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Martin Luther King Jr.’s work still resonates across Africa
April 3, 2018 | 0 Comments
By RODNEY MUHUMUZA*
In this undated photo supplied by the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria, a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. on display at the embassy in Pretoria South Africa. The name of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. can be found across Africa on streets, schools, even a bridge in Burkina Faso. It is a measure of the influence of the American civil rights leader who was shot dead 50 years ago after speaking out against injustices at home and abroad. (Chris Marais/US Embassy South Africa via AP)

In this undated photo supplied by the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria, a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. on display at the embassy in Pretoria South Africa. The name of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. can be found across Africa on streets, schools, even a bridge in Burkina Faso. It is a measure of the influence of the American civil rights leader who was shot dead 50 years ago after speaking out against injustices at home and abroad. (Chris Marais/US Embassy South Africa via AP)

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Streets. Schools. A bridge in Burkina Faso. The name of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. can be found across Africa, a measure of the global influence of the American civil rights leader who was shot dead 50 years ago after speaking out against injustices at home and abroad.

A school for poor children that is named after King in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, took as its motto, “Have a Dream,” borrowing a line from one of King’s most famous speeches.

“Martin Luther King stood for human rights and equality, so we wanted a way of inspiring and motivating our students,” said Robert Mpala, the school’s founder.

In rural Liberia, a West African nation founded by freed American slaves, one official spoke proudly of a privately owned Martin Luther King School. “Martin Luther King was a great man. We still follow his dream,” said J. Maxime Bleetahn, director of communications at the Ministry of Education.

Africa’s push for independence from colonialism, which mirrored King’s own movement for racial equality in America, attracted the civil rights leader’s attention and support.

King first set foot on the continent in March 1957 to attend celebrations marking the West African nation of Ghana’s independence from Britain.

After he returned to Africa in November 1960 to attend the inauguration of Nigeria’s first president, King said African leaders had told him “in no uncertain terms that racism and colonialism must go, for they see the two as based on the same principle.”

The parallels between King’s efforts and Africans’ quest for independence were perhaps strongest in apartheid-era South Africa, where racist laws oppressed the majority black community for decades.

In December 1965 King delivered a speech in New York denouncing South Africa’s white rulers as “spectacular savages and brutes” and called on the U.S. and Europe to boycott the nation, a strategy the West eventually embraced and that helped end white rule.

King was unable to visit South Africa after being denied a visa. But years later a bust of King was slipped secretly — by diplomatic pouch — into a South Africa still in the grip of apartheid.

American sculptor Zenos Frudakis said the U.S. government approached him about creating a bust of King that would be installed in South Africa for “political impact.” As it was barred by South Africa’s government from being displayed in a public space, the sculpture was dedicated in 1989 at the U.S. Embassy, visible to people outside the embassy fence.

People who were part of the struggle against apartheid spoke at the sculpture’s dedication, and Frudakis said he was impressed “as they were risking their lives to bring equality and freedom to everyone in South Africa.”

Today, the bust of King remains on display in a vastly different South Africa, which was transformed after anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela was freed from prison in 1990 and elected the country’s first black president four years later.

Mandela was keenly aware of King’s contribution to equal rights and mentioned him when accepting the Nobel Peace Prize along with South Africa’s last apartheid-era president, F.W. de Klerk, in 1993.

“Let the strivings of us all prove Martin Luther King Jr. to have been correct when he said that humanity can no longer be tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war,” Mandela said. The Nelson Mandela Foundation plans to mark the anniversary of King’s assassination.

King’s inspirational speeches on love and justice, as well as his insistence on non-violent resistance, continue to resonate among some intellectuals and political activists in Africa, where many countries are now ruled by strongmen or democracy is in decline.

The civil rights leader was frequently cited by Ugandan activists last year as lawmakers moved to pass a bill that could keep the longtime president in power for many years more.

“We as a nation must recognize what Martin Luther King Jr. referred to as the ‘the fierce urgency of now,'” one opposition activist, Mugisha Muntu, said at the time. “We too must make our voices heard.”

*AP

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African Migrants in Israel Will Be Deported to Western Countries Instead of Africa. Where Will They Go?
April 3, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Cristina Maza*

African migrants and Israelis demonstrate in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv on February 24, 2018, against the Israeli government's policy to forcibly deport African refugees and asylum seekers to Rwanda and Uganda. JACK GUEZ/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

African migrants and Israelis demonstrate in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv on February 24, 2018, against the Israeli government’s policy to forcibly deport African refugees and asylum seekers to Rwanda and Uganda.
JACK GUEZ/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Israel has scrapped a controversial plan to forcibly deport African migrants back to Africa— and struck an agreement with the United Nations to send the asylum seekers to Western countries instead.

The news comes after African refugees and human rights defenders staged weeks of protests, arguing that migrants sent back to Africa could face violence or other abuses.  The agreement announced Monday will send 16,000 African asylum seekers to Western countries such as Canada, Italy and Germany.

The U.N. refugee agency estimates that there are around 38,000 African asylum seekers currently in Israel, the majority of whom are from Eritrea and Sudan. Asylum seekers who are not relocated to Western countries will be permitted to stay in Israel for the next five years, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.

The announcement is a significant departure from the policies Netanyahu had touted just a month ago. Israel had told thousands of African migrants in February that they had to leave the country by April or they would be sent to prison. Israeli officials had said they would give migrants around $3,500 each to leave, either to their home country or to a third country in Africa like Uganda or Rwanda.

Netanyahu’s right-wing government had also dubbed the migrants “infiltrators” and argued that they were economic migrants seeking better opportunities instead of genuine refugees fleeing violence and persecution.

Some experts say that Netanyahu was pressured by far-right elements in his coalition government to expel the migrants in order to maintain the Jewish character of Israel. Demographics have been a point of contention in Israel since its founding, and some extremist elements advocate for non-Jews to be expelled from the country.

Human rights groups, however, challenged the government’s deportation plans in court. On March 15, Israel’s High Court issued a temporary ban on the deportation plan. Experts say that Monday’s announcement proves that civil society can make a difference when it comes to shifting public policy.

“Policy shifts like this can be surprising when they happen, but they underscore a key lesson. Pressure from civil society can make a difference,” Martin Edwards, a diplomacy expert at Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy and International Relations, told Newsweek. “Elected governments want to avoid looking bad as much as possible, and the optics of this were not favorable for the Netanyahu government. It’s a good lesson for activists around the world to learn: pressure can make a difference.”

*Newsweek

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Ethiopia installs new PM amid hopes he can stop protests
April 2, 2018 | 0 Comments

By ELIAS MESERET*

Abiy Ahmed, the newly elected chair of the Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) is sworn in as the country's Prime Minister, Monday, April 2, 2018. Ethiopia's legislature has elected young and outspoken Abiy Amhed as prime minister, amid hopes that he will be able to quell sustained anti-government protests in Africa's second most populous nation. (AP photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

Abiy Ahmed, the newly elected chair of the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) is sworn in as the country’s Prime Minister, Monday, April 2, 2018. Ethiopia’s legislature has elected young and outspoken Abiy Amhed as prime minister, amid hopes that he will be able to quell sustained anti-government protests in Africa’s second most populous nation. (AP photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Young and outspoken Abiy Ahmed has been sworn in Monday as Ethiopia’s prime minister, amid hopes he will be able to quell the sustained anti-government protests that have rocked Africa’s second most populous nation.

Abiy was elected by Ethiopia’s parliament, succeeding Hailemariam Desalegn who resigned in mid-February as a result of widespread protests that have taken the lives of several hundred people, mainly in the restive Oromia and Amhara regions.

“This is a historic moment,” said Abiy in his inaugural address to Ethiopian lawmakers. “This is high time for us to learn from our past mistakes and make up for all the wrongs done in the past . we understand there are a lots of problems that need to be solved with great urgency.”

Abiy apologized for the deaths of civilians in the violent protests. He said his administration will strive to solve grievances by discussion rather than by force, provide more space for opposition parties, fight corruption and focus on respect for rule of law.

The new leader said he aims to open up a fresh dialogue with arch-foe Eritrea and called upon Ethiopia’s diaspora to more actively take part in the country’s affairs.

Abiy is the first Oromo politician to become Ethiopia’s prime minister since the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front came to power in 1991. It is hoped he will be able to bring an end to the protests that have been raging since late 2015 to press for wider political freedoms and the release of opposition figures. The Oromo people, the largest ethnic group of Ethiopia’s 100 million people, have long felt marginalized both politically and economically.

A former Lieutenant Colonel in the army and head of Ethiopia’s Science and Technology ministry, Abiy, 42, has a reputation as an effective orator and reformer.

Many welcomed the new leader.

“I think this is a very important step toward the overall democratization and stability of the country,” said Kiya Tsegaye, a lawyer and political analyst. “But he needs the support of the people around him, especially top party officials to implement his reform measures.”

The outgoing prime minister, Haileamariam Dessalegn, right, who resigned from his post hugs to Abiy Ahmed, left, Monday, April 2, 2018. Ethiopia's legislature has elected young and outspoken Abiy Amhed as prime minister, amid hopes that he will be able to quell sustained anti-government protests in Africa's second most populous nation. (AP photo/Mulugeta Ayene) The outgoing prime minister, Haileamariam Dessalegn, right, who resigned from his post hugs to Abiy Ahmed, left, Monday, April 2, 2018. Ethiopia's legislature has elected young and outspoken Abiy Amhed as prime minister, amid hopes that he will be able to quell sustained anti-government protests in Africa's second most populous nation. (AP photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

The outgoing prime minister, Haileamariam Dessalegn, right, who resigned from his post hugs to Abiy Ahmed, left, Monday, April 2, 2018. Ethiopia’s legislature has elected young and outspoken Abiy Amhed as prime minister, amid hopes that he will be able to quell sustained anti-government protests in Africa’s second most populous nation. (AP photo/Mulugeta Ayene)
The outgoing prime minister, Haileamariam Dessalegn, right, who resigned from his post hugs to Abiy Ahmed, left, Monday, April 2, 2018. Ethiopia’s legislature has elected young and outspoken Abiy Amhed as prime minister, amid hopes that he will be able to quell sustained anti-government protests in Africa’s second most populous nation. (AP photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

Prominent opposition leader Merara Gudina expressed cautious optimism over Abiy’s election, saying the future of Ethiopia’s peace and stability depends on the policies of the incoming leader and his party.

“What he aims to achieve depends on what his party allows him to do,” Merara said, adding that Abiy was elected by Ethiopia’s ruling party and not directly by the population through a general election. “But still it goes without saying that a change in personalities within the leadership may bring changes in terms of bringing better ideas that may ultimately lead to national reconciliation.”

Ethiopia’s Olympic gold medalist runner, Haile Gebrselassie, said the peaceful transfer of power is a win-win situation for all Ethiopians.

“The new leader’s election has answered many Ethiopians’ questions,” Haile told The Associated Press, saying that Abiy should implement his pledges without delay. “His inaugural address today has the ability to bring together not only Ethiopians, but countries in the region as well.”

Abiy will be Ethiopia’s third prime minister since the former military junta, the Derg, was overthrown in 1991.

Ethiopia in February declared its second state of emergency in two years amid the ongoing protests that effectively crippled transportation networks and forced the closure of businesses. On Saturday, Ethiopian officials said that more than 1,000 people have been detained since the latest emergency rule was put in place.

The U.S. Embassy in the capital, Addis Ababa, commended the peaceful transfer of power, saying it is the first time a living leader has handed over power in Ethiopia’s recent history.

“We stand ready to support the government’s rapid implementation of democratic and economic reforms and look forward to the lifting of the state of emergency,” the U.S. embassy said in an email sent to The Associated Press.

