Africa in 2019: Prospects and Forecasts

Tuesday, 29 January 2019 - 6:30pm to Wednesday, 30 January 2019 - 8:00pm

 

Africa in 2019: Prospects and Forecasts

London: Tuesday 29 January 2019, SOAS. 

Edinburgh: Wednesday 30 January, University of Edinburgh. 

Save the dates for the Royal African Society’s flagship events in London and Edinburgh, delivered in partnership with the British Council, to discuss and debate what 2019 holds in store for the continent.

London: Tuesday 29 January, 18:30 – 20:00, Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre, SOAS.

Followed by a networking reception. 

Presented in partnership with the British Council and the Centre of African Studies, University of London

Edinburgh: Wednesday 30 January, 18:30 – 20:00, Venue TBA, University of Edinburgh.
Followed by a networking reception. 
Presented in partnership with the British Council and Edinburgh Global

Further details to be announced.

Taxing Africa: Coercion, Reform and Development

Wednesday, 17 October 2018
Author: 
Hetty Bailey & Nick Westcott

Taxing Africa: Coercion, Reform and Development

Launch of the latest book in the African Arguments series, in partnership with the International Africa Institute and Zed Books.

Wednesday 19 September 2018, SOAS.

Speakers:

Mick Moore, Professorial Fellow, Institute of Development Studies
Henry Saka, Commissioner of Domestic Taxes, Uganda Revenue Authority
Jalia Kangave, Research Fellow, Institute of Development Studies 
Chair: Professor Chris Cramer, Department of Development Studies at SOAS and Vice Chair of the Royal African Society
 

Mick Moore- Professorial Fellow, Institute of Development Studies

Key messages from the book- Taxing Africa: Coercion, Reform and Development

  1. When using conventional criteria for measuring the performance of tax systems, Africa performs as well or better than many other regions e.g. Asia.
  2. African governments are better at collecting taxes than strengthening the social compact regarding how the tax is spent.
  3. An account of collecting tax and who pays that tax in Africa varies drastically depending on who you are and who you are talking to: e.g. IMF, World Bank & OECD all reference figures collected by central government organisations and it is often assumed that these are the only taxes collected in Africa. However, Africans themselves refer to many taxes collected by local governments and organisations which have differing levels of legitimacy, don’t appear on government accounts but impact directly on citizens. These have more impact than national revenue authorities.
  4. Gender dimensions of tax are important but complex: e.g. female stall traders at six Ugandan markets, mainly said they are not discriminated against,, but in practice their costs of doing business were much higher than for men because of the high costs of using the toilets in the market area.  
  5. The main tax gap was the tax not paid by mining companies (more so than oil companies).  There is a whole chapter in the book on this, the main vehicles for tax avoidance being the shifting of profits to offshore havens, unjustified tax ‘holidays’ and wholly untaxed exports of product through informal channels.  The argument that the largest tax gap is from the informal sector is false- the informal sector pays more taxes than the many of wealthiest people and parts of the formal sector.

 

Henry Saka- Commissioner of Domestic Taxes, Uganda Revenue Authority

Case study of tax collection in Uganda

The environment in which African tax collectors operate is not black and white. For example, the female market traders who do feel they are unfairly treated will be reluctant to pay their official taxes- as such, these factors have direct impact on tax compliance and policy making.

Uganda’s population is 39-42 million people with a large influx of refugees. However, the tax base is just 1.4 million people. 50% are salaried employees of the government and the private sector and the remainder comes from approx. 100,000 businesses that pay tax (out of approx.700,000 businesses in total)

Uganda’s current tax to GDP ratio is 14.2%. Four years ago it was 11% and in a good year it should increase by approx. 0.5%. Uganda’s revenue administration which deals with both customs and tax is 27 years old.

Employee income tax, VAT and local excise and import duties are the biggest revenue for the Authority. For local government, is mainly from property rates and semi-formal taxes.

There is a mismatch between how we think citizens should be taxed and how they want to be taxed- Africa’s taxation systems are largely copied from the west but are not always appropriate for an African context.

Key complaint of taxpayers are the confusion over what to pay, to whom and when; and the feeling that there is no connection between the taxes paid and services received.  For example, Ugandan taxi drivers have started a campaign calling for fees to be consolidated at the Government level due to confusion and complications regarding different fees and charges they have to pay to various districts in which they operate.  They are willing to be taxed, but want transparency of where it goes and what they get in return.  On the other hand local revenue collection often sees higher compliance as tax payers are closer to the benefits paid for by the tax. Social media has also allowed the free flow of information and created a growing social interest in taxation.

