Oil Industry and Civil Society Congratulate “Africa Oil Man of the Year” Macky Sall on Taking Bold Steps to Develop Senegal’s Hydrocarbons Industry
October 16, 2019 | 0 Comments
|The award is a recognition of Macky Sall’s work and the efforts of his government to boost the development of Senegal’s economy|
|JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, October 15, 2019/ — The African and global energy sector is rallying behind Macky Sall’s efforts to develop his country’s oil & gas industry, which are positioning Senegal as a new energy hub in Africa. Such efforts and achievements are being celebrated this week as the President of Senegal receives the Africa Oil Man of the Year from Africa Oil & Power.|
The award is a recognition of Macky Sall’s work and the efforts of his government to boost the development of Senegal’s economy, create an enabling environment for investors and ensure that future oil & gas extracted from Senegal generate jobs and growth opportunities for Senegalese companies.
“Under President Macky Sall, Senegal continues to show its commitment to transparency, to engaging with those who disagree with him, to finding consensus on extractive industry matters, and to taking all necessary actions to avoid the natural resources curse,” said Akere Muna, former Vice President of Transparency International and former Chairman of the International Anti-Corruption Conference Council. “The Senegalese people understand what is at stake with these resources coming out of the ground and their President is showing a definite engagement to ensure a transparent distribution of revenues and resources for the benefits of the Senegalese economy and its citizens. The President should use this award to make Senegal a place where Africans can be proud of the natural resource sector,” added Muna.
“As Senegal gets closer to producing first gas and increase its production of oil, we congratulate its President Macky Sall and its government on adding yet another African nation to the list of global hydrocarbons producers,” added Mahaman Laouan Gaya, Secretary General of the African Petroleum Producers’ Organisation (APPO). “African producers stand ready to cooperate with Senegal to support its economic development, and we truly look forward to following the country on its renewed journey to prosperity.”
Soon after discovering oil and gas in 2014 and 2016, Senegal engaged in a nation-wide dialogue with the private sector, foreign investors and the civil society on the next steps to develop the industry. This resulted in the creation of new entities such as the Strategic Orientation Committee for Petroleum and Gas (COS-Petrogaz) but also in a brand new Petroleum Code in 2019 and new local content regulations to ensure the creation of local jobs and the procurement of local goods and services from the industry. As a result, foreign investments increased and several international majors, national oil companies and independents entered the market.
“What Senegal and its President Macky Sall have proven is that the power of political will and leadership cannot be underestimated in this industry,” said Prince Arthur Eze, Chairman of Atlas Oranto Petroleum, currently exploring in Senegal. “Sound regulations, good governance and a political leadership aligned towards a common target of economic development and of making energy work for the people is what is making Senegal a new African success story, I salute the President and the people of Senegal, the entire Africa is praying for you” he added.
Senegal is notably making headlines for fast-tracking the development of its industry and not loosing time on getting resources out of the ground. The industry is notably saluting the country’s authorities for the short time it took between the first discoveries of oil and gas in Senegal and the taking of relevant final investment decisions, which is remarkable for industry standards. As a result, Senegal is set to become a global gas exporter in the near future alongside African countries like those of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, including Algeria, Egypt, Angola, Mozambique, Tanzania Equatorial Guinea, Libya, and Nigeria.
“This proves the willingness of the Senegalese government to develop these resources and the industry at large,” declared Jude Kearney, former Deputy Assistant Secretary during the Clinton Administration and current President of Kearney Africa Advisors. “More importantly, doing so has not resulted in any detriment to good governance practices and developing a sound regulatory framework,” added Kearney.
“Senegal’s President Macky Sall has established strong relations with the world, including Germany, which will be very beneficial when it comes to attracting the right capital and technology to develop its energy sector,” added Sebastian Wagner, CEO of the Germany Africa Business Forum (GABF).
The African Energy Chamber under the leadership our executive Chairman NJ Ayuk, joins the industry in congratulating President Macky Sall for taking the right steps to develop Senegal’s oil & gas sector and make energy work for all Senegalese citizens. With its partners, the Chamber will continue to assist Senegal in promoting good governance, attracting investments and building domestic capacity across the value-chain.
Gambia: Tourism Officials Receive Maiden Tourists Flight For 2019/20 Season
October 16, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Bakary Ceesay
Officials of The Gambia Tourism Board (GTBoard) have received the first tourists flight at the Banjul International Airport marking the beginning of the 2019/20 tourists season. The maiden flight that brought one hundred and forty one (141) tourists from Holland was ferried into the shores of the country by Correndon Tour Operators.
