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Cameroon: Serious Fair Trial Violations In Such A Rushed Process- ICC’s Charles Taku on Life Sentence for Ayuk Tabe & Others
August 21, 2019 | 1 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

The trial, conviction and sentencing to life imprisonment of Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and others may complicate the much sought after but so far elusive dialogue, says Chief Taku

The trial, conviction and sentencing to life imprisonment of Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and others may complicate the much sought after but so far elusive dialogue, says Chief Taku

 

Chief Charles Taku, immediate past President of the International Criminal Court Bar Association- ICCBA, says the trial and life sentence slammed on Julius Ayuk Tabe and others does little to foster the peaceful settlement of the current dispute as articulated by the international community. In an interview with Pan African Visions, the legal luminary says there were serious fair trial violations in the rushed process that culminated in the sentence for Ayuk and others arrested in Nigeria and brought to Cameroon .

To Chief Taku, the prompt condemnation of the sentences is a clear indication that the leadership of the struggle will unite no matter what to confront this and other challenges on the way towards attaining their defined objectives

“International justice may never entirely look  away from impunity and atrocity crimes;” Chief Taku said in warning to those excelling in gross human rights abuses.  

Chief Taku, what is your reaction to the jail sentences to Julius Ayuk Tabe and his co-detainees abducted from Nigeria?

The trial and its outcome do not advance the objectives of a peaceful settlement of the dispute favoured by the International Community.

From what you have learned, on what grounds did the court based its arguments in giving its verdict?

The information that I have about the judgment is incomplete. However, I have learnt that the trial, conviction and judgment took place in one day, underscoring the fact that the trial might have been rushed. I cannot second guess the reasons for the rush to convict and sentence them to life imprisonment.  There must be serious fair trial violations in such a rushed process.

Is there any legal precedent for this kind of cases in Cameroon?

Precedents exist within the legal framework that existed in the past. Since the enactment of a new Criminal Procedure Code a few years back, it is no longer possible to conduct a trial of this magnitude in a single day, deliberate, convict and enter judgment.  Each process in a trial requires procedural fair trial imperatives that may give rise to interlocutory appeals. Without a copy of the judgment before me, I am unable to ascertain the fair trial hurdles the tribunal panel surmounted to attain this feat.

What options are available for Ayuk and others, could the judgement be appealed?

This is one case where the integrity of the trial will be tested on appeal.  Fair trials and the due process of the law has taken central stage in the international human rights regime.  This appellate outcome of this trial and judgment will surely define the extent to which Cameroun is compliant with international human rights treaty obligations.

Looking at the whole conduct of the case, what does this tell the world about justice in Cameroon?

The world will surely not make an informed determination about the quality of justice in Cameroon and Cameroon’s commitment to its international human rights multilateral treaty obligations based on an informed evaluation of this and other judgments.  What I am certain is that, international human rights bodies have expressed strong reservations about submitting civilians to court-martials and military justice.  This type of justice is unconstitutional even under the operating Cameroun’s constitutional arrangement.

Just a hypothetical question Chief Taku, if this case was on trial in the kind of common law system that Anglophones Cameroonians clamor for, how different would the process have been?

A fundamental attribute of justice is fundamental fairness.  Through fair trials, the standards and precedents for future trials are established, including trials in which the judges themselves may be defendants some time along the line. This is the threshold on which the common law system that Southern Cameroonians once upon a time enjoyed and are clamoring for.  To underscore the rationale for this quest for a credible system of justice where rule of law and fair trials are well-founded, permit me to quote the memorable submissions of the Hon. Justice Robert H. Jackson of Counsel for the United States before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg established to hold Nazi war criminals accountable for the crimes that shocked the conscience humanity on November 21, 1945, reminded the Military Tribunal and the world at large that: “Fairness is not a weakness but an attribute of our strength. We must never forget that the record on which we judge these defendants today is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow. To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our own lips as well. We must summon such detachment and intellectual integrity to task that this trial will commend itself to posterity as fulfilling humanity’s aspirations to do justice”

At a time when people are calling for dialogue, what impact do you think the sentencing of Ayuk, and others could have on the present crisis?

The trial, conviction and sentencing to life imprisonment of Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and others may complicate the much sought after but so far elusive dialogue to examine the root causes of the crisis.  I strongly call for the vacation of these sentences and their release to facilitate the dialogue and the peace process.

Some people have mooted the idea of a Presidential pardon or the kind of amnesty that was granted to people like Issa Tchiroma, and others accused of plotting the 1984 coup d’état, do you see this as an option?

I cannot second-guess the political calculations of the government of Cameroon in pursuing this route when the international community is insistently calling for an all-inclusive dialogue with no preconditions to tackle the root causes of the conflict.  Most people believe that these sentences and others before and perhaps after, will not bring about an acceptable solution to the crisis that is claiming the lives and property of millions of civilians.  The sentences will complicate and aggravate the peace and security situation.  Will an amnesty or pardon attenuate the situation? I sincerely cannot tell.  What I believe is that a prompt vacation of the sentences no matter how, may be a palliative to calming the storm in attempts to averting an escalation in times when the mode of the international community is for a negotiated settlement.

