Why U.S.-Africa Relations — and Africa — Matter More Now Than Ever

To achieve a strong partnership with Africa, the U.S. administration will need to demonstrate that it is interested in Africa because the continent itself matters, not merely to address other U.S. international objectives. Djibouti Port. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

To achieve a strong partnership with Africa, the U.S. administration will need to demonstrate that it is interested in Africa because the continent itself matters, not merely to address other U.S. international objectives. Djibouti Port. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

By Philippe Benoit and Bayo Oyewole
WASHINGTON DC, Jan 10 2023 –  President Biden and leaders of 49 invited African countries and the African Union met in Washington last month for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit — a meeting that all parties hope will launch a strengthened partnership to deliver benefits for the peoples of both the U.S. and Africa.  

A strong Africa working in partnership with the U.S. is an important and all too often overlooked element of a robust U.S. geopolitical strategy. But to achieve this strong partnership, the U.S. administration will need to demonstrate that it is interested in Africa because the continent itself matters, not merely to address other U.S. international objectives.

What might Africa look like 20 years from now? A real possibility is a 2.4 billion-person continent with significantly diminished poverty and a large and growing middle class that can provide a vibrant economic partner for the U.S.

Unfortunately, there is skepticism within Africa, founded in historical precedent, as to U.S. intentions. For many years, as European powers withdrew from Africa following the decolonization of the continent, the U.S. and Soviet Union stepped in seeking to install “friendly” regimes.

Africa was an area of interest more because of its importance to the U.S./Soviet Union Cold War than on its own merits. The result was often misguided policies focused on political alignment rather than promoting improvements on the continent. As the Cold War waned, arguably so did some of the U.S. interest in Africa.

2008 saw the election of an American president of African descent, Barack Obama, generating excitement across the continent. In 2014, President Obama convened the inaugural U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the largest gathering at that time of U.S. and African leaders.

Unfortunately, there followed a general sense of disappointment as the summit failed to translate into strong action. Interestingly, the U.S. president at times most often praised for his support to Africa is President George W. Bush, who launched PEPFAR, the large-scale effort to fight AIDS focused on Africa that is also considered by some historians to be his greatest achievement.   

Last month’s summit took place on a complex international and geopolitical backdrop for the U.S., marked by the growing competition with an emerging China and, more recently, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. For some American commentators, the summit provided an opportunity to draw Africa closer to the U.S. in countering these challenges following a period of inactivity.

But Africa’s leaders have signaled that they don’t want to be viewed as mere tools for other geopolitical dynamics — including tensions with China and Russia — they want their concerns addressed on their merits. And the Biden administration was careful to not present last month’s summit as China/Russia-oriented. As explained by a CNN commentator: “In previewing this … [U.S./Africa] summit, American officials have been careful to avoid framing Africa as a pawn in a larger geopolitical strategy.”

This represents a wise strategy, especially as Africa has grown substantially both economically and politically over the last several decades and is poised for further growth. The GDP of Sub-Saharan Africa has grown five-fold from $400 billion 20 years ago to nearly $2 trillion today, and Africa’s total GDP now reaches nearly $3 trillion when North Africa is included. Similarly, a Brookings report estimates that the middle class of Sub-Saharan Africa will grow from 114 million in 2015 to 212 million in 2030. It is also the region where the largest growth in population is expected going forward: by 2050, an estimated quarter of the world’s people will be African.

African leaders themselves are not oblivious to the growing strategic importance of their own countries. Rich in agriculture, mineral and energy resources, and with a growing diaspora that funneled over $83 billion in remittances back to Africa in 2020 (far more than the $65 billion the continent received in official development assistance that same year), Africa has become an attractive destination for the astute investor. 

Newly empowered by the growth potential of their countries, many African leaders are demanding a stronger voice and greater respect internationally — and they’re getting it from China whose presence in Africa is ubiquitous. Similarly, Japan is re-asserting its engagement with Africa.

Last month’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit is a welcome effort in this context and there is much room for strengthening ties. For example, Africa accounts for only 1 percent of U.S. foreign trade, most of which is in petroleum imports from two countries. But African governments, for their part, will need to demonstrate their openness to advancing inclusive growth and political rights domestically.

Just as Asia has dominated the growth story of the last 50 years, will Africa be the emerging engine of growth for the next 50? This is something that analysts are contemplating. The recent analysis of the continent by the International Energy Agency posits a possible high growth “Africa Case” scenario in which the continent is able to exploit effectively its potential. 

Arguably, the U.S. and other advanced economies were caught off-guard by the rapid economic growth that took place in Asia. They were slow to anticipate it, recognize it and integrate its implications into their strategies. This is not to predict when it comes to Africa that it will inevitably replicate what Asia has done; however, the reality is: “maybe, who knows?” That’s a potential outcome that the U.S. should prepare for, and even nurture. 

