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Thursday, 27 April 2017


By Lord Aikins Adusei
The killing of Gaddafi on 20 October 2011 by NATO-backed rebels came as a shock to most Africans. While it is regrettable that he died such a terrible death, he was partly responsible for his own misfortune. He failed to build the defence capabilities that could defend Libya against the country’s many European and North American enemies. While Libya under Gaddafi had some of the best weapons in Africa, these weapons were not Libya made. They were designed and built in Europe, America and Asia. In other words, Gaddafi relied on military technologies developed by France, Britain, Italy, Russia, China, and the United States. Despite the billions of dollars of oil money, Gaddafi didn't help Libya to develop a sophisticated indigenous defence industry capable of producing some of the world's best defence systems such as Israel's David Sling, Iron Dome or the Jericho III intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM).
The negative consequences of Gaddafi's reliance on foreign particularly Western defence technologies became all too clear when these same countries used their other superior war machines to degrade the ones they had sold to him. Gaddafi's defence easily crumbled when NATO's onslaught started. Part of the reason is that the West who had sold him his weapons knew the weaknesses of the systems they had sold him and exploited these weaknesses to their advantage.
But Gaddafi is not the only African leader whose failure to develop an indigenous defence industry cost his government and country.
In 2011, during the post-election crisis in Ivory Coast, the entire Ivorian airforce was destroyed by France within some few minutes. Laurent Gbagbo could not fight back when France invaded his country. This was because like Gaddafi's Libya, the Ivorian airforce relied on defence systems and technologies made in France and other European countries. France was aware of the defence system and technologies the Ivorian airforce was using and hence used its other superior weapons to destroy Gbagbo's forces. If Ivory Coast had developed its own defence technologies and capabilities, France wouldn't have so easily destroyed the Ivorian airforce and humiliated Gbagbo.
Nigeria was humiliated by the United States when President Goodluck Jonathan's repeated request to the Obama Administration for military assistance to trace the Chibok girls and fight Boko Haram were denied. Nigeria could not trace the 276 Chkbok girls kidnapped by Boko Haram because the country lacked the defence technologies and capabilities capable of piercing through the thick dense Sambisa Forest where Boko Haram was hiding the girls. Up till now Nigeria doesn't have a well developed defence industry capable of supplying the country with submarines and advanced unmanned aerial (drones) capabilities because their strategic thinking about defence and national security are limited to recruiting few hundred men and women each year. In other words, while technologies have changed the nature of modern warfare, Nigeria continues to invest in human beings rather than technologies for its own defence.
While over the years, the North African countries have acquired sophisticated military capabilities, they are all similar to Libya under Gaddafi i.e. their military capabilities and the technologies behind them are from non-African countries. They aren't indigenously designed and built. While South Africa is self-sufficient in its defence needs, its weapons are of second and third tier type, meaning though they are good, they are not the world's best. In the words of Wezeman et al (2011, p.14), 'the lack of indigenous arms-production capacities means that most African countries are fully dependent on arms imports [abroad].' This must change and ought to change fast.
The tragedy of Gaddafi should be a lesson to all African countries to stop relying on the generosity of foreign countries and commit part of their GDP to research and develop military technologies that could protect the continent from hegemonic outside invaders. Some of these technologies such as drones could have dual usage i.e. military and civilian use.
African countries should learn from Israel, which although small in size (in land and in population), has succeeded in building one of the most advanced and enduring defence capabilities in the world. Israel's Jericho III missile for example is capable of hitting many countries in the world including in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and North America. Its Iron Dome could shoot down missiles sent by enemy forces. Africa can also learn from South Korea which has moved from being a recipient of military aid from America to a major supplier of defence hardware.
Besides gaining control over its own security, the economic advantage of Africa developing and building her own weapons systems is also very huge. In fact, Africa's economy could grow and expand tremendously to provide jobs for tens of thousands of the continent's engineers and other technical experts. At the same time developing and building defence industry will help to save the tens of billions of dollars Africa sends to support European, American, Chinese and Russian economies annually through the purchases that African countries undertake.
Every year African countries together spend tens of billions of dollars importing tanks, helicopters, helicopter carriers, self propelled guns, armoured personnel carriers (APCs), submarines, combat aircrafts, trainer combat aircraft, frigates and other defence systems. In 2013, Angola spent $6 billion on its defence part of which was used to import arms from across the globe. In 2014, Algeria bought 1 helicopter carrier from Italy, 48 air defence systems from Russia and about 50 self propelled guns from China. In 2014, Algeria placed orders for 2 submarines and 42 combat helicopters from Russia and 926 APCs from Germany. In 2013 Algeria spent $10 billion on its defence including arms purchases. In 2013, Ethiopia took delivery of the first of about 200 Ukrainian built T-72 tanks.
According to Wezeman et al, (2011, p.14) between 2006 and 2010 South Africa received 15 JAS-39 combat aircraft (as part of a total order of 26), 24 Hawk-100 trainer combat aircraft, 2 Type-209 submarines (of a total order of 3) and 4 MEKO-A200 frigates mainly from Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Namibia imported 12 Chengdu F-7 combat aircraft from China between 2006 and 2008.
The Economist (2014) also notes that Chad and Uganda have been buying Russia built MiG and Sukhoi fighter jets. Cameroon and Ghana have also been importing transport planes and fighter jets from around the world. Indeed in 2013, Ghana took delivery of four new Mi-171 helicopters from Russia. Ghana also took delivery of three Diamond DA 42 MPP Guardian surveillance and training aircraft from Austria and two C295 transport planes from Airbus. It is also scheduled to take delivery of Brazilian built Embraer 190. Ghana intends to spend more than $300 million for its military acquisitions. African countries spend additional fortune buying spareparts from foreign weapons manufacturers.
These tens billions of dollars that is used to import the weapons and spareparts go to support the economies of the countries where they are imported from, creating jobs for the populations in these countries and providing profits and revenue to the companies and the countries concerned.
The money could be used to develop Africa’s almost non-existing defence industry to provide jobs, expand our economy and end our dependence on other countries. In South Africa where the defence industry is relatively well developed, the industry is estimated to have employed 13,646 people in 2007.
“South Africa is the only country in sub-Saharan Africa that has developed a sizeable arms industry capable of producing relatively advanced military products that can compete on the global market. In 2007 it was reported that 13,646 people worked in the South African arms industry, producing a wide range of military equipment. South Africa is the only country in sub-Saharan Africa that plays a discernible role as a supplier of arms to other countries in the region” (Wezeman et al, 2011, p.14).
Although Nigeria and Sudan produce some military products, the industries are not well developed. This could change if African countries pull their resources together to invest in research and development and build their own defence systems. It will not only enable Africa to defend herself from parasitic foreign powers, but will also contribute to expanding Africa's economy, spearheard her industrialisation efforts and wean the continent from dependency on foreign countries.
The Economist (2014) “Arms and the African: The continent’s armies are going on a spending spree”
Wezeman, P. D., Wezeman, S. T. and Béraud-Sudreau, L. (2011) “Arms Flows to Sub-Saharan Africa” SIPRI

Obama is from Venus, Putin is from Mars. Obama is an Idealist, Putin is a Realist

By Lord Aikins Adusei

The current global political, and security environment remains chaotic, dangerous, and unstable. While the Obama Administration has done its best to address them, there is no doubt that the incoming Donald Trump Administration will inherit one of the most difficult and challenging set of problems since the end of the Second World War. Under Obama’s presidency, America has seen its global leadership challenged by China in the South China Sea and by Russia in the Middle East and Ukraine.

In 2015, United States' allies in Europe including UK, France, Germany and Italy defied US to join China’s newly established World Bank-style Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Australia and South Korea (two key US allies) have indicated that they would join the AIIB. Philippines, a long-time US ally is moving towards China’s orbit. China’s $45 billion investment in infrastructure building in Pakistan (part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) has seen Islamabad move ever more closer to Beijing. Africa and Latin American countries are also deepening their relationship with Beijing in an unprecedented fashion. But that is not all. Under Obama's leadership, cybersecurity threats have grown greatly from Russia, China, North Korea and from terrorist networks with the US claiming that its November 7, 2016 elections were influenced by Russia’s cyber intrusion.

