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SBI Motor Japan officially establishes its very first office in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and begins taking applications for new partnerships in the East African region
March 24, 2021 | 0 Comments

SBI Africa, in alliance with BSMO, has been focusing on used car exports as its core business in the African region.

TOKYO, Japan, March 24, 2021/ — BSMO Co., Ltd. and SBI Africa Co., Ltd. have established the SBI Motor Tanzania office in Dar es Salaam, the very first official SBI Motor office in Africa. The group will be working in partnership with Afritel Systems LTD, which handles customs clearance and land transportation arrangements locally in Tanzania.

SBI Africa, in alliance with BSMO, has been focusing on used car exports as its core business in the African region. Thanks to this partnership, the group has already started selling cars in more than 50 countries worldwide and has achieved rapid growth, since beginning of the alliance in February 2021.

To scale the business in the region, local staff is set up ready to provide thorough support to all customers. The group is planning on recruiting distributors all across the East Africa region, as the business plans to increase the number of exports up to 10,000 units per month in the near future.

Moreover, the group has also partnered with Saint Parts Co., LTD. to provide a free repair service for cars purchased from the SBI Motor website. This new service aims to provide support for customers who may need to inspect their vehicles in Tanzania as a result of the recent change in import rules which disallows car inspection in Japan prior to export.

The BSMO x SBI Africa partnership is actively looking for new partnerships in the region as SBI Motor continues to increase its presence in Africa and beyond.

For more details on SBI Tanzania branch operations and collaborations, please visit

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A Brand of Scintillating Quality and Pure Luxury in Champagne De Watère
April 24, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

A previously ‘exclusive to Europe’ award-winning luxury champagne brand – Champagne De Watère, has recently launched in USA, a reason for champagne lovers to raise a glass in celebration of a brand that is likely to see rapid expansion across the globe.

This unique brand with numerous ‘Great Gold’ medals under its belt including  from the prestigious International Wine Guide Awards 2016, is produced since 2011 in the champagne region of France using traditional viticulture methods – (by hand wherever possible) and given up to 85 months to develop its full unique flavor, which is six times longer than usual.

 Martin A. Konorza, Owner and President of Champagne De Watère, believes that this champagne is at the height of great quality and pure luxury. In an interview with Pan African Visions, Konorza, a man of ancient French Lineage thinks that the champagne is an exceptional brand for people who love class. He also sheds light about his family’s champagne tradition and information about the champagne varieties .

Could we start with a background or historical context into  Champagne De Watère  that you own?

When I was growing up, I first tasted Champagne as a sip on special occasions. Later, in my teenage years, I tasted more and always came back to the same issue: The taste profile was not as elaborate as I expected from the alleged “king of wines”. So, I set out to find the true soul of Champagne, eventually creating my own, to show to the world what champagne can be if nature is respected as the partner, not something that needs to be pushed in a certain direction but just guided.

The same attitude of respect goes into the branding which is clean and self-confidently understated. After all, the customer decides where and when to enjoy our champagnes and we support them with a sense of joy and lightness.

For my brand I chose my old family name “De Watère” as well as our ancient family crest, the azure blue Gryphon. Since our motto is “honor and piety” I think it fitting to creating a brand that devotes itself to a higher goal: finding the true soul of the world’s greatest wine.

The Gryphon serves as the proud, self-confident guardian of our quest.

How long has Champagne De Watère  been in the market and can you share its ingredients and production process for us?

We’ve been in the market since 2011 when we launched our Champagnes. De Watère Champagnes are produced using the most natural methods of production to bring out the true soul of the grapes. So, we use horses instead of tractors and no chemicals. Even our steel tanks for the first fermentation are enamelled on the inside to ensure that absolutely nothing tints the grapes’ flavour.We use two grapes from the Premier Cru vineyard: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

The Brut Blanc contains 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay where the Pinot Noir gives the underlying fruity body while the Chardonnay conveys more subtle aromas of cinnamon and exotic (citrus) fruit.

Our Rosé de Saignée is composed exclusively of Pinot Noir grapes which give it a rich fruitiness and an array of warm yet fresh aromas. For this champagne we employ the rarely used „ Saignée Method“ which translates into „bled out“. To achieve the rosé colour and a more fruity palette, we leave the grape juice and the skins, which are solely responsible for the colour, together in the press to let the skins „bleed out“ into the clear juice. This contact can last up to 72 hours and needs to be under constant attention by the Cellar Master. he needs to separate the grapes and the skins at exactly the right moment to ensure enough flavour has transferred while the bitter tannins stay in the skins.

Both of our champagnes are available in 20cl format which we call Petites“. They are aimed at those people and moments only wishing for one glass to support their special occasions. And since every moment can be special, a Petite    can easily be carried with you wherever you go.

In what parts of the world is Champagne De Watère in distribution?

Our champagnes are available in Europe (which is mainly the European Union, plus     Switzerland) as well as in the USA. Our accessories are available for worldwide delivery from our website.

It is our understanding that Champagne De Watère was recently introduced into the US, how has the reception been like?

The reception has been good so far, better than anticipated. That’s why we are now in talks with distributors as well as retailers to make it even more convenient for our customers.

There are so many Champagne brands out there, what is unique about Champagne De Watère ,and why should people go for it?

Since its inception it has been my goal to find the true soul of champagne to make sure that people’s special occasions are complimented with a worthy companion. To do this, we have gone back in time to find the methods used when champagne first ascended to its mythical standing as the king of wines: before the Industrial Revolution with its mass production. So, if someone wants to know what champagnes could have tasted like before this industrial age, they go for ours.

Champagne De Watère has earned global recognition with a number of international awards, could you shed light on some of these awards?

Oh yes, we have received quite a few great medals which I see as a compliment and as proof that even in our modern mass-product focused world, people continue to appreciate the individual, original styles of our champagnes. We do not participate often but only at select wine competitions.

Recently, we won Great Gold at the Catavinum World Wine and Spirits Competition for both of our champagnes which makes us the only brand to have won this for both champagnes. We won the same medal in 2016 for both champagnes, too. (They changed their name from “International Wine Guide Awards”)

Apart from this, the French wine authority Gilbert & Gaillard awarded our Rosé de Saignée a Silver medal, and awarded Gold to our Brut Blanc. This repeated our success there from 2016 when we entered before.

A big compliment are the two medals we won at Berlin Wine Trophy which is the biggest wine competition in the world under the patronage of the OIV and the UIOE. There, we won Gold for the Rosé de Saignée and even Grand Gold for the    Brut Blanc.

Martin A. Konorza, Owner and President of Champagne De Watère

What other   winery products  or related products does your company have in the market?

Since De Watère is its own brand in its own right and we are not a champagne dealer, we do not carry other champagne brands.

We do however see De Watère and our values as a lifestyle brand, changing the champagne world. In tune with this we offer clothing items as well as travel luggage.

