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SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS EXTENDS GROUP BOOKING PROMOTION
October 9, 2017 | 0 Comments

Get a complimentary* ticket when booking 10 or more passengers traveling to Africa

Fort Lauderdale, FL (October 09, 2017) – South African Airways (SAA), the national flag carrier of South Africa and Africa’s most awarded airline, has extended its special group booking promotion of offering one free tour conductor ticket* (restrictions apply) for every 10 group passengers traveling on SAA.

This offer is valid for new group bookings made and deposits received by October 31, 2017, for travel from October 26 through December 9, 2017, and January 11 through March 31, 2018. Travel is applicable on SAA-operated flights from New York-JFK Airport or Washington, DC-Dulles Airport to any
SAA destination in Africa.

“We invite families, friends, coworkers and travel clubs to take advantage of SAA’s low group fares and this special tour conductor offer to explore and experience the wonders of Africa,” said Todd Neuman, executive vice president, North America for South African Airways. “With this tremendous value, your group can experience the vibe of Africa’s cosmopolitan cities, enjoy an exhilarating game safari to view the Big Five, indulge in amazing wine and culinary delights, or spend quality time together under the majestic African skies.”

South African Airways offers the most service from the U.S. to South Africa and an extensive route network throughout the African continent. SAA’s competitive group fares and its dedicated group sales specialists are available to assist with all your group’s travel needs, including complimentary seat assignments. We invite groups big or small to experience SAA’s award-winning in-flight service designed
for pure comfort for long-haul travel with a roomy economy class cabin, gourmet cuisine and a selection of complimentary spirits and award-winning South African wines and, generous checked baggage allowance. Also included are individual audio / visual entertainment systems that deliver an extensive menu of first-run movies and music choices. Via our Johannesburg hub, SAA links the world to over 75
destinations across Southern Africa and Africa’s Indian Ocean islands.

To request your group quote, email GroupsNA@flysaa.com, or contact your local professional travel consultant. Visit www.flysaa.com to learn more about the exciting destinations we service.

South African Airways (SAA), South Africa’s national flag carrier and the continent’s most awarded airline, serves over 75 destinations worldwide in partnership with SA Express, Airlink and its low cost carrier Mango.

In North America, SAA operates daily nonstop flights from New York-JFK and direct flights from Washington D.C.-IAD (via Accra, Ghana and Dakar, Senegal) to Johannesburg. SAA has
partnerships with United Airlines, Air Canada and JetBlue Airways, American Airlines and Virgin America, which offer convenient connections from more than 100 cities in the U.S. and Canada to SAA’s flights. SAA is a Star Alliance member and the recipient of the Skytrax 4-Star rating for 15 consecutive years.

Complimentary Tour Conductor tickets are subject to applicable taxes & surcharges. Complimentary Tour Conductor ticket is awarded after a group of 10 or more paying passengers. Special is valid for new bookings only. Valid for ad-hoc groups only (no
series producers). Valid for travel 10/26/2017 – 12/9/2017 & 1/11/2018 – 3/31/2018. Valid for travel from New York (JFK) or Washington
Dulles (IAD) to Africa. Entire group (including tour conductor) must travel together. Valid on SAA-operated flights only. Groups must be booked and deposited by 9/30/2017. Seats are limited and may not be available on all flights. Change & cancellation penalties apply, per applicable group reservation and fare rules. Baggage and optional service fees may apply. Reservations made 7 days or more prior to scheduled departure may be canceled without penalty up to 24 hours after the reservation is made

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Liberia’s Weah denies contact with ex-leader Charles Taylor
October 7, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Jennifer O’MAHONY*

Liberian football hero George Weah is a frontrunner in next Tuesday's presidential elections (AFP Photo/JOEL SAGET)

Liberian football hero George Weah is a frontrunner in next Tuesday’s presidential elections (AFP Photo/JOEL SAGET)

Monrovia (AFP) – Liberian presidential candidate George Weah on Friday denied contact with ex-leader Charles Taylor as controversy erupted over the former warlord’s alleged behind-the-scenes role in the country’s politics.

