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Up to This Generation to Get it Right on Climate Change- Commonwealth SG Patricia Scotland
December 12, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

The consequences of inaction on climate change are now really clear and unfolding right before our eyes, says Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland

There is nowhere that the common wealth will not go, no one to whom the Commonwealth would not speak to, and  no action that we are not prepared to take, if it will faithfully respond to the needs of our countries when it comes to fighting climate change , says Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland.

In Madrid where she is leading a delegation to the UN Climate Change Conference, COP25, the Right Honorable Patricia Scotland says there is no barrier that the Commonwealth is  not prepared to lawfully cross, in order to help member states, and others navigate the serious challenge that climate change is.

“Our generation is the first generation to really understand the enormity of the challenge that climate poses to us, the tragedy for us is we may be the first to understand it, but we will be, and we are the last generation on this planet who can do something about it,” the Secretary General said in a skype and phone interview with Pan African Visions.

With a membership of 53 independent countries, and home to a population of 2.4 billion people, living in advanced economies, and developing countries, the Commonwealth has taken a leadership role in the fight against climate change. Citing examples of some of the initiatives spearheaded by the Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland spoke at length on the Commonwealth Finance Access Hub, the growing momentum of the Blue charter, and  the CommonSensing project that that adds satellites to the tools available to fight climate change.

At the Commonwealth, it is not just about talk but been proactive in the quest and implementation of innovative solutions that meet specific and shared needs of its member states, said Patricia Scotland in the interview.

You are in Madrid for the 2019 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. How is the forum going?

Rt Hon Patricia Scotland: Well, you know it is an incredibly important moment for the world. Right now, the IPCC responsible for writing the reports have been able to alert us to the emergency right now in our face,and are asking us for greater effort. they believe that we will have to go 5 times faster if we are are going to meet the needs of the world in terms of global warming, and keeping down the emissions to try and avoid some of the disasters that they anticipate would continue to happen if we don’t take collective global action to bring down the heat that is being generated by our planet.

 What message is the Commonwealth bringing to the forum and what proposals are you bringing to the table to fight climate change?

Rt Hon Patricia Scotland: Well, the consequences of inaction on climate change are now really clear, and it is not an issue for the distant future; this is an issue which is unfolding right before our eyes at this very moment. Just weeks ago, we witnessed the fateful disasters that took place in Kenya, when there were landslides. Indeed, in our Commonwealth, India and Bangladesh, there was Cyclone Bulbul and there was traumatic and drastic flooding in the United Kingdom, so this is global. And what we are seeing is the need to take new action, not just a need to take drastic action, on the emissions I spoke about just a moment ago, especially from the industrialized nations, but all Commonwealth countries really need to play their part in delivering the commitments made under the Paris Agreement.

But we in the Commonwealth have been listening really carefully to what our countries need. Many of our small and developing countries say, we have suffered the disasters, we have suffered the consequences of climate change, although we have made virtually no contribution to creating the disaster. And as you will know, the global community have come together to create the Green Climate Fund to enable such countries to make applications but many of them simply have not been able to do so.

And so listening to that need, the Commonwealth in 2015, at the Commonwealth executive meeting in Malta, decided that we would try to improve on more Commonwealth climate finance access help, that would basically [assist]Commonwealth states to device the support they need to make the applications, but also once they shape projects, it will help them to know how they get them delivered too, because change has to happen and it has to happen quickly.

So, this climate finance access hub has already placed advisers in 3 of our African Commonwealth countries, that is, in Eswatini, Mauritius, and Namibia, but we are also looking very shortly to place climate finance advisers in Kenya, Lesotho and Seychelles.

At the moment, with a relatively small amount of money. We have already been able to deliver 28.9 million dollars to our member states, but we have almost 500 million dollars’ worth of projects in the pipeline. Now, these projects aren’t just something which is good to have. These are projects which will materially impact and help our countries to adapt, and to mitigate to the climate change to which they would have been subject to, without having had much opportunity to change what is happening, so it is incredibly important.

And in addition, we have created the Commonwealth Blue Charter to help us better manage, and to respond to the things we need to do to help keep our oceans alive and vibrant. You will know that 46 countries in the Commonwealth are ocean states, and 3 countries are faced with great lakes. Now, this is something which is incredibly important therefore for our Commonwealth, and since 1989, we have been working hard in the Commonwealth, to raise this issue of climate change, because in 1989, in Langkawi, in Malaysia, the Commonwealth 53 countries, there were 2.4 billion people in our Commonwealth, 60% of them are under the age of 30. And in 1989, we said, any delay in addressing this climate crisis would have a deleterious impact on our countries and for the small and many of the developing countries, it is an existential threat.

So many of our countries simply would not survive if it goes much more over the 1.1  that we now have. So, if you look at [the situation], even if we were to hit the global warming to 1.5 that would mean countries in the Caribbean, countries in the Pacific in particular, may no longer be with us. So, this is a real fight for our lives.  The Commonwealth Blue Charter has set out an action plan for what it can do together, and this is already working, and that’s something that we launched at the Commonwealth meeting last year in April 2018. And this year, we are looking at the Commonwealth disaster risk finance portal, what that is all about is that, many of the countries who find themselves responding to disasters, some of which we alluded to earlier, don’t have the money, don’t have the skill and understanding available to them immediately to know where do I go? Where do I get the money? Who do I turn to? So, what we looked at, the need: we are now creating the Commonwealth risk portal, it is like a one-stop shop, many African countries only knew about what they could apply for when a disaster hits them, or when they feel a disaster is about to hit them. And some of our countries who are extremely vulnerable, but may be middle income countries, they may be high income countries, but their vulnerability because of their size, because of their geographical location, is great, and those countries would not be able to get access to ODA, that’s the development assistance that they need because they do not comply with the rules, or they are basically not sufficiently impoverished to take advantage of them. Yet they are so vulnerable, and they have a terrible future.

So, what we have done is we have worked together with all the international agencies, and we pulled all the resources anyone has available for countries and we put them into a one-stop shop so that when a country is in need, when they are afraid, when they don’t know where to go, when they don’t know whom to ask, they can come to look at the disaster risk finance portal and they will have in one-stop, an understanding of what may be available to them.

And the last thing we are doing is the CommonSensing Project and I say the last because it is the new thing that we are doing.  We are continuing other things that we have done in terms of climate finance and mobilizing the management law, the use of sustainable economic development, renewable energy, alternative development, that’s all the normal things we are doing. But this new thing, is the CommonSensing project, and CommonSensing is an innovative project based on partnership between Fiji, Solomon Islands ,and Vanuatu and a consortium of international partners in the Commonwealth secretariat, and the objective of CommonSensing is to support our countries to build resilience by developing satellite-based information services to enhance climate actions, and we believe that this satellite technologies will save them and are really going to help us to tackle climate and support risk disaster management, especially when it is combined with the applications such as the geographic information system for detailed analysis, for example, we are looking at how we manage land, and you will know that in Africa, one of the really painful issues is desertification, drought and water management.

While many people talk about the storms and cyclones and damage caused by hurricanes, the silent killer, the one that doesn’t get mentioned often, that doesn’t get the headlines is what is happening on drought, what happens to lack of water, and what is happening to desertification. And in relation to that matter, Namibia has agreed to be our standard bearer on desertification. To lead this is something that we have to look at, and right now we will be talking about how we put together something equivalent to that which we put together for oceans in our Blue Charter. Now, we need to do something equivalent for land, for desertification, for water management and for holistic improvement and this CommonSensing is an opportunity to use satellite to see what’s happening globally and to move quickly before disaster strikes is going to be a really creative and important issue for us.

 The project is funded by the UK space agencies, international partnership program and implemented in partnership with United Nations Institute for training and research ,and also ourselves at the Commonwealth secretariat and various other agencies, including the satellite applications catapult, the UK Met office, and some universities.

