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‘Make America Great Again’ in Africa
February 16, 2017 | 0 Comments

BY ROSA WHITAKER*

If President Donald Trump is to “Make America Great Again” he cannot afford to ignore Africa. It is in this region of over one billion people — the world’s second-fastest growing continent — that the rise of China and the relative decline in U.S. power is more stark than in any other. China surpassed the United States as Africa’s largest trading partner in 2009. Since then Britain and France have also passed America by.

Yet as recently as 2008 America’s capacity to inspire and influence this region, both economically and diplomatically, seemed indisputable, with President Obama, a “son of the soil,” offering hope to millions of Africans.  Africa’s adoration, however, was not matched by a corresponding record of accomplishment on the continent. Obama’s Africa achievements do not compare to the unprecedented success of President Bill Clinton’s African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which created millions of jobs in both the region and the U.S. – or President George W. Bush’s investment of billions of dollars in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Obama’s signature policy – “Power Africa” – aimed at creating more than 30,000 megawatts of electricity for an under-powered continent, today generates just over 4,000MW. To the chagrin of many African leaders and citizens alike, America is now increasingly seen as a paternalistic lecturer promoting her own progressive norms and cultural mores in the continent than a reliable partner.

So how might President Trump “Make America First Again” in Africa?

It starts with the recognition that the recent decline in U.S. influence was not inevitable and is only reversible by prioritizing economic engagement over social policies and aid. To put “America First” in Africa Trump must throw down the gauntlet and super-charge trade by expanding AGOA and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation with incentives for U.S. companies to invest across the continent; such incentives could be limited to sectors that do not undermine American jobs.  Trump’s “America First” Policy in Africa should also include a reinvigorated U.S. Export-Import Bank–to enable the growth of U.S. exports to compete in what McKinsey projects to be a $5.6 trillion African household and business spending market by 2025.

All of Africa’s most pressing capital needs – power, infrastructure, transportation, telecommunications, water and sanitation – are those in which American companies excel. These sectors, backed through “America First” funding support, would provide immediate opportunities for the U.S. to become more competitive in Africa’s emerging and robust markets.

Going further, President Trump might make it a requirement that projects in Africa financed by the U.S. taxpayer – for example through the Millennium Challenge Account – are undertaken only by U.S. contractors using U.S. equipment– this is currently not the case.

Secondly, Trump might administer a sea-change in how America assesses and manages international aid programs, by reforming the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Too much American aid money is directed towards a vast aid-industrial complex, driven by former USAID employees- turned-contractors in Washington, rather than deployed on the ground in Africa where it is needed most.

Development schemes should primarily focus on humanitarian interventions and enterprise solutions to address poverty. A focus on the latter would incentivize American companies to bring jobs, capital, skills and new technologies to the continent while benefiting the U.S. and African economies at the same time. To re-calibrate the former, as well as combat the USAID job-creation machine for Washington beltway insiders, Trump may even consider bolstering the role of faith-based organizations – his key political constituency – in the delivery of disaster and humanitarian aid.

Thirdly, President Trump’s Africa Policy should recognize Africa’s parallel: the poorest and at the same time among the world’s fastest growing regions.  America therefore, have reasons both economic and of principle for strong U.S. engagement.

Finally, through enriched relationships with African countries, President Trump might harness continent-wide support for U.S. goals on the international stage. Increasingly the 54 countries of Africa are wielding influence together: they are proportionately the largest bloc of votes at many multilateral institutions – providing decisive swing votes in international forums from the United Nations to the World Trade Organization.

A substantive U.S.-Africa partnership would inevitably lead to another crucial benefit: the strengthening of America’s security intelligence and cooperation needed to counter the growing threat from radicalized terrorists groups across the continent. Even an America that is Great Again needs friends and allies: and there are many to win – decisively – in Africa.

*The Hill.Whitaker served as Assistant United State Trade Representative for Africa under the administrations of President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush. She is currently the CEO and president of the Whitaker Group, a consultancy aiming at helping their clients to implement their businesses in Africa.

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Nigerian group asks US for $500 million
February 15, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Kieron Monks*

(CNN)The rancorous reign of the 45th US President faces a fresh controversy.

General Sani Abacha seized power in a 1993 coup and reigned for five years.

General Sani Abacha seized power in a 1993 coup and reigned for five years.

A Nigerian economic and social rights group has written to the White House demanding the return of $500 million of stolen funds, which it claims are being held by the US.

“(We urge) the administration to attach and release to Nigeria some $500 million worth of US-based proceeds of corruption traced to former Nigerian dictator General Sani Abacha,” the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) wrote in an open letter.
The letter cites US obligations as a signatory to the UN Convention Against Corruption, and demands that the government “promptly initiate civil asset forfeiture proceedings” to ensure that the funds are swiftly returned to Nigeria.