Speaking to the team of waiting journalists at the foot of the maiden flight, Abdoulie Hydara, Director General of Gambia Tourism Board described the arrival of one hundred and forty one (141) tourists into The Gambia as a very good start for the tourists’ season, adding the country is expecting to receive fifty one (51) flights per week as the 2019/20 tourists’ season progresses.
“I can confirm that Correndon will be doing four flights per weeks plus other weekly flights by other operators. I can also authoritatively confirm that we (GTBoard) will be receiving Fifty one (51) flights per week as far as the 2019/20 tourists season is concern,” said DG Hydara.
He disclosed that last year with the involvement of Thomas Cook Group the country receives fifty seven (57) weekly flights from Europe and Scandinavia, adding that efforts are on course to speedily fill the gap left by Thomas Cook through the engagement of other tour operators.
“We (GTBoard) are very optimistic at this point in time because we are hopeful we will soon confirm additional three flights that will obviously reduce the gap left by Thomas Cook Group. As at now we are not much concern at the number of tourists’ flights but the frequency of flights landing in the country,” DG Hydara disclosed.
According to him, it is not only the chartered flights that bring in tourists into the country but equally scheduled flights, adding that with the presence of the SN Brussels, Arik, Royal Air Moroc, and Turkish Airline among others tourism is bound to stay attractive and booming.
The GTBoard Director General also confirmed that Gambia Experience a leading Tour Operating Company in the Country has increase their number of flights to seven weekly flights as well as SN Brussels that also promised to increase their flight numbers to five, adding that Gambia may not lose as much tourists as anticipated by the populace due largely to these interventions.
Lilian Sallah, Director at Africa Adventure Tours responsible for Correndon Affairs in The Gambia discloses that Correndon will be bring three flights per week as of this month and by November through end of the season this figures will be increase to four flights per week, adding that Correndon will continue to work with Gambia tourism authorities in a bid to expand its shares of the Gambian market.
Madam sallah observes that Gambia tourism authorities must find the right balance between the Chartered flights and the Scheduled flights in a bid to minimizing future damages, adding that with the right balance even if tour operators failed to bring in the tourists Scheduled flights can still be available at their disposal.
Sryianar is among the first batch of tourists who arrives in the country to spend a one week holidays with her family, she told Chronicle that this is her first time in the country and is expecting to make series of visits to attraction sites available in the country.
“Am very happy to come here for holidays, I hope to enjoy the nice weather and my little ones are eager to see monkeys and birds available in the country. My friends told me this is a nice country for holidaying and we hope to have a very memorable stay so that we can continue to come here many more times,” Sryianar told Pan African Visions.
US Congressional Delegation Meets President Barrow
October 16, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Bakary Ceesay
President Adama Barrow on Monday morning received in audience a group of Representatives of the United States Congress at the State House in Banjul.
According to the leader of the parliamentary delegation known as the “House Democracy Partnership”, Congressman David Price of North Carolina, their discussions with the President was “very productive’’.
The group’s mission is to promote responsive, effective government and to strengthen democratic institutions by assisting legislatures in emerging democracies.
“We are here to show support, to learn and to express solidarity that our country feels with The Gambia as they take this path forward,” Congressman Price told waiting State House Press Corps.
President Barrow, on his part, said The Gambia cherished its longstanding friendship with the United States. He said his government appreciates the support given by the United States during the transition program.
“The reforms are still ongoing with the start of many important projects, such as the constitutional review, truth and reconciliation, civil service and security sector reforms. We are focused on the goals,” President Barrow told the delegation.
They discussed democratic reforms aimed at transforming The Gambia into a full-fledged member of the comity of democratic nations in the world.
Much Ado About Nothing?- AU Pours Cold Water On Furor After Arikana Recall
October 16, 2019 | 0 Comments
-Her successor will build on the solid foundation she has laid- AU Chair Faki
By Ajong Mbapndah L
After suffering a week of acerbic criticisms over the decision to end the tenure of Ambassador Chimbori Arikana as Ambassador to the USA, African Union Chairman Moussa Faki has dismissed as “patently untrue” insinuations that her pronouncements,and opinions predicated the decision.
“Dr Chihombori has maintained a public presence freely without fear or prejudice to voice her opinions,” Ebba Kalondo, Spokesperson for Chairman Faki in a statement issued today.
“Political appointees at the African Union, including Dr Chihombori, are appointed at the discretion of the appointing authority. The duration of such political appointments is also determined at the discretion of that appointing authority,” Kalondo said in the statement.
According to Kalondo, in the course of her three year tenure, the AU Commission never found any reason to sanction Ambassador Arikana over any of her public presence.
