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Obama’s Africa agenda, our business and democracy

Obama is in Ghana principally for America’s core strategic interests: Oil. I know that oil and stable access to oil are vital parts of U.S national security interest across the west African Gulf of Guinea region. Ghana recently discovered billions of barrels of oil reserves. U.S corporations, especially Exxon Mobil and Chevron are also investing heavily in the area. Operationally, the U.S has re-fueling hubs in Ghana. Also, worthy of note is the US National Intelligence Council (NIC) estimates that by 2015, 25 percent of American oil imports will be derived from west Africa. It is roughly 14 to 16 percent to date, amidst massive disruptions in Nigeria’s Niger Delta. Ghana is stable while the Middle East and parts of Nigeria are increasingly dicey for America’s hard-nosed, long-term interests. Ghana is certainly valuable to the U.S convergence of interests on the arenas of military, oil and democratic credentials.

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Obama’s Africa agenda, our business and democracy

By Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of USAfricaonline.com, USAfrica The Newspaper, Houston
USAfricaonline.com and CLASS magazine and The Black Business Journal

Obama’s Africa agenda, our business and democracy

Follow USAfrica Facebook.com/USAfrica247Facebook.com/USAfricaChido n Twitter.com/Chido247

From July 10 to 11, 2009, President Barack Obama will be in the west African country of Ghana, assessed by the U.S government as “one of our most trusted partners in sub-Saharan Africa.” The additional goals of the visit, according to the Obama White House, will be “to highlight the critical role that sound governance and civil society play in promoting lasting development.”

Obama becomes America’s third president to visit Ghana since 1998, and this his second official trip to the African continent. The geo-demographic fact is that his first trip was to Egypt on June 4, 2009, where he spoke about Islam and democracy, rights of women in Islam and modern society, extremist variants of Islamic theologies and the challenge of peaceful co-existence. As Obama spoke carefully to the wider issues in the Middle East at the Cairo University, the same problems are faced in raw, stark and unvarnished reality by millions of Africa’s christians and traditional religionists who are on the frontline and receiving end of fascistic, Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism.

Beyond the diplomatese, what will be the practical, key issues for Obama as he visits Ghana and speaks to the entire continent? What does it mean for Africans and Americans?

First and foremost, for many African-born citizens of America such as myself and millions of continental African professionals, Barack Hussein Obama is not only the 44th President of the United States of America, he’s an outstanding son of Africa who on November 4, 2008, achieved the previously unthinkable: one of our own being voted in to lead the most powerful country in the world!

On January 20, 2009 in Washington DC, after the historic events of Obama’s inauguration, I chatted with one of Obama’s Africa advisers who said “Obama has witnessed the downside of one-party rule in Africa and he’s not for that. He means change and more openness.”

Signally, Obama’s White House chose the small west African country of only 23 million peoples, spurning Ghana’s neighbor, the “giant of Africa” Nigeria with its 125 million citizens and the largest economic demographic clout, questionable political leadership, endemic corruption, ethnic and religious violence, environmental destruction of its Niger Delta and creeks, political assassinations and kidnappings, epileptic electricity supply, and a list enough to fill the Galveston bay.

In this regard, Nobel Prize winner from Nigeria Wole Soyinka is quoted on USAfricaonline.com as saying: “If Obama decides to grace Nigeria with his presence, I will stone him. The message he is sending by going to Ghana is so obvious, is so brilliant, that he must not render it flawed by coming to Nigeria any time soon.”

Second, Obama is in Ghana principally for America’s core strategic interests: Oil. I know that oil and stable access to oil are vital parts of U.S national security interest across the west African Gulf of Guinea region. Ghana recently discovered billions of barrels of oil reserves. U.S corporations, especially Exxon Mobil and Chevron are also investing heavily in the area. Operationally, the U.S has re-fueling hubs in Ghana. Also, worthy of note is the US National Intelligence Council (NIC) estimates that by 2015, 25 percent of American oil imports will be derived from west Africa. It is roughly 14 to 16 percent to date, amidst massive disruptions in Nigeria’s Niger Delta. Ghana is stable while the Middle East and parts of Nigeria are increasingly dicey for America’s hard-nosed, long-term interests. Ghana is certainly valuable to the U.S convergence of interests on the arenas of military, oil and democratic credentials.

