Monday, 20 August 2018

Kofi Annan served as United Nations Secretary-General during a pivotal decade in modern world history – from 1997 to 2006. I would argue that his most important legacy was to focus the UN more on preventing and resolving deadly conflict within its sovereign members, while still trying to maintain peace and security among them.

How he developed and pursued ways and means to do this began much earlier in his UN career and persisted until his untimely death last week.

The UN was created in 1945 by 51 sovereign states and empires that had just survived two of the worst wars in history. With the winding down of empires, UN membership grew to nearly 200 countries. By the late 1990s most countries were at peace internationally. And despite their continuing ideological and other differences, they have, ever since, avoided another world war.

But domestic peace was to prove more illusive. The UN lacked the norms, institutional capacity and political resolve, to prevent and resolve deadly conflicts within states, while maintaining peace among them. Although Africa accounted for nearly a third of the UN’s members, it was also the world’s poorest and most conflict-ridden region. And it lacked the means to effect major reforms in the world body’s post-World War II hierarchy, structures and procedures.

Annan knew the UN system and its strengths and limitations better than anyone. He had spent 35 years working on the problems of refugees, management and finance, and peacekeeping having joined it in 1962 as a young budget officer in the World Health Organisation.

He had also felt the sting of governments and public opinion that regarded the UN as a necessary last resort, when all other options have failed, due to lack of national or regional capacity, resources or political will. This was most evident when it came to complex emergencies in Africa.

His message for Africa

Six months after becoming Secretary-General, Annan chose to address the 1997 summit in Harare of leaders of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in a way that none of his predecessors had done.

His central point was that Africa’s peace and development required Africa’s leaders to hold one another more accountable to how they managed their domestic affairs. This was particularly true when it came to the protection of human rights and democracy.

In language uncharacteristically passionate for such occasions he declared:

I am aware of the fact that some view this concern a luxury of rich countries for which Africa is not ready … I find these thoughts truly demeaning…. Do not African mothers weep when their sons or daughters are killed or maimed by agents of repressive rule? Are not African fathers saddened when their children are unjustly jailed or toured? Is not Africa as a whole impoverished with even one of its brilliant voices is silenced?

He concluded by emphasising that “human rights are African rights”, noting that “Africa needs external assistance, and Africa deserves it, but in the final analysis, what stands between us and the future is ourselves”.

Four years later, the OAU was replaced by the African Union (AU). What was notable was the unprecedented inclusion of a provision for collective intervention to protect any group of Africans facing local threats of mass violence or genocide.

Less extreme, but more generally applicable, was the principle of non-indifference in each other’s internal affairs. This is most evident in its auxiliary African Charter for Democracy, Elections and Governance which was unanimously endorsed in 2007 and finally ratified in 2012.

As a result, all African governments are now obligated to hold regular periodic national elections. They are also obliged to invite the AU to send teams of pan-African observers to monitor and judge whether they are a credible reflection of the popular will.

Annan would not claim credit for these developments. But, his efforts were surely prescient and gave political impetus and legitimacy to the hard diplomatic work of South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki, President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, and other advocates of a more capable regional organisation and sub-regional organisations.

Embracing civil society

Also notable in his 1997 address to the OAU was his call for civil society to play its part. This reflected what was to become one of his major innovations as UN Secretary-General – his openness and willingness to reach out, listen too, cooperate with and occasionally adopt policies advocated by civil society groups.

I personally know of at least four examples. All were Africa-related but also global in nature and very much to his credit as we honour his legacy.

  • During the 1980s he participated in a series of efforts by the International Peace Academy, an NGO established to help train and better inform and prepare for expected UN peacekeeping operations, mostly in Africa. This capacity should have been institutionalised in the UN, but was thwarted by the US and Soviet Union. Both feared that the other might somehow gain a Cold War advantage. The NGO never fully succeeded and would have probably failed without Annan’s frequent personal and sustained engagement.

  • As Secretary-General he made cooperation with the independent Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflicts his personal priority. He attended commission meetings and encouraged the involvement of key offices across the secretariat. As a member of the commission staff, I appreciated how extensively he used policy relevant scholarship by teams of academics on a range of conflict prevention topics. His aim was to build support within and beyond the UN for more comprehensive efforts to prevent complex emergencies within states.

  • After leaving office he continued to promote, and often lead, civil society efforts to help the UN and the world, beginning in Africa. In 2006 he became the founding chair of Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). AGRA aims to increase the incomes and improve the food security for 30 million farming households in 11 African countries by 2021.

  • In his home country Ghana, I watched with admiration how his Foundation sponsored presidential debates in which candidates publicly pledged to support the decision of the national electoral commission. And when the opposition won by less than .005% of the votes in the 2008 election, their pledge held.

  • And, best known, has been his chairmanship of the Elders, a group of world leaders committed to advancing peace, especially in Africa, and founded by Nelson Mandela.

The importance of persistence

I last met with Annan several years ago when he was on Elders’ business and I asked what he thought of Robert Mugabe holding on to power more than a decade after his pro-democracy appeal to the OAU Summit in Harare.

He told me that near the end of his UN term he had visited Mugabe and inquired whether he might consider bidding farewell to his people after decades of service. He said, Mugabe asked in reply: “Why? My people aren’t going anywhere.”

The Conversation

Annan noted that this response was both a sign of the limits of diplomacy, as well as the reason never to stop trying.