After stepping off a helicopter on his return to the capital, Monrovia, from a nationwide tour ahead of elections on October 10, Weah categorically denied speaking with Taylor, who is serving a 50-year prison term in Britain for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“I am not in contact in Charles Taylor, I repeat, I am not,” Weah told AFP and France 24 journalists. The BBC quoted him this week as saying he had taken a phone call from Taylor recorded in January.

Weah’s vice-presidential pick is Taylor’s ex-wife, Jewel Howard-Taylor, who told AFP “Liberia needs to move on” when asked if she maintained a correspondence with her ex-husband.

The union of Weah and Howard-Taylor’s parties into the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) for the vote was seen as an unexpected but astute move as the footballing superstar turned politician makes his second attempt at the presidency.

Howard-Taylor is a respected senator in her own right and has built her own political reputation beyond that of Taylor’s First Lady during his 1997-2003 rule.

However, the international community remains preoccupied by Taylor’s ongoing influence on public life.

The US Congress passed a resolution in late September which “condemns any external interference in the elections, including any communication or action by convicted war criminal and former armed faction leader Charles Taylor to influence the elections from prison.”

A UN-backed court convicted Taylor in 2012 of war crimes, crimes against humanity and several other offences for his role in neighbouring Sierra Leone’s 1991-2001 civil war in which an estimated 50,000 people died.

– ‘Agenda’ question –

Howard-Taylor has also faced questions over whether she is fully estranged from Taylor.

But on Friday she said a widely-circulated remark that she wanted to bring back Taylor’s “agenda” had been taken out of context.

“That’s not what I said, and maybe that’s what people wanted to hear. I said the NPP has an agenda, and when the NPP joined the coalition they went with a mandate, our plan of action.”

The NPP was Taylor’s former party, and Howard-Taylor now represents the NPP in the Liberian Senate.

Taylor rose to power on the back of the rebellion he launched in 1989 against Liberia’s then-military ruler Samuel Doe.

In 1997 after seven years of Liberia’s own civil war, Taylor was elected president. One of his campaign slogans was: “He killed my Ma, he killed my Pa, but I will vote for him.”

His National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) earned a reputation for extreme violence and was among the first to force children, some as young as 10, to carry guns.

He kept a low profile, living in a seaside villa in Nigeria and having a luxury car with diplomatic plates, until the Nigerian government in March 2006 bowed to international calls to extradite him.

*AFP

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WAQSP Stakeholders To Implement Of ECOWAS Regional Quality Database
October 7, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Jerry Emmanson, Abuja

The West Africa Quality System Programme (WAQSP), has organised a regional information workshop for the validation of the draft framework document for the implementation of the ECOWAS quality and industry database at a 2day workshop in Abuja.

The programme implemented by UNIDO and funded by European Union is aimed at establishing a framework for the development and exploitation of appropriate, relevant, effective and efficient quality infrastructures, to facilitate intra-regional and international trade, protect the consumer and environment and promote sustainable economic development.
The WAQSP within its framework plans, among other activities, to establish a database on quality and industry within the ECOWAS region. This database is mainly for economic operators in the region. It will provide concrete answers in response to the many requests for statistical data.

Speaking at the event on the need to enhance quality infrastructure across West Africa, Representative of EU Delegation to Nigeria & ECOWAS, Jens Hoegel, First Counsellor Head of Health, Nutrition & Resilience Section, said: “I think we have made good progress with the document that is necessary to make the next step, and it is a good sign of cooperation on the one hand between ECOWAS, and a good sign of acknowledging the quality systems that provides the basis for economic development. The EU will continue in its effort to provide inclusive growth in all of ECOWAS member states.”

