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Monday, July 30, 2007

Experts Trade Views on US of Africa with Benin Mwangi

My good friend, Branded-thank you so much for helping to expand and share the knowledge on this whole United States of Africa idea that just swept by. Also, there are many wonderful online pieces on this United States of Africa. I have spoken to a number of people on the subject also, many have been from various African nations. While, others that have shared their thoughts on the subject have been from other parts of the worlds. What the conversations seemed to mirror in each other was a certain level of caution. Primarily, I felt this to be more of cultural or a social concern- the question of "whose voice takes precedence under a United States of Africa?" Whether social or not though, I have to say that it is a very valid concern. So, I think that the decision to apply the brake pressure and slow down was a very wise one. There are just too many issues that would have to be addressed before the discussion could become practical.

But underneath this, it should also be said that a more united continent could have the potential to bring about almost unfathomable macro economic benefit to certain areas and sectors on the continent. Believe it or not, just prior to the 9th Assembly of African Union Heads of State, I spoke with several experts on the subject of business across African borders and I believe that they bring some unique and tremendous insights to this topic.

One of the many people whose ideas on this topic have helped to shape mine was East Africa America Business Council Chairman and official Liaison of the East Africa Community, Mr. Patrick Ayota. I asked him, what did he think about the idea of African countries removing their borders all together and could there be any benefit to doing this and here's what he had to say,

"A more connected Africa would reduce the existing barriers that prevent African nations from doing more business with one another. Also, it could reduce costs. However, it is not necessary to have a single president for such a union to work. Here's what could work:
Creating a highway infrastructure linking the the countries together.
Removing visa requirements for members of the union
Creating a common market He goes on to add, "On a smaller scale this has largely already done by the East Africa Community (EAC). There is now a single entity in the EAC that licenses companies moving products between Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. This means that a Ugandan company can hire a Tanzanian employee and offer the same benefits to that employee that a Ugandan employee would receive. Also, Mr. Ayota illustrates countries working out there differences, "because Kenya has a stronger economy than Uganda and Tanzania, it has agreed to allow its neighbors to temporarily impose small tariffs on Kenyan goods. While Kenya has removed tariffs on goods from Tanzania and Uganda."What Mr. Ayota mentioned, as far as that cooperation between the East African nations is something that you don't often hear about coming from neighboring states on the continent, however this shows that it does and can happen. Of course, it has not always been this way between the three countries that he mentioned and it is in fact the result of an amazing amount of time, hard work, and diplomacy between the three nations. But, I believe that this is exactly what we need to see happen in order to make this discussion more practical. And I would think that it must happen, for a number of reasons. But primarily because today's voters on the continent are a lot more savvy than they were just one generation ago. Before they agree to go along with just any suggestion, my observation is that it would be better to demonstrate some of the benefits first. And isn't that the case around the globe? So, I agree with Mr. Ayota, before any serious thoughts of unifying all or a large part of the continent under one rule, there must be more connectedness on the basic items-like standardized educational systems with continental accreditation, looser tariffs, free movement of nationals across borders, better intra-roadways, communication systems, and a stronger system to support and document investment from one border to another. However, with the rise of the continent's regional economic blocks these things are slowly becoming materialize within smaller regions on the continent

I also had the pleasure of speaking with an investment researcher from the world acclaimed Barron's , Mr. Ryan Shen- Hoover. I asked him roughly the same question that I asked Mr. Ayota and Ryan's response was focused more along the lines of stock markets across the African continent and what these stock markets might look like if they were merged into one market.

Here's what he says,

"In brief, I believe a continent-wide stock market would be a welcome development for all involved. It would greatly lessen the difficulty of opening trading accounts in a dozen or so different countries and therefore would be great for any investor seeking exposure to more than one country. It would likely also have the effect of unlocking value in some companies that are listed in markets that trade infrequently (e.g. Swaziland, Ghana, Malawi) and could have the opposite effect in some of Africa's more overheated markets ( e.g. Nigeria and Kenya).So, how would a common stock exchange be brought about? There are a couple ways it might happen.
One way would be for all countries to sit down and hammer out the structure of a totally new market. They would agree on listing and reporting requirements, trading rules, location, etc. One obstacle I see to this is that most countries take a degree of pride in running their own national stock market. It would take a lot of political will to dissolve them in favor of one continent-wide market.
The other way to achieve a common market is more organic. Already in East Africa we are seeing Kenyan companies trade on not only the Nairobi Stock Exchange, but the Ugandan and Tanzanian exchanges, too. This is called cross-listing. Some other companies cross-list on the Johannesburg and Namibian stock exchanges. If one of the big exchanges (perhaps Nigeria, Kenya, or South Africa's) would actively encourage cross-listings, we could see a common market develop quite quickly. And each country could continue to run its own national market if it wished to do so."

