Africa Investment Forum 2019: Billion dollar boost for African female entrepreneurs
November 12, 2019 | 0 Comments
The European Investment Bank (EIB) has announced a $1.1 billion lending programme to help women entrepreneurs on the continent.
EIB Vice President, Ambroise Fayolle, also revealed that the bank has signed three further agreements to boost sustainable development on the continent.
But the major deal is what the EIB has dubbed SheInvest. The EIB expects the gender-lending initiative to allow women to play a more active role in economies.
“This initiative aims to promote female entrepreneurship,” said Fayolle, noting that female entrepreneurs will also gain business skills from the initiative. He explained that the financing will promote gender investment related to climate change and is part of broader European engagement to provide targeted support for new investment that supports increased female economic participation in Africa.
The announcement was made at the Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg, where hundreds of investors, development partners and wealth funds have gathered from 11 to 13 November for the continent’s premier marketplace.
The EIB is the lending arm of the European Union. The EIB has supported investment in Africa for more than 50 years. Last year, it provided a record €3.3 billion to African countries, with more than half the funds being pumped into the private sector.
As one of the largest providers of climate finance, the investment bank has also struck a deal with Guinea-based telecommunications provider, IPT PowerTech Group, which will see the company abandon fossil fuels for cleaner sources of power such as solar and wind.
Mohamed Al Habbal, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at IPT PowerTech Group, says the move to renewable sources of energy such as solar power will help the company reduce its carbon footprint. Habbal estimates that thousands jobs will be created as a result of this deal.
A further deal that was signed on the first day of the second Africa Investment Forum, will see African Trade Insurance increase its membership in Western and Southern Africa. This increased insurance coverage is expected to attract more investment to the continent.
In Southern Africa the EIB confirmed a new lending programme to support access to finance by entrepreneurs across Malawi and confirmed a new scheme to finance smallholders in the country to be launched early next year.
Patricia Hamisi, a Senior Manager at Malawi’s FDH Bank, says the money will help the bank enhance its long-term credit to small businesses owned by women. “The agreement comes with technical assistance which will help the bank enhance its trade financing,” said Hamisi.
The Africa Investment Forum inaugural edition was launched in 2018 in partnership with Africa50, Afrexim Bank, the Trade Development Bank, the Development Bank of South Africa, the Islamic Development Bank, the Africa Finance Corporation, the European Investment Bank.
The 2019 Forum runs from 11 to 13 November in Johannesburg, South Africa.
2019 Africa Investment Forum: Achieving an African economy four times bigger with only a 50% increase in energy demand
November 12, 2019 | 0 Comments
Africa has the potential to expand the continental economy fourfold, with energy demands expanding by only 50 percent, according to a new report. The International Energy Agency (IEA) unveiled its report on the first day of the second African Investment Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Africa Energy Outlook 2019 found that the continent’s future energy prospects look bright, but only if Governments can make the shift to more renewable energy sources. The report says there are three factors that will determine the continent’s future energy consumption – its growing population, the rapid increase in urbanisation and industrialisation.
Kieran McNamara, an analyst at IEA, noted that these will have “profound effects on Africa’s energy mix and how the economy develops.”
The IEA has for the first time conducted detailed modelling of the energy mix for 11 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, namely Angola, South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Côte d’Ivoire, Mozambique, Nigeria and Senegal.
The projected energy mix needed for Africa will be very different from the current one, with countries moving away from biomass and fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy.
About 600-million Africans have no access to electricity, although this has improved since 2013, according to IEA’s analysis. “In order to start to address the problem, we have to realize the scale of the emergency. And that data is extremely important. You have to be able to define the problem before you can actually address it,” said Wale Shonibare, Acting Vice President of Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth.
Africa also needs to radically increase its investment in power generation from the current $30-billion to $120-billion by 2040, if it is to achieve universal access to electricity, according to Tae-Yoon Kim, another analyst at IEA.
If countries on the continent do not change current policies on energy use, Africa will not achieve the African Development Bank’s target of universal electricity by 2030.
But with improved policies, Africa can see the continental economy expand four times with matching energy demand that is only 50 percent greater than the current demand.
Kenya is one country where universal access to electricity could become a reality by 2022, if it continues with its current policy that has brought a large amount of renewables into the energy mix. Ethiopia could follow suit towards the end of the decade.
The African Development Bank and the IEA, an autonomous agency aiming to improve the world’s energy markets, participated in a high-level side event during the African Investment Forum 2019. Other participants included the European Commission, the African Union Commission and the African Energy Commission.
Discussions were based on the African Development Bank’s “Light Up and Power Africa” strategy, through which the bank hopes to build knowledge of the African energy sector, and assist in achieving universal access to electricity on the continent. Governments, utilities, regulators and investors will hopefully use this knowledge to help them grow energy sectors, while reducing costs. The availability of quality data will improve African countries’ abilities to make informed energy policy decisions and to provide private investors with valuable market analysis.
