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F.W. de Klerk Walking in the Shadows of Apartheid
February 20, 2020 | 0 Comments

By James N. Kariuki*

Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk hold their hands high as they address a huge crowd of people in front of the Union Building after the first presidential inauguration on May 10, 1994. REUTERS/Juda Ngwenya

South Africa’s latest spectacle was last week’s ninety-minute delay of the presidential state of the nation address (SONA.) The contentious issue was that F. W. de Klerk, the country’s last apartheid state president, was seated in the public gallery of Parliament. His presence deeply bothered members of the red uniformed Economic Freedom Fighters, the EFF.    

Before President Cyril Ramaphosa started his address EFF leader, Julius Malema objected to de Klerk’s presence arguing that it imposed a contradiction to the extent that parliament is the ultimate embodiment of democracy. Yet, he continued, de Klerk was a criminal, a murderer and a racist to the core. The EFF would not share the same space with him in that forum; he needed to be evicted.

The underlying issue here is that South Africans do not agree on the simple question:  who/what brought about the demise of South Africa’s draconian system of apartheid thirty years ago? 

Obviously, Malema and his followers are reluctant to confer credit to de Klerk for the feat that required great skill, courage and strength. Having grown up in South Africa as a white person, he automatically benefitted immensely from apartheid as he climbed all the way to its top. In 1989 he assumed the presidency of that system of racial discrimination, white privilege and supremacy. It is hardly absurd that some still wonder: How could a man who benefitted so much from apartheid turn around and spearhead its demise?  

Given the choice, Julius Malema and his followers would rather attribute credit for the change to the African friends who extended a helping hand to the South African liberation forces that fought apartheid from inside and outside the country. Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, Cuba’s Fidel Castro and others, though generally portrayed as controversial, were friends-in-need to the extent that they were openly part of the global anti-apartheid forces.

For a while apartheid was distinctly under siege. Countless critics abhorred it on the grounds of racial solidarity. Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere spoke for many in stating that it was morally unacceptable to condemn a people “for being born who they were.” Against this attitude, anti-apartheid sentiments gathered momentum worldwide.

By the late 1980s, apartheid was clearly on the back foot. International sanctions were in place, domestic violence engineered by ‘clandestine’ liberation movements was rampant; the republic was in disarray. Why then didn’t the forces of liberation come to the rescue? Apartheid was armed to the teeth. Experts estimate that apartheid South Africa could have survived military intrusion for 5 to 10 years.  Would there be a South Africa left after ten years of constant warfare? In the days to come, Nelson Mandela himself reminded his people that they were not dealing with a defeated enemy.

There was only one person in South Africa (and the world) positioned to formulate and implement a non- violent route to fundamental change in apartheid South Africa.  That person was none other than F.W. de Klerk.  He opted for dialogue and negotiations rather than violence. As President he had an advantage over and above everybody else: he was positioned to communicate with the opposing forces from the ANC to the far-right Afrikaners who were most threatened by his project. 

Three months into his presidency, de Klerk launched his project. Nelson Mandela was released from prison, all banned political parties were legalized and secret delegations were dispatched out of the country to undertake secret talks with the exiled leaders of ANC leaders. 

To the EFF, conferring credit to de Klerk for the peaceful transfer of power was hardly a significant achievement. In a vindictive mindset, what matters is that de Klerk is alleged to have been a murderer and a subsequent apologist for apartheid. It was deceptive that he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Nelson Mandela (1993) for embarking on the democratic route.  Indeed, the logic continues, de Klerk should return the award to the Nobel Prize Committee and should be stripped of presidential benefits at home. 

But to the neutral observer, de Klerk’s greatness did not come from his assessment of apartheid’s qualification as a social-economic order. That greatness came from accepting that, no matter how enticing it seemed to the Afrikaner community, apartheid’s time had come to an end; it must be dismantled. Regardless of what drove de Klerk to action, he was successful. And ending apartheid peacefully was no easy matter. Those who remember those days insist that the alternative to talking and negotiations “was too ghastly to contemplate.” For this, South Africans owe de Klerk a debt of gratitude equivalent to what African-Americans owe Abraham Lincoln for abolishing slavery .

* James N. Kariuki is a Kenyan Professor of International Relations (Emeritus).  He comments on public issues in various international publications.He runs the blog Global Africa

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Co-founders of the Pan African Film Festival, award-winning actor Danny Glover and Ayuko Babu Release Statement on Death of Ja’Net Dubois
February 20, 2020 | 0 Comments
PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Venus Bernardo
PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Venus Bernardo

LOS ANGELES – Founded by award-winning actor Danny Glover, actress Ja’Net Dubois and Ayuko Babu, the 28th annual Pan African Film and Arts Festival (PAFF) is currently taking place at the Cinemark 15 Theatres, located at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in Los Angeles.

PAFF is the largest Black film festival in the United States and the largest Black History Month cultural event in the nation. This year, it has selected a record-breaking 225 film, representing 52 countries in 26 languages. Plus, ArtFest will feature more than 100 fine artists from around the world. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has designated PAFF as an official qualifying film festival for live action and animation short films.

 STATEMENT FROM GLOVER AND BABU ON THE PASSING OF JA’NET DUBOIS:“We are shocked and stunned by the passing of one of the founders of the Pan African Film and Arts Festival, and one of the most important shining and guiding lights. Our sister, Ja’Net DuBois, epitomized a true, conscious Pan African artist who mastered the ability to be idealistic and practical at the same time. It’s rare to find a person — let alone an artist — who strikes a wonderful balance. 

If Madame DuBois had lived during the times of the great Pharaohs; or the great kingdoms of Timbuktu; or the great kingdoms in southern Africa,  such as the  Zimbabwe and Zulu kingdoms, she would have been known as a Jali or a Sangoma. In our contemporary times, she was able to use modern technology to spread her voice, her image, her spirit, her songs and our stories around the globe and touch us with humor, dignity and her ancient wisdom. 

A mighty giant tree has fallen in the forest today! With her death occurring in the midst of the Pan African Film and Arts Festival, she left us an important message — support cultural institutions like her beloved Pan African Film and Arts Festival, and it will point you toward liberation and freedom. If not  —  like the bluesman, Taj Maahal sings — you’ll stumble and fall. 
— co-founders Danny Glover and Ayuko Babu, on behalf of the staff of the Pan African Film and Arts Festival and the many thousands of people who attend it!

ABOUT THE PAN AFRICAN FILM FESTIVALGearing up for its 28th anniversary, the Pan African Film and Arts Festival (PAFF) is America’s largest and most prestigious Black film festival. Each year, it screens more than 150 films made by and/or about people of African descent from around the world. PAFF holds the distinction of being the largest Black History Month event in the country. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has designated PAFF as an official qualifying film festival for live action and animation short films. 

