ENGIE Africa brings Off-Grid Power to over 4 Million People, establishing its Position as Market Leader on the Continent
February 19, 2020 | 0 Comments
ENGIE has achieved this through the development of its three A2E off-grid energy solution companies: Fenix International, ENGIE Mobisol, and ENGIE PowerCorner
NAIROBI, Kenya, February 18, 2020/ — ENGIE Africa (http://www.ENGIE-Africa.com) is pleased to announce that it has successfully accelerated the Access to Energy (A2E) strategy that it launched in 2018. ENGIE has achieved this through the development of its three A2E off-grid energy solution companies: Fenix International, ENGIE Mobisol, and ENGIE PowerCorner.
With these three innovative entities, ENGIE Africa is bringing decentralized electricity to more than four million people in nine countries (Uganda, Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Nigeria, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, and Mozambique). This growth is in line with the Group’s ambition to reach millions of households and businesses with clean, distributed energy across Africa.
Fenix, which was acquired by ENGIE in 2018, expanded its operations significantly in 2019. To date, it has sold more than 700,000 solar home systems that power 3.5 million people in rural communities across six countries. Now employing 1,200 full-time team members, Fenix launched sales in Mozambique in June 2019. In the last month, the company has reached milestones in multiple markets, with 150,000 solar home systems sold in Zambia, 50,000 sold in Benin, and 20,000 sold in Côte d’Ivoire.
ENGIE complemented its range of solar home system solutions by finalizing the acquisition of Mobisol in October 2019. The higher capacity (40–200W) of ENGIE Mobisol’s products offers consumers access to modern energy services and appliances to establish solar-powered small businesses. ENGIE Mobisol has operations in Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya, and has installed more than 150,000 solar home systems, providing clean and reliable energy to 750,000 people and counting in East Africa.
Mini-grid developer and operator ENGIE PowerCorner now has 13 mini-grids in operation across two countries (Tanzania and Zambia), serving 15,000 beneficiaries. It is constructing new mini-grids in Uganda (in joint venture with Equatorial Power), Benin and Nigeria, with the aim to triple its number of customers this year. ENGIE PowerCorner focuses on powering income-generating activities and productive usages, thus contributing to the increase of the economic welfare of its rural customers.
Fenix’s inclusive solar home systems for household usages, combined with ENGIE Mobisol’s focus on larger households and small business appliances, together with ENGIE PowerCorner’s focus on income-generating activities and small-scale industries, enables ENGIE to offer affordable energy products and to extend its customer base from rural to urban areas.
Yoven Moorooven, CEO of ENGIE Africa, says: “We strongly believe in the huge potential of the off-grid electrification sector and that it will be instrumental in rapidly and cost-effectively bridging energy gaps across Africa. We will build upon our successes to sustain and meet our long-term ambition of impacting tens of millions of lives across Africa. ENGIE has an important role to play in industrializing and scaling up the off-grid solar business. We are keen to offer the lowest cost and best quality Access to Energy solution that addresses our customers’ needs.”
ENGIE is expanding its offerings beyond electricity provision, integrating cost-effective and tailor-made solutions “as a service” to accompany customers every step of the way. This expansion links energy access to other products and services: internet, water, productive appliances, clean cooking, financial services and products.
Universal electrification is the seventh of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals that the global community has committed to achieve by 2030. ENGIE is confident that universal access to energy is achievable in the foreseeable future, through smart investments in a combination of national grid extension, solar home systems and mini-grids.
About ENGIE Africa:
ENGIE (https://www.ENGIE.com/) is the largest independent electricity producer in the world, and one of the major players in natural gas and energy services. The Group has more than 50 years of experience on the African continent and has the unique ability to implement integrated solutions all along the energy value chain, from centralized electricity production to off-grid solutions (solar home systems, mini-grids) and energy services. ENGIE Africa employs nearly 4,000 people, and has 3.15 GW of power generation capacity in operation or construction. It is a leader in the decentralized energy market, providing clean energy to more than four million people through domestic solar installations and local microgrids.
UN Secretary General demands investigation into killing of civilians, including Children, pregnant women in Cameroon’s North West Region
February 18, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Amos Fofung
Antonio Gutterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, UN has expressed concerns over the killing of civilians in the Ngarbuh, a tiny locality in Cameroon’s North West Region.
In a message posted February 17, Antonio Gutterres called on the government of Cameroon to conduct a thorough investigation into the incident that caused the lives of over thirty-two civilians among them children and pregnant women, and ensure those responsible are held accountable.
“The Secretary-General is deeply concerned over reports about the killing of civilians, including children, in an attack on the village of Ngarbuh in the north-west Region of Cameroon on 14 February. He extends his deepest condolences to the families and calls on the Government of Cameroon to conduct an investigation and to ensure that those responsible are held accountable,” a section of his statement read.
Reiterating he is ready to work with the government of Cameroon and separatist leaders to proffer a solution to the country’s simmering three-year conflict, the UN scribe once again urged armed actors to refrain from attacking civilians and respect international human rights laws signed and ratified by Cameroon.
“The Secretary-General calls on armed actors to refrain from attacks against civilians and to respect international humanitarian and international human rights law.”
Last Friday, we should recall, pro-government forces stormed the locality of Ngarbuh-Ntumbaw in Ndu sub-division of the North West region in Cameroon in search for separatist fighters who were believed have camp in the rural setting.
The soldiers are reported to have engage in crossfire confrontation with the armed separatist as they tried to flee. While some of the villagers were reportedly shot dead in separate locations in the enclaved village, others, were burnt alive when their homes were set ablaze.
In a communique, the government of Cameroon said all those killed were mistaken for separatist fighters when they open fire to defend themselves against raining bullets. There has been an outcry with many insisting that such brutal attacks and mass murder is not uncommon with the military in Cameroon, referencing the 2018 killings in Santa sub division where over 30 mostly youths were slain allegedly by the same military.
Local content and market-driven policies set to shape energy investments in Senegal as African Energy Chamber concludes working visit in Dakar
February 18, 2020 | 0 Comments
The African Energy Chamber’s delegation advocated for local content as a pillar of the industry’s sustainability efforts
DAKAR, Senegal, February 18, 2020/ — As Senegal’s first oil and gas projects are under-development and first production is expected within two years, the African Energy Chamber (www.EnergyChamber.org) conducted this week a working visit in Dakar to promote investment into the country and support local content development and capacity building.
