The technology with impact 2007

The last 12 months have seen plenty of talking points around technology - from the iPhone, to Facebook, the launch of Vista and the XO laptop - but what were the developments, stories or gadgets which had the biggest impact?
The BBC News technology team members pick out their favourite technology of 2007.
1. Jane Wakefield
3. Rory Cellan-Jones
5. Mark Ward 2. Jonathan Fildes
4. Darren Waters
My technology of the year is, somewhat predictably, Facebook.

I know it isn't the most original of picks and ever since logging on back in the summer, I have had a nagging suspicion that it is little more than a glorified form of instant messaging - only slower, but I still find it addictive.

And that comes from someone who has never updated their status and rarely uploads pictures or does anything with the various applications I sign up for.

So why do I love it? Essentially it is about communication and people which, for me, is what technology should be all about. It also appeals to my innate sense of curiosity and allows me to people-watch on a grand scale, on my own terms and without getting accused of staring.

On a personal level I have found it if not life-changing then definitely life-enhancing. It reunited me with a long-lost university friend, as well as being the first place I learned of another friend's pregnancy and saw yet more friends' baby pics for the first time.

On a professional level it has allowed me to 'get' social networking which, up until that point, was a vague umbrella term for something I didn't entirely understand.

I have one concern. When instant messaging was in its infancy I was rarely disconnected but these days my account languishes. The interesting thing for me will be to see whether the same happens for my Facebook profile once the novelty wears off.
In January Apple Boss Steve Jobs launched the iPhone, a device he said would "revolutionise the industry". And the phone certainly lived up to expectations, for some.
But, for me, the highlight of the year was a technology that has the potential to have a far greater transformative impact.
Look no wires - power deliver over the air
In July, US researchers showed-off a relatively simple system that could deliver energy to devices, such as laptop computers, without the need for wires. The setup, called Witricity, was able to make a 60W light bulb glow from a distance of 2m (7ft).
The bulb was even made to glow when obstructions such as wood and metal were placed between the transmitter and receiver.
The reason it is my technology of the year is threefold. Firstly, if the system can be refined it has the potential to banish the annoying and ever-growing tangle of wires needed to recharge today's electronic gadgets to the past.
There are already systems on the market that use recharging pads - similar to electric toothbrush chargers - or highly directional lasers, but none that are able to flood a room with useful energy in the same way as the Witricity setup.
Secondly, the MIT researchers were able to build and test a workable system at breakneck speed.
Although the basic physics underpinning the system were well understood, the first results from their working prototype were presented to the public just eight months after the researchers had presented a paper outlining their theoretical design.

And finally, the experiment also vindicates the work of the nineteenth-century physics and engineering heavyweight Nikola Tesla.

He experimented with long-range wireless energy transfer, but his most ambitious attempt - a 29m high aerial known as Wardenclyffe Tower, in New York - failed when he ran out of money.

Witricity shows that Tesla was right to pursue a world without wires.

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2007 - the year of the iPhone and Vista and Leopard, and of more victories for the Nintendo Wii over the PlayStation3 in the console wars.

For me, though, one technology has made a bigger personal impact than any other - social networking, or to be more precise, Facebook.

In the first flush of my romance with Facebook, I added everyone in sight - students from American universities, forty-somethings who wanted to reassure me that I was not alone , someone masquerading as Patrick Moore, even, God help me, PR people.

Quickly I sobered up and began to ration my friendship to people I actually knew - or at least friends of friends.

And it worked. I developed a "virtual" social life, rediscovering old contacts, hooking up with other technology journalists, even talking more to my old friends.

News arrived on my computer each morning - one colleague announced his engagement, others the end of relationships. I felt better connected, part of a loose community where I could share as much or as little of my life as I wanted.

But in recent weeks, I have begun to wonder if Facebook has peaked. One friend - younger than me - became the first to leave, telling us it was encroaching too much on his time. Then I began to find aspects of the network increasingly irksome.

Back in May, the decision to open Facebook up to outside developers seemed brilliant, promising to change a simple pared-down site into a platform for your entire online life.

Now, I'm beginning to yearn for that early simplicity. I do not want to be bitten by vampires, or stock a virtual aquarium with fish, or watch another daft YouTube video sent to my FunWall.

Facebook's other strategic move - the Beacon advertising system - also promises to make it less attractive to users.

So are we falling out of love with Facebook? I posed that question to my "friends" the other day. "The novelty is wearing off.. " "Suffering seasonal Facebook fatigue.." were two comments.

Another had found that all her thirty-something friends had gone. But most reported that, while their early passion had faded, they were still enjoying running their social lives online. So here's my prediction - Facebook will not fade away in 2008. But don't expect to hear quite as much about it as you have this year.

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I've been impressed with the iPhone, seen Facebook become an extension of my social life, suffered disappointed at the hands of Leopard and looked on in fascination as Microsoft struggled to make the best of Vista.

But the technology that has had the biggest impact on me personally is rich web applications. I know that's more of a range of technologies - but web apps like Google Calendar, Docs, and Reader and the new photo-editing tools on Flickr have made my life simpler.

I live a hybrid existence - using Macs at home, and on the road, but PCs at work. As such I have lots of issues around accessing information across two different platforms.

The programs I use for my e-mail, diary, RSS feeds and photos have always been different across the two systems. But the rise of web apps that are flexible, platform-neutral and accessible from anywhere I have a net connection has made my life almost pain-free.

The technology team plans its workload via Google calendar, we have collaborated on stories and scripts using a web-based word processor and I can now get access to the latest stories via RSS on my Mac, PC or mobile phone and it is always synchronised.

As technologies like Adobe Air and Google Gears allow richer and richer experiences to move to the cloud, and to merge the offline and online worlds, 2008 should be even more interesting.

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My pick of the year is a pretty geeky one - but in a good way. In late November Nominet, which looks after the .uk domain, started work on a British Enum directory.

Enum, or Telephone Number Mapping, does a couple of hugely important things. It makes it possible to map net domains to telephone numbers. This means you can look up a number just like you do a net domain.

This is important as it promises to start unifying the still, largely, separate worlds of phones and the net. For a start this means that firms who route calls over the net, like Skype, will be able to interconnect much more easily. But that's just the start.

Given that eventually all communication could travel via the net it marks the start of a grand conjunction.

Ultimately it could mean that when you have one way to contact someone you have all the ways they can be contacted. All you will have to do is look them up like you do a website now.

The net will know.

Leader in War Could be Leader in Peace

Ivan Simic


In our contemporary world there are 245 entities, which include; countries, independent states (both internationally recognized and generally unrecognized), inhabited dependent territories, and areas of special sovereignty. Almost, all of these entities have fought some kind of war and battle in their history for various reasons, such as: independence, religion, revolution, liberation, occupation, among others. According to war history, over 365 million people lost their lives in these wars, including ongoing ones. Unfortunately, the final number of war victims will never be known.

For centuries, numerous wars were fought among countries, and in relation to that, we cannot ignore one country that has participated or had a big influence in many of them, especially recent ones. That country is the United States of America (USA).

The United States proclaimed independence from Great Britain on July 4, 1776 but she was officially recognized on September 3, 1783, and since then, the USA was involved in over 285 domestic and international military conflicts, some of which were: World War I and II, Vietnam War, Korean War, Gulf War, and ongoing wars: Iraq War (Second Persian Gulf War), War in Somalia, War on Terrorism (Operation Enduring Freedom); Afghanistan, Philippines, Trans Sahara, among others. If we look through world history for the last fifty years, we can see that no country has been involved in as many military conflicts as the United States has.

Currently, the USA has over 369,000 active military personnel deployed outside the USA, including: around 170.000 troops in Iraq, Japan 48.844 troops, Germany 63.958 troops, South Korea 26.477 troops, the UK 10.967 troops, among others. Also, the USA has; 27 Air Force Bases, 3 Army Bases, 4 Navy Bases, and 1 Barracks worldwide. Without these military installations, the USA would be vulnerable like any other country, and a country without major influence in the International System.

Therefore, general opinion would be that; the USA is a very aggressive country, but is she? For instance, if we compare the world entities to one big family; then we can say that the USA is like a "big brother" to the remaining countries. The USA is always there to help and protect small countries, to support, to give financial aid, but also to discipline some in order to make them better. The United States likes to be called the "leader of the free world", while others believe that she is a ruler, perhaps conqueror. However, many are wondering if she is capable of being a leader. Well, the USA is one of the youngest countries in the world, but she took that chance and became a leader, while others didn't. Being a leader is not easy, and occasionally she makes mistakes, therefore it is up to older and wiser countries to help her realise them.

We are evidencing dramatic changes in the world today; China, India, Russia and European Union are getting economically stronger, and the USA economy is beginning to stagnate. If this trend continues, then the only way for the United States to remain a superpower, and dominant economical, political, cultural, and military force in the world will be to fight wars. It would be better for the United States to use warfare money and invest in the domestic economy, instead of spending billions of dollars on useless wars.

In regard to the above, it looks like American people didn't get anything good from these hopeless wars, especially recent ones. These days, American citizens lives in constant fears from terrorist attacks, and they became potential targets for terrorist worldwide.

However, there are few very interesting facts: many countries have policy against the USA, her way of conducting politics and way of living, but at the same time wants to be like her. It is similar with different nationalities, many of them don't like Americans, but almost every person in the world would like to become an American citizen and live in the USA. Take for instance how many Mexicans, Chinese, Cubans, and even Muslims from countries that the USA army have occupied live in the United States, and struggle to become citizens. Many countries have implemented numerous US Laws and regulations, and it is evident the number of immigrants coming to the United States is increasing every year.

So, what can we expect from the United States in the future?

No one knows, let's just hope that she will end this war trend and use her resources to bring harmony to the world, so that we can enjoy her leadership in a peaceful and understanding way.

Ivan Simic

Belgrade, Serbia

Address: Paloticeva 12, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia. Tel: +381/63/7508500

Mr. Prime Minister, No Retirement Yet! Five More Years!

by Mulubrhan Tsehaye

Ever since the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Mr. Meles Zenawi announced to reporters (on many occasions) that he has no intention of seeking a re-election for the position of a Prime Minister after completing his current term, many Ethiopians have been expressing their disappointment and anxiety about his possible departure. For the opponents of Meles Zenawi who are usually in subterranean denial of the reality in the country, it has been a common practice to try to smudge anybody and everybody who makes even the slightest attempt to remotely recognize some of his clear and unmistakable leadership qualities as a blind follower or even a paid mannequin. No matter who the individual is or how principled of a person he/she might be, venturing into recognizing and encouraging any of the positive aspects of Mr. Zenawi’s leadership skills or the progress of his administration automatically earns him/her a nickname of a paid advocate or just a greedy sellout who is merely driven by a sheer voracity of acquiring a free real estate or a dispensation of special investment opportunity or other similar indulgence from the ruling party.

