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Rx Healthcare Fund Announces Anchor Investors
October 3, 2017 | 0 Comments
The Fund aims to address growing demand for high-quality healthcare services across North African and Sub-Saharan jurisdictions, through investments in high growth potential entities in three key sectors: specialized hospitals, medical diagnostics, and pharmaceuticals
former Egyptian Minister of Health Dr. Hatem El Gabaly

former Egyptian Minister of Health Dr. Hatem El Gabaly

CAIRO, Egypt, October 2, 2017/ — Rx Healthcare Fund (“Rx” or the “Fund”) (www.RxHealthManagement.com), an Africa-focused healthcare private equity fund currently under establishment, today announced that GE Healthcare (www.GEhealthcare.com), a leading global provider of transformational medical technologies and services, is set to become an anchor limited partner in Rx. Following an earlier commitment to Rx by the African Development Bank, the proposed minority investment by GE is subject to completion of fundraising.

Rx, which is led by former Egyptian Minister of Health Dr. Hatem El Gabaly, is a private equity fund managed by a newly setup fund manager in partnership with EFG Hermes, the leading financial services corporation in the Middle East and North Africa. The Fund aims to address growing demand for high-quality healthcare services across North African and Sub-Saharan jurisdictions, through investments in high growth potential entities in three key sectors: specialized hospitals, medical diagnostics, and pharmaceuticals.

“Access to long term development funding is the cornerstone of sustainable healthcare development in Africa”, said Farid Fezoua, President & CEO of GE Healthcare Africa. “As Africa’s banks and financial services industry sharpen their focus on the continent’s expanding health sector, nurturing homegrown strategic funding and financing solutions combined with operators’ and technology domain expertise has the potential to provide a significant boost for local private sector healthcare providers, SMEs and entrepreneurs as well as public-private partnerships.”

“We’re delighted to have completed our lineup of potential anchor limited partners with GE Healthcare, an unrivaled industry specialist with a footprint in more than 100 countries across the world, and African Development Bank, the continent’s leading development finance institution,” said Dr. El Gabaly. “Importantly, GE Healthcare’s added value to Rx goes far beyond its financial investment: We view GE Healthcare and AfDB as strategic partners who would bring deep industry and geography specific knowledge in many of our target markets. We believe our Fund will offer a unique value proposition to the potential investors, in which it will be supported by veteran healthcare professionals, seasoned private equity professionals, and experienced investors.”

“Africa’s healthcare sector is unique in that it offers both the potential for superior risk-adjusted returns as well as the opportunity to invest responsibly in a critical sector that will have measurable impact on the wider economy,” El Gabaly noted.

With the IMF projecting the continent’s GDP growing at 6% (2013-2017) and a population of over one billion that includes an emerging middle class that has grown 60%+ to reach c.313 million over the last 10 years, Africa has a strong macro-economic outlook that could create a significant role for private healthcare providers.
Within Africa, Rx will focus its strategy to invest in opportunities across Kenya, Nigeria and Ethiopia in sub-Saharan Africa as well as in Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco in North Africa.

GE Healthcare provides transformational medical technologies and services to meet the demand for increased access, enhanced quality and more affordable healthcare around the world.  GE (NYSE: GE) works on things that matter – great people and technologies taking on tough challenges. From medical imaging, software & IT, patient monitoring and diagnostics to drug discovery, biopharmaceutical manufacturing technologies and performance improvement solutions, GE Healthcare helps medical professionals deliver great healthcare to their patients.

Rx Healthcare Fund, is a private equity fund (Under Establishment) that will capitalize on the rapidly growing demand for affordable, high-quality healthcare services across the African continent. The Fund aims to build an integrated portfolio of strategic healthcare assets across the North African countries of Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco with a potential for expansion and replication in the vastly underserved Sub-Saharan healthcare markets particularly Kenya, Nigeria and Ethiopia.

The Fund deploys a rigorous value creation strategy centered around the development of pan-African healthcare platforms along three distinct verticals covering diagnostics & therapeutic services, hospitals (general and specialized), and pharmaceuticals or other complimentary subsectors of healthcare across the continent.

With a current footprint spanning Eight countries in the Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan & United States of America, EFG Hermes started in Egypt and has grown over 30 years of success to become a leading financial services corporation with access to emerging and frontier markets. Drawing on our proven track-record & a team of more than 2900 talented employees, we provide a wide spectrum of financial services that include investment banking, asset management, securities brokerage, research and private equity to the entire region.
Combining our strengths and expertise in the region, we offer our clients best-in-class products and services that are tailored to their needs to maximize their investment goals in a rapidly changing environment.

EFG Hermes’ private equity arm is one of the Arab world’s leading private-equity groups with a special focus on investing in infrastructure (particularly renewable energy), healthcare and consumer products. With more than 25 years of experience in investing across a broad industrial footprint, the firm is a leader in infrastructure private equity.

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African Presidents and CEOs Discuss the Future of U.S.-Africa Business at UNGA
October 3, 2017 | 0 Comments
CCA's Florie Liser with Rwandan President Paul Kagame

CCA’s Florie Liser with Rwandan President Paul Kagame

Washington, DCOctober 2, 2017: Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) hosted key meetings on the future of U.S.-Africa business in New York featuring leaders such as Rwandan President Paul Kagame and African Billionaire Mr. Aliko Dangote during the United Nations General Assembly meetings from September 18-22, 2017.

 
CCA hosted five events during UNGA week focused on U.S.-Africa business relations, African economic reforms, healthcare priorities on the continent and investment in several featured African nations. “We engaged in very important conversations this week with business and government leaders on the forefront of some of the continent’s greatest success stories,” said CCA President and CEO, Ms. Florizelle Liser. “CEOs of major CCA member companies had the opportunity to discuss with African government and business leaders on both the challenges and opportunities for enhanced U.S.-Africa business partnerships and increased investment into Africa’s rapidly changing economic landscape.”
 
CCA’s flagship event during UNGA, the Presidential Dialogue on the Future of U.S.-African Business Relations featured H.E. President Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda and Mr. Aliko Dangote, CEO of the Dangote Group. The discussion – hosted at Shearman and Sterling LLP’s New York Office and moderated by Ms. Rosa Whitaker, CEO of The Whitaker Group – discussed the business environment in Africa and potential ways to forge U.S.-Africa business relations and partnerships that contribute to increased and move diversified U.S.-Africa trade and investment.
 
Mr. Dangote expressed hope that oil prices continue to remain low to force African economies to diversify. “Agriculture, agriculture, agriculture. Africa will become the food basket of the world,” said Mr. Dangote. He also credited growth in countries like Rwanda to a commitment to good governance. President Kagame highlighted some of the misconceptions many investors still have about Africa. “People have developed a misconception that corruption is the way of life in Africa. This is far from the truth,” he said.
 
