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Zimbabwe: African Development Bank approves $8.25 million loan to food producer Olivine Industries
March 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group has approved a $8.25 million corporate loan to Olivine Industries Limited to support the company’s food production expansion plan in Zimbabwe.

The Bank’s loan, approved on Wednesday, will enable the company to construct new processing plants for margarine and tomato sauce and install upgraded machinery with advanced technologies. Olivine plans to increase its domestic and regional production capacity and food supply.

“With this transaction, the Bank will provide long-term hard currency financing in the Zimbabwean market, and create a strong demonstration effect to both commercial and development finance institutions, which will encourage investments in agribusinesses in Zimbabwe,” said Atsuko Toda, Director, Agriculture Finance and Rural Development at the African Development Bank.

Toda said Olivine presented a unique opportunity for the Bank to participate in rebuilding agricultural value chains in Zimbabwe, thereby creating jobs, improving food security and nutrition while reducing the country’s dependence on food imports. Once the company’s production reaches an adequate level, this project can potentially support 200 to 300 local farmers through Olivine’s corporate farming model to be developed in the near future.

In approving the loan, Board members said the transaction provided a good opportunity for the Bank to deepen effective private sector intervention in a transition state, while also promoting the “Feed Africa” agenda that forms part of the Bank’s High 5 strategic priorities.

Incorporated in 1950, Olivine is one of the largest food producers in Zimbabwe, manufacturing well-known products such as margarine, cooking oil, and canned goods. Olivine has been bolstered by the experience and track record of its majority shareholder, Wilmar International, one of the largest companies listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange.


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African Development Bank launches record breaking $3 billion “Fight COVID-19” Social Bond
March 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

Landmark transaction,largest US dollar denominated Social bond transaction to date in capital markets

The African Development Bank (AAA) has raised an exceptional $3 billion in a three-year bond to help alleviate the economic and social impact the Covid-19 pandemic will have on livelihoods and Africa’s economies.  

The Fight Covid-19 Social bond, with a three-year maturity, garnered interest from central banks and official institutions, bank treasuries, and asset managers including Socially Responsible Investors, with bids exceeding $4.6 billion. This is the largest Social Bond ever launched in international capital markets to date, and the largest US Dollar benchmark ever issued by the Bank. It will pay an interest rate of 0.75%.

The African Development Bank Group is moving to provide flexible responses aimed at lessening the severe economic and social impact of this pandemic on its regional member countries and Africa’s private sector.

“These are critical times for Africa as it addresses the challenges resulting from the Coronavirus. The African Development Bank is taking bold measures to support African countries. This $3 billion Covid-19 bond issuance is the first part of our comprehensive response that will soon be announced. This is indeed the largest social bond transaction to date in capital markets. We are here for Africa, and we will provide significant rapid support for countries,” said Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group.

The order book for this record-breaking bond highlights the scale of investor support, which the African Development Bank enjoys, said the arrangers.

“As the Covid-19 outbreak is dangerously threatening Africa, the African Development Bank lives up to its huge responsibilities and deploys funds to assist and prepare the African population, through the financing of access to health and to all other essential goods, services and infrastructure,” said Tanguy Claquin, Head of Sustainable Banking, Crédit Agricole CIB.

Coronavirus cases were slow to arrive in Africa, but the virus is spreading quickly and has infected nearly 3,000 people across 45 countries, placing strain on already fragile health systems. 

It is estimated that the continent will require many billions of dollars to cushion the impact of the disease as many countries scrambled contingency measures, including commercial lockdowns in desperate efforts to contain it. Globally, factories have been closed and workers sent home, disrupting supply chains, trade, travel, and driving many economies toward recession. 

Commenting on the landmark transaction, George Sager, Executive Director, SSA Syndicate, Goldman Sachs said: “In a time of unprecedented market volatility, the African Development Bank has been able to brave the capital markets in order to secure invaluable funding to help the efforts of the African

continent’s fight against Covid-19. Not only that, but in the process, delivering their largest ever USD benchmark. A truly remarkable outcome both in terms of its purpose but also in terms of a USD financing”.