What might Africa look like 20 years from now? A real possibility is a 2.4 billion-person continent with significantly diminished poverty and a large and growing middle class that can provide a vibrant economic partner for the U.S. To achieve this, a strong partnership between the U.S. and Africa is key and in the interest of both their peoples.


Philippe Benoit has over 25 years of experience working on international development, including previous positions at the World Bank where he focused on Africa.  He is currently research director for Global Infrastructure Analytics and Sustainability 2050

Bayo Oyewole, CEO of BayZx Global Strategic Solutions, currently provides independent advisory services to the African Development Bank. He previously held senior positions at the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation, including in the office of the Executive Director representing several African countries on the World Bank Board.

Cellebrite to Release Fourth Quarter and Fiscal Year 2022 Financial Results on February 15, 2023

PETAH TIKVAH, Israel and TYSONS CORNER, Va., Jan. 10, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Cellebrite DI Ltd. (NASDAQ: CLBT) (the "Company"), a global leader in Digital Intelligence (DI) solutions for the public and private sectors, today announced that it will report its fourth quarter and fiscal year 2022 financial results before market open on Wednesday, February 15, 2023.

On that day, management will host a conference call and webcast to discuss the Company's financial results at 8:30 a.m. ET.

Telephone participants are advised to register in advance at: https://register.vevent.com/register/BIa98ecd8f02c04567a1515497e1f850c8.

Upon registration, participants will receive a confirmation email detailing how to join the conference call, including the dial–in number and a unique registrant ID.

The live conference call will be webcast in listen–only mode at: https://edge.media–server.com/mmc/p/6j7zngzy.

The webcast will remain available after the call at: https://investors.cellebrite.com/events–presentations.

About Cellebrite

Cellebrite's (NASDAQ: CLBT) mission is to enable its customers to protect and save lives, accelerate justice, and preserve privacy in communities around the world. We are a global leader in Digital Intelligence solutions for the public and private sectors, empowering organizations in mastering the complexities of legally sanctioned digital investigations by streamlining intelligence processes. Trusted by thousands of leading agencies and companies worldwide, Cellebrite's Digital Intelligence platform and solutions transform how customers collect, review, analyze and manage data in legally sanctioned investigations. To learn more visit us at www.cellebrite.com, https://investors.cellebrite.com, or follow us on Twitter at @Cellebrite.

Caution Regarding Forward Looking Statements

This document includes "forward looking statements" within the meaning of the "safe harbor" provisions of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward looking statements may be identified by the use of words such as "forecast," "intend," "seek," "target," "anticipate," "will," "appear," "approximate," "foresee," "might," "possible," "potential," "believe," "could," "predict," "should," "could," "continue," "expect," "estimate," "may," "plan," "outlook," "future" and "project" and other similar expressions that predict, project or indicate future events or trends or that are not statements of historical matters. Such forward looking statements include estimated financial information. Such forward looking statements with respect to revenues, earnings, performance, strategies, prospects, and other aspects of Cellebrite's business are based on current expectations that are subject to risks and uncertainties. A number of factors could cause actual results or outcomes to differ materially from those indicated by such forward looking statements. These factors include, but are not limited to: Cellebrite's ability to keep pace with technological advances and evolving industry standards; Cellebrite's material dependence on the acceptance of its solutions by law enforcement and government agencies; real or perceived errors, failures, defects or bugs in Cellebrite's DI solutions; Cellebrite's failure to maintain the productivity of sales and marketing personnel, including relating to hiring, integrating and retaining personnel; uncertainties regarding the impact of macroeconomic and/or global conditions, including COVID–19 and military actions involving Russia and Ukraine; intense competition in all of Cellebrite's markets; the inadvertent or deliberate misuse of Cellebrite's solutions; political and reputational factors related to Cellebrite's business or operations; risks relating to estimates of market opportunity and forecasts of market growth; Cellebrite's ability to properly manage its growth; risks associated with Cellebrite's credit facilities and liquidity; Cellebrite's reliance on third–party suppliers for certain components, products, or services; challenges associated with large transactions and long sales cycle; risks that Cellebrite's customers may fail to honor contractual or payment obligations; risks associated with a significant amount of Cellebrite's business coming from government customers around the world; risks related to Cellebrite's intellectual property; security vulnerabilities or defects, including cyber–attacks, information technology system breaches, failures or disruptions; the mishandling or perceived mishandling of sensitive or confidential information; the complex and changing regulatory environments relating to Cellebrite's operations and solutions; the regulatory constraints to which we are subject; risks associated with different corporate governance requirements applicable to Israeli companies and risks associated with being a foreign private issuer and an emerging growth company; market volatility in the price of Cellebrite's shares; changing tax laws and regulations; risks associated with joint, ventures, partnerships and strategic initiatives; risks associated with Cellebrite's significant international operations; risks associated with Cellebrite's failure to comply with anti–corruption, trade compliance, anti–money–laundering and economic sanctions laws and regulations; risks relating to the adequacy of Cellebrite's existing systems, processes, policies, procedures, internal controls and personnel for Cellebrite's current and future operations and reporting needs; and other factors, risks and uncertainties set forth in the section titled "Risk Factors" in Cellebrite's annual report on Form 20–F filed with the SEC on March 29, 2022, as amended on April 14, 2022 and in other documents filed by Cellebrite with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC"), which are available free of charge at www.sec.gov. You are cautioned not to place undue reliance upon any forward looking statements, which speak only as of the date made, in this communication or elsewhere. Cellebrite undertakes no obligation to update its forward looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise, should circumstances change, except as otherwise required by securities and other applicable laws.

