african trumpet edition 14_AFRITRUMPET NEW UK 1/27/2011 10:56 AM Page 2
2 Africantrumpet-The voice of Africans
Tit Bits from Africa
Cote d’Ivoire’s crisis, triggered by a contest- ed presidential election in November, con- tinues to defy local and international media- tion, with the situation muddied by contra- dictory headlines, and hints of diplomatic breakthroughs that seem based more on conjecture than reality.
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“We have seen so many communiqués and resolutions come and go that we don’t even read them now”, an Ivoirian civil society activist told IRINfrom Abidjan. “You still don’t get any sense of concrete action”.
Two men, Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara, are laying claim to the presiden- cy, with Gbagbo refusing to yield to interna- tional pressure to step down. After more than 40 days of deadlock, there is mounting criticism from Ivoirians over the mediation process, as their own problems deepen.
The brief optimism from the last African Union (AU)-Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) mission on 3 January has dissipated.
Gbagbo’s “offer” to lift the blockade of his rival’s hotel headquarters came with condi- tions Ouattara could not accept, and hopes of a meeting between the two proved unre-
alistic. Ouattara has since talked about a “commando solution” as being the best way to force Gbagbo from office, telling reporters “there are non-violent special operations which allow simply to take the unwanted person and take him elsewhere."
ECOWAS mediators are left with the prospect of another meeting, while their military counterparts still have a military intervention option on the table, ready to be discussed at a gathering in Bamako, Mali, on 17-18 January.
Both in West African capitals and the United States and Europe, military force is still being presented as a last resort. Ghanaian President John Atta Mills has gone further stating in a speech that "I per- sonally do not think the military option will solve the problem in Ivory Coast”.
“Even the mouth and tongue do quarrel, so also do husband and wife”, ECOWAS chairman, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, told reporters after digesting feedback from the AU-ECOWAS delega- tion. But the dividends from regional diplo- macy have so far been extremely modest.
The US Treasury Department’s move to
IVORY COAST STILL IN A STALEMATE
clamp down on Gbagbo’s financial opera- tions in the US, coupled with the refusal of the United Kingdom and Canada to pull out their ambassadors as requested suggests the President Obama’s administration and others may be ready for a more muscular approach. Meanwhile West African leaders have piled pressure on Cote d'Ivoire's defiant leader Laurent Gbagbo by forcing the resignation of a key ally in a regional bank who ensured the troubled leader's cash supply.
In a further blow, they asked Alassane Ouattara, recognized by the world as the winner of Nov 28 presidential elections, to name a new governor of the region's cen- tral bank.
Leaders gathered in Mali for a meeting of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) made their offer to Ouattara after Philippe-Henry Dacoury- Tabley, an Ivorian was forced to resign as governor of the Central Bank of West African States.
The bank comprises former French colonies who share a common currency, the CFA franc.
The Other Africa Exhibit To Open In March
A unique photographic project aiming to showcase a new vision of the African continent will exhibit in Accra, Ghana for the first time in March 2011. The Other Africa by photographer Philippe Sibelly is a work in development, with the ultimate aim of cre- ating 54 images, one from each country on the con- tinent.
"Africa suffers from a ‘deficit of image': where Africans see the West mostly through Hollywood movies, we, in the West, only hear about Africa through depressing media headlines," says Sibelly. According to Sibelly, this includes headlines like: ‘Troops in Mauritania oust the government', ‘Guinea turmoil threatens lucrative mining deal', ‘Dumped computers cause toxic concerns in Ghana' and ‘The Niger Delta: The curse of the black gold'... another normal day in Africa, viewed from the Western Media.
Sibelly adds that, while Africa faces many issues, the positives coming from the continent are never reported on.
"This Afro-pessimism hides many encouraging news. African economies grow at rates far higher than in the West, boosted by high commodity prices. Many countries like France and the UK, the two main former colonial pow- ers, the United States, but more importantly India and China have a renewed interest for these lands," says Sibelly.
Sibelly has photographed seven African countries: Algeria, Mauritania, Cape Verde, Senegal, Cameroon, Gabon and Sao Tome and Principe, and plans to visit Ghana, Togo, Equatorial Guinea and Ethiopia this year. According to Sibelly, the project is visual and conceptual,
and aims to balance out the deficit of image suffered by Africa. The project is articulated around three main themes; portraits of African workers from the emerging middle class; cityscapes at night; and portraits of radio DJs. "I spend a long time researching and creating contacts before each trip to be able to photograph as quickly as pos- sible once in Africa. 'Middle class' is a generic term quite difficult to define precisely. I take great care in choosing my models as I have to identify Africans enjoying lifestyles close to the ones of the European middle class (work, fami- ly, holidays...)," says Sibelly.
Sibelly was born in France and is now based in London in the United Kingdom. An exhibition of his project in develop- ment can be seen from 12 March 2011 at Alliance Française d'Accra, Ghana
South African Space Agency Launched
In what has been described as a historic day for the country, South Africa has launched its national space agency. All the major players in the space sector and well- wishers from other countries were present for the launch of South African Space Agency (SANSA) and the National Space Strategy by Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor.
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Outlining SANSA's role, the minister said it would be expected to implement a national space programme and to advise her on strategy and programmes.
It will also have the responsibility of acquir- ing, assimilating and distributing space- derived data to various state entities. Pandor said the National Space Strategy would promote research in the areas of astronomy, earth observation, communica- tions, navigation and space physics. The strategy would also foster international cooperation in space-related activities; and advances scientific, engineering and tech- nological competencies through human capital development and outreach pro-
Emphasis would be placed on encouraging space science research and development, she added.
The minister said the space industry was a big business and went beyond just space travel. It was an industry with enormous potential future growth. Over the next five years, South Africa intends to develop a formal space pro- gramme.
"Our combined efforts at enhancing South Africa's space capabilities will not only be of immense value to the scientific community in the Southern African region. "Our efforts in enhancing space science and technology will also assist in address- ing the persistent challenges of health care provision, water resources, agricultural mapping, and urban planning and commu- nications," said Pandor.
She also announced further plans aimed at strengthening the space sector, which included the department establishing a Centre of Competence in Optronics and
Synthetic Aperture Radar. Space science and technology were signifi- cant contributors to sustainable develop- ment on the African continent and SANSA would help play a role in this regard, the minister added. Chair of the SANSA board, Maurice Magugumela, said SANSA had ushered in a new era in the science and technology landscape in South Africa and the conti- nent.
The focus on SANSA will fall on the themes of earth observation, space operations, sci- ence and engineering, human capital devel- opment, science advancement and public engagement, he added. Representatives from the Brazilian and Chinese governments also relayed mes- sages of support for SANSA. Pandor signed a Memorandum of Understanding relating to data access with both countries.
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