Led by Executive Chairman NJ Ayuk, the African Energy Chamber’s delegation advocated for local content as a pillar of the industry’s sustainability efforts and offered all its support to continue pushing and financing Senegal’s initiatives to build capacity and build a new generation of Senegalese oil & gas workers and managers. “Oil companies have an unmatched ability, and a profound responsibility, to support H.E. Macky Sall’s bold vision in shaping an economy that works for all Senegalese and preserves their freedoms,” said NJ Ayuk.
The team met with H.E. Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal; H.E. Mouhamadou Makhtar Cissé, Minister of Petroleum and Energies, Ousmane Ndiaye, Permanent Secretary of COS-Petrogaz; Aguibou Ba, Director General of the National Institute for Petroleum and Gaz (INPG) and the majority of the oil and gas operators and service companies.
“Moving closer and closer to becoming a large-scale producer of oil and gas, Senegal’s story is an inspiring one. And, as a hotspot for oil and gas development, it is only fitting that the nation cements market-driven local content frameworks that are rooted in capacity building and are driven by the determination to transform practices in its energy sector,” declaired Nj Ayuk. “That is why initiatives such as the INPG are important in ensuring that industry revenue benefits the state while also guaranteeing employment for citizens. The INPG is a true social contract bringing the private and public sector together to plan for a prosperous future for Senegal,” he added.
The Chamber’s working visit coincided with that of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, during which state-owned SENELEC and GE signed an agreement for the development of 300MW of gas-to-power capacity, the modernization of Senegal’s power plants and the creation of a maintenance centre in Senegal. In line with the US’ interests to increase cooperation with Africa, the Chamber reiterated the industry’s call for continued improvements in the ease of doing business and better operating environments for foreign investors.
“President Trump dispatching Secretary of State Pompeo and US companies to Senegal is a brilliant move. US companies understand that investing in Senegal is good business and a sustainable corporate strategy. President Macky Sall’s government has built on positive trends to maximize foreign investments. This includes a commitment to transparency, improving safety and security, strengthening the macroeconomic environment, investing in quality education and skill development in science, technology and innovation, and avoiding the Dutch disease,” added Ayuk.
Last year, the African Energy Chamber and Centurion Law Group hosted a local content forum in Senegal, calling attention to local content development in the country. The ongoing visit serves as a follow up and a showcase of the Chamber’s continued commitment to the growth and development of African economies through ensuring that Africa’s natural resources benefit Africa’s people first.
“Senegal’s emergence as a key player in the oil and gas industry has been remarkable and, as this growth continues to surge, it is important that local communities have a seat at the table, It is also important that we continue to create an enabling environment investors and the oil sector. Cutting unnecessary red tape and fast-tracking project approvals will give the energy operators a boost,” said NJ Ayuk. “This, however, is a goal that is achievable only through the collaboration of the private and public sector. Local content is value creation and it is pertinent that Senegal put in place policies and frameworks that will see the its people benefit from its hydrocarbon industry,” he added.
Last month, Woodside Energy got the green light for its $4.2bn Sangomar oil project, Senegal’s first offshore oil venture where first production is expected in 2023, with a capacity to reach 100,000 bopd. The Phase 1 development concept for the Sangomar field is a stand-alone FPSO facility with subsea infrastructure. Meanwhile, works are ongoing at the Greater Tortue Ahmeyim FLNG project, whose phase 1 will see the commissioning of a 2.5 mtpa facility by 2022. This month, Kosmos Energy, BP, Petrosen and SMHPM signed an agreement with BP Gas Marketing for the supply of 2.45 mtpa of LNG over 20 years.
The MSGBC Basin has become sub-Saharan Africa’s hottest exploration frontier. Senegal is currently holding a licensing round to further attract investment into its acreages and boost existing reserves. The round is expected to generate tremendous interest from foreign investors and further confirm Senegal as a new African energy leader.
The African Energy Chamber (www.EnergyChamber.org) works with indigenous companies throughout the continent in optimizing their reach and networks. Our partnerships with international dignitaries, executives, and companies allow for relevant servicing to other international entities looking to operate within the continent.
The African Energy Chamber brings willing governments and credible businesses together to continuing growth of the African energy sector under international standard business practices.
*Source African Energy Chamber
Leave Rwanda-Uganda matter to two Heads of State to decide
February 18, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Mohammed M. Mupenda*
There are dates you can hardly forget in the event which unfolded between the two countries, Rwanda-Uganda when their communique was made official, those are, an advisory note issued to advise Rwandans not to cross the border to Uganda, Luanda signing pact which never yielded the positive results and the release, deportation of Rwandans who were incarcerated in Uganda’s military cells.
These dates with their happening could always be abrupt to the citizens of both countries and some put a smile on them as they wait to see the outcomes of pact but of course free movement to both citizens is paramount and they would mostly wish to see pact signed in Luanda being implemented as peaceful and diplomatic solution to the row that paralysed business, took peoples’ lives, separated family and friends and made life a misery to both countries’ ordinary citizens.
In the move of having the row ended, Uganda made a surprise towards early this year and released nine detainees who were considered political and accused of espionage to Uganda. This political move ignited various reactions on twitter, Facebook and in the local media. Some activists in Uganda protested the move by calling on Uganda’s government to avail justice to those who believed these people had committed crimes against humanity such as involvement in killing many Rwandans who had fled from Rwanda.
Self worth initiative, the non profit organisation headed by Ms. Prossy Bonabana executive director was the first to protest and others brought it on facebook and twitter supporting the move of which Rwanda citizens and officials including Minister of East African affairs Olivier Nduhungirehe rebuffed the protest and called it off saying that Ms. Prossy Bonabana is serving Rwanda National Congress, the movement Rwanda calls a terrorist group headed by Former Rwanda chief of staff General Kayumba Nyamwasa who currently lives in South Africa.
Ms. Boonabana argued that some of these victims have their husbands, sons and relatives still incarcerated in Kigali safe houses without trial or prisons serving life sentences on politically motivated charges adding that many Rwandan refugees in Uganda have been living in fear.
