Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cry Our Beloved Guinea!

I am beginning to feel a bit embarassed about the situation in Guinea: I don't quite understand what's going on there. Is Camara going to stand in the election -- or is he not?

If he does, then he is contradicting all that he has said about restoring the country to constitutional rule. Then there is the recent shootings of unarmed people in the country. Power is certainly sweet--especially for military juntas--but I felt given the bloodless nature of the coup, Camara was going to be a different kettle of fish.

Looks like I was wrong...

I have tremendous faith in ECOWAS, but I cannot quite understand what it can do now. Already, Guinea has been suspended, so what next--beyond a flying in of a diplomats to speak with the interim government.

More than anything the irony of what is happening in Guinea is that it is happening in the centenary of Osagyefo Dr.Kwame Nkrumah who sought to create close ties with the francophone country to push forward African Unity.

Vacancy Announcement: FES Liaison Officer to the African Union

(thx to AU-Citizens Yahoo list-serv:)


Addis Ababa Office

Announcement of Vacancy

FES Liaison Officer to the African Union

Addis Ababa, 25th September, 2009


Established in 2002, the African Union is becoming an increasingly important actor for African and international politics. Especially security policy has developed into a core area of activity for this continental organization, but other policy areas – such as agricultural or social policy – are gaining influence as they are being discussed on a continental level.

The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, committed to the global promotion of social democracy, sees the AU as a potential partner to further its mission. The FES Addis Ababa office, established in 1992, has been cooperating with the AU since 2007, in order to promote the democratic potential of the organization in certain policy areas according to the goals of social democracy. It seeks to support the creation of a peaceful, democratic and socially just Africa that can assume its legitimate global responsibility, but also seeks to critically analyze the development of the organization with the input of important democratic and societal actors, such as Parliamentarians, Trade Unionists, Political Party representatives, Civil Society activists, media practioners, and to feed back its analysis into its political framework in Germany and Europe.

The FES therefore seeks a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the African Union. The FES office Addis Ababa will be upgraded to become an AU-FES Liaison Office. The coordination of its work shall be the task of an AU Liaison Officer. According to the (draft) Africa Strategy of the FES Africa Department, the office should “assume the task of a liaison office and take over a service function for other offices, such as support these offices with information and contacts and by feeding issues into the national and regional work that are easily implementable on the respective levels”.


The FES-AU Liaison Officer should be an expert in African politics with an ability to sustain high-level contacts and to use the common FES instruments (trainings, workshops, conferences, publications) in order to achieve the defined overall objectives. He/she will report to the FES Resident Representative in Addis Ababa and work in a team with two other project managers.

In detail, he/she should:

· Hold an advanced degree (M.A. or equivalent) in social sciences such as political science, international relations, (African) history, international law or other relevant fields;

· Have significant knowledge of African politics, institutions, the development of the AU and the Regional Economic Communities, especially in, but not limited to, the field of security policy;

· Have at least 3-5 years work experience in continental politics, the AU, or related institutions such as research institutions with a focus on Africa, International Organizations etc.;

· Be fluent in English and French, preferably be proficient in (an)other African language/s;

· Be able and ready to gain knowledge in new policy areas (such as social policy/social security systems) within a short timeframe;

· Be committed to the principles of social democracy and the international labor movement, namely peaceful conflict resolution, international solidarity, social justice, individual and collective freedom and democracy;

· Be ready to undertake extensive travelling, mainly on the African continent;

· Be ready to work in a small team in a participatory manner in the FES Addis Ababa as well as to build up networks with similar institutions as well as FES offices worldwide.

Areas of Work

The AU Liaison Officer will be responsible for

· Implementing the MoU between the FES and the AU: supporting the AU in certain policy areas by engaging it in a political dialogue on issues to be defined in the MoU

· Organizing training and dialogue seminars and conferences in Addis Ababa and other African as well as European capitals

· preparing information material for interested stakeholders, building up a website on continental issues together with other FES offices in Africa

· analyzing the overall development and developments of certain policy areas of the AU and preparing regular publications (policy briefs) on issues of interest

· Sustaining dialogue with AU representatives, maintain a network of contacts with the AU, AU partner organizations and donors, but also with representatives of African labor unions and civil society, media on a continental level


The contract will be for one year on a renewable basis.

Salary is competitive and negotiable on the basis of qualifications and experience.

Local insurance for health and professional accidents will be concluded by FES Addis Ababa.


If you are interested in this position and fulfill the above criteria, please send a motivation letter and CV in French or English to:

fandrych@fes.org.et and florian.daehne@fes.de

until 30th October, 2009.

Suitable women candidates are encouraged to apply.

Please note that only shortlisted candidates will be notified.

