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CAPITOL HILL RECEPTION TO LAUNCH U.S. ROADSHOW TOUR, ANNOUNCE PARTNERSHIP ON AFRICA INVESTMENT FORUM
April 11, 2018 | 0 Comments

Charles Boamah, Senior Vice-President of the African Development Bank, to announce partnership with IGD on the Bank’s Africa Investment Forum

 WASHINGTON, D.C. – April 4, 2018 – The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) will officially launch its inaugural Africa Investment Rising Roadshow Tour with a Special Reception on Wednesday, April 18 from 6:00-7:30PM at the Senate Dirksen Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Charles Boamah, Senior Vice-President of the African Development Bank, will announce the Bank’s partnership with IGD on the Africa Investment Forum (AIF), which will take place in early-November in Johannesburg, South Africa. The AIF is an initiative championed by the Bank to actively engage the private sector and to facilitate projects that have the capacity of transforming the continent. Boamah is leading a delegation of Senior Bank Management to the Spring World Bank/IMF Meetings.

Boamah will offer remarks on the U.S. private sector’s role in accelerating Africa’s investment opportunities at the evening reception.

The U.S. roadshow tour, “Africa Investment Rising: Building Momentum for Investing in Africa’s Economic Prosperity”, taking place from April 18-May 1, is aimed at re-shaping perceptions on doing business in Africa by bringing trade and investment opportunities to U.S. companies and forging stronger connections between U.S. and African business leaders in key growth sectors.

Launching in Washington, D.C., the roadshow tour will travel to New York City to highlight banking, financing, and investment opportunities; Des Moines, IA for agriculture and agro-industry; and Houston, TX for energy and power.

The full roadshow tour will ultimately culminate in Johannesburg, South Africa, where roadshow attendees are invited to attend the IGD Frontier 100 Forum on Nov. 5-6, followed by the African Development Bank’s Africa Investment Forum (AIF) from Nov. 7-9, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The AIF is designed to enhance private-sector cooperation and drive investment in sectors of strategic interest within Africa.

“IGD is pleased to build on our partnership with the African Development Bank through the U.S. Roadshow Tour to accelerate Africa’s investment opportunities and help attract private capital to the continent,” said Dr. Mima S. Nedelcoych. “By bringing U.S. investors to the Bank’s investment forum, they will learn firsthand about bankable projects and will have the opportunities to broker deals that will deliver economic transformation in Africa.”

The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group and USAID’s East Africa and Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hubs are Sponsors of the U.S. Roadshow Tour.

Platinum sponsors as ChevronNorton, Rose and Fulbright LLPIowa State University Research ParkAGCOLilium Capital, and Orrick; Gold sponsors, SasolCorteva AgriscienceEndeavor Energy, and AllAfrica.com as Gold sponsors; and World Food Prize Foundation and Millennium Challenge Corporationas Silver sponsors.

Organizational Partners are PAN Diaspora Capital ManagementHarris Africa Partners/Grant T. Harris, The Serendra Group LLC/Robert van Zwieten, U.S. Bilateral African Chamber of CommerceGlobal Farmer NetworkU.S. Small Business Administration, and Invest Africa.

Media partners are Africa InvestorAfrica.com,  Afropop Worldwide, AlloAfrica.com  Asoko InsightFace2Face AfricaPan-African Visions, and VoxAfrica..

The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) is a Washington, DC-based network of African and global business leaders who are committed to advancing sustainable development and inclusive growth in Africa through business investment. IGD brings together CEOs and senior executives from leading African and global companies through our Frontier Leader Network to catalyze greater business investment and impact on the African continent.

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Ecobank Group partners with MTN to deepen financial inclusion across Africa
April 11, 2018 | 0 Comments
(L-R) Charles Kie, Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria Ltd; Serigne Dioum, MTN’s Executive, Mobile Financial Services; Ade Ayeyemi, Group CEO, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), Rob Shuter, group CEO of MTN and Patrick Akinwuntan, Group Executive, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI)

(L-R) Charles Kie, Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria Ltd; Serigne Dioum, MTN’s Executive, Mobile Financial Services; Ade Ayeyemi, Group CEO, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), Rob Shuter, group CEO of MTN and Patrick Akinwuntan, Group Executive, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI)

LOME, Togo, April 10, 2018/ — MTN (www.MTN.com) has announced a collaboration with Africa’s leading independent banking group, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI) (www.Ecobank.com), enabling both companies  to leverage each other’s assets that will ultimately offer more value to their respective customers across the continent. MTN’s large subscriber base, comprehensive distribution, innovative digital products and drive for mobile financial services are being linked with Ecobank’s trail blazing digital banking products to provide instant bank accounts and remittances through Africa’s largest bank by network.

The two entities, with an extensive footprint on the continent, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to develop this partnership agreement, which will allow them to innovate and enhance access to affordable financial services via MTN Mobile Money and Ecobank Banking services.

This includes;

  • Enabling Ecobank and MTN Mobile Money customers to transfer money between mobile money wallets and bank accounts.
  • Leveraging of Ecobank and MTN’s assets to digitise international remittance, foster product innovation in the field of mobile saving and lending, and offer digital payment solutions to consumers, merchants and corporates.

