WEST AFRICA BRIEF: Ibrahim Mayaki becomes new SWAC President

The Sahel and West Africa Club’s governing board, also called the Strategy and Policy Group (SPG), convened on 18-19 June 2018 for an important discussion of SWAC’s future work priorities. SWAC Members appointed Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, current Chief Executive Officer of NEPAD, as SWAC President. He will assume this function as of 1 January 2019. The SPG was an opportunity for Members and partners to honour current President, François-Xavier de Donnea for his outstanding commitment to the Club for nearly a decade. Members and partners also discussed work priorities for 2019-20. They discussed a draft work programme, which was elaborated based on an inclusive consultation process, reflecting Members’ key priorities and building on current activities and achievements.

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Fast-tracking the implementation of Africa’s Development Agenda

Johannesburg, South Africa, January 25, 2018 – NEPAD Agency, now with a footprint in 52 of the 55 African Union Member States, adopted a results-based approach and aligned its interventions to the First Ten Year Implementation Plan of Agenda 2063 –  African Union’s long-term vision and strategic framework for socio-economic transformation of the continent. Accordingly, the 2017 Annual Report that the Agency has released is results based, giving an account of the NEPAD Agency’s contribution to Agenda 2063.

The results of the NEPAD Agency’s contribution to Agenda 2063 for the year 2017 are presented at continental, regional and national levels. To this end, the 2017 report provides some insights into the possible strategic impact areas of the transformed Agency, namely: Wealth Creation, Shared Prosperity, Transformative Capacities and Sustainable Environment.

At continental level, the Agency’s 2017 results in the area of revolution and entrepreneurship include the application of gene drives for eliminating malaria; the application of drone technology for agriculture and food security; and the promotion of micro-grids for expanding Africa’s access to energy. In the area of sustainability and resilience capacity, results include contribution to Africa’s unified position in global conventions on climate change and environmental resilience that was strengthened.

With regards improved health and nutrition services, some of the achievements include a draft treaty for establishing the African Medicines Agency that was prepared to ensure the supply of safe and effective medicines in Africa. Results towards transformed agriculture and food systems include the blueprint that was produced to implement rural development policies in Africa, as well as the Inaugural Biennial Report, which highlights progress made on commitments enshrined in the Malabo Declaration.

The year 2017 marks the end of the strategic plan cycle that spans 2014 to 2017. It also heralds the medium term development plan, 2018 – 2023, aligned to Agenda 2063’s First Ten Year Implementation Plan. The annual report also comes at a time when preparations are concluding for transforming the NEPAD Agency into the African Union Development Agency, with greater scope for action and capacity.

2017 PIDA Week convened in Namibia

The 2017 Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) Week was held from 10 to 14 December in Swakopmund, Namibia under the theme “Enhancing Trade and Economic Transformation through Regional Infrastructure Development”.

Organized by the African Union Commission (AUC), the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in collaboration with the Namibian Government and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), PIDA Week aims to build on the achievements of the 2015 and 2016 meetings in Abidjan and the momentum created in the previous two events to continue to engage stakeholders on the effective delivery of infrastructure on the continent.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, H.E. Dr Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy at the African Union Commission said that about 500 delegates were expected in Walvis Bay to discuss how to create synergies and mobilise support in the implementation of African Union’s Agenda 2063 infrastructure projects in Africa, with a particular emphasis on PIDA.

“Delegates gathering in Swakopmund for the Third PIDA Week have addressed several important issues, with a view to moving PIDA projects from conception to implementation and pushing Agenda 2063’s infrastructure goals for Africa,” Dr Amani Abou-Zeid stated.

“This event has offered an opportunity for delegates to unpack the enormous growth potential of increasing the visibility of PIDA projects and validating the relevance of corridors and thereby facilitating the continent’s economic transformation, harnessed to the benefit of our people,” the Commissioner added.

On his part, NEPAD Agency’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki stated that “Accelerating the development of Africa’s regional infrastructure could be the game changer that will trigger industrialisation and create jobs. It is for this reason that African leaders developed the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) in 2012, as the means for socio-economic growth and intra-African trade.”

Khaled Sherif, Vice-President – Regional Development, Integration and Business Delivery reaffirmed the African Development Bank’s strong commitment to infrastructure development in the continent stating that infrastructure promotes trade and creates a conducive environment for investments and business.

He applauded the significant strides made by PIDA implementing partners in promoting trade and economic transformation through regional infrastructure development, adding that the Bank aims to attract more capital into the infrastructure sector by helping governments structure transactions to contribute to the financing of infrastructure.

