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U.S. envoy Haley’s blunt diplomacy targets South Sudan, Congo
October 31, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Michelle Nichols*

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley meets South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Taban Deng Gai in Juba U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley meets South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Taban Deng Gai in Juba, South Sudan October 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jok Solomun

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley meets South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Taban Deng Gai in Juba
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley meets South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Taban Deng Gai in Juba, South Sudan October 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jok Solomun

JUBA, South Sudan/KITCHANGA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) – In a mountainous camp for displaced Congolese, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley wrapped her arm around an inconsolable woman who recounted being raped twice.

“It only makes me more passionate, it makes me more determined,” Haley told a small group of reporters traveling with her during her first trip to Africa. “I’ll carry the voices of the women that I met and things that they said.”

Dispatched by President Donald Trump to Ethiopia, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo, Haley’s trip was one of the first tangible signs of interest in Africa by the nine-month old administration.

Her challenge: how to show the United States is actively engaged in Africa, where humanitarian and political crises are often overshadowed by more urgent conflicts elsewhere and at the same time honor Trump’s avowed “America First” policy which puts U.S. economic and national interests ahead of international commitments.

As Africa struggles to win Trump’s interest, U.S. policy is more likely to be increasingly focused on countering militant threats. Washington also has a financial interest at stake as it tries to cut U.N. peacekeeping costs, for which it pays more than a quarter.

Trump has made a point of saying he would not impose U.S. values on others, raising concerns among activists that human rights issues could take a backseat.

Nowhere is that more in focus than in Niger where a deadly ambush killed four U.S. troops who were there to assist local Nigerian forces fighting a local Islamic State affiliate this month. At the same time, Washington has mostly turned a blind eye to the increasingly authoritarian moves of Niger’s former opposition leader, now president Mahamadou Issoufou, as it tries to stop the militant threat from expanding.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley (R), meets Democratic Republic Congo's national independent electoral commission's president, Corneille Nangaa Yobeluo, at the commission's headquarters in Kinshasa, DRC, Oct. 27, 2017.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley (R), meets Democratic Republic Congo’s national independent electoral commission’s president, Corneille Nangaa Yobeluo, at the commission’s headquarters in Kinshasa, DRC, Oct. 27, 2017.

Haley, a former governor of the U.S. state of South Carolina, was the most senior member of Trump’s administration to travel to the three sub-Saharan states in a trip that showed how she balances her political skills with her nascent foreign policy and diplomacy experience.

She was moved to tears after visiting displaced Congolese in Kitchanga in the conflict-ravaged east of the country. In Ethiopia’s Gambella region, she kicked off her shoes and sat down on the floor to play with South Sudanese toddlers.

“Those kids will be 18 one day,” Haley told a small group of reporters during her trip. “They will be an uneducated adult with no social skills that will have resented the fact that they were put in that situation and that’s dangerous for the United States and that’s dangerous for the world.”

‘BLUNTNESS IS IMPORTANT’

With U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shying away from the spotlight, Haley has carved out a high-profile role for herself. Amid speculation about Tillerson’s future Haley said that if she was offered the job: “I would say no.”

Known for taking a blunt approach that has raised eyebrows among diplomats at the United Nations, Haley took her direct style to lengthy one-on-one conversations with the South Sudanese and Congolese leaders.

“I think bluntness is important, but I also expected it back and I got candid conversations back from them,” she said. “That was very much appreciated because we didn’t want to have to sit there and deal with the political talk, we wanted to get to the realities of the situation.”

It’s not clear yet if South Sudanese and Congolese leaders will heed her message.

In Kinshasa she spoke privately with President Joseph Kabila for 90 minutes. She had said Kinshasa must hold a long-delayed election to replace Kabila by the end of next year or the vote will lose international support.

But the Congolese opposition was critical of her statement there because it conceded there would be no election this year, in violation of a deal Kabila’s camp signed with the opposition last December, without extracting any concessions in return.

“Calling for Kabila to stay in power beyond Dec. 31, 2017 is the equivalent, pure and simple, of making oneself complicit with the evil genius!” opposition leader Olivier Kamitatu wrote on Twitter above a photo of Haley from her visit.

In Juba, Haley met with President Salva Kiir for 45 minutes, showing him photos of refugees from her visit to Gambella.

South Sudan spiraled into a civil war in 2013, just two years after gaining independence from Sudan, sparked by a feud between Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and his former deputy Riek Machar, a Nuer.

The U.S. invested heavily in the process that led to South Sudan’s independence. The Trump administration has been far less engaged, let alone influential, in trying to end the war that erupted.

Haley plans to meet with Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster this week to discuss her trip.

“I’ll give options and then if asked I’ll give the recommendation,” Haley said. “(Trump) very much wants to know how everybody else feels, he very much takes all that into consideration and then he makes his decision.”

*Source Reuters  (Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Additional reporting by Aaron Ross; Editing by Yara Bayoumy and Sandra Maler)

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Young Emerging Entrepreneurs Share Anzisha Prize, Africa’s Premier Award for Young Entrepreneurs
October 27, 2017 | 0 Comments

22 year old, Ibrahima Ben Aziz Konate from Cote D’Ivoire takes Anzisha Grand Prize.

Ibrahima Ben Aziz Konate, the grand prize winner accepting his award.

Ibrahima Ben Aziz Konate, the grand prize winner accepting his award.

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, October 25, 2017,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- African Leadership Academy and Mastercard Foundation are pleased to announce that 22 year old, Ibrahima Ben Aziz Konate from Cote D’Ivoire has been awarded the top prize at the seventh annual Anzisha Prize awards gala. Ibrahima Ben Aziz is the founder of Poultry D’Or, a poultry business that often has over 500 sales a day and employs 15 people. Ibrahima was selected from a competitive pool of diverse entrepreneurs from 14 African countries. For the first time ever, Anzisha Prize is thrilled to award the grand prize to an applicant from Cote D’Ivoire. This will truly expand the reach and impact of the Anzisha program across various countries.

“It is hard to believe that I was chosen as the winner of the prize. It has been a dream of mine to join the Anzisha Prize network since I first heard about it. The $25 000 is the difference that I need to scale my business and show the young people in my community that entrepreneurship is possible, even at a very young age,” says Ibrahima.

Each prize winner has founded a business that responds directly to a social or economic need within their community. The two runner-ups were Edgar Edmund, 17, from Tanzania and Victoria Olimatunde, 15, from Nigeria. Edgar Edmund’s business Green Venture Tanzania has created a method of turning recycled plastic materials found on the streets into durable construction blocks. His long-term vision impressed the Pan-African panel of judges and his business model showed potential for making a significant and long-term impact. While Victoria, the founder of Bizkidz, a board game that teaches students financial literacy was chosen from 219 applications from her home country. In her presentation to the judges she demonstrated great leadership potential and a commitment to job creation.

The winner of the Agriculture Sector Prize sponsored by the Louis Dreyfus Foundation was Ignatius Ahumuza from Uganda, founder of Art Planet Academy. Ignatius is already a role model proving that the agricultural sector can provide sustainable and fulfilling livelihoods for young people across Africa. Art Planet Academy’s purpose is to expand agricultural education across rural communities to increase farming skills and food security. This is an example of how a driven, industrious and energetic 21 year old can contribute to his or her country’s economic development.

“It is always a great privilege to meet the newest group of Anzisha Fellows. Their drive and commitment to improving the lives of their families, communities and nations is admirable and inspiring,” said Koffi Assouan, Program Manager, Mastercard Foundation. “Entrepreneurialism is an important driver of economic growth across the continent. As these finalists return home, they will become role models who will inspire the next generation to pursue their dreams.”

The Anzisha Prize is a partnership between African Leadership Academy and the Mastercard Foundation. The 15 Anzisha Prize finalists were selected from an applicant pool of more than 800 entrepreneurs from more than 32 African countries. The finalists and emerging business leaders were recognized at an exclusive, invitation-only ceremony on Tuesday 24 October 2017 in Johannesburg. The 15 finalists presented their ventures to a panel of judges after spending 10 days in a business accelerator camp to strengthen business fundamentals. They join a more than 70 strong pool of Anzisha Fellows and will receive ongoing business-consulting support, access to experts, and access to networking opportunities to enable sustainable venture growth.

“Young African entrepreneurs such as the Anzisha Fellows are a testimony to the need for youth organizations to promote and provide continued guidance on entrepreneurship and self-employment for young people. Ibrahima is an example of how entrepreneurship and self-employment is key for achieving smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.” says Lerato Mdluli, Program Manager for the Anzisha Prize.