I like Mr. Shen-Hoover's notion of voluntary participation on the part of African stock markets, whereby exchanges in different across different African borders can decide whether to cross list based upon the perceived risk or reward, rather than having the idea imposed on them. This to me would seem like more of a natural course to the continent finding that ever elusive unity that the founding fathers of the AU through the Organization of African Unity dreamt about only one generation ago.

So we said all of this to say what? Well, what we are getting at is that like Mr. Ayota says it is possible to harness the economic power of a unified continent without necessarily having all the continent's nearly 1 billion human inhabitants under a single national banner. Furthermore, the steps mentioned here need not be mandated. In fact, mandates seem to stir apprehension within voters. Instead, a more gradual and laizzez faire approach might be the way to go about this. One more thing that I failed[Photo] to mention earlier is that the African Union decided to support the further development of the continent's 14 regional integration groupings-I say that if nothing else ever comes out of that 9th Assembly of the African Union Heads of State this development in itself is major. Although, I wouldn't have minded hearing the AU discuss how to fully harness the power of the informal economies existing in different regions of the continent.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

An "offensive" article in the Economist magazine forces the Kenyan Government to cancel crucial global trade talks

By John Oyuke (

An offensive article in an international magazine forced the (Kenyan) Government to withdraw from a high-level political and business forum last week.

The inaugural business roundtable with the Government, billed as a first in East Africa, was to give business leaders opportunity to engage with a high-powered team led by President Mwai Kibaki.

The meeting, organised by Economist Conferences, the events division of Economist Group, was to run from July 17 to 18 at the Intercontinental Hotel, Nairobi.

Finance minister, Mr Amos Kimunya, said the meeting was cancelled because of an offending article in The Economist.

"Things were going on well until someone who claims to have returned to Kenya after 40 years decided to write a three page article claiming that no development had taken place in the country since then," he said.

The Economist Group postponed the meeting a few days to the conference, but did not explain why.

"The First Business Roundtable with the Government of Kenya has been postponed. The new date will be published as soon as we receive confirmation from the participating officials from the Government," the group said.

A number of firms had already come forward to sponsor the roundtable with Barclays Bank Kenya offering Sh5 million as sponsorship fee.

According to the event’s programme, President Kibaki was to be accompanied by key ministers including Finance, Trade and Industry, Planning and Roads and Public Works.

Other key speakers would have been Prof Njuguna Ndung’u, Governor, Central Bank of Kenya, Mr Jimnah Mbaru, Chairman, Nairobi Stock Exchange, Mr Adan Mohammed, Managing Director, Barclays Bank Kenya and Mr Nathan Kalumbu, President, Eastern and Central Africa Division, Coca-Cola and world reknown economist Professor Jeffrey Sachs.

The article, which appeared in The Economist of June 9, is entitled "Kenya: Going up or down?"

The article stated in part that for someone returning to Kenya after many years, the general state of disrepair is rather striking.

It adds that tens of billions of dollars of aid have been spent, yet in many respects the country’s infrastructure is worse than it was 40 years ago.

"Roads have crumbled away, the rail service has all but collapsed, ports are clogged and some have even closed. Many hospitals and schools are dilapidated.

Forests have been cut down, rivers have silted up; grazing land has been eroded, and fencing posts in once well-run commercial farms uprooted and burnt," it alleged.

The most visible example of Kenya’s regression is the roads, the article pointed out.

It said while in the early 1970s you could drive from Nairobi to Mombasa in four hours, now, because of potholes and diversions and hold-ups, it could take eight hours.

"Another main road, north-west to Uganda, which should be one of Africa’s great arteries, is pitted with craters often two feet deep, reducing traffic to little better than walking pace for stretches of 15km or so," the article avers.

The article poses the question of why the current mess exists and proceeds to give the answer as misguided economic policies, mismanagement, poor maintenance, sloppiness, tribalism and corruption.

Kimunya told a private sector stakeholders’ meeting in Nairobi last week, he considered their gathering a worthy replacement of the failed roundtable.

He said the Government considers The Economist a serious magazine to allow itself publish an article which doesn’t reflect the country’s real development situation, leave alone what has taken place in over 40 years of independence.

John Oyuke is a business writer for The Standard a mainstream Kenyan Newspaper

Friday, July 20, 2007

Zimbabwe needs other Africans' help

By Rejoice Ngwenya - Harare, Zimbabwe
EITHER WE AFRICANS are blind, selfish and greedy or something worse is holding us back. As a Zimbabwean I have seen my country turned from bread-basket into basket case and I can tell you that our educated and hard-working people are not fools but victims.

Although we are an extreme case, these oppressive economic and political policies are not exclusive to Zimbabwe.

