Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Ambassador Sanders Present Analysis on VOA:South Sudan Security,Leadership

Ambassador Sanders on Voice of America's Africa54 news program
VOA's Esther Githui Ewart, anchor for its key news show Africa54, discusses the political instability in South Sudan with Ambassador Robin Renee Sanders, former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria and Congo, and current CEO of the FEEEDS Advocacy Initiative, who servered as Deputy Political Chief at the U.S. Embassy in Sudan when it was one country, but has worked on Sudan issues over the life of her career. The current South Sudan crisis has prompted the  disappearance of Vice President Riek Machar, leaving South Sudanese President Salva Kiir firing him and swearing-in a new Vice-President Taban Deng Gai on July 26, 2016. Sanders presented the following analysis on the issues. Click here to see show: Political Instability in South Sudan:

Ambassador Sanders Present Analysis on VOA:South Sudan Security,Leadership

Ambassador Sanders on Voice of America's Africa54 news program
VOA's Esther Githui Ewart, anchor for its key news show Africa54, discusses the political instability in South Sudan with Ambassador Robin Renee Sanders, former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria and Congo, and current CEO of the FEEEDS Advocacy Initiative, who servered as Deputy Political Chief at the U.S. Embassy in Sudan when it was one country, but has worked on Sudan issues over the life of her career. The current South Sudan crisis has prompted the  disappearance of Vice President Riek Machar, leaving South Sudanese President Salva Kiir firing him and swearing-in a new Vice-President Taban Deng Gai on July 26, 2016. Sanders presented the following analysis on the issues. Click here to see show: Political Instability in South Sudan:

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

FEEEDS-Gallup 3rd Annual Event- Round-Robbin Media Clips of Africa SME Program; Ambassador's article with Gallup's Africa Director on Key Africa Development Data:;

Diplomatic Courier Newspaper:

Television Continental:

Ambassador Sanders joins Gallup for FEEEDS-Gallup 3rd Annual Event on Africa in Washington, D.C.

Gallup World Poll and FEEEDS Advocacy Initiative will host a curtain raiser July 14, 2016, in Washington, D.C. for President Obama's upcoming second U.S.-Africa Business Forum, which will be held in New York on September 21.

This third annual U.S.-Africa event sponsored by Gallup and FEEEDS highlights the centrality of Africa Diaspora Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs) in job creation and development of the Continent's middle class.

The forum, which is supported by media partner and leading Africa energy and pharmaceutical firm GB Group Global, will take place from 1:30-4:30 pm at Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street NW in Washington, DC 20004.

The event features presentations by President Obama’s Special Assistant and Senior Director for African Affairs Catherine E. Byrne, as well as senior officials from the Department of Commerce, the Small Business Administration, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, members of the President's Doing Business in Africa Council, and the African Center for Strategic Studies.

Gallup Managing Partner Jon Clifton said the upcoming event "provides an opportunity for Gallup to share key polling data about the positive things happening today on the African Continent, from people being more upbeat about election processes to millennials in Africa having confidence to start their own SME business in their country of origin despite economic challenges."

Dr. Gloria Herndon, president of GB Group Global, whose international firm does significant business on the Continent in the energy and pharmaceutical sectors and is launching a ground breaking HIV drug with its operation in Nigeria, says “SME’s are crucial to the success of our initiatives given the focus on local content and capacity building.”

"For AllAfrica Global Media, which produces the leading online resource for news and information from Africa, this event provides an important ‘scene setter’ for the Obama business forum in New York, which is expected to draw broad participation from both Fortune 500 firms and American and African Small and Medium Enterprises,” said AllAfrica CEO Reed Kramer.

Ambassador Robin Sanders, CEO of the FEEEDs Advocacy Initiative and chief organizer of the event, underscored the importance of “bringing together both African and African-American SME businesses as one diaspora interested in doing business on the Continent."

Amb. Sanders Discuss SouthSudan Crisis on Al Jazeera English and Nigeria's TVC-See Clips

Ambassador Robin Sanders, who served as a diplomat in Sudan when it was one Sudan, toward the end of the long civil war and work on US-Sudan policy issues as special assistant in the Africa Bureau at the State Department, and as a Director for Africa at the National Security Council at the White House discusses the current South Sudan Crisis see clips on: Aljazeera English:; and  Nigeria's Television Continental (TVC):

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

FEEEDS-GALLUP Africa SME Forum Photo Gallery

Event hosts were FEEEDS Advocacy Initiative  and Gallup, with event partners and GB Group Global and attend by some 200 invitees from the Africa Diaspora SME business community, U.S. Government officials, with President Obama's Special Reports on the FEEEDS-Gallup Africa SME Forum

See for full story:

