Amilcar Cabral: Africa’s Immortal Lion


Colonization in Africa wreaked havoc across the whole continent and disrupted the way Africans lived and it is still felt today. It was a ruthless adventure premised on glorifying European capitalism to the detriment of the African. Portugal gained its share of colonies and effected the same brutality that was felt in the whole continent. Portugal’s evil in Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde made Amilcar Cabral lead the efforts in fighting their illicit and barbaric rule.

Amilcar Cabral was born on 12 September 1924 and was assassinated on 20 January 1973. The entirety of his life was dedicated to fighting for the freedom of Africans in Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde. A military strategist par excellence, he led the most successful liberation war movements in Africa which ultimately resulted in the crumbling of Portugal’s empire in Africa. He was immersed in Marxist theories and this had a massive influence in compelling him to take up arms against the colonialists.

He was the founder of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde; PAIGC). He started his early education in Cape Verde but later on pursued university studies in Lisbon, Portugal’s capital. While in Lisbon, he helped create the Centro de Estudos Africanos, an association of Lusophone African students that included future Angolan president Agostinho Neto. They developed their revolutionary ideas rooted in Marxist theories, tackling colonialism. He was then employed by the Portuguese authorities as an agronomist where he traveled extensively in Portuguese Guinea in carrying out his duties. This allowed him to interact with people of various cultures in the colony.

In 1956, PAIGC was created with Amilcar Cabral at the forefront and they were determined to take up arms in fighting Portuguese oppression. The group’s initial focus at its inception was confined to organizing workers’ strikes. But when the Portuguese authorities massacred a group of striking workers in 1959 they realized they had to adopt a different route – one that entailed fighting them back totally. It was time to fight them back with guerrilla warfare. Author Peter Mendy wrote, “He favored dialogue, but the Portuguese were intransigent. The use of violence was a last-resort measure, and the violence used was selective to avoid or minimize collateral damages.”

Cabral led the fight for independence from 1963 to 1973 as the leader of PAIGC’s guerrilla forces. In the spirited zeal to attain independence for both Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde, Cabral set up training camps in Ghana with the full permission of Kwame Nkrumah. The techniques he employed in training his troops included mock conversations to provide them with effective communication skills to aid their efforts to mobilize Guinean tribal chiefs to support the PAIGC. Guerrilla wars can only be sustained if the guerrillas have access to food, and the ability to live in the land off the larger populace – and Cabral realized that it was of the utmost importance for his troops to fend for themselves. Being an agronomist, he taught his troops to teach local crop growers better farming techniques, so that they could increase productivity and be able to feed their own family and tribe, as well as the soldiers enlisted in the PAIGC’s military wing. It was a brilliant idea that made their war one of the most successful ones in fighting for independence.

Together with the PAIGC, he helped set up a trade-and-barter bazaar system which was pivotal in making staple goods available to the countryside at prices lower than that of colonial store owners. He also set up a roving hospital and triage station to cater for wounded PAIGC soldiers and quality-of-life care to the larger populace, relying on medical supplies garnered from the USSR and Sweden. These initiatives were subjected to frequent attacks from the Portuguese forces.

Cabral was a man of strong ideology that involved the importance of culture as an instrumental feature of freeing the mind of the colonized. He propounded a process of “re-Africanization” by which “Africa’s elite, long beholden to the colonizers for their education and employment, would re-embrace indigenous African culture and reintegrate themselves into mass popular culture”. The goal was to create an independent entity, “socially, culturally, and psychologically—and rally a nationalist spirit in the rural peasantry, whose lives had largely been untouched by imperialism”. His focus was on national consciousness and indigenous development.

In 1972, he formed the People’s Assembly in preparation for the independence of Guinea Bissau. A disgruntled former PAIGC rival Inocêncio Kani, together with another member of PAIGC, shot and killed Amilcar Cabral on 20 January 1973. They were believed to be working with Portuguese agents. They had faced peaceful resistance from Cabral and immediately killed him. The hope had been to arrest him and judge him (summarily) later.

Even though his flesh departed from the planet, his ideas were a force to reckon with in gaining independence from Portugal and destroying the country’s colonial empire in Africa. His revolutionary stance is still relevant today, and he will be immortal to Africa. His Pan-Africanism will live on for eternity.

Joe Slovo: The Unsung Hero of the Apartheid Struggle


Joe Slovo’s contributions towards freedom in South Africa can never be forgotten. He was deeply dedicated to the fight against apartheid and was instrumental in the formation of Umkhonto weSizwe.

Joe Slovo contributed immensely towards the fight for freedom in South Africa. He played a chief role in the formation of the ANC military wing, Umkhonto weSizwe.

The name Joe Slovo is not one that commands immense familiarity. But in that name stood a stoic figure who was determined to fight apartheid at all costs in order to secure majority rule.

In that name stood a hero who made sacrifices for South Africa so that the black man particularly could have a voice in a society that was dominated by brutal, racial white capitalism.

A man who was immersed in Marxist-Leninist ideologies, Joe Slovo was born Yossel Mashel Slovo in 1926. He was born in Lithuania and moved to South Africa when his family emigrated there. He was 8 at the time. His father became a van driver in Johannesburg. Slovo left school in 1941 to become a dispatch clerk for a chemist while working towards attaining a Law degree at the University of Witwatersrand. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree and Bachelor of Laws degree.

He was one of the foremost revolutionary leaders of the apartheid struggle. Some of his military inspiration came from his experience as a volunteer soldier for the South African forces during World War II. From the 1940s, Slovo became an active member of the South African Communist Party, since at that time it was the only relevant nonracial political organization. His law practice made him friends with Nelson Mandela, and by then the revolutionary wheels were spinning as evidenced by the high-profile political trials of that epoch.

He was active in providing legal counsel for black dissidents and helped draft the 1955 ANC’s Freedom Charter. Under the Suppression of Communism Act, Slovo was banned from attending political gatherings in 1954 but he continued to do so covertly. In 1956, Slovo, together with other Congress of Democrats politicians, were charged with treason bu the charges against him were later dropped in 1958.