PAFF is a non-profit corporation, founded in 1992 by award-winning actor Danny Glover (“The Color Purple,” “Lethal Weapon” movie franchise), Emmy Award-winning actress Ja’Net DuBois (best known for her role as Willona in the TV series, “Good Times”) and executive director, Ayuko Babu, an international legal, cultural and political consultant who specializes in Pan African Affairs. PAFF is dedicated to the promotion of ethnic and racial respect and tolerance through the exhibit of films, art and creative expression. 

The goal of PAFF is to present and showcase the broad spectrum of Black creative works, particularly those that reinforce positive images, help to destroy negative stereotypes and depict an expanded vision of the Black experience. PAFF believes film and art can lead to better understanding and foster communication between peoples of diverse cultures, races, ethnicities, and lifestyles in an entertaining way while at the same time, serving as a vehicle to initiate dialogue on the important issues of our times.

*Courtesy of KRPR Media 

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EAC hosts the 30th New Partnership for Africa’s Development Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility (NEPAD-IPPF) Oversight Committee in Arusha
February 20, 2020 | 0 Comments
The meeting which took place on the 13th and 14th of February 2020, convened over 30 participants

ARUSHA, Tanzania, February 19, 2020/ — The New Partnership for Africa’s Development Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility (NEPAD-IPPF) held its 30th Oversight Committee meeting for the Special Fund at the headquarters of the East African Community, in Arusha, Tanzania.

The meeting which took place on the 13th and 14th of February 2020, convened over 30 participants, including donors providing financial support to the NEPAD-IPPF Special Fund, representatives of the African Development Bank, African Union Commission, African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), Regional Economic Communities, Regional Power Pools, Corridors Authorities and Transboundary River basin organizations.

Members agreed to implement recommendations of NEPAD-IPPF’s independent evaluation held in 2019, and also approved operational reforms and the 2020 work program.

EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Planning and Infrastructure, Steven Mlote, thanked the Bank for its generous support over the past 20 years which he said had resulted in numerous achievements in various sectors including transport, energy, one stop border posts, ICT and Trans-Boundary Water Projects.

He said the recently completed Arusha-Tengeru dual carriageway and the Arusha by-pass had substantially improved traffic flow in the Arusha region while the counterpart section in Kenya – the Taveta-Mwatate road, has opened up a new and shorter trade and transport route for Rwanda and Burundi from the port of Mombasa.

“Along the Coast of East Africa, the transport corridor from Malindi in Kenya to Bagamoyo in Tanzania is due for upgrading with funds from the Bank. It is gratifying to note that its preparation was funded by the NEPAD-IPPF. This road will close the missing surface transport link between the EAC and SADC regions which traverses Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique,” he added.

The successes of initial Bank-funded multinational projects between Kenya and Tanzania provided the impetus to widen the geographical spread to other EAC partner states with current projects underway to link Tanzania to the three landlocked states of Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda.

“To date, NEPAD-IPPF has extended support to the EAC to the tune of almost $15 million for road and rail soft infrastructure projects over a period of 13 years,” said Mlote.

Also represented at the meeting were development partners KfW, and the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Business which both acknowledged the pivotal role NEPAD-IPPF continues to play in the infrastructure space on the continent. They equally recognized the need for more resources to enable the fund to achieve more. 

Laura González Villarejo representing the Ministry of Economy, Spain said in her statement that Africa is a priority region for Spain. She added that the Spanish Council of Ministers’ long term strategic plan for Africa demonstrated the interest of Spain in Africa.

Michael Andres from KfW, the Oversight Committee Chairman, reiterated the full support of Germany for the Fund. He thanked the NEPAD-IPPF team led by Mike Salawou, Bank Division Manager Infrastructure & Partnerships, for the good performance of the fund during 2019, for a well-organized meeting and the East African Community Secretariat for hosting the event. He emphasized the need for joint effort from all concerned parties including the RECs to seek funding for the facility.

AUC representative Mr. Yagouba Traore called upon AUC Member states to support the Fund.

Director of Infrastructure at the African Development Bank, Mr. Amadou Oumarou reaffirmed the institution’s commitment to mobilize more resources for NEPAD-IPPF and highlighted a Euro 3 million contribution received by the facility from the Spanish government in 2019. Infrastructure development would be more critical as the continent sought to make the African Continental Free Trade Area functional, he said.

“The facility has maintained a sustained drive towards building partnerships and can report on positive co-financing results. Notwithstanding, our efforts to secure more resources will continue through 2020, both from African governments and stakeholders as well as in collaboration with private sector companies and philanthropists,” Oumarou said.

Going forward, implementing cost recovery instruments to support Public Private Partnership projects to attract more private sector financing downstream would be an important focus for the NEPAD-IPPF, he added.

The meeting ended with a visit to the Namanga “One Stop Border Post” between Tanzania-Kenya. This project funded by NEPAD-IPPF, has helped increase trade and tourism and has also stimulated the regional economy within the East African Community.
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Paradigm Initiative Selects Inaugural Digital Rights and Inclusion Learning Lab (DRILL) Fellow
February 20, 2020 | 0 Comments
Folasewa Olatunde

Accra – Ghana,  February 18, 2020 – Folasewa Olatunde, a second-year doctoral student at North Carolina State University, Raleigh, USA, has been selected  as the pioneer fellow for the newly introduced Digital Rights and Inclusion Learning Lab (DRILL) at Paradigm Initiative. 

“We are pleased to announce the selection of Folasewa Olatunde, and we’re also excited about the quality of applications the fellowship, though just starting, attracted,” said ‘Gbenga Sesan, Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative. 

“There are both enormous challenges and opportunities for realizing the ambitious task of creating an inclusive, healthy, safe and open Internet in the coming decade for all Africans and we hope this fellowship will offer a space for big thinking, evaluation of digital rights and digital inclusion programs, and future-proofing of ecosystem activities,” Mr. Sesan added.

Digital Rights and Inclusion Learning Lab (DRILL) is Paradigm Initiative’s project to host innovative learning around digital rights and inclusion in Africa.

Headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria, the learning lab serves as a space for both practice and reflection, aimed to involve and connect different stakeholders and create dialogue amongst researchers, social innovators, policymakers and actors, the private sector, as well as civil society.

Learning activities will take place at the lab in order to evolve new thinking on digital rights and inclusion strategy for Africa. There are a variety of activities that will take place, including but not limited to, focused future-facing research; presentations; ecosystem meetings and discussions focused on digital rights and/or inclusion hosted within the ecosystem; and general communication about the lab’s activities.

Meanwhile, the Digital Rights and Inclusion Media Fellowship, another Paradigm Initiative project, has attracted 116 applications from 19 countries.  This is according to a statement released by Paradigm Initiative, a social enterprise working on digital rights and inclusion in Africa.