Much of the chaos we are witnessing (cybersecurity threats; the growth of ISIS and terrorism; instability in Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Yemen) are partly the result of Obama's idealist foreign policy strategic thinking. Unlike the realists Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping who think their countries are in a perpetual geopolitical struggle and competition with the United States for global power and dominance (including economic, military, political, technological and cultural dominance), an idealist Obama does not share such thinking. In fact, while for example Putin is obsessed with power and revival of Russia’s lost global influence, Obama has been more concerned with humanity, how to help America recover and restore its tattered image after its disastrous invasion of Iraq and Afghan.

Indeed, since assuming the presidency, Obama has made a number of foreign policy decisions that are different from the hawkish policies of his predecessor. One of such foreign policy actions was his decision to withdraw US troops from Iraq at a time when Al Qaeda was not completely defeated and was still causing havoc in the country. That decision to withdraw US troops led to the lightning rise of ISIS and the danger it continues to pose to Europe, Africa and the Middle East. However, the decision to withdraw the troops is located in Obama’s belief that the world and particularly the Middle East would be more peaceful without the United States permanently stationing troops in Iraq. That thinking also informed Obama’s planned (and later botched) troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Obama's idealist philosophy was clearly demonstrated when became reluctant to use force against Assad of Syria. Even when Assad crossed Obama’s redlines, the US President still did not order troops to attack Assad as was anticipated. Besides, Obama gave a tepid support to Syrian rebels fighting to unseat Assad. While Obama ordered US planes to bomb ISIS positions in Raqqa, he provided only limited military assets to the rebels which contributed to the rebels poor performance on the battlefield. On the other hand, the insertion of Putin in the Syrian conflict on the side of Assad, strategically changed the direction of the conflict in favour of Assad. In December 2016, Aleppo, Syria’s biggest city fell to Assad after Russia’s increased bombardment from the sky.

Obama's idealist leaning also explains his poor support for Ukrainians against Russia's incursions into Ukraine and subsequent annexation of Crimea. Putin’s aggressive posture in Ukraine is in line with his thinking that the United States and her European allies were trying to undermine Russia by encroaching Moscow's sphere of influence. Putin saw the collapse of the pro-Russia government of Viktor Yanucovich as the final proof that the United States and Europe were determined to limit Russia’s influence in its own neighbourhood. Putin therefore reacted in a typical realist fashion: the immediate deployment of Russia’s military and cybersecurity capabilities. Putin annexed Crimea and provided direct military support to rebels in Ukraine. Rather than Obama providing huge military support to enable the government in Kiev regain control of the eastern provinces, he rather mobilised European countries to impose sanctions on Moscow, a proof that he was less enthusiastic in escalating the conflict with Putin. The sanctions did not cause Putin to alter his behaviour in Ukraine.

There are also other decisions Obama made which point to his lack of belief in war and guns as way of resolving global conflict. President Obama was initially reluctance to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria. When ISIS swept across northern Iraq and took Mosul and begun pursuing Yazidis, Christians and other minorities, Obama’s immediate response was to fly humanitarian supplies to those who fled to the Sinjar Mountain to escape ISIS onslaught.

Even when Obama resolved to fight ISIS in Iraq, he decided to let Iraqi soldiers take the lead in the fight to recapture Mosul. That decision is a continuation of Obama’s earlier decision in Libya where he decided to the let the United States lead from behind. Rather than let the United States lead the war against Gaddafi, he preferred to take a back seat and allowed France and Britain to lead the fight against Gaddafi. Similarly, when Houthi rebels seized Sanaa, Yemen’s capital, and ousted President Mansour Hadi, it was King Salman and Saudi Arabia (not Obama and the United States) that became the decider. President Obama decided to let regional powers take the lead in regional wars as against say in 1990 when US intervened to oust Iraq from Kuwait during the Gulf War 1. Meanwhile Putin was very decisive when Mikheil Saakachvili’s government in Tbilisi provoked Moscow in 2008. Putin’s quickly made it clear to the leadership in Georgia that they would risk destroying their country if they continued to provoke Moscow. Putin’s defeat of Mikheil Saakachvili was very humiliating for George Bush who did nothing to help its caucuses ally.

Putin is the opposite of Obama. To paraphrase Robert Kagan, Putin is from Mars. Obama is from Venus. Obama believes in the rule of law; multilateral approach to addressing global problems. He is sensitive to domestic and international public opinion, has a strong faith in diplomacy and negotiation as tools to resolving regional conflict. Putin on the other hand favours unilateralism, and the use of hard power. While President Putin is aggressively asserting Russia's influence in Russia's neighbourhood (e.g. in Ukraine, Georgia, Belarus, and in the Middle East e.g. Syria), Obama has done little to counterbalance Putin in the geopolitical struggle for control of Eurasia i.e. Europe and Asia.

In Asia, China's rise as great power continues to overwhelm its neighbours particularly Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, etc. China is challenging US primacy and as a hegemon in Asia. While Obama responded to China's rise with his pivot to Asia policy (intended to encircle and contain China, and boost US position in Asia), China has successfully weakened the pivot through a series of strategies including adamantly continuing to develop and build military assets on the disputed South China Sea littoral islands.

Obama was hailed as a pacifist trying to bring peace rather than war in the world and was rewarded with a Nobel Peace Prize. Under his 8 year tenure as POTUS (President of the United States), Obama made it a top priority to end the more than half a century old conflict between Israelis and the Palestinians. Though he did not succeed, his effort to bring peace to the region was more genuine than some of his predecessors.

Obama also attempted to reset US relations with Russia and tried hard to work cooperatively with the Kremlin. One of his major efforts was to denuclearise the world by engaging Russia to cut the number of their nuclear stockpiles. US and Russia currently possess about 90% of the close to 20,000 nuclear stockpiles in the world. Both countries combined have 3000 nuclear warheads that can be deployed at any time. It was Obama’s belief that the world will be more peaceful without nuclear weapons hence his insistence on reaching nuclear deal with Iran. Indeed, Obama’s negotiations with Iran to freeze to Tehran's nuclear activities and to free the Middle East from arms race and weapons of mass destruction could not have happened under any Realist president.

Obama's decision to end more than 50 years of animosity with its southern neighbour i.e. Cuba, represents a major paradigm shift in US foreign policy calculations. His visit to Cuba is a testament to his in peace and good neighbourliness. That Americans and Cubans can freely visit each other, do business together can only happen under a leader who does not believe in a zero sum foreign policy making.

Indeed Obama’s Cuba gestures has brought the final chapter of the Cold War to an end.
Climate change has been touted as one of the leading political, economic, social and environmental threats of our time. Obama has recognised the threat a warming planet and changing climate pose to humanity. He has pushed for emissions cut with major polluters like China, the European Union, India and other major polluters. The Paris climate agreement represents a hope for humanity.

How will history judge Obama? In my opinion Obama will be judged as a president whose love for humanity, global peace (as against Putin’s narrow national interests) forced him to take decisions that made his enemies gear for his blood while his admirers wished he had governed for a long time.