Through the New Deal on Energy for Africa (NDEA), the Bank has positioned itself to lead Africa’s energy transformation. The NDEA is a partnership-driven effort launched in 2016, which aims to achieve universal access to electricity in Africa by 2025.
The Africa Investment Forum (AIF) brings together project sponsors and investors, borrowers, lenders, policy makers and public and private sector investors, to promote Africa’s investment opportunities.
The Forum runs from 11-13 November in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Gambia goes to ICJ to defend Rohingya Muslims
November 12, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Bakary Ceesay
The Republic of The Gambia has filed today before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague a lawsuit alleging that the Republic of the Union of Myanmar has violated its obligations under the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide for its genocidal actions against the Rohingya people, a Muslim minority that lives in Myanmar.
Genocide is a crime under international law, and all States have an obligation to prevent, to punish, and to not commit genocide. Myanmar has failed in adhering to its obligations on all counts in its brutal treatment of the Rohingya, who have been subjected to wanton acts of violence and malicious degradation with the specific intent of State actors to destroy the Rohingya as a group.
The Gambia has stepped forward, on behalf of the 57 Member States of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and with the mandate of the Organization, to hold Myanmar accountable for its genocidal crimes against the Rohingya.
This action asks the ICJ to adjudge and declare Myanmar to have violated its obligations under the Genocide Convention, to order Myanmar to cease and desist from its genocidal acts, to punish the perpetrators, and to provide reparations for the Rohingya victims.
The Gambia has also asked the ICJ to impose Provisional Measures, as a matter of extreme urgency, to protect the Rohingya against further harm during the pendency of this case by ordering Myanmar to stop all of its genocidal conduct immediately. The Gambia calls on the international community to support its legal effort, and to redouble all diplomatic and political efforts to cause Myanmar to stop, and never to repeat, its genocide against the Rohingya, and to assist in efforts to ensure justice and accountability for the crimes committed against them.
The Agent for The Gambia before the ICJ in this case, and head of its legal team, is H.E. Abubacarr Marie Tambadou, Attorney General and Minister of Justice of The Gambia. The Gambia has retained the services of Foley Hoag LLP, an international law firm with many years of experience representing States before the ICJ, as its counsel. The Gambia will also be represented by Professor Philippe Sands, of University College London, and Professor Payam Akhavan, of McGill University.
Fifth “Bloomberg Africa Business Media Innovators” Forum Convenes in Senegal to Discuss How African Media Can Adapt to New Disruptive Forces
November 12, 2019 | 0 Comments
Follows the 2019 expansion of the Bloomberg financial journalism training program to five new markets, including Senegal
November 11, 2019, Dakar, Senegal— Media, technology, business, government and community leaders from across Africa and beyond gather in Dakar, Senegal, today for the fifth annual Bloomberg Africa Business Media Innovators forum (ABMI). Under the theme of ‘Business Strategies for African Media’, the forum will explore some of the most promising approaches to fostering a vibrant, competitive media sector on the continent.
At a time when media companies around the world are facing challenges such as competition utilizing new technologies, the spread of misinformation and, in some countries, decreasing press freedom, ABMI will explore how African media can navigate and adapt to the changing landscape. Co-hosted by Justin B. Smith, CEO, Bloomberg Media Group, and Matthew Winkler, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, Bloomberg News, the forum will also address the contribution media organizations make toward enabling economic growth by providing accurate, data-driven reporting and analysis to citizens, business leaders, investors, and public officials.
“The economy in Senegal is becoming increasingly diversified, so it is important that journalism and the media sector continues to develop accordingly,” said Mr. Mahammed Boun Abdallah Dionne, Minister of State and Secretary-General of the Presidency of the Republic of Senegal, who opened today’s forum. “I am confident that the conversation taking place at the summit will help us continue to drive this growth forward.”
Speakers at this year’s forum include media owners, senior editors, investors, business leaders, government officials and community leaders from 20 countries across the continent and beyond, including: Mr. Amadou Mahtar Ba, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman, AllAfrica Global Media; Mr. James Bennet, Editor, New York Times; Dr. Phillip Clay, Former Chancellor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Ms. Kelly Conniff, Executive Editor, TIME; Mr. Sachin Kamdar, CEO, Parse.ly; Dr. Retha Langa, Deputy CEO, Africa Check; Mr. Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard, Founder and Chairman, APO Group; Ms. Thabile Ngwato, CEO, Newzroom Afrika; and Ms Louise Stuart, Mergers and Acquisitions Executive, Naspers Limited, among others.
“Advancements in technology, new competitors, growth of social media, and the increasing use of mobile devices are requiring media organizations across the globe to explore innovative strategies and build new business models,” said Justin B. Smith, CEO, Bloomberg Media Group. “Africa is home to countries with some of the highest expected growth rates in the global media and entertainment industries. I look forward to discussing the future of media with this community gathered at the forum.”
The latest edition of ABMI follows successful gatherings in Zambia, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa. The annual event is a component of the Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa (BMIA), a pan-African program launched by Michael R. Bloomberg in 2014 to strengthen media capacity, promote innovation in the sector and improve access to high-quality data and information on the continent.
