Ø Sierra Leone Deputy-Minister Salutes ECOWAS Commission for Abidjan-Dakar Highway Project
Ø 4 Things to Know about Niger’s Recent Elections
Ø Senegal Creates New National Airline & Seeks Strategic Partner
Third ISTR Africa Regional Conference Opens in Accra
The Third International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR) African Network Regional Research Conference has opened in Accra.
Organized by the local hosting committee that includes the West Africa Civil Society Institute(WACSI); Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana, this 2016 ISTR Conference is themed “Civil Society and Renascent Africa: a Stocktaking.”
Twenty years after the world “discovered” civil society and saw them as key in a renascent Africa, some questions are begging to be asked in civil society circles. These include to what extent has civil society lived up to these expectations? Is civil society the missing key to a renascent Africa? To what extent has civil society contributed to the triple imperatives of African development, democratization and integration?
These questions and more are to be explored at the conference underway here in Accra, with a view to taking stock of two decades of civil society conversations and its contributions to the imperatives of a renascent Africa.
Opening the conference, Executive Director of WACSI, Nana Asantewa Afadzinu, explained how civil society is “going through evolution”, with civil society organizations (CSOs) engaging governments more than ever. With a number of CSOs dependent on external funding, the Executive Director explained how this meeting offers a moment of “introspection” as well as a “meeting of minds to engage issues.”
Topics include “Civil Society and Development in Africa”; the “Significance of the Women’s Movement in Africa: Successes and Challenges”; “Modeling the influential impact of CSOs in Africa”; and “Sustaining Civil Society in Africa.”
The conference has attracted around 70 participants and would be organized around keynote addresses and a number of paper presentations.
Sierra Leone’s Deputy Minister of Works, Housing & Construction, Madam Kadija Olamatu Seisay, has praised the ECOWAS Commission for the establishment of the Abidjan-Dakar Highway Development Project, saying it would ease transportation and communication among member States.
Delivering a speech at the opening of the Ministerial Meeting on the Abidjan-Dakar Highway Development Project, she expressed her gratitude for being part of a team of ministers and experts that had been populated to discuss issues pertaining to the regional highway.
Madam Seisay said: “we are here to discuss the Abidjan-Dakar Highway Development programme, which forms part of the Trans-West African Coastal Highway. One cannot, therefore, overemphasize the importance of this project as it falls within the agenda of the government and people of Sierra Leone.”
The Deputy Minister explained that, when finished, it “will enhance trade between the two sister nations [Liberia and Sierra Leone] and as such effectively serve the Mano River Union as a whole.”
The so-called Trans-West African Coastal Highway runs from Mauritania to Nigeria and connects Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The acceleration of the implementation of this regional highway comes in the wake of the UNECA-sponsored African Integration Index that has praised the IGAD region of East Africa for its regional infrastructure.
Still on West Africa…
The Washington Post Paper reports that, as the dust settles from what it calls a “dramatic campaign season” in Niger, there are four things one should know about the election.
First, the major candidates were “recycled” elites. That is to say of the top four presidential candidates – Issoufou, Amadou; Seyni; Oumarou and Mahamane Ousmane – two have served as President; three as prime Minister; and all as President of the National Assembly. They have all been arrested a combined 13 times.
Secondly, “election observers did not guarantee a clean process.” According to the Paper, although both ECOWAS and the International Organization of the Francophonie sent observers, the opposition Coalition for Change complained about electoral irregularities, including the use of a single ballot for the presidential election but not the legislative election and the “vote by witness” order that the National Independent Electoral Commission issued at the last minute to allow 1.5million Nigeriens without identification papers to vote as long as two witnesses could positively identify them.
Third, terrorism is always a looming threat in the country as the country has suffered incursions from all sides, especially along its southern border with Nigeria, where Boko Haram is attempting to extend an Islamic caliphate. There is some evidence that external terrorist threats may unite citizens who are otherwise bitterly divided across pro-government and opposition lines.
Finally, democratization in Niger has not been a linear process: there have been alternating periods of authoritarian backsliding and democratic consolidation. Very quickly, democratic politics can turn around in Niger – for better or for worse.
Finally in West Africa…
The Senegalese Minister of Tourism and Air Transport announced to the press last Friday that, Senegal has created Air Senegal, which is a new national airline that seeks to replace the West African country’s now-defunct-and-heavily-indebted carrier Senegal Airlines.
Maimouna Ndoye Seck explained that, the new company was formed with the capital of $69million aimed at making the new airline operational as quickly as possible as it seeks a “strong strategic partner.”
Congo Republic’s ECAir announced this week it was seeking to raise over $100million through a regional bond issuance in order to expand its fleet and routes.
Airlines have long-been a difficult business in the sub-region, with a number of airlines going bust. However successes, such as Air Cote d’Ivoire and ASKY have proved that it is possible for West Africa to finally get its act together on the Africa Open Skies Policy – also known as the Yamoussoukro Declaration – that calls for a liberalization of the African sky, while encouraging greater competition.
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