Call Us Now: (240) 429 2177


Investments in rail transport essential for the success of Africa’s free-trade area
October 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Aubrey Lekwane *

Aubrey Lekwane is Managing Director, South Africa, Bombardier Transportation

Africa is on the cusp of launching a free-trade zone that could meaningfully boost economic growth and unlock the continent’s vast potential.

Perhaps the most pressing requirement to improve economy in the region is the need for better transportation links between African states, particularly in the form of rail networks.

The establishment of a continent-wide trade bloc is an ambitious project, and one that could move the needle in terms of reducing poverty and promoting Africa’s industrialisation. Other regions, including the European Union (EU), offer good case studies on the benefits of economic integration, trade liberalisation, customs efficiencies, and the seamless movement of capital, goods and people across borders.

With its strong road, rail and air-transport links, the EU model reflects just how important it is to remove non-tariff barriers to trade. According to a May 2019 report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), non-tariff barriers in Africa are high “and represent a critical obstacle to trade”. The IMF says a reduction in ground transportation costs is “especially critical” to encouraging intra-regional trade and making a success of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The development of a comprehensive African rail network is the single biggest opportunity in that regard.

A reliable rail network would allow for the efficient movement of goods, businesspeople and tourists across the continent, while also improving Africa’s links to the rest of the world, particularly the continent’s landlocked nations. Rail is also a sustainable solution given that it is far more environmentally friendly than road and air transport – Africa’s natural environment is one of its greatest assets, and it must be protected. Rail investments stimulate economies while reducing carbon emissions and urban congestion – a major issue and growth impediment in many African cities.

As Africa is making investments in rail industry, green transportation and sustainable mobility should be a priority. Backed by new regulations and environmental groups, the global trend towards greener forms of transport is affecting multiple industries including the rail industry.

Several alternatives to diesel trains are currently being developed worldwide including:

  • Hydrogen fuel cells in trains: work by generating power through an onboard fuel cell that combines hydrogen and oxygen
  • Battery-powered locomotives: battery system that can be recharged by overhead wires on electrified tracks or by charging stations on non-electrified routes
  • Liquefied natural gas: (LNG) is being used in the rail industry as an option for dual-fuel locomotives

These investments will help develop a zero-emission, energy-efficient and cost-effective alternative to diesel trains. Deploying fuel cell and battery technology for rail transportation will usher in a new era for non-electrified routes.

Bombardier Transportation, which designed and supplied a fleet of 96 rail vehicles for South Africa’s world-class Gautrain system, sees a golden era ahead for Africa’s rail sector, which has suffered from chronic under-investment in recent decades.   

Today, African freight and passenger transport is heavily reliant on road infrastructure. In South Africa, the continent’s most advanced economy, nearly 90% of freight is moved by road, for example. That is a staggering proportion, and this overreliance means that our roads need to be constantly repaired while traffic congestion worsens in the face of urbanisation. Worse still, the lack of focus on rail until recently has placed a drag on South Africa’s exports.

Thankfully, the South African government is re-investing in the country’s rail links – a move that Bombardier Transportation fully supports. Going forward, these efforts need to be increasingly coordinated with the country’s neighbours. 

South Africa also has an opportunity to become a major rail manufacturing hub as the continent invests in railway infrastructure, including new trains, signalling systems and general maintenance. Rail will play an important role in Africa’s future, and Bombardier Transportation is keen to apply its global expertise and solutions to propel the continent forward.

Ultimately, rail’s contribution towards an integrated transport network will help Africa to attract investment and to be competitive in the global trade arena.  Rail is the only sustainable transportation solution to many of today’s environmental, social and economic challenges and Bombardier is looking forward to moving millions daily safely in the African region

*Managing Director, South Africa, Bombardier Transportation

Read More
President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, brings African vision to the 17th Rhodes Forum of the Dialogue of Civilizations
October 18, 2019 | 0 Comments
President Issoufou
President Mahamadou Issoufou took the floor as a Special Guest to conclude the debates of a panel dedicated to partnership between Africa and the rest of the world
RHODES, Greece, October 15, 2019/ — The President of Niger, His Excellency Mahamadou Issoufou , took part in the 17th Rhodes Forum on the 11th and 12th of October 2019, organised by the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute (, to discuss several national and regional issues and offer Africa’s vision on major international issues.

During the special session on the 11th of October, President Mahamadou Issoufou spoke with Stefan Grobe of Euronews Brussels in front of participants from more than 55 countries, presenting his vision for Africa and Niger. He also advocated for multilateralism, drew attention to the security situation in the Sahel region and Lake Chad Basin, the situation in Libya and support of the international community to combat terrorism in West Africa, and warned against the problems posed by climate change and illegal migration. The other points concerned the role that Niger will play as a non-permanent member of the Security Council from January 2020, tackling the market for fake medicines in Africa, reforms in global political and economic governance and win-win cooperation between countries.

On the 12th of October, President Mahamadou Issoufou took the floor as a Special Guest to conclude the debates of a panel dedicated to partnership between Africa and the rest of the world, led by Hannane Ferdjani of Africanews. Participants included the Founder of Transparency International, Africa Progress Panel Co-Chair Mr Peter Eigen (Germany), Founder and President of the Brazzaville Foundation Mr Jean Yves Olivier (France), former Prime Minister of Guinea Mr Kabiné Komara, Director of Education Projects of ABO Capital Mr Jaimie Graça (Angola) and South African Industrialist, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist Mr Ivor Ichikovitz.

In his speech, President Issoufou raised all the issues related to this theme and clarified his vision for the development of Africa. His Excellency Mahamadou Issoufou emphasised the challenges and prospects inherent in the development of the African continent, recalling the situation of Africa in various fields and underlining the efforts led by its leaders through, inter alia, Agenda 2063 and its various Plans and Projects, including ZLECAf.

