President Mnangagwa Sets Sights on Zimbabwe become an Upper-Middle-Income Economy by 2030
November 19, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Nevson Mpofu
On Monday 16 November President Mnangagwa flanked by Finance and Economic Development Minister Muthuli Ncube launched a new Economic Blue-Print in Harare. The 5-year economic blue-print is an initiative meant to stabilize the economy by injecting measures that stirs and drives an economy to relieve people out of poverty and vulnerability.
The economic blue-print targets economic growth of 5% per annum. Taking that direction Zimbabwe according to experts and economic advisors to the President is poised to move towards an upper-middle-income economy by 2030.
The Economic blue-print entails [NDS] National Development Strategy 2021 to 2025 which is a national holistic approach to accelerate economic growth, improve private sector, Infrastructural development, Energy development, Information Communication Technology, Transport and Housing.
‘’National Development Strategies and the Transitional Stabilization Program are an initiative for economic growth in the three  main sectors Agriculture, Mining and Manufacturing Industry. How-ever, we add on new strategic areas like Energy to boost some other sectors like ICT, and Housing to give better public service delivery’’.
‘’Zimbabwe will for the next 5 years look on top of the three sectors like Agriculture , Mining and Manufacturing Industry go far stretched beyond strategic areas of public concern like Electricity , ICT and Housing for public concern at heart with the people ‘’.
Minister of Finance and Economic Development Muthuli Ncube added that the country is geared as well towards maintaining fiscal balance at not more than 3% of Gross Domestic Product. Zimbabwe is striving then after that to have single digit inflation. Thirdly to maintain Domestic and external debt at below 70% of Gross Domestic Product. Lastly Muthuli adds that Zimbabwe will increase international reserves to 6 months Import cover from the current less 1 month.
‘’ It is wise as a country to maintain fiscal balance at 3% of Gross Domestic Product. Secondly, we strive to have single digit inflation by thirdly maintaining domestic and external debt at 70% of Gross Domestic Product. We will increase international reserves to 6 months import cover from the current less 1 month.’ says Ncube .
A Ridiculous Obsession for African Pastors with US Elections
November 18, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Prince Kurupati
If a survey is to be conducted with the participants asked what they think is the one thing that possesses the power to unify a nation or the world at large, then the odds are, religion will be one of the most popular answers. Religion despite which one of the several that are practiced in the world today always speaks about the need to embrace each other in love and live peacefully and harmoniously in society. Such tenets when looked at automatically mean that religion is a unifying force. However, the puzzling thing is that in practice, religion often fails to unify people; rather, at times it actually opens gaps between various sects. A case in point relates to the prophecies which pastors, prophets and as some call themselves ‘men of God’ do that end up dividing the congregants and outsiders who follow with keen interest.
Recently, the United States held its presidential election. As has become the norm, before the elections, several African pastors had already told their congregants who the winner of the presidential race was going to be citing prophetic revelations which had been revealed to them. For the devoted congregants, they just took the prophecies related to them as is. However, to those who don’t like to just scratch the surface but have an affinity for getting deeper insights into anything that may concern (and potentially affect) them, they started to ask some critical questions. Three main questions have been raised relating to prophecies on elections and this article is going to explore the questions in detail. Before that however, lets first get to see some of the prophetic revelations revealed by some top African pastors and prophets.
- TB Joshua
When talking of African prophets, one of the very first names that come to mind is that of TB Joshua. TB Joshua is the founder of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN). Days leading up to the 2016 US presidential election, TB Joshua during a televised church service informed all the congregants that he had just had a prophetic revelation. Speaking on the prophetic revelation, TB Joshua said. “Ten days ago I saw the president of America with a narrow win…What I frankly saw was a woman.”
As the leading presidential candidates during the election were Donald Trump representing the Republicans and Hillary Clinton representing the Democrats, many after hearing TB Joshua’s prophecy concluded that the next person to become the US president would be Hillary Clinton solely based on the notion that she was a ‘woman’ as stated by TB Joshua in his prophetic revelation. After Election Day and when all votes had been tallied, the outcome showed that a ‘man’ (Donald Trump) instead of a ‘woman’ (Hillary Clinton) had actually won the presidential race. This therefore meant TB Joshua’s prophecy had not come to pass. TB Joshua faced ridicule from some critics soon after but defended his prophecy saying he operates on a different spiritual level to his critics. The fact that Hillary Clinton did win the popular vote albeit narrowly as outlined in the prophetic revelation did convince his strong followers that he was in the right path.
TB Joshua also revealed a prophetic revelation for the recent US 2020 presidential election. Posting on his social media page, the prophet had this to say, “What is happening in the American election is as a result of the power of the tongue…We Christians would have loved it to go the way we wanted. But the Bible says it is never proper to base our faith on our improvement after prayer. We should not worry…There is likely going to be pockets of resistance here and there but nothing will change. Let me preserve what I am seeing until the inauguration.”
Many taking cue from the prophetic revelation concluded that Joe Biden was going to become the next president. The statement ‘We Christians would have loved it to go the way we wanted’ is taken to mean that Christians would have loved to see Donald Trump winning referencing the huge support for Trump among evangelical Christians – but unfortunately that’s not the case.
- Apostle Suleman
Apostle Johnson Suleman is another man of God who prophesized a win for Joe Biden. In a sermon televised way back in March, Apostle Johnson Suleman said, “America should not joke with the next election, because they all will support the opponent of the current president. The Lord gave me a prophecy last year or so, that Trump would not be reelected. The opponent is not the issue, but his running mate is, the running mate is a lady and if the opponent wins, the opponent will be impeached for the running mate to take over.”