Ade Ayeyemi, Group CEO of Ecobank said: “The changing landscape of digital banking and mobile telephony is creating unique opportunities in the way and manner customers are served. Africa will need to digitise financial services to rapidly scale up client acquisition and patronage. MTN and Ecobank are taking the big step today at this grand event to support this agenda”

Further he reiterated that “Ecobank’s digital strategy has long been committed to ensuring transaction convenience for the market. We have made giant strides in our mission to ensure financial inclusion and today’s agreement with MTN will greatly accelerate the easy availability of banking services to the previously unbanked.”

Commenting on the collaboration, MTN Group President and CEO, Rob Shuter said: “Partnerships between banks and mobile money operators are fundamental in the mobile money ecosystem, hence our long-standing partnership with Ecobank in many of our markets aimed at driving financial inclusion. We are excited to be taking this partnership to the next level as this latest development will spearhead innovative initiatives which will deepen financial access on the continent.”

About Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (‘ETI’ or ‘The Group’)

Incorporated in Lomé, Togo in 1988, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (‘ETI’) (www.Ecobank.com) is the parent company of the leading independent pan-African banking group, Ecobank. 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 17,000 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. Additional information on Ecobank can be found at www.Ecobank.com.

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WorldRemit partners with Lebara to connect new customers to its money transfer service to Africa
April 10, 2018 | 0 Comments
The strategic partnership unlocks digital money transfers for millions of Lebara customers to send money to over 40 African nations
Left: Graeme Oxby, CEO at Lebara; Right, Ismail Ahmed, CEO at WorldRemit

Left: Graeme Oxby, CEO at Lebara; Right, Ismail Ahmed, CEO at WorldRemit

LONDON, United Kingdom, April 10, 2018/ — Lebara (https://Mobile.Lebara.com) and WorldRemit (www.WorldRemit.com), two leading brands serving international residents, have entered into a strategic partnership making WorldRemit the exclusive global money transfer partner of Lebara, including transfers to over 40 African countries.

The deal allows over 3 million Lebara Mobile and Lebara Money users to use WorldRemit’s digital money transfer service seamlessly, directly from the Lebara app and website. With more than half of WorldRemit’s transfers now going to Africa, this partnership will support the company’s plan to serve 5 million customers connected to the continent by 2020.

Lebara customers living in the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Denmark and Netherlands will benefit from WorldRemit’s extensive payout network in over 145 countries. This will provide a more convenient and lower cost alternative to the 90% of migrants who still send money through offline routes.

As part of the deal, WorldRemit will also benefit from co-branding in Lebara’s full retail estate stores and advertising in Lebara Mobile simpacks sold in 260,000 stores across Western Europe.

Ismail Ahmed, founder and CEO at WorldRemit said: “We are delighted to be partnering with one of the world’s premier MVNO brands targeting international residents in Europe, giving its users access to our mobile-first service. With more than 260,000 points of sale, Lebara’s visibility and brand awareness complements WorldRemit’s strong digital capability. This partnership will introduce our safe, fast and low-cost remittance service to millions of new customers.

“WorldRemit has been working with telecommunication partners on the receive side, but this is our first strategic partnership with a mobile operator on the send side. We look forward to strengthening our leading position in the market with equally ambitious partnerships in the future.”

Graeme Oxby, CEO of Lebara Group adds: “This initiative is in response to a growing need of our valued customer base. Many of Lebara’s customers send money home to relatives and friends and we are delighted to be able to partner with WorldRemit to offer a simple to use and highly cost effective service”.

“Lebara mobile’s leadership position in the growing international residents market in Europe, coupled with a surge in smartphone users, creates an ideal platform for launching new and exciting services through partnerships. Our partners get unique access to a customer base which few other mobile companies can match.”

WorldRemit handles a growing share of the $600 billion migrant money transfer market – better known as remittances. Known for its mobile-first approach, one third of its transactions go to mobile money accounts; it currently handles 74% of international money transfers to mobile money accounts globally.

WorldRemit’s digital model allows customers to complete their transactions in just a few taps from a smartphone. Worldremit customers make more than 1 million transactions every month, using its app or website.

WorldRemit was advised by William Blair in this transaction as its financial advisor.

About WorldRemit 
WorldRemit (www.WorldRemit.com), is changing the way people send money. It’s easy – just open the app or visit the website – no more agents.

  • Transfers to most countries are instant – send money like an instant message.
  • More ways to receive (mobile money, bank transfer, cash pickup).
  • Available in over 50 countries and 145+ destinations
  • Backed by Leapfrog as well as Accel Partners and TCV – investors in Facebook, Spotify, Netflix and Slack.

WorldRemit’s global headquarters are in London, UK with offices in the United States, Canada, South Africa, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Japan, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand.

About Lebara
Lebara (https://Mobile.Lebara.com) is a leading European mobile telecoms operator enhancing the lives of foreign resident communities by providing high quality and low cost mobile products and services. Lebara provides pay-as-you-go mobile SIM cards and related products and services customised to serve the international communities in 6 European countries – UK, Germany, Holland, France, Spain and Denmark. Customers have recognised Lebara for being trustworthy, honest, simple and offering great value. Lebara is ultimately owned by the Swiss family office Palmarium

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OBASANJO ENDORSES AU REFORM PLAN, SAYS IT’S TIME TO “OWN OUR SECURITY”
April 10, 2018 | 0 Comments
Obasanjo praised the levy, describing the plan as “measurable, equitable and sustainable”.
Obasanjo

Obasanjo

Former Nigerian President and Tana Forum Board Chairperson, H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, officially launched the 7th Tana Forum today, which will take place on 21-22 April 2018. This year’s theme, ‘Ownership of Africa’s Peace and Security Provision: Financing and Reforming the African Union’, corresponds with the ongoing AU reform process to ensure the organization’s long-term financial independence and sustainability. The keynote speaker for the 7th Tana Forum is President Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda and also the current African Union (AU) Chairperson. He put together an advisory team whose recommendations on AU reforms were formally adopted by the AU Assembly in January 2017.

