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The History of Africa with Zeinab Badawi returns for final part of second series .
July 28, 2020 | 0 Comments

Both series are also now available to watch on BBC Africa’s YouTube channel.

In the final five episodes of The History of Africa, presenter Zeinab Badawi returns to tell the compelling story about Africa’s rich past in its fight for freedom.

In the first of the final episodes, The History of Africa delves into the continent’s own account to discover how the transatlantic slave trade has impacted Africa’s past and present. Crucial to understanding how, where and why this trade began, Zeinab travels across the continent to speak to renowned African academics, revealing key moments of African history that have shaped the present day.

The series takes its cue from the pioneering General History Of Africa, an ambitious UNESCO-endorsed project to deliver a history of the continent, as told by Africans themselves, bringing viewers unparalleled insights into the vibrant history of the places and peoples Zeinab visits.

Also in the series, Zeinab travels to South Africa and Zimbabwe to find out about the story of Shaka, King of the Zulus, as she speaks to a descendant of his family to hear how he helped reshape the map of modern southern Africa. In Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Congo, Zeinab brings to life the history of the Kongo Empire, as she hears about the critical role played by women in African history.

To conclude the series, Zeinab sweeps across Africa to examine the continent’s struggle for freedom. She meets the families of three of Africa’s best known independence leaders; Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah, Congo’s Patrice Lumuba and Senegal’s Leopold Senghor. She also speaks with Femi Kuti, son of legendary Nigerian singer, Fela Kuti.

Zeinab Badawi says: “It’s clear from socio-political movements today that Africa’s history has been maligned, misrepresented and misunderstood for too long.  It’s necessary to discover the impact of some of history’s grave atrocities by speaking to the people who are still being affected. The History of Africa series is an opportunity for audiences across the world to gain in-depth insight into the continent’s rich and moving past, as told by Africans.”

The first series of The History of Africa began by discovering the origins of humankind, and concluded with the early spread of Islam throughout Africa. The second series continues the journey, ending in the modern day.

The History of Africa will air for five weeks from 1st August 2020 on BBC World News at 0210 and 1510 GMT on Saturdays and 2110 GMT on Sundays. For those who missed previous episodes from series one and two, they are now available to watch on BBC Africa’s YouTube channel.

*BBC

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1.4 million Ugandans to access reliable and affordable energy under new EIB – ENGIE initiative
July 28, 2020 | 0 Comments
EIB financing to overcome barriers to 80% of Ugandans without access to electricity.

Scaling up off-grid solar power model for transforming rural energy access across Africa; EIB financing to overcome barriers to 80% of Ugandans without access to electricity; Local currency financing to accelerate PAYGO solution for affordable green energy.

Millions of people, small holders and entrepreneurs in remote villages across Uganda are set to access reliable and cheap electricity for the first time under a new off-grid solar scheme agreed between ENGIE , through its Solar Home System company Fenix International and the European Investment Bank, one of the world’s largest financiers of renewable energy.

“Access to affordable and clean energy is important to fight poverty, create jobs and empower women and girls. The European Investment Bank is pleased to agree new support for scaling up off-grid solar deployment in East Africa under this new partnership with ENGIE. Over a million people across Uganda will be able to access electricity for the first time that will power communications, provide light and make cooking easier. This scheme will also reduce use of kerosene, charcoal and candles to help families save money, reduce pollution and reduce the risk of accidents. Unlocking sustainable economic and social development through off-grid solar is key for Africa’s future and the EIB is pleased to back this project in Uganda.” said Ambroise Fayolle, European Investment Bank Vice President.

At ENGIE, we see the massive potential of the off-grid electrification sector as a way to bridge energy gaps across Africa, faster and more affordably. Every day families across Africa are able to access electricity for the first time using off-grid solar technology provided by ENGIE Africa. Our new partnership with the European Investment Bank in Uganda will allow Fenix to provide ultra-affordable PAYGO systems to millions of people in villages across the country. This will provide access to clean solar power and financial empowerment. Providing access to energy in Africa is a huge undertaking but I firmly believe 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. With our off-grid platform, we are industrializing and scaling up the development of a wide range of decentralized solutions, with a sustainable business model. As of now, ENGIE is providing decentralized electricity to more than 4.5 million people in 9 countries through solar home systems from both Fenix and ENGIE Mobisol, as well as mini-grids from ENGIE PowerCorner.” said Yoven Moorooven, CEO of ENGIE Africa.

The European Investment Bank has agreed to provide a USD 12.5 million loan to support the deployment of 240,000 high-quality solar home systems in Uganda by Fenix International, a subsidiary of ENGIE.

Solving the last mile challenge to provide power in remote communities across Uganda Only one in five Ugandans living in remote and rural communities has access to reliable electricity. By scaling up adoption of off-grid solar technology this new initiative will provide economic, social, education and health opportunities for families and entrepreneurs who cannot be connected to the national electricity network.

Customers will also be able to benefit from Fenix International’s service centres that provide support in 30 languages across Uganda.

