ginies, managing director of the Ouagadougou-based International Institute for Water and Environment Engineering.

    Generation of biofuels could help provide solutions to transport costs and reduce expenditure on energy in rural areas by between 30 and 40 percent, argued Ginies.

    Biofuel farming should not be perceived as being in competition with food production and other types of agriculture, he stressed.

    “These two types of production are very well reconciliable. Our ambition is that they can help one another,” Ginies said, noting that biofuel byproducts could serve as livestock feed or fertiliser for food crops.

    But Moussa Hassane, managing director of the National Institute of Agronomy Research in Niger, insisted that Africa should be wary of the sudden interest in biofuels.

    “Why the particular interest in biofuel production now in Africa? Africa has always been a leading raw material reserve tank for the West,” he said.

    “Africa constitutes the ideal site for the production of biofuels. But of what benefit is that to the continent? Could that be done without posing a danger to food production,” he asked.

    Maurizio Cocchi of an Italian renewable energies non-governmental organisation Energy Transport Agriculture also urged caution.

    “I am happy that African countries understood … the environmental risks and threats to food security related to biofuel production. There are still uncertainties that would require research,” he said.

    Daniel Ballerini, of a French bio-energy development research institute Enerbio, suggested that biofuels be reserved for certain limited uses.

    “Biofuel does not have have to be used for transport (vehicles), it should be used, for example, in tractors’ engines. I am not for the use of biofuels in cars as long as the problem of food security remains,” he said.

    “We should not use good land for the production of energy, we should cultivate biofuel crops on land that is less favourable for food crops,” he said.

    Experts elsewhere see the growing demand for biofuels coupled with the high prices of fossil fuel having a dramatic impact on millions of people, especially in Africa where food prices are beyond the reach of many.

    Escalating food prices have affected almost every nation on the continent, so far sparking violent protests in parts of West Africa, home to the greatest number of the world’s most poverty-stricken countries.

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