Sunday, 28 December 2008

Zimbabwe a nation starving

The United nations say that 5.5 million Zimbabweans need urgent food aid. Zimbabwe now has the highest inflation rate in the world with a staggering 230 million percent. Zimbabwe is a country full of millionaires but uncomfortably every one seems to be starving.

Lacks of investment over the past decade have resulted in the health system now at breaking point. The recent cholera out break has affected 1100 people resulting in the deaths of scores more. These are the signs of; and a symptomatic of Zimbabwe’s crumbling health system.

Sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe have contributed to the economic imbalance now at pressure cooking point that face that once prosperous country. Mugabe has been a constant thorn in the side of the West; his controversial land reform policy has not won him many friends and this has affected his standing internationally.

Zimbabwe would be better off; if not burdened by sanctions. Mugabe has applied for aid and trade. The country and has been granted some aid, but the IMF and World Bank have refused Mugabe loans. Sanctions imposed on his regime have hurt him and the economy has suffered significantly as a result.

Life in Zimbabwe is hard and challenging for ordinary citizens. Life expectancy is at an all time low. There is no food in the shops and for those who can find food they have no money to spend. Zimbabwe for all intensive purpose is in trouble. Be it because of sanctions, corruption, incompetence or unwillingness for the government to act in the interest of the poor.

Zimbabwe has many problems, recent pressure from the International community targeted at Mugabe, to convince Zimbabweans that Mugabe in not the right person to rule them is a mistake.

Mugabe has been the leader of his Zanu-PF party for a long time, this has lead to calls from the international community; demanding that someone else take over the reigns of power.

Such calls can only resonate a strong-minded Mugabe; who somehow seems to thrive on all the attention and chaos surrounding his spectacle. It is not right for external elements to interfere in political and internal affairs of Zimbabwe. Zimbabweans are mature enough to choose their own leaders. Zimbabweans have the exclusive right to say who should go and who should stay.

Current power sharing talks between Mugabe and Tsvangarai brokered by former South African president Thambo Mbeki must succeed – preventing Zimbabwe from plunging further into the abyss.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Rwanda Genocide -- United Nations Court finds those responsible guilty

The United Nations war court for Rwanda has sentenced the brother in law of the forma Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana to 20 years in prison.

The court also sentenced to life imprisonment a former army colonel Theoneste Bagosora and two other ex-army officers to life imprisonment on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, acquitting a fourth officer, Gratien Kabiligi.

The Rwandan genocide of 1994 was one of the most atrocious, Africa had ever seen. Gruesome Crime was perpetrated by one tribe turning against another, resulting in the deaths of thousands.
The majority Hutus tribe deliberately set out to exterminate Tutsis, resulting in the deaths of nearly a million people over a 100 day period.

A sluggish United Nations Court has taken nearly 12 years to come to this just verdict. Rather late than never, the International Criminal court must be applauded for indicting the perpetrators of this maraca.



MSC Masters degree from South Bank University in International Development

 Ran a radio show called "Africa speak" on Voice of Africa RADIO …. Listen to Ayo on his show

 Had a show “Night Flow” on South London RADIO – Time Fm ….. Listen to Ayo on his show

 Had a show “View Point Africa” on United Nations RADIO………….Listen to Ayo on his show

 Reviewed the British Newspapers for the BBC RADIO ……Listen to Ayo Newspapers review

 Reviewed the International Newspapers for Press TV……Listen to Ayo newspaper review

 Regular writer for PBS (World Focus) and various other internet publication Articles also featured at Huffington Post

 Editor at Viewpoint Africa

 Featured on AIB: (Association of International Broadcasting)

 Recently won an award for his contribution to Africa:

 A regular public speaker on Africa all over the world including at the Oxford University 2010 Africa Conference:

 Registered with some of the world's leading speaking agencies focusing on Africa:

As a Goodwill Ambassador for Every Human has Rights Ayo represents this charity on BBC the BIG Question

 Spoke recently to Lawyers and City Bankers in London about Africa

Spoke on CCTV on issues relating to Sudan Referendum

He is a regular contributors on CRI – Ayo speaks about China in Africa

Spoke about China’s impact on Africa on Aljazeera TV

 Frequently gives Expert “Breaking News” Analysis to media outlets across the world

TV CREDITS: BBC World News, Aljazeera, Voice of America, France 24, Press TV, CCTV and many more.

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Saturday, 22 November 2008

Aids -- 40 years on ……Is Africa coping ??