The fact that many of the wealthiest people are closely involved in politics can make it difficult to tax the rich.  In Uganda, both rich politicians and business resist the transparency that enables effective tax policies (e.g. collecting transaction details from banks).  The revenue authority had therefore created a separate team to work with VIPs made up of people that were particularly persuasive and persistent!

There is a common misconception that the informal sector is small scale. However, many large businesses worth millions of dollars are run informally with no paperwork and all in cash with no distinction between the owner and the business. In addition, there are informal practices within the formal sector. For example, the steel industry pays scrap metal merchants in metal sheets.

As part of the debate around creating enabling environments for business, the big business lobby often argues for tax exemptions to encourage investment, especially FDI.  They tend to speak directly to politicians rather than economists or the tax authorities, as the politicians seem more open  to persuasion.  Whilst “easing regulation” may make it easier to do business, it means that the information gathered through “red tape” regarding who to tax and how is lost, and therefore taxing business becomes more difficult.

Profit shifting within multi-national companies is an issue especially in the mineral sector, oil & gas and coffee. Ugandans in the coffee sector make only 10% of the profit drawn from consumers, as most of the profit is taken by middle men and retailers outside of the country. African-based companies are often run at a nominal loss, so that profits accrue outside the continent in low-tax jurisdictions.   Statistics show that countries that have the biggest income from coffee are non-coffee producing countries e.g. USA and Switzerland.

This behaviour by MNCs is a huge issue for tax collection, but due to powerful lobby and elite interests, revenue authorities often find they are asked to focus on the informal sector. However, focusing on the informal sector is regressive as often taxing poorer people and is expensive to administer. A better approach would be to focus on wealthier tax avoiders and shifted profits. To be effective, fines for MNCs for not paying tax need to be in the range of millions of pounds, not £20,000 to £50,000 as they currently are.

More cooperation on tax is also needed between African countries. For example, through double taxation agreements with each other- not just external countries such as the UK. The OECD work on base erosion and profit shifting is useful, but the African Tax & Administration Forum needs to develop this further for themselves, for example through introducing a blueprint to improve bilateral negotiations.

The Ugandan Revenue Authority created the “Public Sector Office” specifically to focus on tax in the public sector. Programmes within government departments are often short of the money they need, so instead of paying tax, a common practice became to use the funds for tax to support programme spending instead. However, this was still misappropriating funds and the funds could still sometimes end up in private pockets. Further, the public sector is the biggest buyer and there have been issues where the public sector did not pay their debts to private business as couldn’t afford to. This is why VAT is important as the Government in turn needs to pay private suppliers.

 

Jalia Kangave- Research Fellow, Institute of Development Studies 

The importance of public consultation of tax

Small taxes are how most Africans often pay tax - for example paying for public services, education and healthcare at the point of use, which in western countries is often free.

Further, in the register released by the Ugandan Revenue Authority is was clear that the poorer people were paying their taxes and the wealthy and politically connected people were not.

However, it is not automatic that paying taxes means that the government becomes more responsive to the needs of the people. Work is needed to build trust with citizens in a social contract.

E.g. In July 2018, the Ugandan government introduced a mobile money tax on transactions at 1% per transaction. Social media went wild in outrage at the tax. The President then responded that is was actually 0.5% and that the Government would welcome public views. Earlier and more engagement in such proposals is needed as people will respond, thanks in part to the boom in social media.

At the same time as the mobile money transaction tax, there was a social media tax or “over the top services” tax as it is known, whereby every social media user was asked to pay 200 Ugandan Shillings (equivalent to 4 pence) a day to use social media. This also caused outrage as it is seen as regressive and encroaching on the freedom of expression of the poorest people.

Whilst the need for African Governments to raise their own revenue is great - it needs to be equitable and accountable as otherwise there will be political repercussions, especially if tax is being seen as a tool to silence views (as was the case when Tanzania introduced a similar social media tax). Civil society needs a more clearly defined space to oversee tax measures and counter any negative use of tax.

More info

NW/HB RAS September 2018

 

En-Gendering and Inspiring Africa

Monday, 8 October 2018
Author: 
Nicholas Westcott

 

This is a good week for Africa in the UK. 

Today, Monday, is the fifth annual FT Africa Summit. Tomorrow, Tuesday, is the Royal African Society’s Annual Lecture, to be given this year by former President of Liberia, Nobel Laureate and winner of the 2017 Mo Ibrahim Award, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. And then on Wednesday and Thursday, the British Government-hosted conference on combating International Wildlife Trafficking will be held in London with a wide representation from the African continent.

These may seem only loosely connected. But there are two themes here worth bringing out.