As the image of Ethiopia continues to perk up and all attempts to undermine or cover up the visible progress in the country fail however, these opponents seem to be left with no choice but to be honest to themselves and to the Ethiopian people that things have reached a point where it has become absolutely impossible to look to Ethiopia these days and simply brush off the extraordinary political and economic transformations it has been going through under the current administration of Meles Zenawi. Whether they like it or not, his opponents have to come to their senses that for the first time in history, Ethiopians have become quite optimistic about the future of their nation and people in and outside the country can be observed with a newly created hope and excitement about the ongoing remarkable economic and political developments in the country, the overall astonishing transformation of the nation that has unleashed boundless opportunities for all citizens to be engaged in various investment sectors. Over the past few years, the Prime Minister has demonstrated a unique moral fiber of a striking charisma, an astonishing degree of intelligence and extremely immaculate leadership skills, and most importantly, a ripe political maturity that has fascinated those who have had the chance to deal with him. He has proven to his opponents that he is a man of exceptional intelligence, incredibly shrewd and outstandingly slick politician with deep and complex way of thinking, and a dazzling talent at languages that are manifested in his eloquent articulation and multifaceted approach to every issue at hand. Regardless of what his opponents claim, there is no doubt that under his leadership, Ethiopia for the first time in history has started the long and treacherous path of a gradual transition to a multi-party democracy, a steady and sustainable economic growth, and an improved access to basic education and health services.

For quite a while now, Meles Zenawi has declared an all out war against the deeply rooted poverty and backwardness in the nation and delivered rather very commendable results that have essentially transplanted back the long lost hope and optimism in the hearts of many Ethiopians. While he has his own share of shortcomings as a leader of the ruling party, it is an indisputable fact that his leadership has demonstrated a stanch resolve to bring about a momentous economic change and the results so far have been very astounding at best and encouraging at the worst. Many analysts and senior diplomats have testified on many occasions that unlike most African leaders, Meles Zenawi is a man ahead of his time with an extremely high IQ, and a well informed individual with superb political dexterity and agile diplomatic proficiency. In fact, sometimes one simply can’t help it but get captivated to observe the Prime Minister perform a task that seems humanly unattainable to many in taking random questions from foreign or domestic reporters and endowing them with meticulous answers during his routine media briefings. As the journalists unload their series of questions, one after the other, some of them up to three or four questions each, the man’s brain simply absorbs them one by one without taking any notes and spits out well-thought and eloquently articulated answers for every question without leaving a single question unanswered. Now, many of us can’t even remember sometimes a single word we heard five seconds ago and we usually require a repeat but the Prime Minister seems to possess a special memory chip in his brain that retains information way beyond an ordinary man’s capability. If this isn’t a special talent what is? Of course, the point here is not whether the Prime Minister is always right or whether people always should or should not agree with his political views. There are many people who disagree with many of his political views or how his administration handles specific issues but it is rather to emphasize that his answers are always so well articulated and clear-cut regardless of the language he happens to communicate with that by the time he finishes responding to any of the questions, people don’t have to guess as to where he stands on the issues in question.

The Prime Minister’s political moves have always been calculated to precision as a skillful chess master who keeps checkmating his adversaries in every game he plays regardless of how complex a challenge his adversaries may come up with. Over the years, Meles has also demonstrated a superior understanding of global politics and earned himself a profound respect and admiration in the eyes of the international community. This in turn had a significant contribution in enhancing the stature of Ethiopia today and in glorifying its image into a nation of hope and optimism that has been otherwise tarnished by poverty, draught and famine during the previous successive regimes. As a result of all this, the Prime Minister has received various international awards for his dedication in laying a good foundation that will slowly move Ethiopia towards democracy and sustainable development. Some of the awards include: The 2005 Yara Prize for initiating a good foundation for economic progress in Ethiopia; Good Governance Award of the Global coalition for Africa” for leading Ethiopia in a democratic path during the challenging period of transition; Tabor 100’s prestigious Crystal Eagle International Leadership Award for his big contribution toward economic and social transformation in Africa; The World Peace Prize for his contributions for global peace and his effort to stabilize the Horn of Africa through cooperation with IGAD and other similar prestigious awards.

Of course, no one can claim that Mr. Zenawi is a perfect man or a saint sent by God who is error-proof and all the policies of his government or their implementations are always flawless. In fact, as the writer has been voicing them in previous writings, there are a number of political issues of his administration many Ethiopians disagree with. There are even those who protest about some of the aspects of the PM’s personality. These are people who are irritated by the arrogant or rather harsh personal tone commonly displayed by the Prime Minister in some of his public appearances. The feeling is that sometimes leaders have to be able to show their tender human side and try to understand people beyond the politics they are involved in. There are also some people who are of the opinion that the Prime Minister has a tendency of being inflexible and stubborn in dealing with the people around him. While it is quite expected or perhaps inevitable for someone who has been in power that long to be overconfident or even arrogant, in all fairness, this allegation has to be seen in the context of a person who was cultivated in an Ethiopian culture where exhibiting any degree of softness by a leader often times might be misinterpreted as a sign of weakness. That said however, the cruel treatment of his ex-comrades who fought side by side during the tough time but split due to some political disagreements shortly after foiling the invasion of Shaibya ought not be overlooked. Many are of the opinion that regardless of the bitter political differences between the two groups, it was certainly unnecessary and unwarranted to go as far he went to humiliate some of his long time colleagues whose contribution to the struggle was immense.

And then of course, there are the issues including the notorious abortion of the stunning triumph of the gallant Ethiopian army over the invading force of Shaibya and the subsequent signing of the rather worthless accord known as the Algiers agreement that practically resuscitated the regime of Shaibya back to existence. The longstanding defensive position or containment policy of the Prime Minister’s administration towards the continuous belligerence of Shaibya and its sheer determination to destabilize Ethiopia has been another contentious issue for many Ethiopians. Characteristically, most politicians and certainly those who went through long and difficult armed struggles for their political principles like people to believe that sticking to their principles that brought them to power is very imperative for them. Thus, quite often, we hear them say that no matter how unpopular their decisions may be, they rather choose to adhere to their principles and make all their decisions based on those principles. There shouldn’t be any quandary about such an attitude. After all, in theory, guiding principles should be the driving force of any leader’s political move. The Prime Minister however has to realize that there is a clear distinction between running unpopular policy that adheres to his principles and trying to run a policy that is quite discordant and totally unacceptable just for the sake of adhering to his principles. His spongy stance towards the terrorist regime of Shaibya and its followers who suffer from delusional fantasy of superiority is not only unpopular but rather a completely and utterly unacceptable policy to the vast majority of Ethiopians. The bottom line here is, when it comes to dealing with the thugs in Asmara, instead of trying to pursue a policy that was simply devised by few politicians behind closed doors, the Prime Minister and his administration ought to go back and listen to the ordinary citizens with a purpose of learning and feeling first hand the hearts and minds of the grass roots about this rather thorny and explosive issue.

This said however, all leaders are human beings and as their fellow imperfect human beings, they are inevitably prone to making certain mistakes during their political life. It is also very important that they be judged in the context of their overall leadership skills and the political, economic and social achievements of the nation during their stay in office. In poverty stricken countries like ours where the concept of democratic governance has never been documented in the history of its existence, for any leader to try to lay a foundation for good governance and noticeable economic development poses a particular challenge of an immense proportion. Nevertheless, today in Ethiopia, although there are still massive economic and social problems that entail to be undertaken, things are changing dramatically and very fast. Against all odds, the country under the leadership of Meles Zenawi has been registering unprecedented near double digit economic growth. It is true that Ethiopia still remains one of the poorest countries in the world and it has a long way to go before one can entertain a concept of a prosperous nation. What can be said with a substantial level of confidence is that the current government under the leadership of Meles Zenawi has laid a good foundation that will gradually stir the nation towards democracy and sustainable development.

It can never be an overstatement however to note that a bigger job that requires even a stronger and more accountable leadership with a profound commitment to take the country through the upcoming long marathon struggle to eliminate poverty is waiting ahead. And who is better qualified and intellectually suited for the responsibility of leading the nation to the next step than Meles Zenawi who has proven conclusively to be a vibrant and visionary politician with an exceptionally colorful leadership resume. Although to no avail, his political opponents have been relentless in their efforts to paint him as a dictator and most importantly, to undermine the countries achievement records under his leadership in an effort to push him out of office and see him gone fast. However, for the vast majority of Ethiopians who has just started to see the light at the end of the tunnel, his announcement not to run for the next term is disappointing and distressing. The bottom line is as it stands now, the most competent and dynamic leader who is capable of leading the country into the final dash of a fully fledged democracy and economic prosperity is Meles Zenawi and thus he ought to stay and compete for the next five more years in office.

If Ethiopia is to propel itself further along the current promising path into a better future of economic prosperity and social well being, Meles Zenawi ought to be encouraged to finish what he started and deny those extremist power-hungry elements who are hell bent to return the country back to the era of gloom their relentless quest to hijack the process in motion. Meles has to have the courage to ignore those self indulging and hate mongering elements who are determined to push him around so they can reinstate themselves to power and continue marching forward with a renewed vigor in his efforts to lead the nation for another five year term. One can’t help it but get amused or even frightened to try to measure up the political incompetence and the total intellectual inadequacy of those who are claimed to be potential leaders by the some of their extremist followers with the broad qualifications, sharp brainpower and superb political agility of Meles Zenawi. The contrast in the leadership qualifications can only be described as a Professor versus a lazy student, a Professional versus an Armature or a Sprinter versus a crawler.

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Into the Technology Space Enters a New East African Star: Announcing the Launch of ModernETH, Based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 26, 2007--Manny Amare, president and co-founder of Altour Management Technology (AMT), has recently announced the launch of a new technology-focused company, MODETH IT Outsource, PLC (ModernETH). Based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with offices in London and the United States, the vision of ModernETH is two-fold: to provide technological services in Ethiopia, as well ascapitalize on the cost-effective, off-shore delivery service model for clients based in the UK and U.S., including those of AMT.
Within the Ethiopian market, ModernETH is dedicated to providing informational, agricultural and import/export technology services. Using information technology solutions, ModernETH aims to help Ethiopian businesses operate at optimal performance by streamlining strategic technology planning, architecture, engineering and provisioning. Innovations via agricultural technology will look to facilitate the modernization of Ethiopia's agricultural system, allowing Ethiopian farmers, processors and traders to become more
competitive in the marketplace. Finally, import/export technology via ModernETH's partners will enhance and improve the trade flow of Ethiopia's trade organizations.
"The task of facilitating the modernization of Ethiopia's technological extension system is far beyond the capabilities of a single institution," said Manny Amare, managing partner of ModernETH. "We plan to function as a pace-setter for the industry, developing system designs and models of professional activities. Our hope is to encourage new entrants into the field, thereby fostering further innovation in Ethiopia."
Manny brings over a decade of hands-on technology services experience to ModernETH. As co-founder and president of AMT, the New York-based information technology company, Manny is a proud member of the leadership team that saw ALTOUR become a leading global travel company, ranking among the top travel agencies in the U.S. with sales exceeding $500 million. The launch of Ethiopia-based ModernETH marks
the realization of a lifelong dream for Manny and reflects the confidence of the investor group backing the effort.
The ModernETH senior management team also includes Jacek Lewandowski, director of distributed systems for City University of New York, who holds advanced graduate degrees in computer science and electrical and electronics engineering. To this project Jacek brings extensive experience in the creation and development of broad-based solutions for information technology, specializing in virtualized tiered storage, fiber channel technologies, highly-available clustered systems, large-scale multi-processing, business continuity and
disaster prevention.