Our clothing line is complimenting the younger, more informal person. We offer zip hooded jackets, to simply throw on when a summer evening hits you with this refreshing gust, while sitting outside enjoying time with your friends and loved ones. More is to come.

The hand made luggage comes in two variants and two materials; leather or vinyl with antibacterial lining.

The Traveller is a hand luggage sized, ultra light bag to accompany the customer on any journey they take, hopefully meeting new people, places and making great memories.

The Messenger, that fits perfectly up to 15 inch laptops, is the everyday companion, giving you that assurance that you will achieve what you set out to do.

All our accessories proudly bear the azure Gryphon as the guardian every step of   the way.

In terms of price, how affordable are De Watère products?

When I started De Watère and when we went through all the steps of production that are done manually, I quickly found that we will arrive at a premium price point for our Champagnes. So, our premium price is rather a consequence of the steps we take to be as natural and as close to the original, authentic champagne as possible. Yet, we are still at a very competitive price compared to our premium champagne peers. In Europe, our Premier Cru Brut Blanc retails at 125€, while the Premier Cru Rosé de Saignée retails at 145€.

Our Petites start at 21€ for the Premier Cru Brut Blanc and 23€ for the Premier Cru Brut Rosé de Saignée. They are also available as “Petites Collection” which is a gift set containing one Petite of each and two champagne flutes; ideal as a present or to gain a taste of De Watère. The set is priced at 49€.

For people who live in parts of the world like Africa, and others where they cannot get it from shops, how can they get De Watère products if they are so interested or get curious?

We have been able to accommodate basically every order. For people wishing delivery to countries outside of our distributed markets, please contact us and we will organize shipment.

What should we expect from Martin A. Konorza and De Watère in the course of the year?

Well, we have lots of plans and dreams. For starters, we plan to grow our    distribution in the US as well as Europe. We are for the first time actively opening up to distributors and retailers in Europe, for example.

What’s more, we plan to introduce more accessories such as polo shirts as well as a second iteration of our zip hooded jackets.

Since the current crisis has put our planned events on hold, we will have to see when it is absolutely safe for our customers to reschedule them.

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Prominent UAE investment banker takes on new venture with SKYCAP Investment Management Limited
March 24, 2020 | 0 Comments

Saikat Kumar to steer global financial services industry to new era with a world-class one-stop-shop for investors

Saikat Kumar, SKYCAP
Saikat Kumar, SKYCAP

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

SKYCAP Investment Management Limited, a diversified financial services firm, has officially soft launched in the UAE.  Touted to be a one-stop-shop for global investors (Middle East, Africa, India, South East Asia, US and UK investors), SKYCAP seeks to disrupt the banking and finance industry by providing trusted advice and access to best-in-class investment products and services to support its clients’ goal of wealth preservation and growth.

From its base in Dubai, SKYCAP will offer a wide range of financial products and services, which are mutually reinforcing and can be tailored to a client’s specific needs.  Among the firm’s core offerings include Advisory (including Government, M&A, and Capital Raising/Restructuring), Private Equity (Fintech and Special Opportunities), Asset and Wealth Management Advisory, Credit Opportunities Funds, as well as Digital, Forensic, IT Risk Management and BPO services.

SKYCAP has been founded by Saikat Kumar, one of the most respected names in the Middle East banking and financial industry.  He is now the Founder and CEO of SKYCAP Investment Management Ltd., after completing his stint as Partner and Senior Executive Officer of Al Masah Capital Limited.  With over 23 years of banking and finance expertise under his belt, Kumar has amassed a proven track record in strategy planning, distribution management, client management, risk and compliance, business development, and product management.  He has also worked with a number of internationally-recognized firms, to name a few, Fullerton Fund Management (Temasek Singapore), ABN AMRO, Standard Chartered, ICICI Bank and ANZ Grindlays, as well as leading nationalized banks.

“Although the market is in for tough times, given the extraordinarily challenging situation happening across the globe, I believe in the half year onwards, the market will offer investors excellent opportunities to invest in good quality blue chip stocks across the world at cheap valuation and prices. With interest rates at all time low, stocks would offer best upside,” Kumar said.

Despite growing demand and turbulent growth factors, however, the SKYCAP founder said that the supply of credit to the private sector is considerably lower than developed markets such as the USA and UK.  Underpinned by very strong values and principles to deliver the best possible outcome for clients, Kumar brought to fruition his vision of a trusted and innovative diversified financial services firm that truly understands and services its clients with utmost transparency and integrity.

“My goal is to always be client-centric and be driven to provide financial solutions and services designed to execute effectively our clients’ vision at the highest level, ultimately delivering on their financial ambitions.  Whilst SKYCAP is a new venture, we have all the capabilities that can meet all the investment needs of its shareholders in addition to retail, HNI, UHNI, institutional, family office, SWFs and pension fund investors.  Our company is differentiated by a core value of integrity and transparency through a strong, global regulatory framework. Moreover, with an international strategy complementing a global roll-out plan – plus a robust core investment team that is backed by a competent support services function – I am confident that SKYCAP will go on to be the partner of choice for the most discerning investors,” Kumar concluded.

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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

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

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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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, 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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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, or contact your local professional travel consultant. Visit 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.


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.


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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
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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Is electoral violence in sub-Saharan Africa overreported? This new book looks at the data.
August 12, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Kim Yi Dionne and Stephanie Burchard*

Supporters of President Edgar Lungu gather in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka, a few days before the Aug. 11 election. (Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images)

Supporters of President Edgar Lungu gather in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka, a few days before the Aug. 11 election. (Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images)

In the run-up to Zambia’s election Thursday, there were violent clashes between supporters of the ruling Patriotic Front party and the main opposition party, the United Party for National Development (UPND). In one incident in July, police opened fire on opposition protesters, killing a UPND supporter.Zambia’s electoral commission temporarily suspended campaigning in the capital after that incident — and reports of other violence — claiming that doing so would quell electoral violence.

How typical is this contemporary Zambian example of elections in Africa? What do we know about electoral violence in Africa?

In this week’s African Politics Summer Reading Spectacular post, we feature a Q&A with Stephanie Burchard, author of “Electoral Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa: Causes and Consequences.” In her book, Burchard offers case studies of electoral violence in Kenya, Liberia and Senegal, and also analyzes data measuring election violence across sub-Saharan Africa from 1990 to 2014.

Kim Yi Dionne: Early in your book, you distinguish between two types of violence: incidental and strategic. You say that the key distinction between the two is that incidental violence is not planned in advance (p. 28). Given the social norms against violence, isn’t it hard to know if violence was premeditated by political actors? As a researcher, how do you get around that obstacle of not knowing what’s in politicians’ heads?