Noting that the AU faces a rapidly changing security environment, Obasanjo emphasized that security is only one aspect of the current reform process. “We cannot talk about security without talking about financing,” he stated.

The current financial structure of the AU, where partners cover 60% of the budget, questions how African member states are expected to have ownership over their security while at the same time remaining reliant on external donors.

One of the major components of the reform plan is the 0.2% levy, which will be imposed on eligible imports from outside Africa. Obasanjo praised the levy, describing the plan as “measurable, equitable and sustainable”. He also remained positive when questioned on the political will required from member states to guarantee the reform’s implementation. “It is not the first time such an initiative is happening in Africa. For instance, ECOWAS did it before, and it has been fairly successful in West Africa”.

The Tana Forum’s financial independence – 70% of funds are provided by the Ethiopian government and the African private sector – was also noted as another example that encourages African ownership in setting the agenda and driving the narrative. The Forum’s participants, its board members, its technical committee, its partners, and its organizing secretariat at the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) at Addis Ababa University, all represent a diverse grouping of African stakeholders in the area of peace and security.

In response to a question about the Forum’s effectiveness in bringing about changes in African leadership, the former president clarified that the Forum does not require or expect the implementation of its recommendations. Instead, its added value is in creating a space for the exchange of ideas and policies from around the continent. Furthermore, the Forum’s impact might not always be clear or credited, he stated, but “it’s good enough for us that African leaders make use of it”.

On the recently signed Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) Agreement, and the notable lack of Nigeria’s signature, Obasanjo was optimistic that the government would soon sign the agreement after holding national consultations with the necessary actors, including the parliament.

The press conference was later followed by a briefing with ambassadors and partners based in Addis Ababa. IPSS Director, Dr. Kidane Kiros, noted that one of the biggest setbacks with the AU reform agenda is compliance by member states when it comes to the implementation of various policies.

Obasanjo also noted that for effective implementation of AU reforms, trust has to be built between Regional Economic Communities (RECs), the AU Commission and individual African countries.

About the Tana Forum

The Tana Forum is an annual platform that brings together African leaders and stakeholders to engage and explore African-led security solutions. It is a response to the call by African Heads of State and Government for the elaboration of “African-centred solutions“ in the prevention, management, and resolution of conflict in the August 2009 Tripoli Declaration on the Elimination of Conflicts in Africa and the Promotion of Sustainable Peace.

*Source Tana Forum.

 

 

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OP-ED: DO AFRICAN WOMEN EVEN DO POLITICS?
April 10, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Nanjala Nyabola*

On 21 March 2018, 44 African leaders made history in Kigali, Rwanda, when they signed up for the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). The agreement will create one of the world’s largest free trade areas – a single market for goods and services for a population of over 1.2 million people – if all AU members eventually sign and ratify it. The AfCTA is in line with the broader goals of the AU reforms initiative, which intends to move away from the current situation of multiple, almost competing economic blocs to a single pan-African unit that facilitates the free movement of goods and services across the continent. The AfCTA is a milestone achievement that could change the economic trajectory of the continent.

A celebratory photograph of the various leaders who gathered in Kigali was rapidly shared across various media platforms to commemorate the singularity of events. Yet, anyone paying attention quickly noticed one thing about the photograph: there were no women.

Can the AU reforms process create room for women in the highest levels of political leadership on the continent? The final round of negotiations for the AfCFTA, unfortunately, coincided with the resignation of Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, the first female president of Mauritius. There are now no female heads of state on the continent. Before Gurib-Fakim, we had Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in Liberia, Joyce Banda in Malawi and Catherine Samba-Panza in the Central African Republic. Of the four, only Johnson-Sirleaf completed a full term with both Gurib-Fakim and Banda leaving office under tenuous allegations of fraud and Samba-Panza electing not to run for office after serving as a caretaker president.

If there are any unifying lessons to be learnt from these experiences it is that African women political leaders are often held to higher standards than their male counterparts and that much more work can be done to incorporate women into political governance on the continent.

The subject of equality of women in politics in Africa is complex. In the pre-independence era, there are a number of examples of women rising to the top of their societies, particularly in fraught political moments. These legendary figures include Nzinga of Ndongo and Matamba who led the Mbundu people of Angola in resisting the Portuguese; and Somali legend has it that without the wisdom of Areewelo, they would not have survived the terrible Buraan Droughts. There are also more recent heroines. The Aba Women led the first organized protest against British colonization in Nigeria, while Mekatilili wa Mwenza of the Mijikenda and Queen Lozikeyi of the Ndebele led similar resistances in present-day Kenya and Zimbabwe respectively. Together with the unnamed female soldiers who fought in Algeria, Kenya, Angola, Mozambique and other countries, these stories affirm that women have always been part of African politics.