In the 1970’s the world perception of the virus was that it was common among Gay men and drug users. Through out the 1980’s and the 1990’s it became a disease typical among sex workers in the third world. In the year 2000 dawn of the new millennium, it became evident that infection rates were high among people living in Sub- Saharan Africa especially women.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations programme on AIDS (UNAIDS) estimate that there are currently 33 million people in the world living with HIV, there is an estimated 24 million people living with the disease in Sub-Saharan Africa, 61% of those infected are women. In South Africa and Zimbabwe 75% of young people infected are girls between the ages 15-24.

Factors that have contributed to HIV increase are cultural taboos and unequal power of relationship; it is difficult for women to choose their sexual partners and how often they have to be intimate. Women are unable to make decision in the use of condoms, which are instead made by men.

Women are more vulnerable than men due to gender inequality, lack of legal rights, education and understanding of the issues, coupled with the dilemma of under age sex, early marriage, polygamous relationship and female circumcisions. Women are at risk to the infection through lack of knowledge about the contamination process, further alienating them from actively taking part in farming activities and eventually leading to a devastating effect on their children.

UNAIDS urges governments to get the right laws and policies in place ensuring that women are educated and empowered through economic power by keeping the land, homes and assets when their husband dies. In South Africa violence against women especially rape and drug dependency makes women liable to sexual exploitation and vulnerable to infection.

The issue of Debt payment is a major problem in the fight against the disease, according to Aid Charities and NGO’s there are one million people living with HIV in Zambia, the government currently spend 2 US Dollars a day per person on health care compared to 24 US Dollars on servicing external dept payments.

In Sierra Leone it is common practice for Sugar Daddies to offer school girls material goods and cash in return for sexual favours often exposing them to the disease, usually with the consent of older family members who are powerless to act due to poverty and ignorance.

WHO policy statement states that screening options should focus; firstly on people who are showing symptom of the disease e.g. tuberculoses patients. Secondly, antenatal screening focuses on the impact of women’s decision to be tested during pregnancy. Thirdly, compulsory screening is mandatory for providing safe blood. Fourthly, voluntary screening, involves a rapid test facilities and timely result confirmation coupled with wide spread assurances of counselling support and protection from discrimination for those found to be positive.

Screening is very important as it will allow governments to support agencies by planning effectively and apportion budget to the appropriate sector of need e.g. Health Care. By screening for HIV, governments will be able to address the cumulative impact of the disease by providing care facilities for orphans; governments can keep people with the disease productive members of the community by providing free antiretroviral treatment and nutritional food. Governments can reduce the annual toll of new infection by enabling people in their communities to protect themselves, through the use of condoms and bring health care support directly to patients. With screening governments will be able to seek synergy and build on economies of scale through early screening. Screening is vital to HIV positive women, who can protect their babies from the disease by offering formula milk; the impact of this is financially and requires constant supply of clean water and fire wood to ensure sterile feeding.

The downside to screening is that it can lead to political instability, brain drain, low saving rate and an increase in social support caused by vast numbers of people unable to work due to ill health. Governments may be unable to collect taxes from these groups of the population leading to social disintegration, poverty, starvation and famine. The resulting effect is a reduction in population size, breakdown in family composition, decline in life expectancy and an increase in child and infant mortality. Finally there could be an increase in the cost per head per man hour due to a reduction in man power.

Providing screening and cheap ant viral treatment will not address the current spread, but rather, governments will have to reverse policies on gender inequality, forge closer relationship with NGO’s and private entities, encourage community based support groups, eliminate poverty by provide good education, clean drinking water and good nutritional food. Failure to provide these basic human requirement risk women becoming an endangered species and the fate of human race will remain uncertain.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Modern day pirates -- Big Business on the open seas

Gone are the days when a Pirates quest was to follow an old shrivelled map that pointed to some unforgotten island were silver and gold trinkets could be found stashed in a pit.

The modern day pirate is more than likely an African surrounded by all the latest sophisticated devices, that can pinpoint a ship many miles out at sea, listen to it’s communication to learn of who was on board, advance intelligence that can confirm type of cargo, ship’s origin and it’s final destination.

Piracy is big business especially of the African coast line. Modern day pirates are very well armed with a clear strategy in place. Snatch and grab followed by a ransom has been the plan of choice. The success of pirates in recent months have resulted in millions of dollars changing hands as vessel owners negotiate franticly to get their hostages and the precious cargo back.

Acute Poverty, desperation, greed and lack of an effective naval force to police the African coastline is to blame. But who should pay for such a police force? Most African governments are struck for cash and there has been very little investment in naval activity since their Independence.