On Wednesday, September 20 CCA hosted its Forum on Advancing Health Priorities in Africa and its Africa Finance Forum: Reforming the African Economy. The Health Forum centered around partnerships on non-communicable diseases in Africa, an area of rising concern for international health experts, African governments, and other partners. Much of the discussion centered around the enabling environment for successful public/private partnerships in the African health sector. The Finance Forum, a follow up to CCA’s earlier discussion during the World Bank Spring meetings, focused on critical reforms in African economies that are needed to effectively address bottle-necks to investors and businesses.
 
Finally, CCA held special by-invitation CEO investor roundtables with heads of state and other senior officials of Nigeria, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea. On behalf of H.E. President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Geoffrey Onyeama, was joined by four other ministers in a discussion with CEOs of major companies on the prospects for U.S.-Nigeria trade and investment. At events featuring H.E. Ali Bongo Ondimba and H.E. President Obiang, Presidents of Gabon and Equatorial Guinea respectively, CEOs and senior business officials discussed not only prospects in the oil and gas sectors, but the growing opportunities in diverse sectors across those two countries.
The Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) is the leading U.S. business association focused solely on connecting U.S. and African business interests. CCA serves as a neutral, trusted intermediary connecting its member firms with the essential government and business leaders they need to do business and succeed in Africa
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New UN report reveals momentum for digital payments in Ghana could save over GHS 1 billion within next four years
September 30, 2017 | 0 Comments
With 37 percent of the value of all payments now made digitally, Ghana is on course to be a leader in the region, with great potential to expand economic opportunities for businesses
Sandra Ankah

Sandra Ankah

ACCRA, Ghana, September 27, 2017/ — At an event bringing together key government and business players, the Ghana’s Ministry of Finance  and the UN-based Better Than Cash Alliance  released a report  documenting the country’s progress in creating an economy where everyone can pay and get paid digitally, instead of cash. The results show the country has made significant gains, including almost 100 percent of government payments to people and payments within the government now processed digitally. The findings also reveal there are opportunities for providing more choice to customers.

This move is already translating into direct benefits to people, particularly women, support for small businesses and cost savings for the government. The data also predicts that if the government continues to make progress, savings could reach over GHS 250 million (nearly $60 million) each year, which may result in more than GHS 1 billion ($230 million) by 2020.

“The future really is digitization and how we can leverage on it for the benefit of our citizens. This is why digitizing initiatives such as our flagship conditional cash transfer program Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) (http://APO.af/S3E6EL) is a key milestone,” said Hon. Ken Ofori-Atta, Minister for Finance of the Republic of Ghana.

“We recognize that there is still more work to do to transition most of the country away from cash. Yet with great potential for cost savings and opportunities to increase transparency and accountability, we cannot afford not to,” the Minister added.

The report provides key insights on the status of digital payments in Ghana and tangible recommendations on how to successfully move forward. In particular, three priorities emerged to help the government and citizens achieve the most benefits:

  • Investing in infrastructure for digital public utility payments: 80 percent of the population uses public essential services such as water and electricity, but only 20 percent of the population has access to digital technology such as smart meters. By investing in smart distribution infrastructure that digitize end-to-end delivery and payment, it will increase efficiencies and ease of use for citizens – ultimately increasing adoption.
  • Digitizing payment of government fees and fines: With 97 percent of fees and fines currently paid in cash, the Ghanaian government could gain enormous cost savings if they commit to using digital payments exclusively and mandate all government agencies to use a central payment system.
  • Encouraging digital payments in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) value chain to support digitization of small retailers and customers: For FMCG companies operating in Ghana, 96 percent of distributor payments and 59 percent of vendor and employee payments in volume are made in checks. However, 99.9 percentof individual payments for consumption goods by volume are still completed in cash, as individuals continue to purchase essential consumer goods, including food, in the informal economy with small retailers. This indicates the tremendous potential impact any shift to digital payments in this value chain can have on the overall ecosystem. By transitioning away from cash, small business owners can avoid storing large amounts of cash, drive customers’ adoption and boost access to formal saving and loan products which can expand their economic potential. This will especially improve the lives of women, who represent many of the small retailers in the FMCG sector.
Olivia Dei-Alorse

Olivia Dei-Alorse

“We want to congratulate the Government of Ghana for its leadership in building the foundation for an economy less dependent on cash. Under this leadership, the country is making considerable strides to improve transparency, accelerate opportunities for economic growth and empower women by bringing them into the formal financial system,” said Dr. Ruth Goodwin-Groen, Managing Director of the Better Than Cash Alliance. “Ghana is at a tipping point in its shift to digital payments. We at the Better Than Cash Alliance look forward to continued work with our colleagues across the digital ecosystem in government, companies and international organizations to continue this great progress.”

Read the full Ghana Diagnostic report here (http://APO.af/d1d9MT) with recommendations on how to accelerate

Ghana’s journThe Better Than Cash Alliance is a United Nations-based partnership of governments, companies, and international organizations that accelerate the transition from cash to digital payments in order to reduce poverty and drive inclusive growth. ey towards building an inclusive digital payments ecosystem

The Better Than Cash Alliance is a United Nations-based partnership of governments, companies, and international organizations that accelerate the transition from cash to digital payments in order to reduce poverty and drive inclusive growth.

 

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The Pan African University Institute for Water and Energy Sciences including Climate Change (PAUWES) Celebrates its Second Graduating Cohort of 47 Students from Across Africa
September 30, 2017 | 0 Comments
This year’s graduating students will join the next generation of African engineers and policymakers committed to addressing the issues critical to Africa’s sustainable development.
The newly graduated PAUWES Class of 2017 celebrates outside the University of Tlemcen Auditorium

The newly graduated PAUWES Class of 2017 celebrates outside the University of Tlemcen Auditorium

TLEMCEN, Algeria, September 28, 2017/ — The Pan African University Institute for Water and Energy Sciences including Climate Change (PAUWES) (http://PAUWES.univ-tlemcen.dz) celebrated the second graduating class of its both tracks of its two Master programmes earlier today. 47 students from across the African continent have received their diplomas during a ceremony at the University of Tlemcen.

The graduating students and their guests were welcomed and addressed by official representatives of the Algerian government and dignitaries from across Africa and Europe, including Her Excellency Prof. Sarah Anyang Agbor, the new African Union Commissioner for Human Resources , Science and Technology, Benyaiche Ali, the Governor of the Tlemcen Wilaya, and His Excellency Michael Zenner, the German Ambassador to Algeria.

This year’s graduating students will join the next generation of African engineers and policymakers committed to addressing the issues critical to Africa’s sustainable development. They have not only successfully completed their coursework requirements, but have conducted practice-oriented research for their master theses based on a multitude of case studies that address the water, energy, and climate-related challenges Africa faces.