Vice President Khaled stated that expectations are high that this meeting will provide a fresh impetus towards PIDA implementation. Similarly, he alluded to the fact that “Co-financing and partnerships remain critical towards mobilising more resources for PIDA implementation.”

PIDA Week was inaugurated in 2015 as a platform for PIDA stakeholders and the first two events have been held in Abidjan under the auspices of the African Development Bank. The event will provide a platform for stakeholders to engage in accelerating and synergising their efforts to: (1) accelerate projects preparation and implementation;(2) mobilise adequate financial and technical resources for projects; (3) increase private sector participation in PIDA implementation; and (4) mobilise Member States to integrate the PIDA projects into their national development plans.

Additionally, statutory closed meetings under the Institutional Architecture for Infrastructure Development (IAIDA) and the NEPAD Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility (IPPF) meetings were held during the Week. PIDA Week also focused on accelerating all PIDA Projects with specific emphasis on five selected projects and a site visit to Walvis Bay.

The meeting was attended by various stakeholders including AUC, NPCA, AfDB, and UNECA, Member States, development partners, Financial Institutions, private sector, civil society and members of the media.

Copyright: Uzo Madu

G20 Compact with Africa and the Position of Youths

It was a great pleasure to be interviewed on CNBC Africa about the G20. Thanks to the team, thank you Onyi Sunday.

The G20 Compact with Africa is an initiative that aims to promote private investment and investment in infrastructure. African countries will determine what they want to do to improve conditions for private investment, with whom they want to cooperate, and in what form. This is against the backdrop of a continent whose median age is only 19 years.  What does all this mean?

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Why the solutions to global challenges are found at the pan-African level

At a time when more and more voices are being heard to challenge the European Union (EU), the idea of ​​unity of the Old Continent and especially the functioning of its institutions, the African Union (AU) has just accepted a new member: Morocco.

This demonstrates the attractiveness of the continental organization, which, although not perfect, has to its credit many achievements that are conducive to stability and development. It must be said that the AU was able to renew itself. From the OAU of independence to the AU that we know today – in fact largely inspired by the EU – there has been a real qualitative leap we must welcome.

Today the AU is an essential interlocutor for the international community. Africa is able to speak with one voice in the major international arenas, whether on climate or trade. Unity is strength, as the saying goes. But union, especially when it goes beyond the mere economic framework, is not easy: one sees it in other parts of the world, in the Middle East for example, but also in North America where deep divisions have been growing.

In Africa, on the contrary, the continental unity is now strengthened. It is interesting to note that even when countries are divided, at no time do the new entities envisage leaving the AU. I’m thinking here about the latest example to date, South Sudan. Morocco has clearly understood this, which is back in the ideological lap of the founding fathers of Africa, who, after independence, wanted this African unity because they dreamed of a community of destiny and interests.

Already with NEPAD, or with the African Development Bank (AfDB), the vision of development, projects and commitments are continental. We have succeeded in producing an overall African project, where each country sees its interest and can hope to be part of the general effort. This is true for infrastructures – rail, electricity – but also for the social issue through Agenda 2063, which includes measures over 50 years to stimulate socio-economic transformation across the continent.

A key element of this transformation is to take full advantage of the “demographic dividend” to ensure that economic progress improves growth, social development and the sharing of wealth. This is also the case for health with the “African Health Strategy” and the “Catalytic Framework for the Elimination of AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Africa by 2030”, set up by the AU. There is still progress to be made, especially in integration, the free movement of people and goods, but in 15 years progress has been quite extraordinary.

With its values, ambitions and strengths – economic and demographic growth, important natural resources and dynamic youth – Africa today can face the challenges coming from a world in perpetual change by cultivating unity. In the UN, for example, our countries weigh more when they are united. And it is with this unity that we can also open ourselves to the rest of the world. The AU is our home, our safe haven. We can look at other geographical areas, such as the EU, for example, for Morocco and Tunisia, or as the BRICS for South Africa, but in the end we know where we come from. That is our strength. These extensions from Africa to the rest of the world via individual countries, or also via diaspora, is a key strength. It remains to ensure that there is a principle of “diplomatic sharing” or preferential access set up within pan-African bodies.

Our partners are already very active: for example, on the board committee of the AfDB, we find France, the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan and China, among others. These partner countries and friends of Africa therefore participate directly in the projects implemented by the continental bank. This facilitates action and makes the partnership more effective. Our inequalities can also be forces: if Moroccan and South African banks play their role as a capital distributor, this can benefit other countries and their respective private sectors.