“Dr Chihombori has maintained a public presence freely without fear or prejudice to voice her opinions. Therefore to state or suggest that Ambassador Chihombori’s termination of service is due to any pronouncements she has made, or opinions she may have held during her three-year tenure, is patently untrue,” Kalondo said.
The replacement of Ambassador Arikana was normal diplomatic practice for political appointees everywhere, said Faki’s spokesperson, while expressing hope that her successor will build on the solid foundation she has laid.
The decision to replace Arikana triggered a fire storm and some harsh words from her supporters towards AU Chairman Moussa Faki.While some seasoned professionals and Washington connoisseurs were not surprised with the decision to replace the outgoing Ambassador, her partisans thought the decision was engineered by the French government which did not appreciate her straight talk.
While the statement from Chairman Faki may put the controversy to rest, a Change.org petition to reinstate Arikana has so far garnered some 30,000 signatures.
Full Letter from Ebba Kalondo,Spokesperson to the Chairperson of the African Union Commission below.
Communiqué on the end of tenure of Ambassador Arikana Chihombori-Quao, AU Permanent Representative to Washington, DC
Addis Abeba, 15 October 2019: The African Union Commission is aware of reports circulating on social media making claims surrounding the circumstances of the recall of the Permanent Representative of the African Union Mission to the United States of America, Dr Arikana Chihombori-Quao.
Political appointees at the African Union, including Dr Chihombori, are appointed at the discretion of the appointing authority. The duration of such political appointments is also determined at the discretion of that appointing authority.
Dr Chihombori received a letter on 7 October 2019 bringing her tour of duty to an end, in line with the terms and conditions governing her contract of appointment, after serving three years as Permanent Representative of the African Union Mission to the United States of America, and appreciating her contribution to the Union during her tenure. This is normal diplomatic practice for political appointees everywhere.
Dr Chihombori has never been sanctioned by the Commission on any public pronouncements she has made during her three-year tenure and nor has the Commission ever thought the need to do so. On the contrary, Dr Chihombori has maintained a public presence freely without fear or prejudice to voice her opinions. Therefore to state or suggest that Ambassador Chihombori’s termination of service is due to any pronouncements she has made, or opinions she may have held during her three-year tenure, is patently untrue.
We wish our esteemed colleague the best in her future endeavours and trust her successor will build on the solid foundation she has laid.
Spokesperson to the Chairperson of the AfricanUnion Commission
Gambia: Madam Camara shares her anguish after 19-years
October 15, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Adama Makasuba
Sainabou Camara-Lowe has shared gory tales of her anguish with the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission after 19 years, as the Commission of Inquiry began public hearings on sexual and gender based violence.
At least 129 witnesses have testified so far among whom 31 were perpetrators and alleged perpetrators and the rest were victims including 21 women.
Meanwhile, Madam Camara-Lowe however told the commission that she can’t remember how she got the wound in her private part but that “may be something was inserted inside my private part but I can’t remember how it happened because I was in comma, and I was bleeding,”
This session focuses on sexual abuses and gender based violence and Madam Camara-Lowe, 39, who was among the student protesters on April 10 and 11 2000, said she experienced wounds and pain in her private part and was in a comma caused by torture from the personnel of the police intervention unit in 2000.
She said while attending medication at Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital in Banjul that “a pipe was fixed in her in order to enable her urinate “but told the commission that she still feels pain around her private which she said “was not stitched by the doctors 19 years ago.”
“I couldn’t tell till to date how I got the wound on my private part, all my body was swollen, my face, my thigh, my groins and my private part,” she said
However, she said after her discharged from the hospital that her aunty took care of her health, adding she was using warmed up water mixed with detergent to heal the wound.
According to her, she insulted the mother of the former president Yahya Jammeh and former vice president Dr Isatou Njie –Saidy in their presence as they paid them a visit at the hospital
“I can’t do a heavy work, if I am to fetch water I must take a bucket and if I am to launder I had to sit-down because I can’t bend as up till now my groins pain me, my abdominal pains me and when I got pregnant my private part swells and pains me,” she said.
She said the pains were inflicted on her by the personnel of the Police Intervention Unit as she said: “as we were running and because I didn’t know Serekunda, I headed toward their camp. I was slim and, I was very fast in running. But the four of them were chasing after me and when I felt tired and while attempted to jumped over a fence, one of my leg was over the fence and they held on to the other of my leg.”
She said she got brushes as a result of beating inflicted on her by the personnel of the police intervention unit adding that her cheeks were also swollen.