The military wing of the ANC, Umkhonto weSizwe, came into being through the valiant efforts of the revolutionaries at the time chief among them Joe Slovo. He played a very instrumental role in its formation. He regularly attended meetings of its high command at Lilliesleaf Farm, Rivonia. He was Chief of Staff of Umkhonto weSizwe. He served on the revolutionary council of the ANC from 1969 until its dissolution. When other revolutionaries were arrested in 1963, he was out of the country on an “external mission”. Just a month later, his wife, Ruth First, was detained for almost 4 months.

For 27 years, Joe Slovo campaigned towards soliciting funds for the operations of the ANC from bases in London, Mozambique, and Zambia. In 1982, his wife Ruth First was killed by a parcel bomb in Mozambique. The apartheid government wanted to do away with “communists.”

In 1985, Slovo became the first white member of the ANC’s National Executive. He was also General Secretary of the SACP from 1986 to 1991 and later its Chairperson. In 1991, Slovo served on the National Peace Committee, Slovo also served on the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA). After the 1994 elections, Joe was elected to the cabinet where he became Minister of Housing until his death on 6 January 1995.

Slovo only returned to Johannesburg because of Mandela’s release. He remains a hero who can never be forgotten from Africa’s history books.

The Fallacy of Democracy in Africa: How We Have Been Deceived


Foreign concepts should not be adopted with blind enthusiasm, and Africans should develop their own home-grown solutions to their problems rather than continuously relying on American and European ideas.

Democracy in Africa has often carried connotations of mistrust, deception and lies.

Because these concepts of democracy that Africa sticks to are ideas that originate from the West, the latter keeps on meddling in the affairs of African countries. Picture a scenario where our own traditional systems of political and economic administration had been preserved and modified to fit the current needs prevailing in today’s world. A scenario whereby there are African solutions for African people devised by African people from the original African systems of political administration. An environment where there is less reliance on American and European ideas to stem the tide of problems afflicting Africa.

While there are other African countries which have suited fairly okay to the tenets of democracy, for example Botswana, the majority of countries on the continent still grapple with this idea. Democracy for the most part has failed to provide political answers. And where there are no political answers, it is a guarantee that a legitimacy crisis will ensue, as is the case in Zimbabwe. Elections failed to give the ruling president Emmerson Mnangagwa the trust of the people. Such deficit is due to the way they allegedly tampered with the whole electoral process.

But perhaps the major reason why democracy carries connotations of mistrust is how those who preach it are the ones most disloyal to it. Like, the United States of America. Throughout the course of history, the US has committed some of the most heinous atrocities against mankind and no one dares to stand up to them, for that comes with horrific consequences. The US is the instigator of senseless wars, and still it is the one claiming the moral high ground as regards human rights and democracy. Such hypocrisy is nauseating and appalling. It makes those Western concepts very flawed. The wars in Iraq, Libya were never about democracy but oil. The same goes for Venezuela. And recently, Bolivia. Any country that dares to go contrary to its dictates is assailed with illegal economic sanctions which severely cripples economies. All over the world, the US starts chaos, subverting the will of the people in those countries. It carries out mass surveillance on its citizens and when Edward Snowden blew the whistle on this, he had to flee the country. The same goes for Julian Assange.

Africa is attacked for failing to uphold “democratic principles,” an alien concept that is barely followed by its originators with the religious diligence it requires.

African should be wary of this and develop ideas that are suitable for their own lands without adopting other foreign concepts with blind keenness. Where such foreign concepts are adopted, it should be done in good faith with the care of people at heart. Until then, solely relying on these foreign concepts without reverting to our own ideas will continue yielding fruitless results.

1960: The Year 17 African Countries Got Their Independence


Britain, France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal and Germany may have seemingly apportioned land in the Berlin conference but the macabre truth is they were also sharing the African people on it.

Africa was shared around a table in Berlin like it was a large teapot shaped pizza. Britain, France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal and Germany may have seemingly apportioned land in the Berlin conference but the macabre truth is they were also sharing the people on it. Richard Dowden, director of the Royal African Society in Britain says, “They didn’t want to be seen to be fighting amongst themselves, because then Africans would realize that white men could be killed. Instead they drew lines on a map of places they had never been to, with no regards for existing kingdoms, geography or the people that lived there.”

The effects still reverberate through the entire continent a whole century and several decades after. Africans were killed. Those who survived were dehumanised and appropriated by their colonisers. They fought back and pressurised their oppressors culminating in the great wave of independence in 1960. 17 countries got their independence setting the tone for pro-independence movements throughout the continent.

On the very first of January in 1960, Cameroon flipped over a new page and gained its independence. Togo attained its independence on the 27th of April just two months before Madagascar became a free nation. Four days after the independence of Madagascar, the Democratic Republic of the Congo attained self-rule while Somalia was declared independent a day later. The gusty winds of change were blowing but the tornado was yet to come. In the August of 1960, Benin, Niger, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Chad, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, and Senegal all got their independence. Mali was to attain its independence in September while on the first of October, Nigeria also got its independence. Mauritania closed off this unprecedented chapter on the 28th of November setting the tone for a future where Africans had rights to their homes and a say in the determination of their future.

Why Didn’t Africans Colonize Europe?


Humans have lived in Africa far longer than anywhere else.

Behind the scenes of change

Some Questions Are Better Left Unanswered

If you think you are about to read a collection and litany of racist remarks on African-European history, you aren’t. This is more of an introspective treatise about why different societies transformed differently.

It is perfectly obvious to everyone, whether an overt racist or not, that different peoples have fared differently in history and continue to fare differently.

The other day, I asked my friend, why ancient African societies didn’t send out explorers, missionaries and colonialists to weave our culture in foreign lands and to orchestrate African imperialism and might, globally.

My friend’s response was that it’s because African societies were so comfortable with an abundance of fruits, food, friendly weather conditions and meat from wild animals that they couldn’t think of leaving the continent unlike their European counterparts who were brutalized by harsh weather conditions and scarcity of resources, hence the need to acquire better alternatives from elsewhere.

The question I asked my friend sounds like a simple one, but if you give it more attention and thought, you’ll realize that it not only takes a labyrinthine path to attempt to answer the question but also that there is no satisfactory answer.

