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Revolution On The Way For African Football with Afro Millions Lotto- James Leppard of Offertas 365
September 4, 2017 | 2 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

 

James Leppard is CEO of Ofertas365

James Leppard is CEO of Ofertas365

Launched in partnership with the Nigerian Football League, the Afro Millions Lotto will offer players and football fans the ability to win life changing jack pots, says James Leppard ,CEO of Ofertas 365,the British based company operating the Lotto.

Ofertas 365 helps football clubs and charities in emerging markets raise money through the lotto, says James Leppard who believes that the initiative could help grow the game in Nigeria and Africa.

“Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country; it offers the biggest possible audience and has the most advanced football league,” says Leppard in justification of the choice to launch Afro Millions there. The plan is to progressively move to other African counties ,Leppard said.

“In most African countries, sports clubs and charities have not started commercializing their supporter base. AfroMillionsLotto will serve to start this process, allowing people to compete for life-changing jackpot prizes whilst helping their chosen club or charity,” said Leppard.

Can you start by introducing your company Ofertas 365?

Ofertas365 Limited is a publicly traded company on the dcsx. It is a UK company with three directors, four board advisors (including three from Nigeria) and more than 120 shareholders.

Your company is launching  the Afro Millions Lotto (www.afromillionslotto.com)  with the football league in Nigeria, can you explain the logic behind this lottery and why the choice of Nigeria?

Lotto is a very popular way to raise funds in the UK – from football clubs such as Arsenal, Leicester City, Swansea City, WBA in the English Premier League; Glamorgan, Durham and Hampshire cricket clubs; Gloucester, Sale Sharks and Wasps rugby clubs, through to charities including the RSPCA and Cancer Research, all of whom raise money through their own lotto.

In most African countries, sports clubs and charities have not started commercializing their supporter base. AfroMillionsLotto will serve to start this process, allowing people to compete for life-changing jackpot prizes whilst helping their chosen club or charity.

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country; it offers the biggest possible audience and has the most advanced football league, as well as being recognised as an international football power.

In what way do you think this lottery is going to help the growth of football in Nigeria?

Clubs get a share of the revenue from every ticket sold – people can only buy tickets from the clubs’ lotto website – so whoever wants to play (football fans or otherwise) has to buy a ticket from one of the NPFL clubs. Clubs will earn recurring revenue to enable them to spend money on player development, youth football and academies, stadium and pitch improvements, for example. AfroMillionsLotto also provides their fans and communities great entertainment value and additional engagement with the club.

Is Ofertas365 doing  business in any other part of Africa at the moment or do you have plans to expand the lottery to other parts of Africa?

Nigeria is our first footprint in Africa, but we have ambitious plans to replicate the model throughout the continent, wherever we may operate under our license.

For countries or clubs interested in your services, what needs to be done, or is it Ofertas that makes the first move when it sees potential?

Clubs, leagues or federations are invited to contact us via www.afromillionslotto.com – we are already pitching to a number of other federations and charities.

Your company is based in London and the English league is one of the best, what can Africa learn from that league and what lotteries like yours can do to add fun and advance the game ?

The English Premier League is the benchmark. African clubs can certainly learn from the EPL how to commercialise their fan bases; be it merchandise, events, credit cards, loyalty cards or sports betting and lotto. The clubs in the UK are expert at generating extra revenue – beyond match day ticket sales – through their fans, most of whom are staunchly loyal to the clubs they support.

Any other plans that Ofertas has in the works for Africa ?

Following our launch with the NPFL, we would like to work with every football league in Africa as well as charities across the continent.

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RAILA ODINGA: THE CONFLICTING PERSONALITY OF AN ELECTION PETITION WINNER
September 3, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Chief Charles A. Taku*

NASA Presidential aspirant Raila Odinga addressing the Press

NASA Presidential aspirant Raila Odinga addressing the Press

Honourable Raila Omolo Odinga, the controversial and polarizing Kenyan opposition politician is a conflicted personality. He is a career politician and civil society political activist combined.  These qualities make him unmistakably the Lakayana of Kenyan politics. While both qualities may on occasion advance his diverse political objectives, they often collide at critical moments in his political life making the attainment of his political ambition elusive.

These qualities make him complex; even mesmerizing. Those who love and adore him, do so passionately. Those who abhor and distrust him do so passionately in equal measure. He is unmistakably a polarizing personality in dire need of political power in a country in need of a uniting leader.

During the last election which earned Uhuru Kenyatta his first presidential mandate, Philip Ochieng, one of the most respected journalists in Kenya, wrote in the Sunday Nation that following on the footsteps of his father Jaramogi Odinga Odinga, Raila Omolo Odinga was his own worst enemy. All it needs to prove the validity of this assessment, is to provide Raila with a platform and crowd.  Then he has no control over his speech, its consequences and its political cost.  This quality was on display when he faced the press, his cheering supports and an anxious electorate after the delivery of the Supreme Judgment in his favour annulling the presidential elections in which President Uhuru Kenyatta was proclaimed the winner.

He was everything but presidential in his speech. Rather to take the opportunity of that rare election petition victory to calm a politically restive nation.  He threatened, castigated, criticized, pontificated, and baited his perceived or real enemies.  In short, he sounded more like a civil society political activist during his election petition victory speech than a presidential candidate who had just been granted another lease of life to contest a crucial election in two months. In the end, he failed to even appeal to the electorate to vote for him.

The hard fact is that, the decision of the Supreme Court of Kenya annulling the Presidential election result that favoured President Uhuru Kenyatta should be applauded not for its outcome, for like all judicial decisions it still has to undergo the rigours of informed scrutiny, but for the fact that at long last an African country, and Kenya for that matter, has proved that it has the capacity to deliver effective, efficient and independent justice. The International Criminal Court with the hypocritical approval of erstwhile colonial Western powers relied on this fallacy to violate the complementarity  safeguards of the Rome treaty to inappropriately target Kenya and indeed Africa in its interventions from when it was established.

The constitution of Kenya that provided the constitutional guarantees of the separation of powers which was exercised in the full glare and satisfaction of the world at large in particular the Western world, in this election petition,  was in place when Moreno Ocampo, urged on by the same Western actors and by Raila Odinga intervened in the 2007 election violence conflict in Kenya on the grounds that Kenya did not have an effective, efficient and independent Judiciary to investigate and punish the perpetrators of the 2007 election violence. With the present decision, the scales of prejudice have sudden fallen and the Kenya Judiciary is all praises from the patronizing erstwhile colonial West; not for the justice of the Supreme Court judgment that is still subject to judicial scrutiny, but for the fact that in context, it comes close to doing what they would have wanted done but for the fact that in this case, popular sovereignty as opposed to judiciary fiat may yet again determine the outcome of the elections in two months.

I must admit, and all respecters of the rule of law must, as President Uhuru Kenyatta did, that the Supreme Court of Kenya and indeed the lower courts before whom election petitions were brought, fulfilled their constitutional mandate effectively, efficiently and independently. For this, the Judiciary of Kenya merits praise. It always has. It is another thing if the outcome of judicial proceedings before the courts were acceptable or not.  In this case, the ultimate arbiter, call it the supreme judge is not the judiciary, it is the sovereign people of Kenya in their exercise of its inalienable, unimpeachable right of popular sovereignty to elect its leaders.

If there was any lingering doubt therefore, about the falsity of the claims that Kenya did not have an independent, efficient and effective judiciary as alleged by Moreno Ocampo and his handlers, then the successful litigation of election petitions by Kenyan lower courts and ultimately, its Supreme Court has proved them wrong. However, the ghost of the ICC was visible in this election and will remain visible in the next round and future elections. In many ways, it will inhibit the ability of Raila Odinga to win the repeat elections.

Four judges overruled two others, believing there was enough uncertainty to undermine the election result

Four judges overruled two others, believing there was enough uncertainty to undermine the election result

This may be discerned from the misplaced message conveyed through his Supreme Court election petition celebratory speech. His resolve to prosecute election officials instead of using the moment to celebrate in measured humility, reassure millions of voters who perceive him as vindictive, abrasive and dictatorial, may further alienate him from critical voters who value peace and unity of the nation over triumphalist display of person power.

During the last election which saw Uhuru Kenyatta win his first mandate, Raila squandered his best opportunity of ever becoming the President of Kenya by deconstructing a formidable alliance he formed with a youthful, ambitious, savvy and perhaps most skillful politician in Kenya Deputy Vice President William Ruto. He did so by offering him as a sacrificial lamb to Ocampo.