Supporting private sector growth and sustainable development in Uganda

Following the new agreement between Fenix and the European Investment Bank households, entrepreneurs and small holders across Uganda will be able to access electricity for mobile phones, solar lighting, refrigeration, radio and television. This will help farmers to sell produce, create new markets for traders and improve health.

Increased provision of reliable and affordable energy will create new opportunities for women and girls and reduce exposure to indoor pollution from current kerosene use.

“The European Union is committed to supporting sustainable economic and social development across Uganda. This new cooperation initiative between the European Investment Bank and Fenix International, a subsidiary of leading European energy company ENGIE, demonstrates the value-added of European engagement with Ugandan partners to advance the country’s development vision. Harnessing renewable energy through innovative off-grid solar technology, combined with productive uses of power in rural areas, is a direct demonstration of the European Union’s green deal for Africa, providing new opportunities for millions of Ugandans.” said Attilio Pacifici, European Union Ambassador to Uganda.

Unlocking financial empowerment and overcoming currency barriers

Provision of a PAYGO model will allow families who would be unable to afford the upfront costs of solar home systems to repay the cost of equipment over years at less than USD 20 cents a day. The new European Investment Bank financing will also allow repayment of equipment purchased in US dollars in Ugandan shillings. Previously currency fluctuations hindered provision of affordable clean energy solutions to Ugandans without access to foreign currency.

“Providing hundreds of thousands of new solar home systems through the PAYGO model will allow our Ugandan team to transform communities across the country. We are proud to be the latest national off- grid power operation to be supported by the European Investment Bank and we will work tirelessly to illuminate homes and provide clean power until all of Uganda can access electricity.” said Daniel Willette, Managing Director Uganda (Fenix)

Customers will also benefit from cheaper costs and easier repayment through use of mobile banking. This will also provide other financial products and allow customers to expand existing equipment as needed.

Building on the EIB’s renewable energy track record in Uganda and across Africa

Over the last decade the European Investment Bank has provided more than EUR 5.4 billion for clean energy investment across Africa.

In recent years the European Investment Bank has been a leading financial for the Bujagali hydropower project in Uganda, the Lake Turkana Wind Farm, Olkaria Geothermal plant and the Radiant and Eldosol solar schemes, as well as financing last mile connections in Kenya. The EIB is also supporting studies to harness hydropower to transform clean energy in Burundi and the Great Lakes region.

The European Investment Bank (EIB)  is the long-term lending institution of the European Union owned by its Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy goals.

ENGIE (www.ENGIE-africa.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 4.5 million people through domestic solar installations and local microgrids.
*SOURCE ENGIE
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Adesina Completely Exonerated by High Level Independent Review Panel led by former Irish President Mary Robinson
July 28, 2020 | 0 Comments
Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina
Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina
In January 2020, sixteen allegations of ethical misconduct were levelled against Adesina by a group of whistleblowers.

A much awaited report by an Independent Review Panel has completely exonerated the President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina of any ethical wrongdoings.

The Independent Review Panel was set up by the Bureau of Governors of the Bank, following a complaint by the United States, to review the process by which two previous organs of the Bank – the Ethics Committee of the Board, and the Bureau of the Board of Governors – had previously exonerated Adesina.

The distinguished three-member Independent Review Panel include Mary Robinson, who is a former President of the Republic of Ireland, a former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Chairperson of the Elders, a global body of wise persons concerned with the world’s wellbeing; the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Gambia, Mr. Hassan B. Jallow; and Mr. Leonard F. McCarthy, a former Director of Public Prosecutions, a former Director for the Office of Serious Economic Offences, and a former Head of the Directorate of Special Operations of South Africa. He also served as the Vice President of Integrity for the World Bank for nine years.

In January 2020, sixteen allegations of ethical misconduct were levelled against Adesina by a group of whistleblowers. The allegations which were reviewed by the Bank’s Ethics Committee of the Board of Directors in March, were described as “frivolous and without merit.” The findings and rulings of the Ethics Committee were subsequently upheld by the apex Bureau of the Board of Governors in May, which cleared Adesina of any wrongdoing.

The report of the Independent Review Panel states that it “concurs with the (Ethics) Committee in its findings in respect of all the allegations against the President and finds that they were properly considered and dismissed by the Committee.”

The Panel once again vindicates Adesina and states, “It has considered the President’s submissions on their face and finds them consistent with his innocence and to be persuasive.”

The conclusions of the Independent Review Panel  are decisive and now clear the way for Governors of the Bank to re-elect Adesina to a second five-year term as President during annual meetings of the Bank scheduled for August 25-27.

Adesina is a highly decorated and distinguished technocrat and globally-respected development economist. He was awarded the prestigious World Food Prize in 2017 and the Sunhak Peace Prize in 2019 for global leadership in agriculture and for good governance.

Since taking over the reigns of the Bank in 2015, he has introduced several innovative reforms including a High5 development strategy; a restructuring of the bank including setting up offices in several African nations to get closer to its clients; an Africa Investment Forum that has attracted $79 billion in investment interests into projects in Africa between 2018 and 2019. He successfully led a historic General Capital Increase campaign that culminated in the Bank’s shareholders raising the institution’s capital from $93 billion to $208 billion, in October 2019.

