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Latest News April 28, 2017

April 28, 2017

news From All Africa

  • South Sudan: Intense fighting around Kodok forces up to 25,000 people to flee without humanitarian support

    Over the last three days, close to 25,000 people have been displaced by intense fighting between the South Sudan People’s Liberation Army and the Agwelek forces around the town of Kodok. The humanitarian organisations that have up until now been providing essential medical services, water, food, non-food items and shelter have had to temporarily suspend activities on the west bank of the Nile because of the increasing insecurity.

    “This is a disaster in the making, just as the demand is greatest,” says Marcus Bachmann, the Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders (MSF) head of mission for South Sudan. “Hospitals in the area are not operational, and water deliveries are unreliable. Yesterday no water deliveries were made to the IDPs because of the fighting. Given the scorching heat and the exposure of population to the elements, soon we will see people suffering from chronic dehydration and diarrhoea as well as diseases like cholera.”

    Escaping the violence is difficult as positions are rapidly changing hands between the different forces, and displaced people find themselves surrounded on all sides. Without protection, many will have little other alternative than to leave for camps in Sudan where they can find refuge. Those who decide to go, face an arduous journey on foot, lasting many days, with hardly any opportunities to receive food or water.

    “We are calling on both parties to ensure that all civilians are protected from the fighting and provided with safe and secure access to essential humanitarian services. As we have been forced to suspend most of our operations, we have provided runaway bags which contain essential medicines and supplies so that our staff who are with the fleeing IDPs, can provide basic treatment in the field.”

    With the rainy season approaching, it seems likely that the flow of people leaving for Sudan will increase as they avoid being trapped in the area.

    MSF had been providing emergency medical support in the area to the 13,000 displaced people who had fled the fighting in the area in January. This included a field hospital and two mobile units; but this activity has been suspended.

    Water remains a big concern for these new IDPs. On Tuesday the people gathered in and around Aburoc only had access to 60,000 litres of water per day. This is only an average of 1.7 litres per person, well below the 2.5-3 litres needed for survival. On Wednesday there were no deliveries of water because of the fighting. Water trucks are on hand to resume limited deliveries; but only if the situation becomes safer.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of Médecins sans frontières (MSF).

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  • USTDA Connects U.S. Energy Industry to Opportunities in Nigeria

    Today, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency awarded a grant to the Nigerian company, Community Social Enterprises Limited (CESEL), for a feasibility study supporting the roll-out of 25 solar photovoltaic microgrids across Nigeria. Together, the microgrids will produce more than 5 megawatts.

    This project will help Nigeria to capitalize on its tremendous solar energy potential by scaling up the deployment of off-grid generation and minigrid systems, ultimately increasing access to electricity. The study will focus on providing solar energy for rural and peri-urban communities that generally lack reliable access to electricity. The microgrid systems will operate on a “pay-as-you-go” structure using mobile payments, with production and consumption monitored on a real-time basis. This structure ensure payment and sustainability, as well as provide consistent, reliable power at a lower price than diesel generators.  

    CESEL selected the U.S. firm, Renewvia Energy Corporation (Atlanta, GA), to conduct the feasibility study. The project presents opportunities for U.S. businesses to make sales in solar PV modules, batteries, electrical equipment, control systems and meters across Nigeria.

    “We are proud to connect CESEL with a leading U.S. company on this important project to expand energy access in Nigeria,” said Lida Fitts, USTDA's Regional Director for Sub-Saharan Africa.

    “We're delighted to be selected as technical services partner for this project with 

    CESEL,” said Trey Jarrard, CEO of Renewvia. “We look forward to continuing development of solar microgrids in Sub Saharan Africa, and we're excited to play such an important role in helping to advance Nigeria's support for off-grid power.”

    The grant was signed by the U.S. Consul General of Lagos John Bray and Dr. Patrick Tolani of CESEL. This project advances the goals of Power Africa.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA).

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  • Africa: On the Occasion of the Republic of Sierra Leone's National Day

    Press Statement by Rex W. Tillerson, Secretary of State:

    On behalf of the American people, best wishes to the people of Sierra Leone as you celebrate the anniversary of your independence on April 27.