The fallacy of the African dream of Ghanian founding father Kwame Nkrumah about self-rule as been exposed by the brutal failures of governments with a revolutionary history. Julius Nyerere, Kenneth Kaunda, Milton Obote, and perhaps even such so-called models of excellence as Yoweri Museveni and Thabo Mbeki, all espoused Nkrumaism, meaning state control of the economy and even of society.

Just down the road where I live, there is Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who was not only a student of Nkrumah's but taught and married in his country.

Many Africans believe we should cooperate with each other instead of overseas markets to achieve the economic, political and cultural integration which could raise our continent to the level of Europe or the United States.

The challenge is not cooperation but how we should learn from history.Before Zimbabwe overthrew white rule, in 1980, a pothole on the highway was a disaster. A late train would cause public outcry. Now we have unfinished roads, bulldozed neighbourhoods and hyperinflation, while our dictator blames the West.

Why is it that when the white man handed over Air Rhodesia to a black manager, the airline had 30 airplanes but now there are only three left? Why is it that before 2000 there were only 4,000 white commercial farmers in Zimbabwe and we were the bread-basket of southern Africa, yet now there are 40,000 black commercial farmers and we have to import maize from little, poor Malawi?

I know. There is a fine line between self-criticism and self-loathing. But our problems are not caused by our being black but by authoritarians with incompetent and even urderous policies.

Today, Zimbabwe's health system has collapsed. Our main university once had 1,000 staff, now there are 300. A typical high-school teacher now earns around $20 a month. As you read this, my car is grounded because of lack of petrol. Service-station owners cannot sell it for the paltry controlled price of about 11 U.S. cents a liter when they have to buy it for about $1.
My home has neither running water nor electricity. Mugabe's ZANU-PF government inherited one of the most sophisticated hydro-electric power plants in Africa, Kariba. But because of a gluttonous army, expensive anti-riot gear and military adventures in Mozambique and Democratic Republic of Congo, Mugabe has failed to maintain Kariba. It is about to stop completely.

Hwange Colliery Mine has some of the richest coal deposits in the world, yet the thermal power station across the road does not have enough coal because the railway has collapsed.

In Harare, raw sewage flows openly in residential areas, contaminating scarce treated water because of pipes that have rotted since they were inherited from the white regime 27 years ago.

No private radio or television station is allowed to operate in Zimbabwe, while it is almost impossible to register a private newspaper. Yet Robert Mugabe masquerades on the regional stage as the spokesperson for the beleaguered citizens of Zimbabwe. He has absolutely no right to speak on our behalf. Those who do are the citizens protesting in the streets and some judges and lawyers struggling valiantly to hold together the shreds of the rule of law.

The lessons of history include the basic principles of good governance. There are plenty of examples for us to emulate but the Mugabes of the world ignored them in favour of ideology.

Africans do need each other to develop but our ability to learn from each other's mistakes is miserable.

Even our neighbor, democratically elected South African President Thabo Mbeki, repeats with nauseating frequency that Zimbabweans have the capacity to solve their own problems. But during Mbeki's protracted struggle against apartheid he had the frontline states backing him, led by Mugabe.

Today, Mbeki and his ilk treat Mugabe like a hero but Zimbabweans like dirt.
South Africa goes on military "peacekeeping" forays to faraway Sudan and Burundi. Why does Mbeki not believe those countries can solve their own problems?

We Africans will remain smothered in self-deceit until this generation of Nkrumaists, the greedy, the corrupt and the accidental democrats, has expired. Then African citizens may become free to cooperate with each other, economically and politically.

The one form of cooperation we need right now is world pressure on Africa's democratically elected leaders, not the avoidance seen at the recent G-8 summit in Heiligendamm. Only then might they face up to their moral, political and economic obligations to embrace freedom and boot the gangsters out.

(Rejoice Ngwenya is a Zimbabwean columnist and campaigner for liberal democracy and a free market economy)

Africans are not Beggars!

Africans are not beggers, declares James Shikwati, Director of a Kenyan Think Tank, Inter Region Economic Network (IREN) through The African Executive online magazine (

Africans are underpricing their raw materials and commodities to developed nations because their bargaining power is lowered by the weight of foreign aid and debt relief. Countries that feature on the debt relief sheet coincidentally have raw materials of strategic importance to Western nations and China. For example, Niger has Uranium, Nigeria (Oil), Democratic Republic of Congo (Uranium, Coltan and Cassiterite among may other minerals). Uganda has Oil and is the gateway to East DRC. The majority of countries on the debt relief list are also involved in some form of violent conflict that is linked to subsurface wealth.