The prompt condemnation of the sentences is a clear indication that the leadership of the struggle will unite , says Chief Taku

The prompt condemnation of the sentences is a clear indication that the leadership of the struggle will unite , says Chief Taku

There has been near unanimity from all segments of the fractured leadership in condemning the verdict, could this move have the unwitting effect of uniting the various leadership factions of the Southern Cameroons struggle?

Indeed, there were clear indications that the various components of the leadership were pussyfooting towards some form of unity towards the prosecution of the struggle and the proposed peace process.  This move towards unity might have been fast tracked had some activists not kept the fuel of disunity, needless rancor and misdirected antagonism alive.  Activists have played a critical role in this struggle and may continue to do so. However, they must be alive to the fact that their intended audience is more sophisticated that some of them can image.  They must finetune their language of delivery of their ideas or commentary to meet acceptable degrees of decency, respect and humility.  The prompt condemnation of the sentences is a clear indication that the leadership of the struggle will unite no matter what to confront this and other challenges on the way towards attaining their defined objectives.

And for all those perpetrating gross human rights abuses, could the ICC that you are part of hold them accountable someday?

I am just a lawyer at the international criminal court and other international criminal tribunals but I may venture to state that International justice may never entirely look  away from impunity and atrocity crimes.  

 

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Nigeria: U.S. firms want Nigeria oil and gas sector reforms before investing
July 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Teslim Olawore

Brent Omdahl,

Brent Omdahl,

 

 

Brent Omdahl, commercial counselor at the U.S. Department of Commerce has said Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer, could attract more U.S. investment if the oil and gas sector becomes less opaque and a fuel-price peg is removed.

“Nigeria needs to think strategically about what is going to make it a more attractive destination,” the U.S. official said in an interview in Lagos. “Our investors are willing to compete on fair terms for new investments if there’s a transparent process to try to win new oil opportunities. What is difficult or a disincentive to investors is when deals are done and then the contracts are not honoured.”

Controls on energy prices are also constraining investment, according to Omdahl, who is leaving Nigeria this month. The country’s national petroleum company imports most gasoline under a swap program and has capped the pump price at 145 naira ($0.40) per litre – one of the lowest prices worldwide. Yet that system cost the government almost $2 billion in subsidies last year, according to the International Monetary Fund, which has called for the cap to be lifted.

The controls “perpetuate a system where only certain people benefit,” Omdahl said. “Why not open it up and let everybody benefit from it. That is money that can be used in making investments in refineries and all of a sudden you are paying less for imported fuel and your price goes down.”

He further said that an accumulation of “easy” loans from China risks increasing debt-servicing costs, and warned against missing out on financing opportunities from multilateral development banks with more stringent requirements.

Nigeria has increased borrowing from China in recent years to finance railways, airports and power plants. Loans from China stood at $2.55 billion as of March 31, which is about one-tenth of Nigeria’s external debt stock, according to the country’s debt management office. While Nigeria has a relatively low 19% ratio of debt to gross domestic product, debt servicing takes up about 69% of government earnings, IMF data show.

“Nigeria needs to ask, money isn’t free, somebody has to pay,” Omdahl said. “So you might as well do what is necessary to earn transparent money.”

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NEW STUDY: Grid Electricity and Off-Grid Solutions Alone Are Not Meeting Many Africans’ Energy Demands
February 21, 2018 | 0 Comments
On-Grid Customers Still Rely Heavily on Off-Grid Energy Technologies, and Off-Grid Customers Want On-Grid Electricity
 
A man uses a solar energy panel to charge electric devices in Diebly, an Ivory Coast village without electricity. (Photo: Sia Kambou/AFP/Getty Images)

A man uses a solar energy panel to charge electric devices in Diebly, an Ivory Coast village without electricity. (Photo: Sia Kambou/AFP/Getty Images)

Washington – A new study released today by the Center for Global Development found that neither grid electricity nor off-grid solutions alone are currently adequate to meet many African consumers’ modern energy demands. The survey of consumers in twelve African countries found that on-grid customers still rely heavily on off-grid solutions like generators for their daily lives, and that off-grid customers want access to on-grid electricity.

The researchers analyzed data from mobile phone-based surveys to assess energy service quality and demand in twelve African countries: Benin, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo), Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. The surveys were conducted between July 2015 and December 2016, and received responses from 39,000 consumers in 28 languages.
“Making electricity more accessible, reliable, and responsive to African demand across the continent should be a priority,” said Todd Moss, a co-author of the report and a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development. “While many policymakers debate whether grid or off-grid solutions are most appropriate, African consumers don’t view these options as an either-or question. Customers who are on the grid want to be able to use off-grid electricity too. And customers who have off-grid power want access to grid electricity to meet growing demand.”
“Off-grid customers may appreciate the lights and basic appliances like phone chargers that off-grid systems can power, but want to move up the energy ladder toward higher power appliances like refrigerators enabled by a grid connection. At the same time, on-grid customers face a host of reliability issues and thus see off-grid options as an important backup.”
Key findings from the survey include:

