Women in power

Larissa Duarte, Patrícia Vlaicu, Blanca Ribas and Juan Perez

A new woman is rising in power at Sub-Saharan Africa. Joyce Banda, a champion of women’s rights, has a new and more responsive style of leadership that expects to improve the economy of Malawi.

Malawi's new president

After the death of Malawi’s president, Bingu wa Mutharika, the new president, chosen two days after his death, is a woman. Joyce Banda who was sworn in on April 7 had served as Malawi’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Vice-President in the last years. She was also involved with many base projects with woman with the interest to bring changes, especially in education. She is the second woman to become president in Africa; the first one was in Liberia.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf won her first term in 2005 at Liberia. She is a strong woman that was the contributor for development of her country. Her administration helped the country to reduce its debts through the macroeconomic policies and was commited to prevent unsustainable borrowing. Sirleaf establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and in 2011 was winner of the Noble Peace Prize.

The number of woman taking power in the world is increasing and what reflects it is that in sub-Saharan, a continent, and witch is known for its prejudice problems, has countries that are joining the group of those who chooses woman for powerful positions.

Another example of powerful women in sub-Saharan Africa is Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a Nigerian finance minister that was running for the post of World Bank president. Even thou she was not selected for the job the fact that she was seen as an option. A black, African woman was seen as the most qualified for the job, she was the choice of all developing world. Her lost was because she was not an American. But she made efforts to change the tradition that the head of the bank should always be of an American man, and that is a big achievement in itself.

There is a world tendency for women to take power and occupy important positions at the government. Africa is adhering to this tendency, and it shows that the prejudice problems that Sub-Saharan Africa faces are diminishing and might fade away in the future, at the same time that the continent’s developing level is increasing.

Women like Joyce Banda have a fresh and particular view. A new approach to the same knew themes about Africa might be the solution to those problems.

What happens in Africa?

In recent weeks, the war criminals in Africa have achieved a remarkable reputation. First, the leader of the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army of the Lord, Joseph Kony, became a world celebrity. Then the Congolese Thomas Lubanga was the first person convicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), if the use of child soldiers. And finally, the arrest of actor George Clooney in front of the Sudanese Embassy in Washington DC put current conflict in the region of South Kordofan in Sudan. There are still several war criminals in Africa. Some free, some with outstanding warrants and other under-trial.

One or the last Caesar Achellam.The Army of Uganda, in collaboration with U.S. forces, has been arrested in an ambush in the neighboring Central African Republic Caesar Achellam, one of the generals and strong man of the Ugandan rebel Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA, for their acronym in English). Achellam capture is considered a step towards the seizure of the military, wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity. The general was arrested on Saturday with 200 other rebel soldiers, members of the LRA, on the banks of the river Mbou, the military said the Ugandan government newspaper New Vision. A controversial campaign by the U.S. NGO Invisible Children, whose video-raising visits millineries reached on the Internet, has brought back to light the crimes attributed to Kony. The rebel leader fled Uganda in 2005 to take refuge in southern Sudan and then traveling to the Republic of Congo, which is believed to be hiding now.

Other criminal in Africa are:

Sudanese President Omar al Bashir is the only one who is accused of genocide and war crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the Darfur region. This conflict began in 2003 when two rebel groups in the region attacked government forces in Khartoum, whom they accused of oppressing the black population of the region in favor of the Arabs from other parts of the country.

Charles Taylor’s life far exceeds any fiction. Former warlord and later president of Liberia, in his youth had studied economics in the United States. After supporting a coup in Liberia in 1980, was awarded a place in the new government coup but was dismissed three years later for stealing public money. He returned to America, where he was arrested and imprisoned. Two years later he escaped from prison and disappeared. It is believed he traveled to Libya, where he was trained as a guerrilla before launching in 1989 a revolt against the government of Liberia from Ivory Coast. The conflict, brutal and bloody, ended in 1996 and the following year Taylor was elected president in elections.

The ICC also has a case pending against the Congolese former vice president Jean Pierre Bemba. Businessman and leader of a rebel militia turned political party, his fortune is estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars.