Firstly, even though Africa still faces tough challenges, which in some cases (such as illicit trafficking and the impact of climate change) are multiplying, so too are potential solutions to these problems. Secondly, women have a growing role in public and economic life in addressing these challenges.

Increasingly, the solutions to African problems are being found in Africa, by Africans, for Africans, through the application of common sense and ingenuity as well as technology and policy. And more and more are coming from the private sector where they are allowed to innovate. Often these solutions need external financial support to enable them to be delivered, and sometimes the injection of external ideas can help stimulate local actors to explore new avenues. But it is on the ground in Africa that effective and economically viable answers are being found.

Just to give three recent examples. At an Agribusiness event last month at the London Business School organised by the RAS with Dalberg, Devex and Uhusiano Capital, the Ivorien entrepreneur Chris Daplet presented his initiative to expand rice production in Cote d’Ivoire through a company called VIFAD. The demand is there, the land and the farmers are there, but the necessary support has been lacking to increase output to meet the demand. 

Secondly, Helios Towers - one of the companies presenting at the FT Summit and already identified as one of the London Stock Exchange’s Companies to Inspire Africa 2017 - has rapidly built up a major African business managing mobile phone towers in East, West and Central Africa. It is mobile phone technology and its reliable extension to all areas of a country that will enable African economies to leapfrog to faster economic growth.

Thirdly, using that mobile technology, companies like BIMA (another Company to Inspire Africa) is beginning to provide accessible and affordable insurance and health care to low income African consumers, reducing the risks of life and the uncertainty of health provision in both urban and rural areas, particularly for women.

Both in business and politics, women are beginning to come to the fore in Africa as innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders. But it is a long and hard road, one trodden with fortitude and perseverance by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf over a long and turbulent career. 

Her RAS lecture is titled “African women’s leadership: Breaking barriers to political participation”. Reflecting on her own experience, she will draw lessons for those following in her footsteps and explain the motivation that led her to use the Mo Ibrahim prize money to set up a Presidential Centre for Women and Development in Monrovia. Across Africa, women are present in political life, but rarely at the top. The number of women presidents in Africa has fallen from three to zero in the past couple of years, even while the number of female ministers as a whole has risen slightly. The distribution, however, is very uneven. Some countries, particularly in West Africa, have had a long tradition of women as ministers for major portfolios such as finance or foreign affairs. Others such as Kenya and Rwanda have significantly increased the proportion of women ministers; and Botswana recently attracted attention for appointing the youngest woman minister, 30-year old Bogolo Joy Kenewendo as minister for investment, trade and industry.

But it is not just in politics that women’s voices need to be heard. Action is needed to ensure their full inclusion in all aspects of social and economic life. It is clear that progress has been greatest where there is a longer and stronger tradition of educating girls, and where women have played a more prominent role in economic activity as farmers, market traders or business owners. 

Without bringing the female half of the population into public and economic life, Africa - as any continent - is wasting the potential resource and the life and economic skills that women bring. We should avoid rose-tinted spectacles on this: amongst the many capable and hard-working women, there are a few lazy, corrupt and incompetent ones just as there are lazy, corrupt and incompetent men in any society. But to face the challenge of a growing population of young people hungry for food, jobs and recognition, mobilising women of all ages is an essential ingredient for success. Nigerian woman entrepreneur Bolanle Austen-Peters, the Founder of Terra Kulture and BAP Productions and a keynote speaker at the FT Africa Summit, epitomises what can be done in combining culture and business to provide opportunities for young people - if the will and the funding are there.

And this is what brings the two things together. The UK’s CDC in particular is focussing its African investment on helping redress the gender balance, as set out in their policy document on Women's Economic Empowerment. It is important that all those investing in Africa - venture capitalists, hedge funds, banks, investment companies and impact investors as well as private companies, IFIs and foreign governments - use their investments to advance this agenda as it is most likely to help them achieve the end of growing the continent’s prosperity.

Africa’s future prosperity will depend heavily on involving more women in its public and economic life - and the first countries and companies to recognise this will have a competitive advantage over their peers. Act now to reap the benefit.

Nicholas Westcott is the director of RAS.

Film Africa 2018 celebrates key industries and groundbreaking storytelling across the continent

Wednesday, 3 October 2018
Author: 
Film Africa

Film Africa 2018 celebrates key industries and groundbreaking storytelling across the continent

2 - 11 November, venues across London

London, Wednesday 3 October 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Film Africa, London’s biggest celebration of African and African diaspora cinema presented by the Royal African Society, returns for its eighth consecutive year on Friday 2 to Sunday 11 November 2018. Showcasing 39 titles from 15 African countries, including 18 premiere screenings, Film Africa will take place at five venues across London: BFI Southbank, Rich Mix, Ritzy Cinema, Bernie Grant Arts Centre and South London Gallery.

