Tuesday, 31 May 2016

How CSOs Can Help Feed Africa

The African Development Bank's CSO Forum was held on 26-27 May 2016 in Lusaka. The forum was held during the AfDB Annual Meetings. It focused on three areas energy, agriculture and jobs for youth. Over the two days the bank and CSOs met to chart the way in which there can be better collaboration between the two. In an earlier post, I informed you what the main objectives of the forum were, I can report back to you on whether those objectives were met. I was in the agriculture session. Therefore, that is what this piece will focus on that as well as other issues that emerged from the forum.

Agriculture breakout session

 AfDB's President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina in his address to the forum said that the bank was committed to strengthening CSO engagement. He also confirmed that the CSOs were needed in areas of advocacy. He further mentioned that Africa had so much potential for wealth creation. There were other speakers who addressed the forum such as Her Excellency Mary Robinson, founder of Africa2.0, Mamadou Toure and a representative for the CSOs came from the Non-Governmental Organisations Coordinating Council (NGOCC). Over the next two-day deliberations, CSOs and the bank engaged in various sessions.

In the agriculture session, there were some revealing statistics about the state of affairs of Africa's agriculture sector. Agriculture accounts for 25% of GDP in Africa and there are 33% of African children who live in chronic hunger. Africa also has a staggering food net import bill of $35.4 billion per annum. The statistics do not make great reading. AfDB has embarked on an ambitious initiative called Feed Africa, which seeks to take a commodity focused integrated approach. AfDB identified seven enablers that will make the Feed Africa possible- Increased productivity, realised value of increased production, increased investment in hard and soft infrastructure; finance expanded agriculture, improved agribusiness environment, increased inclusivity, sustainability, nutrition; and coordination. It is in these seven enablers that CSOs can find their roles to play.

Agriculture breakout session

AfDB recognises that strong partnership and collaboration with CSOs will make it possible to achieve agricultural transformation. CSOs also had the opportunity to present their concerns. There were concerns that research institutions did not want to work with subsistence farmers this is although subsistence farmers are the ones who feed Africa. CSOs also addressed the threat to indigenous seeds. The proposed agro-industrial parks by AfDB raised concerns among some CSOs that farmers would be denied access to land and other natural resources. It could also lead to some farmers being indebted.

On the second and final day of the forum it was great to hear what the agreeable plan was for agriculture. CSOs proposed that there was need for capacity building for all fields. It was important to exactly know what capacities are needed for farmers. AfDB together with CSOs need to identify what markets would help in the development of farmers. CSOs advised that there is a need to ensure all programmes and projects are demand driven and not multinational agenda driven. CSOs can ensure that improved nutrition goes hand in hand with improved livelihoods through agriculture. CSOs will also play a role in linkages, identifying opportunities and provide training for youth in agriculture. It was also important to provide land security for farmers as no one can invest in land that they know there is a possibility of being kicked out the next day.

It was an engaging two-day session at the CSO Forum. Both the AfDB and CSOs shared their challenges and expectations, which culminated in them arriving at a plan to move forward. The bank heard the concerns of the CSOs and it is hoped that they will take them on board. In the same vein, the CSOs heard the plans of the bank, and they should be open to collaborate and partner with them. However, as one participant stated that there have been too many meetings and conferences with nothing to show for it. Now is the time to begin implementation. Hopefully at the next CSO Forum, we shall be able to see the fruits of these sessions.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Why AfDBs CSO Forum Matters

This year Zambia will have the privilege of hosting the African Development Bank Annual  Meetings. The meetings will take place between 23- 27 May 2016 in Lusaka. During this event, there will be a special Civil Society Organisations (CSO) Forum, which will be held between 26-27 May 2016. The aim of the CSO Forum is to engage CSOs  and AfDBs senior management on the Bank's strategic focus on three priority areas- energy, agriculture and jobs for youth. We are becoming quite accustomed to hosting these international conferences in Zambia.

CSOs encompass a broad spectrum of organisations, which include community groups, nongovernmental organisations, labour unions, charitable organisations, faith-based organisations, professional associations, and foundations. The question that many might be asking is what exactly does AfDB hope to achieve with this CSO Forum and why should we care? For one, the strong statistical data shows that Africa has challenges regarding energy, agriculture and jobs for youth. Over 645 million Africans have no access to electricity services, and approximately 730 million people rely on traditional biomass for cooking and heating. Africa is the continent with most of the remaining arable lands of the world (about 65%) and basic conditions for growing crops; Africa should hence be able to feed itself, create jobs for youth and women and enhance incomes from agriculture. Africa has an estimated 60 percent of its population between the ages of 15 and 24, with 10 12 million youths entering the job market each year resulting in more than half of them unemployed, underemployed, or inactive.

The continent has many challenges yet at the same time possesses so much potential, which needs to be exploited. AfDB knows that there are a variety of stakeholders required in order to achieve the goals for their three priority areas. CSOs are one of the stakeholders whom AfDB wants to collaborate with in order to achieve their goals. CSOs play important roles within our society. AfDB recognises that CSOs amplify the voices of the poor and marginalised, partner with governments to provide social services, are a hub of technical expertise, increase public accountability among others. During the CSO Forum for each of the thematic areas, the round table groups shall come up with issues to be addressed by each of the players (CSOs, Bank, private sector, and collaboratively) and prepare a road map stipulating specific tasks and outputs.

