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Dialling-in Can Revolutionise the Fight Against Poverty

For generations, street selling at traffic intersections has been a familiar sight in Africa. People trade fruit, vegetables and clothing through car windows on a daily basis. It is their business.

Today, from Accra to Addis Ababa, Lomé to Lusaka, that trade is often in a different commodity entirely, with scores of traders working the lines of traffic, and roadside kiosks doing brisk business every day selling mobile phone credit to passers by.

This is just one visible signifier of the massive, and increasing importance of mobile phone technology in Africa. And the passion for joining the phone revolution and the information age that it brings isn’t confined to big urban centres either.

Today, nearly every rural African household with any means whatsoever will own, or have access to a phone. A recent study by the International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts that in 2016 the number of ‘smart phone’ subscribers on the continent could top 100million, as the desire and hunger for connectivity and the data it allows continues unabated.

For a decade the projections regarding phone usage in Africa have had to be revised, and revised again, as the embrace of social media, emergence of content-rich apps, video, and other ‘smart’ content has become available on smartphones costing significantly less than $50 becomes available to African consumers.

For some years, Self Help Africa, an international development organisation working in agriculture, has been looking for ways to harness this information revolution to further our goals.

We have looked at data gathering methods to assess and analyse information, early alert ‘disaster risk’ warning systems, and telecommunications technologies to share and disseminate information as ways to improve efficiency, impact and reach of programme activities that are designed to end poverty.

In 2015, we took that to a new level, and following an initial pilot project in Malawi with a mobile partner Human Network International (HNI) we collaborated in the development of a demand-driven farming information using mobile phone networks. What’s the purpose, you might ask?

For most smallholder farmers across Africa, one of the main challenges to increasing productivity is the lack of reliable farming information.

For decades we employed a “lead farmer’ model for knowledge sharing. This effectively meant training and briefing a chosen model farmer in each community on particular good farming practices, and supporting this individual to share their knowledge with others.

The mobile revolution across Africa now offers another, much more cost-effective way of reaching farmers.

In Malawi, Uganda, Burkina Faso and Zambia, we are now partnering with a range of mobile network providers to provide free, on-demand farming information across a range of crops to farmers.

Farmers dial into the service and, using touch-tone technology, access a voice message about a specific crop or farming practice.

For mobile network providers, this free information is a compelling reason for subscribers to continue using their network. For Self Help Africa, it’s a low-cost way of reaching tens of thousands of farmers with relevant, crop-specific farming information at the right time of the season.

In Malawi, Self Help Africa has joined with a range of government and civil society organisations to agree farming advice for crops ranging from maize and peanut to rice and cassava. That service has recorded an average of 36,000 calls per month from farmers across the country.

In a country where only 5% of rural households have electricity, but upwards of 65% have access to mobiles, the ability of farmers to access information via telephone is invaluable.

Most mobile users across Africa still use non-smart phones, so a service based on voice messaging is still critical. However, with the increasing adoption of lower-cost smart phones in these markets, Self Help Africa is about to pilot messaging which allows users to stream video content for free to these phones.

This pilot work will be aimed at delivering improved farm practice information not to farmers, but to extension workers – those employed by government or civil society organisations to teach farmers about new and improved practices.

Self Help Africa will continue to roll out new ICT solutions for the agriculture sector, in partnership with mobile network providers, in the years ahead. As ‘the mobile continent’, as Africa has been described, embraces the use of the technology to improve food production and farming practices, it can have a truly transformational effect on our work to end hunger and poverty in the world.

Information can and is transforming lives. Information at the push of a button can revolutionize how Africa farms in the years to come.

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Meet the inspirational female entrepreneurs of Indego Africa Leadership Academy

This blog comes to us from our partner Indego Africa, a nonprofit that empowers artisan women in Rwanda and Ghana.

Last April, we published a story on ONE.org about the inspiring female entrepreneurs we work with in Rwanda. The piece featured students from the inaugural class of the Indego Africa Leadership Academy—an institution in Kigali, Rwanda dedicated to building powerful businesswomen, entrepreneurs, and leaders across the country.

1st Graduating Class
This April—one year after their graduation—we sat down with these very same women to find out how their time at the Leadership Academy had impacted them. We wanted to know: How had their lives changed? How were they putting the business skills they had learned into action? And what were the results? The answers we got were nothing short of astounding.

But let’s take a step back. First, a few words on our Leadership Academy. The Indego Africa Leadership Academy, launched in October 2014, is a free-of-cost, six-month advanced business training program (the only one of its kind in Rwanda) that enrolls 25 students per semester. The program was created in response to the incredible achievements of some of our artisan partners who, having mastered our basic business training courses, were eager to take their education to the next level.

Students at the Leadership Academy study advanced lessons in accounting, marketing, supply chain management, product innovation, technology and more. They are then able to apply the knowledge they learn to the real-life context of their artisan enterprises, something which the World Bank contends is crucial for the long-term success and viability of business training programs in the developing world.

As one of our Leadership Academy graduates, Annonciatha, said: “Many people have vocational skills but lack business skills. Others have business skills and lack vocational skills. By combining both together, Indego Africa helps us use our knowledge to become truly competitive in the market.”

So, how are our Leadership Academy graduates using their knowledge outside of the classroom? For starters, all of our graduates have used the lessons they learned to improve the management of their businesses. They’ve set up new systems to track and manage inventory (Just walking into one of their workplaces allows you to see the difference—talk about organized shelves!); they’ve developed budgets; built out savings and growth plans; created new marketing strategies; diversified their products; instituted better bookkeeping systems and more.

As one of our graduates, Laurence, said about the artisan cooperative she is a member of, Abasangiye, “Before, we didn’t know much about how to manage a business. At the Leadership Academy, we learned how to organize our financial records, logging our expenses and revenues separately. We learned how to work with banks and opened up our first bank account. We learned the meaning of customer care and have improved the way we communicate with clients. We even created a plan to increase our revenue by 20 percent this year.”

Many students are using their Leadership Academy lessons to help generate new, local business for their artisan products. For example, one of our students, Marie Josee, said: “Before we didn’t know how to market our products. We used to sit around and wait for orders to come to us. Now, we go out into our communities and try to find markets on our own. For example, we started knitting uniforms and brought them around to local primary schools. At one of the schools, the principal loved them so much that she ordered sweaters from us on the spot.”

In addition to improvements made at their artisan cooperatives, many students have gone on to start their own businesses. While most have begun with small-scale enterprises (like selling agricultural goods or breeding livestock), others have hit the ground running with larger operations. For example, one of our graduates, Daphrose, recruited 14 people to band together and start a brick-building business, which now contracts up to 60 laborers per month depending on the project.

Daphrose said that before starting at the Leadership Academy, she noticed that there were a lot of construction projects going on in her community. She thought that there might be a good market opportunity there, but felt that she didn’t have enough money to get a business going, let alone the skills to manage it.

At the Leadership Academy, Daphrose learned how to create a viable business plan and gained the management knowledge and skills she felt she had lacked before. She also gained the confidence to recruit others from her community to set up a cooperative and pool their capital in order to get the business off the ground.

Together, they’ve created a plan to bring in 5 million Rwandan Francs by the end of the year (around $6,400 USD) and are well on their way to doing so, having already secured orders from several primary schools in their community. In Daphrose’s mind, “anything is possible if you set a goal,” and we have no doubt that she will be successful in meeting hers!

Many students also highlighted the way the Leadership Academy connects artisan women from across the country to help them learn from one another and build valuable networks. Since graduating, the Leadership Academy students continue to leverage these networks to support each other in myriad ways. For example, now when tourists come to Cocoki Cooperative and ask about where to buy traditional Rwandan baskets, Cocoki directs them to the sweetgrass-weaving cooperatives, Covanya and Imirasire. (You can find bracelets woven by women of the Imirasire Cooperative at the ONE store!)

