Tuesday, 31 May 2011


By Jacqueline Muna Musiitwa
When engaging in African development discourse, I have failed to understand the popular phrase “African solutions to African problems”. It forces me to question what and who is African? Is it all mankind by virtue of humans originating from Africa or someone who can generally be traced to the Negroid race? Is it someone born in Africa? Are “friends of Africa”, people familiar with and passionate about the continent, African? Africans are quick and proud to commend their nations as unique, independent and autonomous yet such rhetoric automatically lumps Africans into a nebulous cluster of an even more nebulous concept. It goes without saying there is no unified definition of African.
Undeniably some problems are common across Africa. But with globalisation and consequently global problems and its countering force, regional integration and regional problems, what are “African problems”? Should Africans still be looking at themselves in isolation from the rest of the world?
Failure to define African problems means there is no “one-size-that-fits-all” solution, a fact I wish development partners and policymakers would learn. Without discounting other leadership solutions, this article focuses on political leadership. Why is understanding the notion of African solutions important? Contrary to their claims, it is alleged that African leaders do not solve problems using the “African perspective”. Therefore, it is key to understanding the current African reality. There are many factors that prohibit the functionality of “African solutions to African problems”.
Africans’ failure to accept some responsibility for about 50 years of sub-standard leadership forces conversation to revert to the source of “all” Africa’s development problems: colonisation. Colonisation is also blamed for the degradation of African culture and Africans’ subsequent adoption of a Western viewpoint. This argument has its merits but China was partly colonised by Japan yet the Chinese retain very strong indigenous cultural values in all aspects of life. Further, an African education, that is curricula with Africa-relevant content (unlike the current colonial and predated education systems), is a farce in many countries. As such the standard for excellent education is foreign, not local.
Those with money send their children abroad; it is no wonder little money is invested in local education systems. Whether or not leaders agree with the foreign principles learned, at some point those things learned impact their solutions. Foreign ideas must be understood, interpreted and applied correctly in any given local context, which is not really happening. One is forced to wonder whether such solutions are truly African. Having African leaders make decisions rather than donors is not “African solutions”. African solutions must be based on African philosophy, culture, religion and values, all of which are vaguely utilised today.
It cannot be disputed that urbanisation (the growing cities and rural-urban migration) has a role to play. According to the UN about 67% of Africa’s population will be urban by 2050. Urban living is conducive to children learning from the streets and multimedia (radio, TV, the internet). Local populations are bombarded by international TV, with the exception maybe of Nigerian and South African broadcasts, which are growing in popularity. As if attaching social value to oneself based on how many episodes of 24 or Sex and the City one has watched is not enough, Africans then mimic foreign shows, but act in sensational ways to increase viewership. Big Brother is but one example.
Modernisation is corroding African culture. How are Africans expected to develop authentically African solutions? Or perhaps the culprit is the disintegration of the (extended) family unit (though in countries such as South Africa the nuclear family unit is arguably disintegrating) where families lived in the same vicinity and oral traditions and customs were passed down. Now children are often left to raise themselves or reared by a host of non-parental forces, thus deprived of the traditional experience of African family values.
I am not a political leader but if I were I would not point fingers because a lot of the above describes me. I am black African by birth (Zambian and Ugandan). I was raised in cities. I was not raised in an extended family. I am foreign-educated, well-travelled and have embraced the lifestyle and philosophies of an “Afropolitan” (a cosmopolitan African, with global exposure and viewpoints, who retains a commitment to, knowledge of and passion for Africa). I studied development in India to understand what Africa can learn from a new global powerhouse and increased South-South relations; I studied politics in the US to understand democracy; studied law in Australia to understand the evolution of common law (which former British colonies in Africa use); I work in Rwanda to understand a development model that works.
As a young leader I take into account changing times (that is conducting research and forecasting scenarios rather than repeating incomprehensible and ever-changing development jargon), compare different models, global best practices and universal values to see how best to adapt solutions locally. Yet how best to integrate those into sustainable solutions remains a challenge. My conclusion is, just as there is no one-size-fits-all in development agendas, there is no universal African solution to African problems.
Jacqueline Muna Musiitwa runs Hoja Law Group, a boutique New York law firm that uses the law to bridge the African development gap through advising on deals that create wealth for Africa. HLG advises foreign investors investing in and expanding into Africa and African governments and companies contracting with American, European and Indian companies. She is a frequent speaker and writer on African affairs. 

