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2019 Africa Visa Openness Index: African Union Commission, African Development Bank report shows wins in visa restrictions across Africa
November 11, 2019 | 0 Comments

  • For the first time, on average, Africans can travel to approximately 27 countries visa-free or with a visa on arrival
  • Ethiopia moves up a record 32 places on the Index, entering the top 20 most visa-open countries in Africa

For the first time, African travellers have liberal access to over half the continent, the 2019 Africa Visa Openness Index published by the African Union Commission and African Development Bank, reveals. The report was launched on Monday on the sidelines of the Africa Investment Forum, which opened in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The progress on visa openness in Africa follows growing momentum for greater integration between countries and signals that policymakers across the continent are pushing reforms, making it easier for African businessmen and women, investors, students and tourists to travel.

This fourth edition of the Index shows that 47 countries improved or maintained their visa openness scores in 2019. African visitors no longer need a visa to travel to a quarter of other African countries, whereas visa-free travel was only possible to a fifth of the continent in 2016. Currently, 21 African countries also offer eVisas to make travel more accessible, up from up from 16 in 2018, 13 in 2017, and 9 in 2016).

The 2019 top performers on visa openness rank among the top countries for foreign direct investment in Africa, and benefit from strong levels of growth, including in tourism. The Index shows that Seychelles and Benin remain the top two countries on visa openness in Africa, with their visa-free policy for all African visitors. Ethiopia moved up a record 32 places on the Index and entered the top 20 most visa-open countries in Africa.

African Development Bank President Akinwumi A. Adesina said, “Our work on the Africa Visa Openness Index continues to monitor how Africa is doing on free movement of people. Progress is being made but much still needs to be done. To integrate Africa, we should bring down the walls. The free movement of people, and especially labour mobility, are crucial for promoting investments.”

The Visa Openness Index has inspired reforms in more than 10 African countries including Ghana, Benin, Tunisia, Ethiopia and Kenya, unlocking tremendous potential for the promotion of intra-regional tourism, trade and investments.

Despite the gains shown in the report, there is the need to move further.  In 2019, only 26% of Africans are able to get visas on arrival in other African countries, up by only 1% compared to 2016.

Countries need to make more progress on visa regimes, including introducing visas-on-arrival. By breaking down borders, Africa will be able to capitalize on gains from regional integration initiatives such as the African Continental Free Trade Area, the Single African Air Transport Market, and the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons.

“It cannot be stressed enough how crucial integration is for the development of the continent and the fulfilment of its people’s aspiration to well-being. I congratulate those member states that have taken measures to ease the procedures for the entry of African nationals into their territories, and urge those that have not yet done so to join this growing momentum,” said Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission.

About the Africa Visa Openness Index

The Africa Visa Openness Index measures how open African countries are when it comes to visas by looking at what they ask of citizens from other countries in Africa when they travel. The Index is tracking changes in country scores over time to show which countries are making improvements that support freer movement of people across Africa.

Download the 2019 Africa Visa Openness Index and find out more at www.visaopenness.org

*AFDB

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2019 Africa Investment Forum: There’s never been a better time to invest in Africa than now, infrastructure, agriculture investment opportunities abound
November 11, 2019 | 0 Comments

It was a presidential start on Monday to the African Development Bank’s Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Dignitaries and delegates from the continent and around the world gathered to listen to Presidents Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana and Prime Minister Agostinho do Rosario of Mozambique. 

They engaged in a discussion titled, Invest in Africa’s Space: Conversation with African Heads of State, moderated by Dr. Victor Oladokun, African Development Bank Group Director of External Relations and Communications.

The message from all is clear – Africa is better placed than ever for investment.
President Cyril Ramaphosa identified infrastructure, energy, manufacturing and tourism as the sectors where the most investment opportunities exist in South Africa. And as the tourism capital of the continent, the president claims when God created Africa, he spent more time on the southern tip.

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagama had a positive message to share, “There has been a lot of progress and activities taking place on the continent, raising Africa to a higher level. I have always thought it was Africa’s time – but in the past we have let ourselves down.” He says his country has created a conducive investment environment through good governance systems and security, and according to the World Bank, it is the second easiest African country with which to do business. Rwanda is focusing on three main areas – creating an agribusiness hub, the planned Kigali Innovation City and the Kigali Innovation Fund.

For Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo, the Africa Continental Free Trade Area remains a priority. He says his government is working to strengthen the country’s macro-economy, “We’ve managed to turn around rising inflation, curbed debt, and maintained discipline in the managing of public finances. In just 3 years, our economy is expanding to become one of the world’s fastest growing economies.” The country’s current priorities are infrastructure, agriculture and mineral resources.

Prime Minister Agostinho do Rosario representing the President of Mozambique, says his country has changed a lot. His government is open to investment, fighting corruption and has improved transparency. It has managed to control inflation, reducing it from 27% to 13%. The country has a youthful population, which is ready to work. Mozambique has many investment opportunities, particularly in oil and gas, agriculture and mineral resources.

The four presidents also responded to questions from the audience.
There was a common theme amongst the leaders – continuing governance issues need to be addressed, such as political stability, security and conflict. President Kagama says many African states know what needs to be done, which includes improving accountability, transparency and trust, while promoting the role of women.