Yet in post-colonial Africa, a patriarchal understanding of the role of women that merely exchanged European patriarchy for an invented African tradition has all but erased the herstories of women’s political leadership. These themes are visible in stark relief in the ongoing mourning for Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, a leader of the anti-apartheid resistance in South Africa. Madikezela-Mandela was punished for doing exactly the same things that her male counterparts have done throughout the ages. As in other liberation and political movements, she put her safety and her private life at risk in order to confront the injustice of the racist regime. She was tortured, exiled and humiliated by the apartheid regime. And while she certainly participated in violence against a violent government, consider her enemy – the most racist and violent political system on the continent. For her tremendous sacrifices, Madikezela-Mandela was branded a murderer and denied a seat at the table of power in post-apartheid South Africa. Today, South Africa is the most unequal country in the world according to the World Bank, with entrenched poverty directly linked to the “enduring legacy of apartheid”.

Madikezela-Mandela’s experience echoes the experience of women on the continent who form a slight numerical majority of the population but are systematically shut out from high-level politics. Women were at the centre of liberation movements across the continent; not just in supporting roles but also leading political and military organizations. Fanon, Cabral, Sankara, and Lumumba all declared categorically that the liberation of Algeria, Guinea Bissau, Burkina Faso and the DRC, as well as the continent as a whole, would be incomplete without the liberation of women.

But in post-colonial Africa, vague appeals to an invented patriarchal African tradition conspire to keep women out of politics. African women who believed that participating in liberation movements would eventually lead to their own liberation are disappointed because colonial patriarchy has instead been substituted by post-colonial patriarchy.

Today, the situation facing African women in politics is mixed. Between 2005 and 2015, the proportion of women in legislatures in North Africa more than doubled from 7% to 18%, while in sub-Saharan Africa it increased from 15% to 22%. Globally, Rwanda has the highest number of women in parliament at 63.8% and, because of the increasing use of quotas, women make up more than 30% of the legislature in most countries in East and Southern Africa. And as mentioned, four countries have put women in the top seat, more than Europe or North America combined.

Nonetheless, there have also been significant losses, particularly where women aim for the presidency. In Southern Africa, Dr. Dlamini-Zuma put up a strong fight for the South African presidency, but despite her individual accomplishments, she was unable to shake the perception that she was her ex-husband’s protégé at a time when many voters wanted a change. Outside South Africa and Malawi, no woman has run for president in the Southern Africa region.

In Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, Remi Sonaiya was the first female candidate, and despite a remarkable campaign, she could not break the unspoken “gentlemen’s agreement” on religion and ethnic background that shape political viability in the country. In Kenya, Uganda and Somalia, women who have challenged men for the presidency have faced violence and character assassination. In Rwanda, Diane Rwigara and Victoire Ingabire, two women who have challenged President Kagame for the presidency, are currently in prison.

In keeping with the AU’s position that women’s rights are part of a broader discourse on human rights, the ongoing AU reforms process does not explicitly provide for the increased inclusion of women in the organization. Currently, the AU framework on gender is informed by global standards that include instruments like the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Union also considers women’s rights to be an integral part of its human rights mechanisms, including the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. Former AU Chairperson Dr. Dlamini-Zuma – the first woman to hold the seat – did make women’s participation a centrepiece of her leadership, and pushed for more women to be appointed to the secretariat.

The reforms process can be an opportunity to get more women into political leadership in Africa. This begins by grounding itself in the long running African feminist tradition of recognizing work that is already being done. A friend once told me something that profoundly altered my own perspective on feminism, “African women have never been stay at home mothers”. The challenge of women’s political agency is qualitatively different from those facing women in the West. The histories of Nzinga, Areweelo, Mekatilili, Lozikeyi and Madikezela-Mandela remind us that African women’s efforts have always been integral to politics on the continent, but that we are dealing with a process of systematic erasure.

For an example of the work women on the continent are already doing to make the goals of the process work, look at the thousands of female traders who cross Goma into Gisenyi to trade every day; they are living proof of what free trade and free movement of goods could look like. Study the chama systems of Kenya as a baseline for what financial sustainability at the continental level could be. Recognize women’s groups in churches and mosques across the continent that demonstrate what inclusive and inter-ethnic political leadership can achieve.

African women are present, political and ready for work. It’s time the leadership took note.

*Courtesy of Tana Forum.Nanjala Nyabola is a writer and political analyst based in Nairobi, Kenya. Follow her on Twitter @nanjala1.

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Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) announces third MEST Africa Summit, June 18-20 in Cape Town
April 10, 2018 | 0 Comments
The MEST Africa Summit will bring together leading global investors, executives and entrepreneurs to discuss the Pan-African startup landscape
Jorn Lyseggen, Founder & CEO of Meltwater and MEST

Jorn Lyseggen, Founder & CEO of Meltwater and MEST

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, April 5, 2018/ — Now in its 10th year investing in tech entrepreneurs in Africa, Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology(MEST) (https://Meltwater.org) (www.MESTAfricaSummit.com) today announced the third MEST Africa Summit, which will take place in Cape Town, South Africa, June 18-20. Formerly the Africa Tech Summit, this year’s event will go Pan-African, bringing together top entrepreneurs, investors and executives from Africa, Silicon Valley and Europe, to network and discuss trends, challenges and opportunities affecting markets across the continent, under the theme The Year of the African Scaleup?

Following two successful events in Accra, Ghana and Lagos, Nigeria, this year’s Summit will take place in Cape Town, South Africa – the location of the third MEST incubator, which officially launched  in November 2017.