Imirasire’s Leadership Academy graduates, recognizing the benefit of diversifying their group’s skill sets, hired the grads from Cocoki to teach their members how to sew. Since then, they have saved up money to buy several sewing machines and have begun a small apparel collection, which they showcase and sell from their workplace.

This spirit of mutual assistance—of collaboration and empowerment—is pervasive among all of our Academy graduates. As Jacqueline, the president of Twiyubake Cooperative and a Leadership Academy grad, expressed: “It’s important to me to use my knowledge to uplift others. It’s a cycle, and I want to give back.”

Today, our Leadership Academy graduates are doing exactly that—using their education to give back to their communities and make a difference in the lives of countless others. They are building powerful networks of skilled, confident, and hopeful women who are creating employment opportunities and economic growth across their country, all while setting new precedents for what women can achieve.

We couldn’t be more proud of the first graduating class of our Leadership Academy and are thrilled to report that the results continue to come in! Of the 25 students in our second Leadership Academy class, 52 percent started a new business, 12 percent expanded a pre-existing business; and the remaining 36 percent plan to start a new business in the near future. These women have employed eight additional people so far, with, we’re sure, many more to come!

As Annonciatha said, “There is where we have come from and where we are going. Twenty-two years ago, Rwanda was in a dark place. Today, our leaders are moving our country towards development, and we are helping them get there.”

Expat-jobs-south-africa

This map shows where all South Africa’s skilled workers are going

A new data map shows which countries South Africa’s highly skilled workforce is moving to – adding to a massive brain drain in the country.

According to the map, published by the Code For South Africa Data Journalism Academy, almost 47,000 skilled professionals had left South Africa and entered into OECD nations for work.

Of the professionals, most were teachers and education professionals- 17,500. This is followed by health and life science professionals, which saw 10,800 individuals leave.

The data shows that the UK and Australia were the biggest gainers of South African skills – with the UK taking in over 18,500 skilled South Africans, followed by Australia, taking 13,000.

Recent data from FNB showed that the number of people selling their homes in South Africa in order to emigrate, increased steadily in 2015.

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A 2015 report by InterNations Expat Insider shed some light on the profile of South African expats, finding that around half of all South African expats are skilled employees or managers – and a quarter identify as being in top management positions.

New World Wealth recently revealed that thousands of South African millionaires – specifically white millionaires – had fled the country in the past year, citing political unrest and safety concerns in their decision to leave.

According to InterNations, 70% of South African expats are generally satisfied with leaving the country, with only 13% feeling dissatisfied with their decision.

These are the countries where skilled South Africans are going – and the most popular destination per skill:

By country

  1. United Kingdom 18 581
  2. Australia 13 060
  3. Canada 7 589
  4. Ireland 2 317
  5. Portugal 2 097
  6. Czech Republic 1 394
  7. Sweden 668
  8. New Zealand 324
  9. Greece 235
  10. Switzerland 234
  11. France 163
  12. Austria 140
  13. United States 21
  14. Norway 9
  15. Germany 8

By skill

  1. Teaching UK 10 988
  2. General Managers Canada 2 967
  3. Life science and health professionals UK 3 659
  4. Legislators and senior officials Czech Republic 695
  5. Physical maths and engineering Czech Republic 695

The number of people selling their homes in South Africa in order to emigrate, increased steadily in 2015, data published by FNB shows.

It follows a report published in February, by New World Wealth, which showed that almost 1,000 South African millionaires left the country in 2015 as a weak local currency has taken a toll on their fortunes.

NWW conducted a survey questioning why the wealthy were leaving. The respondents said that financial concerns were the main reason to leave – but social issues also played a big part.

Here are the primary reasons millionaires are leaving:

  • Financial concerns.
  • Inability to deal with changing social dynamics in SA.
  • Concerns for children’s future – particularly around schooling and universities.
  • Crime – rape and hijacking concerns were highlighted.
  • BEE requirements in doing business.
  • Concerns that someone in their family may contract HIV/AIDS due to prevalence of virus in SA.

In 2015, a report by InterNations Expat Insider shed some light on the profile of South African expats.

It found that the general profile of the South African expat indicated that around half are skilled employees or managers – and a quarter identify as being in top management positions.

According to InterNations, 70% of South African expats are generally satisfied with leaving the country, with only 13% feeling dissatisfied with their decision.

According to the report, personal safety and crime considerations are the biggest push factors.

The other top leading factors are the country’s high cost of living, as well as the economy and labour market.

South African consumers are in for a shock in April when a flurry of price hikes are set to be implemented including electricity, fuel, and food, while the Reserve Bank also raised its repo rate by 25 basis points to 7%, following a 50 basis points hike in January.

FNB property economist John Loos said: “We have seen the estimated percentage of emigration-related selling creeping slightly higher, from a low of 2% of total selling in Q3 2013 to 4.4% by Q4 2015.”

Emigration related selling of residential property hit a peak of 20% at the back end of 2008. Loos noted that 2008/early-2009 was a very thin market with very little overall volume, which likely amplified the emigration-related selling when expressed as a percentage of the total.

The economist pointed out that initial load shedding from Eskom took place in 2008, which put a dampener on sentiment towards the country.

2015 saw similar blackouts for most of the year, but the energy parastatal has since arrested its supply woes and does not forecast any blackouts in 2016.

 

 

 

african passport

African Passport

In a bid to show solidarity and promote free movement of Africans within their region and other parts of the continent, African heads of states are to carry an African passport for the next African Union Summit to be hosted in Kigali, Rwanda, in July.

The heads of states will receive the African passport since the AU wants to popularise it as it is very symbolic and significant for the continent, as well as practical, because if one is carrying an African passport he/she should not be expected to apply for a visa, according to Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission.

“A few of us at the AU are already using that passport within Africa and it is very useful, but we want the heads of states to carry it when they are visiting African countries to make it official and known to others as well,” she said.

Africa’s attempt to address this situation has seen free movement show up in continental development strategy documents since the 1980 Lagos Plan of Action and the 1991 Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community (AEC), commonly known as the Abuja Treaty.

Automatic visas to other African countries

The chairperson also said that all African countries must grant a 30-day visa on arrival to all African passport holders. Ghana and a few other countries have already responded to that decision, “which we commend a lot”, said Dlamini-Zuma.

Abuja committed African states to “adopt, individually, at bilateral or regional levels, the necessary measures in order to achieve progressively the free movement of persons, and to ensure the enjoyment of the right of residence and the right of establishment by their nationals within the community””

The chairperson also said that all African countries must give a 30-day visa on arrival for all African passport holders, and Ghana and a few other countries have already responded to that decision, “which we commend a lot”.

“We also urge other countries to follow suit,” she said. “Countries have said that they are going back to look at the practicality of doing their immigration regulation, but there is a decision and it is up to all of us to hold our countries to that decision so that indeed Africans can move freely amongst other African countries.”

She stated that a lot of countries had that arrangement within their regions like in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) and even the East African Community (EAC), but now was time to move beyond that to inter-regional so that people, not only in their region, but also beyond their region, could move freely.

Sharing her sentiment, Daniel Admassu, an entrepreneur who travels to other African countries, said that if this came about it would make ease of business a lot either.

“We have to submit a lot of paperwork, including a bank statement, and even then we have to wait for at least two weeks to get a visa in some embassies. That creates a gap between our travels and customers do not always understand,” he said.

The week-long occasion, the African Development Week, jointly organised by ECA and the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, has created a platform for discussion on a range of issues around Africa’s economy, regional integration, investment and related areas.

 

AU Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma says the continent must move away from the artificial separation of people. She was addressing delegates at the end of Africities Summit in Sandton, north of Johannesburg AU chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma says if Rwanda can do it – so can the entire African continent.  “It’s also possible to do that … Rwanda has led the way. There’s no African who’s carrying a passport from any African country who needs to go and apply for a visa before they go to Rwanda – not anymore.  You can get onto the plane now and go to Rwanda without any visa,” adds Dlamini-Zuma.

“And when you look at Agenda 2063 – everything that’s there impacts on local government. Whether is the skills revolution? I was looking at statistics – it’s shocking to see how many town planners we have. When we talk about skills revolution local government is very much impacted,” she says.