Saturday, 28 May 2011


Johannesburg 27 May 2011. A coalition of South African based civil society groups have called on Botswana security forces and striking civil servants to exercise restraint, or risk fuelling a severe humanitarian crises. Botswana authorities should instead heed the call from the Botswana Centre for Human Rights asking President Khama to negotiate a peaceful end to union led protests, which have brought public services to a standstill for the past six weeks. The group also calls for the immediate release of all children detained by Botswana state police.
Media reports have documented that over 100,000 public servants, including around 1,500 considered essential workers, have been on strike since 18 April, calling for a 16 per cent wage increase. Botswana civil society groups told South African partners that the protests were increasingly becoming violent as security forces sought to silence the group by "what ever means possible". Several student protestors in Ramotswa, Molepolole and Mochudi, have been arrested following protest action in response to the absence of teachers.
"Against the backdrop of widespread civic action on the African continent, the situation in Botswana is at risk of flaring beyond the current boycott into a severe crisis," said Watson Hamunakwadi of GCAP-SA.
"The government of Botswana and President Seretse Khama, should display principled leadership and play a crucial role in resolving this crisis by engaging union leadership, student bodies and relevant government departments to forge an acceptable way forward," said Phelisa Nkomo, Advocacy Programme Manager, Black Sash.
The Botswana parliament offered in April a five per cent increase in wages, a move rejected by the unions, which has instead stuck to its demands for a 16 per cent wage increase, saying the increase was necessary to offset rising commodity costs. Earlier this month, Botswana President Ian Khama revised the figure to 3 per cent, sighting that the country was recovering from a recession which had left the government with a significant deficit.
Netsanet Belay, Director Policy and Research, CIVICUS: World Alliance of Citizen Participation said the coalition condemned the use of violent force by authorities, and urged both parties to consider a peaceful resolution to the disruption which had caused several school, medial clinics and hospitals in capital Gaborone to close.
"Trade unions must also play their role in advising the students on acceptable conduct within constitutional and legal parameters while striking or engaging in civil disobedience actions," said Belay.
Members of the South African coalition also expressed their full solidarity for Botswana civil society exercising their right to protest.
They also stressed their full support for the Botswana Centre for Human Rights (Ditshwanelo) public call for calm and leadership from the government of Botswana to bring a halt to the ongoing public sector strike that has crippled the country for over a week now.

Thursday, 26 May 2011


On the eve of African Liberation Day, which is celebrated across the continent, His Excellency President Rupiah Banda of Zambia has reinforced his commitment to building a better future for all Zambians.
Saluting the ideals of the day, which commemorates the formation of the organization of the African Unity 48 years ago, the President underlined the huge progress that Zambia has made since independence, becoming a country that prizes the values of freedom, security and stability for all people.
He said: “Zambia is a role model for all of Africa - a country which, through hard work, commitment and partnership, has developed into a place in which we can all be proud.”
President Banda has laboured tirelessly to bring opportunity to all Zambians.  His focus on providing a stable economy and strengthening Zambia’s climate for investment and has helped boost employment and training opportunities, particularly for the young people who are at the heart of Zambia’s future. Indeed, the theme of African Liberation Day is “Accelerating youth empowerment for sustainable development”.
He continued: “The young people who make up 68 per cent of Zambia’s population are a key agent of our nation’s development – which must not be ignored. Our young people are an important human resource which must be harnessed if we are to develop our country; our future lies with them.”
President Banda has highlighted his government’s pledge to continue youth empowerment, through initiatives such as the Youth Development Fund and Citizens Economic Empowerment Fund which ease access to finance for youth entrepreneurs.
He added: “My great hope for Zambia is that we become a country where every single man, woman and child has the opportunity to enjoy a peaceful and happy life, where they can work, learn and, most importantly for the youth of Zambia, help build on the foundations of tomorrow’s Zambia.”
Under President Banda, Zambia’s economy has boomed, supported by his prioritization of health and education policies, which have helped cement the country’s position on the world stage. Now in election year, countries across the globe will be looking to Zambia to deliver a free, fair and peaceful election – something to which President Banda is firmly committed.
President Banda concluded: “On African Liberation Day, I urge all the people of Zambia to come together, regardless of political or social preferences, and celebrate the huge achievements our country has made.  Our future is in your hands – we will build it, together.”