“They were stamping on my body staring from my chest to my private part and down to my leg which is now I couldn’t do a heavy work,” she said, adding that “they tied me from my toe up to my neck and one of them took my workman put it on his ears and told me you people are rude but we will teach you a lesson, and I insulted his mother and the other man slapped me on my face.”
She recalled that one Aunty Njie who she said was a nurse at the time at Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital in Banjul to have recognized her of not dead after she was taken to the mortuary.
She however couldn’t tell how she got to the hospital in Banjul as she was in faint, adding while at the hospital she was labeled dead number 4 as doctors and nurses labeled the dead’s at the mortuary house.
Gambia Answers Present At First Ever CAF Safety And Security Workshop
October 15, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Bakary Ceesay
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has invited the Gambia amongst 54 member Associations to the first ever CAF Stadium Safety and Security Workshop in Cairo. The program opens on 14th October and will address lots of practices for participants to ensure safety and security at national stadiums during international matches.
The Gambia Football Federation is been represented by its FIFA Security Officer Lt Col Musa Jammeh. The two days land mark workshop aims to also ensure international best practices of safety and security to both lives and properties.
According to Officials at the workshop, security of fans, players and officials is a top priority during and after football matches across the African continent. CAF Secretary General Mouad Hajji said the lives of the thousands of fans who throng the various stadia to share moments of joy with family and friends depend on top levels of security and safety.
He highlighted that the workshop will build on the already solid safety and security foundations laid at CAF following the establishment of its first-ever Safety and Security Department headed by Dr. Christian Emeruwa, in February 2018.
Upon his return, Lt Col Jammeh is expected to share with the football leadership the outcome of the workshop to ensuring more safety and security of our matches at the Independence Stadium. The Scorpions qualification to the Afcon 2021 Group stages meant that the Gambia will host three more international matches beginning November when the Qualifiers proper kicks off.
Gambia :Scorpions Advance To Afcon Qualifiers
October 15, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Bakary Ceesay
Gambia Scorpions have advanced to the Afcon 2021 Qualifiers proper when they edged out Djibouti on Sunday 13th October, 2019 at the return leg of the preliminaries held at the Independence Stadium in Bakau. This preceded a one all draw at home (2-2) on aggregate at full time for both legs but settled for a 3-2 scoreline that followed for the Scorpions at penalty shootouts.
Djibouti took the lead early into the opening minutes when striker Mahdi Houssein converted a spot kick nine minutes earlier on. The Gambia created the bulk of the chances at first half coming very close to scoring with Ebrima Colley, Alassana Manneh and Abdoulie Jallow is driving in entertaining but vigor to equal the Djibouti lead. It was until moments (brink of stoppage time) that Abdoulie Jallow leveled the scoring for the Scorpions and going into break.
The Scorpions’ dominance continued and even at the edge of their opponent’s area when new found galaxy of stars Ebrima Colley, Alassana Manneh and dimunitive Ablie Jallow all came close even by a fingertip touch but intents went wide and wayward. The drama didnt stop as Fus Rabat forward Muhammed Badamosi in his twinning with Assan Ceesay also came at the closest time and sent the Stadium in wild unbelievable roaring but the former Gamtel FC forward wasn’t at his best tonight although Badamosi would do the most of the aerial attacks.
Second half saw more Scorpions substitutions as Coach Tom Saintfiet intends to finish the business with more goals to avoid any possible shootouts. This didnt go as planned hence no more goals came forth for the home side. The match ended one all and eventually went into kicks from the penalty spot.
FT 1-1.Gambia 3-2 Djibouti (pen) Ablie Jallow converted the winner for the Gambia while Modou Jobe was hailed for his heroic saves at goal.
The Gambia now advances to the Group stages of the Qualifiers Proper to join Angola, DR Congo and Gabon in Group D of the Afcon.
Speaking to reporters after the game in a post match presser, Scorpions Coach Tom Saintfiet noted the fact that his side could have finished the job in regular time if “we had utilized our chances very well”.
He said as a team, ” we created so many chances and we should have finished the game but we couldn’t score more than one. I was expecting a win in both matches but it was difficult because we had one training session before the first leg and one before this game tonight. I am happy that we qualify and we have a chance to play in the next AFCON”, he said.
Djibouti Coach Julien Mette said, he is very happy with the performance of his team and said they put up a great fight over the two legs. “You can see we have a very young team with only one professional but we fought well. I am really proud of the performance of my team”, he concludes.
Gambia to host Forum on localizing UN’s Agenda 2030
October 15, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Bakary Ceesay
The Gambia will host an international forum on the theme localizing the UN Agenda 2030, on 28-29 October, 2019.