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‘A new South Africa on the horizon?’
April 2, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati*

South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa

South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa

It’s now 24 years since South Africa, ‘the rainbow nation’ as its affectionately known gained independence in 1994. At the end of Apartheid, the new democratic South Africa was the beacon of hope for not just South Africans in particular and also Africans in general.

To some extent, the country has managed to live to the early hype, it’s one of Africa’s strongest economies and its democracy is an envy of many. However, this side of South Africa is the one that the country uses in marketing itself and surprisingly, it’s this side that is most loved and covered by international media.  There is another side to the coin, however, that is shunned by the media. This side exposes the plight of South Africa’s poor which is increasing year on year due to the rising gap between the haves and the have-nots.

While it’s always hard to live on the other side largely because without exposure, on your own you cannot really influence much on the national level, it seems South Africa’s poor might have a reason to smile again. A ray of light in the form of the newly elected South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa is promising to bring solace and comfort to the weeping many.

Ramaphosa may well not be popular among many poor South Africans but if we are to take anything from his inauguration speech and promises in his first days in office, then poor South Africans ought to celebrate his ascendancy to power.

Unlike Jacob Zuma, Cyril Ramaphosa is not a populist but rather a reformist and if there is anything the world has taught us, it’s to respect a reformist. While a populist has the charisma, appeal and sweet mouth to lure supporters, his/her rhetoric often times ends only in words while the reformist stresses more on doing than talking.

In light of this, let’s look at the promises that the reformist Cyril Ramaphosa has promised the people of South Africa especially the man, woman, and child in the most impoverished towns/cities of South Africa.

Fight against corruption

Cyril Ramaphosa took office the following day after a morning raid on the Gupta family, a family that epitomises corruption in South Africa. As corruption in the name of State Capture is the most important element that led to the demise of Jacob Zuma, it was clear from the word go that whoever succeeded Zuma would have to take on corruption if s/he was to gain traction. That is exactly what Ramaphosa did by promising to fight corruption.

While it’s those at the top that enjoy the benefits of corruption such as unscrupulously winning government tenders, it’s those at the bottom that Face the brunt of corruption. Corruption results in a job/task/project being handed to an incompetent person or body. The results, therefore, are below par and of poor quality mostly service provision which affects the middle class and the poor. By tackling corruption, Ramaphosa will open the environment for more people to challenge for opportunities that would otherwise be reserved for a select few. If the fight against corruption is successful, then there is reason for South Africans to celebrate.

Economic growth

Ramaphosa says his priority in government is to revitalise South Africa’s economy and his two main areas of focus are a digital revolution and fixing the mining sector. The world is becoming digital by the way and therein lays opportunities and challenges for South Africa’s growth. The first step that Ramaphosa is set to undertake is to establish a Digital Industrial Revolution Commission tasked which consists of the private sector, civil society, and the government. It is Ramaphosa’s hope that the Commission will unlock opportunities that will go a long way in aiding economic development.

On the same front, experts state that the telecoms sector in South Africa is stagnant due to two telecoms ministries fighting each other for supremacy. The new president needs to merge the two ministries and remove duplicate roles to ensure more sustained growth in the telecoms field.

Ironically, Ramaphosa has promised to spearhead the fixing of the mining sector, the one sector he has come under immense pressure in owing to the Marikana massacres. It’s not clear what Ramaphosa’s strategy is going to be but it surely it must have a special focus on the workers’ working conditions and remuneration.

Social grants

Ramaphosa has also made reference to social grants in his first weeks in office. For a country that is seeing its unemployment levels rise up year on year, it’s crucial that its social welfare structure is robust and that is exactly what Ramaphosa wants to see. Ramaphosa has stressed that there should be the efficient delivery of social grants. In the past, especially towards Zuma’s last days in office, the body tasked with administering social grants, South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) has had to delay releasing the funds. There are seven types of grants in South Africa which include Child Support, Older Person’s Grant, Disability Grant, Grant-in-Aid, Care Dependency, War Veteran’s Grant and Foster Child Grant.

Worker Rights

In a bid to address the plight of the poor who find themselves in some unfavourable working conditions, Ramaphosa has also that he wants to see worker’s living and working conditions improve under his tenure. He said that the first step is to implement a national minimum wage at par with the Poverty Datum Line that is going to give workers a better standard of living.

Being reformist, Ramaphosa is more likely to fulfil his promises, however, this is just an assertion that needs Ramaphosa’s will and determination in pursuing these promises for them to become reality. As such, it’s every South African’s hope that indeed Ramaphosa will stay true to his word and fulfil these promises that will ultimately make the life of South Africans better.

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Across Africa With Don Yamamoto and Stephanie Sullivan
April 2, 2018 | 0 Comments

-US-Africa Relations Bigger than personalities Officials says

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Ambassadors Don Yamamoto and Stephanie Sullivan with Journalists at the State Department

Ambassadors Don Yamamoto and Stephanie Sullivan with Journalists at the State Department

Relations with Africa and the USA go beyond any one leader or official, Senior State Department Officials told Journalists in Washington, DC, recently in a media briefing. Speaking at the State Department to Journalists  from Pan African Visions, the Washington Post,Allo Africa News, and Reuters, Ambassador Don Yamamoto, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and Ambassador Stephanie Sullivan , Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Bureau of African Affairs ,discussed US-African relations under the Trump Administration, and shared perspectives on a number of developments across the continent.

Giving an over view of the recent African tour of former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Ambassador Sullivan who was part of the delegation, said much of the focus was on strengthening trade and development relationships, strengthening regional security, including counter-terrorism cooperation, a focus on good governance and democratic values, and the relationship on economic developments and building resilience in communities to avoid the extremist ideology.

In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which was the first stop of the tour, Secretary Tillerson and AU Chairperson Moussa Faki reaffirmed the commitment to the shared goal of a stable and prosperous Africa. Secretary Tillerson held talks with Ethiopian government officials on human rights, the need to open political space, and the ongoing political transition, Ambassador Sullivan said.

In Djibouti, there were discussion on the situation at the container port, investment climate, and security issues. In Kenya, Secretary Tillerson congratulated President Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga on the statesmanship on display as they seek to move the country forward. There were discussions on hot spots like South Sudan and Somalia with Kenyan government officials. A highlight of the Kenya lap of the trip was the meeting with survivors of the 1998 Embassy bombing, and laying of a wreath at the site of the former Embassy where the bombing took place, Ambassador Sullivan disclosed. Secretary Tillerson also had meetings with President Buhari in Nigeria, and Idriss Derby in Chad to round up the tour.

On what the trip did in restoring confidence on US-Africa ties after controversial statements attributed to President Trump, a few months before the trip, the State Department Officials said AU Chairperson Moussa Faki summed it best when he said the focus was on the future and not the past. U.S -African relations are very unique in their own way the Officials said. The departure of Secretary Tillerson will be no effect to engagements taken, Ambassador Sullivan added.

Both Officials fielded questions on immigration, China in Africa, engagement with the African diaspora, the political situation in Cameroon, South Sudan, Guinea and Zimbabwe amongst others.

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Masisi to Lead Botswana as Khama Steps Down After a Decade
March 30, 2018 | 0 Comments
  • Reducing diamond dependence among new president’s challenges
  • Masisi is ‘safe pair of hands,’ economist Jefferis says
 
 
Ian Khama, left, shakes hands with Mokgweetsi Masisi. Phoographer: Monirul Bhuiyan/AFP/Getty Images

Ian Khama, left, shakes hands with Mokgweetsi Masisi. Phoographer: Monirul Bhuiyan/AFP/Getty Images

Ian Khama, a former army general who’s led Botswana for the past decade, will step down on Sunday, leaving his deputy Mokgweetsi Masisi in charge of the world’s second-biggest diamond producer until next year’s elections.

 While Masisi, 55, will inherit one of Africa’s wealthiest and best-governed nations, he’ll still have his hands full reducing the economy’s dependence on diamonds, creating jobs for the almost one in five workers who are unemployed and wooing more foreign investment. Aside from gems the country has little other than tourism to generate foreign exchange.
 “A safe pair of hands” is how economist Keith Jefferis, a former deputy central bank governor, describes Masisi. He expects him to push changes the economy needs, including doing more to integrate it into regional and global markets.
 “It will be essential to re-establish much better public-finance discipline,” Jefferis said. “The quality of public financial management has deteriorated over many years, with poor spending decisions and an increasing level of waste and inefficiency.”
 Trained Teacher

Masisi trained as a teacher and worked as an education project officer for the United Nations Children’s Fund for eight years before quitting in 2003 to enter politics. He was appointed assistant minister for presidential affairs and public administration after being elected as a lawmaker in October 2009 and given the same ministerial portfolio in 2011. Khama named Masisi minister of education and skills development in 2014, a portfolio he retained when he became vice president that year.

“He is a jack-of-all-trades and is experienced in numerous areas,” said Leonard Sesa, a political scientist at the University of Botswana. “He will be the type of president who assigns someone something, then monitors them very closely because he knows exactly what the output should be.”

Botswana law restricts the president to serving two five-year terms, and provides for the vice president to automatically fill the post should it become vacant. The National Assembly will elect a new president after elections scheduled for October next year. Khama also took office a year before elections in 2009.

Lack of Jobs

The Botswana Democratic Party, which has ruled since the southern African nation gained independence from the U.K in 1966, is likely to name Masisi as its presidential candidate. While the party’s share of the vote slid to the lowest level since it took power in the last elections in 2014 amid voter disenchantment over the quality of state services and a lack of jobs, it’s still expected to retain its majority.

The son of Botswana’s first post-independence president, Khama, 65, angered several of his fellow African leaders, including Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and Congo’s Joseph Kabila, when he publicly berated them for overstaying their welcome.

His administration has also sniped at U.S. President Donald Trump for making derogatory remarks about African nations and the UN Security Council for not doing enough to end the war in Syria.

Read more about Botswana’s unorthodox approach toward diplomacy.

Khama is likely to continue wielding influence after he steps down, according to Sesa.

“Khama appointed Masisi his deputy and trusts him completely,” Sesa said. “They both have made statements indicating that there has been joint planning for Khama’s retirement. I expect to see Masisi award Khama some type of national assignment once he is retired. There’s clearly mutual understanding there about working together.”

*Bloomberg

 
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Six African referees chosen for 2018 World Cup
March 30, 2018 | 0 Comments
Bakary Papa Gassama from Gambia will officiate at the world cup in Russia

Bakary Papa Gassama from Gambia will officiate at the world cup in Russia

Fifa has chosen six African officials for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, it was revealed on Thursday.

In addition there will also be 10 assistant referees from Africa.

The referees and the assistants make up a total of 99 officials selected for the tournament.

The world governing body also announced that video assistant referees (VAR) will be chosen from the pool of officials.

VAR, which has caused controversy in Europe, will be used for the first time at a World Cup when the tournament starts on 14 June.

The officials, chosen from 46 countries, will attend a two-week seminar at the Italian Football Association’s base in Coverciano next month.

The African referees are: Mehdi Abid Charef from Algeria, Malang Diedhiou of Senegal, Bakary Papa Gassama from The Gambia, Gehad Grisha from Egypt, Janny Sikazwe from Zambia, and Ethiopian Bamlak Tessema Weyesa.

Europe will be represented by referees from Germany, Turkey, Russia, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Serbia, Italy, Slovenia and France.

Asia will have six as will north and South America and two from Oceania.

 *BBC
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MINING INDUSTRY SUBMITS MINING CODE PROPOSAL TO DRC GOVERNMENT
March 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
Congo's Kabila

Congo’s Kabila

Kinshasa, DRC, 29 March 2018  –  Mining industry representatives* in the Democratic Republic of Congo have submitted a formal proposal to the country’s Ministry of Mines that is designed to address concerns about the recently revised mining code as well as the government’s revenue needs.