Following the money

General Sani Abacha was a notorious dictator who led Nigeria for five years after taking power in a 1993 coup. He is alleged to have stolen over $4 billion during his reign, before his death in 1998.
SERAP’s claim is the latest in a series of attempts to recover lost wealth from Abacha and his family, which has been frozen in accounts and assets around the world.
Switzerland has recovered and returned around $700 million to Nigeria to date, with further sums pending. The US Department of Justice had already seized $480 million in 2014, prior to SERAP’s new claim, although this has yet to be returned.
The Nigerian government’s focus is on reclaiming the funds it is due from these latter cases rather than the SERAP claim, says Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, Executive Secretary of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption.
Extracting the money from the US in particular has been a frustrating process for Nigeria.
“President Obama met with our President Buhari and made a commitment to return this sum to the government of Nigeria,” says Owasanoye. “This has been subject to legal challenge, and the bureaucratic system in the US is hindering the return so far.”
“Developed countries are very happy to recover money but very slow to return it,” he adds.
The legal challenge comes from Godson Nnaka, a former attorney for the Nigerian government.
The US Department of Justice (DoJ) says that the appeal must be resolved before the funds can be returned to Nigeria.

‘Lawyer’s feast’

The Nigerian government will face further obstacles before recovering the money.
Some of the forfeited $480 million is located in banks outside the US, which will require an even more laborious process to recover.
“The US has to get court orders for those countries to physically move cash back to the US to go in the pot of seized assets,” says Alexander W. Sierck, a Washington-based lawyer who has represented SERAP pro-bono for several years in their efforts to recover Abacha funds.
Teodorin Nguema Obiang, Vice-President of Equatorial Guinea, agreed to a deal that allowed proceeds of corruption from the country to be repatriated through a trust partly overseen by the US.

Teodorin Nguema Obiang, Vice-President of Equatorial Guinea, agreed to a deal that allowed proceeds of corruption from the country to be repatriated through a trust partly overseen by the US.

“It is a lawyer’s feast that that generates a lot of work — but it is a slow process.”

A further complication is the DoJ’s determination to avoid allowing repatriated funds to be lost to corruption a second time, often seeking safeguards.
In the landmark case of Equatorial Guinea, a haul of assets worth $30 million seized from the ruling Obiang family including property and sports cars was repatriated in the form of charitable trusts, partly overseen by the US. A similar deal was reached over proceeds of corruption from Kazakhstan.
The US Congress has discussed a bill that would see the Nigerian funds placed in a charity to support the victims of Boko Haram, but Nigeria is unlikely to accept such an arrangement.
“The US should not impose conditions,” says Owasanoye. “They can monitor to the use of the funds — we are transparent — but we are a sovereign state and the money should be returned to us.
The need is particularly acute as Nigeria struggles through a period of recession, he adds, claiming the money will be used for a range of social welfare projects.

Fractions of fractions

The World Bank estimated in 2007 that developing countries lose up to $40 billion a year through corruption, and little is successfully reclaimed.
“What is being recovered is a fraction of a fraction,” says Emile van der Does de Willebois, the Bank’s global lead for financial market integrity and asset recovery. “Legal procedures take time and an enormous amount of resources.”
“Of any number of corruption cases you can only focus on one or two…(and) it is up to prosecutorial authorities to make a judgement on what is the most important case.”
The process is further complicated by problems with mutual legal assistance and co-ordination, says de Willebois, as “victim” states often lack expertise in how to deal with financial centers such as Switzerland and the US.
But there has been progress, he adds, such as through a legal maneuver that allowed Switzerland to reclaim Abacha assets by classifying his family as a criminal organization, thus lowering the burden of proof required for seizure.
New initiatives such as the US Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, and European Union-led efforts to establish transparency in offshore holdings, also aid recovery efforts.
But asset recovery experts also say that the attitude of the new US administration will be critical for further progress on the issue, and the Nigerians await their answer from the White House with no little anxiety.
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Corruption Weary Africans Taking Anger To The Polls-TI 2016 CPI Index
February 15, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

John Mahama or Ghana (in suit) and Yahya Jammeh of Gambia both lost elections in 2016

John Mahama or Ghana (in suit) and Yahya Jammeh of Gambia both lost elections in 2016

If affable candidates like former President John Mahama of Ghana lost elections last year, it may in part have been due to corruption.The finding is contained in the recently published 2016 corruption perception index of Transparency International.

“In countries like Ghana, which is the second worst decliner in the 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index in the region, the dissatisfaction of citizens with the government’s corruption record was reflected in their voting at the polls,” Transparency International said in a statement that accompanied the release.

Africa did not fare so well said Samuel Kaninda Regional Advisor for Africa at Transparency International. In a skype interview, Kaninda who was on mission in Accra, said  the recently released perception index found a co-relation between democracy and good governance. Countries with a history of free elections and a stable democracy faired comparatively better as compared those where democracy and the rule of law are still struggling to take root.