Answering a question about the safety of foreign nationals in South Africa, President Ramaphosa reassured the continent that his country has always welcomed people from around the world, especially its neighbors, as South Africa is home to all.

He says his government is taking action and setting up an early warning system.

On agriculture and fisheries sector in Mozambique, Prime Minister Agostinho do Rosario said the industries are vital for job and income creation. He adds that only 10% of arable land in his country is being used. Modernization is needed, as well as expansion in crops like maize, cashew nuts and cotton. Mozambique’s government is also working to maintain peace in the country.

Asked about his government’s approach to the cocoa industry, Ghana’s President, Nana Akufo-Addo explained that his country and Côte d’Ivoire produce about 65% of the world’s cocoa, worth about $100bn. Of that money, the farmers producing the product, receive about $6bn. Both countries have decided to take action by forging a common policy with a set cocoa floor price, increasing the farmers’ earnings.

The Africa Investment Forum is an innovative, multi-stakeholder transactional marketplace conceived by the African Development Bank, aimed at raising capital, advancing projects to the bankable stage, and accelerating financial closure of deals.

The 2018 inaugural Africa Investment Forum secured investment interests for deals valued at $38.7 billion — in less than 72 hours.

The 2019 Forum runs from 11 to 13 November in Johannesburg, South Africa.

*AFDB

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2019 Africa Investment Forum kicks off delivering on the promise to redefine and unpack the continent’s investment opportunities
November 11, 2019 | 0 Comments
  • $500 million equity closed for the Africa Infrastructure Investment Fund to speed up investments in agriculture
  • Financial close for the Africa Guarantee Fund $175 Equity transaction to support Small and Medium Size Enterprises, and $350 million for South Africa’s beef agro-processing project

The 2019 Africa Investment Forum opened on Monday living up to its promise to move from commitment to action.

A $500 million equity deal presented by the Africa Infrastructure Investment Fund last year, to speed up investments in agriculture, and a $175 million equity transaction from the Africa Guarantee Fund for investors to support Small and Medium Size Enterprises, are among the transactions that found financial close over the past year.

The opening ceremony was attended by President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa; President Nana Akufo Addo of Ghana; President Paul Kagame of Rwanda; and Prime Minister Agostinho do Rosario of Mozambique. 

 “The time is now to move with speed to ensure that we unlock our potential…Indeed our continent is ripe for investments, but more importantly, it is also brimming with enormous profitable opportunities,” President Ramaphosa said in his address, as he urged investors to move beyond pledges.

The Africa Investment Forum is an innovative, multi-stakeholder transactional marketplace conceived by the African Development Bank, aimed at raising capital, advancing projects to the bankable stage, and accelerating financial closure of deals.

 “As the investor community, your presence here shows your unwavering will to help us and support us to succeed. I invite you, therefore, to join us as we pass the flickering torch of progress across every border of this great continent until the light of development and economic prosperity illuminates every African village, every African town, every African city, in every African household.” he said.

The inaugural Africa Investment Forum secured investment interests for deals valued at $38.7 billion in less than 72 hours. “A lot of progress has been made on these investment interests,” with a highly dedicated team of partners working around the clock to accelerate financial closure for transactions,” African Development Bank President Akinwuni Adesina said.

Another transaction tabled last year – a $600 million transaction for COCOBOD to help improve processing and value addition for cocoa – has also reached financial close, and will be signed during this edition of the Forum. Similarly, South Africa’s $350 million beef agro-processing project has reached financial close.

“Promise made, promise kept,” said Adesina. He noted that Mara Phones Ashish Takkhar made a commitment during the 2018 Forum. “In 2019, he delivered.”

“It is a new, more confident Africa. A continent now aware of its place in the world and determined to be a global investment haven. And Africa is harnessing investors’ interests and investments. Welcome to the Africa Investment Forum, the place to be for investors,” he said.

Several leading figures were in attendance including, the Premier of Gauteng province, David Makhura; Tito Mboweni, Minister of Finance and African Development Bank’s Governor for South Africa; Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Minister of Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs and Ibrahim Mayaki representing the chairperson of the African Union Commission. Minister Philip Mpango from Tanzania; Minister Jean Jacques Bouya from the Republic of Congo; Mr. Vital Kamerhe from the Democratic Republic of Congo were among the high-level delegates who took part in the opening ceremony. Executive Governors from Nigeria, including Kayade Fayemi of Ekiti State; Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, and Adulrahman Abdurazaq of Kwara State.

Shortly after the opening ceremony, Masai Ujuri, President of the Toronto Raptors; Ashish J. Thakkar, CEO of Mara Group and Tokunboh Ismael Managing Partner of Alitheaia IDF Fund shared their views on progress made since 2018.

The Africa Investment Forum inaugural edition was launched in 2018 in partnership with Africa50, Afrexim Bank, the Trade Development Bank, the Development Bank of South Africa, the Islamic Development Bank, the Africa Finance Corporation, the European Investment Bank.

The Forum runs from 11 to 13 November in Johannesburg, South Africa.