The pioneer Digital Rights and Inclusion Learning Lab fellow, Folasewa Olatunde, is a second-year doctoral student at North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA, studying Communication Rhetoric and Digital Media. She is a communication and digital media practitioner, researcher and instructor. She is interested in researching the intersections of the internet, social media and mobile phones – and other digital technologies –  in (not) empowering the global south.

Her current research focuses on evaluating informal and formal basic digital skills interventions in Nigeria and how their functions can be improved. Fola’ believes that more social science research should be policy-driven. She is passionate about how Nigerians across different age groups can (continue to) learn to use digital technologies to improve their socio-economic conditions.

About Paradigm Initiative

Paradigm Initiative(PIN) is a social enterprise that builds ICT-enabled support systems and advocates for digital rights in order to improve the livelihoods of under-served young Africans. The organisation’s digital inclusion programs include a digital readiness school for young people living in under-served communities (LIFE) and a software engineering school targeting high potential young Nigerians (Dufuna). Both programs have a deliberate focus to ensure equal participation for women and girls. 

The digital rights advocacy program is focused on the development of public policy for internet freedom in Africa, with offices in Abuja, Nigeria (covering the Anglophone West Africa region); Yaoundé, Cameroon (Central Africa); Democratic Republic of Congo (East Africa) and Lusaka, Zambia (Southern Africa). 

Paradigm Initiative has worked in communities across Nigeria since 2007, and across Africa from 2017, building experience, community trust and an organisational culture that positions us as a leading social enterprise in ICT for Development and Digital Rights on the continent. Paradigm Initiative is also the convener of the Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum (DRIF), a pan-African bilingual Forum that has held annually since 2013. 

For any inquiries about this press release, please send an email to media@paradigmhq.org 

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Nigerian Ambassador Introduces Coronavirus Relief and Evacuation Plan To Help All African Nationals Trapped In Wuhan
February 20, 2020 | 0 Comments

Some government officials laughed when asked to help the estimated 5,000 African nationals who are presently stranded in Wuhan, due to the deadly coronavirus outbreak. However, The Organization for Leadership and Strategy Development (OLSD), a Nigerian NGO founded by Ambassador Collins Nnabugwu of Lagos, Nigeria, took serious action. Action that is now garnering attention across the entire continent of Africa. 

“We at OLSD commit to making sure that all Africans trapped and locked down in Wuhan receive proper assistance and medical care during our intervention. We will continue to send daily donations of food and supplies and do all we can to help until this crisis ends” stated Mr. Nnabugwu. 

Since learning of this issue less than a week ago, the ambitious Global Goodwill Ambassador and his partners, Biz Africa Shanghai, The Star Factor Effect, The Center for Truth and Healing, and Group Shumba, have made it their mission to bring awareness to the victims’ plight. The conglomerate is working overtime to raise funds to help pay for food, supplies, and eventually their evacuation. 

With the assistance of Biz Africa Shanghai, a private company based in China, OLSD has been successful at making direct contact with local government officials in Wuhan to ensure the delivery of donations. OLSD has confirmed that the first shipment of food and supplies has arrived as of yesterday and is currently being distributed to those in need. 

African nationals trapped in Wuhan are encouraged to register at bit.ly/Africansin Wuhan to receive alerts, assistance, and additional information. Individuals, organizations, and companies who would like to be a part of OLSD’s mission are welcomed to donate on OLSD’s website or email OLSD2020@gmail.com for sponsorship details. 

To learn more about The Organization of Leadership and Strategy Development (OLSD), visit https://lida.global or call Ambassador Collins Nnabugwu +234 902 978 0361

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ENGIE Africa brings Off-Grid Power to over 4 Million People, establishing its Position as Market Leader on the Continent
February 19, 2020 | 0 Comments

ENGIE has achieved this through the development of its three A2E off-grid energy solution companies: Fenix International, ENGIE Mobisol, and ENGIE PowerCorner

NAIROBI, Kenya, February 18, 2020/ — ENGIE Africa (http://www.ENGIE-Africa.com) is pleased to announce that it has successfully accelerated the Access to Energy (A2E) strategy that it launched in 2018. ENGIE has achieved this through the development of its three A2E off-grid energy solution companies: Fenix International, ENGIE Mobisol, and ENGIE PowerCorner.

With these three innovative entities, ENGIE Africa is bringing decentralized electricity to more than four million people in nine countries (Uganda, Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Nigeria, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, and Mozambique). This growth is in line with the Group’s ambition to reach millions of households and businesses with clean, distributed energy across Africa.

Fenix, which was acquired by ENGIE in 2018, expanded its operations significantly in 2019. To date, it has sold more than 700,000 solar home systems that power 3.5 million people in rural communities across six countries. Now employing 1,200 full-time team members, Fenix launched sales in Mozambique in June 2019. In the last month, the company has reached milestones in multiple markets, with 150,000 solar home systems sold in Zambia, 50,000 sold in Benin, and 20,000 sold in Côte d’Ivoire.

ENGIE complemented its range of solar home system solutions by finalizing the acquisition of Mobisol in October 2019. The higher capacity (40–200W) of ENGIE Mobisol’s products offers consumers access to modern energy services and appliances to establish solar-powered small businesses. ENGIE Mobisol has operations in Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya, and has installed more than 150,000 solar home systems, providing clean and reliable energy to 750,000 people and counting in East Africa.

Mini-grid developer and operator ENGIE PowerCorner now has 13 mini-grids in operation across two countries (Tanzania and Zambia), serving 15,000 beneficiaries. It is constructing new mini-grids in Uganda (in joint venture with Equatorial Power), Benin and Nigeria, with the aim to triple its number of customers this year. ENGIE PowerCorner focuses on powering income-generating activities and productive usages, thus contributing to the increase of the economic welfare of its rural customers.

Fenix’s inclusive solar home systems for household usages, combined with ENGIE Mobisol’s focus on larger households and small business appliances, together with ENGIE PowerCorner’s focus on income-generating activities and small-scale industries, enables ENGIE to offer affordable energy products and to extend its customer base from rural to urban areas.

Yoven Moorooven, CEO of ENGIE Africa, says: “We strongly believe in the huge potential of the off-grid electrification sector and that it will be instrumental in rapidly and cost-effectively bridging energy gaps across Africa. We will build upon our successes to sustain and meet our long-term ambition of impacting tens of millions of lives across Africa. ENGIE has an important role to play in industrializing and scaling up the off-grid solar business. We are keen to offer the lowest cost and best quality Access to Energy solution that addresses our customers’ needs.”

ENGIE is expanding its offerings beyond electricity provision, integrating cost-effective and tailor-made solutions “as a service” to accompany customers every step of the way. This expansion links energy access to other products and services: internet, water, productive appliances, clean cooking, financial services and products.