Third, the bilateral and bi-continental issue of fighting or containing al-Qaeda and its advances into Africa’s “failed states” and actual threats to multi-religious and democratizing countries in the continent remain obligations of the Obama presidency. I have argued previously on this page that a police-law-enforcement approach to al-Qaeda in Africa will be inadequate. A bold, thorough-going draining of the swamp of radical, fundamentalist theologies which feed and fuel terrorism is necessary. Already the U.S and Ghana hold joint exercises at the funnily-named Jungle Warfare School (JWS) at Achiase in eastern Ghana.

Fourth, Obama has to speak to a “new foundation” for Africa’s future amidst commendable deregulation in many parts of the continent. He has to speak to the strategic imperatives of creating a more viable structure of free market economies in Africa accommodating the realistic roles of government in the core issues of healthcare, education, security and such core, critical projects.

Africa’s economies have made some bold structural changes but the political clutches of the ruling parties also stifle the ventilation of ideas and expansion of opportunities necessary to compete in this digital age. Internet access is the poorest and lowest in the world, except South Africa, Botswana and increasingly Nigeria and Kenya.

Fifth, Obama whose father is an indigenous scholarly Kenyan and mother is a resourceful White woman from Kansas will deal with the critical, clashing issue of aid or trade between the U.S and Africa. In my view, it should be both; it’s not a choice of one over the other.

Africa development specialists, Obama and those before him agree that the wise words “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime” applies to Africa’s crises and transformation; moreso today.

The U.S reasonably propelled the the AGOA (Africa Growth and Opportunity Act) to enhance trade. I covered its historic signing ceremony in South Africa as championed by South Africa’s former president Nelson Mandela and U.S former President Bill Clinton. Fair and equitable trade is good. AGOA reportedly increased the value of African garment exports to the U.S from US$580 million in 1999 to US$1.4 billion in 2003.

Sixth, I expect that on Saturday July 11, 2009, Obama will live up to the historical context of his being the first U.S President of African-American heritage by visiting the slave castles by the Cape Coast of Ghana. Ghana is pivotal to the ancestral origins of hundreds of thousands of enslaved Blacks whose heritage drew directly from that Cape, northern and central regions of Ghana. Similar historical, demographic facts exist for the south eastern Igbos of Nigeria, African-Americans and Afri-Caribbeans.

Overall, Obama’s presidency should continue to support Africa’s increasing coalition of

Chido Nwangwu, Publisher USAfrica (Houston)

democracy activists and pressurize the remnants of Africa’s rulership to responsibly embrace and respect the value of fair, peaceful and free elections as opposed to the charade of self-perpetuation in office, choking indolence posing as mandate and selections masquerading as elections.

As Africans celebrate America’s Obama, we look forward to our home-grown Obamas in Africa. Yes, we can!                                                                            Dr. Chido Nwangwu, Founder & Publisher of USAfrica multimedia networks (Houston), first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.comCLASSmagazinePhotoWorks.TV and recipient of several journalism and public policy awards was recently profiled by the CNN International for his pioneering works on multimedia/news/public policy projects for Africans and Americans. http://edition.cnn.com/video/#/video/international/2010/07/29/mpa.african.media.bk.a.cnn


— USAfrica and USAfricaonline.com (characterized by The New York Times as the largest and arguably the most influential African-owned, U.S-based multimedia networks) established May 1992, our first edition of USAfrica magazine was published August 1993; USAfrica The Newspaper on May 11, 1994; CLASSmagazine on May 2, 2003 and www.PhotoWorks.TV in 2005.


U.S President-elect OBAMA named USAfrica MAN of the YEAR. Houston-based USAfrica and USAfricaonline.com, assessed by The New York Times as the most influential

African-owned, U.S-based multimedia networks, have named U.S President-elect Barack Obama as the ‘USAfrica Man of The Year.’

Obama who is the first African-American and bi-racial leader of the country is featured on the cover of two special international editions of the USAfricaCLASS magazine.