In June and July respectively, global credit ratings agencies Standard and Poors and Fitch Ratings both affirmed the ‘AAA’ rating of the Bank, with stable outlook.

Under Adesina’s leadership the African Development Bank launched a $10 billion crisis response facility to boost African nations’ ability to tackle the health and economic effects of COVID-19.

Several Governors of the Bank speaking off the record, say it is now time to put recent events in the past; provide the Bank’s President with full support; and bolster the Bank’s efforts on Africa’s critical development issues.
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Construction of Mozambique-Malawi power line to start in March 2021
July 28, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Jorge Joaquim

The Mozambican government has launched an international public tender to select the contractor who will build the 400 kV electricity transmission line linking Mozambique and Malawi,

The 220 km line has guarantees of funding of 127 million US dollars from the World Bank, the Norwegian government, and German Cooperation (through the German Development Bank. KfW).

For his part, Joao Catine, the official of the Mozambican publicly owned electricity company, EDM, responsible for the transmission line project, said that another international public tender will be launched “within days” to choose a contractor to build a brand new electricity sub-station to raise the voltage in the centre-north power system to 400 kV, and with a capacity of 500 MVA (megavolt amperes).

“This is enough power to satisfy the short and medium term demand in Malawi”, said Catine. “The conclusion of all the procedures for selecting the two contractors is envisaged for December”.

Work on the power line should begin in March 2021, and the conclusion is scheduled for March 2023. Catine added that KfW will also support EDM in installing fibre-optic cables along the regional inter-connection line, and along two other high voltage transmission lines in central Mozambique.

The German government is providing 30 million euros (about 35 million US dollars) for the regional interconnection project and to strengthen internal communications along the EDM transmission lines. The World Bank has provided 42 million dollars, and the contribution from the Norwegian government is 24 million dollars, channelled via the World Bank. These three financing agreements became effective as from this month.

The inter-connection project will link Malawi to the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), which coordinates the planning and operation of electrical power systems among its member utilities. It will ensure diversification of Malawi’s electricity supplies, and allow Malawi to participate in the regional electricity market.

The agreements between EDM and the Malawian Electricity Company (Escom) were signed in April 2019 in Blantyre.

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L’OREAL LAUNCHES THE 2020 EDITION OF ITS AFRICAN HAIR & SKIN RESEARCH GRANT AND A DEDICATED WEBSITE
July 27, 2020 | 0 Comments
File picture from the 2019 awards in Dakar,Senegal

Paris on 27th July 2020 – The L’Oréal group, the World’s leader in beauty products, has announced today the launch of the 2020 edition of its African Hair & Skin Research Grant. The winner, who will be chosen by a panel of nine African and international scientific jury, will be awarded the grand prize of 10,000 Euros to support their one-year research project. Research applications will be received on www.africaderm.com through 28 August 2020 .

Established in 2013, L’Oréal’s African Hair & Skin Research Grant aims at promoting African scientific excellence, through encouraging clinical and basic research, conducted by scientists from the Continent, on African skin and hair – a field that remains largely unexplored. In its 7 years of existence, the grant scheme has received over 40 research proposal submissions from 17 Sub-Saharan African countries. 

Last year, 3 scientists from Kenya, Senegal and Nigeria, focusing on pollution, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and traction alopecia, respectively, were each awarded a research grant at a prestigious ceremony held in Dakar, Senegal on 7 October 2019. 

The Grant also opens the door to African scientists to gain advice from a network of worldwide experts, and offers them greater visibility. Last year, renowned South African dermatologist and previous grant winner, Professor Ncoza Dlova, published her research findings in the prestigious high impact international journal New England Journal of Medicine.

In parallel to the Grant’s 2020 Edition launch, L’Oréal has also unveiled AfricaDerm.com, the first dermatological website dedicated to African skin and hair concerns. The website aims at providing a centralised channel for the exchange of scientific information for all hair and skin experts in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

As such, the website features a directory of African hair & skin experts in Africa, national dermatologist’s societies in the continent, and free education materials for patients. It will be constantly updated with congress information, grant announcements and public outreach programs happening in the continent.  

Dr. Michele Verschoore, Medical Director, L’Oréal Research & Innovation, France, commented: “For more than three decades, L’Oréal has built scientific programs for increasing knowledge on African Hair & Skin. Our collaboration with the medical and scientific communities across Africa have allowed for over 50 scientific publications by African teams in international dermatology journals, 5 Winners of the L’Oréal African Hair & Skin Research grant, and the creation of the first and only dermatology professional association for the whole African continent, the African Society of Dermatology and Venereology (ASDV)”.

ABOUT L’ORÉAL

About L’Oréal

L’Oréal has devoted itself to beauty for over 100 years. With its unique international portfolio of 36 diverse and complementary brands, the Group generated sales amounting to 29.87 billion euros in 2019 and employs 88,000 people worldwide. As the world’s leading beauty company, L’Oréal is present across all distribution networks: mass market, department stores, pharmacies and drugstores, hair salons, travel retail, branded retail and e-commerce.

