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Dangote Cement stirs industrial revolution in Africa with the commissioning of Mfila plant in the Republic of Congo
November 24, 2017 | 0 Comments
The new plant estimated at $300 million has potentials for about 1000 direct employment and thousands of several other indirect jobs
L-R: Representative of President Mohammadu Buhari, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; President/CE, Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote; President of the Republic of Congo, Denis Sassou Nguesso, at the commissioning of 1.5MMTPA Dangote Cement Plant, Congo, held in the Republic of Congo on Thursday November 23, 2017

L-R: Representative of President Mohammadu Buhari, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; President/CE, Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote; President of the Republic of Congo, Denis Sassou Nguesso, at the commissioning of 1.5MMTPA Dangote Cement Plant, Congo, held in the Republic of Congo on Thursday November 23, 2017

LAGOS, Nigeria, November 23, 2017/ — Africa’s largest cement Company, Dangote Cement Plc (http://APO.af/mCqnZz) yesterday added fillip to the on-going efforts at economic emancipation of Africa when it formally opened its 1.5mtpa capacity cement plant in Mfila, Congo Brazzaville, amid ecstasy by the government and the indigenes of the Country.

The new plant estimated at $300 million has potentials for about 1000 direct employment and thousands of several other indirect jobs.

Undoubtedly the biggest plant in Congo, its President, Mr. Denis Sassou Nguesso while inaugurating the plant said the investment was an industrial revolution, sort of, within the Economic Community of the Central African States (CEMAC), saying his country was happy to host the investment.

According to him, his government has observed the operations of Dangote cement in other African countries and it has helped buoy their economies by sparking off other allied industries expressing the hope that Congo situation would not be an exception.

The Congolese President described the coming on stream of the Dangote cement as timely and encouraging because it is starting operations at a time the total government revenues have plummeted by 31.3 percent and revenues from the oil sector have fallen 65.1 percent since 2015 due to a slide in global crude prices.

President Mohammadu Buhari who was represented at the event by a powerful delegation led by the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi commended Alhaji Aliko Dangote and his Cement Company for championing economic renaissance of Africa with the construction of cement plants across several African countries saying the sterling accomplishment makes the Dangote Cement brand, and indeed Aliko Dangote himself, worthy ambassadors of Nigeria.

President Buhari said his government has consistently supported and encouraged the Dangote Group (http://Dangote.com) in its quest to contribute its quota to the economic emancipation of the African continent, which is blessed with a plethora of natural resources. “I believe that it is only home-grown practical solutions that can address the myriad issues plaguing Africa today and one of such challenges that Africa has been grappling with for decades is the infrastructure deficit. I am confident that massive investments in cement production, which is a key driver of infrastructural development, will contribute in no small measure, to addressing this perennial problem.”

President Buhari recalled with satisfaction that local cement manufacturers such as Dangote Cement, Lafarge and BUA, have exploited one of the solid minerals, limestone which is a basic input for cement production and which Nigeria has in abundance, in different parts of the country to achieve self-sufficiency in local cement production in 2015, and is now a net exporter of the product.

“The backward integration policy of the Federal Government in the cement sector, which was launched in 2002, has contributed to this success story by successfully substituting imports with local production, we have saved over $2billion spent on cement importation into Nigeria, annually.

L-R: Representative of President Mohammadu Buhari, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; President/CE, Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote; President of the Republic of Congo, Denis Sassou Nguesso; Prime Minister of Congo, Clement Mouamba and the Nigerian Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelemah at the commissioning of 1.5MMTPA Dangote Cement Plant, Congo, held in the Republic of Congo on Thursday November 23, 2017

L-R: Representative of President Mohammadu Buhari, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; President/CE, Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote; President of the Republic of Congo, Denis Sassou Nguesso; Prime Minister of Congo, Clement Mouamba and the Nigerian Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelemah at the commissioning of 1.5MMTPA Dangote Cement Plant, Congo, held in the Republic of Congo on Thursday November 23, 2017

“We have also started using cement for road construction in the country due to its numerous advantages over the more common bituminous road. Again, in this area, Dangote Cement is leading the charge, through AG-Dangote, its joint venture with Andrade-Gutierrez, a construction giant in Brazil”, Nigeria’s President stated.

Chairman of Dangote Cement Plc, Aliko Dangote in his address said his company was delighted to have completed the plant on schedule saying the addition of Dangote Cement’s 1.5 million metric tonnes per annum plant has more than doubled the total cement production capacity of Congo-Brazzaville, which now stands at 2.550 million metric tonnes per annum, far in excess of national demand.

“It is envisaged that this will contribute substantially to the availability and affordability of cement in the country and the Republic of the Congo will no longer need to depend on imports to bridge the gap between demand and supply.

“It is our hope that the inauguration of the plant will boost Congo’s economy, conserve foreign exchange that would otherwise have been spent on imports for the country, and create employment opportunities down the value chain.”, he stated.

Dangote commended the Congolese government noting that the bold economic reform measures put in place by President Denis Sassou Nguesso administration have been quite salutary. “The construction industry, which is a major sector of the economy, is a beneficiary of his policies, and has been receiving the attention of investors. We believe that our investment will contribute to Congo-Brazzaville’s current economic renaissance under the leadership of the President Nguesso.”

The Company Chairman pointed out that his organization received tremendous support and encouragement both from the government and the people of Congo-Brazzaville, right from the conceptualisation stage of our project, to its final completion, and commissioning.

In appreciation of the good gesture of the government and the people, Dangote disclosed that without waiting to stabilise production, the Cement company had already commenced CSR projects with the construction of a road with a length of 30km around Yamba, which would have cost the local government approximately 240 million CFA to execute.

He stated further “we have also disbursed scholarships for students and we are also building a school and renovating a hospital within our host communities. Apart from these, we have repaired a dilapidated bridge on a major highway at a cost of $300,000, to enable heavy duty vehicles to cross the bridge. As a policy, we also ensure that we give priority to qualified indigenes from our local host communities in our recruitment drive.”

Dangote told the gathering that Dangote Cement total production capacity across Africa at the end of May 2017, stood at 45.8 million metric tonnes per annum, making it one of the biggest cement producers on the continent adding that the aspiration is to rank among the top 10 cement producers in the world by 2020.

Dangote cement commissioned its cement plants in four African countries namely: Ethiopia, Zambia, Cameroun and Tanzania. The Congo-Brazzaville plant, which began operations in the third quarter of 2017, will be the fifth cement plant that would be inaugurated in the last two years.

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Africa must implement 1990 Yamoussoukro agreement for open skies, says AfDB President
November 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

 

“Together, let’s open up the skies of Africa, and together let’s integrate Africa. By so doing, we will build stronger and more resilient economies.” – Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has called on African countries to implement the 1990 Yamoussoukro agreement for open skies.

While 20 countries have signed on, the 27-year old accord still faces implementation challenges, Akinwumi Adesina, President of the AfDB said Tuesday at the opening ceremony of the third ICAO World Aviation Forum in Abuja.

“Rigid bilateral air service agreements have made it difficult to liberalize the regional aviation markets. We must make regional aviation markets competitive and drive down costs, raise efficiencies and improve connectivity and convenience,” Adesina said.

The Bank President also emphasized the Bank’s strong support for Nigeria and expressed confidence in the ability of Nigeria to deliver on its policy commitments.

“The hosting of this global forum here in Abuja is a clear mark of confidence in Nigeria. Let me use this opportunity to commend you and the government on the Economic Recovery and Growth Program, to build a more resilient economy,” Adesina said.

“As you know, we provided $600 million to support the government to address its budget deficit challenges and stand ready to continue to fully support the government as it embarks on efforts to diversify the economy and raise the revenue profiles and productivity of the non-oil sectors.”

The Bank President also commended the Government of Nigeria for its efforts to improve the state of aviation in Nigeria. The aviation sector plays an important in opening up doors to investors, he added.

Air transport promotes trade, investments and tourism, and boosts economic growth. Today, Africa’s aviation industry adds US $73 billion to the continent’s annual GDP and employs about 7 million people – an average 130,000 people per country in Africa, according to the Bank President.

The aviation industry is projected to grow by 5% annually for the next 20 years. From serving 120 million passengers in 2015, the industry will triple and serve over 300 million passengers by 2035, Adesina observed.

“That’s the good news,” he said, adding that regrettably Africa’s aviation growth is held back by very restrictive regulatory environments which limit market size, profitability, and drive up costs.

“Aircraft departure fees alone in Africa are 30% above the global average, while taxes, fees and charges are 8% higher. Given lower per capita incomes in Africa, high fares essentially tax the poor out of the air! We may have an open sky policy, but then end up with empty skies!”

The AfDB President called for the development of airport terminal capacity to expand passenger growth, develop regional aviation hubs to improve connectivity, and upgrade air navigational services and air traffic control to improve safety.

“Modern and cheaper technologies such as the satellite based air navigation services now preclude the need for ground infrastructure, and make it possible to serve remote areas with radars. We must also develop within Africa, aircraft maintenance services and strengthen regional and sub-regional aviation safety agencies,” he noted.

The AfDB has invested $20 billion in infrastructure over the past 10 years, with over $1 billion in the aviation sector. The Bank’s investments include building modern airports and terminal extensions in Senegal, Morocco, Kenya, Ghana, Egypt, Cabo Verde and improving airport navigation systems in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The AfDB supported aircraft fleet expansion programs for Ethiopia and Côte d’Ivoire. The Bank also supported regional efforts for improving aviation safety and capacity building.

Adesina congratulated Nigeria on the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) certification of two airports in Abuja and Lagos as a consequence of meeting global standards, noting that the feat makes Nigeria the only country with two ICAO-certified airports in West and Central Africa.

The objective of the Bank is to support the ICAO safety and security standards certification of 20 African airports by 2019, Adesina said.

The African Development Bank will soon be going to its Board with a new aviation sector framework to support the revitalization of the aviation industry in Africa, he said.

The Bank, Adesina explained, is working with other partners on establishing facilities to de-risk financing for aircraft acquisition, upgrading of airports, expansion of regional navigational and air safety, and deregulation of the aviation industry to be more competitive and efficient.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) is partnering with the Nigerian Government, the African Union Commission (AUC), and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency to co-host the third ICAO World Aviation Forum from November 20-22 in Abuja, Nigeria.

*AFDB

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No puppet: President Lourenço stamps his authority on Angola
November 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

Two months into office, Dos Santos’ handpicked successor is systematically removing the former president’s children from state power.

BY FELIX JANVRIN*

João Lourenço became president in September 2017. Credit: GCIS.

João Lourenço became president in September 2017. Credit: GCIS.

On 15 November, as most of southern Africa’s attentions turned to the military takeover ensuing in Zimbabwe, Angola’s President João Lourenço took a set of dramatic steps.

Acting with lightning speed, he fired the entire board of Angola’s state oil company Sonangol, including its chair Isabel dos Santos. Later that day, he rescinded the affiliation of brothers Welwistchea and José Paulino with the television networks Channel 2 and TPA International respectively. And this was immediately followed by the resignation of José Filomeno, who had already been effectively side-lined earlier this month, from his position as manager of Angola’s $5 billion sovereign wealth fund.

The billionaire daughter Isabel, often reported to be Africa’s wealthiest woman, and her lesser known brothers are all the children of Jose Eduardo dos Santos. The totemic former president stepped downfrom office just this August after a long 38 years in power.

A sequence of events such as this would ordinarily have dominated the southern African news headlines for the rest of the week. But dramatic events in Zimbabwe seemingly relegated Isabel and her brothers’ exits to what seemed a dull sideshow. This could not be further from the truth. Lourenço’s severing of the powerful dos Santos family’s ties to state power marks a momentous and intriguing development in Angola’s political course.

Breaking the chains

When Lourenço was chosen by then President Dos Santos to be his successor, it was broadly assumed he would be a loyal puppet. A military general and defence minister, Lourenço was perceived to represent continuity in the Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA)’s tight knit one-party state. Despite the pressing need for economic reform, it was assumed that any change in the ranks would be undertaken slowly so as to avoid upsetting the dos Santos affiliates’ delicate web of economic assets, consolidated during the oil boom that followed the end of Angola’s civil war in 2002.

Yet two months into his reign, J-Lo – as he is sometimes referred to in a joking reference to the pop star – has caught almost everyone around him flat-footed. Former president Dos Santos was said to be off grid, undergoing medical treatment in Spain, at the time of his children’s sackings. Meanwhile, barely a month ago, Isabel had been celebrating the “alignment” in her relationship with the new president.

In fact, since coming to power, Lourenço has fired at least 60 government officials. This includes the heads of the state diamond mining firms Endiama and Sodiam. It also includes the chiefs of the intelligence service and police, the latter of which had been supposedly “locked in” by parliament under his predecessor’s tenure. In their places, he has typically elevated younger officials, such as the new central bank governor. At the time of writing, there is talk of him replacing more.

Why Sonangol matters

At a recent cross-stakeholder 30-day review of the oil sector overseen by Carlos Saturnino, the new chair of Sonangol, Isabel dos Santos was accused of failing to instigate meaningful change at the parastatal. This accusation allows Lourenço to frame her dismissal on technocratic grounds. However, the concurrent takedown of her brothers suggests the new president is in fact concertedly dismantling his predecessor’s ties to power.

Lourenço’s dismissals in the oil sector, however, are particularly crucial. The resource accounts for 45% of the country’s GDP, 75% of government revenues, and 98% of foreign exchange income. It is the cornerstone of the country’s international strategic importance.

Reforming this important sector would always have to begin with Sonangol. The parastatal is the government’s foremost asset, a sprawling behemoth that administers Angola’s huge offshore petroleum industry.

In Dos Santos’ later years, low international oil prices along with administrative and compliance problems wore the body down. This led him, in June 2016, to turn to his own daughter to reform it. This was a controversial decision, drawing accusations of nepotism and a legal examination from the Supreme Court.

Isabel’s retention following her father’s exit was perceived as a worrying indication that vested interests around the former president would continue to stymie economic reform. But by firing her, Lourenço has slashed a major string that his predecessor had attached to the government’s economic portfolio, one that could have restricted his ability to govern with the necessary economic independence.

Why J-Lo is now his own man

In a since deleted Facebook post a day after her sacking, Isabel dos Santos appeared to react with indignation. In the post, she quoted an official who warned that J-Lo would have to face up to the party for his deviant behaviour. This will certainly be the case, but it too early to say how Lourenço’s audacious stamp of authority will be digested by the secretive organs of the MPLA, which is still presided over by dos Santos.

On one hand, the party has sought to handle the succession issue with the utmost care for stability and may balk at such a heavy-handed challenge to their symbolic ex-leader. On the other hand, it is possible that the party will fall in line with Lourenço, who has made little secret of his reformist agenda since coming to power.

In the August elections, the MPLA garnered 64.57%, a disappointing result by its standards. The party knows that removing the dos Santos children from power will bring cosmetic benefits in this regard. Domestically, it furnishes J-Lo with much-needed populist credentials. Internationally, it signals to foreign stakeholders that cronyism may be ending.