Global Partners Discuss Key Data and Future of U.S.-Africa's SMEs Africa Diaspora SME Forum.
Panel Members (l-r) Nicholas Bassey, USAID Director Frontier Partnership,
 Ngozi Bell, Region III Advocate, U.S. SBA, & Magali Rheault,
Gallup Regional Director. Ambassador Sanders served
as Mistress of Ceremonies
Ahead of President Obama's second U.S.-Africa Business Forum planned for New York on September 21, 2016, the FEEEDS Initiative —Food Security, Education, Environment-Energy, Economics, Democracy-Development and Self-help— in partnership with GALLUP, hosted the third annual forum on Africa in Washington, D.C. to discuss the importance and impact of Africa Diaspora small and medium size Enterprises (SMES) in the development of the Continent. Managing Partner, Gallup, Jon Clifton, introduced the featured special guest, Catherine Byrne, President Obama's Special Assistant and Senior Director for African Affairs at the White House.
Other speakers included Alicia Robinson-Morgan, Deputy Director of the Africa Office at the U.S. Department of Commerce; Leila Ndiaye, Africa Policy Director, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Rahama Wright, member President's Doing Business in Africa Council (PAC-DBIA) & CEO-Shea Yeleen, with CEO, Reed Kramer, as moderator.
The hosts for the Africa Diaspora SME Business Forum were Jon Clifton, Managing Partner, GALLUP, and Ambassador Robin Sanders, CEO-FEEEDS. and GB Group Global led by Dr. Gloria Herndon were this year's featured partners. This is the third year has been the media partner and the first that GB Group Global participated.
In her opening remarks, Ambassador Sanders said the FEEEDS-GALLUP Africa Diaspora SME Business Forum represents an important step forward for high-level meetings in sharing practical and useful information to Africa SMEs, the state of the current U.S.-Africa business relationship, and Gallup's important data of the state of the Sub-Saharan Africa Region.  "It also provides for a unique platform to highlight the role that Africa Diaspora SMEs are playing in the region's economic development, GDP growth, and spurring the middle class," Sanders said.
In her speech, President Obama's Special Assistant for Africa, Catherine Byrne, noted that despite huge security challenges, democracy and business growth have taken root in Africa and "there is progress."  She said progress can be seen in several countries in Africa including places such as Zambia and Nigeria where exemplary general elections were held with winners and losers embracing peace or violence.  She said the second U.S.-Africa Business Forum planned for New York in September 21, 2016 will solidify the Obama Administration's effort to not only increase US-Africa business ties, but strengthen the US-Africa relationship. Byrne identified some of the economic policies that have achieved results in Africa as the Security Governance and Trade Africa Initiatives, Power Africa, FEED the Future program, The Young Africa Leaders Initiative (YALI), the U.S.-Africa Business Forum, assistance setting up an Africa-like Center for Disease Control (which is already underway as a result of the Ebola outbreak), the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES), efforts to fight corruption, and the extensions of the  African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) for another 10 years – all will be part of President Obama's Africa legacy. She highlighted these examples that we can all build on in response to questions about: what has been achieved; where is the US-Africa relationship going, and, what was next in the relationship.
The Africa Diaspora SME business forum had two sessions.  The first session, moderated by's CEO Reed Kramer, had Alicia Robinson-Morgan, Leila Ndiaye and Rahama Wright. The panel discussed Africa's current investment opportunities, key sectors for SME participation, the role of President Obama's PAC-DBIA, and his upcoming U.S.-Africa Business Forum. Click here to read full story

Monday, July 11, 2016

EINnewswire Distributes to 60 Channels release on Gallup-FEEEDS July14,2016 AfricaSMEForum

EIN newswire distributes press release on July 14, 2016 Gallup-FEEEDS-Allafrica-GB Group Global Africa Diaspora SME Business Forum to its 60 investment, banking, finance, economic, and education channels. see

Friday, July 8, 2016

FEEEDS-GALLUP Hosts 3rd Africa Forum,July 14, 2016; Media Partner

Gallup World Poll is again partnering with the FEEEDS Advocacy Initiative to host important conference on Africa Diaspora SMEs. Event Media partner is Africa's leading site See press release Gallup and FEEEDS Convene Africa Diaspora Business Forum July 14

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Amb Sanders Pic with Mohammed Ali:The Backstory

This was an incredible human being and role model for people of all nations and colors.One of the most interesting comments I heard today (June 4) was the unwritten impact that Ali had on today's American history just by virtue of changing his name. And, that name change by a person of his caliber likely set the stage in many ways for the mostly accepting manner in which enough Americans supported electing a President with the name Barrack Obama. Of course there were and remain outlyers who never were comfortable with either, but the majority elected not only this President twice, but the majority also revered Ali. These are the types of things in life that gives me hope and comfort in today's very dived America.

I had the rare priviledge to meet and talk to #The Greatest only once in my life time as a young diplomat at an gala event in Washington, D.C. (see photo). I had attended an event staffing another great #Ambassador Andrew Young, and was given the priviledge to walk Mr. Ali out as he left the stage. Ambassador Young took this photo and made sure I received it. (A thing I learned from Ambassador Young  that day was to always be able to take your own photos, which I have done ever since).

I always had in my Embassy offices overseas as I moved up the ranks in the US Diplomatic Corp, this photo with Ali, along with two photos of Ambassador Young swearing me in twice to serve as US Ambassador (Nigeria and Congo), and the photo of me talking to Nelson Mandela at his first #African Union meeting in Senegal following his release from Robbin Island. These four photos always had "pride of place" in my offices.

May the Great Mohammed Ali rest in peace as we know he will be the "Greatest" whereever his spirit is today and always.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Dr. Sanders Keynotes@Washington Center's Robert Morris University NationalSecuritySeminar

Washington D.C. - Ambassador Sanders was the recent keynote speaker for Pittsburgh's Robert Morris University (RMU) National Security Seminar, which is part of the school's goal to provide its students with an opportunity to interact with national security subject matter experts in Washington, D.C. The seminar, held annually at The Washington Center, focuses particularly on current cyber security issues for its students, faculty and other guests who are part of, or connected to, the School of Communications and Information Systems.

RMU, which is dedicated to ensuring its students have a global engagement awareness, invited Sanders, an alumnae of the University's doctoral program in information systems and communications, to provide her thought-leadership on the issue of cyber security and global development trends. Ambassador Sanders discussed with students the key global development issues she saw, which had linkages to many people (certainly not all) being lured or forced into cyber security crimes, or participation in terrorist activities because of their dire economic circumstances or human condition. This, of course, excludes those who were and would be criminals or involved in terrorism no matter what. She noted, as an example, Nigeria's Boko Haram forcing many of its captives, particularly girls and young women, into acts of terrorism such as suicide bombings.

