Africa in the world

President Obama to host U.S.-Africa Summit

President Obama has invited African leaders for a summit in Washington D.C. from August 4-6 next week. More than 200 business and political leaders from both the U.S. and Africa will be attending the summit which will focus on the continent’s development and the U.S. role in partnership and investment.

Obama invited all African nations that are currently in good standing with the United States or are not suspended from the African Union. Leaders from Egypt, Madagascar, Sudan and Zimbabwe will not be attending.  Egypt, is not eligible to attend as it is currently suspended from the African Union.  There will also be no invitation for Sudan, whose president, Omar al-Bashir, has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC).  The United States has sanctions against the Zimbabwean government of Robert Mugabe and his key officials over human rights abuses, political intimidation of opposition parties and role back of democracy.

Guinea-Bissau and Madagascar will not be attending the summit as well. The U.S. has concerns over the subversion of democracy in both nations.

One notable inclusion is Kenya, where President Uhuru Kenyatta is currently awaiting a delayed trial at the ICC on charges related to violence after an election in 2007 that left 1,000 people dead.

A White House statement said the trip would “advance the administration’s focus on trade and investment in Africa, and highlight America’s commitment to Africa’s security, its democratic development, and its people.”

U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker when speaking to the Wall Street Journal, said deals worth billions of dollars would be reached at the meeting, adding that more money would be advanced to Africa for various development projects.

First Lady Michelle Obama, and former First Lady Laura Bush and the Bush Institute, will host a day-long spouses’ symposium at the Kennedy Center focused on the impact of investments in education, health, and public-private partnerships as well.

Throughout his years in office, President Obama has held numerous conferences and events focusing on building partnerships and investment for African nations. This upcoming summit is a continuation of that policy.

More information about the event can be found at the White House’s website.

Rwanda’s health insurance as a model for Africa

Proper health and nutrition is key to good living no matter where you are in the world. That isn’t always the case though, especially throughout Africa but Rwanda is highlighting what can be done as a model throughout the continent in this video report.

United Nations welcomes South Sudan as 193rd member

The UN General Assembly has admitted South Sudan as the 193rd member of the United Nations. The vote followed the African country’s achievement of independence last Saturday, breaking away from Sudan after more than 50 years of on-and-off war.

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Chicago Bulls Forward Luol Deng hosts first Hoops summit in South Sudan

Chicago Bulls Forward Luol Deng

Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng is a former South Sudanese refugee, and he was in his new nation to celebrate its freedom  and host it’s first-ever hoops clinic for the youth.  A day before the historical event, Deng joins a practice game with young members of the NBA Africa basketball camp in Juba.

He also had a sit-down interview with John Prendergast of the enough project. Deng talked about what this all meant to him in a video interview. Watch it and you’ll understand why Deng is so well respected by his peers around the league.

Luol Deng can be followed on twitter @LuolDeng9

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South Sudan celebrates independence as world’s newest nation

Southern Sudan became  the world’s newest country on July 9. After more than 20 years of civil war, followed by a half decade of uncertain peace, the new country is starting virtually from scratch. The challenges are many, but the level of optimism is high enough to match.

It is a dramatic shift in mentality from short-term survival to long-term planning. South Sudan faces some challenges; the first being  setting up the apparatus of the state: the security; the police; the military; and all that. The most important task a state is supposed to do is enforce and protect the rule of law. South Sudan needs to defend the peace and security of its citizens. With the exception of the Abyei and South Kordofan border areas, the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement put an end to wide-scale fighting between north and south. But cattle raiding and other crimes persist.

The lack of roads and other infrastructure compound the problem. The country has only about 4,000 kilometers of all-weather roads. Few crops and other goods make it to market centers.  Shortages of basic goods are also common.

Setting up diplomatic relationship with the world and the new administration that was never there will be a challenge. International donors provided aid to besieged communities during the civil war. Now the government is trying to break that dependency. South Sudan must address its revenue problem since the majority of the money will come from oil exports which are dependent on being shipped through the north.