ECG Privatisation: Privatising for who? The experience of Australia, UK

By Lord Aikins Adusei

The financial, managerial and technical challenges facing the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) have galvanised the apostles of privatisation, anti-state ownership of business and the neoliberal-free market capitalists to strongly advocate for ECG to be privatised.
Their argument is that selling ECG will make it more efficient, financially resilient and economically prosperous. ECG when privatised they argue, will bring huge benefits to Ghana in the form of security of power supply.
In other words power supply will be reliable and the current system of power cuts, blackouts and power rationing will be a thing of the past because privatisation will bring in additional capital, investments and technical and managerial talents.
In the long term prices will be stable or even fall and consumers will be happy. Taxes to government will increase and more jobs in the energy sector will be created. For the government of Ghana, money raised through the sale of ECG will enable it to increase expenditure, cut taxes or repay the nation’s debt.
At the same time privatising ECG will enable the government to access the $500 million Millennium Challenge Compact Funds promised by the US government.
But these are all illusions. In the first wave of privatisation that took place in Ghana in the 1990s, Ghanaians were told that the companies and individuals buying state owned companies would transform them into thriving enterprises providing Ghanaians with endless job opportunities and thus turning Ghana into a prosperous nation.
What they did not tell Ghanaians was that the IMF, the World Bank, the British and the U.S. governments through USAID were behind the push for Ghana to sell its assets as a condition for more loans. In other words these actors used Ghana’s poor financial situation to demand the dismantling of the state and its assets.
There is strong evidence that Mr. Jerry Rawlings and the PNDC resisted pressure to sell state owned-companies. But the IMF, the World Bank, the Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher administrations piled on the pressure using several tactics.
A message from the White House to USAID representatives instructed that they should make sure Ghana sold everything.
Needing cash and unable to raise it at home, the National Democratic Congress party which replaced the PNDC went on a selling spree selling both performing and non-performing companies alike. By 1999 almost 70 percent of state owned assets had been sold. While majority of the state-owned companies sold went to Ghanaians, most of the high valued ones were sold to foreigners. As Prof Antoinette Handley of University of Toronto observed in 2007: “Of 212 divestitures, 169 were sold to locals. This may look like a high figure, but the firms sold to locals were overwhelmingly the smallest, least valuable firms and, in terms of value, may have comprised only ten percent of the total” [1].
One of the sectors of the economy which saw rapid privatisation was the mining sector. The most valuable company in the mining industry was the Ashanti Goldfields Company. For decades the company was controlled by the British firm Lonrho with Ghana having little to no shares at all. Lonrho needed to extend its leases in the 1960s and so it agreed to grant the Ghanaian government 20 percent share in the company to allow the leases to be renewed. When Acheampong’s military government took over power in 1972, it realised how Ghana had been shortchanged. How could Ghana which owned the gold be having only 20 percent shares while a foreign firm controlled everything? the leaders asked. Therefore, Acheampong seized another 35 percent for Ghana, bringing Ghana’s total shares to 55 percent.
However, in 1994 the Rawlings led-NDC government privatised AGC by selling 39.8 percent of its shares. Ghana received more than $454 million from the sale of AGC. What happened to that money is a story for another day. However, Ghana subsequently became a minority shareholder with only 15.2 percent shares in AGC when the NPP replaced the NDC in 2001. Ghana Consolidated Diamonds Limited and other mining firms were also sold.
How did the privatisation of AGC and the mining sector benefit Ghana and how will privatisation of ECG benefit the country? Several reports by the World Bank, United Nations, and Bank of Ghana have revealed that the privatisation of the mining sector has been detrimental to the economy and the welfare of the people of Ghana particularly the communities and farmers in the mining areas. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), in 2003 for example, mineral exports from Ghana generated $893.6 million but Ghana got only $46.7 million or just 5% while the companies took the remaining 95% or 846.9 million [2]. Similarly, The UK based The Economist magazine reported that: “Gold accounted for 40% of [Ghana’s] exports in 2008, with a value of $2.2 billion. But the government received only $116m in taxes and royalties from mining firms” [3].
In 2003, the World Bank (the chief advocate of privatisation in Ghana) acknowledged that Ghana has not benefited from mining activities in terms of revenue, employment, infrastructure development and environmental sustainability and urged Ghana’s leaders to take steps to reverse the trend but nothing happened. Using very diplomatic words the World Bank wrote that:
“It is unclear what gold mining true benefits are to Ghana. Large scale mining by foreign companies has high import content and produces only modest amounts of net foreign exchange for Ghana after accounting for all its outflows. Similarly, its corporate tax payments are low due to various fiscal incentives necessary to attract and retain foreign investors. Employment creation is also modest given the highly capital intensive nature of modern surface mining techniques. Local communities affected by large scale mining have seen little benefits to date in the form of improved infrastructure or services provision because much of the rents from mining are used to finance recurrent, not capital expenditure. A broader cost-benefit analysis of large-scale mining that factors in social and environmental costs and includes consultations with the affected communities needs to be undertaken before granting future production licences” [4].
The suffering and agony of farmers and local communities affected by large scale surface mining and who have seen little benefits of mining to date was captured in a study by a Ghanaian scholar Jasper Ayelazuno in 2011. One female farmer from Dumasi in the Western Region told him:
“There is one important thing for us as peasant women in this village that I must mention. We are not educated to get a different job so we depend solely on our land. When we go to the forest, we can fetch firewood free for our own energy needs and to sell for income. But what has the Ghanaian state done? It has given all our land to the white man to mine for gold; and not to do underground mining but surface mining, destroying all our arable lands. In the midst of all this, I cannot say the state of Ghana is good to me or responsive to me. On top of that, the Ghanaian state has given the white man the authority to do whatever they want to us: I have my own land and I cannot have access to it; my water sources (the streams) have been polluted, etc. Up till date, the Ghanaian state has not come to our aid, either to check these mining activities or to provide us with potable water since the mines have polluted our water sources. For me, there is nothing that the Ghanaian state can do for me to view it as a responsive state; so both the past and present government have not helped us” [5].
Since the days of privatisation, more than 50,000 farmers have been displaced by the mining companies who continue to refuse to pay satisfactory compensation to the farmers. While a cocoa farmer could earn $25 a year from a single cocoa tree, mining companies only pay about $8 per tree when they cut the cocoa trees for their mining operations. The economic life of a cocoa tree is between 40 and 50 years [6]. This means most cocoa farmers lose between $1000 and $1250 per a cocoa tree. If this is multiplied by 50 or 100 cocoa trees the financial loss to a farmer could be between $50,000 and $125,000. This injustice is allowed to happen to cocoa farmers because of the mining companies’ closeness to Ghana’s elites. These facts and realities are hardly acknowledged by the torch-bearers of ECG privatisation.
The privatisation of ECG will not be different from what is happening in the mining sector, in fact its impact on Ghana may be far more severe because of electricity’s strategic role in the economy. ECG is a strategic asset, meaning it constitutes a vital part of Ghana’s economy and hence its security. For instance, a private company distributing electricity could decide to sabotage the economy by failing to distribute power to critical sectors of the economy.
One of the reasons why there are constant fuel shortages in Nigeria is due to the fact that import of petroleum products is controlled by few private companies and individuals who sometimes hold the country to ransom by failing to import and distribute fuel. They sometimes create artificial shortage to force prices up just to increase their profit margins. It is this energy and economic security fears which has led Prime Minister Theresa May of UK to kick against China’s involvement of the Hinkely Point C nuclear power project.
From the perspective of the Ghanaian state, the ultimate aim of electricity privatisation is to give consumers lower prices, promote efficiency and reliability, and drive better investment decisions.
But the experience of Australia, United Kingdom and the United States which have implemented electricity privatisation tells the opposite story. In the United Kingdom, the privatisation of electricity has resulted in six big private energy companies dominating the sector including British Gas, Npower, Scottish Power, E.ON, EDF Energy, and Scottish Power and Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE).
The profit-making motive of these companies has led to unusually high prices of energy in the UK. According to Prof Benjamin Sovacool of Vermont University, USA, "from 2004 to 2012 domestic electricity prices increased by more than 75 percent [an increase of more than 9 percent a year] and gas prices increased by 122 percent with gas prices increasing 15 percent from 2011 to 2012". According to the UK's Department of Energy and Climate Change "For several years prices have been the most influential factor in the movements in fuel poverty. Prices have risen at a rate well above that of income". This high energy prices has made electricity unaffordable for many companies, households and families leading to massive rise of households living in fuel poverty. Any time energy prices increase by 1%, more than 40,000 households become fuel poor. As a result, the number of households living in fuel poverty in all of UK has been rising steeply. It rose from more than 2 million in 2003 to more than 3 million in 2007 to more than 5 million in 2009. In fact, in 2009 about 18 percent of all households lived in fuel poverty and it has been estimated that as of 2015 more than 25 percent of households were living in fuel poverty [7].
Thus a combination of low household incomes,extremely high energy prices and high penalties for nonpayment of energy bills has made it difficult to contain the escalating rise in fuel poverty and its socioeconomic implications for millions of households. In fact, thousands of people die of fuel poverty every year especially during the cold winter and hot summer months. Between 2012 and 2013 over 31,000 died [8] while in 2014 over 15,000 people died [9]. Some families have to choose between food and heating and lighting their homes. Despite the presence of well-developed consumer advocacy groups and media campaigns, energy is the second most important factor after housing rent that takes away a large chunk of people’s income. Some families spend more than 10 percent of their monthly income on energy.
In Australia where some states have privatised electricity, Prof John Quiggin, an Economist at University of Queensland who spent 20 years analysing electricity privatisation in Australia points out that in states in Australia where electricity is privatised, "Privatisation has produced no benefits to consumers, but has resulted in large financial losses to the public".
Privatisation has resulted in dramatic rise in electricity prices as well as serious customer dissatisfaction and complaints. He observed that “Privatisation, corporatisation and the creation of competitive electricity markets were supposed to give consumers lower prices and more choice, promote efficiency and reliability, and drive better investment decisions for new generation and improved transmission and distribution networks. [Instead] prices have risen dramatically. A secure low-cost supply has been replaced with a bewildering array of offers, all at costs inflated by a huge expansion in marketing” [10].
His findings which is contained in a report titled “Electricity Privatisation in Australia: A Record Failure” include the following:
"Prices— have reversed their declining trend, and are highest in privatised States. Since the NEM [National Energy Market] was introduced, prices from 2005 have risen sharply.
"Quality — customer dissatisfaction has risen markedly since the NEM, profoundly for privatised States, where complaints to the relevant energy ombudsmen have grown from 500 per year to over 50,000’. ‘Reliability— has declined across a wide range of measures in Victoria [state], notwithstanding increased “physical audits” and expensive financial “market incentive” programs.
"Efficient investment — has not occurred, as the pricing mechanisms have not delivered coherent signals for optimal investment.’ ‘Efficient operation— resources have been diverted away from operational functions to management and marketing, resulting in higher costs and poorer service…The NEM and privatisation have reduced real labour productivity, as employment and training of tradespeople have been gutted and the numbers of less productive managerial and sales staff have exploded."
Consumers bear the cost of private owners’ debts— ‘In privatised States, customers’ bills include the cost of almost 10% per annum interest on the corporate owners’ debt on the electricity assets. This compares to government borrowing costs of closer to 3%. The NEM has mimicked these exorbitant borrowing costs to all customers.’ Private owners are receiving unjustifiably high rates of return based on the low investment risk — ‘The high rates of return to private owners for the low investment risk is unjustifiable and irresponsible. The private owners of price-regulated distribution assets have outperformed almost all investment classes, by making post-tax real rates of returns close to 10% annually since 2006.’
The examples from Australia and United Kingdom indicate that privatising ECG could deepen socio-economic inequality because affordability rather than access and needs will be the rule. Private companies, who will put profit-making above everything else, will use price increase as a strategy to make huge profits. They will expect Ghanaians to bear the cost of their investment through price hikes. Not all consumers in Ghana will be able to afford the huge price hikes. Electricity could even become a luxury commodity allowing those with the means to buy to live, leaving those without the means to live without it, with serious socio-economic consequences for them and their families. As Ghana seeks the best way to produce and distribute electricity, policymakers must know that privatisation is not always the answer and in Ghana’s case will be unbeneficial.
[1] Handley, A. (2007) ‘Business, Government, and the Privatisation of the Ashanti Goldfields Company in Ghana’ Canadian Journal of African Studies, 41:1, 1-37 (see pp 8 and 12)
[2] UNCTAD (2003) ‘Economic Development of Africa: Rethinking the Role of Foreign Direct Investment’ (see page 50)
[3] The Economist (2010) ‘Carats and sticks: mining in Ghana’ The Economist, 3 April 2010.
[4] World Bank (2003) ‘An assessment of the performance of Mining in Ghana’;$file/ppar_26197.pdf (see page 23)
[5] Ayelazuno, J (2011) ‘Continuous primitive accumulation in Ghana: the real-life stories of dispossessed peasants in three mining communities, Review of African Political Economy, 38:130, 537-550’ (see pp. 544-5),
[6] Tickner, V. (2008) ‘Africa: International Food Price Rises & Volatility’, Review of African Political Economy, 35:117, 508-514 (see page 4)
[7] Sovacool, B.K. (2013) 'Energy and Ethics: Justice and the global energy challenge'
[8] The Telegraph (2013) ‘Energy row erupts as winter deaths spiral 29 per cent to four year high of 31,000’
[9] The Independent (2015) ‘Fuel poverty killed 15,000 people last winter’ 30 April 2015
[10] Quiggin, J. (2014) ‘Electricity privatisation in Australia: A record of failure’ 20 February, 2014