Some of the global poverty issues highlighted in the discussion included terrorists using the Syrian refugee flux to Europe as a gateway to enter France and Belgium recently to execute terrorist attacks, and the long-term planning (at least two years) for the terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, California last year executed by an American and his Pakistan-born wife. Investigators are considering now if from the onset, the wife was possibly a terrorist sleeper-cell operative for the Islamic State. In all cases, the use of cyber and mobile platforms played a significant role. Possible other additional gateways for terrorists to use could also be the migrant flux from Libya as well as the new migrant and refugee gateway which has now opened from Alexandria, Egypt to southern Europe, Sanders also highlighted.

Dr. Sanders, having just returned from Indonesia and Russia, noted that the U.S. needed to better help and assist friendly-partner developing nations, as well as some developed nations, with improving their security infrastructure and interagency coordination and cooperation, as well as try to be more than several steps ahead of countries the U.S. currently does not have a good relationship with such as Russia, or "frenemy" countries such as China.

Ambassador Sanders was introduced at the event by the Dean of the School of Communications and Information Systems, AnnMarie LeBlanc.

A FEEEDS Blog Series

Ambassador Sanders Keynotes at Clinton School of Public Service, Tours Library

Little Rock, Arkansas - Ambassador Robin Renee Sanders keynoted a recent Clinton School of Public Service Policy Series event to highlight the importance of US-Africa Relations, particularly as a important friend and partner, as a region in which to build trade and business ties, as well as ally on efforts to counter terrorism. The audience included members of the public, Clinton School students, friends of the Clinton Library and former Clinton Administration employees and supporters.

Following Dr. Sanders' speech, audience members asked a range of question about some of the positive areas she highlighted, including Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari is making on the issue. All of these efforts, were explained as being connected to assisting Africa in addressing the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's) to combat poverty to improve both the well-being and quality of life of the average African citizen; it was critical for the United States to help Africa nations achieve the SDG's.  She also noted that in a recent discussion she had with students from her alma mater, Robert Morris University, addressing global development trends, it was important to be aware of the role some of these poverty issues played in Africa with people being lured or forced into cyber security crime and terrorism.
that the Continent is making progress with many more nations becoming evolving democracies and underscoring the challenges with fighting corruption, but noting the international recognized efforts that

Ambassador Sanders' also noted that there has been some backsliding in some African countries on the democracy front given the trend by some leaders to change, usurp, or amend their country's constitution to remain in power (i.e. referring to DRC's Kabila, Rwanda's Kagame, and Uganda's Museveni -- all president trying to, had a role in, or have done so). In her view, Sanders highlighted that Africa's Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs) are one of the bright lights on the Continent as they find "work around solutions" to many of the Continent's economic development issues, and are helping address unemployment through job creation, and developing solution-oriented "apps" in key sectors like agriculture and health.

There was also a book signing event of Ambassador Sanders' "Legendary Uli Women of Nigeria," book focused on the importance of "communication expressions," of endangered sign and symbols systems, such as Nigeria's "Uli."

In addition to the speaking event, Sanders received a VIP tour of the Clinton Library and residence, where at the former, she was able to view events she had worked on when she was Director for Africa at the National Security Council at the White House, especially her efforts on Clinton's first Africa trip, including the historic stop in Ghana (below left); and, Clinton signing the first Africa Growth and Opportunity Act in the White House Rose Garden. Ambassador Sanders also presented to her Clinton Foundation host a copy of the book she had complied while at the National Security Council (below center) on former President's Clinton Africa Initiatives for the Clinton Library.


A FEEEDS Blog Spot

Saturday, May 21, 2016

A Look Back on President Buhari's First Year

As we approach the end of Nigerian President Buhari's first year in office, sworn in before celebratory crowds looking for change (May 29, 2015), the country will be waiting to hear his list of accomplishments, but better yet his timelines for implementing the vision, which brought him into office. There seems to be two schools of thought on what type of report card his administration should have. Yes, there are critics who primarily complain about changes taking place way to slowly, but there are those that still believe the government is trying to do the right thing and want to give it time to get there. If you are wondering where I fall, well, I fall into the latter category – very much supporting the need to give the government the time it needs to make the sweeping,  deep, and transformative changes that Nigeria needs and Nigerians want.
Certainly, with any new government, there are fits and starts, and the Buhari Administration has had its own over the last 12 months, coupled with critical economic difficulties making it hard for the President to fulfill his campaign promises. There have been 2 steps forward and one back on things like confusion over the budget submission; the long wait for ministerial appointments; and, on the economic side, challenges in protecting its currency (the naira) from devaluation. The President strongly believes that devaluation will hurt the poor and help the privileged. Drop in global oil prices have hit the country's reserves hard over the last year, along with its ability to pay its bills, or move forward on social sector improvements, particularly health, education, and job creation. As of May 24, 2016, oil prices were at $USD48 barrels per day, still $10 off the country's 2016 benchmark, and most of the of last year prices fell between $USD27-36. Luckily the new budget's benchmark has oil at $38 per barrel.

That being said here is the good news:
The list below list is not meant to be exhaustive but highlights some of the changes, followed by an analysis of their impact, gaps, and the expectations for Buhari's May 29, 2016 year anniversary remarks.

The Buhari Government has:
-- Committed to strong anti-corruption efforts; asked foreign governments, including the U.S., to help return $150 billion in stolen state wealth in foreign countries;
-- Moved to "zero-basing," of the budget, linking needs and costs, with a focus on  infrastructure development, social needs, manufacturing, and job creation; publicized his personal wealth (good first tone-setting step); and paid civil servants some of their unpaid wages;
-- Made gains against Boko Haram, including more international resources  to combat Boko Haram and returning more than 800 people held captive by Boko Haram and, two young Chibok girls;
-- Appointed new leadership to the problematic National Petroleum Company (NNPC);
-- Worked to carefully vet senior appointments (we will have to see how they all actually do); and
-- Announced the extension of the Niger Delta Amnesty for ex-combatants through 2018.

