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Africa Investment Forum 2019 – Promises made, promises kept: Champions share why investments benefit women
November 18, 2019 | 0 Comments
We are looking at the value chain of businesses and asking how do we support women across the value chain…from the factory floor all the way to the boardroom? – Tokunboh Ishmael
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, November 18, 2019/ — 60% of Mara phones’ 400-450 employees are women: This is why our quality is better than anyone else’s – Ashsish Thakkar; We are looking at the value chain of businesses and asking how do we support women across the value chain…from the factory floor all the way to the boardroom? – Tokunboh Ishmael

Challenged a few years ago at an investment forum about the number of women-owned businesses she invested in, Tokunboh Ishmael, co-founder of Aliethiea IDF, faced the realization that after 15 years of private equity investing in businesses in Europe, Asia and North America, the answer was: none.

It was a turning point for the former investment banker, although her partner and co-founder, South African Polo Leteka, had been doing exactly that for years.

“We realised  that we were meeting  many women entrepreneurs who were running formidable businesses…Africa is full of lots of female micro entrepreneurs, but they were not receiving any finance,” Ishmael told a packed plenary session at the Africa Investment forum which closed Wednesday 13 November, in the South African capital Johannesburg.

Ishmael was speaking as part of a panel session dubbed “Promises made, Promises kept,” which included Ashish Thakkar, CEO and founder of Mara phones, and Masai Ujiri, President of the Toronto Raptors. Ishmael and Thakkar were on stage to share their testimonies. Ujiri, made a second appearance at the Africa Investment Forum to show off the National Basketball Association (NBA) championship trophy which he had promised to secure during the 2018 Forum, while urging investors to look at sports.

Aliethiea IDF – a private equity fund focusing on women, was able to raise tens of millions of dollars in boardrooms conducted during the 2018 Africa Investment Forum

“We had about 10 percent of funds raised. This week we are closing on over 70% of funds raised to reach our target of a $100 million,” Ishmael declared to thunderous applause. The Bank provided anchoring seed fund of $12.5 million to the fund.

The panelists agreed that increasing up support for women across the different economic sectors in which they participate is crucial.

“We are seeking out those women to build scalable businesses…from the factory floor all the way to the boardroom” Ishmael said.

Thakkar, who also sought out investors at the 2018 Forum, said he made a promise to build two Mara phone factories in Africa.

Thakkar’s Mara phones – quality, mobile phones “made in Africa, by Africans,” opened its first factory in October 2019 in Rwanda and a second later in the same month in Durban, South Africa, in keeping with his promise. 60% of his 400-450 employees are women – the highest gender ratio in the world, of any mobile phone manufacturer.

The interest the phones have received is directly tied to their quality, which Thakkar believes is connected to the input of women.

“This is why our quality is better than anybody else’s.  We have state-of the art facilities…it’s not just assembly, this is making the motherboards, putting over 1,000 pieces together,” he said.

Responding to a question about how to get more women involved and whether women stood to benefit, Ujiri answered that putting women in leadership roles only made sense.

When he took over the Toronto Raptors in 2013, there were no women at all, except for one secretary.

“And it really offended me…Women run our homes, they are incredible but when it comes to the workplace, we don’t want to give them that power to show their abilities, ’Ujiri said.

*AFDB
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Africa’s infrastructure financing reaches an all-time high in 2018, surpassing $100 billion – Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA)
November 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

This years’ report shows the role ICA continues to play in institutional and policy reform as well as its consistent financial contribution within the infrastructure space
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, November 18, 2019/ — The Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA) on Tuesday announced a 24% leap in infrastructure financing in Africa in 2018, surpassing $100 billion for the first time, but significant financing gaps remain.

Launched on 12 November at the Africa Investment Forum (https://AfricaInvestmentForum.com/), the ICA’s Infrastructure Financing Trends in Africa 2018 report shows that financing of infrastructure in Africa reached a new high of $100.8 billion in 2018, a jump of about a quarter on 2017 and 38% up on the 2015-2017 average.

Mike Salawou, ICA Coordinator, and Manager of Infrastructure Partnerships, at the African Development Bank, commented: “Over the years the Infrastructure Financing Trends in Africa report has become an important document for presenting, in a consistent manner, how funding is being mobilised to develop the continent’s infrastructure. 

“The report’s publication during the Africa Investment Forum is extremely timely. While the increase in financial commitments in 2018 is very welcome, the report also serves to highlight the size of Africa’s infrastructure financing gap – one of the key issues addressed during the forum,” Salawou said.

This years’ report shows the role ICA continues to play in institutional and policy reform as well as its consistent financial contribution within the infrastructure space. This, along with a 65% and 33% increase in commitments over the previous 3-year average by China and African Governments respectively, and the role of other multilateral organisations resulted in the 24% increase recorded in infrastructure financing for 2018.

Among the key findings of the report was an increase in financing commitments across all sectors, with a notable increase in the energy sector, which attracted financing commitments worth $43.8 billion, an all-time high and a 67% increase on the 2015-2017 average. The ICT sector also saw record commitments in 2018 of $7.1 billion, mostly from the private sector.

Even with the significant increase in commitments in 2018, there remains a total financing gap of $52 billion to $92 billion per year. Yearly estimates of Africa’s financing requirements range from $130 billion to $170 billion. Water and sanitation has the largest financing gap of all the sectors, based on annual financing needs of $56-$66 billion and a 2016-2018 average commitment of $13 billion.