President Issoufou again thanked the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute and in particular its Chairman of the Board of Directors, Dr. Vladimir Yakunin and Executive Director Mr. Jean-Christophe Bas, ‘for having provided him, as a Special Guest, at this 17th Rhodes Forum, a privileged place of reflection and analysis to help in the decision-making of political and economic world leaders.’
* DOC Research Institute

Read More
Eurasia Center Open To Partnership Prospects With Africa
October 17, 2019 | 0 Comments
Ambassador Serge Mombouli with Dr. Jenco

Ambassador of the Republic of Congo and Dean of African Diplomatic Corps in the United States Serge Mombouli met on Tuesday with the President of The Eurasia Center Dr. Gerry Jenco.

This was a courtesy visit by Dr. Jenco designed to introduce his organization and its new program Uplifting Africa. During the meeting which took place at the chancery of Congo, he expressed interest in exploring partnership opportunities with leaders from Africa in building world peace and prosperity.

Dr. Jenco also extended a special invitation to Ambassador Mombouli to deliver a keynote address on panel Africa Rising as part of The Silk Road Summit – 3rd Annual Conference slated for November 4, 2019 in Washington.

In return, Mr. Mombouli -the most senior african Ambassador to the United States, congratulated Dr. Jenco for his initiative in creating Uplifting Africa program which, he said, would have a positive impact on US-Africa relationship. He invited Dr. Jenco to address the African Diplomatic Corps late next month.

The newly appointed Director of Uplifting Africa Program in the United States journalist Ben Bangoura participated in the meeting.

About The Eurasia Center

The Eurasia Center was founded to educate not only the American public but also the world community about the important relationship of America has with Eurasia (Europe and Asia) as well as Africa. It seeks to enhance American awareness, knowledge, and understanding of the European and Asian (Eurasian) countries, especially during these changing times.

Through its Nine Programs for Eurasia and its important Conferences and activities, The Eurasia Center builds positive relations in areas and with peoples that are important for world peace and economic progress and development.

The Eurasia Center is a resource center which has provide US Presidents and many world leaders with current analysis that have helped them shape their knowledge of issues of importance regarding US-Eurasian relations. Many have lauded our efforts to seek solutions to issues where those in the bureaucracies of nations cannot. This Mission of the Eurasia Center serves to strengthen and expand positive relations throughout Eurasia and has greater impact for future generations.

*Courtesy of AlloAfricaNews

Read More
Oil Industry and Civil Society Congratulate “Africa Oil Man of the Year” Macky Sall on Taking Bold Steps to Develop Senegal’s Hydrocarbons Industry
October 16, 2019 | 0 Comments
The award is a recognition of Macky Sall’s work and the efforts of his government to boost the development of Senegal’s economy
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, October 15, 2019/ — The African and global energy sector is rallying behind Macky Sall’s efforts to develop his country’s oil & gas industry, which are positioning Senegal as a new energy hub in Africa. Such efforts and achievements are being celebrated this week as the President of Senegal receives the Africa Oil Man of the Year from Africa Oil & Power.

The award is a recognition of Macky Sall’s work and the efforts of his government to boost the development of Senegal’s economy, create an enabling environment for investors and ensure that future oil & gas extracted from Senegal generate jobs and growth opportunities for Senegalese companies.

“Under President Macky Sall, Senegal continues to show its commitment to transparency, to engaging with those who disagree with him, to finding consensus on extractive industry matters, and to taking all necessary actions to avoid the natural resources curse,” said Akere Muna, former Vice President of Transparency International and former Chairman of the International Anti-Corruption Conference Council. “The Senegalese people understand what is at stake with these resources coming out of the ground and their President is showing a definite engagement to ensure a transparent distribution of revenues and resources for the benefits of the Senegalese economy and its citizens. The President should use this award to make Senegal a place where Africans can be proud of the natural resource sector,” added Muna.

“As Senegal gets closer to producing first gas and increase its production of oil, we congratulate its President Macky Sall and its government on adding yet another African nation to the list of global hydrocarbons producers,” added Mahaman Laouan Gaya, Secretary General of the African Petroleum Producers’ Organisation (APPO). “African producers stand ready to cooperate with Senegal to support its economic development, and we truly look forward to following the country on its renewed journey to prosperity.”

Soon after discovering oil and gas in 2014 and 2016, Senegal engaged in a nation-wide dialogue with the private sector, foreign investors and the civil society on the next steps to develop the industry. This resulted in the creation of new entities such as the Strategic Orientation Committee for Petroleum and Gas (COS-Petrogaz) but also in a brand new Petroleum Code in 2019 and new local content regulations to ensure the creation of local jobs and the procurement of local goods and services from the industry. As a result, foreign investments increased and several international majors, national oil companies and independents entered the market.

“What Senegal and its President Macky Sall have proven is that the power of political will and leadership cannot be underestimated in this industry,” said Prince Arthur Eze, Chairman of Atlas Oranto Petroleum, currently exploring in Senegal. “Sound regulations, good governance and a political leadership aligned towards a common target of economic development and of making energy work for the people is what is making Senegal a new African success story, I salute the President and the people of Senegal, the entire Africa is praying for you” he added. 

 Senegal is notably making headlines for fast-tracking the development of its industry and not loosing time on getting resources out of the ground. The industry is notably saluting the country’s authorities for the short time it took between the first discoveries of oil and gas in Senegal and the taking of relevant final investment decisions, which is remarkable for industry standards. As a result, Senegal is set to become a global gas exporter in the near future alongside African countries like those of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, including Algeria, Egypt, Angola, Mozambique, Tanzania Equatorial Guinea, Libya, and Nigeria.