“It was at the height of cries and quest for justice in 2017 that the relatives of victims took a leading role to voice out and condemn these aggressive activities by the Rwandan security agencies. These Rwandan agents had claimed the lives of many people and had pushed several others to live in constant fear,” she stressed.
Since 2017, the victims have eagerly waited for justice to finally prevail through court systems, only this week to receive a shock of their lives that the government was withdrawing criminal charges against the seven hardcore Rwandan intelligence agents. This, we strongly condemn as miscarriage of justice,” she said.
Despite of the move igniting mixed reactions, most of us, friends, analysts applauded it. And this is because, we were waiting to see the row that has put people’s lives at risk get to an end.
According to Dr. Frederick Goloba-Mutebi, political scientist and an anthropologist, the decision to release them was political, in the interest of repairing relations. On those grounds alone, it was right. The tensions are not good for either country.
But also we have to establish whether the Government of Uganda withdrew charges or lost interest in the case. Whatever it did, however, raises questions about whether it had prima facie evidence against them or not, given they were in custody for 2 years or more.
They can sue, and that will be good, if they have grounds for doing so. It’s their right, if their rights were violated.
Rwanda Ambassador Frank Mugambage said it was (only) a step in the right direction. That suggests it is not enough.
While exchanging chats with friends and family advising them to go ahead to visit families, friends and transact business with Uganda since I knew the borders were opened, to many people, this was a dream which never came true when Rwanda’s Head of State told the diplomats that he is not about to tell his citizens to return to uganda, because he has no control over their safety while there.
Addressing more than 60 diplomats at the Presidency in Kigali on Wednesday evening, Kagame said there were still hundreds of Rwandans in Ugandan jails and that telling his people they were safe in Kampala would be a lie.
This perhaps gave the clearest hint on the progress of the efforts to resolve the dispute between Rwanda and Uganda, indicating the two countries are far from reaching a resolution.
Kagame told Rwandans “just stop going there because if you go there, I have no control. They may arrest you, and your families will come to me and say you have been arrested. And there is nothing I can do about it.”
He revealed that he and Museveni will be going back to Luanda, Angola soon to review the progress in implementing what was agreed in the first meeting in August last year clarifying that the issue is between him and Museveni.
Note that ad hoc commissions failed to reach a solution after meeting in Kigali and Kampala and resolved to consult presidents
It is also said that what’s happening between the two countries is an issue between their two first families
The disappearance of ordinary citizens has not ceased to happen as Uganda citizens keep asking Uganda government about the citizens being killed while trying to cross the border and one of the Ugandan, Kigali based engineer who went missing end of last year.
It is a year now since Rwanda decided to close the Gatuna border with Uganda.
Second Luanda meeting resolutions which set 21st February for next meeting at Gatuna, and this gives hope to many that the border would be opened right away.
*Mohammed M. Mupenda is a news correspondent and freelance reporter, who has written for publications in the United States and abroad. He is also a French and East African language interpreter.
Thanks President Trump for the Travel Ban on African Nations of Libya, Somalia, Eritrea, Tanzania, Nigeria and Chad
February 18, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Ben Kazora*
Questions to Ponder Upon
The origin of the name “Africa” stems from the words used by the Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans. Key words include the Egyptian word, “Afru-ika” meaning motherland, the Greek word “aphrike meaning “without cold” as well as “aprica” a Latin word meaning Sunny. Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania holds evidence of the earliest human ancestors. One would venture to say that by extension we are all Tanzanians. Africa as you can already tell is a continent with a rich history, most beautiful cultures, highly educated populous just to mention a few. 25% of all the languages in the entire universe are spoken on this one continent as noted Jared Diamond in his 1997 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “Guns, Germs and Steel”.
“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here” -Trump in January 2018. These remarks included some African countries. On January 31st, 2020 President Trump extended his travel ban to include Eritrea, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania. It’s with this backdrop that I was tempted to delve a little deeper into what Africa’s potential really is and what it takes for her to realize it. Several questions come to mind; With a population of 1.3 billion why is Africa’s GDP merely $2.19 trillion while that of the USA is at a staggering $21.44 trillion? France, United Kingdom, India, Germany and Japan all have higher GDP than all of Africa. Why is Norway’s GDP per capita is $81,485 while that of Burundi’s is $310? Why is Norway 262 times richer than Burundi? Why does it take 24 African nations to aggregate $1 trillion in GDP, far more than any other region in the world? Why does it take 24 African nations to cumulative $1 trillion in GDP—far more than any other region of the world? Why does most of Europe has a single trade zone, the European Union while Africa has 16 trade zone? How come it takes 3 hours or less to reach European countries aggregating 70% of Europe’s GDP and 8 hours for Latin America but 15 hours for a comparable trip in Africa? Why does it cost less to ship a car from Paris to Lagos than from Accra to Lagos? I will proceed to explain my thoughts on how we got here and examine the best means to fully realize our potential. Acha Leke Saf and Yeboah-Amankwah in their Harvard Business Review article titled “ Africa: A Crucible of Creativity” highlighted that Africa has more than 400 companies whose revenue exceeds $1 billion dollars. Surely, Africa has all the precursors to be the world’s largest economy attain her deserving dignity.
A National Geographic report suggested that in by 1850 Africa’s population would have been 50 million instead of 25 million, thanks to slavery. The report goes further to suggest that slavery contributed to the colonization and exploration of the continent. Furthermore, it’s suggested that as a result infrastructure and communities were damaged, and this made Africa vulnerable to colonialism. What was a huge loss to the continent the slaves actually provided a head start the slave traders. Had it not been for the slaves in America, the cost of building industry and agriculture would have been much higher therefore the standard of living would be much lower. Today’s western culture is a hybrid of that of Africa and the local customs. This ranges from food to music. While acknowledging impact of slavery on the continent it’s fair to highlight that the westerners didn’t settle in large numbers. However, they were successful in extracting the continents wealth first the human capital (through slavery) then diamonds, copper and rubber just to mention a few.