The new African Union Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology, Her Excellency Prof. Sarah Anyang Agbor delivers an uplifting address to the graduates

The new African Union Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology, Her Excellency Prof. Sarah Anyang Agbor delivers an uplifting address to the graduates

In order to gain a transcontinental perspective of those same challenges, our students have also completed international internships in the private and public sectors at renowned research institutions cross Africa and beyond. Besides focusing on their studies, the students of the Class of 2017—with the support of PAUWES—launched the first student-lead clubs, the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Club and the Community of Practice (CoP), which have contributed to the overall sense of community and leadership that our institute strives to promote.

What is more, this cohort of graduating students represents and fulfills one of the key objectives of the Pan African University (PAU) and PAUWES—which is to foster an African learning environment of the most qualified and motivated scholars while revitalizing and nurturing the quality of African higher education. Not only are an array African Union member states and eleven female students represented in the Class of 2017, but this diverse cohort of students have had the opportunity to study alongside an international faculty of over 100 professors and researchers from across Africa and the world.

Supported by PAUWES, the University of Tlemcen and our key thematic partner—Germany, we are confident that students of the Class of 2017 are well positioned to become leaders in public administration, policy-making, research, technology, private enterprise, and civil society. The PAUWES 2017 Class Booklet (http://apo.af/c2fCtF) showcases this year’s graduates and we are very pleased to invite future employers to meet them.

We will proudly welcome our most diverse cohort ever this coming fall as 70 students from 31 African countries will join the PAUWES family as the incoming Class of 2019.
List of Graduates
Yunus ALOKORE Uganda Samuel Olatunde BABALOLA Nigeria Gemma ITUZE Rwanda Irene NANTONGO Uganda Gnamien Constant KOUAKOU Cote d’Ivoire Mahmoud Sayed HEFNEY DIAB Egypt Rolex MUCEKA Uganda Mohamed Lamine BACHIR Mali Erasmus MUH Cameroon Solomon Gebremariam Fissaha Ethiopia Colette ABIMANA Rwanda Hillary KIPRONO Kenya Tonny KUKEERA Uganda Wilson Ofori SARKODIE Ghana Ogechi Vivian NWADIARU Nigeria Salif SOW Senegal Amal Nasser Fahiem ABD ELAZIZ Egypt Amon Kevin Kirathe GACHURI Kenya Andrew MUGUMYA Uganda Jean d’Amour MWONGEREZA Rwanda Cleus BAMUTURA Uganda Michel RWEMA Rwanda Eric Otieno AKUMU Kenya Rehema Maria KHIMULU Kenya Martin LYAMBAI Zambia Brian Omondi ODUOR Kenya Anthere BIZIMANA Rwanda Endalkachew Yeshewas Muche Ethiopia George KIMBOWA Uganda Johnstone Isiah MAINYA Kenya Gninwokan Eden Josias KONE Côte d’Ivoire Jean Marie Pascal KWISANGA Rwanda Mthokozisi MOYO Zimbabwe John Ng’ang’a GATHAGU Kenya Naima HAMDAOUI Algeria Ousmanou NJOYA Cameroon Jemal MOHAMMED HASSEN Ethiopia Mulugeta Ferede MELESE Ethiopia Workinesh Takele TESSEMA Ethiopia Josiane ABONIYO Rwanda Kouadio Pierre Stephane BOFFOUE Côte d’Ivoire Cuthbert TAGUTA Zimbabwe Diana UMULISA Rwanda Eva Muthoni Kimonye Kenya Herman KWOBA Kenya Mukaya MUHAMMUDU Uganda Yassien Kassie Mohammed Ethiopia

PAU (https://PAU-au.net) addresses five thematic areas: Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation; Life and Earth Sciences (including Health and Agriculture), Governance, Humanities and Social Sciences; Water and Energy Sciences including Climate Change (PAUWES); and Space Sciences. The thematic areas are assigned to five flagship institutes hosted by existing universities of excellence across Africa’s five geographic regions. For more information: https://PAU-au.net

As an integral part of the Pan African University,  the Institute for Water and Energy Sciences (including Climate Change) (PAUWES) (http://PAUWES.univ-tlemcen.dz) in Tlemcen, Algeria, contributes to advancing higher education and applied research in the fields of water, energy and climate change – a key contribution to sustainable development in Africa. PAUWES, which is supported by the German government, currently offers four master programmes in the fields of water and energy, covering both engineering and policy

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Investing in Africa Forum: Africa Leapfrogging Through Innovation
September 29, 2017 | 0 Comments
DAKAR, September 27, 2017-The third Investing in Africa Forum (IAF) saw the launch of a thought-provoking report on propelling the economy, called

Leapfrogging Through Innovation. Prepared by the World Bank and China Development Bank, the report discusses opportunities to scale-up innovation in various economic sectors in Africa. The annual Forum took place in Dakar this year, where it was hosted by the Government of Senegal, Chinese Ministry of Finance, China Development Bank, and the World Bank Group.

“We couldn’t have found a better topic for a continent aspiring for emergence. On the path to emergence, we must give ourselves the means to positively and sustainably transform our production system. This will inevitably require innovation, and a new mindset that translates into a real willingness to break with established ideas, practices, and habits. It can no longer be ‘business as usual’, as our Anglophone friends say,” said Macky Sall, President of Senegal.

 The IAF is an annual platform for aimed at increasing China’s investments in Africa, and other multilateral cooperation. This year it focused on a new generation of investment opportunities driven by innovation and the adoption of technologies critical for unlocking Africa’s potential for accelerated, inclusive economic growth.

“The Investing in Africa Forum is an important multilateral platform to strengthen cooperation and spark innovation across the African continent,” said Shaolin Yang, Managing Director and Chief Administrative Officer of the World Bank Group“African leaders recognize the power of embracing new and disruptive technologies. We look forward to working on ways that move words to action by further leveraging finance, global knowledge, and partnerships through supporting dialogues among governments, investors, and civil society. Through the Forum we are igniting change for long-term sustainable impact across the developing world.”

 Several Memorandums of Understanding were signed at the Forum, covering projects in energy, agriculture, and education.

“We have committed to mutually beneficial, win-win cooperation to promote the sharing of development experience, investments and trade,” said Yaobin Shi, Vice Minister of Finance of the People’s Republic of China. “I hope that, through this Forum, China and African countries will coordinate development strategies and find new opportunities for cooperation. We must learn from each other, explore new development paths, integrate our competitive advantages and resources, and develop new financing models to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.”

 The Forum also saw the debut of the Investing in Africa Think Tank Alliance, a global platform for knowledge sharing and partnerships in Africa, China, and elsewhere.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is already working with investments from China to finance development projects through the Managed Co-Lending Portfolio Program. This program has financed to date 57 projects across 27 countries, and has notably invested $465 million in Sub-Saharan African countries (Ghana, Kenya, Guinea, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Gabon, Chad and the Democratic Republic of the Congo).