“This proves the willingness of the Senegalese government to develop these resources and the industry at large,” declared Jude Kearney, former Deputy Assistant Secretary during the Clinton Administration and current President of Kearney Africa Advisors. “More importantly, doing so has not resulted in any detriment to good governance practices and developing a sound regulatory framework,” added Kearney.

“Senegal’s President Macky Sall has established strong relations with the world, including Germany, which will be very beneficial when it comes to attracting the right capital and technology to develop its energy sector,” added Sebastian Wagner, CEO of the Germany Africa Business Forum (GABF).

The African Energy Chamber under the leadership our executive Chairman NJ Ayuk, joins the industry in congratulating President Macky Sall for taking the right steps to develop Senegal’s oil & gas sector and make energy work for all Senegalese citizens. With its partners, the Chamber will continue to assist Senegal in promoting good governance, attracting investments and building domestic capacity across the value-chain.
Read More
Much Ado About Nothing?- AU Pours Cold Water On Furor After Arikana Recall
October 16, 2019 | 0 Comments

-Her successor will build on the solid foundation she has laid- AU Chair Faki

By Ajong Mbapndah L

The replacement was normal diplomatic practice for political appointees, says AU Commission Chair Moussa Faki

After suffering a week of acerbic  criticisms over the decision to end the tenure of Ambassador Chimbori Arikana as Ambassador to the USA, African Union Chairman Moussa Faki has dismissed as “patently untrue” insinuations that her pronouncements,and opinions predicated the decision.

“Dr Chihombori has maintained a public presence freely without fear or prejudice to voice her opinions,” Ebba Kalondo, Spokesperson for Chairman Faki in a statement issued today.

 “Political appointees at the African Union, including Dr Chihombori, are appointed at the discretion of the appointing authority. The duration of such political appointments is also determined at the discretion of that appointing authority,” Kalondo said in the statement.

According to Kalondo, in the course of her three year tenure, the AU Commission never found any reason to sanction Ambassador Arikana over any of her public presence.

“Dr Chihombori has maintained a public presence freely without fear or prejudice to voice her opinions. Therefore to state or suggest that Ambassador Chihombori’s termination of service is due to any pronouncements she has made, or opinions she may have held during her three-year tenure, is patently untrue,” Kalondo said.

The replacement of Ambassador Arikana was normal diplomatic practice for political appointees everywhere, said Faki’s spokesperson, while expressing hope that her successor will build on the solid foundation she has laid.

The decision to replace Arikana triggered a fire storm and some harsh words from her supporters towards AU Chairman Moussa Faki.While some seasoned professionals and Washington connoisseurs were not surprised with the decision to replace the outgoing Ambassador, her partisans thought the decision was engineered by the French government which did not appreciate her straight talk.

While the statement from Chairman Faki may put the controversy to rest, a petition to reinstate Arikana has so far garnered some 30,000 signatures.

Full Letter from Ebba Kalondo,Spokesperson to the Chairperson of the African Union Commission below.

Communiqué on the end of tenure of Ambassador Arikana Chihombori-Quao, AU Permanent Representative to Washington, DC

Addis Abeba, 15 October 2019: The African Union Commission is aware of reports circulating on social media making claims surrounding the circumstances of the recall of the Permanent Representative of the African Union Mission to the United States of America, Dr Arikana Chihombori-Quao.

Political appointees at the African Union, including Dr Chihombori, are appointed at the discretion of the appointing authority. The duration of such political appointments is also determined at the discretion of that appointing authority.

Dr Chihombori received a letter on 7 October 2019 bringing her tour of duty to an end, in line with the terms and conditions governing her contract of appointment, after serving three years as Permanent Representative of the African Union Mission to the United States of America, and appreciating her contribution to the Union during her tenure. This is normal diplomatic practice for political appointees everywhere.

Dr Chihombori has never been sanctioned by the Commission on any public pronouncements she has made during her three-year tenure and nor has the Commission ever thought the need to do so. On the contrary, Dr Chihombori has maintained a public presence freely without fear or prejudice to voice her opinions. Therefore to state or suggest that Ambassador Chihombori’s termination of service is due to any pronouncements she has made, or opinions she may have held during her three-year tenure, is patently untrue.

We wish our esteemed colleague the best in her future endeavours and trust her successor will build on the solid foundation she has laid.

Ebba Kalondo
Spokesperson to the Chairperson of the AfricanUnion Commission
Mobile: +251911510512

Read More
With MPower African Students Can Dare to Dream Big- Georgetown Alum Grace Chimezie
October 15, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Thanks to a loan from MPower Financing,Grace Chimezie was able to complete her studies at Georgetown, University

Grace Chimezie was at the end stretch of her studies at Georgetown University in Washington when financial challenges struck hard. She was unable to complete her tuition, and her applications to traditional borrowers were not gaining much traction.

Faced with the real threat of putting her studies on hold, Grace Chimezie , originally from Nigeria was advised by her University to give MPower Financing a try. The application was hassle free, and Grace was granted the loan which enabled her to complete her studies. Upon Graduation, Grace had a job with the World Bank , and is now with the National Democratic Institute in Washington,DC.

Dynamic and ambitious, Grace started repaying the loan even before she officially graduated. Asked if she was under any pressure to start repaying the loans so soon, Grace indicated that the decision was solely hers. For African students who dream big but do not have the means, MPower  Financing can help turn those dreams to reality , she said.

 How did you hear about Empower Financing?

Grace Chimezie: I was studying in Georgetown University (Washington, DC,USA), and I had paid my first year tuition because I had like a two year degree program I applied for. I was in Georgetown for a Masters degree in Communications, Culture, and Technology and my focus was between Technology and Public Policy. So I had done my first year payment and I needed payment for the second year and I went to my school advisory board and they recommended MPower Financing as an organization that could help me get a loan.

How was your experience going through the loan process? What did you have to do?

