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Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Lesotho-India relationship– a narrative that goes beyond trade

It is a rarity among people in positions of power to exude such humility and honesty. Honourable Monyane Moleleki, Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Lesotho is one such exceptional leader.
In an exclusive interview with The Times of Africa, the esteemed dignitary became nostalgic and said that he was ‘pleasantly surprised’ with the developments India has made so far. Currently in New Delhi, India, for the 14th CII-EXIM Bank Conclave, Mr. Moleleki informed about the priority sectors he was looking for collaboration, the agreements he has signed with certain Indian companies and why India is his favorite destination to do business.
How has your stay in India been so far?
Let me start with the airport because that is always the window of any country you visit. I am saying this without exaggeration or without acting and without any intention to buy anybody’s face. When I arrived at the airport, first of all I didn’t recognize the airport from the one I had seen about fifteen years ago, when I came here for the first time to open up a mission in New Delhi.
It is a completely new airport – big, beautiful and well-designed.
On the road from the airport to the city, was where I got the most pleasant of all surprises that I was to see here in India. We passed along a beautiful road, well-built and maintained; on both sides of which I saw the most beautiful flowers. The whole symphony of flowers with lovely manicured lawns looked like a lawn of a wealthy, tasteful man.
Arriving here at the hotel, we found the best hospitality lavished upon my delegation and myself. I have been very comfortable so far.
Coming to the meetings, I saw Honourable Suresh Prabhu, the Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry. He is a gentlemen with a passion for what he does. He did not speak from a text or read it as a speech, he talked to us Africans.
And I can attest to the things that he said.
Because we as a nation in Southern Africa, in the Kingdom of Lesotho, have known the people of Indian heritage for the last 130 years. We are very well used to them. They intermarry with us. Since their arrival over a century ago, they have integrated comfortably into our society. They participated in the fight for independence from the British, on the side of our indigenous population.
We don’t associate Indian people with oppression, grabbing or stealing from us, or violence or arrogance.
We associate them rather with business, and business is good any time.
Honourable Minister Suresh Prabhu spoke of wanting to make African countries and people prosperous, with no intention of grabbing anything from us.
I believed in him. It resonated with my impression and my observation of the people of India.
‘Business,’ as you said, ‘is good anytime.’ What are your expectations from the 14th CII-EXIM Bank Conclave? What are the sectors in which you would like to collaborate with the Indian business community?
One of the priority areas is Small Business Development; another is General Industrialization; the third one is Agriculture and the fourth is Energy and Electricity.
I have brought a large delegation of 7-8 people from the energy sector, specifically electricity. We hope to do business in all these sectors.
In fact, we are about to conclude an agreement with an Indian tractor company called TAFE.
TAFE has been to my country, Lesotho’s Agriculture Minister has been to India. We are confident that the collaboration that TAFE has with the company Massey Ferguson – Agco, would lead to good results.
Farmers in Lesotho are increasingly becoming aware about the technological innovations in the market. In order to build upon this awareness, is your Government planning to infuse digital technology into agriculture?
Yes! The discussions that we have had with the representatives of Indian companies have assured me that there are immediate term gains along with more long-term gains in the future for the farmers that can be made with the application of digital technology into agriculture.
Have you tied up with any Indian company Are there any projects in the pipeline for the SMEs sector?
Not yet. I haven’t had the fortune of discussing it with the Indian businesspersons. Though our Minister of Small Business Development is in discussions with the Indian companies.
He has already seen some good small-scale technology and machinery and expressed full satisfaction in those projects.
What kind of Collaboration with Indian Government in the future?
The people of India have bene with us for a long time. We are used to the faces, to the attitude, to the religion, to the business approach with Indian people. I met with the representatives of a company yesterday who are tendering for a big project between the Kingdom of Lesotho and the Republic of South Africa. They are building tunnels underground and working upon other major infrastructure projects such as dams and so on. I said to the gentleman and I am repeating it through you that I wish that an Indian company can win it.
We are not racists or against the people of Europe or other countries. We like Indian people and we wish the best for them. If I could bend the rules for an Indian company to win it, I would have gladly done it (laughs).