“The digital economy has high potential to unleash economic growth, jobs, and social inclusion,” said Nena Stoiljkovic, IFC Vice President for Blended Finance and Partnerships“The digitization of economies requires the right regulatory framework, significant private sector investment in broadband infrastructure, and financing and advisory solutions to unlock investments perceived as higher risk.”

 More than 400 participants attended the Forum, which was also well-attended by Chinese and African companies seeking to expand partnerships for new investments.

Established in 2015 through a China Development Bank initiative, the first two Forums were held in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) and in Guangzhou (China). During these Forums, participants advocated stronger partnerships to address the acceleration of manufacturing and industrialization, expanding agriculture and agribusiness, and improving infrastructure, regional connectivity and logistics for trade.

 

The next Investing in Africa Forum (IAF 2018) will be held in Hunan, China.

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An interview with Olusegun Obasanjo: Up close and a little too personal
September 29, 2017 | 0 Comments

Nigeria’s former president on Buhari, Biafra and bloody idiots.

BY JAMES WAN*

Nigeria’s former president, Olusegun Obasanjo continues to wield significant influence in Nigeria. Credit: Friends of Europe

Nigeria’s former president, Olusegun Obasanjo continues to wield significant influence in Nigeria. Credit: Friends of Europe

As the lift in his luxury London hotel rushes upwards to the 11th floor, Olusegun Obasanjo squeezes my arm warmly as he recounts his busy schedule of late. His aide and two PR people nod approvingly as he talks of his jet-setting across Africa, his upcoming appointment with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and his trip to New York straight after.

With a new book to promote, the former Nigerian president from 1999 to 2007 has been busy. So too has the PR firm behind the book, offering him up for interviews far and wide.

Obasanjo can certainly handle it. Aged 80, he may look like a cuddly grandfather. But he still has plenty of fuel in his tank and fire in his belly, as I am to find out later this morning.

As we enter his hotel suite, an American news channel is blaring on the television. He instructs his aide to turn it down but not off. “I won’t know how to turn it on”, he says. His assistant shows him the big red button on the remote before pressing it. The screen goes black. “Now how will I turn it back on?” the former president asks, a touch irritated. The aide quietly reassures him that he’ll personally see to it as soon as the interview is over.

Obasanjo’s new book, Making Africa Work, describes itself as “a guide to improving Africa’s capacity for economic growth and job creation”. Co-written with Greg Mills, Jeffrey Herbst and Dickie Davis, it provides a detailed overview of various political and economic challenges facing the continent. It warns of a growing youth bulge, and provides dozens of recommendations on how to encourage the private sector, diversify the economy and deliver forward-thinking leadership.

As we sit down across the small table in his plush hotel room, I start by asking Obasanjo how well his own president, Muhummadu Buhari, has been faring on these fronts since coming to office in 2015. One thing the two men have in common is the extent to which they polarise opinion, though Obasanjo here is unrelentingly equivocal.

“Buhari has made some announcements. He has tried to keep on going in the area of agribusiness, but not enough,” he says, slowly and cautiously. “It is not yet enough to prepare the ground for uninhibited growth of the economy, which we need”.

“Not enough” seems a sparse and generous reading of an administration that has presided over Nigeria’s first recession in 25 years, rising youth unemployment, and endless policy deadlocks. But even when pushed on specifics, Obasanjo picks his words carefully as he repeats familiar combinations of faint praise and sympathetic criticism of the man he backed for office.

“Is Buhari doing enough about it?” he asks at one point of youth unemployment. “I don’t believe he is. Can he do enough about it? Of course he can.”

Obasanjo’s vague and uncommitted answers contrast with the book he just co-wrote, which packs a handful of statistics into virtually every paragraph and offers dozens of recommendations. But the former president does eventually hone in on one specific: Nigeria’s frustrated young people.

The median age of Nigeria’s population is under 18, and the youth demographic continues to swell. There aren’t enough jobs for them, and if Obasanjo were back in office, his priority would be education. “Youth empowerment, skill acquisition and youth employment – education must be able to do that,” he insists. “If you do that, the ticking bomb of possible youth explosion out of restiveness and anger will subside.”

Obasanjo attributes young people’s frustrations to many of Nigeria’s problems today, including the ongoing agitation in the south-east. Over the past couple years, the region has witnessed widespread protests, violence and military intervention as calls for some states to secede as the independent nation of Biafra have grown in volume.

The former president maintains that secession is not the solution, and says that the government’s military interventions – through which hundreds have reportedly been killed – have “made things worse”. But he accepts that young activists have real grievances.

“All youth in Nigeria have legitimate reasons to feel frustrated and angry,” he offers. “The protesters don’t even know what the struggle is all about, but if it gives them false hope, why not hang onto it?”

What would be his solution to the escalating crisis over calls for secession?

“Let the elders handle it or ignore it until it loses momentum,” he counsels. “There are elders in any community who are still respected…After all, they’re their fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers, and can still be used effectively.”

Empowering old people may seem a counterintuitive approach to resolving a problem he ascribes to young people’s sense of disempowerment, but it is perhaps fitting advice from a man trying to carve out his own role as an elder statesman.

I ask Obasanjo whether devolution of powers could also help assuage the regional disillusionment. The idea of “true federalism” and “restructuring” has recently escalated into one of Nigeria’s main hot button political issues, with politicians, commentators and the media all debating the topic at length.

But at this, the former president sits up and fixes me with a stare from across the table.

“I don’t believe in true federalism. What is true federalism?”, he asks. The man whose tendency in office was always to centralise rather than decentralise power is suddenly bristling. He interrupts with more questions as I respond.

“Why are they not accountable? What powers do they not have?”, he interjects. “They have power,” he insists, poking his finger, claiming that in all but a few sectors, states can do whatever they want.

“In fact, state governors are more powerful than the president. That’s the truth,” he says. “If anybody tells you they want devolution or true federalism, he doesn’t know what he is talking about.” With an audible huff, he leans back.

A broad range of current and former lawmakers, civil society groups, and millions of Nigerians would beg to differ. So too would the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), which Obasanjo backed in 2015, at least in its manifesto, which pledged to “amend our constitution with a view to devolving powers”.

But a frustrated Obasanjo doubles down. “The fact anybody talks about it doesn’t mean it’s right.”

In Nigeria, Obasanjo’s eight years in office remain highly controversial.

On the one hand, those who see him as a saviour can certainly point to some impressive successes. Coming to power in 1999, he inherited a country that was fragile, coup-prone, indebted and corrupt.

In response, he defanged and professionalised the army. His government tamed rampant inflation, earned debt relief, and built up considerable foreign exchange reserves. And he established the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), a body that went on to prosecute various high-profile figures – something many Nigerians never thought could happen – and recover billions of dollars in the process.