The African Union will have to recognise this growing problem and try in the Medium term, to offer help to those nations who are unable and in some cases unwilling to police their coastline. In the Long term lobbying efforts from developed countries in the South could see the United Nations take a pivotal role in guaranteeing an effective Naval force. In the short term vessel owners big or small will have to choose other shipping routes that could prolong their journey or utilise expensive security forces that may deter would-be pirates. The cost of any of these choices will impact on the end user who would have to bear the brunt of cost levied on their product of choice.

Some have said the pirates are freedom fighters and not terrorist -- if that is the case who’s freedom are they fighting for?? What is clear is that many of the towns and villages along the African coast line have seen new building sprout up with increasing activities in the market place.

The level of sophistication and intelligence used by the pirates thus far – leads me to ask - Could there be an unknown Pirate sponsor out there??

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

1st Black African Family in the White House

The world has woken up this morning to a historic and stunning victory by the (President Elect) Barack Obama and his black family to live at the White House.

To his critics that say he is mixed race and not a black man or those that say if he had been three shades darker he would not have been elected. It is disrespectful to suggest that he is not black. Barack Obama calls himself black and is recognised by millions around the world as such.

Obama is clearly a unique man who represents both sides of the racial divide. But why is-it that the world was willing to accept Bob Marley the greatest reggae super star as a black man irrespective that he had a white father. Whilst some in today’s world find it extremely difficult to accept Obama in the same light.

Surely a person’s race is determined by the colour of his skin. If Obama had been born 150 years ago he would have would have been sold into slavery. Disturbing as it may sound the first 11 presidents of the United States (US) would have owned him.

The US has done it self proud and shown that it can put aside differences, look beyond the barriers of sex and colour and elect its first black president. Obama now reflects and represents the true stars and stripes of the United States of America. America is clearly leading the way in race relations, how much longer will we have to wait for other nations to follow this quest for change.

Obama’s African roots are strong and clear to see. The African continent is in jubilant and celebrating mood. Kenya is leading the way by declaring a 24 hour national holiday in celebration of Obama’s victory.

Kenya is the home of Obama’s late farther, the home of a long line of Obama’s extended family and home of the now famous grandmother (Sarah Obama).

After the euphoria of this momentous day would have died down, Obama will have to face the reality and the challenges of addressing the American economy, Climate change, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Nuclear stand off with Iran / North Korea and calming Russian fears against expansion plans of NATO into Europe.

Obama is an unknown quantity, how will he react, what will he do, what strategies will he adopt to heal a divided and broken world. The next 12 months will be very interesting as we await his next move.

Monday, 3 November 2008

If only Africans on the African continent could vote in the United States Elections

If only Africans on the African continent could vote, then the race for the White House would be a foregone conclusion.

Africans across the globe and Africans at home on the Continent are poised waiting anxiously to see the Democrats win the United States Elections.

Had it been any other election or any other candidate, most would not have been concerned. The stakes are high and the pressure is on!!

Obama is a son of Africa, he is appreciated by millions that have never met him but have heard his inspirational speeches. Many have followed his career path from an unknown two years ago to verge of a famous and historic victory.

Voter apathy is a genuine threat to Obama victory. Despite Obama’s lead in the pole the reality is that he would need all the support he can get – for what I expect must be a tense and nail biting experience for him and his family.

The American economy is in trouble, heavily in dept not to mention high expectations on issues of health care, housing and job creation. Globally how will he deal with Africa and the Middle East? Only time will tell for a Leader who has never managed a State but could be faced with global challenges that are pressing and urgent.

The truth is a win for Obama will without a doubt change the world. The real question is how will he mange the expectation of millions of people with a famous victory against numerous challenges both domestically and internationally?

Sunday, 26 October 2008

No way back for all concerned

It is time that a deal is reached between Mugabe and Tsvangarai in an effort to address pressing and life threatening issues that face that country. Both leaders must put aside their differences in the interest of Zimbabwe all Zimbabwean the world over.

There are two sides to this story, but the true issue is that of land -- Mugabe intends to nationalize the land where as Tsvangarai focus is to privatise it. It means that support for Mugabe’s socialist policy will come from East (namely China and Rushia) where as Tsvangarai free market concept will attract support from the west (namely Britain, USA and France). So surely if both leaders agree to a deal, Zimbabwe could benefit from both worlds.

Zimbabweans face numerous challenges, but most pressing are limited availability of food, frequent power cuts, very few jobs and a currency that in many Zimbabweans eyes is deemed worthless and insignificant.

