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US President-Elect Promises to Strengthen US-Africa Relations over Phone Talks with South African President
November 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa - Photo Credit: EWN
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa – Photo Credit: EWN

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa had a telephone conversation with US President-Elect, Joe Biden earlier this week in which the two leaders discussed ways to strengthen US-Africa relations. The two leaders as according to the South African Government News Agency also discussed ways to overcome the novel COVID-19 pandemic which had wrecked havoc both in America and Africa.

The Office of the South African President was the first to relay the news that the country’s leader had just had a telephone conversation with the US President-Elect. On the official site, the Office of the South African President said that the President “is hopeful of a strong partnership between the United States and the African continent in promoting peace and stability in international relations and advancing multilateralism.”

The telephone conversation does not come as a surprise considering that the US President-Elect and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris have identified Africa as a major player in international affairs and in the advancement of multilateralism.

Joe Biden does have a long history with South Africa as he once visited the country during the Apartheid era and denounced the inhuman discriminatory ways that the white ruling minority was practicing against the black majority. Ever since, South Africa has always had a soft spot for Biden as they knew him as a man who demonstrated great commitment in fighting for human rights and dignity for all South Africans.

The South African President Cyril Ramaphosa who is also the Chairperson of the African Union stated that “he looked forward to a strong partnership at a bilateral level and between the United States and the continent of Africa.”

The report by the South African Government News Agency said that Biden and Ramaphosa also discussed ways of overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the report did not outline in explicit terms how the two leaders aim at overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic. Many have however expressed optimism that collaborations between the two will bear fruit as Biden from the onset of the pandemic has always urged the US administration to craft robust measures of tackling and eradicating the pandemic in the shortest possible period of time. Biden on numerous occasions has called out the incumbent Donald Trump for taking a lackadaisical approach to tackling the pandemic largely by his stance to refuse wearing masks in public and urging the public to consume unapproved COVID-19 vaccines.

Many African leaders have welcomed Joe Biden’s electoral victory, expressing hope that his win will boost trade and other relations between the continent and the US. However, many experts say Biden faces a mammoth task of strengthening US-Africa relations more so on the economic front considering China’s influence in Africa since the turn of the millennium. The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) became China’s most prominent development initiative after 2000, and in 2009 China not only surpassed the US as Africa’s largest trading partner, but also became the most promising source of funds for African development infrastructure.

When Trump entered into office, he adopted the concept of ‘containment’. Trumps’ Africa strategy not only focused on advancing US economic interest in Africa, but also sought to economically contain China’s impact on the continent. The key focus of the strategy was to contain China’s commercial, security and political influence in Africa, which has been solidified through deepening economic engagement, closer security cooperation and high-profile diplomacy epitomized by the FOCAC. It’s still unclear at the present moment if Joe Biden will follow a similar ‘containment’ path or come up with something new. Regardless of the decision he takes, whats clear is that the infleuce of China in Africa will pose many challenges to his administration.

Biden defeated incumbent Donald Trump in the recent US elections becoming the first former vice president to win the Oval office since George H.W. Bush who won in 1988 after eight years under Ronald Regan.

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Despite a Progressive Law, Access to Information Remains a Challenge in Rwanda- Report
November 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Jean-Pierre Afadhali*

Kigali, Rwanda. A new study on the state of access to information in Rwanda released early this week revealed information requests are being denied and delayed despite the enactment of the law promoting right to information six years ago making it difficult for the public and journalists to access information.

The study that was jointly published by Sobanukirwa, an online portal for access to information and JP Media, a digital communications agency, looks at the state of access to information under the period between 2013 and 2020 with focus on the implementation of the law relating to access to Information that was enacted and gazetted in 2013. At the time Rwanda joined several other African countries that passed the law enabling journalists and citizens to easily access information held by governments and some private bodies.

The study that employed qualitative approach that include policy and legal analysis, interviews with selected respondents, and several sources of data available online and offline documented the country’s challenges and achievements in access to information.

The report titled “The state of Access to Information in Rwanda: Mapping the trends in right to information” found that despite having a progressive law that was welcomed by the media fraternity, civil society and the country’s development partners, access to information remains a big challenge-especially for journalists.

Some of the key highlighted trends in the new report includes rising information denial by public agencies, delayed responses and unanswered requests that frustrate citizens who seek information for various purposes.

According to the study, data from an online portal dedicated to information requests, shows that 340 FOI requests have been submitted as of 13//7/2020. Users of the online portal include various citizens requesting information. Data reveals that only 36 requests have been successful, meaning that users have got information that they requested.

The press was expected to be one of the major beneficiaries of the law relating to access to information, but journalists are the most affected by non-compliance of institutions. “Access to information remains a challenge, especially among freelancer journalists, partly due to misunderstanding amongst some leaders and institution managers that every journalist should belong to a media house,” noted the study.

According to the new study’s findings, there is a tendency among public and private institutions to have preferential treatment by providing information to big local media houses and the international media.