Investor Relations

Victor Cooper
Public Relations and Corporate Communications Director
+1 404 804 5910

GLOBENEWSWIRE (Distribution ID 8726640)

Rebuilding Climate-Devastated Pakistan will Run in Excess of 16 Billion Dollars

A flooded village in Matiari, in the Sindh province of Pakistan. Credit: UNICEF/Asad Zaidi

By Antonio Guterres
GENEVA, Jan 10 2023 – For decades, I have been privileged to witness the boundless generosity and resilience of the Pakistani people amidst grave threats and upheaval.

From earthquakes and floods. To years of relentless terrorist attacks. To geopolitical nightmares like the wars in Afghanistan that have sent millions fleeing across the Pakistani border in search of safety over the decades — a trend that continues today.

But even through the darkest moments, the giving spirit of the Pakistani people has shone brightly. I have seen neighbours helping neighbours with food, water and shelter.

And I have seen Pakistani communities welcome Afghan refugees with open arms despite their scarce resources So my heart broke when I saw first hand the utter devastation of last summer’s floods.

No country deserves to endure what happened to Pakistan. But it was especially bitter to watch that country’s generous spirit being repaid with a climate disaster of monumental scale.

As the video we just watched showed, the epic floods were nothing short of a “monsoon on steroids” – as I mentioned in my visit – submerging one-third of the country, three times the area of my own country, Portugal.

A terrifying “wall of water” killed more than 1,700 people, injured thousands more, and affected a total of more than 33 million, displacing 8 million people.

It swept over roads, ruined millions of acres of agricultural land, and damaged or destroyed 2 million homes. And it pushed back 9 million people to the brink of poverty.

These are not numbers on a page. They are individual women, children and men. They are families and communities.

And under the leadership of the Government of Pakistan, the United Nations, donors and friends rallied to assist.

Tents, food, water, medicine and cash transfers were distributed. And a humanitarian response plan of $816 million was launched.

But all of that is just a trickle of support in the face of the growing flood of need.

At the same time, the people of Pakistan met this epic tragedy with heroic humanity.

From the first responders rushing to affected communities. To the doctors and nurses I met, fighting against time to save lives in overcrowded hospitals.

And I will never forget hearing the personal testimonies of women and men I met in September in the wake of the ruins.

They left their own homes and all their worldly possessions to help their neighbours escape the rising waters. They sacrificed all they had to help others and bring them to safety.

We must match the heroic response of the people of Pakistan with our own efforts and massive investments to strengthen their communities for the future.

Rebuilding Pakistan in a resilient way will run in excess of $16 billion — and far more will be needed in the longer term.

This includes not only flood recovery and rehabilitation efforts. But also initiatives to address daunting social, environmental and economic challenges.

Reconstructing homes and buildings. Re-designing public infrastructure — including roads, bridges, schools and hospitals.

Jump-starting jobs and agriculture. Ensuring that technology and knowledge are shared with Pakistan to support its efforts to build a climate-resilient future.

And throughout, supporting women and children, who are up to 14 times more likely than men to die during disasters, and face the brunt of upheaval and loss in humanitarian crises.

Women are consistently on the front lines of support during times of crisis — including in Pakistan. Their efforts are essential to a strong, equal, inclusive recovery.

It is crucial that women play their full part, as leaders and participants at every level, contributing their insights and solutions.

We also need to right a fundamental wrong. Pakistan is doubly victimized by climate chaos and a morally bankrupt global financial system.

That system routinely denies middle-income countries the debt relief and concessional funding needed to invest in resilience against natural disasters.

