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Ghana:President Akufo-Addo Named “Champion Of The African Union Financial Institutions
February 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

The 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Governments of the African Union has appointed President Akufo-Addo as “Champion of the African Union Financial Institutions.”

The decision of the Assembly was made on Monday, 10th February, 2020, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, by the Chairperson of the AU, His Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa.

The creation of African Union Financial Institutions is one of the flagship projects of Agenda 2063, aiming at accelerating integration and socio-economic development of the continent.

The agreed timeframes in the first 10-Year Plan of Agenda 2063 were for the African Investment Bank and Pan African Stock Exchange to be established by 2016; the African Monetary Fund by 2018; and the African Central Bank and Single African Currency by 2034. 

Whilst thanking the Assembly for the honour of the appointment, President Akufo-Addo stated that the “establishment of the AU Financial Institutions has always been at the centre of our agenda for continental integration, and that is why, over the years, we have adopted a treaty and several legal instruments to that effect.”

Currently, only twenty-two (22) Member States have signed the African Investment Bank (AIB) charter, with only 6 ratifications obtained, whilst twelve (12) countries have signed the African Monetary Fund charter, with only one (1) ratification.

At least, nine (9) more countries are needed to ratify the AIB charter for it to enter into force, and, in the case of the African Monetary Fund, fourteen (14) ratifications.

“The task to ensure these are done will be one of my immediate priorities. I will see to it that Ghana ratifies these charters promptly upon my return to Accra,” the President said.

He continued, “the establishment of the African Union Financial Institutions is critical for not only enhancing resource mobilization on the continent, but also for providing the necessary impetus for growth and jobs creation. Their establishment are crucial for the effective implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and for achieving Agenda 2063: ‘The Africa We Want’. Financing our own development agenda remains our primary goal, and will require bold commitments from us.”

Amongst others, President Akufo-Addo pledged to ensure the prompt ratification of the various charters establishing the Financial Institutions; help take, under the direction of the Assembly, all necessary steps to facilitate the creation of the continental financial architecture essential for the realisation of AU Agenda 2063 and the integration process of the continent; and work with the host countries, i.e. the Republic of Cameroon for the African Monetary Fund, the Federal Republic of Nigeria for the African Central Bank, and Libya for the African Investment Bank towards their establishments.

Background

The Article 19 of the Constitutive Act of the African Union provides for the creation of three institutions namely the African Central Bank, the African Monetary Fund and the African Investment Bank. Furthermore, in January 2006, in Khartoum, Sudan, the Commission was requested by the Assembly of the African Union (Assembly/AU/Dec.109), to conduct a feasibility study on the creation of a Pan-African Stock Exchange (PASE). The three financial institutions and the PASE, constitute the African Union Financial Institutions (AUFIs).

In January 2005, the Assembly decided, in Abuja, Nigeria, decision No. Assembly/AU/Dec.64 (IV), that the African Central Bank should be located in West Africa, the African Investment Bank in North Africa, and the African Monetary Fund in Central Africa. Following this decision, the Northern Region decided that the African Investment Bank should be located in Libya, the Central Region designated Cameroon as the host country of the African Monetary Fund, while the Western Region designated the Federal Republic of Nigeria as the host country for the African Central Bank.

Source: Presidency of Ghana 

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Court grant Nigerian Journalist bail after 174 days
February 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Olayinka Ajayi

Publisher of Cross River Watch Agba Jalingo
Publisher of Cross River Watch Agba Jalingo,

A Nigeria federal high court in Calabar, Cross River state, has granted the publisher of CrossRiverWatch Agba Jalingo, bail in the sum of N10million after 174 days.

The journalist who spent 174 days in detention before he was granted bail was first arraigned on August 22, 2019 after he published a story on how Ben Ayade, governor of Cross River, allegedly approved and diverted N500 million meant for the state’s microfinance bank.

Jalingo was charged with conspiracy, terrorism, treasonable felony and an attempt to topple the state government.

On Thursday, Sule Shuaibu, the judge, granted the journalist N10 million bail, following an application from Attah Ochinke, his lawyer.

The court ruled that those standing as surety for the journalist would make a refundable deposit of N700,000 to the court registry to perfect the bail.

Jalingo was earlier denied bail on two occasions by Simon Amobeda, another judge, who was caught in a leak audio saying the journalist’s life was in his hands.

After the recording was made public, Jalingo asked the chief judge of the federal high court to reassign his case.

Amobeda later recused himself from the matter following allegations of a lack of fair trial by the journalist.

Ayade denied involvement in the trial of Jalingo, but said the federal government was behind the journalist’s case over his involvement in the #RevolutionNow protest by Omoyele Sowore.

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Kenyan government orders deportation of Chinese citizens involved in assault case
February 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr. Fred Matiang’i signed the deportation order for the four.

Last week a video footage went viral on Social Media filming a Chinese national whipping a Kenyan worker for reporting to work late at Chez Wou Restaurant in Kileleshwa, Nairobi.

The video sparked uproar among Kenyans forcing the office of Director of Public Prosecution to order for their arrest. On Monday, February 10, Deng Hailan, Chang Yueping, Ou Qiang and Yu Ling were arraigned before a Nairobi court following their arrest the previous day.