Friday, 13 January 2012

Oil and Gas at Ghana-Ivorian border: conflict or cooperation?

By Lord Aikins Adusei

The West African sub region and indeed the African continent is no stranger to conflicts and disputes over natural resources. The diamond conflict in Sierra Leone in the 1990s and the recent Niger Delta oil and gas conflicts in Nigeria are few examples of how resources have fuelled conflicts in the sub-region.

In the 1980s and 1990s Nigeria and Cameroon clashed several times over oil and gas resources in the Bakassi Peninsula. The conflict was later settled by the International Court of Justice in The Hague, but not after several people have been killed. The conflict over gas and oil resources emanated from among other things the need by both countries to keep their territorial sovereignty intact, ensure energy and human security, economic survival including the need to benefit financially from the sale of the resources.

Recently in Ghana the media have reported that Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), which shares maritime border with Ghana, is making claims to parts of the sea where Ghana has recently discovered oil. The report saw Ghanaians pouring in on online chat rooms and radio discussions in solidarity of their country. They condemned the Ivorian claims as opportunistic.

Mr. Collins Dauda, Ghana's Lands and Natural Resources Minister buttressing the point that Ivorians are being opportunistic argued that there was no maritime dispute between Ghana and Ivory Coast, and that both countries had always respected the median line until oil and gas was found in the Ghana part of the maritime border. “All of a sudden, with the oil find, Ivory Coast is making a claim that is disrespecting this median line we have all respected. In which case we would be affected or the oil find will be affected” the Minister claimed.
Mr. Dauda was right about his 'no maritime dispute' statement. Ghana and Ivory Coast have been good neighbours ever since both countries gained independence. Both nations are trading partners. There is no memory of a major armed confrontation between the two sister nations. In 2011 Ghana even torpedoed efforts by regional bloc ECOWAS to invade Ivory Coast after the disputed elections. The government of Ghana argued at that time that war was not necessary and that dialogue should be used to settle the electoral dispute. When conflict finally erupted after France and UN joined the Alassan Quattara forces, Ghana became home to Ivorians who fled the conflict. Recently when I visited Sekondi-Takoradi, I was told stories of Ghanaians and Ivorians refugees dining and drinking together, confirming that both countries are like one big family.

Yet the recent discovery of oil and gas (both vital strategic commodities essential for the well-being of the global economy) is raising voices in both countries. Some of the hawkish voices are encouraging their governments to protect the sovereignty, territorial integrity and the national interest of their countries using every possible means including the use of the armed forces.

However, I believe that those with moderate voices should let their voices be heard. Of course moderation does not mean that Ivory Coast and Ghana should ignore their national interests. Far from that, however, I believe that such national interests can be pursued democratically and diplomatically without agonising the populations in both countries and endangering the fragile peace in the sub-region.

Fortunately, both Ivory Coast and Ghana are leading and respected members of ECOWAS as well as the Africa Union and could use these regional institutions to peacefully settle any disputes they may have.

Additionally there is international framework of rules, regulations, conventions, laws and institutions which determine who is entitled to which asset on land and on the sea bed. Such regulations and framework also provide clear rules and guidelines as to how disputes could be determined or settled in international courts. I am sure both Ivory Coast and Ghana are signatory to some of these international conventions and should use them to address their concerns.

Aside using diplomacy and international legal system, both countries can choose cooperation: joint exploration, joint development and joint management of the disputed area(s) for the benefit of their countries. There are many examples of such cooperation and joint management around the world including that of China and Japan, and the European Union.

In fact the current European Union was born out of the need to cooperate in pooling and sharing energy and other resources together. In May 1950 Robert Schuman, as French Foreign Minister, proposed that to perpetually eliminate devastating wars from Europe, archrivals France and Germany should pool their coal and steel production together and place it under one High Authority for the benefit of both countries and the rest of Europe. That proposal and its adoption have brought 60 years of political stability and economic prosperity to members of the European Union. Prior to the formation of EU, European countries fought several wars over resources including two world wars which were partly fought over access to resources.