In January 2019, BMIA announced the expansion of its Financial Journalism Training (FJT) program to five new markets: Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Tanzania, Ghana and Zambia. These markets follow Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, where 652 delegates from 13 countries have graduated to date. This unique educational offering supports the advancement of financial journalism and contribute to economic development on the continent. Admittance to this event is on an invitation-only basis. For more information, please visit: http://www.bmia.org/innovators.
Follow the conversation online using #ABMI2019
For more information on BMIA please click here.
About the Bloomberg Africa Media Initiative (BMIA) Launched by Mike Bloomberg in South Africa in 2014, the Bloomberg Africa Media Initiative (BMIA) is a pan-Africa program designed to accelerate development of a globally competitive media and financial reporting industry as well as promote transparency, accountability and good governance in Africa and beyond. The initiative has four components: It provides cross-disciplinary educational programs to increase the number of highly trained business and financial journalists, as well as supports research to stimulate new media innovations, convene international leaders to promote interactive dialogue and build strong relationships to enhance the quality of financial coverage and the availability of reliable and timely data on the continent.
About Bloomberg Philanthropies Bloomberg Philanthropies works in 480 cities in more than 120 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2018, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $767 million. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.
Africans Rising to launch people’s campaign
November 12, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Wallace Mawire
Africans Rising for Justice, Peace, and Dignity is launching a new campaign called ‘The People’s Campaign’, that puts a spotlight on community challenges and triumphs throughout the African continent and all around the world.
It is reported that The People’s Campaign aims to bring together communities across the continent and in the diaspora through actions by mobilizing the masses to speak on the issues that jeopardize the well-being of every citizen on the African continent and deprive them of their right to live a prosperous life.
The People’s Campaign intends to push for a unified front of actions on the continent with ‘ONE ACTION, ONE VOICE & ONE PEOPLE’.
“We the people, civil society, organisations, movements, community leaders, scholars, intellectuals, artists, and activists have an obligation to shed light on the most important issues that stand against our freedoms and our right to pursue a life of sustainable peace, social justice and human dignity on the African continent and among Africans in the Diaspora,” Africans Rising said.
Africans Rising said that it encouraged organisations to get involved withThe People’s Campaign and stand for the pursuit of human dignity through teach-ins and forums, rallies, fundraisers, concerts and undertake online and offline activities to elevate the profile of the issues that matter the most to the continent.
“Our first action in The People’s Campaign will be to host regional convenings in Nigeria and the DRC to discuss African youth in global development and we invite you to participate locally or online on Nov. 30. For more information about our upcoming events visit our Website and follow us on Facebook and Twitter,” they said.
As a part of The People’s Campaign, Africans Rising wants to hear directly from its members and remain accountable in their work and vision for the African continent.
“Therefore we will be selecting mobilizers to implement activities for our grassroots organising in 2020. These selected leaders will work alongside our regional coordinators and participate in our mentorship program, where they can learn from some of the sharpest minds in organizing across the continent. We encourage you to nominate a mobilizer from your organization. In the following weeks, Africans Rising will announce the selected mobilizers who will join our mentorship initiative,” according to Africans Rising.
Africans Rising has a footprint in over 40 different countries on the African continent, a network of over 350 organisations across the continent, and continues to build partnerships with various entities and institutions that stand for peace, justice, humanity, and dignity.
“With The People’s Campaign, we invite you to be a part of our large and growing network that offers our members a variety of opportunities to learn and develop through mentorship, leadership skills, media access, professional training, and an international platform. Join us today!” they said.
Sixth Mozambique gas summit and exhibition opens Wednesday
November 12, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Wallace Mawire
The National Hydrocarbons Company (ENH) and the events company CWC, from London, will host the 6th edition of the Mozambique Gas Summit and Exhibition at the Joaquim Chissano International Conference Centre, Maputo on 13 to 14 November.
It is reported that the event will be officially opened by His Excellency Filipe Jacinto Nyussi, President of the Republic of Mozambique.
This 6th edition will address the key topic: “Post-FID Gas infrastructure development-Economic diversification-industrialisation.”
It is reported that High-level representatives from the global oil and gas industry are expected to attend the conference from around 55 countries and over 50 speakers from different areas of the energy sector.
The event is also hosting 130 exhibitors, representing the entire oil and gas value chain, as well as 700 attendees including national, from various levels and international delegates, representing a record attendance since this event began.
African Energy Chamber and Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Discuss Technical Cooperation at Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition & Conference (ADIPEC)
November 12, 2019 | 0 Comments
|The Chamber will be assisting in the organization of an OPEC Technical Workshop in Dakar in early 2020|
|ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, November 12, 2019/ — A team of the African Energy Chamber (https://EnergyChamber.org/) led by Executive Chairman Nj Ayuk met with the Secretary General of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) H.E. Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo today in Abu Dhabi. Both parties discussed the sharing of best industry practices and technical cooperation with new and upcoming African oil producers.|
Given the increasing number of African producers who have rejoined OPEC, and the strong support of non-OPEC African nations for the Declaration of Cooperation, both parties agreed on the opportunity to strengthen the technical dialogue between OPEC and Africa.