A Board of Advisors for ModernETH includes such industry leaders as Alexandre Chemla, founder and owner and Barry Noskeau, executive
vice president of ALTOUR.
For more information, please visit

Manny Amare, 212-897-5152

Ethiopian Prime Minister and Starbucks Chairman Discuss Ways to Support Ethiopian Coffee Industry

Starbucks Announces Plan to Open First Farmer Support Center in Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and Starbucks Corporation (Nasdaq: SBUX) chairman Howard Schultz today reaffirmed their commitment to making Ethiopia a leading force in the global specialty coffee marketplace. Schultz and Prime Minister Meles said their discussions reflected a deepening relationship between Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee, and Starbucks, one of the world’s largest specialty coffee companies. The Prime Minister and Schultz discussed ways to expand the branding and marketing of Ethiopia’s world-renowned fine coffees in order to achieve better prices for farmers and improved opportunities for the millions of Ethiopians who depend on coffee for their livelihood. Schultz announced that the company will open a Starbucks Farmer Support Center in the Ethiopian capital in 2008. The facility, the first in Africa, will enable Starbucks to work collaboratively with Ethiopian farmers to raise both the quality and production of the country’s high quality specialty coffees.
“We will be working closely with Starbucks to bring badly needed investment and technology to our coffee industry, as well as brand recognition and promotion for our high-grade Arabica beans,” said Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. “These measures will afford Ethiopia new leverage in the global coffee market. I am extremely encouraged that Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz shares our belief in a bright future for Ethiopia’s coffee economy.” Earlier this year, Starbucks signed a distribution, marketing and licensing agreement with Ethiopia and has agreed to assist in expanding consumer awareness of Ethiopia’s famed coffee brands -- Sidamo, Harar/Harrar and Yirgacheffe. In addition to meeting with Prime Minister Meles, Schultz and other top Starbucks executives will have a roundtable discussion with government officials, coffee farmers, exporters and other coffee stakeholders to share ideas on how to strengthen the partnership and improve the Ethiopian coffee industry. On Friday, Schultz will address leaders of the Ethiopian business community and young entrepreneurs. The Starbucks Farmer Support Center in Addis Ababa will provide resources and ongoing support to coffee communities with the goal of improving coffee quality and growing practices and increasing the number of farmers participating in the Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices, Starbucks’ sustainable coffee buying guidelines. “This is an extraordinary opportunity for Starbucks to continue to partner with the Ethiopian coffee community to support their efforts to produce some of the world’s finest coffees. We have always recognized that coffee farmers play a critical role in Starbucks success and we are proud to help expand the audience and demand for Ethiopian specialty coffees. Prime Minister Meles has a deep understanding of the global coffee business and is genuinely committed to forging public-private partnerships to ensure a bright future for Ethiopian farmers.” Schultz said. Between 2002 and 2006, Starbucks increased its Ethiopian coffee purchases by nearly 400 percent. Today, Ethiopian coffee can be found in nearly all of Starbucks’ U.S. stores. In 2008 Starbucks plans to intensify its promotion of Ethiopian coffees.
As part of Starbucks’ expanded economic investment in the region, Schultz also announced that the company is negotiating with an Ethiopian apparel factory to manufacture its Starbucks black aprons, worn by approximately 27,000 Coffee Masters worldwide. Starbucks also invested in school and bridge infrastructure projects in Ethiopia as well as partnered with CARE and WaterAid on projects to improve the economic and educational prospects in the coffee-growing regions of Ethiopia. Schultz is joined in Ethiopia by Cliff Burrows, president Starbucks EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), Dub Hay, Starbucks senior vice president of Coffee & Global Procurement, and Sandra Taylor, Starbucks senior vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility. ###

A quick-witted person whose bequest is treasury of knoledge

A quick-witted person whose bequest is treasury of knoledge

Professor Kinfe Abraham

Distinguished Pan-Africanist, Professor Kinfe Abraham, who was the president of the Ethiopian International Institute for Peace and Development (EIIPD) and the Ethiopian Special Envoy to the Sudanese Peace Process, passed away on Thursday 8 November 2007 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Professor Abraham was the author of over 20 books and numerous articles on a range of topics pertaining to conflicts in the Horn of Africa, the function and role of the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union (AU). He also served as the Director-General for Political and Humanitarian Affairs and then as the Acting Deputy Executive Secretary of IGAD.

Kinfe Abraham was born in the historic Ethiopian town of Adwa, Tigray, on October 20, 1950 to Abraham Shale and Birrnesh Wasyihun and undertook his primary and secondary education at Atse Fasiledas School in Gondor town. In 1967 he commenced studies at Addis Ababa University and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Educational Administration in 1971. Shortly thereafter he left for the Research Institute for Management Science in the Netherlands where he received his Masters of Arts in Industrial Management in 1973. In 1979 he was awarded a second Masters degree, this time in American Literary Studies, from Sweden’s Uppsala University. Dr. Abraham followed this up with a doctorate in Race and International Relations from the same institution in 1982. He developed a wide-ranging degree of expertise in the areas of education, economics, development, politics and international relations.

Professor Abraham was a staunch advocate of African economic and political emancipation, and undertook a range of projects for international organisations, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA). More recently, in his capacity as the Chief Political Advisor and Special Envoy to the Sudanese Peace Process, Professor Kinfe led the Ethiopian effort to secure peace in Sudan. He has also been actively engaged in leading and supporting mediation efforts in the Horn of Africa.

Professor Abraham’s experiences enabled him to publish a range of books on the conflicts in the region including Sudan: The Politics of War and Peace; The Horn of Africa: Conflicts and Conflict Mediation; Somalia Calling; and Ethio-Eritrean History and War. His interest in supporting and enhancing the processes of regional and continental integration in Africa is encapsulated in his seminal work entitled The African Quest: the Transition from OAU to AU and NEPAD. In this book he outlined the historical evolution of the Pan-African movement from its inception, and analysed the obstacles and challenges to implementing its ideals. He also discusses the opportunities that Africa should embrace in order to accelerate economic and political integration.

Professor Abraham’s interests in development encouraged him to pen a critique of the emerging global order and corruption in Africa in a book entitled The Missing Millions: Why and How Africa is Under-Developed. His credentials as a Pan-Africanist were illustrated by his committed advocacy of continental integration. Some of his earliest work documented, analysed, and contrasted black nationalism in the United States and Africa, and led to the publication of The Politics of Black Nationalism: From Harlem to Soweto. It is no surprise that he was a sought-after speaker who delivered speeches at international events and institutions in countries ranging from the US, UK, Switzerland, Sweden, Japan, Israel, Norway, China Austria, India, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sudan, Nigeria, Morocco, Egypt, Kenya, and Djibouti. He had also chaired and convened several international conferences on themes like international and regional security, conflict management, economic integration, transboundary resources, the hydro-politics of the Nile River Basin, the Ethio-Arab and Middle Eastern relations, NEPAD, and the African Union. The late Professor Abraham, who is survived by his wife, daughter and son, will undoubtedly command a place in Africa’s intellectual history, and his status and legacy as a leading Pan-Africanist is secure. The Africa World Journal (AWJ) described Professor Abraham as one of the leading thinkers of Africa. He will remain an inspiration to current and future African thinkers. His prolific research output and his rich intellectual life have set the standard for Africa’s aspiring young and emerging scholars.

Ethiopia in 4 Million Dollar Program to attract Diaspora

Dr. Getachew Feleke from Nassau Medical Center of New York, meets President. Bush at the White House 2006, Ethiopia Diaspora Initiative(Photo:Etharc)

A four-year programme called "Migration for Development in Ethiopia" or MIDEth, is established to contribute to strengthening the government's institutional capacities for the mobilization and utilization of human, financial and other resources of the Ethiopian Diaspora, said IOM. The International Organization for Migration made an agreement with Ethiopian Expatriates Affairs Directorate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
A new IOM programme will reach out to the Ethiopian diaspora to assist those eager to share their knowledge and skills to contribute to the development of their country of origin.
The IOM office in Addis Ababa recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ethiopian Expatriates Affairs Directorate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to begin the four-year programme "Migration for Development in Ethiopia" or MIDEth, designed to contribute to strengthening the government's institutional capacities for the mobilization and utilization of human, financial and other resources of the Ethiopian diaspora, with a particular focus on the health, education and water and sanitation sectors.
The programme will also enhance the institutional capacities of the private sector, NGOs, grass-root communities, and civil society and foster stronger private-public sector partnerships which will strengthen the confidence-building process between the Ethiopian Government and the diaspora.
Thousands of African professionals, including medical doctors, nurses, accountants, engineers, managers, and teachers leave Africa each year. The main reason for their departure is to improve their living conditions, either by pursuing studies or by seeking better-paying jobs. Others leave their countries fleeing insecurity and/or unstable political and socio-economic conditions.
The resulting brain drain heightens the dependency of African economies by compelling them to resort to costly foreign expertise in many areas, which in turn creates a widening vicious circle.
MIDEth will assist 200 Ethiopian professionals in the diaspora to share their skills through: virtual/tele-work or satellite-based technology systems (tele-learning, tele-teaching and tele-medicine); sequenced/repeated visits; permanent relocation; investments for small and medium-scale community investments; as well as policy, advocacy and transfer of medical equipment, facilities and literature.
"MIDEth is a four-year programme with a total budget of USD 4,487,700. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has provided IOM with half a million US dollars for the first year, but we need donors to come forward and pledge the remaining amount so that this programme can fully succeed. We are confident that there are hundreds, even thousands, of skilled Ethiopians living overseas who are eager to help their country," explains IOM's Chief of Mission in Addis Ababa, Charles Kwenin.
It is estimated that 1.5 million Ethiopians are in the diaspora, the majority in the United States, Canada, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and the Gulf States.
MIDEth will benefit from IOM's long experience in the Return of Qualified African Nationals (RQAN), and is part of IOM's Migration for Development in Africa (MIDA) which helps to mobilize competencies acquired by African nationals abroad to benefit Africa's development and to assist in strengthening the institutional capacities of African governments to manage and realize their development goals.

