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Africa Has All Ingredients for a New Era of Success
November 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

NJ Ayuk
NJ Ayuk

African countries need to monetize their natural resources and use the resulting revenue to build much-needed infrastructure and diversify economies
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, November 18, 2019/ — If you follow news about Africa, it’s easy to find disheartening headlines about the continent’s struggles. But those stories do not paint a complete picture. Every day, I read encouraging news about African entrepreneurs and business leaders who are making a positive impact.

A few examples:Kola Karim’s Shoreline Natural Resources has grown its upstream business through the acquisition of OML 30 a world class asset from Shell in 2010. OML 30 is onshore Nigeria, located less than 50 kilometers east of Warri. The lease covers 1,097 square kilometers with eight producing fields. OML 30 has 2P reserves of 1.2billion barrels of oil and 2tcf of gas reserves. Current production averages 70,00 bopd with potential to significantly increase to c. 300,000 bopd in the long term.Nigerian oil tycoon Arthur Eze of Atlas Oranto Petroleum recently closed, alongside Noble Energy and Glencore, a $350 million deal on pooling supply from stranded gas fields in Equatorial Guinea and the Gulf of Guinea to replace declining output from the Alba field.Benedict Peters, chairman and CEO of energy conglomerate AITEO Group will serve on the Board of Advisors for the U.S.-Africa Business Center. There he will be able to provide relevant insights that lead to valuable economic opportunities for Americans and Africans.The Nigerian Natural Gas Association, which just celebrated its 20th anniversary, is thriving under the leadership of President Audrey Joe-Ezigbo, the association’s first female president.Sahara Group, an energy and infrastructure conglomerate, has teamed up with the United Nations Development Programme to create the Africa Renewable Energy Forum. Sahara Group, which is under the leadership of Executive Director Temitope Shenube, says the forum’s objective is to provide access to sustainable energy for 10 million African households through alternative energy initiatives and interventions.
The point is, exciting things are taking place in Africa.

When I wrote Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals, my goal was to help readers envision a new future for Africa, a future they could help shape. I want people to see that Africa doesn’t have to be subject to a resource curse, and with the right strategies and policies, Africa can reap the full benefits of its oil and gas resources.

But that’s only part of the story. I also want people to understand that Africa has more than petroleum resources going for it: the continent also is rich in people who refuse to give up on Africa, people who are working to guide the continent toward a more stable and prosperous future. We have energetic entrepreneurs and government leaders committed to the African dream of stability and prosperity; increasing numbers of female professionals and leaders bringing their talents to the table, and successful petroleum sector leaders who want to channel their expertise and resources into Africa’s future.

When you combine the people working for a better African future with the steady flow of opportunities we’re seeing in oil and gas — including several major discoveries in the last few months alone — great things can happen.  

Committed to Africa

Long before Nyonga Fofang took the helm of private equity firm Bambili Group in South Africa, the Harvard-educated financier made a name for himself on Wall Street. I quoted him in my book to help make a case for the importance of foreign investment in Africa. But in addition to being a source of valuable finance insights, Fofang is an example of Africans who are sharing the benefits of their Western educations and career experiences with their home continent. These Africans are harnessing the insights and ingenuity they have gained abroad and putting them to work for the good of Africans.

Another excellent example of that dynamic is Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, the Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea. Lima earned his bachelor’s degree in International Trade from Alma College in Michigan before going on to build a successful career in Equatorial Guinea. Today, this highly respected OPEC Minister is known for his effective leadership in Equatorial Guinea and around the world, where he plays a critical role in the country’s increased petroleum exploration and production activity.

Fofang and Lima are not isolated cases: a recent survey by pan-African equity firm Jacana Partners found that 70 percent of African MBA students at the top schools in American and Europe planned to return home after graduation. And in a survey by the Association of Commonwealth Universities, 400 doctoral students from Africa said they intended to return to their home country after completing educations abroad. Many Africans are committing to playing a role in their continent’s success, and that bodes very well for the continent’s future.

I would like to add, though, that Africa also benefits from people who have left the continent, but continue to find ways to support their home communities and countries. The African diaspora, comprising more than 30 million people around the globe, can make significant contributions to Africa’s socioeconomic well-being. That can take the form of knowledge and technology sharing, investments, and participation in civil society and advocacy efforts. We do see that happening now, and I hope to see an even more engaged Africa diaspora going forward.

Fully Capitalizing on Africa’s Talent

As I wrote in Billions at Play, female leaders excel at what they do. When women are given the opportunity to lead, we see the businesses, governments, and organizations under their guidance reap the rewards. That’s why we all should be excited when we hear about woman rising to positions of power and influence in Africa.

One of the women featured in my book, for example, has been transforming Africa’s tech sector. Rebecca Enonchong is an innovator who not only thinks outside of the box, she is developing better boxes altogether. Enonchong is the founder and CEO of AppsTech, which provides solutions for businesses and organizations around the globe, and of the I/O Spaces incubator for members of the African diaspora in the U.S. She also is the chair of ActiSpaces (the African Center for Technology Innovation and Ventures) and of AfriLabs, a network organization of more than 80 innovation centers across 27 African countries. And she is a founding member of the African Business Angel Network. Earlier this year, she was among the tech trailblazers featured in the augmented reality art experience “Nyota,” in Lagos, which was created to honor those who have contributed significantly to the growth of innovation and the technology ecosystem in Africa. Enonchong continues to innovate, to lead, and to create meaningful economic opportunities for Africans.

And she is one of many examples I have written about. Another is Catherine Uju Ifejika, Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian energy services company, Brittania-U Group. Under her effective leadership, Brittania-U Group creates business opportunities for other indigenous companies, along with training and full-time jobs.