There are three important things to take note of from Apostle Suleman’s prophetic revelation. These are as follows:
- Opponent of Trump to have a female running mate: Here, it’s important for readers to note that Apostle Suleman’s prophetic revelation was televised all the way back in March. At that time, Kamala Harris had not been officially picked as Joe Biden’s running mate. In fact, Kamala Harris was still an outsider according to many polls to be formally nominated as a Vice Presidential candidate. The mere fact that Kamala Harris, a ‘lady’ ended up being the official running mate means Apostle Suleman’s prophecy came to pass
- Trump’s Opponent to win: In his prophetic revelation, Apostle Suleman prophesized that Trump’s opponent (that is, Joe Biden) would win the election. The prophecy thus came to pass as Joe Biden officially polled the most Electoral College votes
- Winning candidate to be impeached and replaced by his running mate: The last part of Apostle Suleman’s prophecy stated that the winning presidential candidate would end up being impeached during his term in office and would be replaced by his Vice President. Currently, the winning candidate hasn’t yet been inaugurated hence the prophecy is yet to be fulfilled.
- Chris Oyakhilome
Another popular Nigerian pastor Chris Oyakhilome backed Trump to win the election. In numerous sermons that he had since June this year, Pastor Chris has been calling for all Christians to pray for President Trump to win the election. He said that a Trump presidency would safeguard Christian principles hence the need to keep him in office.
“Pray for him (Trump) because when God places any of his children in a position, hell, sometimes would do everything to destroy that individual…They are angry at Trump for supporting Christians, you better know it. So the real ones that they hate are you who are Christians.”
Pastor Chris’ sentiments echoe with those expressed by many evangelicals across the African continent. Many evangelical Christian groups in Africa are anti-abortion, against gay rights and support Israel hence why they are more in support of the Republican candidate over the more liberal Democratic candidate. Other evangelicals who backed Trump had this to say:
- Emeka Ezeji (A vicar and archdeacon in the Missionary Christ Anglican Church in Nigeria)
“Faith is personal, mine is pro-life…African Christians believe that a Republican President is better for the US and the world.”
- Juliet Binitie (A Nigerian theologian and preacher)
“We need somebody who defends the rights of believers.”
- Richard Chogo (A Pastor at the Deliverance Church in Kenya)
“The Obama administration had been pushing a liberal agenda here in Africa and that agenda was of concern to some of us Christian leaders. It was a relief that during Trump’s time he’s taken a bit of a back seat…There’s an increasingly liberal world in the academia and politics, it has felt like the evangelical is a cornered person and was being targeted.”
Having seen the prophetic revelations that have been revealed by African pastors and prophets, it’s now time for us to explore the questions that have been asked by many relating to the quest to get a deeper understanding of the nexus between religion (with a particular focus on Christianity) and elections.
- Are there any examples of electoral prophecies in the Bible
Whenever something is done or said more so by pastors and prophets, the general populace feels more comfortable when they know that such a thing is a precedent of things that are contained in the Bible. When it comes to prophesying election results, the question therefore would be, is there any instance where the prophets of the past prophesized the outcome of an election. The unfortunate thing however is that during the time the Bible is set, Kings were anointed and the concept of democracy as we know it today was non-existent.
Be that as it may, politics was a part of life during that time and prophets of the time did venture into the political realm. Great preachers such as Isaiah or Jeremiah did touch on political issues in their line of work. Prophets of doom such as Elijah and Elisha also did prophesy the end of ‘dynasties’. This in essence therefore showcases the fact that religion and politics did cross paths in the Bible. Though the concept of elections as we know it nowadays is non-existent in the Bible, the mere fact that prophets of the time did venture into politics demonstrates that pastors and prophets aren’t restricted to the religious world only but can venture into matters of the secular world.
- Different prophecies to the same event
From the first question, we came to the conclusion that pastors and prophets are allowed to venture into matters of the secular world hence there is nothing wrong with them making prophecies that relate to issues such as election winners. The question that now arises is, why then do different prophets prophesy different things that relate to the same event. Taking the instance of the recent US presidential election, there were some prophets who predicted a victory for the incumbent Donald Trump while others predicted a win for former vice-president Joe Biden. For those who predicted a win for Trump, what then as Biden won? Well, this question is best answered by the Bible itself in Deuteronomy 18:22 which say:
“If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not be alarmed.”
While the above answers the question on why prophecies may differ as told by different prophets, Jeremiah 18:7-10 tells us that at times, the outcome of a prophet may change owing to a change of circumstances by those that are targeted by the prophecy. Jeremiah states that “If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.”
According to Jeremiah, therefore, the actions of either Biden or Trump leading up to the election therefore could have played a part in changing the outcome of the election.
- Relating Prophecy as is or a case of seeking fame and international recognition
By now, we know that prophets and pastors aren’t restricted from reciting prophecies that have to do with politics and elections and that there exist genuine as well as false prophets while it also possible for circumstances to change even after a prophecy has been said – now, the question that boggles the mind is, who should know about a prophecy. Should a prophet only tell his congregants about the prophecy he is shown by the Lord or should the prophet do all things possible to get the attention of the person that he sees in the prophetic visions? The answer is provided in Ezekiel 2:9-3:4:
“It was then I saw a hand stretched out to me, in which was a written scroll which was unrolled before me. It was covered with writing front and back and on it was written: Lamentation wailing and woe! He said to me: Son of man, eat what is before you; eat this scroll then go, speak to the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth and he gave me the scroll to eat…and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. He said: Son of man, go now to the house of Israel and speak my words to them.”
What the above shows is that a prophet in the prophetic visions can be instructed to go to the person that he sees in the prophetic vision to relay the visions he has just been shown. When it comes to the question of who should a prophet tell when he is shown a prophecy, the answer is – the person he sees in the prophetic vision.
When it comes to prophecies such as those that relate to presidential elections, prophets may find it hard if not impossible to get the chance to talk to the presidential candidates on a face to face basis to recite the prophecy they have been shown by the Lord. As such, they can look for alternative ways in which to reach the presidential candidates which include the mainstream media as well as social media platforms. The question therefore of whether prophets will be seeking fame and international recognition when they recite their prophecies can be dismissed as they will simply using the methods that are available to them which they hope will help in sending their message to the intended recipient who in this case is the presidential candidate.
