Wednesday, June 29, 2016

How #Brexit & #Grexit Unleashed the Integration Monster from Me

Let me be clear: no longer exists, but still does, probably as a testament to my commitment to the continuous study and research of regional integration systems worldwide.

Even before 2003 when I graduated from my M.A. in International Politics, I had spent between 2001 and 2003 combing through studies on integration, and having the immense priviledge of time to be able to produce weekly pieces on regional trade for an international development newsletter. Thursday was "Regional integration" day -- a day I always looked forward to. At the age of 24, everyone looked at me funny when I started extolling virtues of integration.

When I left my tertiary studies with deeper understanding of comparative regional integration (still very new back in 2002/2003), I felt both victorious for the accomplishment...but lonesome, too.

It was going to be almost a decade before the rest of the world caught up with seeing beyond the EU as a global model. ASEAN always looked up to it, and when the AU became the AU in 2002, the very name-change was too similar to the EU to NOT give vent to comparisons with the EU. You could almost hear a scoff from Europe as if to say who do the Africans think they are replicating us.

Well...times have changed.

Even as I was comparing ECOWAS and ASEAN in my dissertation, few knew in Europe of what ECOWAS had done in circumventing Chapter VII approval to intervene in Liberia in 1989. Fewer, still, knew of ASEAN(established 1967), and how they had tried to fashion out a regionalism unique to them.

To cut a long story short: those very close to me will know that on regional integration, I am a closet academic. I was surprised to see this is my 15th year of research, exploring, writing about the discipline.

It isn't as attractive as economics, but gets me high enough!

Grexit, last year, came close to unleashing the integration "monster" out, but Brexit has clearly done it.

The desire to live, breathe, appreciate ECOWAS and the AU has unecessarily confined me. Couple this with the fact that the non-sexiness of other regionalisms doesn't get a look-in in Ghana, and one may understand why I make so much noise about ECOWAS and the AU combined.

Global regional integration is far from dead.

BREXIT and GREXIT must offer us lessons, and those of us with a passion for diplomacy and international relations must continue to interrogate regional integration like never before.

And please note: the integration "monster"... has been unleashed: RegionsWatch has staged a comeback!

Back to offering critiques of progressive and constructive regionalisms.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Thoughts on #Brexit...& #Grexit

To all the IR students out there: if you are missing the point on #Brexit and #Grexit(July 2015), then you probably have yet to connect the dots on what regional integration is.

For those interested in the impact on the African Union, pls hold your breath. It will not collapse it. Neither will it collapse countries like Nigeria who are going through a bad economic patch.

Both #Grexit & #Brexit offer opportunities to reflect seriously on the qualitative nature of regional integration dynamics, and its relatability to ordinary people.

The shocking news (apocryphal or not) of Brits googling about the...EUROPEAN UNION after the deed is done is frightening, even chilling, to the bone to think that a model of global integration worldwide was that UNKNOWN to citizens.

As human beings, we falter and get complacent when institutions appear to be working almost automatically by default. Some may not have known how paid leave and whatnot for European citizens were a product of EU law; how free movement remains the most fundamental of freedoms in an integration project and how a Brexit would deny UK citizens of those easy freedoms. Double visas must be a nightmare for any non-European contemplating travelling to the UK and EU.

Gone! like the wind...

Simply put: the impacts on Africa's integration will be minimal. In fact, there will be new vistas...that may seek to elevate the UK into a new world order that was emerging -- one predicated on regional poles.

Some of us saw the light on regional poles a decade ago. It was Belgian European Parliamentarian Guy Verhofstadt who, at a Seminar on Globalization in Brussels in 2001, also talked about regional representation at the UN Security Council (the AU;Asean, etc would be represented at the table in New York).

I would hope the new dynamics will spawn regular and edifying conversations on the power of regional integration to uplift people from poverty, sustain fundamental freedoms, and build bridges towards a more peaceful world.

The inevitability of integration as a conduit to a more peaceful world must be one we must begin to discuss with the urgency it requires!

