Press Release – Africa Adaptation Initiative: A Response to Africa Biggest Challenge


This will be an opportunity to consider the most effective measures to help close the Adaptation Gap in Africa, which experts estimate to be between USD 7 billion and 15 billion per year by 2020, increasing thereafter

LIBREVILLE, Gabon, September 19, 2018/ — The first Africa Adaptation Initiative (AAI) Partners (http://AfricaAdaptationInitiative.org/rt/) Roundtable Meeting will take place on Monday 24 September 2018, from 10.30 a.m. – 11.30 a.m. in New-York at the UN Secretariat Conference Room 5, in margins of 73rd UN General Assembly (UNGA).

Gabon Ali Bongo Ondimba Africa Adaptation InitiativeThis is jointly hosted by the Gabonese Government, on behalf of the African Union’s Committee of Head of State on Climate Change (CAHOSCC) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Over 40 leaders including Mrs Patricia ESPINOSA, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Mr Eric SOLHEIM, UNEP Administrator, Josefa Leonel Correia SACKO, African Union Commissioner, Pierre GUISLAIN, Deputy President of the African development Bank (AfDB), countries and organizations, have confirmed to participate to this important meeting.

This will be an opportunity to consider the most effective measures to help close the Adaptation Gap in Africa, which experts estimate to be between USD 7 billion and 15 billion per year by 2020, increasing thereafter.

While all African countries are investing significant domestic resources in their own response to climate change, through their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), there is still a significant gap that requires international support in terms of finance, technology development and transfer and capacity building.

Every day African countries have to face the negative impacts of climate change on agriculture, water, access to natural resources, and millions are struggling to adapt to the harmful effects coastal erosion, floods, desertification and the devastation of disasters caused by extreme weather events. These multiple consequences of climate change make adaptation the priority for Africa.

Ali Bongo Ondimba 2014As the current chair of CAHOSCC and the AAI Champion, the President of Gabon, H.E. Ali BONGO ONDIMBA, has firmly taken the lead in the drive to accelerate action on climate change adaptation in Africa, working with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to mobilize through this roundtable $ 5 Million to support the 3 years AAI work programme.

“Africa, with its means, is deploying all its energy to fight the cancer of modern development that is climate change.This must therefore also lead our partners to mobilise their efforts relentlessly, in accordance with commitments that are continually repeated but still insufficiently implemented. I therefore invite all our partners to join the transformation train to boost Paris’ momentum and turn our words into deeds. For as I have said since Paris. The cost of inaction will be greater and heavier than that of action”, said H.E. Mr. Ali BONGO ONDIMBA, President of The Gabonese Republic, Coordinator of Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Africa Adaptation Initiative.

Press Release: U.S. Senators condemn democratic backsliding in Uganda

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) released the following statement on the current situation in Uganda.

Senators Uganda Bobi Wine

Uganda

“As members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, we are gravely concerned about the continued deterioration of democracy, human rights, and fundamental freedoms in Uganda. The actions of the Government of Uganda towards its critics—protesters, opposition supporters, and parliamentarians like Members of Parliament Frances Zaake and Robert Kyangulanyi, better known as Bobi Wine—are unacceptable. Likewise, we are extremely troubled by the beating and arrest of journalists during these events, and by reports that foreign correspondents are being denied accreditation to work in Uganda.

“We call upon the Ugandan authorities to conduct a credible investigation into the murder of Yasin Kawuma, and into the reports of beatings, torture, and the use of lethal force on civilians by security forces during the Arua Municipality by-election campaign and subsequent protests, and to hold those responsible accountable for their actions. It is critical to Uganda’s democracy that Parliament is respected as an independent institution of the government, and that Members of Parliament can execute their mandate without threat or interference. We strongly urge President Museveni and the Ugandan Government to adhere to the rule of law, and respect freedom of expression, press, and assembly granted by the country’s constitution. As Bobi Wine and Francis Zaake return to Uganda after medical treatment, we will closely monitor their situation, and that of those who face charges alongside them.”

Solar kits and battery lamps are replacing kerosene across Africa

Jörg Peters, University of Passau

For decades, people in rural Africa have been using sooty kerosene lamps to dimly light their homes. But in recent years households, even in poor areas, have started to replace their kerosene lamps with non-rechargeable dry-cell battery driven lamps and solar kits. This is happening largely without any governmental or donor involvement. These devices are equipped with light-emitting diodes (LED) that have become significantly cheaper over the years. This has, in turn, made them a highly efficient technology affordable, even for poor people living in rural areas.

