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Nigeria: David Cameron Got it wrong On Nigeria Under Me-Goodluck Jonathan
October 5, 2019 | 0 Comments

– My Response To David Cameron’s Claims

By Goodluck Jonathan*

British Prime Minister David Cameron (L) takes part in a press conference with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan at the State House on July 19, 2011 in Lagos, Nigeria. Photo credit Christopher Furlong/Getty Images Europe

I read the comments by former British Prime Minister, David Cameron, in his new book, For the Record, in which he accused me and the Nigerian Government, which I headed, of corruption and rejecting the help of the British Government in rescuing the Chibok Girls, who were kidnapped on April 14, 2014.

It is quite sad that Mr. Cameron would say this because nothing of such ever occurred. As President of Nigeria, I not only wrote letters to then Prime Minister David Cameron, I also wrote to the then US President, Barrack Obama, and the then French President, François Hollande, as well as the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, appealing to them for help in rescuing the Chibok Girls.

How could I write to appeal for help and then reject the very thing I appealed for?

Also, history contradicts Mr. Cameron. On March 8, 2012, when the same Boko Haram linked terrorists abducted a British expatriate named Chris McManus, along with an Italian hostage Franco Lamolinara, in Sokoto, I, as Nigerian President, personally authorised a rescue effort by members of the British military Special Boat Service supported by officers and men of the Nigerian Army, to free the abducted men.

So, having set a precedent like that, why would I reject British help in rescuing the Chibok Girls, if it was offered?

I also authorised the secret deployment of troops from the United Kingdom, the United States and Israel as a result of the Chibok incident, so how Mr. Cameron could say this with a straight face beats me.

Moreover, on March 8, 2017, the British Government of former Prime Minister, Theresa May, in a widely circulated press statement, debunked this allegation and said there was no truth in it after Mr. Cameron had made similar statements to the Observer of the UK.

In his book, Mr. Cameron failed to mention that I wrote him requesting his help on Chibok. Why did he suppress that information? I remind him that copies of that letter exist at the State Houses in Nigeria and London. He never called me on the phone to offer any help. On the contrary, I am the one that reached out to him.

He accused me of appointing Generals based on political considerations. How could that be when I fired my service chiefs twice in five years, to show that I would not tolerate anything less than meaningful progress in the war on terror.

I was completely blind to ethnic or political considerations in my appointments. In civil and military matters, I appointed people that I had never even met prior to appointing them, based on their professional pedigree. Though I was from the South, most of my service chiefs came from the North.

I do, however, know that Mr. Cameron has long nursed deep grudges against me for reasons that have been published in various media.

On July 24, 2013, while celebrating the passage of the United Kingdom’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, 2013, Mr. Cameron said “I want to export gay marriage around the world”.

At that occasion, he boasted that he would send the team that successfully drafted and promoted the Bill, to nations, like Nigeria, saying inter alia:

“I’ve told the Bill team I’m now going to reassign them because, of course, all over the world people would have been watching this piece of legislation”.

As President of Nigeria at that time, I came under almost unbearable pressure from the Cameron administration to pass legislation supporting LGBTQ Same Sex marriage in Nigeria. My conscience could not stomach that, because as President of Nigeria, I swore on the Bible to advance Nigeria’s interests, and not the interest of the United Kingdom or any foreign power.

As such, on Monday, January 13, 2014, I signed the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill into law after the Bill had been passed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority of Nigeria’s parliament, in line with the wishes of the Nigerian people. This happened shortly after a study of 39 nations around the world by the U.S. Pew Research Center came up with a finding which indicated that 98 percent of Nigerians were opposed to the idea of Gay Marriage.

Immediately after I took this patriotic action, my government came under almost unbearable pressure from Mr. Cameron, who reached me through envoys, and made subtle and not so subtle threats against me and my government.

In fact, meetings were held at the Obama White House and at the Portcullis House in Parliament UK, with the then Nigerian opposition to disparage me, after I had signed the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill into law.

On the issue of corruption, it suffices to say that Mr. Cameron is not as competent as Transparency International, which is globally acknowledged as the adjudicator of who is corrupt and who is not.

During my administration, in 2014, Nigeria made her best ever improvement on the annual Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, moving from 144 the previous year, to 136, an 8 point improvement. As a nation, we have not made such improvements on the CPI before or after 2014.

In line with these facts, I would urge the public to take Mr. Cameron’s accusations with a grain of salt. I will not be the first person to accuse him of lying on account of this book, and with the reactions in the Uk so far, I definitely will not be the last.

*Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, Chairman of the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation and President of Nigeria 2010-2015. Caption from PAV and response culled from his facebook page.

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Cameroon: 148 detainees in connection with Anglophone crisis Released
October 5, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Some prisoners have been in captivity for two years in relation to the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon. Photo Boris Esono Nwenfor, Pan African Visions

One hundred and forty-eight persons including two females arrested in relation to the ongoing Anglophone crisis in the North West and South West Region have been set free. The release took place October 4, 2019, in Buea during a court session at the Military Tribunal.

The release follows a decree signed by Cameroon’s President Paul Biya to discontinue the case of 333 inmates arrested for their alleged roles in relation to the Anglophone crisis in the North West and South West Regions. “I have ordered the discontinuance of proceedings pending before Military Tribunals against 333 persons arrested for misdemeanors, in connection with the crisis in the North West and South West Regions,” said Biya on Twitter.

“I am thanking the President for such a gesture to us. I am going home to invite my friends to come out from the bushes. I know that if they come out nothing will happen to them,” one of the released people told this reporter.

“I am very happy today that my son has been released after more than a year in prison” said Joana Nwanjo while calling on the released children to hold on to God as he is the one creating all the miracles today.

Jubilant Prisoners in Buea as they were released in connection to President Biya’s Pardon. Photo Boris Esono Nwenfor, Pan African Visions

To the President of the Buea Military Tribunal Colonel Mem Michael, “They (released inmates) have learn a lot and hopefully they will join to build a better nation.” On his part, Frederic Poh Boule, EMIA Commissioner of Government told reporters that the release of the prisoners is a measure to solve the Anglophone crisis and we appreciate the measure taken by the Head of State.