Despite the challenges, there is a sense of optimism among many in Southern Sudan. That resilience is what the people of Southern Sudan will need in the coming months and years.

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Luanda is the most expensive city in the world

Luanda, Angola

The world’s most expensive city isn’t Paris or London or even New York City. It’s Luanda. Angola’s oil-rich capital city is the priciest city for the second year in the row, according to a yearly study by the Mercer Group.  Tokyo is the second priciest city in the world, while the city of N’Djamena in Chad came in in third place. Moscow is in fourth position with Geneva in fifth and Osaka in sixth. New York City placed a relatively distant 32nd. Karachi, Pakistan was deemed the least expensive city.

The report, which is published annually to help companies assess compensation allowances for expatriate workers, compared the cost of over 200 items including housing, food and transport in 214 cities, using New York as a reference.

Luanda is ridiculously expensive. The city was designed for a couple hundred thousand inhabitants but today the population is somewhere around five million people. Limited infrastructure and inflation mean that the cost of food is high (fuel is cheaper than water) and the rent on a small two-bedroom apartment in Luanda can cost $7,000 a month. The infrastructure is in dire need of an overhaul.

The end of the war in 2002 led to an investment boom by China and some Western nations which helped turn Angola into one of the world’s fastest growing economies.

Costs will remain exorbitant in Luanda because oil companies, and the teeny percentage of Angolans who are profiting from them, can afford it. Angola has tons of potential outside of oil, but like in most countries in Africa, proper management and competent leaders are needed for this to happen.

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Foreign Direct Investment In Africa To Reach $150 Billion by 2015

Africa will have $150 billion in direct investment by 2015.

Africa is set to benefit from foreign direct investment of $150 billion by 2015, according to a survey of global executives.

The ‘Africa Attractiveness Survey’ by Ernst & Young surveyed 562 global executives, who predicted that over the next five years, the average African economy will grow at a faster rate than its Asian counterpart, in line with the capital investment growth forecast.

Foreign direct investment has slumped massively in 2011 to less than half of the $200 billion in 2008.

Despite this drop in investment, Africa has remained an attractive continent to invest in through the global recession, keeping its share of global investment flows as a result.

The Ernst & Young analysis of foreign direct investment projects shows that Africa has experienced a sharp increase in inward foreign direct investment over the past seven years, from 338 new projects in 2003 to 633 in 2010 – an overall increase of 87 percent.

With 42 percent of business surveyed confirming they would consider further investment in Africa, there is proof that it is still viewed as a lucrative destination. On top of this, another 19 percent of executives said they will maintain their operations on the continent.

Companies that have invested and already integrated Africa into their overall investment strategy were found to be particularly positive.

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Michelle Obama visits South Africa, meets Nelson Mandela

On her first solo trip to Africa, first lady Michelle Obama with her daughters Sasha left and Malia visited former president Nelson Mandela at his home in Houghton.

US First Lady Michelle Obama has met South Africa’s former President Nelson Mandela, on the first day of her two nation-tour of South Africa.

Mrs Obama, her daughters Sasha and Malia and her mother Marian Robinson, were also granted a rare audience with 92-year-old former president Nelson Mandela at his Johannesburg home.

It was Mrs Obama’s first encounter with the global icon, although her husband Barack Obama met him when still a senator on a 2006 Africa tour. Mrs Obama’s aides revealed that a mobile phone photograph taken of that meeting now hangs in Mr Mandela’s office.

Her visit to South Africa is aimed at advancing her international youth engagement agenda as well as highlighting Mr Obama’s support for “democracy, development and economic opportunities across Africa”.

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Finland and Nigeria to boost relations

Both Finland and Nigeria have agreed to deepen and expand relations between both nations.

The Federal Government and its Finnish counterpart are determined to explore economic potentials towards trade and investments in both countries.