Another African leader to follow is Audrey Joe-Ezigbo, whom I mentioned earlier in this piece. In addition to her role with the Nigerian Natural Gas Association, she is the co-founder of Falcon Corporation Limited, an indigenous midstream and downstream gas outfit. She also is an author; on the Executive Council of Women in Management, Business & Public Service; is the founder of The Barnabas Widows Support Foundation; and provides business and relationship-building training to couples that are in business together.

Lets not forget, Elizabeth Rogo – Founder & Chief Executive Officer Tsavo Oilfield Services. Elizabeth’s trailblazing path includes being the first woman to lead American oilfield service company Weatherford’s Sub-Sahara division to hold country and regional management roles when she was appointed Country Manager (Kenya) then East Africa Area Manager (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique and Ethiopia) from 2015 until 2017 before starting her own oilfield Services company – another first for a woman in the region.

I am not saying women have more to offer Africa than men, both have a great deal to offer Africa. Why shouldn’t our continent benefit from all of its talent? I am excited to see more women contributing to economic development and innovation in Africa, and I know the continent will continue to benefit as more determined business leaders, male and female, join their efforts.

Movers and Shakers

Arthur Eze is another powerful example of African business leaders working for a better African future. Eze, usually referred to as Prince Arthur Eze because he is descended from tribal royalty, is the founder of Atlas Petroleum International and Oranto Petroleum. He is known not only for his business successes, but also for his philanthropy. Last year, Oranto started building two primary schools in South Sudan, where the company has an exploration license for Block B3. Oranto also has committed to a five-year teacher training program in South Sudan.

Petroleum industry leader Benedict Peters has a strong track record of impactful business and charitable activities as well. He has been recognized for helping Nigeria develop its energy industry, and for transforming Aiteo Group from a small downstream operation to an integrated energy conglomerate. Aiteo is a regular support of organizations like FACE Africa, which provides clean water to sub-Saharan Africans. Peters’ organization, the Joseph Agro Foundation, addresses unemployment and water shortages by creating job opportunities for farmers.

Then there is Sahara Group. Under the leadership of Executive Director and co-founder Temitope Shenube, the Nigerian energy and infrastructure conglomerate empowers the communities where it works. The company’s charitable arm, Sahara Foundation, supports health, education and capacity building, environment, and sustainable development initiatives.

What we are seeing in Africa is a pattern of African petroleum-sector leaders taking meaningful steps to make life better in Africa.

Endless Energy Opportunities

Africa has no shortage of people determined to improve its future, and it has what it needs to fuel their efforts: enormous stores of oil and gas resources. The last 12 months have been an exceptionally exciting time in terms of discoveries.

In offshore Mauritania, Kosmos Energy recently announced a massive natural gas discovery that could yield as much as 50 trillion cubic feet of gas. Total discovered what could amount to 1 billion barrels of oil equivalent offshore South Africa’s Brulpadda field. BP and Kosmos Energy announced a discovery in the Yakaar-2 appraisal well, offshore of Senegal.

We are also seeing tremendously promising activity in Mozambique. Earlier this fall, ExxonMobil announced a $33 billion enlargement of Mozambique’s Rovuma liquid natural gas (LNG) complex. Total, meanwhile, says it will expand its Mozambique LNG project it recently acquired from Anadarko. Both projects are likely to create tens of thousands of jobs, bolster the economy, and raise everyday people’s standard of living.

And these are only a few examples of Africa’s many petroleum-related opportunities. Of course, we need to act thoughtfully and decisively to capitalize on them and make sure that everyday Africans benefit from them. African countries need to monetize their natural resources and use the resulting revenue to build much-needed infrastructure and diversify economies. We must insist on governance that encourages exploration and production, effective local content policies, and an end to corruption. We need to be making better deals and developing new models for managing oil revenue.

Instead of looking to foreign aid, we need to develop strategic partnerships with foreign companies willing to share knowledge. And while we are capitalizing on petroleum resources, we also need to embrace sustainable energy sources and plan now for Africa’s energy transition. I cover all of these topics in great detail in my book.

The African Dream is Within Our Reach

Africa is home to infectious optimism and tenacity. We’re seeing it in Africans who’ve achieved success and now work to help other Africans do the same. We are seeing it in women who are overcoming gender stereotypes and obstacles to take their rightful place as industry leaders. And, we are seeing it among petroleum executives who are offering meaningful support and opportunities to African communities.

Africa is an exciting place in an era of huge potential. That’s why the time is right to join the fight for its future. Whether you are an African entrepreneur, a member of the diaspora, or a foreign investor, your efforts today have more potential than ever to make a positive impact.

NJ Ayuk is the CEO of Centurion Law Group and the Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber. His experience negotiating oil and gas deals has given him an expert’s grasp of Africa’s energy landscape. He is the author of “Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and doing deals.

*Source African Energy Chamber.
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Africa Investment Forum 2019: African Development Bank signs $250-million risk participation agreement with ABSA, to address Africa’s trade financing gap
November 18, 2019 | 0 Comments
The Bank’s trade finance operations aim to facilitate inter and intra Africa trade by reducing the trade financing gap on the continent
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, November 18, 2019/ — The African Development Bank (https://AfDB.org/en) has signed an unfunded $250-million Risk Participation Agreement (RPA) facility with ABSA – a pan-Africa financial institution with a solid presence in 12 African countries.

The 3-year RPA facility was signed November 12, on the sidelines of the Africa Investment Form through its trade finance operations. Under this 3-year RPA facility, the Bank and ABSA will share default risk on a portfolio of eligible trade transactions originated by African Issuing Banks (IBs) and confirmed by ABSA.

