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Category Archives: African Union

Challenges of a creation of an African Court of Justice and Human Rights, by Chofor Che, originally published in French at LibreAfrique.org, 2 March 2015


The African Union (AU) in an early 2015 historical summit with minsters of AU countries reechoed the desire for the creation of an African Court of Justice and Human Rights (African Court of Justice). This was after a lot of contestation with respect to the bias role the International Criminal Court (ICC) has played in judging Africans leaders especially. According to a report by Voice of Nigeria dated February, 03, 2015, during the above mentioned AU summit in Addis Ababa, President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, who was one of the first Head of State to sign the Malabo protocol establishing the new African Court of Justice, was of the view that the proposed African Court of Justice was here to stay and announced that Kenya was going to contribute 1 million U.S. dollars for the African Court of Justice to go operational. The creation of the African Court of Justice brings to mind several concerns. Now that Africa is composed of several states with varying judicial practices, what legal system will the African Court of Justice opt for in her judgments? How are the judges for this court going to be selected and will these judges be independent and impartial from the whims and caprices especially of African Head of States? Are all member states going to support the running of this court financially or will the court depend on foreign aid as several regional bodies on the continent?

11 African states including Kenya have already signed the protocol on the creation of the African Court of Justice to look into criminal cases referred to the ICC. This revelation was made known to Voice of Nigeria during an interview in Nairobi by Nigerian Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Amina Mohamed. In actual fact, 14 states are supposed to sign the above mentioned protocol for the African Court of Justice to go operational. Kenya has sworn to lobby more African states to sign this protocol on the creation of the African Court of Justice. According to the above mentioned report by Voice of Nigeria, Kenyan President purports that the establishment of the African Court of Justice will put in place a wider African transitional justice police framework.

There is no gainsaying that the African Court of Justice will have to grapple with the application of justice which flows from several legal systems especially civil law and common law. Africa is composed of states with varying legal systems when it comes to justice especially in adjudicating over crimes against humanity.

Experience has shown that the judiciary in Africa is still not adequately independent. Judges are still appointed by Head of States. Even at the regional level judges especially at the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights are endorsed by their Head of States. This in actual fact remains an aberration to the independence and Impartiality of decisions on the continent and obviously with respect to the envisaged African Court of Justice. Some analysts argue that the African Court of Justice may be a medium for the impunity of African Head of States and statesmen. These analysts also argue that because of the inadequate independence and impartiality of judges at the African Court of Justice, African leaders will continue to unconstitutionally modify state Constitutions so as to remain in power.

The continent already boasts of an African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The continent also boasts of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights amongst several regional judicial institutions. There is a tendency that the creation of the African Court of Justice will emanate to the duplicity of tasks with respect to judging crimes against humanity.

African leaders have not been able to adequately finance the AU and her institutions. The AU for instance depends greatly on foreign aid which makes the operation of affairs of this institution dependent on the West. Although Kenya has pledged to finance the African Court of Justice with 1 million US$, this institution will in the long run also depend on foreign assistance just like the AU. Decisions of this judicial body will thus be wanting.
There is equally a tendency for the continent to be isolated in an époque of globalisation. The creation of the African Court of Justice should not be a leeway for the continent not to partake in world affairs especially doing business with the West.

If African Head of States want just a Court of Justice which mirrors domestic courts which are currently mired with inadequate independence and impartiality, then this new judicial institution would just be a way of escaping from international justice and will defeat the purpose of its creation. The African Court of Justice needs to be adequately independent and impartial. This judicial institution needs to be financially independent. This judicial institution needs to also be able to judge African Head of States without fear or favour especially those who continue to unconstitutionally manipulate state constitutions.