And so, we need creative ways for developing countries to access debt relief and concessional financing when they need it the most Above all, we need to be honest about the brutal injustice of loss and damage suffered by developing countries because of climate change.

If there is any doubt about loss and damage — go to Pakistan.

There is loss. There is damage.

The devastation of climate change is real. From floods and droughts, to cyclones and torrential rains.

And as always, those developing countries least responsible are the first to suffer.

Pakistan — which represents less than one per cent of global emissions — did not cause the climate crisis.

But it is living with its worst impacts.

South Asia is one of the world’s global climate crisis hotspots — in which people are 15 times more likely to die from climate impacts than elsewhere.

At the recent UN Climate Conference in Egypt, the world made some important breakthroughs.This includes progress on addressing loss and damage, speeding the shift to renewables, and an unprecedented call to reform the global financial architecture, particularly Multilateral Development Banks.

It also includes accelerating efforts to cover every person in the world with early warning systems against climate disasters within five years.

But we need to go much further. Countries on the frontlines of the climate crisis need massive support.

Developed countries must deliver on their commitment to double adaptation finance, and meet the $100 billion goal urgently, without delay.

And we need to reverse the outrageous trend of emissions going up, when they must go down to prevent further climate catastrophe.

Today’s conference is the first step on a much longer journey towards recovery and reconstruction in Pakistan.

The United Nations will be there for the long haul. The world must be, too.

And at every step, we will be inspired by the endurance and generosity of the people of Pakistan in this critical and colossal mission.

IPS UN Bureau


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Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary-General in an address to the International Conference on a Climate-Resilient Pakistan

VIP Lifestyle: Secure your Wealth and future in Saint Lucia as an affluent South African and avoid becoming a statistic

Castries, Jan. 10, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — South Africa is one of the wealthiest countries on the continent, with more millionaires per capita compared to any other African country. As a nation with a rich history and culture, the affluent population in South Africa account for 10% of the total population.

In the past, South Africa was seen as a stable and attractive investment destination, but this perception has slowly been eroding over time. Political uncertainty and instability are just some of the reasons why many affluent families and individuals are looking for alternative investment destinations.

How political uncertainty in South Africa affects the affluent

South Africa is in the midst of challenging economic times. With a recession, growing unemployment rate and regular political leadership battles have exacerbated the economic uncertainty as well as increased political uncertainty.

One of the best ways to protect wealth is by diversifying risk. This can be done by having more than one passport and living in a country with favourable business regulations.

As affluent families also seek to secure the best educational prospects for their children, HNWIs also consider education options abroad to help their children to receive a better education and have a better chance at succeeding in the future.

The cost of quality education can be very high in South Africa, which has led some affluent families to choose overseas schooling for their children.

Saint Lucia's CBI programme

Saint Lucia is a popular tourist destination due to its tropical weather, scenery and numerous options of beaches and resorts. It is also known for its unique cuisine, exciting sports and adventure activities. Affluent South Africans are very familiar with St Lucia, which also has English as its official language.

The historical links between the Caribbean and South Africa are still present in areas such as language, music, sport, international relations and diaspora.

Since 2016, Saint Lucia has been offering wealthy South Africans citizenship by investment programme (CBI). Through this programme, investors can gain citizenship of this dream island destination. Saint Lucia's programme is a blend of best practices from its surrounding islands and provides a wide range of benefits for investors and locals alike.

The Saint Lucia CBI programme provides an opportunity to apply for Saint Lucia citizenship and a huge range of benefits including:

  • Global mobility
  • Right to hold dual citizenship
  • Citizenship for life, with the right to live and work in the country
  • Four investment options

With a minimum investment of USD 100,000, investors can maintain dual citizenship and have no minimum residency requirements.

Applicants can choose one of four investment options when applying through the CBI programme:

  • Contribution to the Government's National Economic Fund
  • Pre–Approved real estate option
  • Enterprise option
  • Government bonds option

The National Economic Fund (NEF) was established to receive qualifying investments to fund Government–sponsored projects on the island and applicants can obtain citizenship by making a monetary contribution to the NEF via one of the prescribed contribution levels.

With the pre–approved real estate option, applicants can obtain citizenship by purchasing Government–approved property valued at a minimum of USD 200,000. This property must be owned and maintained for a minimum of five years after citizenship has been granted.

With the third investment option, applicants can obtain citizenship by making an investment, either independently or jointly, in a pre–approved enterprise project. An independent investment must be valued at USD 3.5 million and create at least three permanent jobs on the island. For joint investments, each investor must contribute at least USD 1 million, resulting in a joint investment worth USD 6 million and creating at least six permanent jobs.

