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Caf say Hayatou has support of President Zuma despite Cosafa stance
February 19, 2017 | 0 Comments
Caf President Issa Hayatou with the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma

Caf President Issa Hayatou with the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma

The Confederation of African Football (Caf) announced that South Africa’s President, Jacob Zuma, had pledged his full support toCaf president Issa Hayatou ahead of African football’s upcoming elections.

It followed a meeting on Saturday morning when President Zuma received Hayatou at his residence in Pretoria.

The meeting came just six days after the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) announced it was endorsing Hayatou’s rival Ahmad Ahmad as a Caf presidential candidate.

South African Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, South African Football Association (Safa) President Danny Jordaan and Mamelodi Sundowns President Patrice Motsepe were also present at Saturday’s meeting with President Zuma.

South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns, winners of the African Champions League, were scheduled to host the continent’s Confederation Cup winners, TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo, later on Saturday.

Issa Hayatou, who has presided over African football since 1988, will be seeking an eighth term in office when he stands in the elections in March to be held in Ethiopia.

The Cameroonian was re-elected unopposed during the last Caf presidential elections in 2013.

He had previously stated this term would be his last until a change of regulations altered his stance.

In 2015, Caf voted to change the statutes which previously stopped officials serving past the age of 70.


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Fake news: How can African media deal with the problem?
February 19, 2017 | 0 Comments
This fake news story was published in a satirical column called Crazy Monday

This fake news story was published in a satirical column called Crazy Monday

At a time when fact-based reporting is increasingly being undermined by fake news, the BBC’s Dickens Olewe looks at the lessons for the media in Africa.

“ALERT: Don’t fall victim to fake news!”

This is the message that pops up when you visit South Africa’s Eyewitness News (EWN) website.

The warning advises readers to be more vigilant about the news they consume.

The message goes on to say that the publication is committed to providing news that is accurate, fair and balanced.

It then links to another page that gives tips on how to spot fake news, with a list of websites it has identified as purveyors of fake news in South Africa.

The publication also invites readers to send in fake stories they come across and those which they are unsure about.

EWN’s attempt to fight the spread of false news content is probably a first on the continent.

ScrengrabImage copyrightEWN
Image captionEWN’s fake news advisory is a first on the continent

Katy Katopodis, EWN editor-in-chief, told the BBC that the publication felt it had a duty to protect the integrity of journalism by educating its audience.

“We have to be proactive to acknowledge the dangers of fake news and to offer our readers advice on how to spot a fake news story,” she says.

“At Eyewitness News we believe we need to counter the lies and the fake news with the truth and a reality check.

“We all have a responsibility to disseminate news that is factual and correct.”

EWN’s fake news guide was implemented last month amid allegations that the governing African National Congress (ANC) had planned to run a campaign to create and disseminate false information to discredit opponents ahead of last year’s local election in which it lost many seats.

ScreengrabImage copyrightMBUYISENI NDLOZI
Image captionThe ANC’s “War Room” was alleged to have printed posters maligning the EFF’s leader Julius Malema

AmaBhungane, an investigative journalism team, reported that a covert operation dubbed the War Room, was intended to “disempower Democratic Alliance and Economic Freedom Fighters parties” by using digital media and social media influencers.

The ANC has denied the allegations, with one official accused of being involved in the planning of the operation describing it as “fake news”.

The term fake news, which has been used a lot since last year’s US presidential elections, was meant to call attention to falsified news content that was widely shared on the internet, mostly on social media.

Trump ‘endorsed by the Pope’

An analysis by BuzzFeed released after the US elections found that top fake election news stories generated more total engagement on Facebook than top election stories from 19 major news outlets combined.

The top five stories under this study were positive spins to prop up the candidacy of Donald Trump, including one claiming that he was endorsed by the Pope.

“Pope Francis Shocks World, Endorses Donald Trump for President, Releases Statement,” the article’s headline read.

The other stories promoted conspiracy theories about his then challenger Hillary Clinton which some analysts say helped undermine her campaign.

The creation and distribution of misinformation is not new, the difference at the moment is that spreading false information has been incentivised.

Digital publishing platforms like Facebook and Google have built ecosystems that reward clicks on website links and one of the most effective ways to drive traffic to a website is to entice readers with sensational content.

The Macedonian teenagers became infamous after it was revealed they were behind several fake stories shared during the US election, mostly in support of Mr Trump, earned thousands of dollars by getting thousands of clicks on articles they shared on Facebook.

In Africa, several articles have managed to fool many and garnered a lot of clicks for their promoters. Here are a sample of some of the headlines:

  • Eritrean men ordered to marry two wives or risk jail
  • UK Announces Visa Free Entry For Nigeria And Other Commonwealth African Countries
  • Trump says “Africans are lazy fools only good at eating, lovemaking and thuggery”
  • Robert Mugabe says Zimbabweans are “honest people” but “stealing is in every Kenyan’s blood”.

The allure of getting clicks has seen some publishers take advantage of the interest fake stories generate.

Recently, Kenya’s sports website Game Yetu, owned by a mainstream publisher The Standard, lifted a story from Mzansi Live, a fake news website in South Africa with an unlikely claim – that Zimbabwe had sent its female footballers to Brazil to be impregnated by soccer legends there:

Game Yetu story about Zimbabwe sending female footballers to BrazilImage copyrightGAME YETU
Image captionThis story was lifted from a fake news website in South Africa

Game Yetu tried to keep editorial distance from the article by placing it under the rumours and gossip section of its website.

Ms Katopodis says she is concerned about mainstream publishers pursuing clickbait.

The South African paper editor says that it behoves credible newsrooms and journalists to fact-check stories and promote media literacy.

“I am inspired by how the banking sector has been educating its customers to deal with online scams – we should do the same.”

While there is nothing wrong with curating content to lure readers to read stories on your website, overselling and packaging of news items using misleading headlines does a lot to undermine publishers’ credibility.

With traditional revenue sources drying up and with viral content bringing in the money, for-profit media organisations are caught in a conundrum.

Porn warning

Huffington Post’s South Africa edition exemplified this.

It recently published a handy guide for spotting faking news which included this important advice: “Reputable media houses will have credible adverts on their pages. Fake news sites often have pornographic adverts. That should raise red flags.”