  • Daily outages are a norm almost everywhere. Among those with access to grid electricity, at least half cited electricity outages at least once a day across almost all surveyed countries. Respondents in Mozambique, Ghana, and Zambia reported the highest prevalence of daily outages. The country with the lowest prevalence of frequent outages was Rwanda, where only 18 percent of respondents experienced multiple outages per day. In all countries, the vast majority reported at least one outage per week.
  • On-grid customers still rely heavily on generators, especially in Nigeria. Almost half of on-grid respondents in Nigeria relied on a generator during power outages – the highest of any other country.
  • Off-grid customers still desire grid electricity. In most countries, off-grid respondents are not completely satisfied by off-grid electricity solutions and retain a high demand for grid electricity.
  • Off-grid, non-generator electricity is inadequate for most respondents’ energy needs. A significant proportion of respondents across the surveyed countries reported that their off-grid electricity solution did not fulfill any of their power needs. This includes almost two-thirds (65 percent) of Rwandans with off-grid, non-generator electricity.
  • In all countries, the majority desire a grid connection. Demand for the grid was highest in Zambia and Ghana, where over 50 percent said that they wanted an electrical connection very much. In all other countries except Senegal and Benin, demand appears to be high but less passionate. Over two-thirds of respondents without an electric connection indicated that they wanted an electrical connection to the national grid either a little or very much.
  • Satisfaction with service from the grid varies widely. Reported satisfaction with grid electricity ran from Mozambique (74 percent satisfied) and Rwanda (71) at the high end to Ghana (19) and Zambia (27).
  • Connection costs and distance from the grid are the most common obstacles to grid electricity. When asked about the greatest obstacle to gaining access to the national grid, most respondents cited either the cost of electricity, the cost of connection, or the lack of proximity to the grid.
  • Demand is high for energy-intensive appliances, especially TVs. Off-grid households indicate a high demand for energy-intensive appliances, particularly televisions and refrigerators. The survey also asked respondents what appliance they would like to purchase if they gained a grid connection (refrigerator, television, hot plate, radio, or iron). Televisions are the most common aspirational purchase across most surveyed countries.
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Africa Prefers Fair Trade to Marshall Plans –Nigerian VP Osinbajo
January 25, 2018 | 0 Comments
Remarks by His Excellency, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON, The Vice President of The Federal Republic of Nigeria, at an Interactive Session Titled “Stabilizing the Mediterranean” at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday, 24 January, 2018
 Prof. Yemi Osinbajo-VP of Nigeria

Prof. Yemi Osinbajo-VP of Nigeria

DAVOS, Switzerland, January 25, 2018/ — Remarks by His Excellency, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON, The Vice President of The Federal Republic of Nigeria, at an Interactive Session Titled “Stabilizing The Mediterranean” at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday, 24 January, 2018:

Q: How realistic is Africa replacing China as the factory of the world, how realistic is that? How do you look at the Marshall plan for Africa, is it something you think is credible?

Vice President: Let me begin with the Africa Rising narrative and all of the possibilities around Africa replacing China as the factory of the world. I think that probably is in the natural cause of things. Even now, we see that as wage costs go up in China, Africa is becoming the obvious choice for some certain industries, so it is clear that will happen and there are quite a few initiatives in that direction already; there are a few countries like Ivory Coast, Nigeria, with the development of Special Economic Zones, with partnerships coming from China.

I think those sorts of arrangements will very quickly absorb labour because obviously, you are looking at growing populations in Africa, the projections as you know are in the next 20 years or so, we are looking at the youth population… probably 70% of Africa’s population would be young people and Africa would probably about be the third largest population.

I think that the critical thing is to see that we cannot deal with this in any quick way, there are no quick fixes to this, we have got to look at this long term, because clearly there’s no way that African economies will ramp off quickly enough to be able to meet all of the expectations, especially all of the projections around population. So this is going to be a long walk and I think that it is important for all of us to see this as such.

The idea of the Marshall Plan is to me, in some sense, bringing old solutions to what really is a dynamic problem. I think that what Africa needs and what a lot of the southern neighbours of the Europeans need are fairer trade policies and a cocktail of policies that centre on job creation in those locations, more investments, but I think more thinking through those ideas and policies that creates more opportunities, partnership between Europe and Africa.

I don’t think that aid has worked through the years. I think that there’s a need for possibly just much more commitment to the whole process. I mean there have been multi-processes, several of them, but I certainly think that if we look at this as a major global problem and when you look around and look at extremism, terrorism and all of the various things that are exported along with illegal migration, it is a global problem and we really does deserve a global solution and the way to look at that is by coming together to reason these things through, but frankly it is not by those Marshal Plans off the shelf, I think it is more nuanced than that.

Q: Do you feel that values of human rights are being compromised in order for Europe to have tactical immediate solutions?

Vice President: I certainly agree that it was a great shock to see actual slave dealings in this century; it was absolutely horrifying to see that. What we are seeing is a degeneration of criminal activities where you find that state capacity is unable to maintain international human rights norms.

One of the crucial things is to encourage repatriation. Nigerian government for example is working with the Libyan government in repatriating everyone who is in the camps. It is a slow process because there are those who claim nationalities because they see a way out of the camps. There is also a great deal of willingness on the part of those who are in the camps to go back because it is entirely voluntary. There is pressure where there is no state capacity or inadequate state capacity to maintain law and order and international human rights norms. The pressure is a bit too much for the Libyan authorities, so what you find is that the criminal gangs and all of these asymmetric type organizations dominate the space and we may not be able to do much without relieving the Libyan authorities of a lot of the illegal migrants in their custody or their country.