The forum is organized by the Government of The Gambia in collaboration with the Senegalo-Gambian Permanent Secretariat, the United Nations Resident Coordinator and the UN Country Team in The Gambia, the UN Trust Fund for Human Security (UNTFHS), and the International Peace Institute (IPI.
According to a statement from the coordinators the PSSG, the forum offers a unique opportunity to bring together, in Banjul, government officials and municipal authorities, the UN system, bilateral and regional entities, entrepreneurs, and community representatives coming from Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Liberia, Senegal, and Sierra Leone to stimulate and exchange ideas on localizing the 2030 Agenda, thereby promoting integration, inclusiveness and sustainable development.
The programmes will advance tangible improvement in the daily lives of people towards the transformative promise of the 2030 Agenda.
It will also include a cultural festival to promote peace, unity and progress in the New Gambia, to be held at Q City Brusubi Turn-table on Monday, October 28.
US Congressional Delegation Arrives in Gambia to strengthen democratic institutions
October 15, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Bakary Ceesay
A congressional delegation from the United States of America arrived in The Gambia Sunday for a two day visit to promote responsive, effective government and to strengthen democratic institutions by assisting legislatures in emerging democracies
The U.S. legislators, traveling with the House Democracy Partnership (“HDP”), are led by the HDP Chairman, Representative David Price of North Carolina. The delegation also includes Representative Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma, Representative Barbara Lee of California, Representative Diana DeGette of Colorado, and Representative Alma Adams of North Carolina.
The US Embassy in Banjul said in a press release sent to Pan African Visions: “The mission of the U.S. House Democracy Partnership is to promote responsive, effective government and to strengthen democratic institutions by assisting legislatures in emerging democracies. Central to their work is peer-to-peer cooperation to build technical expertise in partner legislatures and enhance accountability, transparency, legislative independence, access to information, and government oversight.
“During their visit, Congressional members will meet with member of the National Assembly and learn about Gambian legislative priorities and consult on legislative procedures and structures that enhance representative governance.
“They will also meet with His Excellency President Adama Barrow and members of civil society, non-governmental organizations, Peace Corps Volunteers, and various members of President Barrow’s cabinet.
Before departing, they will pay their respects to Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara by laying a wreath at his grave in the National Assembly.”
With MPower African Students Can Dare to Dream Big- Georgetown Alum Grace Chimezie
October 15, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
Grace Chimezie was at the end stretch of her studies at Georgetown University in Washington when financial challenges struck hard. She was unable to complete her tuition, and her applications to traditional borrowers were not gaining much traction.
Faced with the real threat of putting her studies on hold, Grace Chimezie , originally from Nigeria was advised by her University to give MPower Financing a try. The application was hassle free, and Grace was granted the loan which enabled her to complete her studies. Upon Graduation, Grace had a job with the World Bank , and is now with the National Democratic Institute in Washington,DC.
Dynamic and ambitious, Grace started repaying the loan even before she officially graduated. Asked if she was under any pressure to start repaying the loans so soon, Grace indicated that the decision was solely hers. For African students who dream big but do not have the means, MPower Financing can help turn those dreams to reality , she said.
How did you hear about Empower Financing?
Grace Chimezie: I was studying in Georgetown University (Washington, DC,USA), and I had paid my first year tuition because I had like a two year degree program I applied for. I was in Georgetown for a Masters degree in Communications, Culture, and Technology and my focus was between Technology and Public Policy. So I had done my first year payment and I needed payment for the second year and I went to my school advisory board and they recommended MPower Financing as an organization that could help me get a loan.
How was your experience going through the loan process? What did you have to do?
Grace Chimezie: If you are getting a loan from an American bank, you needed a reference or someone who will support you. For MPower, you just needed to show approval that like possibility of repaying the loans or your statement of account that is the amount you are going to get from them and your resume. It was a very easy process compared to what I would have gone through if I was going through a federal or financial aid because I did not have collateral or someone who would provide that for me.
Based on the experience that you had, is it a service that you are going to recommend to people?
Grace Chimezie: Definitely because they came at a time when I really needed it. I had one tuition left to kind of graduate and if I did not get that loan approved, I was not going to graduate, and this is someone who had done almost all her courses and having that one little fee I would not have graduated. So I really do recommend them because within the first two weeks I had already gotten an answer about the loan process.
You graduated in May this year, when are you going to start repaying the loan?
Grace Chimezie: I have already started repaying the loan
It is some 5 months after you graduated, did you get a job or were you pressured to start repaying the loan?