Also speaking on the importance of database to industrialisation, the Minister of Trade and Investment, Ikechukwu Enelamah, represented by Dr Francis Alanene, Director Of Industry with the Ministry, said: “Database has created completely new dimension of growth around the world. The initiative to establish ECOWAS quality and industrial database is a welcome development in the region.

“By accurately recording industrial data, updating and tracking such data on an efficient and regular basis, Nations will have the opportunity to address their industrial challenges.”
ECOWAS Commissioner for Industry and Private Sector Promotions, Mr Kalilou Traore in his address, stressed the need to provide regional structure, database and information system to enterprises and policy makers for effective implementation of quality programmes.

The objective of the meeting is said to submit for the validation of directors in charge of Industry in Member States the framework document supporting the ECOWAS Quality and Industrial Database including the metadata and its filling guide.
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Hilton Launches Africa Growth Initiative
October 7, 2017 | 0 Comments
Initiative expected to add 100 properties to its portfolio over the next five years
DT Hurlingham Nairobi Reception

DT Hurlingham Nairobi Reception

MCLEAN, United States of America, October 5, 2017/ — Hilton  has committed a total of $50 million over the next five years towards the Hilton Africa Growth Initiative to support the continued expansion of its Sub-Saharan African portfolio.

These funds are intended to support the conversion of around 100 hotels (roughly 20,000 rooms) in multiple African markets into Hilton branded properties, namely into its flagship Hilton Hotels & Resorts brand, the upscale DoubleTree by Hilton and the recently launched Curio Collection by Hilton.

Patrick Fitzgibbon, Senior Vice President, Development, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Hilton said: “Hilton remains committed to growth in Africa having been present on the continent for more than 50 years. The model of converting existing hotels into Hilton branded properties has proved highly successful in a variety of markets and we expect to see great opportunities to convert hotels to Hilton brands through this initiative.”

DT Hurlingham Nairobi restaurant

DT Hurlingham Nairobi restaurant

“It enables us to rapidly grow our portfolio and delivers returns for owners by increasing exposure of their business to more international, inter-regional and domestic travellers, and specifically to our 65 million-plus Hilton Honors members, who look to stay with us in our suite of industry-leading brands. We see huge potential here in key cities and airports, as well as allowing us to develop our offering in resorts and safari lodges.”

These hotels will receive all the benefits associated with Hilton’s industry-leading brand proposition and world-class commercial platforms. Guests will also be able to take advantage of  Hilton’s innovative technology platforms such as online check-in and the ability to choose individual rooms when booking via the Hilton Honors App.

Fitzgibbon added: “The range of brands we have at our disposal allows owners the flexibility to pick the right fit for their property. We have already deployed this initiative in the signing of two hotels: our first DoubleTree by Hilton property in Kenya, and our first hotel in Rwanda, and expect to be able to announce further additions before the end of this year.”

DoubleTree by Hilton Nairobi Hurlingham

The first hotel to benefit from this initiative is the 109 guest room Amber Hotel on Nairobi’s Ngong Road, which will re-launch under the upscale DoubleTree by Hilton brand. The hotel, which opened in 2016, is currently undergoing a series of renovations and will join the brand by the end of the year. Following the refurbishment, the hotel will be known as DoubleTree by Hilton Nairobi Hurlingham and will continue to be operated by the owner under a franchise agreement through the leadership of its current General Manager, Elisha Katam.

DoubleTree by Hilton Kigali City Centre

DT Kigali City Centre

DT Kigali City Centre

The 153 room Ubumwe Grande Hotel in the Kigali central business district will trade under the upscale DoubleTree by Hilton brand when it fully converts in 2018. This franchised property – with 134 guest rooms and 19 apartments – opened in September 2016. The hotel will undergo some changes in order to rebrand and will be Hilton’s first property in Rwanda. Once rebranded, the hotel will trade as the DoubleTree by Hilton Kigali City Centre.

Hilton currently operates 19 hotels in the Sub Saharan Africa region with a further 29 in its pipeline. It has held a presence on the African continent for over 50 years.