On the countries that did well, Cape Verde and Sao Tome and Principe emerged as the most improved in Africa. Both countries held elections, which got rave reviews from observers. For his efforts and management style, Jorge Carlos Fonseca was rewarded with another term of office. In Sao Tome and Principe, there was a smooth transition of power, a feat that still eludes many countries in the continent.

For the democratic advances it has made, corruption in Ghana was described as rampant. Corroborating statements in the TI Release, Samuel Kaninda believed that the outcome of the recent election mirrored the anger and disappointment of Ghanaians who voted out a sitting President.

Despite high profile arrests and pompous amounts recouped from corrupt politicians, Nigeria failed to see any significant improvement in the index. The doctrine of change that brought the Buhari APC led government to power has so far been a mirage. Nigerians are increasingly voicing out their frustrations and should things not change before the 2019 elections, the APC may be in for a rude awakening.

 

Africa should seek the partnership of the international community to fight illicit flows of capital from the continent says Samuel Kaninda

Africa should seek the partnership of the international community to fight illicit flows of capital from the continent says Samuel Kaninda

The situation was similar in South Africa, trailed by sleazy tales of corruption with fingers pointing directly at President Jacob Zuma himself. Though serving his second and last term of offices, there have been growing calls for Zuma to step down. Down and bruised, Zuma has so far weathered the storm, but his battered image is taking a toll on ruling ANC. That it took heavy military Presidents to quell a mutiny from the opposition before Zuma could make a recent state of the Union Address speaks volumes on the situation Mandela’s own country.

With elections due later this year, if corruption were to be a decisive factor, President Uhuru may have some blushes as little progress has been made during his first term.

On the category of countries that equally fared poorly are the regulars like Somalia, South Sudan, Guinea Bissau, Central Africa, Chad, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Cameroon, DR, Congo and the Republic of Congo.

Fighting corruption should be task for everybody said Samuel Kaninda in response to solutions for the way forward. Besides the framework that countries need to put place, the civil society has to step up its role.

Transparency International is willing to engage with countries in the continent and the wider international community in the quest for lasting solutions, Kaninda said. With growing attention from the international corporate world, Kaninda said corporations coming to Africa need to be clearly identified .Institutions and clear-cut rules need to be put in place to curb incidence of corruption, he said.

Corruption is not an issue of the South or the North, Kaninda said in response to a question on illicit outflows of money from Africa. Without these massive flows, Africa will not be talking about Aid but Trade,  said Kaninda. African governments should engaged in discussions with the rest of the world especially those that provide safe haven for massive loots from Africa so as to curb this trend which saps Africa of resources needed for its own development ,said Kaninda.

 

 

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Mastercard commits to financially including over 150,000 Kenyan merchants with Masterpass QR
February 15, 2017 | 0 Comments

Simple and secure digital payment solution fosters higher level of inclusion for MSMEs in East Africa

Daniel Monehin, Division President for Sub-Saharan Africa

Daniel Monehin, Division President for Sub-Saharan Africa

Nairobi, Kenya – 14 February 2017 – Mastercard commits to empowering over 150,000 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) in Kenya within 2017 by giving them access to Masterpass QR. The mobile driven, Person-to-Merchant payment solution will be introduced through various financial institutions and other partners in the market from February onwards.

Delivering efficient, secure and cost effective acceptance solutions to Kenyan MSMEs is an essential step to providing the level of support required to grow and develop their businesses. With at least 80 percent of the country’s most critical jobs are created by MSMs, according to Kenya’s Micro and Small Enterprises Authority, it is vital to introduce solutions that drive operational efficiency in these businesses.

The regional commitment to impact over 150,000 MSMEs in Kenya within 2017 is in support of the Mastercard global goal of connecting 40 million micro and small merchants to its electronic payments network by the end of 2020. This expands on the company’s Universal Financial Access 2020 commitment made in 2015.

Masterpass QR provides a fast, convenient and secure payment solution for consumers and a reliable and instant acceptance offering for merchants. Cash is no longer required, making transacting safer for merchants who will not need to worry about carrying large sums of cash around with them.

MSMEs have traditionally struggled with the cost of installing payment infrastructure such as point-of-sale devices, as well as with issues of security surrounding payment. Masterpass QR combats these challenges in a simple and user-friendly manner helping to stimulate the economy by digitizing a sector previously solely dependent on cash-based transactions.

“Kenyans are entrepreneurial by nature, and there are incredibly exciting business ideas coming from the region. We want to help these business owners to grow and prosper by delivering solutions that meet the needs of these business owners,” said Daniel Monehin, Division President for Sub-Saharan Africa and head of Financial Inclusion for International Markets at Mastercard.

The mobile solution is available via various mobile banking applications in Kenya. Consumers are guaranteed the security of being able to pay for in-store purchases by scanning the QR (Quick Response) code displayed at the checkout on their smartphones, or by entering a merchant identifier into their feature phones. Users are able to use the solution at any location where Masterpass QR is accepted, locally and across the continent.

