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Africa Needs Regional Trade
Africa is the only region of the developing world which has not faired better than it was 25 years ago. It has fallen way behind other developing regions, with declining growth rates, increasing poverty, and falling life expectancy.
Rapid growth in China and now India is moving millions of its people out of poverty while Africa continues to slide backward in terms of trade growth. It is on record for instance that Nigeria was much richer than South Korea - same population - 40 years ago. Today, Korea has a per capita income 20 times higher than Nigeria's.
Africa's lacklustre progress in international trade is well known. In 1980, African exports accounted for 6.3% of the world total but today it has gone down to a pitiful 2.5%. The fact is that if Africa scales through the well-talked about market access problems, it may still be a huddle to make much headway due to the serious domestic supply-side constraints. Africa will still have to contend with teething problems such as improving trade facilitation, negative impact of trade liberalisation, building trade capacity and trade financing. It is therefore time for Africa to look inward for its trade solution.
Although we agree that international trade issues such as the protectionism of the rich world is a hindrance, part of the problem in Africa is mismatch in regional trade policy. African policy makers need to put heads together to initiate reforms that will improve its regional trade performance. What is needed now is to place regional trade issues at the forefront of development strategies.
So far, trading between the borders of Africa is far too small for the opportunities available. African countries need to look for trading partners within the continent and get better at it before venturing outside. In the West for instance, countries trade better with their neighbours, removing unnecessary bureaucratic red tapes. There is no reason why Africa cannot do the same between their borders.
With regional trade, Africa will properly build its manufacturing sector as well as increase competitiveness, making it possible for its companies to better sell their goods elsewhere when such issues as protectionism of the rich world is resolved.
Allied with the above is the need for a more efficient infrastructure. Why is it so difficult to have efficient and effective road, rail and air transportation between African countries? Imagine West African ministers that have to attend a crucial meeting in East Africa but have to fly through Europe to get there?
There is wisdom in the saying that charity begins at home!
South Africa Commemorates Reconciliation Day
By Max Ese Anderson & K. Jemael Mohamed
The South Africa Embassy in the Netherlands in collaboration with the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs organised a two-day ‘Consultative Dialogue’ aimed to explore the complex issues of reconciliation, justice, and forgiveness.
*Ambassador Hiengiwe B. Mkhize
Reconciliation, justice, and forgiveness are universal challenges relevant in every continent and country today as ever before, according to the Embassy. It said further that reconciliation is fundamental to the search for peace and security.
“The Truth and Reconciliation Committee was an important base for us in South Africa to examine what went wrong. Why did so many people have to suffer, and die? It our responsibility to make sure that we pass on positive message to the future generations” Ambassador Hiengiwe B. Mkhize told The African Bulletin in an interview.
The Ambassador said the challenge is dealing with imbalances of the past not only for South Africa but the continent as a whole. “We have this inequality which is a reality in education and skills especially everywhere in Africa. In our campaign we must find the meaning and context and put them in perspective for the betterment of the continent. One of former commissioners of South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission warned.
*Cross section of participants
The two-day consultative dialogue held at the Dutch Foreign Ministry from December 15 and 16 last year was attended by cross section of representatives from the government, the diplomatic corps, NGOs, business and religious groups.
The South African Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Sue van der Merwe, opened the seminar through a video message while two prominent South Africans were flown in as special guests and keynote speakers. Mr. Mathatha Tsedu, Editor of City Press and Rev. Allan Boesak, anti-apartheid leader, theologian, church and political leader, spoke on the topics ‘the role of the media in communicating conflicting views of different actors’ and Yesterday was a foreign country’: ‘between the politics of delusion and the politics hope’ respectively.
A release issued by the South Africa Embassy after the seminar said, “Different approaches and the tension between prosecution and forgiveness were discussed in-depth. The International Criminal Court (ICC) offers one approach but there are no clear answers to questions such as who to prosecute (leaders or foot soldiers), and when to criminally prosecute. Some countries draw on traditional models, such as the Gachacha’s of Rwanda.”
The release further mentioned that the consultative dialogued spoke of women and children as principal victims in times of conflict, which ‘Rwanda experience’ is considered as one of the most stark examples
*Max Anderson interviewing Ambassador Mkhize
“It was clear that massive crimes against humanity cannot simply be swept under the carpet. Even in South Africa, despite the success of the Truth and Reconciliation Process, much dissatisfaction still remains”, the release revealed.
Others issues debated at the meeting Holland has a massive immigrant community, many of the Muslim faith, and lack of knowledge, stereotyping, as well as economic challenge. The role of the media, to always retain its independence and to remain true to its calling, remembering that it is “history’s first draft” was emphasized. The meeting placed emphasis on the importance of “Batho Pele” - people first approach ‘practiced in South Africa.