Take for instance Democratic Republic of Congo, a country that holds the world's estimated 70% of Coltan and 34% of Cassiterite, two strategic minerals in the production of cell phone, laptops and other portable electronics. Stan Cox, a journalist with Channel 4 TV last year pointed out how 50 kilogram packs of Cassiterite fetch $400 on the world market while it fetches Congolese $5 if they are lucky not to be robbed by soldiers. Recall, DRC has only 300 miles of paved roads (good place to send AID for roads eh?) The World cell phone industry is churning out 25 cell phones per second everyday. Supposing DRC was stable politically and traded its products in a sober manner in the World market, would it queue for aid? (Put another way, who gains when African countries are politically unstable?)

Recently, G8 leaders announced a $60 billion aid package to enable Africa fight HIV-Aids and other diseases. What the leaders never told the world is the billions they are raking out of Africa through extraction of subsurface wealth when they con our leaders into believing that we are poor and incapable of solving our own problems. The current relationship between "moneyed" countries and Africa is very much similar to those who target Mumias sugar cane farmers to lease out their cane and or sale their company stock shares to address short term needs.

Rich countries are smart. They too focus on "sexy" headline grabbing packages such as disease and poverty to engage in what may become the greatest fraud in the World once all facts are pinned together. Africans are not beggars, we are simply being conned! We must urgently develop "Irrevocable Forms" to ensure we get right pricing for our products.

You can read more on by visiting

Thursday, July 19, 2007

What will work in Africa: Aid or Trade

I have been ignoring this topic deliberately untill I stumbled upon "The Botton Billion - by Paul Collier" who rightly says that about 70% of the poorest people live in Africa. An emotional must read, the book defines the bottom billion as people who live on less than a dollar a day – coexist with the 21st century, but their reality is the 14th century: civil war, plague, ignorance. They are concentrated in Africa and central Asia with a scattering elsewhere. They live in Chad, Haiti, Bolivia, Cambodia and North Korea. Fine, along with other like minded individuals who show such compassion for Africa, Collier may be right but questions still abound as to what is the right formula to change the situation in Africa.

Paul Coullier goes on to say that ," The 21st century world of material comfort, global travel and economic interdependence will become increasingly vulnerable to these large islands of chaos, which may become havens for terrorism or destabilising civil war. Bean-counting poverty simply misses the point. Even if poverty declines in these societies the conditions for social explosion will mount unless the current situation is reversed. That is the coming challenge of development: rescuing – or containing – a group of countries that for 40 years have been shearing off from the rest of us and must start to catch up.
Africa has been a hot topic at all major international discussions and conferences, interviews, books and recently concerts all geared towards creating awareness about the unfortunate plight of Africa."

Rescuing or Containing - a group of countries that for 40 years have been shearing off from the rest of us and must start to catch up.????

Everyone has been having their ideas about the way forward for example James Shikwati director of a Kenya think tank (Inter Region Economic Network) IREN Kenya, detastes the idea of Africa recieving aid from western countries and other bretton woods institutions but supports the creation of business/trade models that would boost development in Africa. Mr. Shikwati has been consistent in his call to end aid to Africa through several interview done in major publications world wide but has been recieving criticism from several quarters.

Jeffrey D. Sachs, the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and the author of “The End of Poverty.” thinks that what Africa needs is assistance in the form of aid to be able to achieve the millenium development goals. Mr. Sachs feels that Mr. Shikwati's anti-aid arguments “have slowed life-saving interventions.” Peter Smerdon, a spokesman for a United Nations food program, said Mr. Shikwati’s policies would “kill millions of people.” Irungu Houghton, an Oxfam official in Nairobi, said they would consign poor Africans to “a major death sentence.”

William Easterly's “White Man’s Burden” lampoons Sachs as a modern version of a 19th-century utopian — that the elimination of African poverty can be achieved through 75 billion US dollars a year in Western aid and state planning where all governments have to improve agricultural technology, provide antimalaria bed nets, treat diseases like hookworm and distribute antiretroviral treatments to the H.I.V.-infected.

Bono (Paul David Hewson) lead singer and principal lyricist of the Irish rock band U2 was referred to as a represantation of foreign aid during the 2007 TED conference meeting in Arusha Tanzania where he too seemed to support the idea of Africa recieving handouts, blogger Jennifer Brea reported that Africans criticized Bono as a representation of foreign aid that they think keeps Africa in corruption and poverty and should be replaced with investment.

What will work in Africa: Aid or Trade?

Friday, July 13, 2007

What are the prospects of having a United States of Africa?

I conducted a mini poll on Yahoo, through a simple questions, “What are the prospects of having a United States of Africa? The responses I got were kind of shocking to me. 99% of all the respondents suggested that this was not the right time to have a united states of Africa (trash the idea) while the rest 10% were positive.

