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What France’s Macron really means when he says Africa needs to look after itself
December 2, 2017 | 0 Comments

Siddhartha Mitter*

French President Emmanuel Macron is welcomed by Burkina Faso's President Roch Marc Christian Kabore at Ouagadougou airport, Burkina Faso November 27, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

French President Emmanuel Macron is welcomed by Burkina Faso’s President Roch Marc Christian Kabore at Ouagadougou airport, Burkina Faso November 27, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

The Big Africa Speech is a ritual for every French president. For better or worse, it serves as the tone-setter for his Africa policy, and signals his approach to the tangle of political and business networks known as Françafrique.

Nicolas Sarkozy’s speech, given in Dakar in 2007, is remembered for an arrogant, paternalistic phrase: “The African has not yet sufficiently entered History.” It did not go over well. François Hollande’s speech in 2012, also in Dakar, was amiable but insipid. Like Hollande himself, it is largely forgotten.

Emmanuel Macron has now given his own Big Africa Speech. It came Tuesday (Nov. 28), in a raucous auditorium at the University of Ouagadougou, in Burkina Faso. What will likely be remembered most vividly is the atmospherics. Where past presidents went formal and flowery, Macron went casual and scrappy. He fed off the room full of students and their energy. He took questions—a big break from his predecessors—and even solicited direct questions from the crowd after the pre-selected questioners had their turn.

The question phase produced a small blunder that has turned into a viral clip. After serious questions to do with security and economics, a student asked about local power supply, including to the campus, where the air conditioning had gone out. Macron said that was not for him to solve, but for Burkina’s president, Roch Marc-Christian Kaboré, who was standing offstage. An awkward moment ensued as Kaboré briefly left the room (his team later hinted it was a bathroom break) and Macron joked he was going to fix the AC. The social-media take was that Macron “humiliated” Kaboré, though it could also be seen as pantomime with the Burkinabè leader playing along.

Macron fancies himself a disrupter; his Africa tone is no exception. Like past presidents, he announced a new course for France-Africa relations, but he couched it in generational terms, distancing himself—he was born in 1977—from the colonial hangover and urging young Burkinabè to do the same. He was more frank than his predecessors about, as he put it, “the crimes of colonialism.” He hailed Burkina’s late anti-imperialist hero Thomas Sankara, to great applause. He walked back an unfortunate earlier comment of his own about demographic growth as a “civilizational” challenge. His references to African writers and his tactical insertions of Burkinabè phrases were judicious and well-timed.

But Macron’s disruption of French politics comes from the center—a very Establishment kind of disruption—and his Africa policy promises the same. The new approach looks a lot like the old. He is doubling down on France’s security apparatus in the region, he called for applause for French soldiers serving in the Sahel, he celebrated the role of French firms in infrastructure projects, and his economic advice to young Africans was vapid, consisting mostly of buzzwords: entrepreneurship, innovation, and mobility.

Two points in Macron’s speech, however, are truly new and have potential for major consequences. One is political. Macron promised that France’s remaining secret files to do with Thomas Sankara’s assassination, in 1987—which may not have been ordered by France or its close ally Côte d’Ivoire, but was certainly convenient for them—will be declassified and made available to the Burkinabè courts. This sets a major precedent, and could make more than a few Françafrique actors nervous well beyond Burkina Faso. It is also high time, and goes much further than rhetoric toward dealing with the past.

The second is Macron’s reply to a student challenging him on the CFA franc, the currency of 14 African countries. The CFA and its structure, in which the countries, through two regional central banks, deposit 50% of foreign exchange reserves at the Bank of France in exchange for fixed-rate euro convertibility, are facing their most significant criticism in decades.

Macron defended the CFA, but only to the extent of pointing out that separate currencies would still need their own forex backing. (He sidestepped the key point that countries would then be able to determine their own monetary policy and use it to shape development.) But he also said he’d be open to any change the member countries wanted—including expanding the CFA or a successor currency to the rest of the region, Nigeria included; changing the exchange rate-setting mechanism; or ending the whole arrangement altogether.

This, perhaps, was Macron’s most revolutionary talk of all. The CFA is not the “colonial tax” that periodic social-media screeds label it, but it certainly is a fundamental structure of the French-African apparatus. And Macron is right that any decision to change it must come from African leaders themselves. He knows, of course, that this will be hard for them, as political elites in Franc zone countries have used the system for decades to their benefit. Disrupting those interests, he signaled, would be fine with him.

*Culled from Quartz Africa

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Statement from the Archbishop Tutu Fellows to African Heads of State and the International Private Sector, Civil Society and Multilateral Organisations on the Great Stain of Slavery in Libya
November 30, 2017 | 1 Comments
Slavery in Libya is a crime against humanity and immediate action is required by all stakeholders, including African governments
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, November 30, 2017/ — Statement from the Archbishop Tutu Fellows to African Heads of State and the International Private Sector, Civil Society and Multilateral Organisations on the Great Stain of Slavery in Libya:

Your Excellencies, leaders of private sector and civil society organisations, policy makers at the United Nations and the African Union and fellow Africans,

Slavery in Libya is a crime against humanity and immediate action is required by all stakeholders, including African governments, to put an end to this outrageous practice and hold responsible parties accountable.

There are three Great Stains on humanity; War, Genocide and Slavery.

They are the Great Stains not only because they are the fertile soil for many other debasing evils; they are Great Stains because they are assaults and crimes against humanity.

The prevalence of war, genocide and slavery historically is by no means the measure by which we as humanity can accept such behavior as normative, then or now.

Slavery has spawned intergenerational social and economic disruption to the Continent of Africa and other areas; and has stolen the liberties and lives of people for the commoditization of their bodies against their will.

The slave trade is a crime against Humanity.

It is abhorrent to humanity.

It is monstrous.

It is an assault on the dignity of all.

Slavery can and must be stopped.

We, Archbishop Tutu Fellows, call upon the United Nations Security Council and its related organs to urgently declare the practice of Slavery – particularly in Libya- a threat against humanity and to work closely with civil society and member states to arrest the slave trade and create an effective punitive framework to combat against the slave trade globally.

We call upon the Africa Union to demonstrate continental leadership in aggregating national voices on ensuring slavery remains a historical footnote.

We call upon all African heads of State to take action to hold each other accountable, and to engage with other states beyond the continent who can make a contribution toward eradicating the Slave trade, and to stanch the capital flows and lack of consequence which makes this vile economy thrive.

We call upon businesses invested in countries such as Libya- which have failed to abide by the unwritten laws of humanity- to divest and support the removal of the Great Stain.

We call upon the NGO community invested in the fight against human trafficking, forced labor, involuntary migration, social justice and the betterment of the planet to support the removal of the Great Stain.

We call upon all Africans, in particular the nations of the African North, to support the removal of the Great Stain in all its forms.

We call upon the instruments of justice– national and international- to charge beneficiaries of the slave trade as Enemies of humanity.

As Archbishop Tutu Fellows and as Africans, we request the following immediate course of action:

  1. All African countries to recall their ambassadors and diplomatic representatives from Libya, as some have already done.
  2. Appropriate, responsible and action-oriented responses from the countries of origin of our enslaved African brothers and sisters in Libya, with a clear request for support from the international community where needed.
  3. Firm action against Libya from the African Union, of which the country is a member, such as suspension from the multilateral organization once investigations have been concluded.
  4. Other African countries to follow Rwanda’s lead and accept African brothers and sisters who are caught in the slave trade in Libya, and pan-African support for these African host countries.

As a network of more than 300 emerging young African leaders, we, the Archbishop Tutu Fellows, are willing and able to assist where such assistance is needed. We are deeply aware that it is pertinent upon the conscience and humanity of every member of the international community to act against the evils to which our fellow human beings are subject to in Libya. The urgency of the situation is such that we need to act now. Our ancestors fought slavery over hundreds of years and we cannot bear witness to its evils today and do nothing.

The Archbishop Tutu Fellows, of the African Leadership Institute (https://ALInstitute.org), are a diverse group of leading professionals from 42 African countries working at the forefront of positive change on the African continent and representing various sectors  – civil society, government, business, the arts, education, healthcare,  media and more. Tutu Fellows have undergone the Institute’s flagship programme, the Archbishop Tutu Leadership Programme, which is widely considered the premier leadership training programme on the continent. The goal of the programme is to impact the future of Africa through building and nurturing the capability of future leaders of the continent, drawing upon the globally-respected leadership values of ther Patron, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Since the inaugural class of 2006, the network now boasts 300+ Tutu Fellows.

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Sky captain Gyan: Soccer star to launch ‘Baby Jet’ airline
November 30, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Kieron Monks*

(CNN)Ghana’s record goalscorer has traveled the world over the course of his career.

during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group D match between Serbia and Ghana at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on June 13, 2010 in Pretoria, South Africa.

Asamoah Gyan left his homeland as a teenager and took the scenic route around Europe playing in France, Italy, and England, before taking a detour via China and the United Arab Emirates, and then arriving at his current club Kayserispor in the Turkish Super League.

Gyan has also clocked up the air miles at international level, making 105 appearances for Ghana encompassing three World Cups.
The Black Stars skipper, 32, is now contemplating life after the game. Fittingly, he is planning a career in the travel industry.
The President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo recently announced that Gyan has been granted a license to operate an airline, which will carry his nickname – ‘Baby Jet’.
The new carrier is expected to launch in 2018, beginning with domestic flights before progressing to international routes.
The announcement bought new scrutiny and pressure to the venture, but Gyan was thrilled to have recognition from his president.
“It’s a special honor that the president announced my business and it is positive pressure,” he tells CNN. “All business is a risk and I am ready.”
Gyan has been pursuing the idea for several years after advisers identified aviation as sector with rich potential. Passenger numbers in Ghana have shown strong growth which is expected to continue and accelerate in the coming years.
“I conducted research with my team and we identified business opportunities,” he says. “The airline idea started from 2012 but I waited for the right time and I believe Ghana’s economy is now expanding in many areas (including) the aviation industry.”
Gyan scores against Germany at the 2014 World Cup.

during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group G match between Germany and Ghana at Castelao on June 21, 2014 in Fortaleza, Brazil.

The striker says his motivation is a mix of personal and patriotic: “A desire to help my country, to create more jobs, and also to have a good life after football.”

Gyan expects to face new challenges in the aviation industry, but he believes that skills acquired on the pitch will prove transferable.
“I have learned a lot throughout my career,” he says. “Leadership, determination, commitment, perseverance and mental toughness will come into play.”
However, there is one new skill that the soccer star is determined to pick up.
“I will learn how to pilot,” he says. “Hopefully it will become a part time job.”
Should all go to plan, passengers could soon have Ghana’s top scorer wishing them a pleasant flight.
*Culled from CNN
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House Arrest OK’d for Ex-Diplomat Awaiting Corruption Trial
November 29, 2017 | 0 Comments

By ADAM KLASFELD*

Cheikh Tidiane Gadio is highly respected in his native Senegal and across Africa,and  was instrumental in the forging of close ties between the USA and Senegal in the fight against terrorism

Cheikh Tidiane Gadio is highly respected in his native Senegal and across Africa,and was instrumental in the forging of close ties between the USA and Senegal in the fight against terrorism

MANHATTAN (CN) –  U.S. prosecutors lobbied unsuccessfully Monday to ensure the pretrial detention of former Senegalese diplomat awaiting a New York corruption trial.

Once deeply involved in U.S. peacekeeping and anti-terrorism efforts in Africa following the 9/11, Senegal’s former foreign minister Cheikh Gadio was arrested just over a week ago in connection to a three-year bribery scheme.

Alleging violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, prosecutors say 61-year-old Gadio helped Hong Kong-based businessman Patrick Ho funnel $2 million to Chad President Idriss Deby to help tap the nation’s vast oil reserves.

Though a federal magistrate granted Gadio a $1 million bail package, the government contended at a hearing Monday that Gadio should be considered a flight risk since America has no extradition treaty with Senegal.

“People flee, and they flee for rational reasons,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Richtenthal said this afternoon.

U.S. District Judge William Pauley III found house arrest under GPS monitoring enough to ensure Gadio’s appearance at trial.

“He’s going to be confined to his home in Maryland,” Pauley ruled.

Defense attorney Sean Hecker said Gadio’s reputation in the international community would be enough to ensure his appearance in court.

“This is a man of honor, a man of deep and well-deserved reputation,” said Hecker, from the firm Debevoise & Plimpton.

A West African nation roughly the size of South Dakota, Senegal has been a key U.S. partner in the fight against terrorism.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell heralded Gadio’s leadership on the issue the year after the 9/11 attacks.

“Senegal took a strong position against terrorism in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the U.S., and in October 2001 hosted a conference establishing the African Pact Against Terrorism,” a U.S. State Department noted in 2002 press briefing.

WikiLeaks also published a cable in which former ambassador Janice Jacobs emphasized senegal’s outsized peacekeeping role in a region rife with conflict.

“Despite high rates of poverty and illiteracy, Senegal retains a high degree of political stability and coherence thus enabling GOS to be a diplomatic player on a continent replete with conflicts,” the Nov. 8, 2006, cable said. “With U.S. training and assistance, Senegal has also become one of the world’s top ten contributors of peacekeepers.”

Gadio has not formally entered a plea, but his attorney made clear the diplomat will dispute the charges against him.

“The facts will come out,” Hecker said. “We’ll have the chance to tell our side of the story.”

Although he lived in Ohio for a decade, Gadio will await trial with his wife and children in Maryland. Hecker said that his wife works for the United Nations, where she is stationed in Equatorial Guinea.

Prosecutors say Gadio’s bribery scheme lasted from 2014 to this year, well after his tenure in Senegal from 2000 and 2009. Before his arrest earlier this month, Gadio posed for smiling photographs shaking hands both with Powell and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

*Culled from Court House News

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AfDB Launches Youth Advisory Group to Create 25 Million Jobs
November 28, 2017 | 0 Comments
The Jobs for Youth in Africa initiative aims at creating 25 million jobs and impacting 50 million youth over the next ten years by equipping them with the right skills to get decent and meaningful jobs
Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB)

Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB)

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, November 28, 2017/ — The President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) (www.AfDB.org), Akinwumi Adesina, has launched the Presidential Youth Advisory Group (PYAG) to provide insights and innovative solutions for job creation for Africa’s youth, as outlined in the Bank’s Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy (JfYA) (http://APO.af/nRtVAs).

The Jobs for Youth in Africa initiative aims at creating 25 million jobs and impacting 50 million youth over the next ten years by equipping them with the right skills to get decent and meaningful jobs. It is currently the largest effort going on for youth employment in Africa today.

The advisory group, inaugurated on the sidelines of the 6th EU-Africa Business Forum in Abidjan on Monday, November 27, will work with the Bank to create jobs for Africa’s youth.

“This is a huge opportunity for Africa. If we fix the youth unemployment challenge, Africa will gain 10-20% annual growth. That means Africa’s GDP will grow by $500 million per year for the next thirty years. Africa’s per capita income will rise by 55% every year to the year 2050,” Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) said at the inauguration of the Group.

