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Flying With Fatima Beyina-Moussa

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Fatima Beyina Moussa - ECAir13

A profile of Fatima Beyina-Moussa, CEO of ECAir.

The African aviation market is becoming one of the most significant in the world thanks to its growing middle class, which now makes up over 35% of the population. African air traffic is growing by 5.2% per year. Fatima Beyina-Moussa is 41 and a mother of 2 children. Ask her if she dreamed of being the CEO of an airline and changing the African airline industry and you will elicit a hearty laugh from Ms. Beyina-Moussa. The quick and honest answer is an emphatic “No”. She mentions several other things she dreamed of and the academic track that she trained in, but none of them involve air transportation and helping lead a revolution in travel by air in Africa.

Born in Dakar, Senegal, where her father, Pierre Moussa, studied and taught at the University of Dakar in the area of planning and development alongside Prof. Samir Amin, Fatima’s thoughts on her path in life mirrored her father’s career more than anything. Pierre Moussa was born in Owando, located in northern Congo-Brazzaville, in 1941. He is considered a man gentle in nature, married, and a father of 4 children including Fatima.

Before the Daughter, the Father

Fatima Beyina-MoussaPierre Moussa, Ms. Beyina-Moussa’s father, is an economist by training and a politician in the Congolese government. He started his government career in 1978 as Secretary-General of Planning. President Denis Sassou Nguesso promoted Moussa to Minister of Planning in 1979, the same year he joined the Central Committee of the Congolese Labour Party (PCT). The PCT selected Moussa as Secretary for Planning and the Economy in 1984. He climbed to the role of Minister of Planning and Finance in August of 1987. Moussa is considered “the regime’s economist”, and joined the PCT Political Bureau in 1989, taking on the responsibility for planning and the economy; he was promoted to Minister of State for Planning and the Economy in the Congolese government in 1989. Pierre Moussa is now President of CEMAC, the Commission of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa. His 5-year term appointment was announced at the 11th Summit of CEMAC Heads of State in 2012 at Brazzaville.

Fatima has inherited much from her father, including the role of an economist and interest in development and planning. Her post-secondary school education has focused on economics and finance, primarily in Canada, where she received her Bachelor’s degree from the prestigious HEC Montreal. She then received her MBA from the University of Ottowa, pursuing specialized studies in the USA and France as well. Not only is she keenly aware of issues in Africa, but she is also aware of how Africa interfaces with the rest of the world. As a black African woman, Beyina-Moussa is a pioneer in her field, and her actions and opinions are followed with much interest. As she takes the pulse of modern Africa as one of its business leaders, she is also someone that drives that pulse with her ideas and decisions.

A Rising Career

Beyina-Moussa started her career as a consultant at Ernst & Young in the Congo. She advanced to the role of a consultant at the official Bank of Central African States (BEAC), then moved to New York City, working for the United Nations Environment United for Development (UNDP). Her rise, professionally, was quick but not entirely unexpected. In the Congo, she took on the job as an advisor to the economy and to reform the Congolese Ministry of Finance, Budget and Public Portfolio. Beginning in 2007, she worked on establishing a national air carrier to advance the Congo’s transportation industry and its economy. Success has been quick and in 2011, Fatima Beyine-Moussa was appointed Director/CEO of the national airline of the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Congo Airlines (ECAir). Shortly after her hiring as CEO of ECAir, Fatima was selected as a member of the Executive Committee of African Airlines Association (AFRAA) in 2012. In November 2014, Beyine-Moussa was appointed Chairwoman AFRAA and recently completed her 1-year term at the 47th General Assembly of AFRAA from November 8th-10th, 2015 in Brazzaville.

Fatima Beyina-Moussa is embracing her role as a favorite and influential daughter of Africa. She has plans and a clear view of how she wants Africa to evolve now and in the future. One that she is fervently working on now is travel between cities and countries within Africa. Currently, it can be easier to fly out of the continent, take a connection in Dubai or Paris, and fly back into Africa. Beyina-Moussa is working on a plan to avoid this and make travel within Africa easier and more beneficial for airlines and passengers. Connections between African countries are insufficient, and there are not enough round trips, making travel difficult. With Beyina-Moussa working on this, it is without doubt a job that will get done. In her words, “We have only just begun.”

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Doing Business amidst Terrorism

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Featured, Middle East

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Despite the odds, the Middle East and Africa show improved business environments.

On June 1, 2015 the World Bank Group published its 13th annual Doing Business 2016 report, a virtual check-up on the health of 189 different economies and each one’s environment for small and medium sized businesses. By monitoring domestic business regulations, the World Bank Group attempts to analyze the shifting horizons for international entrepreneurs, hoping to usher in a firm-friendly future in light of the ever-globalizing world economy.

The rise of cross-border terrorism has caused concern for many business leaders and potential investors in the region. Though the state of presumed instability may suggest a weakened business environment in the Middle East and Africa, contrary to media sensationalism these regions have made massive strides in improving the economic conditions for business owners alongside the threat of potential conflict. As always, there is much more than meets the eye.

