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SouthBridge Group and Brazil Africa Institute sign partnership to bring Brazilian investors closer to the African opportunities
September 28, 2020 | 0 Comments

Both organizations seek to jointly create a platform that will make it easier for Brazilian investors approaching the vast opportunities available on the African continent.

KIGALI, Rwanda, September 28, 2020/ — SouthBridge Group signed a Collaboration Agreement with The Brazil Africa Institute  (IBRAF). The Agreement was signed by Professor João Bosco Monte, President of IBRAF, and Andrew Alli, CEO of the SouthBridge Group.

Both organizations seek to jointly create a platform that will make it easier for Brazilian investors approaching the vast opportunities available on the African continent, creating a fruitful environment for successful future partnerships. The partnership will support the  identification and analysis of the main business possibilities that exist in the short, medium, and long term on the African continent and in which Brazilian sectors can take advantage of working with partners from within Africa and the rest of the world.

The Agreement between SouthBridge Group and IBRAF comes also to endorse the Brazil Africa Forum 2020  as one of the main business environments for partnerships between the two regions. The event will feature the presence of major players from both markets and opportunities for strategic meetings with investors during the forum and beyond.

BAF 2020 takes place on the 3rd and 4th of November in an exciting online edition. The theme for the forum is “Overcoming the Challenges of the Pandemic: What’s Next?”. Registration is free and is now open.

About SouthBridge Group:
SouthBridge Group is the holding company of a pan-African enterprise that provides financial solutions and advisory services to public and private clients across the African continent. The SouthBridge Group has a strong reputation in fund structuring, debt advisory and restructuring, as well as project finance.  It also engages in investments and asset management through SouthBridge Investments.

About Brazil Africa Institute:
The Brazil Africa Institute (IBRAF) is a non-profit organization that aims to promote international cooperation and engagement between Brazil and the African continent, defending the economic development of countries, the convergence of private sector interests, and the enhancement of multilateral relations.

*SOURCE SouthBridge Group

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Kenya Bankers Association (KBA), Huawei Ink Partnership Agreement to Promote Tech-Driven Financial Inclusion, Fintech Capacity Building
September 28, 2020 | 0 Comments

Under the partnership, KBA and Huawei will also aim to promote financial inclusion activities in line with the KBA Strategic Plan for the period 2020 to 2023.

Partnership seeks to promote tech-led financial inclusion as well as Fintech ICT Capacity; The two organizations have convened a summit on ICT and financial inclusion.

The Kenya Bankers Association (KBA) has signed a collaboration agreement with tech-firm Huawei-Kenya that seeks to deepen financial inclusion in the banking sector through further deployment of technology and building fintech capacity.

In the partnership, KBA will work closely with Huawei-Kenya to spearhead industrywide capacity building initiatives aimed at promoting knowledge on financial technology innovation, digital transformation, and other ICT-related programmes in the banking industry.

Under the partnership, KBA and Huawei will also aim to promote financial inclusion activities in line with the KBA Strategic Plan for the period 2020 to 2023. Launched last year, the Plan seeks to promote access to affordable financial services through tech-aided operational efficiency.

Speaking during the signing of the agreement, KBA Chief Executive Officer Dr. Habil Olaka said the cooperation would go a long way in promoting the delivery of efficient banking services in Kenya through knowledge-sharing programmes that will be organized by the two institutions.

“This partnership will further focus on research and knowledge-sharing activities, which will supplement the research initiatives that continue to be spearheaded by the Association’s Centre for Research Financial on Markets and Policy®. In this regard, the collaboration will certainly augment KBA’s and member banks’ knowledge base in engagements with diverse stakeholders from a fact-based perspective,’’ Dr. Olaka added.

The partnership comes on the heels of the the 2020 edition of the Huawei-KBA Online FSI Summit slated for 30th September this Year. The forum is among the initiatives Huawei and KBA are jointly  implementing to promote the delivery of efficient banking services through technology under the cooperation agreement.

Huawei-Kenya Chief Executive Officer Mr. Will Meng welcomed the partnership, saying technology will remain a core driver towards enhancing convenient access to financial services in light of disruptive occurrences such as the ongoing Coronavirus Disease pandemic.

‘’The theme of the upcoming summit is ‘’Building Banking Core Competence through Digital Transformation to Accelerate Inclusive Finance’’. It is one of the initiatives we are rolling out in Kenya in partnership with the Association to ensure we optimally leverage on technology to achieve affordable and accessible financial services in the regional economy,’’ said Mr. Lee.

The summit comes at a time when the global economy is coping with the impact of the Coronavirus Disease. Dr. Olaka noted that the banking industry has continued to tap into the potential of technology to uphold business continuity and supporting customers, a culmination of efficient deployment of technology by the banking sector during this period.

“Beyond the COVID-19 disruption, we see technology as an invaluable enabler of financial inclusion. I have no doubt that the summit along with the KBA-Huawei collaboration will play a significant role in our collective efforts to entrench technology in our operations and sustain our contribution to the national development agenda,’’ Dr. Olaka said.

About the Kenya Bankers Association:
KBA was founded on 16th July 1962. Today, KBA is the financial sector’s leading advocacy group and banking industry umbrella body that represents total assets in excess of USD 40 billion. KBA has evolved and broadened its function to include advocacy on behalf of the banking industry, and championing financial sector development through strategic projects such as the launch of the industry’s first P2P digital payments platform PesaLink. In line with the Government’s policy on public-private partnerships, KBA and Central Bank of Kenya have implemented key projects such as modernization of the National Payments System through the Automated Clearing House, implementing the Real Time Gross Settlement System (RTGS), and the Kenya Credit Information Sharing Initiative. The KBA members are comprised of commercial banks and deposit taking microfinance banks.

About Huawei-Kenya:
Founded in 1987, Huawei is a leading global provider of information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure and smart devices. We are committed to bringing digital to every person, home and organization for a fully connected, intelligent world. We have more than 194,000 employees, and we operate in more than 170 countries and regions, serving more than three billion people around the world
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Ayoba and MusicTime® partner to bring free music listening to Africa
September 28, 2020 | 0 Comments
Listen while you chat

 Ayoba and MusicTime® are proud to announce their partnership to bring free music listening to ayoba users, with the launch of a new feature in the ayoba app titled MusicTime in ayoba.

MusicTime® in ayoba [or MTiA] is now live in South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Rwanda, Uganda, Congo Brazzaville, Guinee, Guinee Bissau, Sudan, and Afghanistan.

Each territory offers users free access to 10 playlists with 20 songs in each. In addition, the app has a new mini player that allows you to listen to music while you chat to your contacts with no interruption. Playlists are curated specifically for each territory, and always include music from the region as well. Users can subscribe [free] to the channel as per all ayoba channels, and numbers are rising quickly as users discover the new feature.

An important feature of MTiA is the ability to listen to music with no data costs. Ayoba is zero rated for data in most of its markets via its partnership with MTN allowing MTN users to listen to a limited amount of music with no data costs.

The MusicTime® channels also include editorial content, music video clips and artist polls. A major feature will be channels in partnership with artists, such as the newly launched Sark Nation channel, featuring top Ghanaian rapper, Sarkodie; currently available across Africa. Many more artist partnerships will be launched in the coming weeks.

Ayoba has evolved significantly since its launch in 2019 as an instant messaging app. Users can now enjoy content in more than 50 channels covering topics from Coronavirus news to education to cooking tips, football, Formula 1, music news and more. In 2020, ayoba has also added gaming, and offer users free access to top mobile games. In some markets (Cameroon, Ghana and Uganda) the integration with MTN Mobile Money (MoMo) allows users to send and receive money on ayoba.


About ayoba:
Since its launch in 2019, ayoba has reached over 2 million monthly active users. It offers users free access to an ecosystem of digital and rich media services through channels, micro-apps and payment solutions, embedded within an African super-app.

Ayoba is highly localised and tailored for African and Middle East consumer needs, supporting 20 relevant languages. Users can send and receive encrypted messages, share photos, videos, files and voice notes and can also subscribe to live channels. Localised content is available through curated channels aimed at entertaining, educating and empowering communities as well as a range of games. Ayoba is available for Android users on the Google Store, via its website and on Apple Store.

About MusicTime:
MusicTime is a unique, localized Android app offering “pay as you go” music streaming as well as limited free music listening. It is presently available in South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Congo Brazzaville, Cameroon, eSwatini and Zambia. There is a strong focus on local artists, supported by a strong international catalogue.

*SOURCE Ayoba and MusicTime®
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Swaziland PM Dlamini, Sierra Leone’s former President Koroma, US General Ward, NNPC Kyari, others confirmed for African Leadership magazine’s US – Africa Investment Forum, Policy Dialogue and Business Leadership Awards 2020
September 28, 2020 | 0 Comments

Leading African and United States policy and business leaders have confirmed to participate at the African Leadership Magazine’s 5th US – Africa Investment Forum & Policy Dialogue 2020, a virtual meeting taking place from September 29th – 30th 2020, with the theme set as ‘US Africa Relations – A necessary Realignment’.  Already confirmed as keynote speakers are Swaziland’s Prime Minister (Eswatini) HE Rt. Hon. Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini; Sierra Leone’s former President Ernest Bai Koroma and first US AFRICOM Commander, General William Kip Ward. Also confirmed to speak and participate at the forum are Ahmed Shide, Ethiopian Minister of Finance; Hon. Samuel Tweah, Liberian Minister of Finance and Development Planning; Dr Ernest Addison, Governor of the Bank of Ghana; HE Lee Kinyanju, Kenyan Governor of Nakuru; and Mallam Mele Kyari, Group Managing Director of NNPC, among others.

As Africa braces itself for what some expect to be an arduous recovery from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the continent would need its partners more than ever before. Though the United States of America has been a longstanding traditional partner, pundits have argued that the US hasn’t engaged adequately and correctly on the continent of Africa, which has created room for other interests gaining a stronger foothold. However, based on United States (US) Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo’s statement when he said, “no country will rival what the US is doing”. In terms of supporting the fight against Covid-19 in Africa, it is hoped that a realignment would be necessary for the coming months, irrespective of who wins the forth-coming US presidential elections.

The 5th US Africa Investment Forum & Policy Dialogue 2020 is, therefore, expected to bring together policymakers, private sector leaders, Industry Titans, civil society leaders, and all stakeholders in the US-Africa ecosystem during this 2-day forum to contribute to shaping a new future for our common good. Other discussants and honorees at the forum shall include Dr Patrick J. Schena Professor of International Business, at the Fletcher School, Tufts University USA; Hon. Billy Mitchell (GA) President-Elect, National Black Caucus of State Legislators, USA; Mrs Rawya Mansour, Chairperson RAMSCO Group Egypt; Olugbenga Agboola, CEO Flutterwave; Segun Ogunsanya, CEO Airtel Nigeria and Raghav Prasad, President Mastercard Africa, among others.

Key highlights of the forum shall include keynotes, plenary and breakout sessions; industry Roundtables and Thematic Presentations on investment promotions, Defence and security cooperation; and Youth jobs creation. The forum shall also highlight the 2020 edition of the African Business Leadership Awards presentation ceremonies – a prestigious recognition ceremony to reward exceptional corporate practices and outstanding achievers in Africa’s business landscape and its private sector, across various categories.

The award winners were unveiled by the Chairman and Publisher of the African Leadership Magazine, Dr Ken Giami, at the UK Head Office of the group after the editorial board reviewed votes and submissions from the magazine’s over one million subscribers and online followers.

The Publisher, Dr Giami, while unveiling the list of winners, maintained that “Africa depends on businesses and its leaders for sustenance, jobs and wealth creation.” Continuing he stated that, “at this time when there are widespread disruptions occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, the role and place of the business community to not only serve their clients, but become strong positive references for society on how to thrive amidst uncertainties, and inspire hope in people’s ability to aspire to solve more of the problems facing the African people today, is more important than ever.”

“Our winners and all the nominees truly deserve to be recognized for the outstanding work they have done over the last year, and they continue to do for the development of our continent”. Dr Giami added.

About African Leadership Magazine Group

The African Leadership magazine is published by African Leadership (UK) Limited, a company registered in the United Kingdom. The Magazine focuses on bringing the best of Africa to a global audience, telling the African story from an African perspective; while evolving solutions to peculiar challenges being faced by the continent today.

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Increase Investment in Mini grid Electricity to Get Africa out of Darkness
September 28, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Mohamed Adow*

Mohamed Adow

Covid-19 is pushing Africa into an education crisis.  Of the 39 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, full learning is only taking place in six of them.

A survey, by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the UN Children’s Agency UNICEF, found that of the 33 countries where learning is curtailed, in 14, of them it is completely closed.

Millions of children across the region who have been forced to stay home since March now face the prospect of being part of Africa’s lost generation.  Africa is the world’s youngest continent and we are in danger of failing our young people.

While governments have explored offering schooling through alternatives such as distance learning, it has proven problematic. This is because virtual learning is delivered via gadgets such as computers and smart phones which are powered by electricity. Virtual learning would therefore have disadvantaged millions of children especially in rural areas whose families have no electricity, either because they are poor or live in remote areas, far away from main-grid electricity.

Indeed less than 48% of Africa’s population of around one billion people have access to electricity according to a 2018 World Bank report . In absolute numbers this means that an estimated 600 million Africans are living in darkness, literally, relying on wood fire, kerosene and other forms of dirty energy for lighting. This is why Africans make up the lion’s share of the estimated 790 million people around the world without electricity according to the United Nations.

The world recognises access to energy as a basic human right,  which is why the UN adopted this as its Sustainable Development Goal number seven. One of the major obstacles to ensuring that everybody enjoys this right is the high cost of generation, transmission and connecting users, particularly in far-off, low population areas.

In countries where 100% access has been achieved, such as Europe and the Americas, this has been done through investing in mini-grid electricity which helps light up their more remote corners. Africa is no different and therefore has much to benefit from this largely untapped technology.

Whereas national grids transfer power from dams, power stations or  the likes of Kenya’s Naivasha geothermal fields to urban settlements, mini-grids cover much shorter distances and serve localised populations in rural settlements.

Usually running up to 10kmin radius, they tap power from the sun or wind, store it in batteries and distribute it to users, allowing them to enjoy electricity even when they are living tens of miles away from the national grid. Besides connecting remote communities, the decentralised systems use clean energy sources of wind and solar, helping our continent contribute to lowering harmful emissions responsible for climate change.

Their place in ensuring 100% electricity coverage has been confirmed through a recent survey by the Africa Minigrid Developers Association (AMDA) which found that the mini-grid sector was growing quickly, with operational, installation and capital costs decreasing by as much as 60% over the past five years.

As a result, it costs a national utility such as Eskom in South Africa or ECG in Ghana, a minimum of US$1500 to connect a customer to power compared to only US$733 for a mini-grid company such as Powerhive in Kenya.

Using data from 28 companies in 12 African countries, the survey found that the decentralised systems offered better service reliability with power generated 99% of the time, compared to main grids at 72%. This means that the smaller units actually suffer fewer outages and breakdowns compared to larger systems.

These findings have once again reminded us of the opportunities we continue to waste by failing to exploit our freely available and abundant clean energy resources. They are a wakeup call that we must take advantage of innovation such as mini grids to overcome some of the daunting developmental challenges we face. 

A network of renewable-powered mini-grids, stretching out across the continent’s more remote areas will ultimately strengthen Africa’s resilience to unseen shocks like Covid-19. Had Africa invested much sooner in mini grids our children would be learning remotely from home today.

*Mohamed Adow is the Director of Power Shift Africa a Nairobi-based Energy and Climate Think Tank and can be reached on madow@powershiftafrica.org.Twitter at @mohadow.

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Gambia: Citizens Alliance Party Faults Barrow for Undermining Transitional Justice Process
September 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Dr Ismaila Ceesay

The Citizens’ Alliance Party has accused President Adama Barrow for undermining the passing of the draft Constitutional Promulgation Bill, the Government has now derailed the entire Transitional Justice process, thus jeopardizing the future prospects of this country.

We believes that: “The Government of President Adama Barrow has failed to deliver its promise and mandate to The Gambian people”. 

In a  press release issued for the party by Dominic Mendy and Dr Ismaila Ceesay, President Barrow is taken to task for not living up to its promises.

When Gambia decided to change its trajectory on December 1st 2016, we sought to build a vibrant and new democracy, which was to be inclusive and equitable, knowing that all Gambians had to be equally served under the rule of law. In order to transition from autocracy to democracy, a series of Transitional Justice processes were initiated to ensure the needed reforms that would put The Gambia on the path of democracy and development.

These include the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), The Security Sector Reform (SSR), The Janneh Commission of Inquiry and a Constitutional Reform (CRC). This was to help us break with our dark past and lay the foundations for a new legal, political, social and economic architecture that will ensure the consolidation of democracy, the entrenchment of transparency and accountability, the assurance of minority rights, the elimination of corruption and impunity and guaranteeing civil, political and economic rights.

The Constitutional reform was the lynchpin of this entire process and it was a national priority for both Gambians and the coalition government as it was supposed to smoothly free us from the much tailored 1997 Constitution. A series of consultations with Gambians at home and abroad, and a bill in excess of D116 Million culminated into a consensual new Draft Constitution.

However, the aims and aspirations of birthing a new constitution came to a painful halt at the National Assembly when the Constitution Promulgation Bill 2020 was rejected by 23 National Assemble Members (NAMs). Clearly, these NAMs did not seem to value the voice of The Gambian people and the urgency for change leaving us disappointed and vulnerable as a budding democracy on the world stage. In addition, our current situation is also partly due to wrong choices made from the onset of the transition when, some key partners of the coalition entrusted with midwifing the process put partisan interest before national interest, abandoned the transition MoU, opted for Tactical Alliance, endorsed the gifting of vehicles to legislators, engaged in piecemeal legislation to suit their interests and encouraged President Barrow to renege on his campaign promise of serving for just three years as a transitional leader.

The Government of President Adama Barrow has also failed to deliver its promise and mandate to The Gambian people. By undermining the passing of the Constitutional Promulgation Bill, the Government has now derailed the entire Transitional Justice process, thus jeopardizing the future prospects of this country. Citizens’ Alliance is disappointed that the Government failed to do enough to ensure the passing of a bill it took to parliament after investing so much of our resources. By all indications, the Citizens’ Alliance see no reason why President Barrow should not resign after failing to deliver every promise he made to The Gambian people, thus undermining his own legitimacy.

The defeat of the Constitution Promulgation Bill is an unfortunate situation that has the potential to derail the hopes and aspirations of The Gambian people. The Citizens’ Alliance remains with the zeal and conviction that all is not lost. These events should rekindle our resolve to work harder to build a Gambia for all, taking into account the welfare of future generations, through sacrifice and unity. Our progress depends on our decision as a nation to ensure that our future generations do not inherit the mistakes of the past. We therefore urge our elected representatives to do away with their differences and work together for the interest of the country.

Citizens’ Alliance continues to propagate for needed reforms and calls on the government to immediately unveil a clear strategy and a way forward towards a new constitutional order. Failure to pursue a meaningful constitutional change to provide a new legal framework for the 2021 elections should not be an option.

Citizens’ Alliance reminds Gambians that the ‘New Gambia’ project is not supposed to be based on religion, ethnicity or unbridled partisanship. The purpose is to build a robust constitutional democracy and a just, inclusive and developed society anchored on solidarity and the rule of law. Now, more than ever, is the time to put country first and unite under a common banner of inclusivity, equity and prosperity.

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Sierra Leone Sports : Ban on sporting activities partially lifted.
September 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

Sierra Leone National Side players signing their national anthem before the 2019 Afcon qualifier between Ethiopia and Sierra Leone at the International Stadium in Hawassa, Ethiopia on 9 September 2018 © OmnaTaddele/BackpagePix

Sierra Leone has  partially lifted ban on all sporting activities in the country in order to allow athletes to train and represent the country in international competitions, a press release from the National Sports Authority (NSA) on Friday said.

 This will pave the way for the Leone Stars to start preparation ahead of their international friendly against Mauritania in Nouakchott on October 9, and their back to back 2022 African qualifiers with Nigeria in November.

“On the advice of the National Covid Emergency Response Centre (NaCOVERC) , the Ministry of Sports and the National Sport Authority (NSA) announce the ban on the preparations and training for all pending international competitions lifted,’ ’the release said.

Sporting activities across the country was ban in March due to corona virus pandemic which caused the country’s apex league  to be banned until further notice.

According to the release,  Sporting associations , coaches , athletes, referees, umpires , judges , sports administrators among others are strongly advised to follow all health directives and precautionary measures prescribed by NaCOVERC adding that based on expert advice and specific to any sporting discipline, the NSA and the Ministry of Sports Ministry may prescribe additional measures to mitigate the risk of transmission of covid-19.

“The NSA and the Ministry will conduct national monitoring of all sports and training venues across the country to ensure full compliance with all existing cobid-19 regulations. Further information on the status of the ban on other levels of competitive and recreational sports may be communicated as and when the Ministry of Sports and the NSA are so advised,’’ the release noted.

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Rwanda:– AKADEMIYA2063 Officially Launched
September 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

KIGALI, 25 September 2020 – AKADEMIYA2063 has officially been launched by Hon. Geraldine Mukeshimana, Minister of Agriculture of The Republic of Rwanda, on behalf of The Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente.

The launch was conducted during a virtual seminar on « Policies for Rapidly Transforming Agriculture and Food Systems » with additional participation from Ambassador Josefa Sacko, African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Mr. Jim Barnhart, Assistant to the Administrator of USAID, and Dr. Jo Swinnen, Director-General at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

As an international non-profit organization, AKADEMIYA2063 seeks to build a bridge between the science community and peer organizations around the world to harness the best available knowledge and evidence to advance the African agenda.

With a rich experience of long-standing support to the African Union’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), AKADEMIYA2063 positions itself as a major science contributor to the Agenda 2063, through research implementation, capacity building, and outreach programs to successfully drive Data Analysis and Knowledge Platform, Expertise for Advanced Economic Modeling, as well as Evidence and Dialogue for Policy Innovation.

Many of the AKADEMIYA2063’s core programs have been on the ground over the last 10 to 15 years, but only now have they been brought together into a single African entity. These programs are the Regional Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System (ReSAKSS), the African Growth and Development Policy (AGRODEP) Modeling Consortium, and the Malabo Montpellier (MaMo) Panel  and Forum.

AKADEMIYA2063’s interest in supporting policies was highlighted by its Executive Chairperson, Dr. Ousmane Badiane, who insisted that: « if the trajectory toward better policies is not sustained, the African continent may experience a return to the era of economic stagnation. Better data and analytics to support evidence based planning and implementation will help raise policy effectiveness for improved development outcomes.»

As soon as it launched its operations, the organization moved to respond to the current COVID-19 pandemic, through a multi-workstream agenda  on the impacts of and responses to the pandemic among African countries.

This includes research work around:

– Vulnerability Hot Spots

– Staple Food Price Tracking

– Production Systems Disruption

– Macro Effects of Trade Disruption

During the  launch seminar, AKADEMIYA2063 and its partners examined various themes including the opportunities of the UN Food Systems Summit from Africa’s perspective, the needs for infrastructure and services for fast transforming food systems and policies to sustain and deepen the current recovery process.

AKADEMIYA2063 is headquartered in Kigali, Rwanda with a regional office in Dakar, Senegal.

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Rwanda: Paul Rusesabagina, fictionalised in hotel Rwanda Movie admits launching armed groups behind deadly attacks
September 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

By MOHAMMED M. MUPENDA*

A policeman handcuffs Paul Rusesabagina, right, whose story inspired the film “Hotel Rwanda”, before leading him out of the Kicukiro Primary Court in the capital Kigali, Rwanda Monday, Sept. 14, 2020.Photo credit loopcayman

Rwandan opponent, has admitted to a Kigali court on Friday that he had formed an armed group but denied any role in their crimes.

Rwandan Businessman, whose role during the Rwandan genocide against the Tutsis was fictionalized in the well-known movie Hotel Rwanda, has been the subject of controversy ever since.

While in exile, from humanitarian to a government critic, he appeared under arrest in Rwanda last month, after apparently being tricked by Rwanda Spy network and boarded  into a private jet knowing that he is heading to neighbouring country,  Burundi.

In recent years Mr Rusesabagina co-founded the Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD), an opposition party based abroad.

While he has previously expressed support for the National Liberation Front (FLN), which has claimed responsibility for a series of attacks in Nyungwe, near the border with Burundi, his exact role has been unclear.

We formed the FLN (National Liberation Front) as an armed wing, not as a terrorist group as the prosecution keeps saying. I do not deny that the FLN committed crimes but my role was diplomacy,” he told the prosecutor.

“The agreement we signed to form MRCD as a political platform included the formation of an armed wing called FLN. But my work was under the political platform and I was in charge of diplomacy.”

Rusesabagina has been an outspoken critic of President Paul Kagame for several years and is a member of the opposition Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change, which has an armed wing that engaged in a gunfight with government troops in 2018.

Kagame has often warned his critics that those who “betray” the country will be dealt with, and the country’s intelligence network has been accused by international human-rights groups of abducting and killing former allies in Rwanda and abroad. The Rwandan government has rejected the allegations.

*Mohammed M. Mupenda is a news correspondent and freelance reporter, who has written for publications in the United States and abroad. He is also a French and East African language interpreter.

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UNGA: Gambia Needs Bailout from International Community
September 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

President Adama Barrow
President Adama Barrow

The Gambian President Adama Barrow has appealed for support package from the United Nations and the International community for the least developed countries amid the disruption of weak economies by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Critics say Gambia transition government lost track with recent rejection of the draft constitution by the National Assembly and slow pace of institutional reform due political interest by the President.

He was addressing the 75th annual United Nations General (UNGA) virtual meeting on Thursday from State House in Banjul.

Barrow told UN General Assembly that: “Small and developing nations have been struggling to manage their debt burdens, while trying to develop their economies. The outbreak of the pandemic has reversed our gains, with low revenue earnings and high public expenditure becoming the norm,”.

He claims that The Gambia’s economy has shrunk to 2% of GDP, and it continues to contract as tourism sector, which is a major employer and foreign exchange earner, is devastated, and unemployment is increasing rapidly.

“Developing countries, such as The Gambia, will continue to require support packages or bailouts from the United Nations and the international community in order to survive the ongoing economic decline. In this light, The Gambia reiterates the strong call by the African Union for debt relief or debt cancellation, enhanced access to global finance, reduction of transaction costs on remittances and increased global solidarity and partnership.”

Barrow said the implementation of our National Development Plan, 2018-2021 has been hampered by the pandemic. “We hope that the unique circumstances and challenges of the Least Developed Countries, especially countries in transition like The Gambia, will be accorded special and speedy consideration.”

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We must imagine and create the Africa we want- Transformunity CEO Arrey Obenson
September 25, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Joseph Besong

Africa’s greatest problem lies in the mindset of its people, says Arrey Obenson

Faced with a myriad of challenges, Africans must imagine and create the continent they want as a way forward, says Arrey Obenson. In an interview with PAV, Obenson, Co-Founder and CEO of Transformunity, a consulting firm that harnesses opportunities of corporations and organizations to transform the world, says the re-imagination is not feasible only within government and corporate board rooms , but also in the streets and market squares of Africa.

“We have cultured a master-servant mentality in our society that has become so pervasive in the African society. We need a massive mindset shift to accept that every child that is born in Africa deserves the same opportunities as a child that is born in the most advanced economies in the world,” Obenson says.

Founder of I Am Cameroon with a mission to inspire, educate and engage Cameroonians to accept and assume responsibility for the development of Cameroon, Obenson in this interview dwells on efforts he is leading to supplement Africa’s response to COVID-19 , and his stewardship with Junior Chambers International, JCI, where he served in diverse capacities for close to two decades.

PAV: Mr. Obenson, thank you for accepting to grant us an audience for an interview could we start with an introduction of Arrey Obenson in his own words?

Arrey Obenson: I am a global citizen, who is committed to being an actor in the common destiny of humanity as opposed to being a spectator. Born in Cameroon, educated as a lawyer, I am a husband to an incredibly beautiful wife – Queen and father to two awesome boys. I am a Strategic Consultant and CEO of a Consulting Firm called Transformunity with mission to help organization harness their opportunities. I am also Founder of I Am Cameroon with a mission to inspire, educate and engage Cameroonians to accept and assume responsibility for the development of Cameroon. 

I am passionate about finding solutions to complex challenges. I am invested in empowering young people and lately in helping small organization and businesses identify opportunities and develop strategies that will help them achieved their greatest potential.

PAV: Can you shed light on your engagement with the civil society, governments, and   leadership roles?

Arrey Obenson: At the age of 23, I joined an organization called Junior Chamber International (JCI) as founder member of my Local Organization in Limbe Cameroon. This organization gave me the opportunity to get involved in the development of my community. In 1997 serving as its Local President, we were able to raise funds and completely renovate 9 wash houses at the Limbe Regional Hospital, saving lives of thousands of patients who used that hospital.  This experience led me to understand how much power lies in the hands of citizens to will change in their communities. I thereafter resolved to be an actor rather than a spectator in my community. I then took to building the organization, creating more opportunities for other young people to get involved and benefit from the same experience that I had had. In under two years, I traveled thousands of kilometers across Cameroon starting up Local Organizations and growing the membership of JCI Cameroon by over 500%. I was then tapped by the World Headquarters to work as its Director for Growth in Africa. In that capacity we grew Africa’s membership by over 100% in 5 years and expanded the organization to the Middle East. I was the given the opportunity to serve as Executive Director, Deputy Secretary General and eventually Secretary General. 

One of the remarkable achievements which we made at JCI was strategically positioning the organization and its members as solution providers to the complex challenges of our society. The organization became therefore an active player in development by being at the intersection of government, corporations and the civil society. I led the organization through 3 strategic plans, developing a new mission, vision and long-term strategic positioning.  We took on bold initiatives like mobilizing young people around the world to come peace actors with a global peace campaign. We were one of the first global NGOs to embrace and adopt the Sustainable Development Goals and made this the core of projects young people did in over 100 countries. We also developed and copyrighted a framework for the development of communities that eventually has been adopted by several other organizations around the world.

In accomplishing the foregoing, we had to collaborate with all sectors society. I worked closely with the United Nations, engaged with regional organizations, business leaders, countries leaders, community leaders and celebrities to achieve our common goals. I also spent a lot of time traveling, and inspiring young people in over 100 countries.

I am a student of leadership, learning at every opportunity. My style of leadership is essentially giving people the opportunity to share leadership. The best leaders to me are this who can rely on the people around them. You can only do that by building trust, having a clear vision and being a motivator. 

PAV: The COVID-19   pandemic hasn’t spared Africa. What role have you played in helping the continent cope with the pandemic?

Arrey Obenson: I hesitate to say that the pandemic has spared Africa. We have had over 30,000 confirmed deaths which is largely under reported due to the poor state of healthcare in most African countries. That said, based on what was projected Africa has seen less deaths and it is a blessing. We are still to assess though the impact on its economy, and the mental wellbeing of its people. Time will tell. 

I have been playing a role in slowing down the spread of the virus through a project we launched last April called the I Am Cameroon COVID-19 Diaspora Response. As earlier mentioned, I am the Founder of I Am Cameroon and when we saw the devastating impact of the pandemic in Europe, we knew then that we had to do something for Cameroon. We then launched a campaign in amongst the Cameroonian Diaspora to raise money to procure and distribute PPE to healthcare workers in Cameroon, who are in the frontline of fights against COVID-19.  Thanks to sup[port and  efforts of these several associations and contributions of over 150 individuals particularly in the Diaspora succeed in raising of nearly $30,000 (US Dollars) and the distributions of 10,000 surgical masks, 2500 face shields, 10,000 surgical gloves and 100 coveralls. Theses PPE have been distributed in 5 regions of Cameroon reaching at least 15 hospitals. 

We signed a signed Memorandum of Understanding with the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services (CBCHS), Cameroon’s second largest healthcare provider, with 80 hospitals and clinics in all 10 regions of Cameroon. The coalition relies on the CBCHS to facilitate the identification of the areas of need and distribution of PPEs as and when needed. The coalition continues to work with the National Association of Cameroonian Private Doctors in Cameroon and the National Association of Cameroonian Pharmacist for guidance in its action.

Going forward, the I Am Cameroon Diaspora COVID-19 Response has secured two 40 feet containers of sanitary gel (hand sanitizers) from a sponsor company called Saraya Co Ltd form Japan. These donations include 24,000 1L bottles and 220,000 100 ML bottles respectively worth nearly $500,000. Working with local partners, these sanitary gels will be distributed on arrival in Cameroon with 60% going to the CBC network of hospitals and the rest distributed to other healthcare institutions. The task ahead remains colossal, and while the coalition has saved lives, the need largely outweighs the means. As the I Am Cameroon Diaspora COVID-19 Reponse plans its phase two distribution, there continues to be a need for more resources, as well as the need to build resilience in the Cameroonian society. An impact survey conducted shows that healthcare workers are stressed, frightened about the lack of protection as well the lack of awareness in the population. The outcome of the survey tells us we must provide more PPEs, but also support the mental health of healthcare workers as well provide more education or awareness about COVID-19 in Cameroon. 

We are also launching fitness challenge campaign that will mobilize Cameroonians to keep healthy while fundraising to support healthcare workers in Cameroon. (See attached project write up). We have a goal of raising another $50,000 to support healthcare workers in Cameroon.

Obenson has been leading a big effort to support the COVID-19 response in his native Cameroon

PAV: Your success story speaks volume. What are your secrets?

Arrey Obenson: I do not see myself as a success. I strive to be successful at every endeavor. Sometimes I fail woefully, and I learn the most from those failures. My secret is asking the right questions. I like to challenge the status quo and not accept things to be the way they are but the way the can or ought to be. It is a mindset – one that focuses on what is possible rather that what is not. 

PAV: As someone who is in consultation with governments and organizations in Africa, what is Africa’s greatest problem? 

Arrey Obenson: We, the people of Africa are in the way of Africa’s development. It is hard for Africans to imagine an alternative Africa other than what they currently see. Yet we must imagine and create the Africa we want. This re-imagination of Africa cannot happen only in the corridors of government or board rooms of corporations but in the streets and market squares of Africa. We have suffered the hangover of our colonial past for too long that we do not see ourselves as equals.  We have cultured a master-servant mentality in our society that has become so pervasive in the African society. We need a massive mindset shift to accept that every child that is born in Africa deserves the same opportunities as a child that is born in the most advanced economies in the world. That will mean accepting that every human being, every Africa deserves the human dignity that every human being deserves. 

I believe that when we Africans begin to accept ourselves as equals and can accord to each other the dignity that every human being deserves then we will not accept that 400 million people live in extreme poverty, or that children still die of preventable disease or that only person can be leader for 40 years in country full of talented people. 

Africa’s greatest problem lies in the mindset of its people. Ironically that mindset is the greatest opportunity. I am working on the secret to unlock that greatest opportunity – one person, one project at a time. It may not happen in my lifetime, but I am certain that when we can change that mindset, Africa will transform.

PAV: Thanks for granting this interview

Arrey Obenson: Thank you.

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S. Sudan Urges International Community to Convince Sudan’s Holdout Groups As D – Day looms
September 25, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Abdulaziz Al-Hilu, the SPLM-North | Credit | Eric Reeves

Juba – South Sudan has urged the international community to convince Sudan’s holdout groups to join the peace process as the final signing ceremony of Juba peace agreement scheduled on the 3rd of October in Juba draws near.

Sudan peace deal was initiated by President Salva Kiir and has been negotiated and mediated by South Sudan to help his foe country to ending the country’s 17 conflict, following the ousted of former autocracy president Omar al – Bashir, who took power in a coup in 1989, was indicted by the International Criminal Court in 2009 and 2010 for crimes against humanity. Bashir is in jail in Khartoum convicted of corruption, is also now on trial for the 1989 coup in which he grabbed power, and in which hundreds of thousands of people were killed.

Last month, transitional government of Sudan and Sudanese revolutionary movements signed the Juba peace agreement, but groups including SPLM-N led by Abdelaziz al – Hilu and Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdel Wahid al – Nur opted out.

Deputy Defense Minister, Malek Rueben said the final peace agreement will be finalized in Juba early next month and further invited the international and regional bodies to come and witness, what both Sudanese and mediators described it as a comprehensive and historic deal in Sudan era.

“This agreement is going to be finalized on the 3rd of October here in Juba, the invitation has already been sent by his Excellency the president and many invitation cards have been dispatched to the regional heads of states to come and witness the signing ceremony,” said Ruben, a member of Sudan peace talk’s mediation while addressing the international agencies in Juba on Wednesday.

 Ruben said the groups which remained out of the peace deal that Sudan reached with opposition groups must be convinced to embrace the initiative to ensure holistic peace in the neighbouring country.

He urged support from the international community to fact track the peace process in Sudan, noting that the people of Sudan have witnessed the bitterness of war and therefore, their current peace initiative needs both material and moral support.

“The agreement is owned by the Sudanese people and it will be successfully – we just need your [international community] support/back up in many ways in this peace – you need to give resource, political and moral supports which are very important,” said Ruben. “There is need for them to be brought on board so that the problems are solved once and for all,” he added.

Meanwhile, Deng Dau Deng, deputy minister for foreign affairs said peace and stability in Sudan is also a peace in South Sudan.

“Peace in Sudan will clement the peace in our border towns and this will open up movement of the people and goods between Sudan and South Sudan, hence benefiting the states that are bordering Sudan,” said Deng.

Deng said South Sudan have a huge populations that require support from its foe Sudan.

Ruben, however said it were Sudanese resolved their problems by themselves but their [mediators] roles were just to advice and gave experience.

“This agreement wasn’t enforced to them – they all come to consensus and agreed to have a peaceful Sudan with the new dynamic because they have already felt out the bitterness of the war,” said Ruben.

The Juba peace agreement addresses all the key issues in the resolution of Sudanese conflict, including but not limited to, offers rebels political representation, power sharing, wealth sharing, transitional justice, land ownership, security arrangements or the dismantling of armed forces and the integration of former combatants or forces and the chance of return for internally displaced persons and refugees among others.

The deal covered five negotiation tracks of Darfur, eastern Sudan, northern Sudan, central Sudan and South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

The armed groups that has signed the initial deal with Khartoum regime are the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and Minni Minawi’s Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), both of the western region of Darfur, and a wing of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) led by Malik Agar, present in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

Sudan’s rebels are largely drawn from non-Arab minority groups that long railed against Arab’s domination of the government in Khartoum under ousted Bashir.

Of recently, Ambassador of Democratic Republic of Congo to South Sudan, described it as “peace in Sudan, mean a peace in South Sudan and a peace in South Sudan, mean a peace in the region. “We all in Africa, we need only a peace – we don’t need more war and conflict so that we give our people’s hope for bright future.”

Mannase Lomule, Chairperson of Relief Rehabilitation Commission (RRC) said “this agreement is a landmark for transformation of the region – it is also consistent with the commitment of the African Union (AU) that the problem of African should be resolved by African themselves – African must find solution to their own problems and to make sure that silence of guns is observed in this continent.”

The deal would grant self-rule for the southern states of Kordofan and Blue Nile. The deal also includes a six-month deadline for achieving peace in Sudan, which ran out in February.

The agreement stipulated extension of the transitional period in Sudan for extra 39 months, to begin starting September 1, 2020.

Omer Asalm, Sudanese Musician told the Pan African Visions that “We have opened a new page in our life and then we will go together to build a future for development in Sudan.”

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