The West Africa Power Pool and the West Africa Gas Pipeline coming from Nigeria to Togo, to Benin and to Ghana also serve as good examples on how the countries can share resources for their common good. There is nothing that prevents Ghana and Ivory Coast to follow these examples of cooperating to share resources for their own good.

In other words no matter the scale of the maritime boundary dispute, it can be settled by means of arbitration, negotiation or cooperation.

Besides, Ivory Coast and Ghana live in an interdependent region with common non-traditional security threats including militancy, piracy, drug and human trafficking, terrorist attacks, poverty, food and health insecurity, environmental pollution, climate change, and deadly diseases such as HIV/AIDS. These problems demand a common, unified response and should make war between the two countries undesirable.

Ivorians and Ghanaians must remember that resources do not necessary bring conflict, people do and the people who advocate for conflict do so because of their interests. Much of the effort to solve the dispute will depend on the political and the military leadership as well as other groups (companies and individuals) with interest in the oil and gas resources in the area.

Therefore the leadership of both countries must demonstrate mutual political trust. They must show their commitment to dialogue and respect for international law and political structures within their countries and the sub-region; and they must discard any realist zero-sum perceptions they may have and approach the border dispute with openness, fairness and mutual respect.

One critical element vital to avoiding any conflict or preventing conflict from escalating is communication. Ghana and Ivory Coast must establish communication at the ministerial and possibly at the presidential level. Similar communication and hotlines should be established at the military level and between the military chiefs of both countries so that should any skirmishes accidentally happen between the armies at the border the confidence could quickly be restored.

The citizens in Ghana and Ivory Coast also have a major role to play. While they may be the ultimate beneficiary of the resources, they may also be victims should the dispute become confrontational. Therefore the citizens must encourage their political leaders to use the available international laws, conventions and channels to resolve the differences peacefully. In short both countries need not waste vital human and material resources to engage in conflicts that can be resolved diplomatically or through arbitration and cooperation.

However, if both countries choose to war-war instead of to jaw-jaw then it is important to point out to them the ramifications of having to engage in a dangerously competitive and ruthlessly conflictual exercise. For example such conflictual exercise has potential to send West Africa back to the days of low investment, low economic growth, high inflation, huge external debts, human displacements and poverty.

Unnecessary military adventure will not only lead to human casualties, but also lead to huge military expenditure which will be a drain on the economy and may lead to huge external debts whose payment will have negative impact on the performance of both economies.

From a regional perspective a war between the two countries will have a strong adverse effect on economic performance of the entire sub-region, particularly the neighbouring landlocked countries of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, which rely on the transportation systems of Ghana and Ivory Coast for most of their export and imports. In other words regional trade, economic growth and stability could be disrupted and might take the region decades to recover.

This is why dialogue, diplomacy, arbitration and cooperation should be seriously considered.

By Lord Aikins Adusei

Thursday, 24 November 2011

France: A vampire and a deposit box for Africa's looted funds?

Nicolas Sarkozy, French President
Nicolas Sarkozy, French President
Thus when corrupt African dictators, public officials and top civil servants dishonestly empty the treasuries of their poor countries they find western allies who are willing and cooperative to hide the looted funds. ...The Bongos also showered French business elites with business contracts in Gabon, and as if that was not enough Omar Bongo also showered French politicians with financial gifts that only came to light after his death.

By Lord Aikins Adusei

On June 21st 2010 Ms. Christine Lagarde, former French Finance Minister and current IMF Chief and Ms. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, World Bank Group's Managing Director and former Finance Minister of Nigeria wrote an article which was posted on Project Syndicate website captioned 'No Safe Havens for Dirty Money'. In their article they argued that tax havens, looted funds, bribery, and corruption hurt poor countries more and that the global financial crisis has served to show that there is little tolerance for people who cheat. To them both high income and particularly low income countries will benefit if everyone plays by the rules adding that 'Corruption – under any form or circumstance – is a cancer that cripples developed and developing economies alike. It undermines economic growth. It is a crime that produces particularly damaging consequences in the developing world'. “Everyone must play by the rules” in order to save the world from the current difficult economic and financial situation.

The people in low income countries, according to Lagarde and Okonjo-Iweala, want to see an end to the corrupt financial havens that allow corrupt officials to steal public money and stash it abroad. They submitted that the impunity for this type of global crime can no longer be tolerated: 'Abuse of public authority for private gain is not acceptable'. They added that there is the urgent need to foster openness and transparency in financial transactions and to ensure accountability at the global level.

In March 2010 Global Financial Integrity (GFI), a Washington based anti corruption group published a report titled “Illicit Financial Flows from Africa: Hidden Resource for Development”. The report estimated that between 1970 and 2008 Africa lost about $854 billion through trade mispricing. The GFI report added that the figure of the illicit financial outflows could have gone as high as 1.8 trillion dollars if components such as mispricing of services and smuggling had been included.

Global Financial Integrity has argued that a large portion of this massive illicit money leaving Africa finds its way into Europe and North America through a network of opaque global financial system comprising tax havens, secrecy jurisdictions, disguised corporations, anonymous trust accounts, fake foundations, trade mispricing, and money laundering techniques. A key component of this huge illegal money transfers is the stealing of public money by corrupt officials. These public monies, usually proceeds from sale of natural resources, loans contracted from World Bank, IMF and grants are meant to help the poor countries fight and end human suffering, end poverty; put children in school; end energy poverty; build hospitals; provide potable water; promote food security and provide badly needed retroviral drugs to people living with HIV and AIDS.

The stolen monies are welcomed by the banks in Europe notably those in France, Switzerland, Britain,and Luxemburg. In most cases little or no due diligence is followed and most of the banks appear to advise and encourage their so called clients on how to invest their monies in order to avoid being detected. The Levin Report of 2010 prepared by a committe of the the US Senate revealed that Britain, Switzerland, United States and France are known to be major recipients of these stolen public monies from Africa. These rich countries have been seriously involved in shady deals with Africa's political elite who are amassing wealth at the expense of the welfare of their populations. The conditions of secrecy created in countries such as France, Switzerland, Britain and Luxemburg enable African leaders to steal with impunity and deposit their ill-gotten wealth in these jurisdictions. Thus when corrupt African dictators, public officials and top civil servants dishonestly empty the treasuries of their poor countries they find western allies who are willing and cooperative to hide the looted funds. The case of Alpine nation of Switzerland as a safe haven for Africa's looted funds is known worldwide. Switzerland has been described as a parasite feeding on poor African and Third World countries because for more than half a century it has 'built a reputation as the world's centre for tax evasion, fraud accounting, money laundering, racketeering and a staunch ally of corrupt third world leaders and a great beneficiary of third world corruption'. Over the last six decades or more various categories of persons including presidents, popes, prime ministers, corrupt dictators, wealthy business men, and drug dealers have all used and benefited from the banking secrecy laws of Switzerland'.

However, when it comes to France very little is known about how it has successfully milked African countries and created massive poverty in its former colonies. Very little is known because of the eagerness of the French media and the judiciary to protect illegal financial operations of French politicians and members of the business fraternity. The French media, the French prosecution office and the judiciary have all turned a blind eye to the adulterous relationship between French politicians and French business leaders on one hand and the political entities in Africa on the other. Since the 1960s France has connived, aided and abetted African leaders to plunder the treasuries of their countries for safe keeping in France and to buy luxurious properties in French cities.

This corrupt behaviour of the French establishment is what makes the article by Lagarde and Okonjo-Iweala on 'No Safe Havens for Dirty Money' is interesting. It is interesting in sense that while the content of the article and its conclusion are in the right direction it is also laden with hypocrisy, double standards and pretence on the part of the authors and the entities they represent. For example in their article Lagarde and Okonjo-Iweala praised France and the United States for pushing G-20 countries to adopt tougher financial regulation, and for promoting governance, and accountability aim at safeguarding the world's economy. However, while praising France Lagarde and Okonjo-Iweala failed to tell the world about how France has encouraged corruption and mismanegement in Africa and continues to do so despite the fact that such corrupt activities are hurting the poor in Africa.