Q: With a Yes or No, 5 years from now, are we still going to be seating here having the same discussion?

Vice President: Would you give us a chance to say, “I hope not?” (Laughter). I really suspect yes.

*Courtesy of Laolu Akande,Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity),Office of the Vice President

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It’s about to get easier for almost 700 million Africans to travel by air in Africa
January 12, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Abdi Latif Dahir*

Defined by long delays and cancellations, limited connections, rickety planes, and dilapidated runways, flying across Africa can sometimes be quite inconvenient. The problem is also compounded by the restrictive regulations and protectionism that hinder intra-nation travel, leading African airlines to lose $800 million in 2016, according to the World Bank.

Yet some of those problems are set to become history when the Single African Air Travel Market (SAATM) is launched by the African Union (AU) in late January. As one of the AU’s pan-African Agenda 2063flagship projects, the plan aims to improve air connectivity in Africa and use air transportation as an engine for economic growth, job creation, and integration.

The idea is based on the 1999 Yamoussoukro Decision, when African ministers responsible for civil aviation agreed to deregulate air services, put in place mechanisms for fair competition and dispute settlement, and liberalize frequencies and tariffs. As part of the agreement, countries would also free the exercise of up to fifth freedom rights for passengers and freight air services, allowing a carrier to fly between two countries on a flight originating or ending in its own country.

By setting this up, African nations hope to imitate and build on the single aviation markets in places like Europe and Latin America. The AU also hopes to encourage cross-border investment and innovation, improve business operations and efficiency, increased route competition resulting in lower fares, create more jobs, help airlines grow, and allow for the free mobility of people and goods.

So far, 21 countries that command more than 670 million of the continent’s population have committed to the plan. These include Benin, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone in the West; Kenya, and Rwanda in the East; Zimbabwe and South Africa in the south; and Egypt in the North. The single market is also host to eight of Africa’s top ten busiest airports including Bole International Airport in Ethiopia and O. R. Tambo in Johannesburg, South Africa. Up to 15 carriers, which account for more than 70% of intra-African air travel, have also signed up for the common market including Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, South African Express, and Egypt Air.

21 countries have-signed to the single african air transport market

21 countries have-signed to the single african air transport market

The move to liberalize air travel coincides with a push from African governments to open more borders and encourage inter-regional trade and tourism. Last year, Africans traveled more easily across the continent, and countries like Kenya, Namibia, and Ghana announced removing visa restrictions or granting visas on arrival. Local tourism in Kenya, Tunisia, and South Africa have also boosted domestic air travel, leading to the growth of budget carriers.

Yet despite the plan’s best intentions, African air travel still has a long way to go. Carriers like Kenya Airways or Nigeria’s Arik Air have struggled to make profit in recent years, plagued by debt or the results of a poorly timed expansion strategy. And unless more countries open up, government restrictions on visas and establishing air routes will continue hindering a potential five million Africans the chance to travel the continent, according to the International Air Transport Association. Air travel in nations like Somalia also have a long way to go before they can become fully integrated with the rest: after 27 years under the control of the United Nations, the country regained control of its airspace in Dec. 2017.

 **Courtesy of Quarz
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Ethiopian Airlines celebrates delivery of first 787-9 Dreamliner
November 7, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Ethiopian Airlines and Boeing [NYSE: BA] have taken delivery of the
carrier’s first Boeing 787-9. Ethiopian is leasing the Dreamliner
through an agreement with AerCap, according to Hanna Atnafu,
Manager, Corporate Communications, Ethiopian Airlines.
It is reported that Ethiopian is the first airline in Africa to
operate the 787-9.The Dreamliner carries much-needed medical equipment
and supplies to Ethiopia.

Ethiopian’s newest 787 touched down in Addis Ababa following a
non-stop 8,354 mile (13,444 km) delivery flight from Boeing’s Everett,
Washington, facility.

Ethiopian becomes the first carrier in Africa to operate the 787-9
and extends a tradition of setting aviation milestones.
Ethiopian became Africa’s first carrier to fly the 787-8 in 2012,
and similarly introduced the 777-200LR (Longer Range), 777-300ER
(Extended Range) and 777 Freighter.

“We are proud to celebrate yet another first with the introduction
of the cutting-edge 787-9 into our young and fast growing fleet,” said
Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam, Group CEO of Ethiopian Airlines. “Today, the
787 is the core of our fleet with 20 aircraft in service. Our
investment in the latest technology airplanes is part of our Vision
2025 strategy and our commitment to our esteemed customers to offer
complete on-board comfort. We will continue to invest in the most
advanced aircraft to give our customers the best possible travel
experience.”

The 787 Dreamliner is the most innovative and efficient airplane
family flying today. Since 2011, more than 600 Dreamliners have
entered commercial services, flying almost 200 million people on more
than 560 unique routes around the world, saving an estimated 19
billion pounds of fuel.