Tuesday, 24 May 2011


Kanni Wignaraja, UN Resident Coordinator in Zambia

THE recently ended 4th UN conference on Least Developed Countries (LDCs) held in Turkey assessed the results of the 10-year action plan for LDCs adopted in Brussels, Belgium, in 2001.
The conference closed with a number of recommendations seeking to halve, from 48 to 24, the number of LDCs during the next 10 years.
The pace and pattern of the movement out of the ‘LDC category’ has significant implications for Zambia in both the immediate and long term. Firstly, it points to a changing development finance landscape for the country, where the traditional sources and uses of Official Development Assistance (ODA) see a transition. ODA will flow more to areas in patterns that follow the middle income countries – for more targeted interventions that look to address issues of inequity and exclusion, to better access global and regional public goods, and for niche areas of market development and job creation.
Newer forms of ODA, including that which flows through public-private partnerships and market driven instruments such as forms of climate financing will also become more of the norm. Zambia will have to ensure it is highly competitive in this new world, and has the policy mix and institutional capabilities to support and sustain such engagements.
Secondly, it can change the very fundamentals of the economic drivers of growth for the country. During the conference, the majority of the delegates of the LDCs, including Zambia, voiced the need for LDCs to have greater access to international markets for their products and appealed to the developed world to support them in building the capacity of their respective public and private sectors’ economic and social institutions. This demand was incorporated into the key recommendations of the conference. Developed countries have been advised to realize timely implementation of duty-free, quota-free market access on a lasting basis for all LDCs consistent with Hong Kong declaration by the World Trade Organization in 2005, make substantial efforts for early conclusion of the Doha trade talks and reaffirm special and preferential treatment for LDCs in WTO trade agreements.
Zambia has a young population, with 46% of the population being under the age of 15. The realization of vision 2030, for Zambia to become a prosperous middle income country, lies in investing in its people and institutions, to raise its bar on human development. The quality of education, sharpening entrepreneurship skills and opening up markets so competition can thrive with government oversight, is key to meeting the needed global standards to attract the right quality of development financing and investments that Zambia strives for, to ensure a level playing field that’s best for the country in an increasingly competitive world.
UN Resident Coordinator, Kanni Wignaraja, noted that in the last 10 years the country has experienced sustained and significant economic growth, averaging over 5%, and while this has pushed progress on some fronts such as in infrastructure development and primary school enrolment, the broader based benefits of this growth must now be focused on improving the lives of the rural and urban poor. As global experience shows, this broad based ‘lift’ to rural economies will establish a higher level of human development and a rise in the overall institutional capabilities of a country, that then attracts and maintains a more predictable and broad-based investment pattern where much of the gains of the new development finance, including FDI, remain to benefit a broader segment of the country.
Thirdly, all LDCs face tough and very real choices, of where to invest scarce resources and what policy reforms and institutional transformations are needed to ensure broad based and more equitable growth. National leadership that looks beyond short term gains for the few, and invests in lifting levels of prosperity for the whole population over the long term, makes the difference. For Zambia to make a big dent in reducing rural poverty and penetrate the regional and global market it must diversify and invest in agriculture and tourism, creating decent work for all, particularly empowering women and youth. “This is where the jobs have to be created; through new investments that diversify the agricultural base, expand agro-industry and foster eco-friendly business” noted Wignaraja.
Wignaraja said that Zambia has such an advantage, given the rich natural resource base it enjoys. The wise and sustained management of these resources, beyond the purely extractive industries, will be at the heart of whether Zambia’s middle income growth trajectory positively impacts all. Eco-tourism, for example, can become a mainstream and highly competitive industry here in Zambia. She said “based on patterns of climate change variability across the world, we know that the protection and regeneration of land and forests to sustain livelihoods and combat the adverse effects of climate change will have an increasing say on Zambia’s development trajectory and attainment of Vision 2030”.
The LDC conference, while asking for the easing of existing regional and global trade barriers, also recognized the need for developing countries to raise the bar on the quality of their export products and services to be able to do so. “For many LDCs, including for Zambia, this translates into modernizing production, going up the value chain, and putting in place a strong quality control system that ensures its products and services meets international standards”, underlined the UN Resident Coordinator. She further noted that a well- targeted marketing campaign that familiarizes the world to what it has to offer, and packages these products must also follow, if countries such as Zambia are to out-bid its competitors in the same fields.
LDCs were further recommended to promote women’s entrepreneurship and remove barriers to investment, securing contract enforcement and promoting respect for property rights and promote public-private partnerships. Wignaraja said that the UN system in Zambia, “Delivering as One”, is supporting Zambia towards these sustainable human development goals that underpin the Sixth National Development Plan (SNDP) 2011-2015.  Policy and investment choices that are driven by an inclusive growth will take the country along a middle income path that means better lives for all, including those currently made vulnerable through poverty, HIV or climate change. She said that in support of the SNDP, the UN system in Zambia would promote the creation of decent jobs and skills development particularly for young people and women to be entrepreneurs that benefit from a global and regional market place, in areas of agriculture and tourism.
Zambia was represented at this global conference by a high level delegation led by President Banda. The UN General Assembly convened the First United Nations Conference on the LDCs in Paris in 1981 to respond to the special needs of these countries. Halving the number of LDCs that meet at the next LDC conference in ten years’ time is an achievable goal.