Obasanjo’s supporters argue that, unlike his predecessors, he left the country in better shape than he found it. That’s no mean feat.

But on the other hand, Obasanjo’s critics have no shortage of ammunition either.

They point out that his macroeconomic successes depended on high oil prices and did little to improve the lives of the vast majority of Nigerians. They complain that Obasanjo imposed a handpicked successor – the relatively inexperienced Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who died three years into his first term – on the country in chaotic elections in order to maintain his influence.

Obasanjo’s critics also say that the EFCC ended up being a politically-wielded weapon and that, if anything, systems of corruption ossified under his watch. The House of Representatives recently labelled Obasanjo the “grandfather of corruption”, while the EFCC’s former chair is reported to have said corruption under Obasanjo was worse than under his notoriously self-enriching military predecessor.

Ten years after he stepped down, Obasanjo still divides opinion. Many Nigerians – both those who love and hate him – wish he would retire gracefully on his farm. But that doesn’t seem to be on the cards in the foreseeable future. The 80-year-old continues to pull strings and enjoys significant influence within Nigeria’s complex political web.

As Nigeria approaches the 2019 elections, for example, the question of who Obasanjo will back has been subject to much speculation. Buhari has been ill for much of his time in office and wannabe successors, of which there is no shortage, have been positioning themselves carefully.

Obasanjo is tight-lipped on his front. “I don’t cross a bridge until I get to it,” he states.

One thing that seems clear, however, is that he won’t be supporting his former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar. The two fell out in dramatic fashion in 2007. This month, there have been growing suggestions that Abubakar is lining up to run in 2019. Two days before I spoke to Obasanjo, the former VP had issued a challenge, calling on anyone with evidence of his corruption to come forwards now.

When I ask whether he will respond to this challenge, Obasanjo is unmoved. “Read my book”, he says, blinking at me. Is Abubakar corrupt? Is he fit for presidential office? Would you support him?

“Read my book”, he repeats in answer to each follow-up, unafraid to let his silence fill the room.

By his “book”, Obasanjo is not referring to the carefully-researched and co-written Making Africa Work, but his autobiography My WatchPublished in 2015, it comes in three volumes, extends to 1,578 pages full of copy-and-pasted speeches and reports, and is the size of a small watermelon.

Obasanjo refuses to speak further about Abubakar as we sit in his hotel room, but the former president is not usually known for holding his tongue. He is certainly not afraid to pick fights and condemn his opponents is public. However, the reverse is also true: many Nigerians continue to demand that he be held accountable for his time in office too.

As one might expect of a man who has published 2.2kg worth of autobiography – not including previous memoirs My Command and Not My Will – Obasanjo is highly sensitive when questions over his legacy are raised.

“Come off it. I had the largest poultry farm before I became president, the largest in Africa. The fact I have N20,000 in my account does not mean I’m not wealthy,” he snaps, referring to questions over how he came to be a multi-millionaire despite having just a few dollars when he entered office. “Do you understand that?”

When talking about abstract policy, Obasanjo tried to stay in ponderous elder statesman mode, but the moment his own reputation is under scrutiny, he switches to street-fighter mode. He turns to attack and starts pre-emptively answering questions I haven’t even asked.

What’s your response to people who say that while you were in off-. “My response is that while I was in office, all sorts of accusations were made!”

When your successor came into office, he-. “My successor was ignorant! Totally ignorant.”

I raise the ongoing problem of electricity supply in Nigeria, and lessons learnt from his efforts in office, but he interrupts before I can finish again. “That is absolute nonsense. There was a report from the House of Representatives that proved that wrong… So what the hell are you talking about?”

I’m no longer sure. But what he is now talking about are ongoing allegations that much of the $16 billion spent on electricity under his watch was lost through corruption. Incidentally, contrary to his claim, the report he says “totally absolved” him in fact recommended he be investigated and be “called to account for the recklessness in the power sector during his time”.

It’s around this time that the PR person, who has been sitting dutifully in the corner, proposes that now might be an apposite time to wrap up. The former president and I agree, but he is not quite done.

As I try to explain that many Nigerians still want to know about his time in office, he accuses of me having been sent to interview him by Abubakar and of being a “bloody idiot”. I feel like I’m getting a taste of why the octogenarian is still feared in Nigeria today.

I collect my things and thank the ex-president for his time. My notes remind me to ask for a photo, but as he scowls at the floor, I think better of it. An uninformed and “disrespectful” youth, I have already displeased the elder. Now is the time for me know my place, bow out and be quiet.

*Culled from African Arguments.James Wan is the editor of African Arguments. Follow him on twitter at @jamesjwan.

 

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Top U.S. Development Agency Chief to Deliver Remarks on Engaging the Private Sector in Africa’s Development
September 29, 2017 | 0 Comments
  • USAID Administrator Mark Green will be a speaker for the Fireside Chat.  A Congressional Roundtable will focus on shaping U.S.-Africa trade and economic policy. 

  • African Development Bank and African Export-Import Bank (Afeximbank) will serve as Collaborating Partners for the IGD Fall Forum.

  • Forum to host the Africa investor (Ai) Development Finance-Institutional Investor Roundtable.

Mark Green, Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, will deliver remarks at the Initiative for Global Development’s Fall Frontier 100 Forum

Mark Green, Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, will deliver remarks at the Initiative for Global Development’s Fall Frontier 100 Forum

WASHINGTON D.C. – September 28, 2017 – Mark Green, Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, will deliver remarks at the Initiative for Global Development’s Fall Frontier 100 Forum, to be held on Oct. 11 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C.

Administrator Green is the former President and CEO of the Initiative for Global Development (IGD).

African and global business leaders will gather on Oct. 11-12 for the invitation-only biannual gathering to drive action and scalable solutions on spurring investment opportunities to grow African companies and forge stronger business relationships between investors and African private sector leaders.

Administrator Green will speak in a Fireside Chat on how USAID can deepen its engagement with the private sector on the African continent and bolster investment opportunities for sustainable development and inclusive growth.

The Fireside Chat will be followed by a congressional roundtable on shaping U.S.-Africa trade and economic policy to improve Africa’s investment environment.

Sworn in as the Administrator in August 2017, he previously served as president of the International Republican Institute and was the senior director at the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. From 2007 to 2009, Green was the U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania and had served four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives representing Wisconsin’s 8th District.

“We’re thrilled to welcome back Administrator Green to IGD’s Frontier Leader Network, where he will find old as well as new friends,” said Mima S. Nedelcovych, IGD President & CEO.

“Mark is serving as USAID Administrator during a time of tremendous growth and economic potential in Africa and as the former IGD President he knows firsthand about the dynamisms of African companies and the continent’s thriving markets. We’ll hear more about how Africa’s private sector can play a greater role in fueling sustainable development,” said Nedelcovych.