And there are other less prominent cases. As the president of Chad’s Hissène Habré, accused by rights groups of human rights of tens of thousands of political killings and torture opponents and dissidents from 1982 to 1990.

Mali’s flees

The famine crises is gripping millions of people in Sahel, this is such a bad situation but even more with the Mali conflict. The coup d’état that has happened in Mali is a threat to the humanitarian situation and to the state’ s security. There are thousands of people who are fleeing, and they end up being refugees in zones that are affected by hunger such as Burkina Faso, Algeria or Niger.

In Burkina Faso one-fifth of the population need humanitarian help, and half a million of that one-fifth are malnourished children.

“The situation has worsened because of the impact of the Mali’s conflict” “More than 60.000 people from Mali had fled from attacks and cross the boarders to Burkina Faso, which having such an extreme vulnerable situation” Valerie Amos, the head of humanitarian issues at UN, claimed.

According to the latest UN data, almost 200.000 people have fled from Mali to other countries. 64.000 Malian people are now in Mauritania, about 40.000 people are in Niger and 30.000 Malians are living in the south of Algeria. These countries have drought and insecurity problems. Plus they already had a humanitarian situation.

The UN agency for refugees and the PMA have launched an emergency operation together, to try to help the Malian, which are fleeing, and to restore the situation in the entire region.

In Mali there is 3.5 million of people that are threaten by hunger, in all Sahel there are like 15 million of people in risk of suffering a humanitarian catastrophe.  This is such a cruel situation, where people ar

e scared as they live in a constant conflict country and have a enormous famine crisis.

It looked like they were back into stability with “Provisional Government”. However the groups of protesters physically assaulted Traore. And they named Amadou Sanogo as the leader of the new “Provisional Government”. Since then the capital of Mali is divided in two groups, the ones that support Sanogo and the ones that prefer Traore.

“The Sahel is a lethal combination of drought and displacement due to conflict. This is not only a dramatic humanitarian situation but has become a threat to global peace and security.” Antonio Guterres, an UN refugee manager, claimed.

“ If we do not immediately donate money or food, the resulting inability to possess and distribute enough food during the toughest period between June and September, would be catastrophic for the most vulnerable, especially women and children” Ertharin Cousin, the head of PMA, claimed.

These issues have become an opportunity to Islamism groups, which are supported by Al Qaeda. Nowadays the Sahel is one of the most important weapons market. The clashes and kidnappings are becoming a current issue in this area.

The famine crises is gripping millions of people in Sahel, this is such a bad situation but even more with the Mali conflict. The coup d’état that has happened in Mali is a threat to the humanitarian situation and to the state’ s security. There are thousands of people who are fleeing, and they end up being refugees in zones that are affected by hunger such as Burkina Faso, Algeria or Niger.

In Burkina Faso one-fifth of the po

pulation need humanitarian help, and half a million of that one-fifth are malnourished children.

“The situation has worsened because of the impact of the Mali’s conflict” “More than 60.000 people from Mali had fled from attacks and cross the boarders to Burkina Faso, which having such an extreme vulnerable situation” Valerie Amos, the head of humanitarian issues at UN, claimed.

According to the latest UN data, almost 200.000 people have fled from Mali to other countries. 64.000 Malian people are now in Mauritania, about 40.000 people are in Niger and 30.000 Malians are living in the south of Algeria. These countries have drought and insecurity problems. Plus they already had a humanitarian situation.

The UN agency for refugees and the PMA have launched an emergency operation together, to try to help the Malian, which are fleeing, and to restore the situation in the entire region.

In Mali there is 3.5 million of people that are threaten by hunger, in all Sahel there are like 15 million of people in risk of suffering a humanitarian catastrophe.  This is such a cruel situation, w

here people are scared as they live in a constant conflict country and have a enormous famine crisis.

It looked like they were back into stability with “Provisional Government”. However the groups of protesters physically assaulted Traore. And they named Amadou Sanogo as the leader of the new “Provisional Government”. Since then the capital of Mali is divided in two groups, the ones that support Sanogo and the ones that prefer Traore.

“The Sahel is a lethal combination of drought and displacement due to conflict. This is not only a dramatic humanitarian situation but has become a threat to global peace and security.” Antonio Guterres, an UN refugee manager, claimed.