Leveraging the Bank’s  AAA rating, ABSA will underwrite trade transactions issued by African issuing banks across key sectors like agriculture, energy, and light-manufacturing with a special focus on Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SME’s)  in fragile and low-income African countries. The Bank’s commitment under the RPA is to assume up to 50% (and 75% in special cases) of every underlying transaction issued by the IBs, while ABSA will confirm such a transaction and bear not less than 50% of its underlying risk.

Working with strategic partners like ABSA, the Bank’s  trade finance operations aim to facilitate inter and intra Africa trade by reducing the trade financing gap on the continent. Since 2013, the Bank’s RPA program has supported over 16 issuing banks with about US$650 million  limits in Southern Africa alone, with special focus on SMEs and local corporates in manufacturing, agribusiness, import/export and energy sectors.

In the same period, the program supported over $4billion in trade volumes across Africa, with $938 million of that being intra-Africa trade. Other trade finance instruments employed by the Bank include: (i) Trade Finance Line of Credit (TFLoC)  (https://bit.ly/2CRVxcv) – funded line provided to banks for the financing of exclusively trade-related transactions in Africa; and (ii) Soft Commodity Finance Facility (SCFF) (https://bit.ly/2CRVxcv) – funded instrument meant to support the financing of exports of soft commodities across the continent.

“The RPA facility is one of the tools employed by the African Development Bank to alleviate poverty and achieve robust economic growth and sustainable development on the continent through: increased trade facilitation of import-export activities of African local corporates and SME’s; enhanced inter and intra-Africa trade; and regional integration,” said Pierre Guislain, Bank Vice President for Infrastructure, Private Sector and Industrialization, “This is consistent with the Bank’s High 5s focus to Industrialize Africa, Light up Africa, Integrate Africa, Feed Africa and improve the living standards of Africans,” he added.

*AFDB
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Africa Investment Forum 2019: Masai Ujiri urges African leaders to invest in sports, commissions two new “players”
November 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

We need to invest in sports; African talent is like gold and diamonds – Masai Ujiri
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, November 18, 2019/ — Masai Ujiri, President of the Toronto Raptors, made his second appearance at the Africa Investment Forum, renewing his call for African governments to invest in sports.

Ujiri, the only President of National Basketball Association (NBA) of African origin in franchise history, has worked hard over the past year to scout talent and raise awareness about the success and growth of sports on the continent.

“We should be supporting teams here in Africa, that should be our vision. Sports is the next big thing in Africa,” Ujiri said, calling on investors to pay “close attention.” With all the talent in sports, there is no way it should be ignored, he said, reeling off a list of players from Africa on the Raptors team.

The sports ecosystem should be the biggest thing on our continent and has the potential to create jobs and improve livelihoods. African players are in top leagues worldwide and a former footballer is even president of an African state, Ujiri stated.

Ujiri, joined Ashish Thakkar, CEO and founder of Mara phones, and Tokunboh Ishmael, co-founder of Aliethiea IDF for a panel session dubbed “Promises made, Promises kept.”

Ishmael and Thakkar were on stage to share their testimonies, while Ujiri urged investors to look at sports and showed off the NBA championship trophy which at the 2018 Forum he had promised to secure.

Ujiri said President Paul Kagame of Rwanda had heeded his call and was providing support and a “push” for sports.  In one year only, Kagame had built an incredible arena in the capital Kigali.

“We need to invest in sports, it should be the greatest ecosystem in the planet,” Ujiri said.

Responding to a question about how to get more women involved and whether women stood to benefit, Ujiri answered that putting women in leadership roles only made sense.

When he took over the Toronto Raptors in 2013 as executive vice president and general manager, there were no women at all, except for one secretary.

“And it really offended me…Women run our homes, they are incredible but when it comes to the workplace, we don’t want to give them that power to show their abilities, ‘Ujiri said.

“Now I have hired 15 women with my organization, and I think it’s important, they give us success. They make us make better decisions,” Ujiri said.

As a parting surprise, Ujiri announced that he had scouted two new players for the Raptors. Welcoming President Kagame and African Development Bank (AfDB.org) Akinwumi Adesina to the stage, he handed them red team gear with their names emblazoned on the back along with the number 19.

“They are going to be playing for the Raptors, I’m taking them back to Toronto with me,” Ujiri announced.

In earlier remarks, Ujiri thanked Kagame and Adesina for their support.

“We should be supporting teams in Africa…The talent in Africa is incredible, it’s like gold and diamond…we have to represent and believe in it.”

The Africa Investment Forum is a marketplace for project developers, investors, borrowers, lenders, policy makers and public- and private-sector investors to encourage investment in Africa. The 2019 edition, which ran from 11-13 November, closed Wednesday in Johannesburg, South Africa.
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$1 Million Awarded to African Entrepreneurs in Grand Finale of the Jack Ma Foundation Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative
November 17, 2019 | 0 Comments

The aim of the prize is to support and inspire the next generation of African entrepreneurs who are building a more sustainable and inclusive economy for the future
ACCRA, Ghana, November 17, 2019/ — Last night the Jack Ma Foundation hosted its first annual Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI) (https://www.Netpreneur.Africa/) grand finale awarding $1 million in prize money to 10 entrepreneurs from across Africa.

The ANPI is a flagship initiative of the Jack Ma Foundation, created by Jack Ma after his first trip to Africa in 2017. The aim of the prize is to support and inspire the next generation of African entrepreneurs who are building a more sustainable and inclusive economy for the future. In its inaugural year, nearly 10,000 entrepreneurs from 50 countries across the continent applied. The Jack Ma Foundation has committed to running the competition for 10 years.

