Give refugees a chance – Liverpool star Dejan Lovren

By  for The Guardian

lovren-455128In a new documentary, the Liverpool defender opens up about being forced out of his childhood home during the Balkans conflict, losing a member of his family and then being asked to leave Germany and settle in Croatia. There is only one moment, recounting the horrors that shaped his childhood and life as a refugee from the Bosnian war, when it all seems like it might be too difficult for Dejan Lovren to continue.

Lovren is telling the story of how he and his family had to flee their home in Kraljeva Sutjeska, the village where he grew up outside Zenica, and what happened to those who were left behind. “Zenica was attacked because it was a bigger city,” the Liverpool player explains, “but it was in these small villages where the most horrific things happened …people being brutally killed. My uncle’s brother was killed in front of other people with a knife. I never talk about my uncle because it’s quite a tough thing to talk about, but he lost his brother, one of my family members. Difficult …”

It is a remarkable piece of television, courtesy of LFC TV, and rare to see a Premier League footballer speak of such jarring memories on a club’s own TV channel. Lovren was only three years old when the civil war broke out that finished with more than 100,000 deaths. “We had everything, to be honest,” he says of their life before that point. “We never had problems. Everything went well with the neighbours – with the Muslims, with the Serbs, everyone was talking very well between each other and enjoying the life, everything was how they wanted. And then it [the war] happened.

“I wish I could explain everything but nobody knows the real truth. It just happened. It just changed through the night – war between everyone, three different cultures. People just changed. I just remember the sirens went on. I was so scared because I was thinking “bombs”. I remember my mum took me and we went to the basement, I don’t know how long we’d been sitting there, I think it was until the sirens went off. Afterwards, I remember mum, my uncle, my uncle’s wife, we took the car and then we were driving to Germany. We left everything – the house, the little shop with the food they had, they left it. They took one bag and ‘let’s go to Germany’.”

dejan-lovren

Lovren in action for Liverpool F.C in the EPL last season

His family have since told him the 500-mile journey to Munich took 17 hours, not least because of all the security stops.

“We had luck. Me and my family, we had luck. Our granddad was working in Germany and because of that he had the papers. If not, I don’t know what we could have done. Maybe I could see my parents and me under the ground. I don’t know what could’ve happened. One of my best friends in my high school – his dad was a soldier – and I remember he was crying every day. I was thinking: ‘Why?’ And he said: ‘My dad died.’ So, you know, it could have been my dad.”

In the documentary, Lovren – My Life as a Refugee, he goes on to recall how after seven years in Germany his family was told they had to leave the country they had come to think of as home. “My mum and dad were asking for permission to stay more but every six months it was declined.

The authorities said: ‘When the war is over, then you can go back.’ So every six months my mum and dad had their bags packed to go back. It was quite tough – you never had a future in Germany.

“Then that day came and they said: ‘You have two months to prepare your bags and go back.’ For me it was difficult because I had all of my friends in Germany, my life had started there. I had everything, I was happy, I was playing in a little club, my father was the coach – it was just beautiful. My mum said: ‘Germany is our second home’ and it’s true. Germany gave us their open hands. I don’t know which country could have done that, at that time, to welcome refugees from Bosnia.”

The Lovren family moved to Croatia where a boy with a German accent was picked on at school and the parents struggled for money. “My mum was working in Walmart for €350 per month, about £280. My father was working as a house painter. We had a difficult situation with money. My mum said: ‘We cannot pay the bills for electricity, for everything,’ and for a week we didn’t have money.

“I remember my dad took my ice skates. One day I asked my mum: ‘Where are my ice skates?’ because I loved to skate in the winter. And she said through tears: ‘Dad is selling them now … we don’t have money for this week.’ I swear this is the point in my life that I said: ‘I don’t want to hear this any more.’ He sold them for 350 Kuna, it’s about £40. My ice-skates: sold. It was a tough time for my parents.”

Speaking about these years is not easy, especially when Lovren’s own family do not always wish for it to be discussed. “It’s like the war happened yesterday. It’s quite a sensitive thing to talk about, so people still avoid talking about it – it’s sad. Mum said to me [before the documentary]: ‘Don’t tell them,’ and I said: ‘I will tell them.’ And she was crying again. It’s always sensitive to speak about. She remembers everything.

“I hope for the next generation that it’ll be much easier, for my daughter and my son, maybe they’ll forget it and move on. I don’t know if they’ll ever understand my life or my situation, what I’ve been through, because they live in totally different worlds. If my little girl wants a toy, sometimes I say: ‘I don’t have the money.’ It’s quite difficult to understand why I’m saying that but she needs to understand that nothing comes easy. I’m working hard for her so she needs to understand you don’t need 20 toys, sometimes you need just one or two and you’re still happy – it’s about other things.

“When I see what’s happening today [with refugees] I just remember my thing, my family and how people don’t want you in their country. I understand people want to protect themselves, but people don’t have homes. It’s not their fault; they’re fighting for their lives just to save their kids. They want a secure place for their kids and their futures. I went through all this and I know what some families are going through. Give them a chance, give them a chance. You can see who the good people are and who are not.”

Watch the full documentary now, for free, on LFCTV GO

Janani Luwum: a lion in human skin

On February 16, 1977, a man like no other armed not with a gun or a dagger but the Bible and the cross was assassinated at the then Ugandan ruthless president Idi Amin Dada.

According to historical accounts, the Most Rev Janani Jakaliya Luwum, Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Uganda, Rwanda Burundi, and Boga Zaire had become a sharp critic of the gross atrocities including murders orchestrated by Idi Amin.

On the day of his demise, it is said that Luwum met with President Idi Amin who accused him of smuggling arms and other “subversive acts” before being driven away with two government ministers, Erinayo Wilson Oryema and Charles Oboth Ofumbi in a Land Rover. On the morning of February 17, 1977, Radio Uganda announced that the archbishop had died in a car accident as he attempted to escape and in his flight was involved in a car accident that resulted in his death.

This theory would be later refuted after his body was found riddled with bullets only planted in a fake car crash allegedly on the orders of the president.

jananluwum-704x470

Rt. Rev. Janan Luwum(L) with the Inspector General of Police, Oryema standing by the car which was presented to the Bishop on February 25, 1969. Credit: The New Vision/Files

A planned funeral service for the following Sunday was forbidden by the government, and the Archbishop’s body was not released. Nevertheless, according to records The Standard has seen, about 4,500 people gathered at St Paul’s Cathedral on Namirembe Hill, and a funeral service was held albeit his body missing.