Even though Africa is the least urbanised continent – it is however urbanizing at a rapid rate.

Many people are coming into cities in search of a better life and this puts pressure on cities and municipalities to provide basic services.

What’s shocking however is that African countries continue import food at a high cost.

“We import more than $80-billion worth of food as a continent every year.  President of Ghana [John Dramani Mahama] recently was saying if they produced five crops and were self-sufficient, as Ghana in those five crops which include oil, rice, sugar, and tomatoes which are common things used every day. He was saying if they were to be self-sufficient in those – Ghana alone would save $1.5-billion every year. That amount of money would be very useful at local government, in education in all sorts of areas that are critical for our development,” explains Dlamini-Zuma.

African Passport and its Opportunities Ahead

Generally speaking, this is a step in the right direction for a continent whose national borders were forced on them. The introduction of a single passport system would help solidify a common identity for all Africans who currently live in a continent which is home to 54 nations and 3,000 distinct ethnic groups.

Those that have long argued against the wisdom of keeping colonial borders will regard the move as a step towards breaking down the continent’s colonial legacy and establishing stability on the continent. National borders and ethnic tensions have been at the roof of much of the continents conflicts because disparate groups were lumped together under colonial flags.

Devoted pan-Africanists, who have been calling for continental unity since the establishment of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), will also see this as a positive move towards achieving pan-Africanism – the idea that all people of African origin first and foremost belong to Africa as a common homeland regardless of where they live or where they were born.

Established in 1963, the OAU which is a predecessor of the AU, was founded with a focus on continental unity in order to collaborate over areas of common interest. In the wave of colonialism, the overthrow of European colonizers in Africa became a central focus.

Whilst the overthrow of colonial powers has arguably been achieved, continental unity beyond the latter goal of ridding the continent of its colonial rule was largely seen a pipedream in practical terms. Early pan-Africanists such as Kwame Nkrumah, Gamel Nasser, and Julius Nyerere hoped for concerted efforts in other areas to be a central part of the organization’s undertakings.

The establishment of a common passport is therefore a concrete way in which the AU can carry forth the vision of early pan-Africanists who wanted to see a truly united Africa when they laid the foundation for the organisation.

In spite of its ideological aspirations, the establishment of a single passport is not just driven by a need to fulfil anti-colonial agendas nor lofty philosophical ideals ushered in by pan-Africanism. In practical terms, the establishment of a common passport will make it easier for Africans to travel within the continent; cross border traders to conduct business; employers to hire across borders, and Africans to migrate to different parts of the continent for economic purposes.

Therefore, there is a strong economic incentive to see this project through. Politically, it will have the potential to lay the foundation for the thousands of Africans that remains stateless or are in refugee camps to have some form of permanent and legal status on the continent. It also has a potential to include members of the Africa’s Diaspora who have long been seeking to obtain dual citizenship in Africa for decades.

The Challenges of a Common African Passport

Although the idea of a common passport is promising, the implementation of a common passport for the continent has its challenges. An AU passport would enable greater employment mobility for African employees. Simply put, it would enable the holder to seek employment without immigration restrictions.

This may present challenges for countries such as South Africa which has recently experienced xenophobic uprisings where poor black South Africans have been rising against poor black African immigrants and scapegoating them for their economic woes.

Ironically, while the rest of the continent is still recovering over the horror of these recent attacks, the announcement was made at the 25th AU Summit which was held in Johannesburg, South Africa. However, whether such deep migration issues on the continent will properly be addressed before the common passport’s implementation is unclear.

Eligibility for the common passport will also present a challenge. This area centres on issues of of citizenship and dual citizenship. Africa has a large share of individuals that have been rendered stateless or that hold refugee status in their respective countries. One wonders whether such individuals would be eligible for a common African passport if their citizenship is not recognised in the country of their birth or residence.

Currently, half of the nations in Africa recognise dual citizenship. That is, being a citizen of more than one country. The citizenship of members of the African Diaspora will need to be addressed.

Challenges over whether Africans from countries without dual citizenship who have been naturalised abroad and have lost citizenship in their home countries would be eligible for the common African passport with or without being citizens of their birth nation. To add to this, there is the additional question of the eligibility of their offspring who may have been born outside of the continent.

AU Commissioner for Political Affairs Dr. Aisha Abdullahi said on Sunday that Africa could soon become border less and the plan for a single African passport is in progress and so far, two countries – Rwanda and Mauritius – have implemented it.

“This would also ensure the free movement of people on the continent,”

“Our people will not have to carry a visa to gain access to other African states. There will be free trade of goods” Dr. Abdullahi said at the #Africities summit.

“We have identified flagship projects, for example, [the introduction] of an African passport to ensure that Africans can move freely to every African state,” Dr. Abdullahi reportedly said.

The proposal to implement a single passport for Africa is part of the AU’s 2063 Agenda. The project, which was agreed upon last year, also aims to improve intra-African trade and to ease the movement of domestic goods between member states.

2014 West Africa Ebola Outbreak Map

Ebola Outbreak in Africa

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa was first reported in March 2014, and rapidly became the deadliest occurrence of the disease since its discovery in 1976.

In fact, the epidemic killed five times more than all other known Ebola outbreaks combined.

More than 21 months on from the first confirmed case recorded on 23 March 2014, 11,315 people have been reported as having died from the disease in six countries; Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, the US and Mali. The total number of reported cases is about 28,637.

But on 13 January, 2016, the World Health Organisation declared the last of the countries affected, Liberia, to be Ebola-free.

Ebola deaths  Figures up to 13 January 2016

  • 11,315 Deaths – probable, confirmed and suspected (Includes one in the US and six in Mali)
  • 4,809 Liberia
  • 3,955 Sierra Leone
  • 2,536 Guinea
  • 8 Nigeria

The World Health Organization (WHO) admits the figures are underestimates, given the difficulty collecting the data. There needs to be 42 days without any new cases for a country to be declared Ebola-free. The outbreaks in Nigeria and Senegal were declared officially over by the WHO in October 2014. Sierra Leone and Guinea both had much larger outbreaks and it took a little longer. Sierra Leone was declared Ebola-free on 7 November 2015, Guinea followed in December.

Liberia has been the worst-hit, with more than 4,800 dead and 10,672 becoming infected. The WHO said that at the peak of transmission, during August and September 2014, Liberia was reporting between 300 and 400 new cases every week.

The epidemic seemed to abate and the outbreak in Liberia was declared over on 9 May 2015 – only to re-emerge seven weeks later when a 17-year-old man died from the disease and more cases were reported. The same happened in September, which is why the latest declaration of Liberia being Ebola-free, while welcome, should be treated with caution, say correspondents.

What is Ebola?

Ebola virus disease, or Ebola haemorrhagic fever as it was previously known, is caused by the Ebola virus. It is a rare but severe disease, found in countries in Africa, which can often have a fatal outcome (for 25-90% of the infected people). Transmission of the viruses occurs from person to person through direct contact with blood and other body fluids. The first documented outbreak of Ebola virus disease occurred in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, at the time known as Zaire, and all subsequent outbreaks have been in Africa.

What are the symptoms of Ebola?

In most cases, an infected person experiences sudden onset of fever, weakness, muscle and joint pains and headache, followed by progressive weakness, lack of appetite, diarrhoea (sometimes containing blood and mucus), nausea and vomiting. The initial symptoms are unspecific and are similar to other more common diseases such as the common cold or malaria.
The next stage is more severe with bleeding from the nose, gums and skin, and bloody vomiting and stools. Other symptoms include skin rash, inflamed throat and difficulty swallowing.
It can take between 2 and 21 days from the point of infection for a person to begin to show symptoms.

How can a person get infected?