*AFDB

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Africa reminisced On 30th anniversary of Berlin Wall Fall
November 11, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Today in my native Cameroon, killings & atrocities are erecting new walls, literally & figuratively Dr Fomunyoh said at the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall organized by the Bertelsmann Foundation
Today in my native Cameroon, killings & atrocities are erecting new walls, literally & figuratively Dr Fomunyoh said at the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall organized by the Bertelsmann Foundation

As the world marked thirty years of the fall of the Berlin Wall, its ramifications on parts of Africa were part of an interactive discussion in Dickerson, MD, with people for whom division has been a reality.

Speaking at the event Dr Christopher Fomunyoh,  Senior Associate and Regional Director For Central And West Africa at the Washington,DC,based National Democratic Institute, NDI, started by reminding participants that before the Berlin Wall, the Berlin Conference of 1884 created its own walls from  which Africa is still to recover till date. Reverberations of the artificial boundaries that resulted from that conference are still very much present across many parts of Africa today, Dr Fomunyoh said.

On Cameroon, Dr Fomunyoh painted a graphic picture of the sad developments which have brought the country to the brink of a civil war.

“The killings and atrocities are erecting new walls, literally and figuratively,” Dr Fomunyoh said. Citing recent United Nations, Fomunyoh indicated that educational, and economic activities in the English-speaking regions have been grounded. The humanitarian emergency is now affecting close to 2 million people. Arbitrary arrests, burning of villages, wanton killings have become the order and the widespread insecurity has contributed significantly in keeping some 855,000 children out of school, Dr Fomunyoh said.

Echoing reports from some analysts who say believe that the situation in Cameroon remains one of the most under reported crisis in the world, Dr Fomunyoh said those who see a miniature of the Rwandan genocide in Cameroon may not be completely off the mark.

It is unfortunate that the government of Cameroon has continued with the logic of arrogance, bad faith, dishonesty, and mismanagement that have created profound mistrust between the Anglophones and Francophones in Cameroon, Dr Fomunyoh said, while affirming calls he has consistently made that only genuine dialogue, with the political will to push through profound political reforms can start the healing process in Cameroon.

Tony Culley-Foster sharing the Irish experience

The experiences and developments in Cameroon and Africa, shared by Dr Fomunyoh, mirrored challenges shared by other guest speakers from different parts of the world at the event which took place at a beautiful agricultural reserve  . Born in Germany, Ulrike Rodgers shared experiences growing up close to the wall. A Program Director for Francophone West Africa at the National Democratic Institute, Ulrike said both sides of the divide worked hard to drive the separation. Though her family lived less than an hour away from the wall, they and many others were clueless about life on the other side, she said.

Originally from Nashville Tennessee, and Lecturer of African and Security Studies at the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, Travis Adkins shared personal, and family experiences of life growing up in the segregated American South. Despite the significant progress that has been made, the scars are still there, and the challenges remain many, Travis said.

It was a lively discussion with people for whom division has been a reality.

Tony Culley-Foster ,who lived in Northern Ireland before the Good Friday agreement, shared the checkered history of his country of origin. Mr. Foster who brought the torch of the 2012 Olympics and a piece of the Berlin Wall, said his experiences contributed to the creation of a network of young Ambassadors to fight for peace.

Dubbed stories from the Other Side of the Wall, the event was organized by the Bertelsmann Foundation, a German think tank in Washington, DC, which shares transatlantic perspectives on global challenges. Serving as moderator for the discussions was Emily Rodriguez, communications director for the Foundation. Participants were in unison that  more was needed from people across the globe for the best in humanity to re-emerge.

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“News with a human face” in focus at African Development Bank and Thomson Reuters Foundation workshop for African journalists
November 11, 2019 | 0 Comments

“The training opened my eyes to see Africa as it is, and not as it is portrayed in the media,” said Thando Magudulela, a journalist with the South African Broadcasting Corporation, at the opening of the second edition of a reporting workshop hosted by the African Development Bank in South Africa.

Following the successful first edition in Abidjan last June, the African Development Bank and the Thomson Reuters Foundation organised the next phase of its collaboration from 6-8 November 2019,  in Pretoria.

“Let’s work together in creative ways to ensure accountability in our countries, and build a new Africa for future generations,” Victor Oladokun, the Bank’s Director of Communication and External Relations, said in a presentation at the programme.

“Permit me to say it is not all doom and gloom. Together, we need to tell the stories of some of the positive developments taking place on our continent and of a resurgent Africa,” Oladokun told participants.

The workshop was attended by journalists from 21 Southern and Eastern African countries.  The programme offered them specialised reporting knowledge and skills focusing on impact development placing people at the center of the continent’s development narrative.

The three-day programme delivers on a pledge that Bank President Akinwumi Adesina made at the Bank’s Annual Meetings last year in Busan, South Korea, where he promised to provide development training to journalists.

As part of the rigorous course, trainees visited Ekurhuleni East TVET College in Germiston, Gauteng Province, where the Bank‘s support has impacted 200 students, instructors and Small Medium and Micro Enterprise (SMMEs) in the local community. This has led to improved performance of students and productivity for SMMEs.