It is at this exact venue (St Paul’s Cathedral) that activities to mark the 40th anniversary of the commemoration of slain martyr will be launched on February 5, 2017. According to a Church of Uganda statement, the activities will be a precursor for the main event that will be held at Mucwini, Kitgum District, the burial ground for deceased, 22km north of Kitgum in northern Uganda.

The purpose of the Kampala event is to create public awareness about the martyrdom of Archbishop Janani Luwum as we plan for the main event but also to enable and allow those who cannot make it to Mucwini to celebrate it in Kampala,” the statement, largely attributed to the Archbishop Stanley Ntagali partly reads.

The activities, which will include a walk from five different centres in and around Kampala, will be followed by a service at St Paul’s Cathedral Namirembe where the body of Janani Luwum was meant to have been buried.

The guest of honour for the Kampala celebrations is the Rt. Hon Ruhakana Rugunda, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Uganda, while the main celebrations in Kitgum are expected to be graced by the President of the Republic of Uganda, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

Road to martyrdom

Archbishop Janani Luwum was the first sitting archbishop in the entire Anglican Communion to be martyred in office since Archbishops of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer and William Laud who were martyred in AD 1556 and AD 1645, respectively.
Luwum’s death inspired the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury Cathedral to establish a chapel to commemorate “Modern Martyrs.”

Canterbury Cathedral was hence the first ecclesiastical authority in the whole of the Anglican Communion to proclaim Archbishop Janani Luwum a 20th Century African Martyr.

According to Rev Jasper Tumuhimbise of All Saints Cathedral, Kampala, one of the starting points for this year’s walk to Namirembe, martyrdom gained a bad name for its association with violence and linkage to cruelty, manipulation and death.

But when we consider Christian martyrs like Luwum, we see something else. Instead of violence, there is peace and a seeking of reconciliation.

Instead of cruelty there is dignity and mercy. Instead of manipulation there is integrity. This is the ultimate martyrdom,” he said.  During similar 2015 celebrations, President Museveni declared February 16 an annual public holiday arguing that people should celebrate his life in the same manner as other Uganda Martyrs.

Life and ministry

jananluwum2-704x411

Rt. Rev. Janan Luwum installed Bishop on June 16, 1974. Credit: The New Vision/Files

Janani Luwum was born in 1922 in the Acholi district that time and spent his youth as a goat herder. Although he didn’t have a formal early education, he was given a belated opportunity to begin at school and quickly showed his resourcefulness and ability to learn.

His conversion to Christianity happened in 1948 while he was a teacher but would later quit teaching for evangelism. In 1949, he joined Bishop Usher Wilson Theological College, Buwalasi, to study theology. After a period as a lay preacher, he was ordained priest in 1956 of the then Upper Nile Diocese in St Phillips Church, Gulu and thereafter served as parish priest and chaplain in a number of parishes and church schools in Northern Uganda.

As Uganda gained independence from Britain, Luwum was noted as a rising indigenous leader in the church. He became bishop of the newly formed Diocese of Northern Uganda in 1969. Following his consecration, Janani was appointed to the Anglican Consultative Council and served on the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches.

In May 1974, Bishop Janani Luwum succeeded his mentor Archbishop Erica Sabiti, who had been the first Bishop of Kampala Diocese between 1972-1973. Thus, Bishop Janani Luwum became the second African Archbishop of the Province of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Boga-Zaire and the second Bishop of Kampala Diocese.

After his assassination, his body was taken to the Churchyard at Wii Gweng, Mucwini, on February 19, 1977 where he was later buried. He is survived by his widow, Mary Luwum, seven children, four sisters, two brothers and several grandchildren.

The Michelle Obama DNC speech that Democrats so much loved

GettyImages-580960774MAIN.0

Michelle Obama, the First Lady of the United States of America speaking at the 2016 DNC (Getty Images)

Thank you all, thank you so much. It is hard to believe that it has been eight years since I first came to this convention to talk with you about why I thought my husband should be president. Remember how I told you about his character and his conviction? His decency and grace? The traits we have seen every day as he has served our country in the White House.

I also told you about our daughters, how they are the heart of our hearts, the center of our world, and during our time in the White House we have had the joy of watching them grow from bubbly little girls into poised young women.

A journey that started soon after we arrived in Washington when they set off for their first day at their new school. I will never forget that winter morning as I watched our girls, just 7 and 10 years old, pile into those black SUVs with all those men with guns. And that’s all their little faces pressed up against the window, and the only thing I could think was, What have we done? At that moment, I realized that our time in the White House would form the foundation of who they would become. And how well we manage this experience could truly make or break them.

That is what Barack and I think about every day as he tried to guide and protect our girls from the challenges of this unusual life in the spotlight. How we urged them to ignore those who question their father’s citizenship or faith. How we insist that the hateful language they hear from public figures on TV does not represent the true spirit of this country. How we explain that when someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level. Our motto is, when they go low, we go high.

With every word we utter, with every action we take, we know our kids are watching us. We as parents are the most important role model.

Let me tell you, Barack and I take that same approach to our jobs as president and first lady because we know that our words and actions matter, not just to our girls but the children across this country. Kids who say, “I saw you on TV,” “I wrote the report on you for school.” Kids like the little black boy who looked up at my husband, his eyes wide with hope, and he wondered, Is my hair like yours?

Make no mistake about it, this November, when we get to the polls, that is what we are deciding. Not Democrat or Republican, not left or right. In this election, and every election, it is about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives. I am you tonight because in this election, there is only one person who I trust with that responsibility, only one person who I believe is truly qualified to be president of the United States, and that is our friend Hillary Clinton.

Watch Michelle Obama’s full speech here

I trust Hillary to lead this country because I have seen her lifelong devotion to our nation’s children. Not just her own daughter, who she has raised to perfection, but every child who needs a champion: kids who take the long way to school to avoid the gangs. Kids who wonder how they will ever afford college. Kids whose parents don’t speak a word of English, but dream of a better life; who look to us to dream of what they can be.

Hillary has spent decades doing the relentless work to actually make a difference in their lives. Advocating for kids with disabilities as a young lawyer, fighting for children’s health care as first lady, and for quality child care in the senate.

And when she did not win the nomination eight years ago, she did not get angry or disillusioned. Hillary did not pack up and go home because … Hillary knows that this is so much bigger than her own disappointment. She proudly stepped up to serve our country once again as secretary of state, traveling the globe to keep our kids safe. There were moments when Hillary could have decided that this work was too hard, that the price of public service was too high, that she was tired of being [torn] apart for how she looked, or how she talked, or even how she laughed.

But here’s the thing: What I admire most about Hillary is that she never buckles under pressure.

