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Zimbabwe’s environment minister petitioned over city of Harare poor water quality
January 22, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Albert Mazula, HRT Board Chairperson

Albert Mazula, HRT Board
Chairperson

Concerned citizens and residents’ representatives of the city of
Harare are putting pressure on Zimbabwe’s new administration to
address issues of poor water quality which has been supplied to
residents for a long time.

The Harare Residents’ Trust (HRT) is currently in the process of
soliciting for signatures from residents of the city of Harare and
Chitungwiza on the poor water quality being supplied to the two
cities. The petition is to be presented to Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri,
Minister of Environment, Water and Climate.

According to the petition signed by Albert Mazula, HRT Board
Chairperson, the trust says that on behalf of residents of Harare
metropolitan province it is unsatisfied by the poor quality of water
being distributed by the Harare City Council’s water and sanitation
department to their houses.

The residents trust says that it has noted with consistent concern
that the city of Harare has dismally failed to provide clean and
potable water to the ratepayers.

It is reported in the petition that residents of the city of Harare
and Chitungwiza are receiving water with unpleasant smell, the water
is green-brownish in colour, with froth when boiled, with visible
brown-greenish mucus like sediments. It is also reported that there is
unavailability of water to 55% of households out of the 250 000 billed
properties in the city of Harare.

In the petition, the HRT says that residents would want the water
and sanitation department of the city of Harare to provide them with
clear water free from contamination.

In the same petition, the trust says that residents demand that
the water and sanitation department of the city of Harare take
concrete measures to regularly monitor and control the discharge of
untreated sewerage into streams that feed water into Harare’s main
water bodies especially Lake Chivero.

“This contamination has damaged the environment. Further, wetlands
are being destroyed daily as councilors and officials collaborate with
land barons parceling out land reserved for wetlands, exposing Harare
to water shortages in the future,” the petition reads.

It is also added that the increased pollution of Lake Chivero forces
the city of Harare to use around 9 water treatment chemicals instead
of a possible 3, increasing the cost of delivering water to the
consumers.

In the petition, Environment and water minster Muchinguri-Kashiri
has been asked to compel the city of Harare to ring fence the water
account to ensure that all water revenue is used only to upgrade,
expand and maintain the water pumping, treatment and distribution
infrastructure. It is reported that previously the city of Harare
retained 55% while Harare water received 45% from the water revenue
but this has been stopped.

The residents trust urges the minister to direct the city of Harare
treasury department to stop from interfering with the water revenues
for payment of salaries and allowances to council employees.

The minister is also asked to direct the city of Harare to
collaborate with other government agencies to drastically reduce the
pollution of water bodies and to control operations of heavy
industries that are deliberately polluting water bodies.

Also the minister has been asked to urge the city of Harare to put
necessary measures to replace all underground water pipes which have
become obsolete and are leaking resulting in 60% of treated water
being lost.

“We the undersigned residents of Harare and Chitungwiza, led by the
HRT Board Chairperson, with legitimate claim to clean and potable
water which reflects its vale and recognition of human rights as
enshrined in the Zimbabwean constitution chapter 4 under section 77,
submit the above petition and declaration and expect your intervention
before we lose lives to typhoid and cholera. This should feed into
your 100 day plan as enunciated in several government pronouncements
to improve the lives of citizens,” the petition to the minister reads.

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Mozambique’s liquefied natural gas project receives funding support
January 22, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

An approximately US$8 billion investment in Mozambique’s Coral Floating Liquefied Natural Gas (FLNG) development marks Mozambique’s first step as a regional and global offshore natural gas producer and supplier.

The landmark energy deal is the first of its kind in the country and promises to transform Mozambique’s growth prospects.

“This game-changing transaction initiates a cycle of energy investment set to return Mozambique to growth while heralding the country’s arrival as a key global liquefied natural gas supplier,” says Paul Eardley-Taylor, Head, Oil & Gas, Southern Africa, Standard Bank,Standard Bank, of which Stanbic Bank Zambia is a member, and its 20%
shareholder.

