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Recipe for African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA): New report looks at ‘what’s next’ for the Continental Agreement
July 9, 2019 | 0 Comments
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Africa: Sports as a Business and a Brand
July 9, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Victor Oladokun*

Victor Oladokun

Victor Oladokun

Fans are choosing not to watch live football events, and instead are opting in increasing numbers for the ‘intimacy’ of their crystal clear digital flat TV screens, or not all

At the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, the visual imagery of  almost empty stadiums is a powerful narrative. But not the kind that African sports, African football, or corporate sponsors deserve.

The empty seat syndrome in suggests that football fans are voting with their feet, or better still with their backsides. Fans are choosing not to watch live football events, and instead are opting in increasing numbers  for the ‘intimacy’ of their crystal clear digital flat TV screens, or not all.

Before Egypt’s stunning 0-1 loss to South Africa in the round of 16, the host country was the only team able to attract 70,000 fans. Other than when Mo Salah and the Pharaohs have been on the field, most stadia across Egypt have at best attracted an average of 5,000 to 7,000 fans.

Official broadcast camera crews have done a creative job minimizing the visual gaps of empty seats. But wide camera angles reveal the obvious … a lack of attendance and public enthusiasm, in spite of the presence of some of the biggest names in world football on the field.

In European football leagues, where many of the stars in Egypt ply their trade, fans pay mega bucks to see the likes of John Mikel Obi, Ahmed Musa, Sadio Mane, Ryahd Mahrez, Nicolas Pépé, Wilfred, Zaha, and Kalidou Koulibaly.

Which is why the empty seats in Egypt are both stunning.

Admittedly, Egypt bailed CAF out and should receive well-deserved credit for coming to the rescue and hosting the African Cup of Nations, with barely 6 months notice, when the original hosts were sanctioned due to shoddy preparations.

Nevertheless, the lack of attendance in Egypt speaks volumes high ticket costs; the timing of matches bang in the middle of work days; the difficulties faced by national team supporters in obtaining entry visas to Egypt; and challenges with the Confederation of African Football’s complicated online ticket purchasing system.

It should not be so. This after all, is the most important event in Africa’s sports calendar. At least, it used to be before England’s Premier League, Spain’s La Liga, Italy’s Serie A, and Germany’s Bundesliga captured our collective imaginations.

The end result is that where once 30,000 to 70,000 fans a week watched highly competitive domestic football leagues across Africa, the empty seat syndrome has been  the norm for almost two decades. It is not unusual to have less than a thousand fans in a stadium that seats 30,000.

The lack of fan attendance has obvious economic and financial implications across the sports value chain for team owners, sports federations and confederations, players, sponsors, advertising and marketing agencies, merchandisers, vendors, and local communities who once counted on fan attendance to boost fledgling economies.

What’s responsible for the increasing slide in fan attendance?

1. Poor facilities

2. High ticket costs

3. A lack of reliable transportation to and from venues. As well as sufficient and secure parking.

4. Increasingly crude behavior and violence at event locations.

5. Technology. Mobile phones and Apps that carry events live as well as a plethora of entertainment alternatives. In other words, once big events are no longer the main gigs in town.

So, what can be done to reverse the trend? Here are 5 quick suggestions.

1. It can no longer be business as usual. Africa must run sports as a professional business. This includes the right infrastructure, training facilities, attractive pay scales for professional athletes who now consider anything less than a European league appearance, a professional failure.

Regrettably, as with Africa’s overall propensity to simply export raw materials instead of adding value to what we produce, we are doing the same with football and many other sports. Africa has a tremendous abundance of potential talent that for the most part (with the exception of South Africa, Kenya and Ethiopia) we add little or no value to. Instead, millions of genetically blessed athletes are simply waiting or begging to be ‘found’ on the cheap by European and American sports teams. Why? Simply because we fail to see diamonds in the rough and because we are unable to add value to the potential of what for now seems to be rough stones.

2. Modern and professionally maintained facilities: In sizzling hot Africa, we must invest in covered stadia. When I can sit in front of my big screen TV in my air conditioned living room, why would I want to subject myself to temperatures that I swear have gone up a number of notches in recent years?

