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The Grand Inga Dam Scheme: Dreams and Nightmares for the local communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Africa as a whole, 14 September 2016, by Augustin Nguh


Background
The Grand Inga is the world’s largest hydropower scheme and it is proposed on the Congo River in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It is a part of a greater vision by the international economic community to develop a power grid across Africa that will spur the continents industrial growth. It is a priority project for a number of African development organizations, including the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the South African Development Community (SADC), East African Power Pool (EAPP), Africa’s largest power utility- ESKOM, among others. The Grand Inga could generate up to 40000 MW of electricity, over twice the power generation of the Three Gorges Dam in China, and more than a third of the total electricity that is being currently produced in Africa.

 
In design, the Grand Inga is very complex and consists of eleven dams and seven hydropower generation stations, of which the Inga 3 Basse Chute (Low Head), with a designed capacity of 4800 MW is the first phase. The sum of US$ 14 billion is held to be the estimated cost of constructing Inga 3. Of this sum, the World Bank approved a grant of US$ 73.1 million. This grant will finance the technical studies and legal work to prepare for the construction of the dam, which was expected to start in 2016 and take seven years http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2014/03/20/world-bank-group-supports-drc-with-technical-assistance-for-preparation-of-inga-3-bc-hydropower-development . With the Grand Inga project supported by the international economic community and the government of the DRC, the following questions begs answers:: Why was the Grand Inga dam proposed? Will it be of any benefit to the local communities in the DRC? This article attempts to advance the reason for the project and provide a glimpse of the socio-economic situation of the DRC and issues the Grand Inga scheme will not address in the hope of providing some answers to the questions.


Why was the Project proposed?

With a price tag of over $80 billion, the Grand Inga dam was proposed to narrow the energy gap in Africa. It is common knowledge that Africa faces a huge infrastructure and energy gap which has contributed to the continent’s slow economic development and poverty http://www.barcelonagse.eu/tmp/pdf/ITFD10Africa.pdf . According to the World Bank’s claim, Africa’s infrastructure funding gap is $ 93 billion per year until 2020, and 40% of this is for power needs. A World Bank’s study, (“Infrastructure: A Time for Transformation”) conducted in 24 countries, estimates that the poor state of infrastructure in Sub-Saharan Africa cuts national economic growth by 2 percentage point every year and reduces business productivity by as much as 40 percent.http://www.infrastructureafrica.org/system/files/Africa%27s%20Infrastructure%20A%20Time%20for%20Transformation%20CHAPTER%201%20SPENDING%20NEEDS.pdf.

Surprisingly, Africa has a huge potential for all forms of energy. The DRC in particular, is endowed with immense natural resources, whose development has failed to lift the majority of its citizens out of abject poverty. Proponents of the Grand Inga project (mainly African governments and development organizations) argue that the Grand Inga scheme will provide cheaper and readily available energy and allow Africa’s industrial and manufacturing industry to take off. The World Bank, one of the funders of mega-dams around the world, argues that a new generation of mega-dams, such as the Grand Inga, could ‘catalyze very large benefits to improve access to infrastructure services’ in Africa. This view has been shared and promoted by Eskom ( the South African electricity provider) and NEPAD. In the words of a former top executive of Eskom, “Africa urgently needs energy to lift its people out of poverty and deliver sustainable development. The Congo River offers enormous possibilities for doing this.” While implying that the project will have a trickle-down effect to benefit the poor, he added that “ Hydroelectricity from the Congo could generate more than 40,000 MW enough to power Africa’s industrialization with the possibility of selling the surplus to southern Europe.” Theoretically, this may be true. In practice, however, account must be taken of the myriad of risks. These include technical challenges such as poor maintenance, metering and high transmission and distribution losses, as well as non-technical risks, including theft and corruption at all levels, associated with a project of this magnitude, and the unstable political situation of the country. All these challenges are evident in the Inga I and II dams.

In the years following independence, under the Mobutu regime, the Inga I (351 MW) (1972) and Inga II dam (1424 MW) (1982) were built, even though feasibility studies had found both projects uneconomical and in excess of the country’s electricity needs at that time. Neglect, financial mismanagement, years of war and siltation caused the Inga dam’s turbines and associated electrical infrastructure to deteriorate long before their expected lifespan. By 2002, the dams were producing only 40 % of their capacity. Within 10 years, poor maintenance, theft and the ravages of the tropical climate caused the transmission lines to deliver less than half the electricity it was designed to carry. http://www.internationalrivers.org/resources/congo%E2%80%99s-energy-divide-factsheet-3413

 

The Grand Inga Project vs. Local Communities.