John J Stremlau, Visiting Professor of International Relations, University of the Witwatersrand

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Published in World

South African mobile group MTN will compete for the fourth telecom operator license in Angola, the group’s chief executive told South African daily newspaper Financial Mail.

“Angola has started the formal process of granting a fourth license and we are participating,” said Rob Shuter, according to whom it is a process that “will still take some time.”

Angolan newspaper Novo Jornal reported that the MTN group, founded in 1994 and present in 24 countries, has joined the Vodafone group in the race to become the fourth telecommunications operator in Angola.

In Angola, three global operators are licensed to provide voice, data and Internet services: Angola Telecom, Unitel and Movicel.

At the end of November 2017, the Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technologies, José Carvalho da Rocha, said the fourth operator would not only for mobile telecommunications, but would be granted a global license, which would allow other services, such as pay-TV.

The minister said that the decision aims to improve the efficiency of the sector by introducing more competition that could bring gains for potential users of these services. Carvalho da Rocha said earlier this month that the valuation of Angola Telecom’s assets for the privatisation of 45% of its share capital is in the final phase.

The minister added that the government intends to start the process of partial privatisation of Angola Telecom as soon as the winner of the tender for the fourth mobile operator is announced.



Published in Telecoms
With the myriads of problems facing the nation’s stock market, stakeholders have expressed divergent views on the relevance of the routine ‘Bell Ringing’ exercise at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and the impact on the market.
While some stakeholders believe that the ceremony has increased stock market visibility and attracted more stakeholders, others argued that the impact has not reflected on the market.
The Managing Director of High Cap Securities, David Imafidon, explained that the NSE uses the gong sounding ceremony to publicise itself and attract stakeholders to its platform.
According to him, efforts must be made not to trivialise the programme, considering the level of visibility and competitiveness the exercise has attracted to the exchange.
Also speaking, the Managing Director of High Cap Securities Limited, Mike Eze, who described the exercise as a routine, said: “Bell ringing in any stock exchange is the exclusive preserve of the President of the stock exchange.
The President, who is not on ground day to day, on his part, delegates this function to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the exchange, who is on ground running the exchange day to day.
“The CEO in his wisdom, may decide to invite any reputable hand to assist him in bringing the market to a close. This is the interplay you see going on every day in the last eight years. It is just the process of opening and closing of a stock market.”
The Managing Director of Dependable Securities Limited, Chinenyem Anyanwu, said: “It has a way of impacting the market positively by making the stock Exchange and the capital market to always be in the news, sometimes occupying the front pages of the print media.
However, the President of Progressive Shareholders association of Nigeria, Boniface Okezie, explained that the exercise has not attracted the expected investments into the market.
According to him, it is expected that the ceremony would serve as a platform for listed firms to unfold their growth plans and present their scorecards to stockbrokers for share price appreciation.
He noted that in other exchanges across the world, due to the amount of coverage the opening and closing bells receive, many companies coordinate new product launch and other marketing-related events with the day their company representative rings the bell.
“The purpose of the exercise is to boost the market in terms of liquidity, volume of shares and attract new investments. Listed companies may also use the platform to inform stockbrokers on new products they are about to lunch or any other information that can boost their share price. But these are not happening.
“I have not seen the impact. They should look at how to improve on the exercise, so that it would be more impactful and add value to the market. Those undervalued stocks need to improve.
“We need the companies to come to the market and tell stockbrokers their growth plans so that it would lift their stock prices and in turn, grow the market.”
The Guardian 
Published in News Economy
The Nigerian Welders Association (NWA) has appealed to government to ban importation of finished furnitures as part of efforts to boost production in the country.
The NWA Zonal Chairman, Alhaji Ola Balogun who made the appeal in Lagos, South west Nigeria, said that a large number of furniture factories and welders had been laid off work as a result of the increase on importation of furnitures.
According to him, the imported furniture is only flashy and could not compete with the locally made ones in terms of quality and durability.
He appealed to the government to intervene, by placing embargo on importation of some furniture, to encourage local manufacturers.
He insisted that the local furniture industry, with proper legislation, could provide huge revenue for the economy.
“One of the biggest challenges of the Nigerian economy is that it is import dependent. A number of companies that should have engaged in local production were importing finished products for domestic projects, which reduced gross domestic products and increased unemployment rate of the country.
“The Federal Government in 2004, under President Olusegun Obasanjo, introduced a new policy banning the importation of furniture into the country. This policy is to encourage economic growth and to promote local production of furniture.
“But recent developments have seen a downturn in investments and growth in the industry. The importation of finished furniture products has become rampant in the country. It is time for the Federal Government to revisit and re-introduce the policies that will create growth in the furniture industry,’’ he explained.
The Ripples
Published in Business

Some investors at the Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics Base (LADOL) free zone are still worried about the cost of operations at the zone, and have requested for a more pragmatic and lasting solution, given their huge investment portfolio in the area.

They said the move will not only encourage investors operating in the zone, but will also guarantee Federal Government’s commitment to giving existing and would-be investors the needed assurance and protection.

They, therefore, called for a milder business atmosphere, which they said would drive returns on their investments.

LADOL and its subsidiary company, Global Resources Free Zone Management Company (GRMFZC), have been at the centre of allegations by some investors at the zone.

The investment of a member of Samsung Group of Companies has been identified as a focal point in this quest, as investigations show that investment by Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) is the most valuable asset of the LADOL Island.



Published in Business
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