Future imperfect

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Africa News – African cities have become the world’s next property investment frontier in the post-2008 economic climate. International architects and property developers are scrambling to sell fantastical visions of new satellite cities, or in some cases entire city makeovers, to short-sighted governments.

The designs for some of Africa’s largest cities, dubbed “world-class cities”, “smart cities” and “eco cities”, are accompanied by artistic renderings suggesting visions of Dubai, Singapore or Shanghai. For instance, the plans by US-based Oz Architecture for Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, ignore the city’s large informal urban population. A proposed new satellite city near Nairobi, Kenya, designed by New York-based SHoP Architects, promises a modernised and sanitised living environment for the middle classes. These smaller, mostly independent urban areas are far removed from the squalor and congestion of existing cities. Hope City, just east of Accra, Ghana’s capital, designed by Italian architect Paulo Brescia, is no different. African beehives inspired its large, linked buildings that contain all the facilities needed for residents and workers, thus eliminating the need to venture outdoors. Continue reading

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The International Criminal Court on an African Safari?

oldpensetAfrican Race Hunting, the Race Card and Racing After African Thugs?

Hailemariam Desalegn, the titular prime minister of Ethiopia, says the International Criminal Court (ICC) is on African safari. In May 2013,according to the BBC, Desalegn said, “African leaders were concerned that out of those indicted by the ICC, 99% are Africans. This shows something is flawed within the system of the ICC and we object to that. The process has degenerated into some kind of race hunting.” Last week a spokesman for the ruling regime in Ethiopia chimed in. “We never appreciated what the ICC has been doing, particularly when it comes African leaders, and its belittling and it’s disparaging the African leadership.”

Earlier this month, Hailemariam reportedly sent a letter to “the ICC copying the UN Security Council (UNSC) formally demanding that the charges against both president Uhuru Kenyatta and his vice president William Ruto be dropped.” African leaders are going ballistic and threatening a mass withdrawal from The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (the treaty that established the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression). They have scheduled an extraordinary summit in Addis Ababa on October 13, 2013 for that purpose. The ICC’s chief prosecutor, Gambian international lawyer Fatou Bensouda, has stated repeatedly that most ICC cases are opened in cooperation with African countries. She has rejected the idea that the ICC is engaged in selective prosecution of Africans.

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On Tanzania, Obama is getting it wrong –

imageIn September President Kikwete of Tanzania was among ten African leaders to attend a meeting in New York organised by President Obama for heads of state and civil society organisations committed to promoting good governance. The meeting also called for the scrapping of regulations which hinder the performance of civil society in improving transparency, accountability and ‘good governance’.

In his opening speech Obama showered Kikwete with praise – referring to him as “a true brother and a friend” for his efforts promoting transparency and good governance in Tanzania – this being one of the few countries in the world to have signed a charter on government that strives towards transparency and good governance.

These comments reiterate those bestowed on Kikwete during Obama’s visit to Tanzania in July 2013, where he met with business leaders to discuss investment, trade and economic growth. Obama again commended Kikwete for his ‘good and transparent governance’, noting that civil society groups and journalists were doing their part to advance democracy and prosperity in the country.

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MPG’s toolkit on diversity in political parties used across the political spectrum – Migration Policy Group

imageOn 11 October, the Party of European Socialists (PES) adopted the declaration “Striving for a fair representation of people with an ethnic or a migrant background“ to promote European diversity. The declaration has been adopted on the basis of the report ”Involvement of people with a migrant or an ethnic background within PES Parties’ structures” presented to the PES presidency by Emine Bozkurt MEP. Ahead of the European elections in 2014, the declaration contains statements such as:

We commit to undertake concrete measures in order for our Parties to be more inclusive and representative of the population, such as adapting our structures, rules and methods, recruiting members from a more diverse background, empowering candidates from all backgrounds or engaging effectively with communities.

We will strive to ensure a fair representation of people with an ethnic and migrant background on our lists for the upcoming European elections and reaffirm our pledge to have a parliamentary Group that is a more accurate reflection of the society.