Grace Chimezie: If you are getting a loan from an American bank, you needed a reference or someone who will support you. For MPower, you just needed to show approval that like possibility of repaying the loans or your statement of account that is the amount you are going to get from them and your resume. It was a very easy process compared to what I would have gone through if I was going through a federal or financial aid because I did not have collateral or someone who would provide that for me.

 Based on the experience that you had, is it a service that you are going to recommend to people?

Grace Chimezie: Definitely because they came at a time when I really needed it. I had one tuition left to kind of graduate and if I did not get that loan approved, I was not going to graduate, and this is someone who had done almost all her courses and having that one little fee I would  not have graduated. So I really do recommend them because within the first two weeks I had already gotten an answer about the loan process.

You graduated in May this year, when are you going to start repaying the loan?

Grace Chimezie: I have already started repaying the loan

 It is some 5 months after you graduated, did you get a job or were you pressured to start repaying the loan?

Grace Chimezie: I decided to kind of start repaying the loan as soon as possible. It is kind of important to know the budget for the schools you are going to and the loans you are borrowing because that will give you an understanding of what you have to do and the repayment of the loan is not as burdensome as someone will assume. The best advice I will say is do your budget to know that when you borrow the loan and what you have in your own account so you do not start offsetting that in your own account. I was not pressured to have a job as I am already working right now so it is just easier to start doing that (paying the loan) now.

Grace Chimezie with Maureen Klovers Director of Social Impact with MPower Financing

 So, the decision to start paying the loan was solely yours and not because MPower Financing pressured you?

Grace Chimezie:  Oh no, They did  not put pressure. You have to get into an agreement with them that this is when you will start repaying the loan. The repayment plan is not burdensome depending on how much you borrow.

 When you say it is not burdensome, what do you mean?

Grace Chimezie:  I borrowed $20K, and my repayment plan is around $193 a month so I think that is kind of lenient considering the amount I borrowed. And you have like an 11 to 12 year plan to repay the loan.

 With regards to the fixed payments that are done monthly, if there is a possibility to pay earlier is that an option?

 Maureen Klover chimes in: One of our features is that there is no prepaid penalty. Some lenders actually charge you to pay early because it is in the borrowers’ best interest because we kind of end up benefiting less overall. But again our motto is when the borrower succeeds we succeeds so borrowers can end paying us early that is fine and they end up paying less overall because they are paying under the principle or early. If someone gets an amazing job out of school and earns a hundred thousand dollars, they could pay the whole amount right away and that will be fine.

 You come from a country and continent with so many young people, what advice do you have for the young people with this kind of opportunity MPower Financing provides?

Grace Chimezie: The message will be do not limit your dreams because once your dreams are big enough there is always an answer for it and the bigger your dreams the bigger the opportunities for you to kind of achieve all of them. I will advice people to dream big because the more you dream big the more prospective answers you will have for the dreams.

Read More
A Lifeline for African and International Students In MPower Financing
October 15, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

The unique services are open to African students says Maureen Klovers pictured here with PAV’s Ajong Mbapndah L

For international students, and those who aspire to study in the USA and Canada, one of the biggest challenges remains how to secure funds. Traditional student loans end up been very costly and eligibility conditions are often stringent for them. In MPower Financing, international students and those from Africa aspiring to study in Canada and the USA now have a partner to help them live their dreams.

From the application, to eligibility criteria, and repayment, MPower Financing  is shaping up to be a dependable vehicle for them to fulfil their dreams of quality education.

“Any student from any African country except Sudan is eligible to apply provided that they go to one of our 350 schools in the US and Canada,” says Maureen Klovers, Director of Social Impact with MPower Financing. Interviewed in Washington,DC, Maureen Klovers said MPower is gaining grounds in countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Malawi, Kenya and Cameroon . Our motto is “when the borrower succeeds, we succeed,” said Maureen Klovers as she expressed the hope to see more African students benefit from  the unique services offered by MPower Financing.

You are Director of Social Impact with MPower Financing. What is MPower Financing and what do you do?

Maureen Klovers: We are the world’s only lender that provides fix rate education loans to international students from all over the world without requiring a US collateral or a US credit history. That is very unique and Nigeria is our second biggest market while Ghana is rising in the ranks- I think our 6th largest. So Africa is really important to us and we are happy to talk to you.

 Do you provide funding for students only in the US or do you also provide funding to students in Africa who are in need of funding?

Maureen Klovers: Most of our students are based in Africa and other parts of the world and are coming to the US for graduate degrees. So 80% of our students are pursuing graduate degrees. We can make loans to students pursuing graduate degrees or students in their last two years of undergraduate. We do have some students from the Diaspora who are permanent or are already working here who also get loans.

What is the cap or limit students can get?

Maureen Klovers: We can loan up to $25K at one time and $50K overall for any student.

What are the criteria for students to benefit from the loans?

Maureen Klovers: You first need to be eligible and we have very broad criteria. So any student from any African country except Sudan is eligible to apply provided that they go to one of our 350 schools in the US and Canada. You need to be within two years of graduation and for an MBA that is fine as it is a two year degree. For any kind of two year degree it will cover that and then if you are at your last two years of your undergraduate. Very simple and eligibility criteria and you can do a 30sec eligibility check on our website and it will tell you if you are eligible or not. It is just 3 questions and they will ask you about the cost of your degrees, where you are going and what you are studying. What is really unique about us is that we do not make our credit decision base on your family’s income or asset and so it is not a collateral loan. We make our decision base on your future earning potential so we are looking at your past earning history, your past professional experience, the school you are going to, the degree you are going to get and so if you are going to get an MBA degree, or an Engineering degree we are confident that you are going to get a good earning potential and be able to pay us back.

 How different are you from the other loan structures that are out there?