You can see that it is a consortium of people, institutions, nations that is coming together to see what we can do. So the Commonwealth is important in this area, because we are really listening to what our members are telling us and we are trying to come up with solutions to help us. Human genius got us into this mess and human genius will have to get us out again.

Meeting with Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Ibrahim Thiaw  on the sidelines of Cop25  The Commonwealth  is taking the threat of  desertification head on with Namibia as the standard bearer .Photo credit twitter
Meeting with Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Ibrahim Thiaw on the sidelines of Cop25 The Commonwealth is taking the threat of desertification head on with Namibia as the standard bearer .Photo credit twitter

Thank you, Madam Secretary. Now, how do you strike a balance between the expectations, approach or positions of the Commonwealth as a body, and the challenges and priorities of your independent members when it comes to fighting climate change?

Rt Hon Patricia Scotland: Well, I think one of the things that has really been so good about our Commonwealth family is that all of us, all 53 of us, with no exceptions, are committed to climate change. Now, we demonstrated this  at CHOGM in 2015, in Malta, when we, the Commonwealth, were the first to say that we should have an international enforceable agreement. We were the first to say that we should try to keep emissions down to 2 degrees if we can, but that we should have an aspiration or target of at least 1.5 degrees, that we should not allow the Greenhouse emissions to get close to global warming to more than 2 degrees of the pre-industrialized standard.

But that is a challenge and we have been pushing, so the great thing about it is that that’s where we were in 2015, in November, and that’s what the rest of the world agreed to in Paris, in December; that was in 2015, 4 years ago. But what has happened in the last 4 years is we needed to not just talk, we have to act and deliver, we have to do, we have to commit and we have to bring changes, and the thing behind being lighted up are basically put in effort when it matters, and so moving forward, we are moving forward together on this agreement, we are making changes about how we do business, how we live, to make sure that we are moving towards a more sustainable path.

So, this is why as I described to you, we set up Commonwealth climate finance access in 2016 when I became secretary general of the Commonwealth and it is why we put so much energy into creating the hub which is in Mauritius and we are also grateful for the grants we have got from Australia ,the UK now, together they have only 1.5 million, but look at what we have done with 1.5 million to have 28.9 million already delivered, so you got a  30 fold increase as a result of the relatively small investment and the fact that we have got almost 500 million more projects in the pipeline, I think is really impressive.

But we need to do more, we need to do so much more if we are to go as fast as we need to go to meet the new targets, because nature is not waiting for us.

Countries, especially in Africa and some in Asia that you mentioned earlier, the complain is that they don’t have enough resources and they clearly lack the capacity to adequately respond to climate change issues, how far is the Commonwealth willing to go, to support these countries step up the fight?

Rt Hon Patricia Scotland: We are absolutely delighted to help our members, and that is why we have created the Commonwealth climate finance hub, that is why we are developing the disaster portal that I told you about, that is why we are doing the CommonSensing, and that is why we created the Blue Charter for action. And that is why we are now going to be looking at creating something similar to the Blue Charter for land, for land degradation, for desertification, for draught in order to help our countries better manage water, and also therefore, to respond to their needs, because a number of our countries have indicated that they are thrilled by what we have done in relation to the oceans, and how we are responding with the Blue Charter, but you know, quite naturally, they are saying, what about us? What about those of us who are dying? Not because of a side cliff, not because of a hurricane, not because of a tsunami, what about those of us who are dying from desertification? Getting poorer because our land is degenerating and being degraded and because our cattle have nowhere to graze, what about us?

So, we are listening to that, and right now, as we speak, we are putting together something which will respond to those issues in the same way as the Blue Charter is responding to oceans, the oceans are 70% of our whole planet, but land and oceans go together and we have to look at how we manage both if we are to regenerate our world, so there is nowhere that the common wealth will not go, no one to whom the Commonwealth would not speak, no action that we are not prepared to take if it will faithfully respond to the needs of our countries, we know this is urgent, there is no more time to waste, this generation; our generation are the first generation to really understand the enormity of the challenge the climate poses to us, the tragedy for us is we may be the first to understand it, but we will be, and we are the last generation on this planet who can do something about it.

That puts a heavy responsibility on us, and it actually puts a heavy responsibility on the industrialized North to help to make sure that the embattled South who have been the recipients of this trauma, but who have contributed to it least, it is now our time to make sure that all the help and assistance is given to our countries who are in need, and of course, Africa, in the South is suffering greatly and we are determined to respond.

Just to give you some of the data, drought and desertification threatens the livelihood of more than 1.2 billion people in 110 countries, but the problem is particularly acute in Sub-Saharan Africa, and Southern Asia. So, out of the countries substantially affected by land degradation, 36 are situated in Africa and you have to know that there are only 19 African countries in our Commonwealth, maybe soon to be 20. So, this is a big issue for every single African country, so all of our Commonwealth African countries have submitted their national and voluntary land degradation neutrality target, the UNCCD land degradation neutrality are setting targets, setting programs, they have all set those baselines and developing targets, and support could be extended to achieve these targets and this is one of the things that the Commonwealth secretariat is looking at, how can we support member countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, develop the road map for achieving the national target set to the countries, and build institutional capacities and access climate finance through the Commonwealth finance access route.

So, as you can see, there is no barrier that we are not prepared to lawfully cross, if we can, in order to help our members to get to where they need to be.

We have created the Commonwealth Blue Charter to help us better manage ,and to respond to the things we need to do to help keep our oceans alive and vibrant says the Commonwealth SG
We have created the Commonwealth Blue Charter to help us better manage ,and to respond to the things we need to do to help keep our oceans alive and vibrant, says the Commonwealth SG

Madam Secretary, in the course of the year, member countries of the Commonwealth in Africa like Malawi and Mozambique were severely battered by storm, by the cyclones, what specific support did the Commonwealth provide for them to help with recovery?

Rt Hon Patricia Scotland: The Commonwealth as an organization does not have a mandate or capacity to provide humanitarian assistance when such disasters occur. However, we are able to urge and rally support from those who can, and this is what we did. Our interventions happen in the preparedness stage, that is, in building resilience before a disaster strikes. We are working as I mentioned to you, on the disaster risk finance portal which will serve as a one-stop shop for streamlining access to the numerous financing tools already available. It includes guidance on navigating the complex funding processes and broad range providers, each with different eligibility and access criteria and challenging terms and conditions.

But in addition, we reached out to charities and other nations, and other countries. For example, as a result of our efforts, we teamed up with Team Rubicon, who are authorized to go the last mile, and they did an amazing job in Mozambique, rescuing people, helping set up hospitals, helping to change, and they met and managed thousands of people and helped them. So, that’s something that we can do, we are facilitators, we are procurers, we are able to network with our countries, so even if we do not have the resources, we try to find others who have and support them to deliver better support.

Critics say a lot of the large forums are often full of much talk and very little action. How would you define a successful participation for you .and the Commonwealth at the ongoing United Nation Climate Change Conference in Madrid?

Rt Hon Patricia Scotland: Well, as you have seen through  this discussion, we are all action and little talk, so when we come forward, we do a lot of listening to what our members say they need and what they want for themselves, and we then make contact with those who could network with us, to provide the solutions. So the negotiations on Cop25 are very important, they can be very technical where delegates seem to be talking about the same issues, but it is not easy, we have to get an agreement between 190 countries and we have to get them to agree, nobody believed that that was possible, but we did it, in Paris in 2015, and we are trying to do it now, to get to an agreement.

Now, there are few key issues of concern for Commonwealth countries at this Cop 25, and this Cop is the first Blue-Green Cop there has even been.  Article 6 of the Paris agreement that is aimed at voluntary, cooperative approaches between parties in the implementation of their national commitments. This article of the Paris agreement remained a contentious issue at the previous Cop24 in Poland, and countries could not reach an agreement on its implementation. Here, we are going to try really hard this year to try and get to an agreement on article 6.  That’s going to be high on the agenda at Cop25, this Cop, in Madrid. We also want higher climate ambitions, next year is the next round to accept the national determined contributions for climate change. We know that we have to do more. The current national determined contributions as they stand, do not put the world on track to limiting temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees. So, if we stay where we are now, we know we are doomed to failure. However, there is a need to agree on what type of information to be included, how are we going to account? What is the time frame and what are we going to do? So, that is the next issue.