Grace Chimezie: I decided to kind of start repaying the loan as soon as possible. It is kind of important to know the budget for the schools you are going to and the loans you are borrowing because that will give you an understanding of what you have to do and the repayment of the loan is not as burdensome as someone will assume. The best advice I will say is do your budget to know that when you borrow the loan and what you have in your own account so you do not start offsetting that in your own account. I was not pressured to have a job as I am already working right now so it is just easier to start doing that (paying the loan) now.
So, the decision to start paying the loan was solely yours and not because MPower Financing pressured you?
Grace Chimezie: Oh no, They did not put pressure. You have to get into an agreement with them that this is when you will start repaying the loan. The repayment plan is not burdensome depending on how much you borrow.
When you say it is not burdensome, what do you mean?
Grace Chimezie: I borrowed $20K, and my repayment plan is around $193 a month so I think that is kind of lenient considering the amount I borrowed. And you have like an 11 to 12 year plan to repay the loan.
With regards to the fixed payments that are done monthly, if there is a possibility to pay earlier is that an option?
Maureen Klover chimes in: One of our features is that there is no prepaid penalty. Some lenders actually charge you to pay early because it is in the borrowers’ best interest because we kind of end up benefiting less overall. But again our motto is when the borrower succeeds we succeeds so borrowers can end paying us early that is fine and they end up paying less overall because they are paying under the principle or early. If someone gets an amazing job out of school and earns a hundred thousand dollars, they could pay the whole amount right away and that will be fine.
You come from a country and continent with so many young people, what advice do you have for the young people with this kind of opportunity MPower Financing provides?
Grace Chimezie: The message will be do not limit your dreams because once your dreams are big enough there is always an answer for it and the bigger your dreams the bigger the opportunities for you to kind of achieve all of them. I will advice people to dream big because the more you dream big the more prospective answers you will have for the dreams.
A Lifeline for African and International Students In MPower Financing
October 15, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
For international students, and those who aspire to study in the USA and Canada, one of the biggest challenges remains how to secure funds. Traditional student loans end up been very costly and eligibility conditions are often stringent for them. In MPower Financing, international students and those from Africa aspiring to study in Canada and the USA now have a partner to help them live their dreams.
From the application, to eligibility criteria, and repayment, MPower Financing is shaping up to be a dependable vehicle for them to fulfil their dreams of quality education.
“Any student from any African country except Sudan is eligible to apply provided that they go to one of our 350 schools in the US and Canada,” says Maureen Klovers, Director of Social Impact with MPower Financing. Interviewed in Washington,DC, Maureen Klovers said MPower is gaining grounds in countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Malawi, Kenya and Cameroon . Our motto is “when the borrower succeeds, we succeed,” said Maureen Klovers as she expressed the hope to see more African students benefit from the unique services offered by MPower Financing.
You are Director of Social Impact with MPower Financing. What is MPower Financing and what do you do?
Maureen Klovers: We are the world’s only lender that provides fix rate education loans to international students from all over the world without requiring a US collateral or a US credit history. That is very unique and Nigeria is our second biggest market while Ghana is rising in the ranks- I think our 6th largest. So Africa is really important to us and we are happy to talk to you.
Do you provide funding for students only in the US or do you also provide funding to students in Africa who are in need of funding?
Maureen Klovers: Most of our students are based in Africa and other parts of the world and are coming to the US for graduate degrees. So 80% of our students are pursuing graduate degrees. We can make loans to students pursuing graduate degrees or students in their last two years of undergraduate. We do have some students from the Diaspora who are permanent or are already working here who also get loans.
What is the cap or limit students can get?
Maureen Klovers: We can loan up to $25K at one time and $50K overall for any student.
What are the criteria for students to benefit from the loans?
Maureen Klovers: You first need to be eligible and we have very broad criteria. So any student from any African country except Sudan is eligible to apply provided that they go to one of our 350 schools in the US and Canada. You need to be within two years of graduation and for an MBA that is fine as it is a two year degree. For any kind of two year degree it will cover that and then if you are at your last two years of your undergraduate. Very simple and eligibility criteria and you can do a 30sec eligibility check on our website and it will tell you if you are eligible or not. It is just 3 questions and they will ask you about the cost of your degrees, where you are going and what you are studying. What is really unique about us is that we do not make our credit decision base on your family’s income or asset and so it is not a collateral loan. We make our decision base on your future earning potential so we are looking at your past earning history, your past professional experience, the school you are going to, the degree you are going to get and so if you are going to get an MBA degree, or an Engineering degree we are confident that you are going to get a good earning potential and be able to pay us back.
How different are you from the other loan structures that are out there?