“I am impressed with the selection of trainers. I learnt a lot, and this is good for my career development. I will forever value this opportunity and will always be grateful to the African Development Bank,” said Doreen Chilumbu Nawa from the Zambian Daily Mail.

The African Development Bank’s High 5 priorities sharpen the focus and adapt the global agenda and the Paris Climate Agreement to the Agenda 2063 for Africa developed by the African Union.

“This training gave us opportunity to learn that we can also focus on changing and developing our communities through our profession,” said Kebadiretse Rasekhutla, from Gabz FM, based in Botswana.

The High 5s target inclusive growth and a transition to green growth through five priorities to improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation promotes impartial, independent evidence-based reporting.

To Elizabeth Akolde Malath, a mid-career journalist from the South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation, the training was “an eye-opener to upcoming journalists like me.”

*AFDB

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Why the Africa Investment Forum matters for the continent’s energy transformation
November 11, 2019 | 0 Comments

Wale Shonibare*

Wale Shonibare

The African Development Bank’s New Deal on Energy for Africa underlines the urgency to power the continent in order to end energy poverty, catalyze industrialization, and stimulate socio-economic growth. The strategy is grounded in the recognition that access to reliable, affordable and sustainable energy is central to Africa’s development, and lifting populations out of poverty. 

Close to 600 million people in the continent still lack energy access, despite Africa’s abundant energy resources, especially renewables such as wind, solar, hydro, and geothermal. Bridging the energy access gap, and catalyzing economic growth, requires substantial investments into Africa’s energy sector. The private sector sits on the bulk of the capital.

Investors recognize the opportunities in the energy sector, yet multiple barriers stand in the way of transformational private sector participation – including non-creditworthy utilities, the absence of cost-reflective tariffs, and capacity constraints throughout the energy sector value chain. Unlocking private sector capital, therefore, must be accompanied by resolving policy and regulatory issues, and other systemic bottlenecks, in order to create the right conditions for energy investments from outside and within Africa.

The impetus to mobilize and scale up private investment into the energy sector is what makes the Africa Investment Forum such a critical platform for the continent’s energy future. By leveraging the Bank’s convening power to facilitate public-private dialogue, we will move closer to our goal of universal energy access, primarily through reforms and financial instruments to de-risk transactions, enhance bankability, and fast-track project closure.

At this year’s forum, the Bank’s energy team will engage sector stakeholders in extensive consultations, knowledge exchange, networking, and peer-to-peer learning in order to address barriers to mobilizing and scaling up private investment into the energy sector. During various boardroom sessions, we will focus on a range of projects, including the Inga Dam in the DRC, the Baynes hydro plant in Angola and Namibia, and the Tulu Moye geothermal development in Ethiopia.

We will also continue discussions on the roll-out of the Bank’s transformative Desert to Power Initiative following its endorsement at the G5 Sahel Heads of State Summit on 13 September in Burkina Faso.

We will also engage further on mobilizing climate finance through the Africa Financial Alliance for Climate Change (AFAC) in order to shift portfolios of African financial institutions towards climate-friendly projects across the continent.

Earlier this year, the Board of the African Development Bank approved the Distributed Energy Service Companies (DESCOs) programme to support the deployment of off-grid solutions in Sub-Saharan Africa at scale. We will engage investors on our plans to innovate through the use of securitization financing techniques, which address access to finance barriers for DESCOs while supporting their growth and expansion into existing and new countries. We will also release the 2019 edition of the Electricity Regulatory Index (ERI), which is a diagnostic tool that highlights key areas in regulatory design and practice that require improvement.

Throughout the discussions, investors and stakeholders will be better able to understand market dynamics, policy, and regulatory frameworks, while learning first-hand about the details and potential of bankable projects, and what needs to be done to speed up financial close.

By facilitating mutually beneficial dialogue amongst stakeholders who can dramatically affect our energy landscape, the Africa Investment Forum is creating the requisite foundation for accelerated private sector investments to ultimately assure Africa’s energy transformation.

*Wale Shonibare, Acting Vice-President, Power, Energy, Climate Change & Green Growth, African Development Bank

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Kenyan Journalist Among Honorees at ICFJ Awards
November 10, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ben Bangoura*

ICFJ Awards Dinner,Photo Ben Bangoura AlloAfrica News
ICFJ Awards Dinner,Photo Ben Bangoura AlloAfrica News

The ICFJ 35th Anniversary Awards Dinner to honor the achievements of outstanding journalists around the world was held on Thursday November 7, in Washington, DC. The evening was emceed by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

Washington Post executive editor Martin Baron, accepted a top award in a key address. In an interview afterward with AlloAfricaNews’ Ben Bangoura, he reminded journalists about the First amendment of the Constitution of the United States which, he insisted, remains the foundation for journalism in this country.

“The idea is that there should be an institution outside that would hold accountable the government. Unfortunately, the Freedom of Press in US is under threat which is coming from the White House”, Baron said.

He called on journalists to execute the mission of truth telling.

Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron
Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron

“That is what we do everyday at Washington Post,” the editor lauded the legendary newspaper that uncovered the details of the Watergate scandal, leading to President Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974.