Among other things, it proposes linking a sliding scale of royalty rates to the prices of the key commodities, which industry representatives believe would be a more effective mechanism than the windfall tax introduced in the new code and at current prices would immediately give the government a higher share of revenues than what is provided in the new code.  It also deals with stability arrangements, state guarantees and mining conventions.

Along with the stability afforded to convention holders, enshrined in the 2002 mining code is a 10 year stability clause which provides that the holders of mining and exploration titles will continue to be governed by the terms of the 2002 mining code for such period in the event of the implementation of any new law.

Article 276:
“The State guarantees that the provisions of the present Code can only be modified if, and only if, this Code itself is the subject of a legislative amendment adopted by Parliament.

The rights attached to or deriving from an exploration licence or mining exploitation licence granted and valid on the date of the enactment of such a legislative modification, as well as the rights relating to or deriving from the exploitation licence subsequently granted by virtue of such an exploration licence, including among others, the tax, customs and exchange regimes set forth in this Code, remain acquired and inviolable for a ten-year period from the date of:

  1. the entry into force of the legislative modification for the valid exploitation licences existing as of that date;
  2. the granting of the exploitation licence subsequently granted by virtue of a valid exploration licence existing on the date of entry into force of the legislative modification.”

However, the proposal accepts 76% of the articles in the 2018 code and suggests changes to the rest only to ensure the effectiveness and legality of the code.  The mining industry representatives believe these changes will resolve issues with the code and contractual relationships while giving the DRC and its people increased participation in the proceeds of mining.

* Issued on behalf of members of the DRC mining industry representing more than 85% of the DRC’s copper, cobalt and gold production and most significant development projects: Randgold Resources, Glencore, Ivanhoe Mines, Gold Mountain International/ Zijin Mining Group, MMG Limited, Crystal River Global Ltd and China Molybdenum Co, Ltd (CMOC), AngloGold Ashanti.

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African leaders have created the world’s largest free trade area since the WTO—here’s its potential
March 29, 2018 | 0 Comments

 

By Landry Signé*

Free movement(Reuters/Feisal Omar/File Photo)

Free movement (Reuters/Feisal Omar/File Photo)

African leaders have just signed a framework establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area, the largest free trade agreement since the creation of the World Trade Organization.

The free trade area aims to create a single market for goods and services in Africa. By 2030 the market size is expected to include 1.7 billion people with over $6.7 trillion of cumulative consumer and business spending—that’s if all African countries have joined the free trade area by then. Ten countries, including Nigeria, have yet to sign up.

The goal is to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments.

Some studies have shown that by creating a pan-African market, intra-Africa trade could increase by about 52% by 2022.  The agreement has the potential to deliver a great deal for countries on the continent. The hope is that the trade deal will trigger a virtuous cycle of more intra African trade, which in turn will drive the structural transformation of economies – the transition from low productivity and labour intensive activities to higher productivity and skills intensive industrial and service activities—which in turn will produce better paid jobs and make an impact on poverty.

But signing the agreement is only the beginning. For it to come into force, 22 countries must ratify it. Their national legislative bodies must approve and sanction the framework formally, showing full commitment to its implementation. Niger president Issoufou Mahamadou, who has been championing the process, aims to have the ratification process completed by January 2019.

Cause and effect

Some studies have shown that by creating a pan-African market, intra-Africa trade could increase by about 52% by 2022. Better market access creates economies of scale. Combined with appropriate industrial policies, this contributes to a diversified industrial sector and growth in manufacturing value added.

Diverse African economies such as South Africa and Egypt, are likely to be the drivers of the free trade area, and likely to benefit from it the most. Manufacturing represents only about 10% of total GDP in Africa on average. This falls well below other developing regions. A successful continental free trade area could reduce this gap. And a bigger manufacturing sector will mean more well-paid jobs, especially for young people. This in turn will help poverty alleviation.

Industrial development, and with it, more jobs, is desperately needed in Africa. Industry represents one-quarter to one-third of total job creation in other regions of the world. And a young person in Africa is twice as likely to be unemployed when he or she becomes an adult. This is a particularly stressful situation given that over 70% of sub-Saharan Africa’s population is below age 30.

In addition, 70% of Africa’s youth live on less than $2 per day.

The continental free trade area is expected to offer substantial opportunities for industrialization, diversification, and high-skilled employment in Africa.

The single continental market will offer the opportunity to accelerate the manufacture and intra-African trade of value-added products, moving from commodity based economies and exports to economic diversification and high-value exports.

But, to increase the impact of the trade deal, industrial policies must be put in place. These must focus on productivity, competition, diversification, and economic complexity.

In other words, governments must create enabling conditions to ensure that productivity is raised to international competitiveness standards. The goal must be to ensure that the products manufactured in African countries are competitively traded on the continent and abroad, and to diversify the range and sophistication of products and services.Drivers of manufacturing

Data shows that the most economically diverse countries are also the most successful.

In fact, diversification is critical as “countries that are able to sustain a diverse range of productive know-how, including sophisticated, unique know-how, are able to produce a wide diversity of goods, including complex products that few other countries can make.

Policymakers should favor the migration of highly skilled workers across the continent. Diverse African economies such as South Africa and Egypt, are likely to be the drivers of the free trade area, and are likely to benefit from it the most. These countries will find a large continental market for their manufactured products. They will also use their know-how and dense industrial landscape to develop innovative products and respond to market demand.

But the agreement on its own won’t deliver results. Governments must put in place policies that drive industrial development, particularly manufacturing. Five key ones stand out:

Human capital: A strong manufacturing sector needs capable, healthy, and skilled workers. Policymakers should adjust curriculum to ensure that skills are adapted to the market. And there must be a special focus on young people. Curriculum must focus on skills and building capacity for entrepreneurship and self-employment. This should involve business training at an early age and skills upgrading at an advanced one. This should go hand in hand with promoting science, technology, engineering, entrepreneurship and mathematics as well as vocational and on-the-job training.

Policymakers should also favour the migration of highly skilled workers across the continent.

Cost: Policymakers must bring down the cost of doing business. The barriers include energy, access to roads and ports, security, financing, bureaucratic restrictions, corruption, dispute settlement and property rights.

Supply network: Industries are more likely to evolve if competitive networks exist. Policymakers should ease trade restrictions and integrate regional trade networks. In particular, barriers for small and medium-size businesses should be lifted.

Domestic demand: Policymakers should offer tax incentives to firms to unlock job creation, and to increase individual and household incomes. Higher purchasing power for households will increase the size of the domestic market.

Resources: Manufacturing requires heavy investment. This should be driven by the private sector. Policymakers should facilitate access to finance, especially for small and medium enterprises. And to attract foreign direct investment, policymakers should address perceptions of poor risk perception. This invariably scares off potential investors or sets excessive returns expectations.
Increased productivity

The continental free trade area facilitates industrialization by creating a continental market, unlocking manufacturing potential and bolstering an international negotiation bloc.

Finally, the continental free trade area will also provide African leaders with a greater negotiating power to eliminate barriers to exporting. This will help prevent agreements with other countries, and trading blocs, that are likely to hurt exports and industrial development.

*Quartz

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PRESS RELEASE Siemens creates opportunities for digitalization skills development across Africa
March 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
44% of all work activities in Ethiopia are susceptible to automation, as are 46% in Nigeria, 52% in Kenya and 41% in South Africa
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, March 27, 2018/ —

  • The Internet of Things (IoT) is set to revolutionize the job market and African industry must adapt to survive
  • Siemens aims to help accelerate digitalization skills and empower those who will be leading the change
  • State-of-the-art automation equipment donated to engineering faculties in five African markets

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is having a disruptive effect on economies and the development of digital skills is vital. There is an opportunity, especially in Africa, to embrace new and exponential technologies combined with human talent to accelerate industrialization and drive economic growth.

Siemens creates opportunities for digitalization skills development across Africa

Siemens creates opportunities for digitalization skills development across Africa

According to The Future of Jobs and Skills in Africa Report , release by the World Economic Forum (WEF), it is predicted that 44% of all work activities in Ethiopia are susceptible to automation, as are 46% in Nigeria, 52% in Kenya and 41% in South Africa.

With this in mind, Siemens (www.Siemens.com) is handing over equipment specifically related to industrial automation that enables integrated engineering to 13 engineering faculties at universities in Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa. This is part of the company’s commitment to sustainable skills development across the continent. The value of the equipment is close to $400 000.

Data collected by WEF  in key African markets shows employers across the region identify inadequately skilled workforces as a major constraint to their businesses, including 41% of all firms in Tanzania, 30% in Kenya, 9% in South Africa and 6% in Nigeria. This pattern may get worse in the future. In South Africa alone, 39% of core skills required across occupations will be wholly different by 2020.

“The uneven development of the past can only be overcome with locally engineered solutions,” says Sabine Dall’Omo, CEO of Siemens Southern and Eastern Africa. “In an African context, disruptive technology can be seen as an opportunity to leapfrog into the best and most advanced technologies, but this is only possible with access to the right training and equipment.”

Siemens will continue its commitment to Africa and offer long-term support to beneficiaries by ensuring that students are able to train on the most advanced technology available. This will ensure graduates, and therefore the emerging workforce, have the skills necessary to effectively lead large-scale digitalization across the continent, resulting in long-term benefits to economic growth.

Siemens firmly believes the best way for African markets to benefit from the digital revolution is to combine skills training and improved / new infrastructure.

Says Dall’Omo; “Convergence of man and machine intelligence will enable a new era of speed, flexibility, efficiency and connectivity in the 21st century. The conversation about man vs machine is not an either-or scenario. Ongoing education and training has a positive effect for both business and society. A strong pipeline of talent with the relevant skills and knowledge is beneficial to governments and businesses, while young people advance into jobs and careers with increased economic opportunity if they have the right skills.”

Factory automation and electrical engineering equipment donations have been made to the following institutions:

  • Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana
  • Dar-Es-Salaam Institute of Technology, Tanzania
  • Dedan Kimathi University of Technology (DeKUT), Kenya
  • And nine Universities and Colleges across South Africa

“Our commitment to skills development and our relationships with these institutions goes beyond just this donation,” adds Dall’Omo. “We invest for the long-term and believe that by playing an active role in skills development, locally engineered solutions could catalyze the re-industrialization of the economy and trigger growth on an unprecedented scale.”

The company has a unique understanding of the challenges faced across the African continent, and has proved to be a reliable partner from grassroots level, right through to corporate and government level.

Siemens AG (Berlin and Munich) (www.Siemens.com) is a global technology powerhouse that has stood for engineering excellence, innovation, quality, reliability and internationality for more than 165 years. The company is active in more than 200 countries, focusing on the areas of electrification, automation and digitalization. One of the world’s largest producers of energy-efficient, resource-saving technologies, Siemens is a leading supplier of efficient power generation and power transmission solutions and a pioneer in infrastructure solutions as well as automation, drive and software solutions for industry. The company is also a leading provider of medical imaging equipment – such as computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging systems – and a leader in laboratory diagnostics as well as clinical IT. In fiscal 2016, which ended on September 30, 2016, Siemens generated revenue of €79.6 billion and net income of €5.6 billion. At the end of September 2016, the company had around 351,000 employees worldwide. Further information is available on the Internet at www.Siemens.com.

This document contains statements related to our future business and financial performance and future events or developments involving Siemens that may constitute forward-looking statements. These statements may be identified by words such as “expects,” “looks forward to,” “anticipates,” “intends,” “plans,” “believes,” “seeks,” “estimates,” …

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Botswana president steps down
March 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
Botswana's President Seretse Ian Khama waves to the crowd as he leaves after a rally in his village Serowe on March 27, 2018, before officially stepping down on March 31 and handing power to his vice-president on April 1. / AFP PHOTO / MONIRUL BHUIYAN

Botswana’s President Seretse Ian Khama waves to the crowd as he leaves after a rally in his village Serowe on March 27, 2018, before officially stepping down on March 31 and handing power to his vice-president on April 1. / AFP PHOTO / MONIRUL BHUIYAN

President Ian Khama of Botswana this week wrapped up a national “farewell tour” before he stands down on Saturday in a power transfer designed to stress his statesmanship and the country’s stability.