She never takes the easy way out. And Hillary Clinton has never quit on anything in her life. And when I think about the kind of president that I want for my girls and all our children, that is what I want. I want someone with the proven strength to persevere.

Somebody who knows this job and takes it seriously. Somebody who understands that the issues of our nation are not black or white. It cannot be boiled down to 140 characters. Because when you have the nuclear codes at your fingertips and the military in your command, you can’t make snap decisions. You can’t have thin skin or a tendency to lash out. You need to be steady and measured and well-informed.

I want a president with a record of public service. Someone whose life’s work shows our children that we don’t chase fame and fortune for ourselves; we fight to give everyone a chance to succeed. And we give back even when we are struggling ourselves because we know that there there is someone worse off. There but for the grace of God, go I. I want a president who will teach our children that everyone in this country matters.

A president that truly believes in the [precedent] that our founders put forth all those years ago — that we are all created equal, each a beloved part of the great American story. When crisis hits, we don’t turn against each other, we listen to each other. We lean on each other. We are always stronger together. I am here tonight because I know that that is the kind of president Hillary Clinton will be and that is why in this election, I’m with her.

You see, Hillary understands that the presidency is about one thing and one thing only. It is about leaving something better for our kids. That is how we have always moved this country forward — by all of us coming together on behalf of our children. Volunteering to coach the team, teach the Sunday school class, because they know it takes a village.

Heroes of every color and creed who wear the uniform and risk their lives to pass on those blessings of liberty; police officers and protesters in Dallas who all that really want to keep our children safe; people who lined up in Orlando to donate blood because it could have been their son, or their daughter in the club.

Leaders like Tim Kaine, who show our kids what decency and devotion look like. Leaders like Hillary Clinton, who have the guts and the grace to keep coming back and putting those cracks in the highest and hardest glass ceiling until they finally break through, lifting all of us along with her.

That is the story of this country. The story that has brought me to the stage tonight. The story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, who kept on striving, and hoping, and doing what needed to be done. So that today, I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves.

And I watch my daughters — two beautiful intelligent black young women — play with the dog on the White House lawn

And because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters and all of our sons and daughters now take for granted that a woman can be president of the United States.

Don’t let anyone ever tell you that this country is not great. That somehow we need to make it great again. Because this right now is the greatest country on Earth.

And as my daughters set out on the world, I want a leader who is worthy of that truth, a leader worthy of my girls’ promise and all of our kids’ promise. A leader who will be guided every day by the love and hope and impossibly big dreams that we all have for our children.

In this election, we cannot sit back and hope that everything works out for the best, we cannot afford to be tired or frustrated or cynical. Hear me: Between now and November, we need to do what we did eight years ago and four years ago. We need to knock on every door, we need to get out every vote, we need to pour every last ounce of passion into electing Hillary Clinton as president of the United States of America. Let’s get to work.

Thank you all and God bless.

How Western media and donor aid have connived to dim the flame of Africa’s development candle

Evidence of ineffective foreign assistance is widespread in Africa. The debate on how aid can be effective and contribute to Africa’s development is ongoing, without any clear way forward. This suggests that there is more to the African problem and that aid is not likely to turn things around, writes  Alex Taremwa.

Can Africa take care of itself? Photo: Department of foreign affairs and trade, Australia

Can Africa take care of itself?  Photo: Department of foreign affairs and trade, Australia

On the day of the African Child (16 June), This is Africa, using the giant search engine Google, conducted a survey to capture the portrayal of African children on the Internet. The result, as always, was that of malnourished, hungry, poverty-stricken and disease-laden children.

This portrayal of Africa directly correlates with how Western media has covered Africa over the years. Often the picture presented is of despair and hopelessness; one that mostly appeals to pity, sympathy and charity.

The response from the developed nations has been a massive transfer of financial and other forms of aid to African governments. In 2013, Africa received about US$135 billion in loans, foreign and development aid, according to the BBC.

Over the past 60 years, Africa has been the recipient of over $1 trillionin development-related aid, mostly from Sweden, Luxembourg, Norway and Denmark, the most generous nations as of 2014, and of course, the United States of America and the United Kingdom. Although this could have boosted the per capita GDP growth of several nations, the livelihoods of most populations in sub-Saharan African haven’t changed much. The million-dollar question then is: What has all this money done?

What has aid done for Africa so far?

Dambisa Moyo, a World Bank economist, former consultant at Goldman Sachs and author of, among other books, Dead Aidargues that money from rich countries has trapped many African countries in a cycle of corruption, slower economic growth and poverty. “The insidious aid culture has left African countries more debt-laden, more inflation-prone, more vulnerable to the vagaries of the currency markets and more unattractive to higher-quality investment. It’s increased the risk of civil conflict and unrest (the fact that over 60% of sub-Saharan Africa’s population is under the age of 24 with few economic prospects is a cause for worry). Aid is an unmitigated political, economic and humanitarian disaster.”

In her book, Moyo highlights the destructive nature of aid in Africa's development. Photo: oneVillage Initiative/ Flickr

The African continent is indeed debt-laden, suffering from massive unemployment figures, poor housing and infrastructure systems, rotten health and education structures, power-hungry dictators, war and conflict, disease, famine and poverty, among other problems. Is aid to blame for this mess? Renowned Ugandan journalist Andrew Mwenda agrees – to some extent.

“The wrong framing is a product of thinking that Africa is a place of despair. In the process, Africa has been stripped of self-initiative,” Andrew Mwenda.

Mwenda admits that although despair, civil war, hunger and famine are part of the African reality, they are not the only reality. In fact, they are the smallest reality.

“The wrong framing is a product of thinking that Africa is a place of despair. What should we do with it? We should give food to the hungry. We should deliver medicines to those who are ill. We should send peacekeeping troops to serve those who are facing a civil war. And in the process, Africa has been stripped of self-initiative.” “The wrong framing is a product of thinking that Africa is a place of despair. In the process, Africa has been stripped of self-initiative.” Andrew Mwenda 

 

Is all aid destructive?

For decades, Africa has failed to engage the rest of the world in tangible partnerships that promote trade and create markets for its exports. Africa, previously the biggest exporter of coffee and cotton, among other produce, has been overtaken by the Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia and Indonesia.

Under the Cotonou Agreement, formerly known as the Lomé Convention, African countries were given an opportunity by Europe to export goods, duty-free, to the European Union market. Uganda, in particular, had a quota to export 50 000 metric tons of sugar to the European Union market. Not even a kilogram has been exported.