Désiré Y. Assogbavi (Mr.)
Tel. + 251 (0) 11 661 16 01 (Desk)
+ 251 (0) 911 20 83 32 (Cell.)
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Monday, August 31, 2009

Highlight of last week: "Africa must indeed unite, but does that mean we should disband the regional economic communities?"

African Union (AU) Africa must indeed unite, but does that mean we should disband the regional economic communities? What value do they have?

August 27 at 11:05am · ·
Aminu Adamu
Aminu Adamu
The Africa should operate with the regions,it wll make it stronger,we will then have a centralAfrica Union.
August 27 at 11:10am · Delete · Report
African Union (AU)
African Union (AU)
Aminu, why do u think govts are fighting abouta united AFrica. DO you not think sovereignty will be lost by uniting, in the sense that we would have to give off some of national rights in facour of an integrated "African" one. Is that not a problem?
August 27 at 11:33am · Delete
Aminu Adamu
Aminu Adamu
That is not the problem,we can be integrated.The African countries should have the ministry of cooperation and integration.This could be a good machinery to Unite all of us,to have one African state.It is achievable through the political will of our national leaders in Africa.
August 27 at 11:49am · Delete · Report
Firouzeh Afsharnia
Firouzeh Afsharnia
The europeans are already going towards this with the european union, the european parliament and the single currency. It will give Africa the political, and economic clout as well as the synergy of the network.
August 27 at 1:35pm · Delete · Report

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Is West Africa Really Irrelevant to its Citizens?(1)

I am copying below a piece by Public Agenda newspaper of a book launch that took place two weeks ago. I was also asked to cover that launch. I want to post the "official" version from a paper here, noting that the initial comments by "stakeholders" were by me, but the paper did not bother to seek my views as they probably think I'm small fry:-):



Public Agenda (Accra)
West Africa: Ecowas Integration Remains Irrelevant to Citizens

Ebenezer Hanson

14 August 2009

Stakeholders and policy makers have asked actors of ECOWAS to make the issue of subregional integration relevant to nationals of member countries by constantly engaging them in activities on the subject.

According to them, the issue of integration appears to be an abstract concept which exists in the minds of heads of states and governments, and public officials and has no bearing whatsoever on the lives of West African nationals.

These were some of the concerns raised during the discussion session of the launch of a book, "Nation- States and the Challenges of Regional Integration in West Africa: the Case of Ghana", edited by Prof. Kwame A. Ninsin, Scholar- in- residence at the Institute for Democratic Governance(IDEG) , last Wednesday.

"How many Ghanaians know of ECOWAS, they have no feel of it? ECOWAS remains at the aspect abstractions. We need to find out the views of Ghanaians on the subject," one participant said. [that was yours truly! more elaboration later!]

Prof. S.K.B Asante, a consummate diplomat with enormous experience on regional integration, regretted that the Ministry of Regional Integration and NEPAD created as an independent ministry in 2000 was later subsumed under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2005.

"It was wrong for the two ministries to be merged as after the merger issues of Foreign Affairs overshadowed those of ECOWAS and regional integration".

He disclosed that many other African countries took a cue from Ghana's Ministry of Regional Integration whose establishment was regarded as landmark arrangement for the driving of ECOWAS agenda.

"After the merger I wondered whether officials from the Foreign Ministry who attended ECOWAS meetings after their return briefed the relevant institutions," said the Prof.

President of the Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Wilson Attah Krofah, stressed that an integrated ECOWAS will inure immensely to the benefit of the private sector as it will present a 250- million market to players in the industry. However, he bemoaned the non involvement of social actors such as entrepreneurs in the formulation of ECOWAS protocols. "Get private sector operators involved in the formulation of protocols so that their concerns could be addressed".

"Nation-States and the Challenges of Regional Integration in West Africa: The Case of Ghana", the brain child of IDEG and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), is a 160-page featuring seven chapters authored by researchers, practitioners and policymakers. It discusses critical issues such as Implementing the ECOWAS Idea in Ghana: Taming the State, Empowering the People; Ghana and the politics of sub-Regional Integration; Regional Integration in West Africa; A single Currency for West African: Prospects and Challenges; Gender mainstreaming: National and Sub-regional policies of integration.

Others are, the paradox of West African Integration: Experiences, Perceptions and Notions of Integration among Ghanaians', Ghana's Agricultural Commodity Trade to ECOWAS: Implications and options for Regional Integration and the Language Factor in West Africa's Integration.

Reviewing the book, Dr. Vladimir Antwi- Danso of the Legon Centre for International Affairs, commended the depth of work by the authors. However, he lamented the omission of such relevant topics such as ECOWAS from the perspective of civil society, and ECOWAS and NEPAD.