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) are collectively the largest lenders to the project reflecting the power of their partnership in driving African growth.ICBC plays a critical role in this transaction by acting as the
Pathfinder Bank, K Sure agent, Chinese tranche agent and one of the facility account banks. Standard Bank acts as commercial facility agent, onshore account bank and security trustee in respect of the project.

“Our support of the funding of the Coral FLNG project grew out of our long-term commitment to Mozambique, consistently supporting the country’s potential as a future offshore natural gas production and export giant,” says Mr Eardley-Taylor.

In addition to broader advisory work currently underway in East Africa, Standard Bank and ICBC’s support for the Coral FLNG project builds on a long history of oil and gas development in Mozambique, including Sasol, ROMPCO, ENH, CMG, and CMH. Standard Bank also authored Mozambique’s landmark LNG macro-economic study informing the development of the 2014 Rovuma Basin Decree law.

This milestone transaction gives life to Standard Bank and ICBC’s broader vision and strategy to develop East Africa as global energy production and supply hub – especially to East Asia.

Global interest in Mozambique and the region’s potential as future energy suppliers is reflected by broad international participation in the deal. Export credit agencies, including Coface (BPI), K Exim, K
Sure, Sace and Sinosure, are joined in this transaction by leading global energy giants ENI, Petrochina, GALP, ENH and Kogas.

ICBC and Standard Bank believe that this deal is an important signal on Mozambique’s longer term growth prospects, especially the implications of this investment for future southern and east African
energy trade and security.

“This transaction demonstrates ICBC and Standard Bank’s vision of driving Africa’s growth by attracting foreign direct investment back into Mozambique’s promising energy production and export sector,” says Mr Eardley-Taylor. Significantly, “this game changing transaction puts East Africa on the map as a global energy supplier,” he adds.

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Ethiopian airlines partners with Zambian Government for the re-launch of the national carrier and to develop Lusaka as an aviation hub for Southern Africa
January 22, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Mr. Tewolde Gebremariam, Group CEO of Ethiopian Airlines

Mr. Tewolde Gebremariam, Group CEO of Ethiopian Airlines

Ethiopian Airlines, the largest Aviation Group in Africa and SKYTRA certified four star global airline is has finalized shareholders agreement with the Government of Zambia for the re-launch of Zambia Airways.

It is reported that the Government of Zambia will be the majority shareholder with 55% and Ethiopian airlines will have 45% stakes in the airline.

Mr. Tewolde Gebremariam, Group CEO of Ethiopian Airlines said, “In line with our Vision 2025 multiple hubs strategy in Africa, we are very happy that the discussionswith the Zambian government have been crowned with success.

The launching of Zambia Airways will enable the travelling public in Zambia and the Southern African region to enjoy greater connectivity options, thereby facilitating the flow of investment, trade and tourism, and contributing to the socio-economic growth of the country and the region.”

He added that as an indigenous and Pan-African airline, they firmly believe that it is only through partnerships among African carriers that the aviation industry of the continent will be able to get its fair share of the African market, currently heavily skewed in favor of non-African airlines, and play its rightful role in availing
efficient air connectivity within Africa as well as with the rest of the world.

The airline is meant to initially serve national and regional destinations before embarking on international flights.
The establishment of multiple hubs in Africa being an overarching strategy of Ethiopian airlines under its Vision 2025, the national flag carrier currently operates hubs in Lomé (Togo) with ASKY Airlines and Malawian in Lilongwe (Malawi).

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Ethiopian airlines to start flights to Kisangani and Mbuji Mayi in the DRC
January 22, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Ethiopian Airlines, the largest Aviation Group in Africa and SKYTRAX certified four star global airline, will launch new flights to Kisangani and Mbuji Mayi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) from March, 2018.

The DRC, the largest country in Francophone Africa, is among the most resource-rich countries on the planet with an abundance of gold, tantalum, tungsten, and tin, all minerals used in electronics such as cell phones and laptops.

Ethiopian airlines Group CEO, Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam, said, “We are delighted to include Mbuji-Mayi and Kisangani to our ever extending global and African network. This will also increase our gateways in the Democratic Republic of Congo to five which includes Kinshasa,Goma and Lubumbashi. Our flights to Mbuji-Mayi and Kisangani will enable travellers from and to these two economically important cities to enjoy convenient and seamless connectivity to our global network of over 100 international destinations stretching across 5 continents in Europe, the Americas, Asia and the Middle East.