Applications for the next cycle of the Anzisha Prize will open on 15 February in 2017. Nominations for promising youth entrepreneurs are welcome all year round.

For more information on the Anzisha Prize and to nominate an entrepreneur, please visit the Anzisha Prize website:

The Anzisha Prize is delivered by African Leadership Academy in partnership with Mastercard Foundation. Through the Anzisha Prize, the organisers seek to catalyse innovation and scale entrepreneurship among youth across the continent.

African Leadership Academy (ALA) seeks to transform Africa by developing a powerful network of entrepreneurial leaders who will work together to achieve extraordinary social impact. Each year, ALA brings together the most promising young leaders from all 54 African nations for a pre-university program in South Africa with a focus on leadership, entrepreneurship and African studies. ALA continues to cultivate these leaders throughout their lives, in university and beyond, by providing on-going leadership and entrepreneurial training and connecting them to high-impact networks of people and capital that can catalyse large-scale change. This year marks ALA’s Decennial, a milestone to reflect on and celebrate its progress to date, while investing the impact ALA will have in the future.

Mastercard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Africa. As one of the largest private foundations, its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by Mastercard when the Foundation was created in 2006.

The Louis Dreyfus Foundation helps to alleviate poverty and hunger by bringing sustainable solutions to smallholder farmers. The Foundation promotes projects in the areas of sustainable agriculture, food security and self-sufficiency, particularly through education and direct support to farmers, with a specific focus on developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America

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Mastercard Foundation Announces Fifth Annual Symposium on Financial Inclusion
October 27, 2017 | 0 Comments
Government, private sector, and non-profit actors to convene in Accra
Government, private sector, and non-profit actors to convene in Accra
ACCRA, Ghana, October 26, 2017 -/African Media Agency (AMA)/– The Mastercard Foundation today announced that its fifth annual and largest Symposium on Financial Inclusion (SoFI) will take place in Accra, Ghana, on November 7 – 9, 2017. The Symposium champions the idea that, to achieve greater financial inclusion, financial service providers in developing countries must do more to meet the needs and expectations of people living in poverty.

Each year since 2013 the Foundation has convened hundreds of industry professionals to focus on barriers to greater financial inclusion around the world. SoFI has been a platform where experts in the field gather to pave the way toward a more financially inclusive world. They exchange knowledge on a broad range of topics, including client centricity, technology, innovation, best practices, partnerships, and many more.

This year’s event will reflect on progress made over the past five years, explore challenges that still lie ahead, and plan how to expand and deepen financial inclusion for the world’s most underserved people.

“Creating a more financially inclusive world is a daunting task,” said Reeta Roy, President and CEO of the Mastercard Foundation. “Over the years, financial inclusion has increased as a priority for the international development community, as well as governments, business owners, and the clients they serve. After five years of gathering the brightest minds in the field to advance access and resources to modern financial products and services, we’ve made significant progress that will continue to make a difference in the lives of people. This year’s Symposium celebrates the progress made over these past five years and defines the work yet to be done.”

Attendees will hear from an impressive lineup of keynote speakers, including:

● Opening Keynote Address: Juliet Anammah, Chief Executive Officer, Jumia Nigeria
● Keynote Address II: Dr. Ernest Addison, Governor, Bank of Ghana

In addition to hearing from more than 30 other speakers at the Symposium, the Foundation will also award its 2017 Clients at the Centre Prize. This is a US$150,000 award that recognizes an organization most focused on client centricity to enable poor people in developing countries access to formal financial products and services. Finalists competing for the grand prize will present their business models to an audience of approximately 400 industry professionals, who will be tasked with voting for the winner.

The Mastercard Foundation first awarded the Clients at the Centre Prize in 2015 to the Swedish mobile microinsurance firm BIMA. Last year, the Prize was presented to the South African international remittance company, Hello Paisa. Each year draws nearly 100 applicants from companies around the globe. The three 2017 finalists are:

● Jumo,; a large-scale, low-cost financial services marketplace that uses behavioral data from mobile usage to create financial identities for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises;
● ftCash, one of India’s fastest growing financial technology ventures which aims to empower micro-merchants and small businesses with the power of digital payments and loans; and
● Destacame, a free online platform that empowers users by giving them control over their data to build their financial capabilities and to access financial products.

To learn more, visit the Mastercard Foundation’s Symposium on Financial Inclusionwebsite. Follow the conversation with the Foundation on Twitter @MastercardFdn and via the event hashtag, #SOFI2017.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of Mastercard Foundation.

About the Mastercard Foundation:
The Mastercard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Africa. As one of the largest private foundations, its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by Mastercard when the Foundation was created in 2006. For more information and to sign up for the Foundation’s newsletter, please visit www.Mastercardfdn.org.
ACCRA, Ghana, October 26, 2017 -/African Media Agency (AMA)/– The Mastercard Foundation today announced that its fifth annual and largest Symposium on Financial Inclusion (SoFI) will take place in Accra, Ghana, on November 7 – 9, 2017. The Symposium champions the idea that, to achieve greater financial inclusion, financial service providers in developing countries must do more to meet the needs and expectations of people living in poverty.

Each year since 2013 the Foundation has convened hundreds of industry professionals to focus on barriers to greater financial inclusion around the world. SoFI has been a platform where experts in the field gather to pave the way toward a more financially inclusive world. They exchange knowledge on a broad range of topics, including client centricity, technology, innovation, best practices, partnerships, and many more.

This year’s event will reflect on progress made over the past five years, explore challenges that still lie ahead, and plan how to expand and deepen financial inclusion for the world’s most underserved people.

“Creating a more financially inclusive world is a daunting task,” said Reeta Roy, President and CEO of the Mastercard Foundation. “Over the years, financial inclusion has increased as a priority for the international development community, as well as governments, business owners, and the clients they serve. After five years of gathering the brightest minds in the field to advance access and resources to modern financial products and services, we’ve made significant progress that will continue to make a difference in the lives of people. This year’s Symposium celebrates the progress made over these past five years and defines the work yet to be done.”

Attendees will hear from an impressive lineup of keynote speakers, including:

● Opening Keynote Address: Juliet Anammah, Chief Executive Officer, Jumia Nigeria
● Keynote Address II: Dr. Ernest Addison, Governor, Bank of Ghana

In addition to hearing from more than 30 other speakers at the Symposium, the Foundation will also award its 2017 Clients at the Centre Prize. This is a US$150,000 award that recognizes an organization most focused on client centricity to enable poor people in developing countries access to formal financial products and services. Finalists competing for the grand prize will present their business models to an audience of approximately 400 industry professionals, who will be tasked with voting for the winner.

The Mastercard Foundation first awarded the Clients at the Centre Prize in 2015 to the Swedish mobile microinsurance firm BIMA. Last year, the Prize was presented to the South African international remittance company, Hello Paisa. Each year draws nearly 100 applicants from companies around the globe. The three 2017 finalists are:

● Jumo,; a large-scale, low-cost financial services marketplace that uses behavioral data from mobile usage to create financial identities for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises;
● ftCash, one of India’s fastest growing financial technology ventures which aims to empower micro-merchants and small businesses with the power of digital payments and loans; and
● Destacame, a free online platform that empowers users by giving them control over their data to build their financial capabilities and to access financial products.

To learn more, visit the Mastercard Foundation’s Symposium on Financial Inclusionwebsite. Follow the conversation with the Foundation on Twitter @MastercardFdn and via the event hashtag, #SOFI2017.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of Mastercard Foundation.

About the Mastercard Foundation:
The Mastercard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Africa. As one of the largest private foundations, its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by Mastercard when the Foundation was created in 2006. For more information and to sign up for the Foundation’s newsletter, please visit www.Mastercardfdn.org.
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CCA Working On Trade Mission To Sudan
October 25, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

CCA President Florizelle Liser

CCA President Florizelle Liser

With sanctions eased, U.S companies are relishing the prosepcts of doing business with Sudan .Taking the lead is the Washington,DC based Corporate Council on Africa which is working on Trade Mission to Sudan for its members in early December.

In a recent interview to discuss the state of US-Africa business ties, CCA’s President Florie Liser said, Members were excited with the opportunity of doing business with Sudan. The decision to undertake the Trade Mission follows a briefing to the CCA from State Department Officials on scope of measures taken by the Trump Administration to ease sanctions . Florie Liser also disclosed that during the recent World Bank/IMF meetings , the Sudanese Minister of Finance held a heavily attended interactive session at the CCA to discuss business related opportunities in Sudan.