Looking at some of these key steps, what do they mean for Nigeria's bigger picture, keeping in mind that the President will have his own checklist of achievements and challenges when he makes his upcoming remarks?

Analysis on Steps Taken on Corruption & the Economy:
President Buhari is unshakeable on his quest to end corruption and his national and international reputation on this issue is virtually unmatched. His recent comment  "what I am demanding is the return of assets" checkmated British Prime Minister David Cameron, at his own London anti- corruption conference, following his remarks that "Nigeria and Afghanistan are the most 'fantastically' corrupt countries in the world," especially in light of his father being named in the Panama papers. Not being deterred over the calls for an apology and keeping his eye on ball, gained Buhari further international respect for his steadfastness to get state assets back and stop corruption in Nigeria from "being a way of life." (NB: The World Bank 2015 Ease of Doing Business Report  listed Nigeria 170 out of 189 countries rated for their lack of transparent and friendly business practices).

At home, the Buhari Administration has had to institute some difficult economic policies to protect the naira such as tightening foreign exchange. Some of these steps are linked to his anti-corruption efforts to block ways in which money has been stolen over the years; cash money being was one of the biggest methods by either former government officials or others of removing funds for decades, or through inflated government contracts.

Business & Investments Feeling the Pinch

So I get it. I know many businesses are feeling the pinch, but presumably these restrictions are short term for a few more months as the government fine tunes its checks and balances. As an example, in September of last year, the Buhari Government required all ministries to use their Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) accounts, called Treasury Single Account for all government monies. Meaning, ministries cannot deposit government funds into commercial banks – a past practice where it is believed substantial state wealth disappeared.  The other positive is that Nigerian companies have to provide the CBN with foreign contract information in order to obtain foreign exchange to pay clients or partners. All of these have been things in Buhari's anti-corruption tool box for both the country and foreign partners.

Further on the economy is the question of the oil subsidy. Efforts to remove it in 2012 caused strikes which left the country paralyzed for more than a week (I was in Nigeria during this period), and strikes are being threatened again as the Administration try this again. Depending on what happens between now and President Buhari's May 29, 2016 anniversary speech, it will be important for him to better explain in order to convince the public to get on board. They are not onboard now, particularly since in his campaign he promised not to do. He may have to balance this decision to go forward with also providing some social sector benefit in return. I say this because the average minimum wage in Nigeria is about $USD90 (or 18,000 at today's official exchange rate), and the fuel subsidy is one of the few things on which the average Nigerian worker has been able to depend. This doesn't begin to address the impact it will have on those already at the poverty level where the average daily is about $1.25 per day, or for those unemployed -- as today's unemployment rate hovers 7.6 percent. That being said, the fuel subsidy is not financially sustainable for the country so educating the public, along with some out-of-the-box thinking on other types of affordable social sector assistance might help.

Buhari's willingness to provide some "bailout funding" to ease the 6 month burden of unpaid civil servants wages was the right gesture. But the government does not having the resources to do more. The good will garnered on that is being tested daily as economic condition to toughen for workers.  

For a country which has Sub-Saharan Africa's (SSAfrica) largest population (estimated at 178 million) and its largest economy (Nigeria rebased in 2014), these are tough times for a country struggling to get its financial footing back, and keep investors engaged. We will look to President's Buhari speech in outlining his vision of the way forward on corruption issues, the economy, federal salaries, and jobs.

Boko Haram Military Campaign, The Internally Displaced:
In additions to actions on corruption and the economy, Nigeria's counterterrorism and military campaign against Boko Haram has had some gains over the last 8 months. The Nigerian military has retaken much of the territory that Boko Haram controlled and terrorized for more than two years. It is considered the most deadliest terrorist group in the world, overtaking the Islamic State. Nearly 800 civilians, who had been held captive by the group, have been either freed or found by the military. President Buhari also has used his international goodwill to further secure resources, and assistance from international partners such as the U.S. ( $250 million, through a variety of program); the United Kingdom (57 million); France, (with a pledge to provide, intelligence and training announced by President Holland in his May 2016 Nigeria visit); and, China, which rarely gets involved in these issues, saying it would  assist in finding the Chibok girls.
Equally, and emotionally more important to the families, to the country and to all who cared and worried about the 276 Chibok girls for two years, the return of two of them in May, gave hope that many more might be found or released. Certainly these changes and events are positive, but the threat by Boko Haram is far from being over. Boko Haram, as noted by the Department of State and the Global Terrorism Index, is one of the world's deadliest terrorist groups in the world. Furthermore the other issue that I stress from a national security perspective is that Boko Haram has "weaponized" more young girlsand women than any other global terrorist group. On internally displaced person's (IDP's), the number and needs are staggering, even though the Buhari Administration has provided funding to assist them, it falls well short (because the resources are not there) of the total monetary needs required to assist the 2.8 million IDP's.

Going forward over the next 12 months, the Nigerian people, the families of the Chibok girls, and the IDP's in the north are going to want to hear in Buhari's speech what else is planned for the immediate future not only to improve the response to the IDP crisis; but what it plans to do to step-up its efforts to find the remaining Chibok girls, along with its continued military efforts to contain and combat Boko Haram.