Stephanie Burchard: As I wrote this book and dug deeper into specific cases of election violence, it became clear that not all election-related violence was the same. In terms of both intensity and underlying motivation, there is a lot of variation across sub-Saharan Africa. The violence that took place before Senegal’s 2012 election, for example, looked very different from the violence that usually (but not always) accompanies elections in Nigeria and Kenya. One of the key differences was the planning and purpose of the violence.

In Senegal, protesters were angry with the incumbent Abdoulaye Wade regime for manipulating the election in an attempt to remain in power beyond the two-term constitutional limit. These protesters engaged with state security forces for several weeks. Unfortunately, some protests turned violent. The government may have given security forces tacit support to respond with a heavy hand, but I found no evidence that violence was planned by either protesters or the state. This is the type of violence I categorize as “incidental.”

Anecdotal evidence, however, also supports the notion that unscrupulous politicians have deliberately organized violence to affect the outcome of elections in several countries in Africa. Post-election analyses in Kenya, Nigeria and Zimbabwe, for example, have established that violence was planned months in advance as part of an overall strategy to ensure victory at the polls. Parties and/or politicians have hired youth groups for the explicit purpose of intimidating potential voters. In the case of Zimbabwe, for instance, youth groups were trained to bully voters to back Robert Mugabe in the March 2002 elections. This is the type of violence I term “strategic.”

Measuring intent is obviously very difficult, especially when actors have a vested interest in disguising their motives. This is a fundamental shortcoming of any research into criminal behavior. Thus, the difference I make between incidental and strategic violence is more of a theoretical distinction than a strict typology. This is not to say it is unimportant — I think it is an important distinction to make in understanding the persistence of electoral violence and its effects — but the categories are admittedly fuzzy.

Further complicating matters, both types of violence may occur in the same election, as the categories are not mutually exclusive. This is why I chose in my book to employ a combination of quantitative and qualitative analysis as a sort of quality check to ensure my assumptions and measurements accurately reflected reality.

KYD: To be honest, I was surprised to learn from your book that so many African elections were violent. According to your data, 57 percent of the 289 elections held in sub-Saharan Africa between 1990 and 2014 experienced pre-electoral violence — meaning violence that occurred prior to election day.

When I think of election violence, I’m imaging what you characterize as the most severe, “Category 3” cases, like in Côte d’Ivoire in 2010-2011, when 3,000 people were killed. Or I think of the election that opens your investigation: Kenya in 2007-2008.

Still, does this greater frequency of lower-level harassment lead people to overestimate the proportion of “violent” elections in Africa?

SB: First, I do think that certain violent events surrounding the 2016 U.S. election are cause for concern. And I think a better understanding of African experiences with election violence would help us understand what is taking place in our own elections, what steps could be taken to mitigate any problems, and what the long-term consequences for democracy might be if no action is taken. But I am not an expert on American politics, so I will leave that discussion and analysis to my more qualified colleagues.

Does my categorization overstate violence in African elections? No, I would argue that my analysis is a more nuanced treatment of electoral violence than we have seen to date. Disaggregating election violence into multiple categories provides us with more analytic leverage than if we applied a simple binary assessment of “violent or not violent” to an election and set a minimum threshold of protests, injuries or fatalities. By looking at changes in the type and intensity of electoral violence over time, we can closely track not only any decline in electoral quality but also improvements — and we can assess what factors might account for changes in either direction.

I’d like to emphasize that 43 percent of elections held in Africa are peaceful, which is commendable. And, as you mention, the majority of elections that I identify as violent are of the less intense variety. These elections are characterized by harassment and intimidation from state security forces, hired thugs and/or party functionaries. Opposition candidates or supporters may be detained, but only briefly. Fights within and between partisan supporters break out but are contained relatively quickly. Anti-government newspapers are shuttered but generally resume publication shortly thereafter.

These activities might not escalate to the level where fatalities occur, but they still are coercive. I think that any violence or coercion has the potential to be disruptive to democratic development, especially if it is recurring and can directly be connected to the electoral process.

High-profile election violence, such as has occurred in Kenya and Côte d’Ivoire, typically garners attention and international intervention. But less intense forms of violence, like the events that have taken place during the recent elections in Zambia, are just as important to monitor and understand.

Left unaddressed, lower levels of violence can be a precursor to major violent episodes in future elections. The 2007 post-election violence was not Kenya’s first experience with turbulent elections. Violence had accompanied all multiparty elections in Kenya since 1992; only the intensity and perpetrators have varied over time. Electoral harassment or intimidation, my Category 1, might be common, but that doesn’t mean something can’t or shouldn’t be done about it.

KYD: In your case study on Liberia focusing on the 2011 elections, you mention the work of Ushahidi Liberia. Ushahidi is a nonprofit technology organization developed to map reports of violence in Kenya after the 2007 election. It has since worked in or developed platforms used in multiple crisis situations, including other African elections and the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake.

You shared some of Ushahidi Liberia’s crowdsourced data on 2011 electoral violence with caveats. These caveats included potential for citizens to over- or underreport violence, the low Internet penetration in Liberia, and the lack of cellphone infrastructure outside the capital city of Monrovia.

As cellphone coverage and Internet accessibility continues to grow on the continent, what potential do you see in using future Ushahidi data for scholars and students studying election irregularities and electoral violence?

SB: Honestly, the potential is limitless, and the innovative work that groups such as Ushahidi are doing is invaluable. But, unfortunately, less-than-democratic governments have also discovered this dissent channel and are working to frustrate efforts at crowdsourced reporting on elections.

Just within the past six months, Uganda, Ethiopia, Congo-Brazzaville and Chad have all imposed social media blackouts during elections, under the guise of national security. Even Ghana, arguably one of the more mature democracies in Africa, recently floated the idea of shutting down social media during its upcoming December 2016 elections to prevent the promulgation of hate speech and dampen the potential for violent mobilization.

As long as governments have and are willing to exercise control over information and communications technology in this manner, researchers will have to continue to take extra care to ensure that any data they analyze is representative, reliable and externally valid.

KYD: Finally, I think exploring the data you analyze might be of interest to some of our readers. Whether they accept the arguments you made or have ideas for other potential factors shaping election violence, they can look and see for themselves what the data say. Is there a website where people could download the data or analyze it online? Or related sites that you think readers would find interesting?

SB: I don’t have a website, but am preparing my data set to be housed online at the Harvard Dataverse. In the interim, I am more than happy to make my data available to anyone who would find it useful — people are welcome to contact me on Twitter. I am a big fan of transparency and replication. I’d love to see others use my data to continue furthering our understanding of the causes and consequences of electoral violence in Africa. Or anywhere for that matter (cough *United States* cough).

*Washington Post.Stephanie Burchard is a research staff member in the Africa Program at the Institute for Defense Analyses and occasionally teaches courses at Georgetown University and American University. You can follow her on Twitter at @smburchard.