The last investment option for citizenship is through government bonds. Once citizenship has been granted, investments in government bonds must be held in the applicant's name for a fixed period of time that varies according to the applicant's family structure and the bonds must not attract a rate of interest for the duration of this period. From 1 January 2023, the National Action Bond (NAB), which is a new non–interest–bearing Government bond, is available as well.

Family members that can be included in the application include the applicant's:

  • Spouse
  • Children of the main applicant or spouse aged 21 or below
  • Children of the main applicant or spouse between aged 22–29that are fully supported by the main applicant
  • Children of the main applicant or spouse that are physically or mentally challenged, and fully supported by the main applicant
  • Parents of the main applicant or spouse aged 55 or above and fully supported by the main applicant
  • Parents any age if physically or mentally challenged and fully supported by the main applicant
  • Siblings of the main applicant aged under 18, unmarried, and in receipt of consent from their parent or guardian to make an application

From submission of the application to approval in principle, applicants are generally expected to wait three months.

For more information, contact CS Global Partners at https://csglobalpartners.com/contact/

GLOBENEWSWIRE (Distribution ID 8726267)

How investing abroad can help Nigeria grow: Commonwealth of Dominica

Roseau, Jan. 10, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — With the economic and political uncertainty that so many Nigerians are feeling about the upcoming elections, many affluent businesspeople are considering whether to continue investing their hard–earned money further in the country or to invest elsewhere.

Risk diversification has always been on the minds of the affluent and, in some cases, investing elsewhere may actually have a positive impact back home in Nigeria.

How the diaspora has been supporting Nigeria

Nigerians are living across the globe. With a rising affluent class, more and more Nigerians are seeking investment, work, and living opportunities elsewhere. But this doesn't stop Nigerians from investing back in Nigeria from other locations.

According to a World Bank report, Nigeria remains the largest recipient of remittances in the sub–Saharan region. It is the sixth–largest recipient among all low– and middle–income countries (LMICs), with an estimated amount of US$23.8 billion received in 2019, an increase of more than half a billion compared with 2018. In comparison, Ghana and Kenya are ranked a distant second and third in the region, according to the report, with US$3.5 billion and US$2.8 billion received, respectively. Remittances refer to the sending of money, and in this case, to money being sent to Nigeria from abroad.

According to a report by an international audit firm, migrant remittances translated to 83% of the Federal Government budget in 2018 and 11 times the foreign direct investment (FDI) flows in the same period. The report also states that Nigeria's remittance inflows was 7.4 times larger than the net official development assistance (foreign aid) received in 2017 of US$3.4 billion.

These are no small facts. The impact that Nigerians abroad have on the country's local development is enormous.

CBI as a diversification of risk

One way in which astute investors diversify risk is through obtaining citizenship in another country. Only a handful of countries in the world currently offer citizenship by investment (CBI). The longest–standing and most credible citizenship by investment (CBI) programmes are found in the Caribbean.

There are many benefits to having dual citizenship, including greater global mobility, new economic opportunities, a better quality of life, and improved personal security. Many families and entrepreneurs turn to CBI programmes as an alternative form of asset diversification.

Global uncertainty is driving the desire among wealthy individuals to incorporate second citizenship as part of their portfolios. However, countries offering CBI programmes still require that applicants be strictly vetted before being granted citizenship. This is to maintain certain standards of the CBI programme and to ensure that applicants comply with certain national and international standards to support safety and security, as criminal background checks are also included in the vetting process. The due diligence process of the Commonwealth of Dominica, which forms part of its CBI offering, is one of the best in the world.

Different countries award citizenship in different ways. Some countries award citizenship by virtue of birth in that country, descent from a parent who is a citizen, or by naturalisation, for example through marriage to a citizen or through an extended period of residence in that country. CBI programmes allow successful applicants to obtain citizenship by virtue of a significant investment in a country.

For example, the Dominica CBI due diligence process covers four steps: know–your–customer checks performed by local authorized agents; internal checks including anti–money laundering and counter–terrorism financing vetting by the Citizenship by Investment Unit; mandated international due diligence firms perform online and on–the–ground checks; and regional and international crime prevention bodies check that you are not on any wanted or sanctions lists.

For additional security, local Caribbean banks, including those in Dominica, also exercise their own vetting processes on each CBI applicant before allowing funds from the applicant to enter the local banking sector. As this forms such an important part of the success of each application, this vetting process is usually done before the applicant's application is submitted to the recipient government's CBI unit for processing. This dual process of vetting by the bank as well as vetting by the government agency in charge of CBI adds a necessary and additional level of security to CBI programmes in the Caribbean.