Brains, not bullets

Oct 25th 2007
From The Economist print edition

Western armies are good at destroying things. Can they be made better at building them?

EyevineANOTHER debate to do with Iraq and Afghanistan is building in America, one that could have important consequences for the West. This debate is being conducted in the Pentagon—and it has to do with the future shape of America's armed forces. With its far-flung alliances and commitments, the superpower rightly wants a “full spectrum” of military capabilities to deal with everything from an all-out war to a small policing action. But precisely what the mix should be is increasingly contentious—and could prove expensive.
If the biggest threat comes from rising powers, such as a belligerent Russia or a pushy China, America and its allies will need to invest in aircraft, ships and advanced weapons to cope. If the greatest challenge is the fight against militants and insurgents around the world—seen by some as a new and different “fourth generation” of warfare (see article)—then they will need more boots on the ground and, crucially, different sorts of soldiers wearing them. Sadly for taxpayers everywhere, the emerging answer from America is that a modern power needs to prepare for both challenges. But there has been a clear swing towards manpower from technology.
The troops, they are a changin'
The change has been striking. The “transformation” advocated by Donald Rumsfeld, George Bush's first defence secretary, envisaged that the armed forces would be slimmed down and money invested in “smart” weapons, reconnaissance systems and data links. Speed, stealth, accuracy and networks would substitute for massed forces. The army's idea of its “future warrior” was a kind of cyborg, helmet stuffed with electronic wizardry and a computer display on his visor, all wirelessly linked to sensors, weapons and comrades. New clothing would have in-built heating and cooling. Information on the soldier's physical condition would be beamed to medics, and an artificial “exoskeleton” (a sort of personal brace) would strengthen his limbs.
The initial success in toppling first the Taliban in Afghanistan and then Saddam Hussein in Iraq seemed to vindicate such concepts. But the murderous chaos in Iraq, and the growing violence in southern Afghanistan, have shown that America is good at destroying targets, and bad at rebuilding states. Firepower is of little use, and often counter-productive, when the enemy deliberately mingles among civilians.
Robert Gates, Mr Rumsfeld's successor, is thus presiding over something of a counter-revolution. Technological tricks are not being abandoned. But the army is to get a bigger share of the defence budget and has been told to recruit more soldiers with it. Precisely because America is so powerful against conventional armies, Mr Gates expects its enemies to rely on asymmetric warfare. In other words, America must expect to fight protracted, enervating counter-insurgency wars that offer no clear-cut victories and risk the prospect of humiliation.
A new manual on counter-insurgency co-authored by the man now in charge of the war in Iraq, General David Petraeus, overturns the notion that America doesn't “do nation-building”. Counter-insurgency, it says, is “armed social work”. It requires more brain than brawn, more patience than aggression. The model soldier should be less science-fiction Terminator and more intellectual for “the graduate level of war”, preferably a linguist, with a sense of history and anthropology.
The indirect approach
In general, the shift from technology to manpower is welcome. Some sceptics will argue that America's first future priority should be to avoid smallish wars of choice altogether. Even if that were sensible, history suggests it is unlikely to happen: American troops have kept on getting involved in foreign conflicts. The military planners' job is to cope with the likely, not to restrict democratically elected politicians' options.
From that perspective, two doubts come to the fore. The first is whether the Pentagon is right to focus so heavily on creating more combat brigades. With American units serving 15 months in the field and a year at home at best, the army understandably wants more front-line soldiers to ease the strain. But large armies have often found it extremely hard to fight guerrillas in far-away places—ask the French in Algeria, the Russians in Afghanistan and, not least, the Americans themselves in Vietnam. With the possible exception of the British in Malaya, it is hard to think of many insurgencies in modern times that have been crushed by a Western occupying power.
Post-colonial politics, stronger concerns for human rights, the rapid dispersal of news: all these (good) things make today's conflicts even harder to win for occupiers. So it may well be better to step back and work through local allies. Few insurgencies have unseated existing governments. In the “war on terror” most of the important al-Qaeda suspects have been rounded up for America by local allies. Strengthening local forces is the best way of salvaging Iraq and Afghanistan, and may help avoid the need for future interventions.
To be fair, the Pentagon talks about building “partner capacity”, but it may need more radical steps—in particular creating new specialist units to train allies, embed Western soldiers in local forces to improve their performance and be able to call in airstrikes, and help organise civil reconstruction. Generals complain about splitting the army, but they already oversee a myriad of specialist units. It is at least worth trying.
The other lingering concern with the shift in focus from destruction to construction has to do with skimping on conventional weaponry. At the margin, it is certainly worth putting more money into manpower at the expense of some futuristic projects. The prospect of an all-out war with Russia or China is distant for now; the risk of losing in Iraq and Afghanistan is acute. But raiding other defence programmes can only go so far. At 4% of GDP, America's defence spending is low by historical standards: it was 9% during the Vietnam war and 14% during the Korean war. The problem is worse in Europe: many of America's allies spend less than the 2% minimum target set by NATO. If the West wants to build a smarter army of the future, it will have to pay for it.

Sheikh Al Amoudi: Man with a Vision for Ethiopia

Engineer Ghirma

Very few people that I have read about or heard about have done as much for
his or her country as Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi.
Sheikh Al Amoudi appeared on the Ethiopian scene with a mission to make
profound difference in the lives of Ethiopians; and my God, he has delivered!
Sheikh Al Amoudi has invested more than $1,000,000,000 (one billion) of his
hard earned money in Ethiopia to date; which he had accumulated as an
entrepreneur overseas. His ultimate objective, as he publicly stated, is to
invest 40% of his vast wealth in Ethiopia. Considering that he is listed as the
eighty-sixth richest person in the World by Forbes magazine, with net worth
of $8,000,000,000 (Feb. 9, 2007), Sheikh Al Amoudi is a long way from his
desired and planned vision for Ethiopia. May God/Allah bless his kind heart
and his creative mind.
Sheikh Al Amoudi’s investments are tailored to fill a need of one kind or the
other by Ethiopia. He is focused in both the short and long term investment
needs of Ethiopia. Sheikh Al Amoudi is committed to play a major role in P.M.
Meles Zenawi’s determination to elevate Ethiopia and attain the goal of
becoming among middle-income nations in the next twenty years. There is no
doubt in my mind that this goal will be achieved ahead of schedule, based on
the prevailing momentum. What sheikh Al Amoudi had started is being
emulated by a wave of other Ethiopian entrepreneurs from the Diaspora,
while fat cats like Al Mariam remain determined to continue on their
destructive path. This pretender (Al Mariam) has been barking at Senator
Sinhofe for something that was taken out of context. However, I see it for
what it really is; it was just a silly act played for the benefit of his silly/vocal
audience. It won’t work! Besides, I know first hand at least of one local NGO
called Godanaw Rehabilitation Integrated Project (GRIP) which is doing
marvelous works for young unwed mothers, and Ethiopian youth in general.
The cursed CUD/DERG/Neftegna coalition is determined to prevent Ethiopia’s
aspirations to achieve victory against poverty and backwardness. They are
working day and night to place all kinds of hurdles in the path of Ethiopia’s
march toward prosperity; HR 2003 being one of such hurdles. However, it will
all be in vain. It is like attempting to stop a moving train by standing in the
middle of its path. They will be crushed. Their mentality is based on a
donkey’s curse: Well, CUD the hate monger incarnation of DERG is dead, and Ethiopia will continue to bloom ever more beautifully by the grace of God/Allah and the goodwill of Ethiopians like Sheikh Al Amoudi. The appearance of EPRDF on the Ethiopian scene is one of the best things that have ever happened to Ethiopia; and Ethiopian Nations and Nationalities know it deep inside.
Any apology from CUD leadership for an assault against people of any
Nationality within Ethiopia, in this case against the people of Tigrai has left a permanent scar on all Ethiopians. The idea thatsomebody in leadership position can walk away from such a criminal act with a flimsy apology is ridiculous. I believe CUD has also made condescending comments about the people of Amara (Lalibela) in the past, in reference to Ato Lidetu Ayalew. Tomorrow it could be against the Oromo, Gurage, Welayita, Adere…whomever they have gripes with. An assault against any of
us is assault against all of us. It is incumbent upon all God fearing people
among us to observe each and every move of these predators, whose only hope
to ever hold the reigns of power, is through the politics of division and hate
( When all
Nationalities of Ethiopia are united, CUD the bearer of doom and gloom, will
fail miserably. The extent of CUD’s hate of the Ethiopian people has no
bounds. It includes condemnation of Sheikh Al Amoudi’s investments in
Ethiopia, and characterization thereof as “targeted” to benefit Saudi Arabia!
I say to the fat cats of CUD: “Please bring your money to invest in Ethiopia
even if it benefits your HR 2003 sponsors! Ethiopia will accept your
investment with open arms”!
I would like to thank Sheikh Alamoudi from the bottom of my heart. Ethiopia
is grateful to him. He tolerated all of the insults that CUD
leveled at him for following his heart to do great things for the Ethiopian
people. The despicable Elias Kifle of Ethiopian Review even branded Sheikh Al
Amoudi as financial supporter of “terrorist” Weyane! The CUD traitors, who
are in bed with OLF, ONLF, UIC and PFDJ, and whose heroes are Osama bin
Laden and Isaias Afwerki to name just two, are the real terrorists! EPRDF
won the 2005 election by a land slide, and therefore there isn’t a damn thing
CUD/DERG can do about it! Sheikh Al Amoudi, who is one of my heroes,
advised them to change their ways and join in the fight against poverty, which
they have ignored to heed. I can imagine the blood-tainted tears that CUD is
shedding, in reaction to the phenomenal development Ethiopia is registering.
The DERG incarnate CUD must be in excruciating pain and in agony. For a brief biography of Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi, and some of
his investment activities in Ethiopia, as well as his contributions in the field of
sports, please follow the link below:

Wow….racism, really?

By Hailu Nega


Dear Mr. Al Mariam,

I gathered you are or were a staff member at a higher learning institution. I am, therefore, going to try to appeal to your reasoning abilities to help us draw different conclusion than what you did about the senator’s statement. Senator Inhofe went, saw and then spoke. Unfortunately, part of what he saw was ugly. You are calling the description of ugly fact racism. In a scientific world, one would want every detail of the subject in order to draw a complete and accurate picture. Wax and Gold does not apply.

Let me make two points very clear to you and others like you who are crying wolf.