Christine Lagarde for instance was the Minister of Finance in France and a key cabinet member in the President Nicolas Sarkozy's government. As a Finance Minister she was in a powerful position to fight corruption and bribery and end the practice where her country has become a safe haven for Africa's looted assets, but she and her government did nothing to stop France from becoming the deposit box of Africa's dirty money. French President Nicolas Sarkozy promised in 2006 to change the adulterous relationship between France and her former colonies in Africa so as to bring an end to the massive corruption and dictatorship sometimes engineered and supported by the French state, but almost four years after taking office he has done little if not nothing to follow through his campaign promise.

France continues to serve as a haven for looted African resources with the encouragement of French politicians, businessmen and banking officials. They continue to encourage corrupt African leaders to steal from their poor countries and hide their loot in French Banks. France continues to serve as a paradise for corrupt African leaders where they enjoy their loot after leaving office and the French authorities are quick and too willing to entertain them despite the growing call for France to take action against them.

France and the Bongos of Gabon

The most important discussion on how France has served as Africa's angel of death devouring African economies and turning rich resource countries into pariah states could be seen from Gabon. The late Omar Bongo of Gabon who ruled his country for 41 years was considered one of the corrupt African leaders and was known worldwide to have used his country's oil wealth to buy mansions and other properties in France and to buy political influence and favour from the French ruling class. In 2009 French police investigation uncovered a huge number of properties that were bought by Bongo and his family. In all 33 mansions and other luxurious properties were uncovered. One of the mansions a 21,528 sq ft is located at Rue de la Baume near to the Elysee Palace the home of the French presidency. According to the Sunday Times in UK, the investigation also uncovered nine other properties in Paris, four of which are on the exclusive Avenue Foch near the Arc de Triomphe. Bongo was also reported to have a further seven properties in Nice, including four villas, one of which has a swimming pool. The late Edith and wife of Omar Bongo, until her death still had two flats near the Eiffel Tower and another property in Nice.

Omar Bongo together with his family had 70 bank accounts in France from which several properties worth millions of dollars were bought from. Omar Bongo and his relatives also bought a fleet of limousines, including a £308,823 Maybach for Edith. Payment of some of the cars was directly taken from the treasury of Gabon. The Sunday Times in UK reported that until her death Edith had over 75 million dollars stashed in banks in French Monaco. The same Edith used a cheque drawn on an account owned by Gabon treasury to buy the £308,823 Maybach in February 2004. “Bongo's daughter Pascaline, 52, used a cheque from the same account for a part-payment of £29,497 towards a £60,000 Mercedes two years later. Bongo bought himself a Ferrari 612 Scaglietti F1 in October 2004 for £153,000, while his son Ali Bongo (now Gabon president) acquired a Ferrari 456 M GT in June 2001 for £156,000”. French police investigations indicate that this lifestyle of profligacy was supported by leading French banks.

The current President of Gabon Ali Bongo, son of Omar Bongo has continued the corrupt empire his father created with French politicians and the business elite. Canard Enchainé, a French satiric newspaper reported on the eve of the 2010 France-Afrique conference in Paris that Ali Bongo had purchased a hundred million euro property in Paris. The property located on the University street has been described as "one of the most beautiful" in the heart of Paris. Canard Enchainé noted that the building covers a space of 4,500 square metres with the garden covering 3,700 square metres. "The 100 million euros does not include other expenditure to be made for the renovation and maintenance work which could take a third of Gabon's GDP".

The sad thing is that major investigations uncovering huge financial irregularities in France on the part of the Bongos have been shelved. The investigations have been shelved because French authorities believe that if they move against the Bongos they (the Bongos) may retaliate by punishing French businesses in Gabon and deny them access to the lucrative oil deals. Till today not a penny of the millions of dollars of Gabonese money believed to have been stolen by Bongo and hiding in French banks has been returned. This is what brings the hypocrisy of French politicians like Lagarde out clearly. While shouting 'No safe havens for dirty money' at the same time they are keeping billions of such monies in their banks with no indication that they are ever going to return them.

One of the most notable quotes of Omar Bongo was: “Gabon without France is like a car with no driver. France without Gabon is like a car with no fuel”. That is how Bongo saw the corrupt relationship that existed between him and his international friends in France.

Apart from directly stealing money meant for the development of Gabon and stashing it in French banks with full knowledge and support of French elites, the Bongos also showered French business elites with business contracts in Gabon, and as if that was not enough Omar Bongo also showered French politicians with financial gifts that only came to light after his death. Bongo is believed to have used proceeds from his country's oil to finance the election campaign of a number of French politicians and then used those politicians to help him secure his dictatorship in Gabon and also to protect his stolen assets in France. According to Henry Samuel of the Telegraph newspaper in the UK, former French Presidents Jacque Chirac and François Mitterrand are among a host of French politicians who are alleged to have received illegal payments from Bongo. According to former French president Valerie Giscard d'Estaing, the late Omar Bongo spent years building up a very questionable financial network with politicians in France. This financial network deprived the people of Gabon access to the basic necessities of life including food, water, housing, electricity, health and education.

In 2001 Pierre Mario, former head of French intelligence acknowledged that Bongo used money stolen from his poverty stricken country to pay subsidies to French political parties and politicians. He noted that "the subsidies of Bongo serve everyone at the time of French elections and create a sort of backward colonialism". The irony of the situation is that while Omar Bongo saw nothing wrong with how he mismanaged Gabon oil revenue to enrich himself and his cronies, France also saw nothing wrong on how a president of its former colony squandered money on properties and on politicians in France.

To achieve their so called foreign policy objectives French politicians and business elite encouraged Bongo to amass wealth meant for the development of his country. France also used the entire arsenal available to her (including military and intelligence) to make sure her so called national interest was not threatened. France offered military, political and other support to Omar Bongo which effectively enabled him to remain a dominant figure for 42 years in Gabon. The French military base in Gabon for instance was not used only to protect the Bongos but was also used to gather intelligence which France used to effect regime change in her former colonies.

Thus despite his reputation as a corrupt dictator, French politicians routinely entertained and openly showered praises on Bongo for his enthusiastic support for French dubious policies towards Africa most importantly the encouragement of African tyrants to loot and deposit their dirty money in French banks.

Mike Jocktane former aide to Omar Bongo will on Thursday 24th November 2011 publish a book titled "The Scandal of the Ill-gotten Gains". The yet to be published book contains details of how Omar Bongo sent briefcases full of money to Nicolas Sarkozy to help his presidential bid in 2007. According to Mike Jocktane "Omar Bongo helped finance Nicolas Sarkozy's 2007 presidential campaign” and provided him money after the 2007 elections. The financing of Nicolas Sarkozy's presidential campaign by Bongo underscores why Nicolas Sarkozy, current French President, made Gabon his first point of call in Africa apparently to thank Omar Bongo for his financial support. Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy described Bongo as a 'great and loyal friend of France' but he (Bongo) has been denounced for working for, himself, his family, France and local elites and not for Gabon and its poor people. Eva Joly, European Union Member of Parliament and a former French investigating magistrate who investigated the Elf corruption scandal has argued that Omar Bongo represented only himself and the interest of his associates in France and not the people of Gabon. “He (Bongo) was a president who didn't care about his citizens. He served France's interests and French politicians well. The oil boom did not benefit the Gabonese. It benefited us (French citizens). France has a great debt toward Gabon for having kept Bongo in power all these years”. According to Eva Joly despite an oil-led GDP per capita which was equivalent to that of Portugal's GDP, Gabon built only 5 km of freeway a year and still had one of the world's highest infant mortality rates by the time of his death in 2009.

France and other African dictators

However, it is not only the Bongos in Gabon who have used France as a safe haven for their ill gotten wealth and who are being protected by the French state. Paul Biya of Cameroon, Dos Santos of Angola, Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo Republic, Blaise Campore of Burkina Faso and Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea have made headlines in recent years for using France as a fortress for their corrupt dealings. For example Denis Sassou Nguesso, according to French police investigation has 24 properties, one hundred and twelve (112) bank accounts and fleet of cars in France. It is believed that these numerous bank accounts contain hundreds of millions of dollars of money siphoned from the coffers of his resource rich but economically impoverished country.