The removals also have a more substantive effect though. Gaining control over Sonangol gives the new president greater purchase in negotiating with international partners. He needs these foreign relationships to reboot the economy, including China for demand and financial support, and the US for strategic assistance and legitimacy.

What next?

Since the end of the civil war, the MPLA has relied heavily its oil revenue to govern and maintain control. Although the resource remains vital, indications are that J-Lo aims to diversify the economy, breaking up corrupt state-run monopolies in the process.

The sackings appear to be a calculated step in this process. However, in the longer term, Angola’s new president may go further in devolving political power from an overstretched and overexposed central government by empowering local municipalities. This could be a cynical attempt at self-preservation – by devolving responsibility down the chain, he can immunise the upper echelons of state power from public scrutiny – or it could be a veritable attempt to improve accountability.

In any case, whether or not he succeeds, removing his predecessor’s hold on power has earned J-Lo the credit of being his own man for now.

As for the dos Santos kids, they may now be out of the spotlight, but thanks to their father’s near four-decades in power, they still hold onto extensive economic interests, both in Angola and abroad.

*Culled from African Arguments.Felix Janvrin is a freelance journalist focused on macroeconomic and political dynamics across southern and eastern Africa.

 

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Burkina Faso recalls ambassador to Libya over “slave markets” report
November 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Thiam Ndiaga*
Minister of Foreign Affairs Alpha Barry of Burkina Faso in Manhattan, New York, U.S. September 19, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Minister of Foreign Affairs Alpha Barry of Burkina Faso in Manhattan, New York, U.S. September 19, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) – Burkina Faso’s foreign minister said on Monday it had recalled its ambassador to Libya over a report that black African migrants were being auctioned as slaves there.

The decision by the West African nation followed the broadcast by CNN of footage of what it said was an auction of men offered to Libyan buyers as farmhands and sold for $400, a chilling echo of the trans-Saharan slave trade of centuries past.

Libya’s ambassador to Burkina Faso said his country was being unfairly blamed for a global problem that all nations affected must come together to solve.

Foreign Minister Alpha Barry announced the decision by President Roch Marc Kabore in a news conference.

“The president of Burkina Faso has decided to recall the ambassador to Tripoli, General Abraham Traore, for a consultation,” Barry said.

He had also “summoned the Libyan charge d’affairs in (Burkina Faso’s capital) Ouagadougou to express our indignation at these images that belong to other centuries, images of the slave trade”.

In a news conference on Wednesday, Libya’s ambassador to Burkina Faso, Abdul Rahman Khameda, appealed for help from both the European Union and African Union to help Libya reach a lasting resolution of the migrant crisis.

“Libya alone can not solve this problem,” he said. “We call on the international community to intensify efforts to help Libya cope with this danger (illicit migration), which is tearing at its social fabric.”

African and European leaders are due to meet next week in Ivory Coast’s main city, Abidjan, where migration and Europe’s efforts to tackle it by co-opting Libya will be high on the agenda.

“Adopting an effective solution will prevent certain parties from exploiting such unfortunate events to tarnish Libya’s name,” Khameda said.

An agreement between Europe and Africa to stem the flow of migrants coming through Libya to Europe had failed to tackle the severe abuses they face, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein wrote in an article published in September.

*Reuters

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Access Power and FMO launch second edition of Solar ‘Shark Tank’ Competition for Innovative Solar Projects
November 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
Access Power and FMO launch second edition of Solar ‘Shark Tank’ Competition for Innovative Solar Projects
Submission window opens as Solar Projects Compete for US$ 100,000 Grant to Develop their Projects
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, November 20, 2017/ — FMO (www.FMO.nl), the Dutch development bank, and Access Power (www.Access-Power.com), a leading developer, owner and operator of power projects in emerging markets, today announced the launch of the 2018 FMO Access Power Solar ‘Shark Tank’ Competition following the competition’s successful first installment in 2016 at the ‘Making Solar Bankable’ conference. The initiative is aimed at helping local solar power developers that require development support to make their innovative solar projects more impactful.

In order to be considered for the grant, the proposed projects must be located in Asia, Africa or Latin America and be based on solar PV technology. They should also meet the capacity criterion of 10MW or more, and be at an advanced stage of development (preliminary feasibility studies should have been completed). Furthermore, eligible projects should have an innovative or impactful angle to the project that can be developed with support of the grant.

Proposals will be screened and scored by a pre-selection committee assembled by FMO and Access Power. Four shortlisted finalists will be invited to present their projects and answer questions from a panel of judges in front of a live audience on the 15th of February 2018 during the second edition of the ‘Making Solar Bankable’ conference, co-organized by FMO and Solarplaza in Amsterdam, Netherlands on 15 and 16 February. The winning project will be announced at the end of the session during the event.

The winner will receive a $100,000 grant towards the development costs of their project from FMO and Access Power. In addition to that, Access Power will pre-qualify the winning proposal of the Solar Shark Tank competition for the 2018 edition of the Access Co-Development Facility (ACF) (https://goo.gl/76qvjJ) competition, subject to meeting ACF qualification requirements. Access Power will provide the ACF winner with technical support, financial structuring and development process management.

Reda El Chaar, Executive Chairman of Access Power, commented: 
“Following the competition’s successful launch in 2016, we are thrilled to have once again partnered with FMO to promote and help development of early stage solar projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In 2016 we received over 36 of applications from 21 countries and 2018 looks set to build on that success. We look forward with great interest to receiving this year’s entries and hearing the judge’s final decision during an exciting live event at the ‘Making Solar Bankable’ conference in Amsterdam”.

Jurgen Rigterink, CEO of FMO, added:
“FMO is proud to partner again with Access Power to help improve access to energy in the regions in the world where it is most needed. The entries of this year’s competition will all contribute to clean and affordable energy, making it possible for people to improve their livelihoods. We look forward to an inspiring event”.

Application procedures close on 5th of January 2018. Visit the Solar Shark Tank page on https://goo.gl/aeoEKg or https://goo.gl/Cn8w9h to download the application form.

About Solar Shark Tank 2018

  • Following a pre-selection process, a shortlist of applicants will be chosen to present their projects to a panel of judges 15th of February 2018 during the ‘Making Solar Bankable’ conference in Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Applicants must present their projects to the judging panel during the conference within a given time and take questions from panel members.
  • Panel members will score each project based on the evaluation criteria, using weighted percentages.
  • Submission period runs from 20th November, 2017 to 5th January, 2018.

Access Power (www.Access-Power.com) is a fast-growing developer, owner and operator of power assets in emerging and frontier markets and is currently developing power projects worth over US$1 billion in 23 countries across Africa and Asia. In late 2016, Access Power commissioned East Africa’s largest solar power plant in Soroti Uganda which currently provides clean energy for over 40,000 homes, schools and small businesses.

FMO (www.FMO.nl) is the Dutch development bank. As a leading impact investor, FMO supports sustainable private sector growth in developing countries and emerging markets by investing in ambitious projects and entrepreneurs. FMO believes that a strong private sector leads to economic and social development, and has a more than
45-year proven track-record of empowering people to employ their skills and improve their quality of life.FMO focuses on three sectors that have high development impact: financial institutions, energy, and agribusiness, food & water. With a committed portfolio of EUR 9.0 billion spanning over 92 countries, FMO is one of the larger bilateral private sector developments banks globally.

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Mercer Launches Francophone Africa Hub in Morocco
November 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
New regional hub increases Health and Benefits footprint to enhance client service and enable the expansion of Mercer’s Wealth and Career offerings in Francophone Africa
CASABLANCA, Morocco, November 20, 2017/ — Mercer (www.Mercer.com), a global consulting leader in health, wealth and career and wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc. (NYSE: MMC) (www.MMC.com), has announced an expanded footprint as part of an important initiative to strengthen service to the Francophone region of Africa. Through its new Casablanca Financial City hub in Morocco, Mercer will bolster its Health business and further penetrate the African market with Wealth and Career solutions.

“Africa is an important part of our growth strategy for Mercer. We’ve been operating on the continent for many years and we continuously look for ways to bring differentiated value to our clients,” said David Anderson, President of Mercer’s Growth Markets Region. “Strengthening our footprint in this growing and thriving region will allow us to improve client service across their Health and Benefits needs, and will allow clients greater access to our world class Wealth and Career services.”

Mercer currently serves clients in 41 of Africa’s 54 sovereign states.  The firm is expanding its market presence to match the burgeoning business landscape. North Africa continues to show great promise and Mercer is committed to being a partner in assisting our clients in the region. Mercer’s ongoing investment in Francophone Africa and throughout the continent will enable the global consulting leader to service evolving client needs with greater flexibility and customization.

“Morocco is the ideal hub for Mercer’s continued growth across Francophone Africa.” said Mustafa Faizani, CEO UAE & India, Middle East, Turkey, and Africa Zone, Mercer. “The new Casablanca Financial City hub and existing strategic partnerships will support the growth of Mercer’s local business in Morocco and enable us to grow the Mercer Marsh Benefits (MMB) footprint. Expanding our presence to Morocco is a critical step toward enhancing our leading position in the region and leveraging the market’s full potential to address our clients’ unique hyperlocal needs, across health, wealth and career.”

Mercer already has a presence in Francophone African markets by providing Africa Health and Risk Solutions (AHRS) for multinational companies seeking standardized benefit structures in more than one country and pricing power through placement of coverages in the international insurance market. Mercer’s existing Moroccan client base is serviced locally through an established strategic partnership with AFMA, the largest brokerage in the country.

The arrival in Casablanca marks the 14th city expansion for Mercer in the growth economies in the past two years. Currently over 15,000 clients in 84 countries are served by colleagues located in 22 countries across our Growth Markets Region.

Mercer  delivers advice and technology-driven solutions that help organizations meet the health, wealth and career needs of a changing workforce. Mercer’s more than 22,000 employees are based in 43 countries and the firm operates in over 130 countries. Mercer is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies , the leading global professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people. With more than 60,000 colleagues and annual revenue over $13 billion, through its market-leading companies including Marsh , Guy Carpenter and Oliver Wyman  Marsh & McLennan helps clients navigate an increasingly dynamic and complex environment.

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Thousands of Zimbabweans take to the streets of Harare to celebrate Mugabe’s resignation
November 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

The streets of Harare”s CBD are awash with thousands of Zimbabweans
celebrating the resignation of President Robert Mugabe who tender his
resignation today to the speaker of parliament.

Mugabe is reported to have tendered his resignation from the post of
president before finalisation on an impeachment order which was being
initiated by the country’s parliamentarians.

At the time of writing, people here are in jubilation mood and
motorists are hooting their cars in celebratory mood.
The country’s citizens who have been politically and economically
tormented for over a decade now anxiously await for a new dispensation
following the collapse of Mugabe’s long rule.

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SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS GIVES THANKS BY OFFERING ITS LOWEST FARES OF THE YEAR
November 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

Holiday Sale Offers Exceptional Fares Starting at $599* roundtrip to Africa

Fort Lauderdale, FL (November 21, 2017) – South African Airways (SAA), the national flag carrier of South Africa and Africa’s most awarded airline today announces a holiday sale that offers its lowest fares of the year to selected destinations throughout Africa. For a limited time only, book flights for round-trip travel from New York-JFK International Airport or Washington, DC Dulles International Airport to Johannesburg, South Africa for just $599.00* (restrictions apply) or to Cape Town for $629.00*(restriction apply). Also on offer are nonstop flights from Washington, DC Dulles International Airport to Dakar, Senegal for $629.00* (restrictions apply) round-trip or to Accra, Ghana for $639.00* (restrictions apply) round-trip. These fares are available for purchase through November 28, 2017, for travel between January 10 and March 27, 2018.

“At this festive time of year for giving, we are expressing our thanks by making Africa even more affordable for travelers from North America. There is nothing that can compare to witnessing the beauty of an African sunset, sipping sundowners on a safari, taking in the magnificent sights in Cape Town, or exploring the history and culture of Ghana and Senegal”, said Todd Neuman, executive vice president, North America, for South African Airways. “With these fares, our very lowest of the year, we are encouraging everyone to give the gift of Africa to oneself, a loved one or a friend this holiday season. Giving this gift, on Africa’s most awarded airline, is certainly a terrific way to show your appreciation to that someone special.”

The sale fares are available for 7-days only, so travelers must hurry to purchase tickets by visiting www.flysaa.com or by calling SAA Reservations at 1-(800) 722-9675 to take advantage of these incredible savings.

As the leading carrier from the U.S. to South Africa, South African Airways is the only airline to offer daily nonstop service from New York – JFK and daily direct service from Washington, DC-Dulles to Johannesburg, South Africa. South African Airways also offers nonstop service from Washington, DCDulles to Accra, Ghana, four-days per week and Dakar, Senegal, three-days per week. From its hub in Johannesburg, SAA offers business and leisure travelers’ convenient connections to over 75 destinations on the Africa continent in partnership with its regional airlines SA Express, Airlink, and Mango.

 

 

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Zimbabwe’s Mugabe ignores party deadline to quit
November 20, 2017 | 0 Comments
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe delivers his speech during a live broadcast at State House in Harare, Sunday, Nov, 19, 2017. Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe baffled the country by ending his address on national television without announcing his resignation. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe delivers his speech during a live broadcast at State House in Harare, Sunday, Nov, 19, 2017. Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe baffled the country by ending his address on national television without announcing his resignation. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party has summoned its MPs to discuss the future of its leader, President Robert Mugabe, after a deadline for his resignation came and went on Monday.

The deadline was set by Mr Mugabe’s own party, Zanu-PF.

The embattled leader surprised Zimbabweans on Sunday, declaring on TV that he planned to remain as president.

Zanu-PF says it backs impeachment, and proceedings could begin as soon as Tuesday when parliament meets.

In a draft motion, seen by Reuters, the party blamed the president for what it called an “unprecedented economic tailspin”.

The public has poured on to the streets in protest in recent days, calling for the end of Mr Mugabe’s 37-year presidency.

His grip on power has weakened considerably since the country’s army intervened on Wednesday in a row over who should succeed him.

The crisis began two weeks ago when the 93-year-old leader sacked his deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa, angering army commanders who saw it as an attempt to position his wife Grace as next president.

Zimbabwe has since then seen huge street rallies demanding his immediate resignation.

The protests have been backed by the influential war veterans – who fought in the conflict that led to independence from Britain in 1980.

The group’s leader, Chris Mutsvangwa, on Monday called for more demonstrations against the president’s attempt to cling on to power.

“We want to see his back now,” Mr Mutsvangwa said. “Mugabe, your rule is over. The emperor has no clothes. Thank you very much.”

Choreographing a departure

Andrew Harding in Harare

The city is swirling with rumours that Mr Mugabe is planning his resignation and that he may go back on television to announce it at any stage, and that Sunday’s speech was simply about giving carte blanche to the military for what they’ve done.

But we just don’t know at this stage if he will give in to the pressure from the war veterans, his own party, and the public.

Mr Mugabe said in his speech that he planned to preside over the Zanu-PF congress next month, a statement people here found baffling after the party voted to strip him of his leadership and kick out his wife.

What is clear is that everyone here believes that the Mugabe era is over. Saturday’s protests unleashed something and people believe that a line has been crossed. Now it is really about negotiating the time, the process, the choreography of Mr Mugabe’s departure.