Deng Hailan, the man caught in the camera was charged with assault whereas Chang Yueping, Ou Qiang and Yu Lung are accused of working in the country without work permit.  Chang Yueping and Ou Qiang visas had expired but Yu Lung has only visitor’s visa.

The suspects were detained for three days pending bail ruling. The prosecution had asked the court to detain the Asian country nationals for 21 days owing to the ongoing investigations but the defense dismissed the application claiming their charges do not warranty a long investigation period.

Issuing her ruling on Thursday, Nairobi Principal Magistrate Helen Kowari detained the suspects for 15 days with the case expected to be mentioned on March 4, 2020.

“Police have sought 21 days to complete investigations. The court has considered the fact that the accused persons are a flight risk and will abscond court,” said the Principal Magistrate.

Few hours after the ruling, Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr. Fred Matiang’i signed the deportation order for the four.

The story took a new twist two days ago after other workers at the lavish hotel revealed that the prank was taken out of the context. They said the victim had asked to be whipped by the Chinese in order to be given money to buy khat.

“He wanted money to go buy khat, the Chinese chef told him to go and ask for money from the counter so that its deducted from his end month salary, he did not want to do that, he instead told him to beat him and then give him the money,” said the supervisor at the hotel.

However, the victims rubbished his colleagues’ claims arguing that they also go through the same ordeal but are afraid of speaking out for fear of losing their jobs.

On September 6, 2018, Dr. Matiang’i also ordered for a Chinese motorcycle dealer Liu Jiaqi’s deportation for hurling racial slurs at Kenyans and the President. Jiaqi was caught in a camera calling President Uhuru Kenyatta and Kenyans monkeys

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Belligerents in Cameroon and all other countries of the world should treat children as children-Barrister Felix Agbor NKONGHO on the plight of child soldiers*
February 13, 2020 | 0 Comments
It is the responsibility of the Cameroon government to urgently seek a peaceful resolution to the Anglophone Crisis so that children may become children again, says Barrister Felix Agbor NKONGHO
It is the responsibility of the Cameroon government to urgently seek a peaceful resolution to the Anglophone Crisis so that children may become children again, says Barrister Felix Agbor NKONGHO

Imagine that one day, soldiers appear in your village. They are hunting members of a local separatist militia. When villagers cannot say where the militia may be hiding, the angry soldiers begin burning down the village market and several homes, including yours. As you and your family run into the bush at the edge of the village to hide, you hear gunfire. Turning, you see your mother collapsed on the ground, shot dead by soldiers of her own country. You are 12 years old, your father died of poor health the year before, and you watch your junior sister crying over your mother’s corpse.

You live in Cameroon, a French-English bilingual country in Central Africa. You and your sister and 800,000 other kids have not attended school for the past three years due to the conflict between separatist militias and the government soldiers. The militias, who want a separate English-speaking country, forbid children to attend school. The government has not restored order, choosing increased force rather than negotiations. The Major National Dialogue held by the government in fall 2019, due to its restricted agenda and a boycott by separatist leaders, failed to produce a sufficient solution.

Today, there is a full-blown humanitarian crisis in the two Anglophone regions. The eight Francophone regions of Cameroon are also suffering, as hundreds of thousands of internally displaced Anglophones have fled there, and over fifty thousand have become refugees next door in Nigeria and beyond. More than three thousand are dead, including one thousand soldiers, and one million are hungry—many barely surviving in makeshift shelters.

You and your sister are alone in the bush. What choices do you have? How will you express your grief, abandonment, fury, and hatred toward your government and the world? Will you choose, or be coerced, to take up arms?

No one knows how many child soldiers there are in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions or other trouble spots in the country, such as the Far North, where Boko Haram terrorizes inhabitants. Videos from the Anglophone regions show children learning to use guns, children talking about killing, children standing with a self-proclaimed leader of an armed separatist group. Stories from hospitals describe lost, orphaned children who wander for days, looking for a home. The trauma is immense, and it is possible that the pain or need for survival drives some children to join a militia that is fighting against the government.

With no school lessons to keep children busy, and the loss of mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers, some have chosen guns in place of books and family, while others have become pregnant. Militias have burned schools, kidnapped students, harmed teachers and headmasters, and worse.

Although the Cameroonian government has signed the UN Safe Schools Declaration, its military has not kept schools safe, and even burned down a school in Eka, verified by University of California-Berkeley’s Human Rights Centre (https://dataverse.scholarsportal.info/dataset.xhtml?persistentId=doi:10.5683/SP2/QF5HP7).

The uneducated generation of Anglophone youth taking shape may cause child soldiers and others to become permanent fighters or criminals bereft of other economic survival skills.

Use of child soldiers constitutes a war crime under International Humanitarian Law. Currently this law pertains to those under 15 years, but a universal change to under 18 is underway. Use of child soldiers encompasses more than fighting—it includes using children as spies, shields, porters, and so on. Last month, the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa published a pamphlet to educate both military and separatist fighters about humanitarian law, which includes a scenario about child soldiers (https://www.chrda.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/EDUCATION-Three.pdf).

In the age of ‘never again,’ the world must stand together to protect children, because using them as weapons of war is not normal and, in fact, is unconscionable. Indeed, the term ‘child soldier’ is an embarrassment for the world of today. A true and proud soldier, whether in Cameroon or elsewhere, will always protect and never intentionally harm civilians, and will always protect and never intentionally recruit or harm children.