In his miscalculation, he perceived the ICC intervention as a means of depriving William Ruto of the possibility of sharing in the effervescence of his then rising political profile.  He miscalculated, for Mr Ruto is a political product of the majority ordinary people of Kenya who see their image in him and consider him as one of theirs. The ordinary people of Kenya have long traced and refined his path to presidential power and this is obvious even to the jaundiced eye. He has merely been playing for his time to come to embark on the journey to fulfill his people’s will.   A smart politician, he did not want to squander the opportunity when the potential path to the presidency in 2020 came calling. Raila Odinga’s political miscalculation and the ICC proceedings provided him that opportunity.

Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto are good students of history.  The patronizing support given by Western countries to the ICC proceedings gave them the opportunity to position themselves as defenders of the sovereignty of Kenya and the liberating cause of new Africa. The humiliating campaign against the ability of the judicial institutions of Kenya to conduct post-election violence proceedings, the same institutions that are being hailed by the same erstwhile colonial Western countries, required genuine leaders to standup to the challenge and mobilize Kenyans to defend their national pride and their sovereignty.  Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto offered this leadership while Raila Odinga largely portrayed himself through his own public pronouncements as a Western poodle in his unqualified support for the ICC proceedings. Whatever motivations he had for seeking political leadership while supporting proceedings which placed the sovereignty of his country under the ward of the ICC, in the political context of the proceedings, he was perceived as relying on the case as a means of settling internal political scores and eliminating his political opponents from contesting the elections against him.

The Supreme Court's decision sparked celebrations by supporters of opposition candidate Raila Odinga

The Supreme Court’s decision sparked celebrations by supporters of opposition candidate Raila Odinga

That backfired and he lost the elections.  The credibility of the ICC came out seriously bruised in the process because its intervention was not perceived to be in the best interest of Kenya and the victims of the election violence. The overwhelming evidence of Western interference portrayed the Kenya ICC cases as politically motivated. At the end of his mandate as the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC, Moreno Ocampo in published newspaper and television interviews confirmed this fact.

During this election, an ICC official in the Prosecutor’s Office made a misguided statement in a conference in Arusha in neighbouring Tanzania linking the potential outcome of the Kenya election to a potential reviving of the ICC cases in the case the opposition candidate won. This admittedly uncoordinated statement nevertheless places the statement by Raila Odinga about prosecuting election commission members into the providential focus which Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr William Ruto may in addition to their largely positive development record, ride on to victory once again.

Why must Raila Odinga want to get election officials prosecuted when the Supreme Court did not make a finding of criminal conduct?  Was this a forewarning that a result short of victory for him in the repeat elections will not be accepted by him?  Was it a forewarning of another round of litigation to dissolve the election commission and compromise the organization of the election he may lose?  Will this not lead to a constitutional crisis where this to happen? No matter from what perspective this attack and threat of prosecution may be perceived, it portrays Raila Odinga as a potentially vengeful politician who thrives on the politics on politics of bitterness.

Raila Odinga squandered his moment of glory in focusing on yet another prosecution rather than taking advantage of the glare and focus of the moment to mobilize his base and Kenyans in general to give him their votes in two months. He failed to appeal for peace, reconciliation and national healing after a very polarizing judicial experience. He failed to explain why he sought for the poll to be nullified to the electorate. He impressed professional judges of the Supreme Court about his reasons for seeking and obtaining an annulment of the elections in which he lost.  He still must do a better job explaining to the electorate he will be facing in two months.

The case, its outcome and his celebratory rhetoric may energize the majority who voted against him to defend their franchise by voting against him in even greater numbers.  The bane of Raila Odinga has always been his inability to reconcile Raila the civil society political activist from Raila the career politician.  He has never understood that although bed partners, these attributes are on critical occasions strange bed fellows.  The bull instant in political activism is at critical moments, the bane of career politicians. It may take an election petition victory and a repeat election to lose for Raila Odinga to finally come to terms with this reality.

In contrast, Uhuru Kenyatta was presidential and humble in his speech in which he disagreed with the outcome of the judgment but accepted the outcome nevertheless.  Calling for peace to reign, he took the opportunity to relaunch his election campaign. He reminded the people of Kenya to whom he and his deputy have turned to since the ICC challenge, that the power to decide the destiny of Kenya belonged to them not to six individuals constituting a court of law.

That appeal succeeded and helped them to win the Presidential elections regarding the ICC proceedings. It may succeed once more with the Supreme Court Judgment acting as a tonic, call it a fig leaf of mobilization for a greater electoral victory come two months.   Raila Odinga by promising Kenyans further court cases and prosecutions may have paved the way for the people to deny him that opportunity. He may have unwittingly placed the spotlight on the focus on the possibility of a revived ICC nightmare under a Raila Odinga presidency.  He seems not to have learnt the painful lesson that his prior support for this nightmare among other reasons led to a majority of his people rejecting him in the last election.

Kenyans know that Raila did not challenge the election outcome which largely favoured his opponent. He challenged but the constitutionality and the legality of the conduct of the elections. His greatest challenge remains how to convince the majority that elected Uhuru and Ruto to switch over and vote for him. If he carefully reflected on the Supreme Court Judgment prior to making his celebratory speech, he should have known that that Judgement did not find any wrong doing against Uhuru Kenyatta based on which the electorate would have sanctioned him. On the contrary, the constitutional violations, illegalities and procedural inadequacies by the election commission deprived him of victory in an election whose outcome was neither in doubt nor contested by Raila in his petition. Raila in his celebratory speech inappropriately sought inappropriately to place blames for the failures of the election commission on his adversary where none was found by the Supreme Court. If his Supreme Court election speech is a template of his election performance in two months, then I regret, he may not prevail in the court of popular sovereignty.

There are several logistical and organizational odds that militate against his ability to conduct an effective campaign within just two months.  He benefitted from a steady flow of international goodwill, tactical and strategic support during the annulled poll.  It is inconceivable, considering the electoral map of Kenya, that this key constituency will again invest in a repeat election when the outcome of the annulled election was never challenged.  The appeal for calm by President Uhuru Kenyatta apart, the calm that followed the Supreme Court Judgment may be an unmistakable exercise of confidence that in two months this silent majority may yet again reassert its sovereignty over its choice of leader. And Raila Odinga tacitly acknowledged the reality of that choice by not challenging the critical choice that was made in the annulled poll.

  • Chief Charles A. Taku is an international lawyer writing from The Hague The Netherlands.

 

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African Migrants Find Work as Beekeepers in Italy
September 3, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Ricci Shryock*

Abdul Adan works with bees in Alessandria, Italy, Aug. 23, 2017. Adan, of Senegal, arrived in Italy in 2015, and started training at Bee My Job, a project to help migrants and refugees in Italy, in late 2016.

Alessandria, Italy (August 23, 2017) – Originally from Senegal, Abdul Adan arrived in Italy in 2015 after taking a clandestine boat from Italy. Adan started training at Bee My Job, a project to help migrants and refugees in Italy, in late 2016. Today he is one of their most succesful beekeepers and helps show other migrants and refugees how to do the work. In Italy, beekeepers and honey producers say there are a shortage of workers availalbe in the industry, so this training program benefits their business.

A group in Italy is training migrants — mostly from sub-Saharan Africa — as beekeepers, then pairing them with honey producers who need employees. Aid groups say new efforts by European leaders to stem the flow of migrants from Africa ignores the fact that Europe needs these workers. According to Oxfam, Italy alone will need 1.6 million migrants over the next 10 years.

Back in his native Senegal, the only interaction Abdul Adan ever had with bees was when one stung his mouth while he was eating fresh honey. That day, his mouth was so swollen that he didn’t leave his home in Senegal’s Casamance region. Years later as a migrant worker in Alessandria, Italy, Adan is so comfortable with the insects that he does not even use gloves as he handles their hives and inspects their progress.

“I’m looking to see if the queen is here or not,” he said, as he uses his bare hands to look for the yellow dot that indicates the queen he placed in the hive a week before. “If there was the queen, she would have started laying eggs, but I don’t see any eggs.”

Adan is part of a project called Bee My Job, in which the Italian Cambalache Association trains migrants and refugees as beekeepers and finds work for them in Italy’s agribusiness industry. The association’s president, Mara Alacqua, says they have hosted and trained 107 people — mostly from Sub-Saharan Africa — since launching in 2014.

A queen bee, marked in yellow, moves among the worker bees in Alessandria, Italy, Aug. 22, 2017.