The results speak volume about the kind of groundwork our leaders ought to have done before moving to the next phase of hutching the United States of Africa. Word on the ground is that before mooting the idea, African leaders did not properly consult the citizens of their various countries. Below I have summarized various reactions to the question:

JUEGRGEN said...I think it's a great idea. As a young European I see what benefits the European Union brings, foremost peace. I sincerely believe in cooperation and dialogue and a 'Union' can be an invaluable platform for so. Nonetheless, the Europeans (speaking as a group here, despite the differences between Germans, English and so on) came a long way and had learn their hard lessons from two world wars etc... Therefore, I am not sure how realistic an US of Africa is but believe in it's inspirational value.

STUNG4EVER said...Until they can have at least half their countries not fighting a civil war every 20 years, not a chance.
CMDRBND007 said...It seems pretty slim to me. They have been fighting each other for centuries over there. I think they really, I mean really hate each other.

JOSEPH II said...Not good. The Continent is just too politically & demographically fragmented to maintain a genuinely "united" structure. Maybe someday... :)

SURLYGURL said...I don't think it is at all possible in the near future. A huge difference between Africa and the origin of the US America is that the founders were all from the same country and based a political system on something they were all familiar with. Resolving the differences between political and ethnic factions within each individual African country is in itself such a difficult task that bringing each country into a working federation is nearly inconceivable at this stage.

ZES2 Z said... A couple of centuries....maybe, but by then everyone in world will be scrounging and preyed upon by Warlords and DICTATORS....oh yeah....and BIG BUSINESS

MARK A said... I sincerely doubt something like that could ever work. Way too many differing factions at work. Some of the nations don't even like their own people, much less one country over! Unfortunately, I can see Islam trying to be the unifying force, kinda like the Borg from ST, TNG. "resistance is futile". Hey they want Islam to take over the world, it's not a bad place to start.

FRAGINAL-NOYPI said... Ethnic differences will be a hindrance to a United States of Africa.

KISHOR LAL said... VERY bright

SEANO said... Only if there is a dictator strong enough to conquer the whole continent. They would never willingly join such a union, the continent is a collection of dictators, kings and chiefs who have carved out their own little fiefdoms and fight and oppress all those who oppose them. Not exactly the founding father types.
JOHN T said...The chances are pretty remote.
The governments of Africa are some of the most corrupt in the world. None would want to give up *any* of their power.
The tribes in those countries hold great animosity towards each other. It's hard to keep a country together, much less a unity of nations.

JOHN KUNTZ said...Until they can stop being so tribal and unite under a truly organized and civilized government. So yeah it won't happen
I was particularly impressed at the speed, in which responses to this question were trickling in, of note was one answer from someone calling known as “WILD-MAN of BORNEO” that left me wondering:
“Without our creator the shepherd in ruling and leading in guiding them (Africans)? But with the dead Mummy with two hands stretching out creaking and rattling with skeleton of skull and bones blindly searching the way back to the graveyards in bringing them along too risen from the graveyards of failures and horrors of the past ancestor's custom. What do you think?”

By the time I published this post, more answers were still coming in, you can follow up by checking out the link:;_ylt=AqlxZP1HpPLPeIrWALHLPjojzKIX?qid=20070711230300AAC6lNt

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Is the United States of Africa already here?

The proposal to officially create a United States of Africa may not have come at a better time than now when international trade is dictating the pace of development thanks to technological innovation. You may not have noticed but recent trends indicate that the United States of Africa is already here. Through various communication technologies, Africa has transformed into a large business unit.

Over the past 5 years, the cost of communication in Africa has come down to manageable levels providing a wide menu over what communication technology to use.
Cost has been a major driving force over the choices made with an aim of bridging the digital divide to support business growth in the continent. All this is despite the reduction in regulatory barriers that were pushing communication prices to exorbitantly high prices in a larger chunk of the continent.

In a majority of countries where governments have deregulated information and communication sectors, considerable development has been made in the various industries thus enhancing regional and global trade. For example countries such as Kenya and South Africa are in the process of laying cables that would bring high-speed connectivity allowing the continent to engage in e-commerce, explore new markets and lower the cost of international bandwidth. Other countries are turning to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) as an affordable alternative to bypass expensive conventional telephone systems, for long distance calls. The International Telecommunication Union's (ITU) annual report indicates that outbound VoIP increased to more than 2 billion minutes in the last one year. African countries have also chosen to embrace ITU endorsed switchover to terrestrial digital broadcasting for television and radio to enable high quality real-time exchange of information and cultures by 2015.

Mobile telephony has also been on the increase in the continent and is showing higher prospects for further growth supported mainly by increased need for global business communication. Mobile telephone service providers are embracing regional integration by converging their operations into single seamless networks ostensibly to improve access and lower the overall cost of international roaming. A good example is Celtel, whose operations in East and Central Africa are now seamlessly converged into one network that allows international roaming at existing local rates. Armed with your mobile telephone and a laptop, you can work from virtually anywhere.