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Posted by on March 4, 2015 in African Union

 

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The African Union’s illusory quest for financial independence by Asanji Burnley and Chofor Che, published at Africanliberty.org , 15 February 2015


In an op-ed by Gulfnews.com dated the 1 of February 2015, African leaders teamed up in Addis Ababa the capital of Ethiopia in a bid to seek for solutions for an independent African Union (AU). After a two-day summit which took place at the AU’s headquarters ironically built by the Chinese, African leaders proposed new taxes on hotel stays and airline tickets in a bid to finance the AU. Analysts estimate that this move would raise about $730 million dollars a year. AU officials are also optimistic that an additional half-a-cent tax on SMS exchanges would bring in $1.6 billion. They are hoping to see the AU finance its projects and operations to the tune of 65 per cent by 2016. The AU has for long now depended on financial assistance from the West to accomplish missions on the continent, reason why this international body has been faced with a lot of criticisms. Though it is imperative for the AU to be financially independent, one begins to wonder if the right move to financial independence is by imposing heavy taxes on improvised African citizens.

Gulfnews.com opines that the AU was once seriously financed by assassinated Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who was bent in making this institution an opponent to Western dominance. Presently, the AU which is made up of 54 member states gets only 28 per cent of its half-billion dollar operational budget from these members. 72 per cent of the AU’s operational budget is obtained from international donors especially from the European Union (EU), the World Bank, China, Turkey and the United States of America (USA).

Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe, notorious for his ‘tug of war’ with the West, and who is currently the AU’s chair observed that “Over 70 per cent of our budget is foreign funded. This is not sustainable,” This position was corroborated by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who has also been involved in a brawl with the West after being charged by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity. President Uhuru Kenyatta added that dependence on foreign financing was a “profound handicap and an impediment to the continent’s momentum”. According to Kenyan President, it is time for Africa to affirm “its independence and sovereignty more robustly”.

AU analysts argue that a financially viable AU would make this institution administratively and financially dependent. Major donors like Egypt and Libya would not have to chip in huge amounts of money for the running of AU projects and operations. Pan-African Youth Union (PYU) leader adds that the AU would thus be in a better position to make strategic and speedy decisions. He adds that “In case of emergencies like Ebola, we need to have the means to intervene quickly and without having to wait for foreign money. Money from donors always comes with strings attached.”

It is thus a laudable idea for African leaders to make the AU financially independent, but the truth is that such a plan remains an illusion for several reasons. Although African leaders have agreed to this ambitious plan, deducting these taxes is not a matter of right but voluntary. What most member states would do is to impose heavy taxes on visitors and citizens. Besides this worry not all member states will adhere to this new measure. For several years now several African states have not been able to furnish financial nor material support to the running and functioning of the AU reason why this institution has shamefully depended on foreign assistance.
Member states must seek for a holistic approach to making the AU financially viable. Charity begins at home so African states must speed up their industrialization process and infrastructure development to attract more businesses and thus more money. The private sector needs to be revamped in all African states which may would also reduce unemployment and boost African economies speedily. African states cannot continue to neglect the agricultural sector and focus more on the mineral sectors.

African governments have to also stop illicit financial flows which is really crippling African economies, despite the much talked about African renaissance. The money the continent loses can indeed make the AU financially independent rather than relying on foreign assistance and taxes.

Asanji Burnley is a Cameroonian diplomat by training and Masters Graduate from the International Relations Institute of Cameroon (IRIC). He is also co-founder of the Cameroon based Central African Centre for Libertarian Thought and Action (CACLiTA). In 2015 he was unanimously voted as President of this newly created think tank which advocates for limited government and free markets particularly in the central African region.

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2015 in Africa Development, African Union

 

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The 23rd Ordinary Summit of Heads of States and Governments of the African Union and African Monetary Fund exaggerated ambition, by Chofor Che, 7 July 2014


The 23rd Ordinary Summit of Heads of States and Governments of the African Union (AU) ended on Friday the 28th of June 2014 after two days of discussions in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. In attendance were the Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), Ban Ki-moon, the Prime Minister of Spain, Mariano Rajoy and the Vice President of Cuba, Salvador Valdes Mesa.

The official theme of this summit was “Agriculture and Food Security in Africa”, but according to Alfredo Tjiurimo Hengari, a Senior Research Fellow at the South African Institute of International Affairs in an op-ed dated the 26 of June 2014, few if any of the decisions during the summit focused on farming or food. He added that this is evidence that summit themes are merely symbolic and are hardly followed by intensive discussions around the subject matter. This notwithstanding, certain sources argue that the 23rd Summit is historic because at the end of deliberations, though much did not focus on farming and food, a gigantic step was made towards the financial autonomy of Africa as a continent with the adoption of the Establishing Protocol and Statutes of the African Monetary Fund (AMF) one of the AU’s Financial institutions.