Revisiting the last US-Africa Business Summit, Florie Liser said it was a success and post summit feedback has been very positive. While the choice of the host country has not been made, Florie Liser did confirm that the next Summit will take place in Africa .Mozambique has so far expressed strong interest and a decision is expected to be made at some point next year.

“I do think that the Trump Administration will want to gauge very positively on the issue of our commercial relationship with the nations of Africa,” said Florie Liser in answering questions on the way forward for US-Africa Business ties. On the encouraging signs, Florie Liser cited the presence of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Wright at the last US-Africa Business Summit,calls from President Trump to African leaders, and the reception he had for a number of African leaders on the sidelines of the last UN General Assembly Meetings.

Florie Liser, good afternoon.

Florie Liser: Good Afternoon.

You are approaching the symbolic one year milestone as president of the Corporate Council of Africa; how is the organization doing under your leadership?

Florie Liser:Well I’d like to say, and I think my board would agree that it’s been, first of all, my one year appointment is at the end of January, so we’re not quite there yet, but I think I’ve been here maybe nine months and it’s been really exciting.  I feel like we have been building on CCA’s brand of twenty three years but I’m also enlivening our vision, doing some new things that we haven’t done before, but also some things we’ve done in the past, but making sure we do them in ways that meet the needs of our members.  So again, we are building on the brand we have, but we are doing some new things and repositioning ourselves in the market and making sure that people understand what CCA brings to the table and our value added for those companies that are members.   We’re growing our membership, since I got here I think we’ve gotten seventeen new members, including some big companies, some medium size companies, some small companies; so I’m very pleased about that.

One of your signature events in the past nine months that you’ve been president, was the USA -S Africa Business Summit last year.  What feedback are you getting from members and participants on post summit progress?

Florie Liser: So, the summit I thought was a big success.  We had over 800 registrants.  We had the Head of State for Mozambique, President Nyusi.  We had the president of the African Development Bank as well, who was the key note speaker. And we also had for the first time, I think we were the first ones to do this, to have someone senior from the Trump Administration, Secretary Wilbur Ross from the Department of Commerce to come and give remarks about the US strategy for engaging with Africa from an economic view point.  So we were very excited about that and thought the summit was a success.  As a result of that, we got some new members.  As a result of that, we have new initiatives that we are working on and continuing as I said to make clear what CCA has to offer to the US and African Business community.

At the time the summit took place, many were still wondering on the approach that the Trump Administration would take towards business ties with Africa.  What is your take on the way his Administration is approaching US Africa business ties?

Florie Liser:I think that if we listen to secretary Ross’ speech, at the US South Africa Business Summit, he made the point that Africa is an important economic partner of the United States, that we have a number of programmes and initiatives with them that are important. He mentioned  the President’s Advisory Council on doing business in Africa.  We call it the pack DBIA and that was something that was launched actually under President Obama, but he himself Secretary Ross, is supportive of it continuing and he has already spoken to the members  of the pack DBIA.  He talked about AGOA, he talked about two way trade between US and African Nations and he made it clear that Africa is a place of opportunity for US Businesses.  He also encouraged African Ministers and other Officials that were there, to consider what US businesses bring to the table when countries are considering bids for different projects.  Sometime American companies are dismissed maybe because of cost but Secretary Ross was saying ‘you do get what you pay for;’ and for US companies, we bring technology, we bring skills transfer and we bring the kinds of partnerships that we think are longer lasting and mutually beneficial which is not  necessarily the case for some of the other kinds of partnerships that Africans may have; but I think his message was a positive one and since then, there have been different interactions.

President Trump has called different African Heads of State, economic issues have maybe not at the The agenda for the call most times I think it’s been security and peace and issues, but the US Africa economic relationship has come up and then during the luncheon that president Trump hosted for African Heads of States, I think there were about eight of them in New York, the issue of the US Africa Economic Relationship also came up there.  So I’m thinking that it may not be prominent in the news and so forth, but I do think that the Trump Administration will want to gauge very positively on the issue of our commercial relationship with the nations of Africa.

I would like you to discuss a few other events that you have had in the course of the year beginning with the World Tourism conference in Rwanda, I think.  How did that go? 

President Trump meeting with African Leaders in New York during the UN General Assembly,I do think that the Trump Administration will want to gauge very positively on the issue of our commercial relationship with the nations of Africa says Forie Liser

President Trump meeting with African Leaders in New York during the UN General Assembly,I do think that the Trump Administration will want to gauge very positively on the issue of our commercial relationship with the nations of Africa says Forie Liser

Florie Liser:Well that went very well, but I want to mention one other that we did in early August, that was in late August but in early August, the Corporate Council on Africa, hosted the AGOA Private Sector Dialogue and this was at the request of the US government.  We’ve done it before and so we were in Togo for that and had several sessions with lots of both US and African companies who recognized the benefits of the African Growth and Opportunity Act and the possibility of increasing and enhancing the kind of trade that the US does with Africa focusing more on value added products, value added agricultural products etc.  So I don’t want to pass that by; and we had companies there like Whole Foods who is sourcing our value added Shea butter products from  Togo and other countries in the region and looking to do more and so we were very pleased with the participating in the AGOA forum which happens annually.

And then in late August, we were in Kigali Rwanda for the World Tourism Conference. As you know the Africa Travel Association became a division of the Corporate Council on Africa in late 2015, and in 2016 we started planning for this world tourism conference which we had in August and it was a great conference in many ways but the thing that I thought that was most interesting was we had sort of people who represent the whole platform in tourism, small travel agents and tour operators but then we also had companies that represents sort of the new platform for tourists in the world.

We had Expedia, we had Uber, Trip Advisor, Tastemakers Africa.  We had a number of organizations and businesses who were doing tourism in Africa in different ways and so we were very pleased to have those both old and new platforms , stake holders, and African Tourism come together.  It was a very successful forum.  President Kagame opened it and we also had as a part of our opening session, the Secretary General of UNCTAD, Kituyi.  UNCTAD had just put out a report on tourism in Africa as a major driver of economic growth and diversification on the continent and so when we reached out to him and said, ‘you’ve just put out this report, we would love for you to come and say some words ,he did do that.

So again we had excellent turn out at the conference and also a really good dialogue about how US and African stakeholders in the tourism sector can work together.

 And on the side lines of the UN General Assembly in September, the CCA also hosted a number of events.  Do you want to shed more light on that?

Florie Liser:Yes, we had several events while we were up there in different sectors, but let me start with the one that was the highlight for us which was a Presidential dialogue on the future of US -Africa Business Relations and at that session we had President Kagame and then Mr Dangote who is  on the CCA Board on a panel that talked about how they perceive the future of the US Africa Business Relationship and the key issues and areas that have to be focused on.  So they talked about regional trade in Africa, how that has to be strengthened, they talked sectors like agriculture where there has to be a lot of focus in African given who Africa is and what Africa is about.

They talked about misperceptions about investing in Africa which even today still exists.  President Kagame said that corruption is not something that is African, this is something that exists all over the world.  The importance of American businesses is having the right perspective about Africa and the opportunities there.   That was a large amount of what they talked about and that the perception of Africa relative to the reality is something that we still need to work on if we are gonna promote greater investment in FDI from the US to Africa, but also more  partnerships.

Mr Dangote talked about the  importance of partnerships where American companies come to the continent not just to sort of do business but to kind of go on their own but where they in a very collaborative way sit down with companies like his own that are doing things all across the continent.  It’s a Nigerian company but they are probably in a dozen countries across Africa in a wide range of product areas from cement to producing value added agricultural products.

As we do this interview, the US lifted sanctions on Sudan. What is the take of your members on doing business in that country?

We look forward to taking members to Sudan so that they can kind of see for themselves what’s on the ground and what the opportunities are there, says Florie Liser

We look forward to taking members to Sudan so that they can kind of see for themselves what’s on the ground and what the opportunities are there, says Florie Liser

Florie Liser:Even before the sanctions were lifted, we were talking with some of the companies from Sudan.  One of them Sudatel is a recent member of CCA, they joined in September. And talking about this, the US government did indeed make the decision in October to lift the sanctions, this would be a big deal, and they’ve been in place for quite some time.  There are still some sanction related restrictions, but for the most part, the sanctions were lifted and would allow for US companies to be there, which in the past they could not.  And so even as we were waiting to hear what the decision would be, we were already talking about what were some of the things they might be able to do from CCA’s perspective and one of them is a trade mission.  The other day, on Monday, we had  meeting here at CCA, it was a packed room.  I have never seen a room like that, it was standing room only.  I’m sure the fire Marshalls might not have been happy if they had come, but we had first US Government people from the Department of State come and brief our members and others about what this meant with lifting of the sanctions and the specifics of what they could now do in Sudan.  But it was a very positive briefing and then we had the Sudanese Minister of Finance and his delegation who had been here for the World Bank IMF meetings  and they came in to also talk about some of the particular sectors that are ripe for investment there.   Everything from renewable energy to mining, IT etc  They have a lot of opportunities there and it’s kind of like a whole new market that Americans haven’t been able to actually get into and so there’s a lot of excitement and we’ve decided and announced during that meeting on Monday that CCA will be organizing a trade mission to Sudan in early December.  So we are very much excited about that and looking forward to taking members to Sudan so that they can kind of see for themselves what’s on the ground and what the opportunities are.