Thus:

It is the responsibility of the Cameroon government to urgently seek a peaceful resolution to the Anglophone Crisis so that children may become children again.

It is the responsibility of non-state armed separatist militias to neither accept nor coerce fighters under the age of 18, to lift the ban on schools, and enter negotiations for peace.

The United Nations (UN) and the African Union Commission (AU), among other world bodies, should be actively assisting Cameroon in the Anglophone regions to “silence the guns,” which is the AU’s theme for 2020. Guns and other weapons have no place in the hands of children.

On this International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers, we call on the belligerents in Cameroon and all other countries of the world to treat children as children.

*Barrister Felix Agbor Nkongho is President of the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, based in Cameroon.

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Young Africans benefit from $500,000 Scholarship funding under the Africa Industrial Internet Programme
February 13, 2020 | 0 Comments
AIIP Class of 2019 Graduation
AIIP Class of 2019 Graduation

Port Louis, Mauritius– 31 January 2020- General Electric (NYSE: GE) and the Africa Leadership University (ALU) have announced the kick-off of the 3rd cohort of the Africa Industrial Internet Programme (AIIP)  which is aimed at equipping young Africans with skills that will enable them to take part in the fourth industrial revolution.

The 2020 cohort has enrolled 35 students from 8 countries across Africa, drawn from Oil & gas, transportation, power, energy, manufacturing, healthcare, telecoms and aviation industries. Over the last two years, the rigorous training programme has graduated 64 students, of which 50 were fully sponsored by GE from a scholarship fund totalling US Dollars 500,000.

GE will give 10 full scholarships for the current cohort.

Launched in 2018, the programme has empowered participants with essential skills for building applications for the Industrial Internet, which enables machine-to-machine communication that results in systems that can collect, analyze, and deliver data in real-time. These features provide significant benefits such as predicting when a device will require maintenance, enhancing logistics management, enhancing quality and optimizing safety.

The training takes place at a time when spending on the Internet of Things is predicted to reach a trillion US dollars by 202[1], with the total number of connected devices being projected to rise to 75.44 billion worldwide by 2025, a fivefold increase in ten years.

Commenting on the Programme,  Farid Fezoua, President & CEO for GE Africa said, “As a digital industrial company, it’s exciting  to see how over the last two years the AIIP has developed an ecosystem of digital engineers that utilise data science as an enabler for their work across industries,  developing solutions for the most pressing challenges. Our partnership with ALU for the AIIP is a testament of our commitment to develop the next generation of leaders that will drive solutions made in Africa for Africa in this transformative digital age.”

The AIIP is designed using a project-based approach where participants get to apply their learning in real world contexts. The Programme includes regular assessments in each module culminating with a final project where participants are tasked with applying their learning to solve an existing problem either in their business or in a partner organization’s business operations. This is achieved through modules in machine learning and big data analytics, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Cloud-based Application Development. A unique aspect of the Programme is a deliberate focus on creating links to industry for participants by inviting industry experts to intensives to share case studies, projects of interest, trends and opportunities, through industry field visits and mentorship opportunities with data science professionals. “African Leadership Group is thrilled to be partnering with GE to build a new generation of digital leaders for Africa” said Fred Swaniker, Founder of African Leadership Group, which includes African Leadership Academy, African Leadership University, and ALX. “We share GE’s passion for data, and what it can bring to the African continent and the world. The Programme enables mid-career engineers to build new skills in data analytics, data science, data engineering and data visualization. By leveraging the power of data,

today’s engineers can significantly improve the performance of high-tech industrial machinery and processes, thereby increasing the bottom line for companies. The Africa Industrial Internet Programme is creating globally competitive, digital engineers right here in Africa, and we can’t wait to see their full impact on the continent”.

In 2019 five female candidates from Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria received the Jay Ireland Africa Rising Scholarship for women in tech in honor of GE Africa’s former CEO, Jay Ireland.

Speaking about her experience with the programme, Funmi Somoye a 2019 cohort graduate from Nigeria said, “More than Machine Learning and Data Science, I have learned more about myself, and what I am capable of doing. I can’t wait to change the world!

About ALU

ALU is pioneering a fresh approach to higher education in the 21st century; offering accredited undergraduate, postgraduate and executive education Programme in a unique and imaginative way. By integrating students’ learning with the real world, empowering students to take ownership of their own learning, equipping each student to think entrepreneurially, and employing the most engaging and inspiring teaching methods, ALU is pioneering a new take on higher education and leadership development.  www.alueducation.com

About GE GE drives the world forward by tackling its biggest challenges: Energy, health, transportation—the essentials of modern life. By combining world class engineering with software and analytics, GE helps the world work more efficiently, reliably, and safely. For more than 125 years, GE has invented the future of industry, and today it leads new paradigms in additive manufacturing, materials science, and data analytics. GE people are global, diverse and dedicated, operating with the highest integrity and passion to fulfill GE’s mission and deliver for our customers.

From the students

Maureen Kibetu, 2019, Kenya (GE)

It is more than just coding and data science. It is practical in that we practice the skills we learnt by using real company data to draw insights. I learnt to see data as a story telling tool. I liked that the program also focused on professional development and I particularly enjoyed the conversations on leadership for the continent and ethics in the field of data science.