The third issue is climate finance and we have spoken about that already. There have been some new pledges raising the replenishment total beyond 7.4 billion dollars, but there are problems about how that money is going to be distributed. Therefore, that’s why we are promoting our Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub as a vehicle for our countries to be able to tap into that money from the climate financing that is being made available.

And the last area is oceans. As I have mentioned, the ocean covers 70% of the earth, and absorbs 90% of the emission, but there is a critical blue gap between climate ambitions and ocean action. Less than 1% of all philanthropic funding goes towards marine conservation and sustainability, while large international funds established for climate action appear reluctant to support work on the ocean. So, the Commonwealth is seeking to address this through the Blue Charter action groups, but also what we are trying to do is to create a Blue Charter action fund to help with the implementation of these matters so that we won’t just be talking and talking, we actually will be doing and doing.

We are really excited about the CHOGM which is going to happen in Rwanda next year ,says  the Secretary General .
We are really excited about the CHOGM which is going to happen in Rwanda next year ,says the Secretary General .Photo credit twitter

 And we end with a  the word on the  Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting coming back to Africa in 2020, and specifically Rwanda, how are the preparations going and what are some of the broad themes expected to be in the discussion?

Rt Hon Patricia Scotland: Well, we are really excited about the Commonwealth heads of government meeting, which is going to happen in Rwanda, in Kigali. The theme of the meeting is ‘Delivering a Common Future; Connecting, Innovating, Transforming’. And there are 5 sub-themes which have been identified for discussion, and that is governance and the rule of law, ICT and innovation, youth empowerment and trade. And we are building on the progress that we made in London, in 2018. Leaders are expected to discuss the contemporary Commonwealth and how we can transform our societies in accordance with Commonwealth values of democracy, multilateralism, sustainable development and empowerment of women and our youth.

So, these are very exciting topics, as I mentioned, this is going to be the second time that we are going to be in Africa in the last 10, 15 years. The last time was in Uganda. I think now we are going to go to Rwanda, and Rwanda is the youngest member of our family.  So that is also innovative and new.

Madam Secretary, thank you so much for talking to Pan African Visions.

Rt Hon Patricia Scotland: Thank you very much for speaking with me and I hope you have a good and blessed Christmas.

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Pouring Fuel on Fire:Cameroon’s Controversial Bilingualism Bill Adopted
December 11, 2019 | 0 Comments

By By Boris Esono Nwenfor

-Ruling Party MP’s from English Speaking Region voted against it

-We intend to fight that law — Enow Benjamin, FAKLA President

Barrister Enow Benjamin Agbor -FAKLA president
Barrister Enow Benjamin Agbor -FAKLA president

Cameroon’s controversial bilingualism bill (promotion of official languages in Cameroon) has been adopted by parliamentarians under very mischievous circumstances. There was an outcry from lawyers who said the bill will make it possible for the French language to be the dormant language in two English-speaking regions of Cameroon.

The lawyers threatened to go on strike if such a bill is not scrapped. Their cry seemed to have been listened to by the parliamentarians who many refer to as simply “hand clappers, ” decided to stop discussions on the bill. Surprisingly, when many were jubilating that they have succeeded in quashing the bill, it emerged late Tuesday, December 10, that the bill has been passed.

All Anglophone SDF, CPDM MPs voted against adoption of the bill that reports say will lead to French being used in courts across the Anglophone regions to try to deliver verdicts on cases before the judges — Francophone judges make up more than 50 percent in the North West and South West Regions.

Speaking to Barrister Enow Benjamin, President of Fako Lawyers Association (FAKLA) he said, “It is a law that is designed to dissociate our common law system. It is a law that has with all intent and purposes the intention to scrap the English language from our society. I can only reiterate that we are going to resist it.”

“It is a law that says people may be tried in French and judgment rendered in French, and for an English-speaking people some of whom are illiterates, you can’t even think about it. What is the mischief that the law seeks to solve? What is the difficulty? — We have always cried that one of the problems that led to this present crisis and the war is because we tried to introduce French into our court systems, and we protested for good reason. Justice is supposed to be done within the community in a language that they understand,” He questioned.

“If the intent is to make sure that they take care of everybody, it is that state’s duty to get translators — competent ones. Otherwise, in our region here English is the official language and if people who are French speaking, and in this region, they provide translators to them and not that you cause English-speaking Cameroonians to become French-speaking Cameroonians. We will not accept it.”

FAKLA had earlier put out a communique denouncing such a bill while calling on Cameroonians to rise and stand against such law. To Barrister Enow Benjamin, they plan to maintain that call for people to rise. “What we are saying is that we will resist it (Bilingualism law). It is not a day’s event, but it is a process, and we are going to seize the presidency. They pretend that they have adopted that law, but we are confident that the President will not promulgate it into law and even if he does, we will fight it,” He said.  

To the parliamentarians who passed the bill, the FAKLA President said, “They (MPs) are supposed to be there to serve the population and in trying to do that you must take everybody into consideration and the greater good should be considered.” “If they think that they sidelined us they are only exacerbating the problem ongoing. We will never accept to speak French in this region (NOSO).”

It is yet to be seen if President Paul Biya will promulgate the bill into law. With the crisis ongoing in the Anglophone regions many say such a law only adds fire to those wanting secession. The crisis has led to thousands of people killed, others beaten, kidnapped, some internally displaced while others are refugees in neighboring Nigeria.

One of the underlying causes of the crisis now is that of language. The English language in Cameroon is seen as a second class language while that of French is seen as superior. Even the Head of state has difficulty speaking the English language — preferring to speak in French at major gatherings even in a gathering of Commonwealth leaders (English-speaking countries).

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What Will Really Make Africa Attractive Is The Contrast It Provides To The Rest Of The World- Barnaby Fletcher on Africa in 2020 RiskMap
December 11, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Barnaby Fletcher, Control Risks Associate Director and Africa Specialist.
Barnaby Fletcher, Control Risks Associate Director and Africa Specialist.

Control Risks , the leading global business risk consultancy, recently published the  2020 RiskMap which reveals key trends shaping the investment landscape in major African markets. The authoritative guide offers a comparative snapshot of market opportunities, investment risks ,and a broad longer-term outlook of key trends shaping the investment landscape in major African economies.

“In 2020 what will really make Africa attractive is the contrast it provides to the rest of the world. Efforts to lower trade barriers within Africa still have a long way to go, but the continent is moving in the right direction when much of the rest of the world – because of economic nationalism and trade wars is not,” says Barnaby Fletcher, Control Risks Associate Director and Africa Specialist.

Discussing the 2020 Risk Map with Pan African Visions, Fletcher says each country in Africa is different, with their own unique opportunities and challenges. The countries highlighted in RiskMap 2020 are a combination of those that show the most promise or the most improvement, he says.

The Risk Map  also dwells extensively on the growing competition from foreign powers to get a foothold in Africa but Fletcher minimizes the potential for conflict as Africa now is a player in its own right, because of both the growing importance ,and confidence of individual countries, and the increasing strength of regional or continental organisations.

“Savvy African governments are increasingly able to play the various geopolitical competitors off against each other and, in doing so, access new financing and opportunities for their countries,” he says.

Thank you for accepting to discuss the 2020 Risk Map, can you start by sharing with us and our readers what the risk map is all about, and what bearing it has on Africa?