MEST is also announcing the MEST Africa Challenge, a Pan-African pitch competition open April 1 in Nairobi, Lagos, Accra and Cape Town. The final pitch event for the competition will be held on Day 2 of the Summit and will include winners from each city’s regional event, which will be held in late April/early May. Details and application can be found at www.MESTAfricaSummit.com.

“We’re excited to bring together leading players in the tech and investment space from across the continent and the globe once again, this time in our new home in Cape Town,” MEST Managing Director Aaron Fu said. “The MEST Africa Summit serves as a meeting ground for Pan-African entrepreneurs, investors and ecosystem partners, and this year looks to ignite discussion around the real challenges and opportunities businesses face when reaching scale, as the startup space in Africa continues to mature.”

Panel discussions during the Summit will feature expertise from leading African entrepreneurs, investors and executives, and will highlight those companies looking to scale to new African markets and the partners who can help them succeed. Topics include a debate over the best African country to start a business; a discussion of the latest fintech, agritech and blockchain innovations, why women code better, and more. Tickets are now available at Eventbrite.com(https://goo.gl/QUY4FS). Space is limited.

MEST is currently accepting applications for partners and speakers. Early sponsors include Merck and MTN (www.MTN.co.za) and ecosystem partners AfricArena , SiMoDiSa ,(www.SiMoDiSa.org), Wesgro (www.Wesgro.co.za), Alpha Code(www.AlphaCode.club) and Silicon Cape (www.SiliconCape.com). Previous Summit partners include Samsung Business, AB Consulting, Google, Interpay, Agrivi, Interswitch, VC4Africa and more. Past speakers include Mitchell Elegbe of Interswitch, Jason Spindler of I-Dev, Funke Opeke of MainOne, Matt Flannery of Kiva, Iyin Aboyeji of Flutterwave, Angel Adelaja of Fresh Direct, Jason Njoku of iROKO, Tomi Davies of ABAN and more.

In November 2017, MEST launched incubator spaces in Lagos, Nigeria and Cape Town, South Africa, adding to its flagship incubator and training program in Accra, Ghana. Truly Pan-African, MEST also has a presence in Nairobi, Kenya and Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.

Since its inception in 2008, the Meltwater Foundation has invested $20 million into the program, supporting aspiring African entrepreneurs through the training program and incubator. Now in its 10th year, nearly 300 individual entrepreneurs have graduated from the training program and over 50 tech companies have been launched via seed funding and mentorship from MEST. Three companies — Claimsync, AdGeek and messaging app Saya — have been acquired.

MEST entrepreneurs have developed solutions addressing local and global markets, received outside follow-on funding from global investors, and have gained admittance to top accelerator programs such as Y-Combinator, 500 Startups and TechStars. MEST entrepreneurs have also been selected by President Obama as representatives of the African business community at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C.; have been named Mandela Washington Fellows, a flagship program of Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI); and have been selected for Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Africa.

About MEST
Launched in 2008 by Meltwater (http://Meltwater.com), MEST (www.MESTAfricaSummit.com) is a Pan-African training program, seed fund and incubator for technology entrepreneurs in Africa, providing critical skills training in software development, business and communications. Headquartered in Accra, Ghana, MEST is funded by the Meltwater Foundation, the non-profit arm of Meltwater, a global leader in media intelligence.

About Jorn Lyseggen
Jorn Lyseggen is the Founder & CEO of Meltwater and MEST. A Norwegian entrepreneur and philanthropist, his previous ventures included 2 exits and an IPO. He founded Meltwater in Oslo, Norway in 2001 with an investment of just $15,000. Built on the notion of Outside Insight, Meltwater is now a global leader in B2B online media intelligence, with over 60 offices across six continents. He founded the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), a training program, seed fund and incubator for African entrepreneurs, in 2008, and launched Shack15, a data science hub in London, in 2016. In November 2017, he released his first book, titled Outside Insight. Jorn has been featured on CNN, TechCrunch, TedX and more.

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$1 billion in transactions processed on Ecobank Mobile App in Africa
April 10, 2018 | 0 Comments
With over 4 million users, the Ecobank Mobile App is available to all, enabling users to open an Ecobank Xpress™ Account instantly on their mobile device
Ade Ayeyemi, Ecobank Group CEO

Ade Ayeyemi, Ecobank Group CEO

LOME, Togo, April 9, 2018/ — The groundbreaking Ecobank (www.Ecobank.com) Mobile App, a single, unified financial services application across 33 African countries, has processed 9 million transactions worth over $1 billion since launch less than 18 months ago.

With over 4 million users, the Ecobank Mobile App is available to all, enabling users to open an Ecobank Xpress™ Account instantly on their mobile device (providing an easy route to financial inclusion for the previously unbanked). There are now over 4 million Ecobank Xpress™ Account holders on the Ecobank Mobile App and USSD platforms. Other bank customers may onboard the Ecobank Mobile App with their MasterCard or Visa cards while Ecobank customers do so using their card or retail internet banking credentials.

Users of the Ecobank Mobile App are able to transfer money instantly within Ecobank locally or across Africa using Ecobank Rapidtransfer™, a unique service that is faster and more affordable than competing options. Consumers may also make transfers to other local bank accounts, mobile wallets and to Visa cardholders using Visa Direct on the Ecobank Mobile App. The App offers easy payments using Ecobankpay Scan+Pay through Masterpass, mVisa and Mcash, and has options to pay utility bills, school fees, subscriptions, make donations, buy airtime instantly and generate payment tokens using Ecobank Xpress™ Cash to do cardless ATM withdrawals or at an Ecobank Xpress™ Point (agent locations).