Maureen Klovers: Very different because most Africans right now are either using funding from their families which mean we are talking about wealthy individuals or while other lenders will ask you to mortgage your home for example. What is unique about us is that we do not require you to mortgage or to rely on your parents. Again, we are focusing on the future earning potential.

 Any idea of the number of African students you currently have?

Maureen Klovers: We have roughly 500 at the moment. Our biggest market is India but our second biggest market is Nigeria. Our 6th biggest market right now is Ghana, and other African countries include South Africa Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya and Cameroon.

With regards to loan payments, at what point do you require students to start repaying?

Maureen Klovers: Our loan product is unique in that students pay interests while they are in school interest only and then for 6 months after graduation. A lot of our students get like an on campus job to help make those small payments. The benefit is that you are not paying interest on interest so people do not realize that if you do not pay while you are in school it accrues and you end up paying more and the other thing is that it allows you to build your US credit history so that when you graduate you can get a credit card, car loan and pass a credit check for employment. After that 6 months grace period, there is a ten year repayment period where you repay the interest in principle.

With the experience that you have had, how prompt is the repayment process? How flexible are you when it comes to these repayments?

Maureen Klovers: We try to be really flexible because we are a social benefit corporation which means we are for profit, we are not a non-profit organization but we have social point objectives and our motto is. So what we do is that when a student gets into trouble, we can put them on forbearance for up to 24 months so we can put their payments on pause and we can also offer them a $25 credit billing option where they make $25 payment a month and we continue to report the loan current to the credit bureau. So we can do a variety of things and we also have a path to success initiative where we can do a free review of the student’s resume; how to ace an interview and those are for international students.

With regards to the students who live Africa and come here, do you help them with visa application?

Maureen Klovers: Thanks for asking. We provide visa support and the processes is that you go through most of our loan process and we conditionally approve you then we will provide you a letter to take to the US Embassy that says yes, this student has enough funds to be in the US. The process to get a student visa is that you need to show you have sufficient financial support, so we will provide a letter that we are providing loans and together with other savings and amounts that should be sufficient.

What are you doing to broaden your outreach in Africa since you have been in existence for five years now?

Maureen Klovers: This interview is a start and we are also trying to bring more of our Nigerian borrowers and scholarship winners to raise our profile. We have a lot of scholarship programs but honestly Africans have dominated the winner’s list. We have had winners from Nigeria, Malawi, and Kenya and so through our scholarship program we are getting the word out there. We started a new Facebook group, and Africans are by far the number one demographics in that group and we have also been doing focus groups through our consulting firm to better understand the challenges facing African students and women. Only 35 per cent of our borrowers from Nigeria are females, so that is what we have been focusing on. In terms of overcoming the barriers for women in Africa we have recently partnered with the Malala Fund and we are going to be donating $25 from each of our loans to them to support access to secondary education for girls in India, Nigeria and other places around the world.

Which fields of study will easily  make students to meet your eligibility criteria?

Maureen Klovers: Actually we do not have any limit in the fields of study, you could be in any degree program but you are more likely to be approved at least for more money if you are in an MBA program or any STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) degree just because your future earning potential is that much better. But I do not want to dissuade anyone from applying because even if you are a communications major or in the Arts or in some other field you can still get funding. But it is just more likely if you are in a business or STEM field.

In the course of your studies maybe the cost becomes more than you anticipated, are there prospects for applying for additional loans?

Maureen Klovers: Our lifetime cap for borrowers is $50K. A typical borrower borrows 31K, so they are below that. So, let us say you borrow 30K and you have a shortfall, you could apply to borrow another $20K and we see that a lot. We have some students like in one of our scholarship we have people like Fulbright scholars, and they get a hundred per cent scholarship and they can get a loan from us like $20K to cover their lodging, food and everything.

*For more information visit Mpower Financing

Read More
Strengthening Africa’s fragmented data landscape is key to meeting development targets, says new African Governance Report by Mo Ibrahim Foundation
October 15, 2019 | 0 Comments
Mo Ibrahim

African governments and partners need to step up efforts to close ‘data gaps’ in SDGs tracking and ensure Agenda 2063 can be monitored and measured

Dakar and London, 15 October 2019 – The African Governance Report, published today by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, draws on data from the Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) and shares new insights on progress towards the African Union’s (AU) Agenda 2063 and the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It points to where policy efforts can be focussed to tackle current governance challenges, and highlights the urgency of addressing the ‘data gap’ in Africa to ensure progress can be assessed and shortfalls addressed.

This is a critical time as Africa prepares to enter the last decade of the 2030 SDG Agenda and is halfway through the First Ten-Year Implementation Plan of Agenda 2063.

Overall Governance scores in the IIAG, the most comprehensive dataset on African governance, point to a strong correlation with performance in the Africa SDG Index, underscoring the importance of good governance to sustainable development in Africa.

Reviewing the themes with the highest overlaps between both Agendas and the IIAG – Access to and Quality of Education, Health and NutritionWomen and Youth InclusionProsperity and Economic Opportunity, and Security, Justice and Strong Institutions – the report highlights priority areas to address.

Quality of education needs to be addressed, aligning education with market needs can also be advanced if governments and partners take a closer look at prioritising active engagement with the private sector, to assess the requirements of the job market.

In health, special attention should be paid to the availability, quality, affordability and capacity of health services, while also tackling food security.

For prosperity and economic opportunity, the report notes that governments and partners should look at diversifying economies, accelerating progress in infrastructure – specifically physical transport, electricity and ICT –increasing investment in the rural sector, and strengthening regional integration, to make efficient progress.

Important correlations between IIAG measures are outlined to help create a more conducive environment for achieving development targets. For example, access to electricity shows a strong correlation to performance in both health and education.