A Binary Opposition between Appearance and Reality

In light of this, though most foreign policy surrounding terrorism concerns blunt force and combat, there is a need to not just strengthen the fighting power of our African and Middle Eastern allies, but also strengthen the structures that support them. The dangers portrayed by mainstream media are a bite-sized vision of the entire reality at play, as the emotional nuances of warfare footage packs a more memorable punch than the hard numbers Doing Business presents.

The toll of a nearby enemy is evident in the World Bank’s report. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is still held as the least transparent region internationally, and with the exception of Morocco there is little public engagement in forming regulatory policy. The region’s governance carries a relatively low regulatory quality but with great efficiency.

Improved Business Conditions as the Norm

Despite the multiplicity of issues these policy makers face, almost all nations within the Middle East and Africa have made huge strides to improve their business environment. This region currently represents half of the twelve nations that implemented four or more reforms, specifically Rwanda, Madagascar, Senegal, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates. Across the board, low income economies have made much bigger improvements than high-income economies: Sub-Saharan Africa alone accounted for over 30% of all regulatory reforms made between 2014-2015.

In addition, Sub-Saharan Africa represents half of the top-ten improved economies as ranked by Doing Business, with Uganda, Kenya, Mauritania, Senegal and Bahrain implementing major economic reform. Within this region Rwanda also stands out, boasting a massive reduction in the number of days required to transfer property from 370 to a mere 32, and jumping from a score of 2 to 19 out of 20 on an index that rates the ease and efficiency of attaining credit.

The thirteen years of data collection has afforded the World Bank group several conclusions about the relationship between regulation, efficiency, and performance, and in this year’s Doing Business report they found that transparency during policy making was “highly and significantly” related to greater regulatory quality as well as efficiency. Currently in Mozambique, proposed regulations are published in a federal journal and distributed to stakeholders to encourage dialogue. In Ethiopia, Niger, and Afghanistan, public meetings are held so that the public and business leaders can be a part of the process of reform. In Kenya they even have a website for proposed regulations, where anyone at any time can weigh in on economic policy.

And Kenya’s not the only place that’s gone online- Rwanda made electronic tax filing and payment compulsory in 2014/15, and the time required for businesses to prepare and file taxes fell by 10 hours. Uganda introduced an online system for obtaining trading licenses, and other economies introduced systems where trade-related documents could be processed, including Benin, Côte D’Ivoire, Ghana, Madagascar, Mauritania, Suriname, Tanzania, and Togo. Currently, 25% of MENA nations have online systems for tax filing and payments, reducing the scope for bureaucratic discretion and corruption while increasing the system’s transparency, simplicity, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness.

The Best and the Worst

Countries’ ability to govern and enhance opportunities for citizens despite attacks from groups like ISIS and Boko Haram is commendable and demonstrates that optimism is in fact realistic. Turkey, though overrun with refugees, was able to streamline the process of obtaining construction permits. Saudi Arabia, with ISIS only 30km from their borders made property transfers faster by updating to a computerized registry system.

Nigeria and Kenya, the top two sub-Saharan nations affected by terrorism in the last year were still able to make their business environments healthier, with Nigeria reducing fees for property transactions and increasing the protection of minority investors by requiring external review. Kenya significantly reduced the time it takes to start a business by eliminating procedural inefficiencies, improved electronic document management for land registry, and improved access to credit, electricity, and proposed policy dialogues.

During a time of growing cross-border terrorism, with sensationalized militias such as Boko Haram and the Islamic State, as well as lesser known groups such as the al-Nusra Front or the Fulani militia, the significance of the stability a strong economy offers has never been so important. The relative security a growing economy offers provides the resources and willpower to combat terrorists, supports the persecuted, ensures justice, and dissuades the sympathetic from joining the extremists. Like many other groups branded with violence that preceded them, this generation of extremists will fall from within once they realize that peace is a more profitable reality.

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Gilbert Diendéré: Coming Out from the Shadows

Comments (0) Africa, Featured, Leaders

Diendéré

Chief of staff to Blaise Compaoré, Burkina Faso’s ex-president, Gilbert Diendéré is far more than a jack of all trades; intelligence, information, organisation and control, he is a master of all.

Burkinabé military officer and head of the powerful Presidential Security Regiment (RSP) for almost three decades, Gilbert Diendéré, who was known to lead from the shadows, took an unprecedented step into the lime light on September 17th, 2015.

In a move the General is now calling “the biggest mistake,” he took power of his West African home country, in a coup d’état that lasted a mere six days. After which, he and his army succumbed to mounting pressure to step down.

The coup, which pushed out the interim president, appears to have been an attempt to reinstate his comrade, Compaoré, the man for whom he was the quiet power behind through the former president’s entire time in office.