Hilton  is a leading global hospitality company, with a portfolio of 14 world-class brands comprising more than 5,000 properties with more than 825,000 rooms in 103 countries and territories. Hilton is dedicated to fulfilling its mission to be the world’s most hospitable company by delivering exceptional experiences – every hotel, every guest, every time. The company’s portfolio includes Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Canopy by Hilton, Curio Collection by HiltonTM, DoubleTree by Hilton, Tapestry Collection by HiltonTM, Embassy Suites by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton by Hilton, Tru by Hilton, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Home2 Suites by Hilton and Hilton Grand Vacations.

The company also manages an award-winning customer loyalty program, Hilton Honors. Hilton Honors members who book directly through preferred Hilton channels have access to instant benefits, including a flexible payment slider that allows members to choose exactly how many Points to combine with money, an exclusive member discount that can’t be found anywhere else and free standard Wi-Fi.

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Off-grid Solar set to triple in Africa
October 7, 2017 | 0 Comments
The IEA has found that the amount of power from solar grew by more than 50%, and has officially increased energy output globally at a faster rate than any other fuel
LAGOS, Nigeria, October 6, 2017/ —

  • Off- grid solar will bring basic electricity services to almost 70 million more people in Asia and sub Saharan Africa

A new report has confirmed that Solar is now the fastest growing energy source in the world, and is making a major impact in Africa. The International Energy Agency’s 2017 report on renewables forecasts that off-grid solar capacity in Africa is set to almost triple in the next five years, saying that it will “bring basic electricity services to almost 70 million more people in Asia and sub Saharan Africa”.

The IEA has found that the amount of power from solar grew by more than 50%, and has officially increased energy output globally at a faster rate than any other fuel. The report specifically highlights off-grid solar as a ‘dynamic’ sector set to accelerate this growth.

Lumos (www.Lumos-Global.com), a company that offers one of the fastest growing off-grid solar services in Africa, is at the forefront of this expansion. Lumos launched its Mobile Electricity Service and the Y’ello Box in partnership with MTN in Nigeria earlier this year. The device transforms the sun’s energy into electricity and is paid for via your mobile phone.

According to the IEA, off-grid capacity in Africa and Asia is set to reach “over 3000 MW in 2022.” CEO of Lumos Nigeria, Yuri Tsitrinbaum, said: “This is the latest evidence that off-grid solar is providing the answer to growing energy demand in Africa. There is no other option available that can provide energy that is as affordable, reliable, and clean.”

“We are changing the way people access electricity, and this is only the beginning. Mobile phones improved millions of lives, and now we are seeing the same thing with mobile electricity.”

Lumos Mobile Electricity Service is available at MTN stores across Nigeria. By subscribing to the service, customers get one of the revolutionary Y’ello Box systems that converts solar energy into electricity for the home, paid for by phone credit and a simple text message. It’s reliable, affordable and powerful.

The IEA report projects that over the next five years, services like Lumos will be the catalysts and drivers of innovative payment solutions that can allow low-income populations access to electricity.

Lumos (Lumos-Global.com) brings affordable, modern and clean electricity to communities that have been living off-grid.
Lumos connects the dots between the mobile payment revolution and solar energy through its patented, self-deployable solar power system, with integrated cellular payment and advanced security mechanisms. With Lumos, households in the off-grid world can replace generators, candles, and flashlights with modern electricity that can power lights, cellphones, fans, laptops, TVs and other small electronic devices, and all for less the cost spent today on generators – on a lease to own basis, subscription via the mobile phone.