A FEEEDS Series Blog Post


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Clinton School of Public Service: Ambassador Sanders Keynotes on Africa: Covers US Policy Issues & Discusses #SDG's for Africa

Clinton School of Public Service
"The Sustainable Development Goals and What They Mean for Africa"
Ambassador (Dr.) Robin Sanders, CEO of FEEEDS Advocacy Initiative
Dr. Robin Sanders is the former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria and the Republic of Congo, former U.S. Permanent Representative to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and former director of the Africa National Security Council at the White House. She currently serves as CEO of FEEEDS Advocacy Initiative, which focuses on food security, education, environment, economic development and self-help projects, particularly in Africa. An international lecturer, and writer on Africa, Sanders has lectured on international and African affairs, national security strategies, strategic and cultural communications, and conflict resolution. She also focuses on other areas of expertise, such as election and democratic processes, smart food security-environment systems, education and the environment. Dr. Sanders also holds a doctorate degree in Information Systems and Communications from Pittsburgh's Robert Morris University

 Thursday, May 19, 2016
Where: Clinton School of Public Service, Little Rock Arkansas

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Ambassador Sanders', CEO-FEEDS, Official Photo with President Obama

Ambassador Sanders with President Obama

Ambassador Robin Renee Sanders, as CEO-FEEEDS. in discussion with President Obama during a recent dinner where the President Discussed his Agenda for 2016.


Dr Sanders Attends Africa Diaspora Briefing Series: White House & USAID

As part of both African American History Month and International Women's Month, Ambassador Sanders, CEO-FEEEDS Advocacy Initiative,  was invited to participated in a series of substantive briefings for Africa Diaspora-focused organizations, like FEEEDS, to hear updates about both White House specific initiative under President Obama's leadership such as my Brother's Keeper activities and work around the U.S., the President's upcoming US-Africa CEO Forum in September 2016, and work on US-Africa Trade. In addition there were briefings by USAID on Africa programs, and opportunities in which US-based Africa small and medium size businesses and non-government organizations can become partners and/or implementers.

The USAID meeting was led by the Agency's new Administrator, Gayle Smith (with whom Dr. Sanders worked with during her White House days), her most senior deputies on the Africa Region, along with Directors for key offices from procurement to public engagement, and outreach. The Africa Diaspora organizations attending the USAID briefing were convened under the auspices of the Constituency for Africa, one of the leading U.S.-based organizations focused on Africa. Here are a few pics from the series of briefings.

A FEEEDS Series Blogspot

Dr Sanders Receives Sister Cities International 2016 Diplomatic Leader Award

Ambassador Robin Renee Sanders receives Sister Cities
International's (SCI) "2016 Diplomatic Leader Award" as part of SCI's
 International Women's Day 2016 

Sister Cities International (SCI), founded by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956, was created because the late president believed in the importance of citizen-diplomacy and connecting people from all around the global to better understand and work together. Every year since its founding, SCI has played a critical role in building bridges among and between people of the United States and other countries. It was a SCI program in Lincoln, Nebraska, that current Chinese President Xi Jingping, remembered fondly about his time in the U.S. as a young student. So much so that it was back to Lincoln he went for a short visit to spend time with his former "host family," after his State Visit to the United States with President Obama in September 2015.

In addition every year SCI recognizes leaders and activists on key issues from around the world. This year it presented its "2016 Diplomatic Leader Award," to Ambassador Robin Renee Sanders for her past public policy work as a career United States Diplomat, and her current work with African communities, advocacy efforts on such global issues as human rights, women empowerment, support for Africa Diaspora small and medium size enterprises, and global sustainable development issues under her FEEEDS Advocacy Initiative.

The award was presented to Dr. Sanders, by SCI President Mary D. Kane, and SCI Board member Dr. Christine Warnke at SCI's 2016 International Women's Day event March 8, 2016.

In her remarks upon receiving the award, Ambassador Sanders noted how much she admired the strategic-thoughtfulness of the late President Eisenhower as he is responsible for many of the U.S. organizations and U.S. Government structures, particularly those within the U.S. Defense Industrial Complex today, as well as being a leading force behind the creation of the previously called Industrial College of the Armed Forces (ICAF), which was renamed after the late president in 2011.

Dr. Sanders added that she served, while a career U.S. Diplomat, as the Deputy Commander of ICAF as well as taught national security and African studies and that Eisenhower's foresight in understanding the importance of the U.S. matching resources-with capability-with strategic thinking is something she gleaned from her time at ICAF, along with from reading many of his papers. In addition, Sanders added, Eisenhower creating a wonderful institution such as SCI further demonstrates how remarkable his vision for the future was and how important it was to him that all of us do whatever was necessary to ensure that the world remained peaceful. Organization like SCI has really lived up to his vision and his expectation, the Ambassador noted in closing.

A  FEEEDS Blogspot

Ambassador's Sanders Keynote Speech- Medgar Evers College

Ambassador Sanders - Medgar Evers
College Keynote Speaker for International
 Women's Day 2016.
Theme: Women Empowerment
Working with African Communities Toward Sustainable Development & the Key Role of Gender Equality

Keynote Speech
Ambassador Robin Renee Sanders
Medgar Evers College, March 10, 2016
Good morning. I am delighted to be here today, and in particular this week on the dawn of celebrating this year's International Women's Day, which was March 8. The theme the United Nations had given to International Women's Day this year was – "Planet 50:50 by 2030" -- meaning global positives for women and girls should be on the same footing as they are for males by the year 2030. This "2030" date is going to feature a lot in my remarks today because it also the seminal date agreed to at last year's UN Session by 197 world leaders, including President Obama, to achieve these "five" main global Sustainable Development Goals, or SDG's.

So what do these two things really mean -- Gender Parity and Sustainable Development Goals;  

What are the key elements therein that African Communities face; 

What are some of the things donors, like the United States can help do to address Africa's development needs as outlined in the global  SDG's; and,

Why should "helping' be important to us given the range of issues we face here at home– such as black lives matter, poverty in many communities – be they Black, Latino, White (proportionally more so for the former two); a fractured criminal justice system, and are own economic challenges right here in America.  