“AerCap is very proud to deliver to Ethiopian Airlines their first
787-9 aircraft, as the airline continues to lead the way in African
aviation,” said AerCap President and Chief Commercial Officer Philip
Scruggs. “The 787-9 will complement Ethiopian’s existing fleet of
787-8 aircraft, bringing further operational efficiencies and scope to
enhance their existing network. We thank our friends and partners at
Ethiopian Airlines for their continued confidence in AerCap and wish
them every success as they continue to optimize their fleet.”

“We are pleased to see the 787-9 enter into Ethiopian’s growing
Boeing fleet,” said Marty Bentrott, senior vice president sales for
Middle East, Turkey, Africa, Russia and Central Asia Boeing Commercial
Airplanes. “The 787-9 will further enhance the Ethiopian network with
its incredible range and capacity.”

Ethiopian Airlines conducted its 32nd Humanitarian Delivery Flight
as part of the 787-9 delivery. In conjunction with the non-profit
Seattle Alliance Outreach, Ethiopian transported goods donated by
medical organizations in the U.S. to Black Lion Hospital and St. Paul
Hospital in Ethiopia.

“We are very happy to continue our longstanding partnership with
Boeing to deliver medical equipment and supplies to public hospitals
in Ethiopia, which benefit the society at-large,” said GebreMariam.

“This is our 32nd humanitarian flight over the course of the last few
years. No airline has provided such sustained support to the delivery
of humanitarian supplies to the African continent. It is a testament
to our commitment to serve the community as a responsible corporate
organization.”

Ethiopian Airlines operates a Boeing fleet of 737, 767, 777, and 787
airplanes in passenger service and six 777 and two 757-200 airplanes
in cargo operations.

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SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS PUTS FARES ON SALE TO SOUTH AFRICA
October 16, 2017 | 0 Comments

Fares from $829* (restrictions apply) round-trip to Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban

Fort Lauderdale, FL (October 16, 2017) – South African Airways (SAA), Africa’s most awarded airline, has announced special sale fares to South Africa at prices as low as $829* (restrictions apply) round-trip for travel from New York-JFK International Airport or Washington, DC-Dulles International Airport. Fly to South Africa and enjoy the rich culture and urban sophistication of Johannesburg for $829* round-trip. Explore the beautiful city of Cape Town for $859*round-trip, or relax by the warm tropical beaches on the Indian Ocean in Durban, for just $869*round-trip. These sale fares are available for purchase now through October 31, 2017, for travel from October 26th – December 9, 2017 and January 10 through March 31, 2018.

 “These sale fares coupled with the strong currency exchange rate are making it more affordable than ever to visit South Africa.” said Todd Neuman, executive vice president, North America for South African Airways. “SAA’s low fares provide a great opportunity to visit family and friends in South Africa or take that bucket-list African vacation of a lifetime.”

 South African Airways offers the most daily flights from the U.S. to South Africa with daily nonstop service from New York-JFK International Airport and direct service from Washington, DC-Dulles International Airport to Johannesburg. Onboard, SAA provides an in-flight experience designed for pure comfort for long-haul travel. Our customers enjoy a spacious Economy Class cabin, gourmet cuisine and a selection of complimentary spirits and award-winning South African wines and generous checked baggage allowance. Also included are individual audio / visual entertainment systems that deliver an extensive menu of first-run movies, music choices, and games. Via our Johannesburg hub, SAA links the world to over 75 destinations across the African continent and Africa’s Indian Ocean islands.

 Reservations can be made online at www.flysaa.com, by contacting South African Airways at 1-

800-722-9675 or by contacting your professional travel consultant. Other low fares are also available to many destinations throughout SAA’s extensive route network on the African continent for similar travel periods.

South African Airways (SAA), South Africa’s national flag carrier and the continent’s most awarded airline, serves over 75 destinations  worldwide in partnership with SA Express, Airlink and its low cost carrier Mango. In North America, SAA operates daily nonstop flights from New York-JFK and direct flights from Washington D.C.-IAD (via Accra, Ghana and Dakar, Senegal) to Johannesburg. SAA has partnerships with United Airlines, Air Canada and JetBlue Airways, American Airlines and Virgin America, which offer convenient connections from more than 100 cities in the U.S. and Canada to SAA’s flights. SAA is a Star Alliance member and the recipient of the Skytrax 4-Star rating for 15 consecutive years

 

 

 

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SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS EXTENDS GROUP BOOKING PROMOTION
October 9, 2017 | 0 Comments

Get a complimentary* ticket when booking 10 or more passengers traveling to Africa

Fort Lauderdale, FL (October 09, 2017) – South African Airways (SAA), the national flag carrier of South Africa and Africa’s most awarded airline, has extended its special group booking promotion of offering one free tour conductor ticket* (restrictions apply) for every 10 group passengers traveling on SAA.

This offer is valid for new group bookings made and deposits received by October 31, 2017, for travel from October 26 through December 9, 2017, and January 11 through March 31, 2018. Travel is applicable on SAA-operated flights from New York-JFK Airport or Washington, DC-Dulles Airport to any
SAA destination in Africa.

“We invite families, friends, coworkers and travel clubs to take advantage of SAA’s low group fares and this special tour conductor offer to explore and experience the wonders of Africa,” said Todd Neuman, executive vice president, North America for South African Airways. “With this tremendous value, your group can experience the vibe of Africa’s cosmopolitan cities, enjoy an exhilarating game safari to view the Big Five, indulge in amazing wine and culinary delights, or spend quality time together under the majestic African skies.”