3. Sport is a spectacle. This includes everything including pre-event and half time entertainment to keep fans with short attention spans upbeat and engaged.

4. Give back to the fans: Essentially, engagement in the 21st century must change. Its time to give something back to fans rather than fleecing them at every opportunity with sub-standard services and products. It would seem to me that sports teams could offer something as simple as raffle draws that reward fans with extra game tickets, signed player jerseys, visits with select players, or products from local sponsors. Professional marketing firms can come up with an endless list.

5. Make sports big and make it a win-win proposition. 

Real Madrid F.C. and Barcelona F.C. for example, are not owned by a few rich individuals. Instead, they are owned and supported by thousands of shareholders known as ‘socios.’ Across Africa, it’s time to change the numbers game – in ownership, money, and attendance – by giving fans a seat at the table.

These are just a few quick ideas. However, the running of sports in general and football in particular as a business and a brand proposition, will require honest analysis, political and financial will, and a collective approach.

It must be if Africa is to unlock potential and turn millions into billions.

*Dr. Victor Oladokun, is the Director of Communication and External Relations at the African Development Bank www.AfDB.org

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Niger: African Development Bank President attends historic African Union summit, decries child marriage
July 9, 2019 | 0 Comments
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AFCON 2019:Host Egypt, Defending champions Cameroon knocked out
July 8, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Mohamed Salah could not get his Egyptian over the line against South Africa-Sumaya Hisham-Reuters

Mohamed Salah could not get his Egyptian over the line against South Africa-Sumaya Hisham-Reuters

The 2019 edition of the Africa cup of nations continues to throw surprises as defending champions and host are all knocked out of the competition on the same day.

The indomitable Lions of Cameroon and the Pharaohs of Egypt all suffered defeats in the round of 16. The Lions lost to bitter rivals Nigeria by 3 goals to 2 in the first match in Alexandria.

China based Odoin Ighalo gave the super eagles the lead in the 19th minute of play but Cameroon hit back with two goals in quick succession. Forward Stephane Bahoken and Clinton Njie all scored before the close of the first half of play.

The second half of play began as the first with both teams looking to score more goals. It was Nigeria who however equalized as Ighalo got his brace for the game making at the 63rd minute to make it 2 all. There was however a suspicion of offside but the referee let it stand. Arsenal player Alex Iwobi then snatched the winner just three minute late to send his side into the quarter finals.

Speaking in a press conference shortly after their defeat, Cameroon’s Head Coach Clarence Seedorf seems to downplay the lost. He said “I feel very sorry. We played well but this is football. I don’t think about my future now and all I want is to evolve this team for the future.

Cameroon’s elimination from the competition may have consequences for the coach and his assistant. The tasked given to Clarence Seedorf when he took over from Hugo Broos was that of defending the title they won in 2017. With their early exit from the competition it is still unclear if the management of football will stick with him heading into 2021 when Cameroon will host the competition-giving the fact that Cameroon is known for hiring and dismissing coaches who don’t meet expectations.

There have even been calls from some football fans and analyst in the country for him to reply. One wrote “If Seedorf is not fired; he should be wise enough to pick home based players and cultivate them for these two years before AFCON 2021 and forget about these so-called professionals”.

Another stated “My opinion is that Seedorf will be fired. It’s not that he did a bad job in Egypt but Cameroon has exceptional skills in sacking coaches especially after competition like this” while another cautioned “this will be the biggest mistake Cameroon will do should we fire Seedorf”.

The day then ended with the host knocked out of the competition by the Bafana Bafana of South Africa. A Thembinkosi Lorch strike at the 85th minute of play was all it took for South Africa to qualify for the quarter finals.

Twitting after the match, JohnBennettBBC said “none of the players stopped in the interview area outside the stadium. Mohamed Salah looked very emotional. He didn’t appear fully fit tonight after being ill this week.”

Egypt’s lost has had wide spread ramification with the coach and President of the Egyptian FA all being liberated. Egyptian President Abou Reidah Hany resigned while the coach Javier Aguirre was dismissed.