 Africa Emerging Continent, African Leader Nations:

--  So let’ start with answering these questions – why is this region of the world  important, and what does this region mean for and to the United States of America as a strategic political, economic, investment and cultural partner. In other words: What are the elements of the US-Africa relationship?

-- If we look at the main themes of current US-Africa relationship, I believe you will see why the Region is vital to the U.S. now and for the foreseeable future:

The overarching themes of the U.S. Government -Africa relationship are:

-- Investing in Africa’s future;

-- Peace and Regional Stability; and,

-- Governing for the Next Generation (meaning focusing on Africa's youth and its future leaders)

-- In the end, it's all about demographics, really. But let me be clear when I say demographics I am not talking strictly about population figures (although key), but I see regional demographics as a national security and national strategic foreign policy issue. Thus, what I mean by demographics is – everything that is both measurable and non-measurable (e.g. perceptions) that impacts outcomes and geo-political relationships – this includes:
       ·       Population sizes and breakdowns by age and gender to;

·       World resource locations (where the oil, timber, jobs, lack of jobs, etc., land and water resources are to;

·       In-country regional and religious differences or groups that might impact world views, encourage conflicts, affect perceptions of an action or statement/cartoons (French, Danish examples); and,

·       The “Singularity” of individual influences (e.g. Pope Francis=positive, Putin=challenge, Malala=young Afghani women; Graca Michel=African women)

These are the basket of demographic elements that require the U.S. to see Africa today as an important Region to engage with properly and to cultivate positive partnerships.

A Closer Look @ SSAfrica's Geo-Political Demographics:

 Taking a closer looks at the specific figures here are some to help put the basket of Africa's demographics into perspective as to the …. what, … the why, …. and the good news and the challenges as regards to the 48 countries in the Sub-Saharan Region. 

 Let's start with the population figures and go from there:

-- Africa’s population today is reportedly 1.1 billion people and it is on course to reach 2.4 billion people by 2050Its current average yearly growth rate is 2.45 per cent, which will likely be higher than that over the next decades.

--The most significant sub-figure, in the Continent-wide population numbers I just cited, is the figure on youth/young people (ages 10-34), representing about 50 percent  (or 600 million people). This figure will continue to grow over the next two decades. I am emphasizing this sub-figure because I see it as Africa's "population dividend." Meaning for me it is a positive (but of course it has the potential to be problematic if certain development issues are not addressed more).

These population stats will move Africa, in the next decade, from the third most populated region in the world to the largest. But, most of its people, particularly women and girls, could remain below the poverty or extreme poverty level if current development efforts do not triple between now and  that seminal date of "2030," where both the parity effort (Planet 50:50) in support of women/girls, and the five main Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's), I mentioned earlier are supposed to dove tail.

So what are these "Five Key SDG's" (with their 167 targets) all about and where do women and girls fit in and what are their needs. I am sure you can guess many of them, but I do want to give you the current context.

I was a delegate at the 2015 United Nations session, and participated in discussions on the roadmap for the success of the SDG's over the next 15 years to further cut the pillars of extreme poverty.

Keep that term in mind – the focus is on extreme poverty, so it is unclear to me if a distinction is being made between "extreme poverty" and "poverty," but if you have travel around the United States and overseas, as I have, and probably many of you, extreme poverty and/or poverty are relative terms for people struggling every day to have affordable, adequate shelter and access to health care, feed their children and provide them with an education, have potable water to drink, and fundamentally feel and be safe in their living environments. 

Hence, the Five Key SDG Pillars are:

1.) Leave No One Behind. No person – regardless of ethnicity, gender, geography, disability, race or other status, should be denied basic economic opportunities and human rights.

2.) Put Sustainable Development at Core -integration of social, economic and environmental dimensions (includes-slowing climate change, environmental degradation)

3.) Transform Economies for Jobs & Inclusive Growth – includes improving livelihoods, harnessing innovation, technology, diversified economies, providing equal opportunities, drive social inclusion, especially for young people. (Entrepreneurship)

4.) Build Peace and Effective, Open and Accountable Institutions - Freedom from conflict and violence –a basic human entitlement, which includes honest, responsive & accountable governments. And;

 5.) Forge New Global Partnerships - Shared humanity, mutual respect, inclusion (especially for poor & at-risk people (e.g. women, youth, aged, disabled persons & indigenous people). New global partners include expanding outreach to civil society organizations, multilateral institutions, local and national governments, scientific, academic, business communities & philanthropic persons or organizations.

With these new pillars from my perspective there was a realization that for women/girls more needed to be done to address their specific challenges and also more need to be done in turn for regions like Africa and South East Asia home to some of the world's most serve human index indicators.

The SDG's added:

-- A New emphasis on gender,

-- A New emphasis on well-being

-- A New emphasis on climate change

-- A New emphasis on freedom from conflict

-- A new emphasis on how conflicts and natural disasters affect women/girls more.

Furthermore, the key backstory and some factoids you need to know as to why this new emphasis on women and girls is so important is because:

-- Women make up large portion of the developing world labor force, 50 percent in Africa alone;
-- Women farmers, who do most of the agricultural work world-wide, would be more productive if they had more access/ownership of land, tools, credit; and, 
-- Because if women had land, agricultural tools, and access to financial credit they could do 2 things: increase agricultural  yields by 20-30 percent which in turn could reduce world hunger by 150 million people;
-- Women are the majority out of the financial/economic sector estimates are this represents about 1 billion women. 
-- For example in East Africa and South Africa only 24-30 percent of businesses are women-owned or operated [VI];
-- Women face at least one legal restriction against them in 90 countries around the world [VII];
-- Global figure of girls out of school is about 121 million, 60 % of that figure is in SSAfrica. And, many countries still do not  consistently implement gender-focus education efforts, although policies might be in place.
-- On Financial Literacy Only about 15% of women (15yrs+) world-wide have a formal bank account (World Bank);
-- On Health maternal mortality and child marriages (12-14yrs) are still high;
-- Living Wage - Most of the worlds poor make 1-2 dollars a day, and women most often make less.