In order to cement OPEC’s engagement with new and upcoming producers, the Chamber will be assisting in the organization of an OPEC Technical Workshop in Dakar in early 2020, which will be open to regional technicians from ministries and national oil companies. “As OPEC expands, it is important to open its technical meetings and workshops to non-member countries who could potentially join the Organization later,” explained Nj Ayuk, Executive Chairman at the African Energy Chamber and CEO of the Centurion Law Group.
H.E. Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo welcomed the initiative as a very timely one, insisting that now is the right time for countries such as Senegal to engage with OPEC and the global oil industry. “Such technical workshops can establish a framework for the long-term sharing of best industry practices for new African producers. They ultimately benefit the development of transparent and sustainable industries, this is good for Africa and Africans.”
*Africa Energy Chamber
Interswitch and Visa enter into strategic partnership
November 12, 2019 | 0 Comments
- Visa to acquire a significant minority equity stake in Interswitch
- Partnership expected to expand the digital payments ecosystem across Africa, the world’s most underpenetrated market
- Interswitch and Visa share a vision to drive financial inclusion across the African continent
(Tuesday 12th November, Nigeria): Interswitch Limited (“Interswitch” or the “Company”), a leading technology-driven company focused on the digitisation of payments in Nigeria and other countries in Africa, and Visa Inc. (“Visa”), the world leader in digital payments, today announced a strategic partnership that will further advance the digital payments ecosystem across Africa.
As part of the agreement, Visa will acquire a significant minority equity stake in Interswitch. The investment makes Interswitch one of the most valuable African FinTech businesses with a valuation of US$1 billion. Visa will join globally renowned investors, Helios Investment Partners, TA Associates and IFC, as shareholders in Interswitch, alongside Company management.
Founded in 2002, Interswitch disrupted the traditional cash-based payments value chain in Nigeria by introducing electronic payments processing and switching services. Today, Interswitch is a leading player in Nigeria’s developing financial ecosystem with omni-channel capabilities across the payments value chain, processing over 500 million transactions per month in May 2019.
In 2018, electronic payments in Africa accounted for only 12 per cent of transactions by volume, compared to 54 per cent in Europe and 79 per cent in North America. Sub-Saharan Africa is the fastest-growing digital payments market in the world, with electronic payment volume expected to grow at a CAGR of approximately 35 per cent from 2018 to 2023 in the region (excluding South Africa). This progress is expected to be driven by the deepening payments infrastructure, population and urbanisation growth, GDP growth above the global average, increased mobile and internet penetration, as well as a supportive regulatory landscape for electronic payments and financial inclusion.
Interswitch’s core market, Nigeria, is the largest economy in Africa with a rapidly growing electronic payments market. Point of sale (“POS”) and ATM transactions per adult grew at a CAGR of 94 per cent and 59 per cent from 2013 to 2018, respectively. In Nigeria, there were only 11 card transactions per adult per annum in 2018 compared to 92 in markets like South Africa, 126 in Brazil and 465 in the UK. Despite this market under-penetration, POS card transactions in Nigeria are expected to grow at a CAGR of 63 per cent between 2018 and 2023.
In addition to its switching and processing services, Interswitch owns Verve, the largest domestic debit card scheme in Africa with more than 19 million cards activated on its network as of May 2019. The business also operates Quickteller, a leading multichannel consumer payments platform, driving financial inclusion across Nigeria with over 270,000 access points, as of 2018, from which consumers can initiate peer-to-peer transfers, bill payments, airtime purchases, and other e-commerce transactions, processing over 42 million transactions monthly as of 31 July 2019 (equivalent to over NGN560 billion (US$1.5 billion) through direct, indirect and Paypoint channels). Interswitch’s unique market capabilities and strong consumer proposition, has enabled it to deliver consecutive years of sustainable profitable growth.
The partnership will create an instant acceptance network across Africa to benefit consumers and merchants and facilitate greater connectivity for communities. Both parties will also retain their respective independent solutions, and Interswitch will retain its scheme neutral strategy.
Mitchell Elegbe, Founder and Chief Executive of Interswitch, said; “Sub-Saharan Africa is the fastest growing payments market in the world, with growth driven by a young and dynamic population, rapidly evolving consumer behaviour, and an increasing desire for payment solutions that can be accepted across the continent and abroad. I am delighted that Interswitch has formed a partnership with Visa, with whom we plan to drive the next phase of transformation in the African payments landscape.”
Andrew Torre, Regional President CEMEA, Visa, said; “Africa is a priority region for us, and we continually seek strategic partnerships with local players to further strengthen our leadership position and enhance the payments ecosystem across the continent. This partnership aligns with our global strategy to work with and invest in innovative partners, and we look forward to working with Interswitch to provide new consumer and merchant experiences and support the rapid growth of digital commerce across Africa.”