What other measure of activities will the CCA be working on for the rest of the year.  I understand you just mentioned a Trade Mission to Sudan in early December that should be very welcome news for them.  What other activities do you have in place for the rest of the year? 

Florie Liser:So we are looking at a number of things, so for example, similar to that, we have been discussing with Morocco, the possibility, we don’t have anything firm yet, but we’ve been discussing with them the possibility of doing a CCA trade mission to Morocco maybe in the first quarter of 2018.  And so we hope that that will come to fruition.

We’ve also been talking with the UN Economic Commission for Africa, UNECA, about an event that we may organize on the side lines of the African Union Summit in January in Addis.  The major point of it would be to bring companies, both US and African companies there to have an opportunity to say to Heads of State and Ministers, ‘here is what we need in different sectors in order for us to drive more investment and more business;’ because we know that the AU has it’s AU 2063 vision, we know that the SDG’s have been established and talk about private sector, but on the ground, there are still  a number of  various issues and challenges and we thought that while Heads of States are still there, maybe what we could do is talk about them in a couple of key sectors, what do private sector people think people think need to really happen in terms of implementation.  They have the plans and they have the vision, but the question, is the actual implementation.

So one example, Mr Dangote who  as I said is on my board, mentioned there is an AU visa where he wouldn’t have to get individual visas,  country by country,  as he goes throughout the continent to explore business opportunity.  He said in principle, it’s there, but in practice it’s not functioning.  He still has to  go country by country to get visas.  And so these kinds of issues have to be addressed to move both people and goods across Africa in ways that promote, trade, promote investment, promote business.  We really need to address that  and we want to  see if we can get, maybe the first of a number of events like that, but we wanted to see if we could get commitments to do just a couple key things that are identified and then come back maybe six months later, nine months later and see which countries had actually been able to deliver on those commitments and then what kinds of maybe investments or business ventures had come out of that.  Just the lifting of some of those constraints I think would be a major incentive for lots of companies both US and African to do more business in Africa.  So it’s an idea, it’s not 100% certain yet, but it’s kind of moving forward.

I had the opportunity to meet with the new head of UNECA, the new Executive Secretary, her name is Vera Songwe.  We met last Saturday and discussed this again.  This is not the first time we’ve discussed it and I think that it’s something that we will do.  They think that CCA could do it and we think also that we could do this kind of event well, bring the private sector to the table to talk about what needs to happen.  Something concrete and we are looking forward to that.  I’m very excited about the possibility of that.

And no matter what the CCA does, everyone know that it’s  Flagship Programme is  the USA, Africa Business Summit.  The last one took place in Washington and a lot of people left with the expectation that the next one might take place in Africa.  Is this principle still in place and have you settled on the choice of the host country?

President Felipe Nyusi of Mozambique at the last US-Africa Business Forum, Mozambique has express strong interest to host the 2019 Summit

President Felipe Nyusi of Mozambique at the last US-Africa Business Forum, Mozambique has express strong interest to host the 2019 Summit

Florie Liser:Well, we haven’t settled on the choice of the host country yet, but what’s exciting, we do it every other year, so we don’t feel pressed to make the decision right away, but we do have some countries that have already expressed an interest.  One where the Head of State has actually written a letter and said ‘we would like to be the host is Mozambique,’ and I said the next US Africa Business Summit will be in 2019 and so I’m hoping sometime in the first part of 2018, that we’ll make a decision and then actually start the planning for it. Even though, we have a little time but we are not gonna wait till the last minute.

Is it  a certainty that its going to take place in Africa?

FlorieLiser:Absolutely.  It will take place in Africa.

And the last time I had an interview with you, you were also very optimistic, very upbeat about the future of the US Africa Business ties.  Now you have been President of the Corporate Council of Africa for the last nine months; do you still maintain that assessments?  What are the things that you’ve seen that support your assessment?  And what are the impediments to the kind of business ties that you want to see between the US and Africa? 

Florie Liser:So, I mean on the upside, I think that US investments into Africa are increasing but of course as a share of total, outbound FDI, Africa is still  relatively small. When we were in New York and I didn’t mention this, we had several sessions with some countries, either their Heads of State, in the case of Gabon but also with the ministers about five or six ministers from Nigeria and we had the opportunity to talk about the kinds of business environment in those countries and what they are doing. It was very positive. Beyond oil, beyond the gas, a number of the opportunities, we had people of there in the real estate sector, there are a lot of interesting and progressive things happening and in real estate.  We had people from the Health Sector who were looking at not just medical equipment but things that are happening in both the communicable and non-communicable diseases area. And so the continent is right for investment. Lots of countries are investing there. Lots of US companies are investing there. We have companies that are expanding.  Boeing has opened offices in Johannesburg and Kenya. There are various examples though off companies that are really looking at Africa as an opportunity.

Last Friday I took about four CCAs members to meet the Prime Minister of Cote D’Ivoire and we had such an excellent meeting because we talked about the opportunities there in aviation services. They were saying that at the end of their crises that they had in 2010, they had about 1 million people trafficking through there that dropped way off, now they are up to 2 million transiting through Abidjan and we had another company there from CCA that’s looking into equipment that’s been sold there, and the agricultural sector. We had someone there who is doing work in the education sector, and capacity building working with them on export processing zones ,and again we had someone there from one of our energy company who knows specifically what block they would like to bid on for the new oil fields that are in Cote d’Ivoire and we talked about the MCC compact that Cote d’Ivoire will be signing in November. President Ouattara will be here, we hope will have an event to host him and so essentially there are lot of good things that are happening in Africa, and at the CCA we are trying to be at the center of as many of them as we possibly can.

We can’t do everything, we want to be  strategic and we want to make sure that we are supporting our members in the key areas, in the key countries but again we think that we can make a difference from across a wide range of countries and across a wide range of sectors and our members represent that. We can do it for both multinationals as well as our smaller mid-caps and SMEs that are members of the CCA. We are getting ready to launch a membership drive, CCA membership drive to bring in more members into CCA, both US companies and African companies, big and small.  And I’m very excited about that because I think that we have something that we can offer to many companies that are operating on the continent.

Before we get back to membership to conclude the interview, let’s talk about the challenges. What is it that African countries can do to improve their business climate?  What is it that you will recommend they do so  that they can attract more US business interests into the continent?

 with Nigerian Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo,African countries need more reforms to ease the business climate and attract more foreign direct investment says Florie Liser

with Nigerian Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo,African countries need more reforms to ease the business climate and attract more foreign direct investment says Florie Liser

Florie Liser:A number of them are doing it and in some cases they really need to be focused on it. Using Nigeria as an example, their scores on the World Bank  doing business, ease of doing business index, not very good and one of the things that I really admire that they are doing now, is they have a team across a number of industries led by the Vice President Osinbajo,  putting in specific measures, regulations and so forth particularly aimed at specific things that they have to do. Reducing the number of days to get a license to operate, having a one-stop shop so people don’t have to go tracking all around to different ministries to figure out what to do. All of these things they are actually implementing right now.  My assessment is that in another year we will see that their scores will improve because they’ve been focused on it.  They are not just talking the talk but they’re also walking the talk. So things like that, ease of doing business in your country is very important. Governments in Africa take the lead on that. And if they make it easy for companies to do business there, then business will come. If you make it difficult then businesses have lots of choices and they have choices not just across the continent because they can decide I’m coming to this country and not to yours in Africa but they have choices all around the world. They can say well, we are not going to do with African countries because they make it too difficult  and we can go to Latin America or South East Asia or wherever. But I think ease of doing business is one thing. I think some other issues are important, we don’t want to ignore government’s rule of law, these are things that are very important because, you know, you can make it easy for companies to get licenses to operate but if rule of law is really not being honored and respected, if there is corruption etc. companies are gonna say well no it’s too difficult to do business there for those reasons. So I think governments can do a combination of things that make it easier for businesses to be there.