Panellists Dr. T. Nyirenda-Jere, Dr. B. Ben Yaghlane, Dr. I. Urua, Mr. C. Kirigua and Mr. P. Guislain, addressed key messages highlighted in this year’s report, which includes, the need to increase both public and private sector financing, strengthen governance and improve the quality of infrastructure services.

The Africa Investment Forum took place from 11 to 13 November 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa, and offered a platform for sourcing funding for bankable African projects, brokering infrastructure deals and providing innovative financial solutions.

The event attracted key global companies, financial players, and public officials who addressed the continent’s critical infrastructure investment gaps.

Infrastructure Financing Trends in Africa 2018 can be downloaded from the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (https://www.ICAfrica.org/en/) website.

*Source AFDB

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Springfield Oil Discovery is Historic for Local Content in Africa
November 18, 2019 | 0 Comments
As much as 1.2bn barrels of oil could be held within the deposit, with up to 35% recoverable according to Springfield
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, November 18, 2019/ — The soon-to-be-announced deep water oil discovery offshore Ghana by independent Springfield Group is historic for Ghana and Africa’s local content. Not only does it mark the first deep water oil discovery made by an African oil company, but it could also be a bigger find than Ghana’s Jubilee Field, which remains the biggest oilfield in the country.

While figures are still temporary and several additional assessments need to be conducted, the discovery is the result of the drilling of two wells over the past 40 days, which both struck oil. As much as 1.2bn barrels of oil could be held within the deposit, with up to 35% recoverable according to Springfield. Equally important, commercially viable quantities of gas were also discovered.

“What a year for Africa’s exploration!” declared Nj Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber (https://EnergyChamber.org/) and CEO at the Centurion Law Group. “Springfield and its CEO Kevin Okyere represent the African spirit of defying unsurmountable odds and sticking to it when everyone counts you out,” he added. “Africa is a burning exploration frontier where the most significant oil & gas discoveries are being made not only by international explorers, but by our own companies. The Ghana discovery is the result of efforts made by African entrepreneurs, in a country where first discoveries were made only 12 years ago. More importantly, it was made within a block that was relinquished by US explorer Kosmos Energy, known to be a front-runner in making massive discoveries across Africa and opening up new frontiers. It speaks volumes to the value that local content development can create when African companies and entrepreneurs are given an opportunity to contribute to their industry.”

In only a decade, Ghana went from not producing oil to becoming sub-Saharan Africa’s fourth-biggest oil producer, with current production averaging about 195,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd). The country has been spearheading transformations within the continent’s energy sector, providing the right market-driven policies and environment for African companies to acquire world-class assets from international counterparts, such as Springfield’s acquisition of Kosmos Energy block, or Chrome Resources and Rockefield’s acquisition of the West Keta block operatorship from Hess Corp after its exit in 2014.

Since the discovery of the Jubilee oilfield by Kosmos Energy in 2007, Ghana has managed to bring three offshore projects on stream, resolve its maritime border dispute with Cote d’Ivoire and position itself as a key hydrocarbons province in the Gulf of Guinea. Oil is now being produced from Kosmos Energy’s Jubilee field, Tullow Oil’s Twenneboa, Enyenra and Ntomme fields and ENI’s Offshore Cape Three Points Integrated oil and gas development project. Production is expected to reach 250,000 bopd next year, and most optimistic expectations put output at half a million barrels a day by 2025.

The African Energy Chamber calls on the government of Ghana to incentivize the full development of the block. We believe such development will create jobs for Ghanaians, and opportunities for Ghanaian companies and entrepreneurs to service one of West Africa’s largest upcoming offshore development. Such a discovery has the potential to spur considerable economic growth for Ghana, already the world’s fastest-growing economy this year. 
*Africa Energy Chamber
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Africa Has All Ingredients for a New Era of Success
November 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

NJ Ayuk
NJ Ayuk

African countries need to monetize their natural resources and use the resulting revenue to build much-needed infrastructure and diversify economies
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, November 18, 2019/ — If you follow news about Africa, it’s easy to find disheartening headlines about the continent’s struggles. But those stories do not paint a complete picture. Every day, I read encouraging news about African entrepreneurs and business leaders who are making a positive impact.

A few examples:Kola Karim’s Shoreline Natural Resources has grown its upstream business through the acquisition of OML 30 a world class asset from Shell in 2010. OML 30 is onshore Nigeria, located less than 50 kilometers east of Warri. The lease covers 1,097 square kilometers with eight producing fields. OML 30 has 2P reserves of 1.2billion barrels of oil and 2tcf of gas reserves. Current production averages 70,00 bopd with potential to significantly increase to c. 300,000 bopd in the long term.Nigerian oil tycoon Arthur Eze of Atlas Oranto Petroleum recently closed, alongside Noble Energy and Glencore, a $350 million deal on pooling supply from stranded gas fields in Equatorial Guinea and the Gulf of Guinea to replace declining output from the Alba field.Benedict Peters, chairman and CEO of energy conglomerate AITEO Group will serve on the Board of Advisors for the U.S.-Africa Business Center. There he will be able to provide relevant insights that lead to valuable economic opportunities for Americans and Africans.The Nigerian Natural Gas Association, which just celebrated its 20th anniversary, is thriving under the leadership of President Audrey Joe-Ezigbo, the association’s first female president.Sahara Group, an energy and infrastructure conglomerate, has teamed up with the United Nations Development Programme to create the Africa Renewable Energy Forum. Sahara Group, which is under the leadership of Executive Director Temitope Shenube, says the forum’s objective is to provide access to sustainable energy for 10 million African households through alternative energy initiatives and interventions.
The point is, exciting things are taking place in Africa.