Adesina, who identified Africa’s greatest asset as its youth, observed that out of the 13 million youths that enter the labour market each year, only 3 million (about 33% of African youth) are in wage employment, while the rest are underemployed or in vulnerable employment. The annual gap of more than 8 million jobs is going to worsen, with the number of youth expected to double to more than 800 million in the next decades.

“Africa has an unemployment crisis among its youth,” he stressed, noting that unless employment opportunities are created for them, Africa’s rapidly growing population of youths can give rise to serious social, economic, political and security challenges.

Africa’s youths, though strong and dynamic, cross the desert or the Mediterranean sea because they do not find decent jobs in Africa. Graduates are wandering in the streets, jobless. The low level of employment opportunities is also fueling violence and extremism in Africa. “40% of African youths engaged in armed violence join gangs or terrorist groups because of limited opportunities in their countries,” Adesina said.

“66 million African youths earn less than $2 a day, less than the price of a hamburger,” the AfDB President emphasized. “66 million is 8 times the size of Switzerland, 6 times the size of Belgium, the same size as UK, France or Italy, and 80% of Germany’s population,” he added.

The Presidential Youth Advisory Group (PYAG) comprises nine members under the age of 40 who have made significant contributions to the creation of employment opportunities for African youth.

The PYAG members are: Ashish Thakkar, CEO, Mara Group, Tanzania (Chair); Uzodinma Iweala, award-winning author, Nigeria; Mamadou Toure, Founder / CEO, Africa 2.0 / Ubuntu Capital, Cameroon; Vanessa Moungar, Human and Social Development Director, AfDB and member of President Macron’s Presidential Council for Africa, Chad; Francine Muyumba, President, Panafrican Youth Union, Democratic Republic of Congo; Jeremy Johnson, Co-founder, Andela, USA; Clarisse Iribagiza, CEO, Hehe, Rwanda; Ada Osakwe, CEO, Agrolay Ventures, Nigeria; and Monica Musonda, CEO of Java Foods, Zambia.

On the rationale behind the setting up of the advisory group, President Adesina explained: “We recognize the enormous amount of energy, creative and innovative thinking, and entrepreneurial excellence that many of our youth bring to the table. For this reason, the Bank must ensure that it is well advised by cutting-edge youth representatives on its policies, actions and programmes, for the benefit of Africa’s youth.”

“The members of the Presidential Youth Advisory Group are expected to actively engage private sector partners, government leaders, civil society, donor partners, and other stakeholders; and support the significant amount of work that the Bank is already doing and promoting across the continent through its Jobs for Youth in Africa strategy,” President Adesina added.

A youth-led economic transformation agenda

PYAG is an opportunity for leading young voices in Africa to develop new and fresh perspectives and recommend innovative solutions that will shape AfDB’s support to African countries, and reduce the scourge of Youth unemployment.

The AfDB is fully committed to working with the PYAG to scale up and expedite results that deliver decent and sustainable jobs for African youth, through formal employment and successful youth entrepreneurship that allows African youth to become their own drivers of economic prosperity, social stability and environmental sustainability.

Ashish Thakkar, CEO of the Mara Group and Chair of the PYAG, said: “It is a great honour to serve our continent in this function. We know that the stakes are high, but we are committed to the task of creating flourishing youth businesses that provide tremendous value. We are also focused on facilitating the achievement of AfDB’s High 5s and Sustainable Development Goals. We have just concluded our work program for the next year and have hit the ground running.”

He described how his family lost everything they had during the genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s.

“I have borrowed $5,000 to launch my business without any form of support. Today, Mara Group has 14,000 employees around the world. I was alone, but imagine what we can do together with the support of an institution like the AfDB.”

“I have never heard of an institution as important as the AfDB setting up and advisory group only made of youth. A Chinese proverb has it that if you want 1 year of prosperity, plant a grain. If you want 10 years of prosperity, plant a tree. If you want a century of prosperity, invest on people,” said Mamadou Touré, a member of the group.

Also speaking, Ada Osakwe said: “40% of entrepreneurs in Nigeria are women, but 73% operate in consumer retail systems. We need to address that and provide youth with more lucrative jobs.”

To make agriculture more attractive to young people, the AfDB last year invested $800 million in supporting young entrepreneurs in agriculture as a business in 8 countries. It will reach 15 countries this year. The Bank expects to invest 1.5 billion per year for the next 10 years to support young agripreneurs.

The AfDB is delivering on its youth strategy

The AfDB has made great progress toward implementing its strategy through three key pillars: innovation, integration and investment. In terms of integration, the Bank entered into partnership with the International Labour Organization to strengthen the capacity of African countries to harmonize Youth Employment into national policies.

The Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation Multi-Donor Trust Fund which will serve as a financial and operational instrument, with initial support of USD 4.4 million by Denmark and Norway.

The African Development has also developed the Enabling Youth Employment (EYE) Index to measure youth employment outcomes and enabling policies at country levels.

“With this amazing group of very diverse young individuals, we even hope to exceed the Bank’s goal to create 25 million jobs and 50 million youth equipped with the right skills,” said Thakkar enthusiastically. “It is time to change the narrative about Africa’s youth!”

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Folorunso Alakija Inspires 300 Women at Prestigious 2017 Flourish Africa Conference
November 28, 2017 | 0 Comments
The 66-year-old business magnate has persistently championed the causes of women in Nigeria from her work with widows and orphans
LAGOS, Nigeria, November 28, 2017/ — Folorunso Alakija, one of a handful of successful female entrepreneurs on the continent listed as one of Forbes most powerful women in the world, attended the Africa conference. The 66-year-old business magnate has persistently championed the causes of women in Nigeria from her work with widows and orphans through the Rose of Sharon Foundation which Alakija uses as a medium to empower thousands of impoverished women and their children through Flourish Africa (http://FlourishAfrica.com) which is the first platform of its kind designed to create an impact on the lives of women in Africa by providing the tools they need to fulfill their God given potential. Through a series of conferences, workshops and mentorship programs, the platform hopes to bring women from all walks of life together to share in their unique experiences and become who God has destined for them to be.

Initiatives designed to give them a better standard of living

As CEO of Famfa Oil (www.Famfa.com), one of the largest indigenous oil companies in Africa, she has built schools, science labs, roads as well as providing scholarships to thousands of young students all over Nigeria. Her philanthropic work continues this year with the launch of the women empowerment platform, Flourish Africa.

The first Flourish Africa conference took place at the Renaissance Ikeja Hotel in Lagos at an exclusive invitation only event hosted by Forbes Africa Head of Digital Media and Partnerships and West Africa Correspondent, Peace Hyde, which saw applications from over 2000 women vying for the opportunity to be part of the 300 people who were selected to partake in the exchange of knowledge from powerful women like Folorunso Alakija, Ibukun Awosika, Senator Daisy Danjuma, Mrs. Fashola, Juliet Ehimuan Chiazor, Uche Pedro, Ayo Mogbepe and many more.

Flourish Africa (http://FlourishAfrica.com) is the first platform of its kind designed to create an impact on the lives of women in Africa by providing the tools they need to fulfill their God given potential. Through a series of conferences, workshops and mentorship programs, the platform hopes to bring women from all walks of life together to share in their unique experiences and become who God has destined for them to be.

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African Union Commission Awards Thirteen Consortia of Institutions to Implement the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa Support Programme
November 28, 2017 | 0 Comments
The award ceremony holds on the margins of the 5th AU-EU Summit in Abidjan, Cote d`Ivoire
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, November 28, 2017/ —

The African Union Commission (AUC) (https://AU.int) officially awards grants to thirteen successful consortia of institutions that will serve as Regional Implementing Centres for the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa (GMES and Africa) (http://GMES4Africa.blogspot.in) Support Programme. The award ceremony holds on the margins of the 5th AU-EU Summit in Abidjan, Cote d`Ivoire.

Following a Call for Proposals in May 2017, a number of African institutions operating in the areas of water, natural resources, marine and coastal areas, applied for the GMES and Africa Support Programme Grants. To evaluate the applications and select the most suitable consortia of institutions that submitted proposals, the African Union Commission instituted a committee supported by a team of assessors comprising African earth observation experts.

Thirteen consortia of institutions were finally selected and the award marks the official announcement of their selection.

1. Central Africa: Agence Gabonaise d’Etudes et d’Observations Spatiale (AGEOS) and Commission Internationale du Bassin Congo-Oubangui-Sangha (CICOS) for Water and natural resources service.

2. East Africa:

  • IGAD Climate Prediction and Application Centre (ICPAC) and Regional Centre for Mapping off Resources for Development (RCMRD) for Water and natural resources service
  • Mauritius Oceanography Institute (MOI) for Marine and coastal areas service

3.North Africa:

  • National Authority for Remote Sensing & Space Sciences (NARSS) for marine and coastal area service
  • Observatoire du Sahara et du Sahel (OSS) for water and natural ressources service

4. Southern Africa:

  • Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for marine and coastal areas service
  • Southern African Development Community Climate Services Centre (SADC-CSC) and Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL) for water and natural resources service

5. West Africa

  • Centre de Suivi Ecologique (CSE) and Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria (CSSTE-Obafemi) for water and natural resources service
  • University of Ghana (UG) for Marine and coastal areas service

At the award ceremony, the Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology at the African Union Commission, Professor Sarah Anyang Agbor, felicitated the successful institutions on their selection, which she said was based on their experience and proven capacities. She implored them to deliver the goods, and promised the African Union Commission’s unflinching support.

GMES and Africa (http://GMES4Africa.blogspot.in) Support Programme is a 30 million Euro joint programme co-financed by the European Commission (https://EC.europa.eu) and the African Union Commission. It will use and adapt the Copernicus Programme data and services to the African context. It is designed to specifically respond to African needs with respect to services related to water, natural resources, marine and coastal areas and to address the global needs to manage the environment, mitigate climate change and ensure civil security. It is to enable the implementation of the African Space Policy and Strategy, formulated to harness the continent’s capabilities in utilizing space science and technology for economic growth and sustainable development. In the implementation agreement, the African Union Commission is the ‘delegated authority’ responsible for the management of the programme.

Indeed, GMES & Africa Programme aimed at improving African policy-makers’, planners’, scientists’, business and private sector and citizens’ capacities to design, implement, and monitor national, regional and continental policies and to promote sustainable management of natural resources through the use of Earth Observation data and derived information.

GMES & Africa introduced several key innovations: for the first time, with the inclusion of the North African countries, the Programme is pan African. It is totally managed by the African Union Commission, through the Human Resource, Science and Technology (HRST) Department. It engages the African private sector and national and regional academia.

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Merck Foundation conducts 3rd UNESCO-Merck Africa Research Summit – MARS 2017 in partnership with the Office of the President of Mauritius and their Ministry of Health
November 28, 2017 | 0 Comments
Third edition UNESCO-MARS 2017 continues to build Research Capacity in Africa with special focus on Cancer and Vaccines Development
PORT LOUIS, Mauritius, November 28, 2017/ —

  • Merck Foundation partners with the Government of Mauritius, UNESCO, African Union and African Governments for their annual UNESCO-MARS to contribute to empowering Women and Youth in STEM.
  • Third edition UNESCO-MARS 2017 continues to build Research Capacity in Africa with special focus on Cancer and Vaccines Development. 
  • Winners of the 2017 MARS “Best Young African Researchers Award” and “Best African Women Researchers Award” to be announced.

 

Mr. Getachew Engida, Deputy Director General of UNESCO; Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E. Merck KG; President of the Republic of Mauritius, Her Excellency Mrs Ameenah Grurib-Fakim (centre) and Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation follow proceedings at the inauguration of the UNESCO Merck Africa Research Summit on November 28, 2017

Mr. Getachew Engida, Deputy Director General of UNESCO; Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E. Merck KG; President of the Republic of Mauritius, Her Excellency Mrs Ameenah Grurib-Fakim (centre) and Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation follow proceedings at the inauguration of the UNESCO Merck Africa Research Summit on November 28, 2017

As part of Merck STEM program For Women and Youth, Merck Foundation (www.Merck-Foundation.com), a non-profit organization and a subsidiary of Merck (www.Merck.com) KGaA Germany conducts the 3rd edition of their annual “UNESCO-Merck Africa Research Summit” on the 28th and 29th of November 2017 under the patronage of the President of the Republic of Mauritius, Her Excellency Mrs. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim and in partnership with Government of Mauritius, UNESCO, African Union and African Governments.

The President of the Republic of Mauritius, Her Excellency Mrs. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim emphasized during the inauguration; “We are very happy to partner with the Merck Foundation and UNESCO to empower women and youth in STEM. The UNESCO – Merck Africa Research Summit is a valuable opportunity for all those engaged and interested in health research in Africa to learn about the full spectrum of ground-breaking scientific research currently underway, and prepare the road ahead in Africa’s development as an international hub for research and scientific innovation.”

Speaking on Merck Foundation’s support for Research Capacity building in Africa, “We are keen to support young gifted researchers by passing on the knowledge and experience we have gathered over the 350 years of Merck history. Through our ‘Merck STEM Program’ we aim to promote women and youth in scientific research through providing them with training opportunities to advance their capacity with special focus on Cancer care,” Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of Executive Board and Family Board of E.Merck KG & Chairman of Board of Trustees of Merck Foundation emphasized.

“For the third year, Merck Foundation continues their long- term commitment towards building Research Capacity in Africa. Supporting the African research community, with special focus on Women and Youth is one of our most important objectives, this year in partnership with The Head of State of Mauritius together with African Governments, we focus on The Role of Scientific Research in responding to Cancer and Vaccines Development – two critical challenges in Africa”, said Dr. Rasha Kelej, Merck Foundation’s Chief Executive Officer.

Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E. Merck KG, President of the Republic of Mauritius, Her Excellency Mrs Ameenah Grurib-Fakim (centre), and Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation pose for a group photo with ministers and dignitaries at the inauguration of the UNESCO Merck Africa Research Summit on November 28, 2017

Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E. Merck KG, President of the Republic of Mauritius, Her Excellency Mrs Ameenah Grurib-Fakim (centre), and Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation pose for a group photo with ministers and dignitaries at the inauguration of the UNESCO Merck Africa Research Summit on November 28, 2017

UNESCO-MARS 2017 was officially inaugurated by; Her Excellency Mrs. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, President of the Republic of Mauritius and Dr. the Hon. Mohammad Anwar Husnoo, Mauritius’ Minister of Health and Quality of Life.

Merck Africa Research Summit – MARS Awards 2017

During the Summit Award ceremony, five winners from Cameroon, NigeriaRwanda and Mauritius were recognized and awarded respectively for their excellence in research under the category of ‘Best African Women Researchers Award’. Furthermore, three winners from South Africa, SenegalandBotswana were presented with the ‘Best Young African Researchers Award’ during the 3rd UNESCO-Merck Africa Research Summit held in Mauritius.