Click here to watch the Film Africa 2018 trailer

The festival launches on Friday 2 November at BFI Southbank with the UK premiere of Blitz Bazawule’s (aka Blitz the Ambassador) The Burial of Kojo, an assured debut feature by Ghana’s foremost hip-hop artist turned filmmaker. The UK premiere of Kasala! by emerging director Ema Edosio points to the future direction of Nigerian cinema and will close the festival on Sunday 11 November at Rich Mix.

This year Film Africa will showcase burgeoning cinema from two major creative hotspots on the continent, Kenya and Nigeria, through Afrobubblegum: Kenya's Movie Mavericks and The Naija New Wave. From coming-of-age and first-love stories, to documentary accounts of intersex and transgender communities, through experimental, immersive and psychological thrillers - these special strands showcase the expansive imaginations and storytelling prowess of young filmmakers living and working across Africa and the diaspora today. Key titles include Wanuri Kahiu’s daring feature Rafiki; Tristan Aitchison’s observational documentary Sidney and Friends; and the UK premiere of Akin Omotoso’s latest film, A Hotel Called Memory - Nigeria’s first silent movie!

Other strands, Young Rebels and [Up]Rooted, are underpinned by the universal themes of youth, rebellion and the precariousness of migration, including: aKasha, from award-winning Sudanese director Hajooj Kuka, which satirically explores village life and the ideology of rebel-held Sudan; Lost Warrior, co-directed by Nasib Farah and Søren Steen Jespersen, which documents the life of a deported ex-London immigrant now hiding from Al-Shabaab in Somalia; Cédric Ido and Modi Barry’s Chateau, set in the vibrant Afro-Parisian neighbourhood of the same name; and A Season in France, the latest work by celebrated Chadian auteur Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, offering a dark yet compassionate portrait of the struggling immigrant under-class living in Paris.

Back by popular demand is the festival’s foodie strand, Dine & View, with two screenings of the powerful documentary Deltas, Back to Shores (UK premiere), which explores tales of global migration; and Film Africa LIVE!, which celebrates the rich musical cultures of the continent both on-screen and through live performances and party nights. The latter strand includes the world premiere of Humanimals, Emmanuel Owusu Bonsu’s (aka Romanian-Ghanaian musician Wanlov the Kubolor) tragi-comic musical on the trials and tribulations of African artists trying to get visas to visit the UK; and The Ancestors (EU premiere) co-directed by Amil Shivji and Rebecca Corey, documenting the rebirth of Tanzania’s Zilipendwa music.

Film Africa will also present two British Sign Language interpreted screenings to enhance the cinema experience for audiences with hearing loss or deafness.  

Sheila Ruiz, Deputy Director at the Royal African Society and Film Africa Director, says:

“The Royal African Society is very proud to present the eighth edition of Film Africa, our annual festival of cinematic discovery for diverse and inquisitive audiences. We invite those eager to experience, discuss and celebrate the wealth of stories African filmmakers have to offer to join us in this 10-day feast of cinema - there's something for everyone!”

Film Africa 2018 once again presents an exciting programme of innovative shorts in competition for the annual Baobab Award for Best Short Film, judged by a panel of industry experts. The Film Africa Audience Award for Best Feature Film also returns to give festival audiences a vote. Both awards carry a cash prize of £1,000 and will be announced at the Closing Gala ceremony on Sunday 11 November.

Film Africa: Young Audiences, the festival’s annual programme of schools and family screenings, will run during Black History Month and this year’s Film Africa Family Day (Sunday 11 November) will take children and parents on an interactive journey of discovery following a special free screening of Thomas and Friends: Big World, Big Adventures! in partnership with Mattel. The Royal African Society worked closely with Mattel earlier in 2018 to bring to life the new character of Nia, a steam engine from Kenya! Nia is Thomas’s co-protagonist in this new film and will move on to form part of the steam team living on the imaginary island of Sodor.

Film Africa 2018 has been made possible through the financial support and partnership of the BFI Audience Fund, the Miles Morland Foundation and the British Council. 