When I wrote Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals, my goal was to help readers envision a new future for Africa, a future they could help shape. I want people to see that Africa doesn’t have to be subject to a resource curse, and with the right strategies and policies, Africa can reap the full benefits of its oil and gas resources.

But that’s only part of the story. I also want people to understand that Africa has more than petroleum resources going for it: the continent also is rich in people who refuse to give up on Africa, people who are working to guide the continent toward a more stable and prosperous future. We have energetic entrepreneurs and government leaders committed to the African dream of stability and prosperity; increasing numbers of female professionals and leaders bringing their talents to the table, and successful petroleum sector leaders who want to channel their expertise and resources into Africa’s future.

When you combine the people working for a better African future with the steady flow of opportunities we’re seeing in oil and gas — including several major discoveries in the last few months alone — great things can happen.  

Committed to Africa

Long before Nyonga Fofang took the helm of private equity firm Bambili Group in South Africa, the Harvard-educated financier made a name for himself on Wall Street. I quoted him in my book to help make a case for the importance of foreign investment in Africa. But in addition to being a source of valuable finance insights, Fofang is an example of Africans who are sharing the benefits of their Western educations and career experiences with their home continent. These Africans are harnessing the insights and ingenuity they have gained abroad and putting them to work for the good of Africans.

Another excellent example of that dynamic is Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, the Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea. Lima earned his bachelor’s degree in International Trade from Alma College in Michigan before going on to build a successful career in Equatorial Guinea. Today, this highly respected OPEC Minister is known for his effective leadership in Equatorial Guinea and around the world, where he plays a critical role in the country’s increased petroleum exploration and production activity.

Fofang and Lima are not isolated cases: a recent survey by pan-African equity firm Jacana Partners found that 70 percent of African MBA students at the top schools in American and Europe planned to return home after graduation. And in a survey by the Association of Commonwealth Universities, 400 doctoral students from Africa said they intended to return to their home country after completing educations abroad. Many Africans are committing to playing a role in their continent’s success, and that bodes very well for the continent’s future.

I would like to add, though, that Africa also benefits from people who have left the continent, but continue to find ways to support their home communities and countries. The African diaspora, comprising more than 30 million people around the globe, can make significant contributions to Africa’s socioeconomic well-being. That can take the form of knowledge and technology sharing, investments, and participation in civil society and advocacy efforts. We do see that happening now, and I hope to see an even more engaged Africa diaspora going forward.

Fully Capitalizing on Africa’s Talent

As I wrote in Billions at Play, female leaders excel at what they do. When women are given the opportunity to lead, we see the businesses, governments, and organizations under their guidance reap the rewards. That’s why we all should be excited when we hear about woman rising to positions of power and influence in Africa.

One of the women featured in my book, for example, has been transforming Africa’s tech sector. Rebecca Enonchong is an innovator who not only thinks outside of the box, she is developing better boxes altogether. Enonchong is the founder and CEO of AppsTech, which provides solutions for businesses and organizations around the globe, and of the I/O Spaces incubator for members of the African diaspora in the U.S. She also is the chair of ActiSpaces (the African Center for Technology Innovation and Ventures) and of AfriLabs, a network organization of more than 80 innovation centers across 27 African countries. And she is a founding member of the African Business Angel Network. Earlier this year, she was among the tech trailblazers featured in the augmented reality art experience “Nyota,” in Lagos, which was created to honor those who have contributed significantly to the growth of innovation and the technology ecosystem in Africa. Enonchong continues to innovate, to lead, and to create meaningful economic opportunities for Africans.

And she is one of many examples I have written about. Another is Catherine Uju Ifejika, Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian energy services company, Brittania-U Group. Under her effective leadership, Brittania-U Group creates business opportunities for other indigenous companies, along with training and full-time jobs.

Another African leader to follow is Audrey Joe-Ezigbo, whom I mentioned earlier in this piece. In addition to her role with the Nigerian Natural Gas Association, she is the co-founder of Falcon Corporation Limited, an indigenous midstream and downstream gas outfit. She also is an author; on the Executive Council of Women in Management, Business & Public Service; is the founder of The Barnabas Widows Support Foundation; and provides business and relationship-building training to couples that are in business together.

Lets not forget, Elizabeth Rogo – Founder & Chief Executive Officer Tsavo Oilfield Services. Elizabeth’s trailblazing path includes being the first woman to lead American oilfield service company Weatherford’s Sub-Sahara division to hold country and regional management roles when she was appointed Country Manager (Kenya) then East Africa Area Manager (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique and Ethiopia) from 2015 until 2017 before starting her own oilfield Services company – another first for a woman in the region.

I am not saying women have more to offer Africa than men, both have a great deal to offer Africa. Why shouldn’t our continent benefit from all of its talent? I am excited to see more women contributing to economic development and innovation in Africa, and I know the continent will continue to benefit as more determined business leaders, male and female, join their efforts.

Movers and Shakers

Arthur Eze is another powerful example of African business leaders working for a better African future. Eze, usually referred to as Prince Arthur Eze because he is descended from tribal royalty, is the founder of Atlas Petroleum International and Oranto Petroleum. He is known not only for his business successes, but also for his philanthropy. Last year, Oranto started building two primary schools in South Sudan, where the company has an exploration license for Block B3. Oranto also has committed to a five-year teacher training program in South Sudan.