Barnaby Fletcher: RiskMap is an annual forecast of political and security risks that face Control Risks’ clients across the world. It is less a single report and more a collection of content that lays out how Control Risks sees the world, the key issues we believe our clients need to be aware of, and how these issues are likely to evolve over the course of the next year. What often attracts the most interest are our top five risks, which this year include: Geopolitics and the US campaign trail; The activist society passes judgement; Cyber warfare hits a new level; Economic anxiety meets political fragility; and Leaders without strategies

These top five risks are from a global perspective. All of them manifest across different regions in different ways, and part of the purpose of the country risk ratings and more in-depth articles also included in RiskMap is to explore their implications in specific countries. Looking at Africa in particular, RiskMap 2020 lays out our political, security and cyber risks for every country on the continent, as well as more in-depth views on how our global risks are playing out in Ethiopia, Angola, Sudan, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt and Algeria.

What is the methodology used in making your reports and how accurate have previous risk maps been?

Barnaby Fletcher: Control Risks helps clients understand and mitigate risk. We do this in a variety of ways depending on the type of risk, using a range of different tools and methodologies. As a broad-based report covering a range of different issues, RiskMap 2020 does not have a single methodology behind it. Instead, we deliver each annual edition of RiskMap after months of discussion between our various country-focused analysts and experts in various fields. We also rely on data analysis – we have, for example, proprietary databases of kidnap and security incidents – but we also strongly believe there is no substitute for having country experts.

It is difficult to determine exactly how accurate previous editions of RiskMap have been, because we are not making precise predictions. We are identifying trends and risks of which investors should be aware, and in previous years we have been ahead of the curve in identifying trends that have subsequently grown in prominence and impact. If we look at specific countries it is easier to assess the accuracy of our forecasts and we have had some great successes, from predicting the downfall of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to forecasting Cyril Ramaphosa’s replacement of Jacob Zuma as president in South Africa.

On the current report, what is in it for Africa, what are the fears and what are the hopes?

Barnaby Fletcher: Each country in Africa is different, with their own unique opportunities and challenges. The countries we highlighted in RiskMap 2020 are a combination of those that we feel show the most promise or the most improvement, and those that are interesting for a host of other – often less positive – reasons. For some countries 2020 represents a crossroads. In Côte d’Ivoire, for example, the 2020 general elections will be a key test of whether the country can maintain the political stability and economic growth it has rebuilt since the crisis that followed the 2011 elections.

In a statement on the report, you say African markets will become increasingly attractive in 2020, what is going to make them attractive?

Barnaby Fletcher:There are positive developments occurring all across Africa in different regions and in different countries. Perhaps most exciting are the ambitious reform agendas being pushed by relatively new leaders such as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Ethiopia or President João Lourenço in Angola; two countries we provide more in-depth perspectives on in RiskMap 2020. There are also promising steps being made towards lowering barriers to intra-Africa trade. The African Continental Free Trade Area is an important symbolic step in this regard, but in terms of tangible benefits progress within regional blocs such as the East African Community is far more advanced.

However, in 2020 what will really make Africa attractive is the contrast it provides to the rest of the world. Efforts to lower trade barriers within Africa still have a long way to go, but the continent is moving in the right direction when much of the rest of the world – because of economic nationalism and trade wars – is not. As rising populism in the Americas, in Europe and in parts of Asia pushes leaders into short-term thinking new leaders in Africa have clear visions for their countries, even if the implementation of their strategies is uneven. The risk environment across much of Africa may be improving only slowly, but it is nonetheless improving as investors elsewhere face an increasingly volatile and unpredictable landscape.

Because of this attractiveness you say New players will even out Africa’s investment battlefield in 2020, who are these new actors?

Barnaby Fletcher:There is a stereotypical narrative around African geopolitics that portrays the continent as dominated by a US-China rivalry, in which the US pushes for governance reforms in exchange for financial assistance while China pursues commercial opportunities but steers clear of politics. This narrative has been outdated for a while and we expect this to become clear in 2020.

Over the past decade a host of new players have sought influence and opportunity in Africa. Russia, Turkey, the Gulf states and others have aggressively sought to establish a presence on the continent and have used a variety of different tactics to do so. The one similarity between these new players is that they want both political influence and commercial opportunities. In response, the traditional giants – the US, China and the EU – have adapted their own approaches. The US and other traditional Western donors are now more openly pursuing commercial opportunities for their own companies, while China is attempting to leverage its economic clout to push for political reforms.

You make mention of Africa’s tactical rivalries, can you shed some light on how these are expected to play out in 2020?

Barnaby Fletcher: The efforts of Russia, Turkey or other new players to establish a presence in Africa have been ongoing for at least a decade, even if they have intensified in recent years. In this regard 2020 will not suddenly mark some new phase or sudden shift in strategy. Nonetheless, further intensification of these efforts will lead to further intensification of the geopolitical rivalries we are already seeing. Russia marked its intentions with the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi in October 2019; a post-Brexit UK wants quick trade deals to prove it can mark its place in the world; Saudi Arabia views the Horn of Africa as strategically important given the ongoing war in Yemen; and so on.

For investors a more complex and competitive geopolitical landscape around Africa presents both challenges and opportunities. Growing geopolitical interest means increasing flows of development finance, which is opening new sectors. But private-sector capital also risks getting crowded out or getting entangled in diplomatic tensions. As always, those investors that succeed will be those that take the time to understand an increasingly complex landscape.

While these countries have upgraded their African policies, you say most if not all of the policies prioritize short term wins over long term strategies, can you shed some light on this?

Barnaby Fletcher: All the geopolitical players looking to increase their presence and influence in Africa have adopted different approaches. China has built its presence through concessional loans and trade but is now pushing to strengthen its political influence. The EU and the US are looking to leverage their longstanding positions as development partners to access commercial opportunities. Russia is promoting engagement through security cooperation, while Turkey over the past decade has massively increased its diplomatic presence.

Some of these approaches are reflective of long-term strategies that have been implemented over the past decade. Other appear to be more short-term, ad hoc and sometimes opportunistic tactics. This is partly because geopolitical players are reacting to events; the fall of President Omar al-Bashir in Sudan, for example, prompted a rapid realignment of the geopolitical landscape in the country. But it is also because of a wider global trend of leaders without strategies. Leaders such as US President Donald Trump have made foreign policy decisions based on short-term domestic considerations and their approaches towards Africa have been no different.

There are some who consider the increasing interest of major world powers as another scramble for Africa, do you see in this the potential for conflict?

Barnaby Fletcher: There are clear tensions between different geopolitical players in Africa, which are reflective of both their competition within and outside of Africa. These tensions do occur in hotspots across the continent, Russia and France in the Central African Republic serving as an archetypal example of this. However, it seems unlikely that these tensions will lead to serious conflicts that will raise risks within Africa. This is not a Cold War situation in which Africa serves as a battleground for proxy conflicts between external powers. Africa now is a player in its own right, because of both the growing importance and confidence of individual countries and the increasing strength of regional or continental organisations. Savvy African governments are increasingly able to play the various geopolitical competitors off against each other and, in doing so, access new financing and opportunities for their countries.

In terms of specific countries and regions, any key predictions for 2020 on those that may do well and those that may be in trouble?

Barnaby Fletcher: The reform agendas of new leaders such as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Ethiopia, President João Lourenço in Angola and President Cyril Ramaphosa in South Africa hold great promise. In 2020 these reforms are likely to start resulting in economic improvements, although there is also a risk; if the expected economic recovery does not transpire, the backlash could derail these leaders’ grand plans.

The East African Community also looks set to have a positive 2020. It is already the fastest-growing region in Africa and – in everything from its technological hubs to its innovative legislation around the energy sector – exemplifies a growing trend of African countries rejecting established paradigms in order to come up with solutions tailored to their specific needs. It will be interesting to see whether there is any more progress in 2020 towards the proposal that Congo (DRC) joins the regional bloc, which would bring challenges but also make it a major economic force.

We see so much about relations between Africa and the outside world, what consideration is given to intra African relations in making your assessments?