“ If we do not immediately donate money or food, the resulting inability to possess and distribute enough food during the toughest period between June and September, would be catastrophic for the most vulnerable, especially women and children” Ertharin Cousin, the head of PMA, claimed.

These issues have become an opportunity to Islamism groups, which are supported by Al Qaeda. Nowadays the Sahel is one of the most important weapons market. The clashes and kidnappings are becoming a current issue in this area.

Some interesting information sources:

https://twitter.com/#!/Mali

https://twitter.com/#!/africarenewal

Interview to Hortensia C Diez, European official.

Malabo to Brussels.

This is a journey that goes through many stages. From a manufactured home in a residential compound of Spanish cooperation agency (not created as such until last eighties), through the first EU delegation in Equatorial Guinea. A journey that does not end for the moment, but stops for now at the Robert Schuman European Square. Where currently working as a staff Hortensia C Diez for the European Commission in the general directorate of budgets.

When, where and how, start your African experience in development aid?
It begins in 1988 when I went to work as an expert of what would become later what we know today as Spanish Agency for Development Cooperation (AECI). It was in the mission to Equatorial Guinea. And it was at that time the most important important the African continent. And I think it still is. It was at that time 12 million euro budget Spanish foreign ministry and about 200 employees. I stayed at this agency 3 years, and then the EU decided to open a permanent delegation to Equatorial Guinea. This one was a much smaller delegation than the previous and with only 7 permanent members. In this delegation I stayed 5 years practicing administration and management of projects and budgets.

How was back to Europe?

Back in Europe, I was engaged in aspects of cooperation related to the programming and evaluation of aid, which I think is a key issue to improve the effectiveness and acceptance of cooperation.

Having briefly reviewed his career by that period in Equatorial Guinea in which managed resources and projects. Could you explain how they are developed the activities of these two agencies (AECI ‘Spanish Development Agency’ and European Commission delegation).  And also perhaps the differences in the activity and procedures of each of them.

The Spanish cooperation, for historical reasons had an approach based in services, and direct aid; it means a strong commitment in health and educations policies, by providing technical assistance directly in the field.

On its side, European aid was implemented in a different way, by supporting large infrastructure projects (roads, water supply) and macroeconomics aid, i.e.  exportation compensation for some products (mostly cocoa) and governance support.

Consequently, Spanish cooperation involved a great number of -expatriate- experts working along the country while EC delegation had a limited number of persons working closely to the Equatoguinean administration.

As you told me that after this experience in Africa, you kept in touch (occupied) with a Spanish NGO that works there. And also you specialized in the field of cooperation and project management, professionalizing your career. From your expert point of view on cooperation, I would like to ask you a few questions about the “African issue”.

What do you think are the challenges (or problems) facing the Africans to leave the vicious circle of support / cooperation / poverty / misery?

How should be addressed these difficulties and threats, by Africans and the international community?

From my point of view, the governments of African countries should take responsibility for their situation; the implementation of democracy is a sine qua non condition to reach national agreements and to improve the management of its resources and good governance. External aid should be only a support under conditionality.

It is the international development cooperation a fish or the fishing rod, that will makes possible, shaft out of hunger?

I would say that international cooperation should act as a lever, providing training, support and … fishing rods if necessary, depending on the situation of each country, but always looking to the future of independence and democracy.

What do you think about the impression sometimes given by the cooperation aid or partnership? As political and manipulative, seeking targets beyond help. As cases in which, money and providing grants programs of any country can obtain privileges on access to oil wells or the resources available in the nation ? 

We should not be too naive about the generosity of cooperation. It is true that every action – and investment-called counterparts … The issue is the legitimacy of the counterparties and the balance of interests. Achieve more free, more developed and better forms of government benefits in the first instance to nationals of those countries but also those associated with them, that is, everyone in this globalized world.

BY: Eduardo García Canal

Interview with Ismael Barila Sota

Ismael Barila Sota is a family man and a working man. He is fifty two years old and works in the public television in Guinea. With his help I have known more things about his country. Thanks so much for your time and attention.