Gachanja Muigai 2019, Kenya (GE)

AIIP was a unique eye opener and highly beneficial program to me considering my Engineering Background. Through it I acquired formidable & versatile skills in the areas of Data Analytics, Machine Learning, Application Development and Artificial Intelligence. It is indeed rare to find a program that encompasses so many practical & digital skills & even harder when you add a dedicated, passionate Faculty. Finally my fellow students were a great addition to the program giving it a truly Pan African & Global outlook

Edward Opoku, 2018, Ghana

The AIIP is a unique, experience and dive into the world of data and analytics. It gives you an entire spectrum of what it takes to survive in the world of data science. through AIIP, I was able to meet passionate professionals and challenge our assumptions on the impact of data, and what it can bring to the continent and ultimately to the world.

Funmi Somoye, 2019, Nigeria

More than Machine Learning and Data Science, I have learned more about myself, and what I am capable of doing. I can’t wait to change the world!

Adeyinka Adeyemo, 2019, Nigeria

The AIIP is surely a programme of choice for aspiring data scientists or engineers. The modules are in-depth and well thought out and the focus on other professional development skills is also a plus for me.

Rose Funja, 2019, Tanzania

I like the linking of the theory to practice, every intensive meetup had professionals who advised us and shared interesting use cases.

Matlotlo Magasa, 2019, South Africa (GE)

Came in to the programme feeling like I was just a chemical engineer, worried about python programming and if I would be able to learn it. Now Python is not only a friendly coding language but I have the ability to get data from the plant and analyze this easily using data analytics and visualization, to use design thinking in approaching problems.

Chukwudum Chukwuedo, 2019,Nigeria

I just completed my business trip (enterprise digital competition) here in Houston, Texas and I am privileged that my software minimum viable product demonstration received full funding from the enterprise sponsors. The confidence gained from tackling ALU AIIP’s formative and summative assessments (to do hard things confidently) really came in handy and also key lessons from the leadership series especially working within teams and managing conflicts helped the team quickly go through the storming portions of team dynamics to the performing stage.

Sizwe Ncube, 2019, South Africa

I love the way the programme is structured; it encourages peer-to-peer learning and one gets equipped with new tech skills every day. The practicality of the course means you learn by doing. My biggest lesson from the program was to keep abreast of the constant changes in data science technology. All the techniques and skills we learned may become outdated in the near future, so we need to keep updated on new digital techniques.  –  Tobe Asem, Nigeria

  • My biggest takeaway was the focus on ethics in the field of data science. That with all the power that comes with data, those planning to use it ought to consider ethical implications and biases in any application.  – Maureen Kibetu, Kenya
  • I learned that the world is changing daily at a high speed, so one needs to equip him/herself with the essential data to change Africa for the better and the use of data to solve real human problems is amazing.  – Thula Vilakazi, South Africa 
  • What I loved most about the program was that it laid way for the interaction with a lot of tech-savvy and entrepreneurial minds from the industrial and telecoms space in Africa. Learning from their individual experiences and connecting with them on Africa industrial digital solutions standpoint was a high point for me. It was eye-opening to see that a lot of work is being done in Africa in the AI and ML space by both students on the program and the external facilitators of the program. What’s left now is to apply the skills I have learned now to the industry I work in to benefit Africa at large – Tobe Asem 



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Study in the USA: Achieve the American Dream – Part 2
February 11, 2020 | 0 Comments

By John Nkemnji, Ph.D *

Prof John Nkemnji
  • Part one of the article covered the most appropriate means for people from other nations to migrate to the USA for academic pursuit. Part two is focused on another legal means of immigrating to the USA – a nation that affords one of the best educational institutions in the world. As in part one, every immigrant is encourage to attain a good education that will enable them survive in their new nation.  Please, if your documents are not written in English, it will be to your best interest to have them officially translated into English before you arrive the USA. You will be required to submit official English documents.

Another legal way to migrate to the USA is through the annual DV program but you need to apply and be one of the successful applicants.  If you are in the USA for studies, nothing prevents you from applying for the DV program and if you are in the USA on the DV program you are well off going to school. Both programs are not mutually exclusive.  The DV program comes up annually but it takes time to get ready with documents to apply for the program. The program requires some documents that may take planning and time to acquire.  Some of the other documents may take time to acquire.  You need a current passport, a current passport size photo and at least a high school diploma to qualify. Your chances for success are slim but it is worth trying.  The DV application is in three parts. Like the admissions process, the applicant does not need professional help in completing it.  If you (the applicant) cannot complete the application by yourself, the chances of you succeeding in your new nation are slim.

The electronic application details are usually posted at the US department of State website:  https://dvlottery.state.gov/. The first part of the application asks for information about yourself.  Your name, gender, birth information, residence, identifying documents, contact information, and marital status. Remember that you have to fill the form as advised in the admissions application process.  After completing part one, you are required to proceed to the second part and the final part.

Part 2 of the application is necessary only for those who are married. You (the applicant) will be required to complete identifying information for your spouse and for your children if you have any. Prepare your text and photo before you begin the online application process. Select a period with less internet traffic. 