He also disagreed with the conclusion drawn by one of the authors, Prof. Kwame Boafo-Arthur, that "Dr Kwame Nkrumah was opposed to integration schemes that posed a threat to the sovereignty of the newly independent African countries." Dr. Danso argues that Nkrumah's work towards integration was rather unparalleled during his era.

Dr, Abdul Lamin, Programme Specialist, Social and Human Sciences of UNESCO, revealed that his outfit initiated the project in 2005 and so far 10 books have been written in 10 different countries. He revealed that they hope to publish 17 books out of which 15 will focused on their respective countries.

He said UNESCO is committed to supporting Africa-led initiatives, as part of UNESCO's mid-term strategy "Since Africa, through the authority of the African Union and other statutory bodies have identified regional integration as major priority fro accelerating the continent's development, our role is to support the continent in these efforts..."

The Executive Director of IDEG, Dr. Emmanuel Akwetey, said there is a momentum building up about the integration of Africa both political and economic. He said the move is an exercise harking back to the great strides made by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.

Prof. Kwame Karikari, who chaired the event, noted the rate of the integration process is erratic varying with different periods." Sometimes you begin to wonder whether we are integrating at all considering the frustration one goes through in an effort to acquire a visa to another African country".


Thoughts much appreciated!!!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Facebook Friday:What's Cooking in the "Statusophere" on AU?

It's been a while since I asked a question that generated as much discussion as this one this pastt week. My questions was:

The EU tells us that with the Lisbon strategy, they will become a competitive economy by 2020. The African Union*AU* tells us that they will be united by...2034!! 14 years too late my brothers! Wake up and smell the burning gold and cocoa that is being shipped out. Africa MUST--Can-- Unite! Now. Be the change you want to see!

Kindly find below a screen capture of the responses to the question:

Best of the weekend!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

No Excuses for the AU-frican: Go Educate Yourself!

It needs not be said how great the obstacles out there as an African remain. I am not content being a Ghanaian and a West African/ECOWAS community citizen. Surely Africa is more than Ghana and West Africa?

I can get up tomorrow, find some money, head for the airport with my passport and find myself in any West African country without being harassed about a visa.

I'd like to think that I could do that in Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, South Africa, Chad.

Not so. Even the way some of our other African countries treat us is not on.

These are some of the reasons why a united Africa would serve us: hassle-free (or relatively hassle-free) travel for starters. Our govts give foreigners waivers of all kinds, tax holidays of all kinds, yet frustrate our fellow AU citizen's chances.

It has got to stop--but it does not only start with our policy-makers. It begins with YOU! This is because all I have said is common knowledge and perhaps populist. Go surf the 'Net. Tweet! Get on Facebook! New media is bringing Africa to life. Just get connected! And learn the facts for yourselves...

Meaning EDUCATING yourself the best way how on the latest developments on AU affairs. We have no excuses!

While you are there, you might be interested in some other AU-related links on Facebook as well. Perhaps you might even want to walk into a hotel wherever you may be in Africa and ask why there is no sub-regional flag and/or AU flag, but plenty of European/Western flags flying there?

I can do it. Can you?

Thanks for your time!

There are NO excuses. Africa Must--CAN--Unite!

Monday, July 27, 2009

46 Years After the AU: The Role of Education

I had the privilege of speaking to the non-profit organisation the 42nd Generation's meeting of the AU--46 years later last Saturday at Busyinternet in Accra. Below are some of the highlights of that speech.

They say if you want to hide anything from the Black Man, put it in a book! This much continues to hold true among the African Youth. While it is true that much of them have imbibed--and continue to imbibe--AU matters and the eminence of Osagyefo Dr.Kwame Nkrumah, many are found napping when it comes to the latest publications out there on the Internet.

First of all, Obama and Dr.Nkrumah are both revered and respected not just for their inspirational speeches but their education: Obama is a constitutional lawyer, Nkrumah was a Ph.D holder. And perhaps one of the first of his kind among his contemporaries of the time.

How many leaders in two decades have been governing and writing -- never mind as prolifically as Nkrumah did? On the fingers, perhaps?

When Malcolm X talked about "education being the passport for the future", he was not being platitudinous: he was speaking a profound truth about knowing and educating oneself by any means necessary.

In 2009, there are no longer ANY EXCUSES! The advent of the New Media technologies, such as FACEBOOK, TWITTER and whatnot have exposed Africans to tremendous and astronomical levels of information and education that they really have no excuse if they remain ignorant about issues.

I pointed to the latest UNCTAD Economic Report on Africa on regional integration, and the most recent publications coming from the African Union website.

If the African youth is as serious as it claims to be, then it should be perusing the internet and finding what publications are out there to give them the answers they seek to elucidate on African development.