By Ben Kangwa, Press Secretary, Zambia Embassy, Washington DC
On Friday 20th May, 2011, the US State Department hosted a meeting of AGOA eligible countries to discuss plans for the forth coming 10th AGOA Forum to be held in Lusaka from 8th – 10th June 2011.. The Forum is the only Ministerial event held annually between the United States and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Ambassador Johnny Carson spoke to the African Diplomatic Corps along with Her Excellency, Mrs. Sheila Siwela, Zambian Ambassador to the United States of America.
They were joined by a distinct mix of other US officials, the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), Non-Governmental Organizations to solicit input on the successful hosting of the AGOA Forum.
Ambassador Carson told the gathering that US Secretary of State, Mrs. Hillary Clinton would lead more than 250 members of the government delegation to Lusaka and that she would accompanied by the United States Trade Representative (USTR),  Ambassador Ron Kirk
“Their participation in the Forum will demonstrate the US commitment to the role that Africa plays in the international community,” he stated.
He said trade and economic cooperation were two of the many important links between Sub Saharan Africa and the United States of America, which he said share historic bonds and common objectives.
Ambassador Carson said in order to ensure widest possible US government participation, State Department had briefed Congress on Forum planning and asked for their input.
He also added that there had been very close contact with members of the civil society and the private sector to ensure that their concerns were captured.
The Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs told his audience that the AGOA Forum was the only annual US Ministerial with Sub Saharan Africa.
He said the Trade and Development Act of 2000, which created AGOA, mandated an annual trade and economic cooperation forum with eligible sub-Saharan African nations to discuss expanding trade and investment relations between the United States and sub Saharan Africa.
Ambassador Carson then praised the government of Zambia for doing “an excellent job” in organizing what he predicted would be a dynamic Forum.
He also thanked the African diplomats for providing their suggestions on the AGOA Forum and in particular Ambassadors Mrs. Sheila Siwela and Mr. David Rantekoa (Lesotho) for their work to make the event a success.
Concluded Ambassador Carson,” We appreciate the input that each of your governments has provided throughout the planning process. I believe that the planners have addressed most concerns, including many of the issues and topics that have been proposed.”
In her briefing, Ambassador Mrs. Sheila Siwela, expressed the Zambian government’s appreciation to the United States government for the opportunity given to Zambia to host the AGOA Forum.
She also expressed gratitude to fellow Ambassadors and diplomatic staff of AGOA eligible Embassies in Washington DC for their continued support that had been rendered during the preparatory process.
Ambassador Siwela acknowledged that the task of preparing the AGOA Forum meeting had been a challenge more so that it had to be done within seven months as opposed to the traditional one year.
She also acknowledged the aspect of the preparatory process, recalling the interface role the Zambian Embassy in Washington DC played between the Zambian government and the AGOA eligible Embassies in Washington DC from conceptualizing the theme to the formulation of the AGOA program
Ambassador Siwela stated that the AGOA Forum to be held in Lusaka had generated keen following and interest up to the highest office in the land.
It was for this reason that the National Steering Committee headed by Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet Mr. Evans Chibiliti had done an excellent job to ensure that the Forum is a success.
On his part, Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) Vice president for Business Development, Mr. Tim McCoy briefed the gathering that his organization had been designated by that for the first time, the private sector and civil society sessions are combined this year, giving participants a wider range of topics to explore with business and civil society leaders from the US and across Africa.
He said the private sector/civil society session will consist of opening and closing plenary sessions, luncheon and about 10 breakout sessions.
Mr. McCoy noted that since 2001, Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) has been involved in planning the private sector session at the AGOA Forum that takes place on the margins of the AGOA Ministerial meetings.
“This year again, CCA has been designated by the US and Zambian governments as the US coordinator for the private sector session and the International Trade Exhibition”, he said.
The Zambia Association of Manufacturers on the other hand, is serving as lead for the Zambian private sector mobilization for the Forum, with a range of civil society organizations being convened by the Lusaka-based Centre for Trade Policy Development.
For three days in Lusaka, AGOA eligible countries and the US will address the theme “Enhanced Trade through Increased Competitiveness, Value addition and Deeper Regional Integration”