The report mentions one journalist who sent his inquiry five times without receiving any response. Furthermore, more than 43 percent of journalists said that their request for information have been rejected. This suggests a worrying trend as several cases of information denials have been reported over the past years.

Meanwhile, the study has documented what appears to be a culture of secrecy among public institutions that hide what they are doing, and hence hindering the right to information. “There are agencies that have gained reputation to hardly or never inform the public what they do. This is manifested in withholding information sought for by ordinary citizens, the wider public and the media. It raises questions whether the access to information serves its purpose,” noted the report

The study concludes that the access to information legislation ushered in a new era in right to information and raised hopes among the local media fraternity, regional and international organizations that promote right to know that it would bring about positive changes, promote transparency and accountability.

Despite issues highlighted, the statutory bodies have been running campaigns to educate leaders and the public on the law relating to access to information and raise awareness on right to information. The report also notes some important data and information has been released to the public.

Seven years later, challenges remain. “Notable implementation challenges include low level of understanding of the legislation among all stakeholders mainly government officials and some media practitioners as well as the public,” read part of the study’s conclusion.

Some of the recommendations include the initiation of the amendment of Article 10 of the access to Information Law to provide for sanctions to information officers who withhold information requested without legally accepted reasons.

*The writer is a journalist and researcher who contributed to the study on access to information. The work was carried out   in the context of the Africa Digital Rights Fund with Support from the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA)

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Cameroon: 12 Ex-Amba Fighters drop Weapons, Sent to DDR Centre Buea
November 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono in Buea

Ex-Separatist Fighters (mostly in Green, Red and Yellow t-shirt) present weapons used for the armed struggle
Ex-Separatist Fighters (mostly in Green, Red and Yellow t-shirt) present weapons used for the armed struggle

Some 12 persons who before described themselves as Ambazonia fighters have dropped down their weapons, saying no to a war that has been ragging for the past four years.

The ex-fighters were presented to the media November 18, 2020, at the South West Governor’s Office alongside guns and other weapons like locally fabricated weapons used in fighting Cameroon’s forces for an independent state of “Ambazonia”.

The fighters authorities said are coming from camps in Lebialem, a Division in the Region that has felt the brunt of the struggle and from areas like Wabane. Some of the materials seized included amongst others bulletproof vest, den guns, bullets, and canon holsters.

The Secretary-General at the South West Governor’s Office talking to the press said: “As you can see, we have different weapons of different calibres. I want to seize this opportunity to call on those who are still in the bushes to follow suit of their friends and drop by weapons.  In the DDR Centre, the ex-fighters will be received, logged, feed them and medical assistance will be provided to them.

To assist in their smooth reintegration back into society, the ex-fighters at the DDR Centre will be provided with various training. “In the DDR we have more than eight sections of different pieces of training. Let them take this opportunity made available to them they have to stop what they are doing; killings, hiding in the bushes and suffering for nothing,” Dr Mohamadou said.

The SG thanked the SDO of Lebialem Mungambo Ekema William, the DO of Alou Subdivision Kah Fabian Ambang and also the security officials for facilitating the process.

One of the fighters, Ex-General Edwin said he was the one manufacturing some of the weapons presented that day. Edwin, while thanking the administrative officials, lamented that many of them have died in the bush and about six were remaining. Speaking in pidgin, he said he was deceived to take arms against the State.

“War is a dangerous thing, so, that is why I have decided to come out with everything that I have,” he said.

Another fighter, Ex-General Tiger, also from Lebialem, said: “… I want to thank the officials for giving us the courage and the sensitization to come out of the bush.”

He said he thought that it was through payment and connection that people used to drop their arms; little did he know that the Government had opened its hands to embrace them. “I am giving again the last opportunity to my friends in the bushes; Besali, Yern, Batibo, Bali. You people should come out. The Government is forgiving,” Ex-General Tiger said while noting that they used to kill, burn their own houses and kidnap their people. “That was a very bad life,” he said.

He cautioned that some fighters need only “advice, discussion and persuasion, maybe through phone call discussion, before they can drop their arms.”

“Cameroon’s international partners and the UN Security Council should help civilians in the Anglophone regions who are facing violence daily, and demand government forces and separatists stop attacks on civilian targets,” Lewis Mudge, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch said in July of this year. “They should impose targeted sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, on separatist leaders responsible for abuses and consider the same for government forces involved in abuses.”

In Anglophone regions, violence intensified as government forces conducted large-scale security operations and armed separatists carried out increasingly sophisticated attacks. Over 3,000 civilians and hundreds of security forces personnel have been killed in the Anglophone regions since 2016 when the crisis started. The unrest in these regions led to the displacement of over half-a-million people, according to Human Rights Watch.

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Cameroon: SMEPA Trains Youths, SMEs on Job Creation, Entrepreneurship
November 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Young Entrepreneurs taking part in the Training of Trainers programme organized by SMEPA
Young Entrepreneurs taking part in the Training of Trainers programme organized by SMEPA

The Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Promotion Agency, SMEPA, in partnership with the International Labour Office have trained youths and SMEs under the programme “start your business and other tools of the SME Agency.”