We thank the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo for the support extended to us for the launch of the new flights.”Ethiopian is expanding its global network with a plan to 10 new destinations in just six months of the 2018 calendar year.

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South Africa’s ANC to force Zuma to quit as president
January 20, 2018 | 0 Comments
South African President Jacob Zuma [Photo/Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters]

South African President Jacob Zuma [Photo/Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters]

National broadcaster eNCA has reported that the ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) had resolved on Friday to ask President Jacob Zuma to resign and that, if he refused, he would be forced to step down by the party’s six-strong leadership group.

The station reported the comments on Saturday but did not name its sources.

An anonymous NEC member quoted by online news site News24 said that decision had been reached unanimously.

South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), declined to comment on a report about plans to force Zuma to quit as president, as its leaders gather to outline the party’s program for the coming year.

Zuma’s second presidential term is due to run until 2019. The newly elected NEC made no mention of his possible early exit in a statement it issued after meeting for the first time on Thursday and Friday under the party’s new leader, Cyril Ramaphosa.

Asked about the reports that Zuma would be asked to resign, an ANC spokeswoman said: “We can’t confirm rumours of things that we don’t know. The NEC has issued a statement on the totality of discussions yesterday.”

Zuma’s presidency has been tainted by a series of corruption allegations, all of which he denies.

He retains the support of one part of the ANC leadership, but many others in the party argue that he has tarnished the image of Africa’s oldest liberation movement. While he has been in office, the economy has also slowed to a near-standstill.

Ramaphosa succeeded Zuma as ANC head last month, making him likely to replace Zuma as the country’s next president.

The party’s Secretary-General Ace Magashule said on Thursday that Zuma’s early removal as head of state was not on the agenda of the NEC meeting, which runs until Sunday.

But in recent days Ramaphosa has gone on the offensive against companies controlled by the Gupta family, businessmen and friends of Zuma, accused of unduly using political connections to win work with the state.

They deny all wrongdoing.

This has fueled speculation that the new ANC leader and his allies are moving to lobby support for Zuma’s removal.

In its statement following the first half of the meeting, the NEC said officials led by ANC President Ramaphosa “will continue their engagement with President Jacob Zuma to ensure effective coordination between the ANC and government”.

Markets have rallied since Ramaphosa’s election as ANC leader in December, as investors have warmed to his promises to root out corruption and kick-start economic growth.

Any sign that Zuma could step down before his second presidential term ends in 2019, has tended to lift South African assets.

*Al Jazeera

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The Murder of Lumumba
January 20, 2018 | 0 Comments

Dr. G.K. Busch

Photo: Lumumba raises his arms, injured by shackles, after his release from prison

Photo: Lumumba raises his arms, injured by shackles, after his release from prison

Fifty-four years ago today the leading nationalist figure of the Congo (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) Patrice Emery Lumumba was murdered by the Belgians.

The parallels with today’s Africa are so stark that perhaps a fuller description is necessary.

The Belgians, who had just recently been compelled to allow its colony to reach independence in June 1960, continued to demand a strong and decisive role in Congolese affairs despite this independence; or, if that was not possible, to separate the mineral-rich region of Katanga from the rest of the Congo to remain under Belgian control through its puppet Moise Tshombe.

The main protagonist in the struggle for independence was Patrice Lumumba, who became head of the MNC (Mouvement National Congolais) and then, at independence, the first Prime Minister of the new state. The Belgian point of view was made clear when Lumumba was not invited to participate in the Independence celebrations. The Belgians insisted on keeping many of its colonial officers in charge of key positions in the Congolese administration. Most of the officers in the Army were still Belgians after independence. At independence there were only eight African college graduates in the whole of the Congo. It was a General Jannsens who announced to the troops that their pay would not increase after independence and that they would remain under Belgian officers. The army revolted and civil disorder spread across the land, fostered and armed by the Belgians. This disorder had the required effect and on the 11th of July 1960 Katanga seceded from the Congo. The Belgians and their giant mining complex, Union Miniere, adopted Tshombe as their own.