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China’s Military Push In Africa Is Unlikely To End Anytime Soon
July 26, 2016 | 0 Comments

Beijing is no longer happy simply playing a low-key support role to peacekeeping operations on the continent.

File picture.Defense Minister Liang Guanglie (R) meets with Zambia Army Commander Lieutenant General Wisdom Lopa in Beijing, capital of China, April 2, 2011

File picture.Defense Minister Liang Guanglie (R) meets with Zambia Army Commander Lieutenant General Wisdom Lopa in Beijing, capital of China, April 2, 2011

Over the past five years the Chinese military presence in Africa has undergone a profound change. Until 2012, the Chinese were happy to play a low-key support role in multinational peacekeeping operations on the continent, preferring to send military engineers and medical staff rather than deploy combat forces. Today, that is no longer the case. China is in fact the eighth-largest supplier of troops for U.N. peacekeeping operations in Africa and the largest among the five permanent Security Council members, according to the European Council on Foreign Relations.

The large and growing Chinese military presence in Africa is also becoming increasingly diverse both in terms of where its forces are deployed and their operational capacity. China’s most sophisticated warships have been actively involved in multinational anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia in the Gulf of Aden since 2008. In West Africa, the People’s Liberation Army deployed elite medical units, including a massive hospital ship, to Ebola-ravaged regions in Liberiaand Sierra Leone and, similarly, Chinese military medical teams have also been dispatched to the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo where they provide desperately needed health care to the embattled civilian population.

Around 2014, the Chinese began to shift their military engagement strategy in Africa to include the deployment of combat-ready infantry units to countries like Mali and South Sudan where the United Nations peacekeepers are targeted by Islamist radicals and partisan fighters. Although at least three Chinese soldiers have been killed this year in Africa, experts note these PLA combat forces are typically confined to their bases and rarely venture outside the wire. Nonetheless, the fact that the Chinese have taken that first step in redefining their role in African security operations is significant, and with the imminent completion of the PLA Navy’s new outpost in Djibouti, it seems likely that this trend will continue in the coming years.

Mathieu Duchâtel, Richard Gowan and Manuel Lafont Rapnouil recently explored China’s new military engagement strategy in Africa in a policy brief for the European Council on Foreign Relations. The trio raised the interesting question of how a more robust Chinese security presence in Africa will impact European military operations on the continent given that countries like France and Britain, among others, have long considered Africa to be a traditional sphere of influence. Mathieu and Manuel join Eric and Cobus ― in the podcast above ― to discuss the rapidly changing multinational security architecture in Africa.

*Source Huffington Post

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How do you make a man wear a condom?
July 26, 2016 | 0 Comments

_90478028_aidsconference_durbanRecent studies have suggested that condom use is on the decline in South Africa, which has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world.

Some 2,700 young South Africans are infected with HIV every week – 74 % of them girls. The BBC’s Pumza Fihlani speaks to some women in Johannesburg about their attitudes towards sex, men and getting them to use condoms.

Chwayita Bam, 31, real estate agent:

I’m in a new relationship now and one of the first things we spoke about is condoms. I told him straight, “I don’t know where you’ve been, you don’t know where’ve I’ve been. I don’t know your status so we have to use a condom.” He wasn’t too happy with the decision but he agreed.

It becomes a bit awkward because at times in the heat of the moment we need to stop what we’re doing to grab a condom and it interrupts the whole thing.

We’ve spoken about getting tested for HIV together so we can stop using them but I’ve explained to him that because I’m not on any contraception – this is my only way of preventing pregnancy.I’ve been in a situation in the past where a guy wanted to have sex without a condom and we had a massive fight about it, he even became physical. He didn’t understand why I wouldn’t sleep with him without it.

I was blunt. I told him, “If you force yourself on me it will be rape.” That scared him and he stopped. I didn’t ever see him again.

People say when you’re having sex without a condom it’s a lot nicer, I agree and I think that’s why some people, including women, don’t like them. But the reality is that there are many diseases so we’re forced to use them so we don’t get sick.

Nomandla Mabaso, 22, university student

It is condoms or no sex at all for me. Guys just don’t want to use condoms but in the end they’d rather have sex with a condom than no sex at all – if more women got that they’d actually have more control, they’d feel more at ease with insisting on it.

A Soweto youth takes packets of free condoms - 2010Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionSouth Africa’s Aids fight includes distributing free condoms in malls, schools and hospitals

I don’t know that it’s a power thing more than it being a case of us wanting to please our partners. I have a white friend who is 25, smart, educated. She’s dating a black guy and he convinced her that they didn’t need to use a condom and she agreed. She contracted herpes.

I thought she’d break up with him but they’re still together. She’s smitten with him. I think the issue comes when we fall in love, we become more willing to please, to make our guys happy and that’s where the condom fight is lost.

A lot of women when they are in love sadly lose their voice. It becomes all about pleasing the other person. I’m a very strong-willed person, so I’m comfortable with making my case.

I know I don’t want to fall pregnant and I don’t want to contract any diseases so my motto is simple: “It’s condoms or no sex.” I’m still young and have my whole life to plan for. I haven’t even established myself as a career woman so having a baby isn’t a part of my plan just yet.

I’m on birth control but want to be absolutely sure. If a guy wants to be with me, he needs to respect that. He must respect that I always use a condom.

Aids in South Africa:

  • 340,000 new infections in 2014 (931 a day)
  • 2,700 young people infected every week – 74% girls
  • More than half a million infected in the past year
  • 140,000 recorded Aids deaths every year
  • Many Aids deaths go unreported, so it is estimated there are more than 400 Aids deaths each day

Source: UNAids, 2014


Paulina Lapise, 39, domestic worker

The reason there are so many diseases is because we don’t use condoms as often as we should. Most of the time when you tell your partner that you want him to use a condom he tells me that it hurts him.

People sit in the waiting room in an anti-retroviral clinic in Emmaus hospital in Winterton, in South Africa's Kwazulu-Natal region on March 11, 2008.Image copyrightAFP
Image captionAids remains the biggest cause of death among young people in Africa

I end up agreeing to sleeping with him without it because I tell myself that I want to make him happy. My partner says it’s difficult for him to ejaculate when he’s wearing a condom. He actually hates it.

These sort of attitudes are the reason we have so many diseases going around. Yes, you can refuse to sleep with him but then he’ll force himself on you and no woman wants that.

Men are more powerful, when they want something they want it. There is a lot of pressure on us women to please them. I know I feel that pressure at home.

In some instances you know he’s cheating on you but you’ll still agree to sleep with him without a condom but we don’t want to lose him. This is why so many women are contracting HIV. We don’t know how to stand up for ourselves.

Society even today teaches us that to be seen as a worthy woman you need to be in a relationship or married – that you need to have a man.

Condoms are a big point of conflict in our relationships and we, as women, are not being listened to but what can we do? It’s the way things are.