Babies are damped (pardon the insensitivity, I guess a “civilized” person like yourself may prefer “abandoned”) not only in Ethiopia and Africa, but also in developed countries, including the USA.
I am going to describe a scene around a municipality dumpster in Addis Ababa. I am sure it will make you sick. It has, however, nothing to do with racism but a lot to do with realism of poverty in your country. It is a typical scene and if you still insist for evidence, I will get you a picture from Addis Ababa: the municipality garbage dumpster is the feeding ground for homeless children, goats, crows, vultures and dogs; yes starving stray dogs. Are you beginning to get the picture? Unfortunately, it is also a common damping site of teenager-birthed babies. Now tell me if the stray starving dogs will spare dead and nearly dead babies.
I guess the above description makes me a super racist or perhaps one of those “non-Ethiopian” nationalities trying to destroy the Ethiopian image. Where have you been and what in God’s name are you trying to pull? Are you and your vocal friends trying to cover up the ugly realty of abject poverty in Ethiopia or scare the world to submit to your views only? I am now beginning to understand why the Ethiopian Diaspora has capitulated into silence and has allowed you and your likes to dominate the US political and social scene. You have successfully scared them off with rabid accusations like this from expressing their differing views and taking steps to help their.

I hope Ethiopians and Ethiopian-Americans will read and circulate this short note and speak out. Judging from the articles you have authored and pictures you have posted on the internet, Ethiopia is nothing but a flag and a map to you. I guess it is easier for you to glorify inanimate objects than deal with real people and their problems. No sir, Ethiopia is any of those but a wonderful and beautiful mosaic of nations and nationalities. Unfortunately, most are poor but honest and hard working people, trying very hard to pull out of poverty on their own. And yes, homeless underage mothers are part of the society and do like anywhere else in the world abandon babies. Mr. Al-Mariam sir, abject poverty, and trust me that is not government created either, is the root cause of shocking occurrences like this.

As you have your own definition of democracy, which accepts a flag and a map, but not the people they represent, it is apparent that you also have a variant definition of racism. Those who dare point out ugly facts are racists in your eyes. I realize the message that babies are abandoned by their teenage mothers and get eaten by dogs is stomach churning and nauseating and add whatever superlatives and descriptors you would want to. Nonetheless, the fact still remains that it did and does happen in Ethiopia. Your anger and accusation of the person who said it after he witnessed it will not erase the incident.

So, why sir are you trying to turn this into such a controversy? You and I know better that it will not get you support, but stands to discredit you by those better informed. If your intent is to scare those less informed you should perhaps be considered a racist yourself. It is extremely presumptuous and unfortunate. if your intent is to scare the remaining members of the senate from speaking out against HR 2003. I have a better and plausible explanation, yes, it is partly to destroy the credibility of the first US senator for speaking out against your HR 2003, but more importantly, you are trying to rally disintegrating party around drummed up controversy.

The poverty and hardship of Ethiopia will not disappear because you wished it or are ashamed of it. We, the supposedly educated but intolerant and hateful Ethiopians in America should be ashamed of ourselves because we failed to lift a finger to accelerate the rate of poverty reduction in our birthplaces. Worse yet, we have taught our children to hate and portrayed to them Ethiopia as the nation it is not instead of what it is and what it will likely be. Your articles of hate and arrogance dear professor are my references and I do not have to provide any. However, should you, dear professor insist about the lack of evidence of what I described above, I will get you a picture…it is your call.

Hailu Nega

UN Headquarters buildings: A monument to modernism architecture

New York
Have you ever taken a moment to consider how the building around you influences your perception of what it houses? A dark artificially lit building with many walls and closed doors might make you feel uneasy, as if what goes on there is very secretive. A well lighted office with a great deal of steel and high ceilings with windows looking down onto the city far below may imply a sense of power within that office.
The architecture of a building, an office or a room can – if well designed - create your first impression of that organization and influence your opinion of it. So what does the architecture of UN Headquarters say?
When designing UN Headquarters in New York the international team of designers wanted the architecture of the building to reflect the organization's goals. That is to say, they wanted an open, transparent environment where nothing is hidden. They wanted the construction of the building to convey that feeling to all who enter even if it’s just a subconscious impression. So they turned to modernist architectural design.
“The reason why modern architecture is so perfect for the UN is that it’s about honesty, it’s about transparency and it’s about openness,” said Peter Wendeborn, the architect who gave a small group of staff a tour of the UN Headquarters on 4 October. He went on to say that the UN Headquarters buildings are “A monument to modernism architecture.”
Before modernist architecture – and before the UN Headquarters buildings – buildings were built in a more enclosed fashion. Imagine a building being designed as a block, and then all the offices or apartments were carved out of that block. There are walls everywhere and hallways like tunnels from one room to the next. You can only see what is in the room with you, and all the duct work and support structures are hidden in the walls and ceiling. At the time Headquarters was being conceived this is how buildings were designed.
However, when designing UN Headquarters, a completely new direction was taken. The design team didn’t want people to be separated from each other or the work of the organization to be hidden behind walls. They wanted to create a feeling of transparency and openness. They wanted people to be together and see what others were doing. So instead of building Headquarters as a block and carving out the space within, they decided instead to use columns to completely open up the space.
When one walks into the visitors entrance at Headquarters we see an open space and we are able to look up to the higher floors. We can see where the structure of the balconies meets the structure of the floor. We are able to see the pillars supporting the structure and the exposed ductwork in the ceilings. There is literally nothing hidden.
For that matter consider the shape of the pillars in the lobby. If you look at them you will notice that they take on the shape of a steel I-beam which is what they are. The I-beams were welded into place and then encased in concrete. However, the concrete was poured to match the shape of the I-beam in order to remain architecturally honest.
Honesty and openness are the key themes to the design of the UN buildings. It’s an attempt to strip away the enclosed nature of government or office buildings and show the actual workings behind it. Consider the walls of glass allowing people to look into the General Assembly Building or our workspace in the Secretariat. When you walk through the UN Buildings you always have a sense of where staff are, and where the work spaces are. The buildings honestly lay out where everyone is and where they begin and end.
Consider the layout of the original three buildings in New York. Of the eleven architects who worked on the Headquarters design, two emerged as key players. They were Oscar Niemeyer from Brazil, and Le Corbusier from France. They both had different ideas on how to connect the General Assembly Hall, Conference Centre and Secretariat building. Le Corbusier had the idea of building a block that the individual buildings would emerge from. However, Oscar Niemeyer had an idea that the compound would be laid out on a plain or plateau and each of the individual buildings would be separate.
Interestingly enough both of these contradictory ideas were combined into the layout we have today. Each building is distinct and separate, yet they all clearly connect. However, when they do connect you can see it, as if these completely different buildings were simply pushed together. You can see when you walk from the Conference Centre into the Secretariat how the walls change suddenly and dramatically.
The windows of the Conference Centre end abruptly against the outside wall of the Secretariat building. It is as if the Conference Centre was slammed up against the Secretariat building and they were not built together. You know you are entering another building. They remain two distinctly different buildings, yet they combine with one another, and the buildings come together as the cultures of the UN come together; distinct, yet functioning seamlessly together.
The buildings are more than just a place where the work of the UN is done; they are meant to be an expression of what we stand for. In the coming months, as the Capital Master Plan prepares to get underway, iSeek will look at some of the individual architectural spaces and rooms of UN Headquarters and eventually other duty stations.

At-a-glance: Booker shortlist 2007

Judges including Last King of Scotland novelist Giles Foden and actress Imogen Stubbs selected the shortlist for this year's Booker Prize for Fiction, which is being awarded on Tuesday evening.
Here is a quick guide to the six authors who have made it onto the list this year, and the books for which they have been nominated.
Nicola Barker - Darkmans

British-born Barker spent her childhood in South Africa, returning to the UK at the age of 14. She was longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2004, for Clear: A Transparent Novel.
Darkmans sees a dysfunctional family in Ashford, Kent, haunted by John Scogin, Edward IV's court jester.
Anne Enright - The Gathering
Anne Enright
The Irish author has published three previous novels including the Whitbread-nominated What Are You Like? in 2000. She has also released Making Babies, her light-hearted diaries of motherhood.
The Gathering is about an Irish woman who is prompted by her brother's suicide to revisit three generations of bleak history of her large, dysfunctional family.
Mohsin Hamid - The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Mohsin Hamid
Hailing from Pakistan, Hamid studied at Princeton and Harvard in the US before working as a management consultant in New York.
In The Reluctant Fundamentalist, his second novel, a Pakistani Princeton graduate becomes a high-flyer in Manhattan. But he discovers a different side to his adopted home and his own beliefs after the 11 September attacks.
Lloyd Jones - Mister Pip
Lloyd Jones
New Zealander Lloyd Jones has been gathering attention and acclaim since his first novel was published 22 years ago.
Mister Pip, about a girl on a war-torn South Pacific island who becomes enthralled by Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize Overall Best Book Award 2007.
Ian McEwan - On Chesil Beach
Ian McEwan
A Booker favourite, McEwan has been shortlisted for the award three times, winning in 1998 for Amsterdam. Many of his novels have been adapted for the big screen, with Atonement, starring Keira Knightley, in the cinemas at the moment.
Set in 1960s England, On Chesil Beach tells the story of Edward and Florence, a young couple anticipating the first night of their honeymoon - and the impact it has on the rest of their married lives. It is the bookmakers' favourite for the prize.
Indra Sinha - Animal's People
Indra Sinha
Sinha was born in India and educated in the UK, where he went on to become an advertising copywriter and published a translation of the Kama Sutra.
The 1984 industrial disaster in Bhopal forms the setting for the story, about a man who was left with mental and physical defects after such a catastrophe. It is partly based on the life of Sunil Kumar, who committed suicide aged 34 last year.