South African Airways offers the most service from the U.S. to South Africa and an extensive route network throughout the African continent. SAA’s competitive group fares and its dedicated group sales specialists are available to assist with all your group’s travel needs, including complimentary seat assignments. We invite groups big or small to experience SAA’s award-winning in-flight service designed
for pure comfort for long-haul travel with a roomy economy class cabin, gourmet cuisine and a selection of complimentary spirits and award-winning South African wines and, generous checked baggage allowance. Also included are individual audio / visual entertainment systems that deliver an extensive menu of first-run movies and music choices. Via our Johannesburg hub, SAA links the world to over 75
destinations across Southern Africa and Africa’s Indian Ocean islands.

To request your group quote, email GroupsNA@flysaa.com, or contact your local professional travel consultant. Visit www.flysaa.com to learn more about the exciting destinations we service.

South African Airways (SAA), South Africa’s national flag carrier and the continent’s most awarded airline, serves over 75 destinations worldwide in partnership with SA Express, Airlink and its low cost carrier Mango.

In North America, SAA operates daily nonstop flights from New York-JFK and direct flights from Washington D.C.-IAD (via Accra, Ghana and Dakar, Senegal) to Johannesburg. SAA has
partnerships with United Airlines, Air Canada and JetBlue Airways, American Airlines and Virgin America, which offer convenient connections from more than 100 cities in the U.S. and Canada to SAA’s flights. SAA is a Star Alliance member and the recipient of the Skytrax 4-Star rating for 15 consecutive years.

Complimentary Tour Conductor tickets are subject to applicable taxes & surcharges. Complimentary Tour Conductor ticket is awarded after a group of 10 or more paying passengers. Special is valid for new bookings only. Valid for ad-hoc groups only (no
series producers). Valid for travel 10/26/2017 – 12/9/2017 & 1/11/2018 – 3/31/2018. Valid for travel from New York (JFK) or Washington
Dulles (IAD) to Africa. Entire group (including tour conductor) must travel together. Valid on SAA-operated flights only. Groups must be booked and deposited by 9/30/2017. Seats are limited and may not be available on all flights. Change & cancellation penalties apply, per applicable group reservation and fare rules. Baggage and optional service fees may apply. Reservations made 7 days or more prior to scheduled departure may be canceled without penalty up to 24 hours after the reservation is made

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Female Parliamentarians from across Africa meet in Nairobi to discuss new policies on property rights
December 22, 2016 | 0 Comments

The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Women in Parliaments Global Forum (WIP) hosting the first meeting of the WIP Council on Economic Empowerment in Kenya

 

Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi

Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi

Nairobi, Kenya 20 December 2016 – The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Women in Parliaments Global Forum (WIP) convened female Parliamentarians from 12 African countries in Nairobi, Kenya, to share perspectives on strategies for female MPs to promote legal reforms which ensure that women’s property rights are included in all African legal frameworks. The meeting provided an occasion to discuss and address the current African property rights landscape with special attention given to the role of MPs in advancing property and inheritance laws for women across Africa.

The major recommendations from the meeting were, among others:

 

–              Ensuring the Harmonization of laws and reviewing and repealing discriminatory laws, by working on amending, passing or repealing necessary laws. Lack of staffing was identified as a major constraints and MPs requested the support of the Bank to develop capacity building program on research; analysis and training on the content of current laws and the types of reforms that would be considered best practices;

 

–              Funding legislation on women and agriculture at the regional and national level;

–              Promotion of better data collection through relevant ministries and ensure that Governments collect systemic sex-disaggregated data, particularly related to land and property rights. The meeting underscored the need for the African Development Bank to support collection of gender specific data;

–              Highlighting specific gender targets in Ministry of agriculture strategy;

–              Financing entrepreneurship in Agriculture;

–              Zimbabwe is establishing a women’s bank and wants AfDB’s support in making sure it is a success;

–              MPs identified the need to mechanize agriculture so that women can do a better job of feeding their families and realizing better yields;

–              Information sharing and sensitization;

–              Access to Justice/Legal aid: When women’s rights are violated, they are too poor and don’t have the means to go through extended litigation. MPs should fight for legal aid provisions through the parliament.  Other support networks of women lawyers should be explored and capacitated.

The Bank and WIP will carefully consider the points raised and identify that will inform an action plan that will be ready by January 2017. The outcome of the meeting in Nairobi will lead up to the discussion during the WIP Global Summit 2017. Members of the WIP Council on Economic Empowerment from all regions of the world are expected to attend this high-level Summit.

This event was the first meeting of the WIP Council on Economic Empowerment and brought together active female Parliamentarians from the WIP network in Africa, academia and other research institutions, government officials, business leaders and members of CSOs to discuss and provide innovative solutions to the challenges related to women’s property rights, in order to achieve women’s economic development. The purpose of the WIP Council is to address issues (legal and institutional), share best practices, stimulate dialogue, shape agendas, advocate and drive legislative reforms at the national and regional level. Council Members will meet annually at WIP Summits, targeted African Development Bank Annual Meetings as well as during targeted regional meetings.