Kutloano Buthelezi, 21, juice bar manager

I personally find condoms quite uncomfortable, I’ve often had to use a douche afterwards. I also don’t like how they smell, so yes, I’m not a fan of condoms. The only reason I use them is the prevention aspect.

If I was in a committed relationship and was sure my partner is being faithful I would do without them altogether. I think women are still sheepish about getting their partners to use them.

This picture taken on July 23, 2012 in Durban shows giant billboard highlighting the dangers for young women to have sex with older men. In South Africa, an increase in teenage pregnancies in eastern KwaZulu-Natal was blamed on older men seeking out younger women.Image copyrightAFP
Image caption“Sugar daddies”, older men who pursue young girls, have been blamed for some of the shocking HIV figures in South Africa

I’ve once been in a situation where the guy and I were about to have sex. I asked him if he’d put on a condom. He told me he had – only for me to find out afterwards that he didn’t but I felt powerless to raise it.

I think as powerful as we believe ourselves to be as women we are conditioned to be submissive. It’s not just in sex.

It even becomes more difficult in situations where the male is older – older men call the shots. I stay away from older guys because I don’t want to find myself in a position where I feel like I can’t say no because I’m also financially dependant on him – which is what often happens.

These sort of relationships are dangerous because in all likelihood he’s not just sleeping with one girl – it’s you, his wife and a bunch of other girls. It’s a serious problem and perhaps why HIV is still an issue here and why it’s affecting young people.

If they are serious about fighting HIV, they need to look at making condoms thinner, which you can barely feel and make it more affordable to everyone.

It would also mean more women would stop relying on men to buy them.

And black parents need to educate their kids more. We live in an age where parents are more aware of just how sexually active their children are and so they should be more open to talking to them about the choices they makes as well as guiding them.


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Fifa World Cup: Africa will get two extra places if tournament expands – Infantino
July 26, 2016 | 0 Comments

Gianni Infantino was elected president of football's world governing body in February, replacing the disgraced Sepp Blatter

Gianni Infantino was elected president of football’s world governing body in February, replacing the disgraced Sepp Blatter

Africa will get an additional two World Cup finals places should the tournament be expanded to 40 teams from 2026, says Fifa president Gianni Infantino.

Infantino proposed the expansion from 32 teams before he was elected by world football’s governing body in February.

Africa is currently allocated five places at World Cups.

“My proposal has been 40 teams and if that happens then my proposal has been to have at least two extra places for African teams,” said Infantino.

The move would not come into effect until 2026 with the format of 32 teams already confirmed for Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022.

The Fifa boss is still set to be interviewed by ethics investigators after allegedly breaching its code of ethics.

The allegations relate to a possible conflict of interest when using private jets laid on by a World Cup-bidding country; that he filled senior posts without checking people’s eligibility for the role; and billing Fifa for mattresses, flowers, an exercise machine and personal laundry.

If there is sufficient evidence then a full investigation could be opened and he could be suspended from his role for up to 90 days.


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This year’s summit will feature various discussions on innovative strategies and collaboration, as well as showcasing new real estate opportunities and projects across Africa
July 26, 2016 | 0 Comments

Private break-away sessions for in-depth discussions

Private break-away sessions for in-depth discussions

Despite Africa’s slowdown; property developers and private equity funds continue to pour investment into the continent, but with more focused strategies.  “Over $1,2 billion has been raised and allocated to real estate investment in Africa over the past year and we expect this trend to continue” said Kfir Rusin, General Manager of the upcoming Africa Property Investment Summit.

Commenting on the global capital flows making their mark on African real estate, Peter Welborn, chairman of Knight Franks’ Africa business says that “The underlying investment theme across sub-Saharan Africa, over the next decade will undoubtedly be driven by substantial allocations of equity, into JV’s with successful local partners. Both the west African retail sector as well as the southern and east Africa logistics sectors will be high on the hit list of international capital.”

The last year has seen Actis, RMB Westport, Novare, Phatisa and Growthpoint successfully raising capital from global funds such as GIC Singapore, Grosvenor (USA), The IFC, CDC Group (UK) among other international funds.

The Africa Property Investment (API) Summit is the leading African focused real estate forum, which brings together influential property players from around the continent. The API Summit offers developers and investors access to new development strategies, a chance to showcase projects and meet with new sources of capital across Sub-Saharan Africa.  The summit is the perfect opportunity to leverage off the expertise and knowledge of key industry players.

“This year’s summit will feature various discussions on innovative strategies and collaboration, as well as showcasing new real estate opportunities and projects across Africa. Whilst uncertainty remains, we believe that African property is still poised for growth, albeit at a lower but more sustainable level,” says Rusin.

The effects of the currency and liquidity crises have been sharply felt across the continent but most notably in the larger oil driven commodity exporting countries. This has resulted in a shift towards economic diversification and countries in the East African region providing more economic stability than others. Although there has been a slowdown across Africa, one of the continents’ largest funds remain optimistic. Bronwyn Corbett, CEO of Mara Delta says, “The company remains bullish under the African growth story. We have built extensive IP into our target countries and see tremendous growth in these markets that we are levering to build an Africa powerhouse real estate fund. Focus is on the strength of the counter party and mitigation of risks to build a quality portfolio and deliver substantial returns to shareholders.”

“We can already confirm over 500 delegates from over 30 different countries. We have noticed substantial growth in delegate numbers, with a 30% increase in attendance and a large international contingent compared to previous years.  We see real estate and related industries as an important contributor to GDP in Africa and therefore we expect this trend to continue in future years” Concluded Rusin

The two-day conference will be held from 18-19 August 2016 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg and will feature speakers from Broll, CBRE, Mara Delta, Knight Frank, Old Mutual, STANLIB, Standard Bank, Novare, RMB Westport, JLL, CDC Group, ALN, ITL, Growthpoint, UPDC, Britam, Fusion Capital, and Heriot Properties to name a few.

Key sessions at the API Summit will include: The Role of global capital in Africa , Africa’s Retail reality check, Logistics & Industrial sector making its mark as well as focused discussions on countries such as Rwanda, Ivory Coast and Tanzania.

The Africa Property Investment (API) Summit  is a forum for the discussion of real estate investment opportunities in Africa which offers a platform to network with industry experts. The event focuses on current themes, trends and challenges related to property investments and developments in Africa. The 7th Annual API Summit takes on 18 – 19 August 2016 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg South Africa. This year’s key sponsors are Broll, Mara Delta , Knight Frank, JHI, Crystal Lagoons, ALN, JLL, Standard Bank, G5 Properties and ITL.