The finale event, called “Africa’s Business Heroes,” was held in Accra, Ghana, where the top 10 finalists pitched their businesses directly to four prestigious judges including Jack Ma, Founder of Alibaba Group and the Jack Ma Foundation; Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet Group; Ibukun Awosika, Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria and Founder/CEO of The Chair Centre Group; and Joe Tsai, Executive Vice Chairman of Alibaba.

The specifics of the prize pool division is listed below. Each finalist is receiving a share of $1 million.

The top three finalists were:Temie Giwa-Tubosun, founder and CEO, LifeBank  (https://LifeBank.ng/) ( Nigeria) – First Place, winning $250,000Dr. Omar Sakr, founder and CEO, Nawah-Scientific (https://Nawah-Scientific.com/) (Egypt) – Second Place, winning $150,000Christelle Kwizera, founder, Water Access Rwanda (https://www.WARwanda.com/) (Rwanda) – Third Place, winning $100,000
“It was an incredible honor to be named Africa’s Business Hero. I was truly inspired by my fellow winners at today’s Netpreneur Summit. The Africa Netpreneur Prize will give me the resources to grow LifeBank and expand our presence in Nigeria and throughout the rest of Africa. I look forward to continuing my journey to solve problems and make a significant impact on the future of Africa,” said Temie Giwa-Tubosun, Founder and CEO of LifeBank.

The remaining finalists, who each received $65,000, are listed below:Waleed Abd El Rahman, CEO, Mumm (https://www.getMumm.com/) (Egypt)Ayodeji Arikawe, co-founder, Thrive Agric (https://ThriveAgric.com/)(Nigeria)Mahmud Johnson, founder and CEO, J-Palm  (https://www.JPalmshop.com/) (Liberia)Kevine Kagirimpundu, co-founder and CEO, UZURI K&Y  (https://shop.UZURIKY.com/) (Rwanda)Dr. Tosan J. Mogbeyiteren, founder, Black Swan (https://bit.ly/2OjgHFY) (Nigeria)Chibuzo Opara, co-founder, DrugStoc (https://www.DrugStoc.com/) (Nigeria)Moulaye Taboure, co-founder and CEO, Afrikrea (https://www.Afrikrea.com/)  (Cote D’Ivoire)
“The finalists who competed in ‘Africa’s Business Heroes’ should be an inspiration for Africa and for the world. Each of these entrepreneurs looked at big challenges facing their communities, and saw them as opportunities,” said Jack Ma, Founder of the Alibaba Group and Jack Ma Foundation. “It is my strong belief that entrepreneur heroes, like these finalists, will change the world – creating companies that drive inclusive growth and opportunity for the continent. Everyone is a winner tonight.”

“This competition demonstrates the overwhelming entrepreneurial talent that exists across Africa. I’m very excited about the future of industry and entrepreneurship for this continent,” said Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet Group. “The top 10 truly show the limitless potential of African business.”

“What really struck me about the finalists was that they each addressed specific African problems with a specific African solution in a fresh way, leveraging technology that wasn’t available previously,” said Ibukun Awosika, Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria and Founder/CEO of The Chair Centre Group. “If this is an indication of the future of entrepreneurship on the continent, then Africa’s future looks bright.”

“Africa’s Business Heroes” will be televised in a two-hour special throughout Africa. The journeys of the finalists as well as their pitches and business insights from the judges will all be included in this exciting television event.

You can watch “Africa’s Business Heroes” on the following dates and channels:December 13, 2019 – ROK 3 on DSTVDecember 14, 2019 – NOVELA and Sports Focus on StarTimes
Check your local listings for specific channel and airing times.

The initiative will host a pitch competition where 10 finalists from across the continent will compete for $1 million in total prize money every year through 2028. All entrepreneurs across Africa, are encouraged to apply. Entries for next year’s prize will open in the first half of 2020.

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Didier Drogba Chooses Ivory Coast Role Over Chelsea
November 16, 2019 | 0 Comments

Didier Drogba
Didier Drogba

Didier Drogba says he turned down a coaching job at Chelsea because he wanted to work on football development in his home country.

According to Metro, Didier Drogba turned down the opportunity to become part of the coaching team at Stamford Bridge in order to run for the position of president of the Ivory Coast Football Federation.

The 41-year-old Chelsea legend, who retired as a player late last year, has been canvassing support for his bid to take charge of the federation and admitted in a meeting in Abidjan that he opted to go for the job instead of returning to west London.

‘I had an offer to stay at Chelsea where everything would be perfect and conditions are met, but I want to help Ivorian football because I love it!’ said the former Ivory Coast captain.

‘I am a leader, and my vision is bigger than just the simple role of being a coach.

‘A coach has an impact on a club – but I want to have an impact on an entire nation. I want us to re-think football, with a nationwide vision, so we can develop the game here.

‘The Ivory Coast has a glorious footballing past. The funds are in place, together with talent and potential, but they are under-exploited.

‘There are some very competent people in the Ivory Coast who can work with me on this project.’

*Source Chelsea

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Shifting Battlefronts In Africa
November 16, 2019 | 0 Comments

By  Scott Morgan

The current struggle against the Islamic State (IS) is shifting fronts.  No longer will the major campaign take place against the former concentration of power in Syria and Iraq but it will shift to the Sahel.

During a Ministerial Level meeting that took place at the State Department on November 14th, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced to his counterparts that change in strategy would in fact be taking place soon. What would this actually look like is a question that is certain to be bandied around by analysts across the CT spectrum.