Today we see Africa hosting 60% of the world’s arable land that hasn’t been cultivated but still imports $35B worth f food annually. This figure is projected to increase to $110 billion by 2025 if nothing is done. Even more mind boggling is the fact that Africa export raw material out of the continent and turn around to import the same products processed. Africa is essentially contributing to her own poverty by exporting jobs in the process. A 2018 Africa Development Bank report noted that Brazil transformed it tropical Cerrados into a $54 billion food industry in just two decades. Certainly, this feat required innovative soil and crop management programs, new agriculture technologies just to mention a few. Africa’s Savannah is more than double that of Brazil and employing a few of the mentioned techniques will certainly make the continent a net exporter of agricultural products.
The challenge remains on of extractive nature of Africa’s political and economic systems. The World Economic Forum reports this is part of the reasons why the impact of foreign aid is never seen trickling down to most citizens. The aide in turn ends up being a tool to continue enslaving the citizens and at times eroding the continents culture and identity with the attached strings. In his book “Confessions of an Economic Hitman” elucidated the tricks that are behind the so-called loans. Karen McVeigh’s article in The Guardian shared a sad finding that in 2015 Africa received $32 billion in loans but paid $18 billion in debt interest alone. As Perkins highlighted such loans aren’t structured with Africa’s interest in mind. This coupled with poor leadership means Africa finds herself in a perpetual race to end poverty. Political evolution is what is believed to differentiate the Africa from the West. The West has proven to host economic and political systems that allow for inclusion and equal opportunities. Botswana is a perfect example of effects of good governance. 50 years ago, Botswana was a very poor African country, today with a GDP per capita of $8,258 this African nation is richer than European nations of Bulgaria, Serbia Albania and Ukraine. This is primarily due to good governance and its handling of the natural resource (diamond) wealth. A good economic institution protects private property right, enforcements of contracts is predictable and controlled inflation.
Thabo Mbeki’s Report of the High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa reports that for the past 50 years Africa lost over $1.2 to 1.4trillion dollars to illicit flows. This was equal to the financial assistance given to the continent in the same period. While these transactions are usually dismissed as a result of pure corruption, Mbeki’s report showed that 65% of these illicit flows were commercial transactions. Some of the means by which this is achieved is through trade mis-invoicing. Multinational corporations have used technics referred to as base erosion and profit shifting which are essentially forms tax evasion from high tax countries to low tax locations. Basically, multinationals decide how much profit to allocate to different parts of the same company operating in different countries, and then determine how much tax to pay to each government. Meanwhile, embezzlement and bribery constitute of only 3% of these illicit outflows.
African countries have done a wonderful job building out modern road systems. However, only 33% of Africans live within 2 kilometers of a paved road that is usable all year round. The cost of travel within the continent is ungodly. Travel cost in Africa between five and eight times that of Brazil of Vietnam. The Economist reported that despite Africa being home to a fifth of the world’s population, the continent accounts for only 4% of the global electric use. About 70 percent of the population has no access to electricity.
Urbanization, a challenge and opportunities
McKinsey & Company notes that Africa’s development is directly correlated with urbanization. While this introduces infrastructural challenges in major cities, it also implies a growing consumer market. Between 2010 and 2020 there was a bigger growth in sales of food and beverages in Cairo than Brasilia and Delhi. This can be best captured in the facts that today; Nairobi’s per capita income is three times that of Kenya. Those who live in Lagos are now earning twice the amount of the nations average. In the oil rich nation of Angola, Luanda the capital city accounts for 45 percent of the nation’s consumption. While this is exciting for the consumer market, I am deeply concerned about the disincentives to grow new cities and in turn new economic frontiers. The right development policies need to be put in place so growth can be equally dispersed.
The Way Forward- the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA)
Africa is NOT resource poor by any means. As a matter of fact, Africa is the richest continent on earth. South Africa potential mineral wealth is estimated at about $2.5 trillion. If fully realized this would put South Africa ahead of Italy and Brazil as the 8th largest economy in the world right behind France. Simultaneously, Democratic Republic of the Congo’s mineral wealth is estimated to be worth $24 trillion. Congo doesn’t only have the potential to be the richest nation on the planet but richer than the European Union. Numerous other stunning finds exist about the potential of the continent. However, Africa must trade her way to her fullest potential. With a staggering population of 1.3 billion people, Africa is already her own market. So, Africa’s intra-trade is paramount.
The share of intra-Africa exports have increased over the years to about 17% presently. However, this is still very low compared to other regions. Europe is at 69% and Asia at 59%. The AfCFTA is believed to be the answer to most intra-Africa trade related issues. This agreement will certainly unlock the continent’s economic potential if properly executed. The mere removal of tariffs is expected to boost the continental intra-trade by $50 billion to $70 billion by the year 2040.
To enhance intra-trade a key impediment that needs to be removed is the tariff related costs. According to the Abuja treaty, all regional economic communities should have established a common external tariff within customs unions and fully functional free trade agreements by end of 2017. Clearly, this is yet to take place. The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) has the lowest intra-regional trade. This region posts the lowest intra-regional trade in the continent and for this to change tariff should essentially be wiped away.
None tariff barriers also pose an equally challenging obstacle to intra-trading. These broadly include policies that reduce cost of transactions that stem from custom administrations, documents required, enhanced transport infrastructure. These policies are needed to reduce transaction costs as well as those that create an enabling environment for trade which include reduced bureaucracy and corruption.
Efforts Being Made
International companies such as Maersk, Imperial Logistics and a few others have played a key role in facilitating intercontinental trade. Between 2005 and 2016 the mentioned companies helped increase intra-Africa trade from $30billion to $64 billion.
Another industry that is playing a key role in connecting the continent is the airline industry. As of 2019 Ethiopia Airlines flies to 37 countries in Africa alone, leading the way. Royal Air Maroc, Air Cote d’Ivoire and Rwanda Air are leading the continent in the economic integration efforts.