According to a study conducted by Seraphine Wakana and Ernest Bamou of the African Development Bank and UNDP respectively, the DRC, in 2013, witnessed an economic growth with gross domestic product (GDP) of 8.1% (against 7.2% in 2012). This growth was driven by investments in the mining sector, improved agricultural productivity and infrastructure reconstruction. A rationalized macroeconomic policy and stable commodity prices has helped to contain inflation which in 2012, stood at 2.7%. The exchange rate has depreciated slightly (0.3%). Foreign exchange reserves at the Central bank has been increased thanks to proper co-ordination of monetary and fiscal policies and export earnings http://www.africaneconomicoutlook.org/fileadmin/uploads/aeo/2014/PDF/CN_Long_EN/CongoRD_EN.pdf

Despite the recorded economic growth, the DRC still remains one of the poorest nations in Africa and the world, and ironically, one of the richest in terms of natural resources. These natural resources, if properly exploited, would uplift the country from poverty. Very little has been done to develop these resources for the benefit of the people and so extreme poverty still persists throughout the country despite ongoing macroeconomic growth. Most people who now generate income rely on informal trading. The country heavily relies on the outside world for technical capacity to develop its natural resources.

According to recent findings by the World Bank on the socio-economic situation in the DRC, poverty rates remains very high (despite witnessing a fall from 71% in 2005 to 63% in 2012) http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/drc/overview . On the 2014 Human Development Index, the DRC ranks the second lowest (186 out of 187 countries), and approximately 87.7 per cent of Congolese live on less than $1.25 a day http://hdr.undp.org/sites/all/themes/hdr_theme/country-notes/COD.pdf.

The labor market remains very small and real wages are not increasing. There is rampant malnutrition, leading to high infant mortality rates. Very little has been done to improve the quality of education in the country and many children remain far outside the education system. The government of the DRC with the financial support of multilateral development financiers embarking on a project as ambitious and grandiose, the impression one gets (given the current socio-economic situation of the country) is that local communities were not consulted and did not participate in the formulation of the project and therefore their needs and aspirations has been side-lined or disregarded. The feasibility study for Inga 3 was supposed to be published and presented to the public in Kinshasa in June 2012 but was only presented in September and to date, the full document remains confidential. This is in violation of the right for people to be consulted and to participate in development projects that directly or indirectly impact their lives and their right to decide their own development priorities, as recognized by international and regional human rights instruments, notably the African Charter which in its Article 22 states:
‘All peoples shall have the right to their economic, social and cultural development with due regard to their freedom and identity and in the equal enjoyment of the common heritage of mankind.’

 
Proponents of mega dam projects argue that such projects are a catalyst for development. Between 1998 and 2000, an unprecedented global process to review large dams and their development effectiveness took place. In its final report, the World Commission on Dams (WCD) acknowledged that “dams have made important contribution to human development, and benefits derived from them have been considerable…” However, they pointed out that “in too many cases an unacceptable and often unnecessary price has been paid to secure those benefits, especially in social and environmental terms, by people displaced, by communities downstream, by tax payers and by the natural environment”, when such projects are embarked upon.

The Grand Inga project has been heralded as the Holy Grail for electricity one which will light up Africa, spur the continent’s development and lift it out of poverty. On the contrary, this will not be the case. Close to 600 million people http://hdr.undp.org/sites/all/themes/hdr_theme/country-notes/COD.pdf in Sub-Saharan Africa live in a state of permanent power outage. This confirms the fact that Africa urgently needs energy to lift its people out of poverty and deliver sustainable development. However, embarking on a mega dam project (the Grand Inga) is not the best solution to Africa’s energy crisis. According to Rudo Sanyanga of International Rivers, an International NGO working against destructive riverside projects, the Grand Inga project will not benefit the poor or close the energy divide in the DRC and Africa as a whole. Of DR Congo’s 70 million people, only 9% have access to electricity- about 30% in urban areas and an alarming 1% in rural areas. In Kinshasa, the capital city, “there are over 10 million people and less than 30% have access to electricity in a country with so much potential to generate electricity. Connections are intermittent and less than 10% have electricity for 24 hours a day.” http://www.internationalrivers.org/blogs/266/will-congo%E2%80%99s-poor-benefit-from-world%E2%80%99s-largest-dam-project