For the first time, an additional three female researchers from Mauritius, were presented with special “MARS Best Mauritian Women Researchers Award”.“This is to contribute to the Mauritian government’s efforts to promote women in STEM with special focus on scientific research in cancer,” Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation added.

After previous successful editions of the Summit, UNESCO and Merck Foundation join hands for the third time to respond to Africa’s STISA (Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa) 2024, reinforcing the axiom that only through building local capacities can Africa rise again to becoming an equal partner in advancing STEM research and education.

To this, UNESCO–MARS 2017 brings together African researchers to discuss the generation, sharing and dissemination of research data and to prepare for the road ahead in developing Africa as an international hub for research excellence and scientific innovation. These include researchers from Francophone countries such as Benin, Senegal, Tunisia, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Congo, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burkina Faso, and Anglophone countries such as Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa, Ghana, Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan, Egypt, South Sudan and Ethiopia.

Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E. Merck KG, and Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation pose for a group photo with President of the Republic of Mauritius, Her Excellency Mrs. Ameenah Grurib-Fakim (centre) at the inauguration of the UNESCO Merck Africa Research Summit on November 28, 2017. Also with them are Mr. Getachew Engida, Deputy Director General of UNESCO (extreme left) and Dr. the Hon. Mohammad Anwar Husnoo, Minister of Health and Quality of Life, Republic, Mauritius (extreme right)

Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E. Merck KG, and Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation pose for a group photo with President of the Republic of Mauritius, Her Excellency Mrs. Ameenah Grurib-Fakim (centre) at the inauguration of the UNESCO Merck Africa Research Summit on November 28, 2017. Also with them are Mr. Getachew Engida, Deputy Director General of UNESCO (extreme left) and Dr. the Hon. Mohammad Anwar Husnoo, Minister of Health and Quality of Life, Republic, Mauritius (extreme right)

More than 60% of young African Researchers attending this year, are women, emphasizing Merck Foundation’s long-term commitment towards empowering women in STEM with special focus on Scientific Research in Cancer and Vaccines Development.

Key African ministers attending the Summit to participate in the Ministerial Panels

This year’s Summit has attracted many African ministers of Health; Education; Science and Technology; Gender and Social Development to participate in the ministerial high-level panels which will focus on ‘Empowering Women & Youth in STEM – with special focus on Scientific Research – Challenges & Solutions to be considered in the national strategy in developing countries.’

The ministers participating in the panel include: Hon. Sarah Opendi Minister of State of Health, Uganda; Hon. Leela Devi Dookun- Luchoomun Minister of Education and Scientific Research, Mauritius; Hon. Dr. George Kronnisanyon Werner Minister of Science and Higher Education, Liberia; Hon. Dr Anwar Husnoo Minister of Health, Mauritius; Hon. Susan Shabangu Minister in the Presidency Responsible for Women, South Africa; Hon. Julia Duncan Cassell, Minister of Gender and Social Development, Liberia; Hon. Chitalu Chilufya, Minister of Health, Zambia; Hon. Malam Adamu Adamu, Minister of Science and Higher Education, Nigeria; Hon. Awut Deng Acuil, Minister of Gender Child and Social Welfare, South Sudan; Hon. Fidelis Macdonald Molao and Deputy Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Botswana. The panel also includes, Hon. Samuel Mvondo Ayolo, Ambassador of Cameroonto France, and Hon. Christine Nina NIYONSAVYE and Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of Burundi to UNESCO.

About Last year MARS Awards Winners:

In 2016, five winners from Kenya, Burkina FasoGabonUganda and Ethiopia were recognized and awarded for their excellence in research  under the category of  ‘Best African Women Researchers Award’ and four winners from BotswanaCameroon, Gambia and Zimbabwe for ‘Best Young African Researchers Award’ during the 2nd UNESCO-Merck Africa Research Summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This was the first time the ‘Best African Women Researchers Award’ was launched.

The Merck Foundation (www.Merck-Foundation.com), established in 2017, is a philanthropic organization that 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 innovative 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.

Merck (www.Merck.com) is a leading science and technology company in healthcare, life science and performance materials. Around 50,000 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. In 2016, Merck generated sales of € 15.0 billion in 66 countries.
Founded in 1668, Merck is the world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed corporate group. Merck holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the company operates as EMD Serono, MilliporeSigma and EMD Performance Materials.

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The laureate of the US$1million 2017 cycle of the Al-Sumait Prize in the field of Education has been announced following its Board of Trustees meeting in Kuwait City
November 28, 2017 | 0 Comments
The recipient organization of the US$1million prize of this prestigious award is the African Women Educationalists (FAWE), Nairobi, Kenya
Al-Sumait’s Board Chairman H.E. Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah at the Board Meeting with other Board Members of Al-Sumait Prize

Al-Sumait’s Board Chairman H.E. Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah at the Board Meeting with other Board Members of Al-Sumait Prize

KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait, November 27, 2017/ — Laureate for the 2017 cycle of Al-Sumait Prize (www.AlSumaitPrize.org) for African Development in the field of Education has been endorsed by the Prize’s Board of Trustees for its exemplary work in Education development in Africa.

The recipient organization of the US$1million prize of this prestigious award is the African Women Educationalists (FAWE), Nairobi, Kenya. The decision was announced at the conclusion of Al-Sumait’s Board of Trustees meeting in Kuwait City.

The African Women Educationalists is awarded the prize for its achievements in significantly enhancing gender equity and equality in education through targeted programs, having a profound impact on attitudes and practices towards girls’ education and influencing education policies in 33 African countries.

Commenting, Al-Sumait’s Board Chairman H.E. Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, said “Our goal, with this prize, is to promote positive change across Africa, and this newly announced laureate of the Al-Sumait Prize for African Development has been working tirelessly in the field of education to create a positive and sustainable difference across Africa.”

Dr. Adnan Shihab-Eldin, Director General of the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS) (www.KFAS.org), which administers the award, said: “The organization awarded the 2017 Al-Sumait Prize in the field of Education represents innovative, exciting initiatives being carried out to address education access and quality as well as gender equity challenges facing Africa”

He added that FAWE will receive the award at the KFAS Prizes Ceremony in December under the patronage of His Highness the Amir of the State Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah.

The 2015 Al-Sumait Prize in the field of Health is was awarded to Professor Kevin Marsh in recognition of his sustained research and fieldwork to control and eradicate malaria. The2016 prize in the field of Food Security was jointly awarded to the International Potato Center (CIP) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).

Al-Sumait’s Board is chaired by H.E. Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, Kuwait’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. Other board members include: Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Kwaku Aning, Chairman of the Governing Board of Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, Chairman of Ghana Nuclear Energy Institute and Former Deputy Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Abdulatif Alhamad, Director General and Chairman of the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, Tareq Al-Mutawa, Executive Member of the Board of Public Gathering Charity Committee and Makhtar Diop, Vice President for Africa, The World Bank.

His Highness the Amir of the State Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah meeting with members from The Board of Trustees for Al-Sumait Prize for African Development and officials from KFAS in 2016

His Highness the Amir of the State Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah meeting with members from The Board of Trustees for Al-Sumait Prize for African Development and officials from KFAS in 2016

Al-Sumait Prize for African Development, which honors individuals and/or institutions who help advance economic and social development, human resources development and infrastructure in Africa, was instigated on the initiative of His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al- Sabah, the Amir of the State of Kuwait.

Al-Sumait award, which covers one of three categories each year: Health, Food Security and Education, is administered by the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS) and a Board of Trustees who oversee the selection of the recipients. The award commemorates the legacy of the late Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sumait, a Kuwaiti physician who dedicated his life to addressing the health, education and food security challenges confronting Africa and established the Direct Aid humanitarian organization.

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International Trade Centre Joined Forces with ATIGS 2018
November 28, 2017 | 0 Comments
ATIGS 2018 and the Sustainable Development Goals
WASHINGTON D.C., United States of America, November 27, 2017/ — GAA Exhibitions & Conferences, organizers of ATIGS 2018 (www.ATIGS2018.com) today announced that the International Trade Centre (ITC) (www.intracen.org) has joined forces with the Africa Trade and Investment Global Summit (ATIGS), to advance the event goals and objectives.

ATIGS 2018 will be held under the main theme “Driving Trade, Unleashing Investment and Enhancing Economic Development: the Gateway to African Markets”, ATIGS 2018 goals and objectives are aligned with two of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): (SDGs 8 and 17).

The vision of ATIGS is built on the model of rotating the location of the summit every two years through a bidding process and organizing country specific ATIGS in between, with upcoming editions in Washington D.C – 2018, Dubai-2020; Beijing -2022; Brussels-2024, Addis Ababa -2026; and, South America-2028. Several high-level speakers have already confirmed to grace ATIGS 2018 from South Africa, Ghana, USA, Nigeria, UAE, Australia, China, and Kenya among others.

The Preliminary Featured Sessions will include: Africa and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, AU Agenda 2063: The Africa Future We Want, Stepping Up the Pace: African Development Bank ‘High 5’, African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), Doing Business in Africa tracks, Investing in Africa tracks, and Investor talks, Public Private Partnership, Government Keynotes, Regional Focus Discussions, Countries Focus Briefings, and Industrialize Africa tracks, among others.

“ATIGS 2018 is designed to contribute to AGOA, Trade Africa, World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), SDGs Agenda 2030 and AU Agenda 2063 by playing an important contribution in enabling companies all around the world and global investors to access African markets as a one-stop shop facilitating international trade and investment partners to support all internationally agreed sustainable development goals and objectives” said Bako Ambianda, director GAA Exhibitions & Conferences.

ATIGS 2018 – www.ATIGS2018.com, will bring together new and established partners from around the world under one roof in to increase business ties and partnerships, highlight and showcase trade and investment opportunities across Africa and enable companies from around the world to expand or establish operations in Africa.

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TP Mazembe hold SuperSport to retain Confederation Cup
November 26, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Mark Gleeson*

TP Mazembe got the draw they needed at SuperSport United as they successfully defended the African Confederation Cup

TP Mazembe got the draw they needed at SuperSport United as they successfully defended the African Confederation Cup

Congolese giants TP Mazembe held out for a goalless draw in the second leg of the African Confederation Cup final in a cold and rainy Atteridgeville on Saturday to overcome South Africa’s SuperSport United and successfully defend their crown.

Both teams finished with 10 men at the end of a tempestuous tie which Mazembe won 2-1 on aggregate, after home success in the first leg in Lubumbashi last Sunday.

It means Mazembe win a continental title for the third successive year after taking the 2015 Champions League as well.

They played the better tactical game and showed their experience against the South Africans who were in their first ever final.

Mazembe’s line-up had three changes from the first leg in Lubumbashi that suggested they had come to defend their tenuous lead, but came out of the starting blocks in a much more attacking approach than that of their hosts.

They caught SuperSport hopping with their approach and should have been 2-0 up inside the opening quarter-hour, missing two sitters right in front of goal that – had they gone in – would have certainly killed off the tie.

After 10 minutes Rainford Kalaba beat the offside trap and was one-on-one with SuperSport goalkeeper Ronwen Williams but rushed his shot and blasted over the bar.

If that miss was not bad enough, there was further horror for the sizeable contingent of Mazembe supporters from the large expatriate Congolese community who live in South Africa.

Kalaba made a dashing run down the right with a quick burst of pace before cutting the ball back to striker Ben Malongo who slipped at the vital moment, but it fell perfectly for Daniel Adjei behind him, only for the Ghanaian import to somehow fluff his shot just wide when it seemed easier to score.

It took SuperSport at least 30 minutes to settle but as the rain continued to fall they began to win the midfield battles and set up chances.

Centre back Tefu Mashamaite, who had come forward for a free kick, was just offside as his diving header went into the net only to be correctly disallowed by the Senegalese officiating team.

In the second half, Mazembe only allowed SuperSport one clear shot on goal, dealt with competently by goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo.

Mazembe central defender Kasango Chongo got sent off with 10 minutes to go but SuperSport lost their numerical advantage when Thuso Phala got a straight red for a dangerous tackle.

*BBC

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US former Vice President Al Gore to host 24-hour live broadcast about climate activism around the world
November 26, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Former US Vice President Al Gore

Former US Vice President Al Gore

  Former Vice President of the USA  and Climate Reality Founder and Chairman Al Gore will on December 4 to 5, 2017 host 24 Hours of Reality: Be the Voice of Reality, a 24-hour live broadcast focused on the climate crisis and its solutions.

  According to a spokesperson, this year’s program will look at the extraordinary climate activism happening all over the world and encourage the millions watching to speak up for solutions.

 

 The Climate Reality Project announced that the seventh-annual 24 Hours of Reality broadcast , a star-studded, 24-hour live event focused on the climate crisis and its solutions will take place December 4-5, 2017.

 Hosted by former US Vice President and Climate Reality Founder and Chairman Al Gore, 24 Hours of Reality: Be the Voice of Reality will explore the extraordinary climate activism happening all across the planet, encouraging the millions watching to use their voices to speak up for solutions, science, and truth at this decisive point in history. It will be carried by broadcast partners globally, and streamed live online at 24HoursofReality.org.

  It is also reported that a variety of international celebrities, musicians, elected officials, advocates, and other special guests will join the broadcast, including musicians Annie Lennox, Avicii ft Sandro Cavazza – ‘Without You’ performed by Sandro Cavazza, Belinda Carlisle, Billy Bragg, Ellie Goulding, Iggy Pop, Jason Mraz, Jean-Michel Jarre, Maná, Nile Rodgers, Rag’n’Bone Man and Young Paris; actors including Calum Worthy, Helen Hunt and Patrick Adams; elected officials and thought leaders including New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, California Governor Jerry Brown, World Economic Forum Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab; and television personalities including HGTV’s Property Brothers’ Jonathan Scott and Sam Champion.

“We stand at a pivotal moment in our mission to solve the climate crisis,” said Al Gore. “While the Paris Agreement gave the world a critical framework for solving the crisis, it’s up to us – concerned citizens of all backgrounds – to keep this progress going, no matter what actions the Trump Administration takes. This year’s 24 Hours of Reality broadcast will highlight empowered citizens taking action across the world, and will inspire those watching to use their own voices to be part of the solution.”

In the US, where the federal government has retreated from the climate fight, citizens have stepped up to push for practical solutions everywhere and in every way possible. In April, 200,000 Americans marched on the White House to demonstrate broad, bipartisan support for climate action. When President Trump announced his plan to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement, hundreds of thousands of citizens, business leaders, mayors, governors, and more across the nation stood up to say, “we are still in.”

24 Hours of Reality: Be the Voice of Reality will highlight these and many other voices and share inspiring stories of political, business, community, and personal activism that illustrate how we can all make a difference, right now, when our planet needs us most.

“This year’s theme – Be the Voice of Reality – is a call to action for anyone concerned about the climate crisis and everyone who wants to secure a safer future for our children and grandchildren,” said Ken Berlin, Climate Reality President and CEO. “24 Hours of Reality is a reminder of how far we have come and the work that remains, and we hope to encourage people to join the movement and speak out for climate action at all levels of society – from local city halls to the chambers of Congress.”