The Bank established its Social Bond framework in 2017 and raised the equivalent of  $2 billion through issuances denominated in Euro and Norwegian krone. In 2018 the Bank was designated by financial markets, ‘Second most impressive social or sustainability bond issuer” at the Global Capital SRI Awards.

“We are thankful for the exceptional level of interest the Fight Covid-19 Social Bond has raised across the world, as the African Development Bank moves towards lessening the social and economic impact of the pandemic on a continent already severely constrained. Our Social bond program enables us to highlight our strong development mandate to the investor community, allowing them to play a part in improving the lives of the people of Africa. This was an exceptional outcome for an exceptional cause,” said Hassatou Diop N’Sele, Treasurer, African Development Bank.

Fight Covid-19 was allocated to central banks and official institutions (53%), bank treasuries (27%) and asset managers (20%). Final bond distribution statistics were as follows: Europe (37%), Americas (36%), Asia (17%) Africa (8%,) and Middle-East (1%). 


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Paradigm Initiative Launches 2019 Digital Rights In Africa Report
March 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Uzman Unis Bah

Accra, Ghana – the Paradigm Initiative has launched the 2019 digital rights in Africa report; giving an in-depth analysis of the state of digital rights in Africa, the report paints a miserable picture of the state of the digital right in the continent.

The report examines defilements such as internet disruptions, illegal surveillance, detention of bloggers and the espousal of spiteful legislation that make the work of media practitioners more challenging. 

In Benin, the report finds the government in November 2018 significantly increased prices of mobile Internet data; the country has legal provisions to oversee digital activities. “All of these provisions are kept in the guise of transforming the country into a hub for digital services in Africa,” the report claims. The report further disclosed, “The new law criminalizes the publication of false information, online press offences and incitement of rebellion using the Internet.”

The report accounts that Internet shutdown was condemned by civil society organizations and the Embassy of the United States in Benin, showing a stack decline of the country’s democracy. It states.

“In 2019, in response to human rights abuses perpetrated in Cameroon, a statement by President Donald Trump was sent to the Cameroonian authorities stating that the country would be removed from participating in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), with the sanction expected to come into force in January 2020.” The report affirmed. According to the report, the Cameroonian government is yet to respond to the United State Government’s concern over the persistent human rights violations committed by its security forces.

From West Africa to North Africa, similar repressive tactics transpires. “Digital rights in Egypt, in the past 4 years, has been shaped by the brutal repression by the Sisi regime, and the prospects for the future of digital rights under the regime is not exactly bright.” The report accounts.

It claims “The Computer Crime Proclamation of 2016 supplements other proclamations in Ethiopia that restrict Internet’s freedom by criminalizing legitimate speech as defamation and giving intelligence and law enforcement agencies untamed power to conduct surveillance…”

The Broadcasting Service Proclamation and the Charities and Societies Proclamation are part of regulations used to exercise control over the human rights landscape; it is evident, internet shutdowns are very common in Ethiopia. “…longest of all shutdowns came, on 23rd June 2019, in the aftermath of high-profile political assassinations of top military officials in Addis Ababa and the President of Amhara region, along with his two top advisers in Bahir Dar, Amhara region’s capital.” The report furthered.

In 2019, Malawi had it first Internet disruption that lasted for about 6 hours. “Television and radio networks were also reported to have been down in some parts of the country.” the report points out. The report exposed high-level censorships; it states, “One digital rights-related arrest was recorded in 2019, of a man who was jailed for likening the first lady, Gertrude Mutharika, to a cartoon character on social media.”

Successive African governments have been using these strategies to suppress non-conforming opinions, to dispirit the voices in society that tend to stir public knowledge on government flaws and dysfunctionality.