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Governance, Corruption & Democratic Development Questions will guide Clinton’s African Policy-Snr Policy Advisor Jake Sullivan
July 26, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

File Picture:U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) watches as South Africa's President Jacob Zuma speaks during a photo call after a brief meeting in Durban, August 8, 2009

File Picture:U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) watches as South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma speaks during a photo call after a brief meeting in Durban, August 8, 2009

Hillary Clinton views Africa not just as a place with challenges to address but also opportunities says Jake Sullivan, Senior Policy Advisor for Hillary for America. Speaking at the Foreign Policy Center briefing center at the Democratic Convention, Sullivan said to Hillary Clinton, Africa is not just made up of countries which need development aid and assistance but also partners who can work with the USA in addressing a range of global issues.

Issues of governance, corruption, and democratic development have been central to Secretary Clinton’s policy towards Africa and will continue to be, said Jake Sullivan in response to a question from Ben Bangoura of Allo on what Africa should expect a Clinton Administration.

The policy will be in the mold of the work the democratic flag bearer did as first lady and later Secretary of State, Sullivan said. From her multiple trips to the continent, Hillary Clinton has shown commitment to pillars like fostering economic growth, peace keeping, security, human rights, and democratic development said Sullivan.

“She is fond of reminding us on her team many of the top 10 fastest-growing economies in the world are African economies.  How we think about where the future growth is going to come from in the world is bound up in how we approach our policy towards Africa,”  Sullivan said.

In contrast to the recent Republican Convention in Ohio, the Democratic Convention seems to have more African faces present. Executive Women for Hillary ,a powerful coalition of executive, entrepreneur and professional women backing Mrs. Clinton has two African diaspora leaders Sarian Bouma and Angelle Kwemo of Believe in Africa  as State Co-Chairs for the DMV area.

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Congolese singer Koffi Olomide caught ‘kicking woman’ in Kenya
July 23, 2016 | 0 Comments

_90484780_olomideKoffi Olomide, one of Africa’s most popular singers, has been caught on camera purportedly kicking a woman at the main airport in Kenya.

Police are seen intervening to stop the attack on the woman, identified by Kenyan media as one of his dancers.

The 60-year-old rumba star denied in a Facebook post that he attacked the dancer and said he respected women.

In 2012, he was convicted in the Democratic Republic of Congo, his home country, of assaulting his producer.

The court gave the singer a three-month suspended prison sentence.

The altercation with his producer, Diego Lubaki, was over a debt of about $3,700 (£2,800), the court heard.

In 2008, he was accused of kicking a cameraman from DR Congo’s private RTGA television station and breaking his camera at a concert in the capital, Kinshasa, following disagreement over recording rights.

The musician joked with the media after the fight at the airport

The musician joked with the media after the fight at the airport

In the end, the speaker of national assembly stepped in to resolve the dispute, brokering a reconciliation between the star and owner of TV station.

News of the latest incident is trending on Twitter in East Africa under #KofiOlomide, with some people calling for the musician to be arrested, charged and deported.

He is due to perform at a concert in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, on Saturday.

Kenya’s privately owned KTN television station quoted witnesses as saying that he assaulted the dancer after she had been involved in an altercation with his wife.

It showed footage of a man calming Mr Olomide down, who then goes, flanked by his entourage, to his vehicle.

Before he jumps into it, he jokes with a television crew and remarks in the Lingala language, “Take a photo of me”, which is a lyric in his song about selfies.

Referring to the assault, Mr Olomide said: “The girls are excited. They fight…”

He later told BBC Africa: “I didn’t fight no-one… I came to stop a fight… I didn’t kick anyone. I wanted to stop a girl who wanted to fight the dancers I came with.”


Like other Congolese musicians, he is known for his extravagant lifestyle and flashy outfits.

The music he plays is known as “soukous”, which comes from the French word secouer, meaning to shake, and its dancers are renowned for their erotic moves.


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L’Oréal Accelerates Product Development for Sub-Saharan Africa Thanks to New Research & Innovation Center
July 22, 2016 | 0 Comments

It hosts product development, evaluation and advanced research teams and will employ scientists from the fields of chemistry, chemical engineering, physiology, cosmetology and biochemistry

cd3b4f6b4665642L’Oréal  inaugurated today its new Research & Innovation Center to study African hair and skin specificities as well as the beauty routines and expectations of sub-Saharan consumers. The Research & Innovation Center in South Africa is the Group’s 7th R&I hub globally. It hosts product development, evaluation and advanced research teams and will employ scientists from the fields of chemistry, chemical engineering, physiology, cosmetology and biochemistry.

Alexandre Popoff, Executive Vice-President Eastern Europe and Africa, Middle East, said “Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the fastest growing regions for L’Oréal.Our new research arm in South Africa will solidly enable us to continually create the beauty products of the future for our African consumers, while drawing inspiration from the diverse beauty rituals and the various needs of our consumers on the continent.”

Laurent Attal, Executive Vice-President of Research and Innovation, said “By opening this new Research & Innovation Center, we are spearheading L’Oréal Research for the African continent. We are showing our determination to go further in innovations for the African beauty market. Our consumer surveys conducted since 2010 and our in-depth studies of skin and hair since early 2000, represent the knowledge base for the development of tailored products for African consumers. We are starting with hair and our ambitions are much broader and cover the body, hygiene, skin care and makeup categories.”

Deep knowledge of African beauty

The Research activity in South Africa started in 2003 with an Evaluation Center focused on consumer knowledge and product assessment. The mission of the brand new Research & Innovation Center is to translate beauty needs and hair and skin knowledge into innovative products ranging from hair care, hair color, relaxers and shapers to personal hygiene. Cutting edge instruments to visualize the skin surface, the spots or to measure hair breakage and rigorous protocols are used daily to assess the technical, functional and sensorial benefits of the products. The key areas will be skin evenness, sebum, acne, dryness, hair manageability, sensitive scalp and the fine tuning of fragrances.

The new Research & Innovation Center will also cooperate with the African scientific ecosystem, universities, dermatologists, natural biodiversity centers as well as hairdressers.

Innovating for the African consumer

L’Oréal has already introduced key beauty innovations for African consumers. For example, the African Beauty Brands team has brought to the market the black oil technology for hair color, failsafe relaxers as well as skin evenness routines. In addition, customized products such as Hair Food and Makeup fully adapted to African skin tones are already offered to sub-Saharan consumers.

250L’Oréal  has devoted itself to beauty for over 105 years. With its unique international portfolio of 32 diverse and complementary brands, the Group generated sales amounting to 25.26 billion euros in 2015 and employs 82,900 people worldwide. As the world’s leading Beauty Company, L’Oréal is present across all distribution networks: mass market, department stores, pharmacies and drugstores, hair salons, travel retail, branded retail and e-commerce.
Research and innovation, and a dedicated research team of 3,870 people, are at the core of L’Oréal’s strategy, working to meet beauty aspirations all over the world. L’Oréal’s new sustainability commitment for 2020 “Sharing Beauty With All” sets out ambitious sustainable development objectives across the Group’s value chain.