If we are to assess what the struggle in the Sahel will look like we should look at the operations in Iraq and Syria for some guidance. We saw a group that took advantage of a vacuum that had a space that needed to be occupied. In the Middle East the voids were provided by a long standing civil war in Syria and poor governance originating from Baghdad. These actions created the situation where IS were able to find willing recruits to join their crusades.

Switching focus to the Sahel we do see several areas where a very similar scenario has been unfolding. One area of concern we should have is this area has had this issue that actually predates the rise of the IS. Weak governments which have porous borders with their neighbors actually provides a context where cross border operations can be conducted with ease by a non-state actor. This is a key fact when the actors are native to the region as well. So should it really be a surprise to learn that some of the routes being used by the terrorists date back to the days of the Mali and Songhai empires?

Another point that is often overlooked is the rise of Al-Aqaeda in the Maghreb. The group rose to prominence after the controversial 1992 elections in Algeria. Back then it was better known as the GPSC (Salfaist Group for Preaching and Combat). It later played a prominent role in the ouster and demise of Qadaffi in Libya and in the collapse of  the central Government in Mali before the French led intervention known as Operation Barkhane.

Speaking of Libya one has to consider that the offensive by General Haftar and his international partners have to be considered as a factor in the rise in the spread of Jihadist acts in the region. His drive southward at first then west and finally north towards Tripoli has forced some fighters to seek a new place for sanctuary.

Currently where do we stand regarding the Sahel? Despite the French led intervention and a United Nations Peacekeeping Force which has allowed for both a tentative peace deal and several elections in Mail the situation is still in flux. There are still attacks in the Central part of Mali that have the potential to unravel the work that has been accomplished.

Another country that currently fits the profile of a potential front is Burkina Faso. It was earlier in the year when the late IS leader Al-Baghdadi called upon attacks on French and Crusader interests in the region. After the release of his statement for a month a Catholic Church in the northern part of the country was destroyed per week. Mosques have also been targeted as well as well as the extractive Gold Industry.

Niger which has seen its share of attacks by Boko Haram over the years is now the home base to a US facility that will be flying UAVs. With the presence of US Special Forces in Mali as well indicate that the US is concerned with events in the region and will do what it can to support France.

This action is being taken now so that the West doesn’t wake up one day and realize that the Jihadists have taken over parts of Ghana, Togo, Ivory Coast and Benin. These Governments are already warning that IS is already in their countries.

*The Author is President Red Eagle Enterprises, a firm with the dual Mission of Supporting African Business Development, and also Providing Analysis of African Intelligence, and assistance in relations with the United States Government .He sits on the Round tables for the Advocacy Network for Africa, and the International Religious Freedom Caucus in Washington ,DC.

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Cameroon: Economic Experts Examine Best Path to Attain 2035 Emergence
November 15, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Participants, guests, Foretia team pose for a photo after the conclusion of the third Nkafu debate in Yaounde

(Yaounde, Cameroon) A public debate organized by the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation within the framework of its Nkafu policy institute program brought together various economic experts to debate over what the best economic paradigm is, for the government of Cameroon to adopt, in order to safely land at the shores of vision 2035 emergence. The theme for the debate was “should Cameroon become a totally Free-Market Society?” that’s continuous government intervention or free market reforms.

To understand the benefits and challenges of free market economies, same as for governments intervention, renown economists and researchers like Dr Louis-Marie Kakdue of the Nkafu policy institute, and Mr Christian Amouo of Mougano Investment, argued for the motion while Dr Ariel Ngnitedem of University of Yaoundé 1 and Dr Jean-Faustin Kaffo of the Ministry of Economy and Planning stood against.

Dr Kakdeu argued that a free economy will increase the level of competition amongst producers which enables resources to be orientated where they are most efficiently utilized, and as a result, gives consumers the latitude of wider choices to select from. Dr Ngnitedem rather believes that, “sometimes markets do fail, especially when the demand are not met and when equity problem sets in, thus needing governments intervention.”

 “Being a poor country, Governments intervention is still needed to make sure there’s inclusive development. In a developing country, the best economic indicator should not be the GDP growth rate but rather the human development index…. and in order to achieve a better human development index, our developing counties should allow governments intervention,” he added.

“In 1988, Cameroon had 188 state own enterprises and by 2018 only 28 were left but 14 out of the 28 that still exist, have failed to be more productive and always needing governments subvention to survive. Camairco, Camtel and Simri fall under this category” Dr Kakdue reiterated.

According to Dr Kaffo, an open or free market will be suicidal for local industries that cannot effectively compete with foreign companies or producers.

The debate, comes within the context of Cameroon facing major structural challenges and negative blows including an alarming poverty level, the state being the largest employer and recent currency crisis as well as the high insecurity in the crisis regions of Far North (Boko haram threads), and the Southwest and Northwest (secessionist war)

UB Health Science Student wins First Prize of National Essay Writing Competition (topic; free market: gateway to an Upper Middle Economy in Cameroon)

Motika Lucia, 24, student in the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Buea, ferried home the cash prize of 200.000 FRS cfa after emerging as winner of the 2019 national essay competition with an average of 16.62/20. This, ahead of Clinton Tumenta from Yaoundé with a score of 15.62/20 and Maxwell Fombutu, Agro-economics student in the Bamenda University of Science and Technology scoring 15.25/20.

Mr Ulrich D’pola of the Nkafu policy institute explained that, the essay competition was launched between July to August inviting young Cameroonians below the age of 25, to address the issue of economic development, what model to follow between economic aids or economic freedom? He also noted that the competition torched 5 regions of the country with majority being female candidates (F=56.25% Vs M=43.75%) showing that young female in Cameroon are really concerned by the economic situation of the country.