A queen bee, marked in yellow, moves among the worker bees in Alessandria, Italy, Aug. 22, 2017.

“Our beds are always full,” she said. “Every time a person leaves the project, and so we have a spare place, that place is covered straight away just within two days’ time.”

The migrants also take language classes as part of the program. Today, Adan is fluent in Italian and, despite his initial fears, he has become one of the most successful trainees.

“The first day that Mara asked me to do the work, I couldn’t sleep,” he said. “I said I have never done bee work, I was really scared that the bees would sting me and people would laugh and look at me, but afterward I figured and said I will learn, and maybe one day I can do it in my country.”

Nearly 95,000 migrants and refugees have arrived in Italy this year, though in the past two months, numbers have dropped by more than 50 percent compared to last year. Experts attribute the decrease to a more aggressive approach by the Libyan coast guard to turn boats back — and Libya’s increased support from the European Union. While in Libya, Adan says he was held hostage and tortured, and then forced into slave labor before escaping on a boat to Italy.

Abdul Adan shows Elele Okbe and Kobir Hossin how to tend to beehives in Alessandria, Italy, Aug. 22, 2017.

Abdul Adan shows Elele Okbe and Kobir Hossin how to tend to beehives in Alessandria, Italy, Aug. 22, 2017.

“To do work with bees, it’s not a work that is hard,” Adan said. “I already passed through stages that are harder than working with bees. If I tell you the Libyans who took us for work, you know how much we had to eat? One piece of bread a day. And we worked hard.”

A need for migrants

Amid ongoing efforts to stem the flow, Oxfam says European leaders are ignoring the need for migrants. According to the UK-based aid group, Italy alone will need an estimated 1.6 million workers over the next decade to sustain its welfare and pension plans.

Francesco Panella, a beekeeper for more than 40 years and president of Bee Life EU, agrees that migrant workers are good for Italy.

“In reality, we have a problem in our country,” he said. “On one side, there is a huge problem with unemployment; but the other issue, it’s not at all easy to find workers for agriculture. So, in reality, Italian agriculture is based on the work of foreigners. The world changes. It’s a world of movement, movement of people.”

Ismael Soumarhoro works with bees in Tassarolo, Italy, Aug. 22, 2017. Soumahoro, originally from Guinea in West Africa, was trained in beekeeping by Italian NGO Bee My Job.

Ismael Soumarhoro works with bees in Tassarolo, Italy, Aug. 22, 2017. Soumahoro, originally from Guinea in West Africa, was trained in beekeeping by Italian NGO Bee My Job.

In a room filled with crates used to harvest honey, Panella is quick to philosophize about migration, human compassion and more. He adds that both his children are immigrants. One works in the U.S. and the other in the U.K., and his grandfather contemplated migrating to Argentina after World War II in search of opportunities. He said he keeps all these things in mind when employing migrant workers, such as Isamel Soumarhoro, from Guinea.

Soumarhoro has worked in Panella’s beekeeping operations since 2015.

“What makes me happy is the moment when I take out the honey to take back to the house, because it’s a work that is a little difficult. You see, in 2015 when I arrived, there was more honey and the employees were happy,” Soumarhoro said.

According to Panella, one of the main threats to the program is the negative impact climate change and pesticides are having on honey production. Italy’s honey production this year is down 70 percent from normal harvests, he said. Most of the migrants hope the work continues, though they struggle being so far from home.

Every morning, Abdul Adan takes a 20-minute train ride to Alessandria, Italy, where he works with bee hives and in an organic garden to sell produce, Aug. 22, 2017. "I feel very lonely, very very," he says.

Every morning, Abdul Adan takes a 20-minute train ride to Alessandria, Italy, where he works with bee hives and in an organic garden to sell produce, Aug. 22, 2017. “I feel very lonely, very very,” he says.

“I feel very lonely, very very,” Adan said. “Sometimes when I think of my family, it makes me want to go back home, but that’s the story of immigration. I am looking for some means. Maybe one day I go back to my country, or one day I can bring my family. No one knows what the future holds.”

For the migrants, they hope the honey business can make tomorrow at least a bit sweeter.

*VOA

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Baker Hughes, a GE Company Awarded Second Major Contract for Eni East Africa’s Coral South FLNG
August 31, 2017 | 0 Comments
The second contract – which was awarded through the former GE Oil & Gas business – will allow BHGE to provide rotating equipment for the power and gas refrigeration process of the new FLNG facility
LONDON, United Kingdom, August 30, 2017/ —

  • Rotating equipment including aeroderivative gas turbines for power and gas refrigeration process of the new Floating Liquefied Natural Gas (FLNG) facility, the first-ever built in Africa, for Africa.
  • This is the second major contract award for Coral South FLNG project, with BHGE also providing leading subsea technologies and services for the development of Rovuma basin Area 4 gas resources. 
  • BHGE will also supply Boil-Off Gas (BOG) and booster compressors capable of operating at -180° C to re-liquefy excessive BOG evaporating out of the LNG storage tanks.
BLC centrifugal compressor

BLC centrifugal compressor

Baker Hughes, a GE company (www.BHGE.com) has announced a second major contract for Eni East Africa’s (EEA) Coral South FLNG development, offshore Mozambique, underlining the company’s position as the world’s first and only integrated fullstream provider of products, services and digital solutions that maximize productivity, efficiency and cost reduction.

The contract was awarded in 2Q this year by a joint venture formed by TechnipFMC and JGC Corporation, the lead partner in a consortium that will provide engineering, procurement, construction, installation, commissioning and start-up (EPCIC) of Coral South’s FLNG facility.

The second contract – which was awarded through the former GE Oil & Gas business-  will allow BHGE to provide rotating equipment for the power and gas refrigeration process of the new FLNG facility. The order consists of four Turbo-compression trains for mix refrigeration services, using the company’s aeroderivative gas turbine (model PGT25+G4) technology and driving its centrifugal compressors. In addition, the company will provide four Turbo-generation units, also driven by aeroderivative gas turbines (model PGT25+G4).

The components of the turbo compressor trains and turbo-generation units will be manufactured at BHGE Nuovo Pignone facility in Florence, Italy where the train will be assembled, and tested in the Massa facility, Italy.

Demonstrating the benefits for customers of BHGE’s access to the GE Store – where the company can draw technologies (such as the gas turbines derived from the Aviation business) and expertize from multiple industries – the Turbo-generation units will be equipped with electric generators provided by the GE Power Conversion business.

A third contract was also awarded to BHGE after the closing of the integration between GE Oil & Gas and Baker Hughes last July and it includes the supply of Boil-Off Gas (BOG) and booster compressors capable of operating at -180° C to re-liquefy excessive BOG evaporating out of the LNG storage tanks. In particular, BHGE boil-off gas compressor draws on extensive in-field experience and has been validated through a dedicated experimental campaign of detailed analysis and testing.

“Coral South LNG is an enormously important development for Mozambique and the region – the first new-built FLNG facility to be installed in Africa and one of only a small number in the world today,” said Rod Christie, President and CEO, Turbomachinery & Process Solutions, BHGE, “These awards further underline BHGE’s position as a fullstream provider of smart, cost-effective advanced technology and solutions to drive reliability, flexibility, efficiency and productivity for major energy developments, while building on our relationships with oil and gas operators and our technical expertise that has been a true differentiator in this project.”

The contracts won by BHGE follow an earlier award in June this year for the supply of seven xmas trees, three 2-slot manifolds with integrated distribution units, MB rigid jumpers, seven subsea wellheads with spare components, a complete topside control system to be installed on the Coral South FLNG facility, and associated Services equipment and support including IWOCS and Landing Strings, tools, spares and technical assistance for installation, commissioning and start-up.

BHGE announced on July 3rd the completion of the transaction combining GE’s oil and gas business with Baker Hughes. The new company is the first and only to bring together industry-leading equipment, services and digital solutions across the entire spectrum of oil and gas development.

The Coral South FLNG project, the first phase of EEA’s wider plan of development for the world-class gas discoveries made in the Rovuma Basin Area 4, will see the installation of an FLNG facility with a capacity of around 3.4 MTPA, fed by six subsea wells and expected to produce around 5 TCF of gas during its 25 years of production, with an anticipated start-up in mid-2022. The first ever offshore project to start producing gas in Mozambique, it will provide significant local economic benefits through job creation and support the region’s future energy needs.

EEA is the operator of Area 4, and holds 70% participation interest in the Area 4 Concession. Eni (71.43%) and CNPC (28.57%) are shareholders of EEA.

