The time for excuses is over. It’s time for action.

Now we must focus on implementation. The time for excuses is over. It’s time for action.” – Kofi A. Annan

 

Dear Friends,

Greetings from the secretariat of the Africa Progress Panel.

Welcome to our third newsletter of 2017.

I write to you, as we have started to commemorate 10 years since the launch of the APP on 24th April 2007.

Personally, I have always been very fond of such landmark anniversaries and see them as important “Janus” or “Sankofa” moments.

In ancient Roman myth and religion, Janus was the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past.

Sankofa, meanwhile, is a Twi word that can be translated as “Go back, fetch, seek and take”. The word is represented by one of my favourite Ghanaian traditional designs, the Asante Adinkra symbol, which is shown either as a stylized heart shape or by a bird with its head turned backwards taking an egg off its back. Since I became an ardent Pan-Africanist in my youth, I have interpreted Sankofa as a consistent reminder of the importance of the need to reflect on the past in order to effectively build a successful future.

This sentiment now underlines our approach to the commemoration of the APP’s 10th anniversary. It is in this context that we are preparing a 10 year review document which will highlight the Panel’s achievements within a rapidly changing global and regional environment. This document will also feature recommendations regarding priorities for the future.

Regarding the future, it is clear that focus must be on two words which our Chair Kofi Annan has consistently stressed: leadership and implementation. The quotation I cite as the headline to this edition of the newsletter is taken from his opening remarks at the launch of the APP’s Lights, Power Action report in Abidjan in March 2017. I have since used it to end my own remarks recently at the African Development Bank Annual Meetings in India in May (more details on this event are found below) and again at the Global Solar Summit in June.

These are interesting, challenging and exciting times of great opportunity for Africa. We are at a Sankofa moment – both for the continent and the APP. This edition of the newsletter seeks to present another brief snapshot of how the APP is continuing to engage with its agenda.

Thank you for your continued interest in our work and support. We look forward to your feedback.

Warmest regards,

Max Bankole Jarrett

Director-in-charge

APP media highlights

The U.S. Will Lose Power: Kofi Annan, Chair of the Africa Progress Panel, and Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, co-authored an opinion piece in Time about the U.S. decision to abandon the Paris Agreement.

The Power of Mini-Grids: Panel Member Strive Masiyiwa and Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, highlight how mini-grids are an important piece of Africa’s energy puzzle in this joint opinion editorial.

Millions of Africans Depend on Fishing. We Must Stop the Plunder of Their Oceans:The APP’s Director-in-charge, Max Bankole Jarrett, underlines that overfishing and illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing damages not only African communities but the global economy as well in this commentary published in English on Richard Branson’s Virgin Unite website and the World Economic Forum Agenda. It was also published in French by Le Monde.

Lights out: Poor Governance and Africa’s Energy Crisis:Max Bankole Jarrett emphasizes the need for continued improvements in governance in Africa’s energy sector in this commentary published by the Africa Report.

 

Videos

Kofi Annan and Horst Koehler recorded a video statement for the launch of the report of AfDB’s President Special Panel on “Accelerating Implementation of the Bank’s Ten-Years Strategy with the High 5s Agenda” which they co-chaired from May 2016-May 2017 and for which the APP Secretariat provided Mr. Annan with full support in his role as co-chair over the past 12 months.


APP Director-in-charge, Max Bankole Jarrett, was a panelist in a session focused on Creative Energy solutions to Boost African Agriculture which took place during the African Development Bank Annual meetings in Ahmedabad, India in May to provide a platform for experts and practitioners to share their perspectives on how best the New Deal for Energy in Africa could be successfully implemented and scaled up in the agricultural sector. During the 90 minute panel discussion, Max drew attention to the core findings and recommendations of the APP’s “Lights, Power, Action” report and repeatedly emphasised that the off-grid sector should no longer be treated as “the Other”. The session also featured interventions from the former President of Ghana, H.E. John D.Mahama.


In the lead up to World Oceans Day we convened a Facebook Live session to discuss African fisheries issues. Our session coincided with the first United Nations Ocean Conference which took place from 5 to 9 June in New York. Wanjohi Kabukuru, the editor and head of the Indian Ocean Observatory Media Unit, joined the session from Shela (Lamu Island, Kenya) to share his views on the importance of World Oceans Day – and what African leaders and citizens need to do to move the “Blue Economy” conservation agenda forward. Approximately US$1.3 Billion/year is stolen in the oceans across West Africa. Max Bankole Jarrett highlights what needs to be done to bring greater transparency and participation within the fisheries sector.


We also organised our first Facebook Live session in French in collaboration with the Masters Programme in African Studies at the University of Geneva. The topic discussed was “Economic and political governance: your perspectives on progress in Africa”. Participants included graduate students from countries such as Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Ethiopia, and Switzerland. The students expressed their views on some of the main achievements on the continent as well as what still needs to be done from their point-of-view. Given the size of our francophone audience (320,000 French speaking followers on Facebook alone), we aim to develop greater amounts of French content including videos, blogs, and podcasts.

Power People podcast series

Join Max Bankole Jarrett, the APP’s Director-in-charge and former presenter of the BBC’s award winning Network Africa programme, as he explores the opportunities and potential of energy in Africa through interviews with a dynamic cross section of experts from around the globe.

 

Latest Power People episodes

Yariv Cohen: Chairman of Ignite Power, is an impact investor, focusing value-added businesses and technologies targeted at the developing world.

Paul Bodnar and Eric Wanless of The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI): Paul served in the Obama White House as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Energy and Climate Change at the National Security Council. Eric is a Principal with RMI’s international practice, where he leads the Sustainable Energy for Economic Development work and serves as a key adviser for RMI’s China programme.