I quoted ECOBANK from the UNCTAD publication, and was surprised how very few people knew of the genesis of ECOBANK. UNCTAD writes:

Another prominent West African investor in Africa’s banking sector is
Ecobank. This truly pan-African bank was created by ECOWAS and established
in Lomé, Togo, in 1985, but the company was not licensed to operate as a bank
until 1988. Through greenfield investments and M&As, Ecobank has pursued a
proactive policy of African expansion and is now the leading pan-African banking
group, present in more African countries than any other bank – 25 countries with
over 500 branches. This is part of a dynamic strategy for geographical expansion that has resulted in this banking group being more widely present than any other
on the continent, though it is only the 23rd by capital value (African Business,

Its growth has occurred mainly in three separate phases. Ecobank started its
operations in Togo in 1988 and quickly established presence in neighbouring
Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria in 1989, followed by Benin and Ghana in 1990. The
next phase of expansion started in 1997 with branches in Burkina Faso and Mali.
In 1999, Ecobank widened its presence in the West African region to Guinea,
Liberia, Niger and Senegal. Between 2000 and 2005, Ecobank established
presence in Cameroon and Cape Verde, but it is especially as of 2006 that the
third wave of expansion began, when Ecobank started business in Sierra Leone
and Chad. In 2007, Ecobank strengthened its presence in West Africa with new
operations in Guinea Bissau, Sao Tome and Principe, and the Gambia. It also
continued the expansion into Central Africa by opening subsidiaries in Cameroon,
the Central African Republic and Rwanda. In 2008, this continued with Malawi,
Congo, Kenya, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ecobank
has plans to expand its presence in Africa to 33 countries this year, starting with
Gabon, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia by mid-2009 (Ecobank,

So a lengthy piece from pp.72-73 inclusive that explains how closely-related ECOWAS is with ECOBANK.

Bottom line is that if the African personality is to mean anything to and FOR the youth, then it means that they should be educating themselves on all and sundry regarding affairs on the continent. There remain many success stories; they just need to know where to look. Plus the publications are there--online; they should also be looking.

All is not lost--and will not be as long as the African Youth embraced the education of themselves like no-one's life depended on it.

I have a podcast of my speech, which link I will point to once I upload it on my site on www.ekbensah.net

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Obama and the Renaissance of the "African Personality"?

In the centenary of Osagyefo Dr.Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president, who advocated and promulgated the concept of the African personality, Obama’s meteoric rise could not have been more poignant. In my view, he has come to represent by becoming not just the 44th president of the US, but the first African-American president: the epitome of the post-modern African personality.

Forget the fact that the Black Man no longer has any excuses for getting where he wants to, and maybe consider this: with Obama, no longer will myopic white anglo saxon protestants and people of that ilk obsessed with the rigid preservation of division -- where blacks go this way and whites the other—be confronted by the distorted reality that Blacks are inferior, and that they cannot also have nuclear families with 2.4 children.


As someone who greatly aspires to be a father some day, I believe that the significance of Obama as a family man must not go unnoticed. That he can visibly share intimate moments with his wife and children is a reflection of how far the African personality has come. And by extension, the post-modern African personality.

We know the politics already, and it has been discussed to the death. I am proposing that we use his visit as a filter through which we examine the African family, which for too long has been plagued by the absence of an omnipresent father.

His visit is also about giving hope to the youth, and empowering them to push the envelope in as many ways as possible. It is a serious irony that only this year, the AU declared 2009 to be the beginning of a decade that celebrates the youth of Africa.

I do not know about you, but I am hopeful.

We have always had change, but what ultimately we have with Obama is the quietly-confident capacity of the unsung hero towards existential change that is profound and transformative in a way that he can whisper in the shadows...

yes, we can!

[this post appeared on my Trials & Tribulations of a Freshly-Arrived Denizen... of Ghana blog, and is re-posted in an editted version here]. You can view pictures of TV captures of Obama's visit here: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=124243&id=603880406

Thursday, June 25, 2009

"Proudly AU-frican Thursday":Let's Hear from You!


It's been a while since we discussed some African affairs; I guess at this time of the year, many other thoughts have taken over--and not without reason!

As I write this from a rainy Ghanaian capital of Accra, I cannot help but feel optimistic that after the rain comes the sun.

Africa is beset with numerous problems, but we must and will overcome. If we ever want to make the African Union a one of the people, all of us need to bring pressure to bear on our GOVERNMENTS, who will, in turn bring pressure to bear for AU matters at the international fora of the UN and regional economic communities.

Just because it's not easy does not mean we cannot do it!

A couple of weeks ago, I dictatorially proclaimed THURSDAY as "Proudly Au-frican" day.

I am proud to have THREE identities: Ghanaian first, West African second, Au-frican third.

What about you? WHat are you proud of about Africa today?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Well Done, ECOWAS for Chalking 34years!