Winners of 2019 National Essay Competition
Winners of 2019 National Essay Competition

While expressing her joy, Lucia said the award motivates her to take up other challenges out of the medical fields and to invest more of her time in writing.

This Nkafu debates series n.3 brought together economists, government officials, entrepreneurs, academics and researchers, students amongst others to converge on Mansel Hotel, Yaounde. Meanwhile, the STEM awards of the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation was announced for November 30, 2019.

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The Opportunity for Crypto in Africa is Enormous and will Impact Everyone’s Lives
November 14, 2019 | 0 Comments
Marcus Swanepoel - CEO & Founder of Luno
Marcus Swanepoel – CEO & Founder of Luno

Cape Town, 14th November 2019 – Luno’s CEO Marcus Swanepoel, speaking at AfricaCom 2019, has outlined how the implementation and use of cryptocurrencies will be an important part of Africa’s future.  Luno can see that as cryptocurrencies develop over the next ten years, they can become part of everyone’s lives, solving many of the issues currently associated with existing fiat currencies.

Commenting after his keynote at AfricaCom, Marcus said: “Cryptocurrencies are on a growthpath which can help solve the fundamental problems of the existing monetary system, which in many parts of Africa is not fit for purpose. At the moment we tend to hear about the perceived issues with crypto and although these stories make headlines they also serve to make us forget the problems which have beset the traditional financial systems in Africa.  

“Africans using traditional currencies are often faced with high transaction costs, inflation and currency devaluation, exorbitant interest rates and high levels of fraud. Coupled with all this – accessing the existing system (despite the fact that many have a mobile phone and conduct other elements of their lives online) is still incredibly restrictive” 

This has in turn led to a lack of financial inclusion and huge unbanked deposits, which does not help people or nations and severely hampers economic growth and financial freedom. 

“It will take time for the full benefits of cryptocurrencies to be seen. Cryptocurrencies  have only effectively been in general circulation for five to ten years, so it is still nascent, but like the early adopters of the internet, the long term benefits are very clear. 

Marcus had a clear message for the conference audience which was that cryptocurrencies are alive and well. They are about to enter a very significant and exciting period, and through forward thinking and proactive regulation, countries across Africa can set themselves up for future growth and success.  

Luno is continuing to put its support behind regulators who are embracing cryptocurrencies and who recognise the long term benefits a secure and transparent blockchain system offers, especially for developing markets. As the company expands across Africa,  collaboration with regulators, governments and the broader financial ecosystem will be key. 

Marcus concluded: “Cryptocurrencies will be life changing for many millions of people in Africa.  For the unbanked and those that lose out every time they deal with the existing financial services sector, there lies ahead a better way of moving, storing and exchanging value.  We just have to remember that cryptocurrencies are very new, and will need time to develop to its full potential. Luno is at the forefront of bringing this inevitable change to the world in a responsible way. Markets which are prepared to see the potential and work with the cryptocurrency industry will very quickly move ahead of jurisdictions which refuse to change. We’ve seen this in every sector which technology touches, and the financial technology and cryptocurrency sector will be no different.”

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‘The cost is going to be high’-Kagame warns Rwanda’s enemies
November 14, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

Kagame warns those who want to destabilise Rwanda

President Paul Kagame is warning those who want to wage a war on Rwanda and everyone who is involved, that the cost on their part will be very high.

He made the comments on   Thursday, 14 November after officiating the swearing in ceremony of new cabinet members.

Among new cabinet members includes General Patrick Nyamvumba who was tasked to lead Internal security ministry. This ministry had been scrapped three years ago.

President Kagame said that  people who are planning to destabilize Rwanda, hiding behind politics are going to face consequences.

Though he did not name them, Kagame could have been saying those who are plotting against his government from inside in cooperation with negative forces from outside.

“I want to warn some people among us who hide behind different things, they hide behind politics, democracy , freedom … that we actually want , it is our responsibility to ensure that there is democracy, there is peace, freedom and everything in our country. For people who hide behind this nonsense and they even backed and praised by people outside ..you are going to face us” he said

In his speech that was being aired live on national television, Kagame said that he cannot accept people who consume security that have cost even people’s lives, to cause problems in the country.

“For those who are involved they better come clean very fast. You cannot be here benefiting from security, peace that we have created, we have paid for in blood, over many years and the you  do things behind our backs to cause us problems. We will put you where you belong… and those ones who make noises about it we will see what they will do.”

Recently Rwanda has been experiencing attacks from rebel groups who say they want to liberate country. Some of them operates from Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

In early October, assailants launched an attack in Northern Rwanda where they killed 14 people and wounded dozens.

Those who were captured told local media that they are from RUD Urunana rebel group, a faction group that detached itself from  FDLR, a rebel group in DRC that Rwanda accuses to be made of many who involved in 1994 genocide against the Tutsis.

Kagame warns whoever collaborate with those groups, saying it will cost them highly.

“We are going to raise the costs on the part of anybody who wants to destabilize our security. The cost is going to be very high whether it is the means, we are going to put into that to make sure that we have everything it takes  to ensure security and stability of our country and our people and our development. The source of the cost mainly those people who destabilize our country who want ..it going to be a very high cost on their part absolutely. I mean it and you know that I mean it”, he added.

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Demonizing Oil and Gas companies is not a constructive way forward on energy transition. Africa will push for “the Right to Drill”
November 14, 2019 | 0 Comments

By NJ Ayuk *

African nations must and will take advantage of their hydrocarbon resources for economic development. Environmental sustainability is a part of it, not an impediment.