Baker Hughes, a GE company (NYSE: BHGE) is the world’s first and only fullstream provider of integrated oilfield products, services and digital solutions. We deploy minds and machines to enhance customer productivity, safety and environmental stewardship, while minimizing costs and risks at every step of the energy value chain. With operations in over 120 countries, we infuse over a century of experience with the spirit of a startup – inventing smarter ways to bring energy to the world

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Insight Into Atlas Africa: It is about Aligning Business Opportunities With Interested Parties, says CEO Lindi Gillespie.
August 31, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Lindi Gillespie is CEO of Atlas Africa

Lindi Gillespie is CEO of Atlas Africa

For Lindi Gillespie, connecting the right people to opportunities in the market place and creating viable and strategic partnerships is her passion. Leveraging her vast networks and experience garnered over a twenty year period in diverse marketing and business roles, Lindi Gillespie founded Atlas Africa, an investment and brokerage company with operational base from South Africa. The firm offers clients the opportunity to expand business prospects on a broad range of sectors across Africa and on the global stage.

As CEO of Atlas Africa, Lindi, a Graduate of the University of Cape Town has surrounded herself with a solid team of talented associates who pride themselves in providing tailor made investment brokerage services and the delivery of first class returns to their clients.

“We do our best to understand our client’s business needs and long term plans when putting together a marketing strategy for bringing their services and products into the African markets,” says Lindi, who was recently ranked amongst Africa’s top 25 Women in Leadership by Amazon Watch Magazine.

With the goal of building long term professional relationships based on honesty, integrity, and sustainable revenue generation, Atlas Africa has steadily grown its business portfolio across Africa and beyond. In addition to South Africa and the SADC sub region, Atlas has excelled in West and East Africa, and Lindi says there are a growing number of hotel deals going through in the Maldives and Europe.

“Our clients stick with us because we work hard for them and always do our very best to find the best solutions to their needs by using our International network,” says Lindi as she expresses the ambition to further grow and sustain the strong reputation of Atlas Africa when it comes to investing in the continent.

Ms Gillespie, thanks so much for accepting to grant this interview , you are CEO of Atlas Africa Group, could you start by introducing the Group for us, what does it do, and when was it created?

Atlas Africa Group was formed in December 2015 when I attended the Global African Investment Summit in London. The Atlas Africa Group finds financing for renewable energy projects internationally; but predominantly in Africa. I raise these funds from individual investors; pensions fund; renewable energy funds and private equity funds. We also focus on Projects that are property related. We are very involved in development of hotels and also the buying and selling of hotels in Africa and its surrounding islands. Other sectors of the economies in Africa are covered as well.

What motivated you to create the Group, what skill set did you have, may we also have an idea of the staff strength and profile of those who make up the Group?

The motivation to start the Group was the dire need for infrastructure development; electricity; urbanisation development and especially agriculture to feed the people of Africa. Sustainability in Africa was my core motivation – to assist with this process. My skills are mainly in marketing and in introducing people where synchronicity exists to make things happen around the continent. For example I work closely with the Swiss who have foundations to help the poor and also various funds that have budgets to help the underprivileged people in our communities. The kind of people I choose to work with are professionals who are experts in all the fields that I can’t fill! Such as accounting and office administration. I prefer face to face contact with clients; travelling for work related projects and marketing our pipeline of projects.

Lindi Gillespie and her talented associates at Atlas Africa pride themselves on offering tailor made, investment brokerage services and delivering first class returns to their clients

Lindi Gillespie and her talented associates at Atlas Africa pride themselves on offering tailor made, investment brokerage services and delivering first class returns to their clients

Let’s talk about the success stories, are there concrete examples of successful projects that have been carried out by the Atlas Group? Potential clients may be interested in knowing something about the track record of Atlas

Our success stories are mainly in renewable energy and infrastructure development. At the moment deals are being processed in the Ivory Coast and Mali. These deals are private and public projects. We also have a number of hotel deals going through in the Maldives and Europe. These deals involve International hotel brands and private equity firms. We are processing low cost housing projects in two areas of Namibia where building of houses will begin within the next few weeks.

For people interested in using the services of Atlas, what do they need to do and what additional guarantees does the Group have to assure clients of positive results?

For positive result with new clients, it is a question of what stage the project is based. For instance we have investors of Greenfield renewable energy projects but projects with all licences and a PPA is where most of the clients invest. When it comes to PPPs, countries that offer sovereign guarantees or some form of guarantees make the project more attractive to investors. For projects needing funds Atlas Africa is always open to consider these projects.

What other parts of Africa is the Group operating in besides South Africa where it is based?

Atlas Africa focuses mainly on countries of good governance. We focus on areas where is safe for workforce to complete projects. Our presence is mainly in the SADC region and various countries in East and West Africa.

How will you describe the business climate first in South Africa and on other parts of the continent where you do business?

With the downgrading of South Africa’s economic sector; there are challenges in all parts of the economy including private and public business. I focus most of Atlas Africa Group’s growth outside of South Africa. I have a number of property interests however in South Africa. Our press in South Africa is bullish which helps with addressing the corruption in the country. The corruption has affected growth in all areas of the economy and many people are taking their money out of the country; emigrating or disinvesting.

Lindi Gillespie was recently profiled as one of Africa’s Top 25 Women in Leadership by Amazon Watch Magazine, what did this mean for you?

Being chosen as one of the 25 most influential women in Africa was a huge achievement for me. It showed that the work I do in Africa counts and that I have a voice on the continent. I would like to become more involved with positive movements and change.

With Former President Thabo Mbeki and Zanele Mbeki in Johannesburg

With Former President Thabo Mbeki and Zanele Mbeki in Johannesburg

To young Africans especially the women who see in you a role model, and will want to emulate your example, what are some secrets of success that you have for them?

The secret of success for young women is to have a specific focus. The best choice is to align yourself with positive people who will support your ideas and your business growth. If you are an entrepreneur like myself ,you need to expect difficulties and challenges. This will keep you up at night but you need faith to keep going. So many deals fall through but it’s all part of being in the game of business. Try and secure finance so that you can get through the hard times when deals are taking years to come through!!

We end with a last word on the future of the Atlas Group, what next after growing it to where it is, any big plans in the years ahead to grow and improve the client base?

Our big plans and ambitions are to grow and sustain our strong reputation when it comes to investing in Africa. Our clients stick with us because we work hard for them and always do our very best to find the best solutions to their needs by using our International network.

 

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2018 World Cup: Crucial games for Africa’s hopefuls
August 30, 2017 | 0 Comments
African champions Cameroon have qualified for the World Cup seven times in the past more than any other from the continent

African champions Cameroon have qualified for the World Cup seven times in the past more than any other from the continent

Algeria, Ghana and African champions Cameroon face a crucial week of 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

Cameroon coach Hugo Broos admits their campaign is doomed if they do not take at least four points off Nigeria in back-to-back clashes.

The Group B rivals meet in Uyo on Friday and then in Cameroon’s capital Yaounde three days later.

“Should we fail to achieve that target, I do not think it will be possible to qualify for Russia,” Broos said.

2018 World Cup qualifiers for Africa (rounds 3 and 4)
Thursday: Monday:
Uganda v Egypt (Grp E) Cameroon v Nigeria (Grp B)
Guinea v Libya (Grp A) Libya v Guinea (Grp A in Tunisia)
Friday: Tuesday:
Ghana v Congo (Grp E) Congo v Ghana (Grp E)
Nigeria v Cameroon (Grp B) South Africa v Cape Verde (Grp D)
Cape Verde v South Africa (Grp D) Ivory Coast v Gabon (Grp C)
Morocco v Mali (Grp C) DR Congo v Tunisia (Grp A)
Tunisia v DR Congo (Grp A) Burkina Faso v Senegal (Grp D)
Saturday: Egypt v Uganda (Grp E)
Zambia v Algeria (Grp B) Mali v Morocco (Grp C)
Gabon v Ivory Coast (Grp C) Algeria v Zambia (Grp B)
Senegal v Burkina Faso (Grp D)

Nigeria top the group with six points after two rounds, Cameroon have two and Zambia and Algeria one.

Broos is hoping for an away draw and a home victory that would reduce the gap between the countries to one point.

The final two qualifiers will be played in October and November with only the five group winners progressing to play in Russia.

“My players need little or no reminding of how important the matches against Cameroon are,” said Germany-born Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr.

