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Ethiopia Wants Its Looted Artifacts Returned And London Gives Interesting Response

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With the pillage of the African continent through colonialism and the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, a lot of artifacts and items of cultural heritage originating from various nations are showcased till this day at museums and displays around the world.

For years, debates of repatriating looted objects have been ongoing in Europe and the United States with movements like those lobbying British institutions for the return of Nigerian bronze artifacts looted from the Benin kingdom in 1897, only generating talks to return some of them last year, while President Emmanuel Macron of France recently made the return of African artifacts  “a top priority” for his country, saying that “African heritage can’t just be in European private collections and museums.”

Ethiopia, the East African nation located in the Horn of Africa, filed a formal restitution claim in 2007 asking that the UK return hundreds of ancient artifacts and manuscripts taken in 1868 during the capture of Maqdala, the mountain capital of Emperor Tewodros II in what was then Abyssinia.

According to the Association For the Return of the Maqdala Ethiopian Treasures (AFROMET), only 10 of the 468 items known to have been seized at Maqdala have been returned, with about 80 of those items kept in the British Museum’s collection including a number of tabots believed by Ethiopian Christians to be the dwelling place of God on earth, a symbol of the Ark of the Covenant.

Crown, probably made in Gondar, Ethiopia, around 1740. Museum no. M.27-2005. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

London Responds

The Ethiopian government’s claim to the items was denied by the museum, but the Museum’s Director, Tristam Hunt, suggested a compromise in an interview with UK’s Guardian: “The speediest way, if Ethiopia wanted to have these items on display, is a long-term loan…that would be the easiest way to manage it.”

Hunt said there were a number of reasons why a simple return was not possible, including the legal difficulties around deaccessioning and the “philosophical case for cosmopolitanism in museum collections.”

These items include a gold crown—an important symbol of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, a gold chalice, and a royal wedding dress said to have belonged to Queen Woyzaro Terunesh, the second wife of the Ethiopian emperor, Tewodros, and mother of Prince Alemayehu who was brought to England where the government assumed responsibility for his care and education. They have been on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London for the past 146 years and will be among 20 separate artifacts which will be on display for the exhibition which starts today, 5th April, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the battle which sought to secure the release of British hostages taken by Tewodros.

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The African Union Has A New Chair And Here Is Where His Primary Focus Will Be

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The new African Union Chair receives the baton from his predecessor

President Kagame of Rwanda hands over the baton to President el-Sisi of Egypt

The African Union held its 32nd Summit on February 10, 2019. At the Summit, Member States elected President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt as the new AU chair.

El-sisi takes over from President Paul Kagame of Rwanda. The new AU Chair addressed the Summit after the elections, setting his agenda for the African continent.

El-Sisi’s Profile

El-Sisi is the current president of Egypt–serving his second term after his re-election in 2018. El-Sisi is a graduate of the Egyptian Military Academy. After years in service, el-Sisi rose to the position of the director of military intelligence in 2010. Ultimately, he became Defense Minister and Commander in Chief when Mohamed Morsi was ousted.

In 2018, Forbes ranked el-Sisi at number 45 in the list of most powerful people in the world. The new African Union Chair has managed to restore Egypt to stability. As a result, this achievement saw his approval rating rise. Consequently, in the 2018 election, el-Sisi was re-elected with 97 percent of the vote.

El-Sisi’s Tasks as New AU Chair

Key on President el-Sisi’s agenda is the fight against terrorism on the continent. In his address at the Summit, the new African Union Chair stated that terrorism is one of the critical problems facing Africa. In addition, el-Sisi stated that the bloc will prioritize ‘preventive diplomacy’ and mediation in promoting peace in the continent.

El-Sisi’s new tasks differ from that of his predecessor. Whereas President Kagame focused on creating a free-trade zone that spans across the continent, eL-Sisi is putting his focus on fighting terrorism. However, there is a common agenda. Like his predecessor, el-Sisi will be required to align his approaches with the AU Agenda 2063.

The African Union Chair Position

The African Union Chair position is a ceremonial position that rotates within the five regions of the continent. As such, a succeeding Chair cannot come from the same region with current Chair.

In order for a candidate to win, he/she must garner the support of at least two-thirds of member states—or through consensus. President Thabo Mbeki was the inaugural Chair of the AU in 2002.

Term Limit

The African Union chair serves for one year. After that, member states elect a different Chair from a different region. The five regions of the AU include–Central, West, East, Southern, and North.

President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa has been announced as AU Chair for the year 2020. This means the AU leadership will be shifting from the North to the Southern region.

South Africa will have national elections on 8 May, 2019. As such, Ramaphosa will become Chair of AU in 2020 if he wins the South Africa elections and remains president—The AU chair position is held by a sitting president.

AU Commission

The AU commission is the Secretariat of the African Union. A Chairman leads the Commission, assisted by a deputy Chair. Additional members are the commissioners.

The Chair of the Commission chairs all meetings of the Commission. The position of AU Chair, therefore, is different from that of AU Commission chair.