The fear of Zanu-PF and of the security services will not go away overnight. People here grew up with that fear. In the meantime, the streets are calm, but Tuesday may bring more demonstrations.

What did Mugabe say in his speech?

During the 20-minute address, the president, who was flanked by generals, made no mention of the pressure from his party and the public to quit.

Instead, he declared that the military had done nothing wrong by seizing power and placing him under house arrest.

“Whatever the pros and cons of how they [the army] went about their operation, I, as commander-in-chief, do acknowledge their concerns,” he said, in reference to the army’s move last week to take over the state broadcaster in the capital Harare.

He also said “the [Zanu-PF] party congress is due in a few weeks and I will preside over its processes”.

Before Mr Mugabe’s speech, Mr Mnangagwa was named as Zanu-PF’s new leader and candidate for the 2018 general elections, while Mr Mugabe’s wife was expelled.

So what happens next?

After Mr Mugabe’s speech, Zanu-PF chief whip Lovemore Matuke was quoted as saying that the resignation ultimatum was unchanged.

He added that impeachment proceedings could be launched on Tuesday in parliament. This would require a two-thirds majority in both chambers.

The opposition MDC-T party has tried unsuccessfully to impeach Mr Mugabe in the past, but this time the ruling party – which has an overwhelming majority in both houses – is likely to go against him.

However, the impeachment process could take weeks.

The BBC’s Africa Editor, Fergal Keane, said his understanding of the situation was that Mr Mugabe had agreed to resign, but then changed his mind.

Our correspondent says the generals have no intention of forcing Mr Mugabe out by the barrel of a gun, and are happy to let the Zanu-PF carry out its procedures, working through impeachment if necessary.

It is unclear how Robert Mugabe can preside over Zanu-PF’s congress next month, following his dismissal as party leader.

Party positions are officially decided at the congress and Mr Mnangagwa may take over leading the country then.

Mr Mnangagwa, a former state security chief, is nicknamed “the crocodile” for his perceived shrewdness. He fled Zimbabwe after his sacking a fortnight ago, but has since reportedly returned.

What’s the reaction been?

The War Veterans Association, which used to back Mr Mugabe, now says it is time for him to step down.

“Thirty-seven years, you have had your time, you are toast now politically,” association head Chris Mutsvangwa told the BBC.

“Please give the country a chance, let it move to the next page.”

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said he was “baffled” by the president’s address.

“He’s playing a game. He has let the whole nation down,” he told Reuters news agency.

Mr Mugabe has led the country since it gained independence from Britain in 1980.

*Source BBC

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African Union calls for Libya ‘slave market’ probe
November 18, 2017 | 0 Comments
Guinea's President Alpha Conde, President of the African Union,demanded an enquiry and prosecutions relating to what he termed a "despicable trade... from another era"

Guinea’s President Alpha Conde, President of the African Union,demanded an enquiry and prosecutions relating to what he termed a “despicable trade… from another era”

Tripoli (AFP) – The African Union on Friday called for Libyan authorities to investigate “slave markets” of black Africans operating in the conflict-torn nation, following the release of shocking images showing the sale of young men.

The demand follows the release of CNN footage of a live auction in Libya where black youths are presented to north African buyers as potential farmhands and sold off for as little as $400.

Guinean President Alpha Conde, who is also Chairman of the African Union, demanded an enquiry and prosecutions relating to what he termed a “despicable trade… from another era”.

Meanwhile Senegal’s government. commenting on Facebook, expressed “outrage at the sale of Sub-Saharan African migrants on Libyan soil,” which constituted a “blight on the conscience of humanity”.

African migrants from nations including Guinea and Senegal but also Mali, Niger, Nigeria and The Gambia make the dangerous crossing through the Sahara to Libya with hopes of making it over the Mediterranean Sea to Italy.

But testimony collected by AFP in recent years has revealed a litany of rights abuses at the hands of gangmasters, human traffickers and the Libyan security forces, while many end up stuck in the unstable north African nation for years.

More than 8,800 stranded migrants have been returned home this year, according to the International Organization for Migration, which is also amassing evidence of slavery.

Conde further appealed for the Libyan authorities to “reassess migrants’ detention conditions” following revelations over squalid jails and detention centres that await migrants who are caught trying to reach the coast.

“These modern slavery practices must end and the African Union will use all the tools at its disposal,” Conde added.

Libya has opened an investigation into the practice, CNN reported Friday, and pledged to return those taken as slaves to their country of origin.

*AFP

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Africa: Nurturing Young Entrepreneurs as the Next Generation of Hunger Fighters
November 18, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Bunmi Oloruntoba
Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB)

Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB)

DES MOINES, United States of America, November 18, 2017/ — Considered the “Nobel Prize of agriculture,” the World Food Prize is awarded each year for a specific and exceptionally significant contribution to the production or distribution of food. This year, the prize was awarded to Akinwumi Adesina, a former Nigerian agriculture minister – and currently the president of the African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org) – for his contributions to increasing productivity in that country’s agricultural sector.

A list of Adesina’s achievements as minister of agriculture from 2010 to 2015 spans several pages. But for the World Food Prize, the focal point was his introduction of the Electronic Wallet (E-Wallet) platform to Nigeria’s food production and distribution chain.

Through the E-Wallet, Adesina pioneered a new way for the Nigerian government to deliver subsidized farm inputs, such as fertilizer and seeds, to local farmers through private agro-dealers. The farmers, in turn, get to redeem these subsidized inputs from the agro-dealers using e-vouchers, which they can access through their mobile phones.

To implement the platform, Adesina initiated a Growth and Enhancement Support Scheme (GES). He powered the scheme by orchestrating the successful registration of more than five million Nigerian farmers, whose information and mobile phone numbers were added to the GES database. The database, coupled with the E-Wallet, now allows Nigerian farmers to receive directly from the government everything from fertilizer to high-yield rice seeds and palm oil seedlings.

In the past, such subsidized inputs would have bypassed the farmers and fallen into the hands of black marketers who would have sold the inputs on the open market or in neighboring countries. According to the World Food Prize, through the E-wallet Adesina succeeded in breaking the “back of corrupt elements that had controlled the fertilizer distribution system for 40 years.”

The platform also helped solve other previously intractable problems in the way of commercial large scale food production in Nigeria.

For example, the country’s paddy rice farmers, through the E-Wallet, were able to receive from the government award-winning, high yield NERICA rice varieties, which saw their output rise from five to six tons per hectare. Thousands of paddy farmers producing a consistent grade of rice soon created the opportunity for several agro-based companies to switch from rice importation to local rice production, and standardization of the country’s rice output led to large private sector investments in rice milling.

The World Food Prize compares the spread of Adesina’s efforts in scale to the “Green Revolution” work of the Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug. In the 1970s and 1980s, Borlaug introduced high-yield dwarf wheat to Latin America and Asia, spawning “Green Revolutions” on two continents.

As other African countries start to adopt E-Wallet platforms to get subsidized inputs – and even financial services – directly to their farmers, the World Food Prize claims Adesina’s E-Wallet is “sparking a Borlaugian ‘Take It to the Farmer’ revolution across Africa.”

Farming creates jobs for young people

In his more recent job as president of Africa’s premier multilateral development finance institution, the African Development Bank (AfDB), Adesina embraces the continent’s “youth bulge” both as an opportunity and a resource in working for economic transformation.

Africa’s labor market is expected to absorb 11 million youths every year for the next decade. Despite rapid growth in formal wage sector jobs, the World Bank estimates that most of the continent’s young people “are likely to work on family farms and in household enterprises, often with very low incomes.”

Adesina wants to drive Africa’s economic transformation by empowering the continent’s youth population and making agriculture the hottest startup sector for young people. To achieve this goal, he wants to change the perception of agriculture in Africa from being a survival activity to a vehicle for wealth creation; from a hobby to a business.

It therefore came as no surprise when Adesina, halfway through his acceptance speech for the World Food Prize, declared to the crowded room in the American Midwestern city of Des Moines that “there will be no rest for me until Africa feeds itself, and for that we need the youth.”

“Even though I don’t have the cheque in my hand right now,” he continued, “I hereby commit my quarter of a million dollars… prize award to set up a fund fully dedicated to providing grants, fellowships and financing for the youth of Africa in agriculture as a business.”

Adesina’s vision for Africa’s youth and agriculture becomes prescient as the world’s geopolitical winds shift the focus of policymakers.

Britain’s Brexit vote to leave the European Union and the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States mark a rightward shift in the geopolitical landscape, with increasing numbers of countries appealing to more nationalistic agendas and responding to calls to stem immigration.

Creating jobs for young people in agriculture can both help Africa’s economic transformation and offer a solution to some of the challenges facing the continent and the world: the high rate of youth unemployment in Africa; human trafficking and the high rate of illegal migration of young Africans into Europe; sustainably kickstarting Africa’s industrialization; and preventing religious radicalization and combating terrorism.

To gain a clearer understanding of these issues, the lectures and speeches Adesina has given around the world are a good place to start:

On Youth Unemployment and Illegal Migration to Europe

Africa’s rapid population growth, specifically the growth of the working-age population, complicates a precarious labor market characterized by poor-quality employment, which in turn creates the urge for the youth to seek better opportunities elsewhere. The International Labor Organization estimates that in the next four years an additional 12.6 million youth in sub-Saharan Africa will enter the labour force.

Data from the International Organization for Migration (https://goo.gl/5f3Bd7) reveals that more than 154,000 young Africans have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe in 2017 so far. More than 2,900 have died trying to make the crossing. In 2016, more than 352,000 Africans crossed into Europe and more than 4,750 died.

Adesina, in remarks (https://goo.gl/Seb1Lp) leading up to the 2015 Action Plan for African Agricultural Transformation conference in Dakar, pointed out that “the agricultural sector [in Africa] has four times the power to create jobs and reduce poverty than any other sector.”

“That is why we make the claim that we can diminish the migrant crisis in Europe by supporting agricultural transformation in Africa,” he said.

In remarks at the 2017 G7 Summit in Taormina, Italy, back in May, Adesina expanded on this vision when he said that “the future of Africa’s youth does not lie in migration to Europe” nor should it be “at the bottom of the Mediterranean.” He proposed rather that an agribusiness-driven economy could be one of the economic reasons Africa’s youth choose to remain on the continent.

“We must turn rural areas from zones of economic misery to zones of economic prosperity,” Adesina said. “This requires new agricultural innovations and transforming agriculture into a sector for creating wealth. We must make agriculture a really cool choice for young people.”

“The future millionaires and billionaires of Africa will come initially from agriculture.”

On Africa’s Industrialization

Industrialization has been referred to as the most effective driver of structural poverty reduction. Experts remind us that no developing country has transitioned into a developed country without industrializing.

Adesina, in his opening speech at the Dakar conference, questioned the theory that assumes labour must move from the agricultural sector to the industrial sector. Rather, Adesina suggested an economic theory of industrialization that sees Africa’s industrialization starting from the agricultural sector.

“The reality,” he said, “is that agro-industrialization has greatest potential for Africa to achieve more rapid and inclusive growth – and create jobs… If you want industrialization of Africa, and massive job creation, focus on industrializing the agriculture sector.”

He went on to add, “to rapidly modernize agriculture, we must get the youth engaged in the sector. We must change the perception of the youths of agriculture – they must see agriculture as a business.”

On radicalization and terrorism

The Africa Center for Strategic Studies has warned (https://goo.gl/u5Re4c) that one of the “key effect of ISIS’s continued loss of territory and operational capacity in Iraq and Syria will be an increase in the number of ISIS fighters returning to regions in Africa already facing a threat from violent Islamists.”

In his opening remarks (https://goo.gl/v8HPjX) at the West African Ministerial Conference in October 2016, Adesina observed that “today, across Africa, unemployed youths are turning into gangs, getting into kidnappings for a living, getting recruited to join terrorist groups. And those are the wrong kind of jobs.”

At his speech at the 2017 G7 conference in Italy, he referred to the deadly combination of extreme rural poverty, high youth unemployment and environmental climate degradation as the “triangle of disaster. Where these factors are found, they provide rich recruitment zones for terrorists.”

In Adesina’s view, agribusiness – more than any other economic sector – has the power to bring wealth to the rural parts of Africa

“I believe that the future millionaires of Africa will come from agriculture, not from the oil and gas industry. Agriculture will become Africa’s new oil.”

Adesina has also announced that his World Food Prize money will be used to establish a World Food Prize Global Youth Institute for Africa, an organization he said will support a new generation of agricultural scientists and innovators across Africa. This organization will nurture and produce graduates known as Borlaug-Adesina Fellows, who will become the next generation of hunger fighters.

*Source Allafrica

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Arsenal welcomes WorldRemit as first-ever Official Online Money Transfer Partner
November 17, 2017 | 0 Comments
Leading digital money transfer company WorldRemit and Arsenal partner to use the power of football to find a better way to connect communities
From Left to Right) - New signing, 1st XI defender, Sead Kolasinac; Arsenal Club Captain, Per Mertesacker; 1st XI midfielder and Arsenal Academy graduate, Jack Wilshere

From Left to Right) – New signing, 1st XI defender, Sead Kolasinac; Arsenal Club Captain, Per Mertesacker; 1st XI midfielder and Arsenal Academy graduate, Jack Wilshere

LONDON, United Kingdom, November 17, 2017/ — WorldRemit (www.WorldRemit.com) becomes the first Official Online Money Transfer Partner of the Premier League club, Arsenal (www.Arsenal.com). The leading digital money transfer business, formed by a UK-based entrepreneur from Somaliland, has joined forces with Arsenal to accelerate the company’s growth and help more people save money on international transfers.

The global partnership will provide WorldRemit with a range of rights and player access to support its expansion plans. The partnership agreement includes match day LED branding for every Premier League, League Cup and FA Cup match along with TV interview backdrop presence for every home Premier League match along with global digital and social media rights across Arsenal’s online and mobile platforms.

WorldRemit will work closely with Arsenal’s first-team players to create unique content that will support new and existing community engagement initiatives around the world.

The partnership will also reward WorldRemit’s customers and Arsenal supporters through exclusive events and experiences using the power of football to inspire people. The company will launch the partnership with the first in a number of competitions to win travel to London and tickets to watch the team play at Emirates Stadium.

WorldRemit was founded by Chief Executive Officer Ismail Ahmed, to offer a better way to send small sums of money more frequently, bringing family and friends closer together – wherever they are.

WorldRemit’s service is available to senders in 50 countries and the company offers money transfers to more than 140 destinations across Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and the Americas.

The company is a global leader in international transfers paid out as mobile money – where funds can be held on mobile telephone accounts. WorldRemit connects to over 130 million mobile money accounts, enabling money to be sent safely to friends and family even if the recipient doesn’t have access to a bank account.

The partnership will support WorldRemit’s growth ambitions by helping them reach Arsenal’s 74 million followers on their official social media channels and 185 supporters’ clubs worldwide.