President Buhari and Four Other Nigerians Make it to the African Energy Chamber’s (AEC) TOP 25 Movers & Shakers List for 2021
November 18, 2020 | 0 Comments
|The presence of so many Nigerians on the list confirms that what happens in Nigeria affects the rest of the industry across the continent.|
As many as five Nigerians have made it to the top 25 list of the African Energy Chamber’s TOP 25 Movers & Shakers Watch List for 2021, released earlier this week. Published every year, the list identifies the leading African and international figures whose work and decisions have a direct impact on the African energy industry and the way Africans access and consume energy.
H.E. Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is the first listed for his direct involvement in the possible passing and signing of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) in 2021. If the President manages to carry through this substantial wave of reform in the country next year, it could unlock billions of dollars of investments and significantly boost the country’s recovery and West Africa’s overall attractiveness for business. His ability to compromise and define the sector will be tested in the 1st quarter of 2021 when his governments expects to get the all-important and long-awaited Petroleum Bill to be adopted by the National assembly.
Similarly, Mele Kolo Kyari, Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) also made it to the list for the first time. As the NNPC embarks on several strategic programmes and projects to boost refining capacity, cut upstream operational costs, develop energy infrastructure and unlock Nigeria’s gas potential, Mele Kolo Kyari’s actions and decisions can profoundly impact the short and medium-term outlook for Africa’s biggest oil & gas producing country. A veteran of the National oil company, he has been able to make his mark quickly since nomination, strengthening corporate reporting and aggressively pushing the removal of fuel subsidies for refined products.
As LNG becomes more and more important for African markets, Tony Attah, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria LNG is also listed for his piloting of the NLNGSevenPlus project. His ability to oversee the project’s execution and local content impact will be central to support Nigeria’s economic recovery and capacity building efforts. His presence is yet another indication of the rising role of gas as a driving force for the future of the Nigerian and West African’s hydrocarbons industry.
Finally, two key figures of the power and electricity industries have also made it to the prestigious list: Seun Suleiman, new Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Siemens Nigeria, and Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of UN-Energy. Seun Suleiman is notably expected to become an increasingly influential executive as Siemens executes the Presidential Power Initiative in Nigeria in order to upgrade the country’s transmission and distribution systems and increase the overall national system’s capacity from 5 to 7 GW first, before ramping up to 11 GW and ultimately 25 GW. This notably puts Suleiman and the German equipment giant in the fore when major decisions are being made on how to solve Nigeria’s energy sector problems.
On her side, Damilola Ogunbiyi has taken an increasing role in leading the global energy transition conversation and bringing a true African voice to the fight against energy poverty. Her work in off-grid solar or LPG access notably has the power to transform the way Africans access and consume energy.
The presence of so many Nigerians on the list confirms that what happens in Nigeria affects the rest of the industry across the continent. These five key figures of the industry will be instrumental in shaping up the recovery everyone expects in 2021, and in building a sustainable and inclusive energy sector that work for all Nigerians and Africans.
*Africa Energy Chamber
Oil Industry keeps an eye on Angola with Top 25 Movers and Shakers to Watch list
November 18, 2020 | 0 Comments
H.E. João Lourenço, President of the Republic of Angola, made it to the list for the first time after several years of reforming the industry and making it one of the most competitive on the continent.
The latest Top 25 Movers & Shakers Watch List released earlier this week by the African Energy Chamber highlights how important 2021 will be for the Angolan oil & gas industry. Sub-Saharan Africa’s second biggest oil producing nation has been surfing on a wave of ambitious reforms since 2018 which could prove very beneficial to put the country back on a path to recovery in 2021.
H.E. João Lourenço, President of the Republic of Angola, made it to the list for the first time after several years of reforming the industry and making it one of the most competitive on the continent. Via several presidential decrees signed in 2018, 2019 and 2020, the President has truly revived Angola’s hydrocarbons sector and its attractiveness for investors. As Angola recovers from the shock of the Covid-19 pandemic and yet another economic crisis, President Lourenço’s leadership is more important than ever to further support sector recovery and boost local content development.
The country’s industry will also be marked by key offshore projects expected to move forward in 2021 and notably led by international majors Total and Eni. Nicolas Terraz, President for Africa at Total Exploration & Production, is another executive who made it to the Chamber’s TOP 25 for 2021. His piloting of key projects across the continent, especially in Eastern and Southern Africa, will be closely watched next year. This notably includes several brownfield expansions in deep water acreages in Angola, and the planned drilling of the world’s deepest well in Block 48.
Guido Brusco, listed for the second year in a row, will be another key figure able to impact the future of Angola’s oil sector. Recently promoted Director of Eni’s global upstream portfolio, Guido has a long experience in Africa and strong understanding of the continent’s dynamics and opportunities. As he makes strategic decisions to rationalize Eni’s upstream spend, the future of major Angolan assets like Block 15/06 is on the line.
*SOURCE African Energy Chamber
African Countries must develop Strategic Fiscal Policies to Survive Oil and Gas Industry Changes on Horizon
November 18, 2020 | 0 Comments
By NJ Ayuk
The African Energy Chamber has said since it was founded that African countries with petroleum reserves must adopt competitive fiscal regimes to promote thriving oil and gas operations.
The future of the global oil and gas industry has been a subject of great fascination and debate for decades. Since COVID-19 surfaced, there has been even more conjecture on this topic and, in particular, the most likely timing for “peak oil,” when crude production reaches its maximum rate before going into permanent decline.
Predictions run the gamut: OPEC’s latest World Oil Outlook, for example, forecasts increasing oil demand for two more decades. But the International Energy Agency stated in its 2020 World Energy Outlook report that demand for oil probably will plateau after 2030. And the 2020 energy outlook from BP states that the world has already passed peak oil and predicts even greater drops in demand as countries comply with carbon dioxide abatement measures.
While no one can pinpoint exactly how the energy industry will evolve, or when major changes will unfold, it makes sense to assume that decreased demand will occur at some point — and to prepare for the new era that follows.
In the case of African countries with oil and gas reserves, those preparations should include a close look at their fiscal regimes: the systems they have in place to determine how extractives revenues are shared among companies and the government. These could include royalty requirements (money paid to governments for the right to extract and sell their resources), taxes, production-sharing agreements (which determine how extracted resources are split between governments and oil companies), bonuses, and similar mechanisms. The key is to develop fiscal regimes that ensure fair treatment for the state without burdening companies with unreasonable obligations on top of their project risks, local content requirements, and the expenses associated with exploration and production such as rig and labor costs. Unless we give local and international companies a fair chance to profit, production activity will decline.