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Taking an intelligent approach to Africa’s promising mobility revolution
October 7, 2017 | 0 Comments
Despite the continent’s transport infrastructure lagging behind global standards for decades, Africa is bracing itself for a transport revolution as more countries embrace the onset of new technology
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, October 5, 2017/ —

  • Kevin Pillay - Vice President for Mobility at Siemens Africa

    Kevin Pillay – Vice President for Mobility at Siemens Africa

    Electrification, automation and digitalization of existing infrastructure gives citizens access to safe, reliable and efficient modes of transport

  • Intelligent traffic systems reduce road congestion, automated rail infrastructure improves train efficiency and commuter safety
  • Well-integrated intelligent mobility network promotes a culture of eco-friendly travel and healthier living

Despite the continent’s transport infrastructure lagging behind global standards for decades, Africa is bracing itself for a transport revolution as more countries embrace the onset of new technology.

This sets the scene for a new era of intelligent mobility in Africa, writes Kevin Pillay – Vice President for Mobility at Siemens Africa (Siemens.com).

Intelligent mobility involves the electrification, automation and digitalization of existing transport infrastructure, and gives every citizen access to safe, reliable and efficient modes of transport.

The need and demand for intelligent mobility in Africa has never been greater – World Economic Forum competitiveness data reveals that only three African countries feature in the top 50 globally for quality of roads, quality of rail and quality of ports infrastructure respectively.

World Bank data also indicates that the Sub-Saharan African railway network has declined to 59,634km today, down from 65,661km in 1980 with only about 70% of the railway network in operational state.

At face value, it seems as though the continent faces insurmountable transport challenges. But the reality is that we are already setting the wheels in motion to create interconnected, more modern and efficient African transport networks that keep economies on the move, rather than hindering them. This development will not happen overnight, and will be realised one step at a time.

Intelligent traffic systems 

Many African cities have traffic infrastructure plagued by unreliable power supply. To the frustration of motorists, timing of traffic lights stays the same regardless of actual conditions, and many are faulty and take weeks to repair. This means that the road infrastructure can’t handle peak traffic, not because of technology but because of the lack of proper technological investment.

The challenge is partly that these traffic systems have grown in an unco-ordinated way, with lots of different suppliers and systems cobbled together. Speeding and traffic light violations are a problem, and there is limited technology deployed to support effective traffic law enforcement.

Concern of this situation has been expressed by officials and road users alike, who say congestion and accidents have reached alarming levels. Inefficiencies in these transport systems affect a country’s ability to attract and maintain investment.

So where do we begin?

The adoption of intelligent traffic systems (ITS) will keep Africa’s busiest cities as fast-moving investment destinations. ITS includes deployment of smart sensor systems with intelligent algorithms to automatically adapt to improve traffic flow.

Two-way communication can be enabled by running fibre between traffic junctions and a central control centre to gather information from intelligent networked systems, sensors and cameras at every junction. This allows traffic lights to be adjusted according to demand.

Nigeria’s Edo State government recently announced its intention to upgrade to a technologically-advanced ITS system that provides real-time traffic information in Benin City. As part of the integrated solution, motorists and commuters will be informed about travel times, weather conditions and traffic jams on radio or online.

With all traffic management systems automated and digitalized, technology like automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras can be utilised to efficiently enforce traffic rules.

Average speed over distance (ASOD) technology captures the time when a specific vehicle enters and exits the ASOD zone. The journey time is compared against the distance travelled and authorities are automatically notified if the prescribed speed limit was exceeded.

This improves the safety of drivers, passengers and pedestrians. It also minimises the risk of corruption, while promoting best practice among traffic enforcement officers who are exposed to a new skillset when trained in operating these new systems.

Automated rail infrastructure 

Another effective means of reducing congestion on overburdened and under maintained roads in Africa is through greater investment in upgrading passenger rail networks.

Some of the world’s cities with the most advanced transport networks feature fast, efficient, safe and clean rail mobility networks powered by Siemens, and African cities can benefit from expertise in centralised traffic management and automation systems, including train control systems with minimum line side equipment linked to modern control centres.

A clear case in point is the Gauteng Nerve Centre (GNC) in South Africa. The 3400 m2 state-of-the art control centre for centralised rail traffic management in South Africa’s economic hub of Gauteng accommodates 35 train control operators in one place, and constantly monitors Gauteng’s rail traffic where over 600 trains carry more than 500,000 commuters on a daily basis.