Obviously in areas where there is conflict, those countries really have a lot to do to attract business there. Many countries in Africa frankly are not in conflict and then you know, you have a newly elected president in Liberia, newly elected president in Angola, Kenya we know newly elected president once we know how things will unfold, in Rwanda, President Kagame has been reelected. I think for these different countries, the systems are working, democracy is working, rule of law is working and so I think we’ll see investments and business engagements in those countries. That’s what businesses are looking for.

Last question Florie. You said you are on a membership drive.  Can you make a pitch to companies out there both in Africa and in the USA on why they should join the Corporate Council on Africa. What does the CCA offer them?  

Florie Liser:So, first of all, I think that even though there are competitors out there, there are certain things about CCA that are unique. We are a business Association which has for all of its history been solely focused on, the only place we’ve been focused on is Africa and promoting business between US companies and African companies, between the United States and Africa generally.  We are an advocate ,both here in the United States as well as on the continent for making sure that people understand what the opportunities are and advocating for the kinds of policies, both US policies and African policies that really make it possible both for businesses to operate on the continent. The other thing that’s unique about us, we do have lots of large multinational members, multinational company members, we’ve got a lot of the big guys that are also members of the Chamber of Commerce but we have probably more than half of our members are mid-cap and SME companies.

We also have probably  the biggest associations in terms of membership. We have more African members than any, we feel that we are not just representing the big multinationals on the US side, we feel very strongly that our role is to advocate for more business engagement and so we feel that we can offer African companies something. We can bring them here so that they can have the kind of access and connections to the right people here in the US. We can even introduce African companies that may be smaller to bigger African companies in Africa. So again, our model is actions, access, connections, insight. We think that we provide insight into the doing business environment.  What are the key issues? What are the key challenges?

We think that we can easily speak to those and do so on behalf of our member companies. So again for both big and small US and African, I don’t think that there is an association that can  a more effective lead than us.  I’m not saying that they don’t bring something to the table, I have nothing negative to say about other organizations that are doing some of the same things that we do and then when you look around who is doing trade missions? Who is taking US businesses to Africa to see what is possible on the ground. CCA has been doing this for years and now we are sort of owning it and doing it in  more effective ways. I was just talking to my team about when we go to Sudan, we’ll have meetings with different ministers in charge of all sorts of sectors there but were also gonna take the companies that come with us on trade mission. We want to have them do a site visit, so that they can actually see for themselves some of what is happening on the ground. Because you go to countries, you can sit in conference rooms and hotels and, you know, offices and buildings and really not see for yourself what’s possible and I was saying to my team, ‘we are not gonna do that.  We are going to have those meetings but we are also  gonna get the people out of those meetings and out to see some things  that are on the ground in Sudan. You know people haven’t been there for a long time. A lot of people haven’t had a chance to see. I haven’t been to Sudan. I’ve been to many countries in Africa. I have never been to Sudan.  So I do not want to just sit there in a hotel or office building and see nothing. So another thing unique about CCA’s is that we do trade missions and I think we do them quite well and we’ll be doing them in bigger and better ways, going forward.

Florie Liser, thank you so much for granting this interview.

Thank you for having me. Thank you for coming back and following up.

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Near success against polio calls for greater greater domestic investment into routine immunization programs
October 24, 2017 | 0 Comments
The year 2017 has seen the lowest case count of polio in recorded history, but the job is not done yet
Abidjan, Dakar, Accra, Douala, Lagos, Nairobi, Kampala, Conakry, Lilongwe, Freetown, Monrovia.
DAKAR, Senegal, October 24, 2017,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/-  Fourteen days into a month long campaign to call attention on immunization, civil society across Africa join global efforts to call for continued vigilance to Polio, routine immunization programs and stronger health systems.
Polio cases have been reduced by 99.9% worldwide since 1988. Fewer than 40 cases worldwide were reported for all of 2016, thanks to the 10 billion doses of oral polio vaccine that have been administered since 2000.
“We cannot rest until polio transmission is interrupted and there are zero cases for at least three consecutive years.” Says Salisu Musa Muhammad, Deputy Director at Community Health and Research Initiative in Nigeria, as they have been actively calling the attention of the government performance on budgeting in immunization.
One of three countries still endemic for polio Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan, one is in Africa. Although Nigeria has not reported any cases of polio since the August 2016 outbreak, it is possible that the poliovirus is continuing to spread undetected in the Lake Chad region given ongoing inaccessibility, surveillance gaps and a fluid security situation. To stop the outbreak and respond to the ongoing risk in the area, Nigeria and neighboring countries have implemented large-scale vaccination campaigns.
“Global and national efforts to eradicate polio have been significant and sustained. This is why we are so close.” Boubacar Sylla, coordinator of the civil society platform POSSAV in Guinea, . “However, today as with the eradication of polio, comes the timely reduction of ressources allicated to polio. Polio ressources has for many countries supported the cost of routine immunization and strenghtened health services. With the ressouces allcated to polio reducing, countries will have to ensure that they increase their support to routine immunisation.”
In January 2017, African Heads of States endorsed the Addis Declaration on Immunization, through which they acknowledged that despite their endorsement of the Global Vaccine Action Plan, they are largely off track. The ADI reinforces their commitment at the highest level of political engagement.
These political committlents have to turn into adequate policies as well as concrete budget allocations in order to achieve universal access to immunization. To ensure that this time, countries get or stay on tract, civil society organizatons will continue to track the vaccines, the finances and the legislation.
The 33 days to Power Up Immunization campaign is a continuation of what was started with the Africa Vaccination Week and World Health Assembly.
Signed by,
1. Concern Health Education Project (Ghana),
2. Muslim Family Counseling Services (Ghana),
3. AFRIVAC (Senegal),
4. Community Restoration Initiative Project (Uganda),
5. Community Health and Research Initiative (Nigeria),
6. Nigerian Women Agro Allied Farmers Association (Nigeria),
7. PROVARESSC (Cameroon),
8. Coalition 15 (Cameroon),
9. KANCO (Kenya),
10. FENOS-CI (Côte d’Ivoire),
11. Public Health Initiative Liberia (Liberia),
12. POSSAV (Guinea),
13. Malawi Health Equity Network (Malawi),
14. Children Advocacy Forum Sierra Leone (Sierra Leone),
15. Confederation of Meningitis Organizations (CoMo),
16. Niyel.
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WHO AFRO and the Kuwait Fund Catalyze Global Support to End Neglected Tropical Diseases in Africa
October 24, 2017 | 0 Comments
The Kuwait Fund Director General, Abdulwahab Al Bader, World Health Organization Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Rebecca Moeti and His Excellency Jakaya Kikwete at a formal signing of Kuwait Fund's commitment in support of the World Health Organization's Expanded Special Project for Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases

The Kuwait Fund Director General, Abdulwahab Al Bader, World Health Organization Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Rebecca Moeti and His Excellency Jakaya Kikwete at a formal signing of Kuwait Fund’s commitment in support of the World Health Organization’s Expanded Special Project for Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases

KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait,24 October 2017,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/-Nearly 60 leaders from Middle East and global governments, the UN, African ministries of health, pharmaceutical companies, non-governmental organizations and the philanthropic community convened in Kuwait City for the “Donors’ Meeting to End Neglected Tropical Diseases in Africa.”

The historic meeting, hosted by the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) and the WHO Regional Office for Africa (AFRO), is the first such meeting to be hosted in the Middle East. It seeks to galvanize new financial and other aligned support to reach global control and elimination goals for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in Africa.

Africa accounts for nearly 40% of the world’s NTD burden, or nearly 600 million of the 1.58 billion people affected by NTDs globally. “The Middle East is uniquely well positioned to make a significant contribution to the fight against NTDs in Africa, given the risk of disease spread from the region and the Middle East’s own success in reducing the NTD burden in our region,” said KFAED Director General Abdulwahab Al Bader.

This year, the global community marked the fifth anniversary of the 2012 London Declaration on NTDs, which galvanized unprecedented local, national and global action to end NTDs, including a historic $17.8 billion medicine donation commitment by pharmaceutical companies. This led to increased treatment coverage and reduced the number of people that required treatment for NTDs by 333 million between 2012 and 2015.

To further accelerate progress on NTDs in Africa, AFRO launched the Expanded Special Project for Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases in May 2016 with the support of KFAED and other founding partners. “We are grateful to KFAED for its tremendous leadership and long-standing support for NTD control and elimination. This meeting of development partners is a key moment to celebrate progress, raise awareness of this urgent public health issue, examine the financial needs of the programme and further strengthen partnership opportunities with ESPEN. We hope other partners will follow KFAED’s lead and join us in this important fight.” said the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti.