Founded in 2009, the AMF has as aim to contribute to the economic stability and the management of financial crisis in Africa, giving preference to macroeconomic development and business by promoting trade amongst states in Africa. It is expected to create a common market amongst African states by 2017. Having its sit based in Yaoundé, the political capital of Cameroon, this institution is supposed to forge for a single African currency in a bid to encourage rapid regional economic integration which for the moment remains a dilemma especially with the numerous currencies on the continent. Some analysts even argue that the multitude of currencies on the continent has grossly weakened business between African states.

The putting in place of the Establishing Protocol and Statutes of the AMF arrived at in Malabo on Friday the 28th of June 2014, does not in any way mean that the African continent will suddenly become financially independent. 15 African states need to ratify the statues for the institution to go operational. An organigram for the institution needs to be set up before the recruitment of staff including a Director General.

This is indeed an ambitious agenda my Heads of State who have decided to put the cart before the horse. Many African states are still plagued by precarious financial hurdles such as heavy taxes, trade barriers and corruption. In addition to these hurdles, the Central African Republic remains mired in armed and bloody conflict, Nigeria remains tortured by the activities of the notorious Boko Haram Sect and Kenya is still seeking solutions to the Al Shabab dilemma.

In addition to the various hurdles faced by various states on the continent, Africa is still not a force to reckon with in the United Nations (UN) Security Council. Hengari in his op-ed argues that in light of a meeting which took place in May 2014, UN Security Council reform agenda in the AU remains stalled due to the rigid proposals which propped up from the Ezulwini Consensus. Hengari argues further that concerning the current institutional setup, the AU remains state-centric. While the AU accepts regional economic communities as vital building blocks in regional integration, there is no serious formal institutional rendez-vous with the assembly or the commission.

It is high time for states to resolve domestic issues like barriers to trade, over taxation and corruption. African states need to open up their boarders for trade and not close up boarders under the pretext of fighting illegal immigration just as what has been transpiring between Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon and Gabon.

It is germane for Heads of State to try and resolve the ongoing conflicts on the continent including terrorists’ attacks from groups like Boko Haram and Al Shabab. It is important for the AU to equally engage heads of communities and officials within the frame work of the commission and assembly, especially in conflict resolution and regional integration.

Considering these suggestions is germane for the AU. If such proposals are not taken seriously then the AMF dream may be another waste of time and Africa’s tax payers’ money.

 

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Pessimism still surrounds the ‘Visa free travel in Africa’ initiative, by Chofor Che, 03 June 2014


Africans especially in the Central African region have always wished to travel visa free. Many argue that if this were possible, it would be a speedy panacea to regional integration. How possible and true is this assertion? I wonder.

The ‘Visa free travel Africa’ initiative was launched by Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank (ADB), Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya and Nigerian businessman Aliko Dangote, during the World Economic Forum on Africa. According to an article by Biztechafrica of May 2014, the idea behind this initiative is to encourage travel across the continent by curbing on visa constraints.

The ADB’s Chief Executive remains optimistic about this initiative. According to him, the ‘Visa free travel Africa’ initiative will spearhead regional integration across Africa and speed up Africa’s economic development. Kaberuka however opines that African leaders need to take action to make this happen.

There have equally been panel discussions all over the continent to engineer the ‘Visa free travel in Africa’ initiative. During one of such panel discussions in Nigeria, the ADB’s Chief Economist, Mthuli Ncube, encouraged Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa to harness their developmental drive and make speedy growth on the continent a reality especially by ensuring that Africans are able to travel without visa constraints. According to Biztechafrica, this call was made during a panel discussion on ‘Forging Inclusive growth, Creating Jobs’. Ncube’s topic was on, ‘Driving Competitiveness through Cooperation, integration and Economic growth’.