My two cents!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Emmanuel K Bensah Jr shared "AFRICA IN FOCUS 19-08-14.mp3" with you

From Emmanuel K:

"Kindly find a podcast of the 19 August edition of "Africa in Focus", which looked at some of the challenges befalling the Aviation Sector in Africa:

"Guiding Questions answered:

· What concrete measures are airlines taking to help bring down tickets?
· How satisfied are the airlines operating here that the Yamassoukro Declaration is being implemented?
· What is the state of play about aviation fuel? Are some airlines getting it cheaper elsewhere?
· Taxes, Charges and Fees are the highest in West Africa. Is it a case of West African governments being insensitive to the necessity of airlines in contributing to Africa's development?
· With the onset of Ebola, how are airlines bracing themselves to respond to the crisis? What assurances are they giving their passengers?
· What can our governments do better to help the aviation sector, beyond implementing the YD?"

Click here to view

(Emmanuel K shared these files using Dropbox. Enjoy!)
© 2014 Dropbox

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fwd: [Africa in Focus Blog!] Podcasts of last 10 Episodes of "Africa in Focus"

22 July, 2014: Energy Security in West Africa
Kindly find a podcast of the 22 July edition of "Africa in Focus", which interrogated the question that:

"understanding energy security is important because the reliable supply of commercial energy services is critical for growing economies in West Africa. Just like people elsewhere, citizens in West Africa seek a higher standard of living, which is only possible with access to commercially-sustainable energy services.

Yet, most of the region lack the energy infrastructure needed to meet demand, although resources such as oil, gas, hydro and coal are available and there are opportunities for modern use of biomass and other renewables such as wind and solar"

Other Questions answered:
• What is energy security, and how is it prosecuted in West Africa? (ERERA)
• What are some of the threats to energy security in (West) Africa? (ERERA/GIABA)
• How can energy security be maintained? (ERERA)
• What are the regional & continental responses to countering challenges to energy security? (ERERA/GIABA)"

Guests included:
Ø  Uwem Thompson, Communications OfficerEcowas Regional Energy Regulatory Electricity Authority (ERERA), Accra
Ø  Stella Attakpah, Programmes Manager, Intergovernmental  Action Group Against Money-Laundering(GIABA), Dakar [on the line from Vienna, Austria]

Tune in at 13h10 GMT (1:00pm Ghana Time). We’re also streaming live

15 July, 2014: East Africa Rising: Rwanda, Rwanda!
Kindly find a podcast of the 15 July edition of "Africa in Focus", which interrogated the question that:

"Even as we celebrate this beautiful new star of Africa, we must begin to ask important questions on how it has been able to link conservation and tourism to development in a way that is reflected through the annual gorilla-naming ceremony. As Ghana prepares itself to host the UN World Tourism Organisation international conference on Tourism Branding, what lessons can it learn from Rwanda which makes up to USD300m a year on tourism?"

•             When did the idea for the gorilla-naming ceremony come about, and why is it important for Rwanda? (Ignatius, RwandAir)
•             What are some of the best practices on tourism that Rwanda can share?
•             What are some of the achievements Rwanda has been able to chalk since the end of the genocide in 1994 (Ambassador Habineza)
•             Why did the city of Kigali decide to establish the Genocide Memorial museum? (Serge Rwigamba)
•             How has the genocide memorial been able to renew the spirit of Rwandans towards re-building their country? (Serge)
•             What has Rwanda done right which Ghana can learn from?

Ø  Ignatius Ahimbisibwe, Sales & MarketingRwandair
Ø  Francis Agyemang, Commercial director, Eurotours [invited]
Ø  Ambassador Joseph Habineza, High Commissioner of Rwanda to Abuja & Accra
j** Serge , Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, Rwanda

Tune in at 13h10 GMT (1:00pm Ghana Time) every Tuesday. We’re also streaming live

8 July, 2014: Informal Economy in Africa
Kindly find a podcast of the 8 July edition of "Africa in Focus", which interrogated the question that:

"In the difficult prevailing economic conditions, it is likely that more people are operating in a so-called shadow economy where they have a 9-to-5 job, and couple it with one in the informal economy.

A general discussion needs to be had so Africans can begin to reflect on the trajectory of the sector, and how it can be modernized. And a specific discussion is found wanting because countries, such as Rwanda, do not necessarily have an informal sector in the traditional way that people in West Africa understand it.