I didn’t agree with my friend but since I had no satisfactory answer either, and saw where the dialogue was heading, I chose to change the topic of our dialogue. It was clear to me that by attempting to answer the question, we were unavoidably creating a catch-22.

Antagonistic Issues of Religion, Racism, Sorcery, God, Science, History, Geology, Evolution, Geography, Physics and Spirituality, must all be simultaneously encountered, in an attempt to answer this question.

However, just when I thought I was solely bothered by trivial, alienated and outlandish thoughts about how events unfolded in the past and about why they didn’t unfold the way I thought they should have, I landed on an established writer with not only similar concerns as mine but also thoughtful attempts to answer the question.

I serendipitously landed on Jared Diamond’s book; Guns, Germs and Steel- The Fates of Human Societies.

Jared narrates how he also encountered similar thoughts about why continental events unfolded the way they did but not otherwise. He also admits how complex, a question, this is!

I was particularly interested in the chapter on How Africa Became Black, and I was humbled by a few excerpts, some of which have been paraphrased, from it.

How Africa Became Black

Why do people think of the color black, at the mention of the word Africa, despite the diversity of skin color on the continent?

Africa is the only continent to extend from the northern to the southern temperate zone, while also encompassing some of the world’s driest deserts, largest tropical rain forests, and highest equatorial mountains.

Humans have lived in Africa far longer than anywhere else. One-quarter of the world’s languages are spoken only in Africa. No other continent approaches this human diversity.

To lump people as different as Zulus, Somalis, and Ibos under the single heading of “blacks” ignores the differences between them.

However, African prehistory is a puzzle on a grand scale, still only partly solved. The mind-boggling complexities of Africa’s 1,500 languages were clarified by Stanford University’s great linguist Joseph Greenberg, who recognized that all those languages fall into just five families

Africa’s diverse peoples resulted from its diverse geography and its long prehistory.

After pondering over the above excerpts, and probably grabbing Jared’s book, feel free to reach us with your views on why Africa didn’t colonize Europe.

The Case of Sara Baartman, an African Woman Used as a European “Circus Animal”


The Europeans even disrespected her humanity to the extent of displaying her brain, skeleton and sexual organs in a Paris museum until 1974.

On 29 October 1810, Saartjie “Sara” Baartman, a nineteen year old Khoisan woman signed a contract to be taken from Cape Town to London to be exhibited for entertainment purposes. Though she was illiterate, history allegedly claims she signed the contract with an English ship surgeon named William Dunlop who was a friend to Pieter Willem Cezar and Hendrik Cezar. Pieter Willem Cezar had bought Sara Baartman as a slave at sixteen and she worked for Pieter’s brother, Hendrik. It was here that she was named Saartjie, the Dutch form of Sara. The history of colonialism was so unfair to her that she was stripped of her identity and her bodily integrity. Her story is the full representation of the evils of a hybrid of colonialism, slavery, racism and sexism. The Europeans even disrespected her humanity to the extent of displaying her brain, skeleton and sexual organs in a Paris museum until 1974. She only got a dignified burial almost two centuries after her death, in 2002.

The woman who lost everything…even her name

Sara Baartman was born to a Gonaquasub group of the KhoiKhoi in 1789 at the Gamtoos River which is found in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. Her first major loss was that of her mother who died when Sara was just two and her father, a cattle driver died when she reached adolescence. She got married to a Khoikhoi drummer and had a child together. The child died soon after death. With the coming of colonialism, came conflicts between the natives and the settlers. Her husband was murdered by the Dutch colonists, her first loss to a system that would take her life from her. After working for the Dutch in Cape Town, she allegedly signed the contract which would take her to London to perform. What made her special? BBC says she had what was called “steatopygia”, resulting in extremely protuberant buttocks due to a build-up of fat. What she had, most women can only dream of but at this point, the Europeans were eager to gobble up anything that asserted their superiority and somehow, Baartman was used in that narrative. They used her as a confirmation of the dark skinned people’s inferiority; their insatiable appetite for sex as shown by the size of their buttocks and their genitalia. Promoters even described her genitals as resembling the skin that hangs from a turkey’s throat.

Baartman was first displayed in Piccadilly where descriptions of her treatment reported how she was exhibited on a “stage two feet high, along which she was led by her keeper and exhibited like a wild beast, being obliged to walk, stand or sit as he ordered”. The Guardian rightly says, “The crowd viewed her as little different from an animal.” Like an animal, she was sold four years later to Paris where she was under the control of a wild animal exhibitor in a travelling circus. That she was now a part of his “show animals” leaves a bad taste in the mouth. It is in Paris that Napoleon’s surgeon, George Cuvier saw her and developed a “scientific interest”. His idea of science was proving the superiority of the white people. In fact, he described Sara’s movements as having “something brusque and capricious about them that recalled those of a monkey”. Men like Cuvier propounded the idea of a Homo Sapiens Monstrous; more ape than human, devoid of the intelligence and emotional capabilities the whites were endowed with. The Edinburgh Review in 1863 is famed for writing, “There is no vast difference between the intelligence of a Bosjesman and that of an oran-utan, and that the difference is far greater between Descartes or Homer and the Hottentot than between the stupid Hottentot and the ape.” Such depiction of Africans (particularly the Khoisan) as the most developed ape but least developed human was common.

When Baartman died of what is presumed to be pneumonia, syphilis and alcoholism, George Cuvier made a plaster cast of her body before dissecting it. Her preserved brain and genitals were placed in jars and displayed at the Museum of Man in Paris. They were only removed in 1974 and she got a proper burial 187 years after her death. Her story is so emotional that when the world heard of Beyonce’s plan to write and star in a movie based on Baartman’s life, there was a massive backlash. Jean Burgess, a chief from the Khoikhoi group Baartman hailed from is on record for saying Beyonce lacked “the basic human dignity to be worthy of writing Sara’s story, let alone playing the part”. Similarly, a Kim Kardashian photo-shoot which mimicked contemporary drawings of Baartman was widely criticised. The looks of black women are a thing of politics with body-shaming and commodification forming the lens through which they are viewed. Baartman probably suffered the worst forms of subjugation and dehumanisation at the hands of Europeans. This culture of using looks to perpetuate black women oppression should come to an end. Baartman’s story should not be re-enacted in modern society two centuries after her unfortunate death.