The program will begin on Monday, December 4 at 6:00 PM EST and will be broadcast live from New York City’s Roosevelt Island. The broadcast will travel around the globe highlighting stories of climate activism in six regions: North America, Oceania, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, Europe, and Central and South America. Al Gore will also share stories and statistics from his slideshow presentation made famous in the film An Inconvenient Truth and the recently-released An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.

Previous 24 Hours of Reality events have each focused on a different theme related to the climate crisis. Last year’s broadcast, 24 Hours of Reality: The Road Forward, examined both the challenges and opportunities for climate action and clean energy in the world’s 24 largest carbon-emitting countries.

For more information, one can  visit 24hoursofreality.org and watch a preview of the broadcast at http://bit.ly/2jt1plY.

  Founded by Nobel Laureate and former US Vice President Al Gore, The Climate Reality Project is one of the world’s leading organizations dedicated to mobilizing action on climate change. With a global movement of more than 5 million strong and a grassroots network of trained Climate Reality Leader activists, it is  spreading the truth about the climate crisis and building popular support for clean energy solutions.

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Miracles and Testimonies on Sale
November 24, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Fr. Wilfred Emeh*

Fr. Wilfred Emeh

Fr. Wilfred Emeh

It is baffling to watch or read how modern-day preachers and prophets anticipate miracles and testimonies, almost as a form of advertisement for their ministries or churches. On social media platforms, miracle seekers are quick to ‘share’, ‘like’, or type ‘Amen’ on a story in exchange for some spiritual favor. In these transactions, people are expected to fulfill certain conditions if they wish to experience a miracle, have a breakthrough, or obtain any favor.  I recall one of my pastoral visits in Cameroon: a knock at the door brought me into a home where the entire family was glued to “Testimonies and Miracles Show”. As soon as I stepped in, someone changed the channel! This didn’t surprise me at all, because I was aware of the proliferation of healing and prophetic ministries, and I knew that more people were becoming desperate in search for this or that favor from God. Spiritual prostitutes abound, moving from church to church in search for ready-made answers to their problems.

In the case of Cameroon, Pentecostalism gathered momentum in the 1980s, a time of intensifying economic crisis. To console their congregations, the preachers’ messages pivoted on a prosperity gospel, with refrains like, “Poverty is not my portion,” “Suffering is not my portion,” “Death is not my portion,” and so on. Scripture is often twisted to back up such claims, for example in the verse, “Christ became poor so that we should become rich” (1Cor 8:9). But this verse doesn’t refer to material wealth. Paul means richness in Christ, as expressed in Philippians 3:8, “I count all things as loss compared to the surpassing excellence of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” This richness is also summed up in the beatitudes, in which the spiritually rich are those who are poor in spirit, pure of heart, meek, humble, peacemakers, merciful, and so on (cf. Mtt 5:1-12).

Recently, I watched a video clip circulated by many Catholics, in which televangelist Benny Hinn said, “Many miracles are taking place in the Catholic Church.” Though the evangelist is right, true worshipers don’t need miraculous signs or testimonies to substantiate their faith in God. Oh yes, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (Jn 20:29). Christ never, ever took delight in commercializing miracles, healings, or testimonies. This wasn’t because he didn’t have social media; it was because Christ was neither out to sell miracles nor to self-promote. Instead, sick persons who were healed by Jesus were often instructed not to tell anyone about it (cf. Mk 1:40-45; Mk 7:36; Mtt 8:4). Similarly, after the miraculous multiplication of five loaves and two fish, a huge crowd started following Jesus, but he denounced them for their wrong motives when he said, “Truly, I say to you, you look for me not because you have seen through the signs, but because you ate bread and were satisfied. Work then, not for perishable food, but for the lasting food which gives eternal life” (Jn 6:26-27). This “lasting food” was his own Body and Blood, which he would offer before his transition to heaven (Mk 14:22).

Decidedly, miracles were not the centerpiece of Christ’s message. It was, rather, calling sinners to repentance. Even the raising of Lazarus was only an illustration of Jesus’ power over life and death (Jn 11:38-53). After all, Lazarus would eventually die. That’s why Christ explains, after the resuscitation of Lazarus, “I am the resurrection and the life, those who believe in me will never die” (Jn 11:25). Similarly, all the physical healings and miracles of Jesus were only signs to show that, in Him (Jesus), the Kingdom of God has come. “The kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the gospel” (Mk 1:15). Therefore, miracles were not a substantive part of Jesus’ ministry, they were only signs pointing to the Kingdom. Understandably, when the disciples rejoiced that they had cast out demons, Jesus said to them, “Do not rejoice that the demons bow to you, rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Lk 10:19-20). He tells his followers to seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness and every other thing shall be added unto us (Mtt 6:33).

In no way does the Kingdom-driven message suggest that Jesus doesn’t care about our physical health, social welfare, economy, and so on. Rather, he implores us to make distinctions between the ephemeral and the eternal, so we can set our priorities right—where your treasure is, there your heart will be too (Mtt 6:21). Remember, the booming economy can crumble within the twinkle of an eye, just like the physically healthy can die in an instant. What, then, shall it profit anyone if he gets all the healing, testimonies, and worldly success he asks for, yet loses his soul? There is much more to abundant life in Christ than mere signs and wonders.

Among other reasons, ignorance and the denial of God’s will constitute the main reasons that many people fall for the miracle and healing business today. Scripture rightly says, “My people perish from lack of knowledge” (Hos 4:6). With an unprecedented gullibility, many adherents to modern day preaching fail to identify the characteristics of soothsaying and divination that are exhibited by self-styled prophets. The prophets of God were humble and selfless messengers, called by God to speak on His behalf. The true prophets didn’t preach a prosperity message, neither did they compel their followers to “sow seeds” by giving them money for a luxurious lifestyle. The prophets of God didn’t point fingers, accusing friends and family members of being witches and wizards blocking their progress. The true prophets didn’t promise visas, breakthroughs, wives, or husbands to their clients in exchange for sowing seeds.

In sharp contrast, the prophets preached repentance and conversion. They called out the kings and people against social injustice, bribery, corruption, and persecution of widows, orphans, and the less fortunate in society. They often sounded warnings of impending danger if the people didn’t change their ways (cf. Is 1:4; Jer 8:8-12; Amos 5:10-13). Prophets were not predictors of the future. Rather, the prophets’ primary task was to call the people as a community to accountability and responsibility in their relationship with God. Even when they spoke about the future, it was for the purpose of calling people to be responsible before God in the present (Is 51:7; Jer 20:12).

As earlier indicated, the denial of God’s will is a major spiritual crisis of our time. With their preconceived plans for life, relationships, family, and wealth, many people are in rebellion against God’s will. And when things don’t work out your way, you go in search of quick fixes and instant answers to ordinary, day-to-day challenges. We behave as if our birth certificates stated somewhere that life should be easy! The miracle preachers are already very aware of this desperation, and they use it to prey upon you. Some of them even have agents who survey territories and learn about the people ahead of their miracle crusades, so they can startle you with stories about your own life. Indeed, wonders shall never end!

Of course, it is natural to shout out, “God’s blessings upon you!” to your family and friends. It is impossible to keep quiet after having received some special favor from God. However, Jesus specifically denounced any form vain publicity. For example, he said to the man he had freed from demonic oppression to go tell his family how the Lord had shown him mercy, yet this excited man uncontrollably went spreading the news all over the place (Mk 5:19-20). If Jesus asked us to keep quiet about his own miracles, imagine how much worse it is when testimonies are fabricated and miracles faked as a means to promote a church or ministry. It is sheer extortion when these so-called “men of God” demand that their clients sow a seed by making specific donations in hope of spiritual favor. Inexhaustible forms of duplicity are employed by the modern-day messiahs. Suffice it to say, “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. Beware of false prophets prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds’” (Jer 23:16).

Since antiquity, there have always been traders of the Word; these are opportunists who used the Scripture and the name of Jesus for fame and personal aggrandizement. In Acts 8:9-25, we read about Simon the magician, who wanted to buy miraculous powers from Peter and John. He was condemned for thinking that the gift of God could be bought with money.  Paul clearly states, “We are not like so many others who peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity as men sent from God” (2Cor 2:17).

In conclusion, it is time to wake up to all the soothsayers and diviners who pose as prophets and preachers with the sole aim of taking advantage of spiritually weak and ignorant followers. Don’t allow yourself to be lured by commercials for miraculous solutions to the ordinary challenges of life. Be aware that all you see on social media and miracle TV channels has been altered or outright faked. In Jesus’ time, testimonies were spontaneous and sincere, because there was no time for rehearsal or make-up, as there is today.

Be aware of your worth as a child of God. Scripture says, “All who have received him he empowers to become children of God” (Jn 1:12). You have power to tread underfoot serpents and scorpions, and if you only believe in Him and do His will, the miracles and testimonies will begin to follow you, and in abundance! No matter how real or exciting someone else’s testimony appears to be, it will never be your own. Therefore, it is better to desist from wasting precious time on miraculous entertainment and testimonies. The best way to use your time profitably is to nourish your mind with good reads. Read and wise up!

*Father Wilfred E. Emeh is a Roman Catholic priest ,Communications Profressional and author of  the book  New Media and the Christian Family: Experiences from the USA and Africa

 

 

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National Aviation Services (NAS) Partners with #VisaFreeAfrica
November 24, 2017 | 0 Comments
#VisaFreeAfrica (VFA), a continental effort to facilitate mobility in Africa
KIGALI, Rwanda, November 22, 2017/ — The Kigali Global Shapers (http://APO.af/wpzZY9) has partnered with National Aviation Services (NAS) (www.NAS.aero), the fastest growing aviation services provider in the emerging markets, for an exclusive sponsor of #VisaFreeAfrica (VFA), a global campaign to facilitate mobility in Africa.

For the past 30 years, the African Union has attempted to address free movement on the continent. The “Agenda 2063” plan to introduce a common African passport by 2020 is in motion but African citizens still need visas to travel to 42 out of 54 African countries.

The #VisaFreeAfrica campaign, launched by the Kigali Global Shapers during the World Economic Forum for Africa in 2016 includes a global petition that calls for:

  • All 54 African countries to grant a 30-day visa on arrival to all African citizens by 2022.
  • Achieve free movement of people across all African countries by 2030.

In addition to the petition, Global Shapers across the African continent are engaging their leaders and policy makers in dialogues about the need to ease mobility on the continent. Through this initiative, African youth will find a platform to voice the reasons why facilitating movement of people across the continent now can fast track the continent’s 2063 Agenda.

The NAS and VFA partnership took roots at the World Economic Forum meeting held in Davos, Switzerland in January 2017 and was formalized almost immediately. NAS has made a five-year commitment to support this campaign which will be implemented in several African countries in the coming months.

Michaella Rugwizangoga, ‎Curator at World Economic Forum Global Shapers said “With support from National Aviation Services (NAS), the Kigali Shapers will be able to better coordinate a continental effort towards open African borders and facilitate the removal of visa requirements on the continent.”

On a global scale, Africa’s competitiveness is tied to labor mobility. With the African market set to grow to 2 billion by 2050, greater integration and human mobility is the need of the hour. Liberal visa policies will help boost tourism revenues, foster new business opportunities and facilitate economic growth. It will also open up new job opportunities to the 60 percent* of African youth that is currently unemployed.

Hassan El-Houry, Group CEO NAS, said “NAS has a presence in over ten airports in Africa and continues to grow quickly in the region. As we expand our footprint of operations in Africa, our responsibility towards the local communities also increases. As a partner in Africa’s development, we are aware of the mobility issues faced by youth and businesses in the region. With our investments in the region and by supporting Visa Free Africa we continue to drive efforts for the development of the continent and its people.”

NAS operates across the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia, with a presence at 30 airports, managing more than 31 airport lounges and handling seven of the world’s top 10 airlines. With an employee base of over 8,000 capable and experienced employees at the core of its network, NAS is committed to providing aviation services that benchmark to the best in the world.

The Kigali Global Shapers (http://APO.af/wpzZY9) are part of a global network of 600 Hubs under the umbrella of the World Economic Forum. Hubs are developed and led by young people who are exceptional in their potential, achievements and drive to make a contribution to their communities.  The community encompasses 7000 change makers.
Established in 2012 by Founding Curator Diana Mpyisi, the Kigali Hub has now positioned itself as one of the most active and impactful youth-led groups in Rwanda.

The flagship project “Twumve Twumve” Forum, loosely translated “Hear us, we hear you”, empowers Rwandan youth to make their voices heard. Twumve Twumve is a unique opportunity for youth to engage in direct conversation with leaders from the public and private sector on issues facing Rwanda and the continent.

The Kigali Shapers created and lead the #VisaFreeAfrica campaign, a call to action for African leaders and the African Union to ease visa procedures across the continent. The Kigali Hub is partnering with NAS and coordinating actions across youth-led organization in Africa to raise awareness around the issues of mobility and accelerate the ease of travel procedures across the continent.

National Aviation Services (NAS) (www.NAS.aero) is the fastest growing aviation services provider in the emerging markets.
Established in 2003, NAS quickly transformed from a Kuwait based ground handling company into an emerging markets leader in the industry. NAS is present in over 30 airports across the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, handling seven out of the world’s top 10 airlines and managing more than 31 airport lounges.
With an employee base of over 8,000 capable and experienced employees at the core of its worldwide network, NAS is committed to providing aviation services that benchmark to the best in the world.

The NAS portfolio of services includes ramp and passenger services, cargo handling, engineering and line maintenance, airport technologies, fixed base operations, terminal management, aviation training, travel solutions, lounge management and meet-and-assist packages.
Affiliated with leading industry organizations, NAS follows international aviation standards with certifications from ISO, EMS and OHSAS practices. NAS is one of the first ground handlers in the world to obtain the IATA’s Safety Audit for Ground Operations (ISAGO) certification illustrating the company’s commitment to providing high quality services, with a focus on safety and security.

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Secure, Trusted Internet Critical to Advancing African Economy
November 24, 2017 | 0 Comments
New Internet Society report highlights how Africa can benefit more from the Internet economy
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, November 23, 2017/ — Many African countries have made significant progress towards creating an Internet sector, with broad reforms that focus on increasing broadband availability.  There have been further successes within countries in developing online platforms, fostering growth of local companies and increasing the incentive to go online– says a new report launched today by the Internet Society (www.InternetSociety.org), a global non-profit dedicated to ensuring the open development, evolution and use of the Internet.

“Promoting the African Internet Economy” highlights how greater use of the Internet and digitization of the traditional economy will spur economic growth in Africa.

The report further examines Internet adoption and use by companies and governments throughout the region, identifying barriers that must be overcome in order to create an Internet economy that delivers innovative services, job opportunities and income growth across the continent.