Uganda, like most African countries, now largely imports and consumes more than it produces. Although this trend should have changed, aid, according to Andrew Mwenda, is the wrong instrument to help Africa turn the corner. African countries would benefit if they concentrated on building and strengthening internal institutional policies, through empowering their citizenry and encouraging local investment.

Governments in Africa have been given the opportunity by the international community to avoid building productive arrangements with their own citizens. They accept advice from the IMF and the World Bank on what their citizens need. “In the process, we, the African people, have been sidelined from the policy-making, policy-orientation and policy-implementation process in our own countries,” Mwenda explains.

 

Does Africa need saving?

Akon certainly doesn’t agree. The Senegalese-American musician, songwriter and producer, who recently set his sights on philanthropy, recently told Al Jazeera that the Western world cannot under any circumstances claim to be saving Africa after several years of conning Africa.

Although Akon has participated in celebrity campaigns aimed at mobilising funds for Africa, he argues that Africans must play a central role in promoting and re-branding their continent.

Akon further notes that although Africa would benefit from partnerships with the developed world, it does not need saving by the international cartel of good intentions. He argues that in fact it has always been Africa that was saving those nations.

“Africa to a greater extent has been the anchor to the rest of the world. Every natural resource that is keeping every country running is a resource that has been pulled out of Africa. Everyone benefits but Africa. So Africa doesn’t need to be saved. Africa is the one doing the saving,” the musician said.

A, M-pesa agent in Mwanza, Tanzania. M-pesa, born in Nairobi has become the largest mobile phone based money transfer service in Africa. Photo: Emil Sjoblom/ Flickr

The way out for Africa 

Crispy Kaheru, coordinator of the Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) told This is Africa that the only way out is for the donor countries to take a backseat and let Africans engineer solutions to their problems.

“I am one of those who contend that local challenges can aptly be fixed by local solutions. And local solutions should emerge organically from within the context of the challenge/problem. The context can be historical, political, cultural, social, economic or otherwise,” he said. 

Rather than throwing billions of dollars at African problems, economists believe it would be beneficial for donors to assist in creating opportunities for innovative African entrepreneurs and the youth, thereby creating employment and, eventually, wealth.

The best illustration of this is M-Pesa, arguably the largest mobile phone-based money transfer service in Africa, which was born in Nairobi, Kenya. It was designed through a student software development project and launched by Vodafone with funding from Department for International Development (DFID) based in the United Kingdom.

Currently, M-Pesa has spread throughout Africa to as far afield as Afghanistan, South Africa, India, Romania and Albania, allowing users to conveniently deposit, withdraw and transfer money and pay for goods and services. If donors could restrict themselves to financing entrepreneurial and innovative projects designed by Africans to provide local solutions to their problems, it would be more beneficial.

With the world’s youngest population – a largely untapped human resource – and a growing, vibrant informal sector, Africa has the potential to take the big leap. Rather than sink billions of dollars into charity, donors can instead look to invest in developing a skilled force among Africans, thereby empowering them to create wealth and employment which will eventually spur sustainable development.

 

This article was originally published in This is Africa (TIA), a leading forum for African opinion, arts and music available through the website thisisafrica.me, mobile phone apps and online radio channels.

Youth unemployment in Uganda and the deadly relationship with illegal migration, human trafficking and modern slavery.

Uganda has been plagued by high numbers of cases of human trafficking of young people to the middle east. Due to a lack of stringent laws and minimum government intervention, it continues to be a large problem. Alex Taremwa explores the high youth unemployment rate in Uganda and how it feeds this dangerous form of modern slavery.

Domestic-Workers1-protesting-Photo-Answers-Africa-cover

Domestic Workers protesting Photo:Answers Africa.

Since 2005, approximately 25,000 Ugandan men and women have supported US-led operations in Iraq. While many have returned, thousands of Ugandans are still in Iraq and have been scattered all over Middle East countries, choosing to scratch out a livelihood in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

In July 2015, Saudi Arabia and Uganda  entered into a  5-year bilateral agreement that would see the recruitment of one million Ugandan domestic workers to the Gulf Kingdom. 

The agreement set the minimum wage for Ugandan workers at 700 Riyals ($200) a month, lower than the minimum set for Filipino, Indian, and Bangladeshi domestic workers. While the agreement has received little attention in the press, reports indicated an unjustifiable optimism in Ugandan officials’ expectations of recruitment procedures and employment conditions in Saudi Arabia. Statistics put the number of Ugandan housemaids in Saudi at 500 housemaids since the deal took effect six months ago.

However, there have been several reports about the violation of the rights of Ugandan domestic workers in Saudi Arabia. As a result, after a recommendation from parliament, Uganda’s minister of gender, labour and social development, Wilson Muruli Mukasa, banned the recruitment and deployment of Ugandans as domestic workers in any foreign country with effect from January 22, 2016. 

Uganda becomes the fourth country after Indonesia, Ethiopia and the Philippines to ban their nationals from travelling to Saudi to work as domestic workers over concerns of abuse.

While the Ugandan Government had put in place legal and institutional mechanisms upon which more robust measures for detecting, monitoring, controlling and preventing illicit labour export, there still exist over 60 licensed and illegal agencies dealing in this trade.

In an exclusive interview with This is Africa, Ashaba Richard, 26, a returnee from Iraq where he was part of a joint US-Uganda mission for two years, narrated an awful ordeal of how some of his Ugandan co-ethnics had died in unclear circumstances in Iraq “fighting a war they weren’t a part of.” 

“Such information is kept away from the media for ‘security reasons’ but some of our people are stuck there earning pennies and doing mundane jobs,” he says.

In yet another ordeal, Betty Nakanwagi (real identity protected) resigned two weeks after she started work as a housemaid in Saudi Arabia due to unbearable work conditions. She narrated:

“I would wake up as early as 4am and work throughout the day and night till 2am and my body ached a lot. My colleagues and I were subjected to endless work without rest, not even breaking off to sip water moreover feeding on only one meal of dry rice without any sauce a day,” she narrated in vernacular as tears rolled down her cheeks. 

In another interview published in The Observer, a local tri-weekly, another Ugandan Sarah Naigaga explains how she escaped captivity in yet another Kuwait home. 

Sarah Naigaga (L) and the coordinator of the national anti-human trafficking task force, Moses Binoga at the ministry of Internal Affairs. Photo: The Obsever

“Since we don’t have an embassy or consulate in Kuwait,  I managed to escape and went to a Kenyan embassy and reported my case…and I was rescued. There is an 18-year-old who was taken to Kuwait by a one Matovu agency but she is currently missing and suspected to have been sacrificed by the family she was sold to. At times these Arabs kill Ugandans who go to work as maids and remove their organs and sell them to rich Arabs,” Naigaga narrated. 