Khama has visited all of Botswana’s 57 constituencies since December, bidding a long goodbye to a population of just 2.2 million after serving the constitutional maximum of 10 years in office.

He will be succeeded by Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi, a full 18 months before elections.

Khama’s two terms in power have been defined by his country’s rapid development thanks to lucrative diamond and beef exports and by a reputation for good governance.

He has also become renowned for straight talking — breaking with diplomatic convention to criticise leaders including US President Donald Trump and then-president Robert Mugabe in neighbouring Zimbabwe.

On Tuesday, his tour finished in his ancestral village of Serowe in the east of the country, with a day of songs, poems, gifts, ululation and pleading for him to remain in office.

Thousands of jubilant villagers dressed in blue, white and black, gathered in a kgotla, a traditional courtyard, to hear Khama speak.

“I was a soldier, I didn’t have interest to join politics, I had future plans, away from politics,” he told the crowd, adding that his predecessor Festus Mogae had to persuade him to take over in 2008.

– Son of independence leader –

Khama, 65, has cultivated a down-to-earth image — despite his father Seretse Khama serving from 1966 to 1980 as Botswana’s first president after independence from Britain.

Edna Monyena, a village elder in her 80s, lavished praise on the outgoing president, telling him that he was “an honest man, a straightforward man” who showed “real love”.

Many elderly female villagers wore blue dresses printed with portraits of Khama’s father, and some used cow bones as percussion instruments as they stood up to sing and dance.

Khama was showered with gifts including a 4×4 truck, 143 cows, hundreds of chickens, over 415,000 pula ($44,000), and a fully-equipped luxury caravan that his brother Tshekedi dubbed a “mobile state house”.

The avid conservationist also received a framed picture of a rhino.

“I wanted him to be 50 years more in office, I want him to work until the Almighty calls him,” unemployed Sadie Moleta, 23, told AFP in Serowe, where Khama is a chief of the Bangwato tribe.

Khama, a former pilot and military chief, demonstrated his outspoken streak when he recently accused Trump of promoting policies that encourage poaching, and summoning the US envoy over Trump’s alleged slur against African countries in January.

Khama called on Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe to step down well before the nonagenarian was ousted, and his government has also urged Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila to resign after his term expired in December 2016.

The Botswana leader’s on-schedule departure has made a public display of obeying the constitutional term limit.

But his own record in office has not been without its critics, who accuse him of an autocratic leadership style.

He led the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) to landslide victories in two elections, although the party won less than 50 percent for the first time in the 2014 vote.

– Uneven legacy? –

Often seen as one of Africa’s success stories, Botswana has recorded rising unemployment since 2009 as diamond prices fell.

The drop in revenue forced Khama to halt many planned investments in recent years.

“Internationally, he positioned himself as a moral leader in the region, stepping down as an example of a leader who respects laws and traditions — and inviting both President Kabila and Mugabe to respect democracy and the rule of law,” Matteo Vidiri, a BMI Research analyst, told AFP.

“(But) a slowing economy and increasing public discontent has damaged the narrative of Botswana’s ‘special character’, of a country being able to escape the ‘resource curse’.”

The opposition blames Khama for creating a society of “beggars”.

“He killed the spirit of self-reliance creating dependency through handouts,” Kesitegile Gobotswang, deputy president of the Botswana Congress Party, told AFP.

“The economy shed jobs under his leadership.”

Khama, who is unmarried, was born in Britain as his father married white British woman Ruth Williams — a mixed-race partnership that caused widespread shock in Africa and Britain.

Incoming president Masisi, 55, will be inaugurated on Sunday.

*AFP.

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“Let Africa evolve” says Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the Africa CEO forum
March 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
The President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa and former President of Nigeria_ Olusegun Obasanjo

The President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa and former President of Nigeria_ Olusegun Obasanjo

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, 27th March 2018, -/African Media Agency (AMA)/-  Economic recovery and institution building are the challenges faced by all African countries today.

During a panel discussion organised by the Africa CEO Forum around the theme,

When Leaders make History, the President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa and former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, shared their experiences on the sustainable and inclusive growth of Africa in general and their own countries in particular.
 
According to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Africa’s problem is “the failure of leadership”. President Mnangagwa continued, saying, “Geographically, my country is far from Nigeria but that did not stop Nigeria from helping us when we needed it. It is this vision that we African leaders should share: mutual aid. Africa needs to learn how to manage its own problems, and this starts with the balance between leadership and institutions“. He believes that the executive, the legislature and the judiciary should be independent. Each must perform its mission freely and transparently, but play a complementary role.
 
The sustainable and inclusive growth sought by African countries is only possible if civil society and elected politicians operate without interference. “We have civilian organisations that come to our countries to support our people by building schools and health centres. It’s their role and we welcome that. What we do not accept is that they interfere in our politics. You cannot come from outside and tell us who we need to put at the head of our country, think our politics for us. We must let Africa evolve,” he said.
 
Zimbabwe has begun its economic recovery through the implementation of an agrarian reform process that enabled 367 families to gain access to land.
 
We are attempting to evaluate the situation before launching reforms. But we have started land redistribution. This was one of the major problems that we had to solve in Zimbabwe. Today, we need a structure to fight famine and poverty. For now, we are giving our farmers the means to improve and increase production. The food shortage will be alleviated through this system,” said President Mnangagwa, who also announced that women and young people will be given a prominent place in national decision-making. 
In his speech, Nigeria’s former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, said that, in the fight against corruption, there was one principle to be respected: that of having strong institutions and effective leadership. “It’s good to have a law that sets up a strong institution. But you have to have the men who go with them, effective people. If not, we will not complete our mission. Our goals will never be achieved,” he said.
Cost-effective exports and affirmative action for women and young people will also contribute to the success of this highly awaited economic recovery.
 
The panel discussion ended on these words, after which the Jeune Afrique Media Group’s Publication Director, Marwane Ben Yhamed, closed the sixth edition of the Africa CEO forum.
The AFRICA CEO FORUM is organized by Jeune Afrique Media Group, the publisher of Jeune Afrique and The Africa Report, and by rainbow unlimited, a Swiss company specialized in event organization and economic promotion. With the success of its 2017 edition, which welcomed almost 1,200 business leaders from Africa and the world, the AFRICA CEO FORUM has established itself as the main international event for the African private sector to discuss the continent’s development in a highly professional environment ideal for business networking. The 2018 edition is co-hosted by the International Finance Corporation (IFC, part of the World Bank Group).
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Chad’s leader plots to stay until 2033
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
Idriss Deby came to power in 1990

Idriss Deby came to power in 1990

President Idriss Deby is set to govern Chad until 2033 if a recommendation made by his party is approved, news agency Reuters reports.

A report issued by allied politicians, business leaders and traditional chiefs has proposed a presidential term limit for the country’s leaders from 2021.

The proposed changes include a six-year rather than five-year presidential term, limited to a maximum of two terms.

Mr Deby, who came to power in 1990, will be 81 by the time his final terms ends.

The opposition has dismissed the proposed changes as a plot to create a monarchy.

Chad, an ally of Western nations in the fight against Islamist militants in West and Central Africa, has faced strikes and protests in recent months over economic woes caused by low prices for its chief export, oil.

*BBC

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Hilton returns to the Moroccan capital
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
150 room Hilton Rabat to form part of city’s flagship Wessal Bouregreg Development
Rudi Jagersbacher, President, Middle East, Africa & Turkey, Hilton and Abderrahmane El Ouazzani signing the contracts

Rudi Jagersbacher, President, Middle East, Africa & Turkey, Hilton and Abderrahmane El Ouazzani signing the contracts

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, March 27, 2018/ — Hilton (NYSE:HLT) (http://HiltonWorldwide.com) will once again be welcoming guests to the Moroccan capital city of Rabat from 2022 after a landmark deal was signed with Wessal Capital.  At a ceremony in Dubai, a management agreement for a 150 room Hilton Rabat to form part of the city’s Wessal Bouregreg project was confirmed.

The Wessal Bouregreg master development contains a range of high-end residential, entertainment and cultural attractions on the banks of the river Bouregreg. Guests at Hilton Rabat will enjoy close proximity to a range of new state of the art facilities including a shopping mall, the Zaha Hadid designed Grand Theatre of Rabat and several new cultural components. The hotel itself will offer a range of distinct F&B outlets, an outdoor swimming pool, spa, salon and ample meeting space.

Rudi Jagersbacher, President, Middle East, Africa & Turkey, Hilton said: “This hotel signals our return to Rabat which will be part of the city’s most important master project. Wessal Bouregreg is set to install Rabat as the cultural and entertainment centre of the region and drive significant demand for upscale international accommodation. Last year we took a decision to install a permanent Development presence in North Africa, and have recently successfully opened two hotels in Tanger, with three hotels under construction in Al Houara, Taghazout Bay and Casablanca. So we have great momentum in Morocco and I expect our involvement in this project to be a catalyst for further growth.”

Wessal Capital CEO Abderrahmane El Ouazzani added: “The signing of the management agreement with Hilton is of particular importance to Wessal Capital, being the first of a long line of future hotels that Wessal Capital is developing. The Hilton Rabat hotel will be located in the heart of the Cultural Plaza of the Wessal Bouregreg development. We have chosen Hilton for their historic experience and track record in the hospitality sector.”

bout Hilton
Hilton (NYSE: HLT) (http://news.HiltonWorldwide.com) is a leading global hospitality company, with a portfolio of 14 world-class brands comprising more than 5,100 properties with nearly 838,000 rooms in 103 countries and territories. Hilton is dedicated to fulfilling its mission to be the world’s most hospitable company by delivering exceptional experiences – every hotel, every guest, every time. The company’s portfolio includes Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Canopy by Hilton, Curio Collection by Hilton, DoubleTree by Hilton, Tapestry Collection by Hilton, Embassy Suites by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton by Hilton, Tru by Hilton, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Home2 Suites by Hilton and Hilton Grand Vacations. The company also manages an award-winning customer loyalty program, Hilton Honors. Hilton Honors members who book directly through preferred Hilton channels have access to instant benefits, including a flexible payment slider that allows members to choose exactly how many Points to combine with money, an exclusive member discount that can’t be found anywhere else and free standard Wi-Fi.

For nearly a century, Hilton Hotels & Resorts (www.Hilton.com) has been proudly welcoming the world’s travelers. With more than 570 hotels across six continents, Hilton Hotels & Resorts provides the foundation for memorable travel experiences and values every guest who walks through its doors. As the flagship brand of Hilton, Hilton Hotels & Resorts continues to set the standard for hospitality, providing new product innovations and services to meet guests’ evolving needs. Hilton Hotels & Resorts is a part of the award-winning Hilton Honors program. Hilton Honors members who book directly through preferred Hilton channels have access to instant benefits, including a flexible payment slider that allows members to choose nearly any combination of Points and money to book a stay, an exclusive member discount that can’t be found anywhere else, free standard Wi-Fi and digital amenities like digital check-in with room selection and Digital Key (select locations), available exclusively through the industry-leading Hilton Honors app.

Wessal Capital is a €2.5 billion innovative investment fund established to finance transformational tourism and real estate projects in the Kingdom of Morocco. It has a unique shareholding structure with five sovereign wealth funds committing an equal amount of capital: The Kingdom of Morocco through Ithmar Capital, the United Arab Emirates through Aabar, the State of Kuwait through Al Ajial Holding, the State of Qatar through Qatar Holding, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through its Public Investment Fund (PIF).