Universal electrification is the seventh of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals that the global community has committed to achieve by 2030. ENGIE is confident that universal access to energy is achievable in the foreseeable future, through smart investments in a combination of national grid extension, solar home systems and mini-grids.

About ENGIE Africa:
ENGIE (https://www.ENGIE.com/) is the largest independent electricity producer in the world, and one of the major players in natural gas and energy services. The Group has more than 50 years of experience on the African continent and has the unique ability to implement integrated solutions all along the energy value chain, from centralized electricity production to off-grid solutions (solar home systems, mini-grids) and energy services. ENGIE Africa employs nearly 4,000 people, and has 3.15 GW of power generation capacity in operation or construction. It is a leader in the decentralized energy market, providing clean energy to more than four million people through domestic solar installations and local microgrids.

*SOURCE ENGIE


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UN Secretary General demands investigation into killing of civilians, including Children, pregnant women in Cameroon’s North West Region
February 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

UN Secretary General, Antonio Gutterres (right) pictured here with Cameroon President Paul Biya, has on several occasions made known his readiness to mediate a dialogue and find solution to Anglophone Crisis ( photo: prc.com)

Antonio Gutterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, UN has expressed concerns over the killing of civilians in the Ngarbuh, a tiny locality in Cameroon’s North West Region.

In a message posted February 17, Antonio Gutterres called on the government of Cameroon to conduct a thorough investigation into the incident that caused the lives of over thirty-two civilians among them children and pregnant women, and ensure those responsible are held accountable.

“The Secretary-General is deeply concerned over reports about the killing of civilians, including children, in an attack on the village of Ngarbuh in the north-west Region of Cameroon on 14 February.  He extends his deepest condolences to the families and calls on the Government of Cameroon to conduct an investigation and to ensure that those responsible are held accountable,” a section of his statement read.

Reiterating he is ready to work with the government of Cameroon and separatist leaders to proffer a solution to the country’s simmering three-year conflict, the UN scribe once again urged armed actors to refrain from attacking civilians and respect international human rights laws signed and ratified by Cameroon.

“The Secretary-General calls on armed actors to refrain from attacks against civilians and to respect international humanitarian and international human rights law.”

Last Friday, we should recall, pro-government forces stormed the locality of Ngarbuh-Ntumbaw in Ndu sub-division of the North West region in Cameroon in search for separatist fighters who were believed have camp in the rural setting.

The soldiers are reported to have engage in crossfire confrontation with the armed separatist as they tried to flee. While some of the villagers were reportedly shot dead in separate locations in the enclaved village, others, were burnt alive when their homes were set ablaze.

In a communique, the government of Cameroon said all those killed were mistaken for separatist fighters when they open fire to defend themselves against raining bullets. There has been an outcry with many insisting that such brutal attacks and mass murder is not uncommon with the military in Cameroon, referencing the 2018 killings in Santa sub division where over 30 mostly youths were slain allegedly by the same military. 

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Local content and market-driven policies set to shape energy investments in Senegal as African Energy Chamber concludes working visit in Dakar
February 18, 2020 | 0 Comments
NJ Ayuk of the African Energy Chamber with Senegalese President Macky Sall
NJ Ayuk of the African Energy Chamber with Senegalese President Macky Sall

The African Energy Chamber’s delegation advocated for local content as a pillar of the industry’s sustainability efforts

DAKAR, Senegal, February 18, 2020/ — As Senegal’s first oil and gas projects are under-development and first production is expected within two years, the African Energy Chamber (www.EnergyChamber.org) conducted this week a working visit in Dakar to promote investment into the country and support local content development and capacity building.

Led by Executive Chairman NJ Ayuk, the African Energy Chamber’s delegation advocated for local content as a pillar of the industry’s sustainability efforts and offered all its support to continue pushing and financing Senegal’s initiatives to build capacity and build a new generation of Senegalese oil & gas workers and managers. “Oil companies have an unmatched ability, and a profound responsibility, to support H.E. Macky Sall’s bold vision in shaping an economy that works for all Senegalese and preserves their freedoms,” said NJ Ayuk.

The team met with H.E. Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal; H.E. Mouhamadou Makhtar Cissé, Minister of Petroleum and Energies, Ousmane Ndiaye, Permanent Secretary of COS-Petrogaz; Aguibou Ba, Director General of the National Institute for Petroleum and Gaz (INPG) and the majority of the oil and gas operators and service companies.   

“Moving closer and closer to becoming a large-scale producer of oil and gas, Senegal’s story is an inspiring one. And, as a hotspot for oil and gas development, it is only fitting that the nation cements market-driven local content frameworks that are rooted in capacity building and are driven by the determination to transform practices in its energy sector,” declaired Nj Ayuk. “That is why initiatives such as the INPG are important in ensuring that industry revenue benefits the state while also guaranteeing employment for citizens. The INPG is a true social contract bringing the private and public sector together to plan for a prosperous future for Senegal,” he added.

The Chamber’s working visit coincided with that of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, during which state-owned SENELEC and GE signed an agreement for the development of 300MW of gas-to-power capacity, the modernization of Senegal’s power plants and the creation of a maintenance centre in Senegal. In line with the US’ interests to increase cooperation with Africa, the Chamber reiterated the industry’s call for continued improvements in the ease of doing business and better operating environments for foreign investors.

“President Trump dispatching Secretary of State Pompeo and US companies to Senegal is a brilliant move. US companies understand that investing in Senegal is good business and a sustainable corporate strategy. President Macky Sall’s government has built on positive trends to maximize foreign investments. This includes a commitment to transparency, improving safety and security, strengthening the macroeconomic environment, investing in quality education and skill development in science, technology and innovation, and avoiding the Dutch disease,” added Ayuk.

Last year, the African Energy Chamber and Centurion Law Group hosted a local content forum in Senegal, calling attention to local content development in the country. The ongoing visit serves as a follow up and a showcase of the Chamber’s continued commitment to the growth and development of African economies through ensuring that Africa’s natural resources benefit Africa’s people first.

“Senegal’s emergence as a key player in the oil and gas industry has been remarkable and, as this growth continues to surge, it is important that local communities have a seat at the table, It is also important that we continue to create an enabling environment investors and the oil sector. Cutting unnecessary red tape and fast-tracking project approvals will give the energy operators a boost,” said NJ Ayuk. “This, however, is a goal that is achievable only through the collaboration of the private and public sector. Local content is value creation and it is pertinent that Senegal put in place policies and frameworks that will see the its people benefit from its hydrocarbon industry,” he added.