Both businesses and citizens can benefit from an Internet economy. Businesses across all sectors gain access to a global marketplace of billions of people, and citizens in both rural and urban areas benefit from enhanced educational and training opportunities and access to new job possibilities.

The report also outlines what needs to be done for Africa to take full advantage of the digital opportunity offered by the Internet. It highlights local successes as well as broader challenges, offering recommendations for policymakers in Africa to adopt.

“The Internet economy presents a major opportunity for Africa. However, Africa needs a secure and reliable Internet infrastructure that users trust in order to bringing large and small businesses online, along with governments and other social services,” explains Dawit Bekele, Africa Region Bureau Director for the Internet Society.

The Internet Society in collaboration with the African Union recently introduced Internet Infrastructure Security Guidelines for Africa  to help AU member states strengthen the security of their local Internet infrastructure through actions at a regional, national, ISP/operator and organizational level.

In Kenya, the Internet economy already represents 3.6% of the country’s GDP and in other developing countries 1.3% of GDP  comes from the Internet economy. The McKinsey Global Institute predicts that in addition to contributions to GDP, the Internet will deliver productivity gains across Africa. These productivity gains across six key sectors:  financial services, education, health, retail, agriculture and government are projected to be valued at between US$148 billion and $318 billion by 2025.

However, a thriving Internet economy in Africa could be put at risk by the increasing number of Internet shutdowns in the region. In 2016 alone, there were at least 56 shutdowns of the Internet around the world. These shutdowns affect individuals and organizations that depend on the Internet for their daily lives and have negative effects on the economy.

“In addition to the economic costs, Internet shutdowns also affect trust. If people don’t know whether they will have connectivity, they can no longer rely on that connectivity to build Internet-based businesses. This will affect entrepreneurs in greatest need of digital-led innovation for their own future, and the future of the Internet economy in Africa,” added Bekele.

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Gambia’s Court set to rule on Constitutionality of False News, Others
November 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Kebba Jeffang

More press freedom is expected under the leadership of President Adama Barrow

More press freedom is expected under the leadership of President Adama Barrow

The Gambia’s Supreme Court on November 22nd heard the arguments from both the plaintiff’s lawyer and the State on the Constitutionality of Sedition, False publication and broadcasting as well as criminal defamation before adjourning the matter to May 2018 for judgment.

Hawa Sisay-Sabally, lawyer for the Gambia Press Union who is challenging the Constitutionality of such laws said the Attorney General had already admitted their unconstitutionality. She said the only law he contested for it to remain is the law on false news.

According her, law on false news does not only affects journalists from enjoying their right but it even denied the readership their right to receive information and ideas. She argued that such law is against Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Right and ECOWAS treaty and they will rely on all other authorities to proof the case.

“It can discourage the journalists for what they do as it exposes them to arrests. Not only are the rights of journalists are restricted by these provisions but the right of the readership by restricting them to receive information and ideas,” she told court.

The lawyer submitted that section 207 of the Constitution places obligation on journalists to hold the government to account to the people, justifying the need to declare false news unconstitutional.

According to her, news must past three tests such as ‘legitimate, proportionate and necessary before being considered false.

“We have a civil court all over that can award damages in any form,” she said.

She said it would be better to if journalists are punished in the civil light than criminal procedures.

“These provisions are unconstitutional and they do not hold a place our statute,” she submitted.

Meanwhile, State lawyer objected to decriminalizing false news saying it should be retained in the laws of the country for national and security interests.

“Limiting of exercise of rights is a restriction necessary for the democratic society. Restrictions are provided under section 21 (4) of the Constitution and 181 of the Criminal Code,” he said.

He argued that there is no absolute right of freedom as National Assembly is empowered to create laws to protect the interest of the country.

However, the judges questioned him the rationale for having the law criminal when civil remedies are available.

“The point is that we should not leave room or expose people to the risk of criminal prosecution for exercising their right to free speech,” one of the judges said.

The matter is adjourned to next May, 2018 for judgment.

The Gambia Press Union has sued the government of the Gambia in 2015 for the Supreme Court to decriminalize such laws. This was done during a difficult time for the media in the country as former ruler Yahya Jammeh created a hell for journalists.

Several journalists were charged with sedition and jailed while others were tortured, disappeared and some where even killed.

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Africa must implement 1990 Yamoussoukro agreement for open skies, says AfDB President
November 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

 

“Together, let’s open up the skies of Africa, and together let’s integrate Africa. By so doing, we will build stronger and more resilient economies.” – Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has called on African countries to implement the 1990 Yamoussoukro agreement for open skies.

While 20 countries have signed on, the 27-year old accord still faces implementation challenges, Akinwumi Adesina, President of the AfDB said Tuesday at the opening ceremony of the third ICAO World Aviation Forum in Abuja.

“Rigid bilateral air service agreements have made it difficult to liberalize the regional aviation markets. We must make regional aviation markets competitive and drive down costs, raise efficiencies and improve connectivity and convenience,” Adesina said.

The Bank President also emphasized the Bank’s strong support for Nigeria and expressed confidence in the ability of Nigeria to deliver on its policy commitments.

“The hosting of this global forum here in Abuja is a clear mark of confidence in Nigeria. Let me use this opportunity to commend you and the government on the Economic Recovery and Growth Program, to build a more resilient economy,” Adesina said.

“As you know, we provided $600 million to support the government to address its budget deficit challenges and stand ready to continue to fully support the government as it embarks on efforts to diversify the economy and raise the revenue profiles and productivity of the non-oil sectors.”

The Bank President also commended the Government of Nigeria for its efforts to improve the state of aviation in Nigeria. The aviation sector plays an important in opening up doors to investors, he added.

Air transport promotes trade, investments and tourism, and boosts economic growth. Today, Africa’s aviation industry adds US $73 billion to the continent’s annual GDP and employs about 7 million people – an average 130,000 people per country in Africa, according to the Bank President.

The aviation industry is projected to grow by 5% annually for the next 20 years. From serving 120 million passengers in 2015, the industry will triple and serve over 300 million passengers by 2035, Adesina observed.

“That’s the good news,” he said, adding that regrettably Africa’s aviation growth is held back by very restrictive regulatory environments which limit market size, profitability, and drive up costs.

“Aircraft departure fees alone in Africa are 30% above the global average, while taxes, fees and charges are 8% higher. Given lower per capita incomes in Africa, high fares essentially tax the poor out of the air! We may have an open sky policy, but then end up with empty skies!”

The AfDB President called for the development of airport terminal capacity to expand passenger growth, develop regional aviation hubs to improve connectivity, and upgrade air navigational services and air traffic control to improve safety.

“Modern and cheaper technologies such as the satellite based air navigation services now preclude the need for ground infrastructure, and make it possible to serve remote areas with radars. We must also develop within Africa, aircraft maintenance services and strengthen regional and sub-regional aviation safety agencies,” he noted.

The AfDB has invested $20 billion in infrastructure over the past 10 years, with over $1 billion in the aviation sector. The Bank’s investments include building modern airports and terminal extensions in Senegal, Morocco, Kenya, Ghana, Egypt, Cabo Verde and improving airport navigation systems in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The AfDB supported aircraft fleet expansion programs for Ethiopia and Côte d’Ivoire. The Bank also supported regional efforts for improving aviation safety and capacity building.

Adesina congratulated Nigeria on the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) certification of two airports in Abuja and Lagos as a consequence of meeting global standards, noting that the feat makes Nigeria the only country with two ICAO-certified airports in West and Central Africa.

The objective of the Bank is to support the ICAO safety and security standards certification of 20 African airports by 2019, Adesina said.

The African Development Bank will soon be going to its Board with a new aviation sector framework to support the revitalization of the aviation industry in Africa, he said.

The Bank, Adesina explained, is working with other partners on establishing facilities to de-risk financing for aircraft acquisition, upgrading of airports, expansion of regional navigational and air safety, and deregulation of the aviation industry to be more competitive and efficient.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) is partnering with the Nigerian Government, the African Union Commission (AUC), and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency to co-host the third ICAO World Aviation Forum from November 20-22 in Abuja, Nigeria.

*AFDB

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Rebuilding after the dictator: New Gambia’s slow road to reform
November 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

President Jammeh spent over two decades centralising power and sowing distrust. How do you rebuild a nation after that? 

BY JAMES COURTRIGHT*

Ferry crossing at Barra. Credit: James Courtright.

Ferry crossing at Barra. Credit: James Courtright.

How do you dismantle over two decades of repressive and corrupt governance in order to build a fresh democratic system? That’s the challenge currently facing The Gambia.

Since Yahya Jammeh lost the 2016 elections and finally relinquished power under regional pressure in January 2017, the new government of President Adama Barrow has been trying to heal the deep scars left by the former dictator’s 23-year-long dictatorial rule and establish a “new” Gambia.

The administration has a lot to do. Under Jammeh, a series of constitutional amendments made criticism of the government essentially illegal. In the judiciary, the president chased talented officials from the Ministry of Justice and appointed foreign “mercenary judges”. The National Assembly became a rubber stamp parliament that approved anything the president put before it.

At the same time, Jammeh wielded the much-feared National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and paramilitary force known as the Jungulers to sow fear through unlawful killings, torture and arbitrary detention. To protect against possible challenges, he divided the Armed Forces by constantly moving soldiers around and filling the top ranks with loyalists.

“He knew that if the security sector was well organised, it could be a force against him,” says Dr Ismaila Ceesay, a professor of political science at the University of The Gambia. “It was better to divide the security sector to foster mistrust amongst everyone.”

Reform and reconciliation

Since it came to office in January 2017 then, the government of President Barrow has had myriad challenges with which to contend.

On the one hand, the government is trying to forge forwards in building a new order. The National Assembly is working to establish a team to consult the public and draft a new constitution to be put to a referendum. Foreign judges have been replaced with qualified Gambians in the judiciary. And at the justice ministry, staff are being trained up, while additional qualified and experienced lawyers are being sought.

On the other hand, however, the government also needs to grapple with the past before it can go forwards. “We must understand what happened under Jammeh so we never slide back,” says Abubacarr Tambadou, Gambia’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

In order to investigate how Jammeh amassed a fortune as president, a Commission of Inquiry was established this July. It has been investigating the financial relations between government ministries, companies and the former president. Its public hearings are being closely followed by the public and its mandate was recently extended by another six months.

The government is also preparing to establish a Truth, Reparations and Reconciliation Commission (TRRC) to shed light on human rights abuses committed under Jammeh. The TRRC is slated to start touring the country early next year to record testimony from victims and perpetrators.

Many are eager for justice as soon as possible, but some have raised concerns over what they see as a rapid time frame for rolling out the commission. Others have pointed out that the TRRC has not yet been allotted funding.

Anna Roccatello, an expert at the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) warns that truth commissions can be tricky to handle. “They are resource intensive and politically explosive,” she says. “It’s a very complicated process so if they really want to do it they need to be prepared to do a good job because otherwise it can be counter-productive.”

Gambia’s security services

Another key part of the government’s plans to build a new Gambia lies in reforming the security services. As Tambadou puts it, “if the judicial and legal sector was the brains of the old regime, then the hand used to perpetrate the atrocities was the security services”.

As part of this strategy, President Barrow rebranded the NIA as the State Intelligence Services (SIS) within weeks of taking office, while nine former NIA officers are currently on trial.

It is hoped this will lead to new revelations and accountability, but many complain that most perpetrators are still walking free and that little has changed in the agency itself beyond its name. “The structures are still there and the process still remains the same,” says Ceesay. “They are still in the same building where they were torturing people.”

Ceesay and others have suggested that the agency could be disbanded altogether, but Maggie Dwyer, a researcher at the Centre of African Studies at University of Edinburgh, warns against hasty action.

“If you simply fire all of the NIA, it sets a bad precedent,” she says. “If there are no trials then people will say ‘they just fired 500 people and they didn’t prove that those people did anything wrong. Is this really a just system?’”

Dealing with the military

The Gambian Armed Forces (GAF) also requires significant reform from Jammeh’s days. On that front, public relations officer Lamine Sanyang claims the military is embracing change under the new administration. “We are subservient to civilian authority,” he says. “In the previous system, the military was seen as untouchable, but now we’re trying to change that narrative.”

Sait Matty Jaw, director of Gambia Watch, acknowledges this but says trust is still lacking. “They’re being pushed back to the barracks, but they still need a lot of education. Their understanding of security is more about using force. If this remains they cannot build relations with civilians.”

Challenges in reforming the military are exacerbated by frictions within the army. In July, at least five soldiers were detained in relation to allegedly “mutinous” WhatsApp messages. According to Gambian press, at least two of the accused were alleged to be involved in an assassination attempt of high ranking officers. In early October, an additional seven soldiers were discharged without a stated reason. Late last week, 12 soldiers alleged to support Jammeh were charged behind closed doors with a range of unknown offences.

Dwyer says it’s to be expected that some members of the armed forces might still be loyal to Jammeh. “The idea that everyone would suddenly switch allegiance right away is not realistic,” she says. But the problem, she explains, lies in a lack of transparency in how these soldiers were removed.

Some of those who were discharged say it was because they come from the same region as former President Jammeh, a region where he remains popular. Among the former president’s supporters, these discharges have only added to a building narrative of political, and increasingly ethnic, discrimination.

A long road

Transitioning from 23 years of tyranny is a fraught and painful process. Uncovering the truth, righting past wrongs, and rebuilding corrupt institutions are all essential, but can lead to greater instability in the short-term.

Since the start of the year, the government in Banjul has made some missteps and suffered from poor communication. But despite setbacks, observers suggest that it is pursuing the necessary reforms to avoid a return to the dark days of dictatorship, even if progress has been slow.

“It’s clear the new government is genuinely resolved to make a clear and unequivocal break from the dictatorial past,” says Jeffery Smith, director of Vanguard Africa, a pro-democracy outfit that works across the continent. “But the perception is that much of that goodwill has yet to be translated to on-the-ground results.”

*Culled from African Arguments.James Courtright is a freelance journalist based in Dakar, Senegal.

 

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Burkina Faso recalls ambassador to Libya over “slave markets” report
November 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Thiam Ndiaga*
Minister of Foreign Affairs Alpha Barry of Burkina Faso in Manhattan, New York, U.S. September 19, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Minister of Foreign Affairs Alpha Barry of Burkina Faso in Manhattan, New York, U.S. September 19, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) – Burkina Faso’s foreign minister said on Monday it had recalled its ambassador to Libya over a report that black African migrants were being auctioned as slaves there.

The decision by the West African nation followed the broadcast by CNN of footage of what it said was an auction of men offered to Libyan buyers as farmhands and sold for $400, a chilling echo of the trans-Saharan slave trade of centuries past.

Libya’s ambassador to Burkina Faso said his country was being unfairly blamed for a global problem that all nations affected must come together to solve.

Foreign Minister Alpha Barry announced the decision by President Roch Marc Kabore in a news conference.

“The president of Burkina Faso has decided to recall the ambassador to Tripoli, General Abraham Traore, for a consultation,” Barry said.