When the forum is over it is hoped there will be a set of identified general themes and points of agreement on areas of collaboration between the Bank and CSOs. Key issues will have been identified to be taken forward in pursuant of the Bank’s evolving agenda focusing on the three focus areas among the High 5s. Groups or individual CSOs shall have been recognized with their comparative advantages in various ways such as technical and technological know-how, proximity and geographical location and factors that make them an appropriate and cost effective organ for delivering economic development. 

Now, what would a forum be without bloggers? Therefore, during the meeting you will be able to follow proceedings and take part through social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Flickr. I look forward to the CSO Forum where I am one of the official bloggers, and I will be updating with all the information you need to know. Of course, I will be letting you know if the outcomes were achieved.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Wizkid Concert Catastrophe

Firstly, let me start by saying I do not feel worthy to be writing this post. I doubt that I can fill this page with enough venom that fans who waited faithfully for Wizkid to turn up at Heroes Stadium on time can. Nonetheless, I feel I will be failing in my duty if I did not address the disaster that happened on 30 April 2016. In fact, it should be a day marked in the history of every music promoter, aspiring promoters, and those who flirt with the idea.

I like people with ambition; I admire people with huge ambition, but I envy those with bold, unadulterated  ambition. It is the unadulterated ambition that Transblast Entertainment had that I applaud. They had an audacious target of fill Heroes stadium just like Cassper Nyovest, who apparently was in Livingstone on the same day had done at the FNB Dome in South Africa. However, their idea of filling Heroes stadium was not with Zambia playing Brazil or signing a constitution oh no. It was with Wizkid. Who? You might be asking, oh yes, some people might be asking that question too. Fortunately, I know him, he is a Nigerian artist even though I cannot tell you one song he has done. He also recently featured on Drake's song. It was this fellow who Transblast Entertainment had pinned their hopes to filling Heroes stadium.

Now remember I envy people with bold, adulterated ambition, likewise, I cringe and shudder in pity for those whose ambitions border along the line of insanity. I honestly wish I was around with the people who cooked up the idea to bring Wizkid to Zambia and thought that they could fill up the stadium. Just how did they arrive at Wizkid of all people really. I know sometimes I can be dumb but awe I cannot be that stupid that I am failing to comprehend at how they arrived at Wizkid. Didn't JayZ, Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, John Legend, cross their minds while they were discussing?

The tickets were pegged between K100 for ordinary to K1, 000 for VIP. If you know anything about most Zambian promoters, VIP is just a nice way to steal your cash. VIP is never really VIP. You will still get to mingle with us commoners who pay K100. Once again, they should have asked FAZ how they fail to fill up the stadium even when football prices are as cheap as K20.  Transblast Entertainment then went on billboard abuse attempting to sell the idea that Wizkid was a mega superstar worthy of us attending his concert. His face littered billboards across major roads that it was almost impossible to ignore.  I give it to the promoters, they tried their best to sell this guy to the Zambian masses.
One of many billboards around Lusaka
Despite all the promotions and hype that were going around Wizkid concert, Transblast Entertainment should have seen the warning signs. There was immediate resistance to the ticket prices on their social media platforms. Pre-ticket sales should have also given an indication that they were headed for something tragic. However, they soldiered on, that is what I am talking about that I envy such ambition. As if the apathy was not enough the forces beyond their control began to transpire around. There were too many events happening on 30 April. There was the Mosi Day of Thunder in Livingstone, Lafarge Marathon, a MegaFeast at my church, a Writers Circle meeting and I had a friend's Chilanga Mulilo to attend, eish those were just too many functions for one day.

As they say in showbiz, the show much go on. The schedule and performance line-up was released a few days before, and Wizkid was due to perform for almost an hour at 22: 10 hours. So his loyal fans I am told and read on social media trickled into the stadium. They arrived on time in readiness to watch their man. Some claimed that the organisers were still setting up the  when they got there. The stadium was 0.000005% full, okay that might be an exaggeration, but you get the point. 22:10 hours Wizkid no show, 23:00 hours no show, 00:00 hours no show, 01:00 hours no show, I think he turned up somewhere between 02:00 hours and 03:00 hours at which point many of the fans had already left exhausted. Shall we please sing the national anthem for those loyal fans who stuck around. They deserve a medal. Because I am a Judas in that regard, kaleza Chineke oooooo I would have gone with a speaker for wasting my time. This blog post would have been FIRE, FIRE, FIRE. All you would have been reading is **&&$%&*****#$#@#$$%%^^^&&##%^% throughout. Transblast Entertainment Facebook page was inundated with fuming fans who were frustrated. Some of the things I read, I think I need to exorcise my eyes mwebantu.

Fans faithfully waiting
Empty Heroes stadium

 For the amount of promotion Transblast Entertainment did, and  I am assuming the colossal amount of cash they gave Wizkid to come just how did they allow him to show up late? Wizkid should have been in the country two to three days prior to his show, done the media rounds, taken selfies with fans, done a sound check and another sound check then perform at 23:00 hours. I know the explanation given by Transblast Entertainment about Wizkid missing his flight and all, but I am sorry in Zambia, we give too many excuses, and many people get away with it. People work hard for their money and give up their time with family and friends to show up at a concert. The least promoters can do is respect that.

This disaster is definitely one for the reference books. Music promoters now risk been viewed suspiciously because we have had too many such problems happening. Sean Paul anyone. Even I now have decided to change my stance over attending foreign artist's concerts. I am only buying tickets once I know they have landed at the airport, and I have seen  a Zambian little-girl place flowers into their hands. And I am buying the ticket at the door when I hear sound check happening. As for me buying VIP tickets, over my dead body.