Banking and other financial services are on the growth path with indigenous African banks opening up branches in regions where they were not allowed to operate before. For instance, Standard bank South Africa recently merged with CFC Bank Kenya to support their growth in East Africa. Foreign direct investments have also been on the increase within the continent thanks to technological innovation that allows all operations to be centralised.

Looking at history, various regional blocking in Africa have failed to meet their mandate due to various reasons mostly political. Only trade has been self-sustaining because of its direct influence in economic development. If the idea of creating a United States of Africa is to create wealth, then we may argue that it is already here. What Africa needs is to strengthen existing structures, invest more in ICT and establish structures that support international trade and wealth creation through value addition.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Live Earth gigs send eco warnings around the world: Combat Climate Crisis

From and

The Live Earth concerts have drawn to a close, with the curtain going down in New Jersey in the US, after a finale performance from The Police.
Rock stars around the world performed to hundreds of thousands of music fans to highlight climate change.

Concerts were also held in Washington, Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg, London, Hamburg, Tokyo, Shanghai and Sydney.

The event was organised by former US Vice-President Al Gore, as part of his campaign to try to "heal the planet".

Mr Gore addressed the crowd at the end of the New Jersey event, urging the audience to act to save the planet: "Thank you for coming to Live Earth. Put all this energy in your heart and help us solve the climate crisis."

He also appeared at a smaller event at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, giving a speech which was relayed to the concerts around the world, calling on the developed world to reduce carbon emissions by 90%.

Photo: Jeff from USA
But critics have said it was hypocritical for performers who fly around the world on tours to push the message of cutting down on carbon emissions.

George Marshall of the Climate Outreach Information Network told the BBC: "Having the richest people in the world saying, 'Hey! We all need to cut back a bit!' is, let's face it, absurd."

Madonna brought London's Live Earth concert to a close, playing a song she had written for the event.

After performing Hey You accompanied by children in school uniform, the singer swore at the audience and told them: "If you want to save the planet let me see you jump."

Speaking from Wembley, Snow Patrol lead singer Gary Lightbody told BBC Radio 1: "We're here to learn how to make our tours cleaner. We already offset our travel on our touring, but our shows themselves are quite far behind.

"We're not the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who've been offsetting for years - and more power to them."

Reformed group Genesis, featuring Phil Collins, were among the first acts to perform at London's Wembley Stadium.

The Beastie Boys, James Blunt, The Foo Fighters and Spinal Tap also played.

Duran Duran opened their set with the perfect song for the occasion, Planet Earth.

"Everyone who did not arrive on a private jet put your hands in the air," said lead singer Simon Le Bon, who also raised his hand.

German concert-goers were treated to performances by Snoop Dogg, Enrique Iglesias and Yusuf Islam, while UB40 and Joss Stone were performing in Johannesburg.

Photo: Matt from Sydney
The Sydney event began with a traditional aboriginal welcome before Australian politician and former Midnight Oil frontman Peter Garrett made an appearance, saying it was up to citizens of developed nations to push for action to reduce pollution.

"Your voice matters, make it heard," he said.

Reformed New Zealand group Crowded House were joined by many of the other Sydney performers at the end of their set, for a rendition of the 1991 hit Weather with You.

The Tokyo event was opened by the band Genki Rockets at the Makuhari Messe hall, east of the Japanese capital.

Japanese singer Ayaka urged people to do what they could. "We can start helping by doing something small," she said.

"I started to carry my own eco-bag so I don't have to use plastic grocery bags, and use my own chopsticks instead of disposable ones."

In New Jersey, actor Leonardo DiCaprio was among the celebrities introducing the acts.

Photo: Andrew from Stratford-upon-Avon in the UK
"Our actions from this day forward will help determine just what sort of future we pass on to our children and to their children," he told the crowd at the Giants Stadium.
Responding to criticism that the event creates even more carbon emissions, organisers have insisted they were keeping the concerts as green as possible, with proceeds being spent on power-efficient light bulbs and other measures to offset the shows' emissions.

"We've booked this show with acts that were touring in the area at the time so we could keep the carbon imprint down," explained producer Kevin Wall.

Thousands of plastic cups were left on the Wembley Stadium floor at the end of the London concert, despite organisers urging the audience to put them into recycling bins provided.

Photo: Rory Steele from UK currently living in Japan

New 7 wonders of the world named

(CNN) -- The new seven wonders of the world were named Saturday following an online vote that generated server-crushing traffic in its final hours. The final tally produced this list of the world's top human-built wonders:

• The Great Wall of China

• Petra in Jordan

• Brazil's statue of Christ the Redeemer

• Peru's Machu Picchu

• Mexico's Chichen Itza pyramid

• The Colosseum in Rome

• India's Taj Mahal

Before the vote ended Friday, organizers said more than 90 million votes had been cast for 21 sites.