He had also “summoned the Libyan charge d’affairs in (Burkina Faso’s capital) Ouagadougou to express our indignation at these images that belong to other centuries, images of the slave trade”.

In a news conference on Wednesday, Libya’s ambassador to Burkina Faso, Abdul Rahman Khameda, appealed for help from both the European Union and African Union to help Libya reach a lasting resolution of the migrant crisis.

“Libya alone can not solve this problem,” he said. “We call on the international community to intensify efforts to help Libya cope with this danger (illicit migration), which is tearing at its social fabric.”

African and European leaders are due to meet next week in Ivory Coast’s main city, Abidjan, where migration and Europe’s efforts to tackle it by co-opting Libya will be high on the agenda.

“Adopting an effective solution will prevent certain parties from exploiting such unfortunate events to tarnish Libya’s name,” Khameda said.

An agreement between Europe and Africa to stem the flow of migrants coming through Libya to Europe had failed to tackle the severe abuses they face, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein wrote in an article published in September.

*Reuters

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Access Power and FMO launch second edition of Solar ‘Shark Tank’ Competition for Innovative Solar Projects
November 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
Access Power and FMO launch second edition of Solar ‘Shark Tank’ Competition for Innovative Solar Projects
Submission window opens as Solar Projects Compete for US$ 100,000 Grant to Develop their Projects
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, November 20, 2017/ — FMO (www.FMO.nl), the Dutch development bank, and Access Power (www.Access-Power.com), a leading developer, owner and operator of power projects in emerging markets, today announced the launch of the 2018 FMO Access Power Solar ‘Shark Tank’ Competition following the competition’s successful first installment in 2016 at the ‘Making Solar Bankable’ conference. The initiative is aimed at helping local solar power developers that require development support to make their innovative solar projects more impactful.

In order to be considered for the grant, the proposed projects must be located in Asia, Africa or Latin America and be based on solar PV technology. They should also meet the capacity criterion of 10MW or more, and be at an advanced stage of development (preliminary feasibility studies should have been completed). Furthermore, eligible projects should have an innovative or impactful angle to the project that can be developed with support of the grant.

Proposals will be screened and scored by a pre-selection committee assembled by FMO and Access Power. Four shortlisted finalists will be invited to present their projects and answer questions from a panel of judges in front of a live audience on the 15th of February 2018 during the second edition of the ‘Making Solar Bankable’ conference, co-organized by FMO and Solarplaza in Amsterdam, Netherlands on 15 and 16 February. The winning project will be announced at the end of the session during the event.

The winner will receive a $100,000 grant towards the development costs of their project from FMO and Access Power. In addition to that, Access Power will pre-qualify the winning proposal of the Solar Shark Tank competition for the 2018 edition of the Access Co-Development Facility (ACF) (https://goo.gl/76qvjJ) competition, subject to meeting ACF qualification requirements. Access Power will provide the ACF winner with technical support, financial structuring and development process management.

Reda El Chaar, Executive Chairman of Access Power, commented: 
“Following the competition’s successful launch in 2016, we are thrilled to have once again partnered with FMO to promote and help development of early stage solar projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In 2016 we received over 36 of applications from 21 countries and 2018 looks set to build on that success. We look forward with great interest to receiving this year’s entries and hearing the judge’s final decision during an exciting live event at the ‘Making Solar Bankable’ conference in Amsterdam”.

Jurgen Rigterink, CEO of FMO, added:
“FMO is proud to partner again with Access Power to help improve access to energy in the regions in the world where it is most needed. The entries of this year’s competition will all contribute to clean and affordable energy, making it possible for people to improve their livelihoods. We look forward to an inspiring event”.

Application procedures close on 5th of January 2018. Visit the Solar Shark Tank page on https://goo.gl/aeoEKg or https://goo.gl/Cn8w9h to download the application form.

About Solar Shark Tank 2018

  • Following a pre-selection process, a shortlist of applicants will be chosen to present their projects to a panel of judges 15th of February 2018 during the ‘Making Solar Bankable’ conference in Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Applicants must present their projects to the judging panel during the conference within a given time and take questions from panel members.
  • Panel members will score each project based on the evaluation criteria, using weighted percentages.
  • Submission period runs from 20th November, 2017 to 5th January, 2018.

Access Power (www.Access-Power.com) is a fast-growing developer, owner and operator of power assets in emerging and frontier markets and is currently developing power projects worth over US$1 billion in 23 countries across Africa and Asia. In late 2016, Access Power commissioned East Africa’s largest solar power plant in Soroti Uganda which currently provides clean energy for over 40,000 homes, schools and small businesses.

FMO (www.FMO.nl) is the Dutch development bank. As a leading impact investor, FMO supports sustainable private sector growth in developing countries and emerging markets by investing in ambitious projects and entrepreneurs. FMO believes that a strong private sector leads to economic and social development, and has a more than
45-year proven track-record of empowering people to employ their skills and improve their quality of life.FMO focuses on three sectors that have high development impact: financial institutions, energy, and agribusiness, food & water. With a committed portfolio of EUR 9.0 billion spanning over 92 countries, FMO is one of the larger bilateral private sector developments banks globally.

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Mercer Launches Francophone Africa Hub in Morocco
November 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
New regional hub increases Health and Benefits footprint to enhance client service and enable the expansion of Mercer’s Wealth and Career offerings in Francophone Africa
CASABLANCA, Morocco, November 20, 2017/ — Mercer (www.Mercer.com), a global consulting leader in health, wealth and career and wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc. (NYSE: MMC) (www.MMC.com), has announced an expanded footprint as part of an important initiative to strengthen service to the Francophone region of Africa. Through its new Casablanca Financial City hub in Morocco, Mercer will bolster its Health business and further penetrate the African market with Wealth and Career solutions.

“Africa is an important part of our growth strategy for Mercer. We’ve been operating on the continent for many years and we continuously look for ways to bring differentiated value to our clients,” said David Anderson, President of Mercer’s Growth Markets Region. “Strengthening our footprint in this growing and thriving region will allow us to improve client service across their Health and Benefits needs, and will allow clients greater access to our world class Wealth and Career services.”

Mercer currently serves clients in 41 of Africa’s 54 sovereign states.  The firm is expanding its market presence to match the burgeoning business landscape. North Africa continues to show great promise and Mercer is committed to being a partner in assisting our clients in the region. Mercer’s ongoing investment in Francophone Africa and throughout the continent will enable the global consulting leader to service evolving client needs with greater flexibility and customization.

“Morocco is the ideal hub for Mercer’s continued growth across Francophone Africa.” said Mustafa Faizani, CEO UAE & India, Middle East, Turkey, and Africa Zone, Mercer. “The new Casablanca Financial City hub and existing strategic partnerships will support the growth of Mercer’s local business in Morocco and enable us to grow the Mercer Marsh Benefits (MMB) footprint. Expanding our presence to Morocco is a critical step toward enhancing our leading position in the region and leveraging the market’s full potential to address our clients’ unique hyperlocal needs, across health, wealth and career.”

Mercer already has a presence in Francophone African markets by providing Africa Health and Risk Solutions (AHRS) for multinational companies seeking standardized benefit structures in more than one country and pricing power through placement of coverages in the international insurance market. Mercer’s existing Moroccan client base is serviced locally through an established strategic partnership with AFMA, the largest brokerage in the country.

The arrival in Casablanca marks the 14th city expansion for Mercer in the growth economies in the past two years. Currently over 15,000 clients in 84 countries are served by colleagues located in 22 countries across our Growth Markets Region.

Mercer  delivers advice and technology-driven solutions that help organizations meet the health, wealth and career needs of a changing workforce. Mercer’s more than 22,000 employees are based in 43 countries and the firm operates in over 130 countries. Mercer is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies , the leading global professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people. With more than 60,000 colleagues and annual revenue over $13 billion, through its market-leading companies including Marsh , Guy Carpenter and Oliver Wyman  Marsh & McLennan helps clients navigate an increasingly dynamic and complex environment.

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SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS GIVES THANKS BY OFFERING ITS LOWEST FARES OF THE YEAR
November 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

Holiday Sale Offers Exceptional Fares Starting at $599* roundtrip to Africa

Fort Lauderdale, FL (November 21, 2017) – South African Airways (SAA), the national flag carrier of South Africa and Africa’s most awarded airline today announces a holiday sale that offers its lowest fares of the year to selected destinations throughout Africa. For a limited time only, book flights for round-trip travel from New York-JFK International Airport or Washington, DC Dulles International Airport to Johannesburg, South Africa for just $599.00* (restrictions apply) or to Cape Town for $629.00*(restriction apply). Also on offer are nonstop flights from Washington, DC Dulles International Airport to Dakar, Senegal for $629.00* (restrictions apply) round-trip or to Accra, Ghana for $639.00* (restrictions apply) round-trip. These fares are available for purchase through November 28, 2017, for travel between January 10 and March 27, 2018.

“At this festive time of year for giving, we are expressing our thanks by making Africa even more affordable for travelers from North America. There is nothing that can compare to witnessing the beauty of an African sunset, sipping sundowners on a safari, taking in the magnificent sights in Cape Town, or exploring the history and culture of Ghana and Senegal”, said Todd Neuman, executive vice president, North America, for South African Airways. “With these fares, our very lowest of the year, we are encouraging everyone to give the gift of Africa to oneself, a loved one or a friend this holiday season. Giving this gift, on Africa’s most awarded airline, is certainly a terrific way to show your appreciation to that someone special.”

The sale fares are available for 7-days only, so travelers must hurry to purchase tickets by visiting www.flysaa.com or by calling SAA Reservations at 1-(800) 722-9675 to take advantage of these incredible savings.

As the leading carrier from the U.S. to South Africa, South African Airways is the only airline to offer daily nonstop service from New York – JFK and daily direct service from Washington, DC-Dulles to Johannesburg, South Africa. South African Airways also offers nonstop service from Washington, DCDulles to Accra, Ghana, four-days per week and Dakar, Senegal, three-days per week. From its hub in Johannesburg, SAA offers business and leisure travelers’ convenient connections to over 75 destinations on the Africa continent in partnership with its regional airlines SA Express, Airlink, and Mango.

 

 

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African Union calls for Libya ‘slave market’ probe
November 18, 2017 | 0 Comments
Guinea's President Alpha Conde, President of the African Union,demanded an enquiry and prosecutions relating to what he termed a "despicable trade... from another era"

Guinea’s President Alpha Conde, President of the African Union,demanded an enquiry and prosecutions relating to what he termed a “despicable trade… from another era”

Tripoli (AFP) – The African Union on Friday called for Libyan authorities to investigate “slave markets” of black Africans operating in the conflict-torn nation, following the release of shocking images showing the sale of young men.

The demand follows the release of CNN footage of a live auction in Libya where black youths are presented to north African buyers as potential farmhands and sold off for as little as $400.

Guinean President Alpha Conde, who is also Chairman of the African Union, demanded an enquiry and prosecutions relating to what he termed a “despicable trade… from another era”.

Meanwhile Senegal’s government. commenting on Facebook, expressed “outrage at the sale of Sub-Saharan African migrants on Libyan soil,” which constituted a “blight on the conscience of humanity”.

African migrants from nations including Guinea and Senegal but also Mali, Niger, Nigeria and The Gambia make the dangerous crossing through the Sahara to Libya with hopes of making it over the Mediterranean Sea to Italy.

But testimony collected by AFP in recent years has revealed a litany of rights abuses at the hands of gangmasters, human traffickers and the Libyan security forces, while many end up stuck in the unstable north African nation for years.

More than 8,800 stranded migrants have been returned home this year, according to the International Organization for Migration, which is also amassing evidence of slavery.

Conde further appealed for the Libyan authorities to “reassess migrants’ detention conditions” following revelations over squalid jails and detention centres that await migrants who are caught trying to reach the coast.

“These modern slavery practices must end and the African Union will use all the tools at its disposal,” Conde added.

Libya has opened an investigation into the practice, CNN reported Friday, and pledged to return those taken as slaves to their country of origin.

*AFP

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Africa: Nurturing Young Entrepreneurs as the Next Generation of Hunger Fighters
November 18, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Bunmi Oloruntoba
Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB)

Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB)

DES MOINES, United States of America, November 18, 2017/ — Considered the “Nobel Prize of agriculture,” the World Food Prize is awarded each year for a specific and exceptionally significant contribution to the production or distribution of food. This year, the prize was awarded to Akinwumi Adesina, a former Nigerian agriculture minister – and currently the president of the African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org) – for his contributions to increasing productivity in that country’s agricultural sector.

A list of Adesina’s achievements as minister of agriculture from 2010 to 2015 spans several pages. But for the World Food Prize, the focal point was his introduction of the Electronic Wallet (E-Wallet) platform to Nigeria’s food production and distribution chain.

Through the E-Wallet, Adesina pioneered a new way for the Nigerian government to deliver subsidized farm inputs, such as fertilizer and seeds, to local farmers through private agro-dealers. The farmers, in turn, get to redeem these subsidized inputs from the agro-dealers using e-vouchers, which they can access through their mobile phones.

To implement the platform, Adesina initiated a Growth and Enhancement Support Scheme (GES). He powered the scheme by orchestrating the successful registration of more than five million Nigerian farmers, whose information and mobile phone numbers were added to the GES database. The database, coupled with the E-Wallet, now allows Nigerian farmers to receive directly from the government everything from fertilizer to high-yield rice seeds and palm oil seedlings.

In the past, such subsidized inputs would have bypassed the farmers and fallen into the hands of black marketers who would have sold the inputs on the open market or in neighboring countries. According to the World Food Prize, through the E-wallet Adesina succeeded in breaking the “back of corrupt elements that had controlled the fertilizer distribution system for 40 years.”

The platform also helped solve other previously intractable problems in the way of commercial large scale food production in Nigeria.

For example, the country’s paddy rice farmers, through the E-Wallet, were able to receive from the government award-winning, high yield NERICA rice varieties, which saw their output rise from five to six tons per hectare. Thousands of paddy farmers producing a consistent grade of rice soon created the opportunity for several agro-based companies to switch from rice importation to local rice production, and standardization of the country’s rice output led to large private sector investments in rice milling.

The World Food Prize compares the spread of Adesina’s efforts in scale to the “Green Revolution” work of the Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug. In the 1970s and 1980s, Borlaug introduced high-yield dwarf wheat to Latin America and Asia, spawning “Green Revolutions” on two continents.

As other African countries start to adopt E-Wallet platforms to get subsidized inputs – and even financial services – directly to their farmers, the World Food Prize claims Adesina’s E-Wallet is “sparking a Borlaugian ‘Take It to the Farmer’ revolution across Africa.”

Farming creates jobs for young people

In his more recent job as president of Africa’s premier multilateral development finance institution, the African Development Bank (AfDB), Adesina embraces the continent’s “youth bulge” both as an opportunity and a resource in working for economic transformation.