Though the volume of trade and investment portfolios have, in recent times, been abysmally low, the Finnish ambassador to Nigeria, Anneli Vuorinen, said at the weekend in Abuja that discussions are currently ongoing at the highest level of governments in Nigeria and Finland to ensure that their bilateral trade relations improve by tapping each country’s areas of comparative socio-economic advantages for their mutual benefits.

To create the needed forum for prospective investors to interact and share ideas and evolve strategies on realising the broad objectives of the new bilateral agenda, the Nigeria-Finland Trade Association, through its business networking platform, Nigerian-Finnish Business Group, has unveiled plans to host two business fora this week, to share information about Finland to Nigerian businesses and stakeholders.

This will precede a high powered trade delegation from Nigeria, which would be led by the minister of commerce and industry, along with some investors, businessmen, stakeholders and authorities, to visit Finland for the purposes of exploring opportunities in energy, environmental technology, mining and construction.

Briefing reporters about the proposed fora, scheduled for Abuja and Lagos between June 1 and 3 respectively, Mrs Vuorinen highlighted the potentials for improved Nigeria-Finnish bilateral relations in the years ahead, saying the events were planned as follow-up to recent exchange of visits by the leaders of governments of both countries.

She listed some of the visits as the March 2009 visit by the honorary president of Finland, Mrs Tarja Halonen, which was reciprocated by President Goodluck Jonathan (then as vice president) in May 2009.

Global leadership Ambassador Vuorinen, who identified Nigeria as a big economy with potentials for global leadership if the problems of corruption and insecurity are tackled head on, listed areas where Finnish companies could help in adding value to the Nigerian economy as climate change and the application of Finnish technologies in renewable energy and clean power production and of the sustainable products, processes and other services on offer by Finnish companies.

According to her, three Finnish companies are already helping to improve the power, mining, and clean environment situations of Nigeria.

Specifically, she listed the companies to include the power company – Wartsila- which currently has more than 15 sites in Nigeria and making up to 340 megawatts (MW) of electricity and the Geological Survey Agency of Finland, which “was involved in making the first geochemical mapping in Nigeria (and all of Sub-Saharan Africa).

On the clean environment technologies, the envoy said Nigeria could also benefit from the Cleantech-Industry of Finland, which could be relevant in the drive toward cleaner environment with the application of the Finnish Waste-to-energy technology in cities like Abuja or Lagos.

Finland has one of the world’s most dynamic and most developed economies.  They have well known global brands such as Nokia the consumer electronics company, and Linux the operating system.  Nigeria should definitely expand trade relations with the Fins given that they have world class companies. Finland benefits as it taps into one of Africa’s largest markets, especially in the growing cell and smart phone sector.  Something which Nokia i’m sure has noticed with great interest and delight.

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Durban will host the 123rd IOC session in July

In it’s attempt to be awarded and host the 2018, South Africa will try impressing the officials of the Olympics Committee to secure a bid to host the Winter Olympics.

As Durban prepares to host the next International Olympic Committee (IOC) session, the President of South Africa’s Olympic committee is hoping the country impresses ahead of a likely bid for the 2020 Games.

The 123rd IOC session will be held in Durban in two months’ time, at which the host for the 2018 Winter Games will be announced.

Gideon Sam said the meeting on July 4-9 was “another opportunity to show world leaders in sport what we can put together in this country”.

South Africa is intent on submitting a bid for the 2020 Games, with Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg expressing formal interest while Durban itself has emerged as the frontrunner.

After hosting a successful FIFA World Cup during the summer, a South African city would be the first in the continent to hold an Olympic Games.

It looks as though South Africa will have to fight off competition from Istanbul, Madrid, Doha and Dubai for the Games in 12 years time. London will host the Games next year, while Rio takes over the mantle in 2016.

This opportunity is a direct result of successfly hosting the 2010 summer world cup.  The investment is just starting to payoff for South Africa as more and more global sporting-cultural events now can vision having their respected big events in South Africa.

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