According to a “Cooperation treaty” signed between the governments of South Africa and the DRC, South Africa is the principal purchaser of power that will be generated at Inga 3 power plant, the first phase of the Grand Inga http://www.southafrica.info/africa/grandinga-200513.htm . The country will purchase 2500 MW of the total 4800 MW from the proposed dam (Inga 3). The remainder will be sold to mining companies in Katanga, southeastern DRC and households in Kinshasa and surrounding regions. The 40000 MW that will be generated by the Grand Inga is meant for transportation through transmission lines to southern Europe and South Africa. This means a substantial portion of the tropical rainforest will have to be cleared, destroying rich biodiversity to make way for transmission lines. In addition, most of the transmission lines will pass over villages without electrifying them, therefore living villagers in darkness. In the words of a researcher with the Institute of Democracy, “Local power grids are not included in the budget. African communities living in darkness are not the intended beneficiaries of the Grand Inga and the 500 million people who have been promised electricity will remain in the dark. “

Besides living local communities in darkness, the Grand Inga dam scheme, it is held, will have severe environmental and social impact. Current designs of Inga 3 and subsequent Grand Inga will result in the diversion of the mighty Congo River. According to some environmental activities, this would create a reservoir that would flood the Bundi Valley (home to 30,000 villagers) displacing its inhabitants, affecting local agricultural lands and natural environment and may cause huge emissions of greenhouse gases that would contribute to global warming.

 
The assertion that the Grand Inga project will have a trickle-down benefit has also been held to be lacking in substance. According to Dr. Sanyanga, “the assumption being promoted is that by developing Grand Inga and exporting or supplying the mines, it will then create new jobs in the mining industry and it will trickle down to the community—but it has never worked.” When the Inga I and Inga II dams were built, the villagers on whose lands the dams were built were promised jobs, electricity and water. This never happened. Six communities were forcibly displaced without compensation and have never received any payment till date. This goes to confirm a 2004 report co-produced by International Rivers and the World Energy Council in which it is stated that:
“Investments in centralized, capital-intensive conventional energy enterprises such as (…) large dams largely benefit high and middle-income urban communities, commercial establishments and industries through electricity distributed through power grids. Poor, dispersed rural communities that are far from the grid rarely benefit from such investments.” Therefore, the Grand Inga project will have no trickle-down benefits to help local communities in the DRC and Africa in general fight against poverty. This in contravention of the peoples’ right to benefit sharing, arising from activities taking place on their land, especially in relation to natural resource exploitation.

Conclusion and recommendations

Since the turn of the century, new and traditional financiers have increased their funding for infrastructure projects especially in Africa, with China being the biggest provider of non-traditional finance for infrastructure on the basis of ‘resource for infrastructure’ or R4I http://www.barcelonagse.eu/tmp/pdf/ITFD10Africa.pdf. A report by International Rivers titled “Infrastructure for whom?” http://www.internationalrivers.org/files/attached-files/infrastructure_for_whom_report.pdf notes that Infrastructure has become a buzz word in current development debates. In November 2011, the Group of 20 (G-20), the World Bank and other multilateral development banks prepared new strategies for infrastructure development, with more emphasis on strategic regional infrastructure projects such as large dams and transport corridors. They proposed to make such projects attractive for private investment through public guarantees and other incentives. Centralized infrastructure projects with private participation (it is argued) improves the delivery of services and lowers the costs of services such as electricity http://www.ppiaf.org/sites/ppiaf.org/files/publication/Attracting_Investors_to_African_PPP.pdf. The Grand Inga dam scheme has been held to be illustrative of this approach. However, as seen from the preceding paragraphs, this ambitious project is a nightmare for local communities and environmental and human rights activities, given that is is plagued with environmental and social flaws that needs to be addressed, requiring extensive consultation and participation of the Congolese people. The negative impacts of mega dam projects has been well researched and document. However, the funders of this project seem not to have learned any lessons from the bad experiences of such projects. The following recommendations, if taken into consideration would be instrumental in closing the energy gap and advancing the country’s development:

Investing in decentralized power supply projects
There is not prosperity without infrastructure. However, infrastructure does not necessarily benefit the poor. Centralized projects have often had massive social impacts on local communities, but their benefits have largely bypassed the rural people, as will be the case with the Grand Inga. The Grand Inga is not a solution to uplift the DR Congo from its current socio-economic predicament. If the World Bank, African Development Bank and the government of the DR Congo truly wants to close its energy gap and spur the country’s development, then the US$80 billion and rising cost for the Grand Inga should be invested in decentralized power supply project. This includes small and medium scale hydro across the country as well as alternative energy sources such as solar energy. Peter Bosshard, Policy Director of International Rivers, holds that “Solar, wind and micro-hydropower are more effective in reducing energy poverty in Africa and do not suffer from cost and time overruns that are typical of large dams.” The DR Congo has a large potential for small and medium-sized hydropower projects, which are more effective at providing energy to the poor, have modest social and environmental footprint and can be built quickly. Small hydropower projects are already generating power in Eastern Congo. Very little has been done to develop other energy alternatives (Solar, wind, geothermal and biogas) in the country. In terms of solar energy potential, the DR Congo is in a very high level sun belt where values are between 3240 and 6000 watts-peak/m2/s. This makes installation of photovoltaic systems viable in most parts of the country (http://www.helio-international.org/VARRDC.En.pdf ).

Curbing corruption

The DRC has to thus revisit its anti corruption strategy especially with respect to hydroelectric projects such as the Grand Inga Dam hydroelectric project. Government officials commissioned to undergo compensations need to be well trained. There is equally a need for mixed commissions which include anti corruption experts, members of the companies carrying of the projects, representatives of the populations like Mayors and Parliamentarians and Senators. Such measures may go a long way to curb corruption.

Create an Enabling Environment for Private Sector Participation
Recently the energy sector of the DRC has witnessed the advent of new actors with the goal of providing cheap off-grid electricity to the people. Several companies have began redistributing solar products. However, the market for them is typically expensive. These companies usually supply sell their products in the cities whereas the real clients are in the rural areas. To address this situation, several companies have created non-governmental organisations (NGOS) to promote solar products in rural markets in order to avoid fiscal measures. It should be stated that the private sector is evolving in a difficult environment due to socio-political crisis that the DRC has been facing for the last 30 years, a situation which discourages private investors and public assistance in development. Registered companies that offer energy solutions to the population have not been able to develop adequately. The government should encourage and motivate the private sector to expand its activities , given that the investment required to promote off-grid lighting technologies in the informal sector is presently unavailable.

Successful Rehabilitation first

Rehabilitating Inga I and II as well as its transmission lines has been argued by some to be a good option for the government of the DRC to embark in order to close the energy gap and spur the country’s development. However, attempt at this option has not been successful. In 2003, the World Bank calculated that the DRC power grid including the dams and transmission lines could be rehabilitated for less than US$200 million and be completed by 2007. However, the Bank overlooked the extent of degradation of the dams, transmission line and other critical infrastructure in their assessment. Consequently, in 2007 the Bank approved a $297 million project to fully rehabilitate the dams. By 2011, very little has been done and additional cost overruns identified totaling to over US$ 1. 2 billion over the past ten years and the project is not close to being finished. http://www.internationalrivers.org/resources/congo%E2%80%99s-energy-divide-factsheet-3413 .
If the government of the DRC and the World Bank are so keen to developing Inga III and Grand Inga, a moratorium on promoting these dam developments should be adopted until there is evidence of development gains from current rehabilitation. This moratorium should be upheld until post-rehabilitation operation of the power grid has been evaluated and considered successful.

Further Reading
Augustin Nguh Corruption and Infrastructure mega projects in the DR Congo: A recipe for failure? International Rivers, 2013, available at http://www.internationalrivers.org/resources/corruption-and-infrastructure-megaprojects-in-the-dr-congo-8192

Chofor Che, The claws of corruption tear into Cameroon’s Memve’ele hydroelectric project, available at https://choforche.wordpress.com/2016/06/30/the-claws-of-corruption-tear-into-cameroons-memveele-hydroelectric-project-by-chofor-che-30-june-2016/

Foster, Vivien and Briceno-Garmendia, C Africa Infrastructure: A Time for Transformation Washington D.C: World Bank, 2010.