However, below the article it had a widget containing a series of fake news stories, including one of US President Donald Trump calling South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma “the best ever”.


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Research Calls for New Approach to Youth Employment Training Strategies in Africa
February 17, 2017 | 0 Comments

Youth Livelihood Diaries Shed New Light on Working Lives of African Youth


Sarah Bafumba,(right) ,a Youth Researcher in discussion with Hamidah Nyahzi (left), a respondent in Uganda during the study.Photo Jennifer Huxta ,The MasterCard Foundation

Sarah Bafumba,(right) ,a Youth Researcher in discussion with Hamidah Nyahzi (left), a respondent in Uganda during the study.Photo Jennifer Huxta ,The MasterCard Foundation

Kigali, Rwanda, February 17, 2017 Innovative research released today by The MasterCard Foundation is making the case for a new approach to youth employment training strategies in Africa. Invisible Lives: Understanding Youth Livelihoods in Ghana and Uganda, released today at the Young Africa Works Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, sheds light on the working lives of African youth. The report, produced in collaboration with Low-Income Financial Transformation (L-IFT), argues that international development programs favour skills training for formal sector careers over training that can be applied to multiple jobs in the informal sector. The result is that their efforts fall short of reaching the millions of unreached youth on the continent who engage in mixed livelihoods.

“To reach a critical mass of young people, fundamental shifts in our approach to skills-building, access to finance and entrepreneurship support are necessary,” says Lindsay Wallace, Director of Learning and Strategy, The MasterCard Foundation. “Development efforts must strengthen social, education and economic systems, and promote inclusive growth that will provide the most vulnerable and marginalized young people with opportunities to improve their lives.”

Invisible Lives set out to explore how young people integrate mixed livelihoods into their working lives, what challenges this approach poses, and how best to design interventions for young people in the informal sector. The research used a diaries methodology to document the working lives of 246 youth ages 18-24 from Ghana and Uganda over a one-year period, honing in on questions around behaviour, income, economic activities, and time management. While these data speak to the realities of employment in Ghana and Uganda, the research suggests that these also reflect emerging trends across Africa.


Invisible Lives highlights the extraordinary lengths that young people go to in order to achieve sustainable livelihoods. Findings of the Invisible Lives research indicate that:


  • Young people in Africa diversify their livelihoods, undertaking a mix of informal sector employment, self-employment, and agriculture-related activities to sustain their livelihood.
  • Agricultural production is central to young people’s livelihoods, but agricultural incomes were meagre. Many young people run small enterprises that can be easily started, stopped, and restarted as needed. The most successful young people in both Ghana and Uganda diversified their income and risk by growing multiple crops, raising a variety of livestock, and pursuing a wide range of additional activities.
  • Both formal and informal wage employment is rare and sporadic, or elusive. While the informal sector, which constitutes about 80 percent of Africa’s labour force, provided more wage employment opportunities for young people, they were by no means abundant.
  • Support networks are critical for young people and they play an extensive role in their lives, not only providing support in the form of advice regarding where to look for and how to find employment, skills development, and business guidance, but also proving instrumental in accessing financial resources needed.
Anne Marie van Swinderen

Anne Marie van Swinderen

“Respondents who participated in this study generously shared experiences from their lives over the course of a full year,” explains Anne Marie van Swinderen, lead researcher on Invisible Lives from Low-Income Financial Transformation (L-IFT). “Data from the study shows us that these young people readily take up all opportunities that come their way, with enormous energy and positive spirit. Through the L-IFT diaries methodology, these young respondents and the young researchers who interviewed them, also grew a great deal, simply through the act of asking and answering questions about their diversified livelihoods.”

In addition to providing new information on the employment and risk-mitigation strategies of young working Africans, the research maintains that youth who participated in this study were largely invisible to both development organizations and their own governments, and did not have any access to support services, training or finance capital.

Nakagubo Manjeri(left) participated in the study.Photo Jennifer Huxta ,MasterCard Foundation

Nakagubo Manjeri(left) participated in the study.Photo Jennifer Huxta ,MasterCard Foundation

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.

The Youth Livelihoods Program seeks to improve the capacity of young men and women to transition to jobs or create businesses through a holistic approach which combines market-relevant skills training, mentorship, and appropriate financial services. Through our partnerships, our program is supporting innovative models that help young people transition out of poverty and into stable livelihoods. Since 2010, the Foundation has committed $US402 million to 37 multi-year projects across 19 countries in Africa. More than 1.8 million young people have been reached through the Youth Livelihoods program



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Disadvantaged Young Africans Find A Lifeline In The MasterCard Foundation
February 17, 2017 | 0 Comments

-$2.1 Billion has been made in total commitments by the Foundation

By Ajong Mbapndah L


Kenyan vegetable farmer harvesting spinach with her wheelbarrow.Photo Jennifer Huxta, MasterCard Foundation

Kenyan vegetable farmer harvesting spinach with her wheelbarrow.Photo Jennifer Huxta, MasterCard Foundation

With its financial inclusion, education and learning, and youth Livelihood programs, the MasterCard Foundation is emerging as a leading partner in pushing through a development agenda that favors disadvantaged youth across Africa.

About ten million young people have been engaged by the Foundation through its work in diverse sectors across Africa, said Ann Miles Director of Financial Inclusions at the MasterCard Foundation. Speaking from Canada in a skype interview to discuss the second annual Young Africa Works Summit in Kigali Rwanda, Ann Miles said the Foundation was shifting discussion from how to engage youth in agriculture to how young people can be the drivers of agricultural transformation.

Taking place on February 16 and 17, the second annual Young Africa Works Summit will be a gathering of some 300 thought leaders from the NGO’s, government, funders and the private sector committed to developing sustainable youth employment strategies in Africa. The MasterCard Foundation has had a significant impact in working with youth especially those who are out of school or seeking transition to jobs, Anne Miles said.