A Military Force

As the officer who announced the October 1987 coup, this was not Diendéré’s first experience of overthrowing a government. Taking power from the popular and revolutionary Thomas Sankara, with whom Diendéré had trained alongside as a young cadet in the army, he then placed it in the hands of Compaoré.

This was a pivotal time for the General, who was subsequently made head of the Presidential Security Regiment (RSP). With Compaoré’s blessing, he developed and expanded the RSP into a reportedly stronger and better trained army, which offered its soldiers better conditions and higher pay. It also answered directly and exclusively to the president himself.

Together the pair ruled Burkina Faso for an almost unfeasibly long time. Not until October of last year, when Compaoré’s push to be re-elected resulted in him being ousted by mass public demand, did their reign come to an end. Throughout his time in power, Diendéré has been accused of crimes against humanity. The charges against him include murder and firing at unarmed protestors, allegations for which the General will now stand trial.


Multifaceted Man

Standing at an impressive 6.5 ft, Diendéré may be physically imposing and considered to be one of the most powerful men in Burkina Faso, but until recent events the 56 years old had chosen to exert his power indirectly.

His international connections boosted Compaoré’s network and political status, whilst also cementing his own reputation internationally, particularly in America and France. In 2008 Diendéré was awarded the Légion d’Honneur, one of France’s most prestigious military medals.

The former head of RSP is highly regarded for being well informed, knowledgeable in many fields; particularly that of the West African political affairs, and a skilled negotiator and strategist. Known as a “master of intelligence,” the Burkinabé General has been involved in delicate negotiations with al-Qaeda linked group AQMI and in the release of several European hostages in 2009 and 2011.

A fearless thrill seeker, he enjoys regular parachute jumps and is popular and respected amongst his colleagues. However, it is recognised that the man described as shy and calm, with the formidable “iron fist” handshake, is a man one would prefer as a friend and not a foe.

In the Face of Justice

Just days after the coup began Diendéré conceded, “I am willing to turn myself over to face justice,” and called for his army to lay down their weapons. “I would like the people of Burkina Faso to find a solution to this crisis through dialogue.” He said, after turning himself in on October 1st.

The self-appointed Chairman of the National Council for Democracy sought shelter in the Vatican embassy as crowds on the Burkina Faso streets became violent. Negotiations took place to ensure his safety before he was handed back to the interim government. The Presidential Security Regiment (RSP) was later ordered to be disbanded and the assets of Gen. Gilbert Diendéré, frozen.

What is next for the shadowy figure is uncertain. He remains adamant that Compaoré had no dealings with the latest coup and has openly denounced his own actions. For now the country awaits the delayed elections which will take place on November 29th, perhaps a clever by-product of the General’s failed coup. The complicated history of Burkina Faso informs us that the future is most likely to follow suit, as for the rest, only time will tell.

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Third India-African Forum Summit

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The Third India-African Forum Summit took place in New Delhi on October 26-29, 2015. This Summit was arranged to develop trade between the emerging economies of Africa and India and explore improving relationships in other areas on a bilateral and continental level such as involvement in United Nations .The intent of this summit was shown by a higher representation from Africa (over 50 leaders) compared to the previous summits where only 10-15 African nations were present.

Developing relations in a new era

India is now Africa’s fourth largest trading partner behind China, the United States and the European Union nations. At this summit discussions were held at different levels addressing a number of issues with the intention of improving dealings between the attending nations. For instance, India proposed to increase concessionary credit to $10 billion over 5 years to enable further trading opportunities with African nations. Currently the trade figure between India and Africa stands at $70 billion – a substantial increase from $3bn in 2000 when India started showing significant growth. As more African nations are showing an improvement in economic growth, the discussions in this summit were an opportunity to work on higher goals.

Areas of further progress and new development

India’s trading with Africa is mainly in importing of oil and other raw energy products to support its own economy’s growth in areas such as manufacturing. This summit saw further discussion between India and its main trading countries such as Nigeria, South Africa and Angola on further trade in light of falling oil prices. Africa allows foreign investment in its oil industry unlike Saudi Arabia and certain Asian countries. It is expected that oil trade between Africa and India would further expand and flourish, as India imports 90% of its oil from Africa and the commodity is increasingly available in conflict-free areas.

Further agreements were reached to offer 50,000 scholarships for students from Africa to study in India over 5 years. India has also agreed to provide training and construction of more educational institutions across Africa as well as expand the Pan Africa E-Network. The continuation of duty free provision to 34 countries will allow further advantages to increase trade between attending nations

modi at african summitPrime Minister Narendra Modi also announced the joint co-operation in challenging the effect of climate change. India and the more developed African nations are known to have high rates of pollution and so any steps to control this situation on a collective basis would be beneficial. Growth on a scale not previously known to developing countries was acknowledged as being encouraged without any serious effect on the environment.

One of the obstacles to further growth of India and African nations, as with other nations, is terrorism. The biggest problems are in Somalia with Al Shabab and in Nigeria with Boko Haram. Somalia is in a particularly fragile situation and can ill afford to drive away investment. Nigeria is India’s biggest trading partner in Africa and so would benefit from efforts to control terrorism. The summit was also told that there would be improved arrangements in the deployment of troops in areas where conflict still exists. This would require the involvement of the African Union and the United Nations.