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Strengthening relations between Ghana & India – the emerging global power players

The Vice-President of one of the most prosperous countries of the African continent, H.E. Mahamudu Bawumia, landed in New Delhi, India, today, for the 14th CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India-Africa Project Partnership. He was received by the High Commissioner of Ghana, H.E. Mr. Michael Aaron N. N. Oquaye Esq (Jnr) along with a high-powered delegation of the host.
In his first-ever visit to India, The Times of Africa, had the honour to have an exclusive interaction with the Honourable Vice-President minutes after his arrival. With insights deep like the ocean and a persona as calm as the sea, the esteemed dignitary passionately spoke about strengthening bilateral partnership between India and Ghana, the emerging forces of the global economy.
What are your expectations from the event?
I would like to start by thanking the Government of India for organizing this Conclave. It is a wonderful endeavor to deepen the cooperation between India and Africa, especially in the area of economic relations. I expect that we will deepen our cooperation in specific areas and this particular conclave would be productive in that direction.
Ghana has had immensely productive relations with India. Some of the projects that we have been able to do have come out of this conclave over the years.
What are the priority sectors in which the Government of Ghana would like to collaborate with the Indian business community?
Accompanying me are a number of business delegates from Ghana. The Ghanaians will meet the Indians and the Indians will meet the Ghanaians. We have many areas of potential cooperation between our respective business communities and the Government as well.
India has an expertise in the area ICT. Ghana, too, is focused on moving towards a digital economy.
Healthcare and pharmaceuticals are other promising areas. A number of Ghanaians are making use of the Indian healthcare system. We would like to setup similar kind of medical institutions that are present in India.
Ghana is moving towards becoming the pharmaceutical hub of West Africa. Our business people will be very well-positioned to have productive engagements in these areas.
Agriculture, oil and gas, too, have room for cooperation between India and Ghana.
The Honourable President of Ghana, H.E. Nana Akufo-Addo has launched a number of initiatives, including ‘One District, One Factory’? What kind of alliance are you looking from India in order to give boost to the manufacturing strength of Ghana?
From Ghana’s point of view, the reason why President Nana Akufo-Addo has set this target of industrialization is because we can’t become a primary commodity producing nation without adding value to our resources.
We are looking at the quest for industrialization from different angles. ‘One District, One Factory’ encapsulates this agenda for every district – all 254 of them.
There must be a commodity to which you can add value –small or large. In agro-processing for example, we are encouraging the private sector to come in and set factories and giving them incentives for the same.
We are also encouraging the setting up of pharmaceutical and automotive industries.
We are on an industrialization drive; we want to add value to every commodity such as minerals by setting up refineries for gold, bauxite, iron and steel.
We have an ambitious agenda to industrialize and add value to every resource. Since India has a lot of experience in industrialization, we believe that the nation can help us fulfill our dream of industrializing Ghana.
Farmers in Ghana are increasingly becoming aware about the technology-driven innovations that can help them get a higher produce. In order to build upon this awareness, are you seeking any technology-transfer from India?
Absolutely! For us agriculture is key. 60-70% of our population is engaged in agriculture. So, if we are going to need that leap for transformation, agricultural productivity must increase.
Today, you cannot get that without application of technology.
A lot of farmers lack information on different things. All the necessary information such as the prices of products in different markets, the right kind of fertilizer, and so on can be delivered on your mobile phone.
In Ghana, we have developed a digital addressing system, which allows every five by five square meter of land or water to be uniquely identified. It is operational now. You can reach any farm by using its digital address. This innovation was developed by Ghanaians.
The use of technology can, therefore, allow the farmers to have access to inputs and much more.
Your closing remarks on your visit to India!
This is my first time in India, so I am really looking forward to this visit. I have come with a team of ministers as well as businesspersons.
We have had long, productive and warm relations with India right from the time of independence. There is deep affection between the two countries. The strong foundation of our bilateral relations was laid by India’s first Prime Minister, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, and Ghana’s first President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. The two great leaders also enjoyed a close friendship.
During this visit, we want to deepen our economic relations with India. We want to go beyond aid and focus on trade and investment.
This conclave is very consistent in our ambition and will prove to be mutually beneficial.