You could be forgiven for thinking that the front page of Wednesday's Business and Financial Times newspaper is an indication that all is not necessarily well on the ECOWAS front. If you couple it with the news that ECOWAS common currency can only be achieved by 2020(!) That Niger is behaving in a way that might merit its suspension can only further buttress the fact that regional integration in West Africa has failed.


The West African sub-region remains one of the more vibrant regions on the African continent. You do a google search, and consistently, ECOWAS, SADC, and East African

Community (EAC) are cited as three of the more successful regional blocs out of the eight RECs that exist.

Just in case you might not know, German academics have written this of ECOWAS:

Being the prime engine of regional integration on the African continent, ECOWAS is currently undergoing impressive transformations aimed at defining new priorities and objectives. The ECOWAS priorities and objectives may also serve as a source of inspiration for other regional groupings anywhere else in the world.

The news also that the Ghana Investment
Promotion Council
is doing serious outreach work to get Ghanaians to form
cooperatives and link-up with businesses in Burkina Faso and Niger suggests that this forward-looking vision can only facilitate ECOWAS integration. You can read the news of this here: http://www.ghananewsagency.org/s_economics/r_5968/.

What of the ECOWAS Parliament?

I daresay few people might be cognisant of the ECOWAS Parliament. I took the liberty of copying some of the "achievements" from the publication to the left:

In addition to providing parliamentary opinion on matters referred to it by ECOWAS Institutions, the Parliament has recorded the following achievements:

• Brokered peace process in the Mano River Region of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

• Sped up the process of adoption and implementation of ECOWAS decisions, protocols
and treaties.

• Widened the scope of participation of the ECOWAS peoples through its collaboration
with the civil society and the bringing on board of many Non-Governmental Organizations and Community-Based Organizations, a very focal point and nexus of democratic integration process.

• Advanced the cause of democracy and good governance through its support, mediation,
and diplomatic shuttles and peace missions to conflict zones in the region.

• Made texts, drafts and resolutions and amendment of protocols, and treaties in
compliance with a people-oriented integration of the region.

• Partnered, collaborated and shared experiences with the African Union Commission,
NEPAD Secretariat, the UN Agencies,the European Union, the African-Carribbean Pacific (ACP) Secretariat, etc to draw support for the region’s integration and development process.

• Critical engagement in election monitoring in many countries of the region like Nigeria, Benin Republic, Sierra-Leone, Liberia, Guinea, Togo, the Gambia, Ghana etc.

• Made key inputs in the administration of ECOWAS institutions through the timely
sharing of experiences and feed backs to the parliament by the heads of such institutions or their delegates at the House Sittings.

• Institutional re-engineering of the organs and institutions of ECOWAS through the
setting of some criteria or standard of conformity and capacity building.

• Convened parliamentary sittings in different countries of the region to bring the integration process closer to the people and build confidence; rather than holding all the sittings in Abuja, Nigeria; which is the seat of the parliament.

• Surveillance on the economic and political developments within the region and intervention at appropriate times where need be.

• Early warning and proactive measures to forestall full blown crises through its shuttle diplomacy and country-specific collaboration.

• A program of Action at advanced stage to kick-start the process of membership election through universal suffrage to give the parliament legitimacy.

• Promotion of youthful activities and participation across the region.

• Budget Appropriation for ECOWAS Institutions.

• Facilitation of payment of development levy by Member States.

• Image making for ECOWAS and the integration process and deepening of relations
among Member States and with development partners.

• Contributed to the processes of Trade Liberalization, Macro-economic convergence,
creation of customs union and free movement of persons, goods; and investment across
the borders.

• Raised awareness through the Mass Media and mobilized Media establishments within and outside the Community to support ECOWAS institutions and agencies.

• Engaged the private sector, which is the driver of economic growth, to invest in the region.

I'm not quite sure what else to add, except whenever you read this, I hope you've learnt something more than you knew about the 34-yr-old institution, which WE all --community citizens of ECOWAS--have a stake in building up.

Happy ECOWAS day!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What Have YOU done for Africa / your sub-region Today?

For the past week, have spent the better part of the period reading through and around issues of African regional integration. It hasn't been an easy feat as I am a fan of both other regionalisms beyond that of Africa.

As this is one dedicated to Africa, permit me to stick solely on this and refer you to my Critiquing Regionalism website for other ones.

Germany seems to be particularly interested in the ECOWAS region, describing it thus:

Being the prime engine of regional integration on the African continent, ECOWAS is currently undergoing impressive transformations aimed at defining new priorities and objectives. The ECOWAS priorities and objectives may also serve as a source of inspiration for other regional groupings anywhere else in the world.