A person can get infected with the Ebola virus by direct contact with infected blood, secretions, tissues, organs or other bodily fluids of dead or living infected persons. The risk for transmission in general is low in the initial stages of symptomatic patients. The virus can also be transmitted through material heavily contaminated with such fluids. It can also be contracted through unprotected sexual contact with patients who have recovered from the disease.
It is transmitted by droplets and not in the air, so it is highly unlikely that someone would be infected with Ebola virus disease just by coming into casual contact with someone already sick, such as sitting next to someone (and without any direct contact of bodily fluids).
Most people are infected from another person but some people have been infected with it from handling dead wild animals or ‘bush meat’ in Africa, such as chimpanzees and bats.

How contagious is it?

People only become infectious once they start to have symptoms. The risk of being infected in the early phase of symptomatic patients is generally low. The risk of infection is much higher in the later stages of the disease but can be effectively addressed with the proper use of appropriate personal protective equipment.

How deadly is it?

The case fatality rate – the proportion of people diagnosed with the disease who die – is 25-90% dependent on the virus type.

Is the virus resistant?

The Ebola virus is susceptible to disinfectants and bleach and is destroyed by heating.

Is there a vaccine?

There is no approved vaccine at this point but research is ongoing.

What is the treatment?

There is no specific treatment that is approved for general use against Ebola virus disease but supportive treatment – hospital care to relieve symptoms and to prevent further complications and side effects – can be given.

Where does it come from?

Ebola viruses are thought to circulate in wild animals in sub-Saharan Africa. They have been found in fruit bats, chimpanzees, gorillas and duikers, and human infections have been linked to direct contact with such animals.

How can an outbreak be stopped?

An outbreak of Ebola virus disease can be stopped by breaking the chain of transmission. This can be done by isolating suspected and confirmed patients to prevent onward transmission. At the same time, people who have been in close contact with patients are also contacted and monitored to identify possible infections.

If there is an Ebola outbreak in a country, does it mean that I shouldn’t travel there?

Check with your national authorities for travel advice on whether to travel to a country affected by an Ebola outbreak and other health information, including access to healthcare for reasons other than Ebola virus disease.

How can I protect myself against Ebola infection?

People visiting or residing in affected countries should take the following measures:
Avoiding contact with symptomatic patients and/or their bodily fluids
Avoiding contact with corpses and/or bodily fluids from deceased patients
Avoiding contact with wild animals (including monkeys, forest antelopes, rodents and bats), both alive and dead, and consumption of ‘bush meat’
Washing hands regularly, using soap or antiseptics

When to seek medical attention?

If you develop fever, muscle aches, weakness, headache and sore throat, you have been in a known affected area, having had contact with blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of dead or living infected persons, you should seek rapid medical attention also mentioning your travel history

18 March 2016
According to WHO on 18 March, two new cases of Ebola were confirmed in a rural village in the prefecture of Nzérékoré.
17 March 2016
WHO declared the end of the recent flare-up of Ebola virus disease in Sierra Leone, 42 days after the last person confirmed to have Ebola virus disease in the country tested negative for the second time.

15 January 2016
Sierra Leone and WHO report a new confirmed case on 15 January 2016.

14 January 2016
Liberia was declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organization as forty-two days have passed since the second negative test of the last laboratory-confirmed case. All countries in West Africa involved in the epidemic have now been declared Ebola-free.

29 December 2015
Guinea was declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organization as forty-two days have passed since the second negative test of the last laboratory-confirmed case.

20 November 2015
The Liberian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare reported three confirmed cases of Ebola virus disease in Monrovia, Montserrado county.

7 November 2015
Sierra Leone was declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organization as forty-two days have passed since the second negative test of the last laboratory-confirmed case.

3 September 2015
WHO declares Liberia free of Ebola virus transmission in the human population as forty-two days have passed since the second negative test on 22 July 2015 of the last laboratory-confirmed case. Liberia enters a 90-day period of heightened surveillance.

2 July 2015
The sixth meeting of the Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations (IHR) advised that the EVD outbreak still constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and previously issued temporary recommendations should be extended.

2 July 2015
Ministry of health of Liberia reported a re-emergence localised EVD transmission in Margibi County resulting in three confirmed cases.

9 May 2015
WHO declares Liberia free of Ebola virus transmission

10 April 2015
WHO publishes a statement following the fifth meeting of the IHR Emergency Committee stating that the event continues to constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

10 March 2015
WHO declared the United Kingdom free of Ebola virus disease as 42 days have passed since the confirmed case tested negative.

23 January 2015
EVD vaccine developed by GSK ships to Liberia for phase-3 trial expected to start in February 2015.

21 January 2015
WHO publishes a statement following the fourth meeting of the IHR Emergency Committee stating that the event continues to constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

18 January 2015
The government of Mali and WHO declare Mali free of Ebola virus transmission.
29 December 2014
Scotland reported the first imported case of EVD to the UK that was not a medical evacuation. The case is a healthcare worker who had returned from volunteering at an Ebola treatment centre in Sierra Leone. According to WHO all possible contacts of the case have been investigated and no high risk contacts have been identified.
21 December 2014
The USA is free of Ebola, 42 days from the date when the last patient tested negative.
2 December
WHO declared Spain Ebola-free as 42 days have passed since the confirmed case tested negative.
25 November 2014
WHO confirmed two additional cases of EVD in Bamako, Mali. Both infected persons are close contacts of previously identified EVD-infected patients.

17 November 2014
In Mali, WHO reported two additional cases in Bamako, all these cases are linked to an EVD imported case from Guinea on 25 October.

12 November 2014

In Mali, WHO reported three additional cases in Bamako that are not linked to the case reported on 23 October. Two are probable cases from Guinea, one was admitted in a clinic in Bamako on 25 October and died on 27 October, the second was a visitor of this patient who also died (the date of his death is not available). The two other cases are confirmed cases in HCWs who cared for the patient in the clinic. One died on 11 November.

1 November 2014
An UN worker was medically evacuated from Sierra Leone to France upon the request from WHO

28 October 2014
WHO published a press release regarding the approval of an Ebola vaccine trial at Lausanne University Hospital in Switzerland. The trial, which is being supported by WHO, is the latest in a series of trials that are ongoing in Mali, UK and the USA.

23 October 2014
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a new case in New York City. The case is a medical aid worker who volunteered in Guinea and recently returned to the United States. In addition, the Ministry of Health in Mali has reported that a two-year-old girl who recently arrived from Guinea has tested positive for Ebola. This is the first confirmed case of Ebola virus infection in Mali.

23 October WHO re-confirmed that the outbreak continued to constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

20 October 2014
WHO officially declared Nigeria free of Ebola virus transmission.

17 October 2014
Senegal was declared Ebola free

14 October 2014
In the USA, a second healthcare worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who also cared for the imported EVD patient tested positive for Ebola.

10 October 2014
In the USA, a healthcare worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who cared for the first imported EVD patient tested positive for Ebola.

6 October 2014
The Spanish authorities reported a confirmed case of EVD in a healthcare worker who cared for the second of two EVD patients that were evacuated to Spain.

3 October 2014
In Senegal, all contacts of the imported EVD case had completed the 21-day follow-up period without developing disease. No local transmission of EVD has been reported in Senegal. The imported case tested negative on 5 September and WHO declared Senegal free of Ebola on 17 October 2014 (two incubation periods after the last isolated case tested negative).

30 September 2014
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the first imported case of EVD in US linked to the current outbreak in West Africa.

23 September 2014
A study published by the WHO Ebola response team forecasted more than 20 000 cases (5740 in Guinea, 9890 in Liberia, and 5000 in Sierra Leone) by the beginning of November 2014. The same study estimated the doubling time of the epidemic at 15.7 days in Guinea, 23.6 days in Liberia, and 30.2 days in Sierra Leone.

18 September 2014
The United Nations Security Council recognised the EVD outbreak as a ‘threat to international peace and security’ and unanimously adopted a resolution on the establishment of an UN-wide initiative which focuses assets of all relevant UN agencies to tackle the crisis.

29 August 2014
The Ministry of Health in Senegal reported a confirmed imported case of EVD in a 21-year-old male native of Guinea.