Africa’s labor market is expected to absorb 11 million youths every year for the next decade. Despite rapid growth in formal wage sector jobs, the World Bank estimates that most of the continent’s young people “are likely to work on family farms and in household enterprises, often with very low incomes.”

Adesina wants to drive Africa’s economic transformation by empowering the continent’s youth population and making agriculture the hottest startup sector for young people. To achieve this goal, he wants to change the perception of agriculture in Africa from being a survival activity to a vehicle for wealth creation; from a hobby to a business.

It therefore came as no surprise when Adesina, halfway through his acceptance speech for the World Food Prize, declared to the crowded room in the American Midwestern city of Des Moines that “there will be no rest for me until Africa feeds itself, and for that we need the youth.”

“Even though I don’t have the cheque in my hand right now,” he continued, “I hereby commit my quarter of a million dollars… prize award to set up a fund fully dedicated to providing grants, fellowships and financing for the youth of Africa in agriculture as a business.”

Adesina’s vision for Africa’s youth and agriculture becomes prescient as the world’s geopolitical winds shift the focus of policymakers.

Britain’s Brexit vote to leave the European Union and the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States mark a rightward shift in the geopolitical landscape, with increasing numbers of countries appealing to more nationalistic agendas and responding to calls to stem immigration.

Creating jobs for young people in agriculture can both help Africa’s economic transformation and offer a solution to some of the challenges facing the continent and the world: the high rate of youth unemployment in Africa; human trafficking and the high rate of illegal migration of young Africans into Europe; sustainably kickstarting Africa’s industrialization; and preventing religious radicalization and combating terrorism.

To gain a clearer understanding of these issues, the lectures and speeches Adesina has given around the world are a good place to start:

On Youth Unemployment and Illegal Migration to Europe

Africa’s rapid population growth, specifically the growth of the working-age population, complicates a precarious labor market characterized by poor-quality employment, which in turn creates the urge for the youth to seek better opportunities elsewhere. The International Labor Organization estimates that in the next four years an additional 12.6 million youth in sub-Saharan Africa will enter the labour force.

Data from the International Organization for Migration (https://goo.gl/5f3Bd7) reveals that more than 154,000 young Africans have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe in 2017 so far. More than 2,900 have died trying to make the crossing. In 2016, more than 352,000 Africans crossed into Europe and more than 4,750 died.

Adesina, in remarks (https://goo.gl/Seb1Lp) leading up to the 2015 Action Plan for African Agricultural Transformation conference in Dakar, pointed out that “the agricultural sector [in Africa] has four times the power to create jobs and reduce poverty than any other sector.”

“That is why we make the claim that we can diminish the migrant crisis in Europe by supporting agricultural transformation in Africa,” he said.

In remarks at the 2017 G7 Summit in Taormina, Italy, back in May, Adesina expanded on this vision when he said that “the future of Africa’s youth does not lie in migration to Europe” nor should it be “at the bottom of the Mediterranean.” He proposed rather that an agribusiness-driven economy could be one of the economic reasons Africa’s youth choose to remain on the continent.

“We must turn rural areas from zones of economic misery to zones of economic prosperity,” Adesina said. “This requires new agricultural innovations and transforming agriculture into a sector for creating wealth. We must make agriculture a really cool choice for young people.”

“The future millionaires and billionaires of Africa will come initially from agriculture.”

On Africa’s Industrialization

Industrialization has been referred to as the most effective driver of structural poverty reduction. Experts remind us that no developing country has transitioned into a developed country without industrializing.

Adesina, in his opening speech at the Dakar conference, questioned the theory that assumes labour must move from the agricultural sector to the industrial sector. Rather, Adesina suggested an economic theory of industrialization that sees Africa’s industrialization starting from the agricultural sector.

“The reality,” he said, “is that agro-industrialization has greatest potential for Africa to achieve more rapid and inclusive growth – and create jobs… If you want industrialization of Africa, and massive job creation, focus on industrializing the agriculture sector.”

He went on to add, “to rapidly modernize agriculture, we must get the youth engaged in the sector. We must change the perception of the youths of agriculture – they must see agriculture as a business.”

On radicalization and terrorism

The Africa Center for Strategic Studies has warned (https://goo.gl/u5Re4c) that one of the “key effect of ISIS’s continued loss of territory and operational capacity in Iraq and Syria will be an increase in the number of ISIS fighters returning to regions in Africa already facing a threat from violent Islamists.”

In his opening remarks (https://goo.gl/v8HPjX) at the West African Ministerial Conference in October 2016, Adesina observed that “today, across Africa, unemployed youths are turning into gangs, getting into kidnappings for a living, getting recruited to join terrorist groups. And those are the wrong kind of jobs.”

At his speech at the 2017 G7 conference in Italy, he referred to the deadly combination of extreme rural poverty, high youth unemployment and environmental climate degradation as the “triangle of disaster. Where these factors are found, they provide rich recruitment zones for terrorists.”

In Adesina’s view, agribusiness – more than any other economic sector – has the power to bring wealth to the rural parts of Africa

“I believe that the future millionaires of Africa will come from agriculture, not from the oil and gas industry. Agriculture will become Africa’s new oil.”

Adesina has also announced that his World Food Prize money will be used to establish a World Food Prize Global Youth Institute for Africa, an organization he said will support a new generation of agricultural scientists and innovators across Africa. This organization will nurture and produce graduates known as Borlaug-Adesina Fellows, who will become the next generation of hunger fighters.

*Source Allafrica

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Arsenal welcomes WorldRemit as first-ever Official Online Money Transfer Partner
November 17, 2017 | 0 Comments
Leading digital money transfer company WorldRemit and Arsenal partner to use the power of football to find a better way to connect communities
From Left to Right) - New signing, 1st XI defender, Sead Kolasinac; Arsenal Club Captain, Per Mertesacker; 1st XI midfielder and Arsenal Academy graduate, Jack Wilshere

From Left to Right) – New signing, 1st XI defender, Sead Kolasinac; Arsenal Club Captain, Per Mertesacker; 1st XI midfielder and Arsenal Academy graduate, Jack Wilshere

LONDON, United Kingdom, November 17, 2017/ — WorldRemit (www.WorldRemit.com) becomes the first Official Online Money Transfer Partner of the Premier League club, Arsenal (www.Arsenal.com). The leading digital money transfer business, formed by a UK-based entrepreneur from Somaliland, has joined forces with Arsenal to accelerate the company’s growth and help more people save money on international transfers.

The global partnership will provide WorldRemit with a range of rights and player access to support its expansion plans. The partnership agreement includes match day LED branding for every Premier League, League Cup and FA Cup match along with TV interview backdrop presence for every home Premier League match along with global digital and social media rights across Arsenal’s online and mobile platforms.

WorldRemit will work closely with Arsenal’s first-team players to create unique content that will support new and existing community engagement initiatives around the world.

The partnership will also reward WorldRemit’s customers and Arsenal supporters through exclusive events and experiences using the power of football to inspire people. The company will launch the partnership with the first in a number of competitions to win travel to London and tickets to watch the team play at Emirates Stadium.

WorldRemit was founded by Chief Executive Officer Ismail Ahmed, to offer a better way to send small sums of money more frequently, bringing family and friends closer together – wherever they are.

WorldRemit’s service is available to senders in 50 countries and the company offers money transfers to more than 140 destinations across Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and the Americas.

The company is a global leader in international transfers paid out as mobile money – where funds can be held on mobile telephone accounts. WorldRemit connects to over 130 million mobile money accounts, enabling money to be sent safely to friends and family even if the recipient doesn’t have access to a bank account.

The partnership will support WorldRemit’s growth ambitions by helping them reach Arsenal’s 74 million followers on their official social media channels and 185 supporters’ clubs worldwide.

Vinai Venkatesham, Arsenal’s Chief Commercial Officer, said: “This is an exciting new partnership with WorldRemit who under their inspirational CEO are looking to transform the way people can transfer money to family and friends around the world. We share mutual values and look forward to working together to build their global presence through our broadcast, social and digital channels which reach millions around the world. We look forward to a long and successful partnership.”

Ismail Ahmed, WorldRemit Chief Executive Officer, said: “Football is a language that everyone understands. Growing up in Somaliland, you would always see kids playing football – even during the war. It’s a passion which connects people all over the world and we are proud to sponsor a club whose values are so closely aligned to our own and those of our customers. This partnership with Arsenal creates opportunities for us to thank and reward our loyal customers and to connect with new audiences around the world. We look forward to using the power of football to support and inspire young people to fulfil their potential and to the opportunities which we can create to together.”

Arsenal (www.Arsenal.com) is one of the leading clubs in world football with a strong heritage of success, progressive thinking and financial stability.
The club was founded in 1886 in Woolwich, south London, before moving to Highbury in north London in 1913. We moved to Emirates Stadium in 2006.
Arsenal has an impressive roll of honour: English League Champions 13 times, FA Cup winners a record 13 times, League Cup winners twice and European Cup Winners’ Cup (1994) and European Fairs Cup (1970) winners once.
In addition, Arsenal Women are the most successful English club in women’s football. They celebrate their 30th season this year. The club has 45,000 season ticket holders, 1.8m digital global members and one of the biggest digital followings in the game with a reach of 74m across all channels.
The Arsenal Foundation uses the power of football and the Arsenal name to inspire and support young people in north London and across the globe. The Arsenal Foundation raises funds each year and works with a number of key partners including Save the Children, Islington Giving, Willow and the Gunners’ Fund. Locally, Arsenal in the Community has delivered programmes to drive positive social outcomes for more than 30 years.

WorldRemit (www.WorldRemit.com) is creating a better way to send money. By making it easy to send smaller sums of money more frequently, WorldRemit is bringing friends and family closer together.
WorldRemit was founded in 2010. The Chief Executive Ismail Ahmed – a UK based entrepreneur from Somaliland – saw the opportunity to give customers a better service by offering faster, lower-cost and more secure digital money transfers compared to traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ agents.
The company has grown quickly: it has ranked in the Sunday Times Tech Track top 100 list of fastest growing tech companies for the past two years in a row. Backed by Accel Partners and TCV – investors in Facebook, Spotify, Netflix and Slack. Dr Ahmed was recently voted the third most influential person in the 2018 Powerlist of 100 people, which recognises those of African and African Caribbean heritage. In 2017 WorldRemit was recognised by the FT and the IFC as the UK’s most Transformative Business in the Transformational Business Awards.
WorldRemit’s global headquarters are in London, UK with offices in the United States, Canada, South Africa, Singapore, the Philippines, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

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Agrofood & Plastprintpack West Africa 2017 featuring a record participation of 90+ exhibitors from 21 countries
November 17, 2017 | 0 Comments
West African food imports increased to 14.4. Billion US$ in 2015 compared to 13.1 billion US$ in 2014, a plus of 10% (WTO World Trade Organization)
HEIDELBERG, Germany, November 17, 2017/ — Organized by the German trade fair specialists Fairtrade (www.Fairtrade-Messe.de) the 4th edition of Agrofood (www.Agrofood-WestAfrica.com) & PlastPrintPack West Africa (www.PPP-WestAfrica.com) will take place on 05 to 07 December 2017 at the Accra International Conference Centre in Accra, Ghana. More than 90+ exhibitors from 21 countries including 5 national pavilions from Algeria, France, Netherlands, Poland and Sri Lanka, make the 2017 edition the biggest ever.  The figures of rising food imports confirm that the largest food market in Africa is still undersupplied. Rising technology imports indicate massive investments in processing, plastics and packaging equipment and a revival of local production.

West Africa’s 4th International Trade Show on Agriculture, Food & Beverage and Plastics, Printing & Packaging Solutions and Technology takes place on the background of positive economic data as figures of WTO and VDMA indicate a clear upward trend for West Africa’s Agrofood & PlastPrintPack industry. Ghana, Ivory Coast and Senegal are the largest importers of finished food as well as of agricultural and food processing and packaging technology in West Africa – apart from Nigeria.

Largest food market in Africa still undersupplied

West African food imports increased to 14.4. Billion US$ in 2015 compared to 13.1 billion US$ in 2014, a plus of 10% (WTO World Trade Organization). The figures of rising food imports show that the largest food market in Africa is still undersupplied.

 Rising technology imports indicate massive investments and a revival of local production 

  • West African imports of agricultural machinery and equipment amounted to 187 million euro in 2016 (German Engineering Federation VDMA)
  • West African imports of food processing and packaging technology increased from 506 million euro in 2015 to 556 million euro in 2016 (VDMA), up 10%
  • West Africa imported plastics technology worth 142.9 million euro in 2016, printing and paper technology of 121.8 million euro and packaging technology worth 240.2 million euro.

Rising technology imports confirm massive investments in processing, plastics and packaging equipment and indicate a revival of local production and an extremely promising medium-term development.

Agrofood & PlastPrintPack West Africa 2017 the biggest ever 

“This year 90+ exhibitors from 21 countries are represented, making the 2017 edition the biggest ever”, says Leonie Ganser, project manager at Fairtrade. “The exhibitors come from Algeria, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Iran, Italy, Korea, Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and United Kingdom.”

In addition to many global players, 5 national pavilions participate from:

  • Algeria, showcasing agribusiness products, solutions and technology
  • France, organized by adepta – offering French know-how and technology for agriculture, livestock and Agrofood production of 8 exhibitors
  • The Netherlands under the motto “Holland-Ghana Growing together” offering seeds, plants, processed foods and tissue culture supplies
  • Poland, displaying Agrofood products and equipment by 12 exhibitors
  • Sri Lanka Tea Board with 5 exhibitors offering Ceylon Tea

Institutional support:

Agrofood & PlastPrintPack West Africa 2017 is supported by the Ghanaian Ministry of Food and Agriculture and of Trade and Industry, the Delegation of the German Industry and Commerce in Ghana AHK, the French Agrofood association adepta and AVEP – Associación Valenciana de Empresarios de Plásticos.

Fairtrade (www.Fairtrade-Messe.de) was founded by Martin März in 1991. Since long, Fairtrade ranks among the leading organisers of professional international trade fairs in emerging markets, especially in North and Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Managed by its shareholder and committed to the values of a family business and the team spirit, Fairtrade maintains a powerful network of partnerships throughout the world. Fairtrade organizes shows in the sectors Agrofood, Building, CIT Solutions, Energy, Environment, Industry and PlastPrintPack and strives for a high level of customer satisfaction. By means of innovative products and excellent service Fairtrade organizes professional platforms for valuable business contacts between exhibitors and visitors. A member of UFI the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, Fairtrade’s management system is ISO 9001: 2008 certified.