Supporting home from idyllic Dominica

For Nigerians, the Caribbean has been a drawing card for a long time. Some of the first Africans to reach the Caribbean islands arrived in the early 1500s and the Caribbean has been a popular destination for global travelers for hundreds of years. Nigeria has also been one of the most influential cultures in the region, with over 6 million people tracing their lineage back to Nigeria.

In Dominica, the government invests heavily in tourism to drive economic development, focusing on the island's unmatched natural beauty, and the popularity of diving, hiking, wellness, and eco–tours.

For Nigerian investors, Dominican banks are well–versed in international transfers and can manage a variety of business requirements, whether these are for transactions with those in Nigeria or elsewhere.

From Dominica, investors also save a lot on taxation. There is no taxation on capital and these savings can be sent abroad. Dominica also has no corporate, estate, or withholding taxes. There is also no taxation on gifts, inheritance, and income earned abroad.

For more information on Dominica's CBI offering, contact CS Global Partners at https://csglobalpartners.com/contact/

GLOBENEWSWIRE (Distribution ID 8726206)

Greening the City Gets Community Treatment in Zimbabwe

Mariyeti Mpala (56) runs a thriving vegetable garden on a former dumpsite and its proceeds assist the community in creating incomes of their own. Credit: Ignatius Banda/IPS

Mariyeti Mpala (56) runs a thriving vegetable garden on a former dumpsite and its proceeds assist the community in creating incomes of their own. Credit: Ignatius Banda/IPS

By Ignatius Banda
Jan 10 2023 – It’s a typical story in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second-largest city. With the failure to provide services such as refuse collection by the local municipality, township residents dump garbage wherever they fancy, and with time, dumpsites become “official.”

For 56-year-old Mariyeti Mpala, however, a community dumpsite on land that belonged to the local municipality a stone’s throw away from her residence presented an opportunity to turn what had become an accepted eyesore into a thriving greening project.

She purchased the land in 2006, and it is here on a section of the former dumpsite where she has grown indigenous wild fruit trees at the one-hectare piece of land and runs a thriving vegetable garden.

She rotates planting tomatoes, peas, cabbages, onions and lettuce, with aquaculture being the latest addition to her project.

“I have put up three thousand bream fishlings,” Mpala said as she explained her long-term ambitions for the local community.

“I decided to apply for this piece of land as it was clear no one imagined the land was of any use as it was being used as a dump site,” Mpala told IPS.

While she may not be aware of it, Mpala’s project fits snugly into the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation’s Green Cities initiative, which among other things, “focuses on improving the urban environment, ensuring access to a healthy environment and healthy diets from sustainable agri-food systems, increasing availability of green spaces through urban and peri-urban forestry.”

“Urban agriculture is, therefore, an important part of the urban economy contributing significantly to urban food and nutrition security as the produce is less subject to market fluctuations,” said Kevin Mazorodze, FAO spokesperson.

And now, as more and more people in the country require food assistance, Mpala’s project comes as a relief for members of her community.

“I especially cater for the elderly who have no source of income and cannot fend for themselves,” Mpala told IPS.

“I sell some of the produce at low cost to those elderly women who buy in bulk so they can sell at a markup, so they raise funds for their own private needs,” she said.

FAO’s Green Cities Initiative seeks to promote more such activities, said Mazorodze.

“Urban and peri-urban agriculture is one of the key pillars of the initiative through which FAO intends to foster sustainable and climate-resilient practices and technologies to improve local food production,” Mazorodze told IPS.

Mpala sunk a borehole powered by solar energy in a country where abundant sunlight has been touted to promote clean energy.

Her work has not gone unappreciated by locals.

“She is a hard worker and has always looked out for us old people,” said Agnes Nyoni, a 70-something-year-old granny who lives not far from Mpala’s green project.

“I first knew her a few years ago when she collected our names to register for food parcels that included mealie meal, cooking oil and beans,” Nyoni told IPS.

Mpala’s work has also reached city offices, with the local councillor lauding her contribution towards uplifting the lives of the poor and food insecure.

“We actually need more of such initiatives being done by Mrs. Mpala as she is uplifting the lives of our people,” said Tinevimbo Maphosa, the local councilman.

“I understand she has also set up a fisheries project which I see as a sign of her community-building commitments. People need to be productive and stop complaining all the time about the situation in the country, and Mrs. Mpala’s work is part of what we need to see happening in our communities,” Maphosa told IPS.

The city already has numerous community gardens dotted across the city, with Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) supporting the municipality through the Green Cities Network.

The food she grows is organic, Mpala says, and local nutritionists believe at a time, food is becoming more expensive, and where people now eat whatever is available, consumers need healthier diets.

“Food grown in such nutrition gardens as that run by Mrs. Mpala is encouraged because it is fresh straight from the garden, and the elderly people she caters for certainly need healthier diets,” said Mavis Bhebhe, a government hospital nutritionist.