The GNC boasts world-class automation capabilities and can immediately respond to any operating failures, accidents and other incidents, thereby enabling greater efficiencies in rail operations and train safety, while offering a more reliable service through higher infrastructure utilisation.

Siemens’ proven railway capabilities are set be bolstered further, following the mobility business’ recent announcement of its intention to merge with French railway engineering specialist Alstom.

With a strong presence in, and dedicated commitment to Africa, this anticipated partnership will create an African champion in mobility.

Intelligent, integrated mobility ensures environmental sustainability 

Transportation is the world’s second-biggest producer of greenhouse gases. In 2015 motor vehicles, trains, ships, and planes emitted 7.5 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, accounting for almost a quarter of all CO2 emissions worldwide.

Today transportation-related emissions are already about 60 percent higher than in 1990. One of the reasons for this is the dramatic increase in the number of vehicles in developing countries and emerging markets – of which Africa is home to many.

According to forecasts, transportation-related CO2 emissions will increase by another 67 percent between now and 2050. Clearly, in view of this, the global community must take decisive action to bring about a worldwide transition to sustainable transportation systems.

A well-integrated intelligent multi-modal transport network promotes a culture of eco-friendly travel and healthier living, as it reduces traffic congestion and COemissions by transporting more people more safely and more comfortably, using newer and cleaner technology without relying on fossil fuels.

The time for intelligent mobility is now 

If Africa truly wants to unleash its full potential, then sufficient funds must be responsibly invested in upgrading existing transport and logistics infrastructure like road, rail and ports, in addition to new concepts that include electric bus rapid transport and ferries, to name a few.

Intelligent and integrated traffic systems are part of the future of transport in the world’s advanced cities. If Africa seizes the opportunity, many of its cities will be on that list, and the continent’s citizens will reap the rewards. That is the way forward.

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Internet Disruptions Costing Africa Circa $ 300 million
October 7, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Technology entrepreneurs work from their computers and mobile phone, at Activspaces co-working tech hub in Douala, Cameroon Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017. Internet users in English-speaking regions lost connectivity from all three telecom internet companies, after the Cameroon government warned against anti-state comments and fake news on social media. Technology start-ups are suffering from the ban, and some travel to French-speaking cities to keep their businesses operating.Pic credit Irene Zih Fon, GPJ Cameroon

Technology entrepreneurs work from their computers and mobile phone, at Activspaces co-working tech hub in Douala, Cameroon Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017. Internet users in English-speaking regions lost connectivity from all three telecom internet companies, after the Cameroon government warned against anti-state comments and fake news on social media. Technology start-ups are suffering from the ban, and some travel to French-speaking cities to keep their businesses operating.Pic credit Irene Zih Fon, GPJ Cameroon

Internet shutdowns in Sub-Saharan Africa have
cost the region up to US$ 237 million since 2015, according to a report to
released by the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and
Southern Africa (CIPESA).

Using a newly developed framework, the report
estimates the cost of internet shutdowns in 10 African countries, and notes
that the economic losses caused by an internet disruption persist far
beyond the days on which the shutdown occurs, because network disruptions
unsettle supply chains and have systemic effects that harm efficiency
throughout the economy.

The report says that despite the increasing benefits associated with
access to the internet and
the contribution of the ICT sector to GDP in Sub-Saharan Africa, since 2015
there have been state-initiated internet disruptions in at least 12
countries in the region.

While it is clear how internet shutdowns affect users’ fundamental rights,
such as the right of access to information and freedom of expression, the
impact of disruptions on a country’s economy and citizens’ livelihoods is
rarely as clearly articulated due to a lack of verifiable data. That made
it necessary to develop a framework that can be used to estimate the
economic cost of shutdowns in SSA.