The Secretary General of the South West Governor’s Office Dr. Mohammadou has cautioned the released inmates not to go back to the activities they were doing prior to them being arrested. He said, “Let them go now to their respective communities to preach the message of peace and tolerance, the message of living together.”

The separatists have however called for the release of what they say is 5000 people imprisoned since 2016, including 10 leaders who were sentenced in August to life in prison on terrorism charges, and the withdrawal of Cameroon’s military from the North-west and South-west regions. “We will not accept an olive branch from someone whose troops are still in our territory,” said Ivo Tapang, a spokesman for 13 armed groups called the Contender Forces of Ambazonia. “We will intensify our struggle with guns and bullets.”

Speaking to Barrister Ishi Daniel, he said when someone is arrested and is at the process of investigation security forces ask for their ID Cards and never return it. There is no law which says that the ID card of the suspect or accused person should be retain and made part of the case file. At the time they use the ID cards; they fill statements and even add information that is against the spirit of the law,” Barrister Ishi Daniel said.

The insurgency emerged after a government crackdown on peaceful protests late in 2016 in the Northwest and Southwest regions by lawyers and teachers who complained of being marginalized by the French-speaking majority.

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Cameroon: Charges against Political Prisoners, Kamto’s Allies dropped
October 5, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Kingue, Penda Ekoka, Kamto and Albert Dzongang in Prison. Pic credit Facebook

Barely a day after the conclusion of the Grand National Dialogue, the President of Cameroon Paul Biya has ordered that charges against some officials, and militants of political parties including those of the Cameroon Renaissance Party (CRM) of Maurice Kamto be dropped. 

In the statement seen by Pan African visions, the government did not say whether charges against Maurice Kamto, the leader of the MRC Party has been dropped. According to the statement signed by Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, Minister of State, Secretary-General of the Presidency of The Republic, said the President has dropped the charges following the conclusion of talks at the Major National Dialogue.

“… President Biya has ordered the discontinuance of proceedings pending before Military Tribunals against some officials, and militants of political parties in particular the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (CRM), arrested and detained for acts committed during protests against the result of the recent presidential election,” the statement read. 

He added that, “the decision is guided by the President’s constant resolve to promote peace, fraternity and concord amongst the sons, and daughters of Cameroon” while adding, “that the President is determined to look for ways to provide a peaceful solution to any crisis and disagreement…”

Tweet from Cameroon’s President Paul Biya

“Professor Kamto is being held at Kondengui Central prison of Yaounde infamously known for its horrendous conditions of detention. Reports of torture as well as cruel and inhuman conditions by law enforcement agents have surfaced on many occasions,. Our concern is heightened by reported systematic violations of accused persons’ due process rights by law enforcement and judicial authorities in Cameroon including the use of unlawful and prolonged detention, coercion, and torture,” the New York City Bar Association, one of the world’s oldest bar association said, as quoted by todaynewsafrica.

Kamto was arrested and jailed in January along with more than 200 of his supporters after they refuted the victory of Cameroon’s long time President Paul Biya at the 2018 Presidential election. Kamto organized a nationwide peaceful protest, and equally indicated that he was the winner of the election and not the incumbent. His decision to protest led to him arrested and several others.

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At SBEC Training: Business owners, Agribusiness persons enlighten on Basic entrepreneurship skills in Cmeroon
October 5, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Participants, Trainers at the end of the 3rd SBEC training in Yaounde

The third edition of the training on Small Business Management and Entrepreneurial skills has been organized with participants educated on Business management, Tax requirement, registration, declaration procedures and access to finance. The training exercise took place October 3, 2019, in Yaounde.

The SBEC training is the third in a series of six events organized by the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Centre of the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation in partnership with Global Affairs Canada. The training aims at equipping small business owners with basic managerial and financial management tools.

During her welcome remarks, the Director of Programs Agathe Djomeghu enjoined participant during trainings to become more dynamic business owners.

Dr. Ahanda Sosthene, Lecturer of Business administration, and project management at the University of Yaounde One speaking on the theme, “Business Management” drilled participants on the importance of knowing what they are selling, why they are selling, and the size of the market, who is best in that sector, how they can add more value, and what their obstacles are.

Usmanu Baba, SBEC Director indicated that access to finance sustains any good business idea. Participants were taught various sources of finance that they can explore for their businesses which included internal, external, formal, and informal sources. They were equally were enlightened on the different mechanisms put in place by the banks to assist small business owners.

Edison Ngeh, Coordinator REO Group International

According to information, access to finance is a key factor to the growth of SMEs but that notwithstanding, because of the difficulties faced by financial institutions in obtaining information on the borrower-solvency, lack of reliable financial statement of SMEs, absence of guarantee or inadequate collateral and lack of business plan, they (banks) become reluctant to award loans to these SMEs.

On his part, Ngeh Edison Tamfu, Founder of REO Cameroon, and a Small Business Consultant speaking on the module “practical approach to the small business tax systems in Cameroon edified various participants on the importance of operating their business in the formal sector and the skills they need to understand and comply with the tax modalities in Cameroon. As per the 2009 IMF study report, heavy taxes and 15 percent interest ceiling on loans on SMEs also discourage these institutions from financing the sector.

SMEs in Cameroon face serious challenges (inadequate capital, lack of managerial skills, lack of knowledge on the tax system)-which affects their growth and sustainability. Thus, this training falls within the framework of the prime purpose of the Small Business and Entrepreneur Centre (SBEC) — to spur economic growth in Cameroon through the provision of tools to establish, expand and sustain private sector business.

Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs) contribute around 36% of Cameroon’s GDP, make up over 90% of businesses in Cameroon, and employ above 60% of the population. Yet, glaring realities indicate that enormous potentials inherent in this sector are unfortunately not fully harnessed — especially given that above 70% of SMEs still operate informally.