Dear African Leaders, Please Stop Embarrassing Us – Foreign Summits About Africa Should Go


Since 1990, 41 “African” summits have been convened by foreign countries. Africa may have earned a seat at the table but it is still not allowed to speak. The age of foreign designed summitry is over!

Japan 🇯🇵 and Africa 🌍 photo ops

In the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885, European countries sat to discuss and apportion Africa. There was a notable absence – Africa had no seat at the Berlin table. A century later, conversations about Africa are still being held around foreign tables with the slight difference that Africans are now being summoned to take their seat at the table. The agenda is still foreign with the convenient black bodies to make the discussions cosmetically acceptable. The dominant voice at the table is that of foreigners who determine African futures in line with foreign policies. Africa now has a seat at the table but it is not really allowed to speak. So why are our leaders still at the beck and call of foreign powers, embarrassing us all in the process?

Some in business class and others in chartered planes, Africa’s birds of passage, its Presidents, fly from one country to the next guzzling millions and selling off their countries to the highest bidder. Since 1990, the Center for Strategic International Studies reports that there have been 41 regional summits with African leaders, all of which were convened by foreign countries. 13 times, African leaders attended the France-Africa summit, 7 times they attended the Japan-Africa summit, 7 times they attended the China-Africa summit. 5 times they attended the Euro-Africa summit, the India-Africa summit has been hosted 3 times while Turkey and Arab nations have convened summits twice. Not to be left out, Russia and the United States of America have convened one summit each. The hosting of most summits alternates between an African country and the convening state but a lot should still be said of how 26 summits about Africa have been held out of Africa. Are African countries still partners if they are summoned to far off lands to discuss the future of their land?

In August 2019 at the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) held in Yokohama, Japan, the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe boldly declared, “We will do whatever it takes to assist the advancement of Japanese companies into Africa.” For their part, African leaders took to the podium and advertised their countries. President Paul Kagame, for one, spoke of how, “Rwanda has put private sector development at the heart of our strategy for prosperity…” The auction had begun. All leaders in the room may have been earnest patriots looking out for their different countries but good intentions in a dysfunctional setting breed the worst results. The old adage: the road to hell is paved with good intentions rings true here. For starters, an entire continent had been invited by a single country for a conference. Were the different African presidents in the room there for their respective countries or for the continent? Secondly, agenda setting had clearly been done by the Japanese who hosted the summit because it was their idea after all. The foreign policy ambitions pursued were Japanese.

At the 2017 France-Africa Conference, President François Hollande said, “If Africa goes through instability and insecurity, we’ll have a number of consequences from it. If, on the contrary – and we’re trying hard for this –, Africa develops, emerges and experiences growth, stability and democracy, then France, Europe will be able to experience what will be lasting development and growth with that continent. ” In itself, African prosperity was meaningless to the French unless it carried some benefit for Europe. African leaders were converging in Europe to pursue a European agenda which had a momentary marriage of convenience with African prosperity. It might be genius that African leaders are effectively using whatever podium is available to them to advance their interests, or absolute foolishness to pursue the agendas of other countries, flying over seas in chartered planes from impoverished nations to do it. It seems more foolish than genius that Africa’s future is being modelled around foreign policies. Africa should set its own agenda and foreign countries should adjust to it!

Within Africa, conversations are already being had to ensure Africans collectively take part in the sustainable development of their continent. In 2018, the Africa Investment Forum was established to get the capital flowing throughout the continent. At the 2019 edition, the African Development Bank President, Akunwumi Adesina said, “The Africa Investment Forum is the work of a collective, of those who believe in the development of the continent. Africa’s time is now and we want to be more determined than ever! You will soon see Africa at the top of the peak!”

At the end of the conference, 56 Boardroom deals valued at $67.6 Billion had been tabled. It was a 44% increase from last year’s $46.9 Billion. 52 deals secured investor interest to the tune of $40.1 Billion. As President Adesina said, the spirit of the forum was, “Transactions, transactions, transactions. Deals, deals, deals.”

The icing on the cake is these are deals done within Africa on Africa’s own terms. The Forum’s Senior Director, Chinelo Arohu even said, “The Forum is a platform that will change Africa’s investment landscape. Africa is ready to engage on its own terms.” Over 2 221 participants from 48 African countries and 61 other countries attended the forum. There is a gradual shift in the way Africa is doing business and with the African Continental Free Trade Area and the coming 2028 African Economic Community, the future is looking distinctly African. Before these ambitious attempts at redefining Africa’s place at the negotiating table come to fruition, African leaders would do everyone a lot of good if they stop embarrassing themselves by running after every first world country which has an agenda with Africa in it.

Top 10 African Countries to Invest in 2020


African countries are becoming more strategic in creating healthy business environments and chasing investments

Nigeria

Stakeholders attribute the success of viable economies to high foreign investments – which is only possible through creating enabling business environments.

Africa’s unhealthy dependency on its natural resources has been criticized and continues to have a double effect on its economy and people. Leaders in the continent have done very little in the past to create healthy business environments for local and foreign investments; this has also deprived the countries reaping from the numerous international business activities taking place within their borders.

However, it appears the narrative is changing; albeit slowly. Many African countries are becoming more strategic in creating healthy business environments and chasing investments.

To achieve this, they are stepping up to create healthy business environments that provide good value for investments.

In a recent ranking released by Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) tagged “Where to Invest in Africa 2020”, the success of North African nations in creating healthy business environments was evident. Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia all made it to the top 10 list.

Although it has surrendered the first and second positions respectively to Egypt and Morocco, South Africa continues to be a strategic destination for investors coming into the continent.

Interestingly, Nigeria made a comeback into the top 10 this year. Experts believe recovering oil prices, and improved access to foreign currency is responsible for success.

To create the list, RMB made use parameters related to Market Size, Market Growth and Operating Environment Quotient to score the African countries.

The improvement in Egypt’s business environment facilitated through government programs, and a steady increase in investment from the private sector had enhanced growth and assisted in repositioning Egypt on the global investment map.