8 August 2014
WHO declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa a Public Health Event of International Concern (PHEIC).

End July 2014
A symptomatic case travelled by air to Lagos, Nigeria, where he infected a number of healthcare workers and airport contacts before his condition was recognised to be EVD.

May 2014
Sierra Leone and Liberia reported the first cases. The disease is assumed to have spread from Guinea through the movement of infected people over land borders.

22 March 2014
The Ministry of Health in Guinea notified WHO about a rapidly evolving outbreak of Ebola viral disease (EVD). The first cases occurred in December 2013. The outbreak is caused by a clade of Zaïre ebolavirus that is related but distinct from the viruses that have been isolated from previous outbreaks in central Africa, and clearly distinct from the Taï Forest ebolavirus that was isolated in Côte d’Ivoire 1994–1995. The first cases were reported from south-eastern Guinea and the capital Conakry.

Ebola virus disease case definition

The classification of cases under this definition relies on clinical, epidemiological, laboratory and high-risk exposure criteria, allowing the identification of persons required to be investigated for EVD and the differentiation of probable and confirmed cases for reporting. The definition aims to classify cases for epidemiological reporting.

Criteria

Clinical criteria

Any person currently presenting or having presented before death:

  • Fever ≥ 38.6°C

AND any of the following:

    • Severe headache
    • Vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain
    • Unexplained haemorrhagic manifestations in various forms
    • Multi-organ failure

OR a person who died suddenly and inexplicably

Laboratory criteria

Any of the following:

  • Detection of Ebola virus nucleic acid in a clinical specimen and confirmation by sequencing or a second assay on different genomic targets.
  • Isolation of Ebola virus from a clinical specimen.

Epidemiological criteria

In the 21 days before the onset of symptoms:

  • having been in an area with community transmission;

OR

  • having had contact with a probable or confirmed EVD case.

High-risk exposure criteria

Any of the following:

  • close face-to-face contact (e.g. within one metre) without appropriate personal protective equipment (including eye protection) with a probable or confirmed case who was coughing, vomiting, bleeding, or who had diarrhoea; or had unprotected sexual contact with a case up to three months after recovery;
  • direct contact with any material soiled by bodily fluids from a probable or confirmed case;
  • percutaneous injury (e.g. with needle) or mucosal exposure to bodily fluids, tissues or laboratory specimens of a probable or confirmed case;
  • participation in funeral rites with direct exposure to human remains in or from an affected area without appropriate personal protective equipment;
  • direct contact with bats, rodents, primates, living or dead, in or from affected areas, or bushmeat.

New developments

On 9 October 2015, the UK notified an unusual late complication in an Ebola survivor. The case is a nurse who was diagnosed with EVD on 29 December 2014, after returning from Sierra Leone to Glasgow, via London. The nurse was treated with blood plasma from an Ebola survivor and an experimental drug closely related to ZMapp. She was declared free of Ebola on 24 January 2015. The nurse was transferred on 9 October from Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow to the Royal Free Hospital in London, where she is treated – in accordance with national guidelines – in the hospital’s high-level isolation unit. As of 13 October 2015, the health authorities have identified 62 close contacts who will be closely monitored for 21 days. They will have their temperature taken twice daily, restrictions placed on travel and, in the case of healthcare workers, they were asked not to have direct patient contact during this period. Forty of the contacts had direct contact with the nurses’ bodily fluids and they have, as a precautionary measure, been offered vaccination with the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine.

This is the same vaccine that has proved to be effective in the ongoing ring vaccination trial in Guinea. Twenty-six of the 40 have been vaccinated while 14 have either declined vaccination or had pre-existing medical contraindications. All 58 close contacts are being closely monitored for 21 days after their last exposure. The 26 who were vaccinated will undergo additional monitoring because the vaccine is still being evaluated.

ECDC threat assessment

Less than ten cases per week have been reported in Guinea and Sierra Leone since the end of July 2015, and transmission has remained confined to small areas in both countries.

No EVD cases have been reported worldwide during the last two weeks. This is the longest period without cases since March 2014. However, the risk of resurgence West Africa, and hence the risk of regional and global spread, will remain until all the most-affected countries have been declared Ebola-free. The Scottish health authorities are following up the nurse’s close contacts as a precaution. As of 13 October 2015, the health authorities have identified 62 close contacts, 40 of which had direct contact with the nurses’ bodily fluids [9]. As a precautionary measure, close contacts having had direct contact with any type of bodily fluids were offered vaccination with rVSV-ZEBOV.

These vaccinations have now taken place. Twenty-six of the 40 accepted the vaccine. Fourteen have either declined the vaccine or were unable to receive it due to existing medical conditions. All 58 close contacts are being closely monitored for 21 days since their last exposure. They will have their temperature taken twice daily, restrictions placed on travel and, in the case of healthcare workers, they were asked not to have direct patient contact during this period. The 26 who were vaccinated will undergo additional monitoring because the vaccine is still being evaluated. In acute EVD, neurological symptoms of meningitis, encephalopathy, and seizures have been described.

In one case report, detectable viral load in CSF indicated that Ebola virus can cross the blood-brain barrier and thus have a pathogenic role in encephalitis. The authors concluded that treatment for Ebola virus disease should also target the central nervous system . However, there is as yet no evidence that the detection of Ebola virus in CSF during the acute illness is linked to relapse with CNS symptoms. Late manifestations of EVD, such as uveitis, were first described in 1999 . Information about late manifestations of EVD in association with RNA/viral reappearance in body fluids is limited. The continued detection of RNA and live virus in semen has been documented .

Further, persistence of the virus with long-lasting symptoms has been described once for Ebola virus. Viable virus was detected in aqueous liquid in the eye nine weeks after the clearance of viraemia and 14 weeks after disease onset in a patient presenting with uveitis. Long-term sequelae occurring over two years after Bundibugyo virus disease have been described, including neurological manifestations . The need for attention to the long-term sequelae in EVD survivors in the current West-African outbreak has been raised recently  and some studies are ongoing . The risk of further transmission from the infected healthcare worker in the United Kingdom is considered very low, given the preventive measures taken and the continued monitoring of close contacts.

Contacts most at risk are those having cared for the patient prior to the adoption of protection measures and have potentially been exposed to bodily fluids. Further investigations are needed to fully understand the mechanism and impact of the re-appearance of viral RNA in this patient more than eight months after recovery. The patient received convalescent plasma when she was first treated for EVD eight months ago. It can only be speculated at this time whether treatment with convalescent plasma may influence an EVD patient’s immune response to the infection and the ability to clear the body of the virus. Ongoing cohort studies will hopefully provide more information about EVD survivors’ complications and longterm prognosis.

Corruption-attribute

Debt and corruption in Tanzania

On 30 November 2015, a landmark judgment saw Standard Bank fined US$25.2 million and ordered to pay the government of Tanzania US$7 million in compensation for allegedly failing to prevent bribery. Nick Branson considers whether this level of reparations is appropriate, and how those implicated might be held to account for their actions.

Many Tanzanians welcomed the deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) between the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and Standard Bank as it appeared to add weight to the crusade against corruption launched by the newly-elected president, John Magufuli. Only three days earlier, Magufuli had suspended Rished Bade, the commissioner general of the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA), and ordered investigations into tax evasion at Dar es Salaam port.

Others, however, dug into the statement of facts, unearthing a mountain of information on hitherto low-profile financiers and civil servants, and provoking questions over the country’s US$600 million sovereign note private placement, a debt issue managed by Standard Bank, now ICBC Standard Bank Plc. Suspicions have been raised at a time when Tanzania is thought to be planning a US$700 million Eurobond, and neighbouring Kenya grapples with persistent allegations regarding its own US$2 billion bond.

The allegations

The DPA suspended an indictment against Standard Bank for its alleged failure to prevent bribery, citing section 7 of the Bribery Act 2010. The Bank was fined US$25.2 million, in addition to US$7 million in compensation, payable to the Government of Tanzania.