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Verve International celebrates 10 years of resilience, innovation, determination and unmatched services to Africa
October 5, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

(L-R) Mitchell Elegbe, GMD and Founder, Interswitch Group; Patrick Akinwutan, MD / Regional Executive, Ecobank Nigeria Plc and Mike Ogbalu III, CEO, Verve International at the Verve at 10 media parley held in Lagos, September 27, 2019

Verve, a leading payment technology and card business established in Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria, is celebrating ten years of unparallel service and innovation.

The celebration comes barely weeks after Verve penned an agreement with Discovery Global Network, a US-based direct banking and payment service in New York, enabling Verve cardholders to use their Verve Global Cards on the Discover Global Network which provide acceptance in more than 190 countries and territories worldwide.

Assessing the path covered so far by the giant in African card business, Mike Ogbali III recounted that what started as a mare dream, has today concurred the African economic sphere and is set to take on the world.

“Ten years ago, a group of young, vibrant, innovative minds decided that it was time to challenge the status quo, it was time to drive financial inclusion; economic prosperity by building durable Nigerian enterprises; propositions that the rest of the world is willing to embrace. All they had was a dream…today we are gathered here to celebrate that dream, which has not only become a reality but has helped to re-define the payment landscape in Nigeria, Africa and beyond.”

Recalling that before its introduction in Nigeria the sector was flooded with foreign card business, he pointed out that “Verve was created to cater to the need of Nigerians and offer real value to the Nigerian market…As a domestic card of African origin, with a better understanding of the African Market, we have delivered this promise in issuing our card to 21 African countries.”

“Ten years after we have become an international brand…It is general knowledge that the global financial technology ecosystem is accelerating at a rapid pace and as Africans we cannot afford to be left behind, not just as users, but more importantly as innovators and enablers. That is why over the past years, we have evolved from being a domestic card scheme to a globally accepted brand giving Africans the opportunity to explore the world with an African key,” he added.

Weighing in, Mitchell Elegbe, Group Managing Director/FOUNDER, at VERVE, an Interswitch digital company that prides itself as a pacesetter in facilitating seamless electronic transaction referred to the last 10 years of Verve’s journey as a period colored with different experiences, stories and emotions.

His words; “the Verve brand, which is the focus of our gathering today, has come a very long way. The card scheme has grown from just an idea to solve the payment inefficiencies in Nigeria, into a bouquet of innovative payment solutions for Nigerians, Africans; rest of the world, including Verve Classic card, accepted in Nigeria 21 African countries; Verve Global card, accepted in 185 countries including U.S, U.K and Dubai.”

Reiterating that despite their steadfastness its not been an easy ride, Mitchell Elegbe pointed out that such turbulent times have helped the brand to earn its stripes and come this far.

Verve card scheme started out as a small branch of the Interswitch family, over-time has grown into an independent company of its own with several product offerings in its portfolio. Behind this growth has been our people. They have remained resilient in the face of all the challenges, odds and seasons of doubt. They have trudged on, ensuring that objectives set are met, projects are delivered, relationship with partners are well nurtured, ultimately customers are satisfied.”

Attributing Verve’s success to the dedication of its employees, the Group Managing Director adds; “today, the solutions and products Verve has brought to the marketplace so far demonstrate what can happen to any endeavor when met with the right people, opportunities and environment. I consider these first 10 years as years of consolidation and growth. We anticipate the next 10 years as years of massive investment in unprecedented customer service delivery. In the coming 10years we will improve financial inclusion even more and make payment much more seamless efficient.”

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Merck Foundation provides their first ‘Health Media Training’ in partnership with the First Lady of the Kingdom of Lesotho
October 5, 2019 | 0 Comments
Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and President of Merck More Than a Mother with H.E. DR. MAESAIAH THABANE, The First Lady of the Kingdom of Lesotho and Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother
Merck Foundation partners with The First Lady of the Kingdom of Lesotho to underscore their commitment to build healthcare capacity in the country
MASERU, Lesotho, October 4, 2019/ — Merck Foundation (Merck-Foundation.comCalls for Applications for Media Recognition Awards to break infertility stigma; Merck Foundation partners with The First Lady of the Kingdom of Lesotho to underscore their commitment to build healthcare capacity in the country

Merck Foundation the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany organized their first “Merck Foundation Health Media Training” on 03rd October 2019 in Maseru, Lesotho in partnership with H.E. DR. MAESAIAH THABANE, The First Lady of the Kingdom of  Lesotho and Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother together with Ministry of Communication, Science & Technology to break the stigma around infertility in Lesotho and rest of Africa.

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and President, Merck More Than a Mother explained, “Based on my meeting with the First Lady of Lesotho, H.E. DR. MAESAIAH THABANE, The First Lady of Lesotho, we are very happy to underscore our long-term commitment to build healthcare capacity in the country. We are also very proud to appoint H.E. First Lady of Lesotho as the Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother campaign to raise awareness about infertility prevention, male infertility and define interventions to break infertility stigma. Moreover, we will be happy to provide training to doctors from Lesotho in the fields of Fertility, Diabetes and Cancer Care.”

“Merck Foundation will work closely with the office of the First Lady of Lesotho and her Foundation – Maesaiah Thabane Trust Fund, to introduce innovative ideas that will engage different sectors to create a culture shift with the aim to break the stigma of infertility and make a great impact in a short time. We plan to conclude the execution of our programs in our meeting with Her Excellency in Accra Ghana, during Merck Foundation’s annual conference, Merck Africa Asia Luminary 2019. However, to start with, we are conducing, the first health media training in Lesotho to educate media on how to break the stigma of infertility through their valuable work.” Added Dr. Rasha Kelej.

The training program is a part of ‘Merck More than a Mother’ community awareness Program and was organized for the first time in Lesotho for local media representatives and media students.

H.E. DR. MAESAIAH THABANE, The First Lady of Lesotho and Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother emphasized, “We are happy to host this training program together with Merck Foundation. Media has the power to bring about a culture shift in our society”.

The training was addressed by the First Lady of Lesotho, stalwarts of media industry, including international faculty and infertility experts.