Ade Ayeyemi, Ecobank Group CEO explained that Ecobank’s strategic mission is built around using mobile banking to deliver innovative, efficient and cost-effective services to those who have typically sat outside of the formal economy, and therefore goes far beyond the reach of the traditional branch and ATM networks. He noted that they had processed almost as many transactions on the Ecobank Mobile App in the first few months this year as they did in the second half of 2017.

“Customers can enjoy 24/7/365 access to financial services from the convenience of their mobile devices with the Ecobank Mobile App,” he said. “We have brought world-class functionality to consumers in the 33 countries in Africa where Ecobank operates.”

Patrick Akinwuntan, Ecobank’s Group Executive, Consumer Banking says that Ecobank is committed to providing easy access to financial services for all Africans, leveraging the ubiquity of mobile phones via the bank’s Mobile App and at Ecobank Xpress™ Point agents wherever physical interaction is necessary especially for cash deposits.

Patrick Akinwuntan, Ecobank’s Group Executive, Consumer Banking

Patrick Akinwuntan, Ecobank’s Group Executive, Consumer Banking

“We aim to be the leading consumer financial services franchise in Africa and have developed a range of products and services relevant to meeting the daily banking, financing, investment and transactional needs of our customers,” said Mr. Akinwuntan. “The Ecobank Mobile App provides easy access to these services anytime and anywhere and we are very pleased with the fast and increasing uptake.”

Incorporated in Lomé, Togo in 1988, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (‘ETI’) (www.Ecobank.com)  is the parent company of the leading independent pan-African banking group, Ecobank. 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 17,000 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. Additional information on Ecobank can be found at www.Ecobank.com.

 

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Claudio Oben On Defying The 6TH
April 6, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Destiny Kwenchia

Claudio Oben

With the world premiere set for the USA on April 8th, Actor and Producer Claudio Oben discusses Defying the 6th, his latest production. I have grown and gotten better from when I started 8 years ago, thus by default making DT6 my most experienced work yet, says the hard working actor who also stars in Defying the 6th.

Your latest film defying the 6th hits is set to premiere in the days ahead, what is the movie about?

The movie is about the causes of suicides, struggles and trauma that people deal with that eventually if not strong enough drive people to commit suicide.

What message do you seek to convey in that film?

For this film, I seek to start a conversation with people in dark places in their lives or with people who know someone in a dark place that we hear them, we can share their pain and ending one’s life if not the only way out.

Where was the movie shot and could you introduce the cast for us?

The movie was shot 90% in Cameroon and 10% in the United  States. Main Cast: Claudio Oben (Myself), Berlinda Nahbila, Malvis Ann, Lucie Memba and Libota MacDonald.

Where would you rank Defying the 6th in terms of other movies you have produced and starred in?

To me, it’s really not a matter of ranking but more of growth and like anything we do in life, the more you do it, better you get at it. So, as a filmmaker, I believe I have grown and gotten better from when I started 8 years ago, thus by default making DT6 my most experienced work yet

What were some of the challenges faced in the production of the movie?

Besides the regular challenges you face when dealing with schedules of a hand full of people, it was more so filming in Cameroon, something I had not done in my career yet. I had to learn and understand the way it is done there and at the same time implement my findings on set on the fly, so it was a huge experience that made me learn a lot.

You have been one of the key actors trying to promote the put Cameroon film industry, how is it

doing and what else needs to be done to get it better?

The Cameroon Industry, just like every industry on cooperation that is belt on talent, art and passion has grown a great deal and it just keeps getting better. That is very evident with the quality and quantity of good film being produced under that umbrella so its a good time to be part of that family.

And for what else needs to be done better: We the artist, be it producers, actors, directors and all need to remember that without us the art dies, so we need to concentrate more on the art and forget about fame and recognition. Those things come by default when the work is done right.

Could you share more information about the Premiere, venue, fees, and any other side shows taking place ?

DT6 will be premiered in MD this Sunday, April 8th, 2018 at the Old Greenbelt Theatre from 7pm-11pm. Tickets for that are $20 even and can be purchased at the gate or on eventbrite. Thereafter, it will be premiered in Cameroon. on Saturday, April 21st, 2018 at the Mountain Hotel in Buea. Tickets for those are: 5000 cfa-Regular, 10.000 cfa-VIP (Comes with 2 drinks), Tables- 50.000 cfa.

 

What next for Claudio Oben after Defying the 6th, any other projects coming up?

After the premieres and film festival runs, Claudio Oben and Zeallmatic pictures will get back to work, if not already in the works for the spin-offs of DT6. That’s all I am allowed to reveal for now.

Thanks for talking to PAV                           

Thank you so much for having me and hope to see you at the premiere. Stay blessed.

 

 

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Unemployment: Arab spring not imminent – Expert
April 6, 2018 | 0 Comments
Vladmir Antwi-Danso

Vladmir Antwi-Danso

The Dean of Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College Vladmir Antwi-Danso has dismissed fears of a possible replication of the Arab Spring in Ghana over increasing spate of unemployment.

More than 1.2 million persons from 15 years and older are estimated to be unemployed, representing the total unemployment rate of 11.9%, according to a 2015 Ghana Labour Force Survey Report.

