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AfDB Names Headquarters Auditorium After Babacar Ndiaye

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AfDB Names Headquarters Auditorium After Babacar Ndiaye

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Mr Adesina Akinwumi, has announced that the AfDB headquarters auditorium will from now on be named Babacar Ndiaye Auditorium.

Mr Adesina made this announcement at a ceremony honouring Babacar Ndiaye at the organisation’s headquarters in Abidjan.

Babacar Ndiaye, the Bank Group’s fifth elected President, who served two terms between 1985 and 1995, passed away on July 13, 2017 in Senegal.

With Ndiaye’s widow and several children in attendance, as well as former AfDB President Kantinka Dr Kwame D. Fordwor, members of the Senegalese and Ivorian Governments, representatives of the diplomatic corps, and active and retired AfDB staff members. Adesina fondly recalled Babacar Ndiaye’s complete and passionate commitment to the development of Africa.

“He was an AfDB icon, he was a father and mentor to every one of us, and emphatically launched the career of the Bank Group’s current President. He inspired us. In losing him, Africa has lost one of its best sons.”

President Adesina underlined the personal ties between him and his predecessor, recalling that he knew Ndiaye when he worked for the West Africa Rice Development Association (WADRA), which was then based in Bouaké, Côte d’Ivoire.

“Babacar Ndiaye was charismatic, and left an indelible mark on our continent. His legacy is vast, because he always saw the big picture. He was quite simply magnificent,” Adesina stated.

He added, “During the campaign for the AfDB presidency, I naturally went to see him in Dakar. He welcomed me warmly. I took the opportunity to tell him about my vision for the High 5s. He agreed right away, and told me, ‘That’s what Africa needs to transform itself.'”

Arriving at the institution in 1965 as part of the first group of African managers, Ndiaye climbed the organisational ladder to become Division Chief, Director, Vice-President for Finance, and then President in 1985. Babacar Ndiaye was the first AfDB President to be re-elected to a second term of office.

Under his leadership, the pan-African financial institution obtained its first Triple-A rating in 1984.

The former President was the force behind the increase in the Bank’s capital in 1987, which jumped from approximately $6 billion to $23 billion, a 200% increase, after approving the process of opening the Bank’s capital to non-African countries. He was also responsible for bringing the Bank into the international financial market.

“Babacar Ndiaye accomplished tremendous things for the AfDB and for Africa. He always advocated for excellence. He made the AfDB a credible and respected institution internationally,” stated Donald Kaberuka, former AfDB President (2005-2015), in a message read on his behalf by Victor Oladokun, AfDB Director for Communication and External Relations.

Builder of institutions

Beyond his complete commitment to the Bank’s success and providing it with a solid foundation, Babacar Ndiaye helped establish major pan-African institutions, such as the African Import-Export Bank, Afreximbank; Shelter Afrique; and the African Business Roundtable. Representatives of these organizations were specially sent from Cairo, Lagos and Nairobi to attend the tribute ceremony on Thursday.

“Without Babacar Ndiaye, African industry leaders such as Aliko Dangote or Michael Ibru would undoubtedly not be where they are today. Babacar Ndiaye invested his faith and perseverance in Africa’s business community. We will be eternally grateful to him,” said Bamanga Tukur, President of the African Business Roundtable.

Christopher Edordu, founding President of Afreximbank, highlighted Ndiaye’s visionary approach, which allowed him to look beyond the era’s Afro-pessimism and embrace opportunities to finance African businesses.

“It took more than six years to establish Afreximbank. When others abandoned it, Babacar Ndiaye persevered and had patience. He firmly believed in the future of African trade at a time when that belief was not widely shared. Seeing what we have become today, we have to recognize the fact that he was a true visionary,” Edordu explained.

It was not the only time that the AfDB’s fifth elected President was proven right when confronted with naysayers. At a time when housing was not yet central to urban development in Africa, he encouraged the creation of Shelter Afrique, an organisation dedicated to financing affordable housing on the continent.