Babatunde Soyoye, Helios’s co-founder and Managing Partner, added, “A strategic investment by Visa, the world’s leader in digital payments, into Interswitch is a substantial endorsement of the Company’s expertise in African payments. As an active investor in leading African payments businesses, we see tremendous opportunities to digitise payments across the continent and have worked closely with Interswitch’s management team to build a high quality and scalable platform geared to address some of these opportunities. We look forward to further collaboration with the Company alongside Visa.”
The transaction is subject to the relevant regulatory approvals and is expected to close by Q1 2020.
FT Partners acted as exclusive strategic and financial advisor to Interswitch on this transaction.
|Interswitch Group Marketing & Corporate Communications Cherry Eromosele, Enyioma Anaba, Tomi Ogunlesi||+234 1 6283888 Ext 1253 email@example.com|
|International public relations adviser to Interswitch Smithfield, A Daniel J Edelman Company John Kiely, Charles Harrison, George Yeomans||+44 20 3047 4228 Interswitch@edelman.com|
|Nigeria public relations adviser to Interswitch Vaerdi Oluyemisi Lanre-Phillips, Rob Newman||+234 909 888 2196 Interswitch@Vaerdi.org|
|Visa Global Corporate Communications Shannon Reed Corporate Communications Nigeria Niyi Adebiyi||+1 650.432.2990 firstname.lastname@example.org +234 816 6109761 email@example.com|
Senegalese Police Major, Seynabou Diouf is UN Female Police Officer of the Year
November 12, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Amos Fofung
Major Seynabou Diouf, has been awarded the 2019 female police officer of the year for her “exemplary service, which has a direct and positive impact on the community and the Congolese national police.”
She currently leads a task force that helps to prevent and end sexual exploitation and abuse with the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC.
Major Seynabou Diouf of the Senegal National Police was selected as the 2019 United Nations Female Police Officer of the Year after been handpick from a competitive list of 30.
She is set to receive her award during the 14th United Nations Police Week after an outstanding career serving with the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA.
At the national level, her experience spans 33 years with the Senegal National Police which also happens to be the largest contributor of police to UN peace operations and is among the top five contributors of female police officers.
An inspiration to dozens across Africa, Diouf became the first female police officer in her country to be honored as a ‘Gardien de la Paix’ or ‘Guardian of peace’ an accolade previously reserved for male officers.
Established in 2011, the United Nations Female Police Officer of the Year award seeks to recognize exceptional contributions of female police officers to UN peacekeeping and to promote the empowerment of women.
Previous recipients have been; Ghanaian police officer Phyllis Osei (2018), Assistant Inspector of Police Annah Chota from Zimbabwe (2017) and Police Superintendent Yvette Boni Zombre from Burkina Faso (2016).
Anglophone Group recommends 11-point special status proposal for Cameroon’s troubled regions
November 12, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Amos Fofung
Faced with silence from the government since the National Dialogue ended, a college of English-speaking Cameroonians has tabled eleven recommendations towards an amicable arrangement to stem the ongoing political crisis in the country.
The recommendations put forward by civil society actors who tagged themselves as the Special Status Work group, say the ideas presented are what it takes to protect minorities and their interests in the country; a critical point that can be attributed to have triggered the crisis in the North West and South West regions.
Comprising educationists, religious leaders, politicians, lawyers, activists and human rights advocates among others, the group referenced a recommendation from the just-ended Major National Dialogue which pushes for granting a Special Status to the Northwest and Southwest Regions as a prerequisite to putting an end to civil unrest in the Anglophone regions.
Members of the work group include; Geoffrey Mbaku, Dr. Nick Ngwanyam, MD., Marceline Hoyle, Marilyn Ndua Bekima, Daniel Abwa Akwo and were supported by other participants among them; Barrister Agbor Nkongho Felix, Azong Wara Andrew, Eno Chris Oben, Joseph Fomba Fombason, Dr. Maxwell Mbah, Dr. Mafor Nono Edwan PhD, Bishop Dr. Leonard, Hon. Rev. Dr. Ayukachale Peter Egbe, and venerated journalist, Eric Chinje.
“The Major National Dialogue is the government’s first major attempt to engage in discussions that seek to bring peace and a return to economic activity in the area. The most important recommendation coming out of the MND in this regard is to effectively legislate a solution that recognizes the Special Status of the two regions”, a section of the resolution reads adding;
“This will be done based on the constitutional provision that allows the state to legally recognize the specificities of any parts of the national territory.”
Pointing out that the notion of “special status” is not specific to Cameroon or new to constitutional law, the group cited the experiences of Quebec in Canada, Hong Kong in
China and Northern Island in the United Kingdom as lessons that could be drawn upon in designing a similar constitutional arrangement for Cameroon.
“The State shall transfer to Regions, under conditions laid down by law, jurisdiction in areas necessary for their economic, social, health, educational, cultural and sports development…In line with the constitution which allows for Regionalism of the 10 provinces, the Northwest and Southwest will be considered, beyond the devolution of administrative authority that comes with decentralization, as two separate and distinct autonomous Regions within the special status regime.”