As our recently released 2021 Energy Outlook notes, “African nations with petroleum resources will most likely have to adapt their fiscal regimes similar to how other nations have adapted them in light of the new era with more supply and less demand. Failing to do so can lead to stranded resources and outcompeted resources.”
The African Energy Chamber has said since it was founded that African countries with petroleum reserves must adopt competitive fiscal regimes to promote thriving oil and gas operations. In the COVID-19 era and the years that follow, a wise approach to fiscal regimes will be even more important. Without them, indigenous companies will struggle to launch new projects, and international oil companies (IOCs) will choose other, less financially onerous locations for their upstream activities. If that happens, African countries miss out on invaluable opportunities to harness oil and gas to grow and diversify their economies, to minimize energy poverty, and to create a better future for Africans. That’s why countries that haven’t fine-tuned their fiscal regimes must start now. They have plenty of strong examples to look to.
Angola Continues to Show How It’s Done
In my recent book, Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals, I praised Angola President João Lourenço for implementing transformative policies, including Angola’s new Natural Gas Regulatory Framework — Angola’s first law regulating natural gas exploration, production, monetization, and commercialization — and the creation of an independent regulator, the National Agency for Petroleum, Gas, and Biofuels, to manage Angola’s oil and gas concessions. By encouraging more efficient and transparent governance, Lourenço made his country a more appealing choice for oil and gas exploration. This year, Angola continued to demonstrate wisdom in its response to pandemic-related lockdowns, oil price drops triggered by dramatically diminished demand, and OPEC+ production cut requirements implemented last spring to stabilize the market. Angola’s National Bank implemented new fiscal policy measures that included extending credit and renegotiating debt payments to help oil and gas companies boost their liquidity.
Angola, which relies heavily on oil revenue, is still feeling the negative effects of the pandemic: The government declared a state of emergency, decided to free 30% of its goods and services budget, and suspended capital expenditures (CAPEX). However, the government’s fiscal measures have appeared to ease major oil and gas project cancellations in Angola. What’s more, these efforts to give companies a fair chance to operate profitably in Angola, most likely, will contribute to a healthy oil and gas industry for years to come.
We can learn from fiscal policies implemented before the pandemic, too.
Impossible n’est pas Camerounais. Cameroon’s Tax Holiday Is a Wise Move
When the Cameroon Senate approved updates to the country’s 1999 Petroleum Code in 2019, it positioned the nation for resiliency and long-term success. The new upstream legislation included a tax holiday for oil and condensate project development and seven more years for natural gas project development. The legislation also allows production sharing contracts (PSCs) to be modified so companies can recoup exploration expenses.
The chamber commends Cameroon for these measures. In fact, the chamber recommended tax holidays in 2020, after Cameroon updated its code, to help African countries prevent oil and gas project cancellations in the COVID-19 era. Tax holidays allow oil and gas companies to control revenue reductions, improve liquidity, and prevent job losses. Tax policies like these could play an important role in keeping African petroleum-producing countries competitive when demand for oil and gas begins to decrease.
The humanitarian, political crisis and violence in the English-speaking Anglophone region with vast oil and gas reserves has increased reputational risks for oil and gas exploration in Cameroon. A fact that has made foreign oil and gas companies nervous when it comes to taking advantage of the improved fiscal frameworks.
The government’s involvement in what is being perceived internationally as one of the worst refugee crisis and its inability to end the overall political impasse creates a more bearish view of the country’s resource potential. The ongoing political uncertainty, Covid 19, regulatory uncertainty from BEAC and low oil prices have thrown a curveball on potential FID’s for many planned oil and gas production projects at a time when Cameroonian officials are seriously exploring options on how to increase oil and gas output, revenues for the state and revive an ailing economy. Massive potential, great hope and super returns, if they get it right, as they saying goes Impossible n’est pas Camerounais.
Gabon Has Positioned Itself for Success
Gabon has taken proactive measures as well to encourage ongoing oil and gas production activity. The country’s 2019 hydrocarbon code, a modification of Gabon’s 2014 law, was written with the express goal of encouraging more exploration and production activity there. There have been several tax requirement changes. For example, companies no longer are required to pay a separate corporation tax on top of the production share that goes to Gabon. And, instead of a “one-size-fits-all” hydrocarbon tax rate for petroleum products, rates will be at different, and lower, levels — and the hydrocarbon tax rates can be negotiated before PSCs are finalized.
Gabon has taken additional measures, as well, to increase investments by making it easier for companies to be profitable. They include:
- PSC requirements have been modified with companies’ needs in mind. The state’s minimum stake in an exploration company, for example, has been cut in half.
- Government royalties for shallow blocks have gone from 13% to 7%.
- Royalties for deep-water production has gone from 9% to 5%
- The state’s share of the profit has been reduced, too, from 55% to 45% for shallow blocks and from 50% to 40% for deep-water operations
The changes did not go unnoticed by oil and gas companies: By early 2020, Gabon had signed 12 PSCs with foreign countries. And while COVID-19 has stalled drilling activity, for now, Gabon has positioned itself to see activity, and even more investments, resume after the pandemic.
Remember What’s At Stake
Ideally, developing competitive fiscal regimes should be done in concert with other measures, such as fine-tuning local content laws and working to ensure greater government transparency — anything that can be done to make African countries more appealing choices for oil and gas companies.
I realize that African countries have their hands full between the pandemic, economic struggles, and the challenges that existed long before COVID-19 surfaced. But, one could argue that there never will be a perfect time to revamp oil and gas policies. This process is simply too important to put off. We must do what we can to fully capitalize on Africa’s oil and gas resources so African governments can start using revenue to encourage the creation and growth of other economic sectors. So there are more opportunities for IOCs to share knowledge with indigenous companies and play a role in African capacity building. And, vitally important, so natural gas produced in Africa can be utilized for more gas-to-power projects, which can play a huge role in bringing electricity to more African communities.
