Jan. 13, 2020 (GIN) – When Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo pronounced 2019 as the Year of Return, his words resounded with warmth and joy to all people of African descent.
So began a year-long calendar of events including concerts, art shows, visits to heritage sites, fashion shows, movie premieres and creative economy and trade conferences, organized on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of African slaves in America.
Thus far, Akufo-Addo’s call has been a great success, observed Ghanaian author and journalist Kwabena Agyare Yeboah in a recent online issue of African Arguments.
Americans arriving in Ghana increased by 26% to their highest ever rate between January and September 2019.
Similarly, the numbers of visitors grew from the UK (24%), Germany (22%), South Africa (10%) and Liberia (14%). All told, Ghana reportedly issued 800,000 visas this year and this week announced that all nationalities will be eligible to receive a visa on arrival for the next month or so due to the heavy demand.
It was exhaustive, writes Agyare Yeboah, but could they have done more? Was the exclusive focus on the transatlantic slave trade, with the US at the center, a pardonable weakness? Or did it erase other crucially important aspects and legacies of Ghana’s history of slavery?
Missing, he maintains, is the trans-Saharan slave trade in which an estimated 6-7 million people, including from the Sokoto Caliphate and Borno, were forcibly transported to North Africa, Europe and the Middle East, a period ranging over 1,250 years,” he says.
“The legacy of this trade is still palpable in Mauritania where slavery is still a present-day reality,”Agyare Yeboah says. “The country only formally abolished slavery in 1981 and local activists estimate that 20% of the population – all black – are still enslaved.
“Where are the calls for these descendants to return? Where are the African descendants outside of the US, the Jamaicans, Cubans and Brazilians?” he asks rhetorically.
The failure to fully engage with the history of slavery and the focus on just a select portion of African descendants compromises its credibility, he charges.
“The Year of Return campaign had the opportunity, and a whole year, to critically engage with the history of Africans and people of African descent in its entirety. On this, it must do more.”
President of Ghana
Feb. 11, 2019 (GIN) – African leaders had a new message for foreign companies seeking the diamonds, gold, rubies and emeralds so plentiful in desperate dirt-poor countries and so pricey when polished and sold in New York, Paris and Switzerland.
We’re no longer a cheap date.
That message – in so many words – was heard again and again at this year’s posh African Mining Indaba – a glittering conference in Cape Town, South Africa, that unites investors, mining companies, governments and stakeholders from around the world with the single goal of advancing mining on the African continent.
To be honest, not every African leader was threatening to pull “unusual tax incentives” from contracts with western companies. But at least one president drew a line in the sand, declaring it was simply unjust that Africa, rich in minerals sought after by the world, should remain inhabited by the poorest people in the world.
Mining deals must be more beneficial for Africa, declared Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo, as he pressed governments to end fiscal incentives traditionally used to attract investments in countries rich in resources but considered high risk.
“We want you here for the long-term,” he continued, addressing the mining executives from wealthy countries. “Respect the land that provides the riches and be part of the transformation. It’s time to make Africa prosperous and allow her people to attain a dignified standard of living.”
“We should not have to give unusual tax and royalties incentives. And mining companies should not expect to make extraordinary profits on our continent.”
Over the past decade, a number of African governments have reviewed mining contracts, seeking to increase their share of mining profits.
Last year, the Democratic Republic of Congo – the world’s biggest producer of cobalt – rewrote its mining code, ignoring the objections of miners. It cancelled existing stability clauses in contracts and raised royalty rates across the board.
Neighboring Tanzania, once one of Africa’s best bets for international investors, also cracked down, hitting gold miner Acacia with a $190 billion tax bill.
The company has disputed the claim and its parent company Barrick Gold Corp is in talks with the government.
But other African nations, including Angola and Ethiopia, are still seeking to use tax breaks to entice investment to their nascent mining sectors.
Resource nationalism was high on the agenda at the just ended 25th African Mining Indaba.
Long a major gold producer, Ghana is now seeking to develop its iron ore and bauxite deposits.
“Africa has made the world rich with our minerals, our gemstones adorn crowns and homes around the world, it is time to make Africa prosperous, and enable her people to attain a dignified standard of living. Join us in this exciting project for sustainable economic growth,” President Akufo-Addo said. w/pix of Ghana Pres. Akufo-Addo leaving for Indaba
WASHINGTON — Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, and Congressman Emanuel Cle Cleaver and er (D-MO), Chair of the Subcommittee on National Security, International Development, and Monetary Policy, issued the following statements on the nomination of David Malpass, Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, to serve as President of the World Bank.
“It’s difficult to believe that any serious effort to find a qualified candidate with a compelling vision for the mission of the World Bank and a belief in the legitimacy of international development finance would lead to the nomination of Treasury Undersecretary for International Affairs David Malpass,” said Chairwoman Waters.
“His agenda for international development policy seems to begin with a reliance on unfettered private capital flows and end with a diminished role for the public sector, as the engines of global growth. He is an anti-internationalist, anti-worker market fundamentalist who understands neither the markets nor the importance of an effective public sector in helping reign in market excesses, promoting stability, and ensuring that the benefits of growth are broadly shared in society.
Moreover, if the World Bank’s board of directors ultimately votes to confirm Mr. Malpass, the Bank’s climate finance agenda, which is an increasingly essential element of global economic cooperation, will also be under threat. If the Trump Administration is allowed to embed its ideological bias into the world’s most important multilateral development institution, the institutional framework for the post-World War II global economic order will be imperiled.”
“The nomination of David Malpass as the next World Bank President should have every American deeply concerned,” said Chairman Cleaver. “His strong criticism of global organizations and disdain for multilateral institutions are antithetical to the mission of the organization of which he has been asked to lead. For nearly eighty years the World Bank—guided by American leadership—has led a development of the global economy unmatched in human history. The Bank has played a pivotal role in the reduction of global poverty, protection of workers, and fight to close the enormous income inequality gap. If Mr. Malpass cannot commit to advancing this agenda and supporting the core mission of the World Bank, then the board should reject his nomination.”
The House Financial Services Committee is responsible for conducting oversight of U.S. participation in the multilateral development banks, including the World Bank.
Financial Services Committee Democrats have consistently pushed for strong leadership at the World Bank and insisted on more transparency and disclosure of information. As a result, Committee Democrats have continuously played an active role in helping to shape the development policies that have helped make the World Bank the preeminent development institution that it has become.
In previous Congresses, Committee Members conditioned U.S. support for the Bank on the creation of the Inspection Panel — an independent accountability mechanism that could investigate allegations by citizens of the Bank’s failure to follow its own policies and procedures.
The Committee has also worked in a bipartisan manner to successfully push for debt relief for impoverished countries.