South Africa fell to third on the 2020 ranking due to its constrained economic growth, but it remains Africa’s bastion of a well-developed financial and capital market.

The report pointed out that South Africa also ranked highly on other financial market depth measures, such as private credit as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP).

The high private credit score demonstrates that consumers have access to a broader range of financial instruments relative to other African countries.

Another country worthy of note is Rwanda, which came in fifth place. According to the World Bank’s operating environment scoring, the country has more than doubled the efficiency of its business environment in less than a decade.

Here are the best countries to invest in Africa 2020:
1. EGYPT

Market size (US$bn PPP): 1,391.7

Market growth %pa: 5.9

Operating environment (1 = poor | 10 = good): 4.5

2. MOROCCO

Market size (US$bn PPP): 330.4

Market growth %pa: 4.1

Operating environment (1 = poor | 10 = good): 5.8

3. SOUTH AFRICA

Market size (US$bn PPP): 813.1

Market growth (%pa): 1.7

Operating environment (1 = poor | 10 = good): 5.5

4. KENYA

Market size (US$bn PPP): 191

Market growth %pa: 6.0

Operating environment (1 = poor | 10 = good): 5.1

5. RWANDA

Market size (US$bn PPP): 30.1

Market growth %pa: 7.1

Operating environment (1 = poor | 10 = good): 6.6

6. GHANA

Market size (US$bn PPP): 211.1

Market growth %pa: 5.4

Operating environment (1 = poor | 10 = good): 4.8

7. COTE’D IVOIRE

Market size (US$bn PPP): 117

Market growth %pa: 6.9

Operating environment (1 = poor | 10 = good): 4.9

8. NIGERIA

Market size (US$bn PPP): 1,214.8

Market growth %pa: 2.5

Operating environment (1 = poor | 10 = good): 3.9

9. ETHIOPIA

Market size (US$bn PPP): 240.7

Market growth (%pa): 7.2

Operating environment (1 = poor | 10 = good): 3.7

10. TUNISIA

Market size (US$bn PPP): 150.8

Market growth (%pa): 3.6

Operating environment (1 = poor | 10 = good): 5.3

The Credibility of International Observers in African Elections, Post Malawi ConCourt Judgement


How they operate or how they determine these things is a formula unknown to most.

It is common practice for international envoys to flock into countries during election periods, especially targeting African nations which are marred with a history of political violence. These groups are deployed to states to ensure that elections are held peacefully, transparently and with no favor or prejudice towards candidates contesting in the polls.

Usually, with no clear outline of confirming that election was credible and held professionally, there is just a press release from these various envoys endorsing or denouncing the manner in which an election was conducted.

According to a United Nations publication – Osagi Women Peace and security it is stated, “observation can help promote and protect the civil and political rights of participants in an election.”

This has been a mandate that has been neglected by the observation envoys.

The recent nullification of the Malawi presidential results brings into question if the international observers really serve their purpose. The Malawian polls were endorsed by various organizations including African Union, SADC, European Union amongst others alleging that it was held in a credible manner.

The purpose of such observation missions is to boost public confidence in the election process and how it is conducted.

After the constitutional court nullified the Malawian presidential election results and taking into account the evidence that was adduced, it is baffling to not that observers t highlight the brazen irregularities that were in the election.

In the same breath, the Kenyan elections 2017 presidential elections were also endorsed by the international observers and those from within the region.

Does this entail that the observers do not come to participate in the said missions for which they are deployed, or is it inadequate training?

The evidence adduced in the Malawian case shows electoral return form figures were changed using Tippex and fake tally sheets were used but the observer missions still endorsed the elections.

There is a need to revisit how they operate to ensure that their mission is to foster and safeguard the democratic rights of the local people. It is quite clear that if a country does not have an independent judiciary corruption and the robbing of elections occurs. The independent judiciary seems to be not only the last line of defence but the only line of defence of the people’s votes and political rights.

Citizens count mostly on the foreign observer missions as they are seen to have no direct interest in the governance of the country. Of late the observer missions just rubber stamp and are clearly not credible or reliable. Without the Supreme court in Kenya and the Constitutional court in Malawi, the people’s democratic rights would have been compromised.

There is a need to revisit the formulation, training, and execution of the duties of observers. There is too much at stake for organizations to shamefully endorse elections that are laced with irregularities and illegalities.

In most cases, the next 4 to 5 years of a nation would have been decided on faulty grounds that could have been averted had it that the observer was qualified and honest.

The security of elections and people’s democratic rights are highly hinged on 3 institutions electoral body, election observers and the judiciary. All institutions involved in the election process should be independent, impartial and highly efficient well-oiled machines. They need to execute their tasks to perfection and they should keep each other in check. The moment one is compromised it can poison the entire process. Leaving a country to live with the election result birthed from a poisoned chalice of electoral misconduct, gross illegalities, and irregularities.

Without proper restructuring, there is no need for international observers as they have slowly evolved into ceremonial envoys for organizations to allege they are doing their part. In essence, it is clear the observers just get deployed and in this is clear with the case Malawi and Kenya.

Betting on Sports in Africa – Why Mobile Entrepreneurs Will Make a Killing


It may come as a surprise to learn that mobile sports betting is growing in leaps and bounds in certain parts of Africa.

It is nothing short of amazing to behold the impact that technology has had on Africa as a whole, particularly with regards to the internet and mobile phones/tablets. Right now, for instance, Africa’s mobile users account for 12% of all the standalone subscribers in the world and 6% of total revenues globally and growing.

In fact, according to the GSM Association, by 2020 approximately 80% of sub-Saharan Africa is expected to have access to smartphones and/or devices, which equates to roughly 730 million standalone subscribers. This is a particularly exciting prospect for entrepreneurs, companies, investors, and marketers involved in mobile-centric businesses and enterprises.

Combined, the internet and mobile devices have given Africans greater access than ever before to each other and the rest of the world, as well as a wide variety of services, businesses, and industries right at their fingertips, including cutting-edge mobile sports betting sites.

It may come as a surprise to learn that mobile sports betting is growing in leaps and bounds in certain parts of Africa, where access to computers and the internet has traditionally been extremely limited, and in many cases, still is.