On a larger scale, the group advanced that each Region should determine its health, education, economic, social, cultural and environmental policies.
The proposal comes at a time of increasing pressure and scorn for those who attended the National Dialogue which many thought it was designed to fail. A month after the event, President who neither spoke at the opening session, nor the closing ceremony has largely remained mute leaving many wondering if his government has any intention of implementing the recommendations. In the meantime, the crisis continue to rage on with some two million people affected per recent UN reports.
Below is the list of recommendations as put forth by the Special Status work group;
1. The House of Assembly:
The House of Assembly will be the legislative body of the “Special Status” Region, deriving its powers directly from the people. It shall be comprised of representatives from all counties/divisions within the current North West and South West Regions. Each of the 2 regions will have its House of Assembly. All laws passed by both Regional Houses of Assembly take immediate effect after the (Elected) Governor signs the bill. There will be no ratification by National Parliament except as concerns those laws with specific application to border security, international relations and monetary policy.
Concerned citizens may constitute themselves and pursuant to a signature of at least 10,000 tax-paying citizens, table a motion for consideration by the Regional Houses of Assembly.
2. The House of Chiefs:
This institution will act as an advisory body to the House of Assembly like it did previously before reunification, with no legislative or veto power, as captured below:
The function of the House would be to consider and by resolution to advise on any matter referred to by the [Governor] or on any question or matter introduced by a member. The House would consider proposed (legislation) and important matters of police and its resolutions would be laid on the table of the House of Assembly when it would be open to the Government or any member to take them up.
Queen mothers and other female traditional royalty shall be eligible to sit in the House of Chiefs. Each of the 2 regions will have its House of Chiefs.
3. An Elected Governor.
The elected President of the Regional Council will serve as Governor. He/She will be the Regional Chief Executive. He/She will be assisted by a Lieutenant Governor who will also be elected. Each Region will have an elected Governor and a Lieutenant Governor.
4. Government Official/Liaison to the “Special Status” Regions:
The President of the Republic shall appoint a person as his/her representative to the
region, with offices within or without the Governor’s office, with the duty of observing and reporting to the President on matters of national interest within the region. This Liaison Officer shall be a Special Technical Adviser on areas of national domain like the borders, ports, parastatal corporations and national security. The Liaison will focus on the administration of national matters, as opposed to issues relating directly to the Region and shall not be above the elected Governor and Lieutenant Governor. Each Special Status Region shall have a Liaison officer appointed.
5. Judicial System:
A mix of inherited Common Law, Customary Law and an injection of modern law will form the exclusive judicial system of the Special Status Regions. The Regional Common Law Bar Association shall recruit legal candidates who understand and excel in Common Law to serve the Judicial System. The Judicial System shall recruit to serve as judges within the Regional courts, legal professionals who have practiced Common Law.
We also believe our Traditional rulers can serve as the first line of a functional local judiciary through the Customary Courts. Judges may refer cases brought to their benches to a local traditional ruler or customary court for mediation by persons duly trained and accredited to mediate the issues. If such mediation does not resolve the issue, the parties can then bring back the dispute before the judge.
Empowering the Traditional rulers through Customary Courts will solve two issues: providing revenue to our Traditional rulers to remain financially viable while successfully handling community disputes, and at the same time getting them to remain apolitical.
6. Revenue sharing
The National Government and the Regional Administrations shall agree on a formula for revenue sharing as pertains to revenue from natural resources present within the Special Status Region, with a minimum percentage staying within the Region, and a commitment by the National Government for a minimum percentage of the national budget to be guaranteed for the region. There will also be an agreement on a minimum amount of revenue to be retained or redistributed to the Region from all parastatal corporations based in the Region. Revenue sharing will be applicable exclusively to natural resources, extractive industries and revenue from parastatals. Property and other local taxes shall remain with the Local Government and shall be used locally.
The Governors, his/her cabinet, the Mayors, and representatives from the House of Chiefs, the Regional Assembly, and the Government liaison form an Executive Council which oversees appointments to public companies in the Special Status Regions. This Executive Council could also serve in the capacity of an advisory and consent organ. This Executive Council will be engaged in negotiating revenue sharing with the National Government.
7. Representation in the National Government, Executive and Judiciary.
At least 10 Senators should be exclusively reserved for Anglophone Senators irrespective of those who run for election on a political party banner. This means that 10 out of the 30 members of Senate appointed by the Head of State should come from the North West and South West Regions.
At the National Assembly, a proportionate number of seats, based on the most recent internationally recognized census results, should be reserved exclusively for the Special Status Regions, irrespective of political affiliation.
The National Government will ensure quotas for citizens of the Special Status Regions so that they can be adequately represented in the Judiciary, Legislative and Executive branches of government.
8. Change in the country’s name
The country’s name should be changed from The Republic of Cameroon to the United Republic of Cameroon. There is no better moment in our history than now to rename our country with words that accurately capture our vision and desire to remain one and indivisible. A United Republic of Cameroon captures it perfectly.