Petroleum industry leader Benedict Peters has a strong track record of impactful business and charitable activities as well. He has been recognized for helping Nigeria develop its energy industry, and for transforming Aiteo Group from a small downstream operation to an integrated energy conglomerate. Aiteo is a regular support of organizations like FACE Africa, which provides clean water to sub-Saharan Africans. Peters’ organization, the Joseph Agro Foundation, addresses unemployment and water shortages by creating job opportunities for farmers.

Then there is Sahara Group. Under the leadership of Executive Director and co-founder Temitope Shenube, the Nigerian energy and infrastructure conglomerate empowers the communities where it works. The company’s charitable arm, Sahara Foundation, supports health, education and capacity building, environment, and sustainable development initiatives.

What we are seeing in Africa is a pattern of African petroleum-sector leaders taking meaningful steps to make life better in Africa.

Endless Energy Opportunities

Africa has no shortage of people determined to improve its future, and it has what it needs to fuel their efforts: enormous stores of oil and gas resources. The last 12 months have been an exceptionally exciting time in terms of discoveries.

In offshore Mauritania, Kosmos Energy recently announced a massive natural gas discovery that could yield as much as 50 trillion cubic feet of gas. Total discovered what could amount to 1 billion barrels of oil equivalent offshore South Africa’s Brulpadda field. BP and Kosmos Energy announced a discovery in the Yakaar-2 appraisal well, offshore of Senegal.

We are also seeing tremendously promising activity in Mozambique. Earlier this fall, ExxonMobil announced a $33 billion enlargement of Mozambique’s Rovuma liquid natural gas (LNG) complex. Total, meanwhile, says it will expand its Mozambique LNG project it recently acquired from Anadarko. Both projects are likely to create tens of thousands of jobs, bolster the economy, and raise everyday people’s standard of living.

And these are only a few examples of Africa’s many petroleum-related opportunities. Of course, we need to act thoughtfully and decisively to capitalize on them and make sure that everyday Africans benefit from them. African countries need to monetize their natural resources and use the resulting revenue to build much-needed infrastructure and diversify economies. We must insist on governance that encourages exploration and production, effective local content policies, and an end to corruption. We need to be making better deals and developing new models for managing oil revenue.

Instead of looking to foreign aid, we need to develop strategic partnerships with foreign companies willing to share knowledge. And while we are capitalizing on petroleum resources, we also need to embrace sustainable energy sources and plan now for Africa’s energy transition. I cover all of these topics in great detail in my book.

The African Dream is Within Our Reach

Africa is home to infectious optimism and tenacity. We’re seeing it in Africans who’ve achieved success and now work to help other Africans do the same. We are seeing it in women who are overcoming gender stereotypes and obstacles to take their rightful place as industry leaders. And, we are seeing it among petroleum executives who are offering meaningful support and opportunities to African communities.

Africa is an exciting place in an era of huge potential. That’s why the time is right to join the fight for its future. Whether you are an African entrepreneur, a member of the diaspora, or a foreign investor, your efforts today have more potential than ever to make a positive impact.

NJ Ayuk is the CEO of Centurion Law Group and the Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber. His experience negotiating oil and gas deals has given him an expert’s grasp of Africa’s energy landscape. He is the author of “Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and doing deals.

*Source African Energy Chamber.
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Africa Investment Forum 2019: African Development Bank signs $250-million risk participation agreement with ABSA, to address Africa’s trade financing gap
November 18, 2019 | 0 Comments
The Bank’s trade finance operations aim to facilitate inter and intra Africa trade by reducing the trade financing gap on the continent
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, November 18, 2019/ — The African Development Bank (https://AfDB.org/en) has signed an unfunded $250-million Risk Participation Agreement (RPA) facility with ABSA – a pan-Africa financial institution with a solid presence in 12 African countries.

The 3-year RPA facility was signed November 12, on the sidelines of the Africa Investment Form through its trade finance operations. Under this 3-year RPA facility, the Bank and ABSA will share default risk on a portfolio of eligible trade transactions originated by African Issuing Banks (IBs) and confirmed by ABSA.

Leveraging the Bank’s  AAA rating, ABSA will underwrite trade transactions issued by African issuing banks across key sectors like agriculture, energy, and light-manufacturing with a special focus on Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SME’s)  in fragile and low-income African countries. The Bank’s commitment under the RPA is to assume up to 50% (and 75% in special cases) of every underlying transaction issued by the IBs, while ABSA will confirm such a transaction and bear not less than 50% of its underlying risk.

Working with strategic partners like ABSA, the Bank’s  trade finance operations aim to facilitate inter and intra Africa trade by reducing the trade financing gap on the continent. Since 2013, the Bank’s RPA program has supported over 16 issuing banks with about US$650 million  limits in Southern Africa alone, with special focus on SMEs and local corporates in manufacturing, agribusiness, import/export and energy sectors.

In the same period, the program supported over $4billion in trade volumes across Africa, with $938 million of that being intra-Africa trade. Other trade finance instruments employed by the Bank include: (i) Trade Finance Line of Credit (TFLoC)  (https://bit.ly/2CRVxcv) – funded line provided to banks for the financing of exclusively trade-related transactions in Africa; and (ii) Soft Commodity Finance Facility (SCFF) (https://bit.ly/2CRVxcv) – funded instrument meant to support the financing of exports of soft commodities across the continent.