Inflation in Zimbabwe is now running at over 11. million per cent. Recent transaction on the Black market shows that the Billions of Zimbabwean dollars will change hands for a single US dollar. The truth is that no one uses or recognises the currency. The US Dollar and South African Rand are now the currencies of choice for all those that want to trade in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe once branded the bread basket of Africa for its abundant food production capacity is now a country dependant on aid and external assistance.

Both Mugabe and Tsvangarai failed in their efforts in March of this year to secure an all right majority in the general elections. Following a power shearing deal brokered by SADC (Southern African Development Community) in September. Both men are now in a deadlock power struggle. Horse-trading over the numbers of ministerial posts, which personalities from both camps should get the lucrative and influential ministerial portfolios - especially that of finance and defence are some of the sticking points.

The reality is that the SADC brokered deal between the two men by the former president of South Africa Tambo Mbeki; should now forge a joint workable strategy without delay.

Tambo Mbeki is a battered and bruised former South African leader, who was ousted from his job as president of that country. Public infighting with long time rival Jacob Zuma resulted in a vote of no confidence by his ANC party. Tambo Mbeki has in the past been heavily criticized for not being forceful and heavy hand with both sides of the Mugabe and Tsvangarai affair. But he must be commended for his gallant effort in securing a power sharing deal between the two.

Agreeing terms and a practical working model as part of a deal with Mugabe, will command all Mbeki experience and standing in the region. The question is how much respect does Tambo Mbeki command. Is it enough for him to achieve a working formula for Zimbabwe. We must be mindful that Mbeki is now minus his presidential title combined with dwindling influence in the region.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Please.. allow Africa toTrade – without impediment !!

African Leaders governing the continent have shown over the past 50 years that feeding and supporting their people is complex, challenging and above all multifarious. The legacy of post colonial Africa left the continent unrecognisable from that of its former past. Changes in tribal line and transfer of power between favoured groups combined with poorly thought-out land redistribution schemes have contributed to Africa in the new millennium; branded the darkest continent in the world.

This new stereotype is notoriously associated with some of the worst human development statistics known to man. With fewer jobs, poor wages combined with increasing numbers of people affected by high Infant mortality rates, low life expectancy, reduced access to clean water, frequent power cuts and increasing numbers of individuals living below the poverty line. The rest of the world must now face the grim reality and accept the awful truth that the average African living on the continent is constantly fighting a battle of survival against all odds.

The reality is that some of the contributing factors towards Africa’s demise are a minefield to explore let alone a platform for finding solution. The World Trade Organisation (WTO), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) have always advocated to developing nations as part of their membership and conditionality package for loan agreements, liberalization of industries, institutions and governance is paramount for those wishing to relinquish the clutches of poverty. This involves the opening of markets to international trade by reducing trade barriers and the cutting back of state subsidies to local farmers.

Most commentators around the world would advocate that a 5% increase in world exports including that of developing nations, would generate 7 times what is currently given in Aid. I am of the opinion that Africa needs Trade not Aid. Africa will remain in the abyss, if industrialised nations like Britain and America continue to subsidise their farmers, encouraging overproduction that reduces the unit cost of production resulting in dumping of such goods on vulnerable African markets.

The resulting effect is that local farmers in developing countries in Africa unable to compete will go out of business, leading to a loss of jobs and a nation’s food insecurity. Similarly African goods wishing to trade in developed countries in Europe or the Americas are faced with high tariffs, quota restrictions and limitations on African products that can compete in foreign markets.

Addressing the issue of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), that gives exclusive rights to the creators of the product or service for a number of years, will have a devastating impact on developing nations. HIV patients will be unable to access treatment due to the cost of drugs that’s usually beyond their financial capabilities. Further reducing most African nation’s capacity to harness a healthy workforce, trade effectively and reduce poverty.
Traditional healers from the rural area in Africa usually cultivate herbs to treat variety of illness, providing low cost treatment to Africans who do not have access to hospital treatment. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) should fully recognise and support the (IPR) of traditional healers, whose knowledge of remedies which seeks to preserve and nurture the integrity of the African culture. Failure to protect traditional healers will result in pharmaceutical giants with ample resources developing these drugs to western standards, earning huge profits and then reselling these drugs back to Africans at expensive rate far more than what it would have cost from the traditional healers direct.