So, what is it, for example, that they have been doing to upset the apple cart on modernizing the economy? Is there something that other African countries can, yet again, learn from this small, landlocked country in East Africa that has been getting things right after the country died 20 years ago? If the informal sector is to remain an important part of regions like West Africa, what needs to be modernized about it to ensure it remains equitable for those who are in it, and what are the linkages to the formal economy that can be explored to maximize efficient development of Africa’s global economy?"

Guests included:

*Eunice Marfo, Executive Secretary at Ghana Association of Savings and Loans Companies (GHASALC)

* Janet Faden, a freelance Online journalist based in Jos, Nigeria, who practices under her media enterprise called JfadenMultimedia

 Edmund Benjamin-Addy, who has worked in advisory service for the past five years for individual clients in the Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (SME's) and works as Head of Monitoring and Evaluation at the Ghana Susu Collector’s Association

* Dr.Akosua Darkwa -- a representative from Network for Women’s Rights (NETRIGHT)

Tune in at 13h10 GMT (1:00pm Ghana Time) every Tuesday. We’re also streaming live

24 June, 2014: African Problems? African Solutions!

Kindly find a podcast of the 24 June edition of "Africa in Focus", which interrogated the question that:

Whether it is in the challenge of combating drug trafficking in the sub-region; controlling our external borders; or the private sector examining concrete solutions to facilitate trade in the sub-region, the bottom line is that we have answers and solutions under our noses.

Same can be said about our agriculture, and how many young people can be more active and proactive in that sector. We couple this with the fact that the AU is celebrating a year-long anniversary for Agriculture (a major talking point at the AU Summit underway in Maputo, Equatorial Guinea). 

Guests were:

**  Stella Attakpah, Programmes Manager at GIABA – the Dakar-based Ecowas agency concerned with combating money-laundering and financing of terrorism; (from Bamako)

** Temitope Olodo – counter-terrorism and law enforcement expert based in the UK, and host of “Africa Security” programme in the UK; (from the UK)

**  Afua Eshun – of Accra-based BORDERLESS Alliance, concerned with facilitating free movement in West Africa; (studio)

**Edison Gbenga Ade -- of AgriPro Consulting, based in Osu, which works on agribusiness industry in Africa; (studio)

17 June, 2014: Forget Africa Rising -- it's East Africa Rising!

"Please find a link to the latest edition of the "Africa in Focus" show, which aired on Radio XYZ93.1 fm on Tuesday 17 June at 13h10.

Kindly find a podcast of the 17 June edition of "Africa in Focus", which interrogated the question that:

"Much of the time, there is talk that Africa can learn from the East. We play ball closer to home by asking what can Africa, especially the sub-region of the West, learn from African countries that are East of the continent!"

Guests included:** Anthony Annan, a Ghanaian entrepreneur living in Rwanda

** Eyob Tekalign Tolina, an Ethiopian who has worked with the UNECA, and well-versed on Trade Policy

** Uwem Thompson, Communications Officer of Ecowas Regional Energy Regulatory Authority (ERERA)

** Christine Njeru, a Kenyan Lawyer and Consultant living in Nairobi

** H.E. Ambassador Joseph Habineza -- High Commissioner of Rwanda to Nigeria & Ghana.

10 June, 2014: The State of Civil Society in West Africa post-2015 Agenda
"Please find a link to the latest edition of the "Africa in Focus" show, which aired on Radio XYZ93.1 fm on Tuesday 10 June at 13h10.

As Ghana has been identified as a middle-income country, aid flows to the country will diminish significantly with a number of major donors that will begin to set deadlines for the end of their aid frameworks. In this light, civil society will need to answer the question as to where CSOs, as a vital part of society, will continue to find funding in the future.

Guests included: -
**Executive Director of WACSI Nana -- Asantewa Afadzinu
**OSIWA Programme Manager in Charge of Law, Justice and Human Rights -- Afia Asantewaa Asare-Kyei
**STAR Ghana's Mary Tobbin-Osei

3 June, 2014: Is Africa Integrating?>> 

Kindly find a podcast to the latest edition of "Africa in Focus", which interrogated the question of how far Africa is integrated. It was a lively discussion that featured two studio guests from Ghana--Dr.Lloyd Amoah of Ashesi, and Charles VanDyck of West Africa Civil Society Institute -- and two from outside Ghana. These were UNECA official Dr.Joseph Attah-Mensah, and Zimbabwean former UNECA official-turned-entrepreneur Mkhululi Ncube