Hany while announcing his resignation called on his fellow board members to resign. His resignation stated: “Hani Abu Reidah announced his resignation from the presidency of the Egyptian Football Federation and also invited the members of the Board of Directors of the Union to resign, following the departure of the first national team from the round of 16 of the Africa cup of Nations organized in Egypt”.

The Egyptian side had been seen as one of the favorites to win the competition coupled with the fact that they are hosting the competition. The last time they hosted the competition was backed in 2006 and in that year finished as winners. This year however proved different with star man Mohamed Salah failing to get his team over the line against South Africa.

The defeat is almost something as a revenge for the South Africa. The team lost to Egypt in their bid to replace Cameroon as host for the 2019 edition, which Egypt won with a landslide victory. South Africa received just one in their pursuit to host the sporting jamboree.

Nigeria will thus face South Africa in the quarter finals as both side look to reach the finals in the competition.

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Civil Society Forum meets to launch the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Consultative Dialogue Framework
July 6, 2019 | 0 Comments
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Kenya Airways Selects GE Aviation for Digital Flight Operations
July 6, 2019 | 0 Comments
Kenya Airways adds to the 15,468 aircraft with GE Aviation’s digital solutions
L-R: Adam Ward (GE Aviation), Sean Moser (GE Aviation), Paul Njoroge (Director Operations, KQ) Andrew Coleman (GE Aviation) Clare Ward (CIO, KQ) & Isam Moursy ( VP, GE Aviation Africa). Seated L-R: John Mansfield (Chief Digital Officer, GE Aviation) & Sebastian Mikosz (CEO, KQ)

L-R: Adam Ward (GE Aviation), Sean Moser (GE Aviation), Paul Njoroge (Director Operations, KQ) Andrew Coleman (GE Aviation) Clare Ward (CIO, KQ) & Isam Moursy ( VP, GE Aviation Africa). Seated L-R: John Mansfield (Chief Digital Officer, GE Aviation) & Sebastian Mikosz (CEO, KQ)

AUSTIN, United States of America, July 3, 2019/ — Maximizing Airline Efficiency with the Most Accurate Data and Analytics; Kenya Airways (www.Kenya-Airways.com) adds to the 15,468 aircraft with GE Aviation’s (www.GEAviation.com) digital solutions.

Kenya Airways has selected GE Aviation for the Flight Operations suite of digital products across the airline’s fleet of Boeing 737, 787 and Embraer E190 airplanes. Kenya Airway’s fleet adds to the 15,468 unique aircraft assets that are connected to GE Aviation’s digital solutions. Implementation is currently underway with completion this year.

“Kenya Airways was looking for a way to monitor fleet performance, implement and track fuel saving initiatives across their network and empower their pilots to help drive efficiency,” said John Mansfield, chief digital officer for GE Aviation at the signing ceremony held on June 18th at the Paris Air Show. “The Flight Operations suite provides these insights and is scalable to provide additional functionality.”

The Flight Operations suite integrates GE’s Event Measurement System (EMS), flight analytics, FlightPulse™ and fuel efficiency services. GE’s EMS and FOQA systems are being used on 8,932 aircraft including flight analytics service integrating data sources like flight information, weather, navigation, flight plans, and other operational data to provide valuable insights for airline customers around fuel use and operations. Kenya Airway’s 425 pilots add to the 57,702-airline crew relying on GE Aviation’s Network Crew Optimization.

Paul Njoroge, director of operations, Kenya Airways said, “The partnership with GE Aviation will empower Kenya Airways to optimise its fuel costs and excel in flight operations. GE brings a wealth of knowledge to help the airline fast track efficiencies enabling improvements in operations and customer experience.”

Clare Ward, chief information officer, Kenya Airways, noted that the airline chose GE Aviation because of its leadership and innovation in flight analytics and deep aviation experience. “By partnering with GE, Kenya Airways is accelerating the move to leading edge technologies in analytics and machine learning,” she said.