File 20180828 86120 12mug3d.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Many rural communities across Africa have dropped kerosene lighting for various electrical lights.
Shutterstock

Our study covering seven countries across sub-Saharan Africa shows how privately supplied dry-cell battery driven lamps as well as solar kits have facilitated a lighting transition. Cheap supplies of disposable batteries and lamps mostly from China, have found their way into the most remote villages in the region.

A quote from a Senegalese expert we engaged with in the field summarises this transition:

Chinese torches have electrified Africa, not World Bank.

At least for basic electric lighting provision this seems to be true. Obviously, LED torches do not replace the need for more powerful electricity that can be used for productive purposes.

The lighting transition away from kerosene is a remarkable development that challenges the traditional understanding of how mass electrification happens – and how mass adoption of a technology shapes up. The convention is that these processes are initiated from the top by governmental or non-governmental organisations supported by a development agent like the World Bank or its Lighting Global programme, which specialises in supporting sustainable growth of the global off-grid lighting market.

But, in the case of dry-cell battery driven lamps, the technology has diffused without any top-down support. It’s an amazing tale of technology diffusion that has happened without any institutional support.

The transition away from kerosene

We came across an intriguing example in small villages in rural Rwanda we were surveying for a randomised controlled trial on solar kits. We found that people had replaced kerosene lamps with dry-cell battery LED lamps. Slightly better-off households were using ready-made flashlight – either smaller torches or much brighter multi-diode lamps.

Even the poorest people could afford the investment by hand-crafting one-diode torches, connected to disposable batteries tied by banana leaves. We were told by a number of people that kids had brought the idea from school, where it spread through word-of-mouth channels.

Admittedly, our lighting transition study covers only selected places in seven countries. But the similarity of these patterns across all of them suggests it can be generalised to other regions.

And the economic argument – affordability and scalability of LED-lamps – seems to be universal. LED torches are cheaper to run than kerosene lamps. In addition, the scalability from handcrafting dim one-diode lights (that come at less than a dollar) to bright multi-diode lamps (that can cost several dollars) solves the liquidity constraint problem attached to more lumpy investments.

LED seems to be a perfectly adaptive pro-poor technology. Households can scale the investment according to their ability to pay. Not least, rural dwellers everywhere have a high preference for LED over kerosene.

How about quality?

The concern of many donor agencies – including Lighting Global – is that the quality of these LED lamps and low cost solar lanterns is poor, particularly when it comes to their durability. Based on this assumption they advocate quality verified products.

Yet, in a case study in Burkina Faso we showed that this is only true when one considers the absolute quality, not the quality relative to the upfront costs. For a household with low purchasing power it is not rational to invest in a high-quality kit that lasts, say, twice as long but costs three times as much. Given that poor people don’t have much cash and have many other urgent and essential things to deal with, it’s perfectly reasonable that they would prefer a cheaper solar lamp over a more expensive one – even if it breaks sooner.

This raises concerns about the inappropriate disposal of electronic waste. The shorter durability of non-quality-verified products and the surging consumption of dry-cell batteries in rural Africa is leading to more and more electronic waste. This increasing environmental burden needs to be addressed. Here, quality-verified solar kits and their licensed vendor network can have an important role, as we argue in another paper.

Conclusion

The LED dissemination success story has provided poor people in Africa with access to clean lighting sources.

This suggests that expectations about the impact of electrification have to be updated. Most notably, positive health effects by a reduction of kerosene induced air pollution as it was observed in El Salvador might not materialise anymore in Africa. At the same time, policy makers should have an eye on an emerging new problem: the massive increase of electronic waste in areas were no waste management system is in place.The Conversation

Jörg Peters, Professor, University of Passau

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

DRC election: dangers behind Bemba’s possible candidacy?

Reuben Loffman, Queen Mary University of London

The possible return of Jean-Pierre Bemba has shocked many in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. With just over five months before the presidential and gubernatorial elections, he has reemerged to challenge President Joseph Kabila’s political order. And despite his chequered past, Bemba has a popular following.

Congo DRC Jean-Pierre Bemba Joseph KabilaMore than two years ago Bemba was indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court. He was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity and was sentenced to 18 years in jail. But in June this year his appeal against most of his convictions was successful. He may therefore be out of jail sooner than originally thought.

Bemba was also convicted of witness tampering and/or bribing witnesses. This appeal is ongoing.