Mastercard is committed to financially including micro merchants across Africa by working with various partners across a multitude of sectors. Masterpass QR is currently being rolled out in Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania and will soon be in a number of countries across the continent. It drives efficiency and transparency for MSMEs, something many business owners in Kenya are not able to achieve currently.

Monehin said, “Kenya is leading the charge in financial inclusion, with the World Bank reporting that 75 percent of its citizens over the age of 15 having a bank account. Masterpass QR has the potential to drive that number up further and more rapidly due to the penetration of mobile devices in the market. Technology is playing an important role to ensuring all citizens have access to solutions that help move them beyond cash.”

Mastercard (NYSE: MA), http://www.Mastercard.com, is a technology company in the global payments industry.  We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories.  Mastercard products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone

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Internet Solutions and Accuris Networks Introduce Pan-African Wi-Fi Network
February 15, 2017 | 0 Comments

Single sign-on Wi-Fi Server platform enables seamless carrier-grade network

JOHANNESBURG – 15 February 2017 – Internet Solutions (IS), the leading pan-African telecommunications service provider, and Dublin-based Accuris Networks Limited, have partnered to introduce a seamless continent-wide Wi-Fi network to global carriers, multinational companies and local Internet Service Providers.

Kervin Pillay

Kervin Pillay

Internet Solutions’ various independent Wi-Fi networks in the region are now consolidated using the Accuris Wi-Fi Server, enabling a carrier-grade, homogenous network accessible anywhere with single sign-on.

This creates a pan-African Wi-Fi fabric for ‘Internet of Things’ applications demanding a consistent, low-cost, IP access network.

“Wi-Fi continues to be one of the most viable and cost-effective connectivity solutions to meet Africa’s increasing bandwidth demands,” says Kervin Pillay, Chief Technology Officer at Internet Solutions.

“Like individual consumers, our business users expect always-available connectivity that is fast, affordable and seamless. In other words, connectivity in Africa that is as reliable as connectivity wherever else their customers are located. Installing the Accuris Wi-Fi Server is part of an ongoing process of upgrading our infrastructure, services and technology to deliver on this promise.”

Using this continental network, Mobile Network Operators can access Wi-Fi offload services to address capacity demands of their smartphone users, while inbound roamers can resell Wi-Fi to subscribers who require high-quality broadband while traveling.

In-country ISPs can now monetise connectivity in venues and hospitality locations using managed Captive Portal and Landing Page services for private Wi-Fi networks – an offering common in South Africa but less so elsewhere in the region.

“The decision to partner with Accuris Networks for this project was an easy one, given the company’s history and expertise as a trusted provider of cloud-based security, identity, and access management for carrier Wi-Fi networks,” says Pillay.

Accuris Networks is a leader in carrier Wi-Fi services, enabling Wi-Fi roaming and hub services for Wi-Fi network providers and mobile network operators. With the Accuris Wi-Fi Server SaaS platform, service providers can quickly interconnect with other Wi-Fi providers and mobile operators to enable low-cost access to data services while subscribers are traveling as well as domestic data offload.

“Internet Solutions is a provider of choice, delivering IP connectivity to one of the world’s fastest growing markets,” said Jeff Brown, Chief Executive Officer at Accuris.  “Accuris is pleased to provide Internet Solutions a powerful yet cost-effective carrier-grade platform to meet the demands of a growing subscriber base.”

Internet Solutions is using key elements of the Wi-Fi Server platform including:

 

–          Accuris eNAC captive portal system designed specifically for the scalability and multi-tenancy required by service providers;

–          Accuris eAAA server to support diverse authentication, security and identity management protocols;

–          Accuris eAnalytics, a Hadoop-based big-data collection, analysis and presentation module;

–          Accuris CONNECT which facilitates inter-connectivity between other Wi-Fi hub platforms.

Internet Solutions (IS) is a pan-African telecoms service provider to public and private sector organisations that has been providing innovative end-to-end telco solutions and related services for more than 20 years. At the forefront of Internet Protocol-based technologies, IS builds solutions and services tailored to the increasingly complex demands of organisations across the enterprise, public sector, global carrier and growing small-to-medium business sectors.

As a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Dimension Data Group and part of NTT, IS leverages its infrastructure and global footprint to support organisations with the rapid deployment of emerging technologies.

Headquartered in South Africa, IS has operating offices in Mozambique, Uganda, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria, as well as sales offices in the UK, Singapore and USA.  IS has six international Points of Presence (PoPs) – in New York, London (2), Germany, Hong Kong and Singapore, as well as 66 PoPs across the African continent. The company has over 15,500 sqm of data centre space across Africa and is the largest provider of alternate last mile services in South Africa.