In 2011 French police seized 11 luxurious cars worth $5 million from the home of spoil-child Obiang Mangue son of Equatorial Guinea's dictator Obiang Nguema. The point is that there are so many stolen African assets hidden in France if when returned to the countries of origin could make some of them the richest countries on the planet.

Like Switzerland, France has carved a name for herself as a protector and supporter of corrupt African dictators and a beneficiary of their illicit activities. However, unlike Switzerland which has embarked on a journey of image rehabilitation by repatriating some of the money deposited in her crook banks, France has shown no interest in doing such a thing. The military support France usually provide her client dictators in Africa has not only promoted dictatorships, human rights abuse, conflicts and corruption but has also undermined democracy, good governance, rule of law, economic development, food security and poverty reduction. Thus France's obscure and deadly African policies have produced a situation where the people of Africa have been deprived of resources that could have enabled the citizens to enjoy good standard of living.

Through the actions of its military, the courts, politicians and business leaders, France indirectly and directly has encouraged dictators in Africa to loot the coffers of their poor countries and deposit the loot in French banks. French cities are washed with properties bought by corrupt African leaders using monies they have stolen from their impoverished countries. French political and business leaders consider these African leaders as friends and allies. The corrupt French political and business establishment annually throw lavish parties at the French presidency for their African friends while the corrupt African leaders reciprocate with banquets during which African resources are auctioned to French corporations without a price. France has been a willing accomplice to the day light robbery taking place in Gabon, Cameroon, Angola, Congo-Brazzaville, Mali, Guinea, Chad, and many parts of French-speaking Africa and has become a deposit box for dirty money and assets stolen from the African people.

Therefore the chorus 'No Safe Havens for Dirty Money' being sung by Christine Lagarde of the IMF and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala must be played to French politicians, business elites, the banks, the property sector and the corporations, for charity they say begins at home.

By Lord Aikins Adusei
The author is a political activist and anti corruption campaigner

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Africa's military must be a force for stability, peace, prosperity and positive change

Civilians always bear the brunt of military excesses in Africa

A reflection of the role of the army in the past
The Arab Uprising in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya as well as the recent deadly civil war in Ivory Coast have shown the paradoxes within the Africa military establishment. The uprising and wars have brought to the fore how the military in Africa could be a force for peace, stability and prosperity and at the same time a force for destabilization, chaos, mayhem and destruction. In Egypt the army won the respect of not only Egyptians but also the entire world when they refused to slaughter their countrymen in their thousands. They realised that it would be sensible for Hosni Mubarak and his sons to leave the throne of power rather than butcher thousands of their own people. However, in Libya and Ivory Coast the army chose to side with the powers that be and subjected their own people to extreme brutalities. When the military in Africa is critically examined not too many positive things can be associated with it.

The role of the military everywhere, Africa included, is not to rule but to secure the democratic institutions; protect the territorial integrity of their nations; and prevent outside predators from preying them.

Unfortunately in Africa the armies have ignored their traditional mandate of safeguarding the territorial integrity of their nations and have adopted positions that have been detrimental to Africa's development and progress. Like the German army that raped, tortured and killed six million Jews in the 1940s, the armies in Africa have been associated with extreme barbarity, massacre, rape, torture, genocide, summary executions, economic sabotage, infringement of civil liberty, dictatorship, corruption, pillage, force imprisonment, social havoc, brute force, political instability, usurpation of constitutions, reversal of democratic values including the overthrow of constitutionally elected governments.

According to Patrick J. McGowan of the Arizona State University, between January 1956 and December 2001 the African military carried out more than 80 successful coups, another 108 failed coups, and 139 attempted and reported coup plots.

It is difficult to find a single country in Africa where the armed forces and the security institutions have not had excesses against the country and the civilian population. From Algeria to Zimbabwe, the militaries in Africa have become a destabilising force preventing Africa from catching up with the rest of the world. In South Africa and Namibia where apartheid was brutally and religiously enforced for by the white minority government, the armed forces were the enforcing power. The genocide that took place in Rwanda in 1994 which resulted in the death of some 800,000 people could not have taken place without the strategic involvement of the armed forces. The horrors of the Biafra war in which tens of thousands of Nigerians especially Igbos died was made possible by the incursion of the military into civilian rule.

Throughout the continent the military sees itself as alternative to civilian rule, a wrong notion that has had profound and devastated impact on Africa's development and progress.

Immediately after independence many of the armies in Africa joined forces with American and European intelligence agencies to forcefully overthrow governments that they were mandated to protect. Throughout the 1960s,1970s, 1980s and even 1990s the armies in Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Central African Republic, Somalia, DRC and Algeria among others took their countries hostage and reversed decades of economic, social and political progress. In Ghana despite the massive economic and social infrastructural projects carried out by Kwame Nkrumah's government the military connived with Western imperialists and abruptly stopped Nkrumah's effort to industrialise the country. In the process they helped to reverse the many successes that were chalked under Nkrumah's presidency. Ghana today is still struggling to attain a middle income status while her contemporaries like South Korea and Malaysia enjoy one of the best standards of living in the world.

Since Egypt became a republic in 1953 the army has been in power most of the time with Gen Hosni Mubarak in charge for 30 years until the people's revolution swept him aside in 2011. During his 30 year reign Egypt, its leadership and its institutions became more corrupt, and inequality between the people and the ruling elite and their cronies widened exponentially. In the early years of her independence the Egyptian army adhered to its original role and fought aggressively against British, French and Israeli invasion but after Mubarak came to power the army as they have done everywhere on the continent, increasingly turned its attention to its citizens treating them as if though they were an invasion force. Although there appears to be a revolution in Egypt that effectively ended the dictatorship of Mubarak, but a closer look at the country suggests that there has not been any revolution at all. The army headed by Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, a longtime ally of Mubarak is still in charge. There are reports that the number of civilians tried in military courts has increased under the supposed revolution and that the army is unwilling to relinquish power which is a clear indication that the army still have a disregard for democracy and civil institutions.

The Nigerian armed forces have done more harm than good to their country. The harm which begun in January 1966 ushered in a period of brutalities, assassinations, coups, counter coups, civil war, official corruption, human right violation, economic decline, and impunity that the country has still not recovered from. Dubbed Africa's sleeping giant because of her economic and political potential, Nigeria is often ridiculed in international circles and is now considered a failed state thanks to the role of its military. Since independence in 1960 there have been six major coups in the country with most of the country's 50 years of independence being ruled by corrupt military dictators. By metamorphosing and constituting itself into civil and political power and entrenching corruption and impunity the armed forces of Nigeria helped to lay the foundation for what has become a hopeless and desperate security situation in the country. Since oil was discovered, the armed forces have backed corrupt multinational corporations like Royal Shell that are destroying Nigeria's environment and endangering the livelihoods of millions of people in the Niger Delta region. The threat of the military taking over power was heightened when Omaru Yar'Dua died and even the current administration lives in fear of the armed forces as is indicated by a recent speech by Nigeria's vice President. In the speech he pleaded with the army to respect the constitution and remain loyal to the government.

Col Al Gaddafi of Libya toiled for 42 years to develop Libya into the Switzerland of Africa but used seven months to destroy what he painstakingly helped to build. Despite the good works he did in Africa he also supervised a government based on terror, fear, intimidation, torture, imprisonment, assassinations, terrorism and killings. In the spring of 2011 the Libyan army under the command of Gaddafi and his sons were in fact ready to slaughter their own citizens in order to maintain their grip on power until they were crashed by the rebels but not until 25,000 Libyans have been sacrificed. In Ivory Coast, Gen Robert Gay and Laurent Gbagbo both used the military to achieve their political ambitions and succeeded in plunging one of Africa's successful economies into civil war that killed about 3000 people and shattered the economic successes of the country.

The security forces in the Horn of Africa remain one of the feared armies on the continent. Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia and Isaiah Afeweki of Eritrea and their security architecture continue to engage in wars, kidnapping, assassination, torture and imprisonment of people critical of their regime. Many Eritreans and Ethiopians are freeing their countries in their thousands to escape the brutalities of the forces. In Cameroon the feared military unit called Jean Damme has been used by Paul Biya to intimidate and terrorise the civilian population rather than protecting them from the dictatorship of Biya.