Last month, Woodside Energy got the green light for its $4.2bn Sangomar oil project, Senegal’s first offshore oil venture where first production is expected in 2023, with a capacity to reach 100,000 bopd. The Phase 1 development concept for the Sangomar field is a stand-alone FPSO facility with subsea infrastructure. Meanwhile, works are ongoing at the Greater Tortue Ahmeyim FLNG project, whose phase 1 will see the commissioning of a 2.5 mtpa facility by 2022. This month, Kosmos Energy, BP, Petrosen and SMHPM signed an agreement with BP Gas Marketing for the supply of 2.45 mtpa of LNG over 20 years.

The MSGBC Basin has become sub-Saharan Africa’s hottest exploration frontier. Senegal is currently holding a licensing round to further attract investment into its acreages and boost existing reserves. The round is expected to generate tremendous interest from foreign investors and further confirm Senegal as a new African energy leader.

The African Energy Chamber (www.EnergyChamber.org) works with indigenous companies throughout the continent in optimizing their reach and networks. Our partnerships with international dignitaries, executives, and companies allow for relevant servicing to other international entities looking to operate within the continent.

The African Energy Chamber brings willing governments and credible businesses together to continuing growth of the African energy sector under international standard business practices.

*Source African Energy Chamber
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Leave Rwanda-Uganda matter to two Heads of State to decide
February 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Mohammed M. Mupenda*

Ugandan President Museveni and Paul Kagame of Rwanda pose for pictures after signing the MoU to imprvove relations between both countries in August 2019. Photo Credit East African
Ugandan President Museveni and Paul Kagame of Rwanda pose for pictures after signing the MoU to imprvove relations between both countries in August 2019. Photo Credit East African

There are dates you can hardly forget in the event which unfolded between the two countries, Rwanda-Uganda when their communique was made official, those are, an advisory note issued to advise Rwandans not to cross the border to Uganda, Luanda signing pact which never yielded the positive results and the release, deportation of Rwandans who were incarcerated in Uganda’s military cells.

These dates with their happening could always be abrupt to the citizens of both countries and some put a smile on them as they wait to see the outcomes of pact  but of course free movement to both citizens is paramount and they would mostly wish to see pact signed in Luanda being implemented as peaceful and diplomatic solution to the row that paralysed business, took peoples’ lives, separated family and friends and made life a misery to both countries’ ordinary citizens.

In the move of having the row ended, Uganda made a surprise towards early this year and released nine detainees who were considered political and accused of espionage to Uganda. This political move ignited various reactions on twitter, Facebook and in the local media. Some activists in Uganda protested the move by calling on Uganda’s government to avail justice to those who believed these people had committed crimes against humanity such as involvement in killing many Rwandans who had fled from Rwanda.

Self worth initiative, the non profit organisation headed by Ms. Prossy Bonabana executive director was the first to protest and others brought it on facebook and twitter supporting the move of which Rwanda citizens and officials including Minister of East African affairs Olivier Nduhungirehe rebuffed the protest and called it off saying that Ms. Prossy Bonabana  is serving Rwanda National Congress, the movement Rwanda calls a terrorist group headed by Former Rwanda chief of staff General Kayumba Nyamwasa who currently lives in South Africa.

Ms. Boonabana argued that some of these victims have their husbands, sons and relatives still incarcerated in Kigali safe houses without trial or prisons serving life sentences on politically motivated charges adding that many Rwandan refugees in Uganda have been living in fear.

“It was at the height of cries and quest for justice in 2017 that the relatives of victims took a leading role to voice out and condemn these aggressive activities by the Rwandan security agencies. These Rwandan agents had claimed the lives of many people and had pushed several others to live in constant fear,” she stressed.

Since 2017, the victims have eagerly waited for justice to finally prevail through court systems, only this week to receive a shock of their lives that the government was withdrawing criminal charges against the seven hardcore Rwandan intelligence agents. This, we strongly condemn as miscarriage of justice,” she said.

Despite of the move igniting mixed reactions, most of us, friends, analysts applauded it. And this is because, we were waiting to see the row that has put people’s lives at  risk get to an end.

According to Dr. Frederick Goloba-Mutebi, political scientist and an anthropologist, the decision to release them was political, in the interest of repairing relations. On those grounds alone, it was right. The tensions are not good for either country.

But also we have to establish whether the Government of Uganda withdrew charges or lost interest in the case. Whatever it did, however, raises questions about whether it had prima facie evidence against them or not, given they were in custody for 2 years or more.

They can sue, and that will be good, if they have grounds for doing so. It’s their right, if their rights were violated.

Rwanda Ambassador Frank Mugambage said it was (only) a step in the right direction. That suggests it is not enough.

While exchanging chats with friends and family advising them to go ahead to visit families, friends and transact business with Uganda since I knew the borders were opened, to many people, this was a dream which never came true when  Rwanda’s Head of State told the diplomats that he is not about to tell his citizens to return to uganda, because he has no control over their safety while there. 

Addressing more than 60 diplomats at the Presidency in Kigali on Wednesday evening, Kagame said there were still hundreds of Rwandans in Ugandan jails and that telling his people they were safe in Kampala would be a lie.

This perhaps gave the clearest hint on the progress of the efforts to resolve the dispute between Rwanda and Uganda, indicating the two countries are far from reaching a resolution.

Kagame told Rwandans “just stop going there because if you go there, I have no control. They may arrest you, and your families will come to me and say you have been arrested. And there is nothing I can do about it.”

He revealed that he and Museveni will be going back to Luanda, Angola soon to review the progress in implementing what was agreed in the first meeting in August last year clarifying that the issue is between him and Museveni. 

Note that ad hoc commissions failed to reach a solution after meeting in Kigali and Kampala and resolved to consult presidents

It is also said that what’s happening between the two countries is an issue between their two first families

The disappearance of ordinary citizens has not ceased to happen as Uganda citizens keep asking Uganda government about the citizens being killed while trying to cross the border and one of the Ugandan, Kigali based engineer who went missing end of last year.

It is a year now since Rwanda decided to close the Gatuna border with Uganda.

Second Luanda meeting resolutions which set 21st February for next meeting at Gatuna, and this gives hope to many that the border would be opened right away.

*Mohammed M. Mupenda is a news correspondent and freelance reporter, who has written for publications in the United States and abroad. He is also a French and East African language interpreter.

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Thanks President Trump for the Travel Ban on African Nations of Libya, Somalia, Eritrea, Tanzania, Nigeria and Chad
February 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ben Kazora*

Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania- Cradle of Mankind

Questions to Ponder Upon

The origin of the name “Africa” stems from the words used by the Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans. Key words include the Egyptian word, “Afru-ika” meaning motherland, the Greek word “aphrike meaning “without cold” as well as “aprica” a Latin word meaning Sunny. Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania holds evidence of the earliest human ancestors. One would venture to say that by extension we are all Tanzanians. Africa as you can already tell is a continent with a rich history, most beautiful cultures, highly educated populous just to mention a few. 25% of all the languages in the entire universe are spoken on this one continent as noted Jared Diamond in his 1997 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “Guns, Germs and Steel”.
 