 

Where were you born? Do you live in the same country you were born? Equatorial Guinea. Yes, I live in the same country.

What is your nationality? Have you more than one nationality? I just have one nationality, Equatorial Guinea.

Where do you live now? Why do you live in the country named in the last question?  Could you give any justification? I live in Equatorial Guinea. I live here because is the place where I work.

What did you study? Where did you study and why did you choose that country to study? I am an electronic engineer and I studied in Madrid, Spain. During my studying period I was living there.

If you have studied in a different country of the one you were born in, what encouraged you to do it? The reason was that my parents were living in Spain during those years.

Do you move to another country to study because in your own country there were no universities where it was taught your major? Yes. The universities in Spain only teach courses of electronics but not a full career.

 Nowadays, where is located your job? I work in the Equatorial Guinean Radio Television as an engineer.

What do you know about your country? I know almost everything about my country like history, relevant events, wars, conflicts… The most significant thing is that we never have been in a war, not like other African countries. We just only had an attempt of putsch in August 3rd of 1979.

According to the history Equatorial Guinea was a Spanish colony long time ago and due to this situation your country is one of the African countries where Spanish is the official language.  Which way do you think that the Spanish domain influenced culture? Actually, Equatorial Guinea is the only African country that speaks Spanish. This situation forces to Guinean people to speak other languages to communicate with its surrounding countries which basically speak French except Nigeria which speaks English.

Do you think that thanks to this event Spanish people have more facility to emigrate there? Yes, I think that they have the facility to do it but the truth is that Spanish people do not emigrate to Guinea. I don’t know the reason.

Do you think that Guinea is a country of opportunities to work and other countries should invest in it? Yes, I think that it could be a good investment for foreign companies. Nowadays, Guinea is the actual “El Dorado” since they found oil.

How can you visualize Guinea in 10 years in terms of development? The government is investing a lot of money to continue developing the country in all of its aspects. To make this, they are implementing a project to turn Guinea into a 1st world country until 2020.

In your opinion, what is the influence that Guinea has in the African continent? I think that Guinea doesn’t have any influence in the African continent.

According to the history, Guinea has always lived at the shadow of dictators. Now how can you conceive the human rights issue and the freedom of the press? Spain says that we are living in a dictatorship but every 7 years Guinea has general elections. In relation to the freedom of press I can say that it exists and I practice it every day in my work. I work for a national public television network. Nevertheless I can’t say the same thing about Spain because I worked for some Spanish networks and we couldn’t make public all the details of some news. About the private sector of press in Guinea, I can’t say anything because each company has its own internal policy.

Do you think the president is helping the media? Please, can you clarify in which aspects? Yes, the president is helping the public media by giving them the tools to work properly. If you are talking about the private media, I am sorry but I don’t know because I’ve never worked with them. Nevertheless, I think that they have some king of financial support.

Do you think that Guinea has been set apart of the international scene because of its political decisions? Absolutely not. Guinea is hosting a lot of international meetings like the one in May last year of the conference of African Union and the African Nations Cup this year. Also it hosted the conference of African Union this year and it will host the conference of “ASA” (Africa and Southamerica).

 For the bad political action the government did, do you think that it could be any possible solution? Or do you think that the government did very well?  I think that they did a great job and if the actual president wouldn’t did well, Guinean people, woudn’t reelected him.

 Do you consider that you have all the rights and freedoms given by the Declaration of Human rights or for the contrary, do you think you don’t have them because of the country you are living in? In Guinea we have all the rights and freedoms as in 1st world countries.

Thank you so much and have a great day!

I answered your questions with honesty and if you want to learn more about my country, you should visit it. Nevertheless, you can follow us on the international RTVGE network (www.rtvgeint.tv).

Patricia Ana Maria Vlaicu

Interview to Imad Elzein, translator in the Sudanese Embassy of Spain

Juan Manuel Pérez Martínez – 17-5-2012

The Sudanese Imad Elzain has a degree in Political Science and Sociology by the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, works as a translator in the Embassy of Sudan in Spain and knows perfectly the political situation of his country. With him I have tried topics as interesting as the bloody conflict in Darfur or the recent Division of this African country.