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Germany backs renewable energy projects in Africa with the launch of RLSF – an innovative liquidity facility managed by ATI
November 16, 2017 | 0 Comments
The facility is designed to provide a viable solution to one of the biggest challenges facing independent power producers (IPPs) operating in Africa
Left to right) Thomas Duve, Director Southern Africa and Regional Funds KfW Development Bank - and John Lentaigne, Chief Underwriting Officer, ATI

Left to right) Thomas Duve, Director Southern Africa and Regional Funds KfW Development Bank – and John Lentaigne, Chief Underwriting Officer, ATI

LONDON, United Kingdom, November 16, 2017/ — KfW (www.KfW-entwicklungsbank.de), the German Development Bank, and the African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) (www.ATI-ACA.org) announced, on the side lines of the annual Africa Investment Exchange: Power and Renewables Meeting, a new instrument to support renewable energy projects in sub-Saharan Africa that targets small- and mid-scale (up to 50 MW) green power renewable energy projects.

The facility is designed to provide a viable solution to one of the biggest challenges facing independent power producers (IPPs) operating in Africa, specifically the requirement to provide project lenders with a liquidity guarantee. The German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through KfW will provide funding of up to 32.9 million EUR to the facility, which aims to enable small-and mid-scale renewable energy projects in Africa to reach financial close by addressing liquidity requirements that lenders frequently require in order to fund such projects.

The launch of the new facility is happening at an opportune moment when emerging markets are seeing record investments in the renewable energy sector. The International Energy Agency (IEA) expects sub-Saharan Africa’s renewables capacity to grow by 73% (24.4GW) over the period 2017-22. In addition, small-scale projects are seen as a potential solution to Africa’s energy deficit because they are easier to implement and can target energy requirements at source, but these projects find it difficult to access the type of guarantees needed to reach financial closure. The facility will kick in by providing immediate liquidity to keep the IPP afloat during periods of payment delays that are beyond the grace period provided in the power purchase agreement.

Günther Nooke, Personal Representative of the German Chancellor for Africa, BMZ, said “The Regional Liquidity Support Facility will address a key challenge in renewable energy project finance and de-risk private sector investments. We are pleased to provide the funding to this innovative instrument underlining Germany’s commitment to the objectives of the African Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI).”

The RLSF is designed to help independent power producers (IPPs) developing renewable energy projects in Africa to obtain the liquidity they need in the event that their off-taker (frequently a state owned entity) delays payment. The facility will provide immediate cash collateral supported by guarantees to a commercial bank that will in turn open a standby letter of credit to the benefit of the IPP. The amount provided will enable the IPP to operate and service the debt for up to 6 months. Furthermore, unlike most IPP letters of credit (which tend to be 12 month tenors) the facility is designed to be in place for multiple years.

Dr. Thomas Duve, KfW Director Southern Africa and Regional Funds, noted “We highly appreciate the opportunity to partner with ATI on this innovative instrument. The RLSF is a strongly market-driven concept, emphasizing KfW’s strategy to support and leverage the resources of local partners and the private sector.”

The facility, in combination with ATI’s traditional suite of political and trade credit risk insurance products (in particular ATI’s arbitration award default cover), means that ATI is able to cover the full range of political and financial risks facing investors on such projects.

Speaking at the launch, John Lentaigne, ATI’s Chief Underwriting Officer commented “We are delighted to be working with the German government, represented by KfW, on an initiative that directly targets one of the main bottlenecks preventing green power projects from being financed in Africa.”

Jef Vincent, Senior Advisor to ATI, who has overall responsibility for the initial implementation of the facility, added “Unlike some of the alternative solutions to the liquidity issue, ATI’s guarantee (as provided via the RLSF) will not require a counter-guarantee from the relevant Ministry of Finance, and as such we are confident this will be a very useful tool for those projects that we expect to support.”

KfW (www.KfW-entwicklungsbank.de) is one of the world´s leading and most experienced promotional banks. Established in 1948 as a public law institution, KfW is owned 80 per cent by the Federal Republic of Germany and 20 per cent by the federal states (“Länder”).

KfW Development Bank is Germany’s leading development bank and an integral part of KfW. It carries out Germany´s Financial Cooperation (FC) with developing countries on behalf of the Federal Government. The 600 personnel at headquarters and 370 specialists in its 68 local offices cooperate with partners all over the world. Its goal is to combat poverty, secure the peace, protect the environment and the climate and make globalisation fair. KfW is a competent and strategic advisor on current development issues.

ATI (www.ATI-ACA.org) was founded in 2001 by African States to cover the trade and investment risks of companies doing business in Africa. ATI provides a range of Political and Credit Risk, insurance covers and has a particular focus on supporting Foreign Direct Investment. As of 2016, ATI had supported over US$25 billion in trade and investments across Africa in multiple sectors and now supports trade and investments equivalent to an average of 1% of GDP annually in member countries. ATI is one of the most trusted institutions in Africa with an ‘A/negative’ rating for Financial Strength and Counterparty Credit by S&P.
www.ATI-aca.org

SOURCE
African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI)

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The future of African ports is also the future of Africa’s economic success
November 16, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Gilbert Saggia*

Gilbert Saggia

Gilbert Saggia

NAIROBI, Kenya, 16 November 2017,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Statistics indicate that 90% of imports and exports in Africa are driven by sea. With a global middle class set to reach 5 billion people by 2030, global trade is set to continue to grow at an unprecedented rate1. Reports suggest that global freighter fleet is expected to double over the next decade due to the growing consumption demands of the ever-increasing middle class.

Beyond fulfilling their respective countries’ trade needs, ports act as gateways to land-locked countries such as Ethiopia and Chad, that have significant agrarian and raw materials export potential, and great need for imports of finished and processed goods from the East and West. Without these gateways, land locked countries that have much to offer in world trade are figuratively closed for shop.

If Africa is to play a meaningful role in world trade and benefit from the rapid global growth, its sea ports will be key to ensuring that success. However, African ports face the primary challenges of under-developed infrastructure and inefficient operations, leading to significant losses in potential revenue. According to PWC, of the 72% of world container throughput commanded by developing countries, Africa collectively only sees 1%. A hypothetical improvement from 1% to 3% would increase the economic value of trade by sea by a magnitude equivalent to the GDP of certain African countries. There is clearly a need to drive improved performance at African ports if we are to take advantage of the economic promise that the future holds.

What’s holding back our sea trade success

The primary challenges shared by most African ports are long cargo clearance times; under-developed basic port and hinterland infrastructure; usage of dated equipment and low levels of automation; and container and cargo theft.

To help address some of these challenges, global donor organisations are funding the development of various African trade corridors. This is witnessed in the significant investments that are going into port infrastructure capacity expansion, including parking lot expansions, deepening of canals and the widening of basins. Infrastructure investment is however only one piece of the puzzle required to handle more cargo in a more efficient manner.

The key to efficiency is for ports to do more with their existing resources, particularly those focused on moving cargo. By optimising the utilisation of these resources, ports will not only improve their cargo throughput but also become more profitable. According to SAP global performance benchmarking, ports that leverage technology to drive productivity improvements have a 36% higher operating margin than their peers. As an example, in Asia where ports are largely automated, the turnaround time for vessels – the time it takes to port, offload cargo, reload, and depart – can be as little as 7 hours compared to the 5-day average for an African port. Cargo vessels can also spend a full month longer in an African port than they would in an Asian equivalent.

One of the key differentiating factors of leading global ports is the extent to which they have adopted emerging technologies. For example IoT driven smart logistics platforms and advanced analytics solutions that manage container theft, predict the failure of key equipment, and reduce downtime, in real-time, thereby increasing port throughput and protecting profit margins. By contrast, outdated technology and manual processes remain a burden for African ports with most operators still relying on ageing equipment, disparate systems and a siloed approach to handling core processes and operations.

Moving forward for Africa’s ports

To address the challenges and overcome some of the prevailing inhibitors to their success and growth, African ports are embracing various technologies to achieve performance improvements realised by their counterparts in other geographies. In pursuit of such performance excellence, African port authorities have identified two top-level goals: increasing port throughput and improving terminal operations. To increase port throughput, port authorities are considering ways to accelerate the flow of goods through their port by reducing congestion in the value chain. By leveraging hub logistics, transportation management solutions, and connected warehouse offerings, port authorities can accelerate the rate of information exchange across the multiple stakeholders in the port value chain, and unlock the ability to conduct real-time performance monitoring of key assets. This enables them to track profitability at an asset level, enabling them to identify potential new business opportunities. As an example, the Hamburg Port Authority simplified logistics and truck park management with SAP Hub Logistics, and was able to reduce idle time for carriers, improve its traffic management system, and achieve a higher turnover of traffic from 9 million containers to an eventual 25 million.

To improve terminal operations, African ports need to adopt automation as a means of standardising and simplifying port operations. In addition, these ports require a centralised approach to managing processes, enabled by a single platform for all automation efforts. This will allow them to handle unusual circumstances by pre-empting potential business disruption, recommending remediation actions and facilitating communication between stakeholders across the port value chain, with no duplication of efforts or messaging.

Realising Africa’s economic potential

With 30% of the world’s remaining mineral resources and approximately 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land on the continent, Africa’s relevance in the global food and resource transportation value chain is significant. The success of Africa’s ports and associated transport networks is critical to Africa’s conversion of economic potential to economic success. To adequately facilitate greater trade with the world, African ports need to embrace innovation, automation and simplification. By investing in the right business solutions that offer end to end transportation management, connected warehouse management, vessel and container track-and-trace, and inter alia, improved hub logistics, African ports can take a step closer toward enriching the continent.

Partnering with a global technology provider such as SAP, African ports can adopt innovative business models, streamline operations, and scale their operations to meet future demand and realise their full potential.

As market leader in enterprise application software, SAP (NYSE: SAP) helps companies of all sizes and industries run better. From back office to boardroom, warehouse to storefront, desktop to mobile device – SAP empowers people and organizations to work together more efficiently and use business insight more effectively to stay ahead of the competition. SAP applications and services enable more than 345,000 business and public sector customers to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and grow sustainably.
*Gilbert Saggia is  Managing Director,East Africa at SAP Africa
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Ecobank Group Research reveals three key emerging trends for Africa
November 16, 2017 | 0 Comments
Digital innovation in Sub-Saharan Africa is being driven by the explosion in mobile phone usage, enabling African consumers to leapfrog existing business models and technologies
LONDON, United Kingdom, November 16, 2017/ —

  • Rebounding economy after a trying year
  • Gas is West Africa’s new oil
  • Africa’s evolving role in FinTech leadership

The 2017 version of Ecobank Research’s Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities (FICC) Guidebook, which provides expert knowledge and analysis on African markets for investors and businesses, was launched today at AfricaFICC. Indicating a positive outlook for the continent, three key trends are forecast to take hold during the next 12 months.

The first indicates an economic rebound in sub-Saharan Africa (https://goo.gl/f1PQQm) driven by a recovery in the region’s economic heavyweights, Nigeria and South Africa, and ongoing growth in the top performers, Ethiopia, Côte d’Ivoire and (more recently) Ghana.

  • Growth will be driven by a rise in oil production (notably in Ghana, Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Angola), strengthening infrastructure investment across West and East Africa, and improved weather conditions which bode well for crops.
  • Strengthening economic activity, plus a moderate improvement in oil and mineral prices, will help narrow the current account deficit, but pressure on SSA currencies will remain.

The second emerging trend points to West Africa’s gas sector becoming a hive of activity in 2018 (https://goo.gl/L6NEkF) from Senegal to Angola, with the development of gas pipelines, floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) platforms and major gas field projects.

  • Governments in the Gulf of Guinea and across West Africa have ramped up efforts to secure gas supply in order to boost domestic power generation and diversify their revenues away from crude oil.
  • Deregulating the gas market and allowing market-driven gas prices will be key to unlocking further gas infrastructure investment across the region.

The third trend suggests Fintech innovation in Africa picking up speed in 2018 (https://goo.gl/Z52dpk) buoyed by a new generation of Africans who are ‘digital natives’. The proliferation of tech hubs across Africa (notably in South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire) will nurture the next wave of African start-ups and help connect them with investors.

  • Digital innovation in SSA is being driven by the explosion in mobile phone usage, enabling African consumers to leapfrog existing business models and technologies.
  • African Fintech firms are increasingly driving this innovation, deploying digital tools to build credit profiles for the previously ‘unbankable’, providing electricity to rural households that were previously off the grid, even using artificial intelligence to diagnose health problems remotely.

Edward George, Head of Ecobank Group Research, said: “The digital world moves apace, and so must we. The AfricaFICC website is a key way that we can deliver our regional market analysis and expert local knowledge of 41 African markets – which is often hard to access – to a much wider audience. We think these three trends are strong evidence that Africa has weathered the storms of late and is very much on track for improved growth in 2018.”

The Ecobank Research Centre (https://Goo.gl/1pUKzB) is dedicated to providing the highest quality research for clients to help them navigate the complex African marketplace. Areas covered include; Economics, Banking and Financial services, Oil, Gas & Power, Soft Commodities, Trade and Digital Innovation. A team of seasoned analysts based across Ecobank’s 36-country footprint is able to draw upon on extensive local knowledge to provide insights for clients and identify investment opportunities. The insights focus on Middle Africa – the region between North Africa and the Rand Zone, which has the richest potential for growth but is poorly understood. Ecobank Research provides regular market updates, briefing notes and detailed studies on the region’s macroeconomics, currencies, fixed income, equities, commodities, trade and digital innovation. Additional information about the research team and an archive of published reports can be found at https://Goo.gl/1pUKzB.

Incorporated in Lomé, Togo, in 1988 Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (‘ETI’) (www.Ecobank.com) the parent company of Ecobank is the leading independent pan-African banking group. It currently has a presence in 36 African countries, namely: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Democratic Republic), Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Group employs over 20,000 people in 40 different countries in over 1,200 branches and offices. Ecobank is a full-service bank providing wholesale, retail, investment and transaction banking services and products to governments, financial institutions, multinationals, international organizations, medium, small and micro businesses and individuals.

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Alex Iwobi reveals why he snubbed England for Nigeria
November 16, 2017 | 0 Comments

Alex Iwobi has revealed why he chose to represent Nigeria rather than England.

The 21-year-old featured for the Three Lions youth teams before switching allegiance to represent his country of birth

The 21-year-old featured for the Three Lions youth teams before switching allegiance to represent his country of birth

The midfielder, after appearing for England U16, U17 and U18 sides, switched allegiance to his country of birth in 2015. And he has gone on to make 11 appearances with the Super Eagles scoring four goals which includes his strike against Zambia that secured a World Cup berth.

And he has said that having a lot of ties to the country made it easier for him to play for the three-time Africa champions.

“I was growing up in England and England was the only national team I knew, so I was actually very pleased to play at the national level,” Iwobi told Soccer Laduma.

“However, my family are all from Nigeria, I was born in Nigeria, my uncle (Jay-Jay Okocha) is a legend in Nigeria.

“That’s why I thought I would give it a chance. That’s why I went to the U23s and somehow felt more welcome, and I thought it’s where I belong, so I made the decision to switch.”

Iwobi was in blistering form on Tuesday where he weighed in with two well-taken goals as the Super Eagles shocked Argentina with a 4-2 victory in a friendly outing in Krasnodar.

*Sporting News/Yahoo

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