Maureen Klovers: Very different because most Africans right now are either using funding from their families which mean we are talking about wealthy individuals or while other lenders will ask you to mortgage your home for example. What is unique about us is that we do not require you to mortgage or to rely on your parents. Again, we are focusing on the future earning potential.
Any idea of the number of African students you currently have?
Maureen Klovers: We have roughly 500 at the moment. Our biggest market is India but our second biggest market is Nigeria. Our 6th biggest market right now is Ghana, and other African countries include South Africa Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya and Cameroon.
With regards to loan payments, at what point do you require students to start repaying?
Maureen Klovers: Our loan product is unique in that students pay interests while they are in school interest only and then for 6 months after graduation. A lot of our students get like an on campus job to help make those small payments. The benefit is that you are not paying interest on interest so people do not realize that if you do not pay while you are in school it accrues and you end up paying more and the other thing is that it allows you to build your US credit history so that when you graduate you can get a credit card, car loan and pass a credit check for employment. After that 6 months grace period, there is a ten year repayment period where you repay the interest in principle.
With the experience that you have had, how prompt is the repayment process? How flexible are you when it comes to these repayments?
Maureen Klovers: We try to be really flexible because we are a social benefit corporation which means we are for profit, we are not a non-profit organization but we have social point objectives and our motto is. So what we do is that when a student gets into trouble, we can put them on forbearance for up to 24 months so we can put their payments on pause and we can also offer them a $25 credit billing option where they make $25 payment a month and we continue to report the loan current to the credit bureau. So we can do a variety of things and we also have a path to success initiative where we can do a free review of the student’s resume; how to ace an interview and those are for international students.
With regards to the students who live Africa and come here, do you help them with visa application?
Maureen Klovers: Thanks for asking. We provide visa support and the processes is that you go through most of our loan process and we conditionally approve you then we will provide you a letter to take to the US Embassy that says yes, this student has enough funds to be in the US. The process to get a student visa is that you need to show you have sufficient financial support, so we will provide a letter that we are providing loans and together with other savings and amounts that should be sufficient.
What are you doing to broaden your outreach in Africa since you have been in existence for five years now?
Maureen Klovers: This interview is a start and we are also trying to bring more of our Nigerian borrowers and scholarship winners to raise our profile. We have a lot of scholarship programs but honestly Africans have dominated the winner’s list. We have had winners from Nigeria, Malawi, and Kenya and so through our scholarship program we are getting the word out there. We started a new Facebook group, and Africans are by far the number one demographics in that group and we have also been doing focus groups through our consulting firm to better understand the challenges facing African students and women. Only 35 per cent of our borrowers from Nigeria are females, so that is what we have been focusing on. In terms of overcoming the barriers for women in Africa we have recently partnered with the Malala Fund and we are going to be donating $25 from each of our loans to them to support access to secondary education for girls in India, Nigeria and other places around the world.
Which fields of study will easily make students to meet your eligibility criteria?
Maureen Klovers: Actually we do not have any limit in the fields of study, you could be in any degree program but you are more likely to be approved at least for more money if you are in an MBA program or any STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) degree just because your future earning potential is that much better. But I do not want to dissuade anyone from applying because even if you are a communications major or in the Arts or in some other field you can still get funding. But it is just more likely if you are in a business or STEM field.
In the course of your studies maybe the cost becomes more than you anticipated, are there prospects for applying for additional loans?
Maureen Klovers: Our lifetime cap for borrowers is $50K. A typical borrower borrows 31K, so they are below that. So, let us say you borrow 30K and you have a shortfall, you could apply to borrow another $20K and we see that a lot. We have some students like in one of our scholarship we have people like Fulbright scholars, and they get a hundred per cent scholarship and they can get a loan from us like $20K to cover their lodging, food and everything.
*For more information visit Mpower Financing
Strengthening Africa’s fragmented data landscape is key to meeting development targets, says new African Governance Report by Mo Ibrahim Foundation
October 15, 2019 | 0 Comments
African governments and partners need to step up efforts to close ‘data gaps’ in SDGs tracking and ensure Agenda 2063 can be monitored and measured
Dakar and London, 15 October 2019 – The African Governance Report, published today by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, draws on data from the Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) and shares new insights on progress towards the African Union’s (AU) Agenda 2063 and the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It points to where policy efforts can be focussed to tackle current governance challenges, and highlights the urgency of addressing the ‘data gap’ in Africa to ensure progress can be assessed and shortfalls addressed.
This is a critical time as Africa prepares to enter the last decade of the 2030 SDG Agenda and is halfway through the First Ten-Year Implementation Plan of Agenda 2063.