Part 3 of the application requires that you confirm that the information entered is true and up-to-date. You will be asked to submit the information and your current passport-size digital photo.  Details of the format are described on the electronic application. A receipt with identifying information will be provided which you have to keep securely for use in checking if you are one of the lucky applicants selected for interview. The next and final step comes in about a year with the release of the result.

Living and learning with people from different nations helps everyone discover the benefits of getting along, avoiding stereotypes, and becoming broad-minded with informed opinions. It also helps strengthen personal and professional connections that are necessary to survive in today’s techno-global village.  This article has discussed only two opportunities for youths from other nations to migrate and study in the USA.  More opportunities come up regularly and anyone with adequate finances and a spirit of adventure will be able to explore and live the American dream.

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Voith signs memorandum of understanding to build training center in Angola
February 11, 2020 | 0 Comments
Dr. Toralf Haag signed the memorandum of understanding with the Angolan Minister for Energy and Water João Baptista Borges in the presence of Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel and the Angolan President João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço
  • Agreement signed in the presence of Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel, the Angolan President João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço and the Angolan Minister for Energy and Water João Baptista Borges
  • Significant contribution to the training of skilled personnel for technical and commercial occupations in Angola
  • Substantial hydropower potential in Angola still untapped

HEIDENHEIM, Germany. Within the framework of a delegation led by the German Chancellor, technology group Voith signed a memorandum of understanding in the Angolan capital Luanda on 7 February 2020 to build a training center in Angola. The memorandum of understanding was signed by João Baptista Borges, Angolan Minister for Energy and Water, and Dr. Toralf Haag, President and CEO of Voith, in the presence of Dr. Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany. A business delegation accompanied the German Chancellor on her visit to South Africa and Angola for political discussions.

Ground-breaking collaboration to build up local expertise
Voith Hydro has had a presence in Africa since the 1930s. Since then, Voith Hydro has been a regular supplier of equipment to the hydropower industry on the African continent, not least through its successful realization of the two hydropower projects Cambambe I in 2012 and Cambambe II in 2017. With a view to stepping up its local commitment, the company intends to build a training center to provide training and professional development in the renewable energy sector of hydropower. The company will receive support in this venture from the Ministry for Energy and Water of the Republic of Angola (MINEA). The establishment of the Voith Academy and associated development of a training center are designed to provide basic and advanced training for skilled workers in Angola in technical and commercial occupations relevant to the hydropower industry.

In accordance with Voith’s long-established dual training approach, it intends to build a training center for the theoretical part of the training. For the practical training component Voith plans to work with the trainees to build a small hydropower plant in the Cuemba region. Voith will consult with MINEA in 2020 to determine a suitable location for the training center. The envisaged total investment will be in the region of several million euros.

Substantial hydropower potential in Africa
Africa has a huge technically feasible hydropower potential, estimated to be more than 470 gigawatts (GW) for the entire continent. However, the current installed capacity in Africa is only around 36 GW, meaning that the continent has the world’s highest percentage of as yet untapped hydropower potential. This is why many countries are accelerating the construction of new plants to produce regenerative energy from water. In remote regions the focus is on small hydropower stations that help facilitate the rapid development of reliable decentralized power grids.

The declared objective of the Angolan government is an increase in electricity generation capacity from the current 5,700 MW to around 9,000 MW for years to come. In addition, the surplus energy expected to be produced is set to be offered to neighboring countries, which will boost Angola’s economic development. Projects like Cambambe II are milestones for the African country on the west coast of the continent as it moves towards a more diversified and stable energy supply for households and industry. Because until now, the existing electricity supply has only covered about 40 percent of the population. This means that more than 15 million people are having to live without electricity, despite the fact that Africa has a huge hydropower potential that has so far not been exhausted. This potential will now be used to expand the regional electricity supply in a sustainable, efficient and low-emission way.

About the Voith Group
The Voith Group is a global technology company. With its broad portfolio of systems, products, services and digital applications, Voith sets standards in the markets of energy, oil & gas, paper, raw materials and transport & automotive. Founded in 1867, the company today has more than 19,000 employees, sales of € 4.3 billion and locations in over 60 countries worldwide and is thus one of the larger family-owned companies in Europe.

The Group Division Voith Hydro is part of the Voith Group and a leading full-line supplier as well as trusted partner for equipping hydropower plants. Voith develops customized, long-term solutions and services for large and small hydro plants all over the world. Its portfolio of products and services covers the entire life cycle and all major components for large and small hydro plants, from generators, turbines, pumps and automation systems, right through to spare parts, maintenance and training services, and digital solutions for intelligent hydropower.

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Africa’s female fund managers to receive major boost through launch of a multi-million dollar fund
February 11, 2020 | 0 Comments
UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, and African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, witness the signing of a partnership agreement between UNECA and Standard Bank Group represented by UNECA Executive Secretary Dr Vera Songwe and Sola David-Borha, the bank's Chief Executive for African Regions.
UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, and African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, witness the signing of a partnership agreement between UNECA and Standard Bank Group represented by UNECA Executive Secretary Dr Vera Songwe and Sola David-Borha, the bank’s Chief Executive for African Regions.

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, February 10th, 2020,-/African Media Agency (AMA) /-  African leaders are putting women front and center of efforts to drive the continent’s economic growth through a game-changing fund that invests in women fund managers and also provides technical assistance.