The report shows the losses in USD terms which each of the countries
studied lost during the duration of the network disruptions. The report
also shows that:

· The economic cost of an internet disruption persist far beyond the
days on which the disruption occurs because the disruption unsettle supply
chains and have systemic effects, harming efficiency throughout the economy.

· Internet disruptions, however short-lived, undermine economic
growth, disrupt the delivery of critical services, erode business
confidence, and raise a country’s risk profile

· Shutdowns have a high economic impact at micro and macro levels,
adversely affecting the livelihoods of citizens, undermining the
profitability of business enterprises, and reducing the GDP and
competitiveness of countries that implement them.

It is added that disruptions have been witnessed during national
exams as was the case in
Ethiopia, during elections in countries such as Chad, Gabon, Gambia,
Republic of Congo, and Uganda. Public protests have also led to internet
disruptions in countries like Burundi, the Central African Republic,
Cameroon, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Mali, Niger, and Togo.

Internet shutdowns have also been witnessed in countries, some of which have
very low internet penetration and usage figures. According to the ITU,
Cameroon, Uganda and Niger have internet usage percentages of 25%, 21.9%
and 4.4% respectively. The three countries have experienced internet
disruptions for 93 days, 6 days and 3 days respectively between 2016 and
2017. The significant contribution of the ICT sector and of more prevalent
internet services to the economy and society cannot be disputed. This is
more so in most African economies where the contribution of the ICT sector
to GDP is on average 5%, a contribution greater than in many countries in
Europe and Asia.

The report was launched recently at the *Forum
on Internet Freedom in Africa *which was held in Johannesburg,
South Africa.

The Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa 2017 (FIFAfrica17): *This
year, FIFAfrica17 is co-hosted by the Collaboration on International ICT
Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) and the Association for
Progressive Communication (APC). The two organisations have a history of
advocating for the advancement of digital rights in Africa and beyond. The
discussions of the forum are built around themes which engage with the 13
principles of the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms (
www.africaninternetrights.org).

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2018 World Cup: Fifa hands out punishments to several African nations
October 4, 2017 | 0 Comments

Fifa has handed out punishments to eight African nations for various offences committed during September’s 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

Gabon fielded an ineligible player – Merlin Tandjigora, who should have been suspended – in the 3-0 home defeat by Ivory Coast on 2 September.

The Panthers effectively escape with a fine as the main sanction for the error is to forfeit the match 3-0.

Several teams suffered similar sanctions in 2014 World Cup qualifying.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Football Federation has been fined just over US$30,000 and issued with a warning after fans invaded the pitch when they beat Cameroon 4-0 on 1 September.

DR Congo were also given a warning and also handed a major fine, forced to pay Fifa around US$20,000, for incidents during their match against Tunisia on 5 September.

Fifa ruled that there had been “improper conduct among spectators – throwing objects [bottles] and letting off incendiary devices” at the match, which ended 2-2, in Kinshasa.

The Congolese federation was also sanctioned for failing to fly national flags at the stadium and for not displaying a mandatory “central advertising board”.

There was a US$15,000 fine and a warning for Mali after their home match against Morocco also suffered from “improper conduct among spectators – throwing objects [bottles and chairs]”.

Elsewhere, Zambia must pay US$7,000 after their fans threw objects when they played Algeria in Lusaka.

Morocco’s punishment of US$3,000 and a warning was given after spectators whistled during the national anthem ahead of their match against Mali in Rabat.

Both Burkina Faso and Senegal were issued warnings for delayed kick-offs in their matches against each other on 2 and 5 September respectively.

And South Africa’s Erick Mulomowandau Mathoho had his suspension for a straight red card against Cape Verde increased from one match to two and also fined US$5,000.

He was dismissed in Praia for kicking out at an opponent after the ball had already gone into touch and missed the return match a few days later through suspension.

The increased ban means Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter had to drop him from his squad to face visiting Burkina Faso on Saturday.

He has been replaced by Cape Town City captain Robyn Johannes, who has earned his first call-up since 2008.