The ‘Visa free travel Africa’ initiative is a very laudable idea but the continent still faces a lot of challenges especially governance issues. Lack of political will on the part of African leaders remains a gigantic hurdle. This explains why such an initiative is spearheaded by just two African leaders instead by all African leaders. In addition to this, continental bodies like the African Union have not strongly added their voice to the ‘Visa free travel Africa’ initiative. A scenario such as this makes one to wonder if this is not just brutum fulmen (an empty noise) on the part of Kaberuka, Kagame, Kenyatta and Dangote.

In as much as the ‘Visa free travel Africa’ initiative is a laudable one, African leaders are still to curb internal barriers in their various states especially barriers to trade and development. If circulating in various African states remain a nightmare, what more of travelling on the continent. Most states especially states in the Central African region cannot even boast of domestic air travel facilities especially infrastructure. Most of the personnel in African states are not trained with state of the art air travel measures especially ways of combating against terrorist activities. Citizens still have to pay exorbitant air port taxes despite having paid heavy visa fees and purchased expensive air tickets. Such impediments affect the ‘Visa free travel Africa’ initiative’ from transgressing from an ‘initiative stage’ to a ‘reality stage’.

It is thus important for African leaders to bring on board more private actors. True privatisation of the airport sector with minimal control from big governments on the continent can make the ‘Visa free travel Africa’ initiative a reality and thus speed up Africa’s development. African leaders need to curb internal barriers such as heavy taxes in their various states especially barriers to trade and development. Circulating in various African states should not be a nightmare. Most states especially states in the Central African region need to start rethinking their modus operandi on domestic air travel facilities especially infrastructure. Most airports in states especially in Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad and the conflict ridden Central African Republic have been abandoned. It is time for most African states to revamp structures in these airports and begin with boasting domestic air travel before thinking of adding their voice to the ‘Visa free travel Africa’ initiative. Most of the personnel in African states need to be trained with state of the art air travel measures especially ways of combating against terrorist activities. Governments in African states need to also ensure that citizens do not have to pay exorbitant air port taxes especially having paid heavy visa fees and purchased expensive air tickets. If such measures are taken into consideration especially partnering with the private sector, then attaining the ‘Visa free travel Africa’ initiative’ would be possible.

 
 

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Stepping Up Air Transport Safety And Capacity In Sub Saharan Africa, by Chofor Che, published at Africanliberty.org, 18 March 2014


Sub Saharan African lags behind every other region in the world when it concerns airfreight volume. According to statistics from the African Development Bank, measured in kilometers travelled and metric tons the region can only boast of 1.5 per cent of the global industry, whereas the Pacific region and East Africa hosts 35.7 per cent of the air transport industry. Sub Saharan Africa counts only for about 1.5 per cent of the world’s passengers in both international and domestic flights compared to 28 per cent in North America.

On the continent the air transport industry is dominated by three major airlines which include South African Airlines, Kenyan Airways and Ethiopian Airlines. According to a 2013 IOSA study at least 200 African airlines are presently operating in Africa of which only 38 meet global safety standards.

Poor safety records remain the greatest challenge in this industry. According to a Mo Ibrahim Foundation report of late 2013, despite the fact that terminal capacity and runways are usually adequate, surveillance and air traffic control remain a bone of contention.

Another impediment plaguing the air transport industry in Sub Saharan Africa is the cost of fuel. On the world’s stage, fuel accounts for about 35 per cent of an airline’s operational cost. This ranges from 45 to 55 per cent in Africa, making fuel prices in some stations in Africa twice as expensive as what attains averagely in other parts of the world.

Airport taxes in Sub Saharan Africa are also exorbitant. In comparison to several airports outside Africa, passenger’s taxes in Sub Saharan Africa are very high. The ADB purports that passenger landing tax in Accra, Ghana is $ 75 and $137 in Ambouli, Djibouti compared to $14 in Paris, France and $6 in Mumbai, India.

In 2013 Airports Council International found out that air safety in Africa worsened in 2012 to 3.71 Western-built jet hull losses per million flights up from 3.27 in 2011. Sub Saharan Africa continues to have the poorest air safety record in the world despite the recent focus on the Malaysian air plane crash in March 2014 which has rocked the air waves. Most accidents in Sub Saharan Africa take place in two countries, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In 2013 the Africa Strategic Improvement Action Plan was put forth by African states and endorsed by the African Union. This plan is supposed to strengthen regulatory oversight and address safety deficiency on the continent. The idea is to have world class safety performance by the end of 2015.