L’Oréal South Africa was established in 1963 in Johannesburg and is the largest subsidiary in Africa. The company has four divisions, namely the Consumer Products Division, Professional Products Division, L’Oréal Luxe and the Active Cosmetics Division. These divisions manage a range of over 26 brands including Mizani, Redken, Vichy, Armani, Lancôme, YSL, L’Oreal Paris, Maybelline and Dark & Lovely. L’Oréal South Africa employs more than 500 people across the business. The manufacturing plant, located in Midrand, is responsible for the production of African Beauty Brands and select Garnier products that are exported throughout Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

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The U.N. Appeals For $204 Million to Combat Africa’s Food Security Crisis
July 22, 2016 | 0 Comments

18 million people need emergency food assistance in seven countries severely affected by El Niño

18 million people need emergency food assistance in seven countries severely affected by El Niño

UNITED NATIONS) — The U.N. food agency has declared its highest-level emergency in drought-stricken southern Africa and is appealing for $204 million immediately to purchase food and transport it to the region to help millions of hungry people.

World Food Program Executive Director Ertharin Cousin told reporters in a telephone briefing from hard-hit Malawi on Tuesday that the El Niño-induced drought — which also affected South America and Ethiopia — has devastated crops and caused harvests to fail in southern Africa.

Currently, she said, 18 million people need emergency food assistance in seven countries severely affected by El Niño — Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

But Cousin said WFP is anticipating an escalation in needs later this year and estimating that approximately 33 million people will be impacted by El Niño and the upcoming La Niña, which could bring severe flooding.

“This year’s crisis is a food availability problem,” she said. “We’re seeing alarming increases in people facing hunger in several countries.”

Cousin pointed to a more than 150 percent increase in people without enough to eat in Malawi — from 2.83 million in need last year to 6.5 million this year — as well as a 99 percent increase in Swaziland and a 53 percent increase in Lesotho.

She said the U.N. agency will be working to assist 11.5 million people in the seven countries by the end of March 2017.

That will require $549 million — including $204 million for immediate needs and to set up a pipeline to scale-up the operation as the region goes into the rainy season in October, she said.

“The message today is we have a drought … but we have an opportunity to prevent this drought becoming a severe crisis if we get out ahead of it and provide the food that is required,” Cousin said. “Malnutrition rates are climbing. … We don’t have people starving yet because of the lack of food. We are hopeful that we can bring the attention necessary and receive resources so nobody starves.”

She said WFP declared southern Africa a level three emergency — its highest level — late last month “because this is primarily a food security crisis.” The four other level three emergencies that WFP is dealing with are broader and cover all U.N. funds and agencies — Syria, Iraq, South Sudan and Yemen.


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CAF Announces Total as Title Sponsor of AFCON
July 22, 2016 | 0 Comments

Hayatou-450x450THE Confederation of African Football, CAF, has announced Total as the official sponsor of the body for the next eight years. Total is a global, integrated energy producer and provider, the world’s fourth-ranked international oil and gas company and second-ranked photovoltaic solar.

CAF, in its website on Thursday, July 21, said that both bodies have reached an agreement that Total would support CAF’s ten principal competitions, starting with the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON. It said that the AFCON which would hold from Jan. 14 to Feb. 5, 2017 in Gabon would be renamed as the Total Africa Cup of Nations.

According to CAF President, Issa Hayatou, the partnership is a plus for football development in Africa. “This partnership is a major milestone in our ongoing search for additional resources to accelerate African football’s development. “It brings CAF governance up to date, upgrade its sports infrastructure and advance its performance globally.

“As a leading multinational in its field, with strong ties to Africa, Total will make a significant contribution to CAF’s initiatives to foster personal and professional growth,” it said.

It added that Patrick Pouyanne, President and Chief Executive Officer of Total said that football equal parts enthusiasm, sharing and team performance, concepts that resonate across cultures. “We are delighted to partner with CAF, because Africa is part of Total’s makeup.

“Through this commitment, we hope to strengthen ties with our stakeholders and customers through exciting, celebratory events that are always popular, including within our own teams,” it said.

The statement added that the scale and duration of this sponsorship reflect Total’s strong roots in Africa, with operations in more than 40 countries. It said that the company was a major contributor to the continent’s economy. The 10 competitions are the Africa Cup of Nations, African Nations Championship (CHAN), CAF inter-club competitions (CAF Champions League, CAF Confederation Cup and CAF Super Cup). Others are Youth competitions (U-23, U-20 and U-17 Africa Cup of Nations), Women Africa Cup of Nations and the Futsal Africa Cup of Nations. – *Vanguard/Real News

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African Union to Use Imports Cash to Get $1.2 Billion Funds
July 18, 2016 | 0 Comments
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Bill Gates To Invest Another $5B In Africa
July 18, 2016 | 0 Comments

Although Gates did not specify the areas the fresh investment would be made in, healthcare is likely to receive a huge chunk of the money.

Although Gates did not specify the areas the fresh investment would be made in, healthcare is likely to receive a huge chunk of the money.

Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates announced Sunday that his foundation will invest $5 billion in Africa over the next five years. In a speech at the University of Pretoria on the eve of the former president Nelson Mandela’s birth anniversary, Gates said that The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has already invested $9 billion in the continent over the past 15 years.

“We’ve put a lot of this money into discovering and developing new and better vaccines and drugs to help prevent and treat the diseases of poverty. We’ve also invested in global partnerships that work closely with countries across the continent to get these solutions to the people who need them most,” Gates said. “We’ve been fortunate to work with amazing partners and, together, we have seen some incredible progress.”

Although he did not specify the areas the fresh investment would be made in, healthcare — which has been a major area of focus for Gates’ foundation in Africa — is likely to receive a huge chunk of the money.

Sub-Saharan Africa has long been grappling with a serious HIV/AIDS epidemic. Currently, an estimated 25.8 million people living with HIV live in countries in the region, accounting for nearly 70 percent of the global total. The continent also tops the chart insofar as the global burden of malaria is concerned. In 2015, 88 percent of global cases and 90 percent of global deaths due to malaria were reported in Africa.

“If young people are sick and malnourished, their bodies and their brains will never fully develop. If they are not educated well, their minds will lie dormant. If they do not have access to economic opportunities, they will not be able to achieve their goals,” Gates said. “But if we invest in the right things – if we make sure the basic needs of Africa’s young people are taken care of – then they will have the physical, cognitive, and emotional resources they need to change the future.”


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African Union fails to elect new leader
July 18, 2016 | 0 Comments

African Union Commission President Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was due to stand down but African leaders were unable to agree on a successor to lead the executive branch of the continental body (AFP Photo/Filippo Monteforte)

African Union Commission President Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was due to stand down but African leaders were unable to agree on a successor to lead the executive branch of the continental body (AFP Photo/Filippo Monteforte)

Kigali (AFP) – African heads of state meeting in Kigali failed on Monday to elect a new head of the African Union and will try again in January, an official said.