The Training of Trainers programme which took place at the Buea Mountain Hotel from November 17 to November 20, 2020, had the aim of assisting Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, SMEs who face tough competition. “This programme is to upgrade the standards of SMEs of the North West and South West Regions,” Jean Marie Louis Badga, General Manager SMEPA told reporters.

“We are training these trainers to help them have all the tools to accompany these SMEs to be resilient in the field, become more competitive. We have these programmes so we train SMEs to promote entrepreneurship for young people. It is also to accompany those on the field to become more competitive and with high standards.”

SMEPA hopes to train at least one thousand SME workers in each Region between now and the next two years. It is a robust plan which falls in line with the objectives of the National Development Strategy Plan for 2020 and 203, which the Prime Minister launched November 16.

According to SMEPA General Manager, this programme falls in line with the Head of State’s vision to accompany youths in their projects, provide solutions to problems faced by businesses through modules that were designed for them. He went on to express his wish to see that the trainees put to use the skills acquired for the benefit of themselves and their communities.

The Small and Medium Size Enterprises sector has been identified as one of those sectors that provide opportunities for the youths in terms of job creation. It is that sector which equally contributes a great deal to the economy of the country.

In Cameroon, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are regarded as vectors for job and wealth creation. Statistics from the Ministry of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, Social Economy and Handicrafts, which show there are more than 400,000 companies in the informal sector and out of these, 99%, are SMEs.

This dynamic presence helps to generate growth and redistribute wealth in society. Their important role in reducing poverty in Cameroon is also gaining recognition. Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs) contribute around 36% of Cameroon’s GDP, make-up over 90% of businesses in Cameroon, and employ above 60% of the population.

The business environment in Cameroon is good but the lack of resource harmonization in the Cameroon Entrepreneurship sphere is considered as among the main causes of short-run business failure and poor competitive capacity. SMEs in Cameroon face significant challenges regarding Managerial skills, lack of capital, networking and lack of dedicated agencies to assist the existing and potential entrepreneurs, lacking communication skills, low quality and standards, poor human resource management skills.

Addressing the officials, David Mafani Namange, Mayor of Buea urged the youths to make use of this programme so that “the building of our communities will be done with the help of your expertise.” “While we thank you for giving us a Centre for Enterprises it serves no purpose if the structure that is to help these enterprises to become sustainable is not present. We, therefore, request you see the possibility of opening a branch of the Small and Medium Size Enterprises in the South West Region. We are a Region that needs one and the environment is conducive enough. The time cannot be better than now,” David Mafani Namange, Mayor of Buea told SMEPA General Manager.

One of the trainees Joshua Tembang said: “I am leaving here and I believe I will be an expert in entrepreneurship and I will be able to train others in my community and empower the youths. At this particular time, the youths are facing considerable challenges and without jobs, we are calling on the youths to become entrepreneurs and push our economy ahead.”

The Ministry of Small and Medium Size Enterprises, Social Economy was created in 2004 as one of the means to reduce increasing rates of poverty and unemployment. Statistics according to ENS stands at 3.8 per cent in 2020. Youth unemployment stands at 5.84 per cent in 2020, according to statistics from the ILO.

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African Development Bank’s investments are transforming the continent, unlocking economic potential, and spurring development – 2020 Annual Development Effectiveness Review (ADER) report
November 20, 2020 | 0 Comments

20.3 million people are benefiting from improvements in agriculture (47% women); 3,919 km of feeder roads rehabilitated or built

From agro-processing initiatives to energy, transportation and water and sanitation services, transformative investments by the African Development Bank are paving the way to unlock Africa’s economic potential, according to the 2020 Annual Development Effectiveness Review (ADER) , released on Friday.

The report, which analysed the Bank’s contribution to Africa’s development in 2019 is themed Building resilient African economies.

“Our goal has been and always will be to transform Africa through investments that make a difference to those who need it most. We are a bank that invests in people,” said Bank President Akinwumi Adesina. “People are our core business. Their quality of life is our greatest return!”

The annual report uses the Bank’s results measurement framework to measure its performance, to reflect on its accomplishments and areas in which it can strengthen its effectiveness to achieve its High 5 development goals: Light Up and Power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialize Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the Quality of Life for the People of Africa.

“We have increased the quality and speed of our operations, we are more present in partner countries, and our development impact is deepening,” said Ms. Swazi Tshabalala, Acting Senior Vice-President and Chief Finance Officer.

A year of transformative impact

Among its findings in 2019, 20.3 million people benefited from improved agriculture in Africa through operations supported by the Bank. In Uganda, for instance, the Bank’s support for the Community Agricultural Infrastructure Improvement Programme is boosting farmers’ income through agro-processing initiatives, and better access to markets, benefiting 2.4 million rural households.

