President of Ghana Dies at Age 68

John Evans Atta Mills, the President of Ghana dies after a short illness at the age of 66. This is a sad moment for all Ghanaians, most especially the family of the president.  H.E John Evans Atta Mills came into power in 2009 in a run off election after losing the seat in two consecutive election years (200 and 2004). The president was just months away from a re-election. Ghana is a highly democratic state and one of the most peaceful nations in Africa. We all share the grief of such a legend, a great leader and a mentor. H.E. John Evans Mills was such an intelligent leader who carried on gracefully the peace and stability that Ghanaians enjoyed and boasted off. Our deepest condolences to people of Ghana as they go through such a difficult time. More on the death of the President of Ghana in the link below.


European Union Grant of 152.5 Million USD to Aid Tanzanian Development

Tanzania and the European Union have enjoyed partnership and friendship for years, and signed a set of grants two days ago that would endow Tanzania with a 126 Million Euro aid package. Tanzania has been supported by the European Union since 1975, when the EU first granted Tanzania 1.8 Billion Euros in aid.

President of the European Commission, Mr. Jose Manuel Barroso is on a three-day visit to Tanzania where he is spending his time meeting with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete and inspecting the various development projects that have been financed by the EU.

The agreements signed between Tanzania and the EU require that the aid will go to rehabilitate more than 200 kilometres of roads, provide drinking water for 500,000 people, improve sanitation infrastructure and services for about 140,000 inhabitants, and strengthen democratization and good governance. The EU is also supporting Tanzania’s Northern Corridor Agriculture Development, which is an effort to improve food security. One main goal of the improved agricultural development and rural infrastructure is to suppor the idea of decentralization and improve connectivity among rural areas and market acess to those rural towns.

The first financial agreement will go to the improvement of road transport network in the country. The second is for water programs in Lindi Sumbawanga and Kigoma towns. The third financing agreement will support the improvement of rural roads. The fourth will be for programs to support Non-State Actors in Zanzibar with objective to strengthen democratization, good governance, and support civil society initiatives on accountability, participatory development and policy advocacy. The fifth agreement is meant to support the National Authorizing Office for managing the EU portfolio in teh country. The last agreement is directed to technical cooperation facitility aimed at providing flexible instruments for capacity development and policy and expert advice.

President Kikwete was hopeful at the strenghtening of ties between Tanzania and the European Union once again, and said that he hoped the visit from the EU President woudl reinforce the political dialogue and economic cooperation between the two countries.

I firmly believe that the most important thing about this aid package is that it supplements Tanzania’s national development strategies and plans, and does not attempt to create new strategies. Many aid packaes come with strings attached and directives, and fail to truly make a difference. The idea of an aid package simply donating help to current, operating, country-wide strategies is an important one, and something President Kikwete recognized as well.

President Barroso was also pleased with the agreements, and said that Tanzania has become one of the EU’s main partners in Africa. President Barroso mentioned that he would like to continue working with Tanzania on issues of energy, anti-piracy, counter terrorism, and migration issues, as resolving each of these issues is a common goal for both the EU and Tanzania.

Overall, I believe that the partnership between Tanzania and the EU is a strong one. Tanzania is a thriving African country, and with aid in the right places (such as aid that will flow smoothly into an already operating development strategy), development in Tanzania has potential to increase. The aid that is going into increased interconnectivity of rural areas and providing better market access to rural communities is also important, as lack of market access is an often seen obstacle towards development and globalization in many rural developing countries. It prevents farmers from moving up to specializing in one crop and selling it in markets, but instead keeps them reliant on subsistence farming with no way to increase their fortune. Hopefully this aid package will help some rural towns grow beyond this plight.

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Benin: Strengthening Chinese-African Foreign Relations

On July 19, 2012 Benin’s President and Chairperson of the African Union, Thomas Yayi Boni, delivered opening remarks at the Fifth ministerial meeting of the Forum on China-African Cooperation (FOCAC) to discuss the need for Africa and China to maintain good relations with one another. This year’s conference was held in Beijing, China and encompassed various African and Chinese heads- of- state in a dialogue to initiate developmental programs for the next three years.

President Boni’s desire to preserve positive political and economic relations with China stems from his concerns that Africa’s fast-growing population will potentially harbor several challenges to the continent in regards to education, food, health, and energy. He therefore hopes China will continue to provide Africa with assistance in order to support infrastructural projects such as the construction of new highways, railroads, and telecommunication facilities.

While President Boni is receptive to an increase in Chinese investors, he affirms that Africa wants to be wealth-generating rather than exclusively being consumed for its energy and large consumer market. In order for Africa to become a global power, Yayi believes China needs to be more aware of its integration within the continent.

The subject of aid is one that develops often with controversy. Specifically in regards to Chinese aid, Western critics often highlight China’s leniency to “freely” give aid to African nations whom don’t comply with human rights standards. In addition, critics claim that aid in the past often goes unsupervised and barely reaches those with the direst need. Nevertheless in order for the aid to be successfully implemented, the nations should direct the allotted grants into specific programs that result in growth and sustainability: vocational skills training, increased medical personnel and training, and water supply projects.