Miles disclosed that Of the $2.1 billion in total commitments, circa $ 1 billion has already been disbursed. At the Summit, there will be 34 nationalities represented (total), of which 20 nationalities are African. The summit will have people from Cameroon to Congo, Kenya to Senegal, Zimbabwean to Malagasy, and from other countries like Bangladesh, Paraguay, India, and Poland

some 10 million young people have benefited from programs of the Foundation said Ann Miles.Photo Jennifer Huxta , The MasterCard Foundation

some 10 million young people have benefited from programs of the Foundation said Ann Miles.Photo Jennifer Huxta , The MasterCard Foundation

Working in about 25 countries, the Foundation has had a strong impact on the livelihood of young people through tertiary education, financial opportunity, and scholarship and entrepreneurship opportunities. Those who have studied through scholarships have returned to their home countries to share valuable knowledge and experiences acquired elsewhere, said Miles.

As one of the countries where the activities of the Foundation have taken strong root, Rwanda was not a hard choice to make to host the second annual summit. Agriculture is a very important topic, Miles said, and went on to explain that the Summit will focus on the inter-related themes of agricultural transformation, gender technology and climate smart agriculture.

On how the Foundation keeps track or stays engaged with beneficiaries of its programs, Miles said  evaluations and surveys are usually done ahead of each summit. The Foundation remains committed to its work in Africa in the hope that it will continue to have a positive impact on the lives of young people and the overall development of the continent ,Miles said.


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‘Make America Great Again’ in Africa
February 16, 2017 | 0 Comments


If President Donald Trump is to “Make America Great Again” he cannot afford to ignore Africa. It is in this region of over one billion people — the world’s second-fastest growing continent — that the rise of China and the relative decline in U.S. power is more stark than in any other. China surpassed the United States as Africa’s largest trading partner in 2009. Since then Britain and France have also passed America by.

Yet as recently as 2008 America’s capacity to inspire and influence this region, both economically and diplomatically, seemed indisputable, with President Obama, a “son of the soil,” offering hope to millions of Africans.  Africa’s adoration, however, was not matched by a corresponding record of accomplishment on the continent. Obama’s Africa achievements do not compare to the unprecedented success of President Bill Clinton’s African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which created millions of jobs in both the region and the U.S. – or President George W. Bush’s investment of billions of dollars in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Obama’s signature policy – “Power Africa” – aimed at creating more than 30,000 megawatts of electricity for an under-powered continent, today generates just over 4,000MW. To the chagrin of many African leaders and citizens alike, America is now increasingly seen as a paternalistic lecturer promoting her own progressive norms and cultural mores in the continent than a reliable partner.

So how might President Trump “Make America First Again” in Africa?

It starts with the recognition that the recent decline in U.S. influence was not inevitable and is only reversible by prioritizing economic engagement over social policies and aid. To put “America First” in Africa Trump must throw down the gauntlet and super-charge trade by expanding AGOA and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation with incentives for U.S. companies to invest across the continent; such incentives could be limited to sectors that do not undermine American jobs.  Trump’s “America First” Policy in Africa should also include a reinvigorated U.S. Export-Import Bank–to enable the growth of U.S. exports to compete in what McKinsey projects to be a $5.6 trillion African household and business spending market by 2025.

All of Africa’s most pressing capital needs – power, infrastructure, transportation, telecommunications, water and sanitation – are those in which American companies excel. These sectors, backed through “America First” funding support, would provide immediate opportunities for the U.S. to become more competitive in Africa’s emerging and robust markets.

Going further, President Trump might make it a requirement that projects in Africa financed by the U.S. taxpayer – for example through the Millennium Challenge Account – are undertaken only by U.S. contractors using U.S. equipment– this is currently not the case.

Secondly, Trump might administer a sea-change in how America assesses and manages international aid programs, by reforming the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Too much American aid money is directed towards a vast aid-industrial complex, driven by former USAID employees- turned-contractors in Washington, rather than deployed on the ground in Africa where it is needed most.

Development schemes should primarily focus on humanitarian interventions and enterprise solutions to address poverty. A focus on the latter would incentivize American companies to bring jobs, capital, skills and new technologies to the continent while benefiting the U.S. and African economies at the same time. To re-calibrate the former, as well as combat the USAID job-creation machine for Washington beltway insiders, Trump may even consider bolstering the role of faith-based organizations – his key political constituency – in the delivery of disaster and humanitarian aid.

Thirdly, President Trump’s Africa Policy should recognize Africa’s parallel: the poorest and at the same time among the world’s fastest growing regions.  America therefore, have reasons both economic and of principle for strong U.S. engagement.

Finally, through enriched relationships with African countries, President Trump might harness continent-wide support for U.S. goals on the international stage. Increasingly the 54 countries of Africa are wielding influence together: they are proportionately the largest bloc of votes at many multilateral institutions – providing decisive swing votes in international forums from the United Nations to the World Trade Organization.

A substantive U.S.-Africa partnership would inevitably lead to another crucial benefit: the strengthening of America’s security intelligence and cooperation needed to counter the growing threat from radicalized terrorists groups across the continent. Even an America that is Great Again needs friends and allies: and there are many to win – decisively – in Africa.

*The Hill.Whitaker served as Assistant United State Trade Representative for Africa under the administrations of President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush. She is currently the CEO and president of the Whitaker Group, a consultancy aiming at helping their clients to implement their businesses in Africa.

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Corruption Weary Africans Taking Anger To The Polls-TI 2016 CPI Index
February 15, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

John Mahama or Ghana (in suit) and Yahya Jammeh of Gambia both lost elections in 2016

John Mahama or Ghana (in suit) and Yahya Jammeh of Gambia both lost elections in 2016

If affable candidates like former President John Mahama of Ghana lost elections last year, it may in part have been due to corruption.The finding is contained in the recently published 2016 corruption perception index of Transparency International.

“In countries like Ghana, which is the second worst decliner in the 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index in the region, the dissatisfaction of citizens with the government’s corruption record was reflected in their voting at the polls,” Transparency International said in a statement that accompanied the release.

Africa did not fare so well said Samuel Kaninda Regional Advisor for Africa at Transparency International. In a skype interview, Kaninda who was on mission in Accra, said  the recently released perception index found a co-relation between democracy and good governance. Countries with a history of free elections and a stable democracy faired comparatively better as compared those where democracy and the rule of law are still struggling to take root.

On the countries that did well, Cape Verde and Sao Tome and Principe emerged as the most improved in Africa. Both countries held elections, which got rave reviews from observers. For his efforts and management style, Jorge Carlos Fonseca was rewarded with another term of office. In Sao Tome and Principe, there was a smooth transition of power, a feat that still eludes many countries in the continent.