While we don’t know the specifics of what’s ahead for the world’s oil and gas industry, we are aware of steps we can take to help us benefit from it as long as possible. Now is the time to act on them.
*NJ Ayuk is Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber, CEO of Centurion Law Group, and the author of several books about the oil and gas industry in Africa, including Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals.
Autochek secures $3.4 million pre-seed funding to deliver technology for African automotive industry
November 18, 2020 | 0 Comments
Round co-led by TLcom and 4DX Ventures will accelerate product development for Ghana and Nigeria.
Lagos, Nigeria. 18 November 2020 – Autochek, the automotive technology company that aims to build solutions for the African market, has raised $3.4 million in a pre-seed funding round, co-led by TLcom Capital and 4DX Ventures with inclusion from Golden Palm Investments, Lateral Capital, Kepple Africa Ventures, MSA Capital and a number of local angel/seed investors. The start-up will use the investment to grow its Nigeria and Ghana markets and will see further investment in technology and growing its teams.
The pre-seed investment announced today follows Autochek’s acquisition of the Cheki Nigeria and Cheki Ghana brands in September 2020. Combining technology and data to power every process of the automotive transactional ecosystem for millions of people, Autochek will transform the automotive buying and selling experience for African consumers, by creating a single marketplace for all automotive needs. This will include everything from sourcing and financing transactions to after sales support and warranties.
Through the acquisition of Cheki Nigeria and Cheki Ghana, Autochek already has more than 20,000 unique vehicles listed on its platform, and more than 12,000 dealers and private sellers, as well as a range of corporate partners and customers. Leveraging its extensive on-the-ground network of dealers and an experienced leadership team, the new platform and mobile app has been designed to address the pain points of buying, selling and repairing cars in Africa such as access to finance (for both consumers and dealers), maintenance and insurance, and bring greater value to car dealerships by enabling and enhancing automotive commerce across the continent. Autochek will also facilitate cheaper and more effective transactions for dealers and corporate partners, leveraging its industry relationships to buy and sell vehicles on behalf of the customer for the best price and ensuring value for money.
Via the Autochek mobile app (Android app now available. iOS app coming soon), car owners and potential owners will have access to loans, auctions, trade-ins and maintenance. Automotive dealers will have access to real time car auctions, fleet management, marketing support and standardised reports on car conditions and market value, as well as inventory management, CRM for lead management and garage management systems for car workshops. Financial institutions like banks and fintechs will also have access to a credit management dashboard that will make it easier for them to access customers. By focussing on the demands of both customers and dealers, Autochek is building an ecosystem of solutions specifically designed to deliver an unrivalled customer experience for the African automotive market.
Etop Ikpe, Founder and CEO of Autochek, said, “This early stage investment allows us to get started with the work of developing technology products and services that will transform automotive trade on the continent, whereby we significantly improve transactions and after care support for car owners, dealers and other stakeholders across the African automotive industry.
“Building on the solid work that the Cheki Nigeria and Ghana teams have done over the last ten years, we are already dispersed across multiple locations and applying the technology built and developed by our Autochek auto-tech experts, we are well positioned to scale quickly, as demand for reliable and well priced cars on the continent grow. With this pre-seed round and our seasoned strategic investors on board, we are working to transform the automotive sector on the continent”
Andreata Muforo, partner at TLcom said, “Autochek is radically improving customer experience and dealer economics in an industry that creates value and jobs across the continent and we are excited to be part of that journey. The founding team has a clear plan for what they want to achieve and we look forward to working with them as they execute on their vision.”
Walter Baddoo, Managing Partner at 4DX Ventures said, “We are proud to enter this partnership with Autochek as the company embarks on its mission to transform Africa’s automotive industry. By providing access to a new range of products and services, the company will dramatically enhance the automotive transacting experience for dealers and the ownership experience for consumers across the continent. Autochek is helping to unlock massive opportunities in Africa’s auto sector and we are pleased to be supporting that mission”.
Africa is widely regarded as the final frontier for the global automotive industry, with high growth prospects over the next decade. Despite the impact of COVID-19, car sales are expected to grow across the continent, with a corresponding rise in demand for support services. However, a range of existing challenges, including limited access to finance and an opaque and fragmented marketplace means car owners and dealers do not always enjoy the best experience.
Off-grid power projects could modernise South Africa’s energy sector
November 18, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Stephen Barnes & Rentia van Tonder
Decentralised power projects, or those that are not tied to the national grid, could play a major role in closing South Africa’s electricity supply gap and modernising its energy sector.
The country’s electricity crisis – as reflected by ongoing instances of load-shedding, or planned power cuts – continues to weigh on the economy. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) estimates that the supply gap is currently between 5GW and 8GW.
Further, businesses are contending with sharp and unpredictable increases in their energy costs, and this is impacting business confidence.
But thanks in part to rapid declines in the cost of renewable energy, and advancements in battery storage technologies, decentralised energy solutions are now a viable alternative, and they could go a long way towards alleviating South Africa’s electricity challenges.
The shift in this direction has already started, although it could accelerate dramatically if various enablers can be provided to stimulate the sector. Regulatory issues, environmental permitting, and grid-tie arrangements that allow independent units to feed surplus energy into the grid, remain complex issues that need to be addressed to truly unleash the potential of decentralised energy.
The sector’s growth has also been restricted by funding challenges, and misalignment between developers, clients and funders. Despite these and other challenges, as much as 1.1GW of small-scale solar power has been installed by commercial and industrial firms to date, according to the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association’s estimates.
When combined with battery storage technologies, these solutions ensure certainty of supply, and equally as important, they ensure certainty of cost. They also help to take the pressure off the national grid.
Hydro, wind and solar are currently the most attractive technologies in Africa, which has an abundance of these natural resources. And while renewable energy units have historically only been able to provide an intermittent supply of electricity, they will become increasingly reliable thanks to rapid advancements in storage technologies, which are becoming more affordable. Combined with the costs associated with electricity distribution, this strengthens the case for a shift towards decentralised energy across Africa.