The launch of the African Women Leadership Fund (AWLF) will provide capital to both first time and experienced fund managers in support of UN Sustainable Development Goals 5 (Gender Equality) and 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), and African Union Agenda 2063.

The ground-breaking partnership, formally signed at the weekend in Addis Ababa between the United Nations Economic Commission of Africa (ECA) and Standard Bank Group, will be transformational in breaking down structural barriers to inclusive investing in Africa.

Over $20 million was raised for the fund on Saturday that has a current goal of $100 million. President Paul Kagame of Rwanda was instrumental in leading the way, pledging $500,000. Senegal’s President Macky Sall also committed $500,000. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa pledged to contribute to the fund. The private sector participants pledged the rest.

High level presidents former presidents, PM Norway and AU chair with Vera and Sola after the signing

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada pledged $10 million to the African Union to boost gender parity. Norway Prime Minister Erna Solberg pledged $8 million to AU initiatives. A portion of these resources will be earmarked for the women’s initiative.

 

Among the world leaders who witnessed the official launch of this innovative impact investment fund were UN Secretary-General, Antonio Gutteres, African Union Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde. Former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was also in attendance, as were a number of former African female heads of state.

“We are turning the tables and making women the decision-makers of investable money in Africa. We want women to be on the supply side of money, not only on the demand side,” said Dr. Vera Songwe, UN Under Secretary General and Executive Secretary of ECA. A key goal of the fund is to empower women financial leaders who will drive economic growth, job creation, and create prosperity. 

In Africa women-owned funds and businesses struggle due largely to lack of successful fundraising, insufficient exposure to systems and procedures, and lack of track records, among others. They also contend with gender-based social expectation, resistance to women in leadership roles and lack of a support network. The fund will empower Africa’s women by giving them access to financial resources and investment management expertise.

Sola David-Borha, Chief Executive of Africa Regions at Standard Bank Group, says the fund aligns with the Bank’s purpose to drive Africa’s growth and “presents an opportunity for Standard Bank to leverage our footprint and expertise on the continent, and the relevant experience of our asset management arms, Melville Douglas and STANLIB Multi-Managers, to build Africa’s economies. Africa is our home, we drive her growth”.

Women fund managers will receive a deployment of capital, and subsequently invest in majority female-owned businesses. Even though the fund is sector agnostic, priority sectors will be education, manufacturing, healthcare, clean energy and agriculture. Additionally, technical assistance for fund managers and entrepreneurs will be offered through the initiative. This ranges from building capacity, direct mentoring to leveraging technology in health and education. 

Vera Songwe and UN SG Gutteres
Vera Songwe and UN SG Gutteres

Songwe emphasized “The goal here is to give women-led financial investment activities a huge injection of jet fuel to bear out the proven positive correlation between gender balance, higher financial returns and developmental impact.”

In his remarks, Secretary-General Gutteres said, “power is not usually given, it must be taken.”

* Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of United Nations Economic Commission of Africa (ECA)



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Financial inclusion in West Africa gets a boost with new $10m raise by Aella Fintech
February 11, 2020 | 0 Comments

Aella has made a visible impact on the lives of more than 300k borrowers across its Employer Backed and Direct to Consumer Verticals, who now have access to simple financial products

Aella co-founders, Akanbi Wale and Akinola Jones
Aella co-founders, Akanbi Wale and Akinola Jones

LAGOS, Nigeria, February 10, 2020/ — Focused on improving financial inclusion for West Africa’s low-income segment, a Nigerian fintech start-up, Aella (https://AellaCredit.com/) has raised a $10m debt financing round, from HQ Financial Group (HQF), Singapore-based private company specializing in new material science, semiconductor and blockchain financial investments. This debt financing round is Aella’s second raise and will bolster the company’s commitment to serve the underbanked population in West Africa and other emerging markets.

Aella was founded in late 2015 by Akin Jones, CEO (right) and Akanbi Wale, CTO (left) in Lagos, Nigeria and has remained committed to building trustworthy credit for emerging markets with an initial focus on Nigeria and the Philippines, where the company is licensed to operate. Aella has made a visible impact on the lives of more than 300k borrowers across its Employer Backed and Direct to Consumer Verticals, who now have access to simple financial products.

For millions of poor and low-income households, entrepreneurs, and nascent businesses in West Africa without access to financial institutions, micro-lending fintechs like Aella provide a broader array of financial products — savings, insurance, payments and specialized loans, focused on lifting many out of poverty. Aella plans to use this funding to scale its lending operations and expand its product base into payments.

“Lack of access to credit and financial services has been the main impediment to MSME growth and poverty reduction in several emerging economies. Aella’s commitment to providing trustworthy credit to millions of people in the world’s emerging markets is improving financial inclusion, enabling MSME expansion and accelerating economic growth and this raise will allow us scale our expansion across Africa quickly”, said Aella CEO, Akin Jones.

Aella will also invest in new products including a blockchain-based lending market called Creditcoin, to build borrower creditworthiness and aid in the acquisition of one million additional users by the end of 2020, making it the largest blockchain backed financial services project that is currently operational.

“We are building a one-stop app for all transactions partnered with regulated industry leaders to help distribute products faster, better and cheaper to end-users in Nigeria and across the markets we plan to launch. This app will allow users access multiple financial services at low costs compared to what is currently available in market”, Jones added.