Bemba’s schedule, including his return to the DRC, has not been confirmed. But many suspect he will head back to his home country. His party, the Movement for the Liberation of the Congo (MLC), has nominated him as their presidential candidate only weeks after his conviction was quashed. He has been in touch with his supporters whom he spoke to on telephone recently to thank them. He promised that he would return soon.

Central Africa and the international community will have to pay close attention to Bemba’s plans despite the fact that he has been away from the Congolese political scene for a number of years. His possible entry into the fray has thrown an already uncertain situation into further disarray. For one, it’s unclear who he would run against. If Kabila insists on standing again – which constitutionally he’s not allowed to do – the DRC faces another period of increasing uncertainty, and almost inevitably more violence.

Bemba’s history

Although Bemba will be welcomed home by some, his history in Congolese politics has been controversial and he has many enemies.

Born in 1962 in what is now Nord-Ubangi, in north-western Congo, Bemba was the son of a successful businessman, Jeannot Bemba Saolona. In the 1990s, Joseph Mobutu hired Bemba as his personal assistant when the latter was in his 30s.

In 1998, when the Democratic Republic of Congo was in the grip of the Second Congo War, Bemba began the Movement for the Liberation of the Congo (MLC) with support from Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. The Second Congo War had begun after Laurent Kabila dismissed the Rwandan handlers who had guided him to power during the First Congo War. Rwanda then launched an invasion of the Congo. Other nations joined in to support either side.

The MLC tried to protect communities which it felt were sympathetic to its cause during the fighting. By repelling the invading Rwandan-backed forces it gained control of much of the northwestern parts of the Congo. In his defence at the ICC, Bemba claimed to have re-opened hospitals and schools as the war raged. Yet in fact, the MLC was known for its ethnic cleansing of the Twa (“Pygmy”) peoples during this conflict.

The MLC also operated beyond the DRC’s borders. It was invited into the Central African Republic by then President, Ange-Félix Patassé, to suppress a suspected coup attempt. Human rights advocates suspected Bemba and his party of committing human rights violations during his time in the CAR. Nothing resulted from these suspicions at the time.

Once the peace process in the DRC began following the signing of the Second Sun City deal that was struck in April 2002, Bemba became part of the country’s transitional government.

He served as one of four vice presidents under Kabila who came to power in 2003 in an arrangement that was dubbed ‘1 + 4’. It was an uneasy arrangement, however, because elections were due in 2006 and both Bemba and Kabila wanted to be president.

Fight for supremacy

Bemba and Kabila fought a bitter campaign against one another. Bemba’s slogan, “100% Congolese,” was widely interpreted to be a slight on his opponent’s heritage because, although Kabila was born in the Congo, rumours abounded that he was in fact from Tanzania. That notwithstanding, by the end of October 2006 Kabila had won the second round run-off.

During the election there was significant fighting between Bemba’s troops and those loyal to Kabila. A number of soldiers and civilians were killed.

In 2007, Bemba fled to the South African embassy in Kinshasa before leaving for Portugal on the pretext of seeking medical treatment there. In fact he was fleeing the violence. In his absence, the state came down hard on MLC activists.

But it took until 2008 for Bemba to be arrested in Brussels. His International Criminal Court trial began in 2010 and he was convicted in 2016.

A Bemba presidency

Having been exonerated from most of his convictions, Bemba now joins only a handful of candidates who have declared their intention to stand. They include, first, Felix Tshisekedi, the son of the late opposition politician Etienne Tshisekedi, and leader of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress.

The second candidate of note is Moise Katumbe, the former governor of Katanga and leader of a political alliance called ‘Ensemble pour le Changement’ (‘Together for Change’). Katumbe has declared his intention to run but he is unlikely to be on the ballot because of a three-year jail sentence he has been ordered to serve for illegally selling a property. He is currently in a period of self-imposed exile as he awaits the elections.

The deadline for candidates to declare their intention to stand for President is 8 August. Many candidates are likely to wait until the last minute to declare, when they are sure they stand a good chance.

It remains to be seen whether Bemba will face off against his old nemesis, Kabila. The image Kabila’s party is pushing is that he will stand despite being constitutionally barred from doing so.

The ConversationGiven Kabila’s potential candidacy, and Bemba’s entrance onto the Congolese political scene, election related violence could further intensify in the DRC.

Reuben Loffman, Lecturer in African History, Queen Mary University of London

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

Africa’s Revolutionary New Free Trade Area Could Lift Millions out of Poverty

by Alexander C.R. Hammond

In recent months, African nations have been in the process of creating, signing and ratifying the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The agreement is one of the largest trade liberalization efforts since the founding of the World Trade Organization in 1995.