Further, funding arrangements are now being structured more appropriately. Standard Bank is increasingly partnering with developers and other key stakeholders to approach funding and project design differently so as to enable the roll-out of these projects.
It has become clear that early alignment between the developer, the client and the funding partner gives rise to better technical solutions and funding models. As a result, early phase alignment is obtained, and innovation enabled. Given South Africa’s massive electricity supply gap, there is an opportunity for thousands of small-scale renewable energy installations in the months and years ahead.
Poised for a continent-wide shift to decentralised power
We believe that decentralised green-energy solutions, which promote innovation as they are purpose-built, will continue to gain momentum as municipalities, mining houses and industrial firms seek to ensure cost certainty and reliability of supply. Alongside hydro, wing and solar, some mining groups in Africa are even turning to hydrogen power to diversify their electricity mixes – an indication that the fledgling hydrogen economy is garnering more interest.
In countries such as Nigeria – where the electricity self-generation market is 55% larger than the main grid – we expect the country will start to seriously consider pivoting to decentralised renewable solutions as oil subsidies near an end, so as to decrease the supply shortfall and better service the large and geographically fragmented population.
The shift to decentralised power – and renewables specifically – will also be boosted by the increased investor awareness of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) issues.
We believe that the addition of more modular, decentralised energy solutions could remove a major drag on the economy and help Africa to reach its potential.
Standard Bank Group is the largest African bank by assets, operating in 20 African countries and 5 global financial centres. Headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, we are listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, with share code SBK, and the Namibian Stock Exchange, share code SNB.
Standard Bank has a 157-year history in South Africa and started building a franchise outside southern Africa in the early 1990s.
Our strategic position, which enables us to connect Africa to other select emerging markets as well as pools of capital in developed markets, and our balanced portfolio of businesses, provide significant opportunities for growth.
The group has over 50 000 employees, more than 1 100 branches and 9 000 ATMs on the African continent which enable it to deliver a complete range of services across personal and business banking, corporate and investment banking and wealth management.
Headline earnings for 2019 were R28.2 billion (about USD2 billion) and total assets were R2.3 trillion (about USD163 billion). Standard Bank’s market capitalisation at 31 December 2019 was R277 billion (USD20 billion).
The group’s largest shareholder is the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the world’s largest bank, with a 20.1% shareholding. In addition, Standard Bank Group and ICBC share a strategic partnership that facilitates trade and deal flow between Africa, China and select emerging markets.
*Stephen Barnes, Head of Power and Infrastructure, and Rentia van Tonder, Head of Power at Standard Bank Group
Post-Election Violence in Africa: Bar. Stanislaus Ajong Recommends ratifying and implementing African Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance
November 18, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Boris Esono Nwenfor
It has been observed in many African countries that what immediately follows after elections is violence. Cameroon, Nigeria have all faced violence shortly after holding their Presidential elections – something which the opposition parties says was marred by election malpractices.
Barrister Stanislaus Ajong, erstwhile President of FAKLA in a presentation titled Dealing with elections are a major source of conflicts in Africa. Who mostly undermines the process? Politicians or other stakeholders? Presented during the African Bar Association’s 2020 Virtual conference from November 9-12 says Africa needs a change of mentality in appreciating elections and public management. The desire to get to public office should be motivated by the urge to service and giving back to the community.
The 2020 Virtual conference of the AFBA which was held in Niamey, Niger was on the theme: “Resetting Africa’s socio-economic and political agenda in the post-COVID-19 era; how lawyers can lead”
Focusing on Article 17 which states: “State Parties re-affirm their commitment to regularly holding transparent, free and fair elections per the Union’s Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa”, the Chairman, Cameroon Country Coordination African Bar Association (AFBA) says if this principle is implemented without manipulating the system, persons of integrity and respect for public funds will take the mantle and execute the wishes of the people.
“We seize the moment to congratulate the government of Niger through the President His Excellency Mahamadou Issoufou as I read and understand that he will not be seeking to succeed himself in the next elections billed for December 2020,” Barrister Ajong stated.
“Eternalizing rulership leads to a lack of public accountability invariably inviting conflict at one time or the other. Politicians and stakeholders are responsible in varying degrees for the conflicts arising from elections in Africa.”
To Barrister Ajong, what has been noticed in Africa is that there is a tendency for the Executive to lord it over the other arms of government. The constitution is shaped to guarantee the aspirations of individuals rather than building resilient institutions. With a judiciary where members are appointed and dismissed by the head of the executive, the population is left frustrated when they seek to legally challenge electoral fraud. This leads to one outcome: conflict, He said.
“This explains why some conflicts may only surface many years after the elections. We hold that the politicians and the different stakeholders play their respective roles making elections look like a circus. As stated earlier, this can be corrected. Africa is not doomed,” Barrister Ajong explained.
The African continent is endowed with vast mineral resources. It is these natural resources that play a major role in how elections are managed in Africa. “The politicians have their interests to protect and usually employ all conceivable tricks to attain their goal. Their actions are in the main facilitated and guaranteed by some powerful stakeholders,” Barrister Stanislaus Ajong, Member, Executive Council – African Bar Association (AFBA) said.
Barrister Ajong’s presentation which was narrowed to Presidential elections in Africa to answer the sticky question of conflicts after such elections added that there is a colonial agreement signed between Cameroun and France in 1959 which gives the latter an unbelievable hold on the economy of the former. Going by this agreement, France has the interest to protect her gains by closely watching who is at the helm of management in the country. The agreement implicitly makes France an undisputed stakeholder and interested party in determining who is at the wheel of affairs at every given time.
Parts of the Agreement read;
1- France shall determine Cameroon’s political, economic, and sociocultural orientations.
2- France shall manufacture money for Cameroon, the FCFA
3- France shall guide the determination of Cameroon’s educational programs at all levels
4-The French public treasury shall have a portfolio named operations to account to cover 100% of Cameroon’s foreign exchange. NB: Have been subsequently amended to 50%
5- France shall be given priority in the exploitation of Cameroon’s strategic raw materials. In the event where France is not interested Cameroon may seek other partners or exploit the raw material herself.