“What is required is to encourage such initiatives to spread the variety of the food they grow so that consumers get the most out of locally grown foods,” Bhebhe told IPS.

These sentiments come at a time when humanitarian agencies have raised concerns about levels of malnutrition across Africa as some parts of the continent battle acute food shortages.

In a country such as Zimbabwe, where formal jobs come far in between, homegrown initiatives such as the Dingindawo Gardens offer hope for young people seeking opportunities to take idle time off their hands, Maphosa believes.

“There is too much crime and drug abuse here, and with more projects from individuals like Mrs. Mpala, we could solve the community’s many problems,” Maphosa told IPS.
IPS UN Bureau Report


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Deportees Start Businesses to Overcome Unemployment in El Salvador

Oscar Sosa cooks roast chicken and pork on an artisanal grill set up outside his small restaurant, Comedor Espresso, in the eastern Salvadoran city of San Francisco Gotera. Like many of the returnees, especially from the United States, he set up his own business, given the unemployment he found on his return to El Salvador. More than 10,000 people were deported to this Central American country between January and August 2022. CREDIT: Edgardo Ayala/IPS

Oscar Sosa cooks roast chicken and pork on an artisanal grill set up outside his small restaurant, Comedor Espresso, in the eastern Salvadoran city of San Francisco Gotera. Like many of the returnees, especially from the United States, he set up his own business, given the unemployment he found on his return to El Salvador. More than 10,000 people were deported to this Central American country between January and August 2022. CREDIT: Edgardo Ayala/IPS

By Edgardo Ayala
SAN FRANCISCO GOTERA, El Salvador, Jan 10 2023 – While grilling several portions of chicken and pork, Salvadoran cook Oscar Sosa said he was proud that through his own efforts he had managed to set up a small food business after he was deported back to El Salvador from the United States.

This has allowed him to generate an income in a country where unemployment affects 6.3 percent of the economically active population.

“Little by little we grew and now we also have catering services for events,” Sosa told IPS, as he turned the chicken and pork over with tongs on a small circular grill.

The grill is located outside the premises, so that the smoke won’t bother the customers eating inside.

It’s not easy, he said, to return home and to not be able to find a job. That is why he decided to start his own business, Comedor Espresso, in the center of San Francisco Gotera, a city in the department of Morazán in eastern El Salvador.“You come back wanting to work and there aren’t any opportunities. The first thing they see in you is your age; when you’re over 35, they don’t hire you.” — Patricia López

In this Central American country of 6.7 million people, “comedores” are small, generally precarious, neighborhood restaurants where inexpensive, homemade meals are prepared.

Sosa’s, although very small, was clean and tidy, and even had air conditioning, when IPS visited it on Dec. 19.


Skills and capacity abound, but opportunities are scarce

Sosa, 35, is one of thousands of people deported from the United States every year.

He left in 2005 and was sent back in 2014. He worked for eight years as a cook at a Mexican restaurant in the city of Pensacola, in the southeastern state of Florida.

A total of 10,399 people were deported to this country between January and August 2022, which represents an increase of 221 percent compared to the same period in 2021, according to figures from the International Organization for Migration.

The flow of undocumented Salvadoran migrants, especially to the United States, intensified in the 1980s, due to the 1980-1992 civil war in El Salvador that left some 75,000 dead and around 8,000 forcibly disappeared.

At the end of the war, people continued to leave, for economic reasons and also because of the high levels of violent crime in the country.

An estimated 3.1 million Salvadorans live outside the country, 88 percent of them in the United States. And 50 percent of the Salvadorans in the U.S. are undocumented.

Despite the problem of unemployment, Sosa was not discouraged when he returned to his country.

“I feel that we are already growing, we have five employees, the business is registered in the Ministry of Finance, in the Ministry of Health, and I’m paying taxes,” he said.

Obviously, not all deportees have the support, especially financial, needed to set up their own business.

The stigma of deportation weighs heavily on them: there is a widespread perception that if they were deported it is because they were involved in some type of crime in the United States.

A government survey, conducted between November 2020 and June 2021, found that 50 percent of the deportees manage to open a business, 18 percent live off their savings, their partner’s income or support from their family, and 16 percent have part-time or full-time jobs.

In addition, seven percent live on remittances sent home to them, two percent receive income from property rentals, dividends or bank interests, and seven percent checked “other” or did not answer.

Apart from some government initiatives and non-governmental organizations that provide training and funds for start-ups, returnees have faced the specter of unemployment for decades.

Many return empty-handed and owe debts to the people smugglers who they hired to get into the United States as undocumented migrants.