The meeting also featured a Call to Action on NTDs by former President of the United Republic of Tanzania Jakaya Kikwete, who underscored that the event was designed to kick off a series of high-profile events to expand the network of partners dedicated to supporting progress on the WHO’s 2020 NTD goals.

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Landmark Transaction in the Tanzanian Capital Markets
October 20, 2017 | 0 Comments

We are pleased to announce that Absa Corporate and Investment Banking acting through National Bank of Commerce (“NBC”) have advised Vodacom Group on the successful TZS 476 billion ($213 million) IPO of Vodacom Tanzania Public Limited Company (“Vodacom Tanzania”) on the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (“DSE”).

Vodacom Tanzania is the leading telecommunications provider in Tanzania, offering voice, data and mobile money services to an estimated 12.4 million subscribers. On 1 July 2016, the Tanzanian parliament legislated that telecommunications licensees in the country are required to list a minimum of 25% of their shares on the DSE. Vodacom Tanzania is the first mobile network operator to list on the DSE fulfilling its license obligations.

 

African equity markets are at a nascent stage of development and in recent years have seen limited capital rising. Against this backdrop, the Vodacom Tanzania IPO stands out as a landmark and transformational transaction in the African capital markets, raising capital from domestic and international investors.

 

At USD 213 million, the Vodacom Tanzania IPO is the fourth largest in Sub-Saharan Africa, outside South Africa, since 2008 and stands out for a number of reasons:

 

  • The IPO size was nearly four times larger than any previous IPOs done on the DSE and approximately equal to the sum of IPOs combined in the previous 10 years.
  • landmark transaction on the DSE, raising the market capitalization of the exchange by c.10%
  • In excess of 40,000 local investors participated in the offer, many who were first time participants in the capital markets
  • Raised the profile of the DSE by offering an attractive, investable company for domestic and international investors
  • Vodacom Tanzania has successfully fulfilled its regulatory obligations to list
  • Vodacom Tanzania was the first telecoms company to market, attracting maximum participation from a developing domestic investor base. It has set the standard for all future telecom IPOs

“This transaction is a milestone in the evolution of the Tanzanian capital markets and consistent with Absa’s vision of Shared Growth in promoting development across the continent,” says Hasnen Varawalla, Co-Head of Banking at Barclays Africa.

“The Vodacom Tanzania IPO was the first IPO of this scale in Tanzania”, says Till Streichert, Chief Financial Officer for the Vodacom Group. “Its success is testament to the nature of the partnership between Vodacom Tanzania, Vodacom Group, the Absa and Barclays team, NBC and other advisors who worked together to deliver a transaction that met domestic regulatory requirements while incorporating international best practice.”

This success was possible as a result of:

 

  • A committed, supportive and experienced management team and shareholders that worked seamlessly with all advisors
  • Extensive investor education campaign driven by management, the Tanzanian broker universe and the receiving bank, NBC
  • Comprehensive roadshow across all major centers in Tanzania
  • Seamless execution by NBC acting as the Receiving Bank, which put a core banking system in place, procured specialised software and dedicated a trained 282-strong IPO team to manage and execute collections for the transaction – processing over 40,000 applications with zero errors

 

Trading of the Vodacom Tanzania stock on the DSE commenced on 15 August 2017.

 

“Through our own Shared Growth vision, paired with our expertise in capital markets, we have delivered a transaction that has transformed the Tanzanian capital markets and provides a platform for similar African IPOs. We congratulate Vodacom Tanzania on its debut as a listed company and wish it well for the future”, concludes Varawalla.

Barclays Africa Group Limited (‘Barclays Africa Group’ or ‘the Group’) is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and is one of Africa’s largest diversified financial services groups.  As of June 2017, Barclays PLC is a minority shareholder in Barclays Africa Group.

Barclays Africa Group offers an integrated set of products and services across personal and business banking, corporate and investment banking, wealth and investment management and insurance. We are strongly positioned as a fully local bank with regional and international expertise. We are committed to Shared Growth, which for us means having a positive impact on society and delivering shareholder value.

Barclays Africa Group operates in 12 countries, with approximately 40 000 employees, serving close to 12 million customers.

The Group’s registered head office is in Johannesburg, South Africa and owns majority stakes in banks in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania (Barclays Bank Tanzania and National Bank of Commerce), Uganda and Zambia.  The Group also has representative offices in Namibia and Nigeria.

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AfDB seeks global support for Africa’s young farmers
October 19, 2017 | 0 Comments
Highlights agribusiness as solution to Africa’s youth unemployment
Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB)

Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB)

DES MOINES, United States of America, October 18, 2017/ — The African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org) has called for global support for Africa’s young farmers and “agripreneurs”, highlighting how agribusiness is the answer to the continent’s youth employment.

In collaboration with the Initiative for Global Development, the Association of African Agricultural Professionals in the Diaspora (AAAPD), Michigan State University, Iowa State University, and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, the AfDB brought together stakeholders to discuss how to expand economic opportunities for Africa’s youth throughout the agricultural value chain, from lab to farm to fork.

The session titled “Making Farming Cool: Investing in future African farmers and Agripreneurs” was held on the sideline of the ongoing 2017 World Food Prize Symposium-Borlaug Dialogue (http://www.WorldFoodPrize.org) in Des Moines, Iowa, and had in attendance young entrepreneurs from Africa (http://APO.af/EcKEVJ), private sector representatives, policymakers and thought leaders.

Africa has the world’s youngest population with 60% being under 35 years old. There are 420 million youth aged 15-35 and this segment of the population is expected to double to 840 million by 2040.

Working with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the African Development Bank is empowering young farmers under the Empowering Novel Agri-Business-Led Employment (ENABLE) Youth program.

“Africa’s next billionaires are not going to come from oil, gas, or the extractives. ENABLE Youth is about investing in small agribusinesses today so that they can grow into large enterprises tomorrow,” President Adesina said.

“By empowering youth at each stage of the agribusiness value chain, we enable them to establish viable and profitable agribusinesses, jobs and better incomes for themselves and their communities.”

He explained how attracting a new cadre of young, energetic and talented agripreneurs – who will drive the adoption of new technologies throughout the value chain, raise productivity and meet rising food demands – is an urgent priority.

Recent studies indicate that as African economies transform, there are expanding opportunities for youth employment and entrepreneurship throughout high-potential value chains – literally from lab to fork – where consumer demand is increasing, including horticulture, dairy, oilseeds, poultry and aquaculture.

In addition, there are huge opportunities for engaging African youth in services and logistical sectors in key off-farm activities such as transportation, packaging, ICT and other technology development and light infrastructure – that add value to on-farm productivity and efficiency, in ways that could not envisioned before.

The whole idea of connecting farms to markets, particularly rising urban and regional markets, is where Africa needs to plug in this bulging youth population, Adesina said.

The Bank President highlighted major efforts needed to provide young Africans with new business opportunities, modern and practical skills, access to new technologies, land, equipment and finance that will allow them to transition from subsistence livelihood into higher-paying work, whether these are on or off the farm.

In his words, “This is how we intend to make farming cool!”

Through the ENABLE Youth program, the AfDB and its partners are empowering youth at each stage of the agribusiness value chain with plans to train 10,000 agriculture entrepreneurs, or “agripreneurs”, in African countries, launching at least 300,000 enterprises and creating 1.5 million jobs over the next 5 years.

Africa already has shining examples of successful youth agripreneurs, nine of whom were in the room as Adesina spoke.

He cited three examples of the thousands of young agripreneurs whose fascinating stories fill him with a sense of hope and urgency.

“We need to effectively utilize this African diaspora in the same way done by the Asian countries by leveraging on their expertise to fast-track Africa’s development agenda and allow all Africans to contribute, regardless of whether they are based locally within the African continent, or outside,” Adesina noted.

On agribusiness as a solution to Africa’s youth unemployment, Jennifer Blanke, AfDB’s Vice-President, Agriculture, Human and Social Development, called for access to finance for the youth agripreneurs by re-aligning incentives for commercial banks and other financial institutions to reduce lending risks.

“There are over 15 job groups along the whole agricultural value chain – from farm to fork,” she said.

Noel Mulinganya (http://APO.af/EcKEVJ), a young agripreneur and leader of the Kalambo Youth Agripreneurs (a group of 20 young graduates aged between 25-35 years old from different academic backgrounds engaged in collective agribusiness enterprises), spoke of the need for funding opportunities for young African farmers.