So in sum: Women/girls in the world are the most at-risk, least educated, most affect by conflict, makeup the greatest refugee, migrants & IDP's, have the least access to education, and have the least access to financial literacy and jobs.
Turning to Africa here, here are some of the specifics stats that will put these extreme poverty issues into perspective and why the SDG are important for this region and its challenging human index indicators.

-- 75 million – current number of young Africans looking for work now, out of the 1.2 billion working age population world-wide looking for work; Unemployment is also a world-wide youth issue.

 -- 10 million – number of young Africans of working age added yearly to the 75 million already seeking jobs(employment according to the African Union, Political Body of African States);

 -- 547-600 million – number of Africans living without electricity and energy;

 -- $1.25 – average amount many Africans live on per day, with no hopes to change this, [and few opportunities to improve the quality of life for their families, have access to education, clean water, and face challenges of poverty every single day;]

 -- 847 million/1.2billion – is the current number of hungry people and/or people living in fear of hunger in the world today (this includes those in the U.S.);

-- 239 million of those who are hungry everyday live on the African Continent. (A bit of good news is this 847 million figure is 209 million less than two years ago when 1.1 billion people were facing daily hunger);[i]

 -- 3 per cent – number of African adults with credit cards; only a quarter of young African Adults have accounts at a formal financial institution.

Remember I am providing the context as to why Africa communities are important and that comes with explaining the challenges, which I have just done, but also sharing with you the positives:

Here are Some of The Positives:

 -- 7 out of the 10 fastest growing economics in the world between 2012-early 2015 were in Africa, although the economic gains did not  reach the masses. Although, the lives and prospects of some have changed, and there is a growing middle class), trickle-down economics must come into play in order to change the lives of the masses;

-- 31 of the top 1000 Banks in the World on the “This Is Africa,” list are African Banks;

-- 39 African countries are democracies or evolving democracies, using U.S. Government's  AGOA guidelines, out of the 48 countries in the Sub-Saharan Region;

 -- 90 million people in the middle (or consuming) class, largest number the region has ever had, up by 31 million in last 10 years;

-- 736 million – represents the number of mobile phones in Africa of which Nigeria has 100 million.  Africa is the most mobile-ly connected region in the world.

(One billion mobile phones on the Continent (NB: World Bank notes six billion mobiles world-wide of which 5 billion are in the developing world, combining Asia, Africa, and Latin America);

 -- 18 countries have GDP’s of 3-5 per cent on par or higher than the U.S which is estimate to reach about 3.6 per cent;

-- 250 million Africans have bank accounts; and,

 -- Last but not least, the region has collectively and potentially a $50 trillion[iii] dollar economy – making it one of the largest potential markets for U.S. goods, services, investment, trade, and business relationships.

-- In addition, today there are key Africa nations that see the U.S. in a positive light, particularly key economic and political powerhouse leader nations such as South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, Botswana, Kenya, Rwanda, Mozambique, and many others.

 -- As noted above, I am arguing that these demographics are strategic issues for the United States as it looks forward in the 21st Century. The types of relationships that the U.S. forges with the Continent over the next decades will be increasingly more important given the global context we live in today. And how we help address extreme poverty issues at home and abroad will be important.  As abroad, we will need:

·      New Partners on Policy, Partners to build coalitions;

·      Support in International arenas such as the United Nations, World Trade Organization, Organization of Islamic States, African Union, APEC, G-77, and G-8;

·      New markets for business and investment

·      Expand and deepen cultural and educational ties

·      And, most importantly the right thing to do not only here in the U.S., but also abroad wherever and whenever we can aid in reducing poverty

-- Africa is the new frontier now for building a stronger and better relationship and helping African communities on many of the poverty and human indicator issues can and should be important elements of our geo-politics, diplomacy, counter-terrorism, emerging markets, cultural exchanges, and building new partnerships.

 -- Thus, the U.S. leadership is now focusing more on the region in a way that it never did before – comprehensively and strategically but most importantly in partnership. Actions and steps over the last 10 years - in my estimation – have truly laid a better foundation for the positive footing between the U.S. and Africa Today.

-- Today we have a range of U.S. programs, strategic partnerships, and educational program, economic and investment relationships laying the foundation for greater and more comprehensive relations, which are helping to address the extreme poverty issues on the Continent on one hand, and supporting the positives I noted above, which are also going on in the Region.

-- We have a range of new, innovative, and creative economic development programs (Global Development Lab to help SMEs and entrepreneurs), education (Young African Leaders Initiative), food security (FEED the Future) and health initiatives (PEPFAR for HIV/AIDS, Malaria Initiative, and Post Ebola efforts to create an African-Center for Disease Control) as part of our contribution to helping to address the SDG issues for the Continent, with a particular emphasis on women and girls.

-- As many of you know President Obama hosted in summer 2014 the first-ever U.S. Africa Summit (never done by any U.S. President, sitting or otherwise), inviting all the African heads of State to the United States for a comprehensive forum to discuss democracy, economic, human rights, and investment issues. He will also hold another business summit with African nations on September 19, 2016 on the margins of the upcoming United Nations session.


-- So what are the next steps?  How do we expand the elements highlighted above and  build on the current US-Africa relationship to secure a positive relationship with Africa’s  large "basket of demographics," particularly since half of the Continent will be under the age of 35  – in prime education years, prime wage-earning years, prime years to be influenced by new partners.