According to Edmond Adikpe, Shelter Afrique’s regional representative, “Babacar Ndiaye knew how to anticipate. He understood early on that Africa must address the problem of housing. At Shelter Afrique, we are eternally thankful to him for everything he did during our creation and evolution.”

The room was filled with emotion as one speaker followed another, with the audience warmly applauding their words of praise for Babacar Ndiaye, who remains the only President in AfDB history to have risen through the ranks of the organisation.

“He was installed as President in 1985 at the Abidjan Congress Centre in the presence of then Ivorian President Félix Houphouët-Boigny, who held the African Development Bank in high esteem,” recalled Paul Morisho Yuma, former AfDB Secretary General, drawing a standing ovation from the audience.

“Senegal is proud of you”

Although he devoted his life to Africa, Babacar Ndiaye never forgot Senegal, his country of origin. According to the Senegalese Budget Minister, Birima Mangara, AfDB Governor for Senegal, who flew in from Dakar to attend this ceremony, Ndiaye contributed significantly to the development of bilateral cooperation between his country and the Bank. “Between 1972 and now, the AfDB has invested close to 1,400 billion CFA francs in Senegal. We owe that to all of you here, but in particular to Babacar Ndiaye.

“Senegal is proud of you as a son. Babacar Ndiaye is not gone; he is still present in the depths of Africa. We hear his breath in an Africa on the move,” added the Senegalese Budget Minister, paraphrasing the poet Birago Diop.

In attendance, Ndiaye’s widow, Marlyne Ndiaye, nodded her head in agreement, with tears in her eyes. Arriving in Abidjan in 1965, Babacar Ndiaye developed a special relationship with Côte d’Ivoire, home of the Bank’s headquarters. No fewer than three Ivoirian Ministers were present in the AfDB auditorium this week.

“He was a friend of Côte d’Ivoire. We all miss Babacar Ndiaye. President Alassane Ouattara misses him, having known him well and greatly appreciated him. He was a roving ambassador for African development,” agreed François Albert Amichia, Minister of Sports and Leisure, who led the Ivorian Government delegation.

His memory lives on

Alassane Ndiaye, son of the deceased, spoke on behalf of his family. He first thanked the Bank for taking the initiative to hold the ceremony to honour and pay tribute to his father. “The entire family is proud of and thankful for this ceremony. What you have done today touches us deeply and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” said the Ndiaye family’s spokesman, in a voice filled with emotion.

He urged those present to pursue the trail blazed by his father.

“He wanted the best for Africa. He believed in and loved the idea of a better Africa. Let’s continue to work for a better future for our continent. That would be the best and most unique way to perpetuate his hopes and his memory,” continued Alassane Ndiaye.

“Replacing darkness with light, well-nourished and healthy children, free flow of goods, people and ideas throughout the continent, and restoring hope to the hopeless – these were the ideals to which President Babacar Ndiaye dedicated his life. The work to realize these dreams continues in the High 5s,” declared AfDB Senior Vice-President Charles Boamah at the ceremony’s conclusion.

Last July, a high-level delegation from the Bank, led by Charles Boamah, along with Vice-Presidents Alberic Kacou and Amadou Hott, Acting Vice-President, Finance, Hassatou N’Sele, and Director of Special Projects Sipho Moyo, attended Babacar Ndiaye’s funeral in Dakar.

During a recent visit to the Senegalese capital, President Adesina visited his predecessor’s home to express his sympathy and support his widow and children.

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

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Congolese Leader Patrice Lumumba Back to Russian University

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Soviet Patrice Lumumba

By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh

The Russian Foreign Ministry is preparing for the second Russia-Africa summit in St. Petersburg in July 2023. At the Russian Foreign Ministry, Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for the Middle East and Africa, Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia Mikhail Bogdanov, has held a special meeting with the heads of diplomatic missions of African states accredited in Moscow.

Bogdanov briefed them on the preparations for the summit, as well as the second International Parliamentary Conference “Russia – Africa” planned for March.