Overall Governance scores in the IIAG, the most comprehensive dataset on African governance, point to a strong correlation with performance in the Africa SDG Index, underscoring the importance of good governance to sustainable development in Africa.
Reviewing the themes with the highest overlaps between both Agendas and the IIAG – Access to and Quality of Education, Health and Nutrition, Women and Youth Inclusion, Prosperity and Economic Opportunity, and Security, Justice and Strong Institutions – the report highlights priority areas to address.
Quality of education needs to be addressed, aligning education with market needs can also be advanced if governments and partners take a closer look at prioritising active engagement with the private sector, to assess the requirements of the job market.
In health, special attention should be paid to the availability, quality, affordability and capacity of health services, while also tackling food security.
For prosperity and economic opportunity, the report notes that governments and partners should look at diversifying economies, accelerating progress in infrastructure – specifically physical transport, electricity and ICT –increasing investment in the rural sector, and strengthening regional integration, to make efficient progress.
Important correlations between IIAG measures are outlined to help create a more conducive environment for achieving development targets. For example, access to electricity shows a strong correlation to performance in both health and education.
Crucially, a concerning picture of data challenges emerge across the continent. Almost half of the targets for Agenda 2063 are not directly quantifiable and so far, fewer than 20% have an indicator to measure progress. On average fewer than 40% of the indicators for the SDGs have sufficient data to track progress accurately on the continent. The report highlights that over half of the data source types on SDG indicators on Africa are estimation, modelling or global monitoring. In particular, only one third of data sources on SDG indicators on Africa are from direct country sources. The ability to monitor progress towards development targets in Africa is compromised.
Since the adoption of both Agendas, coverage and frequency of publicly available data for key data categories in Africa have declined. Critically, one of the areas that has seen, on average, large deterioration is population and vital statistics. Further, only eight African countries have a birth registration system that covers 90% or more of the population over the last ten years (2009-2018), and only three have a death registration system that covers 90% or more of the population. The paucity of such vital data is in striking contrast with population growth – Africa is expected to be home to 1.68 billion people by 2030.
Without accurate and complete vital statistics, it is impossible to implement effective solutions to any development challenge and to deliver for citizens. Since 2008, little average improvement in statistical capacity has been made, according to IIAG data. This issue is compounded by low levels of independence of national statistics offices.
The report calls for Sound Data for Governance in order to ensure inclusive development: the ‘missing SDG’.
Mo Ibrahim, Chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, said: “We welcome continued efforts to improve governance, which is crucial to achieving the SDGs and Agenda 2063 goals. However, we are deeply worried by the inability to accurately monitor progress against these targets on the continent. Data is an essential foundation for effective policymaking and resource mobilisation. Without data, we drive blind – policies are misdirected and progress on the road to development is stunted. We must all act urgently to close the ‘data gap’, if indeed we aim to leave no one behind.”
Access the 2019 African Governance Report directly: mif.media/gr-2019
- The Mo Ibrahim Foundation was established in 2006 with a focus on the critical importance of leadership and governance in Africa, by providing tools to assess and support progress in leadership and governance.
- The Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) provides an annual assessment of the quality of governance in African countries and is the most comprehensive collection of data on African governance.
- With ten years of data to draw from, the IIAG is uniquely positioned to measure trends in governance, providing in-depth analysis on how the quality of governance has changed over the past five years (2013-2017) within the context of the last decade (2008-2017), and what has or could be key to Africa’s transformation.
- The Mo Ibrahim Foundation releases a new Index dataset with updated scores, ranks and trends every two years, while publishing an annual IIAG African Governance Report, focussed on African governance trends and challenges.
- The next dataset update will be released in October 2020.
- In every iteration, MIF – assisted by the IIAG’s Advisory Council – looks at improving the structure, components and methodology of the IIAG. Due to this revision, MIF recalculates all scores in the Index for each iteration.
- The IIAG contains analysis across 102 indicators from 35 independent African and global data institutions to cover all 54 African counties in the areas of Safety & Rule of Law, Participation & Human Rights, Sustainable Economic Opportunity and Human Development.
- The Africa SDG Index is produced by the SDG Center for Africa and Sustainable Development Solutions Network. The Index ranks countries on a scale from 0 (the worst score) to 100 (the best score). Tunisia’s score of 66.01, the highest score in Africa, suggesting that the country is 66% of the way towards achieving the SDG. The Index provides an overall performance score and a score for each of the 17 SDGs.
- The Data Portal is a user-friendly interface that offers a bespoke analysis of governance ranks, scores and trends for each country. Users can create shareable charts and graphics from the data.
- Access the IIAG Data Portal directly: http://iiag.online/
*Source Mo Ibrahim Foundation