“My aspiration and those of my colleagues is to become business builders,” he said. “We would like this program to be a platform for sharing our knowledge and experiences in order to touch and engage youths as much as we can in agribusinesses.”

Lilian Uwintwali (http://APO.af/EcKEVJ), whose firm provides ICT platforms that serve over 10,000 farmers in Rwanda − linking farmers to markets, banks, insurance companies and extension services, said, “I aspire to get partnerships and investment opportunities here in the USA and I believe the discussions here at conference will help me shape a better business model for my project, m-lima, in Rwanda.”

She speaks of how farming could generate income for African youth.

“I am talking from experience because it has sustained me for the past 5 years,” she said.

The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) (www.AfDB.org) is Africa’s premier development finance institution. It comprises three distinct entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF). On the ground in 37 African countries with an external office in Japan, the AfDB contributes to the economic development and the social progress of its 54 regional member states.

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African multinationals join forces within the AfroChampions Club to foster Africa’s growth and development
October 19, 2017 | 0 Comments
Dangote Group CEO Aliko Dangote, President Thabo Mbeki and President Olusegun Obasanjo organised a successful inaugural meeting in Lagos, which brought together CEOs from 13 African countries
Samba Bathily, Michael Kottoh, Aliko Dangote, Albert Muchanga, AfroChampions Press panel

Samba Bathily, Michael Kottoh, Aliko Dangote, Albert Muchanga, AfroChampions Press panel

LAGOS, Nigeria, October 18, 2017/ — The AfroChampions Initiative  has just taken a new step with the official creation of the AfroChampions Club, a new platform to mobilise African multinationals to accelerate the economic integration of the continent. At the invitation of Mr. Aliko Dangote, Founder and CEO of the Dangote Group (www.Dangote.com) and President of the Club, key business leaders, representing a total of 13 African countries, met in Lagos to attend the inaugural meeting. High-level personalities, including His Excellency Mr. Yemi Osinbajo, Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Mr. Thabo Mbeki, former President of the Republic of South Africa and President of the AfroChampions Initiative, and His Excellency Mr. Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Patron of the initiative, also joined the event.

AU Commissioner, Albert Muchanga

AU Commissioner, Albert Muchanga

Participants at the inaugural meeting have launched two workstreams. The first one focused on gathering recommendations from various African multinationals on best approaches to achieve the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA). These recommendations will be shared officially with the African Union, which was represented at the meeting by His Excellency Mr. Albert Muchanga, Commissioner for Trade and Industry.  Discussions focused on visa waivers and trade facilitation between African states. The second workstream focused on drafting an AfroChampions Charter aimed at defining how African multinationals can best contribute to the development of the continent. By working with the local ecosystems, supporting infrastructure projects, fostering industrialization or helping populations enter the digital era, African economic champions can indeed play a strategic role.

President Thabo Mbeki

President Thabo Mbeki

“We have chosen to work on issues of interest to all Africans. The African Free Trade Area will give us the ability to travel and work easily across the continent; it will also foster the creation of regional value chains, integrating SMEs and building capacities in our countries”, said Aliko Dangote. “As for the AfroChampions Charter, it is a commitment by African multinationals to invest more and better in Africa in those projects with strong economic and social impacts. Our primary responsibility is to give our youth jobs and a future. I was very pleased to hear the consensus on this issue and I expect the Charter to be signed by many of my fellow CEOs in the near future,” he added.

A member of the Executive Committee of the AfroChampions Initiative, Edem Adzogenu highlighted the quality of the discussions at this inaugural meeting. “We talked about the role that African multinationals can have as ambassadors of the continent and its talents, and ways to work better with the public sector. This new dynamic of dialogue is precisely what we want to put in place.” A progress report on the work of the AfroChampions Club is planned for the next African Union summit in January 2018.

The emergence and cross-border activities of homegrown African multinationals have contributed significantly to regional integration through intra-Africa investments and regional value-chains. The AfroChampions Initiative is designed to support and harness the emergence of these champion companies for Africa’s transformation. It also aims at facilitating strategic engagements on how these companies can grow from pan-African champions to African global giants.

The Dangote Group (www.Dangote.com) is an emerging African conglomerate based in Nigeria, West Africa, driven by a mission to touch the lives of people by providing their basic needs. Current interests of the Group, which started as a trading company in 1978, include cement, sugar, salt, pasta, beverages and real estate, with new projects underway in the oil and gas and agricultural sectors of the economy. Some of the Group’s 13 subsidiaries are listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). They include: cement, sugar, salt and flour. The Group operates in 16 other African countries and is fully involved in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities.

The AfroChampions (www.AfroChampions.com) Initiative is a set of innovative public-private partnerships and flagship programs designed to galvanize African resources and institutions to support the emergence and success of African private sector multinational champions in the regional and global spheres. The Initiative, driven by the AfroChampions Organization, was founded by the advisory firm Konfidants; and is Co-Chaired by President Thabo Mbeki and Mr. Aliko Dangote, President and CEO of Dangote Group (www.Dangote.com) The Initiative is headquartered in Accra, Ghana, and works with regional and global partners and governments, with the support of other corporate and institutional partners including ADS Group (http://APO.af/8woL9C), the Djondo Fellowship (http://APO.af/HHQjus), Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (http://APO.af/R7tAcC) and Thabo Mbeki Foundation (http://APO.af/Kt2zhJ

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SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS VACATIONS® OFFERS SAVINGS OF $500 PER PERSON ON A 5-NIGHT AIR- INCLUSIVE CAPE TOWN AND WINE REGION PACKAGE
October 18, 2017 | 0 Comments

Air, Hotel and Cape Peninsula Tour for $1499* Per Person Fort Lauderdale, FL (October 18, 2017) – South African Airways Vacations® (SAA Vacations ®), a division of South African Airways, the national airline of South Africa and Africa’s most awarded airline, is offering, savings of $500 per person for an air-inclusive vacation to Cape Town and the surrounding Cape Winelands. The “Cape Town and the Winelands Super Saver” starting at $1499* per person, will captivate travelers with the breathtaking views and exhilarating activities in sophisticated Cape Town and a 2-night stay in South Africa’s wine and culinary capital, Stellenbosch. The “Cape and Winelands Super Saver” package is available for sale now through October 31, 2017 for stays through December 09, 2017 and January 10 – March 31, 2018.

“Our focus is to offer travelers the best of South Africa at an incredible value,” said Terry von Guilleaume, president and CEO of SAA Vacations®. “The next few months are absolutely spectacular in Cape Town and Stellenbosch, with mild weather during the Southern Hemisphere’s spring and summer season. This special offer will enable travelers to enjoy spending time in the Cape Winelands region, enjoying the spectacular scenery and visiting the many wineries to indulge in South Africa’s finest award-winning vintages.” THE “CAPE AND WINELANDS SUPER SAVER” – STARTING AT $1,499* INCLUDES: · Round trip international Economy Class airfare from New York-JFK International Airport or Washington, D.C.-Dulles International Airport to Cape Town on South African Airways · 3-nights at the Sun Square Cape Town.

 

  • Full-day Cape Peninsula tour to visit Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope · 2 -nights at the Evergreen Manor and Spa in the Cape Winelands in Stellenbosch · Breakfast on a daily basis · Airport and ground transfers in South Africa “The Cape and Winelands Super Saver” package is available for new reservations made by October 31, 2017. To book this package, contact one of SAA Vacations® Africa Specialists by calling 1-(855) 359-7228. South African Airways Vacations offers vacation options for all budgets to ensure its clients experience the vacation of their dreams. For more air-inclusive vacation packages throughout Africa, visit www.flysaavacations.com.

A division of South African Airways (SAA), South African Airways Vacations® (SAA Vacations®) is highly regarded for its wide array of affordable luxury packages to Africa and uses SAA’s extensive route network to create packages for travel throughout South Africa, Botswana, Victoria Falls, Namibia, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania, Senegal, Ghana and the Indian Ocean Islands. Offering more than 80 air-inclusive packages, which range from value to superb luxury. Our specialty-themed programs offer unique experiences, whether you are interested in safaris, culture, cuisine, romance and adventure. The program is managed and fulfilled by Destination Southern Africa (DSA), which was founded in 2001 and offers an extensive portfolio of tour programs with a variety of hotels, game lodges and safari companies throughout Southern Africa.