Other awardees include a features reporter with Kenya’s NTV and the 2019 ICFJ Knight International Journalism Award Winner Rose Wangui.

Speaking to reporter Ben Bangoura, Wangui said she was honored to be rewarded and recognized for her work tackling tough issues such as sexual bondage of young girls. She also shed some light on challenges facing journalists particularly in Africa.

Rose Wangui.
Rose Wangui.

ICFJ was founded in 1984 to support journalists abroad, especially those in countries with poor or non-existent free press systems. Founders include Tom Winship, Jim Ewing, and George Krimsky, three prominent U.S. journalists. 

International Center for Journalists is located in Washington, DC.

The 35th anniversary event was held at Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center and attracted hundreds of journalists and editors. Educators, press freedom advocates and business leaders were also in attendance.

*AlloAfrica News

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Africa Investment Forum: “Short on talk, heavy on deals”, African Development Bank, South African government and partners affirm
November 10, 2019 | 0 Comments

Pretoria, South Africa, November 10, 2019 – The Africa Investment Forum will be short on talk and heavy on deals, the South African Government, the African Development Bank and key partners affirmed at a press conference ahead of the 2019 edition of the event.

Organized by the African Development Bank and its partners, the second edition of the Forum, will take place from place from 11 to13 November 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa. The multi-stakeholder transactional marketplace is aimed at raising capital, advancing projects to bankable stage and accelerating financial closure of deals.

“Last year we achieved remarkable results with over $ 36 billion of investments interests that were signed or being were closed. We are hoping that this year it is going to be even better,” said Vuyelwa Vumendlini, Deputy Director General of the National Treasury of South Africa.

Sharing similar sentiments, Mduduzi Mbapa, Senior Advisor to the Premier of Gauteng noted that the biggest take away from last year’s edition was the need for greater interconnection on the continent. “In fact, many have been writing about Africa rising.  Through this Forum, we are making sure that our continent does rise and it contributes to the growth of the world,” he said.

Around 2000 delegates are expected to attend the innovative investment marketplace which will bring together heads of state, project sponsors, pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, institutional investors in 60 boardroom sessions to move projects from commitment to action.

“The Africa Investment Forum is designed to be a transformative platform for deals across the continent. The Africa investment forum goes way beyond the three-day event starting Monday. It is continuous process of nurturing deals, projects preparation, deal closure, meeting boardrooms, but most importantly ensuring that those deals actually happen to impact the continent,” said Chinelo Anohu, Head and Senior Director of the Africa Investment Forum.

The Africa Investment Forum partners include Africa 50, Africa Finance Corporation, Africa Export-Import Bank, Development Bank of Southern Africa, European Investment Bank, Islamic Development Bank, Trade and Development Bank.

Victor Oladokun, Director of Communication and External Relations at the Bank, said the Forum’s agenda was simple.

“In a nutshell, the Africa Investment Forum has a very simple agenda that is tilting the flow of capital into Africa at a much greater level that we have experienced up to now.”

*AFDB

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Cameroon: Voluntary Repatriation, Community led initiatives, Empowering Youths, advanced in solving crisis in Cameroon
November 9, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Participants and Foretia Team pose for a photo in connection with the event on common sense solution to promote peace in Cameroon and the role of the civil society organizations
Participants and Foretia Team pose for a photo in connection with the event on common sense solution to promote peace in Cameroon and the role of the civil society organizations

As a way of bringing peace to Cameroon which is experiencing various crisis ranging from the Boko Haram insurgency in the North, the Refugee crisis in the east Region and the Anglophone crisis in the North West and South West Regions, participants have advanced various points ranging from voluntary repatriation of refugees in the East, Empowering of the youths and community led initiatives.

The event which was held November 8, 2019 in Buea under the theme “Common sense solutions to promote peace in Cameroon and the role of the civil society organizations” is in line with the mission of the Nkafu Policy Institute, (a think tank of the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation), whose mission is to provide independent, in-depth and insightful policy recommendations that advance the Cameroonian economy and the economies of other sub-Saharan African countries.

During the discussions, three prominent conflicts were x-rayed by participants such as: the on-going Anglophone crisis in the South West and North West Regions, the Boko Haram insurgencies in the North since 2013 till date, and Refugee crisis in the East Regions.

On the Refugee crisis in the East Region, it was indicated that Cameroon plays host to some 361,000 refugees from Nigeria and Central African Republic, CAR and some 257,000 refugees from CAR alone.

To Mbeng Primus, the government has to provide grazing land to the refugees so that they can feed their cattle. He said, “The problem is the East may go on for long if the government fails to provide grazing land as the cattle of the refugees are feeding on the crops of the host country.”

“The community leaders should equally accept the refuges and work with them so as to reduce the tension” He added while adding that “All we want is peace and we have to do everything we can to achieve peace.”

As a solution to the refugee crisis, participants said the voluntary repatriation of the refugees to their said country may go a long way in bringing peace to the East Region. They equally called on the Cameroonian government to assist the CAR in bringing peace to the country as a stable CAR will make it easier for the displaced persons to be willing to go back to their country.