In the ‘USAfrica Man of the Year’ essay, USAfrica’s Founder and Publisher Chido Nwangwu highlights the point that: “The contemplation of the fact that Obama’s presidency will start January 20, 2009 through the majesty of the American ballot box is transformative and unleashes trans-generational implications and values for America and the world. In many ways, Obama has truly turned the pages of America’s social, cultural and political history to unprecedented spheres. He has shattered many shibboleths of racial discrimination and dismantling several wedges against aspirational quests. Obama and those who voted for him have elevated America’s image and perception across the entire world, especially across USAfrica’s core editorial, public policy and business constituencies of Africans and Americans.”

Obama’s recognition is the second time USAfrica is naming its Man of the Year in its 15 years of pioneering bi-continental multimedia works. It is worthy of note that that the first recipient in 1994 is Dr. Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa and Nobel Prize winner. December 22, 2008.Photos:Getty and Obama campaign/2008/Digital Graphics. Text and cover design by Chido Nwangwu.

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U.S says it will investigate Zimbabwe presidential election violence; MDC disputes result; winner acknowledges there were “challenges”

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Special to USAfricaonline.com

The MDC Alliance led by 40-year-old Nelson Chamisa is disputing the outcome of the polls alleging that they were rigged to the point of having more votes than registered voters.

While the winner, ZANU PF leader and incumbent president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, acknowledged that there were “challenges” he insisted the polls were free and fair.

The US Department of State said Zimbabwe’s 30 July elections presented the country with a historic chance to move beyond the political and economic crises of the past and toward profound democratic change.

“Unfortunately, Zimbabwe’s success in delivering an election day that was peaceful, and open to international observers, was subsequently marred by violence and a disproportionate use of deadly force against protestors by the security forces,” the department’s spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement.

Six people were shot dead on Wednesday by soldiers and many others were injured. A seventh person is reported to have succumbed to gunshot wounds on Friday at a hospital in Chitungwiza.

The US said it welcomes the commitment by Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to release comprehensive election results in a form that provides full transparency. ZEC maintains that the election results were an accurate reflection of the voters’ will.

Former colonial master, Britain, also remained concerned about the developments.

“The UK remains deeply concerned by the violence following the elections and the disproportionate response from the security forces,” said UK Minister of State for Africa, Harriett Baldwin.

She, however, urged electoral stakeholders to work together to ensure calm.

“While polling day passed off peacefully, a number of concerns have been raised by observer missions, particularly about the pre-election environment, the role of State media, and the use of State resources. There is much to be done to build confidence in Zimbabwe’s electoral process.”

Baldwin urged that any appeals against the results or the process be handled swiftly and impartially.– African News Agency (ANA)

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Zimbabwe’s presidential election offers opportunity for post-Mugabe progress. By Wilf Mbanga

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Zimbabwe-Politics-USAfricaonline

Today, Monday July 30, 2018, Zimbabweans [went] to the polls to elect Robert Mugabe’s successor. For pretty much the average life expectancy of many Zimbabweans, one man has ruled the country with an iron fist. Eight elections were held during his rule – and every time, that fist ensured victory for Mugabe.

The current president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, the man who finally ousted Mugabe in a bloodless coup last November, has also crushed his enemies ruthlessly in the past – but his iron fist lies within a well-padded velvet glove.
Mnangagwa goes head to head at the polls with Nelson Chamisa, 40, who took over as leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) after Morgan Tsvangirai died earlier this year.

Whoever wins, this election heralds a new dawn for Zimbabwe. Mugabe has gone. Things will never be the same again. Certainly, Mnangagwa brings a lot of baggage from the Mugabe era – having been the former president’s righthand man.

But he is different in many significant ways – today, Mugabe even urged voters to turn their backs on his leadership, and went so far as to wish Chamisa well. Most importantly, Mnangagwa understands business and is determined to resuscitate Zimbabwe’s moribund economy and give the people what they so desperately want and need – jobs.

He is primarily a soldier, having left Zimbabwe as a teenager in the early 1960s for military training in China. He has fashioned himself after the former communist leader Deng Xiaoping, who modernised China and laid the foundations for the economic powerhouse it has become, while maintaining a strictly authoritarian regime.

Deng abandoned many orthodox communist doctrines to incorporate elements of the free-enterprise system. Mnangagwa seems determined to do the same for Zimbabwe. He is a wealthy man in his own right, having run Zanu-PF’s and his own businesses since the early 1980s. He has been mentioned in a UN report on the plundering of mining and logging resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo together with General Sibusiso Moyo, who is now the foreign affairs minister.