Integrating the pan-African perspective into reflection can only benefit the actors in this immense market that has become Africa.


What the preservation of our heritage tells us about our future

Recently, in certain countries of Sahelian Africa such as Burkina Faso and Mali, there has been a renewed interest in the so-called “Nubian vault” architectural technique. Houses built according to this ancestral model, probably coming from the ancient Egyptians, are less costly, because they use the local earth for the bricks, more perennial (about fifty years), better insulated than the iron sheets covered houses, and ecological since they do not use wood. These fresh houses with small and chiselled openings that retain heat on the outside, allow the easy addition of a roof terrace. NGOs have made it the basis for some development projects in response to the lack of decent housing, lack of employment and the challenge of ecological preservation.

This example illustrates a legitimate questioning of some of our States about the accumulation of capital. Should we accumulate physical capital or knowledge? At first sight we naturally answer both. But in this case, what should be prioritized between knowledge that is difficult to measure, which is a bet on the future, and the accumulation of infrastructures and financial capital, more easily quantifiable? I believe that we can lead the two accumulations head on, one helping the other, supporting the other, nourishing it, making it even wealthier.

The example of the Nubian vault shows that it is important to preserve the techniques specific to Africa, to know how to adapt them, but also to defend them as our genuine heritage. The effort must be global: finding funding and partnerships for the development of our continent, but also maintaining control over what we want to do, according to our needs and cultures. The days when we were forced to make laterite tracks rather than paved highways are gone. That is why we must also give ourselves the means to choose and build. And this requires a renewed effort to educate, preserve and transmit the intellectual capital that we have, sometimes without even noticing.

Likewise, without knowledge, how can we maintain the physical capital that we have received as an inheritance, too often fallen into decay? Africa, today more than ever, needs hydraulic engineers, renewable energy specialists, mining engineers and geologists to exploit its immense natural resources. We also need to better protect our inventions. The world observes us – to say that it spies on us would be too strong – and tries in good industrial logic to take over what belongs to us, sometimes legally, sometimes illegally. I think of Ethiopia’s long battle against the American giant Starbucks to recover the appellations of origin of its finest varieties of coffee: Yirgacheffe, Sidamo and Harrar. In this case, David defeated Goliath, and these three names which evoke voluptuous perfumes are now registered Ethiopian trademarks. As a result of this initiative, some 15 million people living in the coffee sector in Ethiopia have seen their incomes increase, while the state has exported more. Ethiopia is today one of the leaders of the continent in the protection of intellectual property.

Like the Nubian vault, coffee is a heritage, both genetic, agricultural and cultural, which we must preserve and develop. We must continue to invest in the production of knowledge. The State, with its public sector, the private sector and citizens, each at their level, must participate in this effort. Let us not doubt that the profits, which seem sometimes impalpable, will eventually bring about a sound and stumbling effect, as shown by these two examples.

AFR100.org: Celebrating commitments to restore more than 75 million hectares of land across Africa

Johannesburg, May 18 – The African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100) launched a new web platform today – AFR100.org – to celebrate and advance the efforts of 22 African countries that have committed to restore more than 75 million hectares of degraded and deforested land.

The new site, available in English and French, gives visitors unprecedented access to knowledge and information about restoration efforts in the sub-Saharan countries. Africa has the largest restoration opportunity of any continent in the world – more than 700 million hectares of degraded land, or an area the size of Australia. This degraded land can be restored to forests or mosaic landscapes that are a mix of trees and agriculture, providing many benefits.

AFR100 is a country-led partnership to restore degraded and deforested land in Africa. AFR100 and its web platform AFR100.org respond to the African Union mandate to bring 100 million hectares into restoration by 2030. The initiative was launched in 2015 by the NEPAD Secretariat, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) via GIZWRI, and the World Bank. AFR100 is supported by funds from BMZ and the World Bank and was established as part of the African Resilient Landscapes Initiative, and contributing to the global commitments of the Bonn Challenge and New York Declaration on Forests.

Mamadou Diakhite, AFR100 Secretariat Manager at NEPAD Agency announced the launch of AFR100.org: “This website will provide our partners and online visitors with a vast amount of immediate, easy-to-navigate content detailing the exciting restoration work taking place across the continent.

“This includes beautiful photographs and in-depth information prepared by the AFR100 member countries who take pride in their restoration efforts.”

