France Africa relations: Le Grand Divorce?

New French President, François Hollande says he “will break, once and for all, with the out-of-control practices of Françafrique”Informal networks and unscrutinised presidential authority have shaped France's Africa policy for decades. The last time a socialist politician won the presidency...

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Ghana & Togo in water deal

Ghana and Togo have signed a joint agreement to draw water from the West African country's Volta River to supply the Togolese capital Lome.

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PPP critical to ECOWAS infrastructure development - Commission

ECOWAS believes the participation of China is strategic as it is expected to create opportunities for the regionA three-week Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) sub-regional trade and exhibition fair has begun in Lome, Togo, with a special appeal to member states to consider the promotion of public-private partnerships (PPP) as critical to the region's infrastructural development.

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Ghana, Burkina Faso and Togo get fibre optic connectivity

photo/reutersWork on a 120 kilometre fibre cable project, that will offer automatic broadband Internet connectivity between Ghana, Burkina Faso and Togo begins on Tuesday at Bolgatanga, north of Ghana.

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African women entrepreneurs meet to build capacity in US

African women from 36 countries are participating in the African Women Entrepreneurship programme underway in the US to provide participants with professional development training and networking opportunities with their American counterparts.

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Togolese refugees flee to Ghana

About 361 refugees from Togo have fled to Ghana following a dispute between two feuding factions over land.


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Rooting around in the past: African heritage tourism gains strength

"Watching Kunte Kinte's story unfold had a profound impact on my developing sense of identity" says Ade Akinboyewa of the television serialisation of Arthur Haley's 1976 best-selling novel Roots. As a young black boy growing up in the white suburbs of South London he had never really thought deeply about slavery and how it had shaped him. "For the first time something that had always been opaque and unspoken was suddenly made real."

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Ecobank to acquire stake in Ghana’s TTB

Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (Ecobank), the parent company of the Ecobank Group, is finalising the acquisition of a significant equity stake in one of Ghana’s respected banks, The Trust Bank (Ghana) Limited (TTB).

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Ghana, Togo, Burkina Faso strengthen cooperation to eliminate crime

Ghana, Togo and Burkina Faso have pledged to work together to fight cross border crime and facilitate the free movement of people and goods by implementing regional protocols.

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Former British minister urges African institutions to be relevant

A former British cabinet minister has urged African tertiary institutions to introduce programmes that will provide the youth with skills to work in emerging sectors such as oil and gas, tourism and information and communication technology.

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Nigeria to focus on HIV/AIDS cure research

Nigeria will include HIV cure research in all discussions, political decisions and funding strategies, President Goodluck Jonathan promised world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly high-level meeting on AIDS (UNGASS).

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Country Profile: TOGO

Flag TogoYoung politician, old-school politics

The government has effectively divided the largest opposition party by bringing Olympio’s UFC into government, ensuring that policy will be approved effortlessly at all levels of the administration.

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The challenges facing African football

Protests in Lomé against the handling of the Togolese football team. Photo: Vincent Fournier/JAFrom crumbling stadiums to corruption and declining interest in Africa’s own teams in favour of flashy European sides, there is a great deal of work to do to restore African football to the glory days of the past. ?Ponga Liwewe looks at the issues.

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Nigeria and Africa

 Regional trade has not grown as fast as trade with Asia, but Nigerian banks and energy companies are focused on continental expansion


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In Your Classroom: Teachers on strike in Togo

In Togo, teachers have been on strike, saying that they support the return of universal free education but that the state’s resources are inadequate


I teach biology and earth science, but there is no laboratory. We have zero, nothing, be it a library or teaching materials. I only have the things that were given to me during my training. I am an auxiliary teacher and we are paid much less than someone who has an official state teaching contract and the title of teacher. ?


Last week the teachers decided to go on strike, demanding improvements to the quality of life for teachers. They sent a warning to the authorities with a strike of two days, but afterwards, there will be activities organised at the level of the teachers’ unions. They demand the re-establishment of universal free education, but the state does not have the resources to support such a measure. Another demand of the strikers is payment arrears, which date back to 1999.


?It is a question of money, but then it must also be about questions of organisation and working conditions, which need to be improved. There is no continuous training for teaching staff. The school administrations do nothing to get more training for their teachers. All that it boils down to is the individual willingness of teachers to undertake their own research on how to improve. I wish I could make four copies of myself to communicate better with the students.