Bozkurt’s report draws extensively on MPG’s toolkit on Becoming a Party of choice and uses MPG’s benchmarking tool to help parties opening to diversity and equality, from voters and candidates to staff and suppliers. The benchmarks looks at at the following questions, for instance:

Are equality data used to map the party’s electorate?
Are candidates with a migrant background allocated as many winnable constituencies or winnable seats as other candidates?
To what extent does the composition of party leadership and executive structure reflects society’s diversity?
A new project, DivPol, was launched earlier this year and will use MPG’s tool with political parties across the political spectrum in seven European countries.

The PES declaration follows the use last year by the Centre for European Studies – the European People’s Party think-tank – of MPG’s benchmarking tool for its policy brief on Migrating Towards Participation: Immigrants and Their Descendants in the Political Process, in which the think-tank stressed that “strategically, contributing to the political integration of immigrants would help distinguish the European centre-right from populist and extremist political alternatives. Following their anti-immigrant rhetoric would only alienate the traditional centre-right electorate and cost the mainstream centre-right some credibility”.

This shows that the need to better reflect society’s diversity is becoming a mainstream concern for political parties across the political spectrum.

Mo Ibrahim Prize 2013: and the winner is…Afro-realism

ibrahim1190.jpgAfrican economies are generally growing – we know that and it can be well-documented through trusted economic data. But is African governance also rising? That’s the question that the Mo Ibrahim Foundation seeks to answer every year through its Index of African Governance.

And the answer is yes. The big number this year’s report showcases is that 94 percent of the continent’s people live in countries that have experienced overall governance improvement since 2000. So, it’s pretty clear that the general trend is up.

However, this is a complex index based on large quantities of data, so from it we can determine several different indicators (not all of which are increasing). Broadly, these are classified (by the Index) within 4 categories: Continue reading

Somalia Conference – Commissioner Piebalgs announced €650 million pledge from the EC

imageSomalia Conference – Commissioner Piebalgs announced €650 million pledge from the EC

BRUSSELS, Kingdom of Belgium, September 16, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Statement by Commissioner Piebalgs:
“Today’s high level conference on Somalia marks a milestone in EU-Somalia relations, bringing together the international community and Somalia to endorse the Somali Compact, pledge support to enable its implementation and, above all, commit to this new political process.
As the biggest donor to Somalia, as well as a long-term friend and partner, the EU has provided some €521 million between 2008 and 2013 and already achieved considerable results –getting 40,000 children into school, providing safe water for half a million people and helping 70,000 people to produce livestock, to name but a few. So today, we are very proud to announce the new EU approach to the way we work in Somalia. The Somali Compact, which will guide our cooperation in Somalia in the coming three years, will align our support behind Somali priorities and enable us to better coordinate the development work currently undertaken in Somalia, working together with the Somali government, parliament, regions and civil society.
I also warmly welcome Somalia to the Cotonou Agreement. Somalia’s accession to the agreement marks a new chapter in EU-Somalia relations and epitomises the progress that Somalia has already made over the past year. This accession will bring vital new opportunities for the country and its people.
Last but not least, I am pleased to announce that the European Commission has today pledged €650 million to support Somalia and its people. After more than two decades, the Somali people urgently need to see progress in the provision of basic services. They deserve decent healthcare, clean water, a good education, and real hopes for a better future, like anyone else. But partnership must be at the core of our efforts. We can only succeed in our aims if we work together. I hope that today’s conference will be a significant step towards achieving that.”

The African Film Festival of Cordoba, 10 years breaking stereotypes of the African continent / Over 60 films from 24 different countries will be screened in the capital from the 11th to the 19th of Oc

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The African Film Festival of Cordoba, 10 years breaking stereotypes of the African continent / Over 60 films from 24 different countries will be screened in the capital from the 11th to the 19th of Oc

12.September.2013 · CÓRDOBA, Spain, September 12, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The African Film Festival of Cordoba-FCAT returns to the city from the 11th to the 19th of October, celebrating its 10th anniversary since its inception in 1993. Following a long history of curating emblematic titles, awarded worldwide, this edition enjoys the anniversary to introduce various surprises and to melt themes, titles and spaces for a better understanding of the neighbouring continent through its film cultures.

The African Film Festival of Cordoba-FCAT has been challenging the widespread stereotypical images of the continent for a decade now, placing itself as the only festival in Spain showcasing these cinemas. In order to better represent the multicultural reality of these countries, the programme includes over 60 films made in 24 different countries, not just by Africans in the continent but also, in the diaspora, as well as those made by Europeans that are approaching African narratives. Continue reading