Crucially, a concerning picture of data challenges emerge across the continent. Almost half of the targets for Agenda 2063 are not directly quantifiable and so far, fewer than 20% have an indicator to measure progress. On average fewer than 40% of the indicators for the SDGs have sufficient data to track progress accurately on the continent. The report highlights that over half of the data source types on SDG indicators on Africa are estimation, modelling or global monitoring. In particular, only one third of data sources on SDG indicators on Africa are from direct country sources. The ability to monitor progress towards development targets in Africa is compromised.

Since the adoption of both Agendas, coverage and frequency of publicly available data for key data categories in Africa have declined. Critically, one of the areas that has seen, on average, large deterioration is population and vital statistics. Further, only eight African countries have a birth registration system that covers 90% or more of the population over the last ten years (2009-2018), and only three have a death registration system that covers 90% or more of the population. The paucity of such vital data is in striking contrast with population growth – Africa is expected to be home to 1.68 billion people by 2030.

Without accurate and complete vital statistics, it is impossible to implement effective solutions to any development challenge and to deliver for citizens. Since 2008, little average improvement in statistical capacity has been made, according to IIAG data. This issue is compounded by low levels of independence of national statistics offices.

The report calls for Sound Data for Governance in order to ensure inclusive development: the ‘missing SDG’.

Mo Ibrahim, Chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, said: “We welcome continued efforts to improve governance, which is crucial to achieving the SDGs and Agenda 2063 goals. However, we are deeply worried by the inability to accurately monitor progress against these targets on the continent. Data is an essential foundation for effective policymaking and resource mobilisation. Without data, we drive blind – policies are misdirected and progress on the road to development is stunted. We must all act urgently to close the ‘data gap’, if indeed we aim to leave no one behind.”

Access the 2019 African Governance Report directly:

  • The Mo Ibrahim Foundation was established in 2006 with a focus on the critical importance of leadership and governance in Africa, by providing tools to assess and support progress in leadership and governance.
  • The Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) provides an annual assessment of the quality of governance in African countries and is the most comprehensive collection of data on African governance.
  • With ten years of data to draw from, the IIAG is uniquely positioned to measure trends in governance, providing in-depth analysis on how the quality of governance has changed over the past five years (2013-2017) within the context of the last decade (2008-2017), and what has or could be key to Africa’s transformation.
  • The Mo Ibrahim Foundation releases a new Index dataset with updated scores, ranks and trends every two years, while publishing an annual IIAG African Governance Report, focussed on African governance trends and challenges.
  • The next dataset update will be released in October 2020.
  • In every iteration, MIF – assisted by the IIAG’s Advisory Council – looks at improving the structure, components and methodology of the IIAG. Due to this revision, MIF recalculates all scores in the Index for each iteration.
  • The IIAG contains analysis across 102 indicators from 35 independent African and global data institutions to cover all 54 African counties in the areas of Safety & Rule of LawParticipation & Human RightsSustainable Economic Opportunity and Human Development.
  • The Africa SDG Index is produced by the SDG Center for Africa and Sustainable Development Solutions Network. The Index ranks countries on a scale from 0 (the worst score) to 100 (the best score). Tunisia’s score of 66.01, the highest score in Africa, suggesting that the country is 66% of the way towards achieving the SDG. The Index provides an overall performance score and a score for each of the 17 SDGs.
  • The Data Portal is a user-friendly interface that offers a bespoke analysis of governance ranks, scores and trends for each country. Users can create shareable charts and graphics from the data.
  • Access the IIAG Data Portal directly:

*Source Mo Ibrahim Foundation

Read More
Mozambique’s Gas Projects Enter Implementation Phase
October 14, 2019 | 0 Comments

With a second FID in just 2 years, Mozambique has officially positioned itself as a key player in the global gas and LNG market for years to come. The latest FID on the US$20 billion Mozambique LNG project, makes it the largest sanction ever in sub-Saharan Africa oil and gas. Described by His Excellency President Nyusi as “one of the most important and transformational projects in the country’s history”, Mozambique LNG is set to be a game-changer for this East African nation of 31 million people. 

According to Wood Mac, from the early 2030s state revenue from Mozambique LNG alone will reach US$3 billion per annum, single-handedly doubling today’s revenue as calculated by the IMF and World Bank.

And this is not the only mega-LNG project on the drawing board. ExxonMobil’s Rovuma LNG project, which envisages a 15 million tpa two-train facility taking gas from its offshore area 4 block, is also lined up to take FID. Meanwhile, Italy’s ENI is already moving ahead with its 3.4 million tpa floating LNG facility, which will draw on 5 TCF of gas in waters more than 2,000 metres deep with first gas due in mid-2022.

“With strong LNG demand growth out of Asia, now is Mozambique’s time,” said Jon Lawrence, an analyst with Wood Mackenzie’s sub-Saharan Africa upstream team, as news broke of the Anadarko FID.

With FIDs signed, the projects are now moving from the planning into the implementation phase. Hundreds of contracts are expected to be tendered for the construction, infrastructure and services needed to build and develop the megaprojects.

More recently, on October 8th, Mozambique Rovuma Venture (MRV) Area 4 operator decided to move ahead with the midstream and upstream project activities of over US $500 million as initial investments. These investments include activities such as the construction of the pioneer camp, the development of resettlement activities, the construction of the airstrip and access roads, as well as the start of detailed LNG facility engineering project.

It makes this the ideal time to participate at the 6th Mozambique Gas Summit & Exhibition, in partnership with ENH, taking place on 13-14 November in Maputo. The event is the official platform to hear from key decision-makers in this fast-emerging LNG hotspot, including key Government figures, policy-makers and all the major project stakeholders who will be in attendance. This edition is taking place at a time of exciting change including; the construction of FLNG, the progress in drilling activities in Cabo Delgado and Angoche, and the infrastructure development in Pemba Logistics Base. The event is organised in partnership with ENH, with support from MIREME, INP and industry stakeholders ExxonMobil, Total Mozambique LNG, TechnipFMC, FNB, Sasol, Baker Hughes, Standard Bank and G4S.