Moreover, it provided a great opportunity for the journalists to meet the experts and also to network with each other and work as a unit to eradicate the stigma around infertility in Lesotho and rest of Africa. It was attended by journalists working for Print, TV, Radio and Online media and journalism students.

“The Merck Health Media Training program focused on the international standards and media ethics for reporting sensitive issues like infertility in Africa. It was designed to benefit the journalists in understanding the infertility issues in African communities and to learn the best media practices to cover such issues” added Dr. Rasha Kelej.

Merck Foundation also announced Call for Application for “Merck More than a Mother” ‘Media Recognition Awards’ for Lesotho and rest of Africa. The “Merck More than a Mother” ‘Media Recognition Awards’ were launched in 2017 with the aim to emphasize the role of media in enhancing the public engagement and understanding of infertility stigma and the need to change its social perception in African communities.

The applications are invited by media professionals to showcase their work to raise awareness about infertility prevention and breaking infertility stigma in Lesotho and rest of Africa.

Who can apply? Journalists from print, online, radio and multimedia platforms from Lesotho and rest of Africa.

Last date of submission: Entries can be submitted till 31st December 2019.

How to apply? Entries can be submitted via email to mystory@merckmorethanamother.com.

Categories and prize money for winners:CategoryTVRadioPrint MediaOnline MediaPrize MoneyUSD 1000USD 1000USD 1000USD 1000

About ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ campaign:
“Merck More Than a Mother” is a strong movement that aims to empower infertile women through access to information, education and change of mind-sets. This powerful campaign supports governments in defining policies to enhance access to regulated, safe and effective fertility care. It defines interventions to break the stigma around infertile women and raises awareness about infertility prevention, management and male infertility. In partnership with African First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Information, Education & Gender, academia, policymakers, International fertility societies, media and art, the initiative also provides training for fertility specialists and embryologists to build and advance fertility care capacity in Africa and developing countries.

With “Merck More than a mother”, we have initiated a cultural shift to de-stigmatize infertility on all levels: By improving awareness, training local experts in the fields of fertility care and media, building advocacy in cooperation with African First Ladies and women leaders and by supporting childless women in starting their own small businesses. It’s all about giving every woman the respect and the help she deserves to live a fulfilling life, with or without a child.

The Ambassadors of “Merck More Than a Mother” are:H.E. NEO JANE MASISI, The First Lady of BotswanaH.E. FATOUMATTA BAH-BARROW, The First Lady of The GambiaH.E. ISAURA FERRÃO NYUSI, The First Lady of MozambiqueH.E DENISE NKURUNZIZA, The First Lady of BurundiH.E. CONDÉ DJENE, The First Lady of Guinea ConakryH.E. MONICA GEINGOS, The First Lady of NamibiaH.E. BRIGITTE TOUADERA, The First Lady of Central African RepublicH.E. CLAR WEAH, The First Lady of LiberiaH.E AÏSSATA ISSOUFOU MAHAMADO, The First Lady of NigerH.E. HINDA DEBY ITNO, The First Lady of ChadH.E. PROFESSOR GERTRUDE MUTHARIKA, The First Lady of MalawiH.E FATIMA MAADA, The First Lady of Sierra LeoneH.E. ANTOINETTE SASSOU-NGUESSO, The First Lady of Congo BrazzavilleH.E. DR. MAESAIAH THABANE, The First Lady of LesothoH.E. AUXILLIA MNANGAGW, The First Lady of ZimbabweH.E. REBECCA AKUFO-ADDO, The First Lady of GhanaH.E. KEÏTA AMINATA MAIGA, The First Lady of MaliH.E. ESTHER LUNGU, The First Lady of ZambiaMerck Foundation is making history in many African countries where they never had fertility specialists or specialized fertility clinics before ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ intervention, to train the first fertility specialists such as; in Sierra Leone, Liberia, The Gambia, Niger, Chad, Guinea, Ethiopia and Uganda. 

Merck Foundation launched new innovative initiatives to sensitize local communities about infertility prevention, male infertility with the aim to break the stigma of infertility and empowering infertile women as part of Merck more than a Mother COMMUNITY AWARENESS CAPAIGN, such as;Merck More than a Mother media recognition award and health media trainingMerck More than a Mother fashion awardMerck More than a Mother film awardLocal songs with local artists to address the cultural perception of infertility and how to change itChildren storybook, localized for each countryAbout Merck Foundation:
The Merck Foundation (Merck-Foundation.com), established in 2017, is the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology. Our efforts are primarily focused on improving access to quality & equitable healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity and empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with a special focus on women and youth. All Merck Foundation press releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Foundation Website. 
About Merck:
Merck
 (MerckGroup.com) is a leading science and technology company in healthcare, life science and performance materials. Almost 52,000 employees work to further develop technologies that improve and enhance life – from biopharmaceutical therapies to treat cancer or multiple sclerosis, cutting-edge systems for scientific research and production, to liquid crystals for smartphones and LCD televisions.
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Clear frameworks key to investor interest in Africa’s renewable energy industry
October 4, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Grant Henderson*

Solar panels in Africa. Image: IRENA

With a population of more than 1 billion people and a collective economy of around US$1.5 trillion, Africa is a continent ripe for economic growth.  Developing the capacity to satisfy its people’s energy demands is key to unlocking that potential.

We already know that sustainability is a critical component of any real, meaningful development. Increasingly governments are coming to realise what this means; that in order to deliver on their broader economic and socio-political objectives they need to focus their attention on producing more power with renewable energy projects and innovative electricity storage and distribution strategies being a key part of this.

Historically, one of the biggest inhibiting factors associated with renewable energy projects has been the cost, however, the cost of delivering power from renewable energy projects is declining as a result of emerging technologies.

Securing the buy-in of the private sector is key to development in this sector. Incentivizing investment in the industry is at the heart of this, but so too is the establishment of clear, transparent frameworks for procurement and the setting of tariffs.  Investors need not only a thorough understanding of the environment in which they are committing, but assurances that these markets will remain predictable and stable. In the absence of these frameworks and the security that they provide investors will simply take their capital to countries to where the environment is perceived as more secure.