    We value the continued partnership between our countries and the ties between our people.

    The United States remains committed to working with your government to support Sierra Leone’s efforts to grow economically, strengthen its democracy, and ensure the well-being of all its citizens.

    Congratulations on your 56th anniversary and best wishes for a year filled with peace and prosperity.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of U.S. Department of State.

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  • State Visit Cuba-President Faure Opens Seychelles Embassy in Cuba

    The President of the Republic of Seychelles, Mr Danny Faure witnessed the official inauguration of the Seychelles Embassy in Cuba, yesterday evening as part of his State visit in Cuba.

    The opening of the Resident Embassy in Havana, denotes the dynamic and progressive character of the Cuba-Seychelles relations by being Seychelles’ first resident diplomatic representation in the Latin American and Caribbean region.

    During his inaugural address at the Embassy opening ceremony, the Seychelles Foreign Secretary, Ambassador Claude Morel, on behalf of the President and people of Seychelles thanked the Government and people of Cuba for the their hospitality and support towards the establishment of the Resident Embassy.

    “The establishment of the Embassy will serve to further facilitate the alignment of our two nations, as we proceed upon the path to a common destiny which see our two peoples flourish and prosper. Our Havana based Embassy will also serve as a bridge between Seychelles and the numerous island nations of the Caribbean region,” said Ambassador Morel.

    Cuba and Seychelles established diplomatic relations on April 12th, 1978, and have maintained close cooperation in health, education, and environment as well as in sports, cultural, economic and social spheres.

    Following the opening ceremony attended by Embassy Guests, members of the Diplomatic Corps and other dignitaries, President Faure also met with some of the Seychellois students currently studying in Cuba.

    President Faure and his delegation arrived in Cuba on Tuesday 25th April 2017 at the José Martí International Airport.

    As part of the program for his State Visit in Cuba, President Faure will today, Thursday 27th April lay a wreath to honor Cuban National Hero, Jose Marti, at the Memorial Monument in the Revolution Square. He is also expected to meet with Cuban National Assembly President, Esteban Lazo.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Seychelles.

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  • 3rd English Language Professionals’ Association Annual Conference
    English Language Professionals’ Association (ELPA) in collaboration with the U.S. Embassy and British Council will organize its 3rd Annual Conference on “Taking Teaching Speaking Forward” from April 29-30, 2017. The 3rd ELPA Annual Conference will bring together about 300 English language teachers from different parts of Ethiopia and four English Language Fellows from the U.S. Department of State as presenters.  
    Conference topics include: Facilitating an English Conversation Hour; Using Literature to Teach Speaking; Giving Effective Instructions; Every Heart Sings a Song-Teaching Using Songs; Demonstrative Story Telling; The Essence of Mother Tongue Based Multilingual Education and its Role in Enhancing the Learning of Other Languages; Student engagement through Debate – Igniting the Speak for Speaking English. 
    The United States Embassy in Addis Ababa invites you to attend this event:
    Date: Saturday, April 29, 2017 at 8:30 a.m. 
    Venue: Organization for Women in Self Employment (WISE) Conference Center (Saris Area).
    Please RSVP to Zelalem Befekadu (091-150-9522) or Ali Suleiman (091-150-9510).

    Distributed by APO on behalf of U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

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  • Africa: On the Occasion of the Republic of Togo's National Day

    Press Statement by Rex W. Tillerson, Secretary of State:

    On behalf of the American people, we send our best wishes to the people of Togo as you celebrate the anniversary of your independence on April 27.

    Your offer to host the 2017 Africa Growth and Opportunity Act Forum attests to your efforts to provide greater economic opportunity to the people of Togo. We will continue to support Togo’s ongoing efforts to promote mutually beneficial trade, attract investment, and assure safety and security for all its citizens.

    Congratulations on your 57th anniversary and best wishes for a year filled with peace and prosperity.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of U.S. Department of State.