“Our aim is to help Kenya Airways reduce their multi-million-dollar fuel bill and increase their overall efficiency, said Mansfield. “The fidelity in our flight analytics, together with the team’s experience from analyzing more than 175 million flights, will enable Kenya Airways to better manage operations with data-driven solutions. We are bringing together analytics with physical assets to help significantly reduce cost.”

About Kenya Airways:
Kenya Airways (www.Kenya-Airways.com), a member of the Sky Team Alliance, is a leading African airline flying to 55 destinations worldwide, 43 of which are in Africa and carries over four million passengers annually. It continues to modernize its fleet with its 33 aircraft being some of the youngest in Africa. This includes its flagship B787 Dreamliner aircraft. The on-board service is renowned and the lie-flat business class seat on the wide-body aircraft is consistently voted among the world’s top 10. Kenya Airways takes pride for being in the forefront of connecting Africa to the World and the World to Africa through its hub at the new ultra-modern Terminal 1A at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. Kenya Airways celebrated 42 years of operations in January 2018 and was named Africa Leading Airline 2018 by the World Travel Awards. For more information, please visit www.Kenya-Airways.com

About GE Aviation:
GE Aviation (www.GEAviation.com), an operating unit of GE (NYSE: GE), is a world-leading provider of commercial and military jet engines, avionics, digital solutions and electrical power systems for aircraft. GE is the world’s Digital Industrial Company, transforming industry with software-defined machines and solutions that are connected, responsive and predictive. With people, services, technology and scale, GE delivers better outcomes for customers by speaking the language of industry. www.GEAviation.com/digital

*Source GE

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The Fashion Designer, Alphadi, lends his talents to promote child rights in Niger
July 6, 2019 | 0 Comments
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Africa working towards delivering credible censuses during 2020 round, says Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)’s Muhwava
July 6, 2019 | 0 Comments
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Sudan: Agreement must be judged by actions of those in power
July 6, 2019 | 0 Comments
African Union envoy to Sudan Mohammed el-Hassan Labat (L) sits next to Sudan's deputy chief of the ruling military council General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo as he shakes hands with an army general following a press conference in Khartoum (AFP Photo)

African Union envoy to Sudan Mohammed el-Hassan Labat (L) sits next to Sudan’s deputy chief of the ruling military council General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo as he shakes hands with an army general following a press conference in Khartoum (AFP Photo)

Responding to the news that a power-sharing deal has been reached between Sudan’s military leaders and the opposition party, Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International, said:

“The devil will be in the detail of any deal – but we hope this marks a step towards an end of the horrific crimes that have been committed against the people of Sudan for decades. This agreement must be judged by how those in power now live up to their responsibilities to respect people’s fundamental rights – something the Sudanese people have been deprived of for well over three decades.

“There are two crucial steps that those in power must now take to ensure that this is a positive step forward for Sudan. Firstly, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) must be barred from all policing activities. They have no place in law enforcement given their record in committing war crimes in Darfur and the murders, torture and other brutal violence against protestors since former President Omar Al-Bashir stepped down in April.

“Secondly, we need to see an immediate independent investigation into the ruthless violence perpetrated by government forces against protestors. The world has watched in horror at the slaughter of ordinary Sudanese people who have dared to demand their human rights. Those now in power must not believe for a second that we will forget that these atrocities occurred. Nothing less than full accountability is acceptable.

“We know that this agreement is clearly not the end of the terrible ordeal Sudanese people have experienced. But the fact that it has happened at all is a testament to the extraordinary determination and resilience of ordinary people who chose to stand up for their rights.”

*Amnesty

 

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The Remarkable Story of Anthony, President Akinwumi Adesina’s Adoptive Son from Madagascar
July 6, 2019 | 0 Comments
For President Adesina, Anthony’s story is one of hope
President Akinwumi A Adesina and his Malagasy adoptive son Anthony

President Akinwumi A Adesina and his Malagasy adoptive son Anthony

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, July 5, 2019/ — Three years ago, Anthony, then 11, showed signs of stunted growth as observed by African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org) President Akinwumi Adesina during a visit to Madagascar’s Bas Mangoky region. To the Bank chief, the boy looked no more than 5 years of age.