In the case of Sosa, his brothers supported him to set up Comedor Espresso.

He also received a small grant of 700 dollars to purchase kitchen equipment.

The money came from a program financed with 87,000 dollars by the Salvadoran community abroad, through the Salvadoran Foreign Ministry.

The initiative, launched in 2019, aims to generate opportunities for returnees in four municipalities in eastern El Salvador, including San Francisco Gotera.

This region was chosen because most of the deportees reside here, according to Carlos Díaz, coordinator of the program on behalf of the San Francisco Gotera mayor’s office.

But the demand for support and resources exceeds supply.

“There was a database of approximately 350 returnees in Gotera, but there was only money for 55,” Díaz told IPS.

More than 200 people benefited in the four municipalities.

David Aguilar and Patricia López (right) set up their own business, El Tuco King Carwash, after they decided to return to El Salvador. Their business is located in the eastern part of the country, a region where more than 50 percent of returnees live. CREDIT: Edgardo Ayala/IPS

David Aguilar and Patricia López (right) set up their own business, El Tuco King Carwash, after they decided to return to El Salvador. Their business is located in the eastern part of the country, a region where more than 50 percent of returnees live. CREDIT: Edgardo Ayala/IPS


Hope despite a tough situation

Out of necessity, David Aguilar and Patricia López, 52 and 42, respectively, also set up their own business, in their case a car wash, after deciding to return to El Salvador. It’s called Tuco King Carwash.

Like Sosa, they are from San Francisco Gotera. Aguilar left the country in November 2005 and López three months later, in February 2006.

They made the risky journey to try to give their young daughter – six months old at the time, and today 17 years old – a better future.

One leg of the trip was by sea, on the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Mexico.

“I spent 12 hours at sea, in a boat carrying about 20 people, who were all undocumented like me,” Aguilar said.

He added: “The only thing they gave us as lifesavers were a few plastic containers, in case the boat capsized.”

It was in Houston, in the state of Texas, that Aguilar found work in a car paint shop. The experience has been useful to him back in El Salvador, because in addition to washing cars, he offers paint jobs and other related services.

Aguilar and López were not deported; they decided to return because her father died in 2011. They came back in 2012, without having seen many of their dreams come true.

“You come back wanting to work and there aren’t any opportunities. The first thing they see in you is your age; when you’re over 35, they don’t hire you,” López said.

Before embarking on the trip to the United States, she had finished her degree as a primary school teacher, in 2005. But she never worked as a teacher because she left the following year.

“When I returned I applied to various teaching positions, but no one ever hired me,” she said.

Today, their carwash business, set up in 2014, is doing well, albeit with difficulties, because the couple have found that there is too much competition.

But they do not lose hope that they will succeed.

Former Salvadoran guerrilla David Henríquez, deported from the United States in 2019, shows the quality of the disinfectant he has just produced in his small artisanal workshop in San Salvador. With no chance of finding formal employment after deportation, he worked hard to set up his disinfectant business to generate an income. CREDIT: Edgardo Ayala/IPS

Former Salvadoran guerrilla David Henríquez, deported from the United States in 2019, shows the quality of the disinfectant he has just produced in his small artisanal workshop in San Salvador. With no chance of finding formal employment after deportation, he worked hard to set up his disinfectant business to generate an income. CREDIT: Edgardo Ayala/IPS


An ex-guerrilla chemist

David Henríquez, a 62-year-old former guerrilla fighter, was deported in 2019.

During the civil war, Henríquez was a combatant of the then insurgent Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), but when peace came he decided to emigrate to the United States in 2003 as an undocumented immigrant.

With no hope of finding a formal sector job here, he began to make cleaning products, a skill he learned in the United States.

In the 12 years that he lived there, he worked for two years at the Sherwin Williams plant, a global manufacturer of paints and other chemicals.

“It was there that I began to discover the world of chemical compositions and aromas,” Henríquez told IPS during a visit to his small workshop in the Belén neighborhood of San Salvador, the capital.

Henríquez was producing a 14-gallon (53-liter) batch of blue disinfectant with the scent of baby powder. He also makes disinfectant smelling like cinnamon and lavender, among others. His business is called El Dave de los aromas.

His production process is still artisanal, although he would know how to produce disinfectant with high-tech machinery, if he had it, he said, “as I did at Sherwin Williams.”

He used a baby bottle to measure out the 3.5 ounces (104 milliliters) of nonylphenol, the main chemical component, used to produce 14 gallons.

Henríquez dissolved other chemicals in powder, to get the color and the aroma, and the product was ready.

He produces about 400 gallons a month, 1,514 liters, at a price of 3.50 dollars each.

“The important thing is to have discipline, work hard, to shine with your own effort,” he said.