Vinai Venkatesham, Arsenal’s Chief Commercial Officer, said: “This is an exciting new partnership with WorldRemit who under their inspirational CEO are looking to transform the way people can transfer money to family and friends around the world. We share mutual values and look forward to working together to build their global presence through our broadcast, social and digital channels which reach millions around the world. We look forward to a long and successful partnership.”

Ismail Ahmed, WorldRemit Chief Executive Officer, said: “Football is a language that everyone understands. Growing up in Somaliland, you would always see kids playing football – even during the war. It’s a passion which connects people all over the world and we are proud to sponsor a club whose values are so closely aligned to our own and those of our customers. This partnership with Arsenal creates opportunities for us to thank and reward our loyal customers and to connect with new audiences around the world. We look forward to using the power of football to support and inspire young people to fulfil their potential and to the opportunities which we can create to together.”

Arsenal (www.Arsenal.com) is one of the leading clubs in world football with a strong heritage of success, progressive thinking and financial stability.
The club was founded in 1886 in Woolwich, south London, before moving to Highbury in north London in 1913. We moved to Emirates Stadium in 2006.
Arsenal has an impressive roll of honour: English League Champions 13 times, FA Cup winners a record 13 times, League Cup winners twice and European Cup Winners’ Cup (1994) and European Fairs Cup (1970) winners once.
In addition, Arsenal Women are the most successful English club in women’s football. They celebrate their 30th season this year. The club has 45,000 season ticket holders, 1.8m digital global members and one of the biggest digital followings in the game with a reach of 74m across all channels.
The Arsenal Foundation uses the power of football and the Arsenal name to inspire and support young people in north London and across the globe. The Arsenal Foundation raises funds each year and works with a number of key partners including Save the Children, Islington Giving, Willow and the Gunners’ Fund. Locally, Arsenal in the Community has delivered programmes to drive positive social outcomes for more than 30 years.

WorldRemit (www.WorldRemit.com) is creating a better way to send money. By making it easy to send smaller sums of money more frequently, WorldRemit is bringing friends and family closer together.
WorldRemit was founded in 2010. The Chief Executive Ismail Ahmed – a UK based entrepreneur from Somaliland – saw the opportunity to give customers a better service by offering faster, lower-cost and more secure digital money transfers compared to traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ agents.
The company has grown quickly: it has ranked in the Sunday Times Tech Track top 100 list of fastest growing tech companies for the past two years in a row. Backed by Accel Partners and TCV – investors in Facebook, Spotify, Netflix and Slack. Dr Ahmed was recently voted the third most influential person in the 2018 Powerlist of 100 people, which recognises those of African and African Caribbean heritage. In 2017 WorldRemit was recognised by the FT and the IFC as the UK’s most Transformative Business in the Transformational Business Awards.
WorldRemit’s global headquarters are in London, UK with offices in the United States, Canada, South Africa, Singapore, the Philippines, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

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Agrofood & Plastprintpack West Africa 2017 featuring a record participation of 90+ exhibitors from 21 countries
November 17, 2017 | 0 Comments
West African food imports increased to 14.4. Billion US$ in 2015 compared to 13.1 billion US$ in 2014, a plus of 10% (WTO World Trade Organization)
HEIDELBERG, Germany, November 17, 2017/ — Organized by the German trade fair specialists Fairtrade (www.Fairtrade-Messe.de) the 4th edition of Agrofood (www.Agrofood-WestAfrica.com) & PlastPrintPack West Africa (www.PPP-WestAfrica.com) will take place on 05 to 07 December 2017 at the Accra International Conference Centre in Accra, Ghana. More than 90+ exhibitors from 21 countries including 5 national pavilions from Algeria, France, Netherlands, Poland and Sri Lanka, make the 2017 edition the biggest ever.  The figures of rising food imports confirm that the largest food market in Africa is still undersupplied. Rising technology imports indicate massive investments in processing, plastics and packaging equipment and a revival of local production.

West Africa’s 4th International Trade Show on Agriculture, Food & Beverage and Plastics, Printing & Packaging Solutions and Technology takes place on the background of positive economic data as figures of WTO and VDMA indicate a clear upward trend for West Africa’s Agrofood & PlastPrintPack industry. Ghana, Ivory Coast and Senegal are the largest importers of finished food as well as of agricultural and food processing and packaging technology in West Africa – apart from Nigeria.

Largest food market in Africa still undersupplied

West African food imports increased to 14.4. Billion US$ in 2015 compared to 13.1 billion US$ in 2014, a plus of 10% (WTO World Trade Organization). The figures of rising food imports show that the largest food market in Africa is still undersupplied.

 Rising technology imports indicate massive investments and a revival of local production 

  • West African imports of agricultural machinery and equipment amounted to 187 million euro in 2016 (German Engineering Federation VDMA)
  • West African imports of food processing and packaging technology increased from 506 million euro in 2015 to 556 million euro in 2016 (VDMA), up 10%
  • West Africa imported plastics technology worth 142.9 million euro in 2016, printing and paper technology of 121.8 million euro and packaging technology worth 240.2 million euro.

Rising technology imports confirm massive investments in processing, plastics and packaging equipment and indicate a revival of local production and an extremely promising medium-term development.

Agrofood & PlastPrintPack West Africa 2017 the biggest ever 

“This year 90+ exhibitors from 21 countries are represented, making the 2017 edition the biggest ever”, says Leonie Ganser, project manager at Fairtrade. “The exhibitors come from Algeria, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Iran, Italy, Korea, Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and United Kingdom.”

In addition to many global players, 5 national pavilions participate from:

  • Algeria, showcasing agribusiness products, solutions and technology
  • France, organized by adepta – offering French know-how and technology for agriculture, livestock and Agrofood production of 8 exhibitors
  • The Netherlands under the motto “Holland-Ghana Growing together” offering seeds, plants, processed foods and tissue culture supplies
  • Poland, displaying Agrofood products and equipment by 12 exhibitors
  • Sri Lanka Tea Board with 5 exhibitors offering Ceylon Tea

Institutional support:

Agrofood & PlastPrintPack West Africa 2017 is supported by the Ghanaian Ministry of Food and Agriculture and of Trade and Industry, the Delegation of the German Industry and Commerce in Ghana AHK, the French Agrofood association adepta and AVEP – Associación Valenciana de Empresarios de Plásticos.

Fairtrade (www.Fairtrade-Messe.de) was founded by Martin März in 1991. Since long, Fairtrade ranks among the leading organisers of professional international trade fairs in emerging markets, especially in North and Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Managed by its shareholder and committed to the values of a family business and the team spirit, Fairtrade maintains a powerful network of partnerships throughout the world. Fairtrade organizes shows in the sectors Agrofood, Building, CIT Solutions, Energy, Environment, Industry and PlastPrintPack and strives for a high level of customer satisfaction. By means of innovative products and excellent service Fairtrade organizes professional platforms for valuable business contacts between exhibitors and visitors. A member of UFI the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, Fairtrade’s management system is ISO 9001: 2008 certified.

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Germany backs renewable energy projects in Africa with the launch of RLSF – an innovative liquidity facility managed by ATI
November 16, 2017 | 0 Comments
The facility is designed to provide a viable solution to one of the biggest challenges facing independent power producers (IPPs) operating in Africa
Left to right) Thomas Duve, Director Southern Africa and Regional Funds KfW Development Bank - and John Lentaigne, Chief Underwriting Officer, ATI

Left to right) Thomas Duve, Director Southern Africa and Regional Funds KfW Development Bank – and John Lentaigne, Chief Underwriting Officer, ATI

LONDON, United Kingdom, November 16, 2017/ — KfW (www.KfW-entwicklungsbank.de), the German Development Bank, and the African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) (www.ATI-ACA.org) announced, on the side lines of the annual Africa Investment Exchange: Power and Renewables Meeting, a new instrument to support renewable energy projects in sub-Saharan Africa that targets small- and mid-scale (up to 50 MW) green power renewable energy projects.

The facility is designed to provide a viable solution to one of the biggest challenges facing independent power producers (IPPs) operating in Africa, specifically the requirement to provide project lenders with a liquidity guarantee. The German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through KfW will provide funding of up to 32.9 million EUR to the facility, which aims to enable small-and mid-scale renewable energy projects in Africa to reach financial close by addressing liquidity requirements that lenders frequently require in order to fund such projects.

The launch of the new facility is happening at an opportune moment when emerging markets are seeing record investments in the renewable energy sector. The International Energy Agency (IEA) expects sub-Saharan Africa’s renewables capacity to grow by 73% (24.4GW) over the period 2017-22. In addition, small-scale projects are seen as a potential solution to Africa’s energy deficit because they are easier to implement and can target energy requirements at source, but these projects find it difficult to access the type of guarantees needed to reach financial closure. The facility will kick in by providing immediate liquidity to keep the IPP afloat during periods of payment delays that are beyond the grace period provided in the power purchase agreement.

Günther Nooke, Personal Representative of the German Chancellor for Africa, BMZ, said “The Regional Liquidity Support Facility will address a key challenge in renewable energy project finance and de-risk private sector investments. We are pleased to provide the funding to this innovative instrument underlining Germany’s commitment to the objectives of the African Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI).”

The RLSF is designed to help independent power producers (IPPs) developing renewable energy projects in Africa to obtain the liquidity they need in the event that their off-taker (frequently a state owned entity) delays payment. The facility will provide immediate cash collateral supported by guarantees to a commercial bank that will in turn open a standby letter of credit to the benefit of the IPP. The amount provided will enable the IPP to operate and service the debt for up to 6 months. Furthermore, unlike most IPP letters of credit (which tend to be 12 month tenors) the facility is designed to be in place for multiple years.

Dr. Thomas Duve, KfW Director Southern Africa and Regional Funds, noted “We highly appreciate the opportunity to partner with ATI on this innovative instrument. The RLSF is a strongly market-driven concept, emphasizing KfW’s strategy to support and leverage the resources of local partners and the private sector.”

The facility, in combination with ATI’s traditional suite of political and trade credit risk insurance products (in particular ATI’s arbitration award default cover), means that ATI is able to cover the full range of political and financial risks facing investors on such projects.

Speaking at the launch, John Lentaigne, ATI’s Chief Underwriting Officer commented “We are delighted to be working with the German government, represented by KfW, on an initiative that directly targets one of the main bottlenecks preventing green power projects from being financed in Africa.”

Jef Vincent, Senior Advisor to ATI, who has overall responsibility for the initial implementation of the facility, added “Unlike some of the alternative solutions to the liquidity issue, ATI’s guarantee (as provided via the RLSF) will not require a counter-guarantee from the relevant Ministry of Finance, and as such we are confident this will be a very useful tool for those projects that we expect to support.”

KfW (www.KfW-entwicklungsbank.de) is one of the world´s leading and most experienced promotional banks. Established in 1948 as a public law institution, KfW is owned 80 per cent by the Federal Republic of Germany and 20 per cent by the federal states (“Länder”).

KfW Development Bank is Germany’s leading development bank and an integral part of KfW. It carries out Germany´s Financial Cooperation (FC) with developing countries on behalf of the Federal Government. The 600 personnel at headquarters and 370 specialists in its 68 local offices cooperate with partners all over the world. Its goal is to combat poverty, secure the peace, protect the environment and the climate and make globalisation fair. KfW is a competent and strategic advisor on current development issues.

ATI (www.ATI-ACA.org) was founded in 2001 by African States to cover the trade and investment risks of companies doing business in Africa. ATI provides a range of Political and Credit Risk, insurance covers and has a particular focus on supporting Foreign Direct Investment. As of 2016, ATI had supported over US$25 billion in trade and investments across Africa in multiple sectors and now supports trade and investments equivalent to an average of 1% of GDP annually in member countries. ATI is one of the most trusted institutions in Africa with an ‘A/negative’ rating for Financial Strength and Counterparty Credit by S&P.
www.ATI-aca.org

SOURCE
African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI)

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The future of African ports is also the future of Africa’s economic success
November 16, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Gilbert Saggia*

Gilbert Saggia

Gilbert Saggia

NAIROBI, Kenya, 16 November 2017,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Statistics indicate that 90% of imports and exports in Africa are driven by sea. With a global middle class set to reach 5 billion people by 2030, global trade is set to continue to grow at an unprecedented rate1. Reports suggest that global freighter fleet is expected to double over the next decade due to the growing consumption demands of the ever-increasing middle class.

Beyond fulfilling their respective countries’ trade needs, ports act as gateways to land-locked countries such as Ethiopia and Chad, that have significant agrarian and raw materials export potential, and great need for imports of finished and processed goods from the East and West. Without these gateways, land locked countries that have much to offer in world trade are figuratively closed for shop.

If Africa is to play a meaningful role in world trade and benefit from the rapid global growth, its sea ports will be key to ensuring that success. However, African ports face the primary challenges of under-developed infrastructure and inefficient operations, leading to significant losses in potential revenue. According to PWC, of the 72% of world container throughput commanded by developing countries, Africa collectively only sees 1%. A hypothetical improvement from 1% to 3% would increase the economic value of trade by sea by a magnitude equivalent to the GDP of certain African countries. There is clearly a need to drive improved performance at African ports if we are to take advantage of the economic promise that the future holds.

What’s holding back our sea trade success

The primary challenges shared by most African ports are long cargo clearance times; under-developed basic port and hinterland infrastructure; usage of dated equipment and low levels of automation; and container and cargo theft.

To help address some of these challenges, global donor organisations are funding the development of various African trade corridors. This is witnessed in the significant investments that are going into port infrastructure capacity expansion, including parking lot expansions, deepening of canals and the widening of basins. Infrastructure investment is however only one piece of the puzzle required to handle more cargo in a more efficient manner.

The key to efficiency is for ports to do more with their existing resources, particularly those focused on moving cargo. By optimising the utilisation of these resources, ports will not only improve their cargo throughput but also become more profitable. According to SAP global performance benchmarking, ports that leverage technology to drive productivity improvements have a 36% higher operating margin than their peers. As an example, in Asia where ports are largely automated, the turnaround time for vessels – the time it takes to port, offload cargo, reload, and depart – can be as little as 7 hours compared to the 5-day average for an African port. Cargo vessels can also spend a full month longer in an African port than they would in an Asian equivalent.

One of the key differentiating factors of leading global ports is the extent to which they have adopted emerging technologies. For example IoT driven smart logistics platforms and advanced analytics solutions that manage container theft, predict the failure of key equipment, and reduce downtime, in real-time, thereby increasing port throughput and protecting profit margins. By contrast, outdated technology and manual processes remain a burden for African ports with most operators still relying on ageing equipment, disparate systems and a siloed approach to handling core processes and operations.

Moving forward for Africa’s ports

To address the challenges and overcome some of the prevailing inhibitors to their success and growth, African ports are embracing various technologies to achieve performance improvements realised by their counterparts in other geographies. In pursuit of such performance excellence, African port authorities have identified two top-level goals: increasing port throughput and improving terminal operations. To increase port throughput, port authorities are considering ways to accelerate the flow of goods through their port by reducing congestion in the value chain. By leveraging hub logistics, transportation management solutions, and connected warehouse offerings, port authorities can accelerate the rate of information exchange across the multiple stakeholders in the port value chain, and unlock the ability to conduct real-time performance monitoring of key assets. This enables them to track profitability at an asset level, enabling them to identify potential new business opportunities. As an example, the Hamburg Port Authority simplified logistics and truck park management with SAP Hub Logistics, and was able to reduce idle time for carriers, improve its traffic management system, and achieve a higher turnover of traffic from 9 million containers to an eventual 25 million.