A summit too high?

Internet searches on interviews with African leaders provided little information on what African nations sought from this summit. The few interviews reported related to information about late arrivals by some leaders and non-attendance by others. There was also a similar lack of information from African academics and think tanks. This raises doubts about the importance they place on the event. Given that South Africa will host a summit of African nations with China in December, it is not clear how much importance is placed on developing trade with India.

India has had a long relationship with Africa because of a colonial past where several African nations are part of the Commonwealth. The Indian diaspora in Africa numbers approximately 3 million people and this provides an added advantage in developing links with India. While China’s trade figures with Africa are substantially higher than India’s at $200 billion, it has been noted that China has a more neo-colonial approach to foreign trade. Ultimately Africa should use investment to increase its own competiveness and capacity and not be dominated. India relies on Africa whilst being a more solid trading partner and this was one clear outcome of the Third India African Forum Summit this year. Africa’s stance in the forthcoming summit with China will be an interesting indicator.

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Magatte Wade, the New African Global Voice

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39-year-old Senegalese entrepreneur Magatte Wade, who made her name in Silicon Valley, has brought the love for her continent and her business flair together to bring the world a taste of African soul and the world to Africa.

If you are not prepared to face a pride of lions or find yourself pitted against the former CEO of Nestlé in a debate on the importance of organics, then step down, you are not prepared to be Magatte Wade.

Walking away from a $32 million business to create her second company in 2009, Magatte Wade is no stranger to making hard decisions, shunning the easy route and following her instincts. Five successful years went into Adina World Beverages before her departure, a company whose concept blossomed from a much loved yet rapidly disappearing traditional Senegalese drink, bissap, made from hibiscus flowers. The brave entrepreneur left behind Adina World Beverages not because it hit difficulties or became financially unviable, but rather due to a realization that her beliefs were no longer in sync with those of the other key stakeholders.

Now the founder and CEO of Tiossan, which produces luxury, organic skincare products, she brings traditional Senegalese recipes to the global beauty and health market, selling online, in high-end boutiques across the US and in their Hudson, New York, based store. Tiossan gives 10% of all profits towards creating innovative schools in Senegal.

“Use the power of brands to change perceptions”

As an entrepreneur Wade saw the disappearing bissaps’ marketing value but more than this, her experience had taught her that branding is the opportunity to tell a story and she had one she wanted to share.

During her first TEDex talk in 2011, the young Senegalese spoke of brands creating a culture. At the time over 50% of the Top 100 World Brands were American and not a single one African. She observed that American culture is in all our everyday lives and she concluded, “America has succeeded beautifully in exporting its own culture,” it being one of the most sought after worldwide.

To Wade this means building a powerful consumer brand of Africa’s own, to put it on a platform to engage on a global level and subsequently having a say on world issues. There are solutions and Africa can be part of it. “I want my continent to be an economic and cultural power.” Rather than sitting waiting for the next trend to come from America, she said “we can change whole world’s problems by addressing those in the US” first. Selling America healthier drink alternatives like bissap, to reduce obesity levels, was a clever example.

Big ideas and big ambitions

magatte wadeAs a girl, she ran free until the age of eight in her Senegal family compound. Always the instigator of fun hunting and fishing trips, she led a pack of boys with her on her escapades, leadership skills she now draws upon greatly.

From her grandmother, who was her main caretakeruntil she went to join her parents in Germany, she was given a “tremendous feeling of confidence and boundless opportunity”. These attributes, she says, taught her more than anything she learnedat school.

Arriving in Germany, school came as a cold slap of new reality. The rigidness she felt from those initial days would follow her to France, where she studied from the age of 10 until 20 and attended PSB-Paris Business School, which lefther seeking to inject more warmth, humanity and soul into the business world. She made connections while on an exchange program to Indiana and moved there in 1997, before finding her way to Silicon Valley nearSan Francisco.

That special something

It appears her grandmother was onto something when she told her she had “something” special and “something”special to give the world. Ranked first in Forbes 2014 ”20 Young Builders of Africa of Tomorrow” as well as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum at Davos, the list of impressive accolades goes on.

A woman of Africa and a visionary for her continent’s future, she remains humble and good humored. About that run-in with the Nestlé heavyweight, it was his un-gentlemanliness that allowed her to gracefully side-step a technical question she didn’t have the means to answer. It was “scarier than the day I ran into a pride of lions on the Okavango. And just as beautiful.”

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Africa, the Middle East, and the Future of Football

Comments (0) Africa, Featured, Middle East, Politics

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In 2010 South Africa hosted the first World Cup to be held on the African continent. Following ex-President Sepp Blatters scandal of corruption and vote-rigging this summer, FIFA is once again turning to the Middle East and Africa for solutions and a new vision for the organizations future.