The United Nations sent its first peacekeeping mission to Africa; to the Congo, but it was ineffectual. It refused to intervene in the Katanga secession so Lumumba was powerless to seek the re-unification of the province. Unable to garner Western or UN support he turned to the Soviet Union to send weapons, airplanes, trucks and medicines to the Congolese forces opposing Katanga. This triggered off a major Cold War crisis. The US and the UK joined with Belgium to support Katangan secession and the ouster of Lumumba.

In a series of documentaries by the BBC in London in 2000 the records of their intervention were exposed. Ludo de Witte uncovered documents in the Belgian archives showing that Moise Tshombe, who led the secession, acted on orders from the Belgian government, which has always claimed that it only sent troops into Katanga to protect Belgian lives and property. De Witte’s researches have shown that the Belgians plotted to dismember the Congo. US Documents released August 2000 revealed that President Eisenhower directly ordered the CIA to assassinate Lumumba. Minutes of an August 1960 National Security Council meeting confirm that Eisenhower told CIA chief Allen Dulles to “eliminate” Lumumba. The official note taker, Robert H. Johnson, had told the Senate Intelligence Committee this in 1975, but no documentary evidence was previously available to back up his statement. A British Foreign Office document from September 1960 notes the opinion of a top ranking official, who later became the head of MI5, that, “I see only two possible solutions to the [Lumumba] problem. The first is the simple one of ensuring [his] removal from the scene by killing him.”

Their first step was to promote a military coup in the Congo. On 14 September 1960 Col. Joseph Desiree Mobuto, with the active assistance of the US and the UN, overthrew the Kasavubu-Lumumba government and took power. Lumumba was placed under house arrest but escaped to Stanleyville. Mobutu’s troops captured him on 1 December 1960 and Lumumba was flown back to Leopoldville (now Kinshasa) where he was placed in prison. The Russians raised the issue in the Security Council and asked for the immediate release of Lumumba, the jailing of Mobutu and the evacuation of the Belgians from the Congo. The UN refused as it said this would cause severe problems in the Congo.

Their problem was resolved with the forced flight of Lumumba, in chains to Elizabethville (Lubumbashi) on 17 January 1961. According to the documentaries, he was conducted under arrest to Brouwez House and held there bound and gagged. Later that night, Lumumba was driven to an isolated spot where three firing squads had been assembled. According to David Akerman, Ludo de Witte and Kris Hollington, the firing squads were commanded by a Belgian, Captain Julien Gat, and another Belgian, Police Commissioner Verscheure, had overall command of the execution site. Lumumba was killed that night.

Patrice Lumumba unwittingly wrote his own epitaph in a letter to his wife, Pauline, from his cell in December 1960. Perhaps it should be compulsory reading in all African schools.

“My dear companion,

I write you these words without knowing if they will reach you, when they will reach you, or if I will still be living when you read them. All during the length of my fight for the independence of my country, I have never doubted for a single instant the final triumph of the sacred cause to which my companions and myself have consecrated our lives. But what we wish for our country, its right to an honourable life, to a spotless dignity, to an independence without restrictions, Belgian colonialism and its Western allies-who have found direct and indirect support, deliberate and not deliberate among certain high officials of the United Nations, this organization in which we placed all our confidence when we called for their assistance-have not wished it. They have corrupted certain of our fellow countrymen; they have contributed to distorting the truth and to bring our independence into dishonour.

What else could I say? Dead or alive, free or in prison by order of the imperialists, it is not I who counts. It is the Congo; it is our poor people for whom independence has been transformed into a cage from whose confines the outside world looks on us, sometimes with kindly sympathy, but at other times with joy and pleasure. But my faith will remain unshakeable. I know and I feel in my heart that sooner or later my people will get rid of our internal and external enemies, that they will rise up like a single person to say no to a degrading and shameful colonialism and to reassume their dignity under a pure sun.