6- 10th November 1961: Military Assistance. Each time that the Cameroonian president is overwhelmed by external aggression or internal rebellion, he may call on French military assistance. In the event where the Cameroonian president is unable to seek this assistance by any form of communication, the French ambassador to Cameroon can make the request instead of Cameroonian authorities.
“The politicians have their interests to protect and usually employ all conceivable tricks to attain their goal. Their actions are in the main facilitated and guaranteed by some powerful stakeholders,” Barrister Stanislaus Ajong said.
Cameroon: Barrister Balla Challenges Entertainers to Use their Voices for Peace, Peacebuilding
November 18, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Boris Esono Nwenfor
Renowned Human Rights Lawyer and former President of the Fako Lawyers Association (FAKLA) Barrister Felix Nkongho Agbor Balla says entertainers in Cameroon have to use their voices for preach peace and peacebuilding in the country.
“With your voices, you can spur the people to action. Actions that will bring forth reconciliation and peace-building strategies,” Barrister Balla told the entertainers during the Muma 2020 Musical Excellence Awards, on 14 November 2020 at Douala Bercy, Akwa- Douala.
“While musicians individually and collectively sing songs, humourists should use laughter to send a message of peace while cartoonist should use their artistic skills to condemn the ongoing horrors. Animators and disc jockeys should develop jingles on peacebuilding while graphic designers on their part can flood our streets with banners calling for peace.”
Speaking on “The Entertainer’s Role in Peace Building and Economic Growth” Barrister Balla paid homage to the victims of the Kumba massacre and victims of other disasters.
“I would like to extend my heartfelt sympathies to the families affected by the ruthless massacre of children at Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy in Kumba on October 24 and other lives lost in the course of the crisis in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon,” Barrister Balla said.
“I will also like to remember the victims of natural disasters like flooding, the victims of social unrest caused by the Islamic sect Boko Haram in the North of Cameroon, and those who have died due to the Coronavirus Pandemic.”
He went on to urge the entertainers to play their part in prioritizing peace, justice and economic stability.
“… All of us are stakeholders in ensuring that lasting peace is brought to the restive regions of the country. We have been witnesses to the nose-dive direction the economy has taken as a result of this war which if not overturned immediately will plunge our nation and by extension, our sub-region into unprecedented economic crisis through measures and actions inimical to economic growth,” Barrister Nkongho Felix Agbor Balla, erstwhile President of Fako Lawyers Association (FAKLA) said.
The 2020 Muzikol Music Awards – “MUMA 2020” happened within the context of deepening crisis in the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon that has been going on for the past four years. The carnage that has occurred within the context of this crisis is none that any right-thinking person can endorse. We have witnessed untold human rights violations in all forms.
“I pride myself and the integrity of my organization – CHRDA, as a frontline actor in documenting these violations and I can tell you without any fear of contradiction that the violations have been gross, widespread and systematic. We are not here today to debate and lay blame on the actors of this crisis. We are here to chart a new way of lowering the curve and directing it towards a peaceful resolution of the crisis,” Barrister Balla said.
To Barrister Ball there will be critics and detractors; decriers who, behind the shield of their screens, will scrutinize every one of their actions and strategies, slurring every one of them. “Still, do not relent. Stones only target ripe fruits on a tree with good produce, not unripe ones,” He said.
“This calls for concerted efforts amongst you the entertainers. Enough of the backbiting, enough of mudslinging, enough of pettiness and cynism that has animated your corps for a while now. This is the time for you to come under one dynamic outfit and develop a common message that will penetrate and soften the hearts of major stakeholders of this crisis,” Barrister Balla added.
In our Cameroonian context, we are witnesses to the downward turn the economy of the two restive regions has taken, which has directly affected the nation’s economy. The city of Buea, which once hosted the silicon mountain, a hub for young techs, was dismantled as a result of the growing violence in the region. The silicon mountain project could place Buea on the world map in the development of information and communication technologies.
The North West Region has always been the breadbasket of the nation as their soil produced major food crops that were sold beyond our borders. With growing violence and uncertainties, major Common Initiative Groups have halted their activities thereby reducing food production. All the above have affected Cameroons GDP. This has inextricably resulted in the increase in import of basic commodities that has a consequent unfriendly effect on the sustainability of our local enterprises and producers.
ARIPO elects new Director General for the period 2021 to 2024
November 18, 2020 | 0 Comments
The Forty-Fourth Session of the Administrative Council of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) has voted Mr. Bemanya Twebaze, a candidate from Uganda, as the Organization’s next Director General (DG) for a fixed term of four years that will start on January 1, 2021, to December 31, 2024.
“Thank you to the Administrative Council of ARIPO for entrusting me to lead ARIPO for the next four years. I will give my best energy to make meaningful transformations at ARIPO,” said Mr. Bemanya Twebaze at the close of the voting on November 17, 2020.
Mr. Twebaze will be the sixth DG at the ARIPO Secretariat following the current and outgoing DG, Dr. Fernando dos Santos from Mozambique, whose eight-year term ends 31 December 2020.
Mr. Twebaze is the Chief Executive Officer of Uganda Registration Services Bureau, the National Intellectual Property Office of Uganda.
Mr. Twebaze’s election by the ARIPO Administrative Council was made through an online voting system. He emerged as the winner ahead of two other candidates.
ARIPO is an intergovernmental organization based in Harare, Zimbabwe. It was created in Lusaka, Zambia, on 9th December 1976 under the Lusaka Agreement.
ARIPO grants or register intellectual property rights such as patents, trademarks, copyrights, utility models, industrial designs, plant varieties, traditional knowledge, folklore expression, and geographical indications. ARIPO also contributes to the shaping of the African and global intellectual property landscape through capacity building, awareness creation and sharing of technological information.
ARIPO currently has 20 Member States: Botswana, The Kingdom of Eswatini, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, The Kingdom of Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, United Republic of Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
ARIPO Gains Mauritius Membership, Defies Thick and Thin of Covid-19, Benefits Out-Weigh Defiant 2020 Challenges
November 18, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Nevson Mpofu
ARIPO Member states are currently running a 5 days conference on a virtual platform in the city of Harare where its headquarters are situated. This runs from Monday 16 to Friday 20 November. The 44th[ fourth-fourth] session of Administrative Council of ARIPO is ending on Friday.