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  • Norilsk Nickel issues notice of legal proceedings against Government of Botswana

    Norilsk Nickel (www.Nornik.ru/en) has served notice that it intends to commence legal proceedings in Botswana against the Government of Botswana in respect of its involvement in the reckless trading of BCL Limited and BCL Investments Proprietary Limited (together “BCL”), with a view to recovering the c. USD 271 million (plus damages and other costs) that they are owed in relation to the sale of a 50% interest in the Nkomati mine in South Africa and the USD6.4 million they are owed in relation to the sale of the Tati mine in Botswana.  The Government of Botswana is the ultimate shareholder of BCL through its corporate vehicle MDCB.

    The notice was served under section 4 of the State Proceedings (Civil Actions by or against Government or Public Officers) Act and was served on the Attorney General of Botswana, the Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, and the Minister of Finance.

    Norilsk had agreed in October 2014 to sell their operations in Africa to BCL for a total price of USD 337 million, though that amount was later reduced when Norilsk agreed to price concessions requested by BCL and the Government.

    The Nkomati deal, announced by BCL as a strategic priority as part of its high-profile “Polaris II” diversification and investment strategy, was designed to guarantee the long-term future of BCL’s operations by securing the supply of concentrate to its smelter in Selebi Phikwe, Botswana.  The Government was involved in or approved all material decisions relating to this transaction.

    It is well known that BCL had always historically relied on financial support from the Government to survive and, in view of BCL’s financial position, it was clear that most if not all of the funding for the Nkomati deal would have to come from or be guaranteed by the Government.

    However, although BCL became obliged to buy Nkomati on 13 September 2016, BCL and the Government have made no attempts to complete the deal, in clear breach of the agreement with Norilsk. 

    In October 2016, Norilsk learned through the media that BCL had been placed into provisional liquidation by the Government in an apparent attempt to avoid its obligations to Norilsk.  Since then Norilsk has tried on numerous occasions, and through numerous channels, to reach a satisfactory and amicable resolution, but none has been forthcoming.

    Norilsk has therefore been left with little option but to pursue a resolution through legal channels.  In its claim against the Government, Norilsk asserts that the business of BCL has been carried on recklessly and that the Government was party to that recklessness through the actions of individual Government Ministers, MDCB and the Government-appointed directors on BCL's board. 

    In addition to the Government taking and being involved in material decisions in relation to the management of BCL, it was also aware of BCL's financial situation throughout, and knew or ought to have known that there was no reasonable prospect of it being able to pay the amounts due to Norilsk without support from the Government.   

    Norilsk was also provided with assurances throughout the negotiations for the deal that the Government was fully supportive of the Nkomati transaction, and that BCL would perform its obligations in full.  Yet, when the time for completion of the deal came, it became apparent that the Government had had no intention of supporting BCL and had in fact taken steps which meant that BCL would not be able to perform its obligations.

    In its claim, Norilsk will ask for a court order making the Government responsible for paying all of the liabilities due from BCL under its agreement with Norilsk and the costs of the intended court proceedings.

    Norilsk Nickel Africa CEO, Michael Marriott, said: “The Government has displayed a complete disregard for the fair, frank and reasonable dealing with outsiders which BCL's  insolvent circumstances demanded.  It has failed to honour the obligations under the sale agreement concluded with Norilsk in October 2014.

     “Throughout the process Norilsk has acted in good faith, and given the Government and BCL repeated opportunities and offers of assistance to complete the transaction, including concessions to significantly reduce the sale price.

    “Botswana has a reputation as one of the safest and best places to invest in the whole of Africa and it has earned the strongest credit rating on the continent on that basis.  The way that the Government of Botswana has acted over BCL brings the validity of that reputation into question.  The negative ramifications could be felt across the economy of the whole country.

    On a related issue, it would appear that the Government of Botswana is in negotiations with potential investors about a possible sale of BCL. Norilsk reiterates its rights in relation to the Nkomati and Tati transactions and will continue to seek the repayment of the outstanding debts by all legal means. In this regard, Norilsk expects its rights to be recognised by the Government in its negotiations and in any agreement ultimately reached in relation to BCL, failing which Norilsk reserves its rights, including to challenge any such agreement.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of Norilsk Nickel.