-- Given that Africa has this growing "population dividend" that I described above, we have a role to ensure as much of a "quality of life level playing field" on helping to address these SDG's issues for the Continent.

-- Rest assured I am not diminishing the need for us to address our own domestic issues of extreme poverty right here at home (which, includes things from inadequate healthcare-to-unemployment-to-education-to-food security and affordable housing).  And, I would argue we probably need to have a similar SDG-like initiative focused just on our domestic poverty challenges, but unfortunately that is not the case right now.

In the end, I want you to keep these 4 things in mind:

·      Appreciate the range of demographics I have shared on Africa's "population dividend," and the positives on economics, political and natural resources areas;

·      Note that how the U.S. is viewed is connected to the assistance we provide to Africa's on its development issues.

·      Ensure that the next generation of young Africans sees the U.S. as a friend even if differences may arise on some policy points from time-to-time.

·      Remember that there are 1.6 million Africans in the Diaspora here in the United States, who are here because they connect in some way to our values but are still very much connected back home.

Thus, this is my list of "why" it is importance for the  focus on assisting Africa, particularly at the community-level.

-- However, we need to understand and respect Africa's (and other region) human cultural differences and their “new global think” on issues.  We have to keep in mind it is a two-way street --meaning we need to listen better to Africa's perspectives in times of policy disagreement and on how best to help their communities, and recognize that  each country may have its own path to further solidifying its own democracy.

-- We can seek to share our values and principles without appearing heavy-handed, and unconcerned about the plight that everyday people face with the searing demographics I just mentioned.

Where we could do more:

-- Using Information Technology to develop more “work around solutions" to address social, health, financial literacy, and educational access by  using IT innovation as well as the 736 million mobile phones on the Continent to do so;

-- Assist with climate smart agricultural/food security solutions, and developing climate smart energy answers to bring electricity and energy to the 600 million Africans without it today; President Obama's Power Africa, and solar solutions are efforts in this area;


-- Work with governments to continue to improve transparency in political and economic processes to ensure good governance, reduce corruption, and increase the capacity of government institutions to handle their nation's social sector needs; 

-- Assist with access to education, including more educational exchange and training programs, particularly vocational training;


-- Help with the housing deficit (if you are poor you are also likely not to have good shelter);


-- [Then One of my biggest issues is] Expanding the number of Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs) as this will help build the Continent’s middle class from its current 90 million, and increase the number of SMEs from the current 331 million.


-- We all have heard that there are 28 million SMEs in the US, which help make up our middle class and are the backbone of our society; for Africa that role for SMEs would be no different.


-- Neither the United States, nor any other country, is going to be able to provide enough formal jobs for the large number of African youth looking for jobs – remember I said the current figure is 74 million today, with 10 million more people added to that figure every year, so SMEs, entrepreneurs, and vocational training are going to be key.

-- I believe strongly that having a living wage through being an entrepreneur or owning a SME, or having a vocational skill is fundamental to changing these SDG's for the Region. When one is able to securely provide for one’s self and/or one's family—this changes the trajectory of a life and of a nation. Remember this will be 600 million young people in the 10-34 years age group over the next several decades.

   Thinking Ahead/Think In Time  on The US-Africa:

-- In sum, as we in the United States lean forward on these challenges I have highlighted, or look out ahead… at the "basket of Africa's demographics" and the "array of today’s geo-political issues,"  we need to ensure that Africa continues to move up on our list of key places to be fully engaged at all levels.

So, on my "Lean Forward," list I have these five things:

1.    [Number One] Think about building more relations based on partnerships (country-to-country, community-to-community, people-to-people);


2.   Think about the strategic long term with these emerging African nations, its leaders, and its people, particularly its young people; this also applies locally. As you look at your communities and what long term strategic planning you would/could do?


3.    [Number Three] Think in TimeThink in parallel and also strategically about the times in which we live; [What is happening now that is impacting lives, “what” remains the same, and what changes have long term implications.]

And last but certainly not least

4. Think about History - Draw on lessons learned from history in the process [of doing 1, 2, and 3].

5. Think about the SDG framework for our challenges here in the U.S. We have these same challenges and maybe some of the examples and initiatives noted here are useful to those of you focused on domestic communities and our national next step.

Here is a "Quick List Check" of some of the main issues I have talked about this morning. People (no matter where they are in the world) want to:

-- be able to feed, clothes and house their families;

-- live with dignity and have respect for their human rights;

-- have access to affordable health care, housing, and education opportunities for their children;

-- earn a living wage through job creation or through entrepreneurial, SME, or vocational expression;

-- live in a country with political transparency, a free press and good governance within recognized legal and regulatory frameworks, have strong domestic institutions; and, have a reduction/elimination in corruption.

In concluding,

I hope in the midst of your time here integrity, fairness, and respect for other cultures are also key “Take-Aways.”  I hope that what I have shared with you today on the SDG's and their context for women, Africa and even here in the U.S. about global development needs and human dignity expand your thinking about the world stage and the domestic front, and particularly about why Africa and its communities are important to the U.S. THANK YOU

A FEEEDS Series Blog Post


[i] 9/19/14 CCTV TV live newscast, Miriam Kalma reporting)

[ii] CCTV 9/19/14 live TV newscast Africa Live Report

[iii] UN Week 2014, McKinsey Session on Nigeria, Remarks by Director Richard Dobbs, New York Palace Hotel, N.Y.

[iv] U.S. Small Business Regional III Advocate Official Speech, July 10, 2014, Gallup Headquarters, Washington, D.C. at the FEEEDS-Gallup & Partners,US-Africa Summit Forum

[v]  2012 speech, Commandant Eisenhower Resources College, National Defense University, Washington, D.C. on occasion of ICAF College name change

[VI-VII] CCTV March 8, 2016 AfricaLive News Report for International Women's Day 2016