Current AU Commission President Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was due to stand down but leaders were unable to agree on a successor to lead the executive branch of the continental body during its 27th summit meeting, being held in the Rwandan capital.

“Black smoke billows from the 27th AU Summit as no winner emerges… Commission elections postponed till next summit,” Dlamini-Zuma’s spokesman, Jacob Enoh Eben, said on Twitter, referencing the smoke signal that precedes the naming of a new pope.

None of the three candidates was able to muster the two-thirds majority required to win in the secret ballot.

Ahead of the vote many states had expressed dismay at the “lack of stature” among the little known candidates from Botswana, Equatorial-Guinea and Uganda and, in the end, 28 of the 54 member states abstained from the final round of voting thus forcing a postponement of the election and an extension of Dlamini-Zuma’s term.


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AAI Injects Africa Into U.S Presidential Race
April 22, 2016 | 1 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

AAI President Amini Kajunju

AAI President Amini Kajunju

“Africa has typically not been a partisan issue when it comes to U.S Presidential politics,” said Ambassador Herman Cohen  in his opening statement at a Rayburn House Forum on Setting U.S-Africa Policy for the next Administration organized by the Africa-America Institute.

The statement from Cohen,  representing the Kasich  campaign,summed up the discussions animated by representatives  of candidates from both the Democratic and Republican parties still in the race.

“I can be very brief with Senator Cruz’s African Policy,” said his representative Michael Ledeen, before declaring in dramatic fashion that “he doesn’t have one.”

From security challenges , to aid, immigration, trade and investment, lifting sanctions on Zimbabwe, human rights and democracy, the representatives all held  views that were similar.

When moderator Carol Pineau asked if the presentations from the representatives had swayed anyone in the huge audience at the Rayburn  House, the answer was an emphatic no. When the representatives were asked if their candidates will visit Africa on their first term if elected as next President, they all answered yes. Asked on prospects of continuing with the USA-Africa Leaders Summit initiated by President Obama, all the representatives of the candidates were for a continuation.

Representing the candidates were Wala Blegay for Bernie Sanders, Herman Cohen for John Kasich, Michelle Gavin for Hillary Clinton, J.D,Gordon for Donald Trump and Michael Ledeen for the Ted Cruz Campaign.

The discussions were part of the conversations on Africa series of the AAI under the theme Setting U.S –Africa Policy for the Next Administration.Other topics of discussion at the forum included remaining priorities for Africa in the 114th Congress,the Obama Administration’s Approach to promoting Education in Africa, and a fires side chat on best practices for U.S Engagement in Africa with former U.S Envoy to the African Union Reuben Brigety and Amini Kajunju,President and CEO of the Africa Institute.


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The 28th Ordinary Session of the African Union Executive Council Positions Agenda 2063 as key element of discussion
January 28, 2016 | 0 Comments

19590-28th_ordinary_session_of_the_executive_councilThe African Union (AU) Executive Council has emphasized the importance of upholding human rights especially women’s rights in Africa for an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa under the Agenda 2063 framework.

This came at the opening of the 28th Ordinary Session of the AU Executive Council today 27 January 2016, at the AU Headquarters, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, under the theme: “2016: African Year of Human Rights with a particular focus on the Rights of Women”.

The opening ceremony was attended by a high level gathering that included: H.E. Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma AUC Chairperson, the United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Mr Carlos Lopez, AU Ministers of Foreign Affairs, AU Commissioners, officials and invited guests.

Addressing the distinguished delegates at the opening ceremony, the Chairperson of the AU Commission, H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma reiterated the AU vision which is to build an Africa that is driven by its citizens and stressed its relevance to the theme of this year, “African Year of Human Rights with particular focus on the rights of women”. The Chairperson recalled aspiration 6 of Agenda 2063 which clearly states the African Union position of achieving “an Africa whose development is people driven , relying on the potential of the African people especially its women, youth and caring for children”.

Dr. Dlamini Zuma emphasized that Agenda 2063 is not only the program of the AU but also for the various diversities of African people from all walks of life, the poets, singers, dancers, youth, women and girls , private sector, farmers, entrepreneurs the children of Africa and all African citizens, men and women, young and old, urban and rural as well as the diaspora.

Dr Dlamini Zuma recognised efforts by the youth in entrepreneurship, innovation, universities, and civil society; tackling Africa’s problems in innovative ways. She however recalled that the report on the critical skills for Agenda 2063 from the just concluded Mekele retreat highlighted a huge skills gap. The AUC Chair called for discussions with Africa’s private sector on industrialisation, agriculture, infrastructure development, movement of goods, people and services among others.

In relation to this year’s theme on Human Rights with particular focus on the rights of women, Dr. Dlamini Zuma said since the launch of the first African Gender Scorecard, countries have taken steps to do better and that in 2016, the gender score card would focus on indicators related to human rights.

Dr. Dlamini in her closing remarks commended the resilience of the people and governments of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and the continental and global solidarity that put an end to the Ebola epidemic.

Hon. Simbarashe S.  Mumbengegwi Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Zimbabwe and Chair of the Executive Council in his opening remarks called for domestication of Agenda 2063 and continued commitment towards the fulfilment of the African Vision. He further added that the issue of terrorism which has caused loss of lives and property has negatively affected the socio-economic development of some parts of the continent hence the need to unite against all forms of terrorism.

28th_ordinary_session_of_the_executive_council_2Mr. Mumbengegwi in his conclusion congratulated the AU member states for conducting successful elections in the past year, which he said reflect the collective commitment to democracy and good governance. He also seized the opportunity to inform his colleagues that Zimbabwe’s tenure as Chair of the African Union comes to an end during this 26th AU Summit, and went on to further attribute the successes achieved during the year to the cooperation of the Executive Council, the PRC members, the Commission and other AU institutions (See complete speech of the Zimbabwe Minister of Foreign Affairs on the AU Website: ).

The United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Mr Carlos Lopez underscored the need for structural transformation to boost Africa’s Economic advancement. Mr. Lopez condemned the genocide in Rwanda.

In his conclusion Mr. Carlos Lopez called on member states to prioritise putting an end to armed conflicts. (See complete speech of Mr. Carlos Lopez on the AU Website: ).

The Executive Council meeting is the second of three statutory meetings to be held under the on-going 26th summit of the African Union, holding from 21 to 31 January 2016. The first meeting was that of the Permanent Representatives Committee which was held from 21 to 23 January. The final meeting of the summit will be that of the Heads of State and Government to take place from 30-31 January.

For two days, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs/External Relations and other ministers or authorities duly designated will convene in closed session to deliberate on the different items on their agenda including the consideration of the report of the Permanent Representatives Committee.

The Executive Council will prepare the agenda of the Heads of State with appropriate recommendations for consideration by the Assembly.


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