Naigaga adds that it is more difficult to escape because their passports were confiscated by their agencies.

The local authorities have advised job seekers to use licensed job agencies. Experts, however, argue that this will not address the root cause of migration. 

The rise in illegal immigration across Africa

In Uganda, the Iraq mission opened doors to a massive influx of human resources to Arabia, Europe and the U.S in pursuit of a better life. Although some of this labour force is exported through legally binding means, the number of illegal immigrants from Africa to several parts of the world cannot be underestimated.

Away from Uganda, a recent report by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), estimated that at least 137,000 people had successfully crossed the Mediterranean Sea into Europe during the first six months of 2015. 

Between March and August 2011, more than 40,000 sub-Saharan Africans arrived on Lampedusa and, to a smaller degree, on Sicily and Malta. Many had been forcibly expelled by the Gaddafi regime and a large number of them applied for asylum in Italy. With the collapse of the Gaddafi regime in August 2011, the flow of migrants again almost stopped entirely  But began again in 2013 with the reorganisation of human smugglers.

Youth unemployment – the Ugandan twist

The Ugandan story is, however, somewhat unique. Unlike most countries like Mali, Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Libya et al where citizens flee the oppression and repression of their governments or prevalent political situations, Uganda has barely had a significant political uprising since 1986. Why are Ugandans fleeing their country in large numbers?

According to the National Housing and Population census 2014, Uganda’s has a total population of 34.6 million people – 78% are below the age of 30, while 52% below the age of 15. It has the youngest population in the world and the second most dependant population after Niger.

The International Labour Organisation defines youth unemployment as a share of labour force age 15-24 without work but available for and seeking employment. 

In Uganda, a total of 400,000 youth are released into the job market annually after graduating at university into a labour market that has only 90,000 jobs, leaving many unemployed 

The national unemployment rate is reportedly at 3.2% and 22.3% for the youth. The figures are even worse in the urban areas as the unemployment rate in the city is at 12%, seven times more than in the rural areas where it is at 1.7%. 

Kampala, the capital city, accounts for 32.2% of Uganda’s youth unemployment, which translates to 36 per cent for university degree holders according to World Bank statistics. 

It is from these frustrations that the youth opt to try other countries to put food not only on their tables but also for their families. Therefore the journey to Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait is not always voluntary but a product of the prevailing circumstances. 

Youth Unemployment in Uganda Photo: Chimpreports.com

What has the government done?

In light of report by African Development Bank (ADB) that put Uganda’s youth unemployment at 83 per cent, the government introduced youth oriented schemes to help alleviate poverty  most of these schemes have been preyed on by corruption and most have either failed or achieved little success. 

These programmes include  the National Agricultural Advisory Services introduced by President Museveni in 2014, a partnership with local banks in 2011 to avail  funds worth Shs25 billion to youth for small scale enterprises. The youth programme was later reintroduced as the Youth Fund as the Youth Livelihood Program with a financial boost of Shs265 billion (about US$ 100 million) to cover a five-year period, after the failure of the previous one.

Despite these interventions, several agencies, licensed or otherwise, are flourishing in the business of exporting youth labour to Arab countries. However, even with horrific tales coming out of Dubai and Kuwait involving prostitution, human trafficking and gang rape and slavery, the government has been reluctant not only to empower its missions abroad to extract it’s suffering citizens but also bargain for better wages, working conditions  and fair treatment. 

In the Migrants’ Right report, a Ugandan columnist David called on officials “to first understand who domestic workers are and the nature of work they do.” 

He warns of the common violations committed against domestic workers such as “restricted mobility, lack privacy, non-payment of their meager wages, verbal, physical, sexual and psychological abuse and work long hours” emphasising their rights to “timely payment, freedom of association and collective bargaining, right to leave, privacy, treatment with dignity, respect, maternity leave and work contract.” 

Human Trafficking:

The 2015 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report by the US Department of State found Ugandan officials complicit in cases of human trafficking. According to report, during 2012, a total of 45 reports of transnational incidents of trafficking in persons (TIP) were registered while 29 similar reports were registered between January and April 2013. 

Over 90 persons were registered as victims of transnational TIP incidents in 2012, while over 38 persons were registered as victims of TIP during the January-April 2013 period. 

Most of the victims are taken out of Uganda or brought to Uganda through fraud, deception or debt bondage in search of employment. The most common route taken is through Nairobi where the covert human trafficking rackets transport the victims in buses, process their visas and passports in Nairobi, and  board them on planes. 

The identities of people claiming to export labour are always hidden; they operate under fake names and fake identification documents without any known physical address or location. So for the victims, most of the communication with these unscrupulous individuals occurs online or via phone. This makes it hard to trace them. 

The anti-human trafficking coordinator in Uganda, Moses Binoga, revealed that government is signing protocols with foreign governments, mostly where Ugandans end up as slaves, so as to ease the task of tracking down the victims.

Bingo beseeches youth seeking employment abroad to use licensed companies as it is easier for the authorities to trace victims and bring them back home in collaboration with the licensed recruiting agencies and to always get enough information about the nature of jobs, where they are going to work and the type of agents involved. 

“Get information from police, ministry of labour, ministry of internal affairs, ministry of foreign affairs, all of which have got desks that handle cases of immigration and labour export,” he concluded. 

Human trafficking. Photo:informafrica.com

What can be done?

The story of youth unemployment, however unique in Uganda’s context, is not limited to Uganda. Most Sub-Saharan countries suffer from this endemic problem which, coupled with the prevailing political instabilities, has not only fuelled the influx of able bodied youth out of their countries but also kept the trafficking and illegal immigration business steadily on wheels. 

The solutions will arise from governments’ desire to create environments suitable for the youth to cultivate their entrepreneurial skills, profitable trading opportunities to accumulate wealth or invest heavily in the creation of well-paying and sustainable jobs to accommodate the growing educated mass.

This article was originally published in This is Africa (TIA), a leading forum for African opinion, arts and music available through the website thisisafrica.me, mobile phone apps and online radio channels.

Entrepreneurs in 54 African countries to access $100m

By Franklin Alli

960x0

Tony Elumelu, (Credit: ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)

THE Tony Elumelu Foundation says it has earmarked $100 million (about N20 billion) facility for entrepreneurs in 54 African countries under its entrepreneurship programme (TEEP) for 2016.

The Foundation also invested a total of $4,860,000, including $1,405,000 in agriculture; $410,000 in education and training; and $365,000 in manufacturing, in 2015.