Research and innovation, and a dedicated research team of 4,100 people, are at the core of L’Oréal’s strategy, working to meet beauty aspirations all over the world. L’Oréal sets out ambitious sustainable development goals across the Group for 2030 and aims to empower its ecosystem for a more inclusive and sustainable society.

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Djibouti: African Development Fund commits $41.16 million in grants to shore up COVID-19 response
July 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

The African Development Bank on Friday approved grants worth about $41.16 million to Djibouti to bolster the national budget in support of government efforts to mitigate national and regional impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding will take the form of an African Development Fund grant for $4.12 million and a $37.04 million grant from the Bank’s Regional Operations Envelope. The Bank is providing the funding under its COVID-19 Response Facility.

“It is the first time the Bank is leveraging the Regional Operations resources for a budget support operation. This approach was pertinent to ensure that Djibouti has adequate resources to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in its territory and limit cross-border impacts that pose serious risks for health, social and economic development for the country and ensure adequate controls at territorial borders and all points of entry,” said the Bank’s Acting Director General for East Africa, Nnenna Nwabufo.

The financing will enable the Government of Djibouti to support three interlinked COVID-19 response programs to enhance health systems; safeguard livelihoods and provide social protection; and defend labour force productivity and economic activity.

Health-sector interventions include the implementation of a multi-sectoral crisis response strategy and dissemination of infection prevention and control guidelines to health facilities. Social protection measures include covering electricity bills for vulnerable households and maintenance of price-control mechanisms and supplies of staple foods.

To support the workforce and economy, the government proposes to suspend non-priority expenditure while increasing social spending in the budget; defer taxes for the hardest-hit enterprises; and defer tax deadlines and social security contributions for enterprises that commit to continue paying employee salaries. 

Djibouti, with a population of 1 million, has one of the highest COVID-19 case rates in the Horn of Africa. The government has responded by suspending non-essential business and social activities,closing off air and sea connections and introducing partial curfews and lockdowns.

The crisis has placed the country’s recent socioeconomic progress in jeopardy and increased its susceptibility to political instability and climate-induced shocks. The Horn of Africa region has also experienced swarms of locusts over the past year that have increased food insecurity.

Under a worst-case scenario, Djibouti’s real GDP in 2020 is forecast to contract by 3.8%, threatening as many as 40,000 jobs.

The Bank’s grant funding aligns with Djibouti’s development objectives and those of its COVID-19 Emergency and Solidarity Fund. The intervention also aligns with the Bank’s Ten-Year Strategy, and its Eastern Africa Regional Integration Strategy and broader efforts to combat fragility and build resilience in Africa.

*AFDB

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African Development Bank Group supports Ghana’s COVID-19 response plan with $69 million grant
July 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

The Board of Directors of the African Development Fund (ADF) on Friday approved a $69 million grant to support Ghana’s efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigate its socio-economic impact on the nation.

The grant from the ADF, the concessional arm of the African Development Bank, will provide fiscal budget support to finance the government’s national COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan, and Coronavirus Alleviation Program.

Specifically, the funds will help to upgrade the capacity of healthcare facilities to isolate, diagnose and care for patients, and provide more test kits, pharmaceuticals, equipment and beds. It will also ensure adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers and support financial incentives and an insurance package for health and allied professionals.

Ghana ranks fourth in COVID-19 infections in Africa after South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria. As of 24 July 2020, the West African nation has recorded 30,366 cases of the disease, with 26,687 recoveries and 153 deaths.

“Overall, the objective is to help contain the spread of the virus, expand testing and ease the impact of the virus on social and economic life, through measures aimed at protecting jobs, sustaining livelihoods and supporting small businesses,” said Marie-Laure Akin-Olugbade, the Bank’s Director General for West Africa.

The ADF grant is a Crisis Response Budget Support operation, disbursable in a single tranche under the Bank’s $10 billion COVID-19 Response Facility. The grant aligns with one of the Bank’s High 5 priorities, namely to “Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.

Under Ghana’s COVID-19 response program, all affected persons will receive free treatment and free water supply. Micro, Small and Medium enterprises (MSMEs) will benefit from a soft loan scheme with one-year moratorium and two-year repayment period. The private sector will also benefit from a tax freeze and refund, direct subsidies and a guarantee fund, enabling businesses to access bank credit.

The program also aims to increase the percentage of the population tested from one percent to three percent by the end of December 2020, boost the number of points of entry reporting suspected cases of COVID-19 from 1 to 14 by the end of September 2020, and increase designated treatment centers with adequate intensive care facilities to 100% by end December 2020.

As elsewhere, the pandemic has slowed down economic activity in the agriculture, industrial and services sectors. The agriculture sector, in particular, will likely record a lower performance since the disease has coincided with the onset of Ghana’s farming season.