I could not help but wonder if Germans could be so enthused about ECOWAS, what are we Africans, and West Africans specifically doing about it? I appreciate the fact that many of us would prefer thinking about trekking overseas before anything else, and that some of us already have been and are thinking of staying to make our sub-region better. But at least, I cannot but wonder why,say, those in West Africa--where there are many intellectuals and intelligent youth are not making--or taking--the time to extol the virtues of a secure and safe West Africa.

Do we have to wait for Westerners to do it for us?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Facebook Friday: AU government--Realistic?

Below is just a sample of what some Facebookers were saying earlier this year about AU government. Enjoy!:

  • the EU, USA are not in favour and will fight it with the backing of some AU country Heads. Remember, the our skin colour even gives us away most of the time when black africans deal with light skinned africans. Besides, our barriers are many: language, democratic/coup d'etat/dictatorship rule, currency and so on..

  • I guess what we need is the proverbial eternal vigilance!

  • I think the government is realistic. We just have to educate our people on the benefits and sell the idea wholly to them. We do preach Africa Unite sometimes but we are mostly locked into our nationalities.

    The language barrier isn't too much of an issue, they have had AU meetings since time immemorial. We need the AU gov't to push for a currency, better trade, communication, cross-country infrastructure as well.

    Why is the EU or USA not in favour?

  • I think it's simply that they would consider a population of 900million people working hard to strengthen Africa a veritable threat. It's that simple.

  • its a question of challenging the ideas that have come to dominate our lives. The task of re-orienting the minds of a people is huge. One cannot underestimate the nationalism that has taken hold of Africans...the funny ideas that they can be superior to others simply by being who they are.

    What we must focus on is what binds us and to reach out for the younger generation who may not be too stuck in their ways. (We cannot also forget the oldest among us who still hold on with nostalgia to the early years of African Independence) Simple things like football music the arts and culture can speak to people in ways that words may not easily do...But it has to be sold as part of a wider plan to improve the peoples lot. In the end it has to be a Peoples Initiative!

  • Wednesday, April 1, 2009

    Travelling Through the AU States--Headache City!

    I am a Ghanaian--and a proud ECOWASian. Given that I was born in Ghana, I am free to travel through West Africa without a visa.

    Literally, I could get up tomorrow, go to AIR SENEGAL, go and pay and visit the country for a day. Provided I have the money, ofcourse! No visas would be expected of me.

    The same cannot be said about travelling through the rest of the AU; most often countries outside West Africa make it a HUGE hassle to procure a visa. Don't even mention South Africa or East Africa if you're a West African! They'll make your life like hell as if you're not African!

    It certainly is not an easy task, but all of us have to do our best to discuss this very important issue. Why should otHer parts of Africa complicate my desire to visit their country with a small document they call a visa?

    What are YOUR experiences? Would love to hear them!

    Thursday, March 19, 2009

    Proudly AU-frican!

    Look through the blogosphere and you'll notice that while a lot of people write about Africa, rare is the blog that looks at citizenship of the African Union. To that end, I would like to introduce you to one here: http://african-union-citizen.blogspot.com.

    If you are on Facebook, you can also join the "I am an African Union (AU) Citizen!": http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=70453161507&ref=ts.

    Also join the AFRICAN UNION page on Facebook here: http://www.new.facebook.com/pages/Addis-Ababa-Ethiopia/African-Union-AU/54117436963?ref=ts. You don't have to be a member of Facebook to follow updates there.

    On that page, you'll see that there are a number of questions I have posed about the AU, and making it REAL for Africans. These include:

    1. Are people tired of hearing themselves being referred to as African? Have you tried calling yourself an "AU-frican"--as in a citizen of the AU countries?

    2. What have you experienced today that made you proud of being an AU-frican?

    3. Is an AU FBI conceivable? Can we have an African interpol, an ECOWAS/SADC/COMESA/IGAD?etc,...FBI??

    4. where are the African diplomats on Facebook? If they're not Facebook shy, are their emails working ok? What is the AU position on technology on the continent?

    5. Can AU countries ever have a position on international trade? Ever thought how juicy it would be to have 53 countries negotiating against even the almighty EU of 27 countries?

    6. ECOBANK is originally a West African bank that is now Pan-African, being represented in Eastern and Southern Africa as well. Where are the other African banks?

    7. What are the biggest African currencies on the continent? CFA? Naira? Rand? Shilling? The others?

    8. For the average AU-frican, it's so costly to travel on the continent. Airlines are costly, and visas? Don't even mention them! Some AU countries don't even want to grant them to their compatriots? What's with that? What are some of the ideas to counter this?

    I hope you will be able to pass the word round.

    Thank you!


    Tuesday, March 17, 2009

    Did U Know?...AU News From the AU website...