“The RPA facility is one of the tools employed by the African Development Bank to alleviate poverty and achieve robust economic growth and sustainable development on the continent through: increased trade facilitation of import-export activities of African local corporates and SME’s; enhanced inter and intra-Africa trade; and regional integration,” said Pierre Guislain, Bank Vice President for Infrastructure, Private Sector and Industrialization, “This is consistent with the Bank’s High 5s focus to Industrialize Africa, Light up Africa, Integrate Africa, Feed Africa and improve the living standards of Africans,” he added.

*AFDB
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Africa Investment Forum 2019: Masai Ujiri urges African leaders to invest in sports, commissions two new “players”
November 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

We need to invest in sports; African talent is like gold and diamonds – Masai Ujiri
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, November 18, 2019/ — Masai Ujiri, President of the Toronto Raptors, made his second appearance at the Africa Investment Forum, renewing his call for African governments to invest in sports.

Ujiri, the only President of National Basketball Association (NBA) of African origin in franchise history, has worked hard over the past year to scout talent and raise awareness about the success and growth of sports on the continent.

“We should be supporting teams here in Africa, that should be our vision. Sports is the next big thing in Africa,” Ujiri said, calling on investors to pay “close attention.” With all the talent in sports, there is no way it should be ignored, he said, reeling off a list of players from Africa on the Raptors team.

The sports ecosystem should be the biggest thing on our continent and has the potential to create jobs and improve livelihoods. African players are in top leagues worldwide and a former footballer is even president of an African state, Ujiri stated.

Ujiri, joined Ashish Thakkar, CEO and founder of Mara phones, and Tokunboh Ishmael, co-founder of Aliethiea IDF for a panel session dubbed “Promises made, Promises kept.”

Ishmael and Thakkar were on stage to share their testimonies, while Ujiri urged investors to look at sports and showed off the NBA championship trophy which at the 2018 Forum he had promised to secure.

Ujiri said President Paul Kagame of Rwanda had heeded his call and was providing support and a “push” for sports.  In one year only, Kagame had built an incredible arena in the capital Kigali.

“We need to invest in sports, it should be the greatest ecosystem in the planet,” Ujiri said.

Responding to a question about how to get more women involved and whether women stood to benefit, Ujiri answered that putting women in leadership roles only made sense.

When he took over the Toronto Raptors in 2013 as executive vice president and general manager, there were no women at all, except for one secretary.

“And it really offended me…Women run our homes, they are incredible but when it comes to the workplace, we don’t want to give them that power to show their abilities, ‘Ujiri said.

“Now I have hired 15 women with my organization, and I think it’s important, they give us success. They make us make better decisions,” Ujiri said.

As a parting surprise, Ujiri announced that he had scouted two new players for the Raptors. Welcoming President Kagame and African Development Bank (AfDB.org) Akinwumi Adesina to the stage, he handed them red team gear with their names emblazoned on the back along with the number 19.

“They are going to be playing for the Raptors, I’m taking them back to Toronto with me,” Ujiri announced.

In earlier remarks, Ujiri thanked Kagame and Adesina for their support.

“We should be supporting teams in Africa…The talent in Africa is incredible, it’s like gold and diamond…we have to represent and believe in it.”

The Africa Investment Forum is a marketplace for project developers, investors, borrowers, lenders, policy makers and public- and private-sector investors to encourage investment in Africa. The 2019 edition, which ran from 11-13 November, closed Wednesday in Johannesburg, South Africa.
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$1 Million Awarded to African Entrepreneurs in Grand Finale of the Jack Ma Foundation Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative
November 17, 2019 | 0 Comments

The aim of the prize is to support and inspire the next generation of African entrepreneurs who are building a more sustainable and inclusive economy for the future
ACCRA, Ghana, November 17, 2019/ — Last night the Jack Ma Foundation hosted its first annual Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI) (https://www.Netpreneur.Africa/) grand finale awarding $1 million in prize money to 10 entrepreneurs from across Africa.

The ANPI is a flagship initiative of the Jack Ma Foundation, created by Jack Ma after his first trip to Africa in 2017. The aim of the prize is to support and inspire the next generation of African entrepreneurs who are building a more sustainable and inclusive economy for the future. In its inaugural year, nearly 10,000 entrepreneurs from 50 countries across the continent applied. The Jack Ma Foundation has committed to running the competition for 10 years.

The finale event, called “Africa’s Business Heroes,” was held in Accra, Ghana, where the top 10 finalists pitched their businesses directly to four prestigious judges including Jack Ma, Founder of Alibaba Group and the Jack Ma Foundation; Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet Group; Ibukun Awosika, Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria and Founder/CEO of The Chair Centre Group; and Joe Tsai, Executive Vice Chairman of Alibaba.

The specifics of the prize pool division is listed below. Each finalist is receiving a share of $1 million.

The top three finalists were:Temie Giwa-Tubosun, founder and CEO, LifeBank  (https://LifeBank.ng/) ( Nigeria) – First Place, winning $250,000Dr. Omar Sakr, founder and CEO, Nawah-Scientific (https://Nawah-Scientific.com/) (Egypt) – Second Place, winning $150,000Christelle Kwizera, founder, Water Access Rwanda (https://www.WARwanda.com/) (Rwanda) – Third Place, winning $100,000
“It was an incredible honor to be named Africa’s Business Hero. I was truly inspired by my fellow winners at today’s Netpreneur Summit. The Africa Netpreneur Prize will give me the resources to grow LifeBank and expand our presence in Nigeria and throughout the rest of Africa. I look forward to continuing my journey to solve problems and make a significant impact on the future of Africa,” said Temie Giwa-Tubosun, Founder and CEO of LifeBank.