“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here” -Trump in January 2018. These remarks included some African countries. On January 31st, 2020 President Trump extended his travel ban to include Eritrea, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania. It’s with this backdrop that I was tempted to delve a little deeper into what Africa’s potential really is and what it takes for her to realize it. Several questions come to mind; With a population of 1.3 billion why is Africa’s GDP merely $2.19 trillion while that of the USA is at a staggering $21.44 trillion? France, United Kingdom, India, Germany and Japan all have higher GDP than all of Africa. Why is Norway’s GDP per capita is $81,485 while that of Burundi’s is $310? Why is Norway 262 times richer than Burundi? Why does it take 24 African nations to aggregate $1 trillion in GDP, far more than any other region in the world? Why does it take 24 African nations to cumulative $1 trillion in GDP—far more than any other region of the world? Why does most of Europe has a single trade zone, the European Union while Africa has 16 trade zone? How come it takes 3 hours or less to reach European countries aggregating 70% of Europe’s GDP and 8 hours for Latin America but 15 hours for a comparable trip in Africa? Why does it cost less to ship a car from Paris to Lagos than from Accra to Lagos? I will proceed to explain my thoughts on how we got here and examine the best means to fully realize our potential. Acha Leke Saf and Yeboah-Amankwah in their Harvard Business Review article titled “ Africa: A Crucible of Creativity” highlighted that Africa has more than 400 companies whose revenue exceeds $1 billion dollars. Surely, Africa has all the precursors to be the world’s largest economy attain her deserving dignity.

Possible Explanation
National Geographic report suggested that in by 1850 Africa’s population would have been 50 million instead of 25 million, thanks to slavery. The report goes further to suggest that slavery contributed to the colonization and exploration of the continent. Furthermore, it’s suggested that as a result infrastructure and communities were damaged, and this made Africa vulnerable to colonialism. What was a huge loss to the continent the slaves actually provided a head start the slave traders. Had it not been for the slaves in America, the cost of building industry and agriculture would have been much higher therefore the standard of living would be much lower. Today’s western culture is a hybrid of that of Africa and the local customs. This ranges from food to music. While acknowledging impact of slavery on the continent it’s fair to highlight that the westerners didn’t settle in large numbers. However, they were successful in extracting the continents wealth first the human capital (through slavery) then diamonds, copper and rubber just to mention a few.
 
Today we see Africa hosting 60% of the world’s arable land that hasn’t been cultivated but still imports $35B worth f food annually. This figure is projected to increase to $110 billion by 2025 if nothing is done. Even more mind boggling is the fact that Africa export raw material out of the continent and turn around to import the same products processed. Africa is essentially contributing to her own poverty by exporting jobs in the process. A 2018 Africa Development Bank report noted that Brazil transformed it tropical Cerrados into a $54 billion food industry in just two decades. Certainly, this feat required innovative soil and crop management programs, new agriculture technologies just to mention a few. Africa’s Savannah is more than double that of Brazil and employing a few of the mentioned techniques will certainly make the continent a net exporter of agricultural products.
 
The challenge remains on of extractive nature of Africa’s political and economic systems. The World Economic Forum reports this is part of the reasons why the impact of foreign aid is never seen trickling down to most citizens. The aide in turn ends up being a tool to continue enslaving the citizens and at times eroding the continents culture and identity with the attached strings. In his book “Confessions of an Economic Hitman” elucidated the tricks that are behind the so-called loans. Karen McVeigh’s article in The Guardian shared a sad finding that in 2015 Africa received $32 billion in loans but paid $18 billion in debt interest alone. As Perkins highlighted such loans aren’t structured with Africa’s interest in mind. This coupled with poor leadership means Africa finds herself in a perpetual race to end poverty. Political evolution is what is believed to differentiate the Africa from the West. The West has proven to host economic and political systems that allow for inclusion and equal opportunities. Botswana is a perfect example of effects of good governance. 50 years ago, Botswana was a very poor African country, today with a GDP per capita of $8,258 this African nation is richer than European nations of Bulgaria, Serbia Albania and Ukraine. This is primarily due to good governance and its handling of the natural resource (diamond) wealth. A good economic institution protects private property right, enforcements of contracts is predictable and controlled inflation.

Thabo Mbeki’s Report of the High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa reports that for the past 50 years Africa lost over $1.2 to 1.4trillion dollars to illicit flows. This was equal to the financial assistance given to the continent in the same period. While these transactions are usually dismissed as a result of pure corruption, Mbeki’s report showed that 65% of these illicit flows were commercial transactions. Some of the means by which this is achieved is through trade mis-invoicing. Multinational corporations have used technics referred to as base erosion and profit shifting which are essentially forms tax evasion from high tax countries to low tax locations. Basically, multinationals decide how much profit to allocate to different parts of the same company operating in different countries, and then determine how much tax to pay to each government. Meanwhile, embezzlement and bribery constitute of only 3% of these illicit outflows. 
 
African countries have done a wonderful job building out modern road systems. However, only 33% of Africans live within 2 kilometers of a paved road that is usable all year round. The cost of travel within the continent is ungodly. Travel cost in Africa between five and eight times that of Brazil of Vietnam. The Economist reported that despite Africa being home to a fifth of the world’s population, the continent accounts for only 4% of the global electric use. About 70 percent of the population has no access to electricity.

Urbanization, a challenge and opportunities

McKinsey & Company notes that Africa’s development is directly correlated with urbanization. While this introduces infrastructural challenges in major cities, it also implies a growing consumer market. Between 2010 and 2020 there was a bigger growth in sales of food and beverages in Cairo than Brasilia and Delhi. This can be best captured in the facts that today; Nairobi’s per capita income is three times that of Kenya. Those who live in Lagos are now earning twice the amount of the nations average. In the oil rich nation of Angola, Luanda the capital city accounts for 45 percent of the nation’s consumption. While this is exciting for the consumer market, I am deeply concerned about the disincentives to grow new cities and in turn new economic frontiers. The right development policies need to be put in place so growth can be equally dispersed.

The Way Forward- the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA)

Africa is NOT resource poor by any means. As a matter of fact, Africa is the richest continent on earth. South Africa potential mineral wealth is estimated at about $2.5 trillion. If fully realized this would put South Africa ahead of Italy and Brazil as the 8th largest economy in the world right behind France. Simultaneously, Democratic Republic of the Congo’s mineral wealth is estimated to be worth $24 trillion. Congo doesn’t only have the potential to be the richest nation on the planet but richer than the European Union. Numerous other stunning finds exist about the potential of the continent. However, Africa must trade her way to her fullest potential. With a staggering population of 1.3 billion people, Africa is already her own market. So, Africa’s intra-trade is paramount.
 