“I was transfixed by one of the children attracted by my helicopter landing. He was so small that I was convinced he could be no more than 5 years old,” recalls President Adesina.

“I asked him his name and he told me it was Anthony. But his voice was not that of a 5-year-old child. I was shocked to discover that he was 11. He was suffering from severe malnutrition.”

This was on 2 August 2016 and the story could have ended there. President Adesina could have continued his tour of the region, where rice production had tripled, from two to six tonnes per hectare, thanks to the decisive intervention of the African Development Fund (ADF), the concessional window of the African Development Bank. He could have continued his rounds, proud of the Fund’s intervention, which had enabled the region to record a 141% increase in its agricultural income.

This, however, would have gone against his convictions and his personal efforts to help curb malnutrition. “Anthony said his dream was to become a doctor,” he recalls, visibly moved when he reunited with Anthony this week on the sidelines of the ADF-15 replenishment meeting in Antananarivo. The President of the African Development Bank thus decided, in agreement with his wife, to adopt Anthony and provide him with the means to live a dignified life, alongside his family, in his home environment.

And even then, Anthony’s incredible story did not end there. “I saw him again, the day before yesterday. Our son, Anthony, is growing normally. He is fine and well-fed,” Adesina says. “He is doing well in school and is one of the best in his class. I really hope that one day he will achieve his dream of becoming a doctor.” Barely half the height of his adoptive father in 2016, Anthony now seems well on track to overtake him.

Senior representatives of ADF donors are currently meeting in Madagascar to discuss the 15th Replenishment of the Fund. ADF has invested some $48 billion in low-income African countries.

For President Adesina, Anthony’s story is one of hope. Just like this young Malagasy boy, the continent can overcome its weaknesses. “Fragility is not inevitable. It can be overcome,” Adesina said in his opening speech at the second consultative meeting of the replenishment of the Fund.

“We believe in Africa! We believe in a prosperous future. We believe in its destiny!” he declared.

“The African Development Fund can continue to create hope among the least developed populations, offer opportunities to those who have nothing, and restore pride and determination,” he said, calling on donor countries to maintain their strong commitment to the continent.

President Adesina cited Cote d’Ivoire as one of numerous successful stories of ADF’s intervention.

“Côte d’Ivoire’s GDP plummeted following the political, economic and social turbulence it suffered a few years back. Thanks to the timely and decisive action of the African Development Fund, this country now has one of the most impressive growth rates in Africa, even the world.”

Just like Anthony, who is now racing ahead of the other pupils in his class.

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African Union Commission calls for further financial input for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility (NEPAD-IPPF) Special Fund
July 5, 2019 | 0 Comments
The African Development Bank approved in June 2019 the allocation of UA 3 million from its 2018 Net Income to NEPAD-IPPF

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, July 5, 2019/ — The 29th Oversight Committee (OC) meeting of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility (NEPAD-IPPF) Special Fund held at the headquarters of the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, has ended with calls for increased investments to accelerate the closure of Africa’s infrastructure gap.

The meeting, held on 28 June 2019, was hosted by the AUC and chaired by KfW Development Bank (Germany). Topics discussed included the NEPAD-IPPF Independent Review report, the introduction of reimbursable grants as part of the new business model, the mid-year progress report, updates on continental infrastructure initiatives, and adoption of a proposed joint AUC/AUDA/AfDB Domestic Resource Mobilization Strategy.

Michael Andres, the Oversight Committee Chairman, commended the achievements of NEPAD-IPPF and noted that more resources are required given the increasing demands being made on the fund.

“The NEPAD-IPPF Special Fund must continue to focus on key priorities, such as PIDA Projects to support the African 2063 Agenda.” Andres said.

While speaking on the Fund’s progress in the first semester of 2019, African Development Bank Director for Infrastructure and Urban Development Amadou Oumarou urged participants to consider the continent’s enormous infrastructure needs.