Algeria, who have qualified for the last two World Cups, are in Lusaka to face Zambia on Saturday.

Ghana, seeking a fourth consecutive World Cup appearance, host Congo Brazzaville in Kumasi Friday needing maximum points to have any realistic hope of overtaking Group E leaders Egypt.

The Pharaohs have six points and the Black Stars only one with Uganda between them on four.

Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah called up long-time campaigners like the Ayew brothers, Andre and Jordan, and Asamoah Gyan, and also named five uncapped players.

Egypt are away to Uganda on Thursday in a repeat of a 2017 Africa Cup of Nations group match in Gabon won 1-0 by the north Africans thanks to a last-gasp Abdallah Said goal.

Said is in the squad, and so is 44-year-old goalkeeper Essam El Hadary, as Egypt seek a win after losing the 2017 Nations Cup final to Cameroon and a 2019 qualifier in Tunisia.

South Africa coach Stuart Baxter
South Africa coach Stuart Baxter faces a goalkeeping problem with his two first choices ruled out

South Africa accept that hopes of a fourth World Cup appearance could hinge on defeating Cape Verde twice in Group D, starting in Praia Friday.

Bafana Bafana will take encouragement from the fact that Cape Verde have lost competitive matches there against Morocco, Libya and Uganda since last year.

Cape Verde on the other hand will be aware of the goalkeeping problems that South Africa are facing.

Ronwen Williams, who has won just four caps so far, looks set to go from third to first choice for South Africa because of illness and injury to first choice Itumeleng Khune, and back-up Darren Keet.

South Africa will also assess a hamstring injury suffered by midfielder Thulani Serero, who did not play at the weekend for his Dutch club Vitesse Arnhem.

“Where is the medical report? We still don’t have one,” coach Stuart Baxter asked.

“Vitesse sent us an email telling us he is injured, but when we asked if they had done an MRI they said, ‘No, we just stretched him and he was uncomfortable’.

“I am not withdrawing a player without having seen a medical report, so we have asked Serero to meet us in Cape Verde and our medical team will assess him.

“If we need to replace him then we will call someone up for the Durban leg because we feel we have enough players to travel with for the first match.”

Burkina Faso, who lead South Africa on goal difference, are away Saturday in Dakar to Senegal, whose attack boasts in-form Liverpool winger Sadio Mane.

Gabon will be without key striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang when they host Group C pacesetters the Ivory Coast in Libreville Saturday.

Asked why the Borussia Dortmund striker was missing, a Gabonese football official said: “The coach (Spaniard Jose Antonio Camacho) has chosen players who were available.”

Ivory Coast have four points, Gabon and Morocco two and Mali one with the Herve Renard-coached Moroccans hosting the Malians in Rabat Friday.

Group A appears to be a straight fight between Tunisia and the DR Congo after they defeated Guinea and Libya in previous rounds.

The first top-of-the-table meeting is set for Friday in Rades and the Congolese will be handicapped by the absence of injured Everton’s Yannick Bolasie.

 *BBC
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CONSTITUENCY FOR AFRICA ANNOUNCES CO-CHAIRS FOR THE 2017 RONALD H. BROWN AFRICAN AFFAIRS SERIES
August 30, 2017 | 0 Comments
The Constituency for Africa (CFA) Hosted President Hage Geingob of Namibia  During the 2016 Ronald H. Brown African Affairs Series

The Constituency for Africa (CFA) Hosted President Hage Geingob of Namibia During the 2016 Ronald H. Brown African Affairs Series

WASHINGTON, DC (August 29, 2017) – The Constituency for Africa (CFA) announces the Co-chairs for its 2017 Ronald H. Brown African Affairs Series. This year’s series will be held from September 18th through September 22nd in Washington, DC. The schedule of events and registration information are available at www.ronaldbrownseries.org.

“The theme of the 2017 Ronald H. Brown African Affairs Series is Mobilizing the Diaspora in Support of the U.S.-Africa Agenda,” stated Mr. Melvin P. Foote, CFA’s President & CEO. “We are extremely fortunate to have such distinguished Co-chairs, representing government, industry, civil society, academia, and the media. As CFA stakeholders, our Co-chairs enable us to broadly engage and mobilize our constituency in the U.S., Africa, and throughout the African Diaspora.”

The Co-chairs of the 2017 Ronald H. Brown African Affairs Series include:

 

  • Honorable Arikana Chihombori, African Union Ambassador to the U.S.;
  • Ambassador Andrew J. Young, Chairman of the Andrew J. Young Foundation;
  • Honorable Karen Bass, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives and Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations;
  • Ambassador Rueben Brigety, Dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University;
  • Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, Joint Visiting Fellow, University of Pennsylvania Perry World House and Brookings Institution;
  • Honorable Jendayi Frazer, Adjunct Senior Fellow for African Studies, Council on Foreign Relations;
  • Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control;
  • Mr. Roger Nkodo Dang, President of the Pan African Parliament;
  • Mr. John Momoh, Founder & CEO, Channels TV Nigeria;
  • Ms. Mimi Alemayehou, Managing Director at the Black Rhino Group;
  • Mr. Raymond Dabney, CEO of the Cannabis Science Research Foundation;
  • Mr. Renato Almeida, International Government Affairs Manager at Chevron;
  • Mr. Mahtar Ba, Founder and Executive Chairman of AllAfrica Global Media;
  • Professor Akin Abayomi, Principal Investigator, Global Emerging Pathogens Treatment Consortium (GET Africa);
  • Dr. Wilfred Ngwa, Global Health Catalyst Director at Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center;
  • Honorable Pamela Bridgewater, President & CEO, The Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa;
  • Honorable Lauri Fitz-Pegado, Partner, The Livingston Group, LLC;
  • Mr. Forrest Branch, Managing Director & Partner, EMH Prescient Investment Management (Namibia);
  • Mr. Michael Sudarkasa, CEO of Africa Business Group (South Africa); and
  • Ms. Jeannine Scott, Founder & Principal of America to Africa Consulting.

The purpose of the 2017 Ronald H. Brown African Affairs Series will be to bring together stakeholders from the U.S., Africa, and throughout the Diaspora to assess the U.S. Administration’s Africa policy, and to identify challenges and opportunities in a number of key areas, including Healthcare Infrastructure, Democracy & Governance, Trade & Investment, Next Generation Leadership, Agriculture, and Diaspora Engagement. CFA and its partners will produce a Diaspora strategy to include policy recommendations for the U.S. Administration and the African Union. This year’s series is being organized by CFA, in cooperation with the African Union Mission in Washington, DC.

CFA also announces the appointment of Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins to its Board of Directors. “We are excited to have Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins join CFA’s Board of Directors. She will lend her considerable experience and expertise to our current team, and help position CFA for the years to come,” stated Mr. Foote. Before her recent position as a Joint Visiting Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Perry World House and Brookings Institution, Ambassador Jenkins served as Ambassador at the U.S. Department of State and was the Coordinator for Threat Reduction Programs in the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation. Also during her time as Coordinator, Ambassador Jenkins worked on the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), which is an international effort with over 55 countries to reduce infectious disease threats such as Ebola and Zika.

On the CFA Board of Directors, Ambassador Jenkins joins Dr. Roscoe M. Moore, Jr., Interim Chairman and former Assistant U.S. Surgeon General and Rear Admiral, U.S. Public Health Service (retired); and Board Members Honorable Stanley L. Straughter, Chairman of the UNESCO Center for Global Education; Mr. Raymond C. Dabney, President, CEO, and Co-founder of Cannabis Science, Inc.; Mr. John Momoh, Chairman of Channels Media Group; and Ms. Jeannine B. Scott, Founder and Principal of American to Africa Consulting.

About the Constituency for Africa:

For over 26 years, CFA has established itself as one of the leading, non-partisan organizations focused on educating and mobilizing the American public and the African Diaspora in the U.S. on U.S.-Africa policy.  As a result, CFA has helped to increase the level of cooperation and coordination among a broad-based coalition of individuals and organizations committed to the progress, development, and empowerment of Africa and African people worldwide.

 

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Power Africa Releases Annual Report
August 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

Power Africa, a U.S. Government-led initiative to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa, has released its annual report. The initiative consists of more than 150 public and private sector partners, which have collectively committed more than $54 billion towards achieving Power Africa’s goals. It is among the world’s largest public-private partnerships in development history.

The 2017 report highlights how Power Africa continues to lay the foundation for sustainable economic growth in Africa while creating opportunities for American businesses as it makes progress towards its goals of increasing installed generation capacity by 30,000 megawatts (MW) and adding 60 million new electricity connections by 2030.