The remaining finalists, who each received $65,000, are listed below:Waleed Abd El Rahman, CEO, Mumm (https://www.getMumm.com/) (Egypt)Ayodeji Arikawe, co-founder, Thrive Agric (https://ThriveAgric.com/)(Nigeria)Mahmud Johnson, founder and CEO, J-Palm  (https://www.JPalmshop.com/) (Liberia)Kevine Kagirimpundu, co-founder and CEO, UZURI K&Y  (https://shop.UZURIKY.com/) (Rwanda)Dr. Tosan J. Mogbeyiteren, founder, Black Swan (https://bit.ly/2OjgHFY) (Nigeria)Chibuzo Opara, co-founder, DrugStoc (https://www.DrugStoc.com/) (Nigeria)Moulaye Taboure, co-founder and CEO, Afrikrea (https://www.Afrikrea.com/)  (Cote D’Ivoire)
“The finalists who competed in ‘Africa’s Business Heroes’ should be an inspiration for Africa and for the world. Each of these entrepreneurs looked at big challenges facing their communities, and saw them as opportunities,” said Jack Ma, Founder of the Alibaba Group and Jack Ma Foundation. “It is my strong belief that entrepreneur heroes, like these finalists, will change the world – creating companies that drive inclusive growth and opportunity for the continent. Everyone is a winner tonight.”

“This competition demonstrates the overwhelming entrepreneurial talent that exists across Africa. I’m very excited about the future of industry and entrepreneurship for this continent,” said Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet Group. “The top 10 truly show the limitless potential of African business.”

“What really struck me about the finalists was that they each addressed specific African problems with a specific African solution in a fresh way, leveraging technology that wasn’t available previously,” said Ibukun Awosika, Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria and Founder/CEO of The Chair Centre Group. “If this is an indication of the future of entrepreneurship on the continent, then Africa’s future looks bright.”

“Africa’s Business Heroes” will be televised in a two-hour special throughout Africa. The journeys of the finalists as well as their pitches and business insights from the judges will all be included in this exciting television event.

You can watch “Africa’s Business Heroes” on the following dates and channels:December 13, 2019 – ROK 3 on DSTVDecember 14, 2019 – NOVELA and Sports Focus on StarTimes
Check your local listings for specific channel and airing times.

The initiative will host a pitch competition where 10 finalists from across the continent will compete for $1 million in total prize money every year through 2028. All entrepreneurs across Africa, are encouraged to apply. Entries for next year’s prize will open in the first half of 2020.

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Sierra Leone: We have enough Inventors in Sierra Leone, we need to develop them
November 17, 2019 | 0 Comments

Says UNDP Resident Representative

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

United Nations Resident Representative in Sierra Leone, Dr. Samuel Does speaking at the Social Good Summit Award 2019.

The United Nations Resident Representative in Sierra Leone, Dr. Samuel Doe, has said that there are enough inventors in the country thus the need to develop and celebrate them.

Dr. Samuel Doe made this statement on Friday 15th November, whilst delivering a statement at the Social Good Summit: National Youth Innovation Award 2019 with the theme ‘combating climate change: we only have one planet let’s rally to save it’ at the Tejan Kabba Hall Eastend Polytechnic, in Kenema Town, Eastern Region.

“That’s why we have the UNDP Accelerator lab in the UNDP it has enough resources, it has some of the most talented young people who are managing it. They will be coming to your village, they will be coming to your communities to see what you are producing to take that; give it some resources so that you now become an entrepreneur or an inventor. we have enough inventors in Sierra Leone, we need to develop them, or we need to celebrate them,’’ he said.

He further said that the Social Good Summit (SGS) brings together young people to dialogue, to discuss among themselves, to produce a solution or a set of solutions to the different development challenges adding that the assumption behind this, is that there is nowhere in the world where there is a problem, and that problem does not have an answer in that same space.

“Every problem has a solution, and every problem co-exist in that solution. So, there is a solution to solving that problem. So, if there is water problem you’re your community there is a solution in that same community to solve that water problem. If there is problem of energy in your community there is also a solution that same community, we can re -invent our circumstances’ ’Doe said.

The UNDP Rep lamented that through the dialogue , emerging from one another, in line from people who are innovating have helped society’s challenges  which  he said  has been the history of the social good summit throughout the world with the support of UNDP adding that since 2013, when they started the  Summit in Sierra Leone; from 2013-2019 many of the young people who won prices, who invented something through the SGS are today entrepreneurs citing IDT labs, and other companies own by young people that are impacting not only youths in the country but the world at large.

The UNDP rep said there are many young people who have made it in life through the summit adding that the UNDP has expanded the Social Good Summit by establishing the UNDP Accelerator Lab so that they link innovations to private companies to make their ideas bigger and turned them entrepreneurs.

On his part, Commissioner National Youth Commission (NAYCOM) Ngolo Katta thanked the UNDP for its continuous quest to draw out the potentials, talents and creativity of young people in the country.