Of this number, about 714,916 are females, representing 57.2 per cent and 535,997 for males representing 42.8%, the survey commissioned by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) stated.

President Akufo-Addo hesitated in January this year in a media encounter to give an accurate data of how many jobs his government created since coming to power. The figures, he said should be expected this month [April] as government was in the process of putting together the statistics on the exact number of jobs that have been created by his NPP government.

Speaking Thursday at the 5th African Policy Think Tank Summit in Accra, the Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta attributed Ghana and the Africa’s debilitating youth unemployment figures to the failure of the continent’s economy to drive job creation, warning that if care was not taken the situation will lead to the replication of Arab spring in the country

The Arab Spring was a series of anti-government protests, uprisings and armed rebellions that spread across the Middle East in early 2011 due largely to massive youth unemployment in the region.

But Vladmir Antwi-Danso observed that the situation in the country, even though alarming, does not provide fertile grounds for a civil unrest of that kind.

“The point is that something has to trigger something. Even when you have just two and half percent of unemployment it could trigger anything. Now you have twelve and half percent, thirty percent like you have in the Arab spring; thirty-one percent seriously employed and it is like they are unemployed and unemployable. We are getting there somehow but those things that trigger what the unemployed could do I haven’t found them yet,” the International Relations and security expert said in response to concerns raised by the Finance Minister.

“We have a certain social kind of situation [and] the family system that we have in Ghana does well. Then the social safety net either from the government or from relatives does well to cushion us…that kind of bond where society is taking care of itself is still there. It is dying gradually but it will a lot of time before it dies [completely]. The religious kind of believe in the spirit is also working well even though it’s bad. So I wouldn’t say tomorrow we are going to have Arab spring,” he added.

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I’ll never sell Ghana’s sovereignty – Prez
April 6, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

President Akufo Addo

President Akufo Addo

President of the Republic of Ghana Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has stated that he will never compromise or sell the sovereignty of Ghana under any circumstance.

Speaking on the US-Ghana military agreement for the first time, the President slammed the opposition NDC describing them as “hypocrites” and “cynics” for twisting the facts in the US military agreement. He added that he is outraged by comments from his political opponents that he has sold the sovereignty of the nation to the United States of America.

“I will never be the president that will compromise or sell the sovereignty of our country. I respect deeply the memory of the great patriots whose sacrifice and toil brought about our independence and freedom,” Akufo-Addo said in an address to the nation.

The President’s address comes after massive public outrage over the military agreement with the United States of America.

The main opposition National Democratic Congress and other pressure groups in the country including the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) have been part of a protest to withdraw the deal or revise it to safeguard the sovereignty of the West African nation.

The deal, which has been ratified by Ghana’s Parliament but yet to be signed by the president, gives the US military and its civilian personnel unimpeded access to certain installations in Ghana, including tax wavers.

In his address, Akufo-Add reiterated that the US is not building a military base in Ghana adding that the agreement with the US is only a continuation of a relationship that has existed for decades.

He added that the military agreement will also enhace Ghana’s defence capability and offer an important layer of support in the nation’s common effort to protect the peace in the sub-region.

“Let me state with the clearest affirmation that Ghana has not offered a military base and will not offer a military base to the United States of America. Indeed, the United States of America has not made any request for such consideration and consistent with our foreign policy we will not consider any such request.

“However, In consideration of the realities of our circumstances and the challenges to peace in the region in our time, we have deemed it prudent to continue the cooperation agreement with the USA.

“It is our firm believe that the agreement will enhance our defence capability and offer an important layer of support in our common effort to protect the peace in our region.”

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Building the Business Case for Housing Microfinance in Sub-Saharan Africa
April 5, 2018 | 0 Comments
Six-year study with 47,000 households demonstrates how housing microfinance can be win-win for poor people and financial institutions

KISSI, KENYA (05/04/16)-
Julius Nyakeya Kinanda, 34,Ruth Nygmorambo Nyakeya, 30,Michelle Kwamboka Nyakeya, 10, (White top)
Elisha Kafiti Nyakeya, 8,
Joy Boera Nyakeya, 2,
©Habitat for Humanity International/Jason Asteros

NAIROBI, Kenya, April 5, 2018/ — A new study from Habitat for Humanity (www.Habitat.org) says that housing microfinance can and should become a mainstream offering for financial institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa as they respond to growing housing needs in the region, particularly from poor people.

The business case study, released today, is entitled “Building the Business Case for Housing Microfinance in Sub-Saharan Africa”  It builds on a project carried out over six years in Kenya and Uganda called “Building Assets Unlocking Access”. The project was a partnership between Habitat’s Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter and the Mastercard Foundation (www.MastercardFdn.org). So far, the project has reached over 47,000 households and mobilized more than US$43 million in capital to benefit over 237,000 individuals.

To download the case study “Building the Business Case for Housing Microfinance in Sub-Saharan Africa” click here: https://goo.gl/QmYUWT

The business case study argues that housing microfinance, small non-mortgage backed loans for short terms, can become a mainstream offering in the market to address growing housing needs in the region, incremental building patterns, and the land tenure realities of low-income households.

There are an estimated 1.6 billion people in the world living in substandard housing. This figure is climbing, especially as the world becomes more urbanized and people migrate to cities for economic opportunity. In Sub-Saharan Africa, however, as much as 99 percent of people do not have access to formal financing –  credit, savings, mortgages – that can let them start building or improving their homes. Traditionally, they build homes gradually as their resources allow. Developer-built, bank-financed homes are rare in Africa, serving fewer than five percent of households in most countries.