Voting at the Web site,, ended at 6 p.m. ET Friday. Traffic was so heavy Friday that the site was crashing at times.

One message urged voters to use text messages as an alternative form of voting. "Keep on voting, as it is your votes that decide the New 7 Wonders of the World," the message said.

"We have traffic that is simply off the scale," Tia Vering, spokeswoman for the "New 7 Wonders of the World" campaign, told "Things are just going ballistic."

The new wonders were announced at a star-studded event Saturday in Lisbon, Portugal, that featured performances by Jennifer Lopez and Chaka Khan. The event was hosted by Oscar winners Hilary Swank and Ben Kingsley as well as Bollywood star Bipasha Basu. The top contenders for the seven wonders were last made public in early June.

The oldest candidate was Britain's Stonehenge; the newest was Australia's Sydney Opera House. The U.S. Statue of Liberty also was among the choices.

Voting nearly doubled after the June results, when organizers said about 50 million votes had been cast. A single user can cast multiple votes.

To be considered for the competition, all structures had to be built or discovered before 2000. All are among top tourist attractions around the world. Of the seven ancient wonders of the world, only one remains standing today, the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. Some nations have enthusiastically endorsed the new wonders campaign. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Jordan's Queen Rania actively promoted their countries' hopefuls.

But the new wonders campaign hasn't been universally recognized. The United Nations' cultural organization, UNESCO, issued a statement saying it has "no link whatsoever" to the vote.

Egypt's top antiquities expert also objected to the list. He said Egypt's pyramids are a "symbol of the genius of the ancient people" -- and are above any sort of online poll.

As a result, the organizers struck up a compromise. The pyramids have been assured honorary status, in addition to the new seven wonders.

The new wonders project was the brainchild of Swiss businessman Bernard Weber. He said he wanted to invite the people of the world to take part in selecting the world's greatest wonders.

"So that everybody can decide what the new seven wonders should be and not some government, not some individuals, not some institutions," he said.

Vering said she believes the vote has accomplished that goal.

"We've managed to bring culture out of the museum -- out of the dusty, dry academic corners -- and have people talk about it," she said. "That, we feel, is the greatest achievement of this campaign."

Boeing unveils first assembled 787 Dreamliner

EVERETT, Washington (AP) -- Boeing Co. raised the curtain on its first fully assembled 787 on Sunday to an audience of thousands who packed into its wide-body assembly plant for the plane's extravagantly orchestrated premiere. With flight attendants onstage from each airline that has ordered the jet, the giant factory doors opened wide as the plane slowly moved into view to the strains of a theme song composed specially for the 787, which Boeing calls the Dreamliner.

"Our journey began some six years ago when we knew we were on the cusp of delivering valuable new technologies that would make an economic difference to our airline customers," Mike Bair, vice president and general manager of the 787 program, told the crowd.

"In our business, that happens every 15 years or so, so you've got to get it right."

Boeing Chief Executive Jim McNerney said the 787 will bring about a "dramatic improvement in air travel: to make it more affordable, comfortable and convenient for passengers, more efficient and profitable for airlines, and more environmentally progressive for our Earth."

Boeing has won more than 600 orders from customers eager to hold the jet maker to its promise that the midsize, long-haul jet will burn less fuel, be cheaper to maintain and offer more passenger comforts than comparable planes flying today. The 787, Boeing's first all-new jet since airlines started flying the 777 in 1995, will be the world's first large commercial airplane made mostly of carbon-fiber composites, which are lighter, more durable and less prone to corrosion than aluminum.

To date, Boeing has won 677 orders for the 787, selling out delivery positions through 2015, two years after Airbus SAS expects to roll out its competing A350 XWB. Thirty-five of those orders came Saturday, with Air Berlin ordering 25 and a Kuwaiti company taking 10 for Kuwait Airways.

In a rare tip of the hat to the competition, Airbus congratulated Boeing on the 787, whose commercial success has chipped away at the edge the European plane maker once held over its Chicago-based rival.

"Even if tomorrow Airbus will get back to the business of competing vigorously, today is Boeing's day -- a day to celebrate the 787," Airbus co-CEO Louis Gallois said in a letter to McNerney.
"Today is a great day in aviation history. Whenever such a milestone is reached in our industry it is always a reflection of hard work by dedicated people inspired by the wonder of flight," the letter said.

Airbus customers forced it to redesign the A350, which pushed back production. Airbus also has faced problems with its A380 superjumbo, which has been hit with delays that slashed profit projections for Airbus' parent company, European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co.