To improve terminal operations, African ports need to adopt automation as a means of standardising and simplifying port operations. In addition, these ports require a centralised approach to managing processes, enabled by a single platform for all automation efforts. This will allow them to handle unusual circumstances by pre-empting potential business disruption, recommending remediation actions and facilitating communication between stakeholders across the port value chain, with no duplication of efforts or messaging.

Realising Africa’s economic potential

With 30% of the world’s remaining mineral resources and approximately 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land on the continent, Africa’s relevance in the global food and resource transportation value chain is significant. The success of Africa’s ports and associated transport networks is critical to Africa’s conversion of economic potential to economic success. To adequately facilitate greater trade with the world, African ports need to embrace innovation, automation and simplification. By investing in the right business solutions that offer end to end transportation management, connected warehouse management, vessel and container track-and-trace, and inter alia, improved hub logistics, African ports can take a step closer toward enriching the continent.

Partnering with a global technology provider such as SAP, African ports can adopt innovative business models, streamline operations, and scale their operations to meet future demand and realise their full potential.

As market leader in enterprise application software, SAP (NYSE: SAP) helps companies of all sizes and industries run better. From back office to boardroom, warehouse to storefront, desktop to mobile device – SAP empowers people and organizations to work together more efficiently and use business insight more effectively to stay ahead of the competition. SAP applications and services enable more than 345,000 business and public sector customers to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and grow sustainably.
*Gilbert Saggia is  Managing Director,East Africa at SAP Africa
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Ecobank Group Research reveals three key emerging trends for Africa
November 16, 2017 | 0 Comments
Digital innovation in Sub-Saharan Africa is being driven by the explosion in mobile phone usage, enabling African consumers to leapfrog existing business models and technologies
LONDON, United Kingdom, November 16, 2017/ —

  • Rebounding economy after a trying year
  • Gas is West Africa’s new oil
  • Africa’s evolving role in FinTech leadership

The 2017 version of Ecobank Research’s Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities (FICC) Guidebook, which provides expert knowledge and analysis on African markets for investors and businesses, was launched today at AfricaFICC. Indicating a positive outlook for the continent, three key trends are forecast to take hold during the next 12 months.

The first indicates an economic rebound in sub-Saharan Africa (https://goo.gl/f1PQQm) driven by a recovery in the region’s economic heavyweights, Nigeria and South Africa, and ongoing growth in the top performers, Ethiopia, Côte d’Ivoire and (more recently) Ghana.

  • Growth will be driven by a rise in oil production (notably in Ghana, Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Angola), strengthening infrastructure investment across West and East Africa, and improved weather conditions which bode well for crops.
  • Strengthening economic activity, plus a moderate improvement in oil and mineral prices, will help narrow the current account deficit, but pressure on SSA currencies will remain.

The second emerging trend points to West Africa’s gas sector becoming a hive of activity in 2018 (https://goo.gl/L6NEkF) from Senegal to Angola, with the development of gas pipelines, floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) platforms and major gas field projects.

  • Governments in the Gulf of Guinea and across West Africa have ramped up efforts to secure gas supply in order to boost domestic power generation and diversify their revenues away from crude oil.
  • Deregulating the gas market and allowing market-driven gas prices will be key to unlocking further gas infrastructure investment across the region.

The third trend suggests Fintech innovation in Africa picking up speed in 2018 (https://goo.gl/Z52dpk) buoyed by a new generation of Africans who are ‘digital natives’. The proliferation of tech hubs across Africa (notably in South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire) will nurture the next wave of African start-ups and help connect them with investors.

  • Digital innovation in SSA is being driven by the explosion in mobile phone usage, enabling African consumers to leapfrog existing business models and technologies.
  • African Fintech firms are increasingly driving this innovation, deploying digital tools to build credit profiles for the previously ‘unbankable’, providing electricity to rural households that were previously off the grid, even using artificial intelligence to diagnose health problems remotely.

Edward George, Head of Ecobank Group Research, said: “The digital world moves apace, and so must we. The AfricaFICC website is a key way that we can deliver our regional market analysis and expert local knowledge of 41 African markets – which is often hard to access – to a much wider audience. We think these three trends are strong evidence that Africa has weathered the storms of late and is very much on track for improved growth in 2018.”

The Ecobank Research Centre (https://Goo.gl/1pUKzB) is dedicated to providing the highest quality research for clients to help them navigate the complex African marketplace. Areas covered include; Economics, Banking and Financial services, Oil, Gas & Power, Soft Commodities, Trade and Digital Innovation. A team of seasoned analysts based across Ecobank’s 36-country footprint is able to draw upon on extensive local knowledge to provide insights for clients and identify investment opportunities. The insights focus on Middle Africa – the region between North Africa and the Rand Zone, which has the richest potential for growth but is poorly understood. Ecobank Research provides regular market updates, briefing notes and detailed studies on the region’s macroeconomics, currencies, fixed income, equities, commodities, trade and digital innovation. Additional information about the research team and an archive of published reports can be found at https://Goo.gl/1pUKzB.

Incorporated in Lomé, Togo, in 1988 Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (‘ETI’) (www.Ecobank.com) the parent company of Ecobank is the leading independent pan-African banking group. It currently has a presence in 36 African countries, namely: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Democratic Republic), Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Group employs over 20,000 people in 40 different countries in over 1,200 branches and offices. Ecobank is a full-service bank providing wholesale, retail, investment and transaction banking services and products to governments, financial institutions, multinationals, international organizations, medium, small and micro businesses and individuals.

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What has become of Africa’s deposed leaders?
November 16, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Carley Petesch*

FILE - In this Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016 file photo, Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh shows his inked finger before voting in Banjul, Gambia. Jammeh took power in 1994 in a bloodless coup, ruling the tiny West African nation for more than 22 years. His regime was accused of overseeing human rights abuses to silence opponents. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)

FILE – In this Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016 file photo, Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh shows his inked finger before voting in Banjul, Gambia. Jammeh took power in 1994 in a bloodless coup, ruling the tiny West African nation for more than 22 years. His regime was accused of overseeing human rights abuses to silence opponents. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)

DAKAR, Senegal — As shock continues over the fate of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, who vowed to rule until death but now finds himself in military custody, here’s a look at other larger-than-life African leaders who spent years in power, then lost it.

Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh

Jammeh took power in 1994 in a bloodless coup, ruling the tiny West African nation for more than 22 years. His regime was accused of overseeing human rights abuses to silence opponents. In a stunning turn of events, Gambians last year elected opposition coalition candidate Adama Barrow, who was forced to wait in neighboring Senegal during a weeks-long political standoff until Jammeh finally flew into exile in Equatorial Guinea with his family and close aides. Jammeh has not been heard from since.

Congo’s Mobuto Sese Seko

Mobutu seized power in a military coup in 1965, five years after the vast, mineral-rich nation gained independence from Belgium. His leadership had the support of the United States and other Western governments. After a legendary, corrupt dictatorship that lasted more than 30 years and left the country then called Zaire in shambles, he was overthrown in 1997 by Laurent Kabila. Mobutu took refuge in Morocco in 1997, where he died of prostate cancer.

Uganda’s Idi Amin Dada

Idi Amin’s eight-year rule was defined by the deaths of up to 300,000 people. He was famously mercurial, targeting certain ethnic groups but also journalists, lawyers and others he saw as possible opposition. Yet for more than 25 years he was never punished for bringing misery to the once-prosperous country and never expressed remorse. He sought exile in Saudi Arabia after his government was ousted in 1979. He died there in 2003 after being on life support and suffering from kidney failure.

Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi

At age 27, Gadhafi emerged in 1969 as leading a group of officers who overthrew the monarchy of King Idris. Gadhafi became a symbol of anti-Western defiance in a Third World recently liberated from European colonial rulers. He ruled with brutality during his nearly 42 years in power, leaving behind an oil-rich nation drained of its institutions. Rebels overwhelmed the capital in 2011 and drove him into hiding in Sirte, where he was pulled from a drainage tunnel and killed. He became the first ruler killed in the Arab Spring uprisings that swept the region.

Liberia’s Charles Taylor

FILE - In this undated file photo, Liberian President Charles Taylor sits on a throne during a ceremony in Monrovia where Ghanian immigrants crowned him Chief Okatakyie, "The Greatest of Warriors". Taylor served as Liberia's president between 1997 and 2003, and was accused of greed and savagery during his leadership. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder, File)

FILE – In this undated file photo, Liberian President Charles Taylor sits on a throne during a ceremony in Monrovia where Ghanian immigrants crowned him Chief Okatakyie, “The Greatest of Warriors”. Taylor served as Liberia’s president between 1997 and 2003, and was accused of greed and savagery during his leadership. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder, File)

Former warlord Taylor was president between 1997 and 2003 and was accused of greed and savagery. The second of the country’s back-to-back civil wars, which together killed more than 250,000 people, occurred under his rule. He fled to Nigeria in 2003 as part of a deal to end the war, which he had financed by trafficking in diamonds from neighboring Sierra Leone. He was extradited to face charges of crimes against humanity at a U.N.-supported Special Court for his role in fomenting conflict in Sierra Leone. In 2012 he became the first former head of state convicted by an international war crimes court since World War II. He is serving a 50-year sentence in Britain.

Burkina Faso’s Blaise Compaore

FILE - In this Sept. 18, 2012 file photo, the then Burkina Faso's president Blaise Compaore speaks to the media after a meeting with France's President Francois Hollande in Paris. Compaore came to power after a bloody 1987 coup that killed the West African nation's revolutionary leader Thomas Sankara. After ruling for more than 27 years, Compaore tried to amend the constitution to seek another term in office. Faced with a popular uprising, he was forced to step down in 2014. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)

FILE – In this Sept. 18, 2012 file photo, the then Burkina Faso’s president Blaise Compaore speaks to the media after a meeting with France’s President Francois Hollande in Paris. Compaore came to power after a bloody 1987 coup that killed the West African nation’s revolutionary leader Thomas Sankara. After ruling for more than 27 years, Compaore tried to amend the constitution to seek another term in office. Faced with a popular uprising, he was forced to step down in 2014. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)

Compaore came to power after a bloody 1987 coup that killed the West African nation’s revolutionary leader Thomas Sankara. After ruling for more than 27 years, Compaore tried to amend the constitution to seek another term in office. Faced with a popular uprising, he was forced to step down in 2014. He fled into exile and is now living as a citizen of Ivory Coast. Human rights groups want him extradited to face justice for several murders he is accused of during his reign, including that of Sankara.

Chad’s Hissene Habre

Habre’s rule from 1982 to 1990 was marked by human rights abuses that eventually saw him forced from power by current President Idriss Deby. For more than 20 years, Habre lived a life of luxurious exile in Senegal until paramilitary police took him into custody. The Extraordinary African Chambers was created by the African Union and Senegal to try him for crimes committed during his presidency. In May, he was found guilty of crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture and sex crimes and was sentenced to life in prison. It was the first conviction of a former head of state by an African court for crimes against humanity.

Ethiopia’s Mengistu Haile Mariam

Mengistu Haile Mariam ruled Ethiopia from 1974 to 1991 and is blamed for the killing of hundreds of students, intellectuals and politicians during the “Red Terror” against supposed enemies of his Soviet-backed military dictatorship. He fled a rebellion in 1991 and was taken in by Mugabe in Zimbabwe. His army had helped to train Mugabe’s guerrillas in their struggle for independence from white rule. Mengistu was convicted in absentia by an Ethiopian court in 2006 of genocide and later sentenced to death, but Zimbabwe has refused to extradite him.

*Source AP

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Namibia to host 2017 edition of NEPAD Programme for Infrastructure for Africa (PIDA) week
November 16, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

SADC Ministers responsible for Transport and Meteorology have
revealed that the 2017 edition of the NEPAD Programme for
Infrastructure for Africa (PIDA) Week aimed at highlighting
infrastructure development in Africa would be hosted by Namibia.
In a recent communique released in Malawi by the ministers, PIDA week
is hosted on a rotational basis and this year it is SADC’s turn.
Ministers agreed to support Namibia and to participate in PIDA Week
activities and meetings from 10 to 14 December 2017 in Swakopmund,
Namibia.

At the Malawi meeting, ministers analyzed the sluggish
implementation of cross-border infrastructure projects through the
lens of national ownership of the regional programmes. They concluded
that regional cross-border infrastructure, particularly in the areas
of transport, and meteorology, has the potential to facilitate
intra-regional trade and investment including unlocking national
and regional comparative advantages. Ministers underscored the need to
address the special needs of landlocked countries to access the rest
of the world.

Ministers concluded that partnership is the main strategy to implement
regional projects. They also agreed that placing regional projects on
the national agenda is the core of creating an enabling environment,
because the projects only kick off after they get attention of
national politicians and policy makers.

The ministers have also reported that the high ratio of landlocked
countries, the long distances to gateway ports, the lack of an
integrated and liberalised road transport market in the East and
Southern African regions pose numerous obstacles and impediments to
trade.
The ministers also noted that to bring a solution to the
challenges the Tripartite Transport and Transit Facilitation
Programmes (TTTFP) that they approved in 2015 has since been approved
by COMESA and the EAC. Ministers also noted that the Tripartite
Ministers responsible for Infrastructure launched the TTTFP in Dar es
Salaam Tanzania as it is a Tripartite flagship programme.
SADC Secretariat on behalf of the Tripartite coordinates the
programme. The TTTFP purpose is to develop and implement harmonised
road transport policies, laws, regulations and standards for efficient
cross border road transport and transit networks, transport and
logistics services, systems and procedures in the Tripartite region.

According to the Programme for Infrastructure for Africa (PIDA) more
needs to be done to improve railways operations so that at least 30%
of Africa’s international traffic is moved by rail. It is reported
that through the implementation of the Regional Railway Revitalization
Initiative (RRI) Pilot Rail Study Project, the NEPAD Business
Foundation commenced execution of the North South Corridor Study in
February 2017.

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African Innovation Foundation and African Academy of Sciences sign MoU to drive STI-led research into solutions addressing challenges across the continent
November 16, 2017 | 0 Comments

Agreement aims to unlock African potential to catalyze research-led innovations into sustainable enterprises

 

 

Nairobi, Kenya| Thursday, 16 November 2017:  The African Innovation Foundation (AIF) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with The African Academy of Sciences(AAS) today in Nairobi, to create more value and enhance cooperation, interaction, and knowledge sharing in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) in Africa. The agreement was signed by Ambassador Walter Fust, Chairman of the Board, AIF and Prof. Felix Dapare Dakora, President of AAS. The MoU underpins the commitment by both organizations to catalyze research-led innovations into sustainable enterprises and to create opportunities for collaboration and knowledge exchange between researchers and grassroots innovators.