This comes with the increase in membership as Mauritius is registered following its accidence to the Lusaka Agreement on 25 September this year. It is the 20th member of ARIPO in the African Region. Dr Fernando Dos Santos ARIPO Director General said although the upsurge of covid-19 has been effective, ARIPO has done better.
‘’Despite the upsurge of covid-19 which hit the World, Its not bad as such for us. We have instead increased in membership with the entry of Mauritius as our 20th member. However, I note there are some slight decreases.
‘’We had 10% decline in applications. There are 619 patent applications filled during the period 1 January to 31 October 2020 as compared to 689 filled in the same period in 2019.
‘’This is less 27% decline of marks, . However on the positive side Industrial designs grew 9% . At least we have done well considering that we were reeling under covid-19’’ , he adds .
Dr Fernando points out that the future is blue on their part. He talked of the Draft Legal Framework Voluntary Registration and Notification of Copy Rights and related rights poised to be adopted in a diplomatic conference next year in 2021.
Dr Fernando explains further that in terms of plant variety protection Sao-Tome and Principe joined the protocol after Rwanda.
‘’The protocol enters into force once 4 states have acceded to it ‘’ , he says briefly .
Giving fantastic financial statistics he illustrates in accountability style that ARIPO has done well in 2020 in terms revenue projected in. It has summed up a total of US$10,344,622. As of 31 October, it received a total of US$ 8,946,349 which represents 86,5% of projected revenue for the same year.
According to him, this is increase of 6,1% of revenue compared to previous year 2019. Expenses have decrease of 18,6% amounting to US$ 3,568,877.
‘’There is improvement in liquidity situation. There is increase of 83,9% in the current assets of the organization. By October 31, the organization had a total of US$4,704,498 but assets have increased further to US$8,651,739.
‘’The Trust Fund closing balance at 31 October 2020 stood at US $7,675,785 from US$3,658,652 of the same period 2019. There is reduction of arrears of member states. Reduction of arrears trust fund moved from US$ 4,461,590 as of 31 October 2019 to US$2,294,097 on 31 October 2020. Secretariate was able to pay back US$ 2,167,493.
‘’At least we have 358 students from 26 countries who have graduated in our MIP Program from Africa University, Kwame Nkrumah University of Ghana and Dare Salaam University of Tanzania.’’ , he strikes in conclusion .
Member States have developed in terms of ICT Infrastructure. There is state of art headquarters in Harare b which has won 3 awards. Infect there is a Masters Degree Program at Dares Salaam University and Kwame Nkrumah University in Ghana. There are 25 new MOUs Memorandums of Understanding with various partners. The 5th achievement, he points out is the rolling out of roving seminars to Universities, Research institutions and to the members of the public that benefitted 3000 people in 17 member states. ARIPO is on a plan to hit the ground running for 2021 when it will in reflective practice look at areas, gaps to be filled in and plans ahead challenges.
The Islamic Development Bank Group, in cooperation with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, organized a webinar on the Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on the Global Investment Outlook
November 18, 2020 | 0 Comments
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group hosted a webinar on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global investment outlook, which was organized in collaboration between the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the Country Strategy and Cooperation (CSC) Department, IsDB on 17th November 2020 to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on FDI and trade in OIC member countries.
The main objective of the webinar is to present the key ﬁndings of the World Investment Report 2020 – International Production Beyond the Pandemic with a highlight on FDI trends in foreign direct investment (FDI) worldwide, at the regional and country levels and emerging measures to improve its contribution to development. In addition to presenting IsDB Group Strategy during COVID-19 and its impact on OIC Member Countries and Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs).
The Webinar also proposed adopting policies and strategies to revive investment and trade in member states to advance investment promotion activities, in order to support the IsDB Group efforts to assist Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs) in member countries by assisting them in devising appropriate investment and trade policy responses to the ongoing pandemic
Mr. Oussama Kaissi, CEO of the Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit (ICIEC), stated that “the COVID-19 pandemic has created a devastating global health crisis. According to UNCTAD’s 2020 World Investment Report, global flows of foreign direct investment (FDI) will be under acute pressure this year as a direct result of the pandemic. In order to combat these implications in member countries, IsDB and its group members have implemented a number of initiatives to maintain trade and investment flows. ICIEC will be an important part of the long-term recovery, supporting the growing demand for risk mitigation solutions”.
Mr. James Zhan, Director, Investment & Enterprise Division, UNCTAD, made a presentation which highlighted the key findings and policy recommendations found in its World Investment Report 2020: International Production Beyond the Pandemic.
Mr. Amadou Diallo, the Acting Director-General, Global Practices at the Islamic Development Bank in his speech stated that during COVID-19, the Bank provided technical assistance programs for the Islamic Development Bank Group such as RCI and ITAP to support the Member Countries by assisting them in developing suitable plans for investment and trade policy to confront the ongoing Corona pandemic. This is in the framework of a tripartite approach centered around the “response, recovery and rebuilding” pillars.
Mr. Mohammed Bukhari, Senior Investment Promotion & Regional Cooperation Specialist, CSC Dept., IsDB delivered a presentation on the impact of COVID-19 on MCs, particularly in foreign direct investment (FDI), domestic investment and investment promotion agencies (IPAs).
It is noteworthy that the private sector institutions of the Islamic Development Bank Group played an important role during COVID-19, as Mr. Asheque Moyeed, Division Head, Infrastructure & Corporate Finance, the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) made a presentation which focused on the efforts related to promoting investment in member countries, where the IsDB Group private sector institutions pledged with IsDB to provide $ 700 million to stimulate investment, finance trade, investment insurance and export credit in member countries. Two D-8 Egypt and Turkey are going to utilize around $270 million of this package.
The webinar brought together over 500+ participants from 113 countries, including government officials, Presidents & CEOs of local/international private sector companies, multilateral and financial institutions, individual investors, entrepreneurs, chambers of commerce & Industry, business associations, and investment promotion agencies