The opening day will conclude with an evening reception, sponsored by the African Development Bank, and will highlight a congressional delegation visit to West Africa.

The Fall Forum will also roll out a grassroots campaign on increasing U.S. investment in Africa, which is part of IGD’s Africa Investment Rising campaign, a dynamic multimedia effort aimed at changing the narrative on doing business in Africa.

Registration is open for the forum, which will be held at the Ronald Reagan Building and Trade Center on Oct. 11 and Covington law offices on Oct. 12 in Washington.

Forum sponsors include the African Development BankAfrican Export-Import BankAfrica investor as Collaborating Partners; Covington as Platinum Sponsor; Ex-Im Global Partners as Gold Sponsor; and Clin d’Oeil Magazine as Silver Sponsor.

Media partners are Africa InvestorAfrica.comAfrica Trade magazineAfrican Business CentralAfropop WorldwideAllAfrica.comAsoko InsightFace2Face AfricaPan-African Visions, and VoxAfrica.

MEDIA CONTACT: Shanta Bryant Gyan, Initiative for Global Development * email, sbryant@igdleaders.org  * phone, 202-412-4603

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Paolo Carli Appointed as the Head of MEA at Merck
September 27, 2017 | 0 Comments
Paolo Carli has decades of business and pharmaceutical experience demonstrating a proven track record of continuous success under his leadership
Paolo Carli, Head of Middle East, Africa and Turkey region, Merck

Paolo Carli, Head of Middle East, Africa and Turkey region, Merck

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, September 25, 2017/ — Merck (www.MerckGroup.com), one of the leading science and technology companies announced the appointment of Paolo Carli as Head of Middle East, Africa & Turkey (MEA) region for its healthcare business. In his new role, Paolo will be responsible for leading the commercial operations for Merck across MEA.

Commenting on his appointment Paolo Carli said “Merck prepares to celebrate its 350th year in the pharmaceutical business in 2018. Being a strategic region for Merck, we are committed to excel innovation and create value for patients across this region. I am delighted to lead the MEA team. Our innovative treatment options and sustainable commitment for patients will move us to the next level.”

Paolo Carli has decades of business and pharmaceutical experience demonstrating a proven track record of continuous success under his leadership. His expertise and industry knowledge will be critical in MEA as Merck builds on strategic innovation to elevate the healthcare standards, improve patient programs and prepares launches of new products.

Paolo Carli joined Merck in 2008, as the member of the Mergers & Acquisitions team in Darmstadt, Germany. In that role, he actively participated in the execution of key transactions for the Merck Group. He successfully led Middle East and Egypt in the last 5 years and now expands his responsibilities to Turkey and Africa.

Prior to joining Merck, Carli worked with Deutsche Bank, both in Italy and in Germany, where he successfully contributed to the regional expansion of the retail franchise in Europe and in several emerging markets such as India, China, Turkey, and Vietnam.

Paolo Carli holds a degree in Economics from the University of Turin and an Executive MBA from Ashridge Business School in the UK. Paolo is settled in Dubai, UAE with his wife and two children.

Merck (www.MerckGroup.com) is a leading science and technology company in healthcare, life science and performance materials. Around 50,000 employees work to further develop technologies that improve and enhance life – from biopharmaceutical therapies to treat cancer or multiple sclerosis, cutting-edge systems for scientific research and production, to liquid crystals for smartphones and LCD televisions. In 2016, Merck generated sales of € 15.0 billion in 66 countries.

Founded in 1668, Merck is the world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed corporate group. Merck, Darmstadt, Germany holds the global rights to the “Merck” name and brand except in the United States and Canada, where the company operates as EMD Serono, MilliporeSigma and EMD Performance Materials.

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When we partner together, we move Kenya forward-Sthe Shabangu,Samsung Africa
September 27, 2017 | 0 Comments

While Kenya is well-positioned to become one of the continent’s most prominent success stories, greater commitment from the private sector is needed to help address challenges like education, unemployment and global warming, says Sthe Shabangu, Lead: Public Relations, Public Affairs and Corporate Citizenship, Samsung Africa Office.

NAIROBI, Kenya, 25 September 2017, /- As political uncertainty continues to hang like a cloud over Kenya, concerns about the impact on the economy are surfacing. Indeed, the extended election period is slowing the growth of the country. And while the government had projected the economy would expand by 5.9% this year, already first quarter growth was just 4.7%.

Amid these concerns it’s more important than ever for the private sector to up its game in partnering with government to drive progress and strengthen confidence in the country. From education to sustainability and employment, private companies are key to driving positive change in the country.

When we partner together significant strides can – and in fact already have – been made.

Using tech to transform education

The education space is a good example of an area in which the sub-Saharan region as a whole has made significant strides. According to Caerus Capital’s report, Business of education in Africa, sub-Saharan Africa has the best record of improvement of any region since the Millennium Development Goals were established in 2000.
Though we are coming off of a low base, the statistics contained in the report are indeed promising. Total enrolment of primary school-age children rose from 91 million in 2000 to 158 million in 2014. Similarly, in secondary education, the number of pupils enrolled jumped from 24 million in 2000 to 56 million in 2014.

Samsung has committed itself to forming part of this success story by enhancing learning in schools through the use of technology. In order to do this it had to take into consideration some of the unique challenges facing education in Kenya such as lack of electricity, learning materials and access to basic technology.

With this in mind, Samsung donated a Solar-Powered Internet School (SPIS) to Arap Moi Primary School in Kajiado County in 2014. The goal of the initiative was to strengthen the efforts of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in integrating ICT in primary schools and ultimately boosting education in more rural areas.

As its name suggests, the primary advantage of the SPIS, is its ability to power technology in the classroom using energy generated by the sun. Equipped with laptops, a printer, electronic board, and most importantly, internet access, it’s a powerhouse designed to create interactive learning experiences for both educators and learners.

Since its launch, the SPIS has benefited, not only Arap Moi, but also nine other schools in the region, including the Kiserian Nakel, Naro Moru, Nkoroi, Ole Kasasi, Oloosurutia, Olteyian and Rongai Primary Schools.

Enhancing learning, improving performance

Fast forward a year and Samsung extended its involvement in the education space, partnering with Starehe Boy’s Centre to launch its innovative Smart School Solution in a more urban classroom environment. In essence, the solution consists of a management tool which delivers content to students and allows for the sharing of screens inside the classroom, while at the same time enabling teachers to track student progress and conduct group activities in real time. It also features a learning management system which provides access to e-books and learning apps.

About more than just exposure to technology, the Smart School plays a role in increasing learner engagement, enhancing learning retention and encouraging a more stimulating academic environment. At the end of the day it helps learners to perform better both inside and outside of the classroom.

Combating global warming

Beyond education, Samsung has also set its sights on helping to reduce the harmful effects of global warming.