The case relates to a US$6 million payment made by Stanbic Bank Tanzania on 1 March 2013 to a “local agent” in Tanzania, Enterprise Growth Market Advisors (EGMA). Stanbic entered into an agreement with EGMA in August 2012. At the time, Stanbic was a sister company of Standard Bank, and worked with the latter to access the debt capital markets.

Lord Justice Leveson concluded that “although the potential for corrupt practices to affect this type of business were well known, Standard Bank, which did not have adequate measures in place to guard against such risks, relied on Stanbic to conduct appropriate due diligence in relation to EGMA; Standard Bank made no enquiry about EGMA or its role.”

According to the statement of facts agreed as part of the DPA, among other oversights, the bank “failed to identify and therefore deal adequately with the presence in this transaction of a politically exposed person”. One of EGMA’s directors was Harry Kitilya, then commissioner general of the TRA. A clear potential conflict of interest exists if a man responsible for raising revenue moonlights by offering to “facilitate” borrowing by the Tanzanian government. Kitilya retired in December 2013, five months before the bond was issued.

Although there was “no evidence that EGMA provided any services in relation to the transaction”, the company was paid US$6 million. This was raised by increasing the cost of the transaction from 1.4% (US$8.4 million) to 2.4% (US$14.4 million).

Tanzanians have been quick to question the extent of this practice. In conversation with the author, Professor Ibrahim Lipumba, former national chairman of the opposition Civic United Front (CUF), argued that “if a 1% kickback was involved in this US$600m loan, what about comparable borrowing in recent years? Over the past four fiscal years Tanzania has borrowed over US$2.5 billion.”

On 1 February 2016, Zitto Kabwe MP, a former chair of the public accounts committee (PAC) and leader of the opposition Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT-Wazalendo), raised this issue in parliament. Kabwe called for the Controller and Auditor General (CAG) to audit bond sales amounting to 6.8 trillion Tanzanian Shillings between 2011/12 and 2015/16.

A new legal instrument

By contrast, the international media focused on the ground-breaking nature of the case and quoted the SFO’s director, David Green QC, who hailed the “landmark DPA” as “a template for future agreements.” Ben Morgan, joint head of bribery and corruption at the SFO, commended “the decision of the bank in question to participate in DPA negotiations”.

Under a DPA, a corporation is charged with a criminal offence, but criminal proceedings are suspended provided the accused company meets certain conditions. The SFO may resume prosecution within three years, should Standard Bank fail to comply with the terms of the agreement. After that period, the SFO will discontinue proceedings.

DPAs have enjoyed significant growth in the US, primarily as a punitive instrument, whereas the UK variant includes a degree of compensation. Another difference is that British DPAs must be confirmed by a judge in open court, who must deem them to be in the interests of justice with terms that are fair, reasonable and proportionate.

Given the costs involved in mounting legal proceedings against corporations based in London, DPAs may be deemed appropriate where the public interest is not best served by the SFO mounting an uncertain and lengthy prosecution. This is particularly pertinent for accusations relating to Bribery Act, where there is little case law, and where the alleged infraction did not take place on UK soil. DPAs are, however, not without risk.

Marking your own homework

The DPA in question was the result of Standard Bank reporting an incident to the UK authorities. Four members of Stanbic reported concerns when almost US$6 million in cash was withdrawn from EGMA’s account over the course of nine days in March 2013. On 18 April 2013, Standard Bank’s solicitors, Jones Day, reported a potential breach to the UK’s Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) – now the National Crime Agency – and on 24 April 2013 to the SFO. Standard Bank instructed Jones Day to investigate and disclose its findings to SFO, which it did on 21 July 2014.

The DPA rests primarily on that internal investigation, supplemented by interviews conducted by the SFO. This evidence was determined to be sufficiently robust to be presented in a criminal court. Yet, without further examination, it remains impossible to know whether what occurred was an isolated incident or routine practice in investment banking.

When a law firm, held on retainer by a bank to limit its potential exposure to legal proceedings, is also reliant on the same bank that provide documentation to support an investigation, questions will inevitably be raised over whether that investigation can be as credible as one undertaken by the SFO. This, in turn, provokes debate over whether a criminal investigation conducted by the SFO might have unearthed additional evidence of use to British or Tanzanian authorities looking to “follow the money” or prosecute individuals involved.

Questions abound about what triggered the decision by Standard Bank to self-report, with speculation as to whether it jumped or was pushed. In a video interview, Tanzania’s chief secretary, Ombeni Sefue, stated that “the Bank of Tanzania in its usual inspection responsibilities identified that something was wrong in Stanbic in Dar es Salaam. And when this was taken up to the Board of Standard Bank, they realised that something was wrong and they reported it to the Serious Fraud Office.”

On 20 January 2016, Zitto Kabwe expressed the view that Standard Bank “falsified information voluntarily given to [the] SFO in order to get a small fine.” Under the DPA, Standard Bank was required to state that it had not provided the SFO with misleading or incomplete information and that it would notify the SFO if it becomes aware of further relevant material.

Brian Cooksey, who monitors governance trends in Tanzania, thought the basic lessons from this case were being missed. According to Cooksey, if Standard Bank’s “plausible deniability” strategy ensures that senior bank officials are let off extremely lightly for their involvement in the deal, then we may have to brace ourselves for more of the same. Cooksey told ARI:

“In the BAE Systems radar scam, BAE eventually repaid the total value of the project to the Tanzanian government in a plea-bargain not dissimilar to this deferred prosecution agreement.”

London calling

At a recent meeting with the SFO, officials there confirmed that the DPA does not preclude the Tanzanian authorities from taking legal action against the individuals named in the statement of facts. Although some of these figures have died and others have left the country, those implicated can nevertheless be pursued in Tanzanian courts.[1]

Financial crime cannot be properly investigated without international cooperation, and the SFO emphasised that it stands ready to assist should the Tanzanian authorities demand it. This request could be initiated by one of two channels: the director of public prosecutions (DPP), Biswalo Mganga, or the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB).

In the meantime, the UK’s investigating authorities could have their own leads to pursue. On 11 December 2015, Andrew Feinstein, executive director of Corruption Watch UK, and a former chair of South Africa’s parliamentary accounts committee, wrote to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) requesting an investigation into UK-based individuals named in the statement of facts.

The SFO may yet discover further evidence of criminality, including evidence that the proceeds of crime were invested in the UK. A previous SFO investigation into the aforementioned BAE Systems deal prompted the resignation of the then attorney general, Andrew Chenge, over allegations about the provenance of money held in the offshore tax haven of Jersey. Chenge denied any wrongdoing. Despite having also been accused of involvement in subsequent scandals, Chenge was elected as presiding chairman of Tanzania’s parliament in January 2016.

Looking to Kenya?

Prosecuting those suspected of embezzlement was a prominent theme of the October 2015 elections. On the campaign trail, presidential candidate Magufuli promised to establish special anti-corruption courts, if elected. He has reiterated this pledge since taking office, and a team of experts is reportedly working on the issue.

A recent visit by Kenya’s chief justice, Dr Willy Mutunga, suggests that Tanzania may be looking to emulate its neighbour. Mutunga recently established a new Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes (ACEC) Division of the High Court in Nairobi, and appointed ten additional magistrates to hear such cases. Kenya has yet to make much progress in eliminating graft despite anti-corruption courts having been set up over a decade ago.[2]

Semkae Kilonzo, the co-ordinator of Policy Forum, a network of over 70 Tanzanian non-governmental organisations, told ARI that, for Magufuli’s proposal to prove feasible, the new tribunals must be integrated with existing policy:

“Tanzania has a comprehensive National Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan (NACSAP). These courts must be established under that framework, following elaborate stakeholder consultations, if they are to be successful.”

Further concerns relate to the risk of duplicating existing structures, reducing the resources available for the everyday administration of justice and potentially creating a two-tier legal system. Kilonzo maintains that “the creation of a parallel structure will only increase the burden on an already overwhelmed judiciary”.