Barnaby Fletcher: One of the key issues we monitor is intra-Africa cooperation, especially when it comes to reducing trade barriers. The progress made towards ratifying the African Continental Free Trade Area in 2019 was hugely positive, but in reality its implementation will likely be slow; 2020 is not going to be the year it really starts to have a notable impact. Far greater steps have been taken within regional trade blocs such as the East African Community or the Economic Community of West African States.

At Control Risks we believe that this regional integration is essential to Africa’s future development. As a continent Africa cannot follow the same development path as Asia, in which developed economies outsource manufacturing operations that can be used as a stepping-stone towards middle-income status. In an age of growing automation and economic nationalism this is not realistic. Instead, Africa must attract and develop manufacturing that is intended to serve African markets. That task becomes much easier if the size of these markets – the number of countries that can be easily reached by a factory in Rwanda or Senegal or Uganda – continues to increase.

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Zimbabwe included in GPE new grants in 2019 to improve children’s education in the poorest countries
December 11, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Alice Albright, Chief Executive Officer of the Global Partnership for Education
Alice Albright, Chief Executive Officer of the Global Partnership for Education

Zimbabwe has been included in the Global Partnership for Education  approved grants totaling nearly US$110 million to support efforts by BhutanBurkina FasoCabo VerdeCote d’IvoireTanzaniaKenyaSomaliland, Puntland to strengthen their education systems and make quality schooling available to more children.

With these new grants, GPE, which partners with close to 70 developing countries across the globe, has approved more than US$312 million in funding in 2019. Moreover, new grant applications totaling US$220 million were received in the last quarterly round of grant proposals this year, demonstrating a clear acceleration of funds allocated by GPE during this third replenishment period spanning 2018 to 2020.

“As GPE partner countries continue to invest more of their domestic resources in education, external financing is also critical to their success,” said Julia Gillard, Chair of the Global Partnership for Education’s Board of Directors. “These new grants will help drive real and important progress, including getting more children in school – especially girls and children from disadvantaged communities – and ensuring that the quality of the schooling they receive gives them what they need to learn and grow.”

“We are very pleased to deepen GPE’s relationship with Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Puntland, Somaliland, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, partners that are engaged in the hard work of strengthening their education systems,” said Alice Albright, Chief Executive Officer of the Global Partnership for Education. “We are working hard to move faster in our grant process to ensure that our partner countries get the resources they need. With GPE’s help, they are recruiting and training more teachers, enabling more girls and children with disabilities to get schooling, developing better learning materials and much more.”

GPE has approved US$700,000 to Bhutan as additional financing of a previously allocated grant of US$1.8 million. The funding focuses on increasing enrollment in pre-primary education and developing a new learning assessment framework. Save the Children U.S. is the grant agent overseeing the three-year, five-month funding.

Burkina Faso, a GPE partner since 2002, will receive a grant of US$21 million over four years. This funding is additional to the US$33.8 million grant approved in 2017. The US$14.84 million fixed portion of the funding will provide continued support through a multi-donor pooled fund for the country’s 2017-2030 strategy to increase the number of children with access to education, invest more in education infrastructure and teacher training, improve learning through enhanced teaching and learning materials and strengthen government management of the education system. The US$6.36 million results-based portion of the grant aims to promote increases in primary school enrollment in six regions, more efficient operational spending within the education system and a higher reading and numeracy performance in early grades. GPE’s grant agent in Burkina Faso is Agence Française de Développement.

Over the next three years Cabo Verde will receive US$1.1 million as additional financing of a US$1.4 million grant approved previously. The funding will support inclusion and equity in education, with a focus on children with special needs. It will also complement and strengthen the existing GPE grant by further supporting improvements in education system management, teacher training, learning evaluation and collection and analysis of education data. UNICEF is the grant agent in Cabo Verde, which became a GPE partner in 2018.

The GPE Board agreed a US$28 million additional financing to Cote d’Ivoire. The US$19.6 million fixed portion of the funding, available over nearly four years, will be devoted to community-based preschool education in rural areas, the building of new primary school buildings in those areas and “bridging classes” for older children who have missed primary schooling. The US$8.4 million results-based portion of the grant centers on increasing enrollments in preschool, the number of hours of lower secondary teachers and students’ performance on reading and math tests in third and fourth grades. The World Bank will administer the grant in Cote d’Ivoire, a GPE partner since 2010.

Kenya, which has made substantial progress towards achieving gender equity in its schools and increasing primary completion rates, has been a GPE partner since 2005. This latest GPE grant of US$9.7 million for two years supplements existing efforts to improve early-grade math proficiency, and strengthen education management, accountability and reforming education data management systems. The US$3 million results-based portion of the grant is keyed to achieving results in early education, extending educational opportunities to learners with special needs and disabilities, and schools’ compliance with new administrative guidelines to strengthen efficiency. The World Bank is the grant agent for this grant.

Within Somalia, Puntland will receive a GPE grant of US$8.83 million over four years to support activities aimed at improving teaching quality – and, thus, children’s learning outcomes. Puntland will apply the funding to the rehabilitation of a teachers’ college and other professional development resources, as well as to the creation and implementation of a teachers’ profession test and to monitoring and verification of quality of teaching and learning outcomes. The grant also focuses on enrolling and keeping more of the state’s most socially excluded children in school. The new grant is additional financing on top of a previous GPE grant. UNICEF is the grant agent.

Further, GPE has approved a three-year grant of more than US$12 million to Somaliland, also a semi-autonomous state within Somalia, to increase primary school enrollment, especially among girls, boost the quality of schooling in order to achieve higher learning results, promote safe, gender-sensitive learning environments, improve administration and data management, and strengthen disaster and emergency preparedness. GPE will also accelerate the availability of more than US$3 million to support emergency responses to Somaliland’s drought-affected schools and increase the share of girls enrolling in school. Save the Children – U.S. is GPE’s grant agent in Somaliland.

Tanzania, a GPE partner since 2013, will receive US$22.5 million in additional financing over a three-and-a-half year period. This expands on components of a grant approved earlier this year aimed at improving the quality of pre-primary, primary and non-formal education by strengthening teacher training and professional development, distributing more quality teaching and learning materials to underserved areas and improving planning and management in education. The results-based portion of the grant is dependent upon Tanzania’s meeting targets such as timely distribution of funding to local schools, increase in the number of girls who transition from primary to secondary school, and higher student retention and reading rates. The Swedisn International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) oversees the GPE grant in Tanzania.

An additional financing of US$2.8 million will enable Zimbabwe, a GPE partner since 2013, to expand access to school improvement grants and help the country carry out an assessment to inform an upcoming new long-term education plan. UNICEF is GPE’s grant agent in Zimbabwe.

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WiLDAF- Ghana moves to establish male champions for gender-based violence in schools.
December 11, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ahedor Jessica

File Picture.the Country Director for Ipas- Ghana Dr Koma Jehu Appiah
File Picture.the Country Director for Ipas- Ghana Dr Koma Jehu Appiah

With funding from the European Union, Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF) a Pan Africa Women’s Rights Network with the aims of promoting and reinforcing strategies that link law and development is implementing a four -year program dubbed ‘Enough’ to sensitize the young adult in Ghana on sexual relationships.

The program seeks to drive home the interpretation and understanding of consent and how crucial it is for today’s society especially youth in Sexual relationships. About 20 young adults were selected as champions to spearhead the ingredient of healthy relationships and when a girl is consenting.

Speaking to the programs officer for WiLDAF Ghana, Ms Abigail Honu said, even though ‘Enough’ is the first of its kind, it will be added to the ongoing youth sexual and reproductive health rights and violence prevention projects in its three hotspot areas, Greater Accra, Volta and Central Regions of Ghana.

She maintained WiLDAF has recognized the challenges that confront school youth concerning knowing their rights and having access to services, knowing about the laws including the Children’s Act, and more importantly the laws that prohibit sexual abuse or any form of gender-based violence.

