This Week in Corruption – Oxford University Press and World Bank education projects in Africa

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Children in a classroom in Kenya. Two Oxford press units have been debarred for bribing government officials to win tenders and contracts for World Bank-financed education projects in East Africa. Photo by: Curt Carnemark / World Bank / CC BY-NC

Oxford University Press has acknowledged the “misconduct” of its two subsidiaries that bribed government officials to win tenders and contracts to supply text books to two World Bank-financed education projects in East Africa, according to a press release.

World Bank debarred Oxford University Press East Africa Ltd. and Oxford University Press Tanzania Tuesday (July 3) following OUP’s acknowledgment. This means both units will not be eligible for World Bank-financed projects for three years. They are also in danger of being blacklisted by other multilateral development banks under a 2010 cross-debarment agreement.

The publishing company, meanwhile, has decided to contribute 2 million pounds ($3.13 million) for teacher training and other education-related programs in sub-Saharan Africa, apart from agreeing to pay the World Bank $500,000 for its subsidiaries’ misdeeds.

The two subsidiaries operate in Kenya, Burundi, Malawi, Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda, Reuters reports. Oxford Publishing Ltd., OUP’s publishing arm, has also agreed to pay the United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office 1.9 million pounds in relation to the case.

Apart from the payments, OUP will take “disciplinary action” against those involved, according to a press release.

This is not the first time a publishing company has been subjected to debarment by the World Bank. In 2010, the bank also debarred Macmillan Ltd. after the U.K. publishing group admitted to engaging in bribery in an education project funded through the Sudan Multidonor Trust Fund. The World Bank manages the trust fund.

Read more:

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That Kony video has everyone talking

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Did you watch it, what did you think, and has the criticism (if you didn’t share it initially) changed your opinions?

Blank map of Africa

Click on Uganda

Ancient American” blogger Brian Henry Connor had many of the misgivings and questions as me after watching:

I watched “Kony 2012”, today, guys. Its not often that something spurs me to write. Something really has to bother me to get the Ancient American treatment.
Let me just start by saying, whoa! Am I the only who thinks that, for a video about the plight of African children at the hands of a ruthless warlord, there is very little about the children and an awful lot about this guy and his kid and their organization and the great things they’ve done? Well, no, I’m not. In the latter half of the day criticism of “Kony 2012” swept the Internet with the same force and determination that the video had as it swept Facebook and Twitter throughout the morning. And I’m glad I’m not the only one.
“Kony 2012” is a puzzling video and accompanying social media campaign put out by Invisible Children, a top-secret military invisibility-technology research corporation and a non-profit that advocates for “stopping Kony.”
What caught my attention in the whole Kony tsunami, and I have not see widely publicised, is this release from AFRICOM, Note the date, 22 Feb:
The United States will continue to support the governments and people of Uganda, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan as they work to counter the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a vicious insurgent group that has terrorized central Africa for more than 25 years.
“The U.S. is working to pursue a comprehensive, multifaceted strategy to help the governments and people of this region to end the threat posed by the Lord’s Resistance Army and reduce the human consequences of the LRA’s atrocities,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Karl Wycoff said in a telephone briefing February 22, 2012.”
 US State Department and military are part of a global effort on this;
The United States is cooperating closely with multilateral organizations, including the African Union, European Union and United Nations, as well as with the governments of the affected countries, as part of a unified effort to defeat the LRA.
Uganda, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan are seeing results from their efforts to fight the LRA:
“With our support, these four military forces continue to make progress in reducing the LRA’s numbers and keeping them from re-grouping,” [Wycoff] said. “We believe it is critical that the militaries in the region continue to work together to keep the pressure on the LRA and protect their own citizens. In the long run, it is Africans who are best-suited to address African security matters. In this case, four nations decided that they wanted to work together to address a common security challenge, and we’re glad to help.”
They don’t only want to capture Kony, the entire LRA is targeted, which, by definition, must include child soldiers:
“Military efforts to capture the LRA constitute only one part of a broader strategy, and must be nested within a program of civilian programmatic efforts,” [Wycoff] said.
It seems AFRICOM is “partnering” with Invisible Children, since both claim to be working on and funding the High Frequency Radio Early Warning System:
“In addition to providing humanitarian assistance, Wycoff said, the U.S. and African governments are partnering with civil society and nongovernmental organizations across the four countries to develop early warning systems and increase information about LRA movements. He said they are funding projects to help remote communities in LRA-affected areas develop protection plans, install mobile towers to increase telecommunications capacity and establish a high-frequency radio network to enhance information sharing.”
To summarise: Anyone who thinks this is a campaign about the need to persuade US Military to continue funding operations in Africa that target the LRA/Kony because it is at imminent risk of being withdrawn is completely wrong. Anyone who thinks this is a campaign to save children in Uganda from Joseph Kony is mostly wrong. Anyone who says Invisible Children is not linked to US military operations in Africa needs to explain the AFRICOM statement above. Anyone who is now thinking about problems in Africa and how to combat them is at least doing something right.