Let’s All Join Hands and Challenge the Crusaders of Gloom

by Mulubrhan Tsehaye
When it was announced that the CUD leaders were given clemency as a result of the intense negotiations with help of the elders (shimagles), for many Ethiopians, that was welcome news. Ethiopians were relieved to see the CUD leaders out of Kality because their release was seen as a good will gesture towards reconciliation in the spirit of forgiveness that would hopefully give way to a new culture of resolving political differences through peaceful negotiations and a tradition of give-and-take. It was also many people’s hope that the CUD leaders would learn from their previous blunders and drop the confrontational stance and come to the table of negotiation in good faith. To the disappointment of many however, it was not long before the released leaders decided to blatantly recant the official admission of responsibility and most importantly, instead of trying to meet and consult with the people who they claim to stand for and start negotiating with ruling party as many had hoped, they quickly announced that they were preparing to go abroad and solicit a political resolution that might come as a result of an external threat on the ruling party by some foreign forces. Once they arrived in the US and Europe, as we speak, they seem to have decided to become messengers of divisive politics, bitterness and vindictiveness, soliciting lawmakers in the US to pass a punitive measure such as the so-called HR 2003, that is design to chastise the needy and poor people of Ethiopia, the very same people they claim to fight for.
Of course, the majority of Ethiopians are fully aware that the much talked about worthless bill HR 2003 was essentially drafted by few known Diaspora extremists who were political shareholders of the previous military regime; the terror sponsoring state of Shaibya; and other terrorist groups like ONLF, OLF agents. As we all know, the bill was then championed by some ignorant congressmen who were swindled into believing that Ethiopia is some kind of banana republic they can bully and arm-twist into submission for the exclusive purpose of appeasing the few subservient radical Ethiopian buddies who have been soliciting them for some time now. Of course, the chance of it passing through the Senate and the President of the united states is only imaginary. Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning that despite the outlandish claims of those vocal extremists who have been lobbying and soliciting the two congressmen, the main objective of the bill has nothing to do with helping the process of democratization or human rights preservation in Ethiopia. One can’t help but notice that restricting security assistance to the nation as it states among other things in the bill, is clearly an attempt to open a clear way for the known terrorist groups like the brutal regime in Asmara and its mercenaries, the ONLF, OLF, remnants of Islamic Courts etc to roam the country unabated and plant bombs in any corner they choose and massacre innocent people and eventually destabilize the nation.
The good news is however the vast majority of Ethiopians are very much alert of this devious political plot that was merely geared to derail the new beginning of the reconciliation process and; thwart the process of democratization and poverty reduction endeavors in the country. It is a political defraud that does not reflect the political aspirations and patriotic fortitude of the mainstream Ethiopians who truly are optimistic about the newly created spirit of peaceful negotiations between the main political parties in the country; a step many believe significant in the efforts to promote democratic ideologies with the intention of participating in the on going process of building a democratic society. Thus, in the end, the so-called HR 2003 will evaporate to the thin air just as all the previous noisy funfairs of the few vocal Diaspora extremists did and the ride on the emotional saddle will come to its crushing. As for the Mandela want-to-be CUD leaders who are in the United States, indeed they seem charmed and captivated by all the entertainment in the luxurious hotels; the heroic welcomes with bouquets of flowers at airports; the worshiping arrival chants; the stand ovations and emotionally charged applauses after the sensationalized speeches filled with empty political lectures; and of course, the showers of dollar bills during fundraising events. However, the time is fast approaching where they have to go back and face the people of Ethiopia whom they have betrayed by their failure to take advantage of the presented opportunity for a peaceful settlement of political differences with their adversaries in the spirit of compromise so the country could continue to move forward. They failed to realize that in politics, quite often, winning does not mean that politicians should get everything at once. They seem to fail to realize that there could always be another day for them to try, if the have the perseverance; another chance for them to be heard, if they really have something important to say, another day for them to influence if they have something attractive to offer and perhaps to achieve what they want, if they really deserve it.
Despite the privilege of living in some of the world’s democracies that could serve them to learn at least the basics of a democratic process, it is indeed very sad and at times even frightening to see the vocal Diaspora extremists worship personalities without any regard as to what political or economic alternative policies those political personalities represent. It is a well established historical reality that Ethiopians have been known for producing many charismatic leaders and extraordinary heroes and heroines who bravely fought and unflinchingly gave their precious lives honoring the pride of their nation and defending the interest of their people. It is thus an insult to the Ethiopian people’s history of the remarkable patriotism and bravery for these shameless blind Diaspora supporters to try to make us believe that these self-indulgent leaders who clearly have lost their personal dignity and opted to bow for external force are Ethiopia’s national heroes. While the basics of politics demonstrate that any politician who claim to have some basic political principles would know that the real fight for genuine democracy for the people is within the people, the extreme blindfolded Diaspora supporters however don’t seem to have any qualms in labeling these opportunistic leaders as national heroes and worship them like a God chosen saints so long they perceive them as a last ditch in their pursuit for the Minelik’s palace.
It is indeed deeply disappointing for many patriotic Ethiopians to watch the recent spectacle of these CUD leaders and their blind supporters who seem to have no personal integrity and no patriotic conscience in advancing a political contrive that might help their unrelenting quest for power even if it means at the expense of humiliating their people and jeopardizing the national interest of the country. We know that many of these leaders are highly educated individuals thus capable of understanding the extent of the damage their actions could have on their credibility as Politicians and the overall process of democratization in the country but unfortunately, their academic status does not seem to spare them from simply being blinded by the temporary attention they have been getting from their blind Diaspora supporters, forgetting that when the time comes to go back, it is the Ethiopian people not the Diaspora extremists who they have to answer to with a possible justification for their pursuit of a bill that clearly undermines the sovereignty of a free country like Ethiopia and humiliates the proud people who never bowed to any foreign powers in their history.
Ethiopians of all political persuasions with free and independent choice of rational outlook that is focused on preserving and safeguarding the interest of the ordinary people need to get together and organize themselves to contest the threat posed by this self indulging political move that is merely designed to undermine the liberty of our people and challenge the freedom of our sovereign nation. Citizens in and outside Ethiopia cannot afford to sit idle and watch from a safe distance while those few extreme vocal Diasporas are working hard to lobby for passing this bill to its next step in an effort to humiliate the proud people of Ethiopia and undermine the longstanding sovereignty of a nation that is considered the symbol of ancient of civilization. They need to put their respective political interests on hold and team up with their compatriots and write to their respective US Senators to let them know unequivocally that Ethiopia is a sovereign country that is in midst of a treacherous road of transition to multi-party democracy; maintain economic growth and reduce poverty; increase access to basic education and improve health services. What the Ethiopian people entail from their true friends during these rather tough times are not intimidation and arm-twisting but encouragement and support, moral, financial or/and expertise that would expedite the long and challenging course. And yes, a prosperous nation of full fledged democracy and a society free of human rights infringement is a concept every Ethiopian aspires and dreams about but genuine democracy can only be materialized merely by the Ethiopian people within Ethiopia itself. Ethiopians have never bowed to any external interference through out their history and they are not about to take any marching orders from any foreign supremacy of any sort.



by Paul B. Henze
Foreword: I returned to Asmara from service as an Observer in the Eritrean Referendum at Om Hager the evening of 26 April 1993. The next morning I had a breakfast time telephone call from Hagos Gebre Hiwot in Provisional President Isaias Aferwerki's office--Isaias wished to talk to me. Could I come to see him at 10 o'clock that morning? Of course. A car was at the Ambasoira Hotel at 5 to 10. I spent the next hour and a half in Isaias's office with him. The only others at this session were Hagos Gebre Hiwot and a note-taker named Tewolde.
I made a full record of this conversation immediately afterward, for I was impressed by the good sense of what Isaias had said and felt that the conversation was historic. Indeed it was! But what a contrast with his behavior from 1997 onward and with what he has been saying recently! My record of this conversation follows:
Isaias welcomed me, saying that he felt it was important to talk to me because my judgments and advice would be important for the future of the whole region. He asked about my impressions of the way the referendum had gone in Om Hager and elsewhere in the west. I said I had been pleasantly surprised to find so little evidence of Christian-Muslim strain and so little reason to believe that Eritreans returning from Sudan were bringing religious extremism along with them. Contrary to what I had been hearing from others about Isaias's current concerns, he expressed very confident views on religion.
"The NIF in Sudan has tried to recruit a few Eritreans to spread its line here," he said, "but they have had very little success. The extremists who have come back can be counted in tens only--when they come back here, they discover that Eritrean priorities are most important."
Isaias favors free movement across the border and believes that all the refugees who want to return can be accommodated as economic development accelerates. I expressed confidence that Eritreans will see their interest in maximum development of the country--both economically and politically--and not in being easily drawn into political or religious adventurism. I said the outcome of the referendum confirmed me in this feeling. He agreed.
The conversation turned quickly to discussion of ethnicity, political parties, democratization, and Ethiopia. Isaias remains deeply disturbed by the course political development in Ethiopia is taking. He believes the EPRDF must moderate its preoccupation with ethnic structuralism and ethnic politics. He spoke quite disdainfully of last year's rush to elections, naively assuming that they would win Western approval. He characterized parties based on ethnic groups as harmful to democracy. He made it clear that he wants to require political parties in Eritrea to have political programs that reflect various views of national interests. Religion and ethnicity are out as a basis for political organization:
"People have to be prepared for voting. We have not had elections in two of our regions--Asmara and Dancalia--because they are not yet prepared for them. We want to build political participation from the ground up. We are working on a party law that will be part of our constitution."
I said I thought it important that the constitutional process not be hurried and mentioned the need for Ethiopia to go slowly in this respect. I told him I had already urged Meles to avoid a rigid timetable on the constitutional processes and to be ready to modify the ethnic principle in administration. Looking backward Isaias said the EPRDF had miscalculated on the importance of the OLF:
"It is clear that the OLF lacked first-class leadership and strong support among the people."
Isaias sees Ethiopia's domestic political and economic problems as well as its international situation as quite parallel to those of Eritrea. He expressed concern that the U.S. is pulling out of Somalia too fast. I said that continued large-scale involvement in Somalia would leave no American resources for African countries that were trying to make something of themselves. He said he considered it important for Ethiopia to be involved in Somalia: "Perhaps Ethiopia could push the Somalis into creating some kind of order." I noted that at least one problem seemed now to be settled--Somali irredentism is no longer a worry for anyone in the Horn. Somalis in Ethiopia are happy to be there and insulated from the troubles across the border. Isaias concluded by saying he hoped the United States would continue to be involved in Somalia.
Isaias was interesting on Afars:
"It was wise of the Ethiopians to have made Habib Ali Mirah head of the Afar region because "the fellow is a moderate who understands where the best interests of the Afars lie--while Ali Mirah himself is a confused man who still has visions of himself as a grand sultan to whom all Afars owe allegiance. The Afars who are happiest today are those in Dancalia--for their interests and those of Eritrea coincide."
Isaias described the Afar problem as the result of Mengistu's arming of the Afars who then fled into Djibouti territory and stirred up trouble there:
"The French could have asserted more authority and prevented this. The Afars are at best only 40% of the population of Djibouti and are less developed than the Issas in every respect. They cannot gain dominance. But they have little respect for life, They are a wild people and can be led into fanaticism that serves no one's interests. Our problem is to draw them into development and this will take time. It is an advantage that Habib was educated at the University of Asmara and understands Eritrea."
Isaias considers Yemen an integral part of the Horn. He believes the Saudis treated the Yemenis badly. He is encouraging maximum trade with Yemen in both directions and is confident that over time the Yemenis will make a success of their unified country. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, he considers a time bomb:
"It is an explosion waiting to happen. Money cannot buy stability. No country can develop on the basis of foreign labor that has no stake in the country's development. We will not let the Saudis play with us--we insist on following our own interests. They must learn to live with that."
He spoke very positively of Israel:
"Israel has a great deal to offer us and is being very helpful. We are not going to let anyone tell us we cannot manage our relations with Israel as we wish."
We came back to discussion of ethnicity and politics two or three times--both in respect to Ethiopia and in respect to developments in Eritrea. Isaias cited the American approach to ethnicity as the kind of model he wants to follow:
"People should be free to express their unique interests in ways that do not undermine the national interest and national development goals. Most Eritrean Muslims are Khatmia--they are naturally moderate and sensible. Neither ethnicity nor religion are priorities with them. They want peace and a better life and the task of the independent government we are now creating is to gain those objectives for the Eritrean people."
Isaias is eager for foreign investment, especially from the United States. He wants rapid reconstruction of highways and irrigation facilities. He expected that the World Bank will be giving Eritrea generous support for road development.
I gave Isaias impressions of my recent visits to the ex-Soviet Union. He listened with attention.
Near the end of the meeting I mentioned our stop yesterday in Semenawi Bahri [an escarpment region below Adi Teklesan], and how thrilled I was at the beauty of the region. Isaias smiled and said: "We are going to turn it into a national park and develop it for tourism."
All in all, I had the impression that Isaias had given considerable thought to what he wanted to say to me. His statements about Eritrea's position and present state of development were very thoughtfully formulated. He repeated several times how important it was for Eritrea to have a constructive relationship with the U.S. I said I knew many American institutions were eager to undertake programs to help Eritrea and cited proposals the University of Oklahoma people have recently mentioned to me. Isaias didn't know that this university had a long history of good work in Ethiopia. He glowed when I said I considered it important for him to come to the States later this year. I said that Meles Zenawi would also be coming.
There were a couple of times when Isaias impressed me as tired, but on the whole he displayed considerable energy and sparkle, laughed several times, was delighted to have our picture taken together "so that you can prove to people in the States that I am neither dead nor disabled." He was dressed very casually--light shirt and sweater, sandals. Hagos had on blue jeans and a nylon jacket. There is still very little formality about the Eritrean government. Tewolde took meticulous notes during the entire conversation and commented to me as we went out to the car that he had enjoyed the discussion of issues very much.
Afterward: Reading my record of this meeting more than 14 years later. I find it hard to understand why this man proceeded to fan tensions with Sudan, Yemen and Djibouti during the years 1994-1197 and then finally to invade Ethiopia in 1998. Since Ethiopia defeated his armies in 2000 he has pursued a program of implacable hostility. Instead of welcoming aid for developing Eritrea, he has harassed and finally forbidden most international agencies and private organizations from operating in Eritrea. He has stubbornly persisted in attempts to undermine Ethiopia by offering support to dissidents and hostile movements, including the Oromo movements he denounced to me in 1993. He is aiding and abetting terrorists and supporting Islamic extremists. Since Ethiopia intervened in Somalia in December 2006, he has done everything Eritrea's meager resources enable him to do to encourage disorder in Somalia and resistance to African Union and international efforts to stabilize the country. His invective against the United States now knows no bounds.
Ethiopians speculated in the late 1990s that the attack of cerebral malaria which almost killed Isaias in 1996 twisted his mind. The only other--and more rational--explanation for his behavior during the past ten years is that internal resistance in Eritrea proved so difficult for him to manage that he reverted to authoritarian methods in which he had been indoctrinated when he became a dedicated Marxist in the early 1980s to intimidate Eritrea's population into submission. This has led him to imprison a large proportion of his former colleagues, reject the constitution that Bereket Habte Selassie laboriously crafted in the mid-1990s, and abandon even the pretense of creating a democratic political system and open society.
Can such an approach ensure his continuation in power? Can despotism lay the basis for a genuinely independent Eritrea? It seems doubtful.