The share of intra-Africa exports have increased over the years to about 17% presently. However, this is still very low compared to other regions. Europe is at 69% and Asia at 59%. The AfCFTA is believed to be the answer to most intra-Africa trade related issues. This agreement will certainly unlock the continent’s economic potential if properly executed. The mere removal of tariffs is expected to boost the continental intra-trade by $50 billion to $70 billion by the year 2040.
 
To enhance intra-trade a key impediment that needs to be removed is the tariff related costs. According to the Abuja treaty, all regional economic communities should have established a common external tariff within customs unions and fully functional free trade agreements by end of 2017. Clearly, this is yet to take place. The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) has the lowest intra-regional trade. This region posts the lowest intra-regional trade in the continent and for this to change tariff should essentially be wiped away.
 
None tariff barriers also pose an equally challenging obstacle to intra-trading. These broadly include policies that reduce cost of transactions that stem from custom administrations, documents required, enhanced transport infrastructure. These policies are needed to reduce transaction costs as well as those that create an enabling environment for trade which include reduced bureaucracy and corruption.

Efforts Being Made

International companies such as Maersk, Imperial Logistics and a few others have played a key role in facilitating intercontinental trade. Between 2005 and 2016 the mentioned companies helped increase intra-Africa trade from $30billion to $64 billion.
Another industry that is playing a key role in connecting the continent is the airline industry. As of 2019 Ethiopia Airlines flies to 37 countries in Africa alone, leading the way. Royal Air Maroc, Air Cote d’Ivoire and Rwanda Air are leading the continent in the economic integration efforts.

Conclusion
Africa may be lacking in hard power, but the continent should take control of her soft power. Very few countries have leveraged the power of impact of branding. Rarely do you hear that Mauritius GDP per capital is more than that of Bulgaria or that Equatorial Guinea is richer than Mexico. Yes, there is work to be done on the continent but it’s come a point where she must take control of her own narrative. Talent and capital are increasingly mobile and can have a huge impact on the economy. America isn’t just a nation but an idea. In 2018 about 23 million people applied for the green card lottery which is given to only 55,000 people a year. Very few of these millions try to make it to the US not because they have done a cost-benefit analysis of the key factors. The power of the American dream and the iconography of the Statue of Liberty mean something. They have value far beyond feel-good expressions of patriotism. They represent America as something for which to strive, as an expression of hopes and dreams for a better life, as a fulfillment of a quest for ultimate safety and prosperity and liberty. African nations need rebranding. I have seen images of Africa on CNN and Fox to almost always be of starving children begging for food. Rarely do we see CNN covering stories such as; the Ugandan inventor Brian Turyabagye has created a biomedical smart jacket that can diagnose pneumonia that is responsible for 16% of deaths of children under the age of 5. Square Kilometer Array (SKA) in South Africa which, once completed, is set to be world’s largest telescope that will allow us to see many times deeper into space. Nigeria’s Osh Agabi, has created a device that fuses live neurons from mice stem cells into a silicon chip-for the first time. The device can be used to detect explosives and cancer cells. These examples are endless. 
Africa indeed should take the travel bans as an opportunity to look inward and seek out her deep inner capabilities. The above issues highlighted aren’t difficult to resolve if African leaders place their hearts in the right place. With Africa’s median age of 19 the continent has the energy, human capital and vigor to allow the continent to realize her fullest potential of the biggest economy in the word. All precursors are present.

As we strive to realize Africa’s dream let’s not lose sight of the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. Let’s world know of the beauty of her poetry or the intelligence of our vibrant and rich public debates. The world ought to know more about the wit, courage, wisdom and compassion of Africans.

We must choose to make this goal our solemn mission. This decision should be made not because it’s easy but rather because it’s hard. It’s the continental collective effort that will organize her citizens and bring forth the best of her skills and energy. This is a challenge the continent must accept now and must be unwilling to postpone and one the continent must achieve. If now us, who? If not now, when?

* The author is  co-founder of Limitless Software Solutions and can be reached via emails ben.kazora@limitlesssoftwares.com and bkazora@alumni.purdue.edu. The views are his.Follow him on Facebook and LinkedIn , bkazora@alumni.purdue.edu


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The Nigeria Natural Resource Charter (NNRC) Launches the 2019 Benchmarking Exercise Report (BER), Holds a Policy Dialogue in Abuja, Nigeria: Thursday, 20 February, 2020
February 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

The Nigeria Natural Resource Charter, a non-profit policy institute on natural resource governance launch its flagship Benchmark Exercise Report (BER)  in Abuja on Thursday, 20th of February 2020 in Abuja. The Report presents the biennial findings from an assessment of Nigeria’s petroleum sector which covers from 2017 to 2019.

The BER which identifies petroleum sector progress and areas for improvements empowers stakeholders to advocate for best practices within their various spheres of work in the sector. It assesses Nigeria’s petroleum sector against 12 Precepts to offer guidance on key decisions faced by the government, beginning with whether to extract resources in the first place, and ending with decisions that determine how generated revenue can produce maximum good for citizens. The 2019 Report provides an update on the last two years of petroleum sector governance, examined gaps in sector transparency and reported changes.

The dialogue will focus on its overarching precondition for effective petroleum resource management; precept 1 determining whether Nigeria’s ‘strategy, legal and institutional framework governing the petroleum sector ‘secures the greatest benefit for citizens through and inclusive and comprehensive national strategy, clear legal framework and competent institutions.’

According to the Program Coordinator, Nigeria Natural Resource Charter (NNRC), “the release of the Report comes at an opportune time given the recent reforms instituted by the government and the omnibus reform in the form of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) being championed by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources”. Adding that “the governance gaps have been well articulated in the 2019 BER and we believe that if appropriately addressed in the bill and subsequently implemented, Nigeria would have made appreciable improvement captured with a ‘green’ in areas where it largely still remains at a ‘red’. From the findings, there were marginal changes from the 2017 BER with 10 ‘ambers’ and 2 ‘reds’ being recorded. The ‘reds’ have persisted against precept 5 and 6, the precepts that assesses the impacts of extraction on host communities and the commercial effectiveness of the national oil company; NNPC.

The major focus of the dialogue will be on those areas where there have not been any forms of improvement as captured with ‘reds’, notably precepts 5 and 6 and the other two precepts that will be affected when the PIB is passed; precepts 3 and 4. The four key benchmarks Nigeria must attain and focus on as it targets reforms are the Natural Resource Charter (NRC)’s precepts 3, 4, 5 and 6 consecutively which ask pivotal questions on whether the government encourage efficient exploration production operations, and allocate rights transparently’, ‘does the current fiscal framework enable the government realize the full value of its resources consistent with attracting necessary investment, and should be robust to changing circumstances?’, ‘does the government pursue opportunities for local benefits and account for, mitigate, and offset the environmental and social costs of resource extraction projects?’ and ‘is the national oil company accountable, with well-defined mandates and an objective of commercial efficiency?.’