“Solving the housing challenges in Africa will require a massive amount of capital investment and most of that will need to come from the private sector,” said Patrick Kelley, Vice President of Habitat’s Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter. “Financial institutions of all kinds have a role to play, especially those already deeply embedded in communities and who understand people with informal sector livelihoods.”

Habitat’s Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter partnership with the Mastercard Foundation sought to motivate local financial service providers in Kenya and Uganda to develop housing microfinance loans to fund the incremental building process common among low-income households. The results have proven that there is demand for housing microfinance among families or individuals earning as little as US$5 a day who are seeking to build, extend, or renovate their home.

“At the Mastercard Foundation, our focus is on helping economically disadvantaged people, especially young people in Africa, to find opportunities to move themselves, their families and their communities out of poverty,” said Ruth Dueck-Mbeba, Senior Program Manager at the Foundation. “This project has provided access to appropriate finance for decent housing. We believe that decent housing can provide more than four walls and a roof over one’s head. It offers people hope, dignity, and a place in their communities.  This report should help financial service providers to scale these products, which would benefit their enterprises as well as the lives of many poor people in Africa.”

Financial institutions in the region that have ventured into housing microfi­nance have often reported it to be a popular product with their clients. To understand the demand side factors, the value proposition of these products, the competitive advantage of financial service providers offering it, and the differentiated features that make housing microfinance a strategic product, the business case study surveyed the work of two financial institutions: Kenya Women Microfinance Bank, or KWFT, and Centenary Bank in Uganda.

The study argues, through the lenses of these two institutions in different geographies, that success and profitability of a housing microfinance product relies on a number of factors: connection with the financial service provider’s mission, good marketing, a clear pricing structure, understanding of land tenure realities, an opportunity to attract new clients, and secure long-term capital to fund the expansion of such portfolios.

“Financing incremental housing solutions is a natural step in the progress of greater financial inclusion. Centenary and KWFT are providing a great example of how financial institutions will benefit from understanding their clients and developing products that serve them well,” said Patrick Kelley.

About the Mastercard Foundation
The Mastercard Foundation (www.MastercardFdn.org) seeks a world where everyone has the opportunity to learn and prosper. The Foundation’s work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion for people living in poverty. One of the largest foundations in the world, it works almost exclusively in Africa. It was created in 2006 by Mastercard International and operates independently under the governance of its own Board of Directors. The Foundation is based in Toronto, Canada. For more information and to sign up for the Foundation’s newsletter, please visit www.MastercardFdn.org. Follow the Foundation at @MastercardFdn on Twitter.

About Habitat for Humanity
Driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity (www.Habitat.org) began in 1976 as a grassroots effort. The housing organization has since grown to become a leading global nonprofit working in more than 70 countries. Families and individuals in need of a hand up partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. Through financial support, volunteering or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit www.Habitat.org/emea.

About the Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter 
Habitat established the Terwilliger Center (www.Habitat.org/TCIS) to work with housing market systems by supporting local firms and expand¬ing innovative and client-responsive services, products and financing so that households can improve their shelter more effectively and efficiently. The role of the Terwilliger Center stays true to Habitat for Humanity’s original principles of self-help and sus¬tainability by focusing on improving systems that enable families to achieve affordable shelter without needing ongoing direct support

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Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio Is Sierra Leone’s New President
April 5, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Mohamed Bangura

President Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio

President Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio

The final result for the Run off of the Presidential election in Sierra Leone was announced on Wednesday the 4th of April 2018 at 10pm.The Announcement was made by the Chairman of the National Electoral Commissioner Mr Mohamed Nfa Alie Conteh at the Electoral commission Headquarters in Freetown. Foreign and local observers,Consular and Diplomatic cores and members of the local and foreign press were in attendance when the announcement was made, both parties, The Sierra Leone Peoples party SLPP and the All peoples Congress Party APC were both claiming victory and both parties supporters were celebrating victory in the streets of Freetown making the whole populace of the country in a confused mood not knowing who really is the right winner of the election.

The chairman of the National Electoral Commission started by thanking the foreign observers,Press and the general public for help making the electoral process a reality.He said the total voters  turn out of the Run off election was 2,578,271 representing 81.11% and the valid votes cast 2,546,577 representing 98.76% and the invalid votes cast was 36,694 representing 1.24%.

The full breakdown for each presidential candidates were as follows..Dr Mathew Wilson Samura Kamara for the All Peoples Congress Party APC vote cast 1,227,171 representing 48.19% and the Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party SLPP votes cast  1,319,406 representing 51.24%.

According to the Constitution of Sierra Leone only the Chairman of the National Electoral Commission has the power to pronounce a winner as president and that what exactly the returning NEC officer Mr Mohamed Nfa Alie did as he announced the Retired Brigadier Juluis Maada Bio as the duly elected president of the Republic of Sierra Leone as he defeated  Dr Mathew Wilson Samura Kamara.

Retired Brigadier Maada Bio was sworn in as President hours after the Result was announced at the Radisson Blue Hotel and Dr Samura Kamara also congratulated the newly elected President. Supporters of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party are celebration throughout the country and the supporters and sympathizers of the defeated All Peoples Party are trying hard to cope with the atmosphere in welcoming the newly elected president

 

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