Africa may be lacking in hard power, but the continent should take control of her soft power. Very few countries have leveraged the power of impact of branding. Rarely do you hear that Mauritius GDP per capital is more than that of Bulgaria or that Equatorial Guinea is richer than Mexico. Yes, there is work to be done on the continent but it’s come a point where she must take control of her own narrative. Talent and capital are increasingly mobile and can have a huge impact on the economy. America isn’t just a nation but an idea. In 2018 about 23 million people applied for the green card lottery which is given to only 55,000 people a year. Very few of these millions try to make it to the US not because they have done a cost-benefit analysis of the key factors. The power of the American dream and the iconography of the Statue of Liberty mean something. They have value far beyond feel-good expressions of patriotism. They represent America as something for which to strive, as an expression of hopes and dreams for a better life, as a fulfillment of a quest for ultimate safety and prosperity and liberty. African nations need rebranding. I have seen images of Africa on CNN and Fox to almost always be of starving children begging for food. Rarely do we see CNN covering stories such as; the Ugandan inventor Brian Turyabagye has created a biomedical smart jacket that can diagnose pneumonia that is responsible for 16% of deaths of children under the age of 5. Square Kilometer Array (SKA) in South Africa which, once completed, is set to be world’s largest telescope that will allow us to see many times deeper into space. Nigeria’s Osh Agabi, has created a device that fuses live neurons from mice stem cells into a silicon chip-for the first time. The device can be used to detect explosives and cancer cells. These examples are endless.
Africa indeed should take the travel bans as an opportunity to look inward and seek out her deep inner capabilities. The above issues highlighted aren’t difficult to resolve if African leaders place their hearts in the right place. With Africa’s median age of 19 the continent has the energy, human capital and vigor to allow the continent to realize her fullest potential of the biggest economy in the word. All precursors are present.
As we strive to realize Africa’s dream let’s not lose sight of the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. Let’s world know of the beauty of her poetry or the intelligence of our vibrant and rich public debates. The world ought to know more about the wit, courage, wisdom and compassion of Africans.
We must choose to make this goal our solemn mission. This decision should be made not because it’s easy but rather because it’s hard. It’s the continental collective effort that will organize her citizens and bring forth the best of her skills and energy. This is a challenge the continent must accept now and must be unwilling to postpone and one the continent must achieve. If now us, who? If not now, when?
* The author is co-founder of Limitless Software Solutions and can be reached via emails email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. The views are his.Follow him on Facebook and LinkedIn , email@example.com
The Nigeria Natural Resource Charter (NNRC) Launches the 2019 Benchmarking Exercise Report (BER), Holds a Policy Dialogue in Abuja, Nigeria: Thursday, 20 February, 2020
February 18, 2020 | 0 Comments
The Nigeria Natural Resource Charter, a non-profit policy institute on natural resource governance launch its flagship Benchmark Exercise Report (BER) in Abuja on Thursday, 20th of February 2020 in Abuja. The Report presents the biennial findings from an assessment of Nigeria’s petroleum sector which covers from 2017 to 2019.
The BER which identifies petroleum sector progress and areas for improvements empowers stakeholders to advocate for best practices within their various spheres of work in the sector. It assesses Nigeria’s petroleum sector against 12 Precepts to offer guidance on key decisions faced by the government, beginning with whether to extract resources in the first place, and ending with decisions that determine how generated revenue can produce maximum good for citizens. The 2019 Report provides an update on the last two years of petroleum sector governance, examined gaps in sector transparency and reported changes.
The dialogue will focus on its overarching precondition for effective petroleum resource management; precept 1 determining whether Nigeria’s ‘strategy, legal and institutional framework governing the petroleum sector ‘secures the greatest benefit for citizens through and inclusive and comprehensive national strategy, clear legal framework and competent institutions.’
According to the Program Coordinator, Nigeria Natural Resource Charter (NNRC), “the release of the Report comes at an opportune time given the recent reforms instituted by the government and the omnibus reform in the form of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) being championed by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources”. Adding that “the governance gaps have been well articulated in the 2019 BER and we believe that if appropriately addressed in the bill and subsequently implemented, Nigeria would have made appreciable improvement captured with a ‘green’ in areas where it largely still remains at a ‘red’. From the findings, there were marginal changes from the 2017 BER with 10 ‘ambers’ and 2 ‘reds’ being recorded. The ‘reds’ have persisted against precept 5 and 6, the precepts that assesses the impacts of extraction on host communities and the commercial effectiveness of the national oil company; NNPC.
The major focus of the dialogue will be on those areas where there have not been any forms of improvement as captured with ‘reds’, notably precepts 5 and 6 and the other two precepts that will be affected when the PIB is passed; precepts 3 and 4. The four key benchmarks Nigeria must attain and focus on as it targets reforms are the Natural Resource Charter (NRC)’s precepts 3, 4, 5 and 6 consecutively which ask pivotal questions on whether the government encourage efficient exploration production operations, and allocate rights transparently’, ‘does the current fiscal framework enable the government realize the full value of its resources consistent with attracting necessary investment, and should be robust to changing circumstances?’, ‘does the government pursue opportunities for local benefits and account for, mitigate, and offset the environmental and social costs of resource extraction projects?’ and ‘is the national oil company accountable, with well-defined mandates and an objective of commercial efficiency?.’
It is the NNRC’s belief that if all these questions are adequately tackled, Nigeria has the potential to compete more effectively globally and stands a chance of raising some of its 187 abjectly poor citizens out of poverty.
We hope to see these tenets guide the government as it makes its decisions and pushes to reform the petroleum sector to boost economic growth and wealth for the nation.
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About the Nigeria Natural Resource Charter: The Nigeria Natural resource Charter (NNRC) is a non-profit policy institute that implements the Natural Resource Charter (NRC), a set of principles intended for use by governments, civil societies and the international community to determine how best to manage natural resource wealth for the benefit of current and future generations of citizens. It is led by an esteemed panel of experts on natural resource governance that convenes on a biannual basis to analyse the governance issues relating to the petroleum sector in the country.
Data: Africa’s “new blood”, rather than the “new oil”
February 18, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Boko Inyundo*
Data protection and privacy regulation in most, or even all, African countries are often less mature – particularly when compared to the EU’s General Data Protection (GDPR) regime. As such, economies on the continent present both risks and opportunities when it comes to data.