Gabriel Negatu, Director General of the AfDB’s Eastern Africa Regional Center (EARC) provided welcoming remarks, highlighting that “Africa has witnessed significant progress on gender equality. Despite this progress, there are still areas such as the legal status and land and property rights, where more is yet to be done”. The AfDB believes that the continent’s long-term competitiveness depends on how well Africa empowers its women. In many African countries, however, unequal access to property, discriminatory laws including land and tenure rights, and discrimination in the labor market, and business-related obstacles hinder women from contributing even more to their countries’ growth and well-being. According to the Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) of the OECD, which classifies countries around the world according to their level of discrimination, only 20% of all countries in the low discrimination category are African; while an overwhelming 82% are found in the very high discrimination category. We should also recognize that Africa is doing better in using the potential of women in politics with 16 of the 46 countries with 30 or more women in parliament being African, including apart from the world champion Rwanda, countries like Sudan (30%), Tunisia and Algeria (31%); Ethiopia (39%); Mozambique (40%) and Senegal (43%). The Bank is very active in moving the agenda of women’s economic empowerment and today, we will speak about some of the initiatives we have put in place to advance this agenda. We must take advantage of partnerships to ensure we remove these obstacles and invest in gender equality, hence the critical importance of partnering with MPs given their unique role in passing/advancing laws that ensure gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.

 

Florence Mutua, member of the Kenyan parliament pointed out that: ”We cannot talk about creating the necessary legislations and policies to grant women their rights without also discussing structures that empower women access to resources and more importantly, property. The unequal ratio of ownership between men and women contributes substantially to this condition. Lack of rights to tenure or ownership render many women unable to protect themselves, and this in turn prevent access to credit through lack of collateral, thus reinforcing the control that men traditionally have over the household and its dependents. These underlying issues are the main reason that we need laws that specifically speak to access to and ownership of property.  In Africa, only a handful of countries including Burkina Faso, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe and more recently Kenya have laws that speak to women’s access to property. It took Kenya more than 50 years to come up with the Matrimonial Property law that gives women rights to property ownership in marriage, this even against the backdrop of one of the most progressive Constitutions in the world with regards to gender equality”.

 

The Special Envoy on Gender and Vice-President of the African Development Bank, Geraldine J Fraser Moleketi, explained that: It is widely acknowledged that property rights and inheritance laws directly impact women’s economic livelihoods. This is particularly true for women in agriculture, where land is a central asset for crop production, animal rearing, and other income generating activities. Secure land rights allow women to realize food security for themselves and their families, to leverage land assets as capital for forward looking investments, and to generate wealth. Strengthening women’s property and inheritance rights is critical to empowering their full economic and social potential.  Lack of property ownership and asset control prevents women from realizing their full potential in the agricultural sector. Studies have shown that women’s rights over land are inferior to those of men. The strength of one’s property rights defines the incentives to invest time, energy, and other resources into any business venture. Absent land title or other assets, banks will not lend to female famers who seek to grow their agricultural business. As indicated in a study conducted by the Bank entitled: ‘Legal Frameworks and Women’s Voice and Agency in Africa’. The study suggests that 16 countries still create barriers to women’s access to financial services, be it in opening bank accounts, or applying for national identity cards; 17 countries still do not have legislation to protect women from domestic violence, leaving them vulnerable and restricting their voice and agency.

The Special Envoy incites Parliamentarians to be bolder as they have the responsibility and the ability to accomplish much for women in economic sectors (i.e. agriculture), through a variety of mechanisms. These mechanisms include: (1) review and repeal of discriminatory laws; (2) promotion of better data collection through relevant ministries; (3) insistence on specific gender targets; (4) financing entrepreneurship in agriculture; (5) information dissemination and legal aid.

The AfDB strongly believes in the critical role of Members of Parliament particularly in advocating for the legal reforms that will benefit women, including in their quest to access finance. The Bank is also working with a number of parliamentary networks such as WIP to ensure MPs receive the support required to tackle some of the identified challenges. The Special Envoy concludes by appealing to all the legislator to help Governments to push to push and reform discriminatory legislations and help effect legal and policy reforms for gender equality. Only when women are able to follow their dreams freely, Africa reach its full potential.

 

 

 

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African economies are growing at very different speeds
October 26, 2016 | 0 Comments

New numbers from the IMF tell a tale of two Africas

20161029_map502HOW are sub-Saharan African economies doing? It depends on where you look, says the IMF in its latest survey of the continent, which is published today. Regional growth will slow to just 1.4% this year, the most sluggish pace for two decades. Things look grim in Nigeria, which is mired in recession. But Ivory Coast, a short flight away, is thundering along at a growth rate of 8%. Similar contrasts are found across the continent. Better to talk of two Africas, says the IMF, moving at different speeds.

 20161029_woc041

The big divider is resources. As commodity prices have slumped, so too have the fortunes of big exporters. As a group, resource-rich countries will grow on average by 0.3% of GDP, says the IMF. Take oil-rich Angola, once the fastest-growing country on the continent: it will not grow at all this year, and is wrestling with inflation of 38%. Commodity-exporting countries saw the value of their exports to China almost halve in 2015. Public debt is rising sharply. Exchange rates are falling. Private consumption has collapsed.