Since the founding of FIFA in 1904 all but one President has been European, with the exception of Brazilian João Havelange. But the candidate list confirmed by FIFA last week boasts a truly 21st century roster; four out of the seven candidates hail from the Middle East and Africa, signaling not only the globalization of football but also the millions of fans represented in this region.

The Untapped Potential

Andrew Walsh of the sports research group SPORT+MARKT, notes an “increasing awareness of the scope for growth in Africas key football markets. And its not just FIFA that is gaining interest in the region, but all of football leadership. Africa is a hot-bed of untapped potential for clubs due to the sheer numbers of fans there. No other continent on earth harbors such a high ratio of football interest,Walsh added.

And hes not exaggerating. In a 2011 study, SPORT+MARKT revealed that 72 per cent of Africas 1.12 billion people, aged between 16-69, have an interest in football, roughly 800 million football fans. The study shows that 55 per cent of them are interested in the Premiership, while 39 per cent actively support an English top flight team.

In comparison, Europes entire population is 742.5 million people- the fact that there are millions more African football fans than the entire population of Europe illustrates why FIFAs newly diverse potential presidential candidates mirror the future of football.

south africa worldcup

The Odds

Despite the numbers, many sport bookies seem to favor Frenchman Michel Platini as the likely winner of the upcoming elections. But as a long-time FIFA executive currently on suspension alongside Blatter, many Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) members doubt that he will be able to oversee the far-reaching reform needed following Blatters regime- especially since hes trying to hold onto his UEFA presidency at the same time.

The FIFA presidency requires full attention to achieve necessary reform, so its likely that when it comes to the vote UEFA members will swing behind a candidate that will bring a fresh-start to the organization.

The Candidates

Likely candidate Jordanian Prince Ali bin al-Hussein ran against Blatter in this summers elections and nearly won, with UEFAs backing as well as the support of Asian and African regional football associations. A former FIFA Vice President, veteran politician, and current President of the West Asian Football Federation, Prince Ali seems like a worthy contender to Platini. However in the last Vice Presidential election, Prince Ali lost to Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim, another candidate with a strong running for the presidency.

Sheikh Salman also has an impressive track record and a proven ability to consolidate votes. A Bahraini FIFA Vice President, Salman is on the task force to untangle football disputes between Israel and Palestine, and has targeted match-fixing, grassroots development, and womens involvement during his time as President of the Asian Football Confederation, an organization mired by historic corruption and transparency issues.

Turn FIFA around really quickly

Salman currently denies allegations of human rights abuse concerning the violent suppression of pro-democracy campaigns in Bahrain in 2011, where over 150 athletes were imprisoned. Salman is a historic Blatter fan and a backer of the controversial Qatari and Russian World Cup bids, but he reckons hell turn FIFA around really quickly

Musa Bility, Liberian Football Association President and oil mogul, is also plagued by a controversial history concerning his 6-month football ban in 2013 and allegations that he won his presidency by buying votes for $500 a piece.

Among all the candidates, Tokyo Sexwale has the most divergent CV: a millionaire mining tycoon and anti-apartheid activist, Sexwale was imprisoned for 13 years in Robben Island alongside Nelson Mandela. A former FIFA Vice President, Sexwale was also key member of South Africas winning World Cup bidding team, and a chief organizer of the competition. Though the bid has drawn allegations for bribery, Sexwale has not been accused of any wrongdoing and has publicly criticized the payments, calling it worrisomefor the future of football in a BBC interview.

Despite FIFAs need for a fresh-start, many candidates have a history of wrongdoing to address. Currently embroiled by scandal, FIFA needs a new figurehead fast to clean up the mess and criminal reputation Blatter left behind. Recovering from collapse will be tricky without strong leadership, but its undoing offers a once-in-a-lifetime chance to build an international governing body fit for its purpose. It would be a true crime to waste it.

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Ivory Coast Re-elects Alassane Ouattara in Landslide

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Alassane Ouattara

In a tightly monitored and relatively peaceful election, the people of the Ivory Coast have re-elected Alassane Ouattara, former Prime Minister and former deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund, as President of their country in a landslide. Fifty-five percent of eligible voters participated in the election casting 84 percent of their votes for Ouattara, keeping him in power until 2020 in the cocoa-rich country.

Voter turnout was decidedly lower than the 80 percent rate for the hotly contested 2010 vote, but it was substantially above that of the previous presidential elections in 2000 and 1995.

Pascal Affi N’Guessan, his closest rival and also a former Prime Minister, won 9 percent of the vote. N’Guessan is the head of ex-president Laurent Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) party. N’Guessan’s presidential run attempted to bring FPI back into political relevance after sitting out the parliamentary and local elections after Gbagbo’s arrest during the 2010 post-election crisis.