9. ENAM, CUSS, ECOLE DES POSTES, IRIC and similar public institutions
Graduating from these faculties will not automatically lead to employment by right in the Special Status Regions. All recruits into the local civil service will be screened by the Department of Public Service that will administer exams/board certifications and take charge of human resource planning and management. All State universities in the Special Status Regions will have a faculty of Public Administration or Public Policy. Graduates from these faculties will also be recruited into the civil service through exams and board certifications. Cameroonians from East Cameroon (the other 8 Regions) can be recruited into the civil service of the Special Status Regions after they pass an English proficiency exam.
The Special Status Regions will define their own educational policies from nursery to the university. The education system shall be STEM oriented, giving youths the opportunity to be productive and be job creators with abilities to generate wealth and foster development.
10. Special Regional Commissions
Special Regional Commissions on critical aspects of communal living will be set up as required and come into force after approval by a two-thirds majority in the Regional House of Assembly. These may include the following:
A Commission of Inquiry for matters of governance and investigation of senior government officials.
A Vehicle Inspection Authority to ensure road safety and the road worthiness of automobiles and all mechanized road users.
A Sanitary Inspection Unit to oversee matters of public health and sanitation as well as the urban environment.
11. Police, Gendarmes and Other uniformed agents
Local councils would have jurisdiction of police stations throughout the North West and South West Regions in order to ensure community policing. For far too long Anglophones have repeatedly complained about abuses and torture from police officers who in most cases can barely effectively communicate with them. Furthermore, with the ongoing crisis, the need for local police is needed to restore trust, safety, and order in the Anglophone regions. The police training facilities in Mutengene should be run by the Special Status Regions to train their own police forces. Each Special Status Region will have its own police academy. Prison Warden and Forest guards should be trained locally.
When the Anglophone Crisis meets Elections: advice from a Constitutionalist
November 12, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Barrister Paul Simo, Esq*
Cameroon’s political firmament is at present gripped by two major quandaries: that of resolving the first major crisis bordering on armed conflict to have affected the country in close to 50 years (the Anglophone crisis), and renewing the 5-year electoral mandates of the members of its Lower House of Parliament (the National Assembly), as well as elected Municipal Councilors (who in turn vote local government Mayors). The said mandates have already been extended for one (1) year. Both are indisputably national priorities, and both affect the NW/SW Regions in a particular manner. However, as every manager knows, there is a distinction between what is important, and what is urgent. All important tasks are not urgent, but an urgent task (even if unimportant) left unattended to, may dramatically increase its importance.
In the coming days, we will be releasing a major, longitudinal study of Special Status, Special Regional Autonomy, and Special Administrative Regions in countries around the world, informed by the crisis affecting the Northwest and Southwest Regions. The said 40-page study contains proposals for a Legislative Whitepaper on the Special Status framework for Cameroon’s Anglophone regions. One of the fundamental pre-requisites we observe in Special Status regions around the world, is that for them to be created, and for their attributes to be modified, legislation adopted by the national Parliament is not enough. Due to the fact that they create a unique type of relationship between a region of the country and its central State, Special Status arrangements need to be ratified through a democratic vote by a constituent assembly or by the elected representative body (legislature) of the Regions in question.
Presently, the Northwest and Southwest Regions of Cameroon do not have elected Regional Councils (same with the country’s other Regions). Therefore, any crafter of Special Status arrangements for both regions needs to scan keenly for which elected, representative body will stand in their stead, to validate the Special Status law once it is enacted by the National Legislature. It does not take particular constitutional genius to discern that the only democratically-elected alternative in place is to have recourse to a sui generis (specially-constituted) group of elected representatives from both regions, namely their Senators, Members of the Lower House (National Assembly), and Municipal Councilors. The current composition of those representatives from the Northwest and Southwest regions, elected in 2013, hold a popular elected mandate.
If elections were to be held in the Northwest and Southwest regions in February 2020, it must be assumed either that the current group of regional representatives will approve the Special Status content before the election, or that the February 2020 election will produce a democratically representative group of elected officials. And furthermore, that there will prevail a climate of sufficient calm and security in both regions, to allow a meaningful exercise of the most fundamental civic duty. None of the above assumptions sound feasible, let alone likely.
It must also be borne in mind that Special Status or Regional Autonomy arrangements, where undertaken to resolve a political crisis bordering on an armed conflict, must be embedded in a peace agreement which reaches out to, entices, and involves the belligerent armed groups. The August 2005 agreement signed in Helsinki, Finland, and brokered by the renowned Finnish Statesman and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Martti Ahtisaari, which brought to and end the separatist conflict in the Indonesian Island province of Aceh (fought for three decades between 1976 and 2005) is a shining example in this regard.