Since its inception, Power Africa has facilitated the financial close of power transactions expected to generate more than 7,200 MW of power in sub-Saharan Africa. The 80 Power Africa transactions that have concluded financing agreements are valued at more than $14.5 billion, and Power Africa projects have generated more than $500 million in U.S. exports. In addition, Power Africa has facilitated more than 10 million electrical connections, which have brought electricity to more than 50 million people for the first time.

The report also highlights the role of women in Africa’s power sector, by chronicling the contributions of select members of Power Africa’s Women in African Power (WiAP) network. It includes an executive letter from the Honorable Irene Muloni, Minister for Energy and Minerals in Uganda, as well as profiles of women whose drive is strengthening Africa’s power sector.

Over the next year, Power Africa will work with more than 100 U.S. companies, African partners, other donors, and the private sector to harness the technology, ingenuity, and political will necessary to bring the benefits of modern energy to even remote parts of Africa while promoting economic growth. The initiative will also expand beyond its initial focus on solar lanterns and renewable energy to support more on-grid power projects in natural gas and other sources.

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Philanthropists join forces to fund Africa’s cash-strapped health sector
August 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

Billionaires Bill Gates, Aliko Dangote come together to fund health care projects

Tristate Heart and Vascular Centre in Nigeria. Photo: Tristate Heart and Vascular Centre

Tristate Heart and Vascular Centre in Nigeria. Photo: Tristate Heart and Vascular Centre

In the 2017 World Happiness Report by Gallup, African countries score poorly. Of the 150 countries on the list, the Central African Republic, Tanzania and Burundi rank as the unhappiest countries in the world.

Some of the factors driving unhappiness are the poor state of the continent’s health care systems, the persistence of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, and the growth of lifestyle diseases such as hypertension, heart disease and diabetes.

Few African countries make significant investments in the health sector—the median cost of health care in sub-Saharan Africa is $109 per person per year, according to Gallup. Some countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Madagascar and Niger, spend just half of that per person annually.

In 2010 only 23 countries were spending more than $44 per capita on health care, according to the World Health Organization. These countries got funding from several sources, including government, donors, employers, non-governmental organisations and households.

Private investment is now critical to meet the considerable shortfall in public-sector investment, say experts.

While many international organisations, such as UNICEF and the International Committee of the Red Cross, continue to support Africa’s health care system, private entities and individuals are also increasingly making contributions. For example, Africa’s richest person, Aliko Dangote, and the world’s second richest person, Bill Gates, have formed a partnership to address some of Africa’s key health needs.

In 2014 the Nigerian-born cement magnate made global headlines after donating $1.2 billion to Dangote Foundation, which used the money to buy equipment to donate to hospitals in Nigeria and set up mobile clinics in Côte d’Ivoire.

A philanthropist himself, Mr. Gates wrote of Mr. Dangote in Time magazine: “I know him best as a leader constantly in search of ways to bridge the gap between private business and health.”

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation focuses, among other projects, on strengthening Africa’s health care resources. According to the Gates Foundation, as of May 2013 it had earmarked $9 billion to fight diseases in Africa over 15 years. In 2016 the foundation pledged to give an additional $5 billion over a five-year period, two-thirds to be used to fight HIV/AIDS on the continent.

While acknowledging the Gates’ generosity, locals noted that for many years the Foundation had invested in the oil companies that have contributed in making health outcomes extremely poor in some areas of Nigeria. These companies include Eni, Royal Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron and Total.

Facing a backlash, the Gates Foundation sold off some 87% of its investments in major coal, oil and gas companies, leaving approximately $200 million in these stocks as of 2016.  Groups such as Leave It in the Ground, a non-profit organization advocating for a global moratorium on fossil exploration, are pushing for divestment.

“The link between saving lives, a lower birth rate and ending poverty was the most important early lesson Melinda and I learned about global health,” said Mr. Gates recently. The Gates Foundation supports reducing childhood mortality by supplying hospitals with necessary equipment and hiring qualified local practitioners to take care of patients and their children.

Dangote-Gates collaboration

In 2016, the Dangote Foundation and the Gates Foundation formed a philanthropic dream team when they announced a $100 million plan to fight malnutrition in Nigeria. The new scheme will fund programmes to 2020 and beyond, using local groups in the northwest and northeast Nigeria. The northeast has for the past seven years been ravaged by the Boko Haram’s Islamic militant insurgency, affecting all health care projects in the region.

Malnutrition affects 11 million children in northern Nigeria alone, and Mr. Dangote said the partnership would address the problem.

The Foundations had already signed a deal to work together to foster immunization programmes in three northern states: Kaduna, Kano and Sokoto.

The Gates Foundation states on its website, “Contributions towards the costs of the program by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dangote Foundation, and state governments will be staggered across three years: 30% in year one, 50% in year two, and 70% in year three, with the respective states taking progressive responsibility for financing immunization services.”

The future of about 44% of Nigeria’s 170 million people would be “greatly damaged if we don’t solve malnutrition,” said Mr. Gates, at a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.

Building trust

Despite the many international and local efforts, cultural and religious factors often impede efforts to address Africa’s weak health infrastructure. For example, in 2007, religious leaders in northern Nigeria organized against aid workers administering polio vaccinations after rumours started circulating that the vaccines were adulterated and would cause infertility and HIV/AIDS.

In 2014, during the Ebola crisis, villagers chased and stoned Red Cross workers in Womey village in Guinea, accusing them of bringing “a strange disease”.

The big players may be Mr. Dangote and Mr. Gates, but others less well known are also making important contributions to Africa’s health care. After the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, for example, which resulted in the loss of about 11,300 lives, private companies in the three most affected countries—Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone—partnered with the government to fight the virus.

The Sierra Leone Brewery, for example, helped in constructing facilities for Ebola treatment. Individuals, such as Patrick Lansana, a Sierra Leonean communications expert, also volunteered their services for the Ebola fight. He said: “I joined the fight against Ebola because I wanted to help my country. My efforts, and those of others, made a difference. It would have been difficult for the government and international partners to combat the virus alone.”

Public-private partnerships

Private and public sectors need to collaborate to help Africa’s health care system from collapse, notes a report by UK-based PricewaterHouseCoopers consultancy firm. The report states that public-private partnerships, or PPPs, when fully synergised can bring about quality health care. Under a PPP in the health sector, for example, a government can contribute by providing the health care infrastructure, while private entities can be involved in the operations.

In a widely published joint opinion piece last April, Mr. Dangote and Mr. Gates stated that improving health care in Africa depends on a “successful partnership between government, communities, religious and business leaders, volunteers, and NGOs. This ensures that everyone is rowing in the same direction.”

*Culled from Africa Renewal

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Africa on the road to industrial progress-Li Yong
August 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
Li Yong, Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). Photo: Africa Renewal/Eleni Mourdoukoutas

Li Yong, Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). Photo: Africa Renewal/Eleni Mourdoukoutas

As the director general of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Li Yong leads a specialised agency that promotes industrial development, inclusive globalization and environmental sustainability. Recently in New York, Mr. Yong took part in a special meeting on “innovation in infrastructure development and sustainable industrialization” in developing countries and countries with special needs. He spoke with Africa Renewal’s Kingsley Ighobor on a range of issues pertaining to Africa’s industrialization. Here are the excerpts:

Africa Renewal: You are attending a meeting on industrialization in developing countries, which includes many African countries. How does Africa fit in the picture?

Li Yong: The ECOSOC [UN’s Economic and Social Council] meeting is important because of SDG 9, which calls for inclusive sustainable industrialization, innovation and infrastructure. Africa has to compete within the global value chain, the manufacturing value addition and with the growth and speed of other regions. Two-thirds of the least developed countries are in Africa. Due to underdevelopment of the industrial sector, some countries are not growing fast enough.

What are the factors hindering Africa’s industrialization?

The sudden drop in commodity prices caused problems because it lowered the competitiveness of commodities-dependent countries.

But commodity prices dropped only recently.

No, not just recently. Let’s say this has been the case throughout the last century. But let me talk about factors hindering industrialization. Long ago the international development institutions wrongly prescribed deindustrialization for some countries. An ambassador of an African country actually told me that the very painful process of deindustrialization forced them to stop exporting cheese, cocoa beans and other products. Another reason is that countries change policies too often. Insecurity occasioned by frequent changes of policies scares away investors and disrupts the industrialization process.