27 May, 2014: Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) >> 

Kindly find the link to the podcast of the interview of the second guest for the Responsibility to Protect edition of the show on 27 May. She is Nana Asantewa Afadzinu -- the Executive Director of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). Previously a visiting scholar at Columbia University’s Human Rights Advocate Training Programme, completed her Masters in Law at New York University and has worked with Media Foundation for West Africa and the Center for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia University, in establishing a West and Central Africa Human Rights Institute. She joined the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) as Governance Program Officer in 2005 and was OSIWA’s Country Coordinator in Nigeria from 2006 to 2008

***** >> 

Kindly find podcast of interview of Dr.Cyril Musila by Host of "Africa in Focus" E.K.Bensah Jr. Dr. Cyril Musila, who is an Associate Fellow within Sub-Saharan Africa program since June 2010. He obtained his Phd in Social Sciences from Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (Paris).He is professor of Geopoliticis of African Conflicts and Peace Research at the Catholic University of Paris. The theme of the show was on Responsibility to Protect(RtoP).

13 May, 2014: "Peace and Security in West Africa: the missing girls; free movement; Boko Haram; and the role of ECOWAS"

Kindly find a link to the latest 13 May, 2014 edition of "Africa in Focus", entitled "Peace and Security in West Africa: the missing girls; free movement; Boko Haram; and the role of ECOWAS".

We have an eye-witness account of a lady from Chibok who relates how some residents are sleeping on trees and in the bushes out of fear of what might be inflicted on them by Boko Haram. She can confirm there is a clear and present threat of Boko Haram, and that the girls were truly abducted.

We also speak to a Janet Faden, a Nigerian journalist, who explains that Nigerians have been kept in the dark as to what is happening, and that it is difficult to authenticate the video that is out on youtube in which one sees what looks like girls in an undisclosed location.

6 May, 2014 : "The EPAs & Matters Arising"

This is the FULL 74-minute edition of the very-first edition of the "Africa in Focus" show on Radio XYZ93.1 FM, which examined the Economic Partnership Agreements between Ghana and the EU. It is live on air every Tuesday from 13h00 to 15h00. It is proudly-sponsored by Eastgate Hotel and the West Africa Civil Society Institute(WACSI)

Posted By Blogger to Africa in Focus Blog! at 7/24/2014 11:36:00 AM

E.K.Bensah Jr, Head of Research & Host -- "Africa in Focus"(Radio XYZ 93.1FM) | |
*TEL:+233.268.687.653 / +233.233.311.789 / +
EKBENSAH DotNet: Regional integration Intelligence| West Africa-ECOWAS | Communications | Civil society 

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Fwd: [Africa in Focus Blog!] Countdown to the Maiden Edition of "Africa in Focus" on 6 May: Research & Communications Team Meet

It was with with more-than-bated breath that the Research & Communications Unit/Business Desk of Radio XYZ's "Africa in Focus" show met 2 May, 2014 at Eastgate Hotel to make final preparations for the very-first edition of the show on 6 May.

With sponsors in West Africa Civil Society Institute(WACSI) officially on board to take the programme to even greater heights, the Unit was happy to have interacted with key WACSI staff who paved the way on the future of the partnership. 

There was general reporting of activities, and a lot of exciting information-exchange on developments during the past week, including on the just-ended Pan-African Conference on Inequalities that was held here in Accra.

The Research & Comms Unit meets every week at Eastgate Hotel with the Business Desk to monitor and evaluate previous editions of AIF show; progress on the direction of the research component of the "Africa in Focus" show; the state of communication instruments (facebook; twitter; google plus community); how far weekly activities are contributing to enriching the Unit's monitoring of African integration dynamics of ECOWAS; the AU; and Africa's engagement with members of the Global South. 

Finally, the meetings seek to undertake innovative strategies to further-educate the public on Africa's development.

Posted By Blogger to Africa in Focus Blog! at 5/03/2014 07:58:00 AM

E.K.Bensah Jr, Head of Research & Host -- "Africa in Focus"(Radio XYZ 93.1FM) | |
*TEL:+233.268.687.653 / +233.233.311.789 / +
EKBENSAH DotNet: Regional integration Intelligence| West Africa-ECOWAS | Communications | Civil society