At the recent Africa Tech Summit Kigali 2020, we ran a workshop on data protection and privacy regulations, and a panel discussion on digital transformation in Africa. As such it was, for us at least, a poignant moment when, during this major global tech industry gathering, one of the delegates stated that data was, in fact, Africa’s “new blood” rather than the “new oil”, with this delegate clearly recalling when, in 2017, the Economist memorably declared that the world’s most valuable resource was no longer oil but data!
Below are some insights from those sessions an integrated team from DLA Piper’s Kigali, Lagos, Nairobi, Casablanca and London offices hosted, and from the summit as a whole.
The panel we led recognised data as the lifeblood for Africa’s pursuit for competitive advantage. Mark Ihimoyan, director of business development (Middle East and Africa) at Microsoft, discussed how this tech giant has, in 2019, opened its first data centres on the continent through new cloud regions in Cape Town and Johannesburg. Microsoft’s goal is to accelerate global investment in Africa and create greater economic opportunities for businesses based there.
Patricia Obozuwa, chief communications and public affairs officer for GE Africa, shared insights from the GE Lagos Garage, a hub for advanced manufacturing skills development focused on building the next generation of Nigerian entrepreneurs. Interventions like this are playing a critical role in building the capacity of human capital on the continent.
And Henri Nyakarundi – CEO and founder at ARED, a renewable energy startup – spoke about some of the challenges that entrepreneurs and investors face in Africa. These include the process of accessing capital. ARED has sought funding to help it scale out of Rwanda into Ethiopia, Senegal and the Ivory coast this year with it planning to do so through the flexibility and agility offered by a licensing model.
Key trends from summit sessions
Fintech players OPay and Flutterwave reflected on open banking regulations coming to Africa. Mehdi Kettani, Partner in our Casablanca office in Morocco, highlights how these are set to oblige banks and telcos to share their customers’ data – with permission – with authorised providers of app-based services.
Moses Kiiza, Partner at Equity Juris Chambers (DLA Piper Africa, Rwanda), noted how agritech companies like Twiga Foods are leading the structural transformation of Africa’s food retail markets and, therefore, successfully addressing food insecurity on the continent by connecting farmers with retailers and consumers.
Sandra Oyewole, Partner at Olajide Oyewole LLP (DLA Piper Africa, Nigeria), noted how e-commerce businesses such as Sokowatch are revolutionising access to goods and services, with their rapid pan-African growth fuelled by macro-environmental forces like the recently agreed African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. When implemented, this should widen the scope for regional strategies.
The “new blood”
Over the two-day summit, the wider industry conversation around Africa and tech was summed up by a delegate’s observation that data is Africa’s “new blood,” particularly in relation to inherent risks around big data. The delegate noted that organisations leveraging large consumer data sets could be seen by those same consumers as effectively taking their blood, only to sell it right back to them through tools designed to exploit their data at scale.
Africa’s “new blood” does run the risk of being ‘contaminated’. Global cybersecurity firm Dark Trace presented a keynote with case studies showing how the company’s ‘Enterprise Immune System’ and ‘Antigena’ technologies have detected and responded to previously unidentified threats against enterprise clients operating in Africa.
Cyber risk repeatedly came up as a critical issue. William Maema, partner at IKM Advocates (DLA Piper Africa, Kenya), noted that many African countries have no specific cyber legislation. For the few jurisdictions where cyber laws exist, there is a general lack of awareness about the importance of investing in cyber resilience through preventive measures, incident response and post-incident remediation.
The result is a conducive environment for cybercrime in Africa. Between them, corporates, governments and investors must:
- design and implement governance structures to protect them and their directors;
- deploy tools to assess risk and comply with evolving regulatory requirements;
- refine sound corporate policies and strategies to create and maintain a culture of security; and
- implement responsible supply-chain and vendor risk-management techniques and contract support.
DLA Piper’s position in the wider industrial ecosystem lets us appreciate the inherent risks and barriers to the adoption of technology, including in under-regulated economies in Africa.
After all, in today’s ‘big data’ reality, and as Africa’s infrastructure and connectivity continues to improve, we can anticipate the volume and complexity of data flows into and across Africa to rise exponentially. This then reinforces how apposite the aforementioned delegate’s observation that data is Africa’s “new blood” rather than its “new oil” was, noting that some criticised the comparison of data to oil given what some believe is the finite availability of the latter, in contrast to this age of data abundance.
For now, our thanks to Andrew Fassnidge and his team for putting together a fantastic event in Kigali. In the meantime, we look forward to continuing this conversation when we connect again with international tech leaders and investors at its sister event, the fifth annual Africa Tech Summit London 2020 to be held on 22 May at the London Stock Exchange.
Some of our relevant tools and resources
We provide a range of products and services for clients and the wider market, including:
- Data Protection Laws of the World, a comparative guide;
- Data Privacy Scorebox, enabling organisations to assess their level of data protection maturity; and
- our cybersecurity services.
Also our latest GDPR Data Breach Survey revealed that data protection regulators have imposed EUR114 million (USD126 million / GBP97 million) in fines under GDPR regime for a wide range of infringements – not just data breaches.
*Boko Inyundo is a senior marketing and business development professional aligned to the international Technology Sector team at global business law firm DLA Piper. He is also a council member at the Royal African Society, a member of the board at the African Foundation for Development, and a non-executive advisor to the Africa and tech-focused consultancy De Charles.
NBA Stars extol creation of Basketball Africa League
February 18, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Boris Esono Nwenfor
Top NBA Basketball players react on the significance of a professional basketball league in Africa, with the creation of the Basketball Africa League set to kickoff on the 13 of March 2020.
During the NBA All-star 2019 Africa Luncheon in Charlotte, the NBA and FIBA, international basketball’s governing body announced the impending launch of the Basketball Africa League, BAL.
The BAL is a joint effort of FIBA and the NBA. Twelve teams are scheduled to start their inaugural season in March. The league’s logo has already been revealed as it celebrates the league’s Pan-African footprint, Africa’s diversity and continent’s rich basketball heritage.
The BAL is a joint effort of FIBA and the NBA. Twelve teams are scheduled to start their inaugural season on the 13 of March 2020. The teams to take part in the competition include: GSP of Algeria, Petro De Luanda (Angola), Zamalek (Egypt), GNBC (Madagascar), AS Police (Mali), AS Salé (Morocco), Ferrovià De Maputo (Mozambique), Rivers Hoopers BC (Nigeria), AS Douanes (Senegal), US MMonastir (Tunisia), and FAP (Cameroon).