Africa’s investment in research and development (R&D) is less than 1 per cent of the global investment share, and STI infrastructure and resources continue to fall short. These factors are amongst the reasons that very few scientific discoveries translate into viable solutions that solve real African challenges. Furthermore, there is a need for increased collaboration between researchers and innovators to facilitate knowledge transfer that will enable the creation of more impactful and marketable innovations across the continent.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Prof Dakora said:  “This far reaching partnership combines the expertise and knowledge from the AAS and the AIF bringing added value and developing a strategic way forward for rallying support and providing answers for the needs of African innovators. We are thrilled with the partnership.”

Walter Fust, commented, “We are pleased to sign the MoU with AAS and welcome them as one of our major science and technology partners. This partnership is a vital step towards enabling research-driven innovation in Africa. Currently, the bulk of emerging scientific ideas on the continent are driven by abstract pieces of research that do not always correlate to African needs, rendering many African innovations commercially unviable. Our partnership with AAS aims to bridge the gap between science and research outputs, and support the development of affordable and accessible solutions needed across Africa.”

The partnership provides a framework for AIF and AAS to harness each other’s expertise and networks to promote scientific capacity building to enhance ownership, support and sustainability of African innovations. It seeks to introduce and implement joint initiatives to create awareness about the role of STI in African countries and strategically support the development and growth of African innovation ecosystems across the continent. The partnership enables exchange and access to key innovation insights, offering AIF’s network of innovators, innovation enablers and partners’ exclusive access to AAS events, scientific information and other opportunities.

As part of the MoU, AAS will extend its support towards promoting the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA), a landmark initiative of AIF aimed at spurring growth of innovative, market-driven African solutions to African challenges. In addition to promoting national or regional innovation initiatives, AAS and AIF will seek to mobilize other partners and necessary resources to ensure benchmarking and scaling of innovations relevant for sustainable development in Africa.

During the MoU signing ceremony, AIF and AAS jointly hosted a roundtable on the role of science in driving viable and inclusive innovation opportunities in Africa. Themed, “Catalyzing African Innovations into Sustainable Enterprises”, the roundtable brought together representatives of government, policy makers, business leaders, innovators, academia, and innovation enablers. The panelists included Ambassador Walter Fust, Chairman of the Board, AIF; Prof. Felix Dapare Dakora, President, AAS; Dr Kamal Bhattarchaya, Chief Innovation Officer, Safaricom; Mr. Michael Murungi – Manager, Policy & Government Relations, East Africa (Google); and Mr. Alex Mwaura Muriu, IPA 2015- 2nd Prize Winner who shared insights on how science and research enablers can collaborate with business stakeholders and grassroots innovators to increase the impact of African innovation.

Since 2011, AIF has proactively supported strengthening African innovation ecosystems through collaborative programs and strategic partnerships with governments and innovation influencers across the continent through the IPA. The annual Award celebrates outstanding breakthroughs that deliver practical and commercially viable African solutions that are innovative and sustainable. The call for entries for IPA 2018 is currently underway with a submission deadline of 10 January 2018 at 23:59pm GMT. Innovators from across the continent can submit their applications by clicking on https://ipa.africaninnovation.org or watching the video on https://youtu.be/MdO0I9GKfJU for more details.

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The African Academy of Sciences is a pan African organisation headquartered in Kenya that aims to drive sustainable development in Africa through science technology and innovation. It has a tripartite mandate of pursuing excellence through recognising scholars and achievers; providing advisory and think tank functions for shaping the continent’s strategies and policies; and implementing key science, technology and innovation programs that impact on developmental challenges through the new agenda setting and funding platform, the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA). AESA was created by AAS and the NEPAD Agency.

African Innovation Foundation (AIF) works to increase the prosperity of Africans by catalyzing the innovation spirit in Africa.

Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) is a landmark initiative of the AIF. Its goal is to strengthen African innovation ecosystems through supporting a culture of innovation and competitiveness, whilst spurring growth of innovative, market-driven African solutions to African challenges.

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On World Children’s Day, African youth share their vision of the Africa they want
November 16, 2017 | 1 Comments
Live stream of the youth on stage on 20 November at: http://AfricaDialogues.com
DAKAR, Senegal, November 15, 2017/ — Eager to make their voices heard, 10 youth from eight African countries will take over the stage in Accra (Ghana) on World Children’s Day to tell the world about the Africa they want to live in, through a series of short, powerful talks.

The 10 girls and boys aged 12 to 19 year old from Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Togo will deliver inspirational talks at the Africa Dialogues (www.AfricaDialogues.com) event on issues affecting children and youth on the continent, sharing their vision of what they want Africa’s future to be.

“The problems facing Africa affect children first, so they feel the impact of the problems more than the adults,” said Andrew Adansi-Bonnah, 17-year-old from Ghana, who will speak about hunger and malnutrition in Africa. “Giving children a platform to speak on issues bothering them can help to reduce their sufferings. I expect that this event is going to boost up children’s level of motivation and aspirations.”

The event is a collaboration between the People Initiative Foundation (www.ThePeoplesInitiative.org) and UNICEF (www.UNICEF.org) to mark World Children’s Day, the anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. On that day, a series of global events will see children and youth around the world ‘take over’ key roles in media, politics, business, sport and entertainment to help save children’s lives, fight for their rights and fulfil their potential.

In Accra, the youth will address some of the critical issues facing Africa now and in the future:

  • Hamado Moussa Diallo, 18, from Burkina Faso, will talk about the importance of education
  • Élie Yedou, 18, from Côte d’Ivoire, will talk about a peaceful and hunger-free Africa
  • Fatoumatta A. Camara, 18, from The Gambia, will talk about female genital mutilation
  • Victoria Kweinorki Quaynor, 19, from Ghana, will talk about neglected children
  • Andrew Adansi-Bonnah, 17, from Ghana, will talk about hunger and malnutrition
  • Natasha Adu, 12, from Ghana, will talk about sanitation
  • Hadja Idrissa Bah, 18, from Guinea, will talk about child marriage
  • Fatima Aliyu Gebi, 17, from Nigeria, will talk about the plight and plea of the northern girl child
  • Rebecca Evelyn Deborah Sankoh, 18, from Sierra Leone, will talk about education and development
  • Abra Rosaline Tsekpuia, 19, from Togo, will talk about food security

The youth takeover of Africa Dialogues will be streamed live at http://AfricaDialogues.comduring a public event in Accra on 20 November 2017 between 9am and 3pm (GMT). Recordings will later be made available on the Africa Dialogues website.

Africa Dialogues (www.AfricaDialogues.com) is an Africa thought-leadership platform that focuses on broad-ranging discussions on governance and human rights, education, youth unemployment, infrastructure, public health, gender and income inequality, Africa’s economies and urban development towards helping our continent attain the African Union Agenda 2063 and the global Sustainable Development Goals 2030.

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Third Africa Business Media Innovators Summit To Convene Media Visionaries From 20 African Nations in Ghana
November 15, 2017 | 0 Comments
Delegates Gather in Accra to Address the Changing Media Landscape and New Hybrid Models 
ACCRA, Ghana, 12th November, 2017,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- More than 100 senior executives, entrepreneurs and thought-leaders from media, tech, business and civil society will gather in Accra from Sunday 12 to Tuesday 14 November, for the annual Africa Business Media Innovators summit (ABMI), to discuss the changing face of media and new hybrid models.

Convened by Bloomberg Philanthropies in partnership with the Ford Foundation, Africa Business Media Innovators is a part of the Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa, a pan-Africa program launched by Michael R. Bloomberg to advance business journalism on the continent.

ABMI 2017 will be hosted by Matthew Winker, Co-Founder of Bloomberg News and Editor Emeritus, and Justin B. Smith, CEO of Bloomberg Media, and will examine the many new trends and approaches in the wider communications sector, from revenue models to content creation and distribution. The forum is designed so that media companies can share their strategies for navigating these changes, and their efforts to impact inclusive and sustainable economic growth on the continent.

H.E. President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana will welcome the delegates from across Africa, the United Kingdom and United States, and open the convening.

The program will include moderated discussions, interactive sessions, extended Q&As, and interviews with, among others: Strive Masiyiwa, Econet; Khanyi Dhlomo, Ndalo Media; Samuel Attah Mensah, OMNI Media Group; Kadija Patel, Mail & Guardian; Amrote Abdella, Microsoft 4Afrika; Omar Ben Yedder, IC Publications; Adama Wade, Financial Afrik; Erik Charas, Verdade; Caroline Southey, The Conversation; Turi Munthe, North Based Media; and Herbert Wigwe, Access Bank.

The event appeals to a global audience with a focus on the media industry in Africa. The topics which will be covered include:

· The changing face of media in Africa and other emerging markets
· Strengthening African media capacity by innovating with new hybrid models
· Leveraging the changes in media practices to enable Africans to tell stories about Africa · The role of business journalism and African media as a driver of inclusive growth

The upcoming forum will also consider: how business leaders across the continent and globally can continue to contribute to a vibrant media sector; what the primary source of revenue will be; what medium consumers will rely on for news in the next five to ten years; and what enabling factors will enhance media and business journalism.

Matthew Winkler, Co-Founder of Bloomberg News and Editor-in-Chief Emeritus says: “As the geopolitical landscape changes with African economies showing the most dynamic demographic opportunity for growth, the continent must continue to build media capacity that will serve Africans’ increasing need for accurate and relevant business information. This annual gathering of global industry peers is testament to the power and determination of the communications industry to drive and maintain growth.”

The ABMI summit was previously hosted in Kenya and South Africa, where stakeholders and influencers of the media and business landscape in Africa addressed the importance of a robust financial journalism sector, and the value of data and data-related technologies to drive international investment and economic growth. Admittance to this event is on an invitation-only basis. For more information, please visit the Africa Business Media Innovators 2017 site.

 

 

“Media professionals hold a very powerful role. They have the power to change mindsets, provide fresh perspectives and influence behavior. This applies to financial markets as well as to geopolitical dynamics, perceptions about gender, and inter-regional dialogue. It is important that media engages in this role responsibly. With modern platforms and technology, ethical reporting is increasingly vital,” Graça Machel, Executive Director and Founder, Graça Machel Trust.

“Media, in whatever shape or form, will strengthen in Africa. There is a desire for better content, for better journalism, for original African content. We will reach a critical mass where commercially we will have the resources to produce this. Right now, things are too fragmented, too few resources are invested in local content, and governments in general are not interested in developing a vibrant media environment.

“That said, I continue to see an unwavering commitment from entrepreneurs and media practitioners to invest money and time to develop the media industry as a whole, so there is no reason why we shouldn’t be able to achieve this. But like all businesses right now, media houses will have to be nimble and know how to adapt to create a sustainable business model, which is easier said than done,” Omar Ben Yedder, Group Publisher and Managing Director, IC Publications.

“We need collaborative thinking about how we manage the stresses and strains being experienced by the media in Africa. New models are being tried and tested all the time. It’s wonderful that Bloomberg is providing the opportunity for these experiences to be shared and for all of us to learn from one another. I’m looking forward to sharing the successes, and the hard knocks, we’ve taken getting The Conversation Africa established in the south, east and west of the continent,” Caroline Southey, Editor, The Conversation Africa.

“We are happy to be partnering with Bloomberg Philanthropies for ABMI 2017, a third in a series of enriching and thought provoking sessions about Africa media. We believe in the transformative power of the media and will continue to support innovative approaches that can leverage on this power to give voice to the voiceless and drive a growth that is inclusive across the African continent,” Paul Nwulu, Programme Officer, West Africa, Ford Foundation.

Bloomberg Philanthropies works in over 120 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2016, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $600 million.

The Ford Foundation is an independent, non-profit, grant-making organization. For more than 75 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

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Zimbabwe’s Mugabe ‘under house arrest’ after army takeover
November 15, 2017 | 0 Comments
Robert Mugabe and his wife wife Grace- the end of an era?

Robert Mugabe and his wife wife Grace- the end of an era?

Zimbabwe’s military has placed President Robert Mugabe under house arrest in the capital Harare, South African President Jacob Zuma says.

Mr Mugabe told Mr Zuma in a phone call that he was fine, the South African leader’s office said.

Troops are patrolling the capital, Harare, after they seized state TV and said they were targeting “criminals”.

The move may be a bid to replace Mr Mugabe with his sacked deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, BBC correspondents say.

Mr Mnangagwa’s dismissal last week left Mr Mugabe’s wife Grace as the president’s likely successor.

Mr Mugabe, 93, has dominated the country’s political scene since it gained independence from the UK in 1980.

How the drama unfolded

After days of tension and rumour, soldiers seized the state broadcaster ZBC late on Tuesday.

A Zimbabwean army officer, Major General Sibusiso Moyo, went on air and denied there was a coup, but said the military was targeting “criminals” around President Mugabe.

Maj Gen Moyo also said Mr Mugabe and his family were “safe and sound and their security is guaranteed”. It is not clear who is leading the military action.

BBC map

Since then military vehicles have been out on the streets of Harare, while gunfire has been heard from northern suburbs where Mr Mugabe and a number of government officials live.

In a statement, Mr Zuma’s office said: “President Zuma spoke to President Robert Mugabe earlier today who indicated that he was confined to his home but said that he was fine.”

How we got here

At heart is a power struggle over who succeeds Mr Mugabe. The rivalry between his wife Grace and Mr Mnangagwa has split the governing Zanu-PF.

Following a call from Mrs Mugabe, Mr Mnangagwa was removed from the vice-presidency earlier this month.

But on Monday, army chief Gen Constantino Chiwenga said the army was prepared to act to end purges within Zanu-PF.

Gen Chiwenga is a close ally of Mr Mnangagwa and both are veterans of the 1970s war which ended white minority rule.

One of the leading members of the Zanu-PF faction led by Grace Mugabe, Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo, is being detained, a government source told Reuters.

Presentational grey line

An extraordinary gamble

By Andrew Harding, BBC Southern Africa correspondent

A quick show of military force, a few arrests… and then what?

These are, of course, unpredictable times for Zimbabwe and yet there is a chance that the army’s extraordinary overnight gamble will pay off, and that President Robert Mugabe, humiliated and powerless, will nonetheless be allowed to retire with at least the pretence of dignity.

It is important to remember that Mr Mugabe is not being challenged by the Western governments he has warned against for decades, or by Zimbabwe’s political opposition, or by a mass uprising against economic hardship.

This is, fundamentally, an internal power struggle within Zanu-PF and whoever emerges victorious can expect a newly purged party to fall obediently into line.

Mr Mugabe’s mistake, at 93, was to assume he was still powerful enough to build a dynasty to back his wife, Grace, to succeed him.

Instead, his once loyal deputy, Emerson Mnangagwa, may be poised to take control. If so, many foreign governments are likely to give him the benefit of the doubt and hope he can rescue Zimbabwe from years of misrule.

Presentational grey line

Is this a coup?

In his statement Maj Gen Moyo said “this is not a military takeover of government”.

But despite the Zimbabwean military’s denials, to many observers their actions bore many of the hallmarks of a coup.

Soldiers stand beside military vehicles just outside Harare, Zimbabwe, 14 November 2017Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionArmoured vehicles were seen taking up positions on roads outside Harare on Tuesday

There has been no direct comment from President Mugabe, nor his wife Grace, whose whereabouts are unclear.