Were the structural adjustment programmes (SAPs) of the 1980s a wrong prescription?

I do not want to talk about that because I was involved in the whole process of structural adjustment lending when I was working at the World Bank. I would just say that some of the prescriptions provided to African countries were not very good.

Critics say meetings such as the one you are attending are all talk but no action. What’s your take on this?

I think that sometimes if there’s too much talk, too much debate on the theories, on the reports and studies, action is lost. Just do it! If it’s creating jobs, let’s go for it.

UNIDO’s Programme for Country Partnership (PCP) aims to mobilise private and public sector resources for industrialisation and to provide technical assistance to countries. How is that going?

It’s an innovative way to support a country’s industrial development. We collaborate with governments and development institutions to create industrial development strategies, and we support such strategies. Usually there is a financing issue: the government needs to allocate resources to basic infrastructure. But development institutions also need to provide supplementary financing for infrastructure such as roads, highways, railroads, electricity, water supply, etc. We advise governments to formulate policies that protect investments that will trigger private-sector financing and FDI [foreign direct investment].

You were heavily involved in the development of agricultural and small and medium-size enterprises in China. What lessons can Africa learn from China?

There must be a vision and a strategy. Develop policies that support small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) in the agriculture sector, to begin with. In China, the number one document released at the beginning of the year was a plan to support agriculture development. Second, take concrete measures. We cannot talk about empty themes. Third, support with financial resources, capacity building and training. Fourth, provide an environment for SMEs to thrive. Lastly, link the agricultural sector to agro-industry, agribusiness and manufacturing.

Not long ago, a World Bank report stated that Africa’s agribusiness could be worth $1 trillion by 2030. Could agribusiness be a game changer for the continent?

Yes, although I wouldn’t say that the $1 trillion figure is exactly accurate. But agriculture is a very important sector for Africa. The job creation element in the sector requires innovation. If you try to grow wheat, corn, fruits, etc without connecting to agro-processing food packaging and the global value chain, there is very little opportunity for job creation. Some people argue that if you introduce modern technology, some farmers may lose jobs. I don’t accept this argument because farming services connect to the market. With agro-processing, farmers have more time and capacity to do things beyond planting and growing crops.

The goal of the African Agribusiness and Africa Development Initiative, which UNIDO supports, is to link farmers to big markets. But African farmers cannot compete in the global marketplace because many Western governments subsidize farming. What’s your take?

Africa can be innovative about this. For instance, cocoa-producing African countries that used to export cocoa beans are currently producing some chocolate products locally. In Ghana, a private company is producing cocoa butter, cocoa oil and cocoa cake for domestic consumption. And UNIDO supported them with a laboratory, equipment and technicians to enable them to receive certifications to export to Europe and Asia. Consider Ethiopia, with 95 million people and millions of cattle and sheep and cows. But they only export around 7% of their live cattle to other countries because they don’t have processing capacity. They don’t have the standard certifications for export, although the quality of meat is excellent. Currently we are supporting Ethiopia to set up a project for testing so that they meet the criteria for exporting to other countries. Actually, African agriculture can connect to the global value chain.

Countries may set up agro-industries in areas where they have a competitive advantage, but the lack of technical skills and inadequate infrastructure, particularly roads and electricity, is still an issue.

We have the traditional toolboxes, including vocational training. Capacity training is a very popular UNIDO programme. With donor support, we develop training programmes like we did in Tunisia and Ethiopia, where young engineers received training in how to operate big equipment. The second example is that countries need large-scale agro-processing projects. For instance, Ethiopia developed hundreds of industrial parks that are helping develop the capacity to manufacture many more products.

Most foreign investors target Africa’s extractive sector, which generates few jobs. How do you encourage investments in the agriculture sector?

The best approach for Africa is not to say, “Don’t export raw materials.” Look at Australia and other countries that still export raw materials. They did their cost-benefits analysis and decided not to set up manufacturing companies. What is needed is market discipline. But this doesn’t mean that all countries must export raw materials. If they have the capacity, if there are foreign investors that come in to build factories and create jobs, why not?

Sustainable industrialization produces long-term results, I believe. Countries grappling with poverty need resources immediately. Such countries cannot slow down their unsustainable exploitation of natural resources.

I believe we should have industrial development in an inclusive, sustainable way. If we manufacture goods with a heavy pollution of water, soil or air, there’s a cost to people’s health. Think about what it will cost to address those pollutions in the future. At UNIDO, we do not approve projects for implementation unless they meet our environmental standards.

Are African leaders receptive to your ideas?

Most leaders I’ve met request UNIDO’s support. Except for countries in difficult situations such as those in conflicts, others need to show a strong commitment to industrialization.

Are you seeing such commitments?

Yes, in Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Senegal, Tanzania and Zambia—many leaders are showing a commitment. The new Nigerian president is committed to industrialization. However, countries in conflict, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC], may have difficulties industrializing. The DRC has many resources, including gold and oil. They have a vast land—you can grow anything there—and a huge population. But internal conflict is slowing industrialization. Yet a peaceful Rwanda is moving very fast with industrialization. So it depends on a country’s situation, the commitments of its leadership and the efficiency of its administrative systems.

How do you see Africa in about 10 years?

Many countries will move up the socioeconomic ladder and become middle-income countries. There will be more industries to manufacture goods and create jobs. I think it’s possible. The global community is ready to support Africa. Most importantly, African countries are committed to industrial progress and economic growth.

*Culled from Africa Renewal

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Partnerships at work in Africa
August 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
Governments need to on top of things
Henri Konan Bédié Bridge linking the north and south of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Photo: Bouygues Construction

Henri Konan Bédié Bridge linking the north and south of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Photo: Bouygues Construction

The construction of a liquefied natural gas terminal in Ghana to support power generation in the Kpone Power Enclave in the port city of Tema, near Accra, is reawakening hopes of an end to the energy crisis that has plagued the country in recent years.

Power outages have led to a rationing schedule that involves cutting power for 24 hours every two days. Businesses have been forced to connect standby power sources such as generators, incurring extra costs. Some have had to lay off workers.

The $600 million project, being implemented under a public-private partnership (PPP) between Quantum Power Ghana Gas and the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, is expected to provide the West African nation with a reliable and efficient power supply.

The plant will add about 220 megawatts of electricity to Ghana’s national grid. The country now has 2,900 megawatts of generation capacity, not enough to meet the growing demand, which the National Energy Policy of 2010 estimated would be about 5,000 megawatts by 2016.

“We hope the project will address the dumsor once and for all,” says Nancy Osabutey, a resident of Accra. Dumsor (“on-off”) is a Ghanaian term commonly used to describe the erratic power availability in the country.

A recent report by the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research, a Ghanaian-based think tank, estimates that the economy has lost $24 billion as a result of the energy crisis since 2010.

Like many African countries, Ghana is facing an infrastructure financing gap. Policy makers are starting to realise that PPPs can help fill such gaps.

“Africa has been growing over the last few years. It will be challenging to achieve economic growth without addressing the huge infrastructure financing and access gap in energy generation and transmission, roads and ports,” says Tilahun Temesgen, the chief regional economist at the Eastern Africa Resource Centre of the African Development Bank (AfDB).

The AfDB maintains that the continent needs about $100 billion per year for infrastructure investment, yet the total spending on infrastructure by African countries is just about half that, leaving a financing gap of about $50 billion.

“This difference should come from somewhere. Tapping into private-sector investment by unleashing the potential of PPPs is one innovative way of attracting financing for infrastructure in Africa, as this has a very high development and poverty reduction impact in Africa,” states Mr. Temesgen.

He adds, “Governments and development partners cannot fully close the current huge infrastructure financing gap. It is therefore vital to mobilise private-sector financing to support infrastructure developments.”

Private-sector financing is succeeding in different parts of the continent, just as it soon may in Ghana through the Kpone power plant.

In Côte d’Ivoire, the Henri Konan Bédié bridge in the capital, Abidjan, is considered one of the most successful PPP-funded projects in the post-conflict country.

The $265 million bridge, opened in 2014, connects two of Abidjan’s major districts—Riviera in the north and Marcory in the south—and has done away with over 10 kilometres of traffic congestion. About a hundred thousand vehicles use the bridge each day.

“This facility enables us to enjoy the benefits of better traffic conditions. We now take less time in traffic, meaning more time for productivity at work. A while ago we would spend more than three hours in traffic,” says Abraham Kone, a resident of Abidjan.