To Joel Embiid, “I think it’s really important because there’s a lot of special talent that the world doesn’t know about. If you look at the guys in the league who has been able to make it, there’s probably somebody better than me or has the potential to be better than me in the future. So, I think it’s a great initiative.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo said: “It’s amazing creating a league in Africa. Giving opportunities to African talent, and African players to go out there and showcase their talent. I knew, it was going to happen, and I am pretty happy That I was able to execute it with Nike and Masai (Ujiri) and all those people.”
Pascal Siakam equally notes the importance such a move will have on African basketball. He said: “Yeah, I think it’s incredible for Africa. It’s definitely the next step. It’s something that we as a continent should be proud of, and it shows that the world is recognizing our talent. That league is going to be a big thing for us. We have to continue to bring that awareness to the game and make sure that we pay it forward.”
Luol Deng, former NBA All-star has been named as the Global Ambassador for the Basketball Africa League. “We have a tremendous amount of talent in Africa, and I am excited that some of that talent will be showcased through our new league,” Deng said in a statement.
“I look forward to following some top African club teams when the inaugural season gets underway next month, and supporting the BAL in expanding its footprint around the world,” said the two-time NBA All-star who played a decade with the Chicago Bulls. Deng played 15 seasons in the league overall and finished with averages of 14.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.
Back in May last year, Amadou Gallo Fall was named President of the BAL. “I want to build an industry on the continent that’s going to flourish and self-sustain, and create jobs not only for the players on the court, but also for administrators, and those looking to work in a professional sports organization,” He said in an interview with CloseUp360.
“We’re not saying we want to be a feeder programme for the NBA, though if that happens, it’s great because we have so much talent. And the best of the best are always going to want to play in the best league in the world. But for us, it’s about looking to develop the game on the continent, and having basketball that is world-class and meets the highest standards and is followed by fans across the world.”
In 2010, Amadou left Dallas and moved closer to home to help the NBA open an office in Johannesburg, South Africa. In the decade since, he has played a pivotal role in extending the NBA’s global reach while expanding basketball’s footprint on the other side of the Atlantic.
Africa Energy Forum 2020 to address Sustainable Development Goal on Energy (SDG7) and Impact of Energy Investment
February 17, 2020 | 0 Comments
|Under the overarching theme “Investment & Impact,” the Forum’s 2020 programme puts sustainable development and the impact of power projects under the spotlight|
|BARCELONA, Spain, February 17, 2020/ — The 2020 Africa Energy Forum (aef) (www.Africa-Energy-Forum.com) will welcome Chairwoman Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) and Co-Chair of UN-Energy, to officiate the opening sessions.|
Mrs. Ogunbiyi said: “Africa is a region full of promise and economic opportunity. Yet as we begin the final decade to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 7, over 573 million people across Africa still do not have access to electricity which affects the region’s economic potential, health outcomes and prosperity. Now is the time we must all come together to increase investment, make bold commitments and create new partnerships that can deliver affordable, reliable, modern and sustainable energy for all Africans.”
The 2020 programme
Taking place in Barcelona, Spain from 30th June – 3rd July, the 2020 agenda introduces dynamic sessions prioritising interactivity between panellists and delegates. Session formats include interactive Q&As, deep dives, roundtables and hard-hitting debates.
In line with the SDG7 goal of ensuring “access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all,” aef will host a stream dedicated to unpacking Africa’s role in achieving SDG7, debating how the continent can meet energy demands in light of global sustainability goals.
The Tech & Tools stream will examine how the 4th Industrial Revolution is set to play out for Africa, discussing the future of battery storage, disruptive technologies and artificial intelligence in 2020 and beyond.
A special Project signing session on the opening day will see partners and sponsors sign power projects with public & private sector partners in front of a live aef audience.
The EnergyNet Student Engagement Initiative returns to invite promising finance, law and engineering students from Africa and host country Spain to meet Energy Ministers, participate in workshops and learn about the opportunities for energy development in their respective countries.
The Africa Challenge Cup will return to aef this June – a football tournament raising money for charity while providing an outstanding networking opportunity for sponsors and delegates. Barcelona is the ideal city to build on the success of the 2019 tournament and exceed our charitable contribution.
New for 2020, aef will host an Industry Quiz for teams of sponsors and delegates. Quiz rounds will take place throughout the agenda on the exhibition floor over the course of the 3 days. The wining team will be recognised with an awards ceremony and prize at the aef 2020 closing ceremony.
Over 2,000 decision-makers from the public and private sector are expected to attend the 22nd Africa Energy Forum this June.
Ethiopia Must Rethink “Unfortunate” Hate Speech Law
February 17, 2020 | 0 Comments
Arusha, Tanzania, February 17, 2020 — On 13th February the parliament of Ethiopia passed the much-contested proclamation on fake news and hate speech regulation with nearly 300 votes from the lawmakers in support.The country started speaking publicly about developing such a law in 2018 and announced passage of the proclamation by the government in November 2019.
The history of Ethiopia has always had the government keeping a upper hand on the citizens through oppressive laws and internet censorship.Waves of protests have been on the rise since 2015 with violence and human rights violations highly observed at such times including killing of protestors and regular internet shutdowns.
Content has been a landscape that the country has tried to control by taking down websites and maintaining monopoly of the telecom sector .Despite the progress made since Prime Minister Abiy took over, the information space is still highly regulated, with last year alone reporting more than 3 shutdowns.
With rising tensions and communal violence since 2018 the government has since claimed that such were fuelled by online speech.Following the attempted coup in Oromo state last year and the killing of about 86 people the Prime Minister was quoted saying, “For the sake of national security, internet and social media could be blocked any time necessary.” The state has since gone on to have more shutdowns hence silencing dissent by making online avenues inaccessible for people to exercise their rights.As Ethiopia approaches elections in August this year, a free and fair election demands the ability to exercise free speech and opinion by all Ethiopians, this bill comes in time to take away that right.