That peace agreement contained the prospect of regional autonomy, and succeeded to wean off the Free Aceh Movement (an armed insurrection that had received support for armed struggle from as far away as Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya), to renounce its separatist project and aspire for regional autonomy within a Unitary State of Indonesia. That peace agreement continues to hold to this day, 14 years later. The Peace Agreement (2005) was then reflected in a Special Status Law on the Governance of Aceh (2006). Special Status Legislation and Peace Agreement went hand in hand, whereas in Cameroon’s context, the Special Status process at national level, and the existing and undeniable early-stage peace process with armed groups are operating in silos, heightening the risk that the latter will later fundamentally revise the former.
To return to the timing of elections in the Northwest and Southwest regions, the most likely prospect, given current incidents, is that elections convened in February 2020 (even assuming a Special Status law has been passed) will meet hostile terrain. It is not the civic, traditional, and political Anglophone elites who met in Yaoundé from 30 September to 4 October (and endorsed the regional Special Status proposal) who are wreaking havoc in the two Regions, nor is it they who will disrupt an election therein. There is therefore the risk that an election held in the two Regions will have extraordinarily low levels of voter participation (anywhere from 1 to 2 % of the registered voters), casting a major doubt on the democratic, electoral legitimacy of the resulting Municipal Councilors and elected Lower House Representatives. To give such an unrepresentative group (since Regional Council elections are not also yet foreseen) the onus of endorsing and granting Regional imprimatur to the Special Status arrangements, is a way of killing this important prospect for peace in the two Regions.
It is therefore perennial that no-one who means well for resolution of the crisis should argue for elections to take place within those Regions without considering the dynamics above. Putting in place unrepresentative electoral “representatives” of both Regions, knowing fully well that those Regions’ representatives need to validate and endorse regional Special Status legislation to give it legitimacy, is culpable.
In order to address the counterargument that the entire country’s elected institutions cannot be left indefinitely in a limbo, the best approach for Cameroon will be to proceed with a split election. Hold the Legislative and Municipal elections in the other eight (8) regions of the country and defer the elections in the NW/SW for another year or so, pending the Special Status Legislation and Peace Agreement. (By the way, if deep insecurity blights parts of the Far North and renders elections materially impossible, they can be deferred, and by-elections conducted when security conditions improve). The practice of conducting by-elections is not anathema to democracies around the world – those are also convened when a local or regional election result is overturned in postelectoral litigation.
The argument that Cameroon is one unique national “constituency” and no citizen should be disenfranchised, falls on its face: Article 9 of Cameroon’s Constitution envisages both a State of emergency and a State of war, which can adequately, legally justify deferring elections. And it is questionable what “enfranchisement” of their residents occurs when those Regions have to hold “elections” amidst violence, impracticability of road transport, and massive internal displacement of their citizens across the country.
* The author specializes in the areas of constitutional, public, and international law. For 20 years (1999 to 2018) he worked on countries undergoing peace-processes and political transitions in East, Central, and West Africa. Between 2007 and 2018, he served the United Nations at Headquarters, and in multi-dimensional peace operations in Africa. He advised senior UN diplomats working on the following countries’ peace/reconstruction processes: Uganda (LRA conflict), DR Congo (regional conflagration in the 2000s), Burundi (2000s peace process), Sierra Leone and Liberia (Mano River region conflicts in the early 2000s), and the Central African Republic (escalation of politico-religious violence since 2013). He was Law valedictorian of the first graduating cohort of the University of Buea, Cameroon (LL.B. 1996) and holds a graduate law degree, summa cum laude, from the Catholic University of Notre Dame, Indiana. He is an Attorney at the Bar of New York (2001) and a Barrister in Cameroon (2010). The views expressed herein are solely those of the author. He is based in Douala and Yaoundé, Cameroon. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
African Court Delegation Pays Courtesy Call On Zanzibar President
November 12, 2019 | 0 Comments
Zanzibar, 07 November 2019: The African Court Judges led by its President, Hon Justice Sylvain Oré, today paid a courtesy call on the President of Zanzibar, H.E Dr Ali Mohamed Shein, at State House.
The African Court is holding its 55th Ordinary Session from 4 to 29 November and 10th Extra-Ordinary Session from 2 to 7 December in Zanzibar.
During the discussions, the President of Zanzibar underscored the importance of human rights as a prerequisite for peace and stability and said that Zanzibar has attached special importance to it. He added that there cannot be any development without peace and stability. This, he said, has resulted in enormous economic, social and political achievements on the Islands.
He added: ‘’The success has also been contributed by the independence enjoyed by the three arms of government (the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary), which complement each other in the functions of state.’’
Dr Shein said he was pleased to receive the delegation of the Court. He assured them of the support of his government to ensure that the Sessions were conducted smoothly, and encouraged the Judges and staff to visit the many attractions in Zanzibar.
Hon Justice Oré thanked the Zanzibar government for hosting the sessions and especially for its commitment to peace, unity and the protection of human rights.
‘’The Court’s decision to hold the Sessions in Zanzibar is testimony of Zanzibar’s peace and stability and affirms the latter’s commitment to respect for human rights and the dignity of the human being”, Justice Oré said.