We are not alone. Africa, Asia, and free and liberated people from every corner of the world will always be found at the side of the Congolese. They will not abandon the light until the day comes when there are no more colonizers and their mercenaries in our country. To my children whom I leave and whom perhaps I will see no more, I wish that they be told that the future of the Congo is beautiful and that it expects for each Congolese, to accomplish the sacred task of reconstruction of our independence and our sovereignty; for without dignity there is no liberty, without justice there is no dignity, and without independence there are no free men.

No brutality, mistreatment, or torture has ever forced me to ask for grace, for I prefer to die with my head high, my faith steadfast, and my confidence profound in the destiny of my country, rather than to live in submission and scorn of sacred principles. History will one day have its say, but it will not be the history that Brussels, Paris, Washington or the United Nations will teach, but that which they will teach in the countries emancipated from colonialism and its puppets. Africa will write its own history, and it will be, to the north and to the south of the Sahara, a history of glory and dignity.

Do not weep for me, my dear companion. I know that my country, which suffers so much, will know how to defend its independence and its liberty.

Long live the Congo! Long live Africa!”

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African energy stakeholders to meet leading international businesses in Washington, D.C. to discuss investment partnerships
January 20, 2018 | 0 Comments
U.S. Governmental agencies and leading businesses unite to explore partnerships that will provide predictability and security in the development phase of energy projects in Africa
Networking evening at the 3rd Powering Africa: Summit in March 2017

Networking evening at the 3rd Powering Africa: Summit in March 2017

LONDON, United Kingdom, January 18, 2018/ — The Powering Africa: Summit (www.PoweringAfrica-Summit.com) will return for a fourth year to the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Washington D.C. from 28 February to 2nd March 2018 to discuss opportunities to develop and invest in power projects on the African continent.

US intergovernmental agencies confirmed for the summit including OPIC, Power Africa and USAID are increasing their objectives for the African continent as well as their involvement in the development of projects from a more varied mix of technologies.

In numerous conversations with EnergyNet (www.EnergyNet.com), Department of State and Department of Energy communicated a clear determination to play a greater role in Africa, promoting commercial partnerships and progressing deals at an increased pace which will be measured to help navigate bottlenecks more effectively.

Whilst the market has hesitated in some key economies, the likes of Uganda, Cote D’Ivoire, Senegal, Zambia and Ghana are booming with projects including the multibillion dollar Uganda-Tanzania Oil Pipeline, which has investors buzzing.

Simon Gosling, Managing Director of EnergyNet comments:

“South Africa has struggled over the last 24 months to finalise the renewable IPPs, these projects are now progressing because of increased localisation and BPE engagement which will allow these PPAs to finally be signed in the coming weeks. This will trigger the Gas IPP Programme which will be a huge opportunity for foreign investors and gas providers as well as being transformative for the development of the country.”

“On a recent trip to South Africa, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry noted how energy increases security for the young. An obvious corollary is how increased security increases confidence which enables better learning, stronger ideas and employment, and in the end a more ready and able consumer – which will really turn the lights on across the continent.”

From these perspectives, Africa should be emboldened to negotiate a greater volume of deals and at the 4th Powering Africa Summit a significant number of these conversations will commence.

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2018 African Economic Outlook: African Development Bank makes a compelling case for Africa’s industrialization
January 20, 2018 | 0 Comments
The Bank would organise the Africa Investment Forum on November 7-8, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa, to mobilise funds for infrastructure development, to bridge an estimated funding gap of $130-$170 billion a year
Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank

Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, January 19, 2018/ — The President of the African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org), Akinwumi Adesina, has made a compelling case for accelerating Africa’s industrialization in order to create jobs, reduce poverty and promote inclusive economic growth.

Citing data from the Bank’s 2018 African Economic Outlook (http://APO.af/GHTmei) launched in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, on Wednesday, Adesina said infrastructure projects were among the most profitable investments any society can make as they “significantly contribute to, propel, and sustain a country’s economic growth. Infrastructure, when well managed, provides the financial resources to do everything else.”

Noting that economic diversification is key to resolving many of the continent’s difficulties, he urged African governments to encourage a shift toward labour-intensive industries, especially in rural areas where 70 percent of the continent’s population resides.