Sub Saharan Africa needs to translate such action plans into concrete actions. African leaders have been holding meetings with endorsements from the African Union to no avail. It is important for African states to first of all revisit their air safety conditions. Infrastructure is very germane. Most airports on the continent need to meet international standards. The equipments used at most airports in Africa need to be state of the art. The personnel need to be well trained as colleagues in other parts of the world. Corruption at airports in Africa needs to be curbed. It is germane for governments to rectify these ills for better safety conditions and air transport financial gains for the continent.

– See more at: http://www.africanliberty.org/content/stepping-air-transport-safety-and-capacity-sub-saharan-africa-chofor-che#sthash.Wfgwdhg3.dpuf

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2014 in Africa Development, African Union

 

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Rethinking participatory and decentralized rural development in Cameroon, By Chofor Che, 29 December 2013


On the 16th of December 2013, the Government of Cameroon and the African Development Bank (ADB) signed the second phase of the loan agreement termed the Grass field Participatory and Decentralized Rural Development Project (GP DERUDEP). According to the ADB, farmers of the North West region (NWR) of Cameroon are to adequately benefit from this loan. The total amount of the project is estimated at UA 25.600 million. The Government of Cameroon is expected to provide the remaining UA 8.80 million. As a continuation of phase one of the project from 2005 to 2011, it is expected that phase two will be carried out in areas of the NWR with strong production potential like Widikum, a sub division with a growing potential of palm oil production. Apparently phase two of the project is to affect 8 out of the 36 municipal council areas of the NWR. It is hoped that phase two of GP DERUDEP will improve on agricultural production especially the rehabilitation and construction of farm to market roads in the NWR.

The putting into place of phase two of GP DERUDEP has created mixed reactions in the state of Cameroon. Many are optimistic about the success of the project while a lot of Cameroonians home and abroad remain pessimistic about the project. During the weekly broadcast of Cameroon Calling, a prominent programme on political and economic developments in Cameroon on Cameroon’s Radio and Television Coporation (CRTV) on the 29th of December 2013, the coordinator of GP DERUDEP confessed that the State of Cameroon planned to also involve some isolated municipal council areas that were not involved during the first phase of this project; but the ADB imposed a road map for the realization of phase two of this project. All the same he added that concerned municipal councils will be involved as partners in the project especially as they will be called upon to also contribute some small amount of funding towards the effective realization of phase two of the project.

As a keen analyst especially on issues of decentralized development on the continent and in Cameroon in particular, in as much as the intentions of the ADB may be well founded, the impact of GP DERUDEP may not adequately address the concerns of the population of the NWR. First of all several inhabitants contend that several activities earmarked under phase one of this project were not well executed due to lack of technical expertise. Others claim that a lot of money apportioned under phase one of the grant has been siphoned by corrupt government officials.

Financial aid has never been a sustainable panacea for development in Africa. ADB loans and grants as well as financial assistance from other donor organizations have not adequately addressed poverty and development on the continent. Proof of this is that the United Nations (UN) is presently worried about the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on the continent by 2015 because financial assistance has proven to be inadequate for development of the continent. Rather than signing loan agreements, which will only enrich few corrupt officials, empowering municipal councils may be the way to go. Municipal councils definitely need to be given substantial administrative and financial autonomy so as to take charge of rural development. The country does not have an adequate financial equalization formula, which can curb the imbalance between rich and poor municipal council areas. A council like the Widikum Council in the NWR could benefit from training of appointed and elected staff on the conception and the management of rural projects especially in the production of palm oil. This municipal council as well as other municipal councils in the country could also reinforce the role of women in top management of their council areas. Job creation for youth and women should be a priority of such partnerships between international organizations, central governments and municipal councils. Cameroon is blessed with rich natural and human resources and does not have to rely so much on financial assistance from international donors. If only the state could take some of these suggestions into account rather than depend on foreign aid then the state would realize some improvement in participatory and decentralized rural development.

 

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Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Call for an African Union resolution on the use of drones in Africa


Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Call for an African Union resolution on the use of drones in Africa.

 

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