Cameroon recently carried out a voluntary repatriation of refugees in the East Region who were willing to go back to their country. According to the government, these people (refugees) opted to go back to their country and they were not forced to leave Cameroon.

Others propose a pathway for nationalization in Cameroon. Participants say when these people (refugees) are integrated into the Cameroonian society; it will reduce the violence in the region. They however noted that such a process (nationalization) is very complicated in Cameroon and may take time to be implemented.

With the Boko Haram crisis in the North, participants called on individuals and government to know the root cause of the insurgency as they cannot solve a problem when they do not know the background of the grievance.

Others say to prevent further recruitment of Cameroonian into Boko Haram; youths should be empowered with the provision of education and necessary skills which will help them in getting jobs for themselves. These empowerment centres will prevent Boko Haram from indoctrinating the youths to carryout heinous activities on the population in the North.

Ego Aziz, Development Policy Analyst at Nkafu Policy Institute led discussion on possible solution to crisis in Cameroon
Ego Aziz, Development Policy Analyst at Nkafu Policy Institute led discussion on possible solution to crisis in Cameroon

The Imams of the North have been encouraged to be empowered to talk to children in the area by giving them more knowledge and education as Boko Haram is fighting a religious war. “The Imams who are well respected should provide education and train the youths on values”, noted one participant.

Talking to PAV Che Bruno, Communications unit CHRDA, called on wealthy individuals to invest more by creating SMEs which will help youths in the North not to be recruited by Boko Harm. “They should provide ideas/ideologies which will make young people realize that it is not only through violence that they can make a living but there are different ways, and where these youths need assistance private individuals and organizations should be ready to provide the financial support,” He said

He added, “The civil society has a great role to play in solving crisis in Cameroon. They are involve in Education (sensitizing the public on the need for peace), advocacy (engaging stakeholders/government to create enabling environment for peace to strive), and direct support (CSOs provide financial support for peace who want to build peace and the respect for human rights).”

The event is the fourth of its kind after similar events in Yaounde, Douala, and Limbe. It brought together students, members of the private sector, civil society organizations and journalists to proposed grass root solutions through which Cameroon can accelerate its progress towards the resolution of the current conflicts it is presently facing.

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Kagame refutes claims that Rwanda spies on dissidents abroad
November 9, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

President Paul Kagame adressing media in the Capital Kigali on Friday 8th November 2019 (Photo by Urugwiro Village)
President Paul Kagame adressing media in the Capital Kigali on Friday 8th November 2019 (Photo by Urugwiro Village)

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda is denying claims of his government’s involvement in spying on opposition members who live abroad using a new powerful spyware ‘Pegasus’ that was developed by an Israeli company.

Last month Facebook filed a lawsuit against against an Israeli software company, NSO that is alleged to have hacked phones of political dissidents on behalf of governments.

The most hacked as Financial Times reported, were human rights activists, lawyers, journalists and others.

An investigative story from the Financial Times reported, that “on the list of targeted individuals identified by WhatsApp, a considerable number were from Rwanda.”

Briefing media on this Friday at his office in the capital Kigali, President Paul Kagame admitted that  Rwanda does spying, however it never spies what is out of human interests.

“Our country  like any country,  does intelligence. They even monitor people’s communication…For us to know our enemies and what they do wherever they are, is something we have always tried to do , it is in our rights and it is in the rights of all countries you know all over the world” he said

However Kagame refutes claims that they used Pegasus to monitor communication of dissidents who live abroad.

He said from what he has heard, such technology is expensive and Rwanda cannot afford it.

“I wish I could have access to the technology. But I also know that it is very costly and I know how best to spend my money. I would not spend so much money over nobody or nothing. I would not spend that much I saw the technology cost to run after those of no consequences”,  He said

Kagame told journaliste he doesn’t fear those who appeared in the reports,  rather he would concentrate his efforts to fight assailants who attacked people in Northern province last month, where they killed civilians wounding others.

“I worry about these fellows who enter through Kinigi (Northern) and kill people. These are the ones I am concerned with” , he added

Financial Times reported that the hack worked by the user receiving a video- or voice-call request from an unknown number on WhatsApp. However, even when the number was ignored it was enough for the call to be used to hack into the user’s phone even without them answering it.

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Atiku: They gave him a false sense of hope
November 9, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Femi Adesina*

The Presidential dream continues to be elusive for Mr Atiku Abubakar.Photo culled from Today NG

After the Supreme Court threw out the legal challenge by Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on the February 2019 presidential poll last week, two things flashed across my mind. One was a song, the other, a quote from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, which I’d read over 40 years ago.
First, the song:
The strife is o’er, the battle done,
The victory of life is won,
The song of triumph has begun,
Alleluia!

And then Shakespeare, as Macbeth was confronted by Macduff at the battlefront, and the former realized he had been fooled by the witches who had predicted that no man born of woman could ever kill him, and that he could not be defeated in any battle “till Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane.”
Macduff told Macbeth that he had been “untimely ripped” from his mother’s womb, and was not biologically delivered as babies are. The advancing soldiers also bore before them trees they had cut from Birnam Wood, which meant the forest had virtually relocated to Dunsinane. Macbeth, confronted with defeat, had declared:
“And be these juggling fiends no more believed,
That palter with us in a double sense,
That keep the word of promise to our ear,
And break it to our hope.”