Accuris Networks helps service providers monetise the connectivity between networks.  Accuris solutions enable subscribers to move seamlessly and securely between LTE, GSM, Wi-Fi, IPX and fixed networks while ensuring a superior quality of experience. Accuris Networks is a trusted supplier to blue-chip operators around the world including AT&T, Bell Canada, China Mobile Intl, EDCH, Telekom Malaysia, Telefonica and more.

 

 

 

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GE Announces Partnership With Transnet To Digitise African Transport
February 14, 2017 | 0 Comments
Transnet CEO Siyabonga Gama (left) and GE Global CEO Jeff Immelt in Johannesburg, South Africa. Photo: Courtesy GE

Transnet CEO Siyabonga Gama (left) and GE Global CEO Jeff Immelt in Johannesburg, South Africa. Photo: Courtesy GE

GE Transport and Transnet, South African-based freight logistics chain have entered a digital  partnership to seamlessly connect shippers and transport operators in streamlining pricing and capacity on the network, shipment planning, fuel costs savings and delivering goods to the market more effectively.

GE Global Chairman and CEO, Jeff  Immelt said: “The digital partnership we’re embarking on with Transnet will not only improve Africa’s transport sector, but unlock enormous opportunities for the supply chain fuelling Africa’s economy.”

Siyabonga Gama, Transnet’s Group Chief Executive said:  “Disruptive innovation has become the new buzzword for good reason. Innovation creates new markets and fundamentally changes the way we live and work. The partnership with GE Transport is helping us to create a new industry and develop new skills that have the potential to transform the world as we know it.”

As a global digital industrial leader and supplier of  equipment, services and solutions to the rail, mining, marine, power and drilling industries, GE Transport will assist Transnet to deliver goods and services with greater speed and efficiency through the provision of essential data required through Predix – GE’s cloud-based operating system for the Industrial Internet of Things.

 The timing of this initiative falls in line with the robust growth taking place across Africa. Since 1995, Africa’s trade has nearly doubled, placing immense logistical pressure on existing transport infrastructure. As it stands, managing the various transport routes and developing new infrastructure is laborious. GE’s innovative solution will bring simplicity to payment processes, goods management, customs inspections and reduce the burden of a paper-based environment.

GE is encouraging development across the sectors of aviation, healthcare, transport and power as sectors that are increasingly  being inhabited by software companies, technology companies and industrial  companies. “This partnership is GE’s opportunity to take the new technology that we will develop in South Africa and introduce it to the rest of Africa,” said Immelt.

Digitalisation in Africa is essential to driving growth on the continent. It plays a significant role in stimulating inter-Africa trade. This isn’t the first time GE and Transnet have worked together. The two entities have partnered since 2009 to manufacture and deliver more than 230 Evolution Series diesel electric locomotives, including the “most African” locomotive, which featured 55% locally produced content.

“We have a rich history of partnership with Transnet, and are excited to continue working with them to unlock game-changing potential for the local supply chain that is at the heart of Africa’s global economy,” said Immelt.

*GE Reports

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Trump calls presidents of Nigeria, South Africa
February 14, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Stephanie Busari*

Photo: allafrica.com From left, Presidents Jacob Zuma, Muhammadu Buhari and Donald Trump.

Photo: allafrica.com
From left, Presidents Jacob Zuma, Muhammadu Buhari and Donald Trump.

(CNN)President Donald Trump has been increasingly chatting with other world leaders during his first weeks in office. On Monday he turned his attention to Africa.

Trump spent Monday morning calling two of the continent’s most prominent leaders, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and South African President Jacob Zuma, to discuss combating terrorism, trade relations and other issues.
According to Buhari’s aide, Femi Adesina, Trump assured the Nigerian president that the US is ready to help obtain “a new deal in helping Nigeria in terms of military weapons to combat terrorism.”
In a statement to CNN, Adesina also said, “President Trump encouraged President Buhari to keep up the good work he is doing, and also commended him for the efforts made in rescuing 24 of the Chibok Girls and the strides being taken by the Nigerian military.”
In 2014 nearly 300 girls were kidnapped from a boarding school in Chibok by terror group Boko Haram. Most remain missing, although the terror group released a group of them last October in a deal brokered in part by Nigerian authorities.
Trump also invited President Buhari to Washington at a mutually convenient date. Buhari, who congratulated Trump on his election, is currently in London on an extended break while he awaits the results of unspecified medical tests.
After his call with Buhari, President Trump also requested and completed a phone call with South Africa’s Zuma.
According to a statement from Zuma’s office, “The two presidents reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening the already strong bilateral relations between the two countries. There are six hundred US companies in South Africa and strong trade relations between the two countries.”
Trump and Zuma also “discussed the need to work together on multilateral issues as well especially the quest for peace and stability on the African continent,” the statement said.
Trump, who so far has been mostly focused on his “America First” agenda, has not spoken at much length about his policies concerning Africa. But his controversial travel ban, one of his first major executive orders, has targeted three African countries: Sudan, Libya and Somalia.
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Hamza Farooqui comments on rumour that SARB has recommended banking apartheid is maintained
February 11, 2017 | 0 Comments

If Vardospan were to be successful in its bid to acquire Habib Overseas Bank, it would be a significant first step in ending the banking apartheid that plagues South Africa, almost a quarter of century after liberation.