For the democratic advances it has made, corruption in Ghana was described as rampant. Corroborating statements in the TI Release, Samuel Kaninda believed that the outcome of the recent election mirrored the anger and disappointment of Ghanaians who voted out a sitting President.

Despite high profile arrests and pompous amounts recouped from corrupt politicians, Nigeria failed to see any significant improvement in the index. The doctrine of change that brought the Buhari APC led government to power has so far been a mirage. Nigerians are increasingly voicing out their frustrations and should things not change before the 2019 elections, the APC may be in for a rude awakening.


Africa should seek the partnership of the international community to fight illicit flows of capital from the continent says Samuel Kaninda

Africa should seek the partnership of the international community to fight illicit flows of capital from the continent says Samuel Kaninda

The situation was similar in South Africa, trailed by sleazy tales of corruption with fingers pointing directly at President Jacob Zuma himself. Though serving his second and last term of offices, there have been growing calls for Zuma to step down. Down and bruised, Zuma has so far weathered the storm, but his battered image is taking a toll on ruling ANC. That it took heavy military Presidents to quell a mutiny from the opposition before Zuma could make a recent state of the Union Address speaks volumes on the situation Mandela’s own country.

With elections due later this year, if corruption were to be a decisive factor, President Uhuru may have some blushes as little progress has been made during his first term.

On the category of countries that equally fared poorly are the regulars like Somalia, South Sudan, Guinea Bissau, Central Africa, Chad, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Cameroon, DR, Congo and the Republic of Congo.

Fighting corruption should be task for everybody said Samuel Kaninda in response to solutions for the way forward. Besides the framework that countries need to put place, the civil society has to step up its role.

Transparency International is willing to engage with countries in the continent and the wider international community in the quest for lasting solutions, Kaninda said. With growing attention from the international corporate world, Kaninda said corporations coming to Africa need to be clearly identified .Institutions and clear-cut rules need to be put in place to curb incidence of corruption, he said.

Corruption is not an issue of the South or the North, Kaninda said in response to a question on illicit outflows of money from Africa. Without these massive flows, Africa will not be talking about Aid but Trade,  said Kaninda. African governments should engaged in discussions with the rest of the world especially those that provide safe haven for massive loots from Africa so as to curb this trend which saps Africa of resources needed for its own development ,said Kaninda.



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New-look Champions League set to begin
February 11, 2017 | 0 Comments
Mamelodi Sundowns won the Champions League in 2016

Mamelodi Sundowns won the Champions League in 2016

Up to 18 players who competed at the Africa Cup of Nations could be involved in the new-look Champions League when it kicks off this weekend.

Among them is Georges Bokwe, one of two unused goalkeepers in the Cameroon squad that defeated Egypt in the final last Sunday in Gabon.

Bokwe was kept out of the starting line-up by the consistent brilliance of Spain-based Fabrice Ondoa, who was included in the team of the tournament.

But Bokwe is the first choice for regular Champions League entrants Coton Sport from northern Cameroon cotton town Garoua.

Coton qualified for the 2008 final, losing to Al Ahly of Egypt, but have fared poorly recently with first round exits in the past two seasons.

Drawn against Atlabara of South Sudan in the two-leg preliminary round this year, the Cameroon outfit are favoured to secure a last-32 place.

While Coton have the experience of 15 previous Champions League campaigns behind them, Atlabara suffered a preliminary-round loss in a lone previous challenge.

Coton and Atlabara are among 46 clubs in action this weekend as an exciting new chapter in the Champions League unfolds.

Total prize money has soared from $5.7m (£4.6m) to $10m, a 119.30% increase.

Significant prize fund

The group phase – where the cash kicks in – has been expanded from eight to 16 clubs with participants guaranteed at least $550,000 (£440,000) each.

For clubs dreaming of going all the way and succeeding where Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa did last year, the “carrot” is a $2.5m (£2m) first prize.

Sundowns are among nine clubs given byes on merit into the round of 32, with record eight-time champions Al Ahly another.

Georges Bokwe was one of two unused goalkeepers in the Cameroon squad that defeated Egypt in the final of the recent African Nations Cup

Georges Bokwe was one of two unused goalkeepers in the Cameroon squad that defeated Egypt in the final of the recent African Nations Cup

Preliminary participants include V Club of the Democratic Republic of Congo, 1973 winners of the African Cup of Champions Clubs, forerunner to the Champions League.

The Kinshasa outfit face Royal Leopard of Swaziland and can call on Joyce Lomalisa Mutambala, a defender with unhappy memories of the 2017 Cup of Nations.

He was the only player sent off in the 32-match tournament, having come off the bench in a win over Morocco and been yellow-carded twice within 17 minutes.

Former title-holders in the second-tier Confederation Cup, Stade Malien of Mali, FUS Rabat of Morocco and AC Leopards of Congo Brazzaville, play this weekend.

Stade face Barrack Young Controllers II of Liberia, FUS meet Johansen of Sierra Leone and Leopards play UMS Loum of Cameroon.

Others in action include three clubs who won the now defunct African Cup Winners Cup, Enugu Rangers of Nigeria, Horoya of Guinea and Al Merrikh of Sudan.

Enugu tackle JS Saoura of Algeria, Horoya confront Goree of Senegal and Merrikh challenge Sony Ela Nguema of Equatorial Guinea.


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The AFRICA CEO FORUM puts female leadership in Africa at the heart of the debate
February 9, 2017 | 0 Comments

The AFRICA CEO FORUM and McKinsey & Company are pooling their expertise to launch the African Women in Business initiative at the 2017 AFRICA CEO FORUM on 20 and 21 March in Geneva. McKinsey & Company will participate as a knowledge partner.

Four businesswomen at the AFRICA CEO FORUM. From left to right: Tigui Camara, Diane Chenal, Ghislaine Ketcha Tessa, Neila Benzina. Credits: Jacques Torregano

Four businesswomen at the AFRICA CEO FORUM. From left to right: Tigui Camara, Diane Chenal, Ghislaine Ketcha Tessa, Neila Benzina. Credits: Jacques Torregano

PARIS, France, 8 February 2017 – The 2017 AFRICA CEO FORUM, the biggest international African private sector gathering, will host over 1,000 African and international personalities and key African industrial, financial and political decision-makers, including around 200 female business leaders from 43 African countries.