Deputy Chairman of the State Duma of the Russian Federation Alexander Babakov and Chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs Leonid Slutsky made presentations on the concept of the second Russia-Africa International Parliamentary Conference. It was noted that the parliamentary event is regarded as an important stage in preparation for the Russia-Africa summit.

Representatives of the leadership of the Roscongress Foundation, the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade, and the Department of State Protocol of the Russian Foreign Ministry took part in the discussion and discussed the entire range of issues related to the organization of the second Russia-Africa summit.

The African diplomatic corps got acquainted with the architecture of the program of upcoming events, as well as with the organizational and protocol aspects of the stay in St. Petersburg of the heads of state and government of African countries and the leaders of leading regional organizations and inter-African associations.

The heads of African diplomatic missions expressed a consolidated position in support of the speedy restoration of the name of Patrice Lumumba in the name of the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia. In February 1961, the university was named Patrice Lumumba University after the Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba, who had been killed in a coup that January.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the name of the Congolese leader, Patrice Lumumba, was removed, and now authorities are attempting to fix back to influence African leaders to the forthcoming summit.

Established in 1960, it primarily provides higher education to Third World students during the Soviet days. Many students, especially from developing countries, still come to this popular university from Latin America, Asia and Africa. It is Russia’s most multidisciplinary university, which boasts the largest number of foreign students and offers various academic disciplines.

In a related development, on January 30, Ambassador-at-Large, Head of the Secretariat of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum Oleg Ozerov also held talks with Egyptian Deputy Foreign Minister for African Integration Ashraf Sweilim as part of his trip to Cairo, Egypt.

Ozerov emphasized the significant contribution of Egypt, which co-chaired the first such summit in 2019, to the development of this format for the coordination of actions and comprehensive cooperation. The progressive build-up of Russia’s economic ties with the African continent, where a significant role in cooperation was played by Egypt, was noted.

A thorough exchange of views took place on the current state of Russian-Egyptian relations and the prospects for strengthening cooperation, including within the framework of joint activities under the auspices of the African Union and the League of Arab States. The second Russia-Africa summit will be held July 26-29 in St. Petersburg, the second-largest city in the Russian Federation.

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Russia’s Military Diplomacy in Africa: High Risk, Low Reward and Limited Impact

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Military Diplomacy in Africa

By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh

The South African Institute of International Affairs, a Johannesburg-based foreign policy think tank, has released a special report on Russia-Africa relations. According to the report, Russia has signed military-technical agreements with over 20 African countries and has secured lucrative mining and nuclear energy contracts on the continent.

Russia views Africa as an increasingly important vector of its post-Western foreign policy. Its support for authoritarian regimes in Africa is readily noticeable, and its soft power has drastically eroded. As suspicions arise that Russia’s growing assertiveness in Africa is a driver of instability, its approach to governance encourages pernicious practices, such as kleptocracy and autocracy in Africa.

Over the years, Russia has fallen short of delivering its pledges and promises, with various bilateral agreements undelivered. Heading into the July 2023 Russia-Africa Summit in St Petersburg (unless the proposed date and venue change, again), Russia looks more like a ‘virtual great power’ than a genuine challenger to European, American, and Chinese influence.

What is particularly interesting relates to the well-researched report by Ovigwe Eguegu, a Nigerian policy analyst at Development Reimagined, a consultancy headquartered in Beijing, China. His report was based on more than 80 media publications dealing with Russia’s military-technical cooperation in Africa. His research focused on the Republic of Mali and the Central African Republic as case studies.

The report, entitled Russia’s Private Military Diplomacy in Africa: High Risk, Low Reward, Limited Impact,  argues that a quest for global power status drives Russia’s renewed interest in Africa. Few expect Russia’s security engagement to bring peace and development to countries with which it has security partnerships.

While Moscow’s opportunistic use of private military diplomacy has allowed it to gain a strategic foothold in partner countries successfully, the lack of transparency in interactions, the limited scope of impact, and the high financial and diplomatic costs expose the limitations of the partnership in addressing the peace and development challenges of African host countries, the report says.