South African Airways (SAA), South Africa’s national flag carrier and the continent’s most awarded airline, serves over 75 destinations worldwide in partnership with SA Express, Airlink and its low cost carrier Mango. In North America, SAA operates daily nonstop flights from New York-JFK and direct flights from Washington D.C.-IAD (via Accra, Ghana and Dakar, Senegal) to Johannesburg. SAA has partnerships with United Airlines, Air Canada and JetBlue Airways, American Airlines and Virgin America, which offer convenient connections from more than 100 cities in the U.S. and Canada to SAA’s flights. SAA is a Star Alliance member and the recipient of the Skytrax 4-star rating for 15 consecutive years.

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Rabobank and UN Environment kickstart US$1 billion program to catalyze sustainable food production
October 17, 2017 | 0 Comments

Nairobi, Tuesday October 17th, 2017: Rabobank – the world’s leading food and agricultural bank – announces its global activation program, ‘Kickstart Food’ to accelerate the transition to a sustainable food supply. One of the first steps in this program will be the launch of a one billion dollar facility to initiate land restoration and forest protection initiatives.

 

Focus on four food issues

 

The facility is being launched in partnership with UN Environment. It marks the start of a three-year initiative to kick-start and scale up Rabobank’s support for clients and partners in the transition to a more sustainable food and agricultural sector. The Kick-start Food initiative has four key focus areas: EarthWasteStability and Nutrition. This facility is part of the first focus area: Earth, which is centered on sustainable and environmentally sound food production. The Waste program will focus on reducing food waste throughout the food supply chain. The Stability program aims to create a more stable and resilient food and agricultural sector. The Nutrition program will focus on ensuring a healthy and balanced diet for everyone. Rabobank has been present in Kenya since opening a Representative Office in 2014.

Mission Critical Initiative

 Chairman of the Executive Board Wiebe Draijer said: “Our global lead role in financing food production urges us to accelerate developments in sustainable food supply. With our knowledge, networks and financing capabilities, we aim to further motivate and facilitate clients in adopting a more sustainable food production practice globally. We are proud of this major initiative with the UN Environment. We will engage others to expand the initiative. It fits very well with our mission of Growing a better world together.”

 

 

 

Commitment to SDG

 With this mission, Rabobank embraces the UN Sustainable Development Goals. With the world’s population growing towards 9 billion, the decline in available arable land, and the impact of agriculture on climate change and the environment; food production is now at a critical juncture. Therefore, Rabobank is increasing its support for efforts to increase food production by at least 60% towards 2050 while reducing the sector’s environmental footprint by 50%.

Around the globe, Rabobank is actively promoting sustainability certification for its clients. The bank is also advising them on sustainable production methods and soil management. The facility together with UN Environment aims to offer grants and open the door for clients to initiate large scale land restoration and forest protection projects. It positively impacts their risk profile, which leads to easier access to loans.

 Building on Existing Initiatives

 Significant progress has already been made in many areas by Rabobank. For example, in Brazil, Rabobank has been promoting and financing Integrated Crop, Livestock and Forestry (ICLF) farming. Working with the World Wildlife Fund and local partners, we will endeavor to restore underutilized or degraded arable land under the management of Brazilian farmers owning 17 million hectares (42 million acres).

Together with clients and influential partners such as UN Environment, the WWF and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Rabobank will increase and scale similar efforts around the world. A kickstart with Justdiggit will be prepared in Africa. Coming at a time when four million Kenyans are facing starvation and drought, this is a timely initiative. Rabobank’s Africa CEO Coert Beerman said “with Rabobank’s Kickstart Food initiative, we are now extending our depth of knowledge, skills, networks and financing resources to the entire value-chain’.   

This joint effort with UN Environment is designed to be an open platform for others to join. Rabobank invites stakeholders from across the entire food and agricultural sector to join the Kickstart Food program.

Rabobank is an international financial services provider operating on the basis of cooperative principles. It offers retail banking, wholesale banking, private banking, leasing and real estate services. As a cooperative bank, Rabobank puts customers’ interests first in its services. Rabobank is committed to being a leading customer-focused cooperative bank in the Netherlands and a leading food and agri bank worldwide. Rabobank employs approximately 44,600 people internally and externally. Rabobank Group is active in 40 countries

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World Food Day: African Development Bank (AfDB) urges African leaders to make agriculture attractive to young Africans and stem migration
October 17, 2017 | 0 Comments
“We must get youths into agriculture and see it as a profitable business venture not a sign of lacking ambition”- Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank
Akinwumi Adesina

Akinwumi Adesina

DES MOINES, United States of America, October 17, 2017/ — On the occasion of the 2017 World Food Day, the African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org/en) has highlighted how Africa’s food security depends on attracting young people to agriculture and agribusiness. The sector can potentially create wealth and employment for African youth, thereby stemming migration.

World Food Day, celebrated yearly on October 16, promotes worldwide awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger and the need to ensure food security and nutritious diets for all. This year’s theme focuses on the need to ‘Change the future of migration; Invest in food security and rural development’.

The AfDB’s ENABLE Youth program, which grooming a crop of young agriculturists, is on course to make this happen.

Mahmud Johnson, 26, is the Founder of J-Palm Liberia which works to improve income for Liberia’s smallholder oil palm farmers by 50-80%. He is also creating additional jobs for over 1,000 young people to work as sales representatives for his products.

“Despite the tremendous odds, we (African youth) are determined to maximize our abundant agricultural resources to create wealth, jobs, and socioeconomic opportunities in our countries and across the continent. We need our stakeholders to view us as serious partners in Africa’s transformation, and to work with us to expand our enterprises,” Mahmud said.

Mahmud and some of his employees have benefited from capacity building programs under the AfDB’s Empowering Novel Agri-Business-Led Employment for Youth initiative.

Like Mahmud, many African youth are passionate about staying back on the continent to create wealth and employment, if given the tools and opportunities to put their skills to use. Under the ENABLE Youth program, the Bank is working with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) to develop a new generation of young commercial farmers and agribusiness entrepreneurs.

“Our goal is to develop 10,000 such young agricultural entrepreneurs per country in the next 10 years. In 2016, the Bank provided US $700 million to support this program in eight countries and we’ve got requests now from 33 countries,” said Adesina.

The Bank considers investment in agriculture as key to making Africa youths prosperous, thereby stemming the tide of migration.

This goal, and theme of 2017 World Food Day, are well aligned with two of the AfDB’s High 5 development priorities – Feed Africa  and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa  – said Jennifer Blanke, Vice-President, Agriculture, Human and Social Development at the AfDB.

“A thriving business sector in Africa will provide the jobs and returns that will attract and retain Africa’s best talent on the continent, while improving the quality of life of all Africans,” she said.

With more than 70% of Africans depending on agriculture for their livelihoods, it is imperative for the sector’s full potential to be unlocked, and by doing so help to vastly improve the lives Africans.

Accordingly, one of the goals of Feed Africa is to eliminate hunger and malnutrition by 2025.

Due to the finite nature of mineral resources such as gold, diamonds, crude oil, among others, African countries must diversify their economies. This cannot be done without a significant emphasis on agriculture given that the great majority of Africans depend on it for their livelihoods.

Increased food demand and changing consumption habits driven by demographic factors such as urbanization (internal migration) are leading to rapidly rising net food imports, which will grow from US $35 billion in 2015 to over US $110 billion by 2025 if trends are left unchecked.

Given that African smallholder farmers are on average about 60 years old, Africa’s food security depends on attracting young people into agriculture and agribusiness and empowering them. Governments can support these shifts through the right enabling environments via policy reforms for increased private investment in agriculture and agribusiness. And also by better articulating the importance of agriculture for their economies in their interaction with the public.

“Food security, rural development are closely interlinked with issues of migration, fragility and resilience. The Horn of Africa and the Sahel provide compelling examples of how global factors such as food insecurity, radical extremism and migration reinforce state fragility and have devastating effects on development,” said Khaled Sherif, AfDB Vice-President for Regional Development, Integration and Business Delivery.

“The lack of economic opportunities, infrastructure, employment opportunities and unpredictable climactic changes in these countries are key sources of fragility that often times result in the forced migration of peoples seeking a desperate alternative. The Bank has, where appropriate, adopted risk-based approaches at both country and regional levels in addressing fragility.”

Ahead of the World Food Day, the AfDB joined Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and other developing partners on October 14 in a day-long set of activities to promote agriculture as a business. They emphasized the need for governments to invest in agriculture to create jobs and stem the flow of migration that has undermined the security and economies of African countries.

The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) (www.AfDB.org) is Africa’s premier development finance institution. It comprises three distinct entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF). On the ground in 37 African countries with an external office in Japan, the AfDB contributes to the economic development and the social progress of its 54 regional member states.

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