In a statement, the Foundation CEO Parminder Vir OBE, said the second annual round of the programme will commence from January 1 next year, adding, “The programme is open to citizens and legal residents of all 54 African countries. Applications for 2016 open on 1st January and can be made by any for-profit business based in Africa in existence for less than three years, including new business ideas.”

The CEO further stated that last year, the Foundation empowered 1,000 African entrepreneurs, selected from over 20,000 applicants, with start-up investment, active mentoring, business training, an entrepreneurship boot camp and regional networking across Africa.

“Entrepreneurs, with an average age range of 21-40, from 51 African countries completed the programme and received $5,000 in seed capital for their start-up businesses. The entries for 2016 programme will opens at 00:00am WAT on 1st January 2016 and will accept applications until midnight WAT on March 1st, 2016.

To be eligible, entrepreneurs must complete the online application form with questions on their background, experience and business idea, plans for growth and proposed pan-African impact. Applications are reviewed by an Advisory Board of distinguished African entrepreneurs.

“Africa does not need aid alone, it needs investment and it needs entrepreneurs. TEEP brings both and our ability to bring capital and the necessary support, for those who will help Africa harness its enormous potential is creating extraordinary opportunities across the continent,” said the CEO.

Stella Nakatudde, founder of ICT Company, Ella Solutions Ltd, based in Uganda, said: “Since being selected for TEEP 2015, I have learned invaluable life and business lessons, expanded and enriched my business network, opened our first office, hired two staff and closed two web development deals. TEEP is not just a means to start or propel your business; it is the torch that will light your entrepreneurship journey for life and the pen that will script your story in the new African Narrative”.

U.S Secretary of Commerce, Honorable Penny Pritzker commented “I am pleased to see Tony Elumelu investing in entrepreneurs through The Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme across Africa to work towards fostering communities of innovation”.

“I set out to institutionalise luck with the Foundation and give back to the Continent that made me.”

In the words of Tony Elumelu, the Founder of the Foundation, entrepreneurship can chart a new course of development for Africa, with Africans taking responsibility for wealth creation, creating value adding businesses here in Africa and this is why I encourage applications from across the continent, regardless of age, gender, religion or colour.

TEEP is driven by Elumelu’s philosophy of Africapitalism, which calls for the African private sector to focus on long term investments that create social and economic prosperity in Africa, and take the lead role in Africa’s transformation.

About the Tony Elumelu Foundation:

The Tony Elumelu Foundation, the organization founded by Nigerian multi-millionaire investor Tony Elumelu to develop the next crop of African entrepreneurs, has announced TEEP 2016, the second annual round of the $100m Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP) for emerging African entrepreneurs.

In 2015, 1000 young entrepreneurs from across Africa were selected into the programme and were equipped with mentoring, business training and start-up capital. In all, the Tony Elumelu Foundation invested approximately $4,860,000 in various businesses, including $1,405,000 in agriculture; $410,000 in education and training; and $365,000 in manufacturing.  The sector-agnostic programme funded start-ups across a further 20 industries, all based in Africa.

TEEP, a Pan-African entrepreneurship initiative of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, is a multi-year programme of training, funding, and mentoring, designed to empower the next generation of African entrepreneurs.

Every year, for the next 9 years, TEEP will select 1,000 start-ups and young businesses from across Africa. The 1,000 start-ups selected from a pool of applicants will participate in a comprehensive programme which will include a customized 12-week business skills training course, mentoring, an entrepreneurship ‘boot camp’ and seed capital funding among other things.

TEEP opens for entries at 00:00am West African Time on 1st January 2016 and will accept applications until midnight WAT on March 1st, 2016.  To be eligible, entrepreneurs must complete the online application form with questions on their background, experience and business idea, plans for growth and proposed pan-African impact.

Further guidance and application procedures can be found on the online portal.

You can’t ride a tiger forever. So why can’t the Big Man’s election campaign see that?

By Charles Onyango-Obbo
(Previously posted in The Daily Monitor)

I never expected we would see the level of violence and harassment against President Yoweri Museveni’s opponents that we are witnessing today again.

This is because, it is clear from past elections – and from the outcomes of the less violent 2011 poll – that brutality is a bad election cheating strategy.

There are a few other things that we know, of why historically violence had been seductive for the Museveni camp. As one observer said, in peasant societies, elections are viewed like a wrestling match in the village sand pit.

The one who floors his opponent is celebrated. The most violent campaign in Uganda, therefore, is likely to win by making rivals look weaker and, therefore, unworthy of being entrusted with national stewardship.

What is not clear is the Museveni camp’s end game. This will now be the fourth election in which violence is used to some degree or the other.

One thing is striking though. Every year, apart from FDC’s Kizza Besigye who has become the perennial target of the NRM political and security apparatus, the victims change.

With this election, the country is graduating its fourth class of victims of electoral violence beaten by people working in the president’s name. How does anyone expect that in five or 10 years, or even more, when NRM’s or Museveni’s rule must lose grip, that people who have endured violence for over 30 years will be part of anything but a violent regime change?

This should particularly be concerning, because just like the Walk-to-Work crackdown of 2011, and for this election season, the victims get younger and younger. Thus even if Museveni rules until he is 100 years old in 2044, some of these young people who are being beaten up by police for supporting Opposition politicians or attending their rallies, will only be 48, if they are 19 today.

Does anyone in the President’s palace think about these things? I believe they do. They are not fools. Question then is, why is this allowed to go on?

That is where it gets complicated. The President’s camp is obviously convinced that he would lose an election in which his opponents are able to run freely. We shall never know whether they are right, because that will probably never be tested under NRM rule.

But we know that buying votes, instead, creates less ill will than beating people into submission for it. That the incumbent and the partisan State doesn’t choose that option, isn’t because they don’t want or can’t afford to, but because they no longer have the structures to do it.

You see, if you shoot two Besigye or Amama supporters, you can intimidate a whole district and they will fear to vote against you. If you instead bribed the same two supporters with money, the district will not know.

In fact, if they are men, they will not even tell their wives.
So to buy votes, you need a sophisticated grassroots infrastructure that basically goes door to door. The decline of the Local Councils, and the failure to hold periodic elections, has undermined some of those grassroots things.

But State functionaries and the NRM are still able to put together a cash distribution network. However, vote buying runs into a second problem. Previous Museveni camps were plagued by his campaign team stealing the money.

There were jokes that to get work done, the President had to resort to keeping his campaign funds under the mattress in State House. In short, the old-fashioned vote buying option, even if it causes less enmity, is not available to Museveni because of corruption.