Johannesburg, 14 November 2019: In an article written for the Guardian newspaper this week, Nobel Peace Prize Winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa argued for an Apartheid-style boycott on coal, oil and gas companies as a solution to fight climate change and help ensure global environmental sustainability goals. “We must stop climate change. And we can, if we use the tactics that worked in South Africa against the worst carbon emitters,” the subtitle of the piece reads.

The sentiment expressed by Mr. Tutu is laudable and speaks to many across the world that have become rightfully concerned by the effects of climate change on our environment.

However, it is also a misguided sentiment. Oil and gas companies are not autocratic regimes focused on oppressing the people and steal their resources. They are businesses, which yes, are focused on profit, but they are also focused on the sustainability of the business itself. In practical terms, it means that these companies adapt to the needs of the economies they are integrated in. Boycotting oil and gas companies will not have an impact on carbon emissions, but it might raise the price of fuel in the long run. That is not the goal intended. 

While there is demand for hydrocarbons, there will be production. The shift in the dynamic of supply and demand in recent years can already be spotted in the way oil and gas companies have restructured. More and more, these companies are diversifying their portfolios to include renewable energy assets and many of them are at the forefront of research and development of new technologies to help exploit renewable resources. I cover this extensively in my recent book, Billions at Play. Oil and gas companies are shifting into becoming “energy companies”, they are even rebranding, with Equinor (former Statoil) being the most evident example, to showcase that change in corporate paradigm. And in all honesty, who else would be better prepared, better funded and better placed to drive the energy transition that we all seek. Demonizing energy companies is not a constructive way forward, and ignoring the structural role that carbon-based fuels have in today’s society distorts the public debate. Bringing energy companies, governments and civil society groups together to find functional solutions will achieve much more.

This is especially the case in Africa. While the concerted effort amongst all of the world’s nations is fundamental to curb the effects of climate change, it is paramount to have a clear understanding of what efforts will be most decisive, and which regions of the world are in a better position and have the biggest responsibility to tackle these issues.

To be sure, Europe, North America and China, by and large responsible for much of the CO2 emissions that are behind the changes in our climate, have to live up to that responsibility and move towards more sustainable practices.

We can not expect African nations, which put together have polluted 7 times less than China, 13 times less than the United States, and 18 times less than Europe since the beginning of the industrial revolution, according to Carbon brief, to undermine their best opportunities for economic development by simply aligning with the Western view of how to tackle CO2 emissions.

Gabriel Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons of Equatorial Guinea, summed it up quite decisively to the press last week during the Africa Oil Week in Cape Town. “Under no circumstances are we going to be apologising,” he said, “anybody out of the continent saying we should not develop those

[oil and gas]

fields, that is criminal. It is very unfair.”

Minister Lima’s blunt words are an answer to a number of misconstrued views about the African continent, and about the oil and gas industry it is striving to develop. While a few nations across the continent have been producing hydrocarbons for decades, these resources have mostly been exported to fuel industrial development in Europe, the US and Asia. The reasons for this are varied and have as much to do with the European colonial legacy as with the lack of existing financial resources and expertise to develop local economies over the last century.

That, however, is coming to a change. As I have argued and championed for years, African nations are finally starting to make use of these resources to develop their own national economies. We must remember that nearly half of all Africans still don’t have access to electricity and that nearly every company in the continent struggles with the lack of power reliability, which raises operational costs, reduces productivity and hurts their ability to compete in international markets. African leaders are now painfully aware of the damage an unreliable energy network causes on national economies and are moving to change that.

Today, natural gas is by far the most economically sustainable way of producing power in enough quantities to fuel economic development. Petrochemical plants represent a massive economic opportunity to produce byproducts from oil and gas with a higher value within the supply chain, an opportunity to create jobs, develop infrastructure and produce wealth. Refineries too have a dramatically positive impact in curbing the need for fuel imports. All of these are fundamental pieces of the puzzle that will foster Africa’s economic growth and promote the betterment of the lives of its people. I have been saying this for a long time and have helped with that development through the African Energy Chamber, supporting cooperation amongst African nations to promote intra-African trade on energy resources and build synergies, which is the way forward.

The African Development Bank has estimated that between USD$130 and USD$170 billion a year in the run up to 2025 would be needed to close the infrastructure gap across the continent. How are African nations to fund these fundamental developments if they give up on exploring their natural resources? How can the Western world, or anyone for that matter, suggest, or demand, that African nations leave these resources underground when it was these same resources that powered economic development everywhere else?

After decades of colonial occupation and subsequent political and military in-fighting, many African regions have now reached the level of stability that will allow them to build working functioning economies. The fuel for that will be these countries’ natural resources, be it oil, gas, coal or diamonds. Boycotting the companies that can help these countries develop these resources would be paramount to economic suicide.

This is not to say that environmental sustainability and climate change should not be at the top of the list of concerns when debating the African energy sector, but it should inform environmental impact assessment policies and foster best practices in the industry, not put a stop to it.

Yes, renewable energy sources can have a role in contributing to expand electrification in Africa, and solar and wind power have become competitive when compared to carbon-based generation, but that will always depend on the resources available in each region and will always have to be supported by other forms of generation capacity that can overcome the issue of intermittency that follows renewable power generation.

This is already happening. Kenya, for instance, is one of the world’s leading nations in terms of the share of its energy matrix coming from renewables, on its way to reach 100% in the coming years, but it also holds some of the world’s largest geothermal energy reserves, and it will continue to develop its oil reserves because it needs the money to fund economic development.