In other High 5 areas, the Bank’s operations helped to install 291 MW of new power capacity—60% of which was renewable—and supplied 468 000 people with new electricity connections. It also impacted 1 million people through private sector investee companies, 17.7 million people through better transport services, and 10.1 million people through improved access to water and sanitation.

The Bank has always been a strong champion of regional integration in Africa through supports focused on catalyzing public and private investment in road, transport, and electricity connectivity. For instance, in 2019, the Bank helped build or rehabilitate transport links between Burundi, Rwanda, and the East Africa Community; between Ethiopia and Kenya; and between Kenya and Tanzania.

“We must continue to build on our strength as a development agency and enhance the quality and impact of our operations so that Africa can achieve the sustainable development goals by 2030,” said Simon Mizrahi, Director for Delivery, Performance Management and Results at the Bank.

The Bank has worked intensively through its presence in 41 countries to get its operations closer to its clients, respond more effectively to the needs of countries, and better manage its operations.

The Covid-19 global pandemic’s growing foothold across Africa is shifting governments’ priorities. These projects and the Bank’s new Covid-19 Rapid Response Facility will support African countries and businesses through the crisis.

Click here  to read the full report.

*AFDB

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Eight Players of Nigerian Descent Selected in NBA Draft 2020
November 20, 2020 | 0 Comments

13 international players from 10 countries were selected: seven in the first round and six in the second round.

Precious Achiuwa NBA Draft

NBA Draft 2020 Presented by State Farm® was held virtually on Wednesday, Nov. 18 from ESPN’s studios in Bristol, Connecticut and reached fans in 215 countries and territories in 29 languages. The Minnesota Timberwolves made the first pick for the second time in franchise history, selecting Georgia’s Anthony Edwards. The Golden State Warriors picked second (Memphis’ James Wiseman) for the first time in the common draft era. The Charlotte Hornets picked LaMelo Ball from Australia’s NBL third overall.

13 international players from 10 countries were selected: seven in the first round and six in the second round. Precious Achiuwa was selected 20th overall by the Miami Heat and Udoka Azubuike was selected 27th overall by the Utah Jazz, marking the first time that two players from Nigeria were selected in the first round of the same NBA Draft. Achiuwa and Azubuike are among the eight draftees from or with at least one parent from Nigeria, including Isaac Okoro (5th overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers), Onyeka Okongwu (6th overall by the Atlanta Hawks), Zeke Nnaji (22nd overall by the Denver Nuggets), Desmond Bane (30th overall by the Boston Celtics), Daniel Oturu (33rd overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves) and Jordan Nwora (45th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks).

Isaac Okoro: “It feels great to be the first Nigerian in this draft to be drafted. It’s also just a blessing. Like you said, my mom always tells me to keep that Nigerian pride. Even though I wasn’t born in Nigeria, I still got Nigerian blood. So it’s just having that on my shoulders.”

Precious Achiuwa: “First I want to thank God. I want to thank God for putting me in this type of position where I’m playing for a great organization and able to represent not just myself but where I’m from, my whole country behind me, my whole city. And to play for an organization like the Heat is going to be amazing. I can’t wait to be able to get out there and compete with the rest of my teammates.”

Udoka Azubuike : “For me, I’ve just been working hard and keeping my head down. Not listening to the people talking about projections. A lot of people had me in the second round, but I wasn’t concerned about that. I know what I bring to the table. I know what I can bring to a team. I know whatever team drafted me, I’m going to have to go there and have to prove myself and work hard.”

Below please find storylines about the international players selected in NBA Draft 2020 and in the NBA. Transcripts of Zoom media availability sessions with players selected in tonight’s NBA Draft are available at this link:  . For the attached photos, please credit NBAE/Getty Images.

International Players Selected in NBA Draft 2020 Presented by State Farm®:

  • Killian Hayes (France; born in Lakeland, Fla.; ratiopharm Ulm) was selected 7th overall by Detroit Pistons , becoming the highest-drafted French player ever. Hayes was named an All-Star  at two Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Global camps as part of NBA All-Star 2018  and 2019  and becomes the ninth former BWB camper to be drafted in the top 10 in the last five years. There were eight French players on 2019-20 opening-night rosters.
  • Deni Avdija (Israel; Maccabi Tel Aviv) was selected 9th overall by the Washington Wizards , becoming the highest-drafted Israeli player ever and just the second Israeli player to be drafted in the first round (Omri Casspi, 23rd overall in 2009). Avdija was named MVP  of Basketball Without Borders Europe (BWB) 2018 and BWB Global 2019 and becomes the 10th former BWB camper to be drafted in the top 10 in the last five years. Avdija’s father, Zufer, won a bronze medal with Yugoslavia at the 1982 FIBA Basketball World Championship and played professionally in Serbia and Israel. His mother, Sharon Artzi, is a former championship runner.
  • Aleksej Pokuševski (Serbia; Olympiacos) was selected 17th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves, becoming the highest-drafted Serbian player since Darko Miličić, (2nd overall in 2003) and the fourth Serbian player to be drafted in the first round in the last 15 years. Pokuševski participated  in Basketball Without Borders Europe 2018 in Belgrade, Serbia alongside fellow 2020 draftee Deni Avdija (9th overall by the Washington Wizards; Israel). There were six Serbian players on 2019-20 opening night rosters, the fifth most of any country outside the U.S.
  • Josh Green (Australia; University of Arizona) was selected 18th overall by the Dallas Mavericks, becoming the highest-drafted Australian player since Ben Simmons (1st overall in 2016) and the seventh Australian to be drafted in the first round. Green was named an All-Star  at Basketball Without Borders Global 2018  and participated in the 2018 NBA Global Camp  in Treviso, Italy alongside fellow 2020 draftees Killian Hayes and Theo Maledon (France).
  • Precious Achiuwa (Nigeria; University of Memphis) was selected 20th overall by the Miami Heat, becoming the third Nigerian player to be drafted in the first round since 2000. There are 10 current and former NBA players from Nigeria, tied with Senegal for the most of any African country. There are more than 90 current and former NBA players from Africa or with direct family ties to the continent, including 13 African-born players on 2019-20 opening-night rosters.
  • Leandro Bolmaro (Argentina; FC Barcelona) was selected 23rd overall by the New York Knicks, becoming the highest-drafted Argentinian player ever. Bolmaro participated  in Basketball Without Borders Americas 2017  and Basketball Without Borders Global 2018 , where he was named an All-Star alongside fellow 2020 draftees Killian Hayes (7th overall by Detroit Pistons; France) and Josh Green (18th overall by the Dallas Mavericks; Australia). In March 2018, Bolmaro joined top prospects from the league’s NBA Academies at Next Generation Sunday at the NCAA Men’s Final Four in San Antonio , where he participated in educational and life-skills sessions, competed against peers from around the world, and experienced aspects of the Final Four from a player’s perspective, including attending Final Four semifinal games. Prior to the event, he spent a week training at NBA Academy Latin America  in Mexico City alongside top prospects from across the region.
  • Udoka Azubuike (Nigeria; University of Kansas) was selected 27th overall by the Utah Jazz, marking the first time that two players from Nigeria were selected in the first round of the same NBA Draft (Precious Achiuwa was selected 20th overall by the Miami Heat).
  • Théo Maledon (France; ASVEL) was selected 34th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers. Maledon participated  in the 2018 NBA Global Camp  in Treviso, Italy alongside fellow 2020 draftees Killian Hayes (France) and Josh Green (Australia).
  • Vit Krejčí (Czech Republic; Casademont Zaragoza) was selected 37th overall by the Washington Wizards, becoming the first player drafted from the Czech Republic since Tomas Satoransky (32nd overall in the 2012). Krejčí participated in Basketball Without Borders Europe 2017  and Basketball Without Borders Global 2018 .
  • Nick Richards (Jamaica; University of Kentucky) was selected 42nd overall by the New Orleans Pelicans, becoming the highest-drafted Jamaican player since Rumeal Robinson (10th overall in 1990) and the first Jamaican player drafted since Jerome Jordan (44th overall in 2010).
  • Marko Simonović (Montenegro; Mega Soccerbet) was selected 44th overall by the Chicago Bulls.
  • Yam Madar (Israel; Hapoel Tel Aviv) was selected 47th overall by the Boston Celtics, marking the first time that two Israeli players were selected in the same NBA Draft (Deni Avdija was selected 9th overall by the Washington Wizards , becoming the highest-drafted Israeli player ever).
  • Nico Mannion (Italy; University of Arizona) was selected 48th overall by the Golden State Warriors, becoming the highest-drafted Italian player since Danilo Gallinari (6th overall in 2008). Mannion was born in Italy and holds dual citizenship. His father, Pace, played in the NBA and the Italian League. His mother, Gaia, was a professional volleyball player in her native Italy.

International Players in the NBA:

  • There were 108 international players from 38 countries and territories on 2019-20 opening-night rosters (press release from 10/22/19 linked here.
  • The 2019-20 season was the sixth consecutive season that opening-night rosters featured at least 100 international players.
  • Canada had the most NBA players of any country outside the U.S. for the sixth straight year with 16 players (Australia and France had nine each).
  • The Dallas Mavericks led the league with seven international players on 2019-20 opening-night NBA rosters.
  • A record six international players were named to a 2019-20 All-NBA Team: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks; Greece; All-NBA First Team); Luka Dončić (Dallas Mavericks; Slovenia; All-NBA First Team); Nikola Jokić (Denver Nuggets; Serbia; All-NBA Second Team); Pascal Siakam (Toronto Raptors; Cameroon; All-NBA Second Team); Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz; France; All-NBA Third Team) and Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers; Australia; All-NBA Third Team).

*APO

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Niger’s Minister of Petroleum Makes Prestigious top 25 Africa Energy Chamber Movers & Shakers List
November 20, 2020 | 0 Comments
Niger’s Minister of Petroleum Foumakoye Gado


This highlights the growing importance of Niger as an oil producer in Africa.