Hamza Farooqui

Hamza Farooqui

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, February 7, 2017/ –On Friday (3 February), Bloomberg News published a story in which it claimed the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) made a recommendation to the Treasury that Vardospan’s bid to create South Africa’s first 100% black-owned bank, should be rejected.

If Vardospan were to be successful in its bid to acquire Habib Overseas Bank, it would be a significant first step in ending the banking apartheid that plagues South Africa, almost a quarter of century after liberation.

South Africa’s financial services sector is still dominated by its Big Four banks and entry to this sector is controlled by SARB. The financial services sector desperately lacks competition which is why so many South Africans – most of them black – cannot source capital to be entrepreneurial and escape grinding poverty.

My dream is that a black entrepreneur can walk into a black-owned bank, and borrow capital from a black bank manager at a normal interest rate. The fact that is still a dream in 2017 is a national tragedy. Money and trade are forces that don’t discriminate by colour.

On 24 January, this country’s biggest business newspaper (Business Day), wrote:

“The public is aggrieved over the tight hold the banks and other large corporations have over an economy it believes should be more transformed.”

The newspaper is correct.

There is absolutely no reason why Vardospan’s bid should be rejected other than the privileged financial elite manoeuvring to protect its monopoly hold on banking services.

We will never end the economic apartheid in this country without ending banking apartheid first.

Vardospan remains committed to the creation of a robust, black-owned challenger bank. It is what our rainbow nation desperately needs.

*APO

 Vardospan(Pty) Ltd is the acquisition vehicle that has been established for the acquisition of Habib Bank SA. It is led by businessman Hamza Farooqui.

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New-look Champions League set to begin
February 11, 2017 | 0 Comments
Mamelodi Sundowns won the Champions League in 2016

Mamelodi Sundowns won the Champions League in 2016

Up to 18 players who competed at the Africa Cup of Nations could be involved in the new-look Champions League when it kicks off this weekend.

Among them is Georges Bokwe, one of two unused goalkeepers in the Cameroon squad that defeated Egypt in the final last Sunday in Gabon.

Bokwe was kept out of the starting line-up by the consistent brilliance of Spain-based Fabrice Ondoa, who was included in the team of the tournament.

But Bokwe is the first choice for regular Champions League entrants Coton Sport from northern Cameroon cotton town Garoua.

Coton qualified for the 2008 final, losing to Al Ahly of Egypt, but have fared poorly recently with first round exits in the past two seasons.

Drawn against Atlabara of South Sudan in the two-leg preliminary round this year, the Cameroon outfit are favoured to secure a last-32 place.

While Coton have the experience of 15 previous Champions League campaigns behind them, Atlabara suffered a preliminary-round loss in a lone previous challenge.

Coton and Atlabara are among 46 clubs in action this weekend as an exciting new chapter in the Champions League unfolds.

Total prize money has soared from $5.7m (£4.6m) to $10m, a 119.30% increase.

Significant prize fund

The group phase – where the cash kicks in – has been expanded from eight to 16 clubs with participants guaranteed at least $550,000 (£440,000) each.

For clubs dreaming of going all the way and succeeding where Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa did last year, the “carrot” is a $2.5m (£2m) first prize.

Sundowns are among nine clubs given byes on merit into the round of 32, with record eight-time champions Al Ahly another.

Georges Bokwe was one of two unused goalkeepers in the Cameroon squad that defeated Egypt in the final of the recent African Nations Cup

Georges Bokwe was one of two unused goalkeepers in the Cameroon squad that defeated Egypt in the final of the recent African Nations Cup

Preliminary participants include V Club of the Democratic Republic of Congo, 1973 winners of the African Cup of Champions Clubs, forerunner to the Champions League.

The Kinshasa outfit face Royal Leopard of Swaziland and can call on Joyce Lomalisa Mutambala, a defender with unhappy memories of the 2017 Cup of Nations.

He was the only player sent off in the 32-match tournament, having come off the bench in a win over Morocco and been yellow-carded twice within 17 minutes.

Former title-holders in the second-tier Confederation Cup, Stade Malien of Mali, FUS Rabat of Morocco and AC Leopards of Congo Brazzaville, play this weekend.

Stade face Barrack Young Controllers II of Liberia, FUS meet Johansen of Sierra Leone and Leopards play UMS Loum of Cameroon.

Others in action include three clubs who won the now defunct African Cup Winners Cup, Enugu Rangers of Nigeria, Horoya of Guinea and Al Merrikh of Sudan.

Enugu tackle JS Saoura of Algeria, Horoya confront Goree of Senegal and Merrikh challenge Sony Ela Nguema of Equatorial Guinea.