For full programme information and ticket sales, please visit: filmafrica.org  

For Film Africa 2018 publicity materials, please visit: bit.ly/FA18Press

For further information, please contact Hayley Willis at Contact PR: williscontact@gmail.com

-- ENDS –

Notes to Editors

  1. The Royal African Society is a membership organisation that provides opportunities for people to connect, celebrate and engage critically with a wide range of topics and ideas about Africa today. Through our events, publications and digital channels we share insight, instigate debate and facilitate mutual understanding between the UK and Africa. We amplify African voices and interests in academia, business, politics, the arts and education, reaching a network of more than one million people globally.
  1. Film Africa is the Royal African Society’s annual festival celebrating the best contemporary cinema from Africa and its diaspora. Established in 2011, the festival offers a respected platform for African film and increased film choice for London audiences.
  1. The BFI Audience Fund is an open access flexible fund, which is designed to support a range of audience facing activities (such as film festivals, distribution releases, multiplatform distribution proposals, touring film programmes, large scale and ambitious film programmes) with £5.6m available annually. The fund prioritises proposals which demonstrate long-term impact on audience development for independent British and international film.  By making investments through the Audience Fund, the BFI expects to see a larger, more diverse film audience with a greater number of young people enjoying independent British and international film; an increased profile for independent British and international film; new partnerships and initiatives that diversify outputs and practices to reach new audiences; and an inclusive workforce that is representative of our population.
  1. The British Council is the United Kingdom's international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. Through our strategic partnership with the British Council, Film Africa is creating opportunities for African filmmakers to present their work to diverse UK audiences.
  1. The Miles Morland Foundation is a London-based registered charity, which makes grants in areas reflecting its founder’s interests. The Foundation’s main aim is to support entities in Africa, which allow Africans to get their voices better heard with a particular focus on contemporary African writing. The Foundation awards a small number of annual writing scholarships for works of fiction and non-fiction. The scholars receive £18,000.00 paid over the course of a year.
  1. Film Africa 2018 sponsors are WorldRemit, Aduna, Divine Chocolate, Karma Cola, and Yojos!
  1. Film Africa 2018 media partners are Colourful Radio, Nataal and gal-dem.

 

Film Africa 2018

Friday, 2 November 2018 - 6:15pm to Sunday, 11 November 2018 - 9:00pm

 

 

 

Film Africa 2018

2-11 November

BFI, Bernie Grant Arts Centre, Rich Mix London, Ritzy Cinema and South London Gallery

 

Film Africa is the Royal African Society’s annual festival celebrating the best African cinema from across the continent and diaspora. Established in 2011 with the remit of promoting a better understanding of Africa through film, every year Film Africa brings diverse London audiences a high quality and wide-ranging film programme accompanied by a vibrant series of events, including director Q&As, talks and discussions; professional workshops and master classes; school screenings and family activities; and Film Africa LIVE! Music nights. 
 

The festival launches on Friday 2 November at BFI Southbank with the UK premiere of Blitz Bazawule’s (aka Blitz the Ambassador) The Burial of Kojo, an assured debut feature by Ghana’s foremost hip-hop artist turned filmmaker. The UK premiere of Kasala! by emerging director Ema Edosio points to the future direction of Nigerian cinema and will close the festival on Sunday 11 November at Rich Mix.

This year Film Africa will showcase burgeoning cinema from two major creative hotspots on the continent, Kenya and Nigeria, through Afrobubblegum: Kenya's Movie Mavericks and The Naija New Wave. From coming-of-age and first-love stories, to documentary accounts of intersex and transgender communities, through experimental, immersive and psychological thrillers - these special strands showcase the expansive imaginations and storytelling prowess of young filmmakers living and working across Africa and the diaspora today. Key titles include Wanuri Kahiu’s daring feature Rafiki; Tristan Aitchison’s observational documentary Sidney and Friends; and the UK premiere of Akin Omotoso’s latest film, A Hotel Called Memory - Nigeria’s first silent movie!

Other strands, Young Rebels and [Up]Rooted, are underpinned by the universal themes of youth, rebellion and the precariousness of migration, including: aKasha, from award-winning Sudanese director Hajooj Kuka, which satirically explores village life and the ideology of rebel-held Sudan; Lost Warrior, co-directed by Nasib Farah and Søren Steen Jespersen, which documents the life of a deported ex-London immigrant now hiding from Al-Shabaab in Somalia; Cédric Ido and Modi Barry’s Chateau, set in the vibrant Afro-Parisian neighbourhood of the same name; and A Season in France, the latest work by celebrated Chadian auteur Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, offering a dark yet compassionate portrait of the struggling immigrant under-class living in Paris.

Back by popular demand is the festival’s foodie strand, Dine & View, with two screenings of the powerful documentary Deltas, Back to Shores (UK premiere), which explores tales of global migration; and Film Africa LIVE!, which celebrates the rich musical cultures of the continent both on-screen and through live performances and party nights. The latter strand includes the world premiere of Humanimals, Emmanuel Owusu Bonsu’s (aka Romanian-Ghanaian musician Wanlov the Kubolor) tragi-comic musical on the trials and tribulations of African artists trying to get visas to visit the UK; and The Ancestors (EU premiere) co-directed by Amil Shivji and Rebecca Corey, documenting the rebirth of Tanzania’s Zilipendwa music.