Laurent Gbagbo and the 2010 Election

Ouattara finds himself in a very different position than he did after the disputed 2010 election which resulted in the ousting of two-term president Laurent Gbagbo. In 2010, Gbagbo received 38% of the vote in the initial election but faced a run-off with second-place Ouattara because of the country’s election rules requiring the winner to have 50% of the vote. In the run-off, Ouattara received 54% to Gbagbo’s 46%, according to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), but that vote was disputed by the Constitutional Council, which then determined that Gbagbo had won 51% of the vote after citing evidence of irregularities. Both candidates declared victory, and both took the presidential oath of office.

The United Nations, the ECOWAS, the African Union, the European Union, the United States, and former colonial power France declared support for Ouattara. They determined that the election was not compromised with former Prime Minister Ouattara winning a fair and free election at the ballot box. Gbagbo was told to abdicate the presidency by most of the international community. The body charged by the Ivory Coast Constitution with determining electoral disputes, however, declared Gbagbo to be the winner.

An ugly, bloody post-election civil war ensued pitting Gbagbo’s military against rebel forces supporting Ouattara with help from French troupes and UN peace-keeping forces. Four months of fighting, causing over 3,000 deaths and a deeper divide within the country, ended with Ouattara’s soldiers capturing and arresting Laurent Gbagbo. Ouattara then took power and the International Criminal Court indicted and arrested Gbagbo for crimes against humanity during the post-election civil war. Gbagbo is imprisoned in The Hague, Netherlands and is facing trial two weeks after the 2015 elections. Hardline members of his party, the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), disavowed their latest candidate N’Guessan, however, and requested supporters to boycott the polls. Voter turnout was markedly lower in areas considered Gbagbo’s traditional strongholds.

Division in the Ivory Coast

The outcome of Laurent Gbagbo’s ICC trial will have a substantial impact on the course of the next five years in the political climate of the Ivory Coast. The verdict, resulting in either an acquittal or conviction, will affect the balance of power in the FPI and its political support in the opposition. Most are expecting that Gbagbo will be convicted, but an acquittal would be a game changer. It could unite the opposition to Ouatarra and have a substantial impact on current political sympathies and the election in 2020.

The opposition parties in the Ivory Coast are currently deeply divided and in a state of disarray. Despite a few claims of voter intimidation and unequal access to state media, this election is universally considered valid, and there will be no civil war to determine who will be President. Over 10,000 police officers and soldiers were deployed all over the country to keep the peace during this year’s election.

All is still not well in the country with a continuing north-south divide, but progress is apparent, and Ouattara cites a growing economy based on its cocoa exports. Investors are flooding into the world’s top cocoa grower and their fears of upheaval are, temporarily, alleviated. Official observers considered the election peaceful and transparent. The President congratulated all Ivorians for their maturity and exemplary behavior.

ouattara celebrationsEconomic Growth and Optimism for the Future

Ouattara has presided over an unprecedented economic turnaround during his time in office. He is a noted economist known for transforming his country into one of the largest economies among its peers in West Africa after being decimated by civil war. The Ivory Coast economy is expected to expand about 10% this year, after averaging close to 8% the previous three years. The gain is greater and more rapid than most of its West African peers. Critics of the President believe he needs to do a better job of alleviating overall poverty and encourage further reconciliation after decades of violence and division within the country.

President Ouattara is optimistic about the future of his country. He believes that the people of the Ivory Coast are committed to a path of stability and reinforcement of democracy that his government is trying to foster. Hope is that the country continues its development and that peace will accompany it. Citizens must engage with their government and with their fellow citizens in peaceful political discussion and debate for progress to continue.

Mr. Ouattara believes that continued healthy growth in the economy will ease tensions that have divided the country in the past. An important element of reconciliation is improving living conditions, and this is already happening with investment in power infrastructure and the increasing availability of potable water. There is new hope in the country, and President Ouattara believes it will continue during his time as its leader.

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Freeman Osonuga: To Space and Beyond

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Freeman Osonuga wired

31-year old Nigerian Doctor, Freeman Osonuga, has 927 followers on Twitter. That number is minuscule compared to 44,700 who follow fellow countryman, and former NBA star, Hakeem Olajuwon. That could change quickly. A man of many hats, Osonuga may have a larger global impact than the basketball player when all is said and done. In 2014, TIME Magazine pegged him as a “Person of the Year” with other Ebola fighters, joining the likes of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Pope Francis in an elite club of world changers. What will he do for an encore? Freeman Osonuga may become Spaceman Osonuga, exchanging his Ebola suit for a spacesuit as part of his mission to save the world.

Born the youngest of six children, Freeman grew up in Ogun State, an impoverished area of Nigeria that was once a part of the short-lived Republic of Biafra. He lost his father in his youth, and his mother struggled to send him and his siblings to public schools. At the Olabisi Onabanjo University, he studied medicine and surgery. Osonuga started an NGO as an undergraduate student called Heal the World Foundation Nigeria. The foundation’s objectives are to care for children with disabilities, orphans, and the less-privileged. So far, they’ve helped over 550 children with disabilities and orphans in Nigeria: a good start for a man who strives to save the world.