*BBC

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South Africa Zuma: Violence at State of Nation address
February 10, 2017 | 0 Comments
President Zuma has faced calls for his resignation

President Zuma has faced calls for his resignation

Punches have been thrown in South Africa’s parliament as opposition MPs tried to disrupt the State of the Nation address by President Jacob Zuma.

Members of the radical Economic Freedom Fighters’ party (EFF), all dressed in red, scuffled with security guards who ejected them from the chamber.

Mr Zuma had twice got to his feet but was shouted down by EFF MPs.

Outside parliament, police used stun grenades to disperse opposition and government supporters.

Mr Zuma has been dogged by allegations of corruption and cronyism and widely criticised for his handling of the economy.

Previous addresses by him have been marred by MPs demanding his resignation.

As Mr Zuma entered parliament in Cape Town on Thursday he was met by chants of “thief” by EFF MPs, who included their firebrand leader Julius Malema.

Members of the governing African National Congress (ANC) countered them by chanting “ANC, ANC”.

Amid raised voices and chaotic scenes, Speaker Baleka Mbete tried to deal with repeated interruptions and procedural questions.

Mr Malema called Mr Zuma “an incorrigible man rotten to the core”.

He also turned on the speaker, telling her: “Your conduct has failed you. You are irrational, impatient, partisan.”

EFF leader Julius Malema, in red, was among those ejected from the chamber

EFF leader Julius Malema, in red, was among those ejected from the chamber

Ms Mbete told the protesting MPs: “We have been patient with you, we have been trying to give you an opportunity to express yourselves but… it is being abused.”

Security guards were called in and the EFF members were forcibly ejected. Members of another opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, then walked out, saying President Zuma was unqualified to hold office.

A smiling President Zuma said “Finally” as he resumed his address, speaking about the economy and other issues.


Pure political theatre – analysis by BBC’s Africa correspondent Andrew Harding

President Zuma knew it was coming. He stood up to make his speech in parliament with the look of a man braced for a long, uncomfortable evening.

Sure enough, the heckling and the “points of order” began almost immediately, and continued for more than an hour.

In some respects it was pure political theatre – an emboldened opposition seeking to hijack a high-profile televised event in order to humiliate the president and overshadow an increasingly divided governing party.

But there is genuine anger in South Africa about allegations of corruption and cronyism against Mr Zuma – and in particular about last year’s constitutional court ruling that condemned his role in a renovation scandal at his private homestead, Nkandla.

Before long, cries of “criminal” and “racist” were being hurled across the floor between rival MPs, and pepper spray was released in the public gallery.

It was only a matter of time before the security guards were deployed. They charged into the hall – a donut of white shirts quickly surrounding the red-suited MPs of the EFF.

A few fists swung. Bodies were dragged over plump parliamentary furniture. And within seconds the red suits had been ejected from the chamber.

The DA’s MPs quickly stood up and left under their own steam.

Police dispersed rival groups who fought outside parliament

Police dispersed rival groups who fought outside parliament

Mr Zuma, looking tired but managing the occasional smile, finally began his speech, focusing on familiar plans to address the legacy of racial apartheid and to accelerate the transfer of South Africa’s economy into the hands of the black majority.

But the atmosphere in the chamber felt flat, while outside, opposition leaders were busy speaking in angry, urgent tones to crowds of journalists.

The State of the Nation address had, as planned, been sidelined.


Mr Zuma had angered some MPs ahead of his speech by ordering the deployment of about 440 troops to maintain law and order in parliament on the day.

Opposition parties condemned the decision as a “declaration of war”.

It was the first time that troops had a security rather than a ceremonial role.

Previous State of the Nation speeches have been marred by chaos in parliament.

Since winning seats in 2014, members of the EFF have caused disruption by chanting and jeering at the president over allegations of corruption.

In 2015, EFF members were removed from the chamber by security guards disguised as waiters.

Jacob Zuma: Key facts

  • With no formal schooling, he joined the ANC at 17 and was jailed for 10 years on Robben Island alongside Nelson Mandela
  • A charismatic politician, he shook off various scandals to become president in 2009
  • But his presidency has been dogged by allegations of corruption
  • Last year, the Constitutional Court ruled he had breached the constitution by failing to repay government money spent on upgrades including a swimming pool and chicken run at his private home in Nkandla
  • The anti-corruption watchdog then said a judicial inquiry should be set up to further investigate allegations of criminal activity in government in relation to the Guptas, a business family with links to Mr Zuma
  • The 74-year-old survived three no-confidences votes last year, two in parliament and one within the ANC
  • He is due to step down as ANC leader in December and as president after general elections in 2019.
  • *BBC
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The AFRICA CEO FORUM puts female leadership in Africa at the heart of the debate
February 9, 2017 | 0 Comments

The AFRICA CEO FORUM and McKinsey & Company are pooling their expertise to launch the African Women in Business initiative at the 2017 AFRICA CEO FORUM on 20 and 21 March in Geneva. McKinsey & Company will participate as a knowledge partner.

