Recent Events

On Friday, June 8, the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center, in collaboration with the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), hosted a discussion on USHMM’s new report: Regions at Risk: Preventing Mass Atrocities in Mali. The event featured the report’s authors, Mr. Ibrahim Yahaya Ibrahim, early warning fellow with USHMM, and Ms. Mollie Zapata, research associate with the Simon-Skjodt Center at the USHMM, with The Honorable Karim Keïta, chairman of the National Commission for Defense, Security, and Civil Protection of the National Assembly of the Republic of Mali, responding to their presentation.
On Wednesday, May 23, the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center hosted a discussion with Mr. Moïse Katumbi Chapwe, former governor of Katanga Province and leader of Ensemble pour le changement, a new political movement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Mr. Félix Tshisekedi, president of the Union pour la démocratie et le progrès social (UDPS), the DRC’s oldest continuously operating political party.

In their remarks, Katumbi and Tshisekedi announced that the Congolese opposition would field a unified candidate in the presidential election scheduled for December 23, 2018. Incumbent Joseph Kabila, whose constitutionally-mandated two-term limit expired over eighteen months ago, has twice delayed elections. Katumbi stressed that the Congolese opposition is united and working together for a brighter future, citing his joint visit to the United States with Tshisekedi as an example of their cooperation. Both candidates warned participants that Kabila was resurgent and reintroducing his stranglehold on the country, noting that it is “a very dark time for the electoral process [in DRC].” “We’re here to sound the alarm,” said Tshisekedi, “Tomorrow when the catastrophe arrives, you cannot say you didn’t know.”
On Tuesday, May 8, the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center hosted a roundtable with Mr. Bekele Gerba, deputy chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), and Mr. Eskinder Nega, prominent Ethiopian journalist and blogger. In February, both men were released from prison, having been jailed for years under the country’s anti-terrorism laws.
On Friday, April 20, the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center launched two new policy briefs that tackle the complexities of disruptive technology and innovation in Africa. Authored by Aleksandra Gadzala, Atlantic Council senior fellow, “Fintech: Powering Inclusive Growth in Africa” seeks to help investors and policymakers better understand the waves of financial technology (fintech) innovation unfolding in sub-Saharan Africa, while “3D Printing: Shaping Africa’s Future” catalogues the experiences of countries around the world facing the challenges of widespread 3D printing adoption.
On Wednesday, April 18, the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center, in partnership with the Global Business & Economics Program, hosted a discussion with Mr. Lesetja Kganyago, governor of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB).

Dr. J. Peter Pham, Atlantic Council vice president and Africa Center director, and Mr. Bart Oosterveld, C. Boyden Grey fellow on global finance and growth and Global Business & Economics Program director, welcomed participants. Mr. Brian C. McK. Henderson, Atlantic Council treasurer, introduced Kganyago, with whom he had worked earlier in the central banker’s career.

In his remarks, Kganyago addressed the issue of South Africa’s fiscal resilience, and how the country is positioned to deal with shocks from the global economy. He laid out how strong fiscal institutions and a healthy regulatory regime allowed South Africa to weather the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent recession while many countries fared poorly. As the global economy has recovered, so too has South Africa, rebuilding its economic buffers, reining in inflation, and reducing its debt to GDP ratio.
On Wednesday, April 18, the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center hosted a roundtable with Dr. John Panonetsa Mangudya, governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).

Dr. Mangudya presented a summary of Zimbabwe’s macroeconomic environment, highlighting a declining inflation rate, more diversified exports, and excellent human capital within the context of recent political and economic change. He elaborated numerous opportunities for investment and growth in Zimbabwe, including unexploited mineral deposits—particularly gold and platinum—and significant tourism potential.
On Friday, April 13, the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center hosted a roundtable with Mr. Albert Yuma Mulimbi, chairman of Gécamines and president of the Congolese Business Federation (Fédération des Entreprises du Congo).

In his prepared remarks (official document attached), Mr. Yuma emphasized the importance of the mining industry in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to the overall wellbeing of the country, calling it the “lungs” of the Congolese economy. He highlighted the 2017 production figures of DRC’s most profitable minerals, including copper, cobalt, and coltan, but stressed that the industry was not benefitting the Congolese people as much as it should. According to the speaker, the new Congolese mining code seeks to change this, increasing taxes on profits from 30 to 35 percent and royalties from 2 to 3.5 percent for copper and cobalt, and expanding the government’s stake in new mining projects from 5 to 10 percent. Mr. Yuma acknowledged the concerns expressed by some of the world’s largest mining companies in response to the new mining code, but emphasized that profits should increase once the new code is introduced and the DRC reputation as an attractive mining destination should not be tarnished.

A discussion, moderated by Dr. J. Peter Pham, Atlantic Council vice president and Africa Center director, followed Yuma’s remarks, with participants focusing on the transparency of the mining industry’s supply chains and networks in the DRC and the various ways in which civil society concerns would or would not be incorporated in the country’s policies.

The delegation accompanying Mr. Yuma also included H.E. François Nkuna Balumuene, Ambassador of the DRC to the United States; Mr. Patrick Thierry André Kakwata, Member of the Congolese National Assembly and Chairman of the Natural Resources and Environmental Commission; Mr. Henri-Thomas Lokondo, Member of the Congolese National Assembly; and Amb. Barnabé Kikaya bin Karubi, Senior Diplomatic Advisor to DRC President Joseph Kabila. Also in attendance and participating in the roundtable were Atlantic Council Board Director Amb. Jendayi Frazer, Former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs; Ms. Florizelle Liser, President and Chief Executive Officer, Corporate Council on Africa; and a number of US and non-US government officials and mining industry experts.
On Thursday, March 8, the Atlantic Council’s Sudan Task Force launched three new issue briefs that make recommendations for the next phase of a measured reengagement strategy for the United States with the Republic of the Sudan. The papers covered three critical, related areas: governance and political reform; economic reform and impediments to investment; and prospects for greater cultural engagement.

Dr. J. Peter Pham, Atlantic Council vice president and Africa Center director, welcomed guests and introduced the new papers, which came out of a task force delegation to Sudan in January 2018, the third such visit in two years.
On Wednesday, March 7, the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center hosted a roundtable for African ambassadors with Ms. Dana Benvenisti-Gabay, Director for Regional Security and Counter Terrorism at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel.
On Monday, March 5, the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center hosted a roundtable with Brigadier General Oumar Dao, military chief of staff to the President of the Republic of Mali, and the Honorable Karim Keïta, chairman of the National Commission for Defense, Security, and Civil Protection of the National Assembly of the Republic of Mali.


    

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