    Media contacts
    EM
    Stuart Leasor +44 7703 537721 leasor@em-comms.com 
    Tom Blackwell +7 919 102 9064 blackwell@em-comms.com 

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  • South Sudan: Intense Fighting Around Kodok Forces Up to 25,000 People to Flee Without Humanitarian Support

    Over the last three days, close to 25,000 people have been displaced by intense fighting between the South Sudan People’s Liberation Army and the Agwelek forces around the town of Kodok. The humanitarian organizations that have up until now been providing essential medical services, water, food, non-food items and shelter have had to temporarily suspend activities on the west bank of the Nile River because of the increasing insecurity.
     

    “This is a disaster in the making, just as the demand is greatest,” said Marcus Bachmann, Doctors without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières' (MSF) head of mission for South Sudan. “Hospitals in the area are not operational, and water deliveries are unreliable. Yesterday no water deliveries were made to the IDPs because of the fighting. Given the scorching heat and the exposure of population to the elements, soon we will see people suffering from chronic dehydration and diarrhea as well as diseases like cholera.”

    MSF had been providing emergency medical support—including at a field hospital and through two mobile units in the area—to the 13,000 displaced people who had fled fighting in the area in January. However, MSF has been forced to suspend activities because of the recent surge in violence.

    Escaping the violence is difficult as positions are rapidly changing hands between the different forces, and displaced people find themselves surrounded by conflict on all sides. Without protection, many will have few other options than to leave for camps in Sudan where they can find refuge. Those who decide to go face a long and arduous journey on foot with hardly any access to food or water.

    “We are calling on both parties to ensure that all civilians are protected from the fighting and provided with safe and secure access to essential humanitarian services,” Bachmann said. “As we have been forced to suspend most of our operations, we have provided runaway bags which contain essential medicines and supplies so that our staff who are with the fleeing IDPs can provide basic treatment in the field.”

    With the rainy season approaching, it seems likely that the flow of people leaving for Sudan will increase as they avoid being trapped in the area.

    Water remains a major concern for these new IDPs. On Tuesday, the people in and around the nearby town of Aburoc only had access to about 16,000 gallons of water per day. This is only an average of less than half a gallon per person, well below the amount needed for survival. On Wednesday, there were no deliveries of water because of the fighting. Water trucks are on hand to resume limited deliveries, but only if the situation becomes safer.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of Médecins sans frontières (MSF).

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  • 17 African Law students qualify for final round of the 15th WTO Moot Court Competition

    Seventeen African law students, including 9 women and 8 men, have qualified for the final oral round of the 15th European Law Students’ Association (ELSA) Moot Court Competition on World Trade Organization (WTO) law, which will be held at the WTO headquarters in Geneva from 6 to 11 June 2016.

    The ELSA Moot Court Competition is an academic simulation of judicial procedures by law students, helping to foster their awareness and experience in international trade negotiations. It is also a forum for students to acquire practical experience on how to prepare and present legal arguments and how to debate current legal and social issues.

    The African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC) of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) sponsored the competing teams from Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda in the fourth African Regional Round of the ELSA Moot Court Competition from 9 to 13 April 2017, which was hosted by Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa.

    ATPC has been supporting the competition since 2016 as part of its commitment and efforts in capacity-building. Ultimately, the initiative seeks to contribute to legal education, foster mutual understanding and promote social responsibility of law students and young lawyers in Africa.

    Mr. Melaku Desta, Principal Adviser in the Capacity Development Division of ECA who participated in adjudicating the competition in Grahamstown said, “Through ECA’s support, African universities have an opportunity to grow in the knowledge of international trade law and WTO dispute settlement procedures; this should enhance capacity in Africa in the long term”.

    This year’s winning teams are from Kenya (School of Law of Kenya; Strathmore University and Kabarak University) and from South Africa:- University of the Witwatersrand. They will compete against the finalists from the other regional rounds, i.e. the All-America, Asia-Pacific, and European regional rounds in Geneva.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

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