‘’Today is a red- letter day, a critical moment in the transformation of Sierra Leone’s innovative and technological environment. So, we must all be thankful to His Excellency the President Brig .  Rtd. Julius Maada Bio for his very strong paradigm shift in supporting what we called Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEMS) in Sierra Leone. This is the foundation to building social capital of young people. Let me quickly say to that today I feel elated because of number of young women who have displayed their talents here today,’’ he said.

He added that government have made it a priority in the establishment of the new Ministry of Technical and Higher Education (MTHE) a priority to support girls and young women who get into STEM who will get scholarships to get further studies into the sciences.

Acting Minister of Youth Affairs Lusine Kallon, in his statement, said climate change is a global problem which affects everyone in the society adding that as a Ministry they were aware of the impacts of climate change we are suffering in our society which he said has tendency to affecting our sustainable development Goals.

‘’ I am happy to inform that to register our commitment to fighting climate change, His Excellency Bio has just created a new Ministry; the Ministry of Environment to fight against the issue of climate change in the country. You will agree with me that this decision is timely considering the recent international rankings which place us as 3rd most vulnerable country,’’ he said.

He added that there is no doubt climate change is the global environmental emergency that the wold is currently facing thus the need to take this issue very seriously.

The social Good Summit top winners for this year was Osman Yaah who invented an automatic Irrigation Water Pump System and Monica Jackson who invented an electric Tricycle powered by an inbuilt renewable energy system winning the top prizes of fifteen Million Leones each.

Whilst Benson Kandeh, an inventor of a Hand Pump to access water, and Aminata Amara a 13 years old inventor who invented a plastic bottle light won the second prizes with Seven Million Five Hundred thousand Leones each.

The Social Good Summit is organised by the UNDP in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth Affairs, National Youth Commission, Rokel Commercial Bank and key private sector partners. This year award is the 6th award.

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Sierra Leone : East End Polytechnic Registrar appeals to gov’t to grant them University status
November 17, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

Registrar John Juana speaking at the social Good Summit in Kenema
Registrar John Juana speaking at the social Good Summit in Kenema

The Registrar Eastern Polytechnic in Kenema, Eastern Sierra Leone ,  John Juana has appealed to the government to grant them a university status.

John Juana made this statement on Friday whilst speaking on behalf of the Principal of the polytechnic at  the National Youth Innovations awards ceremony organised by UNDP and partners at Eastern Polytechnic, Kenema Town , Eastern Region.

‘’ I was just trying to catalogue the views of the people of the East and by extension the entire country . You will realise that issue of Eastern Polytechnic  for having a university in the East is not new it is the clarion call  that the people have been making for the past 15 years and so it is becoming so glaring that even as we speak,  we still do not have the university status . The East is going without a university.  And so, I used the opportunity whilst welcoming the entourage from the  Youths Commission, the UNDP  and all stakeholders present to see how we can all work together to ensure we have a university in the East,’’ he said.

He added that  the Eastern Polytechnic is the only higher institution of learning in the East stating that they are one of the leading technical institutions in the country.

‘’we have been doing a lot and we have done a lot. In terms of infrastructure we have what it takes. We have one the biggest libraries , very stuff library , we have the man power capacity . All what we need is to see how we can build on that one. Our argument is that , it could be nice we start with what we have and build on it than starting a new university . if you say you want  to construct a new university , build up  you don’t even know how long it will take. In the first place we all know now that the economic status of the government everybody is saying there is no money . why can’t we give the university to an institution that has a semblance of that, it could be a technical university  ,’’ Juana lamented.

The Eastern Polytech Registrar said they are losing  a lot of youths from Kenema through migration to the western area of Freetown adding that majority of those youths do not come back and  therefore settle in Freetown.

When asked about the government view of them having a university status he replied that ‘’ The government is not averse to it , we know they are very positive about it , the Ministry of Education has done so much in fact the reason why they are now reviewing the Universities Act perhaps to take care some one those calls that are part of the Universities Act to correct a lot of things.

Mr. Juana went on to say they implore them, as it is a process even though it has taken too long adding that they are calling on the government to grant them a university status as the discussions are very evident on different radio stations in the district thus stating that the people of Kenema themselves wanted their only higher education becoming a university.

“we have the polytechnic character that we will want to maintain so that it become distinct that we also infuse not only the skills of you going to the classroom to learn but we are taking practical’s on board. We are giving internship programme, we are also ensuring that there is time allocated for practical purposes. Apart from that, we are infusing into all our programmes , entrepreneurship skills training so that even if you are going to train as a carpenter we make sure you get the technique of establishing your business and creating employment for people,’’

The Polytechnic administrator ended by calling on government to capacitate them as an institution as they are the only higher institution of learning in the Eastern Region of the country.

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Didier Drogba Chooses Ivory Coast Role Over Chelsea
November 16, 2019 | 0 Comments

Didier Drogba
Didier Drogba

Didier Drogba says he turned down a coaching job at Chelsea because he wanted to work on football development in his home country.

According to Metro, Didier Drogba turned down the opportunity to become part of the coaching team at Stamford Bridge in order to run for the position of president of the Ivory Coast Football Federation.

The 41-year-old Chelsea legend, who retired as a player late last year, has been canvassing support for his bid to take charge of the federation and admitted in a meeting in Abidjan that he opted to go for the job instead of returning to west London.

‘I had an offer to stay at Chelsea where everything would be perfect and conditions are met, but I want to help Ivorian football because I love it!’ said the former Ivory Coast captain.

‘I am a leader, and my vision is bigger than just the simple role of being a coach.