Law makers claim that hate speech and fake news are much to blame for the rising ethnic tensions in the country hence its important that they legislate this ahead of the elections.The law is vaguely done and leaves room for biased interpretations this includes definitions such as hate speech which means “speech that promotes hatred, discrimination or attacks against a person or an identifiable group, based on ethnicity, religion, race, gender or disability.”This leaves room for the law to be used as a weapon to incriminate free speech in the upcoming elections as it’s not clear or objective enough.
The new legislation also stops dissemination of information cited as fake, hateful among other things without clearly identifying the process of determining whether speech is inciting, hateful and/or fake.The danger is the implications this will have on free speech as well as a free press as the law also targets media such as social media as avenues of hate speech and fake news dissemination.This makes the already shaky ground of digital rights in the country even more unstable not guaranteeing transparency and free elections.The laws criminalize this offence with fines as high as 3000$ and jail time of up to 5 years for violations of the proclamation which are not realistic.
Paradigm Initiative urges the government of Ethiopia to reconsider this regulation and come to the realization that hate speech cannot be combated by regulating speech but rather it will only fuel rights violations and lead to greater damages.
It is essential that the government of Ethiopia reaffirms its commitment to human rights by keeping speech free and building legal frameworks to promote democracy and good governance hence steering the nation to stability rather than legislate restrictions.
We commend efforts made so far by the government such as the unblocking of several websites that had been blocked during a period of instability in the nation, however, methods employed then didn’t work and similar methods of censorship won’t make progress.It’s imperative that the online space be proved to be safe spaces respected by the government as an avenue for citizens to exercise their constitutional rights.
100 pangolin traffickers arrested in Mozambique
February 17, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Jorge dos Santos
The Mozambican authorities arrested at least 100 people in 2019 accused of trafficking in Pangolin, an animal known worldwide as being endangered. Of those arrested, four were sentenced to between 12 and 16 years in prison.
A total of 31 trafficking cases were recorded in the provinces of Niassa and Nampula (North), Sofala, Tete and Manica (centre), and Maputo (South), in incursions motivated by strong demand for the animal, with the Asian black market being the main destination.
“The unbridled demand for the animal highlights the critical nature of the species threat in Mozambique,” said Mateus Mutemba, head of government conservation agency ANAC, in the context of Pangolim national week. “We have to be on alert”
In the Mozambican tradition, Pangolim is called Eka (in the north), Nkawale (in the center) and Halakavuma (in the south) and has an invaluable cultural social value.
The animal is associated with myths. Some believe it is sent by God for prosperity, rainfall, and good harvests. Sometimes the animal is seen as a messenger of negative events such as drought and other climatic phenomena.
Before globalization, these myths and beliefs contributed to the survival of the species. However, the increase in demand for traditional Asian medicine caused a rapid decline in the population of Pangolin, even damaging the Mozambican economy.
“The illegal trade in wildlife products not only creates an imbalance in ecosystems and loss of biodiversity,” said Mutemba, “but it also damages the country’s economy by taking away the opportunity to generate employment and income for local communities through the wildlife-based economy and legal trade.
Official figures from the United Nations World Environment Program point to just over a million pangolins trafficked to the Asian black market in the last 10 years. In the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region alone, of which Mozambique is a member, there are an estimated 50,000 pangolins slaughtered each year for illegal trade purposes.
The Pangolin is considered the most trafficked mammal in the world, surpassing ivory and the rhinoceros horn. The animal plays a very important role in maintaining the balance of ecosystems, being responsible for controlling some pests such as ants and termites, keeping the soil airy and fertile for agricultural production.
“The animal is important… very important” Mutemba Said. “We will continue to make efforts to prevent trafficking” he added warning that ANAC will continue to arrest and impose various fines for the principals, hunters, traffickers, among others involved in illegal activities against the species.
In the surveillance Mozambique has the support of the United States Agency for Development (ISAID). It was this organization that developed a Pangolim manual in Portuguese – the official language of the country – in order to support the identification of the scales of this mammal by the Customs, Migration and Police authorities.
Pangolin, elephants and rhinoceroses are the species most under threat from poaching in Mozambique.
Rwanda:Health Minister Ousted Over Faulty Handling of coronavirus
February 17, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Maniraguha Ferdinand
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda has revealed how he was lied by Minister of health Dr Diane Gashumba on the country’s preparedness over fighting coronavirus.
The virus is killing people in China and fear are that it may reach other countries including Rwanda if strict measures are not taken.
Last Friday, Rwanda’s Prime minister office announced that it had received Gashumba resignation letters. The real reasons behind her resignation were not shared only to say that “the resignation follows a series of habitual gross errors and repeated leadership failures on the part of the Minister.”
Addressing hundreds of leaders who attended National leaders’ retreat in the East, President Kagame said he was fed up by errors done under Gashumba leadership including lying about the status of coronavirus in the country.
He said that he wanted people who attended retreat to be screened coronavirus before heading to retreat, because Ministry of Health had been saying country is ready to curb the deadly virus.
“One day I called some leaders and asked them to screen all of us before the retreat. I told them to tell Minister of health to do it and I would be the one to be screened”, he paused before adding “They had been telling me that we are ready if it comes and after they changed narrative saying there is no need to be screened.”
Kagame said that the Minister of health secretly told one leader that country has 3500 kits to use while screening coronavirus, that if some 400 others are deducted to screen leaders in retreat, will be bad.
Security organs made investigations to know the truth and they found that only 95 kits are available.
“After realizing the report from Ministry of health, I asked if those kits could work only for 95 people really, and they replied ‘Yes’. I returned to the Minister of health and asked, she started a long story, that I misheard her…” he said
Minister Gashumba also is blamed for other health facilities problems. Kagame said he will never tolerate such leaders who misuse public assets.
Last week other ministers resigned including Evode Uwizeyimana who was State Minister in charge of constitution and legal affairs together with State Minister Munyakazi Isaac who was in charge of primary and secondary education.
Uwizeyimana is alleged to have assaulted a woman who was guarding a commercial complex in Kigali while she was asking him to pass through security scanning machine, whereas Munyakazi is said to have received bribe in order to give good credits one school in national examination results.
Investigation into the matter for both former Ministers has been launched. It has been nine years without any Minister resigning in the government.