Washington, VA
October 2007

The African Peer Review Mechanism

The practice of “reviewing” in general has nothing to do with the art of criticism.
From Criticism (1893)
by Henry James

In chapter we discussed African political and economic structures and substructures, their efficiency levels both in the national and the pan-African sense, and their contribution to the NEPAD process of implementation IN this chapter the focus is on the monitoring system of African good governance, the APRM.
The chapter starts with (1) a definition of the concepts of “peer”, “review” and “mechanism” and then goes on to discuss (2) the need for the APRM; (3) the functioning of the APRM; (4) the value of the APRM; (5) the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding the APRM; (6) the role of the APRM; (7) the accession response to the APRM to date; (8) the role of foreign powers in the creation of the APRM; (10) foreign disillusionment with the APRM; (11) challenges for the democratization process in Africa; and (12) a second invitation for the West to invest in the APRM.
We start definitions of the terms “peer”, “review”, and “mechanism”.

The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (1973) defines the word “peer” as “an equal in standing or rank; one’s equal before the law; an equal in any respect”.
The word “review” is defined as deriving “from the French revoir (to See again); the act of looking over something again, with a view to correction or improvement; a revision; and inspection or examination; a general survey or reconsideration; a retrospective survey of past actions”.
Finally, the word “mechanism” is described as deriving “from the Latin mechanisms (a machine); the structure or mutual parts, in a machine, or anything comparable to a machine; a system of mutually adapted parts working together”.
Next we discuss the need for the APRM.

Mokoena (2003) confirms the view that the way to ensure the performance of African governments and the international acceptability and respectability of the NEPAD plan of action, was to establish a pan-African performance monitoring mechanism. This could provide support for the ideals of the NEPAD strategy and ensure the factors of internal stability within states and regions, generating concerted efforts for the upliftment of the ordinary people in Africa. This monitoring instrument is the APRM. which was created under the Peace and Security Council (PSC), and adopted by the Heads of State and Government Interim committee (HSGIC) at the Durban Summit of the AU in July 2002. The APRM was created to focus on the following: (1) political and governance issues; (2) economic governance and management; (3) corporate governance; and (4) socioeconomic development. In this context we need to consider the functioning of the APRM.

Stals (2004) points out that the APRM exists to serve the interests of all the people living on the African continent. Its objectives are to help ensure good governance, sound macroeconomic policies, responsible socioeconomic development programmes, and good corporate governance-the principles providing the only route to the NEPAD objective of reducing poverty in Africa.
In order to achieve these objectives, the NEPAD Secretariat created a set of rules and procedures, a work pogramme and budget, a provisional list of partner institutions, and guideline for countries participating in the review process. It also prepared a set of questions for countries to answer on the four thematic areas of the APRM: (1) democracy and political governance, (2) economic governance and management, (3) corporate governance, and (4) socioeconomic development (Nabudere 2004b).
In fact, the APRM can be described as sui generic-it is the only tool that exists to monitor good governance and socioeconomic development on a pan-African basis.
How can the value of the APRM be described?

The APRM is a voluntary mechanism initiated by the heads of state and governments of African countries to assist all participating countries to accelerate their progress towards adopting and implementing the priorities and programmes of the NEPAD strategy. The AORM is meant to encourage and enable participating member states to adopt policies and practices that conform to the agreed political, socioeconomic and corporate governance development objectives, values, codes and standards contained in the declaration on democracy, political, economic and corporate governance of the AU.
The value of the APRM as a monitoring tool is underscored by the fact that its adherence is on a voluntary basis and that its provisions only affect member states that have acceded to its protocol. It could therefore be said that the APRM wields significant peer influence. It is a self-monitoring mechanism that enhances the primary objectives of NEPAD. However, it should also be recognized that the APRM has a built-in default mechanism: it self-imposes a condition of discrimination on those countries that do not accede to its review process. It consequently serves as a tool for coercion to compel all African countries to join and receive peer recognition.
In summary, the APRM protocol is an accession treaty, the provisions of which do not apply those member countries that have not signed the mandatory Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the African Peer Review Mechanism.

The approval of MOU as an accession instrument took place in March 2003, at a meeting of the HSGIC. Rupiya (2005) states that it was created as the mechanism for specifying the commitments, undertakings and obligations of member states, including agreeing to (1) contribute US$100 000 to the APRM Secretarial; (2) conduct self-assessment; (3) facilitate the development of the programme of action; and (4) share best practices by supporting capacity building, and experience, through constructive peer dialogue and persuasion (Mokoena 2003).
The institutions created by the MOU are independent of party political control.

Creation Independent National Councils
In terms of the MOU provisions, the political leaderships of acceding states are required to sacrifice their existing monopoly on power by allowing the creation of independent national councils in which NGOs and civil society are also represented. Through a process of consultation, within and outside its borders, a comprehensive assessment of the country’s strengths and weaknesses then has to be undertaken to prepare for the peer review process.
Within this context we may consider the role of participating countries.

The Role Of participating Countries
The APRM has raised many expectations on the African continent and beyond. It is seen as a critical instrument for advancing reforms in governance and socioeconomic development and in building capacity in Africa countries. However, it stands to reason that these objectives can only be achieved through concerted efforts at the individual country level to engage all national stakeholders in identifying and implementing national priorities. The key principle of the APRM is, therefore, that of national ownership and national leadership.
It is worth re-emphasizing here that the APRM is not a process imposed from outside; it is a self-assessment and self-monitoring system that must, in the first instance, be initiated and conducted by the country itself. The process is meant to promote national dialogue and consensus building on the fundamental development issues among national stakeholders.
The APRM also requires each country to develop a programme of Action with time-bound objectives to guide all stakeholders-government, private sector and civil society-in the actions required to achieve a common development vision.
The APRM panel was created to oversee the self-assessment process in individual countries.


The principle role of what is known as the Panel of Eminent persons of the APRM is to oversee the conduct of the individual country review process and ensure its integrity. The pane’s role is mainly to support the activities carried out by the country, including proffering advice and providing appropriate technical tools. The panel also serves to gather knowledge based on the experience of individual countries and to facilitate the sharing of best practices.
Lastly, the panel provides leadership for the APRM review missions that have the visit individual African countries and makes recommendations to the conclusion of each review mission.
The Following part of the chapter provides an overview of the historical development of the APRM process.

Historical Development Of the APRM process
The first meeting of the APRM Forum took place in Kigali, Rwanda, in February 2004. At this meeting the budget and the work programme for the proposed timelines for the deployment of Country Support Missions and Country Reviews were agreed. It was also decided that all the countries that has acceded to the APRM system should be reviewed as soon as possible. In consequence Ghana, Mauritius, Rwanda, Mozambique and South Africa were put on notice that they would shortly receive review missions.
However, it was soon clear that the fledgling APRM secretariat was experiencing pressure as a result of the workload generated by the Kigali meeting. Its bureaucratic capacity was limited and, in fact, continues to be so to this day. On the one hand, countries were continuing to accede and, on the other, the review process for the various countries targeted at Kigali has to be put in motion. The reality or creating the extensive and detailed APRM self-assessment preliminary survey and establishing independent National Councils in the assenting countries slowed done the proposed Kigali time table and delayed the envisaged rapid pace of implementation envisaged. In consequence the first review mission, that to Ghana, only took place in 2004.