One of Ten Outstanding Young People in Nigeria

Freeman OsonugaIn his writings, Osonuga has stated that the Heal the World Foundation Nigeria aspires to be the leading organization working with global organizations to guarantee that poverty in Africa is eradicated and becomes an informative display in a museum where it belongs. His work with the group has garnered attention locally and internationally. In 2013, he was named by Junior Chambers International (JCI) Nigeria as one of ten outstanding young persons in Nigeria and was selected by MTN Group Ltd (South Africa) to be one of their 23 delegates to 2013 One Young World Summit in Johannesburg. One Young World is the preeminent global forum for young leaders aged 18-30. It brings together the most promising young leaders from around the world, empowering them to make lasting connections and develop solutions to some of the world’s most pressing issues.

The Kruger Cowne Rising Star programme selected Osonuga as a One Young World Ambassador for the One Young World Summit 2014 in Dublin. Outstanding members of the public and Ambassadors, aged 18-35, were invited to nominate themselves to go on a once in a lifetime trip. Young people from 90 nations cast their vote in Kroger Crowne and One Young World’s global search for an icon of the future to catapult onto the international stage and into space – upon the XCOR Lynx® Spacecraft. Freeman Osonuga put himself in a position to be that icon.

The Meritorious Service Award from President Bai Ernest Koroma of Sierra Leone for Osoguna

Soon after the Summit, Osonuga embarked on the most dangerous journey of his short life; he volunteered to battle the Ebola virus at its peak in West Africa for six months with 835 African Union Ebola responders. Over 28,000 people have contracted the virus, and over 11,000 have died during the epidemic, including 230 medical care workers battling it. Freeman worked with a medical team in Magbenteh Ebola Treatment Unit, a 100-bed facility, in northern Sierra Leone. Fortunately, he did not contract the Ebola virus while treating the disease. In his walk through this valley of the shadow of death, he gave hope and comfort to fellow Africans fighting the disease, both those afflicted and the medical team. The Magbenteh Unit had a 65% survival rate with patients and a zero percent infection rate among the medical staff. For his efforts, Osoguna received the Meritorious Service Award from President Bai Ernest Koroma of Sierra Leone as well as the recognition by TIME magazine.

Life has not slowed down for the Nigerian doctor. He is a WIRED 2015 Innovation Fellow and recently spoke at their 2015 event with 11 other featured speakers. He has also been named an Associate Fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society. On October 2, 2015, he was shortlisted as one of three finalists for the space trip sponsored by Kruger Cowne, One Young World, and Xcor Space Expeditions. Freeman will deliver a keynote speech to thousands of delegates and a panel of global business trailblazers at the One Young World Summit in Bangkok in November. After the three finalists give their speeches on topics of their choice, a winner will be announced. If selected, Freeman Osonuga may make history as the first black African to venture into space.

The trip will last about one hour and will blast off in 2016. G-Force training is scheduled for the trip, in the Netherlands, to prepare passengers for their travel outside of the Earth’s atmosphere. Osonuga told Quartz Africa that the overall objective of the project is not just going to space; it is to raise global conversations on issues that affect all inhabitants of Earth such as climate change, global peace, and poverty. Godspeed, Freeman Osonuga!

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12 African Countries In Top 20 Affordable Luxury Real Estate Markets

Comments (0) Africa, Economy, Featured

luxury africa real estate

According to a September study by the German real estate portal Lamudi, twelve African countries are among the Top 20 emerging markets where luxury real estate is most affordable. Ethiopia topped the ranking in a total of 32 emerging markets in the recent Lamudi results. Luxury real estate in Ethiopia now costs an average of 396.58 € per square meter. To put this in perspective, luxury Paris property such as the Place Vendôme, Tuileries, and Palais Royal real estate commands 13,000 € per square meter, according to This Paris Life. To extend the frame of reference, Global Property Guide reports an average cost of over 6,000 € per square meter for “affordable luxury” land throughout France. Amazingly, therefore affordable luxury real estate in France is roughly 15 times more expensive than luxury real estate in Ethiopia!

Out of phase with the Lamudi study, however, Global Property Guide reports that all land in Ethiopia is owned by the government of the country, and can only be leased. With continuing border disputes, and weak enforcement of property rights, it is not clear how investors can securely exploit this appealing valuation of real estate for commercial purposes in Ethiopia. And recent drops in currency values of many African countries already discourage investment. However, the broader picture is more appealing in some of the other countries featured in the Lamudi report.

Côte d’Ivoire’s real estate market has grown rapidly since 2011

Côte d’Ivoire is now in full economic takeoff following a political and military crisis. Luxury real estate here is at an average price of 427.65 € per square meter, according to the Lamudi classification, which was made on the basis of average prices gathered from several thousand real estate sales advertisements. After ten years of sluggish economic growth, Côte d’Ivoire’s construction industry now claims double-digit growth in the most recent three years, according to the Oxford Business Group. Côte d’Ivoire’s real estate market has grown rapidly since 2011. Private initiatives thrive and the market is seeing significant development. A number of unique sources contribute to these especially attractive property prices. Substantial support by international donors in Côte d’Ivoire has artificially subsidized the markets and the country is now open to global construction firms, and boasts diversified investment sources.