Boeing hired former NBC "Nightly News" anchor Tom Brokaw to serve as master of ceremonies for the 787 premiere -- held, probably not coincidentally, on 7-08-07 -- which was broadcast live on the Internet and on satellite television in nine languages to more than 45 countries. The company rolled out red carpet and set out roughly 15,000 seats for spectators at one end of the 787 factory north of Seattle.

The company invited thousands of its employees and retirees to watch via satellite at the NFL stadium where the Seattle Seahawks play, and it hosted viewing parties for 787 customers and suppliers in dozens of other locations around the globe.

Final assembly of the first 787 started in late May, after a gigantic, specially outfitted superfreighter started flying wings, fuselage sections and other major parts to Boeing's wide-body plant, where they essentially get snapped together, piece by huge piece.

Once production hits full speed, the company expects each plane to spend just three days in final assembly, but this time, Boeing workers spent several weeks installing electrical wiring and other innards that suppliers will eventually stuff into their sections of the plane before they're delivered to the assembly plant.

Boeing decided to handle that work in-house for the first few planes rather than risk any production delays.

Despite a few snags the company says it anticipated -- including an industry-wide shortage of fasteners brought on by a surge in demand for new jets in recent years -- Boeing officials say nothing so far has threatened to bump the 787 behind schedule.

The first test flight is expected to take place between late August and late September. The plane is set to enter commercial service next May after Japan's All Nippon Airways receives the first of the 50 Dreamliners it has ordered.

All Nippon Airways executives acknowledged Sunday that Boeing faces production challenges, but they said they're doing what they can to make sure they get their plane on time next spring.

"We know it's not easy to make that deadline. However, we will support Boeing, and we will work with them so that the deadline can be met," Osamu Shinobe, executive vice president of corporate planning for All Nippon Airways Co., said before Sunday's rollout ceremony. he 787 that debuted Sunday will serve as the first of six flight-test airplanes, while two other planes will be used for static and fatigue tests. The ninth plane off the assembly line will be the first one delivered to All Nippon.

The 787-8, the first of three 787 models Boeing has committed to making, has an average list price of $162 million, though customers typically negotiate discounts on bulk orders.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

United States of Africa: Ordinary Citizens Should Take Centre Stage

I read an interesting piece in

"The critical moment that Africa has anticipated since independence has come. For several decades, regional integration has been a main concern of African leaders as well as citizens. However, several years after independence, Africa is still fragmented into small economies with little cross- border trade.

In this light, the fourteen regional economic committees (RECs) working on the integration agenda ought to be applauded. Nevertheless, the teething challenges arising from overlapping memberships in these RECs must be addressed without delay: Multiple memberships make it difficult for member states to meet multiple financial obligations; focus on the numerous agenda of each REC; ratify as well as implement agreed treaties and programmes of each REC; comply with incompatible programmes and subscribe to duplicated efforts. These challenges, in addition to the fear of ceding powers to supranational bodies, must be addressed.

Regional integration promises more trading opportunities, economies of scale, stronger bargaining power and improved productivity. RECs ought to explain what they are doing to position the ordinary African citizen to tap into the local and regional market. It is time Africa went beyond political integration and embraced business integration from the grassroots."

Monday, July 2, 2007

Inside the iPhone by Walt Mossberg

We have been testing the iPhone for two weeks, in multiple usage scenarios, in cities across the country. Our verdict is that, despite some flaws and feature omissions, the iPhone is, on balance, a beautiful and breakthrough handheld computer.The Apple phone combines intelligent voice calling, and a full-blown iPod, with a beautiful new interface for music and video playback. It offers the best Web browser we have seen on a smart phone, and robust email software. And it synchronizes easily and well with both Windows and Macintosh computers using Apple's iTunes software.

Click on read more to sample

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500,000 iPhones Sold on first Weekend of launch: Which is short of target due to fake t-phone!

With one of the most anticipated product launches of the year over, how did the iPhone do ?According to analyst, Blackfriars, which has been monitoring stores, claimed that sales should top 500,000 for the first weekend. Reports about fake models such as the T-Phone may have taken toll on the real i-phone claiming up to 10% of sales. This can only be blamed on the pricy Apple Iphone and the fact that every model will have to connect to a default mobile carrier network. Click on read more for the rest of the story.....

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T-Phones threatens to throw the i-phone to the thick blackBerry bush made in China!

When released a post about fake iphones (t-phones) it sounded so unreal, but right now you can get your own a fake iphone faster than you can say hello. Below is what the engadget website anounced days before the real iphone was launched.

"While the days remaining until the (legitimate) iPhone launches in the US has dwindled to single digits, leave it to the Chinese knockoff factories to spoil the unboxing fun. As we revisit chapter 54 of the painfully ongoing saga, it looks like the iPhone, er, tPhone, has been captured on video this time around, and while we can't help but spurn the effort in mocking the OS X interface, true appreciation comes from the removable battery and microSD slot."
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