  • Addis Ababa, 25 February 2009- The first Africa Healthy Lifestyles Day will be commemorated on Friday, 27 February 2009, in Member States and at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

    The Department of Social Affairs explained that the AU Executive Council in July 2008 adopted the Decision, declaring the last Friday of February each year as Africa Healthy Lifestyles Day upon the recommendation of the AU Conference of Ministers of Health.

  • Addis Ababa, 23 February 2009 - The Assembly of Heads of State and government of the African Union has declared the years 2009-2019 as the decade of youth development in Africa. The decade was declared during the last Executive Council held in January 2009 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia within the context of the outcomes and prospects related to the Year of African Youth 2008 and to facilitate the implementation of the African Youth Charter after its ratification.

    The decade is an opportunity to advance the agenda of youth development in all member states across the African Union, to ensure effective and more ambitious investment in youth development programmes and increased support to the development and implementation of national youth policies and programmes.

    Addis Ababa, 04 March 2009- The Pan-African e-Network Project formally inaugurated on 25 February 2009, in the Addis Ababa University Tele Education Center, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

    The inauguration was held in the presence of H.E Mr. Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission; H.E Dr. Elham Ibrahim, Commissioner for the Infrastructure and Energy of the AU Commission; H.E Ambassador Gurjit Singh, Indian Ambassador to Ethiopia, and other Ministers.

    In his speech Mr. Mwencha recalled that it was on May 2005 that the government of India presented the detail proposal for the AU commission to establish a Pan-African e-Network, which linking Member States of the AU and India. “The network composed of optical fiber connections and V-SAT satellite station to provide Member States with Tele-Medicine, Tele-Education and Diplomatic Communication services”. He added.

    He also underscored that the inauguration of the Pan African e-Network project has become a reality and it is a perfect example of South-South cooperation.
  • Friday, March 13, 2009

    Facebook Friday: What AU Citizens are Saying about their Continent...

    "My people perish for lack of knowledge"--The Bible

    Welcome to the first ever Friday segment of Facebook Friday, where I outline to you the latest discussions coming from AU citizens--either in their countries, or from the diaspora. African--like every one else--have a lot to say.

    Sometimes, it can be a tad negative to stomach, but I believe that the change won't come overnight. I sincerely believe this will go a long way to creating concentric circles that will trigger major change in our outlook in the conception of any kind of AU government.

    I understand fully the apathy out there, but I'm ready to counter it, with YOU! Enjoy!

  • "It is time that African youth woke up from their slumber and start a strong grass-root movement empowered by internet technology to remove current dinosaurs from power and shake up the status quo in favor of progress towards the establishment of a United States of Africa!" hear, hear!!!!

  • I do not know which of the African youth you are referring to. I guess you do not mean the lazy, uncreative, malleable, greedy and downright selfish ones around!

    Sadly, they abound on our campuses, in our churches and offices.

    I used to have so much faith and hope in Africa's youth, but my experience in dealing with a number of young people in the last couple of years, some holding Masters degrees, has made me change my mind.

    And please, be mindful of the fact that today's myopic African leaders, were once the youth of the continent!

  • This would be ideal,however there are so many things to consider. We'd need a constitution that all agreed on &to develop an electoral system that was viable. Who would lead? What political parties would there be? All currently in Africa or two like in the states? How would we ensure that when borders opened that ppl wouldn't flood into more economically viable countries. The admin nightmare of creating govt institutions would take years. What currency would we use? I don't mean to be pessimistic but in reality,we'd need buy in from everyone to pull this off,and as it was pted out both our youth ¤t leaders are not up to this monumentus challenge...

  • but before African youth will wake up from the slumber you are talking about i think we still have to be reeducate ourself or even the youth because we have be educated wrongly with the western education, its high time we start to educate ourself that being African means having ability to do all things. I strongly believe that that human being who has the tendency to do everything right or wrong that why if you take a look at environmetal and genetic which has more influence of course the environmental which mean we have to cleanse our system our education and the demonic attitude that has been embedded towards money making over the years. I believe we can do it if they come with a good motive.

  • BTW, guys, kindly spread the word on joining the AU page on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Addis-Ababa-Ethiopia/African-Union-AU/54117436963. Cheers!

  • I read what X said in reaction to your piece. I work with the youth. I know what it means to look in the face of a person who has succumbed to a system that constantly says you are not smart enough to understand this! I know how hard one has to work to get the dialogue going. I also know that the awakening is not impossible. Do you really think the youth have non dreams and no aspirations. They just need to be challenged to believe in their potential. These things take time. It's agonizing and downright boring at times but when the light shines through thats where it is. That's the hope for the youth who have been neglected and beaten down in a society that places excessive emphasis on hierarchy. I know there is hope. It's slow but musicians can speed it up. Movie makers can act as catalysts in this movement.