Indeed, Magufuli’s rush to establish a new means of trying those accused of graft may risk missing the bigger picture. Tanzania’s oversight bodies are still struggling to assert their independence. For Kilonzo:

“As long as the president remains responsible for appointing the judiciary, the DPP, and members of the PCCB, those committed to combating graft will be constrained by reporting hierarchies and the threat of political interference. Changes in this domain, coupled with the effective implementation of a new whistleblower law, would do far more to address corruption than specialised anti-graft courts.”

On 26 January 2016, Valentino Mlowola, the new PCCB director general, told journalists that investigations into the Standard Bank case had reached “the final stages”. He promised that “anytime soon you will see grand corruption suspects taken to court.” Separately, Stanbic may face a fine of 3 billion Tanzanian Shillings (approximately US$1.4 million).

Grounds for caution

Regardless of the compensation paid and the prosecutions that may follow, Tanzania has been saddled with a debt of US$600 million which may not have been borrowed at a favourable rate. It remains difficult to prove what would have constituted a reasonable deal for the country; what is certain is that the decision to proceed with a private placement was made following a closed bidding process.

Although Tanzania had obtained a preliminary credit rating in February 2011, reception given to the sovereign note was described as a “disaster” for the borrower on the opening day of trading.

A Reuters report stressed Tanzania’s failure to achieve a comparable deal to Zambia or Ghana, whose Eurobonds were being traded at an interest rate of less than 4%. Tanzania could almost certainly have raised money at a rate more competitive than the 6% offered by the Standard Bank placement. Corruption Watch UK has argued that potential savings could have reached US$80 million over the life of the bond.

Regardless of the rate obtained, questions remain as to why the private placement was so poorly managed, and what could have been achieved in its stead. As Davide Scigliuzzo noted for Reuters:

“The deal, which was led by Standard Bank, perplexed the financial community from the moment news emerged about it nearly two weeks ago, especially as Tanzania has an unofficial mandate with Citigroup for a public Eurobond.”

In the absence of a competitive bidding process it is hard to believe that the private placement represented good value compared to other means of commercial borrowing available to the government. Equally, it is conceivable that plans for the Eurobond were delayed as a result of the private placement and that Tanzania may therefore have forfeited an opportunity to borrow at a more attractive rate.

In conversation with the author, Mark Bohlund, Africa and Middle East economist at Bloomberg, explained that:

“A Eurobond would have offered Tanzania cheaper sovereign borrowing, as it applies more downward pressure on interest rates through an open and competitive bidding process (and the possibility of re-sale) than a bank loan. It also creates a benchmark yield, which helps local corporations to take on loans from foreign creditors. Eurobonds help to familiarise foreign investors with local advantages and risks, which should boost FDI over time. The downside is high level of transparency and accountability required by regulators both in the country of issuance and domicile of potential investors, in particular, Regulation S and 144/A. This can be a cumbersome process and entails specialist skills that are not always widely available in frontier market economies like Tanzania.”

Neither the absence of competition nor the (lost) opportunity cost was factored in to calculations regarding the compensation due to Tanzania.

Institutional inertia

One could argue that the alleged corruption would not have been possible had the country’s financial institutions exercised greater oversight of its borrowing needs.

In December 2010, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) noted Tanzania’s desire to seek “non-concessional external financing of up to US$1.5 billion” over the coming three years, while maintaining that “weaknesses in debt management capacity must be promptly addressed.” By May 2011, this had become “a matter of urgency”.

In July 2012, the IMF proposed that Tanzania “establish a new Debt Management Office (DMO) in the Ministry of Finance to consolidate public debt management functions”. It emphasised that “existing procedures… [do] not provide strong assurances on value for money in public borrowing, an issue of particular concern given planned large investments”.

By the time of the private placement by Standard Bank, the DMO’s “organisational structure [had] been submitted, but [was] pending final approval by the Executive branch”. The IMF’s most recent report notes that the “new department still needs to be staffed and become operational”.

Might Tanzania have gone to the market in a different way or at a different time, if such structures had been in place?

Debt management remains an issue in the country. Brian Cooksey emphasised to ARI the need to consider the transparency and sustainability of external commercial borrowing, given Tanzania’s deteriorating finances. “We should be asking: was the bond money used for new projects, or paying off old debts?”

Under plans proposed by the finance minister, Dr Philip Mpango, the government could raise 1.8 trillion Tanzanian Shillings (approximately US$800 million) on international markets in 2016/17. This would include borrowing to repay the bondholders and service the debt placed by Standard Bank. The first of nine repayments is due on the third anniversary of the placement, 1 March 2016.

No doubt President Magufuli hopes to prosecute those who benefited from a questionable deal which his government will be paying off until March 2020, six months ahead of the next general elections. The SFO has provided Tanzania’s authorities with some promising leads, and US$7 million in compensation from Standard Bank will surely help; but, one is left wondering whether the DPA falls short of addressing the root of the problem.

causeway_map.jpg.crop_display

Egypt-Saudi Arabia bridge will connect Africa to Asia

Saudi King Salman announced Friday an agreement with Egypt to build a bridge over the Red Sea connecting the two countries, on the second day of his visit to Cairo.

The Saudi monarch made the announcement in televised comments after meeting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.  “I agreed with my brother, his Excellency President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, to build a bridge connecting the two countries,” Salman said. “This historic step to connect the two continents, Africa and Asia, is a qualitative transformation that will increase trade between the two continents to unprecedented levels,” he added. A beaming Sisi, who had minutes before presented the king with the ceremonial Nile Collar, suggested they name the bridge “King Salman bin Abdel Aziz Bridge”.

Following the announcement, representatives of both countries signed 17 investment deals and memorandums of understanding. A government official had said the deals agreed with Saudi Arabia throughout Salman’s visit would amount to about $1.7 billion (1.5 billion euros). They included an agreement to set up a university and homes in South Sinai, and a power plant.

Sunni ties that bind

Saudi Arabia — along with other Gulf kingdoms such as Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates – showered Egypt with billions of dollars in economic aid after Sisi ousted democratically-elected President Mohammed Morsi in 2013 following mass protests. But falling oil prices have increased the pressure on Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich Gulf economies. Egypt is also struggling to jumpstart the country’s floundering economy. Despite the countries precarious economic outlooks, Saudi-Egypt ties remain strong with the region increasingly split between Sunni powers and Iran, the world’s Shiite powerhouse. With Iraq, Syria and Yemen immersed in civil war, and Saudi Arabia preoccupied by its region-wide rivalry with Iran, Riyadh is determined to stop the Egyptian state from failing. Saudi Arabia will likely continue giving aid to Egypt despite its own budgetary concerns, analysts say.

mossack fonseca

The Panama Papers’ growing impact on Africa

While no African official has yet resigned as a result of the Panama Papers, African journalists involved in the investigation say they have given Africans a wake up call and could even lead to government action.

The twin sister of DRC’s leader Joseph Kabila twin sister, the nephew of South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma and business people allegedly linked to Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe are all named in the Panama Papers. The Mossack Fonseca leak – the biggest data leak ever – have revealed the names and alleged financial affairs of top officials from at least 15 different sub-Saharan African countries or people linked to them have been named.

While the practice of keeping money abroad is not illegal, the revelations by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ (ICIJ) team of about 400 journalists have made global headlines. African Union chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said the African money kept in foreign banks should be repatriated to the continent. At a conference last year, former South African president Thabo Mbeki noted that a report commissioned by the AU had found that Africa was losing $50 billion (43 billion euros) a year through illicit cash flows – money that could go into education, health care or investments on the continent. A report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) even puts the amount at $150 billion.
Several African governments have either remained silent or maintained that the officials were acting within their legal rights when confronted with the disclosure. African journalists who worked on the investigation believe that the Panama Papers will have a strong impact:

South Africa:

With the Nkandla scandal, the alleged influence peddling by the Gupta family, and students protesting about the state of the universities and the country, South Africa’s journalists are not short of stories. “Our news agenda is already full and so its not surprising that these leaks may not make the same impact here as they’re making elsewhere,” Sam Sole, who co-heads the investigative team at South Africa’s Mail and Guardian paper and participated in the Panama Papers investigation, told DW.