More information at:

About ENH:

The National Hydrocarbon Company represents the state in oil operations. It is a business group with competence to participate in all petroleum operations and in the respective phases of the exploration, exploration, production, refining, transportation, storage and marketing activities of hydrocarbons and their derivatives, including LNG and GTL inside and outside the country. Established in 1981, headquartered in Maputo and branches in Pemba and Vilankulo, ENH has adjusted its business structure to the needs of industry and the national and international market. ENH’s activities, as an integrated group, also take place through partnerships that it has established in the last years, in particular, that have allowed the main activity, Upstream, with actions focused on Oil and Gas research, development and production, achieve the goals of increasing discovery probabilities in the research phase and optimizing resource recovery in the production phase.

At the downstream level, ENH develops activities in the hydrocarbon value chain with the aim of diversifying and enhancing the gas use in Mozambique.

About CWC:

Headquartered in London, CWC Group has an impressive 22 years’ track record in delivering conferences, exhibitions and professional training globally that focus on oil, gas and infrastructure. With established relationships with over 60 of the world’s governments and national oil companies (NOCs), CWC has produced over 600 events and more than 400 training courses in the last two decades. CWC Group won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise – International Trade twice, recognising its continued contribution to international trade. This is one of the most coveted awards in the UK industry and it’s awarded by H.M. the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister, assisted by an Advisory Committee.

More information here:

Read More
A Focus on Corporate Social Responsibility For The Africa Gas Association
October 13, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Destiny Kwenchia

Anne Etoke Fotue

As the year comes to an end, the Africa Gas Association is catching up with its corporate Social Responsibilities with projects to give back to the less fortunate in African communities. With this in mind, TAGA is hosting a black and white event for its members and patrons to have some fun and raise funds for humanitarian initiatives. Working in partnership with the Serah Rebecca Foundation, the event will a mixture of business  and fun says Anne Etoke Fotue CEO of TAGA. While it may have been a low keyed year for Taga, Anne Etoke Fotue says plans are been fine tuned for a series of high profile events in 2020.

The Africa Gas association is hosting a black and white event, can you tell us more about it?

Thanks so much for reaching out to us. Yes, the Africa Gas Association will be hosting a black and white event on Saturday October 18th . At the African Gas Association, it is not all about work, and every now and then it is imperative that we offer our members the opportunity relax and network with others in the community in a relaxed atmosphere. The Black and White event is themed to be an evening of fun, an evening of relaxation, an evening of reflection, networking and raising funds to support some community projects that we have in mind to cap our year.

How does the event tie in the vision or objectives of the Africa Gas association?

As I mentioned early there are projects that we have in mind at the end of the year. We do take our corporate social responsibilities very seriously, we do love to give back to the community. Our focus this year will be to support a number of orphanages that we have identified. The evening will not be just about fun, but also a little bit of stock taking, offering new partners the opportunities to meet with some of the movers and shakers in our community and , most importantly raise some funds to help us embark on these community projects that we have identified.

Who are some of the guests expected at the event?

Definitely a number of TAGA members resident in the USA will be there. A significant number of diplomatic missions in Washington have expressed the intent to be present at Ambassadorial level and here I will cite Mauritius and Cote D’Ivoire. There will be others in from the business community, the civil society, women groups, leaders of organizations doing work in Africa and more.  A Few names Dag Hansen CEO  oil & has Techni Norway ,Richard Sentile CEO SEPE Washington DC,Dr  Ngwen Anyagwe. Professor Howard University, you see how diverse the list is.

 I just cannot give you an exhaustive run down but it will be a very high powered event and our guest list is meticulously selected to help us attain the objectives we have set for ourselves and also to make sure anyone who shows up goes back with something, something learned, a good network or contact for a prospective opportunity or any other useful opportunity.

And on the evening, itself, how will it look like?

Well for the evening itself, there will be dinner the served, few speeches, a presentation from the Serah Rebecca Foundation which is partnering with us for the event. Of course, we want our guests to have fun, and you can count on good music, ample time to dance, with the appearance of a number of artists to spice up the evening for the guests. There will also be the presentation of awards to some distinct organizations in the community.

You have the Serah & Rebecca’s  Foundation as partner, what does the Foundation do and how does this partnership fit in the goals of your association?

The Serah Rebecca’s Foundation is 501(c)(3) tax exempt, non-profit organization.  It has been doing a lot of work in education and health and has a the lofty ambition of building orphanages across Africa to give opportunities to the down trodden and forgotten in our communities. The Serah Rebecca Foundation is one of the organizations which will benefit from the proceeds of the evening.

You also have guest artists to grace the event, may who the artists answering present?

We are keeping the names of the guest artists as a surprise but rest assured they will be household names, and our guests will definitely not be disappointed.

For those who read this interview and are interested in coming,how can they be part of the evening?

I do not if we have tickets left or how many are still left , but those interested could inquire by sending an email , and, again there is no guarantee there will be tickets, but no harm in checking.

Besides the gala, what has the Africa gas association been up to this year and any other projects coming up?

We have kept a relatively low profile this year in anticipation of huge projects and strong agenda we are working on for next year. Individual our members participated in a number of forums across Africa and the world, I did participate in a number of them myself, we served as partners in some as well. But as I said, we do have very big plans for 2020, included two or three huge events. We will keep you updated as things unfold.

Read More
Mixed Reactions Trail Sack Of AU Ambassador to The USA
October 12, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

The decision to remove Ambassador Arikana has divided opinions.