A Few Minutes with Ghana-born Esther Dankwah
When one of TAB editors first made contact with Esther Dankwah, a budding track & field Athlete based in The Netherlands, she sounded very surprised. She reacted by saying, “an interview sounds good but please do not expect too many high political quotes from me. “I am a sports girl with a good heart and high ambitions.”
We did not put any political question that would warrant “high political quotes” to her. We simply talked about sports and related issues.
Miss Dankwah is a very fast sprinter from Ghana and a prominent athlete in the Netherlands. She is the current best 50 and 60 meters indoor sprinter and second-best on the 100 meters outdoor in the country. Below is the excerpt of our chat with this promising African athlete:
TAB: Why did you choose athlete instead of other sports?
TAB: Have you now found your niche in track and field athlete or you have a different goal in mind?
TAB: What kind of physical preparation do you have to put in before a competition?
TAB: How long is your season? How often do you practice and commit to the sport during the year?
TAB: What was it like to win the Junior African Champs 4 x 400 gold medals in 1999?
TAB: After your hat tricks in the African meets in 1999, what have been your best moments?
TAB: Most of your records showed that you are a shorter distance runner; do you have any interest in trying longer distances in the near future?
TAB: How did you become a member of Haag Atheliek team?
TAB: Who is your track and field idol and why?
TAB: How has running affected your social life?
TAB: Do you come from an athletic family and does your family support your career choice?
TAB: You talked about having a good heart and high ambitions. What exactly do
TAB: Thank you, Esther. We wish you the very best.
TAB Columnist Wins Award
Henry Chukwuemeka Onyeama, a regular columnist for The African Bulletin, was one of the winners of the 2005 Commonwealth Broadcasting Association Short Story Competition. His entry, titled THE FINAL DARKNESS, won a highly commended award. (see www.cba.org.uk)
*Henry Chukwuemeka Onyeama
The CBA short story competition is organized annually by the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association. The aim is to promote the Commonwealth through broadcasting high quality short stories submitted by Commonwealth writers. Founded in 1945 as the Commonwealth Broadcasting Conference, it seeks to promote freedom of expression and the right to communication.
Profile: Mohamed Barakat - An Egyptian soccer starlet
By K. Jemael Mohamed
Mohamed Barakat is one of architects the Egyptians hold in high esteem to deliver during the African cup of Nations. The 29-year-old Egyptian club Ahly midfielder who has not succeeded to feature in the five top European leagues is getting international kudos for his skills and talents at the home front.
Mohamed Barakat was voted BBC African Footballer of the Year. The Egyptian in 2002 became his country footballer of the year. Barakat’s outstanding performance with the Egyptian national team ‘Pharaohs’ at the 2002 Nations Cup in Mali brought him to public notice. Since then the midfielder has proven to be among talented African soccer elites.
Unfortunately, Barakat skills on the field have been eluded by major European teams. Barakat former Egyptian club Ismailia wanted him transferred to an English Premiership club Fulham in 2002 for about $2m to curb the financial crisis the club was facing.
The offer to sign the Egyptian sensational was turned down by Fulham‘s owner Mohamed al Fayed. The Egyptian club was informed that Fulham team was complete.
The Egyptian was never deterred to show his knack of scoring that put his club in their 50-plus unbeaten run. Barakat, described by his coach, reported by BBC Sports; “He is very good playing in two different positions, in midfield and as a forward.
Mohamed Barakat had the opportunity for short spells with Saudi Arabian club Ahli Jeddah and Qatari side Al Arab and later joined the Red Devils.
The Midfielder returned to Egypt to play for Club Ahly after reaching a good deal with the club. Barakat told FIFA.Com “I received a better offer and as a professional player I should always look out for myself and my family. After a while I realized it was time to return home especially and Ahly offered me a good deal.”
Barakat is turning his disappointment of not playing in Europe into a success story at home. He has had an incredible impact on clubs that have signed him.
The skilful Egyptian midfielder who helped Club Ismailia to the Egyptian National League title for its third time in their history is been credited for his present club Ahly winning the African Champions League title.
Barakat leads his national team ‘Pharaohs’ as of the architects the Egyptians count on to win the African Cup of Nations title.
"Barakat is a very skilled player. He is the key player in the team and its spirit as well," BBC Sports quoted Ahly’s Coach Manuel Jose.
Egypt will need the midfielder’s fast, direct and adroit skills coupled with his strength and organizational qualities for the national team.
The African cup of Nations 2006 in Egypt is a perfect stage for Mohamed Barakat to show what his coach said he has –‘talent, skill, spirit and intelligence.
The first Egyptian to win BBC African Footballer of the Year has become a brightest home-based star. Barakat displaying his qualities at the nations’ cup competition in Egypt will definitely win him his European debut.
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