  • ...well said. I work with the youth too. And I can tell you that I have seen some very bright young people who take no initiative, cannot identify an opportunity even if you thrust it into their hands and simply want things already made.

    I have had a young university graduate working under me resign because as he put it "you set high standards and work to achieve it, but I am not like that."

    I have given most of these young people tasks in areas they have trained and supposedly have skills in, but they failed to deliver. This has happened so many times.

    By the way, do you know the creator of Facebook is only 24 years old? If facebook is five years old, then he started when he was 19 years old.

    We have so many IT graduates in town, some are certainly doing great, but where are they?

    The others have the skills, but are not creative, just mechanic! And doing routine things does not take people anywhere. That's the problem.

  • Let's just say that I agree that the African youth--and look, we might be generalising here--is lazy and apathetic. Examples of those with Masters and degrees who cannot think for themselves, or who chase only money can be inimical to the facilitation of a united African government, because the bottom line will be only about,well, the bottom line!

    The solution to moving forward is unlearning all the bad things that the youth have learnt--starting with appreciating and understanding their history, and those who sacrificed for us. The story of Kwame Nkrumah and his multi-pronged agenda could be a good start?

    When he talked about "the independence of Ghana is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of Africa", he was not on a flight of fantasy: I believe he was talking about using Ghana as a springboard--what with it being the Black Star and all--to liberate the minds of Africans, and remember the African personality.

    Most of us who patronize Facebook and use the 'Net are mostly middle class Ghanaians who have been the beneficiaries--directly and indirectly--of Western education. I believe it is possible to embrace these benefits alongside the appreciation of the knowledge of Africa.

    In so doing, we become once again inspired to feel part of the Pan-African project. Whether that is expressed in a belief that there can be a United Africa or not is moot. What is most important is the belief within that we Africans are the agents of change to make the continent a better place.

    Let's face it: we're 53 States; multi-cultured; 900 million people. We are perhaps the only regional organisation that embraces all the member states--good and bad. Latin America. The EU. Asia. How many have so many regional economic communities to grapple with, what with all the imperatives associated with them?

    Think of ECOWAS, SADC, COMESA, Arab Maghreb Union; ECCAS; East African Community; IGAD; CEN-SAD; CEMAC. Only some of the regional economic communities (RECs) that offer possible salvation to the sub-regions on the continent. Then we have the AU that is seeking to coordinate these RECs.

    This is a unique continent that we must not take for granted and help to build. The conception of a union government does not have to be dissimilar to strengthening the RECs. It can be a twin-track process that sees the sub-regional organisations strengthened and the AU oversight over them.

    The person who talked about the constitution was right: the AU has a Constitutive Act that would need amendment to make the AU govt/Authority a reality. Then there is the idea of borders.

    Yesterday, I looked briefly at crime prevention. I do not think we can think about loose borders without strengthening our borders with effective monitoring mechanisms like the police.

    I would call for a regional FBI in every regional organisation to monitor and coordinate intelligence. If we can do it with Standby forces, surely we can do it with crime prevention? I am encouraged that the AU has an AU COnference on Drug Control & Crime Prevention, but can we not do more?

    On films, I agree that the arts can work well. Films like Blood Diamond helped me obtain a profound insight into West Africa--though I must say I am a proud ECOWASian (West African). It is true that the arts (music and film, and drama) can do more to inspire Africans in their citizenship.

    To that end, I fully support those ideas--plus the role of technology--!!!--in the development of a citizenship that is quintessentially AU-frican!

    Thursday, March 12, 2009

    Hitting Crime Hard in the African Union / ECOWAS

    So there I was thinking about what needed to be done about the spate of drug trafficking in the sub-region of ECOWAS, when I started thinking about what ought to happen at the continental level.

    Did you know that the AU has an AU Plan of Action on Drug Control and Crime Prevention ? I started looking closer to home, remembering that there was an institution in Senegal--an ECOWAS institution--that is supposed to combat fraud. I'm not too sure about crime. The website is http://www.giaba.org, and is known as the Intergovernmental Action Group Against Money-Laundering in West Africa.

    Could the AU ever think about establishing an AU equivalent of the FBI? Talk of it in the ECOWAS region has resulted in names like the ECOWAS Criminal Intelligence Bureau.

    As far back as 2001/2002, talks had been there for one. It's been a good seven years now, and I don't see anything concrete coming out of that--but, hey, let's not lose hope.

    This is the first-ever post, and it is bound to sound a little pessimistic about the whole Pan-African project. I will certainly keep the fire burning, and be blogging more about some of the challenges that exist that we can talk about to bring pressure to bear on our dear AU member states.

    I look forward to seeing some comments and [constructive] criticisms. I hope to paste some Facebook queries and concerns every Friday here.


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