In reacting to the importance of imbibing the necessary knowledge into the young adult in society, the Country Director for Ipas- Ghana Dr Koma Jehu Appiah says, these essential project by the sector players aimed at increasing knowledge, life skills, advocacy capacity at enabling Adolescent girls and boys to report abuse and also have access to Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Services while at the same time engaging boys to be advocates of gender equality. He is optimistic sexual base -violence issues will be a thing of the past if boys understand their limits and are much aware when a girl or a woman is consenting or has consented to a sexual relationship. The program is, however, deepening the already established Girls Clubs in s

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Africa and South Africa’s Xenophobia: a Prognosis
December 11, 2019 | 0 Comments

By James N. Kariuki*

Roots of South Africa’s Inequality

Last year the World Bank proclaimed South Africa to be the most unequal country in the world. A decade earlier in 2008, the world’s attention had been drawn to South Africa’s xenophobic behavior. Is there a kinship between inequality and xenophobia?

South Africa’s bewildering inequality originated from apartheid. The system dedicated the second half of the 20thcentury to grabbing the state’s resources for the benefit of its comparatively small white community. By design, it reduced the country’s non-white majority to ‘hewers of wood and drawers of water,’ distinctly removed from the formal economy.

In early 1990s, Blacks’ economic irrelevance was consolidated by a weakness in the strategy to dismantle apartheid. Clearly not by design Blacks’ head negotiator, Nelson Mandela, erred by accepting political power for the black majority without corresponding economic power, especially in land ownership. In Professor Ali Mazrui’s view the consequences were dire, “…the white man said to the Blacks ‘You can take the crown and we’ll keep the jewels.” Of what value was a crown without jewels? Was Mandela duped into cursing post-apartheid South Africa to eternal inequality?

Finally, freedom in post-apartheid South Africa placed public coffers within the reach of hitherto non-existent black bureaucratic elite. Especially during Jacob Zuma’s presidency (2009 – 2019) the ‘rainbow nation’ was subjected to staggering economically-draining monster, the ‘state capture.’ On the whole, black communities were further sidelined from the nearly-crippled national economy.  

Missing Basic Services

Given the ‘disabled’ state of the economy, lack of service delivery became central to the xenophobic eruptions that have bedeviled democratic South Africa since 2008. Unfortunately, various governments have been short of funds to adequately address basic social needs; public coffers have been illegitimately depleted. How were the governments of the day to explain to its citizens freedom without jobs and life’s necessities? This was a classic case of a crown-without-jewels in action.

To its credit South Africa’s ruling party has never overtly endorsed xenophobic or Afro-phobic behavior. Indeed the ANC has consistently emphasized indebtedness to post-colonial Africa for unwavering support during the anti-apartheid campaign.  In this context, it would be dishonest for the party to engage in discriminatory behavior toward fellow African immigrants after 1994. Where others see xenophobia or Afro-phobia, ANC continues to detect criminality.

South Africa’s officialdom istoo astute not to be aware that lack of service delivery is the central driver of xenophobic discontent. Leaders of the violent outbreaks are mostly the ‘born-frees,’ the youthful post-apartheid generation.  Their facts of life bind them to the black communities.  They are hungry and agitated.  Joblessness reigns supreme where the national unemployment is at 29 percent.

The township dwellers are angry with everybody, including the government and ‘foreigners.’ They cannot vent their anger on the government in fear of overwhelming reprisals; memories of the Marikana tragedy linger.  Immigrants become the available and sitting ducks: distinct, defenseless and reachable. Political agitators easily convert them into xenophobic scapegoats. 

Self-Inflicted Wounds of Xenophobia

Ironically, attacking ‘immigrants’ in South Africa is becoming increasingly unfashionable; it is hurting South Africans and their interests more than the original targets. Of the 12 deaths in the 2019 mayhems, 10 were South African. Additionally, while immigrants lost their property, locally-owned properties were similarly looted and damaged.

The violence has also tarnished South Africa’s image, prompting reprisals against its interests. In 2019 thriving South African businesses in Nigeria were damaged by enraged mobs, emphasizing the old diplomatic maxim: protect what is ours in your country and we will spare yours in ours. To South Africa’s recurring incidents of xenophobia, Africa responded in unison: enough is enough.

The New Dawn and the Way Forward

More than his predecessors, President Cyril Ramaphosa seems to realize that xenophobic sentiments are charged by the domestic unholy alliance of poverty and inequality.  Domestically, his political slogan of the New Dawn, aspires to halt and reverse internal abuse of public funds and jumpstart the economy. Hence, the current corruption probes and unrelenting bid to cleanse state-owned enterprises.

Regarding xenophobia, the New Dawn stipulates that South Africa will work in context of Africa, particularly Nigeria, to extract the ‘cancer’ from Africa once and for all. In mid-September 2019, therefore, Ramaphosa dispatched ‘special envoys’ to seven African countries to apologize for the violence.  

Globally, Africa tops Ramaphosa’s agenda. Mindful that South Africa is geographically in Africa, the President insists that it must work closely with the fellow giant-of-Africa, Nigeria. Accordingly in 2019 he welcomed Nigeria overture of a give-and-take-dialogue rather than engage in counter-productive exchange of accusations. Victimized Nigerians in South Africa expected more, including compensation for their lost property.

Nigeria was diplomatic but not necessarily defensive in the bilateral talks. Subtly but firmly, it insisted on one non-negotiable condition. Henceforth, South Africa will treat xenophobia as a crime; perpetrators must be prosecuted. Otherwise, the scourge will be transformed into an African continental problem.  And collective Africa is capable of punishing its offenders. Just ask the now extinct apartheid regimes.

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Yekatom and Ngaïssona case: International Criminal Court (ICC) Pre-Trial Chamber II confirms part of the charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity and commits suspects to trial
December 11, 2019 | 0 Comments

The Chamber found that there are substantial grounds to believe that M. Yekatom has committed these crimes jointly with others or through other persons

THE HAGUE, Netherlands, December 11, 2019/ — Today, 11 December 2019, Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or “Court”) ( issued a unanimous decision partially confirming the charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity brought by the Prosecutor against Alfred Yekatom and Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona and committed them to trial before a Trial Chamber. In view of ensuring protection of victims and witnesses, the decision is confidential and a redacted version of it will be published in due course.

Pre-Trial Chamber II, composed of Judge Antoine Kesia-Mbe Mindua (Presiding Judge), Judge Tomoko Akane and Judge Rosario Salvatore Aitala, based its decision on the evidence presented by the Prosecutor and the Defence during the hearing held from 19 to 25 September and on 11 October 2019 as well as their oral and written submissions.

The Chamber found that there are substantial grounds to believe that, between September 2013 and December 2014, an armed conflict not of an international character was ongoing in the territory of the Central African Republic between the Seleka and the Anti-Balaka, both constituting organised armed groups at that time; and that the Anti-Balaka carried out a widespread attack against the Muslim civilian population, perceived – on the basis of their religious or ethnic affiliation – as complicit with, or supportive of the Seleka and therefore collectively responsible for the crimes allegedly committed by them.

The Chamber concluded that there are substantial grounds to believe that Alfred Yekatom and Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona are responsible for the following crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly committed in various locations (Bangui, including Cattin, and Boeing; Bossangoa; Yamwara School and the PK9-Mbaïki Axis) in the context of that conflict: intentionally directing an attack against the civilian population, murder, rape, intentionally directing an attack against a building dedicated to religion, deportation or forcible transfer of population and displacement of the civilian population, intentionally destroying or seizing the property of an adversary, pillaging, severe deprivation of physical liberty, cruel treatment, torture, other inhumane acts and persecution.

The Chamber found that there are substantial grounds to believe that M. Yekatom has committed these crimes jointly with others or through other persons or, in the alternative, has ordered the commission of these crimes; and that M. Ngaïssona aided, abetted or otherwise assisted in their commission or, in the alternative, has contributed in any other way to their commission by a group of persons acting with a common purpose.