Africa’s time to grow and develop is finally here, and it will be funded by its natural resources. Misguided moral lessons from the West will do little to change that because the financial resources coming from these activities are crucial and irreplaceable. In a somewhat ironic way, even if Africa wanted to stop using fossil fuels and shifted every power station to renewable sources, it would still be forced to develop its oil and gas fields in order to fund that transition.

There is no point in promoting radical approaches to the energy transition, particularly for Africa. A balanced manageable and well-lead approach of progressive transitioning combining hydrocarbons and renewable energy development alongside strong environmental protection policies in the sector is the option that is not only realistic, but that will allow to combine economic growth and environmental sustainability.

The New York Times quoted Mr. Gwede Mantashe, South Africa’s Energy Minister, in an article covering the Africa Oil Week. “Energy is the catalyst for growth,” he said, “they even want to tell us to switch off all the coal-generated power stations,” “until you tell them, “you know we can do that, but you’ll breathe fresh air in the darkness”.

Enough said.

*NJ Ayuk is the CEO of Centurion Law Group and the Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber. His experience negotiating oil and gas deals has given him an expert’s grasp of Africa’s energy landscape. He is the author of “Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and doing deals.”

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Cameroon: From Biya , A Mea Culpa on the Anglophone Crisis In Paris
November 14, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

Paul Biya responding to Mo Ibrahim
Paul Biya responding to Mo Ibrahim

Cameroon’s octogenarian president, Paul Biya has admitted trying to assimilate former British Southern Cameroons into the majority Francophone system, formerly East Cameroon.

Speaking Tuesday November 12, at the Second Paris Peace Summit in France, the 86-year-old who has ruled Cameroon for thirty-seven years now confirmed that they did attempt to assimilate the English-speaking regions, thus harmonizing it with the French part of the country.

Their efforts he added failed to yield any fruits.

“We tried assimilating their system into the majority francophone system but because of identity differences, it failed,” he said while responding to questions from Mohammed “Mo” Ibrahim, a Sudanese-British billionaire who moderated a panel discussion he was in.

Biya’s ‘confession’ was received with mixed feelings by denizens in his crisis turn country, which has for years now been plagued with civil protest and calls for secession.

 One of the points advanced for separation been the assimilation and elimination of the Anglo-Saxon culture.

Since then, his remark has been making rounds on social media sites prompting responses from across the political strata.

To separatist advocates and sympathizers, it is clear prove and validation to their cause, more reason why they need to leave the union.

Paul Biya was sitting on the same panel as Louise Mushikiwabo, Secretary-General of La Francophonie, Mohan Kumar, chairman of the Research and Information system for Developing Countries, Hor Nambong, Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia, and Hossam Zaki, Deputy Secretary-General of the League of Arab States.

Though a president of a bilingual country for 37-years now, Paul Biya elected to have the question addressed to him translated to the dismay of his supporters.

Quizzed by Mo Ibrahim on the situation in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon, President Paul Biya first elected to go memory lane, detailing the genesis of the crisis, back to colonial times, thus giving the audience a broad-base understanding on how things got to the current level.

To him, the division of “his country” to colonial masters brought about all these problems and during postcolonial times, the possibility to reunite came forth and they attempted to integrate the English-speaking part with the majority French-speaking regions.

After falling due to what he describes as differences in identity, he announced that the Yaounde administration was putting in place a special status program for the English-speaking regions within the greater Republic of Cameroon.  

It is the second time within the last couple of months that President Biya is attending an international event in France. He has not visited the North West or South West regions since the crisis started and the statement on the special status is the first time he is making statement on the recommendations of the National dialogue .

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Commonwealth young champion named among TIME Magazine 100 leaders of tomorrow
November 13, 2019 | 0 Comments

Time magazine has named Commonwealth Young Person of the Year Oluwaseun Ayodeji Osowobi among its 100 world rising stars who are shaping the future.

Nigerian women’s rights activist Osowobi is one of 53 women on a list of 100 names Time has dubbed “the world’s most ascendant leaders” who are “rising stars in their fields”.

In March, she won the title of Commonwealth Young Person of the Year 2019 after helping thousands of sexual and domestic abuse victims in Nigeria.

Osowobi, who is a survivor of sexual violence, set up the Stand to End Rape initiative to provide support to women, men and young people who have experienced any form of gender-based abuse.

Speaking with the Commonwealth, she said this recognition reinforces her belief in young people’s potential to create change.

She continued: “As young people, our relationship must surpass government collaboration on financial relations, rather, we must collectively protect the human rights of those within our community, especially vulnerable women and girls, persons with disabilities and LGBTQI people across the Commonwealth.”

Founded in 2014, her initiative works to advance women’s sexual reproductive health rights, advocate against gender-based violence and provide medical, legal and psychological support to survivors of sexual and domestic violence.

Advising the survivors of gender-based violence, Osowobi said: “Don’t stay silent. There is no judgement or condemnation as nobody owns the rights to your story or healing.

“My advice to you is first to stop blaming yourself and seek mental, legal and health support.”

Layne Robinson, the Commonwealth’s Head of Social Policy Development, said: “The Commonwealth Youth Awards, particularly the Commonwealth Young Person of the Year, shines a spotlight on the unsung efforts of our young people who have made a major impact in transforming our communities.

“We are happy our Commonwealth Person of the Year, Osowobi, is being recognised for her outstanding work beyond the Commonwealth.”

Time magazine unveiled its first annual collection of the next generation of world’s 100 young leaders today in New York City.

Every year, the Commonwealth Youth Awards for Excellence in Development Work recognise the exceptional contribution of young people from across the Commonwealth’s member countries who are leading initiatives to help deliver sustainable development goals.

*Commonwealth

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