Through AFR100, national governments, public and private sector partners, international development programs and local communities will restore productivity to deforested and degraded landscapes to improve livelihoods.

Wanjira Mathai, co-chair of the Global Restoration Council and chairperson of the Green Belt Movement, said: “The importance of AFR100 to the daily lives of communities across Africa cannot be overestimated.

“I am moved by the countries that have already committed to transforming their landscapes and securing the future for generations to come.”

Sean DeWitt, Director of the Global Restoration Initiative at World Resources Institute (WRI) added: “The site reflects the high level of commitment from member countries of the AFR100 partnership, and will enable partners to share experiences and good practices, as well highlighting the work of restoration champions from across the continent.”

The new site complements related tools and resources found at InfoFLR.org, as well as the websites of the Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative, and the World Bank among others.


Information on AFR100:

AFR100 (the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative) is a country-led effort to bring 100 million hectares of deforested and degraded landscapes across Africa into restoration by 2030. The initiative connects political partners—participating African nations—with technical and financial support to scale up restoration on the ground and capture associated benefits for food security, climate change resilience, and poverty alleviation. The initiative was launched in 2015 during the margins of COP 21 in Paris. AFR100 contributes to the Bonn Challenge, the New York Declaration on Forests and Sustainable Development Goal 15.

Media contacts:

Teko Nhlapo, Communication & Advocacy, Sustainable Land Management at NEPAD Agency, tekoh@nepad.org and +2783 596 8752

Natasha Ferarri, Communications Officer, Global Restoration Initiative at WRI, Natasha.Ferrari@wri.org and +447788594911


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Manifesto for 2016

As the Chief Executive Officer of the NEPAD, I would like to wish you a very happy new year. Across the African continent, my prayers and my thoughts are with you. This year presents many challenges to Africa, and promises to be quite busy with numerous presidential elections. In Burkina Faso and Nigeria, people are now experimenting political change through the ballot. The presidential and legislative elections in these countries have caused tremendous enthusiasm. They represent hope for the African people who are conscious of their rights, but also a serious warning for those who would think of violating them.

However, this must not make us forget the situation in other countries, such as in Burundi, which is facing a serious crisis that will not be without consequences on a number of levels. To all those who are suffering, I extend my heartfelt wishes for peace. I hope that year 2016 will see the end of the crisis in Bujumbura and the advent of a new era. In other countries, the future relies on the many presidential elections that the continent will host this year: in Benin, Niger, Ghana, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Chad, the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe, Congo Brazzaville, DRC, Gabon, Zambia, Uganda, Djibouti and the Comoros. Many elections and various issues, however that should not hide a very important pan African reality: the challenges in Africa are extremely various and highly complicated (human, social, economic challenges, etc …) and the African miracle will not happen by itself. Economic growth is bound to slow and there are numerous turbulences ahead. Here are a few:

– China, which accounts for 30% of global growth, is in the process of rebalancing its economy. This is not without consequences for the continent: the country is a major consumer of raw materials from vulnerable African countries (Sierra Leone, Zambia …). It is also feared that Chinese financial flows to Africa might decrease. How Africa will manage this downturn is now one of the main questions our continent is facing.

– The end of the commodity super cycle is also likely to weigh on growth. The drop in oil prices and other raw materials dries up a major source of revenue and puts a strain on the budgets of many states.

– The sustainability of African debt is also in question: in 10 years time, the continent has raised $ 36 billion. But according to Standard and Poor’s, debt repayment services (which already constitute a major component of the budgets of African states) could increase significantly, mainly because of monetary tightening initiated by the FED and because of the low price of commodities. This will lead states to make tough choices, from the amputation of certain infrastructure investments to the postponement of social services. I make the wish that the necessary budgetary rigor will not impact expenses which are vital for the future of African countries: for example, infrastructure investments are profitable and help diversify the economy. Also, the education sector should not suffer from this: African younger generations need to be trained to ensure the continent’s future. I invite current and future leaders to manage their budgets responsibly.

African governments will therefore have to steel themselves to diversify their financial resources and to reclaim industrial development policies. I will address this subject here in another article this month. Also, throughout the month of January, I will discuss other issues related to the challenges that will face the continent such as the agricultural challenge, the fight against terrorism or the importance of debt sustainability.

For now, I would like to address future leaders: the future of our continent and its people is in your hands. Beyond your accession to power, despite the challenges and temptations, my wish for 2016 and for the years to come is that you always keep in mind that not only your people but Africa and the wider world are counting on you.