An essential platform for dialogue and networking, the AFRICA CEO FORUM is devoting this year’s edition to the role of women in African enterprise. As part of the African Women in Business initiative, a high-level panel will bring together the most influential women in the African private sector and the CEOs most active in promoting gender diversity. The goal is twofold: to identify the best strategies for increased female representation in business and to highlight the career paths of the women who have shaped the African private sector.

“A greater representation of women in companies is crucial to the prosperity of the African private sector”, said Amir Ben Yahmed, President of AFRICA CEO FORUM.
“By creating the 

African Women in Business initiative, we have decided to put female leadership at the heart of our discussions.”

The African Women in Business initiative will also present the findings of the McKinsey & Company Women Matter Africa report. This report sets out the progress made by the African private and public sectors in terms of women’s representation. While Africa equals – and even exceeds – international standards, there is still a long way to go to achieve true gender equality.

By launching the African Women in Business initiative, the AFRICA CEO FORUM is contributing to the implementation of concrete solutions for the improvement of gender diversity. It aims, as in all matters to the life of African companies, to shake things up and push boundaries.

About the Women Matter Africa Report

Among the conclusions:

* Companies with greater gender diversity within their boards tend to perform better financially.
* The same applies to African companies; the top 25% most diverse companies have a 20% higher earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) than their industry average.
* Those with boards made up of at least 25% women have a 20% EBIT above their industry average.
* In the private sector, Africa has more women board members, CEOs and managers than the world average. However, there is an under-representation of women at other hierarchical levels.
* In the public sector, Africa has more women in parliament than the world average, but this rate has to double to achieve gender equality.
* Although the number of women leaders has increased in the private as well as the public sector, they do not necessarily have more power or influence.


Developed in partnership with the African Development Bank, the AFRICA CEO FORUM is an event organised by Groupe Jeune Afrique, publisher of Jeune Afrique and The Africa Report, and Rainbow Unlimited, a Swiss company that specialises in organising events promoting and facilitating business.

Launched in 2012, the AFRICA CEO FORUM has become the leading international meeting on the development of Africa and its companies, in a high-level professional setting. The 2016 edition hosted over 1,000 African and international personalities, including 600 business leaders from 43 African countries and 100 high-level speakers.


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The best way to honour Tshisekedi is to take on the fight for democracy in DR Congo
February 7, 2017 | 0 Comments

Now more than ever, we must heed the late politician’s declaration that, ultimately, the people must take responsibility for themselves.

With the veteran opposition figure out of the picture, the government may feel less pressure to implement the recent agreement. Credit: VoteTshisekedi.

With the veteran opposition figure out of the picture, the government may feel less pressure to implement the recent agreement. Credit: VoteTshisekedi.

Etienne Tshisekedi wa Mulumba, the historic leader in the struggle for democracy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), died at a hospital in Brussels, Belgium, on 1 February, reportedly of pulmonary embolism. He was 84 years old.

His death was announced the same day by a spokesperson for his party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), founded by Tshisekedi and other political leaders in 1982.

Born on 14 December 14, 1932, in Kananga (then Luluabourg) in Kasai province of the Belgian Congo, Tshisekedi began his political career by working closely with the Congo’s notorious leader Mobutu Sese Seko for nearly 20 years. This relationship began in 1960 when Mobutu, who had recently become army chief-of-staff and led a coup against Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, nominated Tshisekedi to the Council of General Commissioners. Still a law student at Lovanium University in Kinshasa (then Léopoldville), Tshisekedi was named Deputy Commissioner for Justice.

In 1961, Tshisekedi became the first Congolese to obtain the doctorate in law. He left politics for a few years to serve as Rector of the National School of Law and Administration (ENDA) in Kinshasa. But in 1965, he returned to politics as Interior Minister following Mobutu’s second coup d’état in which he seized the presidency, an office he would hold until 1997.

As a key minister, Tshisekedi played a crucial role in the process of consolidating Mobutu’s personal rule. He helped draft the 1967 constitution, which outlawed multi-partyism, and create the single-party regime under the People’s Revolutionary Movement (MPR).

In the second half of the 1970s, however, relations between the hitherto close friends deteriorated as Mobutu became increasingly corrupt and notorious for gross violations of human rights. This rift came to a head in December 1980 as Tshisekedi, along with twelve other MPs, sent a 52-page letter to the president demanding the restoration of multiparty democracy. The dissenters were arrested, tortured, and sent to remote detention centres in the bush.

It was this episode in which Tshisekedi earned the respect of the Congolese people as he remained the one person to endure the suffering without giving in to either fear or bribery. A man of extreme courage and strong moral and political principles, he showed that he would put the country’s interests above personal ambitions, living by his motto le peuple d’abord. The people first.

Fighting authoritarianism

In July 1991, a year after Mobutu had ended his ban on other political parties amidst internal and external pressure, the dictator offered Tshisekedi the role of prime minister. Demonstrators descended on the opposition leader’s residence in Kinshasa to dissuade him from collaborating with “the devil”.

Tshisekedi refused the nomination. But he did later go on to become prime minister on three separate occasions under Mobutu, all for short periods of time that ended in disagreements between the two men.

The one stint as PM that stands out most for Congolese was Tshisekedi’s election to the position in August 1992 at the Sovereign National Conference. At this forum, established to interrogate the past and chart a new course for the country, 2,842 delegates representing all strata of Congolese society overwhelmingly voted in favour of Tshisekedi becoming prime minster over Mobutu’s favoured candidate. This national forum remains a central reference point for Congolese aspirations for democracy and rule of law.

As arguably the single most important political leader in the DRC since Patrice Lumumba, Tshisekedi embodied these aspirations in his opposition to the authoritarian regimes of not just Mobutu, but his successors.

His political activities under President Laurent-Désiré Kabila (1997-2001), who overthrew Mobutu, resulted in Tshisekedi being relegated to his village of origin in Eastern Kasai. And under Joseph Kabila, who took power after his father’s death in 2001, Tshisekedi was the Congo’s most prominent opposition leader .