It is in these nations that smart mobile technology has ‘leapfrogged’ traditional desktop computers and internet connectivity, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the area of virtual or mobile sports betting.

Virtual sports betting is a thriving and constantly growing industry in nations like Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, and a few others. It’s a sure-fire way to print money for canny ‘mobile entrepreneurs’ who have recognized the industry’s enormous and ongoing potential.

Here are a few examples by country:
Nigeria

NairaBET Filled the Mobile Betting Niche in Nigeria

One such entrepreneur is Nigeria’s own Akin Alabi, a locally renowned author, motivational speaker, politician, teacher philanthropist and self-invented mobile betting guru.

According to the legend, Alabi was first exposed to land as well as online sports betting on a trip to the UK. Seeing how popular it was in Europe, upon his return to Nigeria he launched successful business writing and selling e-books on how to bet online.

When some of his e-book readers asked him how they could transfer their funds to foreign sportsbooks, Alabi realized that as there were no Nigerian owned or run online sportsbooks that processed payments and bets exclusively in Naira, here was a niche waiting to be filled.

In 2011 Alabi launched NairaBET, Nigeria’s first licensed online sports betting site, and since then neither he nor the site has looked back, with thousands of registered betting and gambling fans and a multitude of lines and odds from Nigeria and the rest of the world.

For instance, over and above hundreds of domestic and global soccer markets catered to soccer-mad Nigerians, NairaBET offers markets on a wide range of other sports like rugby (Union + League), Table Tennis, Baseball, Cricket, Golf, Aussie Rules Football and Futsal.

In terms of access to online sports betting sites in Nigeria, without exception each of the county’s major mobile/cellular operators – MTN, Etisalat, Glo Mobile, and Airtel – allow their subscribers to access any online and mobile bookmakers.

NairaBET Retail operations are regulated by the Lagos State Lotteries Board. It is also a member of the Association of Nigerian Bookmakers.

To say that Akin Alabi is making a killing on sports betting in Nigeria is an understatement, and he is not alone.

Bet9ja Followed in NairaBET’s Virtual Footsteps

After witnessing the success of NairaBET, fellow Nigerian entrepreneur Kunle Soname also jumped into the online sports betting space by launching his online sportsbook, Bet9ja, in 2013.

Like Alabi before him, Soname took into account the massive number of Nigerian sports betting fans with smart devices, along with the huge financial potential of Nigeria’s mobile sports betting market. As such, he has made sure Bet9ja offers the biggest selection of lines with the most competitive odds, all available in Nigerian Naira.

For instance, Bet9ja offers odds on a diverse range of sports such as soccer, baseball, motorsports, volleyball, ante-post soccer, Aussie rules football, futsal, water polo, table tennis, basketball, horse racing, cricket, MMA, cycling, snooker, rugby, golf, and even pesapallo.

Bet9ja is accessible by anyone 18 or older in Nigeria who has a smartphone or tablet and a fast and reliable internet connection via 2G, 3G, 4G, LTE or Wi-Fi.

It accepts deposits via several safe and secure payment methods including Paycom Online Transfer, Skye Mobile Deposit, Webpay with Naira Debit Card, Instant Bank Deposit, GTBank (mobile + mobile transfer), ATM and Quickteller Online.

You’ll find many other examples of highly successful African online betting entrepreneurs in South Africa and Kenya that cater first and foremost to their home markets, and others. The point is that mobile technology coupled with fast, reliable and always-on connectivity has taken sports betting to an entirely new level.

Kenya

Kenyan Betting Fans Can Use M-Pesa Mobile Payments

In Kenya, many betting fans were prevented from betting online on account of not having ‘traditional’ online payment methods such as credit cards.

However, thanks to the growth of mobile-money platform M-Pesa which is available on the Vodafone mobile network, now more Kenyan betting fans than ever before can safely and quickly fund their mobile accounts from the privacy and convenience of their devices.

Owned by Safaricom Ltd, M-Pesa transacts over 5 billion Kenyan shillings (US$50 million) every day, a large percentage of which is processed on Kenyan mobile sports betting sites. According to Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore in a May 2016 interview, M-Pesa’s application to sports betting has “overtaken every other sector.”

According to World Bank data, in mid-2016 the number of transactions processed by M-Pesa totaled almost a third of Kenya’s gross domestic product of $61 billion. From its launch in 2007 until this period, M-Pesa’s user base grew from 2 million to over 21 million.

The service, offered by Safaricom Ltd. in East Africa’s biggest economy, is now transacting about 5 billion shillings ($50 million) day, Chief Executive Officer Bob Collymore, 57, said in an interview May 7 in the capital, Nairobi.

South Africa

National Gambling Act Spawns Sportingbet

Although most forms of online and mobile gambling are illegal in South Africa (casinos and poker), lotteries and sports betting are the two exceptions. As such, the country has seen several licensed and regulated sportsbooks launch in the last few years.

These online sportsbooks welcome punters from across South Africa (that are over the legal gambling age of 18) and process any payments, bets, and cashouts in South African Rand. All South African sports betting sites are overseen and monitored by the National Gambling Board (NGB) under the mandate of the National Gambling Act of 2004.

Since online sportsbooks entered the South African gambling landscape, online betting figures have skyrocketed. For instance, since 2013, Gross Gambling Revenues (GGR) of ZAR online and mobile sportsbooks have increased by over 20% year on year, as per South African GGR trend betting stats published by the National Gambling Board.

One of South Africa’s most popular sports betting sites is Sportingbet, a UK owned betting that launched a purely South African-facing site in 2009. Today this popular online and mobile sportsbooks boasts over 700,000 members and offers over 3,000 betting lines and odds daily on a multitude of domestic and international sporting events.

Like most online and mobile sportsbooks operating in Africa, Sportingbet offers in-play or live betting, where punters can place additional bets on games, matches, and events while they are still being played. It also lets its members watch live-streamed events on-site.

The most popular sports, of course, comprise South Africa’s favorite sports including rugby, soccer, horse racing, cricket, golf, and tennis. Plus, punters can make quick and easy deposits using Neteller, EcoPayz, Visa, Bank Transfers, MasterCard or Instant EFT.