The economy of Ghana, which exports gold, cocoa and oil, is negatively affected by a significant increase in public spending due to COVID-19. Real GDP growth is projected at 2.1% in 2020 compared to 6.1% in 2019, while the current account deficit is forecast to widen to 3.6% compared to 3% in 2019, due to a decline in export earnings and lower tourism revenues and remittances.

The COVID-19 pandemic could also deepen inequalities between men and women, with far-reaching health, social, and economic implications, Bank officials noted.

*AFDB

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Africa’s First Sports, Media & Entertainment Practice Launched by Centurion Law Group
July 27, 2020 | 0 Comments
The practice will be offering local and international companies and stakeholders a full suite of legal and management services.

African athletes, along with the continent’s entertainment, sports, advertising, and media industries are important to the regional and the global economy. In order to further support the rapidly growing sports & entertainment industry across Africa, Centurion Law Group is delighted to announce the launch of a new dedicated practice.

Across sub-Saharan Africa, sports, media & entertainment have increasingly become revenue-generating industries for African countries, pillars of jobs creation, and important drivers of economic diversification. Beyond just Nollywood, the African entertainment and sports industries have become at the center of global investments, and have capitalized on increasing technology adoption to become globally competitive.

“With its track record of delivering high-profile and high-quality deal making, Centurion is the perfect fit for Africa’s sports, entertainment and media industries,” stated Oneyka Ojogbo, Sports & Entertainment Practice Head. “We are witnessing the rise of a true African sports & entertainment industry that now requires the best possible legal and business support services coming out of the continent itself,” she added Ojogbo

As the industry grows and attracts investments, it is even more crucial to adequately protect its essence, local players, revenue streams and overall bankability. Centurion’s new practice will offer a bridge between private and public sector, ensuring that regulations embrace market trends, promote an enabling environment for investors, and protect the interests of African entrepreneurs and companies operating in that space.

“Our job goes beyond legal advice. We provide counsel for career and life, and help clients build a business around their brand, protect their assets, and take advantage of strategic business opportunities during and after their career,” concluded Ojogbo.

The practice will be offering local and international companies and stakeholders a full suite of legal and management services including finance, licensing, intellectual property rights and enforcement, competition, advertising, representation and negotiation, sponsorship, investments and compliance.

Centurion is a leading pan-African legal and energy advisory group with extensive experience in the oil and gas sector. The group provides outsourced legal representation and covers a full suite of practice areas for its clients, including arbitration and commercial litigation, corporate law, tax and anti-corruption advisory and contract negotiation. Centurion specializes in assisting clients that are starting or growing a business in Africa with offices and Affiliates in Ghana, Cameroon, Canada, Germany, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, South Africa, South Sudan, Nigeria, Gabon, Angola and Senegal.
*SOURCE Centurion Law Group
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African Development Bank Regional Economic Outlook 2020: COVID-19 response and economic diversification crucial to growth recovery in Southern Africa, the most affected region
July 27, 2020 | 0 Comments
Josephine Ngure, the African Development Bank’s Acting Director General for Southern Africa
Impact of COVID-19 in South Africa projected to affect rest of Southern African economies.

Report recommends inclusive, broad-based and pro-poor policies to address inequality and reduce poverty rates; Impact of COVID-19 in South Africa projected to affect rest of Southern African economies.

A higher level of preparedness is urgently needed to prevent and mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic in Southern Africa, including additional resources for testing and to reduce the impact on households and the economy, the African Development Bank said in its new Southern Africa Regional Economic Outlook .

In the worst-case scenario, growth in Southern Africa would fall to -6.6% in 2020 before recovering to 2.2% in 2021.

Growth is projected at –4.9% in the baseline case, mainly driven by the deep recession in South Africa, induced by a fall in commodity prices, containment measures, weather-related events, and the structural issues related to public utilities. The region’s growth is projected to be the most affected by COVID-19.

Before COVID-19, Southern Africa’s economy was projected to recover from an estimated 0.7% growth in 2019 to 2.1% in 2020. As has been the case historically, South Africa, the region’s largest economy, is projected to contribute an average of 60% of regional economic output in 2020.

Following the outbreak of COVID-19, economic growth forecasts declined by 7 percentage points from the original projection under the baseline scenario, and 8.7 percentage points under the worst-case scenario.

The impact of COVID-19 in South Africa is projected to trickle to the rest of the Southern African economies.

Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho and Namibia are seen as more vulnerable to South Africa’s impending contraction in economic growth, while Mozambique’s sales of gas and electricity could be adversely affected. In addition, countries that rely on tourism, such as Mauritius, will be adversely affected.

However, the immediate outlook depends on the spread of new cases. South Africa is now the fifth-worst affected country in the world, with close to 400,000 confirmed cases.

The service sector, which accounts for over 50% of the GDP of most of the regional economies, is projected to be negatively impacted by the pandemic, worsened by travel bans, as well as disruption to transport, distribution, hotels and restaurants, entertainment, retail and trade.

Economic diversification, characterized by commodity-driven industrialization, will help boost the region’s resilience during downturns, the report noted.

The Outlook identified poverty and inequality as twin challenges affecting the Southern Africa region and called for policies aimed at making growth inclusive, broad-based and pro-poor if growth is to substantially address both issues.

Compared with other regions in Africa, the region has the highest unemployment levels, averaging 12.5% between 2011 and 2019, followed by North Africa averaging11.8% over the same period.

Unemployment is likely to escalate, especially in hardest-hit sectors such as tourism and hospitality, entertainment, retail and trade and agriculture, where most of the people in the region are employed.

Improving business environment competitiveness in the region is therefore critical. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is projected to provide medium- and long-term opportunities for markets to spur economic growth. The intra-African market is expected to mitigate some of the negative effects of COVID-19.

The publication identified the provision of, and access to, quality education and skills as the basis of prosperity, dignity and well-being for individuals, and forms the backbone of successful economies. To achieve economic diversification and structural change towards high-productivity sectors, a better skilled and more adaptable labor force is necessary, the report recommended.

Released annually since 2003, the African Economic Outlook (AEO) provides compelling up-to-date evidence and analytics to inform and support African decision makers. Since 2018, the publication of the AEO has been coordinated with the release of five Regional Economic Outlook (REO) Reports for Central, East, North, Southern and West Africa.

“This year’s third edition of the Southern Africa Regional Outlook report offers robust options for policy makers at national and sub-regional levels to confront the challenges of sustainable economic development through skills development for the future of the workforce in the post-COVID-19 era,” said Josephine Ngure, the African Development Bank’s Acting Director General for Southern Africa.
*AFDB
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Jack Ma Foundation’s Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI) selects Top 50 Finalists of 2020 “Africa’s Business Heroes” Competition
July 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

The 50 finalists were selected from over 22,000 applications all over Africa, representing twenty-one African countries, half are female, and work in 18 sectors like agriculture, AI, e-commerce, fashion, healthcare, renewable energy and ICT.

Top 50 finalists were selected from over 22,000 applications across all 54 African nations; The finalists represent 21 African countries, half are female, and work in 18 sectors like agriculture, AI, e-commerce, fashion, healthcare, renewable energy and ICT; Finalists will advance to the next round of selection and will participate in an exclusive virtual boot camp on July 28.

The 2020 Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH)  prize competition, a flagship philanthropic program established by the Jack Ma Foundation’s Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI), has shortlisted the top 50 finalists from stage one of the selection process . The fifty entrepreneurs will continue their journey in the competition, for a chance to become one of the ten entrepreneurs that will compete in the grand finale later this year.

The top 50 finalists were selected from a pool of over 22,000 applications received from all 54 African nations. The diversity of the finalist roster reflects the aim of Africa’s Business Heroes to be inclusive and grassroots, providing entrepreneurs from all over Africa with a platform to showcase their talent and business ideas, regardless of nationality, industry, age or gender. The 2020 top fifty finalists come from twenty-one countries (Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Zimbabwe) and eighteen sectors, such as: agriculture, AI, Big Data, business services, construction, education, engineering, e-commerce, fashion, financial services, healthcare, ICT, logistics, manufacturing, management services, retail, renewable energy, and transportation.

The average age of the cohort is 37 with the youngest candidate aged 22 and the eldest aged 64. 50% of the candidates are female – a 24% increase from the debut competition last year, and 32% are francophone, reflecting this year’s competition opening applications in French for the first time.

Over the past month, a panel of 140 highly skilled and experienced judges reviewed the submissions, evaluating applicants’ leadership and vision, their ability to translate their innovations and ideas into sustainable and robust business models, and their commitment to create positive impact to uplift their communities. Judges, whose unrivalled knowledge and industry expertise has brought immense added value to the selection process, represented a variety of key sectors in Africa, such as agriculture, tech, retail and e-commerce, education, healthcare, finance, logistics, and tourism.

Before stepping into the second round of selection, which will determine the top 20 finalists, the fifty selected entrepreneurs will be invited to join an exclusive virtual boot camp hosted by the Africa’s Business Heroes team on July 28th. The boot camp represents a further opportunity for aspiring candidates to access unparalleled knowledge and insights from across the ABH network. It also aims to build up finalists’ management and leadership capabilities and ultimately increase not only their chance of progressing to the next stages of the competition but to further develop as entrepreneurs.

During the boot camp, they will have the chance to receive feedback from round 1 judges such as Rafeh Saleh, Director of the Founder Institute and Omolara Awoyemi, Senior Program Manager at Facebook. Participants will also have the opportunity to attend interactive workshops with industry and business leaders, who have been partnering with ABH this year, including Abdelhameed Sharara, Founder & CEO of RiseUp; Patrick Awuah, Founder & President of AshesiUniversity, and Sebastien Nony, General Partner of Janngo Capital. It will also feature a few of the 2019 finalists who will provide advice and insights on their own journeys.

The selection process to spotlight the 2020 Africa’s Business Heroes finalists will continue throughout the summer. Following round 2 interviews and the semi-finale pitch, the top 20 and top 10 finalists will be announced in August and September respectively. ABH will culminate in a grand finale show later this year, where the top 10 finalists will take the stage to pitch business legends – including Jack Ma – for a chance to win their share of a US$1.5 million prize pool.

A number of round 1 judges commented on their experience with Africa’s Business Heroes, noting:

“I am thrilled to have served as a judge for the Africa’s Business Heroes competition. It’s been an honour to help identify business heroes from Africa that are genuinely committed to changing the game in their respective industries. In these challenging times, getting to discover how the ABH applicants manage to turn challenges into opportunities, with a real sense of purpose and dedication to improve the conditions of people in their communities strengthens my belief in the promise of entrepreneurship in Africa.” said Isadora Bigourdan Bryden, Team Lead at Agence Française de Développement.

“Driven by the spirit of entrepreneurship, the tangible benefits of social good, and a strong sense of community pride, this startup competition is special – showcasing many promising ideas and a diverse group of African startups. It’s been inspirational to see these founders, deeply rooted and passionate, create change in their world.” commented Triane Chang, Silicon Valley Startup Advisor.

“It is truly heartwarming to see that so many young entrepreneurs are working passionately to drive high-impact social projects across the African continent. The judging process was not an easy task as all participants submitted very high-quality applications with compelling business propositions. As the competition progresses, I look forward to following the finalists’ journey and how they will use their talent and skills to generate positive change in their communities and beyond.” added Firas Ezzeddine, Manager, Group Strategy at Philips.

About ANPI:
The ANPI is the flagship philanthropic initiative spearheaded by the Jack Ma Foundation aimed at supporting and inspiring the next generation of African entrepreneurs across all sectors, who are building a more sustainable and inclusive economy for the future of the continent. Over a ten-year period, ANPI will recognize 100 African entrepreneurs and commit to allocating US$100 million in grant funding, training programs, and support for the development of an entrepreneurial ecosystem. The ANPI organizes the “Africa’s Business Heroes” prize competition and show, in which ten finalists have the opportunity to pitch their business to win a share of $1.5 million in grant money. Jack Ma, Founder of Alibaba Group and the Jack Ma Foundation, first created the prize after he made his first trip to Africa in July 2017 and was inspired by the energy and entrepreneurial potential of the young people he met with.

About Jack Ma Foundation:
Established by Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba Group, the Jack Ma Foundation was founded on 15 December 2014 and has been focusing on education, entrepreneurship, women’s leadership, and the environment. The Foundation aspires to be a reliable, participative, and sustainable philanthropic organisation. The Jack Ma Foundation has so far supported projects worldwide including the Jack Ma Rural Education Program, the Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative, the Ma & Morley Scholarship Program, and Jordan’s Queen Rania Foundation. Additionally, the Foundation has also funded a number of projects in its priority areas. The Jack Ma Foundation is committed to empowering rural educators, entrepreneurs, rural children, young start-ups, and women to equip them for the future and to help build a happier, healthier, more sustainable and more inclusive society.

*SOURCE Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH

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After COVID-19, will Africa Catch Up, Stand Still or Fall Further Behind?
July 27, 2020 | 0 Comments
With this crisis comes an economic disruption of unprecedented proportion

By Professor Banji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka*

Professor Banji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, is the Senior Special Adviser on Industrialization to the President, AfDB
Professor Banji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, is the Senior Special Adviser on Industrialization to the President, AfDB

At one time or another, nations and individuals confront crisis points – moments of existential challenge that also open up new possibilities. African countries, at just such a crisis point as a result of the novel coronavirus, face three possible outcomes post-pandemic: play catch-up, stand still or fall even further behind the industrialized world [1].

With this crisis comes an economic disruption of unprecedented proportion. To avoid falling further behind, Africans must narrow the scientific and technology gap and leverage our comparative advantages. It is time for Africa to adopt radical technological and policy innovations. The global economy is increasingly driven by science-based and patent-intensive systems. Through investments in molecular technology, AI and other technologies the 4th industrial Revolution is ushering in, they can overcome existing barriers to entry. 

Catching Up

India offers an example of how to catch up. There, two key developments in the sixties and seventies sharply altered the country’s trajectory.

In 1965, following past famines crises, India imported 250 tons of high-yielding Mexican dwarf wheat seed varieties for wide-scale testing on farms. Early positive results led to the importation of a further 18,000 tons. Along with the use of irrigation and other innovations adopted by farmers, Indian agriculture was transformed. 

Within five years, India produced enough grains to support its population and, even following a drought in 1979, had no need to import grain. Overall, the country’s wheat and rice production tripled between 1961 and 1980. Radical policy response to famine-induced crisis birthed the Green Revolution.

India’s pharmaceutical sector also experienced a crisis-inflection point in 1972, when the government passed the Patents Act, which enabled domestic firms to replicate drugs that had been patented by multinational corporations. Local companies have since dominated the global market through reverse-engineering leading to generic medicines that are far more affordable than patented ones. Radical policy response to crisis-induced shortage of medicines transformed Indian Pharma.

Falling Behind

Africa processes a very small proportion of its agricultural produce. We continue to export raw commodities like cocoa, timber and cotton that others process and re-sell to Africa at a much higher valuation. Our continent also has sufficient sunlight, wind and hydropower, technologies that can power Africa sustainably, and other regions besides.

Critically, Africa also has a median age of 19, far younger than that of any continent, a potential demographic dividend of young innovation-driven workers and a relatively small proportion of elderly workers. This human capital will foster Africa’s forging ahead.  

If we fail to harness new technologies and leverage our strengths to create abundant high paying manufacturing and service jobs to compete within global supply chains, then we risk falling even farther behind on socioeconomic terms.

Forging ahead

To forge ahead, Africa will first have to return swiftly to economic growth. Beyond that, diversifying our economies will be critical, particularly for those countries that are dependent on one or two mineral resources or commodities. Above all, African companies must deepen capacities for competitive advantage to master new technologies in emerging sectors.  

African innovators need a robust innovation framework and a better enabling environment to master the so-called industrial biology embedded in the 4th Industrial Revolution. For instance, firms in Morocco, Senegal, Nigeria and some other African countries have developed COVID-19 test kits but face a difficult path to commercialization. 

China’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is once more illustrative of a dynamic industrial policy. It is targeting ambitious increases in domestic firms’ share of the global medical supplies market. The government has provided cheap land for factories subsidized loans, helps them to secure a supply chain of raw materials, and to stimulate domestic demand by incentivizing hospitals and companies to use their products.

And there are powerful examples right here on the continent. South Africa successfully financed the production of The National Ventilator Project to address COVID-19, developing prototypes, securing component supply chains, and a manufacturing facility. The project owes its success in part to strong government support and broad coordination among economic and technological agencies. As with South Africa, the rest of the continent would benefit from strong innovation systems that are part of national budgeting and planning frameworks. 

African businesses have a critical role to play, but so do African leaders, who must strike a delicate balance between state intervention and open markets. African governments are best placed to identify market failures and opportunities, and devise policies and regulations that benefit Africa’s private sector and its people.

*Professor Banji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, is the Senior Special Adviser on Industrialization to the President, AfDB, he is a fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Engineering and Professorial Fellow, United Nations University.

1] The theory was mooted in a 1986 paper by Moses Abramovitz who posited that countries with lagging productivity could grow rapidly and catch up with the leading economies by realizing their potential.

SOURCE African Development Bank Group (AfDB)

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United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) Group Announces Global Management Appointments – Six New Country CEOs in Africa, International and Senior Group Roles
July 27, 2020 | 0 Comments
The new CEOs will drive the Group’s strategy and activities in Mali, Uganda, Zambia, Senegal, Tanzania and Sierra Leone respectively.

United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) , the leading pan-African financial services institution, announced the appointments of Rokia Hacko, Chioma Mang, Chinedu Obeta, Bode Aregbesola, Kingsley Ulinfun and Usman Isiaka as chief executive officers of six of its 20 subsidiaries across Africa, subject to regulatory approvals. The new CEOs will drive the Group’s strategy and activities in Mali, Uganda, Zambia, Senegal, Tanzania and Sierra Leone respectively.

In addition, Ogechi Altraide has become the new Head, Retail Banking; Amadao Konate, Head, Treasury & International Payments for UBA America. These international appointments compliment the prior appointments of Sola Yomi-Ajayi as the CEO of UBA America, and Patrick Gutmann as the CEO of UBA UK. UBA provides a full suite of corporate banking products and services to businesses, multilateral institutions and governments transacting from and with Africa.

Earlier this month, UBA announced the appointment of Ayoku Liadi and Oliver Alawuba respectively, as Deputy Managing Directors in charge of the Group’s Nigeria and Africa businesses, attesting to the importance of UBA’s African business and its strategic positioning as “Africa’s Global Bank”.

UBA Group Chairman, Tony O. Elumelu, stated “The appointments further reflect the strong growth of the Group’s pan-African businesses, currently responsible for over 40% of total Group revenue and the increasing importance of our international businesses in London, Paris and New York, offering superior treasury, trading and corporate banking solutions to clients globally. We are committed to catalysing growth on the African continent and the new CEOs are taking up roles at a very exciting period, as the Group executes its innovative digital play across the African continent’’.

Also announced were the appointment of three new country Executive Directors – Haoua Cisse as the Executive Director, Wholesale, UBA Mali and Julien Kouassi as Executive Director Wholesale, UBA Côte D’Ivoire.

United Bank for Africa is one of the largest employers in the financial sector on the African continent, with over 20,000 employees group wide and serving over 20 million customers, across its approximately 1000 branches and over 30,000 ATMs, PoS, and agencies in Africa. Operating in 20 African countries and globally in the United Kingdom, the United States and France, UBA provides retail, commercial and institutional banking services, leading financial inclusion and implementing cutting edge products, including the first ever banking chat bot in Africa, LEO.
*SOURCE United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA)
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