Key regional blocs the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) do not look favourably on unconstitutional changes of power, which might explain the Zimbabwean military’s wording

How the news is being seen

In Harare, some were delighted. “We are going to have a good life, we are looking forward to Christmas, because of what has happened,” one woman told BBC News.

“I want to thank the general for removing this tyrant,” said a man. “He was ruling the country as if it belonged to his family.”

The leader of the war veterans, Chris Mutsvangwa, told Reuters: “It’s the end of a very painful and sad chapter in the history of a young nation, in which a dictator, as he became old, surrendered his court to a gang of thieves around his wife.”

Both the UK Foreign Office and US embassy in Harare has advised its citizens to remain indoors until the situation becomes clearer.

China, Zimbabwe’s biggest trading partner, says it is closely watching the situation and hopes that the relevant parties can properly handle their internal affairs.

*Culled from BBC

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Ethiopian wins AFRAA airline of the year award for the 6th year in a row
November 15, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Mr. Busera Awel, CCO, & Mr. Henok Teferra, VP Strategic Planning and Alliances, while receiving the award

Mr. Busera Awel, CCO, & Mr. Henok Teferra, VP Strategic
Planning and Alliances, while receiving the award

Ethiopian Airlines, the largest Aviation Group and SKYTRAX certified
Four Star Global Airline, has won the airline of the year award, for
the sixth consecutive year in a row, by the African Airlines
Association (AFRAA) during its 49th Annual General Assembly held on
November 13, 2017, in Kigali, Rwanda.

The AFRAA annual awards recognize excellence in service delivery,
innovation and competitiveness in airlines, individuals and service
providers in the African aviation industry.

It is reported that Ethiopian Airlines has been chosen for its
remarkable performance revealed through its exceptional profitability
for the financial year ended June 2016, exemplary cooperation with
other African carriers, cargo development in the continent, and
significant expansion of its route network helping to connect Africa
together and with the rest of the world.

Group CEO Ethiopian Airlines, Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam said, “As a
truly indigenous and home-grown Pan-African airline owned, managed and
operated by Africans, we are highly honored to receive this
recognition by fellow sisterly airlines in the continent for the 6th
consecutive year. I would like to thank AFRAA and sisterly airlines in
the continent for recognizing our efforts in nurturing cooperation
with other sisterly African Airlines and in availing efficient
passenger and cargo networks within, to and from the continent, while
registering sound financial performance and record profit in 2016.

Africa is at the heart of our 15 year fast, profitable and
sustainable growth strategic roadmap, Vision 2025. Already seven years
into this strategy, we have surpassed all our goals in passenger
number, cargo uplift, fleet size, revenue, profitability and customer
service with our recent 4 Star airline recognition by SKYTRAX, the
premier customer service rating organization in our industry. We
currently serve 55 African cities, the largest network in the
continent, connecting them with each other and to more than 100
international destinations in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the
Americas using state of the art aircraft offering superior on-board
aircraft such as the B787s and A350s.

Air transport is an essential and critical public service and a key
enabler for socio economic development and integration in our
continent. African governments should create more conducive
environment for the airline industry in the continent so that African
carriers are enabled to play their rightful role in ensuring the flow
of investments, trade and tourism to the continent.”

Ethiopian is a multi-award winning airline. On November 8 , 2017,
SKYTRAX, the most prestigious international air transport standards
and quality rating organization, has certified Ethiopian as Four Star
Airline. SKYTRAX has also awarded Ethiopian as SKYTRAX World Airline
Award for Best Airline

Staff in Africa, two times, and earlier in 2017 Ethiopian has received
SKYTRAX World Airline Award for Best Airline in Africa.

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SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS VACATIONS® OFFERS A FREE TWO-NIGHT STAY IN THE CAPE WINE REGION OF SOUTH AFRICA
November 15, 2017 | 0 Comments

Book the “Best of South Africa” package and receive two free nights in Stellenbosch

Fort Lauderdale, FL (November 13, 2017) – South African Airways Vacations® (SAA Vacations ®), the leisure division of South African Airways, the national airline of South Africa and Africa’s most awarded airline, is offering a free two-night stay in the world-renown wine region in South Africa’s Western Cape town of Stellenbosch, with its “Best of South Africa” air-inclusive package. This offering starting at $4199*, will captivate travelers with the breathtaking scenery and
exhilarating activities in sophisticated Cape Town and a thrilling safari to view Africa’s “Big 5” wildlife in a private game reserve adjacent to the Greater Kruger National Park. Book this package by December 15, 2017, and travelers can explore Western Cape wine region and enjoy South Africa’s culinary and wine capital in Stellenbosch while experiencing world-class service at the luxurious Evergreen Manor and Spa (or similar) complimentary for a two-nightstay.

“Given the success of our Best of South Africa package, we have decided to further enhance the inclusions by offering two free nights in the Western Cape winelands,” said Terry von Guilleaume, president of SAA Vacations®. “This will allow visitors to extend their stay in South Africa and enjoy touring the wine region at an affordable package price.”

“Best of South Africa” package includes:
 Round trip Economy Class air transportation from New York – JFK Airport or Washington,D.C. – Dulles Airport to Cape Town on South African Airways and domestic flights within South Africa.

Four-nights at the Southern Sun Cullinan in Cape Town adjacent to the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront inclusive of breakfast
 Full-day Cape Peninsula tour and full-day Winelandstour
 Two nights at the Evergreen Manor and Spa (or similar) in Stellenbosch
 Two nights at your choice of Chapungu Tented Camp, Serondella Lodge, Waterbuck Lodge or n’Kaya Lodge in the Thornybush Game Reserve adjacent to the Greater Kruger National Park
 Twice daily safari game drives at Thornybush Game Reserve
 All daily meals at the Thornybush Game Reserve
 Airport transfers and meet and greet service by South African Airways Vacations
representatives in South Africa.

The “Best of South Africa” package with the free 2-night stay in the Cape Winelands is available for new reservations made by December 15, 2017. The free nights in the Cape wine region is offered for a limited time only, so travelers should hurry and call 1-855-359-7228 to reserve today.
South African Airways Vacations offers air-inclusive package options for all budgets, with their African Specialists available to ensure their clients experience the vacation of their dreams. For more vacation packages throughout Africa, please visit www.flysaavacations.com.

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Juliet Mbonu Targets Human Trafficking In Latest Movie
November 15, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Governments, institutions, and parents in Africa and other developing countries, all have a role to play in fighting human trafficking says Juliet Mbonu

Governments, institutions, and parents in Africa and other developing countries, all have a role to play in fighting human trafficking says Juliet Mbonu

The fight against human trafficking will get a serious boast when “Break Out”, a movie produced by Juliet Mbonu   premieres on Nov 17 at Bowie Performance Arts Center, in MD, USA.With a cast from Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Senegal, Gambia, Ethiopia, South Africa, Togo, Liberia, and  Sierra Leone, the movie paints a gory picture of human trafficking especially with young women who are lured from developing countries into prostitution.Shot in several locations across Nigeria and the USA,the movie sends a strong message of deterrence to young women who may become unwitting victims of human trafficking ,says Juliet Mbonu.

Your latest movie Break Out is set to premiere on Nov 17, what is the movie about?

Juliet Mbonu: The movie is about Human Trafficking on the international stage, particularly as it affects women in many developing countries, who are lured into prostitution in developed countries

What message do you seek to send to the public with the movie?

Juliet Mbonu:  The movie conveys the many complicated and horrific aspects of being lured into prostitution, outside one’s home country, and delivers a powerful message to deter young women from being victims of human & sex trafficking

Where was the movie shot and how long did it take you get it to this level?

Juliet Mbonu: The movie was shot in multiple locations in Nigeria/Africa and the United States.  It took about one year to complete the research, shooting, and editing of the movie.  Technical crews were flown from the US to Nigeria to capture authentic rarely seen footages in Nigeria.  High-end technology was used in the US to capture the latest cinematography.

 

https://youtu.be/S7jaf1S60EM

 

As you Break Out gets set for its big release, could you introduce the cast for us?

Juliet Mbonu:  Certainly, the most exciting aspect of the movie is that the cast was recruited from the US and at least ten different African countries, in order to capture the diversity of international sex & human trafficking. The cast countries of origin include: Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Senegal, Gambia, Ethiopia, South Africa, Togo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and others..

In Break Out ,Juliet Mbonu delivers a powerful message to deter young women from being victims of human & sex trafficking

In Break Out ,Juliet Mbonu delivers a powerful message to deter young women from being victims of human & sex trafficking

What are some of the challenges that you faced in the production of Break Out?

Juliet Mbonu. The Budget: Raising money for such a huge project was a big challenge, however, where there is a will, there is a way.  My faith in God propelled the movie from a dream to a reality. 2.  Moving a technical production team around the world from the US to Nigeria, and back to the US, represented serious logistical challenges, but it turned out to be a great and exotic adventure.

Any plans for distribution especially in Africa with its huge market and the relevance of the movie’s theme?

Juliet Mbonu: Absolutely, there are Theater Premieres coming up in DC (November 17th), then NY, LA, and other US Cities, after which the Movie moves to South Africa, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, and others

With regards the issue of child trafficking, how serious is this in Africa and what more could be done to get it under control?

Juliet Mbonu: Governments, institutions, and parents in Africa and other developing countries, all have a role to play.  Parents must be restrained in their expectations from their children, and in becoming tacit enablers for child sexual trafficking.  Even though we’ve seen reports of very poor people who give tacit approval to their daughters traveling abroad, with unclear perceptions of various employment opportunities; however a cursory look should alert people to dangers lurking in the horizon.  Finally, young women should be extremely careful in their personal expectations…… there is no glamorous life waiting out there, for people who have not paid their dues in education, training, and other tutelage.

To those who do not know Juliet Mbonu, Producer of Break Out, who is she and how did she find herself in the movie industry?

Juliet Mbonu:  Great question, I actually started out as a computer major in college, I then veered out into the Health Sciences & Nursing Informatics, ultimately getting a doctorate in Nursing Practice.  I was consulting in the area of Healthcare Informatics before diverting my passion and zeal to Movie Productions.  I have a great passion for women and children’s issues.  I also run “Arise” a non-profit that focuses on women and girls issues.

What is your take on the African Movie Industry as it stands today?

Juliet:  Africa has unbelievable talent in the Arts.  The quality is gradually catching up with universal standards.  Those of us who have recent roots in Africa, and are out here in the West, have a duty to move the industry to a world-class level

Break Out premieres on Nov 17 at Bowie Performance Arts Center, in MD, USA

Break Out premieres on Nov 17 at Bowie Performance Arts Center, in MD, USA

What next for you after Break Out, any other projects movie related or otherwise that Juliet Mbonu will be working on?

Juliet Mbonu: Absolutely, my Talk-Show, “Let’s Talk It Out with Juliet Mbonu” will debut in first quarter of 2018. Our Production Company (RFP) is also developing other relevant stories for a world-wide audience.

We end with more information on the movie premiere, venue, cost, and any special guests that people may run into, what will the premiere of Break Out reserve for its audience?

Juliet Mbonu: The DC area (DMV) Premiere, coming up on November 17th, 2017 at 7pm, will be at the full-size Theater “Bowie Performance Arts Center” just outside DC.  The program starts at 7pm, a robust pre-show entertainment, featuring popular artists, and various entertainments.  A guest list of dignitaries and the public are expected.

Tickets for the premiere of Break Out are available at the following link:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/breakout-movie-premiere-tickets-38464495341?aff=es2#tickets

 

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Konnect Africa Brings Wi-Fi to Rural African Communities
November 10, 2017 | 0 Comments
Company unveils SmartWIFI service offering at AfricaCom 2017
CAPE TOWN, South Africa, November 9, 2017/ — Konnect Africa (www.Konnect-Africa.com), the Eutelsat-owned satellite broadband service provider, has unveiled SmartWIFI, a new hotspot service, as part of its ongoing commitment to bring digital opportunities to Africans.

This new service leverages Konnect Africa’s powerful, reliable satellite broadband network to enable sales outlets (retailers, hospitalities, gas stations, etc.) as well as healthcare centres or schools to become a connectivity point and digital gateway to opportunity for the surrounding population. Users will be able to access the internet from a distance of several hundred metres around the hotspot. Access can be extended to several kilometres through off-the-shelf Wi-Fi repeaters.

Users can access the SmartWIFI service through vouchers or mobile payment schemes. In addition, SmartWIFI comes with a unique local data storage system, enabling users in remote areas to access smart digital content free of data charges, including online courses and education programmes, sports and entertainment. Mobile and computer applications will also be available to help support daily business activities.

Konnect Africa CEO, Laurent Grimaldi commented from AfricaCom (http://APO.af/lb7KAQ): “This new Wi-Fi hotspot solution is designed specifically to address the needs of the majority of the African population that lives in rural areas, where there is a need to reduce the digital divide. In leveraging the ubiquity of our satellite network and locally operated hotspots we will foster more productive uses of digital technology to make everyday tasks easier for individuals and allow businesses in more remote areas to expand their footprint – let’s just think of weather apps to assist farmers, mobile phones to display bus timetables, or better information on market days that can help small producers enlarge their catchment area”, he added.

SmartWIFI will be available in all countries covered by Konnect Africa’s satellite broadband service. The new hotspot service will be deployed in partnership with local Internet service providers and telecom operators in strategic areas across Sub-Saharan Africa.

 

https://youtu.be/_R-tlB35QgU

Details on the new hotspot solution were presented by Konnect Africa during AfricaCom’17 in Cape Town.

Set up by Eutelsat in 2015, Konnect Africa (www.Konnect-Africa.com) aims to be the leading player in providing state-of-the-art satellite broadband solutions to telecom operators and internet service providers throughout the African continent. Konnect Africa’s ambition is to boost social and economic development in Sub-Saharan Africa by providing affordable broadband connectivity everywhere thus reducing the digital divide. With the aim of “taking broadband further”, Konnect Africa launched commercial services in June 2017 and is developing partnerships in nine African countries.

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Ericsson Report: 310 million LTE subscriptions in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2023
November 10, 2017 | 0 Comments
The report also announces that mobile subscriptions in Sub-Saharan Africa are expected to grow by six percent, between 2017 and 2023, from 700 million mobile subscriptions in 2017 to 990 million subscriptions by 2023
CAPE TOWN, South Africa, November 9, 2017/ —

  • LTE subscriptions will expand by 47 percent from 30 million in 2017 to 310 million by 2023 in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa mobile broadband subscriptions are forecasted to grow by 16 percent from 350 million in 2017 to 880 million by 2023.
  • The first 5G subscriptions in the Middle East and North Africa are expected from 2020, reaching around 17 million subscriptions by the end of 2023.

The latest regional appendix to the upcoming Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) (www.Ericsson.com) Mobility Report forecasts that LTE subscriptions will expand by 47 percent from 30 million in 2017 to 310 million by 2023 in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The report also announces that mobile subscriptions in Sub-Saharan Africa are expected to grow by six percent, between 2017 and 2023, from 700 million mobile subscriptions in 2017 to 990 million subscriptions by 2023.