Licensed by the Western Cape Gambling & Racing Board, Sportingbet is fully regulated and monitored to ensure its odds and processes are 100% fair and within industry standards.

Improving food security in Africa with digital innovation


GODAN and Digital Africa sign a Memorandum of understanding (MoU) to drive digital innovation and entrepreneurship in Africa to improve food security.

What does this mean for Africa?

As a result of the MoU, Global Open Data For Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) – a United Nations, United Kingdom and United States initiative driving global efforts to tackle food security – and Digital Africa – an initiative supporting digitally innovative entrepreneurs – will work to increase the availability, use and sharing of open data to improve food and nutrition security in the region.

Under the MoU the two initiatives will support innovative projects in Africa, encouraging shared knowledge and experience, in order to drive the development of innovative digital solutions to tackle current world challenges.

More specifically, this partnership will also help GODAN to build high-level policies as well as public and private institutional support for open data within agriculture, furthering GODAN’s efforts to increase accessibility of data to empower farmers and food companies to use smart data and to better plan and execute operations for sustainable production and processes.

“We are delighted to sign the MOU with Digital Africa and work together in mobilising the stakeholders engaged in serving African entrepreneurs, foster a digital economy and unleash the talent of African start-ups. Through the partnership, both GODAN and Digital Africa will join forces in propagating open data policies within the region to ensure information and knowledge is openly available, accessible and usable. This is also an important step in allowing the continent to maximise its potential. With many young people starting their own businesses in Africa, there is now an empowered generation which uses technology to establish their business ventures,” commented Andre Laperrière, the Executive Director of GODAN.

African youth optimistic about the future of the continent


Young post-colonial Africans are optimistic about the future of the continent, seeing themselves more as entrepreneurs than civil servants.

They demand stability and democracy, access to financial resources to launch their businesses, access to digital technology, and are not obsessed with colonial barriers.

48% of the respondents prefer stable governments to democracy.

75% believe that they can positively change their communities through their work.

79% think that Wi-Fi access should be a basic human right

67% say that “fake news” has an impact on their ability to stay informed.

Donald Trump, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are going to be the people to have the most impact over the next five years.

African SMEs crowded out by big companies, public debt, says EIB


European Investment Bank President Werner Hoyer REUTERS/Yves Herman

Banks in many African countries still favour lending to governments and large companies, resulting in less finance for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), according to Banking in Africa, published by the European Investment Bank on February 27.

“Banks consider lending to SMEs highly risky and ask for significant levels of collateral, while a significant portion of their investment is allocated to government assets,” the report says. Larger firms typically find it easier to get credit, and smaller businesses are at a particular disadvantage in Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia and Zambia.

“There are only so many big corporates in Africa that you can bank,” Jean-Philippe Stijns, senior economist at the EIB and one of the report’s authors, told The Africa Report.

Stijns sees signs of progress. Banks are now starting to “move down the food chain” to find new business customers, he says.

Last year’s edition of the EIB report found that crowding out increased throughout Africa from 2014 to 2018, and was particularly marked in Ghana, Niger, Tanzania and Zambia.

On average, public debt supply was initially the main factor behind the increase of crowding out, but was then overtaken over by banks’ lending decisions.

Fintech for SMEs
Economic growth prospects remain bright in some areas. The EIB predicts that in 2020 and 2021, GDP growth in East Africa will accelerate to 6% in 2020 and 2021 as infrastructure investments boost domestic demand.

But Nigeria, which accounts for two-thirds of West Africa’s GDP, is expected to grow at only around 2.5% this year.
Overall, the EIB says, risks to the outlook are tilted to the downside.
“The high level of public debt leaves a number of states vulnerable to external shocks and reduces or even blocks access to external financing,” the report says.

There is an increasing recognition by pan-African banks of the need to set up dedicated departments for lending to SMEs, Stijns says, giving France’s Société Générale as an example. Banks are also starting to get serious about using fintech to develop credit assessment tools for SMEs, he says.

The EIB is in the process of launching a new centre in Abidjan that aims to provide capacity-building and technical assistance to SMEs in west and central Africa.
The other part of the equation, Stijns says, is helping bankers to become more knowledgeable in assessing the risks of lending to SMEs.
Reform of secured transaction frameworks would benefit both banks and firms, the EIB’s report says.

This would make it easier for firms to use movable assets as collateral and would help SMEs in particular, as they are more likely to lack high-quality collateral.

Standard models for measuring the credit strength of SMEs are unlikely to be sufficient, Stijns argues. One unresolved issue is that the line between personal and business use of a loan, for example for a motorcycle, is often blurred.
“Necessity is the mother of all invention,” Stijns says.
As has already been the case in mobile banking, that means Africa could find itself leading the rest of the world in terms of fintech for SME lending, he argues.

Bottom Line: Smart credit-assessment tools are the key to unlocking the potential of Africa’s SMEs.

The contradictions of capital


Amid the trade wars, populism and economic nationalism, capitalism is under fire. But which capitalism is that?

For the hard-nosed commercial titans of the roaring 2020s, the dictum by Milton Friedman that “there is one and only one social responsibility of business: to use its resources and to engage in activities designed to increase its profits” will remain the lodestar.

There is no question that this is the zeitgeist in Donald Trump’s dealmaking administration, and it is echoed in Brazil and India.

Some critics of capitalism find the ‘business of business is business’ approach more honest than a series of corporate social responsibility projects launched by communications companies.

For economist Léonce Ndikumana, who runs a commission on the reform of corporate taxation, the problem of cap­italism in Africa is not a laser-like focus on profits but a failure of companies to comply with fair rules on tax and royalties.

Ndikumana and his fellow researcher, James Boyce, calculate that capital flight from 30 African countries between 1970 and 2017 totalled $1.4trn.

That is almost three times the stock of debt the countries accumulated and 1.5 times the foreign aid they received. Those figures suggests that capitalism – or at least its regulatory institutions – are failing in Africa, at great human cost.

Is the revival of interest in ‘stakeholder capitalism’ – a kind of anti-Friedmanite formula that focuses more on customers, employees, suppliers – relevant to Africa? Given its recent endorsement by the US Business Roundtable, it does reflect local and international pressures on corporate behaviour.