Much of the existing literature on Russia’s foreign policy stresses that Moscow’s desire to regain great power has been pursued largely by exploiting opportunities in weak and fragile African states.

Ovigwe Eguegu’s report focuses on the use of private military companies to carry out ‘military diplomacy’ in African states, and the main research questions were: What impact is Russia’s private military diplomacy in Africa having on host countries’ peace and development? And: Why has Russia chosen military diplomacy as the preferred means to gain a foothold on the continent?

He interrogates whether fragile African states advance their security, diplomatic, and economic interests through a relationship with Russia. Overcoming the multidimensional problems facing Libya, Sudan, Somali, Mali, and Central African Republic will require comprehensive peace and development strategies that include conflict resolution and peacebuilding, state-building, security sector reform, and profound political reforms to improve governance and the rule of law – not to mention sound economic planning critical for attracting the foreign direct investment needed to spur economic growth.

In the report, Eguegu further looked at the geopolitical dynamics of Russia’s new interest in Africa. He asserted that during the Cold War, the interests of the Soviet Union and many African states aligned along pragmatic and ideological lines. After independence, many African countries resumed agitation against colonialism, racism, and capitalism throughout the 1970s and 1980s. The clash between communism and capitalism provided ample opportunity for the Soviets to provide support to African countries both in ideological solidarity and as practical opposition to Western European and US influence in Africa.

Since the Soviet collapse in 1991, Russia has rekindled relationships with African countries for myriad reasons – but these can largely be attributed to pragmatism rather than ideology. More specifically, Russia’s interactions with African states have been multi-dimensional ranging from economic and political to security-oriented.

He offered the example of Moscow’s relationships with Eritrea and Sudan, which ultimately gave Russia some influence and leeway in the critical Red Sea region and countered the influence of the US and China. But the main feature of Russia’s policy is mostly ‘elite-based’ and tends to lend support to illegitimate or unpopular leaders.

The report also highlighted the myriad socioeconomic and political challenges plaguing a number of African countries. Despite these developments, some have struggled to maintain socioeconomic and political stability. The spread of insecurity has now become more complex across the Sahel region. The crisis is multidimensional, involving political, socioeconomic, regional and climatic dimensions. Good governance challenges play their own role. Moreover, weak political and judicial institutions have contributed to deep-seated corruption.

Conflict resolution has to be tied to the comprehensive improvement of political governance, economic development, and social questions. Some fragile and conflict-ridden African countries are keen on economic diversification and broader economic development. However, progress is limited by inadequate access to finance and the delicate security situation.

According to the International Monetary Fund, these fragile states must diversify their economies and establish connections between the various economic regions and sectors. Poverty caused by years of lacklustre economic performance is one of the root causes of insecurity. As such, economic development and growth would form a key part of the solution to regional security problems.

Analysts, however, suggest that Russia utilizes mercenaries and technical cooperation mechanisms to gain and secure access to politically aligned actors and, by extension, economic benefits like natural resources and trade deals.

Arguably, adherence to a primarily military approach to insecurity challenges is inadequate and not the correct path for attaining peace and development. Furthermore, fragmented, untransparent and unharmonized peace processes will impede considerably sustainable solutions to the existing conflicts in Africa.

Worse is that Russia’s strengths expressed through military partnerships fall short of what is needed to address the complexities and scale of the problems facing those African countries. Moscow certainly has not shown enough commitment to comprehensive peacebuilding programs, security sector reforms, state-building, and improvement to governance and the rule of law.

Surely, African countries have to begin to re-evaluate their relationship with Russia. African leaders should not expect anything tangible from meetings, conferences and summits. Since the first Russia-Africa summit held in 2019, very little has been achieved. Nevertheless, not everything is perfect. There is some high optimism that efforts might gain ground. The comprehensive summit declaration, at least, offers a clear strategic roadmap for building relations.