Film Africa will also present two British Sign Language interpreted screenings to enhance the cinema experience for audiences with hearing loss or deafness.  

Film Africa 2018 once again presents an exciting programme of innovative shorts in competition for the annual Baobab Award for Best Short Film, judged by a panel of industry experts. The Film Africa Audience Award for Best Feature Film also returns to give festival audiences a vote. Both awards carry a cash prize of £1,000 and will be announced at the Closing Gala ceremony on Sunday 11 November.

Film Africa: Young Audiences, the festival’s annual programme of schools and family screenings, will run during Black History Month and this year’s Film Africa Family Day (Sunday 11 November) will take children and parents on an interactive journey of discovery following a special free screening of Thomas and Friends: Big World, Big Adventures! in partnership with Mattel. The Royal African Society worked closely with Mattel earlier in 2018 to bring to life the new character of Nia, a steam engine from Kenya! Nia is Thomas’s co-protagonist in this new film and will move on to form part of the steam team living on the imaginary island of Sodor.

Film Africa 2018 has been made possible through the financial support and partnership of the BFI Audience Fund, the Miles Morland Foundation and the British Council. 

 

View Full Programme & Book Tickets

 
 
 

'The Last Words of Rowan Du Preez: Murder and conspiracy on the Cape Flats' by Simone Haysom

Thursday, 11 October 2018 - 6:30pm to 8:00pm

The Last Words of Rowan Du Preez: Murder and conspiracy on the Cape Flats by Simone Haysom

Date & Time: Thursday 11 October, 18:30 - 20:00
Venue: London International Development Centre, 36 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD

In 2012 Angy Peter was bringing up her young children with her husband in Bardale, Mfuleni on the Cape Flats. Angy was an activist, and spent her days collecting evidence for a commission of inquiry into policing that had the chance to change law enforcement across the country’s troubled townships. She was vocally against vigilante violence and a go-to person when demanding better services from the police. But when the commission started its hearings, Angy found herself on trial for murdering – necklacing – a young neighbourhood troublemaker, Rowan du Preez.

The state’s case centred on the accusation Rowan had allegedly made with his dying breath – that Angy had set alight the tyre around his neck. Simone Haysom takes us into the heart of a mystery: was Angy Peter framed by the police for a murder she didn’t commit? Or was she a wolf in sheep’s clothing who won a young man’s trust and then turned on him in the most brutal way? Simone Haysom spent four years meticulously researching this case and the result is a court-room drama interwoven with expert opinion and research into crime and the state of policing in the townships of South Africa.

Join us for a discussion about the book and its themes with the author in conversation with Kim Chakanetsa of the BBC. Copies of the book, published by Jonathan Ball, will be on sale at the event. 

The writing of this book was supported by the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship. The current scholarship closes for applications on 30 September 2018. Find out more here. 

Spaces are limited so please reserve in advance on Eventbrite.

 

 

 

 

Britain’s message to Africa

Monday, 27 August 2018
Author: 
Nicholas Westcott

On 28 August, Theresa May will pay her first visit to Africa as British Prime Minister, the first substantive visit to Africa by any British PM since 2011. This is good news, and a golden opportunity to reset Britain’s relations with the continent. But what should her message be?

For one thing, there is some ground to make up. The recent lack of high level government visits, the rapid turnover of Ministers responsible for Africa, and a focus often apparently limited to development and security, has left many in Africa feeling neglected by Britain. Many Commonwealth African leaders came to the UK for the Heads of Government meeting in April this year, but it has been largely one way traffic.

Britain’s relations with Africa have been long-standing, intensely close, important for both parties, and frequently bumpy. The legacy of the slave trade and decades of colonial rule leave a deep mark. But Africa has now been independent (again) for nearly as long as it was colonised, and this enables us to put a fresh perspective on relations.

There is certainly great potential for excellent relations in the future. As the Commonwealth summit demonstrated, there remains a strong residual sympathy towards Britain as a country and its monarch as a person. London and the UK remain important cultural reference points for many Africans, whether through football, the English language, education or family connections. Many dream of visiting, though the current visa regime does seem to make it as difficult and expensive as possible.

Equally, there are many in this country for whom Africa is important. In towns and cities throughout the country there are thousands of people with deep links to African communities all over the continent, through local aid initiatives, town and hospital twinning arrangements, cultural links, business contacts, personal friendships and family links. The bonds are far deeper and wider than we think.