The second iteration of DLA Piper’s Renewable Energy in Africa summarises the regulatory environment for renewable energy in twenty African countries, highlights the key policy objectives for national governments and provides insight into the projects which are expected to deliver these goals. In showcasing the diverse approach to renewable energy being adopted across the African continent – and the legal, economic and technological developments being implemented – this report highlights that African governments are, despite the challenges they face, increasingly prioritising the creation of policies and frameworks that allow for the industry to be developed.

Kenya, for example, has since the 1990s allowed for independent power producers to operate in the country. Now with its long-awaited 2019 Energy Act finally having been passed in March of this year – the private sector will also have the opportunity to participate in the industry in a distributive capacity.  This is likely to result in a significant increase in competition which, in turn, should see the quality of the service being provided drastically improve. This in the wake of last December’s launch of the Kenya National Electrification Strategy, which provides a roadmap for universal access by 2022.

Uganda, meanwhile, is actively working to promote private sector participation in the renewable energy industry and encouraging partnerships that can effectively harness the potential of the country’s vast untapped natural resources. This as the government moves to reach its target of a rural electrification rate of 22% by 2022. Add to this the legislative changes introduced in 2016 that are serving to open up Botswana’s energy market to independent producers and you can see a positive and progressive picture of the industry’s development on the continent.

If the improvements to the regulatory environment continues, then so too will the accompanying spike in investor interest. Coupled with the wealth of renewable energy resources Africa has to offer – including solar power, wind power, geothermal energy and biomass – this could herald in the start of a whole new era for the continent’s renewable energy industry.

The future could hold some exciting developments, such as the ability to store electricity and a move away from fixed grids to the development of mini or micro grids to power remote communities and businesses.

The direct employment opportunities that emerge during the construction and development of renewable energy projects are, on their own, significant, but so too are the knock-on effects. Put simply, the absence of power is an economic inhibitor and developing and adding power to the grid provides and encourages opportunity in many forms. Ultimately, more power drives stronger economies and that is something that we should all get behind.

*Director at DLA Piper Africa

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The Time has come for American Super Dividends through Pro-Growth Angolan Investments
October 3, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Sergio Pugliese & Verner Ayukegba*

João Lourenço is President of Angola

Angola is again offering skillful American players of all sizes the opportunity to participate in mutually-beneficial partnerships
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, October 3, 2019/ — By Sergio Pugliese, Angolan President of the African Energy Chamber and Verner Ayukegba, Senior Vice President of the African Energy Chamber

On the 16th of October, the U.S. – Angola Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Embassy of Angola in the United States and the Angola Representation at the World Bank Group, will host the first Angola Economic Forum (AEF), just before the 2019 Annual World Bank – IMF meeting. The Africa Energy Chamber (https://EnergyChamber.org/) endorses this event and encourages US based investors to take a new look at Angola in light of recent improvements made in Angola’s business operating environment.

The timing and the theme of the event, “Unlocking Angola’s Growth Opportunities”, couldn’t be more appropriate. After nearly two years of deep institutional, legal and fiscal reforms, the Angolan business landscape is almost hard to recognize for anyone familiar with the business environment in the country over the last decade. The government of President João Lourenço has kept its promise to overhaul the country’s financial system, deconstruct chronically established rent-sinking structures and, above all, take direct aim at reorganizing the country’s economic backbone, its oil and gas industry.

From the onset of his ascension to power, President Joao Lourenco sought to make changes in key institutions like the National Oil Company Sonangol and the Oil ministry, favoring tried and proven professionals to political appointees as has often been the case in the past.

At the same time, the government took the landmark decision of stripping Sonangol from its regulatory role, putting an end to decades of conflicts of interest that stifled decision making and investment in the key oil and gas sector. Sonangol is no longer responsible for awarding oil exploration and production licenses to companies to which, it is technically a competitor. That is now the responsibility of the newly-created National Petroleum, Gas and Biofuels Agency (ANPG), an independent institution that, since 2018, manages the country’s oil and gas licensing procedures. 

The Petroleum Agency is guided by a new oil and gas framework that has been in place over the past two years, a new natural gas specific legal framework, the first in the country’s history, was also drafted to provide clarity and give license-holders the right to explore these resources for their own benefit and that of the country. A new fiscal framework was drafted and implemented to make the industry more competitive and attractive to foreign investors and, more specifically, a comprehensive master-plan was drawn for the country’s extensive network of marginal fields, with which the government hopes to address dwindling production rates while it waits for renewed investment in exploration to pay off. 

The energy sector is second to none on Lourenço’s agenda. The Minister Dimantino Azevedo has made it a priority to listen and be proactive to the industry concerns and create an enabling environment to execute Lourenço’s agenda. Opportunities to invest span from exploration in new blocks on offer to mid-stream refinery and downstream distribution expansion projects. Plans have been drawn to boost the country’s LNG production, and extensive works for new refinery capacity are well underway to rid the country of its dependency on fuel imports and permit Angola to become the refining hub for the subregion. A plan for monetizing Angola’s natural gas reserves and using them for power generation and industrial expansion has also been devised.

Beyond the paperwork, the regulatory institutions have been thinned, made more efficient and goal-oriented, while licensing procedures have been streamlined and are now much easier and quicker to navigate. Good governance and efficiency are driving the development of a conducive and enabling business environment. It’s a welcome all out house-cleaning that was long overdue.

So now, the time has come to address investors and partners, and open the doors for new mutually beneficial relations to be born.

Perhaps no action speaks louder in this sense than the Marginal Fields Bid Round that the Petroleum Agency and the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Petroleum is launching on the 3rd of October 2019. 10 fields will be put on offer in 2019, block 10 of the Benguela basin and blocks 11, 12, 13, 27, 28, 29, 41, 42 and 43 in the Namibe basin. The ongoing roadshow by the Petroleum Agency that had stopovers in Houston, Dubai and London was very widely attended, an indication of the interest that Angola’s oil and gas sector continues to foster with investors.