In addition, the Chamber also found that there are substantial grounds to believe that M. Yekatom committed the war crimes of conscripting, enlisting, and using children under the age of 15 years to participate actively in hostilities jointly with others or through other persons or, in the alternative, has ordered the commission of these crimes.

The Chamber declined to confirm the remaining charges that were not supported by the evidence presented by the Prosecutor.

The decision on the confirmation of the charges only serves to determine whether the Prosecutor’s case should proceed to trial. It does not establish the guilt of the two accused persons who are presumed innocent until proved guilty beyond reasonable doubt before the Court.

The Defence and the Prosecutor cannot directly appeal the decision confirming the charges. However they can request authorisation from Pre-Trial Chamber II to appeal it. The deadline for such a request will start running after the decision’s translation into French is notified.

Non-authoritative summary of the decision on the confirmation of charges (

Questions and Answers on the confirmation of charges (

For further information on this case, click here (


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The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Fund signs US$20m loan with Burkina Faso, attends inauguration of health and education facilities
December 11, 2019 | 0 Comments

Agricultural Value Chain Support Project (PAPFA) aims to contribute to poverty alleviation and to enhance food security in Burkina Faso

VIENNA, Austria, December 9, 2019/ — The Director-General of the OPEC Fund for International Development (the OPEC Fund) Dr Abdulhamid Alkhalifa has signed a US$20 million development loan to help finance Burkina Faso’s Agricultural Value Chain Support Project (PAPFA).

Dr Alkhalifa signed the loan in Ouagadougou with Burkina Faso’s Minister of Economy, Finance and Development, Lassané Kabore. PAPFA aims to contribute to poverty alleviation and to enhance food security in Burkina Faso. Specifically, the project will help crop and vegetable farmers adopt efficient technologies related to the production, processing and storage of produce, ultimately enabling them to increase sales in local and regional markets.

Dr Alkhalifa said: “This latest OPEC Fund loan demonstrates our continued commitment to a striving country that retains hope, despite the challenges it still faces. It is our way of saying: ‘we are your partners’.”

While on the high-level mission to the West African country, Dr Alkhalifa attended the inauguration ceremonies of two major development projects co-financed by the OPEC Fund – the Hospital of Ziniaré and the University of Ouagadougou. The inaugurations were held under the aegis of the President of Burkina Faso, Roch Marc Kaboré.

The University of Ouagadougou project was co-financed by the OPEC Fund in partnership with the Arab Bank for Economic Development (BADEA) and the government of Burkina Faso. The new and expanded facilities include dormitories and provide a better academic environment. Approximately 18,500 on-campus students are expected to benefit.

Dr Alkhalifa said: “Ensuring inclusive and quality education for all – and promoting lifelong learning – is a fundamental ingredient to sustainable development. To see such a project come to life is inspiring and I believe this university will enable many people – young and old – to play a role in advancing the development of Burkina Faso, and more generally, in contributing toward a more equal global society.”

At the ceremony, Dr Alkassoum Maïga, Burkina Faso’s Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, conferred Dr Alkhalifa with L’ordre National de l’Etalon – a national honor in recognition of the OPEC Fund’s continued support of development in the country. The Minister conferred the honor on behalf of President Kaboré. Dr Alkhalifa said he was proud of the OPEC Fund’s work with Burkina Faso and honored to receive the decoration on behalf of the organization.

The Hospital of Ziniaré – a modern and fully equipped health center in the town of Ziniaré, 35 km from the capital Ouagadougou – is also co-financed by the OPEC Fund, BADEA and the government of Burkina Faso. The hospital provides access to specialized, high-quality healthcare services and is expected to improve maternal / infant health and fight diseases endemic to the area.

Dr Alkhalifa said: “The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being. The OPEC Fund is committed to supporting access to healthcare as a goal in itself, as well as to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Our commitment is clear: as of December 31, 2018, our cumulative commitment to development projects in the health sector was well over US$1 billion.”

The OPEC Fund has worked with Burkina Faso for more than four decades. During that time, the organization has approved more than 40 public sector loans amounting to nearly US$300 million to the country. The OPEC Fund has also approved 11 trade finance loans for a total of US$270 million, as well as a number of national grants.

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Kamari and ZeU Crypto Announce Joint Venture to build Lottery and Gaming Infrastructure Across Africa
December 11, 2019 | 0 Comments

African blockchain infrastructure project taps veteran development company for joint venture

Dr. Chris Cleverly
Dr. Chris Cleverly, CEO of Kamari

, a project building blockchain infrastructure across Africa, has announced a joint venture (JV) with ZeU Crypto Networks, a leading blockchain technology innovation and development company out of Canada. The parties will create a Joint Venture entity with the mandate to build digital lottery and gaming applications that will run within the Kamari ecosystem and potentially serve millions of users across multiple countries in Africa.

Kamari looks to develop the fundamental infrastructure that will serve Africa’s population as it doubles to two billion over the next several decades. Africa’s GDP is predicted to increase from $2 trillion today to $29 trillion in today’s money by 2050. The “Blockchain Opportunity in Africa” will also have mobile technology at the center of its massive growth across the continent.

To begin building this ecosystem, the company has secured national lottery licenses across multiple African countries. Once the infrastructure has been created, and the product has been launched, the company will be able to market to over 50 million adult customers exclusively.

Kamari has agreed to set up a joint-venture with ZeU Crypto Networks Inc, a leading blockchain technology development company based out of Canada, to oversee the development of lottery and gaming applications that will eventually integrate with the Kamari mobile wallet. ZeU will handle the technical development of these applications and will also support the use of the KAM currency in its applications including the MulaMail Marketplace, allowing email users to exchange the token between themselves and access the Kamari Ecosystem’s service offering from within their email application. ZeU’s Mula planned peer-to-peer microlending will also be compatible with the Kamari ecosystem.

“We are excited to work with veteran technology developers on this joint venture to start building applications for the Kamari ecosystem,” said Dr. Chris Cleverly, CEO of Kamari. “Our vision is to create a new type of infrastructure that will unlock incredible, never before seen financial benefits for hundreds of millions of people. Essentially, our opportunity is to transform millions of peoples’ lives and provide them with fundamental infrastructure that is vastly more efficient and effective than countries in the Western world, allowing them to empower themselves. We’re looking forward to partnering with ZeU to begin integrating and building some of the applications for that.”

The two companies are in the process of establishing a joint venture entity that will oversee the development and the deployment of an integrated ecosystem. The partners should initiate in short order Peer-to-Peer (P2P) e-commerce initiatives in gaming, eSport, and gambling through participants of Kamari projects running on ZeU protocol and are expected to be a trial by fire for ZeU public protocol.

The partners are planning to deploy in late December, for the purpose of intracompanies testing, a first innovative lottery game using the KAM token. Demonstration to gaming commissions and regulators should be conducted in Q1 2020.

The two companies plan to announce more details of the joint venture shortly.  For more information about the project visit:

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NJ Ayuk’s book Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals now available in Spanish
December 11, 2019 | 0 Comments

The English version of the book was launched early last month and has since become a huge success on the African continent and abroad

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, December 10, 2019/ — NJ Ayuk’s Amazon best-selling sophomore book, Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals is now available for purchase in Spanish.

The English version of the book was launched early last month and has since become a huge success on the African continent and abroad.

With a foreword by H.E. Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo Secretary-General of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) who describes the book as “a detailed roadmap” of how Africa can utilize its petroleum resources to fuel the growth and development of its economies, Billions at Play takes the public and private sector to task in areas where they fall short in managing and developing the energy sector as a key driver of economic growth.

From the onset, in the first chapter titled It’s High Time for African Oil and Gas to Fuel a Better Future for Africans, author NJ Ayuk takes a frank approach in revealing the fortunes, misfortunes and areas of improvement in the management of the sector.

“Petroleum resources have always represented opportunity for Africans. Again, the problem has been a failure to leverage those resources wisely to develop and capitalize on their value chain, and to protect the interests of everyday Africans where oil and gas revenue is concerned,” writes Ayuk.