Britain is also proud of its status as a ‘development superpower’, committed to maintain an aid budget worth 0.7% of national GDP, making it one of the biggest bilateral donors in the world and with major programmes in a number of African countries. 

But still Britain’s current impact in Africa is limited. The footprint of British diplomatic missions on the continent has grown slightly since the mid 2000s (from 27 missions to 31), though still lagging well behind Germany (39), France (41), China (46) and the US (49). The number of ministers visiting in the past year has gone up, but none of this has really translated into the kind of close relationships we want, and need - as demonstrated by the UK’s failure to attract African votes in recent UN elections, eg for the WHO and ICJ. 

This is compounded by two challenges: to identify exactly what the UK’s policy on Africa is; and to tackle the uncertainty arising from Brexit. 

On the first, British policy has appeared fragmented, with different departments doing different things, and a focus only on a few countries considered of strategic importance such as Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Ethiopia and Somalia. Though every country is different and fiercely independent, Africa does see itself collectively and we should respond appropriately. A more coherent overall policy makes sense.

On Brexit, Africans expectations are high that Britain will (have to) pay more attention to Africa after exiting the EU. They see an opportunity that a new relationship will offer Africa more than it used to receive from the UK through the EU, especially on trade where the EPAs remain unpopular with many. But this will require extra resources and new concessions - on market access for example - that may be hard to deliver in practice given the costs and constraints of the Brexit process. So there is a risk expectations will be disappointed.

All this points to the importance of the Prime Minister using her visit to bring a message that outlines a clear, concise and coherent strategic vision of Britain’s future relations with Africa. This message should have three crucial components.

First and foremost, it needs to demonstrate a new and vital partnership with African countries based on mutual respect, mutual interests and a higher level of engagement. This visit should not be a one-off. It needs to be followed up regularly.

Secondly, the purpose of this engagement, the focus of British policy, should be two things: promoting Africa’s prosperity, in particular through encouraging faster economic growth and supporting African entrepreneurship, infrastructure and basic services; and increasing the security of African people by ending conflicts, improving governance and preventing terrorism. These are easier said than done, but they provide a clear strategic direction for more practical interactions and interventions. 

Thirdly, to achieve these objectives the Government needs to identify the critical areas of change where the UK can most usefully support practical action.

First among these should be support for African efforts to improve governance. Unlike some other parts of the world, in Africa democracy is still moving forwards, not backwards. Accountable government is spreading, not because donors are demanding it but because Africans are. It is an uphill task, as some recent elections (and in some countries, the lack of them) have shown. But the UK has many years of experience in building and maintaining accountability in government: through parliaments, improved financial management, audit offices and court systems, through reinforcing the rule of law and in combating corruption. Programmes on these issues, though small and labour intensive, have over the years yielded more benefit than many of the higher spending projects. None of these are easy, and where corruption is an integral part of the political system our efforts will often be frustrated or ineffective. But programmes to tackle such evils as trafficking in people or illegal wildlife products, or action to improve counter-terrorist operations, will not succeed without greater democracy and better overall governance.

A second critical area is stimulating economic growth in a way that actually creates jobs for young people, above all by enabling them to use their entrepreneurial capabilities. These are too often stifled, and economic support too often focussed on attracting foreign investment. Africa’s greatest resource lies within, and it is the people not the raw materials. It is in everyone’s interests that young Africans find opportunities in Africa, rather than seek them elsewhere. The basic infrastructure, physical and educational, needs to exist, and foreign investment remains an invaluable contribution; but more needs to be done to stimulate opportunities for individuals and local businesses in the countries themselves. 

A third critical issue is migration. Support for action against illegal trafficking and people smugglers is necessary, but it is not sufficient. The latest Afrobarometer data illustrates clearly that it is the more educated that migrate, not the less educated. So this tendency can be turned to the UK's advantage if we attract the brightest of the young generation, the rising leaders of Africa, to work in or be educated in the UK before returning to build businesses and provide inspiration - just as young Britons also benefit from studying abroad. But this means making legal migration, especially for education, easier not more difficult. This is a key test of whether Britain will be truly ‘Global’ in the future, or whether it is merely a hollow slogan.

Finally, it is worth reviewing where to focus these efforts geographically. The big strategic and Commonwealth partners remain important. But there is an equal imperative to help the most fragile regions - the Horn, the Great Lakes and the Sahel. It is a good thing to expand Britain’s footprint on the continent, to open posts in countries like Chad and Niger as well as in Commonwealth ones like Lesotho and eSwatini. But to have impact, we need critical mass, and that means reviewing the distribution as well as volume of our support now we will no longer be able to lean on the EU in some parts of the continent. Close coordination with EU partners will remain essential. But the tough questions are whether, for example, we will continue to pay our share of AMISOM costs, or continue to support training missions in the Sahel.