Tshisekedi boycotted the 2006 elections, but when he ran for president in 2011, the man by now known as the Vieux (Old Man) drew enormous crowds across the country’s provinces. When the official results declared the Kabila the winner therefore, the overriding response was of disbelief.

National and international observers said the elections had been marred by serious irregularities and a lack of transparency, while the Bishops’ Conference, which had observers across the country, said the results did not reflect the will of the people. Tshisekedi rejected the results and held a parallel inauguration ceremony.

Taking responsibility

The next elections were constitutionally required to be held in 2016, but Kabila’s government employed a variety of tactics to delay them, meaning he is now still in office despite his official mandate ending on 19 December.

As this crisis has unfolded, Tshisekedi returned to the fore and became one of the leaders of the opposition coalition known as the Rassemblement, which organised huge protests. At the end of 2016, the Rassemblement engaged in negotiations with Kabila’s camp, leading to an agreement on 31 December that called for power-sharing and a one-year transition to elections in 2017.

In the month that has gone by since that accord, however, little progress has been made. And with the death of Tshisekedi, the main opposition figurehead whose ability to mobilise huge street protests was unparalleled in the Congo, the Kabila regime is likely to feel less pressure to implement the agreement.

Such a temptation from the regime would be misguided. The Congolese people’s desire for democracy and willingness to exert their popular power is not to be underestimated.

We saw this in independence uprisings of January 1959; in the mass “second independence” movement of 1963-68; in the huge demonstrations of 16 February 1992; in the three-day protests of January 2015, when at least 50 people were killed demonstrating against a bill requiring a national census before elections; and we saw this in massive protests around the country in September and December 2016 against Kabila’s determination to stay in office beyond his mandate.

Tshisekedi embodied this spirit and was central in mobilising many of these demonstrations. But Congolese patriots will continue to fight for democracy and social progress with or without iconic opposition leaders like him.

Indeed, as we mourn the loss of the Vieux, the best way to honour his selfless, incorruptible and patriotic service over several decades is to take it upon ourselves to restore democracy in the DRC. The Congolese people have a duty to remove Kabila and his cronies from power and end a regime that is more interested in looting the country than in building institutions, protecting citizens, and ensuring peace and development.

Tshisekedi will be deeply missed, but as he reminded us following the 2011 elections, le people doit se prendre en charge. Now more than ever, the people must take responsibility for themselves.

*African Arguments.Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja is professor of African and global studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (USA).

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Late winner gives Cameroon Afcon title
February 6, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Stephen Fottrell*

Cameroon's last-gasp win ends a 15-year wait for another continental crown

Cameroon’s last-gasp win ends a 15-year wait for another continental crown

Cameroon came from behind to beat Egypt 2-1 and seal a fifth Africa Cup of Nations in a thrilling, edgy final.

Substitute Vincent Aboubakar swept in the winner two minutes from time, flicking the ball over defender Ali Gabr and thumping it home.

Nicolas Nkoulou had earlier equalised for Cameroon, rising highest to power in a header on the hour mark.

 The equaliser cancelled out Mohamed Elneny’s opener on 22 minutes with a beautifully taken near-post strike.

The wild celebrations for Aboubakar’s winner announced Cameroon’s return to the continental summit, after a wait of 15 years.

It also makes them the second most successful nation in the competition’s history – behind Egypt – and marks the first time they have beaten the Pharoahs in the final in three attempts.

Besiktas striker Aboubakar ran towards the triumphant Cameroon fans in the Stade de l’Amitie stands in Libreville to celebrate, pursued by delirious teammates and coaching staff.

Underdogs Cameroon had already upset the odds to reach the final and stunned the much-fancied Egyptians with the late dramatic strike, after fellow substitute Nkoulou had drawn them level.

Cameroon players celebrate Vincent Aboubakar's winner
Cameroon players – and staff – run for the stands to celebrate Vincent Aboubakar’s winner

Despite being beset by pre-tournament problems, including the withdrawal of key players such as Joel Matip and Eric Chuopo-Moting, coach Hugo Broos managed to assemble a squad that got their reward for being strong, adaptable and resilient in equal measure throughout.

The Pharaohs – bidding for an eighth title after seven years in the international wilderness – started comfortably and Elneny’s opening strike capped a wonderful fluent move down the right.

The Gunners midfielder started the move and finished it, after receiving the ball from Mohamed Salah in the box and sweeping it past Fabrice Ondoa into the roof of the net at the near post.

Nicolas Nkoulou celebrates with teammate Benjamin Moukandjo
Goalscorer Nicolas Nkoulou celebrates with winning teammate Benjamin Moukandjo

But Egypt invited the Indomitable Lions to come at them in the second half and they paid a heavy price.

The excellent Cameroon forward Benjamin Moukandjo whipped in an excellent, menacing cross and substitute Nkoulou muscled his way through the Egyptian defence to beat Ahmed Hegazy to the ball and bury it past 44-year-old Essam El Hadary in the Egyptian goal.

The contest developed into a fascinating cagey final, with Cameroon, inspired by the excellent Christian Bassogog and Jacques Zoua up front, pinning Egypt back and limiting them to long balls to Salah and substitute Ramadan Sobhi.

Fatigue soon set in in the Egyptian ranks and Cameroon got their ultimate reward for increasing the pressure on the experienced Egyptian defence.

Egypt's veteran keeper Essam El Hadary
Egypt’s veteran keeper Essam El Hadary was denied a fifth Africa Cup of Nations title

Aboubakar controlled a long ball forward with his chest at the edge of the box, flicked it over the stranded Gabr, before gathering, taking a step and smashing home off his right foot for a fitting winner.

The Egyptians – featuring the tournament’s oldest and most experienced player – El Hadary, were left stunned after looking comfortable for much of the first half.

As they had done for much of the tournament, Egypt relied on a well-marshalled defence, led by Ahmed Hegazy, Gabr and Hull City’s Ahmed Elmohamady. They also had the formidable Elneny and Salah leading the line.

The Pharaohs more than played their part in an entertaining final, but it was Cameroon’s energy that would light up the occasion and provide a thrilling end to a thoroughly entertaining tournament for the near-capacity crowd of more than 38,000 in the Gabonese capital.