By Ajong Mbapndah L

A few months shy of a third year in office, Ambassador Arikana Chihombori-Quao was notified by the African Union Chairman Moussa Faki that her stint had come to an end.

“In line with the terms and conditions of service covering your appointment as permanent Representative of the AU to the USA, I have decided to terminate your appointment with effect from 1st Nov 2019,” read the letter from Chairman Faki to Ambassador Arikana.

Sent from the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa on 7 October, the letter expresses appreciation to Ambassador Arikana for her constant commitment to African causes, and the great contribution she has made to the continental organization.

In the letter, Chairman Faki expresses confidence that Ambassador Arikana will continue to render services to Mother Africa in future endeavors.

While the decision from Chairman Faki may appear as a routine change considering that others have previously served before Ambassador Arikana, tongues are wagging in Washington,DC , and the decision has not gone down well with some of her partisans.

So furious are her partisans that the unprecedented move of creating on an online petition on Change.Org. Initiated by Prof. Apollos Nwauwa who  signed as Secretary of the African Diaspora Union, the petition is calling on the African Union to reinstate Ambassador Arikana.

“Dr. Chihombori-Quao has spoken globally to sensitize and empower all peoples of African Descent to come together and build the “Africa We Want” as adopted in African Union Agenda 2063,” the petition read.

“Not everyone is embracing her bold but honest discourses for effecting change for the betterment of Africa.  On October 7th, 2019, Ambassador Quao was relieved of her position as the “Permanent Ambassador” in a unilateral decision made by the African Union Commission Chairman without any hearing or explanation, and yet presented as representing the opinions of all 55 countries.”

The petition goes further to ask a series of questions surrounding her ouster. “why was she dismissed, or better, who benefits from her removal? Were African heads of states and governments consulted? Who called the shot? Or is Africa, and peoples of African descent, still facing the debilitating effects of modern colonialism or neocolonialism?”

Though no reason was given for the removal of Arikana nor were reasons always given for the departure of some of her predecessors, some of her supporters believe that it may not be unrelated to her hyper activism ,and blunt critique of the colonial legacy that still holds Africa hostage.

Making allusion to a widely circulated video in which she lashed out at the Berlin conference, and fingered the French for its monetary policies that have continued colonization of Africa in a different form, supporters of Arikana believe that AU Chair Moussa Faki may have been pressured by outside forces to terminate her appointment.They point to the fact that the video which was previously posted on the AU website was inexplicably pulled down within three weeks despite the excitement it generated.

Arikana who has not issued a formal statement, was viewed by some Washington players as blurring the line between activism and diplomacy. You are either one or the other, said a source.  While he lauded Ambassador Arikana for bringing more vibrancy to the AU Mission in Washington,DC, the source said the activist part of Ambassador was bound to ruffle feathers,in Washington and beyond,  and her departure was bound to come sooner or later. Still, the source said he will not like to read so much meaning into the decision to relieve Ambassador Arikana of her duties. Ambassadors come and go, and there is no reason for her to be an exception he went on.Citing the letter from Faki and the dynamism of Ambassador Arikana, the source said there definitely will be plenty of opportunities out there for her to be of high profile service to Africa especially in capacities where diplomatic niceties will not be a burden to her.

“I do not know how the letter that was supposed to be meant for Ambassador Arikana went viral,” said another source from the African -American Community in Washington, DC. She had great passion for Africa and we hope her replacement builds on her successes, he said.

On the profile of the ideal replacement, he said, Chairman Faki could appoint another female Ambassador, someone equally dynamic, with a better understanding of how Africa and Washington work. Washington has its dynamics, and the AU will be better served with the appointment of someone who has a through mastery of these dynamics ,he said.

Meanwhile as of press time, the petition on Change.Org had garnered some 2000 signatures.

Read More
Centurion Moderates Discussion on Africa’s Downstream Sector at Africa Oil & Power
October 12, 2019 | 0 Comments
Zion Adeoye
The discussion centered on ways to make energy access more reliable and affordable for Africans and how to better balance supply and demand for key commodities
CAPE TOWN, South Africa, October 12, 2019/ — Centurion Law ( animated and moderated an industry discussion on Africa’s downstream sector and the continent’s shifting trade routes at the Africa Oil & Power Conference in Cape Town today. Led by Senior Associate Zion Adeoye, the discussion centered on ways to make energy access more reliable and affordable for Africans and how to better balance supply and demand for key commodities such as oil, natural gas and petroleum products.

The conversation was joined by leading African energy executives such as Mohsin Seedat, interim CEO at iGas, Eghosa Oriaikni Mabhena, Head of Africa at Puma Energy, Muzi W. Mkhize, Regulator Member for Petroleum Pipelines at the South African National Energy Regulator, SAR Managing Director Serigne Mboup, and Igho Charles Sanomi, CEO at the Taleveras Group.

Reminding the audience that Africa’s downstream sector is marked by outdated refineries and lack of refining capacities, Zion Adeoye led the participants to provide a detailed assessment of the continent’s current supply and demand scenario. “The market reach is diversifying,” declared Mohin Seedat. “Oil & gas is becoming more accessible and the retail segment is also evolving.”

Most African oil nations are either revamping and expanding their existing refineries, or building and planning new ones. Such additional capacity will be transforming current industry dynamics, and the panel highlighted the opportunities that will be coming in terms of rebalancing fiscal deficits for big importers of petroleum products, and of further diversifying into petrochemicals and value added products. “Maintaining the balancing of demand and supply for traders is key to shifting Africa’s trade routes,” said Eghosa Oriaikhi Mabhena.

Concluding the discussion, the panelists were all in agreement that a downstream master plan for the whole of Africa is urgently needed to ensure that infrastructure efforts are not inefficiently duplicated, especially on a regional basis. 
Read More
1 2 3 4 5 111