According to the Ministry Of Environment and Natural Resources, coverage in Kenya is currently sitting at 7%. The goal, however, is for this to increase to at least 10% by 2020.

To help work towards this goal, Samsung recently partnered with Friends of Karura Forest and Kenya Forest Service to help grow forest coverage in Karura Forest specifically, and Kenya in general.

As part of this commitment, 5 000 trees are being planted in the forest this year and 5 000 in 2018. 200 benches and picnic tables have also been donated towards the sustainability of the initiative.

Reducing unemployment

Perhaps most exciting is that the benefits of a project like Karura Forest will extend beyond the reduction of the effects of climate change. It also has a positive impact on the surrounding communities, in particular the Huruma and Deep Sea informal settlements that border the forest to the north and south, from which residents have been employed to plant the 10 000 trees donated by Samsung.

With all of the incredible progress that has been made, Kenya is poised to become a shining star on the African stage – but now more than ever private companies and government alike need to ensure we are partnering together to keep driving the country forward.

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. inspires the world and shapes the future with transformative ideas and technologies. The company is redefining the worlds of TVs, smartphones, wearable devices, tablets, cameras, digital appliances, medical equipment, network systems, and semiconductor and LED solutions. For the latest news, please visit Samsung Newsroom at http://news.samsung.com
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Solarplaza and GOGLA Build the Leading Conference Brand for Solar Energy in Sub-Saharan Africa
September 25, 2017 | 0 Comments
The 2nd edition of Unlocking Solar Capital Africa will take place in Abidjan come October
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, September 25, 2017/ — Solarplaza (www.Solarplaza.com) and GOGLA (www.GOGLA.org) are proud to announce the second edition of Unlocking Solar Capital (USC) Africa (Africa.UnLockingSolarCapital.com). After hosting last year’s inaugural edition in Nairobi, Kenya, we’ll be organizing its follow-up in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

The high-level 2-day conference centered around unlocking capital for new solar project development in Africa provides an original and exclusive international platform and will take place on the 25-26th of October, 2017. In preparation for the event, Solarplaza analyst Marco Dorothal speaks with 3 of the event’s main driving forces – Lydia van Os and Adriaan van Loon of Solarplaza and Eveline Jansen of GOGLA discussing the challenges and opportunities for African solar development in the region.

The story of ‘Unlocking Solar Capital’ did not start in Abidjan. Why did you choose to hold the first edition in Nairobi and what were the main lessons learnt?

Eveline: “The unique design of the USC Africa conference characterizes how partnerships and collaboration can strengthen the solar sector: The Nairobi edition was the first investor conference to bring the off-grid industry together with on-grid and mini-grid segments of the solar sector. While the needs and demands of the three sectors are diverse, it is vital to maintain open channels of communication in order to effectively advocate for beneficial policy environments and work together towards the shared goal of increased electricity access. The success of this first edition was a testimony of catering to a new demand for a more holistic approach – and clear indication that there is a need to keep that momentum going.”

Adriaan: “Nairobi was chosen to host the first edition of Unlocking Solar Capital because it is the business capital of East Africa. As Eveline mentioned, a truly unique factor was the unique involved mix of on and off-grid players. The fact that a lot of industry players are already established in Nairobi enabled us to grow the conference bigger than we ever imagined. However, as a conference that aims to cover the whole continent, we learned that the best way to have both a strong international and continental presence is to move to other regions as well to be able to reach a larger and more diverse audience and address different markets.”

Lydia: “Currently, we see an extremely promising growth of the solar industry on the African continent. To increase our impact we want to be close to the developments and aim to take our international network to the local sources where opportunities arise. We have a holistic vision regarding the joint potential of on and off-grid energy, as we think both are crucial to work towards fully electrifying African countries. To accomplish this vision we have chosen to organize the conference in Africa, for Africa.”

Now, moving on to Abidjan, what are the differences between the locations and how are you buildingon the success of the previous edition?

Eveline: “Moving the second edition to West Africa is not only essential for a truly holistic approach to the Sub-Saharan Africa market, but also a recognition of the rapidly developing solar market in the region.”

Lydia: “This year the event is going to take place in Abidjan as we want to expand upon the success of last year, while at the same time involving more of the francophone community and investors. Hosting the event in different markets allows us to not only bring the conference platform and our relations to exciting new regions, but also allows us to leverage the knowledge and experience of our previous editions by sharing them with regional partners and attendees.”

 

How did you reflect new regional developments in your program?

Lydia: “Our program focuses on opportunities for both established as well as upcoming market players. With the Solar Incubator, which is co-organized with Phanes Group PV, smaller players in the African solar market are challenged to pitch their projects with the chance of winning mentorship and co-development facilities. At the same time, we will host sessions that focus on utility-scale projects. For instance, we have a panel in which we’ll discuss the bankability of solar projects, which is a recurring challenge, featuring leading regional experts from Standard Bank, Scatec Solar, the EU commission and Africa50.”

Adriaan: “Compared to our previous event, we did see a need for more collaborations between development financial institutions (DFIs) and the private sector in order to spearhead the growth of the solar sector in the more challenging countries. Furthermore, the advancements in mini-grid technology will be represented in our ‘Generations’ track, focusing on bigger mini-grid projects, as well as in our ‘Connections’ track, which focuses purely on micro-grid developments.”

How do you see the future unfolding for the African region; what are the most important things that need to be achieved in order to succeed and how will you hope that USC Africa can contribute to this?

Eveline: “There is a clear need for greater communication and understanding between the different stakeholders in the solar sector, as well as recognizing the patterns and shared challenges in the hugely diverse individual markets. Unlocking Solar Capital Africa accelerates this process by providing opportunities for focused interaction between these stakeholders.”

Adriaan: “We aim to contribute by providing people with a platform to share best practices and meet the stakeholders that you need to further your business. With the conference platform, we seek to solve Africa’s solar energy funding gap by connecting financiers and developers, and having key market players share their practical experiences. Furthermore, the floor will be given to innovative startups to pitch their business models and secure financing.”

Lydia: “There is a lot of dedication among solar industry players to bring electricity to the 600 million Africans that currently do not have access to modern energy solutions. This dedication is easy to understand from both a market perspective, which is obviously very large, as from the conviction that everyone should have access to electricity and that we shouldn’t burden the environment through the use of fossil fuels, while great alternatives are readily available at a competitive price point. We want Unlocking Solar Capital Africa to be the driving platform for Africa’s solar revolution moving forward.”

Learn more about the challenges and solutions to financing of solar projects in Africa at Unlocking Solar Capital Africa, the African region’s largest and foremost conference on unlocking capital for new solar development. The 2-day conference will be held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on the 25-26th of October, 2017 and will be aimed at bringing together hundreds of solar stakeholder, such representative from solar developers, development banks, investment funds, EPCs, IPPs and others. For more information on Unlocking Solar Capital Africa, please visit Africa.UnLockingSolarCapital.com.