Nathaniet Green, Benjamin K. Sovacool and Kathleen Hancock (2015). Grand Designs: Assessing the African Energy Security Implications of the Grand Inga Dam. African Studies Review, 58, pp 133-158 doi:10.1017/asr.2015.7.

Rudo Sanyanga Will Congo’s Poor Benefit from World’s Largest Dam Project? Available on http://www.internationalrivers.org/blogs/266/will-congo%E2%80%99s-poor-benefit-from-world%E2%80%99s-largest-dam-project .
Terri Hathaway Grand Inga, Grand Illusions? World Rivers Review V20 N2 p. 6-7.

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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ADB’s Africa Information Highway Initiative And The Data Centre Market In The Central African Region – Chofor Che, Published by Africanliberty.org on the 25 August 2014


In February 2014, the Africa Information Highway (AIH) was launched by the African Development Bank (ADB). According to a top executive at the ADB, Ivo Njosa, in an op-ed by SciDev.Net, published in early August 2014, a major reason for such an initiative is that development data from the African continent and the Central African region most especially remains porous. Policymakers, governments, international organizations, private-sector organizations, research institutions, and even ordinary African citizens find it difficult to get viable data on development issues on the continent and especially on the Central African region.

The AIH initiative is composed of two types of portals for each participating state, namely an open data portal and a statistical data portal. According to SciDev.Net, open data and new statistical initiatives are being created to correct long overdue barriers to viable development data access across the African continent. These initiatives promise to improve services and increase transparency and furnish better services.

SciDev.Netopines that since the AIH initiative was launched, it has seen an increase in its users, both from the Diaspora and within the African continent. SciDev.Net adds that the most current published report exemplifies Mozambique’s statistical data portal as the most visited.

Amparo Ballivian, a lead economist at the World Bank purports that open data on states in the developing world can be utilized “to improve the efficiency and coverage of public services in a variety of development sectors such as education, health, transport, energy”. According to Ballivian, such initiatives can assist in the creation of job opportunities, improve transparency and generate new businesses both in the public and the private sector. Ballivian informed SciDev.Net that the purpose of the Partnership for Open Data idea is to put in place an extensive partnership of institutions so that they can work together to have better data and not discredit data provided by these institutions.

Lead consultant at the ADB, Ivo Njosa concurs that the AIH will thus furnish a more fluid medium whereby data can easily be shared. According to this ADB top executive, “Open data portals contain data from national and other sources [such as the WHO, the World Bank, or the UN] and allow users to create and share content directly on the open data [portal] or through social networks.”

This is indeed a laudable initiative by the ADB and there is thus need for collaboration with other existing initiatives on the continent. Franklin N. Nnebe, Managing Director of Nnebe Business Services Ltdattests that data centers in Africa are becoming very important for development. South Africa is host of the most sophisticated data center market in Africa. North Africa comes second to South Africa in the Data center market. Kenya comes first in the data center market in the East African region which ranks third on the continent. West Africa comes fourth with Nigeria being the guru in this sub region with respect to data centers. The Central African region tails the list.

Some of the reasons why the central African region comes last in data center creation are partly because of poor institutional and instrumental measures in place. According to the Mo Ibrahim Foundation Report of 2013 this region is ranked the last with respect to infrastructural development and good governance. It is thus vital for the Central African region to embrace free market ideologies that would enable the growth of more viable data collection centers for better development and peace in the region. There is thus need for a revisit of internal factors like governance and infrastructural development in the region. There is equally a need for a vibrant private sector which can take up the challenge in setting up viable data collection centers in the sub region. Such measures may make the Central African region a top hub for data collection centers in the future.

– See more at: http://africanliberty.org/content/adb%E2%80%99s-africa-information-highway-initiative-and-data-centre-market-central-african-region-ch#sthash.kX8ryGek.dpuf

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2014 in Africa Development

 

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Cameroon’s admittance to the status of a mixed financing nation by the African Development Bank is a bad omen to development, by Chofor Che


On the 9th of July 2014, an op-ed was published by Business in Cameroon revealing that Cameroon has been admitted to the status of a mixed financing nation by the African Development Bank (ADB). This position was corroborated by Cameroon’s Minister of Economy, Emmanuel Nganou Djoumessi. According to Business in Cameroon, this status allows Cameroon to continue to get loans at concessional rates from the African Development Fund (ADF), a subsidiary of the ADB. Cameroon can also have direct access to the national branch of this regional institution.