Friday, 15 March 2019

2019 Nigeria Elections: Buhari vs Abubakar – who will lead Africa’s youngest population?

Africa’s most populous country with the youngest population is all set to hold its sixth quadrennial elections on February 16, 2019. Though a total of 73 presidential hopefuls are contesting for the country’s top seat, the battle is between the frontrunners – incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, of the All Progressives Congress party, known as the APC, and Atiku Abubakar, of the People’s Democratic Party, or PDP.
While the democracy has matured in every way since the end of military rule in 1999, the country has a stained history of post-election violence. In 2011, over 1,000 people were killed in clashes after the results of that year’s vote were announced.
The relatively peaceful campaigning has been a remarkable development.  The 2019 elections, however, faces some challenges.
The controversy and uproar over the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria just three weeks before the elections raised concerns among many Nigerians about the independence of the judiciary and Electoral Tribunals, should the courts be called upon to adjudicate election disputes, states The Hill.
The Hill also reported that many Nigerians are appalled that political parties have become more brazen in their efforts to influence voters. In an attempt to curb this phenomenon, the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) this month issued guidelines that include a ban on cellphones in the voting booth, a reform that was rolled out for the September gubernatorial election in Osun State and significantly reduced vote buying within polling units. However, domestic groups continue to report voter inducement in parts of Nigeria.
More than 84 million voters out of a total population of nearly 200 million are registered to vote in Nigeria, the continent’s leading economy.
The nation has one of the fastest-growing populations in the world, with 5 percent of the electorate between the ages of 18 and 35.
Nigeria’s Electoral System:
The President of Nigeria is elected using a simple majority of votes cast, as well as over 25% of the votes in 27 of the 36 states.
The 360 members of the House of Representatives are elected to 4-year terms, concurrent with the president, using first-past-the-post voting in single-member constituencies.
The 109 members of the Senate are elected to 4-year terms, concurrent with the president, from 108 single-seat constituencies into which the States are divided (three each) and one single-seat constituency consisting the Federal Capital Territory, all by first-past-the-post voting. (Wikipedia)
Image Source: dailypost.ng

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Ghana: Vice-President urges youth not to indulge in ‘political vigilantism’

Vice President of Ghana, H.E. Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has called on Ghanaian youth, especially those in the Zongo community, to resist any attempt to draft them into engaging in any anti-social activities, especially political vigilantism.
Rather, they should concentrate on tackling the major concerns of the Zongo communities, including jobs, education, and business development, thereby forming ‘Job-lantes, Edu-lantes and Busi-lantes’ instead of vigilante groups, to promote their welfare and the development of the nation.
Speaking at the 51st-anniversary celebration of the birth of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) Vice President Bawumia expressed worry that many of the people said to be engaged in political vigilantism and other anti-social behaviours are said to be drawn from the Zongo community.
“Allah has blessed the Zongo youth with multiple positive attributes and talents such as strength, courage, knowledge, sports skill, entrepreneurship, vocational skill, etc. and I want to urge the youth of this country, particularly my dear brothers in the Zongo Communities to put their God-given talents to good use for their own benefits and for the benefit of their respective families, communities as well as the nation.
“The youth of our country, particularly my brothers from the Zongo Communities, should not, under any circumstance, avail themselves to be used for any illegal activity, which also poses great risks to their valuable and cherished lives.
“I want to urge the youth who are involved in the operations of the various political parties to exhibit a great sense of tolerance, whether it is intra-party or inter-party contest. For the Zongo and Muslim youth, it is even more important, and an obligation to be tolerant and peaceful in accordance with the teachings of our beloved Prophet Muhammad,” Bawumia stated.
It is instructive that the politicians who encourage political vigilantism and recruit such persons do not involve their children in such activities, Vice President Bawumia pointed out, adding, “They come to you and tell you to go and perpetuate violence and other acts while their own children are in school, doing good jobs or abroad working to better their lives. When these politicians come to you, ask them why they are not using their own children to do what they’re asking you to do.”
He emphasized that President Akufo-Addo has publicly indicated his resolve to crack down on political vigilantism, and would deal ruthlessly with anyone engaged in such activities.
The government, Dr. Bawumia indicated, would continue to invest in policies and programmes designed to provide jobs and improve Ghana’s human capital, including the Free Senior High School, Planting for Food and Jobs, One Village One Dam and the Nation Builders Corps.
“Also, the government is set to undertake massive infrastructure development in the roads and other construction sectors this year, and this will create employment opportunities for many of our skilled and unskilled youth across the country, ” he added.
The Vice President urged Muslim youth to be “positive ambassadors of our great religion by eschewing violence and intolerance. As I said earlier, under no circumstance should we allow ourselves to be used as destructive tools to perpetuate violence and all sorts of unacceptable acts.”
Source: ISD (Rex Mainoo Yeboah)

Friday, 17 August 2018

Spain, EU to ‘urgently release 55 mn euros for funding border mgmt. program in Morocco and Tunisia’

Spain and the European Commission today stressed the importance of a reinforced partnership with Morocco in relation to the migration issue, said a statement from the Spanish government presidency in Madrid.
This came in a joint statement by Spain and the European Commission, adopted at the end of the meeting held in the Spanish capital between European Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos, Vice President of the Spanish Government Carmen Calvo, Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell, Interior Minister Fernando Grande Marlaska, and Minister of Labour and Migration Magdalena Valerio.
The statement noted that “this collaboration includes the urgent release of 55 million euros to fund border management programs in Morocco and Tunisia, adopted by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa”.
The European Commission is ready to expand its financial support, wrote the joint statement.
Spain and the European Commission consider it necessary, within the same framework, to strengthen cooperation with all African countries with the aim of fostering their capacity to manage their borders and address the root causes of the migratory phenomenon, it said.