“Agriculture must be at the forefront of Africa’s industrialization,” he said, adding that integrated power and adequate transport infrastructure would facilitate economic integration, support agricultural value chain development and economies of scale which drive industrialization.

He reminded the audience of policy-makers and members of the diplomatic corps in Côte d’Ivoire that economic diversification via industrialization with tangible investment in human capital will enable the continent’s rapidly growing youth population to successfully transition to productive technology-based sectors.

Adesina also highlighted the relatively unknown win-win situation that Africa’s industrialization can generate within the developed world, citing data from the report, which notes that “increasing the share of manufacturing in GDP in Africa (and other Less Developing Countries) could boost investment in the G20 by about US $485 billion and household consumption by about US $1.4 trillion.”

The Bank President highlighted various innovative ways in which African countries can generate capital for infrastructure development and what the Bank is doing through its ambitious High 5 (http://APO.af/6D641c) development agenda to address the issues raised in the report.

He announced that the Bank would organise the Africa Investment Forum on November 7-8, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa, to mobilise funds for infrastructure development, to bridge an estimated funding gap of $130-$170 billion a year, up from previous estimates of US $100 billion per year.

New infrastructure financing gap estimates and innovative ways through which African countries can raise funds for infrastructure development are among the highlights of the 2018 edition of the report, which was launched at the Bank’s headquarters for the first time in the publication’s 15-year history.

The African Economic Outlook was first published in 2003 and launched mostly in various African capitals outside the Bank’s headquarters in May each year.

In his remarks, Célestin Monga, the Bank’s Chief Economist and Vice-President for Economic Governance and Knowledge Management, said the African Economic Outlook has become the flagship report for the African Development Bank, providing data and reference material on Africa’s development that are of interest to researchers, investors, civil society organizations, development partners and the media.

This year’s edition focuses on macroeconomic development and structural changes in Africa, and outlines economic prospects for 2018. The report emphasizes the need to develop Africa’s infrastructure, and recommends new strategies and innovative financing instruments for countries to consider, depending on levels of development and specific circumstances.

Abebe Shimeles, Acting Director, Macroeconomic Policy, Forecasting and Research, said the Bank will publish Regional Economic Outlooks for Africa’s five sub-regions. The self-contained, independent reports, to be released at the Bank’s Annual Meetings in May 2018, will focus on priority areas of concern for each sub-region and provide analysis of the economic and social landscape, among other key issues.

Participants at the launch session, moderated by the Bank’s Director of Communications and External Relations, Victor Oladokun, included members of the diplomatic community in Côte d’Ivoire, representatives of international organisations and multilateral development banks, civil society and the media.

The African Economic Outlook is produced annually by the African Development Bank. The full report is available in English, French and Portuguese at www.AfDB.org/aeo. Official hashtag: #2018AEO

*AFDB

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African nations set to approve huge free trade deal
January 20, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Alanna Petroff *

The African continent is on the cusp of something big.

Fifty-five nations are negotiating a free trade deal that will cover more than 1.2 billion people across Africa, from Morocco all the way to South Africa.

 Their leaders are planning to give political backing to the deal in late March, and launch a free trade zone for goods and services before the end of 2018, according to a spokesperson for the African Union, an organization that represents all 55 countries.

The Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) could eventually be extended to create common policies on investment, competition and intellectual property.

It covers economies with a combined GDP of around $3.4 trillion.

The deal is designed to replace a patchwork of smaller trade agreements and bring countries closer together, following the pattern set by the European Union.

Like the EU, African nations hope one day to allow the free movement of people across the continent. An African central bank and single currency could follow within 10 years, said Prudence Sebahizi, the CFTA’s chief technical adviser.

Analysts are still crunching the numbers for what the CFTA means for economic growth and prosperity. The United Nations estimated in 2012 that the CFTA could boost trade within Africa by about 50% over the course of a decade.

Growth is very uneven across the continent and has generally slowed over the past few years, down to 3.5% in 2017 from a recent peak of 7% in 2012, according to the International Monetary Fund. It is forecast to rise in the coming years, but not by much.