Good evening. First of all I would like thank you your time. My name is Juan Manuel Pérez and I am student of International Relations and Translation in Universidad Europea de Madrid.

I would like to structure of this interview following the chronological order of the several political questions. If you want… let´s start!

Perfect!

What does it mean for you the word “independence”? What did it mean for you the independence of Sudan in the mid- twentieth century?

Nowadays the independence word is a word without sense; the end of the colonial era in the 1960s, the continuous change in the international relations until came the actual organization, these facts assumed the creation of stronger and crueler dependences than the previous. Currently no country is independent and has the possibility of being.

I was born in the night before the proclamation of the independence of Sudan on January 1, 1956, during many years had as Sudanese thrilled to be able to build our country. Before the mass of frustration, today many people wondered what served the struggle for independence.

Ethnic or religious conflicts sometimes have fatal results. As I have understood the Second Sudanese Civil War (1983 – 2005) had this root; conflicts between the Arab- Muslim populations of the north against Black-Christian populations of the south. How did this war, and most importantly how you felt to learn that your country, which had just left a bitter war that lasted for seventeen years (1955-1972) became immersed in a new war?

Throughout the war gets only pain, destruction and the delay of any country or society. The failure of national politicians to achieve a common project for ethnic, cultural and religious diversity of the country together with the foreigners’ geopolitical, religious and economic interests . All this facts avoided the solution of the conflict.

In February of 2003, took place the heinous Darfur conflict. According to ONU informs, in this conflict died 400.000 people (majority black people). This conflict brought out several conflicts of the past. Do you think that the Referendum on the Independence of South Sudan, 2011, will be useful to stop the ethnic and territorial problems?

In Sudan the majority population is black both in the South, North or East (Darfur). Arab culture and Islamic religion are dominant in all regions of the country, less in the South where Christianity is dominant among the sectors which have had access to education (30%), the rest of the population are animist or other belief. The conflict in Darfur is not racial or religious but is part of the struggle against the current Government and the fair distribution of wealth and power between the different regions of the country.

Related with the previous question what do you think about the Sudan division in two independent states?

The Division of the country is not the solution; in fact the conflict persists with the gravity that is now a conflict between two States.

Although Sudan is a presidential representative, democratic Federal Republic, many internationalists consider the Sudanese politics as an authoritarian system because the National Congress Party has control on executive, legislative and judicial powers. What do you think about this?

The current regime came to power in 1989 by a military coup, overthrowing a democratically elected Government. The coup was the work of the political groups who believe in the Islamist confessional State, I believe that the main cause of all conflicts and problems faced by the country, including the separation of the South, is the way of clinging to the power of the regime.

What do you say in view of the following news published in 2007 ” Sudanese President pardons to British teacher who called Mahoma to a teddy” (http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2007/12/03/internacional/1196670764.html)?

I know this case directly, unfortunately policy is used lies and deception in a systematic manner to achieve an anyway…, the regime is usually often used religious feelings.

Do you think that the Arab spring had repercussions in your country?

In Sudan there is the experience of popular overthrow authoritarian regimes, there are formations political, Trade Union and civil society organizations, also there were short periods of parliamentary democracy. The political opposition prefers to force the regime to accept a democratic and pacific transition to avoid an armed resistance of the regime against the population as happened in Libya or as it is happening in Syria.

Returning to the Darfur conflict, which was your reaction when knew the Sudanese President, Omar Hason Ahmad al-Bashit, was blamed by the International Criminal Court for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide? How can this man continue exercising the control of the country?

Sometimes these types of sentences of the international community have a reverse effect in the interior of the country. Authoritarian regimes use it to increase their popularity and justify their permanence in power: the international community uses double standards or has different bars of measure; it is the type of message that is used and always succeeds; something will be.

As you know the polemical documental Kony 2012, has been seen in the entire world highlighting the trafficking of children as soldiers and sexual slaves in Uganda by the criminal Joseph Kony. When compared this case with the Thomas Lubanga´s case another “Lord of war” Congolese accused by the International Criminal Court for the conscription and enlistment of children under 15 years old in Itury, Congo… what do think about that identical cases been judged of the different way? Do you think that the documental Kony 2012 have ridiculed the difficult situation lived by the soldiers children? Do you think is better the privacy of Thomas Lubanga´s case or in contrast you consider better the action of mass media?