The book features chapters on the importance of empowering women to take leadership roles in the sector, the rise of natural gas a key solution to the continent’s power supply issues, the importance of intra-Africa cooperation, local content policy development and implementation, the significance of good governance and American investment in Africa’s oil and gas sector.

“Among other things, Ayuk believes Africans need to have better control of their resource wealth—specifically the riches that lie in the continent’s largely unexploited oil and gas basins. At the same time, he knows Africa is not completely ready to go it alone,” reviews Ann Norman, General Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa at Pioneer Energy.

As described by at Play is a comprehensive but entertaining look at Africa’s oil and gas present and future. To this, the book has received praises from global industry players for its solutions-based viewpoint. “In NJ Ayuk’s world, there are few villains, just people and businesses who can and need to do more,” said Bruce Falkenstein, Joint Operations Manager of License Management & Compliance for LUKOIL. In tune with Falkenstein, Jeff Goodrich, former CEO of OneLNG said, “Ayuk puts forth a number of realistic solutions that anyone who cares about making Africa more self-sufficient will be eager to hear.”

While Dr. Thabo Kgogo, former CEO of Efora Energy Limited applauded Ayuk for his straight-forwardness and noted its importance, particularly as Africa’s energy sector undergoes a period of transformation, “Ayuk calls it like it is. For example, not everyone is willing to assert that Africa will never achieve its full potential if it cannot power its industries, services, or households. He also makes it clear that the state-run utilities are so saddled by debt they can barely recover their operating and capital costs, much less make the kinds of infrastructure investments needed to bring electricity to the continent,” he said.

The book is available for purchase in English and Spanish in hardcover and Kindle on

NJ Ayuk is a leading authority in the African energy sector and a strong advocate for African entrepreneurship and the indigenous energy sector, NJ Ayuk is recognized as one of the foremost figures in African business today. A well-known dealmaker in the petroleum and power sectors and founder of a leading energy focused law firm, NJ is dedicating his career to helping African entrepreneurs find success and to building the careers of emerging African talent.

As Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber and CEO of Centurion Law Group, NJ strives through his work to ensure that business, and especially oil and gas, impacts African societies in a positive way and drives local content development.

He is the author of Big Barrels: African Oil & Gas and the Quest for Prosperity and Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals.

NJ graduated from the University of Maryland College Park and earned a Juris Doctor from William Mitchell College of Law and an MBA from the New York Institute of Technology.

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Fred Swaniker, founder and CEO of Africa Leadership Group, to open the 2020 Africa Shared Value Leadership Summit
December 11, 2019 | 0 Comments

Summit brings business leaders together to talk transforming Africa

Fred Swaniker
Fred Swaniker

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, December 10, 2019/ — “By 2030, Africa will have a larger workforce than China, and by 2050, it will have the largest workforce in the world. One billion people will need jobs in Africa, so if we don’t grow our economies fast enough, we’re sitting on a ticking time bomb, not just for Africa, but for the entire world,” said Africa Leadership Group Founder and CEO Fred Swaniker, keynote speaker at the Africa Shared Value Leadership Summit taking place in Rwanda in June 2020.

Swaniker, whose belief in the importance of entrepreneurial, ethical African leadership led to his founding of African Leadership Group. A World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and one of TIME Magazine’s most influential people of 2019, Swaniker believes that “unless we can create our own wealth and prosperity, we will forever be dependent on the rest of the world”.

On 4-5 June 2020, the Africa Shared Value Leadership Summit ( will bring together business thought leaders from across the continent to share ideas about how companies can use the Shared Value business model to drive profits while solving social problems at scale. The 2020 Summit also features AfroChampions Initiative executive committee member Dr Edem Adzogenu, Nestlé Regional Head of Regulatory & Scientific Affairs John Bee, and AgriLedger Founder and CEO Genevieve Leveille, among other high-level speakers.

“Increasingly, corporates operating in Africa are driven to making the continent a success, economically and socially,” says Tiekie Barnard, CEO of Shared Value Africa Initiative. “Not only are companies facing growing investor pressure to recognise that social inequality creates problems for businesses. Employees and clients are also supporting a shift towards purpose-led business practices. These practises focus not only a business’s bottom line but also on the impact its operations have on the society in which it operates.”

The Summit will focus on the role of business – and specifically women and youth – in building sustainable businesses and creating the Shared Value ecosystems needed to create an inclusive, prosperous future for our continent, as well as business alignment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The Summit will feature business thought leaders from across Africa sharing insights, experiences and opportunities from the worlds of agriculture, health care, infrastructure and manufacturing, mining, financial services and technology. High-level keynote speakers will share their wealth of experience and examine topics such as the importance of strengthening relations across borders in the era of the African Continental Free Trade Area and whether gender equality can be achieved in Africa – and why business should care.

In 2020, the Summit will feature interactive Solution-Seeking Sessions – opportunities for delegates to become a part of creating solutions for some of our continent’s greatest challenges. These sessions will bring delegates and speakers together in a more intimate setting, setting the scene for greater engagement, thoughtful discussion on a specific, relevant topic. Feedback and conclusions from each session will be shared in the main plenary hall, giving all delegates the opportunity be inspired by and learn from each other and cross-pollinate ideas.

A Shared Value strategy can be implemented in businesses across the spectrum, from finance and telecommunications to agriculture, health care and manufacturing – and beyond. The Summit brings together over three hundred people from a variety of practices and professions across the continent, including CEOs and other members of the C-Suite, sustainability managers, corporate affairs management, strategists, business consultants, compliance officers and other members of middle and upper management. To learn more – and take advantage of the early-bird special on ticket prices – visit

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Ghana and Nigeria top list of markets to watch for key project developments
December 11, 2019 | 0 Comments
Ghana’s determination to become sub-Saharan Africa’s first LNG importer in 2020 is set to become a reality as the Tema LNG terminal project nears completion
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, December 10, 2019/ — In its African Energy Outlook 2020 report launched last month, the African Energy Chamber (“The Chamber”) highlighted the importance of increased infrastructure capacity in Africa’s long-term industrial development.

Spotlighting the $12 billion Dangote Refinery in Nigeria and Ghana’s Tema LNG Terminal, the Chamber noted essential role such projects play in revamping the sector and creating opportunities for private sector investors.

“At a time when the low oil price is gripping treasury revenues, private capital is developing key oil and gas infrastructure projects which could have a significant impact on the African energy and power landscape over the next decade,” the report said.

On the Dangote Refinery, the Chamber called attention to the current state of Nigeria’s infrastructure and the contribution the project would have specifically as the country works towards tripling its refining capacity to 1.5 million bpd by 2025 as a means to reduce its reliance on fuel imports.

To this, the report said, “the refinery’s tank farms are set out for completion in Q4-19 and they may be used as a depot before the refinery’s production starts. This would provide an immediate increase to fuel storage capacity.”

Ghana’s determination to become sub-Saharan Africa’s first LNG importer in 2020 is set to become a reality as the Tema LNG terminal project nears completion. The project will be able to cover 25 percent of Ghana’s total electricity generation capacity, with gas providing a cheaper alternative to oil.

“The deal with Rosneft enables Ghana to diversify gas imports away from Nigeria, which has consistently failed to provide the agreed level of supply since the West African Gas Pipeline started operating (back in November 2011),” the Chamber explained. Adding that the emergence of offshore storage and regasification technology is enabling smaller, lower-risk, rapid LNG solutions that could be replicated elsewhere in the region in countries with substantial gas reserves.

Now available for free download on the website, the African Energy Outlook 2020 also features the 25 Movers and Shakers to Watch list which highlights key industry players that are set to have a great impact on the future of Africa’s energy and economic development. The list includes Donald J. Trump President Of The United States of America; Mustafa Sanalla Chairman, National Oil Corporation, Libya; Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi President Of Egypt; Dr Omar Mithá Chairman & Ceo, Enh Mozambique and Tope Shonubi Managing Director, Sahara Energy.
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