“The potential for the agreement to support the continent’s development is huge,” said Danae Kyriakopoulou, chief economist at the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF), a financial think tank in London

Two of the biggest economies — Nigeria and South Africa — support the deal, according to the African Union, which works to promote economic and political integration. Nigeria is chairing the negotiations while South Africa has sent big delegations to each round of talks, it added.

But some experts are cautious about the prospects for success.

John Ashbourne, an Africa economist at Capital Economics, is a self-professed CFTA skeptic. He worries that the free trade zone could be “unworkably large” and may have limited benefits.

“While tariffs are a big problem, there are also very tangible reasons why intra-Africa trade is low. The infrastructure needed to facilitate intra-regional trade is poor, and most countries don’t produce many finished goods that their neighbors want,” he said.

That’s reflected in relatively weak trade ties between African countries.

“In absolute terms, African countries traded almost twice as much with the European Union as they did with each other in 2016,” said the OMFIF’s Kyriakopoulou. “This defies one of the principles of trade economics: that proximity matters.”

In a recent article in the Financial Times, Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou listed several obstacles to boosting continental trade, including “border delays, burdensome customs and inspection procedures.”

But the potential rewards are simply too big to ignore, he added.

“With the continent’s economy expected to grow to $29 trillion by 2050, the CFTA may evolve to cover a market that is larger than NAFTA today,” he wrote, referring to the North American Free Trade Agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

*Source CNN Money

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Nikki Haley voices regret to African UN envoys after Trump slur
January 19, 2018 | 0 Comments
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley meets South Sudanese refugee children at the Nguenyyiel refugee camp in Gambella Region, Ethiopia October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley meets South Sudanese refugee children at the Nguenyyiel refugee camp in Gambella Region, Ethiopia October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

United Nations (United States) (AFP) – US Ambassador Nikki Haley expressed regret on Thursday to African ambassadors who were outraged by President Donald Trump’s alleged description of African countries as “shithole” nations, the head of the African Group said.

Haley asked to meet the African ambassadors at the United Nations after they released a joint statement on Friday demanding an apology from Trump for his “outrageous, racist and xenophobic remarks.”

Ambassador Anatolio Ndong Mba of Equatorial Guinea, who chairs the Africa Group, said the US ambassador did not offer an apology during the closed-door meeting, but she did express regret.

Haley told the meeting that “she was not there at the White House, she is not sure what was said, but she regretted all this situation that has been created,” the ambassador said.

The US mission declined to say whether Haley had addressed the furor over Trump’s remarks allegedly made a week ago at a White House meeting with lawmakers on immigration reform.

Ndong Mba said the Africa Group “made a recommendation” to Haley to defuse tensions, which she promised to pass on to Trump.

Diplomats, who declined to be named, said they had suggested that Trump send a friendly message to African leaders at their upcoming summit in Addis Ababa as a gesture of goodwill.

“We appreciate the fact that she came and she talked about all the cooperation between the United States with Africa,” said Ndong Mba, who described the meeting as “very friendly.”

The US mission posted photos of the meeting on Twitter and said: “Thank you to the Africa Group for meeting today.”

“We discussed our long relationship and history of combatting HIV, fighting terrorism, and committing to peace throughout the region,” it said in the post retweeted by Haley.

Trump’s remarks were condemned by the 55-nation African Union while some African governments summoned the US ambassador in their capitals to demand an explanation.

Trump reportedly demanded to know why the United States should accept immigrants from “shithole countries,” after lawmakers raised the issue of protections for immigrants from African nations, Haiti and El Salvador.

However he later tweeted: “this was not the language used.”

Earlier this week, 78 former US ambassadors to Africa wrote a letter to Trump expressing “deep concern” over his comments and urging him to “reassess” his views on Africa.

The United Nations slammed the reported remarks as “shocking and shameful” as well as “racist.”

“You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as ‘shitholes’ whose entire populations, who are not white, are therefore not welcome,” Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN human rights office, told reporters in Geneva.

*Source AFP

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African Tech Startups Raise $195 Million
January 19, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Mfonobong Nsehe *

Africa’s tech revolution is picking up speed, with 2017 proving the best year on record for the continent’s tech startups as investment topped US$195 million over the course of the year.