There is a fight for a better world, give opportunities and help the underdeveloped countries out of poverty. Without the definitive solution of the problem of poverty in the world won’t serve attempts to isolate denounce many injustices, such as child soldiers.

Thank you so much for all.

Good luck!

 

I would like to thank to my friend Olga Conde for help me with this interview.

Business in Africa

(by Juan Manuel Pérez, Patricia Vlaicu, Blanca Ribas, Larissa Duarte and Eduardo García)

Good news for the African continent; several Brazilian companies have been launched to open their companies lured in many cases by a common culture and the extraordinary wealth of these lands. The spirit of former Brazilian President Lula da Silva to diversify his country’s markets, thus increasing the influence of Brazil in other developing nations, has been mirrored in the new Brazil President Dilma Rousseff.

In 2005, President Lula, established the first foundations to create diplomatic and trade ties with Africa; Since then the relationship between the two countries has been strengthened enormously, clear examples are the various meeting between the Presidents of both countries or the opening of 16 new Brazilian embassies in Africa.

It should be noted that Brazil has found in Africa support to his campaign to get a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, so nobody dismisses the geopolitical goals as the real trigger for the cultivation of these relationships. Dilma Rousseff faces “accusations” highlighting the historical ties between both countries for centuries, being the port of Gorée the starting point for thousands of Africans sold into slavery and brought to the New World.

The truth is that whatever the intentions, the Brazilian multinationals have been in search of business opportunities in various parts of Africa.
Ranging from veterans with extensive experience in the continent, as the construction company Odebrecht, Marcopolo bus maker (auto bodies ´factory pioneer in Africa; started its activity in 1999 after buying a factory in South Africa and since then it has not stopped growing, reaching double the capacity of its operations during the year 2010 coinciding with the World Cup Championship) and the State-owned company Petrobras (this famous oil company plans) invest around 3 billion dollars in Africa between now and 2013, mainly in Angola and Nigeria. (After the discovery last year of vast reserves in the waters of ultra deep off the coast of Brazil, some experts believe that it is possible that there are similar deposits along the West coast of Africa), even novice players as the Vale mining company (the largest producer of the world iron ore, is investing 1.3 billion dollars in a project of coal in Mozambique; as he has declared the President of vale Roger Agnelli: “Africa is the next frontier in the industry of natural resources in the world”) or the sugar company Açúcar Guarani (which is knowing exploits the advantages offered to them by the former Portuguese colony Mozambique. “We consider Africa favorably due to geographical and cultural proximity and the great potential of growth of consumption”, said Jacyr Costa, executive director of Açúcar Guarani. “One of the advantages of operating in Mozambique is that African sugar has preferential access in the common market of the European Union”, he said).

Açúcar Guarani joins the growing flow of Brazilian companies that are focusing on the African continent for trade and investment. This growing group of corporate giants and smaller firms Brazil are betting in Africa is powered by a national strategy in which formerPresident Lula da Silva and currently President Dilma Rousseff have played a key role. 

Imports and exports grew from 5 billion dollars in 2002 to 26 billion dollars in 2008 and today represent 7 % of total world trade in Brazil. One third of trade with Africa is with Nigeria, oil country. Brazilian companies are particularly active in Angola, another former Portuguese colony where about 100 Brazilian firms currently have operations and where it is estimated that they live and work 25,000 Brazilians. Brazilian entrepreneurs find it relatively easy to do business in Africa, partly owing to cultural ties as both have a language in common with several former Portuguese colonies.

However, Brazil came relatively late to the region, compared to a country like lack of direct flights China. The lack of direct flights is a significant disadvantage. The South African Airways airline offers daily flights from Rio and São Paulo to Johannesburg, but the air link between Brazil and the West coast of Africa is scarce.

Despite this, the Brazilians say they are committed to Africa in the long term. “I want to sell more to those who never bought anything our continent to be 700 million in the next 25 years,” said Dilma recently.