Sun Han Gyu, Chief Executive Officer of HQ Financial Group said “We are excited to announce our partnership with Aella Credit which will significantly aid in the proliferation of micro-loan services to the underserved African populations who are unable to access banking services. HQF is impressed with their outstanding growth with very low default rate in the micro-loan business in Nigeria and look forward, through this initial investment of $10m to new growth opportunities in Africa and South Asia”. HQF has deployed over $70m in investments since 2015.

Aella previously raised $2m seed funding at the US startup program, Y Combinator from seed investors including Micheal Seibel of Y Combinator, Brian Armstrong of Coinbase, Bill Paladino (former head of Naspers eCommerce), Tae Oh, Shawntae Spencer (former San Francisco 49ers Cornerback), VY Capital, 500 Startups, Gluwa and others, which enabled it invest in digitalization and technology.

Over the last two years, the company has achieved significant growth with a 2-year compound annual user growth rate of 674%, over 193% increase in revenue and maintained a single-digit default rate. Aella was also recognized by Amazon as one of the world’s leading financial organizations pioneering the use of facial recognition technology for customer authentication and credit scoring.

This raise marks the conclusion of the start-up’s evolution to a full-service lending and payments platform, poised to play a greater role in providing a wide bouquet of financial services across Africa. Aella is focused on expanding across Africa and South East Asia enabling users to access a wide range of fast, convenient, and secure financial services. The company’s application will allow users to have access to loans, invest safely and securely, affordable insurance plans, bill payments and peer-to-peer money transfers.

Aella is a leading African fintech start-up based in Lagos Nigeria with offices in San Francisco and Manila. The company focuses on simplifying finance in emerging markets by offering access to loans, bill payments and, in the immediate future, affordable insurance plans and other similar services that are simple and safe. Aella aims to make a significant contribution to Africa’s fintech ecosystem by helping to build a sustainable digital economy.

* Aella

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets African leaders to advance conflict resolution and economic security
February 11, 2020 | 0 Comments

Trudeau called for cooperation among international partners and governments to create economic opportunity and prosperity that is broadly shared

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, February 10, 2020/ — Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau convened a meeting for African heads of state, foreign ministers and representatives of the United Nations and other multilateral bodies on Monday to discuss ways to secure peace across the continent as a necessary condition for prosperity. 

Trudeau, the 2020 chair of the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission, called for cooperation among international partners and governments to create economic opportunity and prosperity that is broadly shared, “…as a way not just of countering the pull of extremism in some places or the cynicism of populism, but as a way of building a real and tangible future for countries around the world.”

The breakfast meeting, which was held on the sidelines of the 33rd African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, was intended to strengthen the Commission’s partnership with the African Union (AU) and to better integrate African priorities in conflict prevention and bolstering economic security. Among issues discussed were the role that international financial institutions and youth job creation can play in Africa in averting extremism and conflict; and the AU leadership in peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts.    

The talks, titled Sustaining Peace and Economic Security, aligned with the Summit’s theme: Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development.   

Trudeau acknowledged that one of the biggest challenges both developed and developing countries face is the perception that governments are indifferent.

“In this time of change, in this time of transformation of the global economy, time of conflict, time of climate conflict, people worry that the system has no place for them and isn’t providing them with what they need,” the Canadian Prime Minister said. 

Among participants were President Roch Marc Christian Kabore of Burkina Faso; the Vice President of Gambia, Isatou Touray; President of the United Nations General Assembly, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and the foreign ministers of Sierra Leone and Rwanda.

President Kabore offered his reflections on the issues. Burkina Faso is one of several nations in the Sahel region that have seen economic growth adversely affected by conflict and instability.    

In opening remarks, African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina noted the shifting nature of conflicts across Africa. While the number of outright wars in Africa has declined substantially, they have been replaced with greater fluidity with rising cases of terrorism, extremism, conflicts from non-state actors.

The root causes of conflict, according to Adesina, include “rising inequalities, lack of political inclusiveness, extreme poverty, management and control over natural resources, youth unemployment that causes social unrest, climate change, to name a few.”

The Bank is at the forefront of helping to address fragility in Africa with several initiatives currently under way. So far, $3.8 billion has been allocated to address issues of fragility through the Transition State Support Facility.  

Adesina recognized the role Canada plays in enabling the Bank’s work.

“The successful replenishment of the Bank’s African Development Fund 15 – to which Canada contributed substantially with $355 million – will allow the Bank to deploy an additional $1.2 billion to address fragility, strengthen resilience and sustain peace and economic security,” he said. 

*Source AFDB

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Gambia:Chinese Ambassador Optimistic on Eradication of Coronavirus Soon
February 11, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Chinese Ambassador in The Gambia Ma Jianchun  with President Barrow at State House
Chinese Ambassador in The Gambia Ma Jianchun with President Barrow at State House

Chinese Ambassador in The Gambia Ma Jianchun  believed that China is not far from winning the battle against the outbreak of coronavirus.

He was speaking during a briefed President Adama Barrow on progress of containing the novel coronavirus pneumonia (2019-nCoV) on 10th February, 2020  at the State House in Banjul.