Niger’s Minister of Petroleum Foumakoye Gado was named by the African Energy Chamber this week as a top 25 leader to watch for 2021. This highlights the growing importance of Niger as an oil producer in Africa. Every year, the Chamber recognises 25 individuals who are set to play a major role in the development of the African oil & gas and energy sectors in the coming year. These leaders have demonstrated effectiveness in enabling major projects to be realised, and are expected to play a key role in the transformation of the oil and gas in their countries or the region.

Niger remains one of Africa’s most attractive onshore energy frontiers, significantly de-risked by previous exploration programmes carried out by Chinese operators. Niger holds 150m barrels of proven oil reserves and this figure is likely to increase with more exploration in the coming years. The ongoing construction of the $4.5bn Niger-Benin oil export pipeline will be opening up a new route to monetize such reserves and could result in a profound transformation of Niger’s economy by as soon as 2025. The pipeline has a capacity of 90,000 barrels per day (bpd) and could catapult Niger’s overall daily production from currently over 20,000 bpd to 110,000 bpd.

Minister Gado’s nomination is also in response to his efforts in securing FID for the all-important pipeline, and overseeing London-based Savannah energy’s exploration success with five discoveries from five exploration wells drilled. The minister will therefore be in charge of building the Sahel’s most important oil sector in the coming years, in a region whose economy remains deeply affected by droughts and security concerns.

Future developments will be closely watched globally as International Oil Companies seek to understand the viability of the sector in a region that has seen little oil and gas activity in the past. The minister shall be responsible for shaping the industry in the country, in terms of local content regulation, attracting international service companies who have till date been absent in Niger’s oil and gas sector and ensuring that Nigerians benefit from the industry in terms of jobs, training and other derivatives that the sector is expected to bring.

*African Energy Chamber
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USAID TO LAUNCH NEW, CONTINENT-WIDE PROSPER AFRICA PROGRAM IN TRADE AND INVESTMENT
November 19, 2020 | 0 Comments
 U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Acting Deputy Administrator John Barsa

Today, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Acting Deputy Administrator John Barsa announced a brand new, continent-wide Prosper Africa program in trade and investment. Worth up to $500 million over five years, subject to the availability of funds, this flagship program will offer new and expanded support services to increase two-way trade and investment between Africa and the United States substantially. For every $1 of public funding, Prosper Africa is expected to leverage more than $9 in private investment, which will deliver billions of dollars in exports and investments and create hundreds of thousands of African and American jobs by 2026.

This is not just a new program; it is a new way of doing business that will dramatically expand the investment by the United States in Africa’s growth by harnessing private-sector resources and innovation. With Prosper Africa, the U.S.-Africa relationship is evolving from an aid-based focus to a true partnership in trade and investment—based on dignity, equality, mutual respect, and profitability. By connecting U.S. and African companies with new business opportunities, we will create jobs, drive growth, and foster shared prosperity.

USAID’s new program, which will launch in early 2021, will advance the goals of the U.S. Government’s Prosper Africa initiative by increasing trade, driving investment, and supporting healthy business climates. Through a continent-wide approach, with satellite offices that will support North and sub-Saharan Africa, this new program will provide well-coordinated services aligned with private-sector needs. It will complement the U.S. Government’s other tools for trade and investment through customized services – from business consulting and transaction-facilitation to targeted policy interventions.

Prosper Africa is the U.S. Government’s initiative to increase two-way trade and investment between Africa and the United States substantially. The initiative mobilizes all of the U.S. Government’s support services for trade and investment, across 17 participating federal departments and agencies, to help U.S. and African businesses and investors identify partners, advance opportunities, and close deals. The pre-solicitation for the new USAID-funded program is available here.

*USAID

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World Toilet Day 2020: In the midst of a global COVID-19 pandemic, increased toilet hygiene awareness more important than ever
November 19, 2020 | 0 Comments


By Wambui Gichuri*

Wambui Gichuri is the African Development Bank’s Acting Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development and also holds the position of Director for Water Development and Sanitation. She oversees the Bank’s water sector program of over $4.5 billion, covering 44 countries and multinational projects.

This year’s World Toilet Day observance comes in the midst of COVID-19. The gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic’s global spread heightens awareness about the important health benefits of appropriate toilet hygiene across Africa. Never has this been more pertinent than as we observe World Toilet Day.

While promising results on the vaccine front are underway,  a primary effective, preventive measure against the disease is basic handwashing with soap. Everyone must have sustainable sanitation, alongside clean water and handwashing facilities, to help protect and maintain our health security and stop the spread of deadly infectious diseases such as COVID-19, cholera and typhoid, among others.

The effects of this behavior change in hygiene practices will take some time to quantify. According to the British medical journal, the Lancet, handwashing practices in Africa have improved tremendously since the outbreak of COVID-19, with access to handwashing stations noticeably increasing in community centers, schools, markets, bus terminals, and other public spaces in rural and urban areas.