So corruption and creeping State failure, are undermining the patronage logic on which the current NRM rule is based, and making it difficult for it to buy votes.

Now, while you might need a network of 250,000 to distribute “logistics” nationally, if you can’t all you need is just 25 policemen. They can move those 25 men from town to town shooting opposition supporters, and strike enough fear in hearts to win elections.

In the process, Museveni is becoming the prisoner of the tiger. As the old story goes, once you ride it, for it not to bite you, you need to hold on and not fall off its back.
However, your success in holding on, doesn’t pay off in the long-term because the longer you hang on, the angrier the tiger becomes ensuring it will bite you more ferociously when you fall off.

I can’t comprehend that the Big Man’s camp doesn’t see that the current path is absolutely the worst possible way to secure one’s interest in the long-term. Actually, you don’t have to be smart to see that you can’t ride a tiger forever. You only need to be selfish enough.

Mr Onyango-Obbo is editor of Mail & Guardian AFRICA (mgafrica.com). 
Twitter:@cobbo3

ACSI launches Ugandan Chapter at UCU summit

Mr. Mike Epp, the ACSI Global Senior Vice President handing to stonemark to new ACSI Ugandan office custodians Davis Samuel Hire and Dr. Gillian Kasirye. Photo by Alex Taremwa

Mr. Mike Epp, the ACSI Global Senior Vice President handing to stonemark to new ACSI Ugandan office custodians Davis Samuel Hire and Dr. Gillian Kasirye. Photos by Alex Taremwa

By Alex Taremwa

The Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) yesterday, Tuesday launched a Ugandan chapter for the organization at a week long East African Christian Education summit held at Uganda Christian University, Mukono.

The newly opened Ugandan office is the latest of the 17 country offices world-wide making ACSI the largest protestant education world-wide serving nearly 24,000 schools in more than 100 countries.

The ASCI according to Mike Epp, the association’s Global Senior Vice President, is primarily making partnerships to equip and strengthen educators enabling them to fully prepare their students academically to integrate Jesus Christ in education at all levels.

“Christian educators help cultivate a worldview in which God has his rightful place, and they look to the Bible for guidance in answering life’s big questions. These teachers enhance children’s spiritual development in an intentional, nurturing manner,” he said.

Epp insisted that a Christian education at an ACSI member school will help children grow spiritually, academically, and culturally. “In fact, the recent Cardus Education Survey and other education studies show that ACSI schools develop the whole child better than any other type of school.”

Since 2007, ACSI has over 120 member schools in Uganda and Epp hopes that the opening of a Ugandan office will expedite the process of partnering with as many schools and help in their accreditation to integrate christian values in the current education curriculum.

He was addressing the East African Christian Education Summit held under the theme Christian Education in the Era of Bureaucracy that brought together over 150 delegates from across the world and was flagged off the Ms. Allen Kagina, the Executive Director of the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) who represented the First Lady of Uganda Janet Museveni.

In her speech, Janet Museveni admonished about the risk of producing sham citizens if the church doesn’t stand firmly to integrate values into the education system to promote spirituality for moral development.

“It is in your hands that the student must be molded and equipped to make the right moral decisions when confronted with situations that challenge their personal faith. Therefore young people should be exposed to Christian teaching so as to develop a firm foundation upon which all other knowledge should be built,” she wrote.

The First Lady, who is also a profound member of the Born-Again community of Uganda further acknowledged that allowing breeding room for spiritual diversity through granting the fundamental rights to worship and association. In most countries she argued, believers are forbidden by law, Bible disregarded in constitutions and curriculums adding that educations institutions should encourage personal character development above all things as custodians of social conscience.

The ACSI Country Director, Davis Samuel Hiire admitted that there are growing bureaucratic challenges that face christian educations institutions in the region especially on the side of government regulation and foresight adding that it is such challenges that the association seeks to address.

“We have seen most institutions starting out as Christian but change philosophy along the way. This is majorly because of the bureaucratic architecture of either the presiding governments or administrations. It’s this bureaucracy that informs the theme of this years summit,” he explained.

Secularism threatening spirituality:

DSC_0129

Dr. Samson Makhado, the ACSI Director Africa disregarded as baseless information that it is technology fueling secular humanism in Africa. He argued that Africans should find a common approach to achieving their own development instead of dancing to the drumbeats of the West.

“Take the Ugandan curriculum for example, students are studying things in 1400 Britain and Europe that the Europeans themselves have already forgotten. How sincerely can a colonial curriculum equip a student with skills to solve problems facing his society in Africa,” he wondered.

Makhado, an educationist in South Africa advised the contemporary youth to use modernity especially the internet responsibly to change livelihoods of others and acknowledged social media as fundamental to social change in Africa if it is properly used.

Why you’ll love Windows 10 

By David Goldman, @CNNMoney

Over the six years since Windows 7 was released, Microsoft has made its PC operating system far more intuitive and powerful by packing it with tablet- and smartphone-like features. A lot of those features debuted with Windows 8, but they still weren’t working perfectly.

Microsoft went back to the drawing board with Windows 10 to develop an operating system that will be familiar to Windows 7 users but doesn’t compromise on modern features. (Note: You’re not crazy — Microsoft skipped Windows 9 altogether.)

Windows 10 has a Start Menu, just like Windows 7 — only better.

On the left Start Menu column, you’ll find a list of your most used apps, most visited folders and recently added software. There’s also a button that will show you all your apps in a single list.

windows 10 start menu small

On the right part of the Start Menu, there is a grid of app tiles that you can arrange however you like. The “live” tiles will show you updates, such as the latest stock prices, the last show you were watching on Netflix, social media updates, weather, news and sports scores.

windows 10 start menu large

If you want, you can take the Start Menu full-screen by clicking the “expand” button — it’s kind of like having a tablet or smartphone screen for a desktop. But, crucially, it’s only there if you want it. The default is the familiar Windows desktop experience.

Windows 10 provides some design changes that Windows 7 users will welcome. For example, taskbar icons glow at the bottom when they are opened, but only the app icon that is currently being used is completely highlighted. In Windows 7, all open apps are highlighted, confusingly.

windows 10 files

Folder icons are far less glitzy and much more intuitive in Windows 10, making it much easier to view the contents of the folder at a glance before you open it. Gone is the confusing and redundant “libraries” directory. The task manager is also much simpler to use.

Windows 7 users should be unafraid of upgrading when Windows 10 hits store shelves later this year. There is hardly any learning curve, and the new bells and whistles alone are definitely worth checking out.

Better than Windows 8: 

So what if you’ve upgraded to Windows 8? Here are the big differences you’ll notice in Windows 10.