At this point, it is even more improbable that Moscow would commit financial resources to invest in economic sectors, given the stringent sanctions imposed following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The impact of sanctions and the toll of the war on the Russian economy is likely to see Moscow redirect its practical attention towards ensuring stability within its borders and periphery.

Notwithstanding its aim of working in this emerging new multipolar world with Africa, Russia’s influence is still comparatively marginal, and its policy tools are extremely limited relative to other international actors, including China and Western countries such as France, European Union members, and the United States. This article was also published at Geopolitical Monitor.com

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Lukashenko Hands Over Agricultural Equipment to Zimbabwe

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Belarus President Lukashenko and Zimbabwean President Mnangagwa agricultural equipment

By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh

On January 30, Belarusian President, Alexander Lukashenko, paid a working visit to hand over in a special ceremony Belarusian agricultural vehicles, tractors and equipment to President Emmerson Mnangagwa in Harare, Zimbabwe.

“First of all, I want to thank the Americans and the entire Western world for having imposed sanctions against us. Otherwise, American and German tractors would have come instead of Belarusian ones to this huge field,” Lukashenko said.

The Belarusian leader noted that in Zimbabwe, there are the friends of Belarus, with whom Minsk is building cooperation for the sake of achieving the common good.

After years of negotiations, Zimbabwe finally received its $58 million farm mechanization facility from Belarus, while another deal worth $100 million was signed, according to reports from Zimbabwe’s presidency in Harare.

Zimbabwe and Belarus agreed on assembling 3000 tractors. They also agreed to supply Zimbabwe with different kinds of machinery and equipment made in Belarus for the agriculture and timber industry. Both have further agreed to establish a mechanization programme for the farming and timber industries.

It provides for over 800 units of equipment to be delivered in two batches. These include, among others, 60 self-propelled grain harvesters, 210 precision seed drills, 474 tractors of different power capacities, fifth wheel trucks with semi-trailers for transportation of heavy equipment and four dump trucks.

The agreement makes provision for other equipment such as six semi-trailers with hydraulic manipulators for transportation of construction machinery, 10 drop-side trucks, firefighting equipment critical in forest business, cities and other communities and emergency rescue operations. The agricultural equipment also includes 30 motorcycles and a complete set of spare parts for every type of machinery and equipment delivered.

Zimbabwe has been looking for foreign partners from other countries to transfer technology and industrialize its ailing economy. The report said that the government had launched a similar facility from a US company, John Deere, estimated at $50 million, intended to boost agricultural production. Negotiations are also underway with Chinese manufacturers to set up bus assembling plants locally after the government recently procured buses from the Asian country.

Zimbabwe and Belarus officials noted that the unique relationship would help in technical skills transfer and transform the agricultural sector in Zimbabwe.

“The implementation of the project involves an approach that includes not only full responsibility regarding warranty and service support, provision of spare parts, training of local specialists, but also providing advanced technologies, comprehensive decisions and solutions in agriculture for every agricultural period from cultivation, seeding, irrigation, planting to crop harvesting,” according to the report from Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Agriculture.

In addition to the statement, the Belarus cooperation deal and the commissioned John Deere project for the supply of agriculture mechanization equipment were a culmination of the re-engagement policy of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The principle for re-engagement and engagement is open to all countries worldwide. Zimbabwe is ready to cooperate in business with external countries and for the benefit of the people. President Mnangagwa has reiterated that Zimbabwe is open for business.

Mnangagwa’s working visits to Minsk have helped to break barriers that have impeded progress in its economic diplomacy and to seek increased business cooperation with Belarus, an ex-Soviet republic and a member of the Eurasian Economic Union. The Eurasian Economic Union members are Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia.

Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in southern Africa. Mineral exports, gold, agriculture, and tourism are the main foreign currency earners of this country. The mining sector remains very lucrative. Its commercial farming sector is traditionally another source of exports and foreign exchange. In the southern African region, it is the biggest trading partner of South Africa. Zimbabwe is one of the members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

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