Zambia: Family Planning Aid and International Development

On July 11, 2012, the United Kingdom Department for International Development (UK DFID) announced that it would invest 23.11 million USD over the next four years to improve family planning services in Zambia. The announcement came after a high level summit on family planning in London that included global experts as well as Zambia’s First Lady Christine Kaseba and Community Development, Mother and Child Health Minister Joseph Katema, and Zambia’s High Commissioner to the UK Bizwayo Nkinika.

Aside from the UK’s pledge of financial assistance, Dr. Katema made many promises that involve on the ground improvements for family planning in Zambia. Dr. Katema said that Zambia would improve universal access in rural areas (which includes the majority of its population), and would double its budgetary allocation for family planning services to reach those vulnerable rural areas. Dr. Katema also said that the Zambian Government has committed to increasing contraceptive coverage from 33-58% through policy changes, a significant increase of financial resources allocation to family planning and improving delivery.

The last portion of the Zambian government’s plan, improving delivery, is especially important because 6 women die in Zambia from pregnancy related causes for every 1,000 deliveries. Also important to note, one third of these pregnancies are unwanted. The access to family planning care can decrease the number of unplanned pregnancies, decrease the number of maternal deaths from pregnancy related complications, and in turn decrease the average family size in Zambia. The average family size in Zambia is currently over six children, which is far greater than other countries in the region. Having a large family can be beneficial at times, with more children helping out in the field or working to give your family great financial assurance. However, having a large family can also be detrimental- it means more mouths to feed, and less money to spend per child or daily necessities.

With increased family planning, women in Zambia will also become more empowered. Access to contraception means that power will be split between the man and women in a relationship- family planning will not be so male dominated. This empowerment of women could also lead to women having the opportunity to pursue a job, as there will be up to one third less unplanned pregnancies keeping women in the home taking care of children.

Overall, family planning is a basic fundamental step that will help any developing country grow and prosper, and the aid that Zambia is receiving from London is certain to help the country’s plans succeed.


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Mozambique: International Economic Cooperation Through 48th Annual FACIM

So far 16 countries and 21 individual foreign companies have confirmed their attendance at the 48th annual Maputo Trade Fair (FACIM). FACIM is held to allow local Mozambican businesses to showcase their products to both the local and international community. The countries expected to attend are currently South Africa, Namibia,  Zambia, Germany, Brazil, China, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Italy, Macau, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Kenya and Turkey. This diverse group of nations will certainly allow for an increase in international economic cooperation, as well as the growth of Mozambican companies.

Joao Macaringue, the chairperson of the Institute for Export Promotion, has mentioned that FACIM is growing to a point where not even the new facilities for the fair will accomodate everyone expected to attend. They only opened these new facilities for last year’s FACIM but they reportedly will need more than the seven existing pavilions and thus are looking into acquiring additional tents for the event.

The expansion of the event, which will take place August 27 through Sepetember 2, is an excellent sign for the development of the Mozambican economy. Not only does it show that the international community recognizes the potential for investing in Mozambique, but it also promotes the business in the surrounding areas during the time of the event.

The event slogan is “Expanding the horizons of your business, by making the best use of synergies”. This is extremely fitting for the goal of cooperation amongst local businesses, international companies, and nations.

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Tanzania: Promoting Peace with the Africa Partnership Station

While Tanzania and the United States have worked together for many years thanks to their common goal of peace and stability in Africa, this recent growth in military ties through the Africa Partnership Station truly shows how their relations are growing.

Just last month, on June 23, a Military Sealight Command-chartered High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) spent twelve days in Dar es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania, to support Africa Partnership Station (APS) East 2012. In 2010, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete and over 130 sailors from Tanzania’s navy participated in training from the US soldiers during a similar visit to Dar es Salaam. Not only were Tanzanian soldiers trained, but US Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents conducted training and facilitated information exchange in areas such as leadership, port security, martial arts, and riot control. These visits are not only militarily significant, but show a level of trust and deep diplomatic ties.

This partnership between the US and Tanzanian navies has been expanding since 2007, when US began participating in training events and regional exercises led by the Africa Partnership Station in an effort to improve maritime safety and security.

The Africa Parternship Station is an international security cooperation initiative that works to strengthen global maritime partnerships and maritime safety and security in Africa. APS believes that an increase in maritime security abilities in Africa will contribute to development, economic prosperity and security, and help to deter violent extremist ideology ashore. in teh last five years APS has worked with partners in the United States, Europe, and South America; all united by this common goal of maritime security.

I believe that this approach to development and insecurity in Africa is one that has high potential. The three main goals of APS include deterring piracy, stopping illicit trafficking, and protecting resources. These points are all major obstacles to propserity in Africa, and this approach, with the cooperative approach to security, could aid to decreasing trafficking of drugs and persons as well as deter piracy in the immediate future.

Not only is this effort particularly important to the African Presidential Center because of our common goals of promoting peace and stability in Africa, but also because eleven of the countries we work with are involved. Benin, Cape Verde, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tanzania are all participating in 2012 APS activities, as well as the United States.


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