 

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Business and Development

This Is The Most Attractive Country For Investment In Africa For The Second Time In A Row

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Are you looking for the best country for investment in Africa? Look no further because the Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) in South Africa has released a new study report.  It shows exactly where you should be thinking about for 2019. However, the study shows that the most attractive country for investment in Africa is not in the south of the continent.

According to this report by RMB, Where to Invest in Africa 2019, the business and investment environments in the continent has improved since 2017. However, the report singles out a few hurdles that continue to hinder more accelerated development in Africa. These issues include frail governance, reduced access to financing services, problems of infrastructure, rampant corruption in some countries as well as political unrests in some places. But generally, Africa, according to the report, has made important milestones that seek to attract and retain both local and foreign investments in the continent.

Investment Attractiveness Index for Most Attractive Investment Destination

The RMB uses an appropriate Investment Attractiveness index in order to make an assessment and rank the country. The index takes a look at the operating circumstances and economic environments of a country to gauge its potential to attract and retain local, international, and foreign investments. And Viola! Just like that and for the second year in a row, Egypt is the most attractive investment destination in Africa for 2019.

As expected, Egypt got a run for its money from the usual archrivals in the continent. Coming in second position from Cairo all the way down to Cape Town, was South Africa. But following closely in third position was Morocco, while Ethiopia and Kenya came in that order to complete the list of the top five most attractive investment destinations in Africa.

Why Is Egypt the Most Attractive Country of Investment in Africa?

The RMB report associates Egypt’s top rank in Africa with very important milestones. In order to have Egypt as the best, the report singles out the following reasons;

  • A diversified economic environment.
  • Escalating consumer market,
  • Growing availability of hard currency.
  • Stability in exchange rates.
  • Stable improvement in business and investment environments, predominantly in investment-related legal reforms.

Additionally, Egypt is the largest beneficiary of direct foreign investment in Africa. It also has the largest consumer market not only in North Africa, but also in the Middle East.

“Egypt’s economic gain keeps on dominating that of South Africa,” the report says “as South Africa’s growth projections and the size of its economy are lower than those of Egypt and this weighed down its investment ranking.”

Top Ten Countries for Investment in Africa

In addition to the top five most attractive investment destinations in the continent, other usual contenders in African development were named. In a consecutive order from fifth to ten position, the countries are as follows;

  1. Egypt
  2. South Africa
  3. Morocco
  4. Ethiopia
  5. Kenya
  6. Rwanda
  7. Tanzania
  8. Nigeria
  9. Ghana
  10. Ivory Coast

Countries with the Easiest Business and Investment Environments

Mauritius

The country that has the easiest business environment is Mauritius. This is followed by Rwanda while Botswana comes in third. In order to complete the best five countries where doing business is the easiest, the list includes South Africa and Seychelles in that order.

In conclusion, Egypt, Nigeria, and South Africa are the 2018’s three most dominant countries in Africa in terms of GDP. The combined market in these three countries makes up almost half of the approximated $7 trillion market in Africa. In order to maintain this investment attractiveness, Africa expects to improve individual business operating environments.

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African Ingenuity

Samson Ogbole Takes Agriculture Innovation To Nigeria

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growing crops in the air

With a merger of technology and agriculture, Samson Ogbole aims for self-sustainability to cope with the shortage of farming land in Nigeria. He introduced the method of growing crops in air to Nigerian Agriculture.

As the population grows, the land required for farming food to keep up with the growth is falling short. According to the International Trade Administration of the United States, the farmland under cultivation is 38% of the area required for food production.

Ogbole devised a farming strategy that rules out the use of soil. This will help in overcoming of food shortage for his people. This unconventional method is known as Aeroponics i.e. growing crops in the air.

Samson Ogbole Makes The Case For Growing Food In The Air

Ogbole began working with soilless farming back in 2014. He later founded PS Neutraceuticals, a company that aims for food security by implementing technology in agriculture for efficient food production. The process incorporates substitutes for soil and uses fertilizers for plant growth. According to Ogbole, one of the many advantages of this process is that “we can grow crops any time of the year.”

Without the use of soil, the pathogens residing in the soil can also be eliminated. So, this method also reduces the harm to production significantly. According to Ogbole, only 46% of the soil in Nigeria is fertile for crop growth. In an interview to CNN, he stated his belief that the “war of the future will be fought through agriculture.” Hence the role of technology in agriculture has become even more indispensable. The agricultural technology paves way for food production throughout the year independent of seasons. He intends to introduce smart sensor technologies in order to receive feedback from the production.

Ogbole always wanted to be a doctor when he was little. But now he aims to have a high level of food production for his nation, Nigeria. His goal is to eventually bring the idea forth to the world.

'The future of the economy is dependent on the few people who have bright ideas that can think outside the box for us to latch on. Money does not solve problems, ideas solve problems.' - Samson Ogbole Click To Tweet

Ogbole is now devising campaigns that encourage the youth to take interest in agriculture since he is of the view that “people will always eat.” Food, being the prime need of life, will definitely never go out of trend.

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