The fiscal and contractual incentives inscribed in the new fiscal and legal frameworks overseeing these fields have turned what used to be uneconomic prospects, into extremely enticing opportunities for capable oil and gas players. This is a landmark moment, as the last time an international public tender was held for oil licenses in Angola was back in 2011. The ANPG plans to hold a new tender every year in the run up to 2025. 55 licenses have been earmarked for bid rounds during this period, with estimated reserves in the billions.

The official announcement for the tender was made in early September 2019, in Luanda. Unsurprisingly, the second stop on the map of roadshows the ministry has prepared took place in Houston, Texas, on the 10th of September. It is no secret that the Angolan government has sustained a decades-long relationship with many of the US’s biggest oil players. Today, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Baker Hughes or Halliburton are dominant names in the market, alongside a few of their European counterparts. 


The oil companies in particular, as describe in NJ Ayuk’s “Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals,” which is currently available for order on Amazon, was a fundamental partner of the Angolan government in sustaining and developing the country’s oil industry through a civil war and many different crisis.

Now, Angola is again offering skillful American players of all sizes the opportunity to participate in mutually-beneficial partnerships that will contribute to the healthy and sustainable development of this world-class oil play.

After a successful roadshow in Houston, investors now have the opportunity to further understand the major opportunities available in the Angolan market by attending the Angola Economic Forum. This will be the first in a series of annual events designed to showcase the economic opportunities available in the Angolan market and build bridges with competent and capable partners. The one-day forum will focus on Angola’s economic outlook, its financial systems and, notably, on the recently-implemented reform efforts and the opportunities for private capital investments available today.

There has never been a better time to understand this market, so full of growth potential, at a moment when opportunities are being built on principles of transparency, profitability and long-term partnerships. Perhaps the most exciting oil play in Africa is at the verge of a new era, and American players should keep their eyes and ears open if they don’t want to miss out on the game.

* Sergio Pugliese is the Angolan President of the African Energy Chamber, and Verner Ayukegba is Senior Vice President of the African Energy Chamber .Courtesy of Africa Energy Chamber
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Verve Promises Continued Efficient Payment Solutions Delivery
October 3, 2019 | 0 Comments

… As Card Scheme Clocks 10

(L-R) Mitchell Elegbe, GMD and Founder, Interswitch Group; Patrick Akinwutan, MD / Regional Executive, Ecobank Nigeria Plc and Mike Ogbalu III, CEO, Verve International at the Verve at 10 media parley held in Lagos, September 27, 2019

Lagos, Nigeria. Monday, September 30, 2019. Verve Card has promised to continually improve financial inclusion across borders and make payments much more seamless and efficient.  This promise was made in Lagos by Mitchell Elegbe, Founder/GMD, Interswitch Group, during a media parley on Friday, September 27, 2019, to mark Verve’s 10th year anniversary.

The event, which held at the George Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos, had in attendance members of the media, partner banks, other trade partners and a representative of the payment industry regulator – Samuel Okojere, Director of Payments Systems Management, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Verve is a leading payments technology and card business in Africa established by Interswitch Group in 2009.  It has since grown to become an independent company of its own with a portfolio of several product offerings.

Elegbe stated that the card scheme has experienced steady and explosive growth in the payment segment.  He said: “Our card scheme has grown from just an idea to solve the payment inefficiencies in Nigeria, into a bouquet of innovative payment solutions for Nigerians, Africans, and the rest of the world.  I consider these first 10 years as years of consolidation and growth. We anticipate the next 10 years to be years of massive investment in unprecedented payment service delivery”, he said.

Noting that nothing good comes easy, Elegbe said that the company has had its fair share of turbulent times, but has succeeded because of its people.  He said: “Our people have trudged on, ensuring that objectives set are met, projects are delivered, relationships with partners are well nurtured and ultimately, customers are satisfied. All these have helped the brand to earn its stripes and come this far. Today, the solutions and products Verve has brought to the marketplace demonstrate what can happen to any endeavor when met with the right people, opportunities and environment.”

Currently, the Verve Classic card is issued in Nigeria and eight other African countries and accepted in 21 African countries; while the Verve Global card is accepted in 185 countries including the U.S, U.K and Dubai.

For Mike Ogbalu III, CEO, Verve International, the story of Verve is one of resilience, innovation, determination and most importantly, a business proposition that has turned out to be successful.

He said: “At the time Verve was introduced, Nigeria was dominated by international card schemes. There was the need to have a domestic card scheme with better understanding of the needs of the Nigerian populace and Africans at large. Today, we have built a payment solution that does not only allow ease of payment across Africa, but has a superstructure that the rest of the world is willing to embrace”

He added: “Verve is not only a payment card; Verve has become a lifestyle for its users. It is the way we pay, play and interact. Verve is both a contact and contactless payment solution, a physical and virtual store of value. It is African’s key to exchange”. 

The event kicked off with a rendition in spoken words by Wana Wana titled ‘Vervolution’, followed by a 10-minute documentary on ‘The Verve journey, story & Future’.

There was also a panel session moderated by Mike Ogbalu III which featured discussions about the e-payment sector in Nigeria, its attendant challenges and solutions. The panelists were Gbolahan Joshua, Executive Director, Operations and Information, Fidelity Bank Plc; Olu Akanmu, Executive Director, Retail Banking, FCMB; Akeem Lawal, Divisional CEO, Payment Processing, Interswitch and Stanley Jacobs, Chairman, Committee of e-Business Industry Heads, (CeBIH).

Verve was launched in 2009 and is currently the only African card scheme that is a member of EMVCo, the global body responsible for setting and regulating payment card standards.

  About Verve

Verve is Interswitch Group’s innovative card scheme, offering products and solutions that enable consumers to transact all over Nigeria and across international markets. As the first African card scheme to be recognized as a valid, globally accepted e-payment gateway, we have built a world-class value chain ecosystem that benefit from the services we provide.

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Africa’s real estate sector continues to evolve despite market volatility
October 2, 2019 | 0 Comments
Niyi Adeleye, Head of Real Estate Finance for Africa Regions at Standard Bank.