Moreover, mobile traffic in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) will increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 49 percent while mobile subscriptions for the total MEA region are expected to grow at four percent CAGR between 2017 and 2023, from 1.59 billion in 2017 to 2.03 billion by 2023. This equates to three percent growth in the Middle East and North Africa, from 890 million mobile subscriptions to 1.04 billion subscriptions between 2017 and 2023.

On the other hand, mobile broadband subscriptions are forecast to grow by 15% for the MEA region from 820 million in 2017 to 1.85 billion by 2023. This is broken down into a 13 percent increase for the Middle East and North Africa from 460 million mobile broadband subscriptions in 2017 to 980 million by 2023. Similarly, Sub-Saharan Africa mobile broadband subscriptions are forecasted to grow by 16 percent from 350 million in 2017 to 880 million by 2023.

When it comes to LTE subscriptions, the MEA region is expected to grow by 29 percent from 190 million to 860 million by 2023. This means that LTE subscriptions in the Middle East and North Africa will grow by 23 percent from 160 million in 2017 to 570 million by 2023. For the Sub-Saharan Africa region, LTE subscriptions will expand by 47 percent from 30 million in 2017 to 310 million by 2023.

Rafiah Ibrahim, Head of Ericsson Middle East and Africa, said: “Total mobile traffic for the region is forecasted to grow by around 49 percent annually between 2017 and 2023. This rapid growth is seeing operators increasingly exploring methods of optimizing their networks with more capacity and coverage. We are supporting operators across the region throughout the different phases of the network evolution, enabling best performing networks and differentiated customer experience.”

Finally, the report mentions that in the Middle East and North Africa, strong growth is forecasted for both WCDMA/HSPA and LTE during the period. Combined, these technologies will see a rise from 50 percent to over 90 percent of total subscriptions by the end of the period.

The first 5G subscriptions in the Middle East and North Africa are expected from 2020, reaching around 17 million subscriptions by the end of 2023.

Further highlights from the regional appendix of the Ericsson Mobility Report include:

The Internet of Things (IoT) is facilitating the digital transformation of industries, and providing mobile operators in the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa with opportunities to explore new revenue streams.

Cellular IoT subscriptions in the Middle East and Africa are expected to grow from 35 million to 159 million between 2017 and 2023 – a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 30 percent.

Exploring new digitalisation revenues 

For mobile service providers, traditional revenue sources are shrinking, and so new revenue streams are being explored. As the world becomes more connected, industries are experiencing an ICT-driven transformation. Industry digitalization revenues for ICT players come from adopting or integrating digital technologies into a specific industry. 5G-enabled industry digitalization revenues for IoT in the Middle East and Africa are predicted to reach $242 billion through 2026.

5G will be an important technology in growing industrial digitalization, particularly for use cases dependent on extra-low latency and high reliability. This presents an opportunity for service providers that are ready to explore smart revenue streams addressing B2B2X industry players.

IoT and 5G serving communities 

Even though IoT is still in its infancy throughout most parts of the Middle East and Africa, there are still examples of how it has helped improve the livelihood of communities and industries in the region.

For example, in South Africa, Narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) is being introduced to address the utilities sector, enabling tools for energy efficiency such as smart meters.

The global edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report will be released later this month.

Ericsson (www.Ericsson.com) is a world leader in communications technology and services with headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden. Our organization consists of more than 111,000 experts who provide customers in 180 countries with innovative solutions and services. Together we are building a more connected future where anyone and any industry is empowered to reach their full potential. Net sales in 2016 were SEK 222.6 billion (USD 24.5 billion). The Ericsson stock is listed on Nasdaq Stockholm and on NASDAQ in New York.

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7th edition of the Orange Social Entrepreneur Prize in Africa and the Middle East, Prize List 2017
November 10, 2017 | 0 Comments
7th edition of the Orange Social Entrepreneur Prize in Africa and the Middle East, Prize List 2017

7th edition of the Orange Social Entrepreneur Prize in Africa and the Middle East, Prize List 2017

A new feature in this year’s 7th edition was a national phase during which each of Orange’s 17 subsidiaries in Africa and the Middle East taking part in the contest studied the projects submitted in their country and appointed local winners

PARIS, France, November 9, 2017/ — Yesterday Orange (www.Orange.com) announced the winners of the 7th Orange Social Entrepreneur Prize 2017 in Africa and the Middle East during the AfricaCom Awards in Cape Town, South Africa.

Each year this Prize rewards innovative projects based on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) which help improve the living conditions of local people through digital, in fields such as education, healthcare, farming, mobile payments or sustainable development.

A new feature in this year’s 7th edition was a national phase during which each of Orange’s 17 subsidiaries [1] in Africa and the Middle East taking part in the contest studied the projects submitted in their country and appointed local winners. These 49 local winners were entered into the international contest.

Open from February to June 2017, the call for applications received nearly 1,200 innovative project entries, which was 60% more than 2016. These projects illustrate the diverse ideas from local entrepreneurs and the potential of ICT in the development of Africa and the Middle East. Amongst the 49 local winners, 11 projects were selected and submitted to a jury made up of professionals, investors, external organisations and Orange organisations. The three winners will receive bursaries of €25,000, €15,000 and €10,000 and the Special Content Prize winner will receive €5,000. The finalists of the Orange Social Entrepreneur Prize will also enjoy priority support for six months from the NGO Grow Movement  and Orange experts.

Bruno Mettling, Deputy CEO of the Orange Group and Chairman and CEO of Orange MEA (Africa and the Middle East) stated that “The Orange Social Entrepreneur Prize is now a staple part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Africa and the Middle East. It is a great example of our contribution to digital transformation on the continent, a transformation which we would like to be inclusive and sustainable. Congratulations to these entrepreneurs and particularly the winners, I wish them every success in their professional endeavours. ”

The winning projects this year were:

1st prize was awarded to Manzer Partazer  in Madagascar 

The objective of the Malagasy start-up is to reduce food waste by sharing excess food from restaurants, hotels or supermarkets with partner organisations such as orphanages and disadvantaged populations. A collaborative platform will allow direct communication between different stakeholders.

2nd prize was awarded to City Taps  in Niger

CityTaps has developed a solution which bridges the gap between water services and the most disadvantaged citizens: a pre-payment service which includes a smart water meter and billing software.

The beneficiaries use their mobile to prepay for running water with any mobile phone, at any time, for any amount, which improves their household budget.

3rd prize was awarded to eFret.tn  in Tunisia 

eFret.tn is a website based on the freight exchange principle. It links up senders, whether private individuals or companies, with transport and transit professionals in Tunisia. The senders publish adverts describing their needs and receive free quotations from carriers, movers, and international transport companies and customs forwarding agents.

Furthermore, this year a Special Content Prize was added, which was awarded by Orange Content.

The Special Orange Content Prize was awarded to: Génie Edu in Cameroon 

This is an e-learning platform which aims to help students having problems by providing online video courses. The startup wants every student, including those in remote areas, to have access to high-quality courses at a very low cost, anytime and anywhere.

Internet users were also invited to choose their “User Favourite” project. This project automatically qualified for the international final.

This was the Malgasy project Majika which received over 2,800 votes out of 12,242 votes online. Majika is a social company aiming to facilitate economic development conditions in rural zones. It is based on two areas: access to renewable electricity and support for rural entrepreneurship. Majika works on an autonomous and ecological power plant in the village of Ampasindava.

Success stories from previous winners:

  • MedTrucks (2016) supports healthcare players with the deployment of smart trucks which use remote medicine to provide medical treatment in remote areas.
  • Bassita (2015) invents clickfunding: companies submit their social, cultural or environmental project on its platform. If it reaches its click target after being shared on social networks, the project obtains a donation from a sponsor.
  • Station Energy (2014), between a service station and African grocery store, provides access to energy via franchises on a large scale and at an affordable cost.

[1] Botswana, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Senegal, Tunisia, Jordan, Liberia and Burkina Faso.

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African business community commits to invest in skills for employment and job creation for youth at “Africa Talks Jobs” conference
November 10, 2017 | 0 Comments
The youth had a strong voice in the development of the recommendations and made up more than half of the conference participants
AU Commissioner of Human Resources, Science and Technology, Prof. Sarah Anyang Agbor at “Africa Talks Jobs” conference

AU Commissioner of Human Resources, Science and Technology, Prof. Sarah Anyang Agbor at “Africa Talks Jobs” conference

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, November 10, 2017/ — More than 400 representatives of youth, business, education practitioners and policy-making from 44 countries across the African continent as well as European partners have called for improving job perspectives of the African Youth through employment oriented education and skills development. The call was made at the recently concluded “Africa Talks Jobs” (ATJ) (www.AfricaTalksJobs.Africa) conference held at the African Union Commission (AUC) headquarters in Addis Ababa. Recommendations developed at the conference will be brought to the upcoming 5th AU-EU Summit in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

The recommendations call for a stronger engagement of the African business community in providing opportunities for skills training and joint offers with education institutions. Governments shall provide the necessary frameworks as well as favourable conditions for young entrepreneurs. At the same time, education at all levels and youth activities need to better address labour market demands and equip the youth with skills to start their own businesses. Included in the communiqué is also the call to ensure the recognition of degrees and other qualifications across the continent to enable voluntary labour migration. The recommendations were handed over to the AU Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology, Prof. Sarah Anyang Agbor, and the Head of the EU Delegation Ranieri Sabatucci who will submit them to the 5th AU-EU Summit in Ivory Coast.

“Africa Talks Jobs” conference participants in front of Nelson Mandela Hall at AUC headquarters

“Africa Talks Jobs” conference participants in front of Nelson Mandela Hall at AUC headquarters

120 African companies and business associations, under the auspices of Business Africa, have also committed to investing in skills development and partnership with education institutions for job skills education and training. AUC Commissioner Agbor lauded the business community’s commitment to young people and requested that more companies follow the example set to move from “Africa Talks Jobs” to “Africa Makes Jobs”.

The conference was organized in the headquarters of the African Union Commission (AUC) by the AUC, the New Partnership for Africa`s Development (NEPAD) (www.NEPAD.org) and the continental umbrella organization for the private sector – Business Africa. To back the engagement of the business community AUC, NEPAD and Business Africa signed a declaration of commitment to foster the business community’s role in partnerships with education and job creation.

The conference was supported by the EU and Germany. Stefan Oswald, Director of Sub-Saharan Africa in the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development pointed out that “Jobs are created mainly by the private sector, not by governments. Therefore, we applaud the commitment of the business community. This is an important shift of paradigm.” Ranieri Sabatucci, Head of the EU Delegation, underlined: “We must hear the youth. Working for them is not enough, we must work with them”.

The youth had a strong voice in the development of the recommendations and made up more than half of the conference participants. Among them were 36 fellows selected out of more than 7500 African and European applicants for the AU-EU Youth Plugin-Initiative. The AU-EU YPII is a programme to engage youth in developing a youth agenda to be endorsed at the 5th AU-EU Summit in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

Representatives of AUC, NEPAD, EU, Germany and Business Africa at “Africa Talks Jobs” conference

Representatives of AUC, NEPAD, EU, Germany and Business Africa at “Africa Talks Jobs” conference

Africa Talks Jobs” (www.AfricaTalksJobs.Africa) is a continental dialogue platform on education and skills development for employment and entrepreneurship organized by the AUC, Department of Human Resources, Science and Technology, NEPAD and Business Africa with the support of German Development Cooperation (implemented by GIZ). “Africa Talks Jobs” was launched with a conference at the African Union Commission headquarters in Addis Ababa from 30 October to 01 November 2017. The event was organized as a pre-conference to the 5th AU-EU Summit in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Africa Talks Jobs shall be further established as a platform for continental dialogue and knowledge exchange for education and skills development for employment.

 

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University of Abomey-Calavi Becomes First Francophone West African University to Join Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program
November 10, 2017 | 0 Comments
300 Next-Generation African Leaders and Entrepreneurs to Receive Quality Education and Entrepreneurship Training
 
Photo credit: Jake Naughton/Intersect for the Mastercard Foundation

Photo credit: Jake Naughton/Intersect for the Mastercard Foundation

COTONOU, Benin Republic, 9 November 2017,– The University of Abomey-Calavi’s commitment to educating next-generation African leaders received a boost today with a seven-year, USD$6.2 million commitment from the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program. The new partnership, which for the first time expands the Scholars Program to Francophone West Africa, will benefit 300 bright young Africa leaders and entrepreneurs with a high-quality education, creating pathways to careers in science and technology, as well as business and entrepreneurship for youth whose academic talent and promise exceed their financial resources.

“The University of Abomey-Calavi is proud to collaborate with the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program, a partnership which has energized our commitment to youth leadership and entrepreneurship education,” explained Professor Brice Sinsin, President of the University of Abomey-Calavi. “We envision leading change in our community by putting students and researchers at the heart of local development, and fostering greater involvement of graduates through social action campaigns and community development projects.”

“Young Francophone Africans deserve every chance to study and thrive,” says Peter Materu, Director of Education and Learning and Youth Livelihoods, the Mastercard Foundation. “Strengthening higher education in Francophone West Africa is critical to ensuring that the region can meet the needs of growing markets. By working with the University of Abomey-Calavi, the Foundation hopes to foster stronger academic relationships and partnerships with other Francophone universities, improving higher education enrollment rates across the region.”

The Scholars Program at the University of Abomey-Calavi will have two components: the first will emphasize access to quality education for 200 Scholars in the fields of agronomic sciences, engineering sciences, computer sciences, and renewable energy. These students will also be admitted into the university’s pre-employment service, a workforce made up of graduates of the University of Abomey-Calavi focused on social entrepreneurship and will enable Scholars to share values and gain valuable work experience.

The Mastercard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Africa. As one of the largest private foundations, its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by Mastercard when the Foundation was created in 2006.
Established in 1970, the University of Abomey-Calavi is the oldest and largest public university in Benin. With a student population estimated at 85 000 registrations for the 2016-2017 academic year, the University is a true place of knowledge having trained the majority of the Beninese nation’s elite. The University of Abomey-Calavi is a higher academic and research institution offering a wide variety of training covering the areas of health science, science and technology, agricultural science, juridical and political science, economic science and management, human and social science, literature, arts and language science, and educational sciences. The University of Abomey-Calavi maintains cooperative relationships with a vast number of institutions of higher education the world over to strengthen their own training and research programmes. The University of Abomey-Calavi is also the recipient of the international prize celebrating the quality of its academic and administrative governance.

The second component of the partnership will focus on providing technical expertise for the development of ‘Startups Valley’, a business incubator program created by the University of Abomey-Calavi. Startups Valley will provide 100 Scholars with an opportunity to sharpen their entrepreneurial skills and mindsets, setting them on the path to successful entrepreneurship and enabling them to launch their own businesses, employ other students, and contribute to their economy.

The University of Abomey-Calavi joins a global network of 29 universities and non-governmental organizations committed to over 35,000 bright young leaders with a deep personal commitment to changing the world around them and improving the lives of others. The Scholars Program provides holistic student support, including comprehensive scholarships, leadership development, pre-employment, and industry-driven career services – developing highly skilled, transformative leaders to catalyze inclusive prosperity in Africa.

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