Wessal Capital invests in projects which develop Morocco’s socio-economic environment, tourism sector and enhance the lives of residents, while attracting international business and tourists. Projects are selected on the basis of their social and environmental responsibility and cultural relevance, as well as their potential financial return.

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Nelson Mandela’s golden hand casts sell for $10m in bitcoin
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
HULTON ARCHIVE Image caption Four casts of Nelson Mandela's hands were made by mining group Harmony Gold in 2002

HULTON ARCHIVE
Image caption
Four casts of Nelson Mandela’s hands were made by mining group Harmony Gold in 2002

Gold castings of the hands of South Africa’s first black President Nelson Mandela have been sold for $10m (£7m) in bitcoin.

Canadian crypto-currency exchange firm Arbitrade bought four casts from South African businessman Malcolm Duncan.

The firm said it planned to launch a global “Golden Hands of Nelson Mandela” tour to educate young people about the anti-apartheid icon’s life.

This is the first time artefacts of Mr Mandela have been sold in bitcoin.

Mr Mandela was jailed for 27 years for fighting white minority rule in South Africa.

He was released in 1990, and served as president from 1994 to 1999.

Mr Mandela died in 2013 at the age of 95. He had turned into a global brand, with businessmen and artists cashing in on his name.

Mr Duncan, who now lives in Canada, bought the casts from mining group Harmony Gold in 2002 for about $31,000.

Half of the money paid to Harmony Gold was meant to go to charity, but it remains unclear as to whether that happened, Bloomberg news agency reports.

Harmony said it had “supplied Mr Duncan with the necessary paperwork verifying the provenance as requested by his attorneys,” but declined to comment on what happened to the donation, Bloomberg reports.

Nelson Mandela's old prison cell on Robben IslandImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionMr Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison on Robben Island

The casts, which weigh around 20lb (9kg), include Mr Mandela’s hand, palm and fist. They are part of a collection meant to mark the years the former president spent in prison on Robben Island.

The artefacts are believed to be the only ones left in the world.

The other sets of the collection were ordered to be destroyed by Mr Mandela, Mr Duncan told Bloomberg.

It was part of the former president’s attempt to control his copyright after a number of scandals, including forgery allegations, arose around the sale of art bearing his image and name.

Arbitrade has paid Mr Duncan a bitcoin deposit that has been converted to $50,000, and the rest is expected to be paid in quarterly instalments of at least $2m, Bloomberg reports.

“They take possession when I have the dollar amount in the bank, At two-and-a-quarter million at a time, they take one hand at a time,” Mr Duncan was quoted as saying.

Arbitrade is due to launch an initial coin offering and plans to mine its own crypto-currencies and trade others, Bloomberg reports.

The company’s chairman, Len Schutzman, told the news agency that it will back all its virtual currency with a percentage of physical metal, such as gold.

*BBC

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Ethiopian Airlines Launches Split Scimitar® Winglets in Northern Africa
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
Rendering of an Ethiopian Airlines 737-800 with APB Split Scimitar Winglets (PRNewsfoto/Aviation Partners Boeing)

Rendering of an Ethiopian Airlines 737-800 with APB Split Scimitar Winglets (PRNewsfoto/Aviation Partners Boeing)

SEATTLEMarch 26, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Aviation Partners Boeing (APB) announced today that Ethiopian Airlines has become the first operator in Northern Africa of its latest Split Scimitar Winglet technology.  The first installation of the System was completed on March 20, 2018, at its MRO in Addis Ababa.  Ethiopian Airlines intends to install the Winglets on its fleet of Boeing Next-Generation 737-700 and 737-800 aircraft.  Aviation Partners’ latest Winglet design, the Split Scimitar Winglet, uses existing Blended Winglet technology but adds new aerodynamic Scimitar tips and a large ventral strake, further increasing the efficiency of the airplane.

“Ethiopian Airlines recognizes the importance of investing in their fleet and is taking steps to be the most fuel efficient and environmentally friendly airline in Africa,” says Aviation Partners Boeing director of sales and marketing Christopher Stafford.  “With the installation of the Split Scimitar Winglet System, not only will Ethiopian Airlines show its environmental stewardship, but the fuel savings and additional payload on long haul routes will significantly improve the operating economics of the Boeing Next Generation 737-700 and 737-800 models.”

The Split Scimitar Winglet modification reduces Boeing Next-Generation 737 block fuel consumption by up to an additional 2.2% over the Blended Winglets alone.  The Split Scimitar Winglet System will reduce Ethiopian Airline’s annual fuel requirements by more than 275,000 liters per aircraft, and their carbon dioxide emissions by over 700 tonnes per aircraft per year.

“As the leading carrier in Africa, Ethiopian has always been spearheading the introduction of aviation technology into the continent. The planned installation of the Split Scimitar Winglets is yet another testimony to our technology leadership in Africa’s aviation industry,” says Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Ato Tewolde Gebremariam. “Currently, we operate 8 Boeing Next-Generation 737-700s and 16 Boeing Next-Generation 737-800 aircraft. Once these airplanes are fitted with the newest winglets and enter operation, we will benefit a lot in terms of fuel efficiency, which in turn will take our environmental protection efforts one step ahead.” 

Since launching the Boeing Next-Generation 737 Split Scimitar Winglet program, APB has taken orders for over 1,800 systems, and over 1,000 aircraft are now operating with the technology.  APB estimates that its products have reduced aircraft fuel consumption worldwide by over 8.0 billion gallons to-date thereby saving nearly 85.0 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

Aviation Partners Boeing is a Seattle based joint venture of Aviation Partners, Inc. and The Boeing Company. www.aviationpartnersboeing.com

Ethiopian Airlines is largest and fastest growing airline on the African continent and wholly owned by the government of Ethiopia.  In its seventy plus years of operation, Ethiopian has become one of the continent’s leading carriers, unrivalled in efficiency and operational success. It is the first airline to introduce the ultra-modern Boeing 787-8 aircraft into Africa and also operates a mix of modern airplanes with an average fleet age of five years.

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Congo rejects foreign funding for long-delayed elections
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
Congolese president Joseph Kabila casts his ballot in the country's presidential election at a polling station in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo on Nov. 28, 2011.

Congolese president Joseph Kabila casts his ballot in the country’s presidential election at a polling station in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo on Nov. 28, 2011.

Congo’s government says it will not take international funding for its long-delayed elections, calling it a decision to avoid foreign interference.

A statement issued Monday thanks all partners who announced election contributions, saying the government should find a way to direct the money toward projects in health, education and infrastructure upgrades.

President Joseph Kabila, whose mandate ended in December 2016, has said elections will be organized by the Congolese only. The opposition has accused him of trying to cling to power. Some protests have turned deadly.

The election commission has said the vote now will be in December.

The United States last month urged Congo to abandon the use of electronic voting to avoid any challenges to results. Monday’s statement, however, recommends continued public awareness about the machines.

*AP

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Free gift? China extends influence in Africa with $32M grant for regional HQ
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Jenni Marsh*

The African Union building in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was also a gift from China. It cost $200 million to build and was handed over in 2012.

The African Union building in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was also a gift from China. It cost $200 million to build and was handed over in 2012.

(CNN)China raised eyebrows this month by announcing it will give the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) a $31.6 million grant to build a new headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria.

African, right, and Chinese workers, left, build railway track sections for the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line in Tsavo, Kenya.

African, right, and Chinese workers, left, build railway track sections for the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line in Tsavo, Kenya.

Accepting the grant, the president of ECOWAS Jean-Claude Brou thanked China, and confirmed the organization’s commitment to promoting future ECOWAS-China cooperation. A press release said that Mr Brou called this a mark of goodwill from China.

But critics questioned the Asian economic powerhouse’s motives for the donation, which positions it at the center of West African politics.
Earlier this year, a published report in the French daily, Le Monde, alleged that Beijing spied on the African Union through the computer systems it helped install. Citing anonymous sources, Le Monde reported that data was transferred from the AU systems in Ethiopia to its servers in Shanghai. China’s foreign ministry called the Le Monde report “groundless accusations.”  The AU called the report “baseless.”
 “People will interpret this as a symbolic expression of China’s growing presence in Africa,” says Ian Taylor, professor in international relations and African political economics at the University of St Andrews, in Scotland.

“But the real question is 60 years after independence (for most member states), why does ECOWAS think it’s acceptable for a foreign power to build its headquarters?”
ECOWAS and the Chinese Ministry for Foreign Affairs did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment.

Why did ECOWAS accept?

ECOWAS was established in 1975 to foster economic integration and collective self-sufficiency in West Africa.
Its 15 member states include one of Africa’s biggest economies by GDP Nigeria, causing Taylor and others to ask why ECOWAS isn’t self-funding the facility. Had the members split the bill, it would have cost just over $2 million each.
Philip Olayoku, project manager at the Abuja-based Information Aid Network, says the official numbers are misleading and many countries in the grouping don’t have cash to spare for such projects.
“For me, reliance on GDP is the wrong way to determine how well a country’s economy is doing,” he says. Corruption in many West African governments, he explains, means “funds that are accrued for national growth are often not where they need to be,” impairing a country’s ability to contribute effectively to bodies such as ECOWAS.
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Ethiopia’s ruling coalition names new chairman, set to be PM
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

By ELIAS MESERET*

Dr Abiy Ahmed

Dr Abiy Ahmed

Ethiopia’s ruling coalition named a chairman set to become the country’s new prime minister late Tuesday amid the latest state of emergency in Africa’s second most populous nation.

Abiy Ahmed is poised to take power, as the ruling coalition and its regional affiliates hold all parliament seats. A vote by lawmakers is expected on Wednesday.

The announcement followed months of the most severe anti-government protests in a quarter-century and the surprise decision by then-Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn early this year to release prominent politicians, journalists and others from prison to free up political space.

But Hailemariam later announced his intention to resign and a new state of emergency was imposed in one of Africa’s fastest growing economies.

Abiy is the first person from Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, to hold the post of prime minister since the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front came to power in 1991.

Ethiopians had eagerly awaited news of their new leader for days. This will be the third prime minister since the current ruling coalition came to power close to 30 years ago after overthrowing the Derg military regime by force.

Many hoped the development would bring calm after the months of protests demanding wider freedoms.

“I believe that the Oromia region president, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, is the answer to Ethiopia’s youths’ questions,” Yonas Alemayehu, an activist in the restive Oromia region, told The Associated Press. The Oromo people, the largest ethnic group among Ethiopia’s population of 100 million, have long felt marginalized.

The outgoing prime minister at times had been labeled as weak and under the shadow of former strongman Meles Zenawi, who died in 2012. Others argued that Hailemariam successfully continued the late leader’s core policies, of both economic transformation and repression.

In a 2016 interview with the AP, the outgoing prime minister acknowledged that good governance was in decline in Ethiopia and people were asking the government to correct it.

“That is the main reason why people are protesting,” he said at the time. “This is really a positive sign. I have recently apologized in front of the parliament for our mismanagement and lack of responsibility that have generated these dissents. We are now taking measures to address those grievances.”

However, the protests continue to this day.

*AP

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Morocco:Over 300 delegates Expected in Marrakech For The African Women in Agriculture Congress” May 8-10, 2018
March 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

-Marrakech will host  the second edition of AWA “The African Women in Agriculture Congress” May 8-10, 2018

-More than 300 delegates will discuss the role of women in Africa’s agricultural development.

Believe in Africa has chosen Morocco to organize its second international conference on the subject: “Women and Agriculture“.

The congress “African Women in Agriculture 2018“, will take place in Marrakech from May 8 to 10, 2018 at the Mohammed VI Museum of Water Civilization in Morocco – AMAN, with the support of the Moroccan Agency for International Cooperation (AMCI) , UN Women, Initiative for Global Develop (IGD) US Africa Foundation (USADF), Forbes Africa, Africa Agriculture, and AllAfrica Magazine.

The main purpose of AWAAfrican Women in Agriculture” is to create a grid of influencers based on an exchange between high-ranking personalities and small scales producers. AWA’s aspiration is to boost women’s empowerment in agriculture, in rural areas particularly, by empowering them to become self-reliant, productive and competitive. AWA covers the four agricultural sectors, which are: agriculture, livestock, fisheries/fish farming and agro-forestry and handicrafts.

Angelle Kwemo, Founder and President of Believe in Africa

Angelle Kwemo, Founder and President of Believe in Africa

For Angelle Kwemo, Founder and President of Believe in Africa; “AWA is a unique place to share knowledge and experience where personal success stories are honored and analyzed and shared.

Furthermore The 2018 edition wants to take tangible actions and develop a roadmap for resource mobilization, training and optimization of production capacity, processing and marketing of agricultural products.

AWA 2018 will be an opportunity to highlight the collective commitment of this network put in place for the empowerment of African women, and above all allow participants to find investors and partners for the marketing of their products on the African and global market.

*For more information at http://www.believeinafrica.org/, email: Believeinafrica1@gmail.com

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Access Power launches 2018 edition of the $7 million Access Co-Development Facility (ACF) competition powering Africa & Asia
March 27, 2018 | 0 Comments
The winners of ACF 2018 will be announced during a live final evaluation panel on June 19th 2018 during the Africa Energy Forum in Mauritius
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, March 27, 2018/ — Access Power (www.Access-Power.com), a developer, owner and operator of power projects in emerging markets, today announced the launch of ACF 2018, the third edition of the highly successful funding and support platform for renewable energy projects in Africa and Asia. For this third edition, Access has included Asia for energy projects and invite entrepreneurs across both Africa and Asia to compete.

Now in its fourth year, the ACF is an innovative US$7 million financial support programme designed to provide local power project developers and originators with project development support, technical experience, expertise and funding required to bring their renewable energy projects to life.

ACF 2018 aims to further build on the success of the previous three years where a total of 234 projects have been considered for the prize with several winning projects now benefiting from the mix of funding and technical expertise provided by Access Power. This year’s finalists will once again be evaluated and scored by an independent panel of industry experts, similar to last year’s which comprised of senior representatives from Power Africa, InfraCo Africa, Proparco, and the Dutch Development Bank (FMO) .

The winners of ACF 2018 will be announced during a live final evaluation panel on June 19th 2018 during the Africa Energy Forum in Mauritius. The top three finalists from Africa and Asia will subsequently enter into direct Joint Development Agreement (JDA) discussions with Access Power.

Reda El Chaar, Executive Chairman, Access Power commented; “This year we are delighted to welcome projects across Asia too to compete. By introducing new markets, we hope this will enable us to reach a bigger network of innovative and pioneering entrepreneurs across Africa and Asia with the opportunity to develop their ambitious ideas into tangible projects.”

The ACF 2018 application form and guidelines are available on Access Power website www.Access-Power.com

The ACF 2018 is a financial support mechanism designed to provide local developers and entrepreneurs with the technical expertise and funding required to bring their renewable energy projects to life.
• Applications for the ACF 2018 will open in March 19th  2018
• The submission period runs from March 19th to May 10th 2018.
• An independent judging panel will include industry experts as well as representatives from multilateral development banks.
• Following a pre-selection process, a shortlist of applicants will be chosen to present their projects to a panel of judges at the Africa Energy Forum in Mauritius,June 2018 (www.Africa-Energy-Forum.com).
• Applicants must present their projects to the judging panel during the Forum within a given time and take questions from panel members.
• Panel members will score each project based on the evaluation criteria, using weighted percentages.
• The winners will negotiate and enter a Joint Development Agreement with Access Power, which will take an agreed equity stake in the winning projects and fund all third-party development costs. Access Power will also provide technical support, financing and development process management

About Access Power 
Access Power (www.Access-Power.com) ‘Access’ is a developer, owner and operator of power plants in emerging and frontier markets. Access today is one of the fastest growing independent power producers in emerging markets and is currently developing renewable energy projects worth over US$1 billion in 23 countries across Africa and Asia Our development team has a depth of experience in developing and building large portfolios of renewable energy projects, with a collective track record of financially closing 30 GW of power projects across the globe.

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Why Africa’s free trade area offers so much promise
March 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

By *

African leaders meet in Kigali to sign the continent’s free trade agreement. Paul Kagame/Flickr

African leaders meet in Kigali to sign the continent’s free trade agreement. Paul Kagame/Flickr

African leaders have just signed a framework establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area, the largest free trade agreement since the creation of the World Trade Organisation.

The free trade area aims to create a single market for goods and services in Africa. By 2030 the market size is expected to include 1.7 billion people with over USD$ 6.7 trillion of cumulative consumer and business spending – that’s if all African countries have joined the free trade area by then. Ten countries, including Nigeria, have yet to sign up.

The goal is to create a

single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments.

The agreement has the potential to deliver a great deal for countries on the continent. The hope is that the trade deal will trigger a virtuous cycle of more intra African trade, which in turn will drive the structural transformation of economies – the transition from low productivity and labour intensive activities to higher productivity and skills intensive industrial and service activities – which in turn will produce better paid jobs and make an impact on poverty.

But signing the agreement is only the beginning. For it to come into force, 22 countries must ratify it. Their national legislative bodies must approve and sanction the framework formally, showing full commitment to its implementation. Niger President Issoufou Mahamadou, who has been championing the process, aims to have the ratification process completed by January 2019.

Cause and effect

Some studies have shown that by creating a pan-African market, intra-Africa trade could increase by about 52% by 2022. Better market access creates economies of scale. Combined with appropriate industrial policies, this contributes to a diversified industrial sector and growth in manufacturing value added.

Manufacturing represents only about 10% of total GDP in Africa on average. This falls well below other developing regions. A successful continental free trade area could reduce this gap. And a bigger manufacturing sector will mean more well-paid jobs, especially for young people. This in turn will help poverty alleviation.

Industrial development, and with it, more jobs, is desperately needed in Africa. Industry represents one-quarter to one-third of total job creationin other regions of the world. And a young person in Africa is twice as likely to be unemployed when he or she becomes an adult. This is a particularly stressful situation given that over 70% of sub-Saharan Africa’s population is below age 30.

In addition, 70% of Africa’s youth live on less than US $2 per day.

The continental free trade area is expected to offer

substantial opportunities for industrialisation, diversification, and high-skilled employment in Africa.

The single continental market will offer the opportunity to accelerate the manufacture and intra-African trade of value-added products, moving from commodity based economies and exports to economic diversification and high-value exports.

But, to increase the impact of the trade deal, industrial policies must be put in place. These must focus on productivity, competition, diversification, and economic complexity.

In other words, governments must create enabling conditions to ensure that productivity is raised to international competitiveness standards. The goal must be to ensure that the products manufactured in African countries are competitively traded on the continent and abroad, and to diversify the range and sophistication of products and services.

Drivers of manufacturing

Data shows that the most economically diverse countries are also the most successful.

In fact, diversification is critical as “countries that are able to sustain a diverse range of productive know-how, including sophisticated, unique know-how, are able to produce a wide diversity of goods, including complex products that few other countries can make.

Diverse African economies such as South Africa and Egypt, are likely to be the drivers of the free trade area, and are likely to benefit from it the most. These countries will find a large continental market for their manufactured products. They will also use their know-how and dense industrial landscape to develop innovative products and respond to market demand.

But the agreement on its own won’t deliver results. Governments must put in place policies that drive industrial development, particularly manufacturing. Five key ones stand out:

Human capital: A strong manufacturing sector needs capable, healthy, and skilled workers. Policymakers should adjust curriculum to ensure that skills are adapted to the market. And there must be a special focus on young people. Curriculum must focus on skills and building capacity for entrepreneurship and self-employment. This should involve business training at an early age and skills upgrading at an advanced one. This should go hand in hand with promoting science, technology, engineering, entrepreneurship and mathematics as well as vocational and on-the-job training.

Policymakers should also favour the migration of highly skilled workers across the continent.

Cost: Policymakers must bring down the cost of doing business. The barriers include energy, access to roads and ports, security, financing, bureaucratic restrictions, corruption, dispute settlement and property rights.

Supply network: Industries are more likely to evolve if competitive networks exist. Policymakers should ease trade restrictions and integrate regional trade networks. In particular, barriers for small and medium-size businesses should be lifted.

Domestic demand: Policymakers should offer tax incentives to firms to unlock job creation, and to increase individual and household incomes. Higher purchasing power for households will increase the size of the domestic market.

Resources: Manufacturing requires heavy investment. This should be driven by the private sector. Policymakers should facilitate access to finance, especially for small and medium enterprises. And to attract foreign direct investment, policymakers should address perceptions of poor risk perception. This invariably scares off potential investors or sets excessive returns expectations.

Increased productivity

The continental free trade area facilitates industrialisation by creating a continental market, unlocking manufacturing potential and bolstering an international negotiation bloc.

Finally, the continental free trade area will also provide African leaders with a greater negotiating power to eliminate barriers to exporting. This will help prevent agreements with other countries, and trading blocs, that are likely to hurt exports and industrial development.

*Culled from The Conversation.is a Distinguished Fellow at Stanford University’s Center for African Studies, David M. Rubenstein Fellow at the Global Economy and Development and Africa Growth Initiative at the Brookings Institution, and Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, Stanford University

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Louis Vuitton names Ghanaian-American as new creative boss
March 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

Virgil Abloh, the founder of streetwear brand Off-White and Kanye West’s creative director, has been named the new menswear designer for French fashion label Louis Vuitton.

“I feel elated,” the 37-year-old , saying the opportunity was “always a goal in my wildest dreams”.

The news site says Abloh is one of the few black designers at the helm of a major French fashion house.

Others include Olivier Rousteing – the creative director at Balmain, and British designer Ozwald Boateng who led Givenchy men’s wear from 2003 to 2007.

Abloh will present his first menswear collection for Louis Vuitton in June at Paris Fashion Week.

Louis Vuitton chief executive Michael Burke praised the designer’s “sensibility towards luxury and savoir-faire” adding he would be “instrumental in taking Louis Vuitton’s menswear into the future”.

*BBC

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Morocco top ranked investment destination in Africa for 2017
March 26, 2018 | 0 Comments
Egypt, Algeria, Botswana and Cote d’Ivoire amongst top five investment destinations
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, March 26, 2018/ —

  • Quantum Global Research Lab releases new 2018 Africa Investment Index
  • Top five investment destinations attracted a combined net FDI of $12.8 bn in 2016
  • Egypt, Algeria, Botswana and Cote d’Ivoire amongst top five investment destinations
Prof. Mthuli Ncube, Managing Director, Quantum Global Research Lab

Prof. Mthuli Ncube, Managing Director, Quantum Global Research Lab

Morocco is the most attractive economy for investments flowing into the African continent, according to the latest Africa Investment Index 2018 (AII) by Quantum Global’s (http://QuantumGlobalGroup.com) independent research arm, Quantum Global Research Lab.

According to the AII, Morocco ranks first on the Index based on its increasing solid economic growth, strategic geographic positioning, increased foreign direct investment, external debt levels, social capital factors and overall favourable business environment.

Prof. Mthuli Ncube, Managing Director, Quantum Global Research Lab commented:

“In spite of the improvements to oil production and prices, African economies are turning their attention towards diversification to stimulate industrial development, and to attract investments in non-oil strategic sectors. Morocco has been consistent in attracting an inward flow of foreign capital, specifically in banking, tourism and energy sectors and through the development of industry.”

Top 10 and Bottom 10 countries

Rank Top 10 (best to worst) Bottom 10 (worst to best)
1 Morocco Central African Republic
2 Egypt Liberia
3 Algeria Somalia
4 Botswana Eritrea
5 Cote d’Ivoire Equatorial Guinea
6 South Africa Gambia, The
7 Ethiopia Sierra Leone
8 Zambia Guinea
9 Kenya Sao Tome and Principe
10 Senegal Zimbabwe

 

According to recent data by the Moroccan Exchange Control, Morocco attracted nearly $2.57 bn of foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2017, up from 12 percent compared to 2016. The country is being recognised as one of the best emerging markets for overseas investment. International investors are looking at wide range of sectors for investments including in areas such as energy, infrastructure, tourism, and ICT amongst others.

According to AII, the top five African investment destinations attracted an overall FDI of $12.8 bn in 2016. Cote d’Ivoire ranks 5th while being the fastest growing economy in Africa and scores relatively well in liquidity and risk factors such as real interest rate, exchange rate risk and current account ratio. The improved risk profile, combined with strong liquidity, business environment, demographics and the social capital record has rendered Algeria a rise to the 3rd position in the second edition. Botswana, previously ranked as Africa’s top investment destination in the first edition, ranks 4th scoring well in risk factors as well as the business environment.

Prof. Ncube further commented: “Continued FDI inflows will continue to drive the much-needed capital to develop Africa’s primary sectors to meet the demands of the continent’s rapidly growing middle-class, and into manufacturing sectors to create more jobs, enhance economic growth and support structural transformation.”

In terms of improvements in the ranking over the last 3 years, countries such as Swaziland, Angola, Rwanda, Chad, Comoros, Seychelles, South Sudan and Sierra Leone registered strong upward movements as shown in AII three-year rolling rankings.

Quantum Global (www.QuantumGlobalGroup.com) is an international group of companies active in the areas of private equity investments, investment management as well as macroeconomic research and econometric modelling. Quantum Global’s private equity arm manages a family of funds targeting direct investments in Africa in the sectors of Agriculture, Healthcare, Hotels, Infrastructure, Mining and Timber – as well as a sector agnostic Structured Equity fund. Our team combines a solid track record and proven expertise to identify and execute unique investment opportunities with focus on Africa. Quantum Global works in close partnership with key stakeholders to maximise investment value and returns through active management and value creation. For more information, visit www.QuantumGlobalGroup.com.

The AII is constructed from macroeconomic and financial indicators and the World Bank Group’s Ease of Doing Business Indicators (DBI). The DBI ranks countries in terms of a regulatory environment conducive to business operation. The AII focuses on 5 pillars or factors from a wider range of investment indicators, which include the share of domestic investment in GDP, the share of Africa’s total FDI net inflow, GDP growth rate forecast, population augmented GDP growth factor, real interest rate, the difference of broad money growth to the GDP growth rates, inflation differential, credit rating, import cover, the share of the country’s external debt in its GNI, current account ratio, ease of doing business and the country’s population size (Figure 1). The AII indicators are based on secondary data collected from World Bank Development Indicators, IMF World Economic Outlook, UNCTAD Data Centre and own estimates.

The AII is a combination of individual indicator’s rank into a single numerical ranking. It averages the country’s macroeconomic and financial indicators rankings on the five different factors. Each indicator, and hence factors, receives an equal weight.  Their rank score is then averaged to produce the total average score, which is consequently ranked from 1 to 54. The higher the value of the ranking, the lower the implied business investment climate.

To produce an index score that captures medium-term changing aspects, individual country’s ranking is scaled relative to a benchmark or reference value (i.e., the past 3-year rolling average ranking). In addition to the intended measurement, this approach enables us to avoid periods of structural changes (which may compromise the index) that may be present in a longer time span, whether we consider a change from a reference average value or a historical reference period.

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Gernot Rohr: Nigeria ‘work in progress’ after friendly win against Poland
March 25, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Oluwashina Okeleji*

Nigeria's Victor Moses scored during the international friendly football match against Poland

Nigeria’s Victor Moses scored during the international friendly football match against Poland

Gernot Rohr says his Nigeria side remain “a work in progress” and warned they “won’t get carried away with friendly success” after they beat Poland 1-0.

Victor Moses’ second-half penalty saw off Poland on Friday but Nigeria were below par in front of a vociferous crowd in Wroclaw.

“We’ve seen a lot of good things and some things we must work on before the World Cup in Russia,” Rohr said.

“Friendly matches provide a great opportunity to see everything about your team.

“It is not really the same as a World Cup game. Our preparation is still a work in progress to be ready.

“We know winning friendly matches could give us false hope but we want to keep working hard,” he added.

They will face Serbia in another friendly in Barnet, London on Tuesday night.

Rohr has guided his team to an unexpected qualification – their sixth World Cup appearance – after taking over from Sunday Oliseh in August 2016.

The win over Poland will be a huge boost to Nigerian confidence following this victory over a team ranked sixth in the world, 46 places above the Super Eagles.

It was the second notable friendly scalp for the Super Eagles after a 4-2 triumph over 2014 World Cup runners-up Argentina last November.

Nigeria face the two-time World Champions again in the group stage in Russia.

The West Africans open their Group D campaign against Croatia on 16 June.

They will then face Iceland on 22 June before finishing with Argentina four days later.

The three-times African champions will be making a sixth appearance at the World Cup tournament in Russia.

Nigeria reached the round of 16 in 1994, 1998 and 2014 but exit the 2002 and 2010 tournaments in the group stages.

 *BBC
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Annual Meetings of the Boards of Governors of the African Development Bank Group: “Accelerating Africa’s industrialization”
March 24, 2018 | 0 Comments
21 – 25 May 2018, Busan Exhibition Conference Center, Busan, Republic of South Korea
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, March 23, 2018/ — The 53rd Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the African Development Bank and 44th Meeting of the Board of Governors of the African Development Fund (http://www.AfDB.org/am), the concessional arm of the Bank Group, are scheduled to take place from May 21-25, 2018 in Busan, Korea.

While Africa has enjoyed strong economic growth for almost two decades, the continent has not seen a commensurate rise in industrialization. On average, African industry generates merely US$700 of GDP per capita, which is barely a fifth in East Asia (US$3,400). In addition, African exports consist of low technology manufactures and unprocessed natural resources, which represent more than 80 percent of exports from Algeria, Angola or Nigeria, for example.

Africa’s rapid industrialization holds the potential for a win-win scenario – for the world, and certainly for the continent. It would also help raise productivity by spurring technological progress and innovation while creating higher-skilled jobs in the formal sector; promote linkages between services and agricultural sectors; between rural and urban economies; and among consumers, intermediates and capital goods industries. Industrialization will also make the prices of manufactured exports less volatile or susceptible to long-term deterioration than those of primary goods, as well as help African countries escape dependence on primary commodity exports.

The theme is generating a lot of interest at a time when Korean and Asian companies are increasingly active in Africa. What lessons can Africa learn from Korea’s development experience? Can relations between both regions, built on a win-win formula, enable Africa claim a more significant share of world trade? Can Afro-Asian commercial and financial ties favor the development of the African private sector? What are the most effective policy levers that could foster structural transformation on the continent? How can the continent learn from the experiences of Korea and leading African nations such as Mauritius, Morocco, Ethiopia, and Rwanda in the industrialization process? These and other questions will be debated during the Busan Annual Meetings.

The Annual Meetings are one of the largest economic gatherings on the continent. Thousands of delegates, Heads of State, public and private sectors stakeholders, development partners and academics, will reflect on Africa’s industrialization − one of the Bank’s High 5 strategic priorities (https://www.afdb.org/en/the-high-5) and an avenue to improve the living conditions of Africans.

During the meetings, the Bank will organize a series of knowledge events to generate new ideas for developing and financing Africa’s industrialization. Highlights of the meetings will include a high-level presidential panel on Accelerating African Industrialization: Bringing the future to the present. The panel will be a platform for political leaders from Africa and Korea to present their visions and strategies for industrialization as well as ideas for overcoming implementation challenges.

The Bank will launch the updated version of the African Economic Outlook (AEO) 2018 – the Bank’s flagship economic publication. Several knowledge events are on the programme such as Pathways to Industrialization, where panelists will deliberate on the various trajectories African countries can follow towards sustainable industrialization. A panel on Future of Work and Industrialization will examine how Africa can adapt its educational systems and workers’ skills to suit new economic realities, particularly for industrial development of the continent, among other sessions.

Journalists willing to take part in the Meetings are requested to send to the Bank a designation letter from their news organization at the following address: (media@afdb.org). Upon receipt of the letter, the Bank will send a personal code that will allow online registration. Online registration will close on 13th May 2018. Journalists from countries without Korean diplomatic representation should register early enough in order to get assistance from the Bank in obtaining a visa should they need one.

The African Development Bank will not cover transport and subsistence costs for journalists travelling to Busan.

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Kenyatta, Uhuru détente: Time for African politics to reinvent itself
March 23, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

President Uhuru Kenyatta shakes hand with Raila Odinga when they met at Harambee House, Nairobi. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE

President Uhuru Kenyatta shakes hand with Raila Odinga when they met at Harambee House, Nairobi. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE

On August 8, 2017, Kenya held its presidential election. The election was conducted in a tense environment and since then, the two main candidates going into the elction (Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta) had been at loggerheads. However, Kenyans woke up to a surprise on 16 March, 2018 as the two held a press release where they stated their new found desire to move on a reconciliation path as ‘brothers’.

The news came as a surprise to virtually everyone especially considering that it had barely been a month since Odinga had inaugurated himself as the ‘People’s President’ in a move which prompted Kenyatta to retaliate by charging some of Uhuru Kenyatta’s supporters with criminal nuisance and even issued arrests for some including the lawyer who inaugurated Odinga.

While the path of reconciliation taken by Odinga and Kenyatta is commendable, it is a bitter taste for those that were involved in the political violence and disturbances that saw over a 100 people dead and hundreds of others injured and displaced in the aftermath of the August 8, election. It is against this background that this article calls for Africa to reinvent itself.

Shifting from the culture of violence

From Cape to Cairo, African politics suffer from the culture of violence. Be it, sponsored violence induced by politicians or the random desire by one group (ethnic/tribal/race/social class etc.) to dominate another, African countries at one point or the other experience disturbing acts of violence that are politically motivated.

While the top hierarchy rarely suffers from this violence, it’s the total opposite when it comes to those at the bottom. True to the proverb, “when two elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers” the general African populace has been affected and suffered the most from political disturbances. This, therefore, means that if any reinvention is to come, it is imperative that it starts from the bottom up for it to be effective.

Conscientization

One of the many memories that the legend Bob Marley left us is his wisdom and this wisdom is perfectly embedded in this saying, “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but our selves can free our minds.” The first and probably the only step that Africans need to take in order to overthrow the culture of political violence is for them to become aware of the political, economic and social conditions that lead them to engage in acts of violence. Such conditions which among other things include race, ethnicity, tribalism, and inferiority complex are so enmeshed in the hearts and minds of most Africans such that they subconsciously dictate how Africans think and act.

In order for Africans to emancipate themselves from these terrible conditions, it’s imperative that first, they become conscious of the conditions that exist within their minds which blindly leads them to engage and commit in terrible acts. Only when the people become conscious can there be a shift from the culture of violence to a culture of peace in African politics.

Politics of personality

While the public possesses the power to force a shift from the culture of violence, the politicians themselves can also play a part in this shift. Often times, politicians prey on the vulnerabilities of the masses, they draw support from entrenching themselves in the politics of ethnicity, tribalism and in some cases religion and gender.

By identifying with one group, they become the hero or saviour of that group and the result is that it ends up creating politics of personality; the problem with politics of personality is that it blinds people, instead of following the objective path they become subjective. They blindly follow even when the politician goes on a wrong path and when another group tries to highlight his/her flaws, those blindly following feel like they and their ‘hero’ have been attacked and find a justification for defending themselves in often times a violent manner. It’s important therefore that African politicians move past politics of personality to politics of substance.

Africans need conscientization and African politicians need to desist from politics of personality to politics of substance, then and only then can Africans see each other as friends in the political arena even when disagreeing just like the newfound friendship of Kenyatta and Odinga.

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Nicolas Sarkozy: French ex-president says funding probe is ‘hell’
March 22, 2018 | 0 Comments
Mr Sarkozy clinched big trade deals for France with Libya's Gaddafi in 2007 when he was president

Mr Sarkozy clinched big trade deals for France with Libya’s Gaddafi in 2007 when he was president

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy says allegations he received campaign funding from late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi are making his life “hell”.

“I am accused without any physical evidence,” Mr Sarkozy told magistrates, Le Figaro newspaper reports.

He has been placed under formal investigation for illicit election campaign financing in 2007, misappropriation of Libyan public funds and passive corruption.

Mr Sarkozy, 63, denies any wrongdoing.

The centre-right politician, who was in police custody being questioned for two days this week, says his Libyan accusers are seeking vengeance for his decision to deploy French warplanes during the uprising which overthrew Gaddafi in 2011.

On Thursday, Le Figaro published what it said was the full court statement made by Mr Sarkozy to French investigators (in French).

In it, he says that he is aware the allegations against him are “serious”, but that they amount to “slander” and have made his life “hell” since 11 March 2011, when the claims were first made by Gaddafi.


Hammer blow for ex-leader

Analysis by Hugh Schofield, BBC News, Paris

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy enters his car as he leaves his house in Paris, 21 March 2018Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionMr Sarkozy has been questioned in police custody

These accusations against Nicolas Sarkozy are in a different realm from all those other judicial problems that he has faced. The others are classic allegations of illegal party funding and abuse of influence.

This one is about taking money from a foreign dictator.

In each case, presumption of innocence has to prevail. Mr Sarkozy’s key argument is that he is the victim of a left-wing vendetta: judges out to get him.

On Libya, he points out that his accusers – henchmen of Gaddafi and sleazy middlemen – are not exactly paragons of veracity.

But the truth is that this is a hammer blow to the former president. The judges believe there are “serious and coherent” indications that he did indeed take money from the Libyans, and on that basis they will now conduct their investigation.

The implications are devastating. If the charges are true, then the whole story of Sarkozy’s presidency will have to be re-assessed. More importantly, what would it say about the French-led campaign to topple Gaddafi in 2011? A campaign in which the UK was persuaded by France to take part.

Big questions – if the charges are true. But don’t expect any quick answers. This case could drag on for years.


What is the Libya case about?

In 2013, France opened an investigation into allegations that Mr Sarkozy’s campaign had benefited from millions of euros of illicit funds from Gaddafi.

He failed in his bid to return to power in 2012, however, losing to Socialist candidate François Hollande.

The claims came from a French-Lebanese businessman, Ziad Takieddine, and some former Gaddafi regime officials.

In November 2016, Mr Takieddine told the French news website Mediapart that in 2006-2007 he had handed over three suitcases stuffed with 200- and 500-euro notes to Mr Sarkozy and Claude Guéant, who was his chief of staff.

Mr Takieddine alleged the cash came from Gaddafi and totalled €5m (£4.4m; $6.2m).

Mr Sarkozy was detained in 2014 in a separate investigation into alleged campaign funding abuses – the first time this has happened to a French ex-president.

Mr Guéant, who was managing Mr Sarkozy’s presidential campaign in 2007, told the franceinfo website on Tuesday that he had “never seen a penny of Libyan financing”.

He was placed under formal investigation earlier this year over a €500,000 bank transfer in 2008. He has denied wrongdoing and claimed the money came from the sale of two paintings.

Does Sarkozy face other charges?

Criminal proceedings have been launched against Mr Sarkozy in one other case of alleged illicit campaign financing.

It is alleged that he engaged in accounting fraud to overshoot the ceiling for campaign expenditure in 2012, which was €22.5m.

Mr Sarkozy denies he was aware of the overspending.

The affair is known as the Bygmalion scandal.

In connection with his 2007 campaign, Mr Sarkozy was previously cleared over claims that he had used secret funding from L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt and that he had tried to influence investigating magistrates.

*BBC

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Africa agrees to giant trade bloc, but Nigeria, South Africa sit it out
March 22, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Clement Uwiringiyimana*

African leaders pose for a group photograph as they meet to sign a free trade deal that would create a liberalized market for goods and services across the continent, in Kigali, Rwanda March 21, 2018. REUTERS/Jean Bizimana

African leaders pose for a group photograph as they meet to sign a free trade deal that would create a liberalized market for goods and services across the continent, in Kigali, Rwanda March 21, 2018. REUTERS/Jean Bizimana

KIGALI (Reuters) – African leaders agreed on Wednesday to form a $3 trillion continental free-trade zone encompassing 1.2 billion people, but its two biggest economies, Nigeria and South Africa, did not sign up, diminishing its impact.

The African Union started talks in 2015 to establish a 55-nation bloc that would be the biggest in the world by member states, in a bid to increase intra-regional trade, which sits at a measly 15 percent of Africa’s total commerce.

Rwandan president Paul Kagame, host of an AU summit called to conclude the initial negotiations, declared the meeting a success after 44 African nations signed up to establish the free trade bloc within 18 months.

It was not immediately clear why South Africa and Nigeria stayed on the sidelines. Others staying out of the bloc were Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zambia, Burundi, Eritrea, Benin, Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau.

“It would have been great if the two biggest economies on the continent, Nigeria and South Africa, had signed, but the most important is that the rest of the continent is sending a right message to these two biggest economies that we are moving ahead without you,” said Michael Kottoh, an analyst at Confidential Strategies in Ghana.

The project needed a minimum of 22 countries signing up to get off the ground and Kagame hailed the effort so far.

“What is at stake is the dignity and well-being of Africa’s farmers, workers and entrepreneurs,” he said.

AU trade commissioner Albert Muchanga also put a positive spin on the absence of the top two African economies, telling Reuters they would soon join in.

“They are still doing national level consultations and so when they finish they will be able to come on board,” he said.

TRADE ZONES

Economists point to Africa’s low level of intra-regional trade as one of the reasons for the continent’s enduring poverty and lack of a strong manufacturing base.

It is blamed on a host of factors, from colonialism, to high internal tariffs to poor road and rail links to excessive border bureaucracy and petty corruption at frontier checkpoints.

The relatively small size of many African markets – only Nigeria and Ethiopia have populations estimated at 100 million people or more – also inhibit private sector investment.

Africa already has an alphabet soup of competing and overlapping trade zones – ECOWAS in the west, EAC in the east, SADC in the south and COMESA in the east and south – although only the EAC, driven mainly by Kenya, has made significant progress towards a common market in goods and services.

Analysts said governments needed to do more to ensure goods and people flowed freely across borders.

“If they just sign the agreement without opening the borders, without getting rid of non-tariff barriers and if they don’t work on free movement of people, it is not going to work,” analyst Kottoh said.

Even the six-nation EAC has its sticking points – Tanzania has been known to kick out Kenyan executives and impound Kenyan imports at the border, in violation of EAC rules.

Businessmen said the current set-up forced them to look outside the continent, particularly Asia for manufactured goods.

“It is easy and cheaper to buy in Asia than to buy in the sub-region because of less-flexible rules of origin and non-tariff barriers that are not clear,” said Meriem Bensalah-Chaqroun, head of the Moroccan Confederation of Businesses.

Sudden changes in rules and impromptu checks on goods also held up supply chains.

“Some countries all of a sudden decide they are going to do a quality check on goods but they don’t really know what they want to check. That slows the trade,” said Thomas Schafer, CEO of Volkswagen Africa.

“We are not able to bring a vehicle from South Africa into Zimbabwe in a cost-efficient and fast way. That needs to change.”

*Reuters

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Mastercard Foundation announces ambitious commitment to address youth unemployment in Africa
March 22, 2018 | 0 Comments
Aims to enable 30 million African youth to secure jobs by 2030

Photo credits: Intersect for Mastercard Foundation

Photo credits: Intersect for Mastercard Foundation

KIGALI, Rwanda, March 22nd, 2018 -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Today, the Mastercard Foundation announced a commitment to enable 30 million African youth, especially young women, to secure dignified and fulfilling work by 2030. The Foundation also announced two new programs in Rwanda that will directly contribute to the overall goal of increasing economic opportunities for young people in Africa.

Today’s announcements are part of the Foundation’s ambitious new strategy, Young Africa Works, which aims to reduce poverty on the continent by tackling youth unemployment. The strategy is the result of extensive consultations with leaders of African governments, the private sector, educational institutions, civil society, and young people.

Africa has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, particularly for young people. By 2030, there will be more than 375 million people under the age of 35 in the labour market. Population growth on the continent means that by 2035, there will be more young people entering Africa’s workforce each year than the rest of the globe combined. In 2050, one quarter of the world’s working age population will be African, making it the largest workforce in the world.

“Youth unemployment in Africa is the issue of our time. Together, we have an extraordinary opportunity to shape the future and increase prosperity for all,” said Reeta Roy, Mastercard Foundation President and CEO. “In fact, young people are leading the way. Let’s support their aspirations for their communities and their countries.”

The Young Africa Works strategy builds on what the Foundation has learned from a decade of working in Africa, expanding access to education and financial inclusion. The new strategy puts an emphasis on working with African organizations and designing solutions specific to a country’s economic needs and goals. Collaborating with governments and the private sector to identify priority areas for growth, the Foundation’s programs will prepare young people with the skills they need for employment through relevant training and education, use technology to connect employers and job seekers, and enable entrepreneurs and small businesses to expand through access to financial services.

“Every day I see young Africans whose potential is going untapped,” said Angela Nzioki, Co-Founder and Manager of Pluspeople Kenya Limited and a youth panelist at an event launching the strategy. “They are innovative, passionate, and talented, and they want a chance to prove themselves. For Africa to prosper, young people need to be at the heart of the policies and strategies of governments, universities, employers, and donors.”

Prime Minister Édouard Ngirente and other ministers and dignitaries also attended the event, where the Foundation marked the occasion with a commitment of US$100 million to two new initiatives in Rwanda, including:

1) Hanga Ahazaza, which aims to increase employment and enterprise opportunities for young Rwandans while expanding the country’s burgeoning tourism and hospitality sector and contributing to poverty reduction; and

2) Leaders in Teaching, which will support the delivery of high quality, relevant secondary education and will establish the pan-African Centre for Innovative Teaching and Learning in ICT that will explore new approaches to improving educational outcomes.

Hanga Ahazaza, meaning “create the future” in Kinyarwanda, will equip 30,000 young men and women with customer service, ICT, and digital literacy skills, and provide on-the-job training and opportunities for employment. The initiative will also support small businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector through increased access to financial services and business development skills so they can create more employment opportunities for young people. It is a consortium of partners from the education, development, and private sectors.

The Leaders in Teaching initiative focuses on training, motivation, and professional development for teachers and school leaders. In Rwanda, at least 250,000 secondary school students will benefit as the initiative aims to improve Science, Math, and ICT knowledge and teaching skills for new and experienced teachers, improve the capacity of head teachers to create positive instructional environments, and recruit young people into the profession.

About the Mastercard Foundation
The Mastercard Foundation seeks a world where everyone has the opportunity to learn and prosper. The Foundation’s work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion for people living in poverty. One of the largest foundations in the world, it works almost exclusively in Africa. It was created in 2006 by Mastercard International and operates independently under the governance of its own Board of Directors.

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