Belgian coach Hugo Broos celebrates with his Cameroon players
Belgian coach Hugo Broos celebrates his first African title with Cameroon

Belgian coach Broos reflected the unity in his squad’s ranks, as he celebrated the first Nations Cup title of his career.

“I am happy for the players,” he said. “This is not a group of football players, they are a group of friends.”

Egypt coach Hector Cuper was left to dwell on another defeat in a major final, having lost two European Champions League finals with Spanish club Valencia.

“The sadness I have is not because I lost another final,” he said.

“It’s because there was so much hope especially among the people in Egypt and I am sorry for the players who put in so much effort.”



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‘Africa’s Youngest Billionaire’ Is Less Successful Than He Seems
February 4, 2017 | 0 Comments

The finances of Ashish Thakkar, once called the continent’s youngest billionaire, face scrutiny in a London divorce court


Ashish Thakkar, founder of Mara Group, has run into problems with some of his ventures. PHOTO: DREW ANGERER/BLOOMBERG NEWS

Ashish Thakkar, founder of Mara Group, has run into problems with some of his ventures. PHOTO: DREW ANGERER/BLOOMBERG NEWS

Ashish Thakkar started selling computer parts at age 15 after fleeing Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, eventually becoming an emblem of Africa’s economic promise.

His vision for a more prosperous, tech-savvy Africa enabled his company, Mara Group, to attract partners including former Barclays PLC Chief Executive Bob Diamond, General Electric Co. and Mozido Inc. Several publications referred to Mr. Thakkar, now 35, as “Africa’s youngest billionaire.”

So it came as a surprise to a U.S. investment company checking on a Mara Group e-commerce startup to find that Mr. Thakkar didn’t own a stake in the new business, or in its parent company, which is based in the world’s tallest building in Dubai. Further checking showed that various projects he had publicized hadn’t made it off the ground, and most of 11,000 people he has said the company employs in 25 African countries don’t work directly for Mara.

On Monday, a London court is set to study Mara Group’s ownership as part of Mr. Thakkar’s divorce from his wife of five years. Mr. Thakkar told the divorce court last year he doesn’t own Mara Group and his personal assets are worth less than $600,000.

A Wall Street Journal examination of corporate filings and court records, and interviews with two dozen people including investors, show Mara Group has investments and assets worth about $30 million, the biggest chunk being a minority stake in a technology-services company. They are held through a network of companies registered in the British Virgin Islands. Until 2012, the company, which doesn’t file financial reports, was owned by a “bearer share” Panama foundation, owned by whoever held the stock certificate.

Mr. Thakkar said in an interview that Mara Group has always been owned by his mother and sister, and that he isn’t motivated by money. “Being the face of something doesn’t make you the owner of it,” he said. He never claimed to be a billionaire, he said. His other family members declined to comment.

Not long ago, a gold rush of foreign investment into the continent gave rise to the catch phrase “Africa Rising.” Now, investors’ enthusiasm has dimmed amid a commodities slump, and growth projections for sub-Saharan Africa are the lowest in two decades.

Mr. Thakkar and Mara Group, similarly, have hit a rough patch. Atlas Mara Ltd., the African banking group Mr. Thakkar co-founded with Mr. Diamond, lost 78% of its stock-market value in three years. A South African real-estate fund is removing “Mara” from its name after recently cutting ties with Mr. Thakkar. An Abu Dhabi sheik took legal action last year to cash out of a troubled, Mara-run fund. Shopping malls and office buildings Mr. Thakkar had hoped to develop have been mothballed, and the e-commerce venture struggled to raise capital.

“We’ve still got a lot to do, and we’ve still got a lot to prove,” Mr. Thakkar said. The company, he said, “never tried to make it out that it’s bigger than it is.”

Mara Group group employs about two dozen people, including family members. The 11,000 employees Mr. Thakkar often mentions, he said, refer mainly to those working at banks owned by Atlas Mara, of which he owns around 0.3%, and ISON Group, the technology-services company in which Mara holds a 22% stake.

Mr. Thakkar was born in Leicester, England, after his parents left Uganda during dictator Idi Amin’s purge of ethnic Indians. They moved to Rwanda when Mr. Thakkar was 12.

On his first visit to Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, Mr. Thakkar watched out his window a massacre unfolding that would take 800,000 lives over 100 days, he recalled in his 2015 book, “The Lion Awakes: Adventures in Africa’s Economic Miracle.”

Mr. Thakkar left school at 15. He started flying to Dubai to buy computer parts, then sell them across Africa. It was the start of Mara Group, which grew to include a cardboard-manufacturing plant and a residential development in Kampala. At 18, he changed his name to Ashish, from Prateen, on the advice of the Hindu guru his family follows.

Around the turn of this decade, Mr. Thakkar hatched a proposition for investors coming to Africa: Mara could help cut through red tape, drawing on his relationships with governments. Executives at companies who worked with Mara say Mr. Thakkar helped secure local licenses and approvals and introduced them to government officials in countries such as Zimbabwe and Uganda.

“We were coming to Africa for the first time. We felt we would need somebody to hold our hand and take us through the complex nuances of a new continent,” said Ramesh Awtaney, the founder of ISON Group, a Kenya-based technology company that set up in Africa in 2010.

Mr. Thakkar became an unpaid adviser to Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, and to Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

A member of Abu Dhabi’s ruling family, Sheikh Nahayan bin Mubarak al Nahayan, put $19 million into a fund for Mara’s projects in technology and agriculture, according to a legal filing by one of the sheik’s companies. The fund, run by Mr. Thakkar and his brother-in-law, Prashant Manek, bought part of Mara’s stake in the ISON venture and Ugandan farmland.

No other investors signed on, and the fund languished when Mr. Thakkar separated from Mr. Manek’s sister in 2013. The two men stopped speaking as the families tussled over the divorce, according to people familiar with the fund.

The sheik sued in the Cayman Islands to try to liquidate the fund, claiming Mr. Thakkar and Mr. Manek shirked their duties by failing to find other investors, running up unnecessary costs and letting the family dispute affect the company.

Mr. Thakkar said he has stepped down from the fund’s board. “It’s relationships related to my divorce, which were not managed well, and the entity was not managed well,” he said.

A lawyer for Mr. Manek declined to comment.