Macbeth had been fooled, just as it happened to former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, who had been hoodwinked into believing that he was President already, before the February 2019 election.
Who were those that paltered with Atiku in a double sense? Who were the people that lured him into a losing battle? Who were those who told him he was on a giant horse, not knowing that he was riding on a cockroach? Let’s do a checklist.

Olusegun Obasanjo, and his foreign cohorts. The former president was the one that ruined Atiku Abubakar most, when they fought a bitter battle as they served together in government. Obasanjo wrote books, granted interviews, where he poured vitriol on his former deputy. He described him in words that won’t make you buy Atiku for ten kobo. In fact, he said God should punish him if he ever supported Atiku for president. And that lasted for about ten years.

Suddenly, with just months to the 2019 election, Obasanjo came singing another tune. He said he had forgiven Atiku, and started calling him “my President in waiting.” Were Nigerians fools? Can you approbate and reprobate at the same time? Can you strip a man naked in the marketplace, and cover him up in the bedroom? The damage would already be done. And so it was with Atiku.

Yes, Obasanjo has some clout, particularly internationally. He swung into action, trying to mobilize the international community behind his candidate. Some people followed him, and Atiku thought the deed was done. But they didn’t reckon with the hurricane called Muhammadu Buhari. The cyclone force was too strong, and it simply cleared everything in its path. It was a bitter lesson that the challenger learnt too late.

Obasanjo had always decided who should, and shouldn’t be President, right from the first time he left power as a military ruler in 1979. He was instrumental in some ways to the emergence of Shehu Shagari, Umaru Yar’Adua, and Goodluck Jonathan, as presidents. He also contributed to pulling them down later with his mouth. By this year, Nigerians were simply tired of the overbearing attitude of the Otta chicken farmer. They thus refused to buy the candidate he had earlier rendered toxic, and was selling to them in borrowed robes.

Who fooled Atiku again? The Atikulators. And who are they? People who flocked after the candidate for many reasons, none of them altruistic. They were those who didn’t like Buhari, either because of ethnicity, language, religion, or the man’s aversion for corruption. They wanted business as usual, and it should be anybody but Buhari. So, they followed Atiku, not because they loved him, but they would have also followed a goat, if they had been told that the animal could get Buhari out of power. They put their money on the wrong horse, gambled, and lost.

Before the election, you saw and heard the Atikulators everywhere, boasting of how they were going to wrest power in the country. They were all over the place. In offices, marketplaces, churches, mosques, schools, television, radio, newspapers, almost in all traffic lanes of life. And they fooled their principal. He backed them up with piles and tons of cash, in major currencies of the world. To quote President Buhari, “they spent so much dollars, that the currency became devalued.” For Atiku, anything that money cannot do is not doable. Money answereth all things. He threw in more and more. But for the Buharists, it is not about money, not even a bottle of soft drink or water. It is about conviction. It is about integrity and accountability. It is about building a new country, devoid of greed and rapacity. So we followed the Mai Gaskiya (honest man) all the way. Nothing could be articulated against him. Not possible.

Again, the marabouts, prophets, some pastors and preachers. Yes, let me group them together, including the witches and wizards. They formed a confederacy, and said Atiku would win. Who is it that says anything when the Lord has not spoken? The marabouts collected money handsomely, and pronounced Atiku king. They did not tell him he would be king on an empty throne. The preachers, across the major religions, because of personal hatred, and possibly inducement, gave evil and false messages. They began to proclaim that Atiku was the messiah, when God had not said so. And the PDP candidate believed them. He felt there was no way he could ever lose the election. But he didn’t know that lying tongues were in action. The preachers had become inhabited by lying spirits, modern day Zedekiahs , who prophesied falsehood (1 Kings 22:11). They led Atiku to political perdition.

The social media. Populated by people with exaggerated sense of worth, they think they can do and undo. I call them the vocal minority. If you followed only the social media before the elections, you would think the All Progressives Congress (APC) government at the center was gone. They filled the landscape with so much wailing, till they became wailing wailers. We will do this, we will do that. Mere shooting of breeze. Superfluity of nothingness. Arrogant impertinence. The Buhari people simply kept their peace, while online warriors, most of who had no permanent voters cards (PVCs) continued to fire blanks.

A very credible and scientific study had showed before the polls that social media would account for only between nine and 11 percent of the ballots. And not all of the votes would go to PDP. The two major parties would share it. But from the noise online, you thought Atiku had coasted home. He, too, must have believed the lie. He paid dearly for it with a broken heart.