Back to Education Campaign: Low pay becomes a continent-wide crisis


Education Campaign: Low pay becomes a continent-wide crisis


Salaries often do not meet the basic needs of their families, so many teachers have to take other jobs in order to carry on doing what they see as their duty


“Imagine earning a salary of $50 but having to spend $10 or $15 to go and collect it,” says Emmanuel Fatoma, coordinator at teachers union body Education International’s Africa headquarters in Togo. This predicament is all too common for Africa’s army of rural teachers, many of whom have to spend days travelling to a payment centre to collect their wages, leaving behind empty classrooms.


?Problems in the size and delivery process of teachers’ salaries can be acutely damaging to the education of their pupils. Salaries are often too small to meet teachers’ basic needs, including their transport costs to and from school, which are pushed higher by widespread inflation. Many resort to moonlighting, taking second and third jobs, such as driving taxis or giving private tuition in the evenings.

In Your Classroom:


Teachers strike over
pay in Lomé, Togo.
Read more. 


?“In some extreme cases teachers were even found selling popcorn or sweets to schoolchildren in order to raise money,” says Peter Mabande, executive director of the Pan-African Teachers’ Centre and former chief executive of the Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association. “Naturally you can understand how much it damages the teachers’ reputation and status.” Sometimes teachers ask parents to help out with money or even dip into the children’s school fees. ?


Efforts by governments to crack down on ‘ghost teachers’ and ‘ghost schools’ in countries like Sierra Leone and Liberia have added an extra level of bureaucracy for teachers collecting their pay, particularly in rural villages with no banks. Sometimes head teachers are trusted to collect the money and dispense it to their staff, but often teachers are forced to travel themselves to collect their wages. “If you are not there when salaries are paid and the paying officer goes back, you are in trouble because you may not get your salary until after two or three months,” says Fatoma. ?


Protests do little good. In one extreme case in February, 19 teachers in Kagera, northern Tanzania, were caned by a police officer in front of their pupils after complaining about regular delays in receiving their salaries.


Strike! Strike! Strike!


?Discontent over pay has already sparked strikes across Africa in 2009 as economic constraints cause a rise in militancy. In Kenya, a nine-day strike in January by more than 200,000 primary school teachers led to the closure of 18,000 schools; teachers complained that their scheduled wage increase did not keep up with the country’s 26% inflation rate. They were rewarded with a 40% pay increase over three years and a promise from government that it would increase the education budget. Still, following the win, the Kenya National Union of Teachers is now under siege from the government agency that collects its members’ subscriptions through the payroll, over accusations that it went on strike illegally. ?


In Zimbabwe, teachers finally returned to school in late February after the new unity government agreed to pay them in US dollars and to conduct a pay review. At the start of the school year in January, 94% of the country’s schools had failed to open as teachers stayed away in protest or had left the country. Teachers in Gabon, Togo (see box) and Nigeria have also been on strike over pay in recent months. ?


Teachers unions in Africa have been growing in strength over the last five years as governments give grudging respect to teachers’ democratic right to protest instead of sending in police with tear gas. In Ghana and Sierra Leone, teachers have secured collective bargaining agreements. ?


Some of the newly emboldened unions are not convinced that the threat of strike action is fruitful. “Our strategy is not to strike, but to advocate and to bargain in a friendly manner,” explains Teopista Birungi Mayanja, secretary-general of the Uganda National Teachers Union. Formed in 2003, the union now has 68,000 members. It chose to organise a peaceful nationwide demonstration in 2005 that managed to obtain an increase of 50% for the country’s lowest-paid teachers, from $55 to $100 a month. Mayanja says its strategy has been to involve the union in all aspects of educational development. Uganda’s teachers have won respect from government and are speaking up strongly during debates on curriculum changes in secondary schools that could push many teachers into redundancy. ?


Although they often grab the headlines, pay demands come alongside necessity for better long-term benefits for teachers, such as accommodation allowances, pensions, and maternity leave. The Ghana National Association of Teachers has created a teachers fund that provides mortgages, and personal and vehicle loans for members.


?“Where there are no resources, it becomes impossible for teachers to employ their skills which they have learned in teacher-training colleges,” says Mabande.

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