  Unlocking Solar Capital Africa (www.Africa.UnLockingSolarCapital.com) is an event entirely focused on connecting solar project development and finance & investment across the entire African solar sector (On-grid Solar, micro-grids, off-grid lighting and household electrification). Unlocking Solar Capital Africa 2017 will bring together hundreds of representatives from development banks, investment funds, solar developers, IPPs, EPCs & other solar stakeholders to engage in extensive discussions to solve Africa’s solar energy funding gap – and get projects realized. As a professional solar event organizer, Solarplaza has hosted over 90 events in 30 countries around the world, ranging from exploratory trade missions in emerging markets to large-scale conferences with 450+ participants. Unlocking Solar Capital Africa 2017 is Solarplaza’s 8th conference on the African continent, and directly builds on our previous Unlocking Solar Capital Africa (Nairobi, Kenya), Unlocking Solar Capital Latam (Miami, USA), Unlocking Solar Capital Asia (Singapore) and Making Solar Bankable (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) conferences. For more information regarding the program, attendees, and registrations, visit www.Africa.UnLockingSolarCapital.com.

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African Small-Scale Farmers Carve a Giant Message for World Leaders in the Very Soil They Farm
September 25, 2017 | 0 Comments

Rome / New York (PRWEB) September 22, 2017

African farmers from a remote village in northern Zambia have teamed up with the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to send a giant message to world leaders gathering in New York this week – invest more in agriculture if you want to end poverty and hunger by 2030.

And to get their message the attention it deserves, the 16 farmers from Kasama, Zambia carved their case for investment into the very soil they farm, producing a giant “Field Report” with a pie chart, graphs and numbers that explain why long-term, transformative investments in smallholder agriculture are so important.

“The Field Report makes the case for investment in agricultural development in the very land that needs it the most,” said Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD. “We were inspired by the sheer power and potential agriculture holds to reduce poverty and hunger, contribute to vibrant, self-sustaining communities and dramatically increase the food needed to feeding a growing population.”

The message from the farmers of Kasama comes at a critical time. According to an IFAD-supported joint UN report launched last week, global hunger is on the rise again, affecting 815 million people in 2016, or 11 per cent of the world’s population.

At the same time, multiple forms of malnutrition are threatening the health of millions worldwide. Of the world’s hungriest people, 243 million reside in Africa. Throughout the region, food insecurity has been exacerbated by violent conflicts and climate-related shocks. In Kasama, farmers have had to deal with erratic rainfall and depleted soils as a consequence of a changing climate.

“When the drought hit, my crops did not have enough water. I had low yields and a shortage of food. I could not feed my children,” said Augustine Chilumba, 60, a bean and maize farmer who contributed to the project. “Farmers in Africa need more support. We need ploughs, fertilizers and good quality seeds.”

The “Field Report” is part of a wider global public awareness campaign launched by IFAD today aimed at raising awareness about the importance of long-term agricultural development to reduce poverty, build local economies, slow migration and feed the world’s growing population.

The contents of the “Field Report” are best seen in aerial footage produced by IFAD. In one shot, a large pie chart carved into the soil reveals that Africa has 25% of the world’s arable land but only produces 10% of its agricultural output. The continent spends US$35 billion on food imports a year, but if this money was invested in developing smallholder farming and rural infrastructure, Africa could feed itself.

Further along, a bar chart filled with local foliage illustrates the growth of urban populations. Year after year, people are leaving rural areas in Africa. Many are young people hoping for jobs in cities and abroad. By 2030, half of all Africans will live in cities. Investing in rural development can create opportunities for the 12 to 18 million young Africans who enter the job market every year.

A line graph at the base of the field shows the steady upward growth of the world’s population, expected to reach nearly 10 billion by 2050. With more than 2 billion more mouths to feed by mid-century, agricultural production will have to double.

Small-scale farmers are the world’s largest group of local food producers. Investments in sustainable and climate-friendly farming methods will support them as they play a fundamental role in feeding their communities.

Finally, the footage reveals a giant “11” that makes the point that in sub-Saharan Africa, growth from agriculture can be 11 times more effective at reducing extreme poverty than growth in any other sector. Greater investments in agriculture is critical to lifting millions of people out of poverty and feeding the 815 million people who are undernourished today.

IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, we have provided about US$18.5 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached some 464 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency based in Rome – the UN’s food and agriculture hub. For more information visit http://www.ifad.org

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Senegalese President Sall Hails Africa50’s Cooperation with Senelec to Develop the Malicounda Power Plant
September 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

CASABLANCA, Morocco, September 21 , -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- At its second annual Shareholders Meeting in Dakar on September 12, Africa50, the infrastructure fund for Africa, signed a development agreement with Senelec, Senegal’s electricity provider, for competitive selection of a strategic sponsor to develop a 120 MW combined cycle thermal power plant at Malicounda. Together, the consortium will secure financing and supervise construction and operation of the plant.

The plant, situated in Mbour department 85 km from Dakar, will initially run on fuel oil, but can be converted to natural gas when this becomes available from recently discovered gas fields. Private sector participation follows the Build, Own, Operate and Transfer model (BOOT). The plant will produce at least 956 GWh a year. The Power Purchase Agreement has a duration of 20 years, with a competitive feed-in tariff rate arrived at through a public tender. The electricity generated will be fed into the network through an existing distribution substation.

The project fits in with Senegal’s strategy to increase energy production while, in the medium term, reducing the cost of electricity for consumers. Moreover, this thermal plant will help satisfy base loads, facilitating the integration of intermittent renewable power into the country’s network.

In his opening address to Africa50 shareholders earlier in the day, Senegalese President Macky Sall cited the project as a symbol of the understanding between Senegal and Africa50. Stating that “Africa is open for business,” he emphasized that “Africa is now a growth region where one can invest securely and with a good return.”

The agreement was signed by Africa50 CEO Alain Ebobissé and Senelec Chairman Mouhamadou Makhtar Cissé. Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, African Development Bank President and Africa50 Chairman, who opened the signing ceremony, cited the very valuable cooperation between the AfDB and Africa50 to meet the continent’s growing energy needs.

Africa50 CEO Alain Ebobisse underlined that the strong support from the Senegalese government, including a solid Power Purchase Agreement, helps assure a reasonable return for investors, making this project viable. “We are grateful for the leadership of President Sall who supported this innovative approach of joint development between Senelec and Afica50. This is a model of cooperation between the public and private sectors which, we are convinced, will permit the efficient development of priority projects everywhere in Africa.”

Africa50 is an infrastructure investment platform that contributes to the continent’s growth by developing and investing in bankable projects, catalyzing public sector capital, and mobilizing private sector funding, with differentiated financial returns and impact.

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