Uganda's Iddi Amin and his henchmen seized power and begun deporting Asian business owners destroyed the country's economy. Museve's 25 year dictatorship has not helped to place the country on the path of economic prosperity, social cohesion and cultural advancement. In Ethiopia Mengistu and his army officers succeeded in turning the country into a country of hunger, famine and total destitution. The sad story of Somalia where a brutal civil war is still ongoing was the making of Siad Barre and his military dictatorship that begun in 1969 and ended in 1991.

The military in Togo and Guinea have had their faire share of the atrocities suffered by Africa and her citizens. The military in both countries have engaged in repression, massacre, corruption, and reversal of freedoms. In Guinea for example Lansana Conte and his bunch of military officers ruled the country as their personal fiefdom for more than two decades and succeeded in reducing the country to a beggar state despite being rich in gold, bauxite and other minerals. In September 2009 the Captain Moussa Camara military government that took over power when Lansana Conte died succeeded in shooting, stabbing, assaulting, raping women and massacring 157 innocent members of their own population. The New York Times describes Guinea as a "lush coastal nation of 10 million, rich in minerals and tropical fruits". The country is "dark at night from lack of electricity, has known harsh dictators and army shooting sprees in its 51 years of independence". In Togo also Gen Eyadema retarded the country's development for 32 years until his death in 2005. The army quickly installed his son as his successor to ensure that the legacy of corruption of the father continues.

Gen Mobutu Sese Seku's Zaire (now DRC) suffered the same fate as any of the African countries mentioned above. Backed by his country's armed forces, the United States and her European allies, Gen Mobutu made poverty and corruption one of the entrenched symbols of his country. For 32 years he led the armed forces to turn their guns on Zairians killing as many as he could and stealing billions of dollars worth of DRC assets and stacking them in American and European banks. The DRC army has been accused of rape, extortion of money from civilians and killing them. The DRC armed forces are considered one of the most indisciplined armies in the whole of Africa. Since the late 1990s more than five million Congolese have perished in the hands of the military, the various rebel groups, and Rwanda and Uganda armed forces.

The brutal and dictatorial regimes of Blaise Campore of Burkina Faso, Yahya Jammeh of the Gambia, Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea, Dos Santos of Angola, Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo Republic; their abysmal economic performance; and the inability of the people to raise their voice have been made possible through their alliance with the military who have been used as war dogs to pounce on the populace and deny them economic, political, social and cultural freedom. The so called strong men of Africa have been able to bring Africa to economic and political standstill because of their use of the armed forces and other security institutions to instill fear in the population. Today Africa remains the only continent where military dictatorship and dictatorial regimes backed by the army is still dominant. In other words the military in Africa have been largely a distracting force. In the name of national security which can be interpreted as regime protection these military governments implemented oppressive dictatorial laws that turned their own citizens into slaves without rights.

Surrounded by their kind these army officers like Sani Abacha, Ibrahim Babangida, Hosni Mubarak, Gaddafi, Jerry Rawlings, Iddi Amin, were never and have never been concerned about the welfare of the people but rather their stomach and there is enough evidence to proof it. The evidence about how Africa has suffered in the hands of the military is clear when countries like Nigeria, Ghana, and Libya are considered. From Sani Abacha who stole more than 3 billion dollars in five years, to Mobutu who bankrupt Zaire, to Hosni Mubarak whose ill-gotten wealth was pegged at 75 billion dollars, to Omar Bongo who stole Gabon's money to financed French political parties, to Obiang Nguema, Paul Biya, Blaise Campore, Denis Nguesso, Omar Bongo and Dos Santos accused by civil society organisations of corrupt, flamboyant and extravagance lifestyle the evidence of why Africa is a paralysed continent is clear.

Some of the periods in which the army took over power remain one of the darkest and wasted years in Africa's effort to fight illiteracy, poverty, hunger and diseases. In many of these military takeovers many businessmen and women lost their investments as businesses were confiscated, sold or given to their cronies. In countries like Ghana state owned businesses were sold to cronies and allies of the regime. In Nigeria for instance Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha among others succeeded in draining the country's coffers by using money meant for electricity, education, health, water, roads to buy expensive military machines for their own protection. Gaddafi for example bought several billions of dollars worth of weapons from France and the United Kingdom while cities such as Benghazi were crying for infrastructure.

In most of the countries like Ghana the armed forces have never fought external aggressor rather they have often been used as instrument through which external aggressors (particularly Belgium, Britain, France and United States) get their hold on Africa's resources and their people. The armies in Algeria, Gabon, Egypt, Rwanda, Tunisia and Uganda have been the main instrument through which countries like United States, France, Belgium, have achieved their foreign policy objectives in Africa. France for instance used her troops stationed in Gabon and Senegal to gather intelligence and used the armies in Africa to carry out more than 40 coups against the people of the continent. The billions of dollars that Egyptian armed forces receive from the US annually is the main reason why the armed forces protected the regime of Hosni Mubarak for 30 years because he was seen as useful weapon and counter force against Iran and Iraq.

From a closer look one can easily see why and how Africa (one of the resource endowed continent in the world) has been reduced to a beggar and a desperate hopeless continent. The Armed forces incursion into civil power destroyed economic progress that was made in the early periods of independence. Political, economic and social institutions were destroyed as the armed regimes implemented policies without thinking about their impact. The army backing of the dictatorial regimes such as those in Zimbabwe, Algeria, Equatorial Guinea and Angola has endangered Africa's economic growth as well as her social and political progress.

Wind of Change
There is no doubt Hosni Mubarak and his sons would have been in power and amassing wealth to the detriment of the Egyptian masses if the armed forces had chosen to back them. Unlike Libya where an estimated 25000 souls have perished, the refusal of the armed forces in Egypt to kill protesters at Tahir's Square helped to avoid a possible bloodbath. The armed forces' refusal is a sign of how the army can be a force for good, a force peace, stability and positive change. In Ghana the armed forces are seeking a different role that will not only contribute to improving the overall security situation but also the economic development of the nation. The armed forces in Ghana are considering entering into business ventures. This new concept is an indication of the positive thinking that is emerging in the African security command. These ambitions by the army should be nurtured as it has the potential of helping the armed forces to generate extra money outside the traditional sources. In Rwanda and Uganda the United States is helping the armed forces with training and reorganisation. Though many doubts the real intentions of the United States, it is hoped that such training will inculcate a sense of discipline and professionalism in the psyche of the army and help protect the countries from the instability that have come to defined them.

The 21st Century has come with new security challenges that demand new strategies and tactics. These challenges also demand an army which is well trained and well resourced to respond to the threats and challenges. The emergence of Boko Haram in Bauchi and Borno States in Nigeria, Al Shabaab in Somalia; the threats posed by pirates in West, East and Southern Africa and its impact on the safety of international maritime transport all demands that the army in Africa undergo serious transformation and reorganisation to respond to these emerging threats.

Therefore many of the armies in Africa need reforming to reflect their role in this 21st century and also to respond to the emerging security threats such as piracy and terrorism. Democratic values, human rights, and respect for contitutional order must be at the centre of any training offered to the men and women in uniform. This will help them to understand the need not to derail the wheel of democracy and economic progress being made in Africa. It will help them to be on the side of the people always and not back dictators and power hungry individuals who seek to perpetuate their rule through violence and intimidation.

Rather than seeing itself as an alternative to civil power, the army in Africa must work closely with other security agencies to protect the institutions of governance, democracy, civil liberty and rule of law. Therefore they must not allow themselves to be used by unscrupulous politicians to the detriment of the security and wellbeing of their countries. And they must adhere to their mandate as the protector of the territorial infrastructures of the countries and refrain from acts that destroy the very nations they are supposed to protect. The military must do more to improve their relationship with the citizens of their respect countries. It is not in the interest of the army that they are feared rather than respected by the people. The 21st century global security arrangement demands that the armed forces become more professional, less power hungry and ready to protect the interest of their countries.Africa is bigger than any single individual and the armed forces must ensure that they will not be a bastion for insecurity, but rather a force for economic and political stability, peace, prosperity and positive change.

By Lord Aikins Adusei

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