The bridge has also opened up the neighbouring hinterland, simplifying freight transportation to the Port of Abidjan, the largest port on Africa’s west coast.

Public-private partnership is also diversifying the country’s energy sector. The expansion of the Azito thermal energy plant involving the construction of two 144-megawatt power plants will save $4 million in energy costs each year and will enable Côte d’Ivoire to move from being a net importer of electricity to being a net exporter.

With the expansion, the energy plant, located six kilometres west of the port of Abidjan, is producing over 30% of electricity generated in Côte d’Ivoire, with some of it going to neighbouring countries, including Ghana.

Partnering with the private sector to promote sustainable development is something the government is talking a lot about.

According to Albert Toikeusse Mabri Abdallah, the Ivorian minister for planning and development, “Public-private partnership is in line with Côte d’Ivoire’s National Development Plan, which outlines building and renovating the country’s infrastructure to accelerate development.” The minister adds that “such collaboration will also ensure job creation and poverty alleviation.”

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) envisage that PPPs can promote sustainable development in Africa. A key priority of the UN-founded SDG Fund is to bring together public and private entities to jointly address development challenges.

However, many African countries, according to an AfDB report, are still in the initial stages of PPP implementation “because their use of PPP schemes is still uncommon and PPPs are complex to implement.”

The report indicates that PPPs have historically been scarcer in sub-Saharan Africa than in the rest of the world. Telecoms transactions account form the bulk of PPPs on the continent, but energy PPPs have recently started growing significantly.

“PPPs are not easy. They need a number of issues to be successful. Above all, a stable macroeconomic environment is necessary,” explains Mr. Temesgen.

However, an environment characterised by inadequate regulatory frameworks, unclear rules and procedures and lack of political commitment inhibits growth of PPPs.

Uganda PPPs

Uganda is one of the countries with a solid PPP programme. According to the AfDB document, this is the result of many factors, including support from the presidency and the ministry of finance, an earlier successful privatisation programme and a well-designed framework.

At a meeting in South Korea last November, Ajedra Gabriel Gadison Aridru, Uganda’s state minister for finance, planning and economic development, cited the PPP Act enacted in 2015 as a major enabler of the country’s PPPs. The law spells out the specific engagements of private partners in such partnerships. It also regulates the roles and responsibilities of government bodies during the development and implementation of PPP projects.

Concerns have been raised about severe environmental hazards following PPPs. Ghana Gas Company, for example, has been accused of failing to act as areas such as Atuabo, in western Ghana, continue to suffer the effects of oil and gas exploration that have led to widespread air and water pollution.

Because of concerns like this, governments are being urged to disclose information on risk assessments, including potential environmental and social impacts, of such mega-projects. Institutions such as the Bretton Woods Project would like to see more informed consultations, broader civil society involvement and closer monitoring of PPPs by all stakeholders.

*culled from Africa Renewal

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Global companies give Africa a second look
August 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
South Africa hosts most of the top companies in Africa, but other countries are coming up
BMW South Africa announces the production of its one-millionth BMW 3 Series sedan at its manufacturing plant in Rosslyn, Pretoria in South Africa. Photo: BMW Group

When travelling abroad for work and looking for accommodation, Joe Eyango, a Cameroonian living in the US, considers two factors: convenient transportation from the airport and around the city and reliable Internet access. He is a university professor and wants to be able to jet in, hit the ground running, make his presentation and zoom off to another destination in a day or two.

Mr. Eyango has been to various countries in Africa for business and work but has reasons for preferring South Africa.

“South Africa has a lot to offer compared with other African countries. The road system is good, there is adequate electricity and reliable Internet connection, which is necessary for work and business,” Mr. Eyango told Africa Renewal in an interview.

Recently, having been invited to present a conference paper on a tight schedule, Mr. Eyango flew into Johannesburg from Amsterdam, spent less than 30 minutes in customs at the O. R. Tambo International Airport, took a taxi and was at his hotel in less than an hour since arrival.

South Africa attracts many professionals and big multinationals. It’s currently home to more than 75% of all top global companies in Africa.

“Where these big companies choose to invest depends on whether the environment is right for business. Investors are interested in relatively stable countries, good infrastructure, reliable communication, electricity and labour,” says Dr. John Mbaku, a researcher at Africa Growth Initiative at the Brookings Institution and also a professor of economics at Weber State University, US.

Some of the global companies with a presence in South Africa include luxury car manufacturers BMW, the Standard Bank Group, Barclays Bank, Vodafone (one of the world’s largest communication companies), Volkswagen, and General Electric. There is also FirstRand, Sasol, Sanlam, and MTN Group.

In an earlier interview with South African officials on why they’d chosen the country as an investment destination, Sam Ahmed, then the managing director of Britannia Industries, an India-based manufacturer of biscuits, snacks and confectionery, said his organization had been looking for a country that would give it access to the entire African market while keeping its costs low.

“In South Africa you have first-world infrastructure and third-world cost,” Mr. Ahmed said. The company’s production costs in South Africa were much lower than in Southeast Asia, the company headquarters.

Big businesses are also attracted to countries where the legal system works, so they can be assured of justice should legal issues arise. South Africa’s judiciary has been hailed for its sound judgements and independence from political machinations relative to other African countries.

Another attraction for big businesses is human resources. The efficiency and smooth operation of these large companies depend on the calibre of its labour force. Despite many years of apartheid, according to Mr. Mbaku, South Africa provides its citizens with relatively good quality education the multinationals are looking for in their labour force.

However, despite its successes, South Africa continues to grapple with a high crime rate (especially in urban areas), graft accusations and the political uncertainty that businesses loathe.

Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, the secretary-general of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the UN body that deals with trade, investment and development issues, acknowledges that South Africa has the oldest and most developed market economy in the whole of Africa for historical reasons: the market grew out of a strong mining and industrial base and the financial industry.

However, according to Mr. Kituyi, things are now changing and other African countries are also attracting big investors.

“It’s true South Africa has had a head start, but in net terms, there is faster growth in alternative centres for both manufacturing and service delivery than in South Africa. Today, the financial services industry is growing faster in Morocco than in South Africa,” Mr. Kituyi told Africa Renewal in an interview.

He notes that some multinational enterprises operating out of South Africa have relocated substantially. “We recently saw the opening of the Volvo truck-manufacturing plant in Mombasa. And similarly, we have seen many other services, particularly IT-based services and telecommunications, growing in new nodes like Nigeria, Kenya and Rwanda.”

Fringe benefits

So why should African governments want to encourage global companies to set up shop in their countries?

Driven by insufficient funds, African governments are increasingly turning to private-sector companies for a much-needed boost. Foreign investments provide capital to finance industries, boost infrastructure and productivity, provide social amenities and create jobs, all of which can help a country reach its economic potential. And as countries rush to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, funding is key.

In Africa, governments and industry are gradually forming public-private partnerships (PPPs) in which companies provide capital while governments ensure an environment conducive to business. In the last 10 years, the continent has welcomed PPPs for projects in infrastructure, electricity, health and telecommunications.

Lenders like the African Development Bank are urging African countries to improve business environments by “creating the necessary legal and regulatory framework for PPPs, and to facilitate networking and sharing of experience among regulatory agencies and other similar organizations.”

Tread carefully

However, even as PPPs begin to change the face of Africa, there is need for countries to tread carefully and to learn from failed PPPs when signing up for such partnerships.

“Ask yourselves, does the state have the capacity to forge ahead with these partnerships? This is necessary to avoid bad debt,” says Mr. Kituyi, adding that governments should not let private companies drive the agenda.

This word of caution is echoed by the Brookings Institution’s Mr. Mbaku, who is advising African governments to ensure that PPPs work to their advantage: “If you have a weak or corrupt leadership, you may not have the power or the skills required to negotiate a favourable partnership. You will end up with a PPP that is not really a partnership.”

Mr. Mbaku gives the example of oil companies that have been operating in Africa for more than 20 years yet still depend on expatriate labour instead of employing locals. Such companies are reluctant to transfer skills, knowledge and technology to the locals.

Another problem with PPPs is the imbalance of power. “If you are a government engaged in a PPP on a development project, there is inequality in power. The multinational has capital, skilled manpower and [an] external market. The government has no power over these,” says Mr. Mbaku.

Despite the challenges, however, PPPs will continue playing a major role in the development of poor countries. For African countries to attract multinationals and other big investors to partner with, their governments need to put their house in order—improve infrastructure, communication, security and the legal system, and fight corruption.

*Culled from Africa Renewal

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