JOHANESBURG, 2 OCTOBER 2019:  Over the last year changes in Africa’s regulatory environments, coupled with constant swings in commodity prices as well as heightened political and economic tensions, have resulted in ongoing volatility in the continent’s real estate markets. Despite this, fundamental demand-supply imbalances continue to present a largely attractive long-term investment outlook and thereby drive demand for real estate investment opportunities. As a consequence, there has been significant interest from both domestic and international investors as well as some – albeit marginal – growth noted in the market during this period.

“This growth points to an evolution in the continent’s real estate sector as well as to the urgent need for investors in this space to adapt their approach in line with this evolution and to seek out more economically sustainable ways to participate effectively in these markets,” according to Niyi Adeleye, Head of Real Estate Finance for Africa Regions at Standard Bank.

Given the volatility which Africa’s economies are generally subject to, more patient, long-term strategies for delivering value also need to be adopted and thorough market research, conducted as well as ‘Fit for Purpose’ solutions, applied.

A ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach does not work in Africa and it is crucial that sufficient time and resources are put into understanding the vast and varied markets that call the continent home.

The more traditional private equity funding model has begun to fall out of favour and in order to effectively navigate the current environment, investors are now increasingly taking portfolio views and evolving from short-term to more permanent real estate investment structures.

“When the size of an economy does not allow for the scale that investors are looking for, this limits the depth and size of the investments that they are able to make in that economy,” says Mr Adeleye. “We are however, now seeing a shift towards more diversified markets and the evolution of previously untapped asset classes, as well as the emergence of a new breed of investor class,” he adds.

Historically, the markets have been dominated by developers or development entities creating assets but ‘property aggregators’ are now buying properties out at reasonable levels of discount and creating investment theses for them to achieve their return objectives. This demonstrates a level of depth within the markets and, once again, speaks to the evolution thereof, which is creating a demand for new asset classes and triggering the start of a new cycle of development and acquisition, with increased sustainability built into the structure.

Real estate investment offers long term, stable return profiles and continues to represent an exciting opportunity for the deployment of local savings for broader investment and economic growth. And while African real estate investment has traditionally focused on top end, global quality opportunities aimed at attracting hard currency funding; these markets are today rapidly developing the infrastructure that connects their economies to the world and making middle and lower end real estate opportunities more attractive to investors. 

“Standard Bank offers in-country presence and insight, a multi-jurisdictional view and capability across 20 African markets. As our clients evolve with the markets in which they operate, so too do we, both in supporting their aspirations, and in helping them meet the demands of this constantly changing environment,” says Mr Adeleye.

Standard Bank Group is the largest African bank by assets with a unique footprint across 20 African countries. Headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, we are listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, with share code SBK, and the Namibian Stock Exchange, share code SNB.

Standard Bank has a 156-year history in South Africa and started building a franchise outside southern Africa in the early 1990s.

Our strategic position, which enables us to connect Africa to other select emerging markets as well as pools of capital in developed markets, and our balanced portfolio of businesses, provide significant opportunities for growth.

The group has more than 53 000 employees, approximately 1 200 branches and over 9 000 ATMs on the African continent, which enable it to deliver a complete range of services across personal and business banking, corporate and investment banking and wealth management. 

Headline earnings for 2018 were R27.9 billion (about USD2.1 billion) and total assets were R2.1 trillion (about USD148 billion). Standard Bank’s market capitalisation at 31 December 2018 was R289 billion (USD20 billion).

The group’s largest shareholder is the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the world’s largest bank, with a 20,1% shareholding. In addition, Standard Bank Group and ICBC share a strategic partnership that facilitates trade and deal flow between Africa, China and select emerging markets.

*Source Standard Bank

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GE Healthcare appoints Maria do Rosario Boavida as Country Leader for Angola
October 2, 2019 | 0 Comments
Maria Boavida
Maria joined GE Healthcare in June 2019 and brings 30 years of experience from the Pharmaceutical Industry working in Portugal as well as in Angola
LUANDA, Angola, October 1, 2019/ — GE Healthcare (https://www.GEHealthcare.com/) has announced the appointment of Maria do Rosario Boavida as the Country Leader for Angola. Maria is the first Country Manager for GE Healthcare in Angola. Based in Luanda, she will lead the market strategy and growth plans for GE Healthcare with public and private sector partners in Angola.

Commenting on the appointment, Eyong Ebai, General Manager at GE Healthcare for West, Central & French Speaking Sub Saharan Africa, reiterated the company’s   commitment to work together with the government and private sector in order to develop sustainable outcome-based healthcare solutions in an effort to support Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

“Empowering decision-making at a local level is at the core of our localization strategy for Angola. We believe that Maria’s appointment is a further step in making our vision for the country a reality. We are also glad to bring on board someone with the experience in the healthcare industry and passion for the Angolan market to continue to drive our growth and meet our customers’ healthcare needs in Angola,” he said.

Maria joined GE Healthcare in June 2019 and brings 30 years of experience from the Pharmaceutical Industry working in Portugal as well as in Angola. She has been living in Angola in the last 10 years holding top managerial positions in companies such as Bayer HC where she was responsible for implementing, delivering and developing the pharmaceutical business specifically in the areas of Family Planning and Cardio diseases. Maria later joined Sanofi as the Country Manager for Angola where she introduced and implemented the use of insulin in diabetic patients by managing a program for healthcare professionals in both public and private sectors in Angola.


“I am honoured and excited to take on this role to lead GE’s Healthcare business in Angola, as we deliver on our mission of improving lives in moments that matter,” said Maria do Rosario Boavida. “As a leader in healthcare, we will continue to align our solutions and initiatives with the country’s National Health Development plan to assure access to basic health care for all people of Angola.”

With over 120 years in Africa, GE is working with governments, NGOs and private sector partners to drive access to quality and affordable healthcare services through new delivery models in primary healthcare, providing capital solutions, advancing skills for healthcare professionals and providing technologies and innovations with clinically and economically relevant value propositions.