Tanzania took third place in the Lamudi ranking with prices at 486.03 € per square meter. With an average price of 850.54 € per square meter, Kenya claimed sixth place on the list, following Mexico and Colombia. These figures are meticulously mined by Lamudi, a portal launched in 2013. The clearinghouse is a global property portal focusing exclusively on emerging markets. The Lamudi platform is available in 34 countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, and includes in excess of 900,000 real estate listings throughout its global network.

Nigeria, with a per square meter price of 856.29 €, was followed closely by Kenya, according to Lamudi. Meanwhile Tunisia at 885.52 € appeared in the ninth slot, just ahead of Ghana (1,035.75 €), and Morocco (1,144.25 €). Rounding out the African countries featured, Uganda (1,597.22 €) occupied 15th place, ahead of Algeria (1,766.53 €), while Angola (3,965.52 €) closed the top 20 list.

Marrakech a top investment choice

Target cities to watch in the emerging luxury real estate market include Marrakech, Morocco. Marrakech holds strong growth prospects, favorable political stability, and an enticing environment for foreigners. Marrakech was recently named by Financial Times property experts as a top investment choice for 2014.

Lamudi’s focus on raw price may not be a representation of true property values. While luxury real estate property values in Morocco may be nearly four times those of Ethiopia, both are relatively cheap on a global scale, especially with regard to developed countries. For this reason, other criteria such as governmental and economic stability, environmental quality, and effectiveness of law enforcement may be more important determining factors than the price of land when comparing the featured countries for the purpose of luxury real estate investment. Furthermore, the unpredictable political climate and economic instability in these areas guarantees that these prices will fluctuate dramatically in relatively short periods of time.

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African Currencies in Decline

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Featured

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As currencies across the African continent fall against the dollar, the International Monetary Fund stated that the financial sector should brace itself for additional volatility. The IMF warned Wednesday in a semiannual assessment of risks to the global financial system, that the fallout from the end of “easy-money policies” by central banks could decelerate global economic expansion, reveal inflated asset prices, and further strain overextended lenders. Several factors contribute to the decline, including a trend by international investors to abandon emerging markets.

MSCI’s primary emerging equity fell 1.4 percent, declining to a one-month low, and Asian shares with the exception of Japan lost 1.6 percent. China led with a 2.75 percent rout on stocks. India, among the best equity performers this past year, realized its lowest daily fund outflow as of Wednesday. Resultant currency declines included record lows in several countries, including South Africa’s rand, Zambia’s kwacha, Uganda’s shilling, Tanzania’s shilling and Ghana’s cedi. The zloty and forint also fell sharply against the rising euro. China, by far the leading investor in African frontier markets, led this trend due to predicted increases in US interest rates which have yet to materialize.

Symptoms of global decline observed in more volatile emerging markets


Neil Shearing, head of emerging markets research at Capital Economics, stated that, “It is a bit of a bloodbath in equity markets. There are several things going on … the rise in oil prices, inflation expectations. Bond yields globally, including in emerging markets, have gone up and equity markets have come off the boil.” In some countries economic indexes are below the crisis levels set in 2008. Symptoms of global decline have been first observed in more volatile emerging markets.

China’s influence cannot be exaggerated. China’s decelerating growth struck fear among investors in emerging markets, from South Africa all the way to Malaysia. Equal with the fortunes of the world’s second-largest economic force, China’s financial grumbling reaches into pockets around the globe. Following an Asian recession and market meltdown, the Beijing government supported its own economy and stock market with a liquidity injection, but emerging market currencies cannot rely on such support. As a result, African markets now feel the domino effect.

Compliance failure could further jeopardize economic stability

African governments are taking stopgap measures to stem collapses. Nigeria, Africa’s top economy, froze its foreign exchange market, but this had the repercussion that it’s Naira was excluded from the influential JP Morgan bond index. The new currency crisis is increasing government debts as well, which reduces ability to comply with debt forgiveness specifications. Compliance failure could further jeopardize economic stability in many countries. Bond issues reveal yet another hedging mechanism already in play.

Bonds, commodities, and currencies are all near 16 year low figures. Stephen Bailey-Smith of Standard Bank Group Ltd. said, “Everyone’s putting on a helmet and just hoping to get through the day. African Eurobonds have been hit harder than average because they’re perceived as being more commodity-dependent.” Kenya’s shilling dropped 0.3 percent to 103.7 per dollar, the lowest closing since October 2011. And finance ministers claim that selling dollars on the currency market to compensate is not effective because speculators will quickly respond. African markets may have an opportunity to rally if the US Federal Reserve holds interest rates steady. Without a specific catalyst, African currency markets may be headed for a very long decline.

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