“New contributions from Spain (Euro 3 million) and the African Development Bank (UA 3 million) are indications of confidence in the Fund’s ability to successfully fulfil its mandate, and also recognition that the NEPAD-IPPF is playing a critical role in infrastructure development in Africa. It is therefore expedient for (the Fund) to be further strengthened with the necessary resources to enable it to meet its objectives and mandate,” Oumarou said.

The meeting convened over 30 participants including donors providing financial support to the NEPAD-IPPF Special Fund, representatives from the African Development Bank, the African Union Commission, the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), Regional Economic Communities (RECs), River Basin organizations and regional corridors authorities.

For AUC Director for Infrastructure and Energy, Cheikh Bedda, “The Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), and Africa’s infrastructure priorities cannot be implemented without adequate resources committed to the NEPAD-IPPF, a critical instrument to prepare high quality bankable regional infrastructure projects across Africa”.

Providing updates on the Fund’s operational performance NEPAD-IPPF Fund Manager Mike Salawou, stated that cumulative contributions by donor partners including the African Development Bank amounted to $102 million, out of which $96.1 million had been committed to approve 91 projects. As at June 2019, 60 studies have been completed, 9 cancelled and 22 are on-going, he noted.

The African Development Bank approved in June 2019 the allocation of UA 3 million from its 2018 Net Income to NEPAD-IPPF. In addition, the Spanish Government announced a new contribution of EUR 3 million to NEPAD-IPPF in May 2019.

Among the studies completed by the Facility, 30 have so far reached financial close and attracted financing of $24.2 billion for physical implementation of power plants, bridges, ports, roads, hydropower schemes, and ICT projects. Of these successful projects, 17 have been constructed, 11 are under construction and two are yet to commence.

“While disbursements of committed funds on supported projects have reached a record, beyond that and without any new contributions to the Fund, NEPAD-IPPF will not be in position to support additional project preparation activities, therefore, there is a need for urgent replenishment of the Special Fund,”  Salawou stressed.

About the African Development Bank Group:
The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) (www.AfDB.org) is Africa’s premier development finance institution. It comprises three distinct entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF). On the ground in 44 African countries with an external office in Japan, the AfDB contributes to the economic development and the social progress of its 54 regional member states. For more information: j.mp/AfDB_Media

About NEPAD-IPPF:
The New Partnership for Africa’s Development Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility (NEPAD-IPPF) Special Fund, hosted by the African Development Bank, is a leading project preparation facility in Africa, which plays a catalytic role in mobilizing resources for preparation of regional projects and programs such as the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa. It’s a multi-donor Fund established in 2005 to assist African countries, Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Infrastructure related institutions for: (i) preparing high quality and viable regional/continental infrastructure projects with a view to requesting financing from public and private sources; (ii) developing a consensus and partnership for project implementation; and (iii) promoting infrastructure projects and programs aimed at enhancing regional integration. The Fund supports projects in transport, energy, ICT, and water sectors. The special fund is currently supported by the Bank as host institution, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom, Norway, Denmark, and Spain. Participation in the special fund is open to donors, institutional funds and other special infrastructure funds.

*AFDB

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Nigeria: $40 million worth of jewellery, gold iPhone seized from ex-minister
July 5, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Teslim Olawore

Diezani Alison Madueke

Diezani Alison Madueke

A Nigerian court has ordered the imminent seizure of $40 million (£32 million) worth of jewellery and a customised gold iPhone belonging to former oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke, the country’s anti-graft agency said on Friday.

The items, including hundreds of bangles, rings, earrings, necklaces and watches, were found at a property owned by Alison-Madueke, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said in a statement.

Alison-Madueke, who ran the petroleum ministry from 2011 to 2015, was charged by the EFCC in absentia with money laundering in 2017. Her whereabouts are unknown, and a London-based lawyer who has represented her did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The order gives the EFCC 14 days to print the charges in any national newspaper and allow for her or “anyone interested in the items” to show why they should not be permanently forfeited to the federal government. In 2017, a court allowed the government to permanently seize a $37.5 million apartment block she owned in an upscale Lagos neighbourhood.

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