GE Healthcare (https://www.GEHealthcare.com/) is the $19,8 billion healthcare business of GE (NYSE: GE).  As a leading provider of medical imaging, monitoring, biomanufacturing, and cell and gene therapy technologies, GE Healthcare enables precision health in diagnostics, therapeutics and monitoring through intelligent devices, data analytics, applications and services.  With over 100 years of experience in the healthcare industry and more than 50,000 employees globally, the company helps improve outcomes more efficiently for patients, healthcare providers, researchers and life sciences companies around the world. 
*GE
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World Heart Day: Nestlé pioneers health and wellness programs across Central and West Africa
October 2, 2019 | 0 Comments

At Nestlé, supporting and promoting our employees’ well-being is part of our commitment to inspire people to lead healthier lives
ACCRA, Ghana, September 30, 2019/ — With high blood pressure as one of the leading risks for deaths worldwide, and hypertension prevalence rates in some sub-Saharan African countries among the highest in the world (https://bit.ly/2ovEFEF), do you know how to keep your heart healthy?

A number of health factors, including lifestyle, age and family history can all contribute to the risk of heart disease (https://bit.ly/2lgqBbk) and impact on people’s health and well-being.

While age and family history cannot be controlled, research suggests making a few simple changes to your daily routine (https://bit.ly/2Pa3xJO) at home, and at work, can make a difference.

At Nestlé, supporting and promoting our employees’ well-being is part of our commitment to inspire people to lead healthier lives (https://bit.ly/2nQpLIx), and we believe more workplaces should be creating an environment to boost the nutrition, health and wellness of their employees.

“As the world’s largest nutrition, health and wellness company, we believe it’s time to invest in happier and healthier employees through health and wellness programmes,” said Rémy Ejel, Market Head for Nestlé Central and West Africa (CWA) Ltd.

“Creating health and wellness activities for employees highlight our purpose to enhance quality of life and contribute to a healthier future (https://bit.ly/2LKxFLa) to support a more engaged and productive workforce – and also help to cut down on absenteeism, increase productivity and turnover, and as a result, enhance customer quality and satisfaction,” he added.

Investing in healthy workplaces

Action is already underway to tackle heart and other health issues, and so far, 75% of employers worldwide offer wellness resources, information and/or a general wellness programme, as highlighted by the 2018 Employee Benefits Report from the Society for Human Resources Management (https://bit.ly/2NHBSmS) – marking a change in promoting employee health and wellness.

Globally, Google has invested in a People & Innovation Lab (PiLab) (https://bit.ly/2VTjigp) to conduct research and think of unique ways to keep its employees healthy. In addition, its Googlers-to-Googlers programme encourages employees to teach other employees fitness practices to keep them healthy. Newmont Goldcorp (https://bit.ly/2nJFBou) has created the Military Veterans Programs and Support group in the United States to help employees connect and foster a sense of belonging.

In Burkina Faso, Caisse Nationale de Sécurité Sociale (http://www.cnssbf.org/) organises team sports and fitness sessions for its employees, twice a week. Telecel (https://www.telecelfaso.bf) also leads football matches with other companies in the country, twice a week in a public square.

These are just a few examples to show how companies in the region and worldwide can all actively contribute to improving employee wellness and invest in healthy workplaces.

Know Your Numbers

Employees at Nestlé also have the opportunity to learn more about their health, and in turn, improve their lifestyle choices through our global initiative, ‘Know Your Numbers Programme’ (KYNP).

Launched in 2017 in CWA, and again in 2019 as a reminder to all employees, it aims to help employees assess their current health status and set personal health goals, while also helping us better understand our employees and create health programmes.

After completing a short, online anonymous Health Risk Assessment (HRA), covering topics such as family health history, tobacco consumption, nutrition and stress, they are provided with an insight on their current health status and areas that need more attention.

Employees can also use their previous biometric results – measuring a person’s physical and behavioural characteristics through blood pressure, weight, height and waist circumference – carried out in the past six months by a health care professional, to support their personalised HRA report.

Assessments can be taken more than once to keep up with changes in their lifestyle and to help track their health and fitness progress.

To support employees further, the KYNP scheme provides them with access to personalised health programmes, guided health investigations and other health initiatives led by Nestlé and other company partners.

In addition, annual employee medical reviews are carried out at our sites across the region each year.

Inspiring employees to lead healthier lives

More health and wellness activities are also currently up and running at Nestlé CWA.

“Employees are encouraged to take part in daily ‘wellness breaks’ at our offices across the region, urging them to move from their desks and combat sedentary behaviour,” explained Gregoire Scilipoti, Regional Head of Human Resources at Nestlé CWA.

He added they are also getting involved in exercise sessions in the office led by fitness experts, including ‘Workout Thursdays’ in Ghana which was launched earlier this year, Zumba classes in Côte d’Ivoire, and training sessions with a fitness coach in Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Nigeria.

They can get active by using the fitness facilities at our Cameroon and Burkina Faso offices managed by a Wellness Committee. As an alternative, all our workers are offered discounted rates at local fitness centres nearby.

“Taking part in fitness sessions is helping me to get fit and healthy, invest in my own personal development and makes me feel part of the company,” said Gbede Koffi Tohonou, junior financial accountant in Burkina Faso for the Nestlé Savanna Cluster.

On specific international days – such as World Heart Day (https://bit.ly/2H1tVnS) on September 29 – employees are also offered nutrition advice and recommendations by experts at organised in-house events, and via internal communication messaging.

Instilling healthy living habits

In Ghana, Nestlé employees are able to enjoy ‘Fruity Tuesdays’, where a variety of fruits are offered to instil healthy eating habits and nutritious snacking.

The Nestlé Nutrition Line, a daily public service radio on nutrition, health and wellness which has been running for nearly 20 years, is still being broadcast in the Ghana office to provide employees with healthy living tips and advice.

“Instilling a healthy living culture among employees and encouraging them to be ambassadors is very important,” said Philomena Tan, Managing Director for Nestlé Ghana.

“This all has value, as by improving the wellbeing of employees through such activities and wellness programmes, these can help to boost efficiency and productivity, benefit their families, our consumers and stakeholders to enhance quality of life and contribute to a healthier future,” she added.
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