The Bank’s water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions across the continent have emphasized the importance of basic sanitation, as well as the health, economic, and environmental benefits that communities gain from it. In the fight to curb the spread of COVID-19, the Bank is ramping up these messages and the funding to expand the impacts of WASH programs.

In Africa, 60% of the population – about 715 million people – still don’t have access to basic sanitation, according to a Joint Monitoring Report from the World Health Organization and UNICEF. To address these water and sanitation challenges, the Bank has invested $6.2 billion over the last decade toward promoting universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water, as well as to improved sanitation. An estimated 52 million people gained access to improved water supply and sanitation services due to these investments. Over the next 12 years, the Bank’s water sector investments aim to provide an additional 154 million people with these services across Africa. We are also advocating for more private sector participation as an option for sustainable management and financing of water services.

The Bank and the African Water Facility in 2019 launched the development of the African Urban Sanitation Investment Fund, an initiative to promote innovation and inclusive sanitation services for sub-Saharan Africa’s urban inhabitants.  The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is supporting the development of the initiative. It seeks to accelerate the pace of achieving Target 6.2 of the Sustainable Development Goals for sanitation in African

countries by fostering citywide inclusive sanitation, focusing on the poor and providing safe access to women and girls.

The African Water Facility has promoted innovative urban sanitation projects focusing on low-income groups and disseminated knowledge products on acceptable practices across Africa.

One particular success is the Bank co-funded “Toilets for All” project in Sokode, Togo. The small town of 100,000 people located 350 kilometers outside the capital, Lome, applied innovation and microcredit facilities to improve and expand sanitation services.Completed in 2018, the project constructed 688 private toilets in Sokode, thereby increasing access to improved sanitation by 6%. The African Water Facility funded $1.4 million out of its total cost of $1.88 million.  A community-based microcredit system provides household toilet installation services to this day.

The program also acquired a truck for safely emptying fecal sludge from on-site sanitation technologies, like septic tanks and transporting the sludge for treatment, use, or disposal. Neighborhood committees operate an installment payment program for eligible residents to pay for fecal sludge services.

The project’s new sludge treatment plant converts waste into fertilizer, which is sold to farmers. The plant also shares its solar-powered pumped water supply system with a neighboring village that previously had no access to potable water.

The Toilets for All initiative is making a difference in the lives of our people, and it is an example of the meaningful, community-centered and inclusive sanitation and fecal sludge management development that we are scaling up through funding and advocacy across Africa.

So as we mark World Toilet Day amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bank is urging its African member governments and development partners to make greater efforts to provide access to adequate sanitation and hygiene for all, and for an end to open defecation in Africa by 2030.

*Wambui Gichuri is the African Development Bank’s Acting Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development and also holds the position of Director for Water Development and Sanitation. She oversees the Bank’s water sector program of over $4.5 billion, covering 44 countries and multinational projects.

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Round Table for the Financing of CEMAC Integration Projects – Paris, 16 & 17 November 2020
November 19, 2020 | 0 Comments
CEMAC takes up the Challenge and Mobilizes 3.8 Billion Euros to Finance Integration Projects in the CEMAC zone.

After two days spent in Paris meeting with representatives of the French Government, heads of community institutions, representatives of international institutions, donors and private investors, CEMAC can boast of significant economic success.

Under the leadership of HE Mr. Clément MOUAMBA, Prime Minister, Head of Government of the Republic of Congo, the institution has succeeded in raising 3.8 billion euros to support the financing of integration projects for the economic development of the region.

Organized by the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC) under the very high patronage of HE Mr. Denis SASSOU N’GUESSO, President of the Republic of Congo, President dedicated to the Economic and Financial Reform Program of CEMAC (PREF-CEMAC), represented by HE Mr. Clément MOUAMBA, Prime Minister, Head of Government of the Republic of Congo, the round table on the mobilization of financing for integration projects of CEMAC, was held on November 16 and 17, 2020 in Paris.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the round table took place in a hybrid format with 60 participants present, and more than 400 video conference participants over both days.

The objective of this round table was to mobilize donors and private investors to raise funds for the effective implementation of eleven (11) integration projects in the CEMAC zone, which specifically focus on: facilitation of transport and trade, production and interconnection of electricity and communications networks, the common market and economic diversification, and human capital.

At the opening of the ceremony, the opportunities of the CEMAC zone and the importance of the implementation of integration projects for the strengthening of regional integration and the acceleration of the diversification of economies were reminded by Prof. Daniel ONA ONDO, President of the CEMAC Commission.

BDEAC, ADB, BADEA and other CEMAC partner institutions welcomed the initiative and expressed their commitment to support the implementation of projects, while emphasizing on the potential of the CEMAC zone.