The coalition that thought they owned the country. They also fooled Atiku. They include politicians, businessmen, high net-worth people. They had never failed in anything before. If they showed you a red card, you were out of the game. God’s judgment, no appeal. Such people massed behind Atiku. Those who had corruption cases before the courts, those who had lost power and were forlorn and disconsolate, those who had always profiteered from the system and who felt that Buhari had closed the sluice gate, they all came together. Buoyed by Atiku’s promise that he would empower his friends when he got power, they were already licking their lips. Soon, our snouts would be in the honeypot again, they told themselves. But those who felt they were Nigeria’s landlords had long been given quit notices by Buhari, and ejected. Atiku thought they were still somebody, and learned the hard way. What a pity!

Wrong permutations. That was also Atiku’s downfall. It is an inexorable truth that it is only the person/party that builds the bigger coalition wins the Presidency in Nigeria (and almost everywhere else). But before the election, Atikulators had come with this jejune permutation. They would sweep the Southeast, the South-south, the North Central, share Northeast and Northwest, as well as Southwest. And Atiku would coast home. True? Well, dreams don’t cost anything. The dream eventually became nightmare.

Wrong strategy. It is on good authority that the winning strategy of the PDP had been based on data hack. That was why they fought tooth and nail for electronic voting, because they were allegedly in league with international forces that was adept at manipulation of election results. The plan was to intercept results as they were transmitted electronically, and record them for PDP. But it is said that if the abiku has learnt to die in dry season, the mother too would learn to bury in rainy season. The rest is history.

Many other forces fooled Atiku that space would not permit one to mention. People who promised access to the electoral commission’s server, when none existed in the true sense of the word. Some elements in the judiciary, who had made false promises. And the lawyers. Yes, we can’t but talk briefly about them.

Lawyers are professionals. They must ply their art, and make profit from it. They are learned people, while the rest of us are only educated. However, morality is everything. Why egg on your client, when you know he has the most useless case in the world? Nigerians knew Atiku lost the election. Lawyers too knew it. But man must chop. They encouraged the PDP candidate to go to court, despite knowing that the prayers were weak and improbable. Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Festus Keyamo, said the suit was the worst he had ever seen in Nigeria’s history of election petitions. But the lawyers convinced Atiku otherwise. He lost at the Court of Appeal level, but there was probably more money to be made. So they encouraged a trip to the Supreme Court. Another ill-fated journey.

Sadly, after the Supreme Court threw out the case, Atiku was not gracious enough to throw up his hands in surrender. He called the judiciary all sorts of names. An opportunity missed to prove that he is not a sore loser and power monger. Where would he go next, World Court? Or as somebody has jocularly said, he may just decide to go to the lawn tennis court.

.*Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity. Piece is culled from his Facebook page.

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Dangote Group, Togo partner to transform Phosphate into Fertiliser
November 9, 2019 | 0 Comments
With over two billion tonnes of phosphate reserves, Togo is one of the leading phosphate producers in Africa
LOME, Togo, November 8, 2019/ — Dangote Industries Limited (Dangote.com) and the Government of Togo (GoT) have concluded an agreement to develop and transform Togolese phosphate into phosphate fertilizers for the West African sub-region; in a bid to improve consumption of the product in Africa.

With over two billion tonnes of phosphate reserves, Togo is one of the leading phosphate producers in Africa. By partnering the Dangote Group, the country intends to benefit from the expertise and investment capacity of Africa’s largest industrial group, according to a joint release issued by the Dangote Group and the Communications Department of the Presidency of the Republic of Togo.

With the completion and commissioning of the Dangote Petroleum Refinery and Fertilizer complex in Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos, Dangote Group will be the largest ammonia producer on the African continent, the release noted. Ammonia is an essential ingredient in the transformation of phosphate into fertilizer derived from phosphates. Under the agreement, Togo will provide access to phosphate resources and the Dangote Group will provide access to ammonia and to the Nigerian market.

The project, in line with second pillar of the Togo National Development Plan, should enable the production of more than 1 million tonnes of fertilizers derived from phosphates once completed. The cost of the investment is estimated at about $2 billion and is expected to create several thousand direct jobs. Mining development work will start before the end of 2019, it added.

On this occasion, Dangote Group also announced the establishment of a cement manufacturing plant with an annual capacity of 1.5 million tonnes in Lomé. This plant will use clinker from Togo and Nigeria and will meet both local and neighbouring countries’ demand, the release noted.

It further added that construction of the Lome plant is billed to start in first quarter of 2020 and its commissioning scheduled to take place before the end of 2020. The investment is estimated at $60 million and is expected to create 500 direct jobs.

Togolese President, Faure Gnassingbé said, “The structural transformation of our economy is the main objective we have set ourselves in the context of the 2018-2022 NDP. By processing our phosphate we will not only create jobs but we will also be able to provide our farmers with good quality fertilizers at an affordable cost. Having an industrial investor like Alhaji Dangoté shows that our efforts to improve the business climate are paying off. We intend to continue in this dynamic for the well-being of Togolese men and women.”

President/CE Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote said, ‘’This partnership is in line with our transformation agenda in creating prosperity and enhancing economic development not only in Togo but also in Affrica.  In addition, the Dangote Group is determined in supporting the Government of Togo in its industrialisation strategy aimed at creating jobs for its citizens and making Togo an attractive investment destination.’’

The two investment agreements reinforce Togo’s industrialisation strategy adopted under the 2018-2022 National Development Plan.
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