New research by entrepreneurship portal Disrupt Africashows that in 2017 the number of African tech startups to raise funding hit 159 – up from 146 companies in 2016. In 2015, only 125 startups managed to attract investment. Investor confidence and willingness to back African tech ventures is clearly accelerating.

The total funding raised by these companies – US$195,060,845 – also marks a 51% rise on the previous year’s figures, taking investment into African startups to an all-time record high.

“The tech entrepreneurship ecosystem is really coming into its own across Africa. There have been years of speculation as to whether the tech-first Africa narrative is real or just hype, but these numbers emerging in our research show undeniably that African startups are impacting all aspects of daily life and service delivery,” says Gabriella Mulligan, co-founder of Disrupt Africa.

While startups are using technology to shake-up everything from healthcare to home cleaning, fintech has been by far the best backed sector since tracking began. In 2017, almost one third of all funding went to fintech companies – this proportion has remained stable over the past three years.

A few other sectors also saw success in 2017. Although e-commerce floundered in 2016 – receiving little support from investors – this trend reversed in 2017. The e-commerce space grew 350% on the previous year to collect over US$16 million in investment over the course of the year.

With nearly one billion people in Africa active as smallholder farmers, it comes as no surprise that entrepreneurs and investors alike are starting to tap into the agri-tech space. This space is charting out a decidedly upward trajectory, with funding into this sector growing 203% in 2017.

“Areas like agri-tech and e-health offer the perfect balancing of motivations for investors. With vast untapped markets in need of innovative new solutions, and the substantial impact element of ventures operating in these areas, these investments offer both sizeable returns and impact,” Mulligan says.

South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya continued to solidify their position as the top three investment destinations in Africa, although 2017 saw other markets begin to emerge as alternative hotspots. Activity in Egypt and Ghana is picking up pace, while countries like Uganda and Morocco also placed themselves on the map this year.

As such, investment in Africa’s tech ecosystem took on a decidedly pan-African flavour in 2017, a trend which will continue to develop as the continent carries on presenting high quality innovations and businesses, tackling Africa’s challenges, but also scalable across the world.

*Courtesy of Forbes .Follow Mfonobong on Twitter @MfonobongNsehe.  mfon.nsehe@gmail.com

 

 

 
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Cedric Bakambu: Villarreal forward set for African record £65m deal
January 18, 2018 | 0 Comments
DR Congo's Cedric Bakambu has scored 14 goals for Villarreal in all competitions so far this season

DR Congo’s Cedric Bakambu has scored 14 goals for Villarreal in all competitions so far this season

Cedric Bakambu is set to become the most expensive African footballer of all time after Beijing Guoan agreed to meet Villarreal’s release clause.

The Spanish club set the clause at 40m euros (£35.3m) for the Chinese Super League-bound DR Congo striker.

But the total fee will be around £65m because of taxation rules that have recently been introduced in China.

That will eclipse the £34m Liverpool have paid for Mo Salah and Saido Mane, and their £48m deal for Naby Keita.

“Villareal informs that the release clause of its player Cedric Bakambu has been activated, meaning he no longer belongs to the squad,” the La Liga side said in a statement (in Spanish) on Wednesday evening.

“The club wants to thank the footballer for his commitment and professionalism, and wishes him the best in his sporting career.”

Bakambu, 26, has had a medical with Beijing Guoan who, like all Chinese Super League clubs, are now subject to a transfer tax for any fee over 5m euros.

The laws were introduced in a bid to encourage clubs to buy China-based players and keep more money inside the country.

The former Sochaux and Bursaspor forward is Villarreal’s top scorer this season, with 14 goals in all competitions for the Spanish side.

Bakambu became the first African player to win La Liga’s Player of the Month award after scoring six of those goals in October.

The previous Chinese record was £60m, which Shanghai SIPG paid to sign Brazil international Oscar from Chelsea last January.

Keita will join Liverpool in July from German club RB Leipzig after the Premier League side agreed a deal for the Guinea international last summer.

 *BBC
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