The speeches were completed by the intervention of HE Mr. Clément MOUAMBA, Prime Minister, Head of Government of the Republic of Congo, who declared the workshop open and expressed his gratitude and that of all the populations of CEMAC to the French people and their authorities who, despite the international environment marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, have exceptionally agreed to authorize the organization of this meeting on French territory. The day ended with a session dedicated to PPPs during which six private institutions (Club PPP, Meridiam, STOA, Fidal, Olam and Sogea Satom), champions in their field, shared their experiences and success stories of PPPs in Central Africa. The IDB also made a presentation on Islamic finance (SUKUK) as an important mode of financing structuring and integrating projects.

The second day mainly focused on B to B exchanges between Ministers, donors and economic institutions on the specific characteristics of certain projects, the issue of foreign exchange regulations and the financial environment in CEMAC, and details of the intentions and modes of donor funding. The Governor of BEAC had an enriching exchange with donors and private investors on the regulation of trade and the financial environment in CEMAC. The President of BDEAC also examined with partners their intentions and modes of financing.

During the two days of the event, several panels bringing together directors of bilateral and multilateral agencies, government authorities and representatives of economic institutions in the area, took place one after the other.

The Ministers of the CEMAC countries made detailed presentations on the eleven (11) projects, presenting the content, objectives, financial evaluations, modes of financing and expected results of each of these projects.

Out of a need for 3.4 billion euros expressed, 3.8 billion euros were mobilized with the support of Afreximbank, BDEAC, the African Development Bank, the World Bank group, the Scandinavian Chamber of Commerce and SX Capital Holdings. The financing of 8 out of 11 projects has been fully completed.

“This round table has had the undeniable merit of taking CEMAC a further step forward on the road to providing it with the infrastructure necessary for its development,” said H.E. Gilbert Ondongo, Chairman of the Steering Committee of PREF-CEMAC, Minister of Economy, Industry and Public Portfolio of the Republic of Congo.

To read the full version of the final press release: click here 

*SOURCE CEMAC (Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa)
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African Energy Chamber (AEC)’s Latest Top 25 Movers & Shakers Watch List 2021 Shows Strong Women Leadership in Energy
November 19, 2020 | 0 Comments

The latest list released this week by the Chamber demonstrates the growing role played by women in the fight against energy poverty.

The number of women within the African Energy Chamber’s Top 25 Movers & Shakers Watch List has made a significant jump from 3 to 8 between 2020 and 2021. Released annually, the list highlights the government officials, public and private executives whose work and decisions can profoundly impact the way Africans access and consume energy.

The latest list released this week by the Chamber demonstrates the growing role played by women in the fight against energy poverty, not only from the ground but also from African and global boardrooms where their leadership and decisions are shaping up the future of African energy.

Across the continent, the Chamber expects several women to make headlines in 2021 through key projects and actions. These notably include Rebecca Miano’s leadership in increasing geothermal production capacity by the Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen), Khadija Amoah’s piloting of the Pecan field development in Ghana, or Ugandan Minister Kitutu’s ability in shaping up the development of an inclusive hydrocarbons industry in Uganda. Further north in Morocco, Amina Benkhadra is spearheading Morocco’s efforts to further develop its natural gas industry in her role as Director General of the National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines (ONHYM).

Women are also positioning themselves to be at the centre of key financial and investment decisions. Vibhuti Jain at the US International Development Finance Corporation, or Hu XiaoLian at the Export-Import Bank of China, are both overseeing key investment programmes that could significantly support capital inflow into Africa’s energy sector in 2021. The same goes for Heather Lanigan, Regional Director for sub-Saharan Africa at the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), which currently supports several important midstream gas and gas-to-power projects in West Africa.

The Chamber continues to believe that building an inclusive and sustainable energy industry that works for every African goes through the hiring and promotion of more women across the value-chain. From engineers to executives, women must be given more opportunities to participate in the continent’s fight against energy poverty. 2021 will tell if they continue to seize such opportunities and become the energy advocates the continent needs.

*African Energy Chamber

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Malawi court orders release of Prophet Bushiri
November 19, 2020 | 0 Comments

By James Mwala.

Prophet Shepherd Bushiri

The Lilongwe Magistrate Court has ordered the unconditional release of Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary.

Bushiri and his wife had earlier this week surrendered themselves to police following reports that police worked on an order to net them.

But in making a ruling today, Magistrate Viva Nyimba said the arrest of the two was illegal because no arrest warrant was issued.

According to Nyimba, the two have to be released without any conditions because their arrest was illegal.

Earlier on, Bushiri’s lawyer, Wapona Kita prayed for their release because the defense ministry had not issued any warrant so as the justice ministry.

However, State advocate Steve Kayuni asked the court to remand the two for thirty days because they remain a risk.

He said if the two managed to bolt from South Africa, they would have done that with ease in Malawi.

The two are answering theft, money laundering and fraud charges in South.

They astonished people having announced they left South Africa yet their travel documents were seized as part of their bail.

They however said they fled because of security concerns in the rainbow nation.

Earlier today, police seized their R5.5 million property because the two had not availed themselves in court.

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