“The designation of this status by the ADB group shows that it recognises the efforts made by the country,” added Racine Kane, the ADB resident representative to Cameroon. “The ADB has allowed us to access the mixed financing regime. This was not done at our request. It was done in light of the strong assessment the ADB evaluators have done on our economy. This assessment established the soundness of our macro-economic criteria. It demonstrated that we have a low level of indebtedness and we are harnessing our resources. Consequently, we are a country with an emerging economy,” Minister Nganou Djoumessi added.

The ADB has dished out over 99 billion Fcfa to Cameroon to finance 91 projects, since 1972. The Minister of Economy confirmed that the ADB has loaned Cameroon over 255 billion Fcfa, for the month of July 2014 alone.

It is indeed, a shame to know that the government of Cameroon is happy with such a status. This is indeed a bad omen to development especially for a country which has decided to depend on loans from international financial institutions like the ADB. Of the 21 projects currently being financed in Cameroon by the ADB, just 23% are within the private sector. Many continue to argue that the private sector in Cameroon is weak. The truth is that government has not made adequate efforts to make the private sector in Cameroon an equal partner in development. Experience has also shown that financing which has been engineered by the government sector has been siphoned by corrupt government officials and most of this money starched illegally in foreign bank accounts.

Embracing the status of a mixed financing nation by the ADB will only make Cameroon poorer and underdeveloped. Rather than embracing such a status, policy actors tasked with reshaping Cameroon’s economy need to reflect more towards a free market economy rather than an economy that depends on loans from international financial institutions like the ADB. There is no gain saying that since 1972, after having received so much money from the ADB, the country has nothing to write home about. Infrastructure remains deplorable while youth unemployment is alarming. Cameroon needs to beef up the private sector. Taxes need to be reduced and more jobs in the private sector created. The educational system in the country has to also be revisited so as enable graduates to be ‘job creators’ rather than ‘job searchers’. These are some measures which if the government of Cameroon gives some attention to, then there will be no need to be contended about being a mixed financing nation of the ADB.

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2014 in Africa Development

 

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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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Vocational And Technical Skills In The Informal And Rural Sector In Africa – Chofor Che , posted at Africanliberty.org on 18 Feb 2014


The mismatch of skills in the informal and rural sector to the needs of the labour market in Africa has been identified as one of the reasons for serious youth unemployment and the continent’s underdevelopment. According to an African Economic Outlook (AEO) study, the most difficult areas for recruiters to have employees are those areas which demand technical qualifications, such as the oil and gas sector, the mining sector, the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, the manufacturing industry, the agri-business sector and the logistics sector. Most of Africa’s tertiary educational establishments focus on public sector employment rather than on the private sector labour demands. How can the continent overturn this impediment especially as there is much talk of Africa’s renaissance?

Graduates in the fields on humanities and social sciences find it difficult to get employed than those who specialize in the information technology, agriculture and the engineering fields. A 2013 Mo Ibrahim study shows that the social sciences and the humanities have higher enrolment rates and graduates. Those in the engineering, manufacturing, construction and agricultural sectors tail the list in terms of higher educational enrolment and graduation. Just 2 per cent of youth in Africa are studying agriculture and the continent is in dire need of specialists in these fields to move the continent forward especially as agriculture contributes on average 25 per cent of Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Sub Saharan Africa has the lowest share of engineering graduates in the world. Natural resource sectors such as the mining, oil and gas industries employ less than 1 per cent of Africa’s workforce. Despite these disturbing statistics the continent suffers from serious brain drain because employment conditions in these sectors remain vulnerable.

An African Development Bank (ADB) study purports that in Sub Saharan Africa; non wage employment represents more than 80 per cent of total employment for women and more than 60 per cent for men. 9 to 10 rural and urban workers have informal jobs in Africa most of whom are women and youth. The largest employees in Africa are the retail, agriculture and hospitality industries which remain insecure. Almost 90 per cent of jobs furnished by the agricultural sector for instance are vulnerable.