The First APRM Review Mission
In an address at the opening ceremony of the National Stakeholders Forum of the APRM in Ghana on 27 May 2004, Dr Chris Stals, a Member of the APRM panel of Eminent Persons and Review Leader for the African Peer Review support Mission to Ghana, stressed the importance of Ghana being the first country on the African continent to become the subject of scrutiny by the APRM. He said:
A lot of hard work has been put into the preparation for the implementation of the African Peer Review Mechanism. Most of the work so far has been “paper” work devoted to the design of a practical operational programme for the implementation of the vision, the ideals and the objectives of many an African leader. We have now reached mission. This occasion is indeed the beginning for the APRM, represented by its panel of Eminent Persons and this Support Mission, to commence working at ground level. We are now moving away from the boardroom, the conference centre, or private studied and patient computers to the real harsh world of the politics, the economics, the serial needs ant the corporate activity of our beloved continent (Stals 2004).
It is important to note that Ghana took the lead in the process of implementing the APRM by (1) creating a ministry or regional cooperation and NEPAD to confirm the commitment of its government to the APRM process; (2) appointing an APRM governing council outside of government with representatives from all stakeholders to guide and lead the self-assessment process within the country; (3) opening an APRM secretariat within the new ministry to serve as a focal point for communication with the panel and to assist the Governing Council; (4) commissioning four technical advisory bodies to assist with the assessment process in the four basic disciplines of political, socioeconomic, macroeconomic and corporate governance respectively; and (5) embarking on a promotion campaign within the country to reach and involve all the stakeholders in the review process.
The accession response to the APRM to date is discussed next.

The accession response to the voluntary peer review process from March 2003 December 2004 is reflected in the exhibit below.

Countries that have acceded to the APRM Treaty

123456789101112131415161718192021222324 AlgeriaBurkina FasoCameroonRepublic of CongoEthiopiaGabonGhanaKenyaMaliMauritiusMozambiqueNigeriaRwandaSenegalSouth AfricaUganda EgyptBeninMalawiLesothoTanzaniaAngolaSierra LeoneZambia 09March 200309March 200303April 200309March 200309March 200314April 200309March 200309March 200328May 200309July 200309March 200309March 200309March 200309March 200309March 200309March 200309March 200431March 200408July 200408July 200408July 200408July 200408July 200408July 2004
NEPAD Secretariat: APRM Officer, Mufor Atanga. January 2005

From the exhibit is clear that there was voluntary accession by 24 countries and islands out of 53 in less then two years after the launch of the MOU. This should, according to Rupiya (2005), probably be regarded as a far better than average outcome, particularly if it is kept in mind that (1) no equivalent programme has previously existed, (2) the Treaty allows for intrusive investigations into a nation’s political and socioeconomic spheres, and (3) previously, in the charter of the OAU, there was specific exclusion of intervention by other member states in the internal affairs of a country. This time round, however, almost half of the 53 African countries involved have agreed to lay themselves bare to microscopic examination by their peers, including external financial institutions such as the African Development Bank (ADB), United nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) And other external institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF.
Foreign powers have had specific input in the creation of the APRM.

The introduction for the NEPAD initiative drew muted applause, but also international criticism, because at the outset there was no provision for a monitoring or accounting system to measure progress in the development of good governance and the concomitant political and socioeconomic principles and objectives of the NEPAD plan of action. The question was whether African countries would agree to submit to pan-African and international monitoring.
During the WEF African Summit in Maputo in 2004, Western leaders expressed criticism of the reluctance of African countries to implement a peer review mechanism. It could therefore be argued that pressure from foreign governments made a not insubstantial contribution to the final steps that were taken to implement The APRM.

Rupiya (2005) refers to “untoward Western pressure on the role and functioning of the APRM” and argues that this pressure led to a mixed response by, for instance, SADC countries to the APRM. He states that, during late 2002, when invited to accede to the APRM process, whilst under pressure from an impatient West, the response of three Southern African states illustrated this mixed response. While South Africa said yes, Botswana said no and Namibia demurred, saying no/yes/but. Namibia, he states, while fully appreciating the import of the APRM, stood in solidarity with Zimbabwe, and did not wish to be dragged into an international quagmire (kenlder & Wiese 2003). Namibia therefore, in the lend, declined to accede to the APRM.

The Namibian and Botswana Decisions
According to Rupiya (2005), the Namibian Foreign Minister explained that his country perceived the APRM as an instrument through which African countries would assist each other in consolidating political stability and democracy-not necessarily a punitive mechanism. As a result, Namibia would adhere to all the principles and provisions of the APRM, but would not sign up formally. Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s neighbor, Botswana, continued to maintain what Rupiya categorizes as “unblemished progress towards good governance, leading to political stability and economic growth”. However, its political leadership decided not becomes involved in the APRM under the prevailing conditions, since it did not wish to become a pawn in the wider struggle that was taking place in which the APRM could be seen as a mechanism through which the West-Zimbabwe struggle was being pursued.
In similar vein, Celliers (2003:1) refers to the spat that developed at the same time when the Canadian prime minister at the time, Jean Cretien, wrote an open letter to South African president, Thabo Mbeki, warning that the G8 and other donor countries were seriously concerned about the weaknesses that were associated with the APRM and that, I these were not addressed, support would be withheld.

The Decisions Of the three SADC Countries
Rupiya (2005) argues that the decisions made by the three SADC states are significant since they reflect the contradictions associated with the birth of the APRM. They also demonstrate the level of external pressure and misperceptions that have led a number of AU member states to partly disown a mechanism o their own creation.
However, it would seem that it is fair to say that there is growing foreign disillusionment with the APRM.

According to Rupiya (ibid), there is mounting evidence that Africa’s donor partners in NEPAD have become seriously disillusioned with the peace and Security Arm of the AU, perceived as lacking political will and not prepared to crack the whip at recalcitrant members in its ranks.
He states that

…walking the corridors of the AU’s headquarters and UN Agencies in Addis Ababa recently, one was struck by the resignation of officials to this unannounced withdrawal of support by Western countries based on the assumption that the African Peer Review (APRM) died a stillbirth.
None of the numerous officials spoken to was prepared to be named as a source while agreeing to express their views as anonymous respondents. In their view part of the explanation for current Western disengagement was the unfortunate association that the West created of the APRN, as an instrument that should have dealt with the Zimbabwe crisis that began in 2000 and deteriorated markedly in 2002, coinciding with the birth of the APRM.
What are the contemporary challenges facing the democratization process in Africa?

When examining the positive discernible outcomes of the APRM process itself, it is important to recognize some of the challenges that many African states face. These challenges often have crosscutting implications for several African countries rather than being unique to single states. Rupiya (ibid) identifies four major challenges: (1) the challenge of introducing democracy: (2) the problems created by long-reigning personalities or political parties; (3) the challenge presented by military regimes; and (4) the challenge of weak or collapsed states.
These challenges will be discussed one by one in the following sections.

The Challenge Of Introducing Democracy
In Rupiya’s view (ibid) the first major challenge for African countries is to introduce democratization in a form that, on the one hand, breaks with the tradition of the parties that took over from colonial powers, while, on the other hand, retaining positive elements of that inheritance. Most political parties that inherited political power from the departing colonial authorities have become personalized institutions, insulated form their own societies. Consequently, any threat to their political grip results tin a national crisis.
Moreover, since the end of the Cold War a new phenomenon has been witnessed on the African continent. This is the unwillingness of former liberation movements, now in government, to leave office in favor of political opposition that does not boast liberation credentials. Another element of this phenomenon is that, one in office, many of the liberation movements transformed their former military factions to become the cores of standing armies. This obviously has national security implications when it comes to eventual political change. Therefore, using the moral high ground of liberation struggle politics, incumbents in power have sought to perpetuate their sty in office in a manner that has in fact turned the earlier democratization quest on its head.

The problems Created By Long-Reining Personalities Or Political Parties The second major challenge according to Rupiya (ibid) concerns long-reigning personalities or political parties that do not create or leave behind sustainable institutions capable of delivering democratic transition. Events surrounding the departure of former Zaire president, Mobutu Se Seko, and the late Nigerian strongman, General Sani Abacha, testify to this assertion. the same situation is now found in the DRC. In this context, it could be said that such regimes are characterized by deformed or nonperforming parliaments as well as little or no political participation by nationals.

The challenge Of Military Regimes
Rupiya (ibid) states that the third major challenge is that of military regimes, some of which have tried to civilianize themselves and hold sham elections in a bid to continue in office. Without specifically identifying some of these rather well-known cases, suffice it to say that these regimes are all members of the AU and have continued to exist through a process of peer toleration despite the Harare Declaration of 1997, which banned military coup on the African continent.

The Challenge Of Weak Or Collapsed States
Rupiya (ibid) identifies yet another challenge as the uniquely African political phenomenon of weak or collapsed states. Somalia, after the withdrawal of military strongman Siad Barre in the 1990s, has degenerated into a nonstate. The most recent example of how fragile an African state can become was the rapid diminution in governmental ability of the Cote d’Ivoire after 2003. Within months, the state was confined to controlling only parts of the capital, while month, the state was confined to controlling only parts of the capital and dominated the North.
Can the skepticism of western governments about the APRM be turned around?

Rupiya (ibid) contends that a second invitation is required to persuade the West to yet again invest in the APRM in order to pull Africa from the abyss of conflict, poverty and mismanagement. He believes this is not impossible given the evolution of the APRM since its inauguration in July 2002. A critical examination of this process will demonstrate, as was done above, that about half of AU member states have acceded to the APRM-demonstrating the appreciable democratization and good governance potential of the APRM process. Thus the creation of the APRM might well be regarded as the most important democratization event in Africa since Harold Macmillan’s “Winds of Change” speech in 1960 to the South African parliament.

In this chapter we defined the concepts “peer”, “review” and “mechanism”. WE then discussed the need for the APRM, reviewed ifs functioning and value and considered the MOU in the context of the APRM. The role of the APRM panel and the accession response to the APRM to date were then analyzed and juxtaposed with the role of foreign powers in the creation of the APRM, Western pressure on the role and functioning of the APRM, and foreign disillusionment with the APRM. The chapter concluded with an overview of the challenges for the democratization process in Africa and the possibility of issuing a second invitation for the West to invest in the APRM.
In conclusion it could be said that the APRM is the most important supporting structure behind on the African continent and abroad. Since March 2003 a substantial number of African countries have declared themselves willing to submit to peer review. These countries have shown that they are ready to transform into mature and stable democracies. A number of these countries have since moved into the second phase of the APRM process, that of creating institutions capable of managing the review process over the next five to seven years.
The downside of this projection is that, despite the best of intentions, the final stages of individual country reviews to be conducted by the APRM panel are unlikely to be completed within a ten-year time frame, given the lack of capacity both at national and pan-African levels to provide an effective and timely implementation of the peer review mechanism.
In conclusion, it should however be recognized that the new generation of African political leaders is determined to wrest the continent from its history of perennial impoverishment and marginalization from global development. This determination is secured by NEPAD and the APRM, which have the capability of creating conditions conducive to peace, security, sustainable economic growth and poverty alleviation on the African continent.