It is the NNRC’s belief that if all these questions are adequately tackled, Nigeria has the potential to compete more effectively globally and stands a chance of raising some of its 187 abjectly poor citizens out of poverty.

We hope to see these tenets guide the government as it makes its decisions and pushes to reform the petroleum sector to boost economic growth and wealth for the nation. 

-END-

For media enquiries, contact:

Anthony Ihianle

aihianle@nigerianrc.org

Kelechi Anyanwu            
kelechideca@gmail.com

About the Nigeria Natural Resource Charter: The Nigeria Natural resource Charter (NNRC) is a non-profit policy institute that implements the Natural Resource Charter (NRC), a set of principles intended for use by governments, civil societies and the international community to determine how best to manage natural resource wealth for the benefit of current and future generations of citizens.  It is led by an esteemed panel of experts on natural resource governance that convenes on a biannual basis to analyse the governance issues relating to the petroleum sector in the country.

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Data: Africa’s “new blood”, rather than the “new oil”
February 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boko Inyundo*

Data protection and privacy regulation in most, or even all, African countries are often less mature – particularly when compared to the EU’s General Data Protection (GDPR) regime. As such, economies on the continent present both risks and opportunities when it comes to data.

At the recent Africa Tech Summit Kigali 2020, we ran a workshop on data protection and privacy regulations, and a panel discussion on digital transformation in Africa. As such it was, for us at least, a poignant moment when, during this major global tech industry gathering, one of the delegates stated that data was, in fact, Africa’s “new blood” rather than the “new oil”, with this delegate clearly recalling when, in 2017, the Economist memorably declared that the world’s most valuable resource was no longer oil but data!

Below are some insights from those sessions an integrated team from DLA Piper’s Kigali, Lagos, Nairobi, Casablanca and London offices hosted, and from the summit as a whole.

Panel discussion

The panel we led recognised data as the lifeblood for Africa’s pursuit for competitive advantage. Mark Ihimoyan, director of business development (Middle East and Africa) at Microsoft, discussed how this tech giant has, in 2019, opened its first data centres on the continent through new cloud regions in Cape Town and Johannesburg. Microsoft’s goal is to accelerate global investment in Africa and create greater economic opportunities for businesses based there.

Patricia Obozuwa, chief communications and public affairs officer for GE Africa, shared insights from the GE Lagos Garage, a hub for advanced manufacturing skills development focused on building the next generation of Nigerian entrepreneurs. Interventions like this are playing a critical role in building the capacity of human capital on the continent.

And Henri Nyakarundi – CEO and founder at ARED, a renewable energy startup – spoke about some of the challenges that entrepreneurs and investors face in Africa. These include the process of accessing capital. ARED has sought funding to help it scale out of Rwanda into Ethiopia, Senegal and the Ivory coast this year with it planning to do so through the flexibility and agility offered by a licensing model.

Key trends from summit sessions

Fintech players OPay and Flutterwave reflected on open banking regulations coming to Africa. Mehdi Kettani, Partner in our Casablanca office in Morocco, highlights how these are set to oblige banks and telcos to share their customers’ data – with permission – with authorised providers of app-based services.

Moses Kiiza, Partner at Equity Juris Chambers (DLA Piper Africa, Rwanda), noted how agritech companies like Twiga Foods are leading the structural transformation of Africa’s food retail markets and, therefore, successfully addressing food insecurity on the continent by connecting farmers with retailers and consumers.

Sandra Oyewole, Partner at Olajide Oyewole LLP (DLA Piper Africa, Nigeria), noted how e-commerce businesses such as Sokowatch are revolutionising access to goods and services, with their rapid pan-African growth fuelled by macro-environmental forces like the recently agreed African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. When implemented, this should widen the scope for regional strategies.

The “new blood”

Over the two-day summit, the wider industry conversation around Africa and tech was summed up by a delegate’s observation that data is Africa’s “new blood,” particularly in relation to inherent risks around big data. The delegate noted that organisations leveraging large consumer data sets could be seen by those same consumers as effectively taking their blood, only to sell it right back to them through tools designed to exploit their data at scale.

Africa’s “new blood” does run the risk of being ‘contaminated’. Global cybersecurity firm Dark Trace presented a keynote with case studies showing how the company’s ‘Enterprise Immune System’ and ‘Antigena’ technologies have detected and responded to previously unidentified threats against enterprise clients operating in Africa.

Cyber risk repeatedly came up as a critical issue. William Maema, partner at IKM Advocates (DLA Piper Africa, Kenya), noted that many African countries have no specific cyber legislation. For the few jurisdictions where cyber laws exist, there is a general lack of awareness about the importance of investing in cyber resilience through preventive measures, incident response and post-incident remediation.

The result is a conducive environment for cybercrime in Africa. Between them, corporates, governments and investors must:

  • design and implement governance structures to protect them and their directors;
  • deploy tools to assess risk and comply with evolving regulatory requirements;
  • refine sound corporate policies and strategies to create and maintain a culture of security; and
  • implement responsible supply-chain and vendor risk-management techniques and contract support.

DLA Piper’s position in the wider industrial ecosystem lets us appreciate the inherent risks and barriers to the adoption of technology, including in under-regulated economies in Africa.

After all, in today’s ‘big data’ reality, and as Africa’s infrastructure and connectivity continues to improve, we can anticipate the volume and complexity of data flows into and across Africa to rise exponentially. This then reinforces how apposite the aforementioned delegate’s observation that data is Africa’s “new blood” rather than its “new oil” was, noting that some criticised the comparison of data to oil given what some believe is the finite availability of the latter, in contrast to this age of data abundance.

For now, our thanks to Andrew Fassnidge and his team for putting together a fantastic event in Kigali. In the meantime, we look forward to continuing this conversation when we connect again with international tech leaders and investors at its sister event, the fifth annual Africa Tech Summit London 2020 to be held on 22 May at the London Stock Exchange.

Some of our relevant tools and resources

We provide a range of products and services for clients and the wider market, including:

  • Data Protection Laws of the World, a comparative guide;
  • Data Privacy Scorebox, enabling organisations to assess their level of data protection maturity; and
  • our cybersecurity services.

Also our latest GDPR Data Breach Survey revealed that data protection regulators have imposed EUR114 million (USD126 million / GBP97 million) in fines under GDPR regime for a wide range of infringements – not just data breaches.

*Boko Inyundo is a senior marketing and business development professional aligned to the international Technology Sector team at global business law firm DLA Piper. He is also a council member at the Royal African Society, a member of the board at the African Foundation for Development, and a non-executive advisor to the Africa and tech-focused consultancy De Charles.

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