The issue of green house gasses that leads to global warming is in my opinion pivotal to Africa trading and eliminating poverty. It is a fact that extravagant lifestyles from developed nations in Europe and America through the use of house hold appliances, to the cars and trucks that are driven have resulted in the release of harmful CO2 gases into the environment. These Gases are having a direct impact on underdeveloped nations in Africa through dramatic climate change that are leading to drought, crop failure and loss of livelihoods. The impact of climate change reduces a nation’s ability to earn vital revenue, reduces a farmer’s ability to sell and forces families into starvation.

However Africa has to be responsible, it must respect its own environment by harnessing biodiversity and new faming techniques, embracing new technologies combined with seeking alternative and cleaner forms of energy from wind, solar or hydro power.

The issue of Gender Inequality has got to be as important as trade. Africa is predominantly an agricultural producing country with women accounting for up to 80% of all food and cash crop trade. The reality is that growing numbers of women lack access to education, unable to own land, faced with credit restrictions and severe limitations in their ability to control their resources or destiny.

Uncomfortable as it may sound the truth is that male quest for dominance with the support of cultural beliefs and local laws are to blame. This problem also extends to decision making within most household where women are not seen as an asset. It is not uncommon for women to be excluded from most forms of Human Development, despite their long hours of work which tends to start at 5am and does not end till 7pm.

Africa must realise and accept that women are the cradle of the continent. The veil of women’s invincible role must be removed. Africa must recognise the roles that women perform ever so magnificently and the work they do in exceptional circumstances. I am hopeful that a change in mindset can funnel both sides of the gender divide to better rewards that can lead to a more prosperous continent.

The World Bank advocates that increased trade raises productivity, growth and ultimately reduces poverty. This will only be possible when practical aspects of trade law and policy matters on market access, anti-dumping, General Agreement on Tariff & Trade (GATT), (IP), environment and labour standards are liberalized through systematic approach of citizen participation. Producers and exporters of goods and services will not be competitive without access to effective banking, accounting and transport systems. Global rules are therefore needed to regulate international trade by championing diversity and protect the rights of government and people. International trade could only have a sustained and positive effect on the lives of poor people, when trade policy needs are addressed at local, national and regional levels.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Capitalism is a complete and utter failure

Capitalism is a complete and utter failure – the principality of it I dislike, the share fact that the strong should survive and the weak die is a principle I do not share nor advocate.

The system is unfair and can lead to greed and selfish attitudes similar to what we have seen on Wall Street in the USA and similarly in the UK.

What is strange is that Capitalism in its pure form advocates and supports greed at the expense of the poor masses. This is true – we see it in the unfair trading rules of the WTO that prevent poor farmers from competing.

We also see it within financial institutions of the IMF AND World Bank who would provide loans to Poor African nations at rate and life cycles term beyond the presidencies of those that originally signed these agreements, ensuring that those nations stay and rot in abject poverty.

So how come is it that Bush is now prepared to rescue Capitalism from collapse, this goes against what capitalism is all about – surely week intuitions should role over and die and stronger ones take their places.

700 Billion $ is a lot of money that could irradiate poverty on the African Continent - this money should be siphoned to support Africa and save lives without delay.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Corruption in Africa

Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma became the first head of state to declare his assets to the country's Anti-Corruption Commission.

The issue of corruption has long been being echoed by industrialized nations as part and parcel of African culture and ideology.

Most African Leaders from the sub-continent have horded billions of dollars into foreign bank accounts due to their lack vision of how to galvanise their people. In Sierra Leone this has lead to perpetually failure within their communities specifically in human and structural development, the ramification of which would linger for many generations to come.

Some Industrialized Nations in the north relishing this opportunity of ample cash flow for their economic development, have encouraged connive and at times turned a blind eye to corrupt leaders in the south continual plundering Africa’s wealth.

We must accept that corruption is a two way process involving a giver and a receiver which has now become a way of life for many leaders in Africa, it is estimated that corruption cost the African continent over a 150 billion dollars a year. That is money that could have been spent on health education and building up the rural economy.

As awareness of issues surrounding corruption has intensified in the world, some African nations like Sierra Leone are now beginning to change their laws to make it harder for corrupt officials to stash stolen money in foreign banks.

President Earnest Bai Koroma has shown great courage and exemplary leadership by leading the fight against corruption for the rest of Africa to follow.

Developed Nations in the west now have a positive role to play, in promoting good governance and to monitor poorer economies.

It is time for governments of the Third World to sit up take stock and become responsible by creating jobs for their people and local communities need to engage their leaders by mobilizing public action.

Real development in Sierra Leone is unlikely to change poor people’s lives if there is not an injection of foreign direct investment into the economy and a halt to continual perpetual cycle of bad governance.