There is therefore a need for joint efforts to make technical and vocational skills more appealing to African youth and women. African states in collaboration with universities and think tanks need to encourage enrolment especially at the university level for specializations like the engineering, manufacturing, construction, natural resource and agriculture sectors. Central governments in collaboration with regional and local governments need to make jobs for instance in the agricultural sector more secured. If these jobs continue to be vulnerable, African youth and women will not be interested in enrolling in areas like agriculture thus a lacuna in the private sector labour demands. As existing public and private employment capacity is too small, investing in the informal and rural sector can be seen as an opportunity if the challenges of wages and productivity alongside education and training are overcome as well. It is thus time for African states to rethink matching of skills in the informal and rural sector to meet the needs of the labour market in Africa.

– See more at: http://www.africanliberty.org/content/vocational-and-technical-skills-informal-and-rural-sector-africa-chofor-che#sthash.0mCUZZbA.dpuf

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2014 in Africa Development, Local government

 

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Repatriating Illegal Financial Outflows Back To Africa For Rapid Development And Renaissance in 2014 – Chofor Che , published 23 January 2014 at Africanliberty.org


Illegal financial transactions (IFT) from the continent of Africa remain an impediment to development. Some of these finances are starched in foreign bank accounts with the complicity of corrupt government officials of African states. According to the Mo Ibrahim Foundation in a 2013 publication, from 1980 to 2009, Africa was a net creditor to the world, with a loss of finances to the tune of about $ 1.4 trillion. Central Africa and North West Africa witnessed an annual outflow of $ 30.4 million during the period 2000 to 2009. It is vital to look at the 5 top states in Africa with the largest IFT per capita. It is also important to examine in terms of volume, the top 5 African states with the largest cumulative IFT during the period 2000 to 2009. As a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), it is also important to examine the 5 states with the largest cumulative IFT from 1980 to 2009, before suggesting how IFT can be curbed to make the continent more developed in 2014.

Global Financial Integrity 2013 of the African Development Bank (ADB) purports that the top 5 states in Africa with the largest IFT per capita are Botswana, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Libya and Seychelles. In terms of volume, the top 5 African states with the largest cumulative IFT during the period 2000 to 2009 were Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Nigeria and South Africa. As a percentage of GDP the top 5 states with the largest cumulative IFT from 1980 to 2009 were Chad, Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea and Seychelles. In most of these states especially the states rich in natural resources, the natural resource sector happens to be the main source of IFT. Oil and gas exploration as well as the mining and forestry industries in Africa are hard hit by IFT. In African states poor in natural resources, IFT usually emanates from mispricing of trade by companies of all sizes. Corruption in the public procurement sector also remains an area which fuels IFT. Such malpractices include serious money laundering activities. The central governments of African states are usually aware of these illicit transactions especially as most top ranking government officials are involved in such malpractices. Those who are most hit by IFT are the poor masses in Africa who do not have a say in such transactions. A majority of poor Africans have to pay the price especially via heavy taxation.

It is thus vital that in 2014, the international community, national governments in Africa and abroad, the private sector at home and in the diaspora, universities and think tanks all put their hands on deck and change the status quo. Carefully rethinking through a strategy on how unaccounted finances starched in foreign bank accounts especially Swiss accounts, can be repatriated back to Africa may be a first step to take. Policy suggestions to halt IFT may also include Double Tax Avoidance Agreements (DTAA) and Automatic Exchanges of Tax Information (AEI). Africa equally needs a complete reform of her customs services and serious anti-money laundering initiatives. It is also important for corruption to be curbed in the management of public procurement. The activities of multinationals involved in oil and gas exploration as well as in the mining and forestry sectors in Africa are to be encouraged, but not at the detriment of ignorant and poor Africans. It is thus vital for central governments to ensure that these multinationals are not involved in money laundering and IFT. Apart from the above mentioned suggestions, effective financial and administrative decentralization of financial and human resources in African states is also germane to curb IFT. If African governments take some of these suggestions into consideration then curbing IFT can be a reality on the continent.

– See more at: http://www.africanliberty.org/content/repatriating-illegal-financial-outflows-back-africa-rapid-development-and-renaissance-2014-c#sthash.Z9zbnHbN.dpuf

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2014 in Africa Development

 

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