Sam Sole is managing partner at the Mail and Guardian’s Centre for Investigative Journalism

Nevertheless he noted: “I think its fantastic that the Panama Papers have put that issue on a global map, because on this issue there are only global cross border solutions.” The documents are also quite important in terms of actual consequences, Sole added. “Even though there is not a lot of data on South Africa and South African companies, South African Revenue Services and treasury will be looking more carefully at offshore jurisdiction and the way in which it is used to hide money.”

Earlier this week, South Africa’s Finance Minister proclaimed that the country’s revenue authorities would be investigating any South Africans mentioned in the leaks. In many cases the leaks could just be the beginning of an inquiry. They had revealed that President Zuma’s nephew Clive Khulubuse Zuma was authorized to represent and negotiate the offshore company Caprikat Limited, which bought oil blocks in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Khulubuse Zuma’s involvement in the firm was already known in South Africa, but the leaks found that he did not directly benefit in the deal. “So this leak deepens the mystery as to what he was doing there. The question arises why would they use him and what benefits would he have gained from that?” Sole said.
Ordinary South Africans are affected by their leaders’ offshore activities. “The burden of maintaining the infrastructure for viable states is falling on the shoulders of those who are less able to bear that burden and those able to bear that burden are paying much less than they should.”

Botswana:

Botswana Alvin Ntibinyane INK Centre for Investigative Journalism
Alvin Ntibinyane is managing partner with the INK Centre for Investigative Journalism in Botswana
More stories are coming, said Botswana’s member of the investigative team, Alvin Ntibinyane, who co-manages the INK Center for Investigative Journalism in Botswana. So far, only the President of the Court of Appeals, Justice Ian Kirby, has been named in the leaked files. He is said to hold shares in up to five offshore companies mainly in the UK, but he insists this is perfectly legal.
According to Ntibinyane, ordinary Botswanans were, however, appalled by the judge’s involvement with the law firm. “It is the talk of the town for now. We have responses from civil societs and political parties. Some are even calling for him to resign. But we haven’t yet received any response from key institutions like the government, the judiciary or the law society,” he explained.
Nearly a quarter of Botswana’s revenue comes from diamond mining and the country’s economic growth is around five percent. Unlike other African countries, Botswana is noted for having checks and balances in place, so that its citizens benefit from ithe nation’s wealth. “Our diamonds have been able to develop the country to a certain level. We have relatively free education and health care is good. But these are still worrying signs that so many people from Botswana are investing offshore,” Ntibinyane said. The upcoming stories, he said, would concern private firms rather than public officials.

Nigeria:

One Nigerian mentionen in the Panama Papers is former Delta State governor, James Ibori who has already felt the full force of the law. In 2012, he admitted to embezzling up to $75 million from Nigeria – although authorities believe teh true amount could be much higher – and investing it in property in London. He is now serving a jail term in the UK.
Unabhängigkeitstag in Nigeria 2015

On Monday (04.04.2016), Nigeria’s Premium Times , which was involved in the investigation, revealed that Senate president Bukola Saraki , who is said to be Nigeria’s third most powerful person, has been named as having failed to declare assets in offshore account in his wife’s name. A mere front, claims the investigative team. Saraki is already on trial for allegations of fraud. Nigeria’s Transition Monitoring Group, an organization of around 400 civil society groups says Saraki should resign from his post.

The Nigerian investigative team, says taht Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote and his half-brother Sayyu Dantata, have also been linked to Mossack Fonseca’s shell companies. The two are said to have repeatedly bought and sold shares in 13 companies, mainly in the Seychelles.

Followers of DW Hausa’s Facebook page have expressed concern: “Saraki should not have done that. I believe some made him do this but at the end of the day he will pay. This will eventually land him in jail,” wrote Auwal Jaddah. Another user said that anyone involved in the scandal should be punished accordingly, while Bashir Sahal Yakubu wrote: “The international community should come up with a law regarding tax evasion.”

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$900 million village with LEDs, Spas, and no cars

Cape Town will soon be home to a luxury eco-friendly village with no cars and sustainable technologies.

The project, thought to be the first of its kind on the continent, has been designed by architecture firm Swisatec. The R14 billion ($900 million) development will rise on the existing Blue Rock Resort in Somerset West, an area already surrounded by popular wine farms. There are plans for 1,000 apartments, medical centers, spas, boutiques, schools and restaurants.
Cars will be limited to a main road or confined to underground parking lots. Energy efficiency will be a top priority, both through renewable energy sources and established technologies such as LED lights and water management systems.

Combating pollution

South Africa has been listed in the top 12 producers of carbon emissions according to a report by environmental organization Groundwork. The report predicts that the average temperature in South Africa will rise by anything between 6 and 12°C by the end of this century. It also explains how water stressed the country is currently and examines the ongoing power crisis.
However Cape Town has set a target to generate 10 — 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, according to Business Day, and even wants to see its residents making their own renewable energy. Construction starts on the 10 year Blue Rock village project in August 2016, and buyers are expected to move in by February 2017.

Rolling blackouts

South Africa has been marred by controlled blackouts in the first part of 2015, when state-run provider Eskom, which generates the vast majority of the power in the country, initiated a program of power cuts it called “load shedding.” The blackouts were blamed on a number of factors, including the delay in the construction of new plants and an ongoing maintenance program on the aging distribution network.

Why are 600 million Africans still without power?

Late last year, Eskom’s CEO promised that the load shedding — which negatively impacted the country’s economy — would cease, and South Africa is now coming off several months of relatively stable electricity supply, with diminishing demand a helping factor. Earlier this year, the country unveiled its first solar-powered airport: located halfway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, George Airport will meet 41% of its energy demand from a brand new 200 square meter solar power plant built on its grounds.

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The rate of diabetes has more than doubled in Africa and no one is ready for it

There are now four times as many people in the world living with diabetes today than in 1980 and poor diet and a lack of exercise are largely blamed, according to a report by the World Health Organization. In Africa, the prevalence of diabetes has more than doubled in that time, which may be due to better personal incomes versus poor public spending.
While the rate of diabetes remains comparatively low in Africa, the number of people living with diabetes has jumped from 4 million in 1980, to 25 million in 2014. For one of the world’s youngest regions, that number is worrying for a number of reasons.

Since diabetes is a lifestyle disease, an increase in the disease could be a symptom of growing prosperity, as people are able to afford more processed foods. It’s also a sign of a more sedentary lifestyle as more people spend their working days sitting down.

However, Africa’s relative prosperity has not yet translated to more sound public healthcare systems. In developing countries, diabetes is an added burden to states still dealing with historical sociopolitical inequalities and weak economies. Plus, developing countries have other illnesses—biological and social—whose immediate effects have seemed more pressing than diabetes.
“Most of these countries are also burdened by communicable diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and diarrheal diseases. Political unrest, poverty and poor leadership with substandard policy regulation and corruption, illiteracy and low education standards are rampant,” said endocrinologist Sundeep Ruder in The Conversation.
“Governments need to guide policy to create environments that are conducive to attaining health goals. Trade measures and agricultural policies need attention. The marketing of foods high in sugar, fats and salt—especially to children—requires attention.”
Some governments have tried this. In Botswana, a high middle-income country known for its political stability and large diamonds, rapid urbanization contributed to national rate of diabetes becoming nearly twice as high as the average rate in Africa in 2012, according to local media reports. In South Africa at least 58 people a day died of diabetes in 2012, according to Statistics South Africa. In both countries, national health campaigns have urged earlier screening, and a better lifestyle – with South Africa’s health minister starting with the menu in parliament.
But for most countries, these advertising campaigns are already too costly, and treating the existing cases even more so. Treatments like medical insulin need to be made available and screening and detection must be improved. Ruder believes that the activism around treatment for HIV/Aids should be adapted to diabetes campaigning.