Four businesswomen at the AFRICA CEO FORUM. From left to right: Tigui Camara, Diane Chenal, Ghislaine Ketcha Tessa, Neila Benzina. Credits: Jacques Torregano

Four businesswomen at the AFRICA CEO FORUM. From left to right: Tigui Camara, Diane Chenal, Ghislaine Ketcha Tessa, Neila Benzina. Credits: Jacques Torregano

PARIS, France, 8 February 2017 – The 2017 AFRICA CEO FORUM, the biggest international African private sector gathering, will host over 1,000 African and international personalities and key African industrial, financial and political decision-makers, including around 200 female business leaders from 43 African countries.

An essential platform for dialogue and networking, the AFRICA CEO FORUM is devoting this year’s edition to the role of women in African enterprise. As part of the African Women in Business initiative, a high-level panel will bring together the most influential women in the African private sector and the CEOs most active in promoting gender diversity. The goal is twofold: to identify the best strategies for increased female representation in business and to highlight the career paths of the women who have shaped the African private sector.

“A greater representation of women in companies is crucial to the prosperity of the African private sector”, said Amir Ben Yahmed, President of AFRICA CEO FORUM.
“By creating the 

African Women in Business initiative, we have decided to put female leadership at the heart of our discussions.”

The African Women in Business initiative will also present the findings of the McKinsey & Company Women Matter Africa report. This report sets out the progress made by the African private and public sectors in terms of women’s representation. While Africa equals – and even exceeds – international standards, there is still a long way to go to achieve true gender equality.

By launching the African Women in Business initiative, the AFRICA CEO FORUM is contributing to the implementation of concrete solutions for the improvement of gender diversity. It aims, as in all matters to the life of African companies, to shake things up and push boundaries.

About the Women Matter Africa Report

Among the conclusions:

* Companies with greater gender diversity within their boards tend to perform better financially.
* The same applies to African companies; the top 25% most diverse companies have a 20% higher earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) than their industry average.
* Those with boards made up of at least 25% women have a 20% EBIT above their industry average.
* In the private sector, Africa has more women board members, CEOs and managers than the world average. However, there is an under-representation of women at other hierarchical levels.
* In the public sector, Africa has more women in parliament than the world average, but this rate has to double to achieve gender equality.
* Although the number of women leaders has increased in the private as well as the public sector, they do not necessarily have more power or influence.

About the AFRICA CEO FORUM

Developed in partnership with the African Development Bank, the AFRICA CEO FORUM is an event organised by Groupe Jeune Afrique, publisher of Jeune Afrique and The Africa Report, and Rainbow Unlimited, a Swiss company that specialises in organising events promoting and facilitating business.

Launched in 2012, the AFRICA CEO FORUM has become the leading international meeting on the development of Africa and its companies, in a high-level professional setting. The 2016 edition hosted over 1,000 African and international personalities, including 600 business leaders from 43 African countries and 100 high-level speakers.

*AMA

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Boateng: Nelson Mandela told me his daughter wanted to marry me
February 9, 2017 | 0 Comments

The Ghana international received an unexpected message from the former South African president

Boateng

Boateng

It’s not every day one gets the chance to marry the daughter of a renowned former world leader, but that’s exactly what happened to Kevin-Prince Boateng after the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Boateng had switched his allegiance from his native Germany, who he represented at youth level, to Ghana, in time to become an important member of the side that came within a penalty shootout of the World Cup semi-finals.

The Ghana team also met with former South Africa president Nelson Mandela, something that was a dream come true for the midfielder.

“There were three people I always wanted to meet: Michael Jackson, Muhammad Ali and Nelson Mandela,” Boateng said in an interview with  The Guardian . “I only met one, and it’s hard to describe. It’s just joy. Mandela was in prison for 27 years just because he stood up for his rights and he sits there and has no anger inside.

“He should be angry with the whole world, but he wasn’t. He’s calm, just there in his little seat saying hello to everybody. He makes you feel calm. He was shining. It’s like a movie. It’s like an angel sitting there.”

Boateng recalled he was in such awe of Mandela, he was unable to think of anything to say. However, Boateng’s star had risen so much after starting five games for Ghana in the tournament, the former crusader against apartheid not only knew who he was, but also let him know his daughter was a huge fan.

“We go into the room: ‘Hello … hello … hello.’ He shook my hand, pulled me towards him and said: ‘My daughter wants to marry you.’ I said: ‘Sorry I already have a girlfriend.’

“He said: ‘No, no but I have others, more beautiful.’ Everyone was laughing. The pity is we couldn’t take pictures because the flash hurt his eyes so I only have one.”

Boateng added: “And it doesn’t even look like me.”

*Goal

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