Things look very different in countries which are less resource-dependent. They will grow at 5.5% this year. They have been helped, of course, by falling oil prices, which makes their imports cheaper. But they are stronger in other ways too. In east Africa, for example, a wave of public investment in infrastructure has boosted demand.

Governments cannot set commodity prices. Nor can they stop drought, which has hit agriculture in countries such as Ethiopia and Malawi. But their decisions do make a difference. Nigeria’s disastrous attempt to prop up its exchange rate hurt far more than it helped. Investors in Mozambique were unimpressed when the country revealed hidden debts in April. Growth in South Africa has slowed to almost zero amid political wrangles and an energy crisis. Now is the time to get the policies right, urges the IMF.

The numbers should be read with a pinch of salt: GDP figures are only ever a best guess, and Africa’s large informal economy makes the calculation even harder. Talk to traders in Uganda, for instance, and you will hear a story very different to the IMF’s forecast of 5% growth. The overall lesson, though, is clear. If you rely on commodities, diversify—or face the consequences. That is easier said than done. Look to east African countries, hailed for their innovations in mobile banking, who are suddenly now touting a fresh source of riches: oil and gas.

*Economist

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$32 billion trans-African highway network proposed
October 12, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

tomtom-trans-african-highway-680x365The African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Union (AU) and the
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) are working
together to plan the development of a trans-African highway network,
according to information revealed by the Corporate Council on Africa
(CCA).
According to CCA’s projects in the pipeline initiative, although the
corridors largely remain unconnected to one another, planners estimate
that about 7,000 km of added roadways and 10,000 km of added railways
will be needed to complete the highway network at a total cost of
roughly $32 billion.

 

The project is to be showcased at the  Corporate Council on Africa’s 2016 U.S.-Africa Infrastructure Conference on Building Blue Economies in October 16 to 18, 2016 in  New Orleans, Los Angeles.

 

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Root Capital and The MasterCard Foundation to Increase Incomes for 300,000 Farmers in West Africa
September 8, 2016 | 0 Comments

This initiative will help address the urgent need of early-stage West African agribusinesses for capital and capacity building

Photo Liam Brody Savannah Fruits

Savannah Fruits Company

NAIROBI, Kenya, September 8, 2016/ — Impact investing pioneer Root Capital  announced today at the African Green Revolution Forum a new partnership with The MasterCard Foundation  that will help raise incomes for over 300,000 smallholder farmers in West Africa. The Foundation has committed $5.2 million to Root Capital over five years to support early-stage agricultural businesses that generate transformational impact in rural communities in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Senegal.

“With Root Capital we will help to bring much-needed financing and capacity building to businesses in West Africa that work with farmers otherwise excluded from the formal economy,” said Ann Miles, Director of Financial Inclusion and Youth Livelihoods at The MasterCard Foundation. “We see this as a good avenue to help increase incomes and opportunities for 4,000 employees of agricultural businesses, 300,000 smallholder farmers, and over two million farm family members.”

Without access to predictable markets for their crops, small-scale rural farmers are often forced to accept lower prices for their crops and find themselves trapped in a cycle of poverty. While the global credit supply for smallholders has grown in recent years, it is geographically skewed with less than 10 percent of financial flows reaching sub-Saharan Africa.

Over the seven years that Root Capital has worked in West Africa, it has provided loans of between $50,000 and $2 million to 52 agricultural businesses that have raised incomes for nearly 12,000 employees and over 190,000 smallholder farmers. Root Capital has also scaled its advisory program in the region, offering agricultural business leaders a suite of training modules to develop the leadership and financial management skills they need to grow and sustain their businesses.

“With the support of The MasterCard Foundation, Root Capital will be able to increasingly target earlier-stage businesses in West Africa that operate on the fringes of financial inclusion – businesses that demonstrate potential to grow and generate increased impact,” said Diaka Sall, Root Capital’s General Manager for West Africa.

Specifically, Root Capital will collaborate with The MasterCard Foundation to:

  1. Accelerate the bankability and growth of more than 100 high-impact, early-stage agricultural businesses with capital needs under $150,000 and/or business revenues under $300,000;
  2. Pilot an expanded set of advisory services, including leadership development of agribusiness employees; financial literacy training for smallholder farmers; mobile technology and mobile money; and empowering local microfinance institutions to better serve the agricultural sector; and
  1. Contribute to sector learning by developing a framework for documenting and analyzing the costs and impacts associated with early business growth in the agricultural sector.

This initiative will help address the urgent need of early-stage West African agribusinesses for capital and capacity building. With an estimated 48 million smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa, however, who remain disconnected from such businesses and the stable sources of income they offer, a great deal of work remains to be done.

Root Capital  is a US-based impact investing pioneer that grows rural prosperity in poor, environmentally vulnerable places in Africa, Asia, and Latin America by providing capital, delivering financial training, and strengthening market connections for small and growing agricultural businesses. Since 1999, Root Capital has disbursed over $1 billion in credit to 623 businesses, who in turn positively impact 1.2 million smallholder farmers. Root Capital’s clients produce dozens of different agricultural products, from coffee, cocoa, and cashews, to fresh fruits and vegetables, to wild-harvested products like natural gums and shea butter.

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.

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