Ambassdor Ma briefed President Barrow on the latest development of the novel coronavirus pneumonia (2019-nCoV) outbreak in China and China’s tremendous efforts in containing it. 

Thanks to those comprehensive and rigorous prevention and control measures, significant results has shown recently and spread of the outbreak has been curbed effectively. The daily new added confirmed cases has been going down.

Hundreds of patients, after timely and proper treatment, recovered and stepped out of hospital everyday.

Ambassador Ma further commended the understanding and support rendered by the Gambian side since the very beginning of the outbreak.

He emphasized that the safety and health of the Gambian nationals in China are of equal importance as the Chinese people, which has been well taken care of.

He believed that China is not far from winning the battle against the outbreak.

President Barrow conveyed his sympathy and solidarity with his counterpart  Xi Jinping and the Chinese people, and appreciated China for taking decisive and scientific measures in containing the pneumonia outbreak and the significant progress being registered so far.

He said that battling against the outbreak is and shall never be the sole business of China itself, which calls for concerted efforts of the whole international society.

President Barrow expressed his strong confidence in China’s ability of winning the battle against the outbreak, and emphasized that the Gambian people are always in solidarity with the friendly Chinese people.

President Barrow and Ambassador Ma also touched upon the bilateral practical cooperation in many fields and exchanged views on further strengthening the existing friendly relations between the two countries.

During which, Ambassador Ma mentioned that the Chinese government has decided to offer about 5000 metric tons of humanitarian emergency rice aid in mitigating the effects of extreme weather last year.

A new batch of medicines, medical equipment and patrolling vehicles will soon be handed over to the Gambian side aiming at helping strengthen the existing public health and medical system, which means much more at such a critical moment of preventing the pneumonia outbreak.

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Cameroon is profoundly broken and needs a fresh start-NDI’s Dr Chris Fomunyoh
February 11, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung 

A fresh start is needed for Cameroon says Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh in a chat with Pan African Visions reporter in Washington DC

Warmly received by Professor Maurice Kamto and his supporters when he honored the invitation to be a special guest at their rally, Dr Christopher Fomunyoh says the situation in Cameroon is dire and the Biya regime is pushing the country off the cliff by not listening to its people. 

In a chat with Pan African Visions, Dr Fomunyoh, the Senior Associate and Regional Director for Central and West Africa at the National Democratic Institute, NDI, who has been linked with Presidential ambitions in the past two election cycles without making a formal declaration, lamented on the poor state of affairs in Cameroon. He described as abysmal the  handling of the crisis in the North West and South West regions by the Biya government.

“As we know Cameroon is broken into many pieces today, we have very diverse voices on where the country is and where it should be headed and I think when I get invited to something like this is important that I come in and that I also listen and get a sense of what his views are with regards to Cameroon of today and most importantly the future,” he said when quizzed on what motivated his attendance. 

He lauded the spirited fight that Prof Maurice Kamto was putting up and took issues with President Biya’s claims that the elections were boycotted by small political parties. In the North West and South West regions, what took place was a total sham, he said.

 “We know that no elections could hold in the North West and South West regions, elections are not a one-day event, it’s a process that takes place over an extended period of time. Even before today, we saw what was going on and you would have easily drawn the conclusion that they will be no credible election.”

An internationally recognized expert in mediating election-related conflict, Dr. Fomunyoh who has organized and advised international election observation missions to Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone urged the government of Cameroon to listen to the dissenting voice instead of trying to suppress them.  

Talking briefly about his efforts in comforting those affected by the crisis in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions with his foundation, The Fomunyoh Foundation, taking the lead to donate relief materials to hundreds of internally displaced persons, the prominent Human rights promoter and civil society leader who has been very vocal in his critic of  the administration in Cameroon and how it handles the crisis  reiterated that things wouldn’t have gotten this bad if his advice was heeded.

On several occasions, Dr. Fomunyoh who has also designed and supervised country-specific democracy support programs with civic organizations, political parties and legislative bodies in Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Liberia, Mali, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, and Togo, rolled out a series of pertinent proposals that would have helped Cameroon come out of the current impasse in the North West and South West regions.

But each time, the Biya administration failed to implement the expert’s recommendation though his work has yielded significant success across Africa. 

Amongst some of the concrete solutions proposed are the release of all political prisoners, call for a ceasefire on both sides, and end to human rights abuses, and genuine dialogue amongst  among others. 

“Everything that has happened in Cameroon since my interview and public position in July of 2018 has confirmed the fears and serious reservations that I had about proceeding even with the presidential elections in 2018. It  is sad to see that every prediction that I made at the time has come to pass, I hope that in the future better heads will reason and see that I was extremely right when in 2018 I said Cameroon was not prepared for elections and we continue multiplying the same mistakes and exasperating the tensions that exist in the country.”

Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh, Senior Associate and Regional Director of National Democratic Institute for Central and West Africa (center) was among the VIP guests at Kamto’s rally (Photo: Amos Fofung for Pan African Visions)

 “ultimately at some point, we are going to have a fresh start because I don’t see the elections that have taken place doing anything to calm down tensions and provide a solution to the conflict we see in Anglophone Cameroon and other parts of the country. Cameroon is broken and we need a fresh start. We cannot build a house on a shaky foundation.,” Dr Fomunyoh said when quizzed on the way forward.

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