‘A coach has an impact on a club – but I want to have an impact on an entire nation. I want us to re-think football, with a nationwide vision, so we can develop the game here.

‘The Ivory Coast has a glorious footballing past. The funds are in place, together with talent and potential, but they are under-exploited.

‘There are some very competent people in the Ivory Coast who can work with me on this project.’

*Source Chelsea

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Shifting Battlefronts In Africa
November 16, 2019 | 0 Comments

By  Scott Morgan

The current struggle against the Islamic State (IS) is shifting fronts.  No longer will the major campaign take place against the former concentration of power in Syria and Iraq but it will shift to the Sahel.

During a Ministerial Level meeting that took place at the State Department on November 14th, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced to his counterparts that change in strategy would in fact be taking place soon. What would this actually look like is a question that is certain to be bandied around by analysts across the CT spectrum.

If we are to assess what the struggle in the Sahel will look like we should look at the operations in Iraq and Syria for some guidance. We saw a group that took advantage of a vacuum that had a space that needed to be occupied. In the Middle East the voids were provided by a long standing civil war in Syria and poor governance originating from Baghdad. These actions created the situation where IS were able to find willing recruits to join their crusades.

Switching focus to the Sahel we do see several areas where a very similar scenario has been unfolding. One area of concern we should have is this area has had this issue that actually predates the rise of the IS. Weak governments which have porous borders with their neighbors actually provides a context where cross border operations can be conducted with ease by a non-state actor. This is a key fact when the actors are native to the region as well. So should it really be a surprise to learn that some of the routes being used by the terrorists date back to the days of the Mali and Songhai empires?

Another point that is often overlooked is the rise of Al-Aqaeda in the Maghreb. The group rose to prominence after the controversial 1992 elections in Algeria. Back then it was better known as the GPSC (Salfaist Group for Preaching and Combat). It later played a prominent role in the ouster and demise of Qadaffi in Libya and in the collapse of  the central Government in Mali before the French led intervention known as Operation Barkhane.

Speaking of Libya one has to consider that the offensive by General Haftar and his international partners have to be considered as a factor in the rise in the spread of Jihadist acts in the region. His drive southward at first then west and finally north towards Tripoli has forced some fighters to seek a new place for sanctuary.

Currently where do we stand regarding the Sahel? Despite the French led intervention and a United Nations Peacekeeping Force which has allowed for both a tentative peace deal and several elections in Mail the situation is still in flux. There are still attacks in the Central part of Mali that have the potential to unravel the work that has been accomplished.

Another country that currently fits the profile of a potential front is Burkina Faso. It was earlier in the year when the late IS leader Al-Baghdadi called upon attacks on French and Crusader interests in the region. After the release of his statement for a month a Catholic Church in the northern part of the country was destroyed per week. Mosques have also been targeted as well as well as the extractive Gold Industry.

Niger which has seen its share of attacks by Boko Haram over the years is now the home base to a US facility that will be flying UAVs. With the presence of US Special Forces in Mali as well indicate that the US is concerned with events in the region and will do what it can to support France.

This action is being taken now so that the West doesn’t wake up one day and realize that the Jihadists have taken over parts of Ghana, Togo, Ivory Coast and Benin. These Governments are already warning that IS is already in their countries.

*The Author is President Red Eagle Enterprises, a firm with the dual Mission of Supporting African Business Development, and also Providing Analysis of African Intelligence, and assistance in relations with the United States Government .He sits on the Round tables for the Advocacy Network for Africa, and the International Religious Freedom Caucus in Washington ,DC.

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WiLDAF Commends Akufo Addo for nominating three female justices to Ghana’s High court.
November 15, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ahedor Jessica

President Akufo  Addo
President Akufo Addo

Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF Ghana) has commended the President of the republic of Ghana Nana Akuffo Addo for replacing the three retiring female Justices due for retirement with another set of female Justices at the Ghana’s high court. A move WiLDAF’s says is worth pointing out but maintained Government must make conscious efforts to have deserving women occupy their positions to build Ghana.

The commendation comes at the back of the president’s nomination of the three, Ladyships Justices Mariama Owusu, Lovelace Johnson and Gertrude Tokornoo onto the highest Court of the land.

Speaking to the Communications and Advocacy Officer for WiLDAF Ghana, Abigail Edem Hunu she called on the justices to use their position to advance access to justice for abused women and girls and the less privileged out there who have lost their voice due to societal pressure.

‘’It is our hope the Justices will use their new position to advance access to justice for women and girls, and when they are approved by Parliament, will continue to serve as positive role models to women and girls across the country’’.

WiLDAF Ghana she added is also using the opportunity to appeal to the government of Ghana to speed up the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill into Law. Ghana has committed to Affirmative Action by signing and endorsing the Convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), Beijing Platform for Action, the SDGs and the Commonwealth Plan of Action on Gender Equality which set a minimum target of 30% of women in decision making position by 2015, the African Union (AU) Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa and AU Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality which targets 50% representation of men and women in public and political offices in Member States.

 Unfortunately, in the Ghanaian parliament, female representation is just 13.8%; only 23 women out of 124 ministers are representing just 18.55%; less than 10% women representation in all District Assemblies, this clearly demonstrated that despite the provisions under the constitution and the ratification of various international human rights laws, these laws can only be useful if an Affirmative Action Law is  passed and implemented to create an environment which is gender inclusive and gender responsive.

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