This is a moment to renew and strengthen our partnership with Africa. But it needs an investment, an increase in resources, and a clear public message - even if ultimately, in this new world of post-truth politics, it is not words but actions that will matter.

SDG Zero Hunger: Driving agricultural transformation in Africa

Thursday, 13 September 2018 - 6:00pm to 9:00pm

 

Date & Time: Thursday 13 September, 18:00 – 21:00

Venue: The Dining Room, London Business School, 26 Sussex Place London NW1 4SA

Tickets: £12 (free for RAS Corporate Members and Partners) 

Register: bit.ly/SDGAfricaAgri

 

A discussion and networking drinks brought to you in partnership with Dalberg GroupUhusiano CapitalDevex and The Africa Club at London Business School.

African agriculture remains a source of largely unrealized potential. Low productivity and fragmented markets can dissuade many potential businesses and investors from the African agricultural sector. However, there is growing political will to support agribusinesses and substantial opportunities to address the continent's food security challenges, while creating a thriving commercial sector.

This event will bring together project developers, commercial agribusiness players, a diverse range of investors, development actors and foundations.

The format will be a keynote address, followed by an engaging and interactive business pitch session from African agribusiness projects across East and West Africa, and a panel discussion with a broad set of actors.

 

SPEAKERS

Welcome Remarks: Alistair Boyd, CMG, Vice-Chairman, Royal African Society

Keynote Speech: Daudi Lelijveld, Director of Impact Fund, CDC Group

Eren Kelekci, Chief Private Sector & Blended Finance, African Development Bank

Lisa Conibear, Business Manager, Shell Foundation

Joseph Ssentongo, Senior Evaluator, Global Innovation Fund

Mariana Graça, Investment Manager, AgDevCo

Jean-Marc Debricon, General Manager, Alterfin

Harry Davies, Senior Associate, Ceniarth

Aly-Khan Jamal, Partner, Dalberg

Christelle Kupa, Founder & CEO, Uhusiano Capital

Rubelyn Alcantara, Advisor, Uhusiano Capital

 

PROJECTS

VIFAD in Cote d'Ivoire (Chris Daplet)

World Food Bank in Uganda, Rwanda & Ethiopia (Scott Brown, President)

Moringa Miracles in Malawi (Iain Church, Business Development Director) 

 

To register your attendance, visit our Eventbrite page

 

 

Taxing Africa: Coercion, Reform and Development

Wednesday, 19 September 2018 - 6:30pm to 8:00pm

Taxing Africa: Coercion, Reform and Development

Date & Time: Wednesday 19 September, 18:30 – 20:00

Venue: Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG

Launch of the latest book in the African Arguments series

Taxation has been seen as the domain of charisma-free accountants, lawyers and number crunchers – an unlikely place to encounter big societal questions about democracy, equity or good governance. Yet it is exactly these issues that pervade conversations about taxation among policymakers, tax collectors, civil society activists, journalists and foreign aid donors in Africa today. Tax has become viewed as central to African development.

Written by leading international experts, Taxing Africa offers a cutting-edge analysis on all aspects of the continent’s tax regime, displaying the crucial role such arrangements have on attempts to create social justice and push economic advancement. From tax evasion by multinational corporations and African elites to how ordinary people navigate complex webs of ‘informal’ local taxation, the book examines the potential for reform, and how space might be created for enabling locally-led strategies.

Speakers

Mick Moore, Professorial Fellow, Institute of Development Studies
Henry Saka, Commissioner of Domestic Taxes, Uganda Revenue Authority
Jalia Kangave, Research Fellow, Institute of Development Studies 
 
Chair: Professor Chris Cramer, Department of Development Studies at SOAS and Vice Chair of the Royal African Society
 

About the Series

Written by experts with an unrivalled knowledge of the continent, African Arguments is a series of concise, engaging books that address the key issues currently facing Africa. Topical and thought-provoking, accessible but in-depth, they provide essential reading for anyone interested in getting to the heart of both why contemporary Africa is the way it is and how it is changing. The African Arguments series is published for the International African Institute by Zed Books in association with the Royal African Society and the World Peace Foundation.

Copies of Taxing Africa Coercion, Reform and Development by Mick Moore, Wilson Prichard, and Odd-Helge Fjeldstad will be on sale at the event.

Register here through Eventbrite

Please consider making a donation to the Royal African Society to support the events series.

 

 

 

 

 

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