How that plays out on the ground will vary according to the industry and the region.

Employees want more transparency and accountability in corporate finances. Activist groups demand respect for human rights and environmental standards in the supply chain. For example, conditions in the DRC, which supplies over half the world’s cobalt for electric car batteries, are under intense scrutiny.

Globally, investments motivated by envir­onmental, social and governance concerns are up to $30trn, about a third of the funds under professional management.

Pension funds, the biggest clients for asset managers in Africa and elsewhere, are using environmental, social and governance criteria. Analysts say they are producing higher equity returns than the old shareholder capitalist model.

Perhaps the biggest factor driving new thinking on economic systems has been the decline of trust in business and banking.

That, together with deepening inequality in most countries, informs critiques of a rigged economic system, whether in Joburg, London, Nairobi or New York.

The spiralling climate crisis along with the un-costed global effects of robotics and artificial intelligence are undermining faith in established models of trade and market capitalism.

At the least, the promoters of new ideas and strategies will have to fight it out in a new global arena.

Now, social and economic policies will have to start changing as fast as our technologies.

Top 10 Most Influential Opposition Leaders in Africa 2020


Due to long tenures in office and dominance of ruling political parties, many opposition leaders in Africa rarely get elected into political offices.

Malema Julius

Without opposition, there could be no creation. All life would cease without resistance.” ― Kilroy J. Oldster, Dead Toad Scrolls

There are very few political leaders who will agree with Kilroy Oldster’s assertion; many leaders see opposition as a plague that must be silenced by every means possible.

What becomes even more surprising is the fact that many leaders, especially in Africa, who treat the opposition with an iron fist, were once in the opposition themselves.

Around Africa, the script is the same; political leaders often oppress the opposition with every means possible until they toe the line.

Being an opposition figure in a continent like Africa, where abuse of power and human rights violations is the order of the day, is no walk in the park.

Yet, a few have remained dogged and refused to bow to government pressure. They have continued to defy the powers that be despite the oppression they receive in return.

Here are our top 10 opposition figures in Africa 2020:

1. Bobi Wine, Uganda:

Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, known by his stage name Bobi Wine, is a Ugandan musician and politician.

He serves as the Member of Parliament representing Kyadondo East constituency in Wakiso District, in Uganda’s Central Region.

He is the leader of the People’s Power Movement and a major opposition figure to President Yoweri Museveni’s led government.

2. Julius Malema, South Africa:

Julius Sello Malema is a South African politician who is a Member of Parliament and the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters, a South African political party, which he founded in July 2013.

He previously served as President of the African National Congress Youth League from 2008 to 2012.

He is a vocal opposition figure in South Africa against governments of the former president, Jacob Zuma and current president, Cyril Ramaphosa.

3. Diane Rwigara, Rwanda:

Diane Shima Rwigara is a Rwandan businesswoman and women’s rights activist, who stood as an independent candidate in the 2017 Rwandan presidential election.

She is a staunch critic of President Paul Kagame’s government and was jailed for over a year with her mother for charges including inciting insurrection against the government of President Paul Kagame.

The international community condemned the arrest, and she was granted bail alongside her mother in October 2018.

4. John Mahama, Ghana:

John Dramani Mahama is a Ghanaian politician who served as President of Ghana from July 24, 2012, to January 7, 2017.

He previously served as Vice President of Ghana from January 2009 to July 2012 and took office as president on July 24, 2012, following the death of his predecessor, John Atta Mills.

Mahama was confirmed as the candidate of the opposition National Democratic Congress to contest in the 2020 elections against the current president, Nana Akufo-Addo who unseated him in 2016.

5. Riek Machar, South Sudan:

Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon is a politician who served as the inaugural Vice President of South Sudan from its independence in 2011 until his dismissal in 2013.

He now leads the rebel faction opposing Salva Kiir known as SPLM-IO. Between April and July 2016 Machar served as the First Vice President of South Sudan.

According to reports, he has signed a power deal with President Salva Kiir, which will lead to a cease-fire and bring peace to South Sudan.

6. Maurice Kamto, Cameroon:

Maurice Kamto is a Cameroonian politician; he is the founder of the MRC and a top opposition figure against the government of President Paul Biya.

He was a member of the International Law Commission of the United Nations from 1999 to 2016.

In October 2019, a military court in Cameroon freed opposition leader Maurice Kamto, who had been in prison for nine months and facing charges of insurrection.

Mr. Kamto was detained after organizing protests in January 2019 against the result of the 2018 presidential election.

7. Martin Fayulu, DR Congo:

Martin Madidi Fayulu is a businessman and lawmaker from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

He is the leader of the Engagement for Citizenship and Development party.

Many critics still believe he is the rightful winner of the December 30, 2018 elections and accuses former long-time leader, Joseph Kabila of brokering a back-door deal with the current president, Felix Tshisekedi.

8. Raila Amolo Odinga, Kenya:

Raila Amolo Odinga is a Kenyan politician who served as the Prime Minister of Kenya from 2008 to 2013 and leader of the opposition since 2013.

He was the Member of Parliament for Langata from 1992 to 2013.

In 2018, the Kenyan opposition leader, who boycotted the country’s disputed election the year before, swore himself in as the “people’s president” at a mock inauguration ceremony in protest against President Uhuru Kenyatta.

9. Kizza Besigye, Uganda:

Warren Kizza Besigye Kifefe, known as Kizza Besigye, and also nicknamed Colonel, Daktari, Kifefe, KB, and Ssenyondo, is a Ugandan physician, politician, and former military officer in the Uganda People’s Defence Force.

He has been arrested numerous times for various charges, including treason.

According to reports, he has joined forces with another popular opposition figure, Bobi Wine to contest against President Yoweri Museveni in the next presidential elections.

10. Omoleye Sowore, Nigeria:

Omoyele Sowore is a Nigerian human rights activist, pro-democracy campaigner and founder of an online news agency Sahara Reporters.

He was a presidential candidate in the 2018 presidential elections against President Muhammadu Buhari who won a second term in office.

On August 3, 2019, Sowore was arrested by the Nigerian State Security Service for alleged treason after calling for a protest tagged RevolutionNow.