*BBC

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Ecobank launches mVisa across 33 African Countries
October 3, 2017 | 0 Comments
Ecobank Scan+Pay with mVisa delivers instant, secure cashless payment for goods and services by allowing customers to scan a QR code on a smartphone or enter a unique merchant identifying code into either a feature phone or smartphone
Ecobank Chief Executive Officer Ade Ayeyemi

Ecobank Chief Executive Officer Ade Ayeyemi

LOME, Togo, October 2, 2017/ — Ecobank (https://Ecobank.com) has partnered with Visa to launch Ecobank Scan+Pay with mVisa solutions to their consumers.
The strategic tie-up signals interoperability on a cross border level – and potentially huge gains – as it affords consumers with the ability to use their mobile phone to directly access the funds in their bank accounts to pay person-to-merchant (P2M) or person-to-person (P2P).
Ecobank Scan+Pay with mVisa delivers instant, secure cashless payment for goods and services by allowing customers to scan a QR code on a smartphone or enter a unique merchant identifying code into either a feature phone or smartphone. The payment goes straight from the consumer’s bank account into the merchant’s account and provides real-time notification to both parties. This serves to accelerate digital commerce and combat some of the challenges merchants have faced using traditional point of sale systems, including the cost of installation coupled with the requirement of electricity and internet connectivity.
Ecobank mVisa solutions also enable customers to send money instantly to any Visa cardholder worldwide. This is a major innovation that serves the need of Africans in the diaspora by enabling them to simply link their Visa card to the Ecobank unified mobile app to send money home to another Visa cardholder quickly and securely.
“We are fulfilling our commitment to give every African the right to participate effectively in the global economy at an affordable price and in a convenient manner. Ecobank Scan+Pay with mVisa helps merchants – particularly small and micro merchants – to grow their sales without the risks of carrying cash whilst also giving consumers the ability to pay for goods and services in a cashless manner from their phones. Consumers can also conduct person-to-person payments and instantly transfer money to their friends and family via their phones at very low cost,” said Ecobank Chief Executive Officer Ade Ayeyemi.
The partnership demonstrates both Ecobank and Visa’s continued commitment to provide financial services to the banked and unbanked in Africa by leveraging digital platforms to offer convenient and affordable payment mechanisms.
Andrew Torre, President for Visa Sub-Saharan Africa said, “We are glad to partner with Ecobank to bring mVisa into the market, a mobile payment solution with real benefits to drive digital transformation backed by advantages of Visa’s global network – security, reliability and global acceptance, allowing consumers to make payments both domestically and internationally.”
Patrick Akinwuntan, Ecobank Group Executive Consumer Banking, pointed out that the Ecobank mVisa solutions rollout significantly strengthens the banks person-to person payments capabilities. “Bringing this added functionality on our Ecobank mobile app connects families in Africa by delivering needed funds instantly anywhere, anytime. That’s real value to our customers,” he said.

Incorporated (‘ETI’ or ‘The Group’)  Incorporated in Lomé, Togo in 1988, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (‘ETI’) is the parent company of the leading independent pan-African banking group, Ecobank. It currently has a presence in 36 African countries, namely: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Democratic Republic), Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Group employs over 17,000 people in 40 different countries in over 1,200 branches and offices. Ecobank is a full-service bank providing wholesale, retail, investment and transaction banking services and products to governments, financial institutions, multinationals, international organizations, medium, small and micro businesses and individuals.

About Visa Inc.  Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) is the world’s leader in digital payments. Our mission is to connect the world through the most innovative, reliable and secure payment network – enabling individuals, businesses and economies to thrive. Our advanced global processing network, VisaNet, provides secure and reliable payments around the world, and is capable of handling more than 65,000 transaction messages a second. The company’s relentless focus on innovation is a catalyst for the rapid growth of connected commerce on any device, and a driving force behind the dream of a cashless future for everyone, everywhere. As the world moves from analog to digital, Visa is applying our brand, products, people, network and scale to reshape the future of commerce.

 

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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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