Last Sunday, at the 31st African Union (AU) Summit in Nouakchott, Mauritania; the total number of AfCFTA’s signatories reached 49 out of 55 African Union (AU) member states. So is free trade becoming mainstream in African politics?

If all 55 AU nations ratified the proposed agreement, AfCFTA would create a trading area with 1.2 billion people and a cumulative GDP of $2.5 trillion. It aims to improve trade within the continent by immediately removing tariffs on 90 percent of goods, with the remaining 10 percent of tariffs on “sensitive goods” phasing out over time.

Being able to trade freely with one’s neighbors is vital for economic growth. In 2016, just 18 percent of Africa’s total exports were traded within the African continent. In Europe and Asia, intra-regional trade accounted for 69 percent and 59 percent of total exports respectively.

Under the AfCFTA, the UN Economic Commission on Africa estimates, intra-African trade could increase 52.3 percent by 2022. It could double again, after the final 10 percent of tariffs are removed. If adopted, the AfCFTA has the potential to revolutionize African trade and add billions to the continent’s GDP.

Quality of government could also improve through competition to create welcoming and stable business environments.

For the AfCTFA to be implemented, 22 countries must ratify the agreement. So far, six have done so. Unfortunately, prior to last weekend, the AfCFTA did not have the support of the continent’s two richest nations. Whilst Nigeria remains reluctant to cooperate, South Africa, the continent’s largest economy, has finally signed the agreement.

Admittedly, the AU has a long history of failed promises and meaningless acts. If AfCTFA succeeds, it will signify an important shift away from the socialist policies of Africa’s past. As Professor George Ayittey, the president of the Free Africa Foundation, explains:

“Most African nations took the socialist route after independence… In many places in Africa, capitalism was identified with colonialism, and since the latter was evil and exploitative, so too was the former. Socialism, the antithesis of capitalism, was advocated as the only road to Africa’s prosperity… and in its wake followed economic atrophy, repression and dictatorship.”

Africa’s socialist experience started in Ghana, the first African colony to gain independence in 1957. Kwame Nkrumah, the man many consider to be the “Father of African socialism”, pursued “complete ownership of the economy by the state”. Nkrumah encouraged Africans to “not rest content until we demolish this miserable structure of colonialism and erect in its place veritable paradise”.

Ahmed Sekou Touré of Guinea in 1958, Modibo Keita of Mali and Leopold Sedar Senghor of Senegal in 1960, Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia in 1964 and Agostinho Neto of Angola in 1975 were just some of the leaders who followed Nkrumah’s example.

In Africa, socialism was implemented through the one-party state apparatus. The state would own everything and direct economic activity.

“Predictably, in one country after another, economic ruin, dictatorship and oppression followed with deadly consistency… In Africa, socialism was implemented through the one-party state apparatus. The state would own everything and direct economic activity,” explains Ayittey.

Compare Africa’s past with its present. The AfCTFA is championed by Paul Kagame, the AU’s Chairman and President of Rwanda. Kagame describes himself as an avid free-trader and a disciple of Lee Kuan Yew, the first leader of the independent free-trading nation of Singapore. He is not alone: Mahamadou Issoufou, the President of Niger, noted that mobilising his peers to sign the agreement was easy as “most leaders already wanted to create a free-trade area in Africa”. The AfCTFA will mean “more integration (and) more growth for the whole continent,” Issoufou has declared.

Beyond the AfCFTA, overall trends across the continent indicate shifting attitudes towards free enterprise.

As Marian L. Tupy of the Cato Institute notes, “Africa’s love affair with socialism persisted until the 1990s, when, at long last, Africa started to reintegrate into the global economy”. According to the Economic Freedom of World report, Africa’s economy is becoming freer—its economic freedom score is now equal to the world average in 1996.

Tupy continues: “Trade relations with the rest of the world were somewhat liberalised (after 1990), and African nations started to deregulate their economies, thus climbing up the rankings in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report.”

Despite this trend towards liberalisation, many African nations continue to be rife with corruption, ruled by dictators and face persistent poverty. But the AfCTFA and the desire of 49 nations to pursue intra-African free trade is a symbol that attitudes in what was once described as “The Hopeless Continent” are changing.

From socialist dictatorships to free trade, the prospects for African growth are looking better than ever. Let’s hope this deal adds billions of dollars to the continent’s economy, lifting millions out of poverty.

Reprinted from CAPX

Alexander Hammond Africa human progress

Alexander C.R. Hammond
is the Research Assistant for HumanProgress.org.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.