Windows 8’s odd tablet-style layout was confusing to Windows die-hards. You won’t find Windows 10 difficult to use. Windows 10 boots straight to the desktop, and it stays there.

If you have a convertible laptop or Windows tablet, Windows 10 has a “tablet mode” that recognizes when there is no keyboard or mouse present. But rather than make two separate tablet and desktop interfaces like Microsoft did for Windows 8, Microsoft chose to make the Windows 10 desktop and apps more finger-friendly for tablet users. They only morph a little to fit the device they’re running on.

So if you download a “modern” app from the Windows Store, it will run in a window, just like standard Windows software. The only difference is that it has a diagonal arrow button between the “close” button and the “expand” button at the top right of the window. That will take the app into “tablet mode,” going full-screen. But you can easily get out of that by moving the mouse to the top of the screen and clicking the button again.

windows 10 action center

Windows 8’s unhelpful charms bar has been replaced with the Windows 10 action center. There, you get notifications and access to handy quick settings, such as brightness controls, airplane mode, Wi-Fi and tablet mode toggles.

windows 10 alt tab

Also different is Windows 8’s app-choosing feature, that let you go back to the last-used app by swiping in fro the left. It has been replaced with a far more useful display of all your open apps on a single screen.

Touchscreen users can access the action center with a swipe in from the right, just as they can view all the open apps by swiping in the from the left. But, mercifully, Windows 10 put buttons for both on the taskbar so mouse and keyboard users won’t accidentally launch those features by putting the cursor too far to the left or right.

windows 10 cortana

Window 10’s New Features: 

Windows 10 isn’t just about correcting Windows 8’s mistakes, though. There are new features that Windows 8 users will love.

The coolest new feature is Cortana, Windows 10’s version of Siri, which appears net to the Start button on the taskbar.

“She” has a sense of humor (“I know Siri, but I don’t KNOW her, know her, if you get what I mean,” Cortana says in response to an obvious question). But in addition to barking voice commands and queries, the search feature is genuinely helpful.

It will search your apps, the Windows Store, the Web and your files to answer search queries. It’s a super-quick way to launch an app (just start typing and hit Enter when the app appears). And like Windows 8’s outstanding search function, Cortana can help you access deeply hidden settings with a few keyboard strokes, helping you avoid hunting and pecking through control panel settings.

Windows 10 also comes with multiple desktops, which is helpful for cleaning up a messy workspace. 

I have been testing the preview version of Windows 10 for a few weeks. There are plenty of things not to like, including the fact that you still can’t access all your settings from the “settings” app. We’ll cover more of the hits and misses in a fuller review once Microsoft gets closer to releasing Windows 10.

But the preview has shown me enough to confidently say that Windows 10 will be a breeze to use, a welcome change for both Windows 7 and Windows 8 users, and a big hit for Microsoft.

Salaries for sitting African presidents

By Africa Review correspondents, Mail & Guardian Africa & World Bank Group.

world01+pix

When Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari recently announced that he and his deputy would take a pay cut, it was not entirely surprising for a man known for his austerity, and who faces a challenge cutting back the excesses in the country’s FINANCES.

But President Buhari is not the first African leader to announce a pay cut. In fact, it is a popular recourse for others trying to shore up their popularity, or facing tough economic times.

In Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto last year announced a voluntary 20 per cent salary cut and invited other top government officials to follow suit. A few did, reluctantly.

In Tunisia, former President Moncef Marzouki, then facing an economic crisis in the post-revolution period, announced a two-thirds pay cut, slicing his annual pay from around $176,868 (Ksh 17m) to ‘just’ $58,956 (Ksh5.8m).

The Africa Review has compiled and analysed salaries of African leaders to try and see what they tell about the relationship between those in power and the governed. The search shows that only a few countries make public what they pay their leaders – a key finding itself that suggests a lack of transparency.

In many African countries, the first thing leaders do when they come into power is to increase their pay: In Egypt, for instance, the president’s pay shot up from a paltry $280 per month, put in place by the austere Mohammed Morsy administration, to $5,900 (Ksh584,000) per month just before General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi predictably won election.

In other countries, leaders take a disproportionate share of the national income for their personal use. In Morocco, the Treasury spends, by one account, $1 million a day on King Mohammed VI’s 12 royal palaces and 30 private residences. That is on top of $7.7 million spent on an entourage of royal automobiles, and a monthly salary of $40,000 (Ksh4m) paid to the monarch.

In 2014, King Mswati of Swaziland increased his personal budget, which includes his salary and the welfare of his extensive family, by 10 per cent to $61 million, a significant chunk of the kingdom’s overall budget. As the royal budget isn’t debated or passed by Parliament, it automatically became law.

Some presidents have deceptively small salaries but have, personally or through family members, massive control over their countries’ resources.

For example, President Eduardo dos Santos has a modest monthly salary of $5,000 (Ksh500,000) but is widely believed to control a lot of the wealth produced from Angola’s oil-industry, and his family members own some of the biggest enterprises in the country.

The Africa Review was unable to establish the official salary for Teodoro Obiang’ Nguema Mbasogo, the long-serving president of the oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, but it probably doesn’t matter.

With vast oil wealth and a population of less than a million, Equatorial Guinea has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world and should be a first-world nation. Instead, most of its wealth ends up in the hands of its notoriously corrupt First Family.

As an example, the US Department of Justice, in an indictment of the younger Teodoro Nguema Obiang’ Mangue, said the first son had spent about $315 million on property and luxury goods between 2004 and 2011, despite his job as a government minister paying less than $100,000 per year.

However, not all African leaders are money-grabbing, power-hungry brutes. In April 2015 Cape Verde President João Carlos Fonseca vetoed – for the fourth time, no less – a Bill that would, among other things, have increased his salary and that of other political officials.

The highest-paid leader, the research could find, is Paul Biya, whose $610,000 (Ksh61m) annual salary is almost three times that of South Africa’s Jacob Zuma, despite the South African economy being 10 times bigger than Cameroon’s.

Rather than simply rank the leaders based on absolute figures, The Africa Review decided to compare their gross annual salaries with the Gross National Income of their countries – basically comparing the leader’s pay with what their nationals, on average, earn.

Unsurprisingly, President Biya comes out on top again, earning 229 times what an average Cameroonian earns, followed by Liberia where President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf earns 113 times what her average citizen does.

Although Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud makes the top 10 with his annual salary of $120,000 (Ksh12m), the country is excluded from the comparative study due to the lack of verifiable GNI per capita figures.

Overall, it appears that leaders of poor countries tend to pay themselves more than those in higher-income countries.

%d bloggers like this: