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Africa Wants Veto Powers in UN Security Council
January 25, 2016 | 0 Comments

Sebastian Mhofu*

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (R) poses for photos ahead of his meeting with Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (L) at Zimbabwe State House in Harare, Jan. 23, 2016.

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (R) poses for photos ahead of his meeting with Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (L) at Zimbabwe State House in Harare, Jan. 23, 2016.

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo say Africa wants to see reforms enacted at the U.N. Security Council and they want the continent to be given at least one spot as a permanent member. The call came at the end of a visit to Zimbabwe by Nguema and ahead of an African Union General Assembly later this month.

Mugabe — who is handing over the rotating AU chairmanship — said his Equatorial Guinea counterpart ,Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, was in Zimbabwe because of the upcoming African summit in Ethiopia.

“On the event of the meeting of the African Union, he [Nguema] saw it meet to discuss what our position is regarding various matters. The issue of the reform of the U.N. Security Council and our position as Africa. Then the issue of peace and security in Africa and terrorism.”

Nguema said there was need for African leaders to translate political independence to economic independence. He said Africa’s leaders must work today to ensure that this becomes a reality. On the issue of the U.N. Security Council, speaking through an interpreter, Nguema said reforms should be taken seriously.

“Concerning the reforms of United Nations Security Council which Africa is gunning for; we are asking for two seats of the security council of the United Nations. But if we are not given two, let us be given one with full recognition of members with right to veto. I think that is the revolution which Africa looks for.”

Russia, Britain, China, France and the United States are the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. Now Africa — as a continent —  wants to be represented in that powerful U.N. group.

*VOA

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‘The Looting Machine’ explains why Africa isn’t rising
January 4, 2016 | 0 Comments

By JAMES GIBNEY*

dt.common.streams.StreamServerIn one of Africa’s most celebrated surprises of 2015, Nigerian voters unseated President Goodluck Jonathan. The election of Muhammadu Buhari defied expectations of electoral fraud and violence, and his anticorruption platform sparked hopes for reform and economic growth.

Yet progress on both fronts has been slow and uneven. To understand why, pick up Tom Burgis’s The Looting Machine, a bracing look at why a continent blessed with one-third of the world’s hydrocarbon and mineral wealth remains mired in poverty and dysfunction.

A former Africa correspondent for the Financial Times, Burgis goes beyond the tales of spectacular venality among Africa’s “Big Men” – the world’s four longest-serving rulers are in African countries bursting with oil or minerals – to explain how the continent’s “resource curse” is sapping its development.

Nigeria is a case in point. Africa’s biggest oil producer gets more than 90 percent of its foreign earnings and two-thirds of its tax revenue from oil exports. Yet there are many reasons why that hydrocarbon bounty is a mixed blessing.

For starters, it can drive up the value of a nation’s currency, making other exports less competitive and imports more attractive. As Burgis points out, textiles used to be Nigeria’s most important manufacturing industry. But cheaper Chinese imports smuggled in by Nigerian gangs (an illicit trade worth more than $2 billion a year) have devastated the industry – one example of why Africa produces just 1.5 percent of global manufacturing output, despite its abundance of cheap labor.

Billions of dollars in oil revenues are also a tempting pot of money for bent politicians. One 2012 report said corruption had swallowed up $37 billion worth of Nigeria’s oil money over the last decade. That surpasses the annual economic output of more than half of the nations in Africa as well as Nigeria’s annual federal budget.

Such corruption has other toxic effects. Dirty money from bribes and kickbacks has to be laundered, and because those doing the cleaning don’t care so much about profit or productive investment, their infusions of cash distort the value of assets.

Nigeria’s reliance on oil for tax revenues also creates a perverse political dynamic: As Burgis puts it, “the ability of rulers of Africa’s resource state to govern without recourse to popular consent.” Instead of having to do right by taxpayers to win their votes, politicians focus on controlling and dispensing mineral wealth to bolster their patronage networks.

“Politics becomes a game of mobilizing one’s ethnic brethren,” Burgis notes – a contest with dangerous destabilizing effects in Nigeria’s fractious polity. In fact, as one Nigerian governor explains, if he failed to share the wealth, ill-gotten or otherwise, “I’ve got a big political enemy.”

Nigeria is far from the exception. At least 20 African countries are what the International Monetary Fund calls “resource-rich”: that is, their natural resources account for more than one-quarter of exports. Risking limb if not life, Burgis gamely takes readers around some of them, from the coltan mines of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Guinea’s rich bauxite and iron ore deposits to the diamond fields of Zimbabwe.

Even as the names and histories of the different predatory leaders blur, one thing is clear: Their looting depends on an all-too-willing cast of outside partners, whether Western mining and oil companies that plunked down bribes and abetted massacres, shady Israeli middlemen or shell companies in the British Virgin Islands.

Particularly disquieting is Burgis’s description of the unsavory role played by the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, which backed visibly corrupt, environmentally destructive, or just plain inequitable oil and mining ventures in Chad, Guinea and Ghana – all countries it was supposed to be helping.

If Burgis’s book were to be made into a movie, though, the star villain would have to be Samuel Pa, the bespectacled, bearded Zelig behind some of the continent’s most dubious recent resource deals. Over the course of several decades, Pa parlayed the connections he made as a Chinese intelligence operative and arms merchant into a sprawling, secretive consortium based in Hong Kong known as the 88 Queensway Group, not to mention a spot on the U.S. Treasury’s sanctions list.

Western criticism of China’s growing presence in Africa, Burgis writes, nonetheless carries a “distinct whiff of hypocrisy” that might make even King Leopold blush. Moreover, ordinary Africans stand to gain much from the $1 trillion or so that Chinese entities will reportedly plow into their continent by 2025.

That said, the tale of Pa and Queensway, which has its tentacles wrapped around oil holdings in Angola and Nigeria, diamond mines in Zimbabwe, and agriculture in Mozambique (to name just a few of its ventures), reeks of sulfur and brimstone. As several seasoned African mining executives told Burgis, the Queensway Group reminded them of Cecil John Rhodes, the forerunner of those who “use the conquest of natural resources to advance political power and vice versa.”

One of the best hopes for curbing this rapacity and corruption may be to impose greater transparency on Africa’s outside business partners. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, for instance, recently proposed a rule requiring U.S.-listed oil, gas and mining companies to publish details of their payments to governments.

Even China may see the writing on the wall. A few months after Burgis’s book came out this year, he reported that Pa had been detained in one of China’s deepening anti-corruption probes. Guess that scotches the prospect of any Pa Scholarships in the future.

*Source Bloomberg/Concord Monitor

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Money Sent by African Diasporans to Home Countries Help Pay for Education and Life Necessities
January 1, 2016 | 0 Comments

By *

2015-12-22-1450783671-5462575-MoneyTransfer-thumbThe holidays are a time when Africans living abroad often spread good cheer and gifts by sending money home to their loved ones on the continent.

Africans in the Diaspora sent home $33 billion in 2014 to their relatives or friends to help pay for living expenses, education, health care and even to start a business.

The money sent to home countries from diasporans living abroad, also called remittances, are often the financial lifeline sustaining many African families, benefitting some 120 million people across Africa. Diasporans’ money to family members outpaces international assistance from donor countries, and is the largest international flow of financial resources to Africa.

The remittances are making a significant impact on household spending and improved livelihoods of whole communities. Due to remittances to families, living expenses and emergencies are paid for making life easier in very difficult economic circumstances.

Still, African diasporans pay more to send money to their home countries compared to Diaspora groups in other regions of the world. In some cases, African diasporans pay twice the global average, according to the World Bank. South Africa, Tanzania, and Ghana are the most expensive sending countries in Africa, with fees averaging 20.7 percent, 19.7 percent, and 19.0 percent. Nigerians living overseas sent home $21 billion in 2014, according to the World Bank.

Western Union and MoneyGram are the top money transfer companies in Africa. A diasporan sending money to Africa will frequently incur what economists call a “super tax”, where the sender pays exorbitantly high fees, sometimes up 50 percent more than the global average, reducing the actual amount of funds transferred.

A recent World Bank study revealed that remittances are also boosting the usage of new technologies such as mobile phones in African households. In fact, Africa is the fastest growing region for mobile markets.

The limited access to traditional banking and financial services, particularly in rural communities, is prompting Africans to tap into these services through mobile banking.

The rise of mobile money transfer systems is good news for Diasporans. In 2014, mobile money transactions in sub-Saharan Africa skyrocketed to $656 million, and is expected to more than double to $1.3 billion by 2019, cited a report by Frost & Sullivan.

Increased competition among money transfer operators will help to drive down the high remittances fees to African countries.

While lower money transfer costs are certainly welcome, many Diasporans have raised questions about whether there is a way to guarantee that money sent home is used for its intended purpose.

Yet, ensuring that money sent to Africa goes for its intended purpose can be a sensitive subject to broach with loved ones, given an already tight household budget. However, some Diasporans have expressed a need for a simple, immediate and direct money transfer system to pay for family members’ expenses.

AAI is collecting information on how and why Africans in the Diaspora send money home to family members in their home country. Take the ‘Why Do You Send Money Back Home to Africa?’ survey, and share with other diasporans.

*Source HuffPost.President and CEO, Africa-America Institute (AAI)

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Clinging to power: the African leaders who won't stand down
December 22, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Marc JOURDIER* [caption id="attachment_23196" align="alignleft" width="959"]A controversial referendum in October 2015 allowed Congo-Brazzaville President Denis Sassou Nguesso to extend his 31-year rule (AFP Photo/Thierry Charlier) A controversial referendum in October 2015 allowed Congo-Brazzaville President Denis Sassou Nguesso to extend his 31-year rule (AFP Photo/Thierry Charlier)[/caption] Kinshasa (AFP) – The fate of Blaise Compaore, who was ousted after a bloody uprising in 2014 after 27 years as president of Burkina Faso, has not been enough to deter other African leaders from clinging to power long after their constitutions demanded they go.

In 2015, two African presidents amended their constitutions to allow them to seek another term — or more.

Denis Sassou Nguesso, who has now led Congo-Brazzaville for more than 31 years, and Paul Kagame, Rwanda’s head of state since 1994, both ordered referendums which will allow them to run again in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

In neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, Joseph Kabila is due to stand down in 2016 after 15 years at the helm, but fears are mounting he too could stay on as the country endures a period of uncertainty.

The president has shown no sign of preparing to leave office and is now calling for a “national dialogue” to allow for a peaceful vote. Opponents view the demands as a trap, which could allow his supporters to put off polls for two to four years until they can organise “credible” elections.

Meanwhile, to the east of the DR Congo, Burundi has been in crisis since April, when president Pierre Nkurunziza sought a third term in a move that even some in his own camp judged unconstitutional.

[caption id="attachment_23198" align="alignright" width="300"]Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza delivers a speech after being sworn-in for a controversial third term in power, at the Congress Palace in Kigobe district, Bujumbura on August 20, 2015 (AFP Photo/Landry Nshimiye) Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza delivers a speech after being sworn-in for a controversial third term in power, at the Congress Palace in Kigobe district, Bujumbura on August 20, 2015 (AFP Photo/Landry Nshimiye)[/caption]

The situation deteriorated when Nkurunziza was re-elected in July, on a ballot that was boycotted by the opposition. The country has since spiralled into violence and there are fears in the international community this could break out into genocide.

“The limit of two presidential terms in African constitutions goes back to the late 1990s,” said Thierry Vircoulon, associate researcher at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI).

“It was a lesson drawn from (the results of) autocratic regimes and presidency for life,” he told AFP.

– Testing the limits –

But these limits were quickly broken, beginning with Togo in 2002, followed by Chad and Uganda in 2005, where Idriss Deby Itno and Yoweri Museveni have been in power since 1990 and 1986 respectively.

Constitutions in Angola, Djibouti and Cameroon have also been changed to allow incumbents to stay in power, as well as in Zimbabwe, where 91-year-old Robert Mugabe has been president since 1980.

“The basic tendency (in central Africa) over the last few years has not between towards greater democracy, but in the opposite direction,” said Vircoulon.

“Civil wars and peace agreements have not changed the way of doing politics in these countries,” he added.

But this has not been the case everywhere on the continent.

In Burkina Faso, it was Compaore’s attempts to change the constitution which led to a popular uprising and pushed him into exile in October 2014.

After a year which saw an attempted putsch, the people of Burkina Faso in November elected a new president in polls which were judged to be transparent and credible.

In Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, Muhammadu Buhari’s victory in March presidential elections led to the first democratic transfer of power in the country’s history.

In a recent note, however, strategic consulting firm Control Risks said it was “unlikely” the changes in Burkina Faso and Nigeria would bring about others elsewhere in Africa in 2016.

*Source AFP/Yahoo]]>

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Clinging to power in Africa
December 19, 2015 | 0 Comments

Here is a range of precedents over the past 15 years:

– Successful bids –

[caption id="attachment_23113" align="alignleft" width="300"]An amendment to the constitution would allow Rwandan President Paul Kagame, 58, to run for an exceptional third seven-year term in 2017 (AFP Photo/Zacharias Abubeker) An amendment to the constitution would allow Rwandan President Paul Kagame, 58, to run for an exceptional third seven-year term in 2017 (AFP Photo/Zacharias Abubeker)[/caption]

– BURUNDI: After a constitutional row, President Pierre Nkurunziza won a controversial third term in July 2015, in polls boycotted by the opposition and denounced by the United Nations as neither free nor fair. His re-election bid sparked an attempted coup by rebel generals and months of civil unrest that has killed hundreds and driven hundreds of thousands from the country.

– ZIMBABWE: A new constitution adopted in 2013 allowed President Robert Mugabe, in power since 1980, to stand in an election, which he won.

– DJIBOUTI: In April 2010, Djibouti’s parliament approved a constitutional amendment allowing President Ismael Omar Guelleh, in power since 1999, to run for a third term, which he won in 2011. He is now eyeing a fourth term in 2016.

– ANGOLA: The adoption in January 2010 of a constitutional amendment providing for the election of a president by indirect suffrage, by parliamentarians, allowed head of state Jose Eduardo dos Santos, in power since 1979, to be sworn in in 2012 after his party’s victory in legislative elections.

– ALGERIA: In November 2008, parliament removed the presidential two term limit, voting for a revision of the constitution. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in power since 1999, was then re-elected in 2009 and again in 2014. – CAMEROON: In April 2008, parliament revised the constitution, scrapping the limit on the number of presidential terms. Paul Biya, who had been in power since 1982, was elected to a sixth term in October 2011. – UGANDA: In July 2005, a constitutional reform scrapped restrictions on the number of presidential terms. Yoweri Museveni, in power since 1986, was re-elected in 2006 and 2011 and is running again in 2016. – CHAD: In June 2005, a constitutional revision was adopted after a disputed referendum abolished a limit of two five-year terms. Idriss Deby, in power since 1990, was re-elected in 2006 and again in 2011. – TOGO: In December 2002, a constitutional amendment paved the way for Gnassingbe Eyadema, in power since 1967, to seek another term in 2003. After his death in office in February 2005, a constitutional revision by parliament allowed his son, Faure Gnassingbe, favoured by the army, to be sworn in as president. He won a third term in April 2015. – Failed attempts –

Other leaders have not managed to impose constitutional changes to remain in power.

– BURKINA FASO: In October 2014, the announcement that long-serving president Blaise Compaore sought to extend his rule beyond 30 years brought hundreds of thousands of protesters onto the streets, forcing him to step down.

– ZAMBIA: Frederick Chiluba had to throw in the towel in 2001 under popular pressure, and in MALAWI, the parliament in 2002 blocked Bakili Muluzi from seeking a third mandate in 2004. – NIGERIA: Military ruler turned democrat Olusegun Obasanjao failed in his 2006 effort to change the constitution to allow him a third term in power. – Still trying –

– THE REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Veteran Congo ruler Denis Sassou Nguesso’s government on October 27, 2015 claimed a landslide victory in a referendum on changes to the constitution that would make him eligible to contest elections next year, extending his three-decade stay in power.

– THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: President Joseph Kabila inherited his post after his father, Laurent-Desire Kabila, was killed in January 2001. The opposition believes Kabila will try to circumvent the constitution and run for a third five-year term in 2016.

*AFP/Yahoo]]>

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Africa Oil & Power Breaks the Mold of Traditional Energy Conferences
December 3, 2015 | 0 Comments

120The inaugural edition of the Africa Oil & Power conference  will be held June 6-7, 2016 at the Westin Hotel in Cape Town, South Africa. Endorsed by the Ministry of Mines, Industry and Energy of Equatorial Guinea and Hosted by Centurion Law Firm, Africa Oil & Power is an invitation-only event that strives to redefine energy conferences. It draws a premier crowd of ministers and senior level government officials and top executives of private sector companies spanning the entire value chain, including upstream, downstream, power generation and legal and finance. The goal of Africa Oil & Power will be to maximize networking and transaction-making opportunities. The event will provide sponsors and delegates with Deal Rooms and speed networking and matchmaking sessions based on common interests. “Africa Oil & Power will be a game changer for B2B oil and gas events,” said NJ Ayuk, CEO of Centurion Law Group, the event’s Host Sponsor. “It offers an engaging content experience and a true opportunity for business executives to make deals. Centurion is proud to support this landmark event.” The debate panel format will draw together key decision makers from select countries in an unscripted setting. Much of the content will be framed around what the industry has done to adjust to a sustained climate of low oil prices and keeping projects on track. Africa Oil & Power will be the first energy conference with panels made up exclusively of African oil and gas ministers and heads of national companies. The June 6 program will feature a Market Spotlight on Equatorial Guinea with project and investment opportunities presented by government and industry leadership. Already confirmed as speakers are H.E Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines, Industry and Energy of Equatorial Guinea; H.E. Etienne Dieudonné Ngoubou, Minister of Petroleum and Hydrocarbons of Gabon; Alex Mould, CEO of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation; and Nick Cooper, CEO of Ophir Energy. “The idea for this event was to create an immersive content experience built around the most authoritative speakers in their field,” said Guillaume Doane, CEO of the Africa Branding Corporation, the event organizer. “The invitation-only format allows us to hand-pick like-minded people with a great potential to strike agreements on the spot.” Host Sponsor Centurion is a leading pan-African legal and business advisory group with extensive experience in oil and gas law. 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. Organizer The Africa Branding Corporation is a global communications and marketing specialist offering custom branding and image building solutions. It connects African nations, leaders and companies to an international audience of potential partners and investors through services spanning the design, print, digital and event spectrum. *APO]]>

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Equatorial Guinea’s National Gas Company Opens Negotiations for LPG Purchase
December 2, 2015 | 0 Comments

SONAGAS to market its share of LPG production to international buyers  

  • SONAGAS to market its share of LPG production to international buyers
  • Negotiations with offtakers ongoing, SONAGAS to determine best bidder
  • SONAGAS is 20 percent shareholder in LPG operations at Punta Europa
  [caption id="attachment_22781" align="alignleft" width="300"]Minister of Mines, Industry and Energy H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima Minister of Mines, Industry and Energy H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima[/caption] The Ministry of Mines, Industry and Energy of Equatorial Guinea has announced that national gas company SONAGAS  will begin marketing the State’s share of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) produced at the Alba Plant, on Bioko Island. SONAGAS has now opened negotiations with offtakers and will begin marketing its LPG production stake to international buyers from January 1, 2016. SONAGAS is a 20 percent shareholder, alongside Marathon Oil (40 percent) and Noble Energy (40 percent), in LPG production at the Alba Plant, situated at the Punta Europa gas complex. The Alba Plant partners, SONAGAS and the Government of Equatorial Guinea have agreed that SONAGAS will market its 20 percent share of LPG production on behalf of the State. The Government believes this is a major step for local content in Equatorial Guinea. H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines, Industry and Energy, stated: “SONAGAS marketing its share of LPG fulfills one of the major objectives envisaged by the State in creating the company a decade ago – that of a national gas company with capacity across the spectrum of gas activities. SONAGAS is evolving to take on more of the gas business, not only as a shareholder at Punta Europa, but throughout the entire value chain.” The LPG production plant began operating in 1991 and was modernized in 2003-2005. The plant produces 8,000 barrels per day of butane, 14,000 barrels per day of propane and 6,000 barrels per day of condensed gas. Sociedad Nacional de Gas G.E., known as SONAGAS, was set up in 2005 to develop gas projects on behalf of the Government of Equatorial Guinea and to maximize the value of natural gas to the country. The company is owned fully by the Government. It acts as a promoter of natural gas sector activities in Equatorial Guinea and is the state’s representative and stakeholder in national projects. *APO  ]]>

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Letter from Africa: Why do presidential jets cause a storm?
November 19, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Elizabeth Ohene*

[caption id="attachment_22543" align="alignleft" width="660"]South African President Jacob Zuma has been accused of leading an extravagant lifestyle South African President Jacob Zuma has been accused of leading an extravagant lifestyle[/caption]

In our series of letters from African journalists, Ghanaian writer and former government minister Elizabeth Ohene looks at the uproar presidential jets cause in Africa, following reports that South Africa plans to buy a new one.

I am not quite sure why the purchase of presidential jets for African leaders attracts such negative reactions from everybody. I wonder if it has anything to do with luxury in the air, as opulence of the most absurd levels appear tolerable on firm ground. Private jets are probably the ultimate in self-indulgence. To acquire one is a sign that you have attained a particularly exclusive status. Never again would you have to wait for scheduled flights or spend hours at airports. Never again would you need to be away from your base for a week when you attend a two-day conference because commercial flight schedules are the way they are. Saving time is the best excuse for buying a private jet. Executive time, after all, is expensive or is presumed to be expensive. But then a private jet wouldn’t be a private jet unless and until it has been customized to include grand bedrooms, bathrooms with gold washbasins as standard features, and sitting arrangements reconfigured to ensure there are comfortable armchairs and sofas. It must cost twice the original price of the jet. When Microsoft founder Bill Gates flies around the world doing good in his private jet, nobody begrudges him; he has a demanding schedule, he has made his own money and he deserves to travel in style. But when charismatic church leaders in Nigeria insist that luxury private jets must be part of their lifestyle, people are not quite sure. If you are a poor country, or simply an African country and you want to buy an aeroplane for the exclusive use of your president, then you have crossed some imaginary line. You are beyond the pale – the type that watches children die. [caption id="attachment_22544" align="alignright" width="624"]Bill Gates has funded health and development programmes in Africa - no-one begrudges his private jet Bill Gates has funded health and development programmes in Africa – no-one begrudges his private jet[/caption] I wonder if the outrage that greets every news about the purchase of a presidential jet would be less if the announcement said that a rugged, utility plane with an austere interior was being purchased? When Swaziland’s King Mswati set off a huge controversy earlier this year for wanting to buy a new plane, I wonder if it would have been more tolerable if the plane were not to have a gold-plated royal lavatory fitted into it? Malawi’s former President Joyce Banda was highly praised when she sold off the presidential jet and famously announced she would be hitching rides with other leaders when she travels. Her successor, Peter Mutharika, is not going to be very popular with Malawi’s donors when he keeps saying he is spending too much time waiting at airports and should acquire a plane. Malawi executive time is not likely to be quite as expensive as Malaysia executive time. Executive time is as expensive as the gross domestic product of the country being managed.

‘Ghana presidential jet not luxurious’

In the past week, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has been the subject of much vitriol when news emerged that a new luxury plane was being sought by the state-owned defence company to add to the current VVIP fleet. Mr Zuma’s palatial extensions will be forgiven, the state might continue to keep his many wives in style but a new luxury plane won’t be tolerated. And I must make a confession here. I have had a ride in a private jet belonging to a rich businessman, in Ghana’s presidential jet, and in one of the jets in the Nigerian presidential fleet. What will new South Africa jet be like?
Graphic of presidential jet South Africa may buyImage copyrightNews24
  • Range of 13,800km (8,600 miles)
  • Able to fly non-stop to New York or Moscow
  • Carry up to 30 passengers
  • Private bedroom suite
  • Conference room for eight people
  • Could cost up to ($280m; £185m)
  • No final decision to buy it
  • Cheaper option will be considered
Source: South African media At the time, what passed for the presidential jet here in Ghana could hardly pass the luxury test; most airlines have more luxurious business class seating than that plane. But it saved time and made it possible to undertake certain trips that could not have been done if you had to rely on scheduled flights. The home of the businessman I refer to was far, far more luxurious than his plane, but it was always the private jet that attracted the comments. I think there is something about luxury in the air that offends the sensibility of people. This must be why private cars don’t attract the same opprobrium as private jets. It seems to me they perform the same function and you need the same excuses to buy them as you do to buy a private jet – you save time and you arrive at your destination in a better state than if you were squeezed into an overcrowded train or bus. So, every time I now get into my car, I am going to make sure I remind myself that this is my own private jet on our potholed streets. *Source BBC  ]]>

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SacOil Joins Consortium to Develop Equatorial Guinea’s Bioko Oil Terminal
November 11, 2015 | 0 Comments

Ministry of Mines, Industry and Energy confirms SacOil has signed MoU to join the Bioko Oil Terminal partners

  • Ministry of Mines, Industry and Energy confirms SacOil has signed MoU to join the Bioko Oil Terminal partners
  • The company will work with Taleveras Group, Gunvor Group and the Strategic Fuel Fund to set up Bioko Oil Terminal
  • An MoU signed October 30, 2015 in Cape Town expanded the scope of previous plans to develop the petroleum products storage facility
South African oil and gas company SacOil will join the consortium of Taleveras Group, Gunvor Group and the Strategic Fuel Fund in developing the Bioko Oil Terminal tank farm in Equatorial Guinea. ampco-biokoThe Bioko Oil Terminal will be a massive oil and petroleum products storage facility, and is spearheaded by the Ministry of Mines, Industry and Energy of Equatorial Guinea. Through the project, the Government aims to establish Equatorial Guinea as the premier storage location in West and Central Africa, and a major transit point for global oil and gas deliveries.
On October 30, 2015 the Ministry of Mines, Industry and Energy signed an MoU with Taleveras Group, Gunvor Group and the Strategic Fuel Fund that established the terms of funding and initial development of the tank farm. SacOil will participate in the project under the same agreement. SacOil, a South African independent oil and gas company listed on the JSE and AIM, is active in upstream, midstream and downstream projects across Africa, including Egypt, the DRC, Malawi, Mozambique and Botswana. “The entry of a fourth partner company into the Bioko Oil Terminal project signals the international interest in this facility, which will serve the huge demand for petroleum storage in the Gulf of Guinea region,” said Minister of Mines, Industry and Energy H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, at the MoU signing. “Projects such as the Bioko Oil Terminal further reinforce Equatorial Guinea’s status as a major African oil and gas actor and a highly attractive investment destination.” “SacOil welcomes this opportunity to work with a strategic partner such as the Ministry of Mines, Industries and Energy to add needed oil and petroleum products storage capacity in West and Central Africa. The project fits well with the Company’s overall strategy of diversifying the business into midstream and downstream activities,” said Dr Thabo Kgogo, Chief Executive Officer of SacOil Holdings.
 
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Equatorial Guinea Promotes New Offshore Exploration in 2016
October 30, 2015 | 0 Comments

Ministry of Mines, Industry and Energy will launch bidding round in 2016

  • Ministry of Mines, Industry and Energy will launch bidding round in 2016
  • The Ministry will not extend ExxonMobil Zafiro PSC license upon expiration
  • Sale of Hess assets to foreign bidders and Noble Energy Carla and Diega developments will not be approved by Government
Following the success of its 2012 and 2014 bidding rounds, the Ministry of Mines, Industry and Energy of Equatorial Guinea has announced it will launch a new bidding round for all remaining deep and ultra-deepwater blocks in 2016. Two operators have confirmed they will further explore prospects in Equatorial Guinea in 2016: RoyalGate Energy will drill Block Z and Brazil’s G3 Oleo e Gas will drill Block EG-01. macauhub.19.10.2015.470“In a sustained environment of low oil prices, Equatorial Guinea continues to be attractive for deepwater exploration,” said Minister of Mines, Industry and Energy H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima. “The start of two more exploration drilling campaigns in 2016 reinforces the fact that our contract terms are competitive and appealing to international explorers.” The Minister also stated that the production sharing contract for the Zafiro field, operated by ExxonMobil, will not be extended. ExxonMobil has been active in Equatorial Guinea since 1995 as operator of offshore Block B, which contains the producing Zafiro field. ExxonMobil holds a participating interest of 71.25 percent, GEPetrol has 23.75 percent and the Equatorial Guinea government holds the remaining 5 percent. The Ministry will not approve the sale of Hess Corporation’s producing offshore assets in Equatorial Guinea to foreign bidders. The US company operates the Ceiba and Okume fields, which began production in 2000 and 2006, respectively. It also states it is not willing to approve Noble Energy’s Carla and Diega developments in Blocks O and I due to project delays. The Carla discovery was made in 2011 and Diega was discovered in 2010. “The government of Equatorial Guinea is committed to promoting competitive exploration, contract sanctity and local content compliance,” said H.E. the Minister. “We intend to create greater opportunities for explorers in the country, including our national oil and gas companies GEPetrol and SONAGAS, which should play a greater role in the petroleum sector.” *APO]]>

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African Groupings Urged to Block Leaders from Changing Constitution
October 18, 2015 | 0 Comments

NEPAD CEO, Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki. NEPAD CEO, Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki.[/caption] The head of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) says it is the responsibility of African regional blocs to prevent heads of state in their respective regions from changing the constitution that paves way for them to seek new terms after their terms expire. NEPAD is an economic development program of the African Union, which aims to provide the vision and policy framework for accelerating economic co-operation and integration among African countries. In an interview with VOA, Dr. Ibrahim Hassane Mayaki says the African Peer Review Mechanism is not to blame for the lack of action on strengthening democratic institutions on the African continent. Several African countries including Rwanda and Congo Republic plan to change the constitution that would enable their presidents to seek new terms after their two terms expire. Mayaki says the regional groups should learn from the stance taken by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). ECOWAS suspended Niger’s membership and put pressure on former president Mamadou Tandja after he attempted to change the constitution to seek another term when it was set to expire in 2009. Tandja was subsequently ousted by the military in February 2010. “That action… in the context of what the African Union calls the subsidiarity principle, which means that events that occur in a regional space are first tackled by that regional space, in order to find the necessary solutions,” said Mayaki. “It is the responsibility of each regional economic community really to tackle this issue, and the African Union is supporting the regional communities, when they tackle these issues.” Critics say NEPAD’s Africa Peer Review Mechanism, which reports on the performance of African governments on governance issues, has failed to carry out its mandate. They also said the APRM has not been proactive enough to sensitize Africans about the need to push back attempts by their leaders to change the constitution to seek another mandate. Mayaki disagreed. “You cannot blame the APRM of not acting… Because the APRM has always drawn the attention on these types of issues within the reports… Then the report is presented and a discussion is engaged with the head of state of a country in order to ask him on the clarification on the challenges that were mentioned in the report,” said Mayaki. “The APRM is doing its job of really tackling taboo, controversial, difficult issues like these ones and mentioning them. The APRM is not a political institution in terms of taking a public stance. But it is a mechanism that has proven through the conclusions of its reports that it tackles the hard issues like amendment of constitutions, xenophobia, rigging elections, [and] lack of women participation in public life.” Civil society and opposition groups have often rejected outcomes of elections in Africa where an incumbent president has comfortably won. They accuse ruling parties of voter irregularities including multiple voting, intimidation and harassment of opposition supporters, which they say undermine the credibility of elections. But Mayaki says the quality of elections has significantly improved in Africa. He also cited instances where incumbent leaders have lost elections and have peacefully handed over to their opponents. “If you look at the quality of elections that take place, the existence of free speech, the existence of opposition political parties, multipartism and we compare with many countries in the Middle East, we are far ahead,” said Mayaki. “Nigeria was a big success story, when President Goodluck Jonathan accepted his defeat and handed over to President [Muhammadu] Buhari, and it did contradict all those who were thinking the elections were going to be rigged or manipulated,” said Mayaki. “It is the beginning of a huge change because, given the role that Nigeria is playing in the regional integration process in West Africa, given the role that Nigeria is playing on the continent as a leader, this experience will have a direct consequence on all the elections that will take place. *Source VOA]]>

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VISA Goes For The African Market
October 5, 2015 | 0 Comments

Morocco and Francophone Africa Mohamed Touhami El Ouazzani talks about the growth of electronic payments and the expansion of Visa services in Africa. Can you tell us about the operations of Visa in Africa, in how many countries do you operate? [caption id="attachment_21219" align="alignleft" width="586"]Touhami El Ouazzani Touhami El Ouazzani[/caption] Africa is the continent that is currently witnessing a considerable growth in the adoption of electronic payments due to mobile penetration and the inclination of a number of African countries to use mobile as an effective tool of financial inclusion.  According to the Financial Inclusion Index, the global Findex database, globally, nearly all adults who reported owning an account said that they have an account at a financial institution: 60 percent reported having a financial institution account only, 1 percent having both a financial institution account and a mobile money account, and 1 percent a mobile money account only. Sub-Saharan Africa is an exception to this global picture. There, almost a third of account holders—or 12 percent of all adults—reported having a mobile money account. Within this group, about half reported having both a mobile money account and an account at a financial institution, and half having a mobile money account only. The figures released by the Findex suggest that Kenya has the highest share of adults with a mobile money account, at 58 percent, followed by Somalia, Tanzania, and Uganda with about 35 percent. In southern Africa, penetration of mobile money accounts is also relatively high, at 14 percent, but just 2 percent of adults reported having a mobile money account only. This clearly indicates how technology is being used to make strides in financial inclusion efforts. Visa is quite aware of this fact and our products and services do aim at reaching unbanked segments, through our financial partners, while utilizing innovation and technology. Earlier this year, United Bank of Africa Cameroon, a Visa client, won the innovation award for a cobranded Student ID Visa Prepaid concept that aims to provide students with a multi-function Visa card. The card, which serves as an ID for student, contains vital information such as the department, university year and can be used internationally. During the past three months, we ran a promotional campaign in Senegal, DRC, Ivory Coast, and Cameroon to increase awareness of electronic payments. Towards the goal of achieving universal financial access, Visa will work toward providing electronic payment accounts to another 500 million underserved people by end of 2020. We operate in more than 200 countries and territories and we do have a strong presence in Africa. What does Africa gain from using your product and why should it be preferred over other competitors like Master card? Africa represents great potential. When you look at Senegal, DRC, Ivory Coast, and Cameroon, you find countries that are picking up in terms of adoption and awareness in addition to efforts to create communities that are aware of the benefits of electronic payment. As a global payments technology company, we see one of the most valuable contributions we can make is helping to bring more people into the formal financial system. We do so by creating pathways to financial inclusion for the financially underserved through our products, services, technology, payments expertise; financial literacy tools and resources; and our strategic partnerships. Through our continuous cooperation with banks in Africa, we aim to help our clients avail innovative products and services to cardholders. Visa applies 50 years of experience and investments to ensure consumers, businesses and governments in more than 200 countries can engage in commerce with absolute peace-of-mind. They expect Visa to work securely, everywhere – every time. Today, more than 22 percent of global consumer spend is enabled by Visa products. As payments migrate to smartphones, tablets and other connected devices, VisaNet – our global network – is the ideal foundation for innovation and growth. Our technology investments are aimed at making commerce safer, easier and smarter, enabling new ways to pay, while providing merchants and financial institutions with deeper and more accurate insights. VisaNet provides secure, reliable payments for more than 2.3 billion Visa account holders, 40 million merchants and 15,000 financial institutions around the globe while the intelligence and speed of our network allows Visa to authenticate sellers and buyers with 97 percent accuracy – in less than 300 milliseconds. Africa can sometimes be very challenging, what has the experience been like doing business in Africa? Brands-VisaVisa is working closely with financial institutions in Africa to ensure that we target the segment of the unbanked aiming at achieving our goal to reach 500 million unbanked people by 2020. We anticipate that Africa will be one of the focus areas in the coming months and years especially with more people depending on mobile technologies and adapting to it. Numerous studies, including our own expectations, suggest that Africa will be hot spot for electronic payments in the near future and we are making sure that we will avail the technologies, products, and services that would facilitate this transition. As we anticipate this, we engage in financial literacy efforts like the financial literacy road shows we implemented in South Africa to deliver educational lessons in an entertaining forum. In Rwanda, we launched a localized financial literacy program in partnership with the Government of Rwanda. If you had recommendations that could help good business thrive, what will there be? We believe that the widespread use of electronic payments resulted in the expansion of sales volume of goods and services. Electronic payments play an important role in easing geographic barriers to trade. Small and medium business account for a large portion of any economy and the resorting to electronic payments can make a difference and have a positive impact on small and medium businesses. It can help them grow their sales, expand to different geographies, and better manage their financials. According to a research by payment service provider Sage Pay, the average cost of handling cash for UK SMBs has reached more than £17.8bn a year, or £3,638.57 per retailer. The study said, “Businesses are not investing enough in new payment technologies, despite consumer demand. Thirty six per cent of consumers say they are more likely to shop at places that offer a range of payment methods or innovative payment types.  And more than half of businesses agree that offering a range of payment options drives loyalty.” Besides business what is it that global businesses like Visa do to give back to the community? Our sense of global mission and purpose is driven by our concern for the economic and social well-being of people around the globe. We group our initiatives into three areas:

  • Financial Inclusion Using our products, services, payments expertise, financial literacy resources, and philanthropic investments to bring more people into the formal financial system as a key step in lifting themselves out of poverty.
  • Humanitarian Aid and Community Support Giving back to the communities in which we live and work by supporting global humanitarian aid as well as local community organizations through both corporate donations and employee involvement.
  • Responsible Business Practices upholding the highest ethical business practices and operations through governance, fair employee and supplier policies and practices, and an understanding of our environmental impact.
In 2003 the Dominican Republic experienced an economic crisis that left 1 million people in poverty. Aid distribution to the population was not transparent, disorganized, and inefficient. In the years to follow, Visa was asked to support the Government in developing a program, using its expertise in the payments industry, to develop the Solidaridad Visa prepaid, reloadable cards. Over US$1.3 billion has been distributed to over 990,000 beneficiaries on Visa Solidaridad cards. In Nigeria, as in most countries, women require financial tools that are convenient, safe, and reliable. With support from Visa and Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access (EFInA), Women’s World Banking (WWB) worked with Diamond Bank in Nigeria in 2012 to develop a commercially-viable savings product tailored to the needs of low-income women. The savings account can be accessed via a bank branch, ATM, bank agents or mobile money agents.  Over 100,000 accounts have been opened since the program began. In Morocco, Visa worked with a local theatre group, Daba Teatre, to develop and produce the play “Lalla Kheira.” Visa Morocco, commissioned the play in 2013 to illustrate the trials and tribulations of not having financial education and how being financially literate can improve one’s life, targeting youth primarily from the ages of 12 – 25. The play went on a road show in three key cities in Morocco (Tanger, Rabat, and Casablanca) in 2013 reaching 1000 students directly and 3 million through the media. Bank Banque Populaire, which has joined the goal of raising financial literacy awareness in Morocco, equally endorsed the play. timthumbIn Rwanda, the World Food Programme (WFP) collaborated with Visa, MIDIMAR, and UNHCR to deploy an electronic cash transfer pilot program using a mobile Visa solution. Each month, refugees receive a text message when their disbursement is available and recipients can immediately purchase items at merchants and withdraw cash at any registered agent. Mobile e-transfer solution has reduced aid disbursement time and costs for WFP as well as provided new market opportunities, including increased merchant sales within the local community. The Visa solution has now expanded to a second camp and is supporting over 28,000 refugees. Over 80% of the money transferred to beneficiaries was used to make purchases electronically at mVISA merchants (as of January 2015). Africa is one of the biggest markets, what strategy does Visa have in place to exploit the opportunities that the African market offers? Visa realizes the potential in Africa and works closely with clients in African markets to raise awareness of electronic payments and avail products and solutions that would help in the financial inclusion of Africans. It is very important for us to partner with governments, clients, and mobile operators in order to capitalize on the widespread use of mobile technology in order to reach unbanked segments. Our innovations will empower clients to reach such segments and play a role in providing them with secure, convenient, reliable, and relevant products and solutions.        ]]>

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