Over the eight months since he took the reins from Mugabe, Mnangagwa has given clear signals of a clean break with the past – actively courting the west, preaching and practising peace instead of violence, eschewing corruption, meeting business leaders and white farmers, and generally projecting himself as a reformist. He has met personally the many business missions that have visited the country this year, and has promised to get rid of the cumbersome bureaucracy that currently stifles new investment. He has suspended Mugabe’s populist indigenisation act, which required foreigners to cede 51% of their shares to locals (ZANU-PF, of course) in all sectors except gold and diamond mining. He has even made it his election slogan – with party supporters everywhere sporting T-shirts proclaiming “Zimbabwe is open for business”.

While Mugabe was a consummate manipulator, skilfully playing people off against each other and weaving a complex web of patronage, Mnangagwa is a much more of a strategist. He will be prepared to make tough decisions that could ultimately benefit the economy. He has certainly been more successful in attracting foreign investment in the short time he has been in power than Mugabe was in decades of berating the west.

 

The MDC’s Chamisa is just as pro-business as Mnangagwa, and to his credit has surrounded himself with several capable technocrats. There is no whiff of corruption about him and he has been drawing massive crowds in many rural areas which, under Mugabe, were no-go areas for his party. And of course the MDC’s democratic and human rights credentials are well established – while those of Zanu-PF are a constant cause for concern.

Should Chamisa win the election, there is no doubt that the world would welcome Zimbabwe back into the fold with open arms. But Mnangagwa is smart enough to realise that international recognition of his government can only come if this election is acknowledged as free and fair by the global community. While Britain has been unswervingly supportive of the post-Mugabe regime, the US has reserved judgment – recently renewing its sanctions on Zanu-PF leaders and companies, but promising to lift them once credible elections have taken place.

And there’s the rub.

Many believe it is impossible for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to run a free and fair poll. It is accused of rigging every election since it was established in 2004; it is still staffed largely by the military and Zanu-PF loyalists; and it has shown shameful bias towards the ruling party in recent months. For example, the law says the ballot paper should be in alphabetical order, which places Chamisa second on the 23-person list. The commission cleverly formatted the paper into two lop-sided columns, in order to place Mnangagwa at the very top of column two.

So this election could bring three possible results: if Mnangagwa wins, the MDC already has enough ammunition against the electoral commission to cry foul.

If Chamisa wins convincingly, it will be a new dawn indeed – but the military might not accept this, as the Generals have already invested a lot in Mnangagwa.

But if there is no clear winner, the most sensible way forward would be for the two protagonists to agree to a marriage of convenience – otherwise known as a government of national unity.
• Wilf Mbanga, once falsely classified by Mugabe’s government as ‘enemy of the people’, is the founder, editor and publisher of The Zimbabwean weekly, published in the UK and Johannesburg

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USAfrica: “Resign! Get out of office!” – Bishop Oyedepo tells Nigeria’s President Buhari

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The founder of the Living Faith Church Worldwide, aka Winners’ Chapel, Bishop David Oyedepo, has called on Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army General, to resign due to what he considers to be the continuing failure of Buhari to stop  the incessant killings by militant Fulani herdsmen.

Oyedepo who spoke on the theme, “Enough is enough” recalled that “When I was talking in 2015, people were saying my own was too much, now everybody can see what’s happening,” he said. ”What has moved forward in anybody’s life? You don’t know it’s war. Why are they attacking the Christian communities? Why has nobody been arrested? I can tell you this, the authorities and the powers that be are behind them.”

“We must wake up and push this evil back. Not one of those so-called herdsmen – they are jihadists – has been brought to book till date. Herdsmen don’t shoot; they have been here all along. They are just taking cover under the herdsmen to assault innocent citizens. They wake up in the night and slice innocent children to pieces. Yet, you have a government in place. What!

“The most honourable thing for any non-performing leader to do is to resign. The most honourable thing is to resign. That’s my own for Mr President. Resign! Get out of office! Even our Islamic friends in the North are calling on him to resign. Because that’s the noblest thing to do. Or are we going to look at one system destroy a whole nation?”

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