By then, Mr. Thakkar had hooked up with Mr. Diamond, who left Barclays in 2012. Mr. Diamond had set up a private-equity firm, Atlas Merchant Capital LLC, and was putting together a plan to buy African banks. The two men founded Atlas Mara six months after meeting at a conference. In 2013 and 2014, the company raised $625 million on the London Stock Exchange to buy banks in countries including Botswana and Nigeria.

Mr. Diamond said in an emailed statement that Mr. Thakkar’s relationships across Africa were crucial to Atlas Mara acquiring eight banks in seven countries.

Both men are on Atlas Mara’s board and own shares. Mr. Thakkar holds a stake now worth about $466,000.

The tie-up with Mr. Diamond elevated Mr. Thakkar’s profile with big institutional investors, including two of Atlas Mara’s biggest shareholders, U.S. mutual-fund company Wellington Management Co. and privately held investment firm Guggenheim Partners.

In 2014, Wellington invested $25 million in a now-defunct mobile-money venture Mara Group worked on with U.S. technology company Mozido Inc., people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Thakkar said Mara and Mozido “briefly formed a joint venture together but decided to go our separate ways.” Wellington and Mozido declined to comment.

Guggenheim Partners, which previously seeded Mr. Diamond’s private-equity fund with $200 million, also considered investments with Mara Group.

In November 2014, Messrs. Thakkar and Diamond took Guggenheim Chief Investment Officer Scott Minerd around Uganda and Rwanda by private jet and helicopter. In Kampala, they saw a 14-acre site Mr. Thakkar had been trying to develop for years, then lunched with Uganda’s prime minister.

A Guggenheim spokesman said its officials frequently travel to look at potential and existing investments, and it covers their trip costs.

Former Barclays CEO Bob Diamond, right, co-founded African banking group Atlas Mara with Mr. Thakkar. PHOTO: WALDO SWIEGERS/BLOOMBERG NEWS

Former Barclays CEO Bob Diamond, right, co-founded African banking group Atlas Mara with Mr. Thakkar. PHOTO: WALDO SWIEGERS/BLOOMBERG NEWS

Last year, a property fund listed on the Johannesburg stock exchange bought a stake in a Kenyan mall from a consortium of investors including Mara Group and hired Mara to find more investments. The fund changed its name to Mara Delta Property Holdings Ltd. and Mr. Thakkar joined the board.

Mr. Thakkar said in November Mara Delta might buy more Mara-linked developments. Weeks later, he suddenly resigned from Mara Delta’s board.

Mara Delta said its contract with Mara Group was dissolved by mutual agreement and it plans to remove Mara from its name. Mr. Thakkar declined to comment.

In 2015, Mr. Thakkar visited investors in the U.S. to try to raise $100 million for the e-commerce business. Christian Unger, a technology executive at Swiss private-equity firm Partners Group AG, was named chief executive. When investors didn’t commit, Mr. Unger decided to remain at Partners Group, a person familiar with the matter said.

“We both decided that he wanted to move on,” Mr. Thakkar said. Mr. Unger declined to comment.

Back in Dubai, Mr. Thakkar is working on a scaled-down version of the e-commerce startup, delivering parcels.


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All new Jozi Film Festival Award category, in partnership with Discovery Channel, kicks off 2017 call for submissions
February 1, 2017 | 0 Comments

Submissions for the sixth annual Jozi Film Festival (JFF) open on Monday 6 February 2017. As always, JFF is calling for feature films, short fiction films, documentaries (both short and long) as well as student films, both from South Africa and internationally.

For the first time, the Jozi Film Festival is thrilled to be partnering with Discovery Networks to launch a brand new category to this year’s lineup. The “Discovery Channel Don’t Stop Wondering Award” will call for 2-5 minute documentaries from filmmakers across Africa which showcase and celebrate unique African stories and capture Discovery’s ethos of sparking curiosity. This is an Africa-wide search for filmmaking talent that carries a cash prize from Discovery Channel of $5,000 for the final winner to go towards their next filming project. Entry is free and multiple entries are welcome.

“For over 30 years Discovery has been satisfying curiosity, breaking ground with high-quality factual entertainment programming that inspires and entertains audiences around the world,” said Lee Hobbs, VP of Brand & Content, Discovery Networks CEEMEA. “Discovery Channel’s Don’t Stop Wondering brand positioning is a call to action; a challenge to always remain curious and celebrate the value of treading your own path. Through this new partnership with the Jozi Film Festival, we hope to discover films that showcase what curiosity means to individuals today, all shot within a contemporary African context, and celebrate the continent’s remarkable filmmaking talent.”

The Top 10 films as selected by a JFF and Discovery jury will be broadcast on Discovery Channel in July and August, and later at the sixth annual Jozi Film Festival in September. The winning film will be selected by popular vote via the voting tool on Discovery’s website: and the winner will be flown to Johannesburg to receive their prize at the Jozi Film Festival awards to be held on 24 September 2017.

Entrants must be 18 years or older and must reside on the African continent. Submissions for this category open at 12:00 on 6 February 2017 and close at 18:00 on 31 May 2017. For more information on how to submit to JFF2017, please visit or

Discovery Communications (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK) satisfies curiosity and engages superfans with a portfolio of premium nonfiction, sports and kids programming brands. Reaching 3 billion cumulative viewers across pay-TV and free-to-air platforms in more than 220 countries and territories, Discovery’s portfolio includes the global brands Discovery Channel, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Animal Planet, Science and Turbo/Velocity, as well as OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network in the U.S., Discovery Kids in Latin America, and Eurosport, the leading provider of locally relevant, premium sports content across Europe. Discovery reaches audiences across screens through digital-first programming from Discovery VR, over-the-top offerings Eurosport Player and Dplay, as well as TV Everywhere products comprising the GO portfolio of TVE apps and Discovery K!ds Play.
The Jozi Film Festival was initially created to provide a platform for local filmmakers in Johannesburg, and to develop an audience for South African films. While still prioritizing local film, JFF now accept films from around the world – features, short films, documentaries and student films. We are the longest running multi-genre festival in the City of Gold and our motto remains the same from Day One: We Love Jozi. We Love Film.
The Jozi Film Festival strongly supports independent films.
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