“In a demonstration of the general digital rights climate in Morocco, ongoing-targeted spyware attacks against human rights defenders have been discovered in the country, beginning from 2017 to date. These attacks, reported by Amnesty International, have been implemented using NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware. These attacks were carried out through SMS messages carrying malicious links that if clicked, would attempt to exploit the mobile device of the victim and install NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware.” The report noted.

“We noted that the most obvious manifestation of the worsening human rights situation in Nigeria could be discerned in the numerous arrests of citizens, bloggers and journalists since the political transition in May 2015. Tracking by Paradigm Initiative has revealed a continued spike in arrests of dissenting and critical voices in Nigeria, with an initial peak observed in 2017. The year 2019, however, was much worse.” The report revealed.

Digital rights in Nigeria are under threat, as the Digital Rights in Africa Report 2019 indicates several legislations and policies, which have been in development over the past few years that aims to stifle the media.  The Terrorism Amendment Bill, the draft Executive Hate Speech Bill- that was submitted to the Ministry of Justice in 2017 and the Independent National Commission for Hate Speeches Bill, 2018, all amounts to schemes of preventing free speech, it accounts.

It further stated, “at least two of this repressive legislation have now been resurrected, less than 6 months into the 9th National Assembly in 2019. Within the space of one week, the Nigerian senate introduced two draft laws that are poised to negatively affect how Nigerians use online platforms for expressing opinions and views.”

“Rwanda’s Media Law is oppressive as it states, in Article 83, penalties for crimes committed through the press such as vague language and any publication that is considered to be in “contempt to the Head of State” or “endangers public decency.” Rwandan Penal Code is an oppressive law, which has sections on defamation and privacy offences, journalists work at risk of getting imprisonment for doing their job.  “Some media occasionally broadcast programs on ‘sensitive’ issues; however, most are heavily dominated by pro-government views. Earlier in 2019, Rwanda proposed a countrywide DNA database, a project that will involve collecting samples from all 12 million citizens, to address crime.” It states.

“This has prompted concerns among human rights campaigners who believe the database could be misused by the government to violate international human rights laws.” It notes.

It is indicated,  although additional explanation has been made towards the implementation of this proposal, it notes that Rwanda’s Data Protection and Privacy Policy is not comprehensive enough to handle such a complex database.

The report shows there is a consistent effort by these countries to suppress dissenting opinions; Sudan is not different from the other countries in introducing new laws that suppress dissenting voices.  “This was done by introducing a new cybercrime law and making amendments to the media law, both of which were passed in June 2018. The new cybercrime law announced criminal penalties for the spread of fake news online, while amendments to the media law required online journalists to register with the Journalism Council.”

These new laws gave more power to the Sudan government in crackdown on online activities. The Cybercrime Law states that online publishing on different platforms can fall under the category of –“spreading fake news”. “It also uses vaguely defined terms that help regulate the content produced and consumed online” The report disclosed, and furthered that, “In recent protests, Reporters Without Borders (RSF)125 condemned the Sudanese government’s abuses of media and journalists in attempts to deter them from publishing ongoing protests.”

An upshot of the fact, both the ordinary man and the journalist are faced with the challenge of not being able to exercise their freedom of expression in this Sudan. “Arrests over content posted on social media is not uncommon.” It attests.

According to the report, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, are all using laws that help to suppress free media. The report affirms that “In the past few years, digital rights violations in Africa have been on the increase because civil societies have borne a disproportionate burden of the required work in the context of what ought to be a multi-stakeholder effort. Until governments and private sector organizations assume greater responsibility for digital rights, the status quo will largely remain.”

The report illustrates a disturbing reality of how African nations design regulations not to give media laxity, but to muzzle media freedom, and to quash dissenting voices in the society. 

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Trading thrives as new highway financed by the African Development Bank opens up northern Togo
March 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

The 120-metre Alemondji bridge was built as part of the renovation of the roads on the CU9 corridor linking Lomé, Cinkansé and Ouagadougou

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, March 26, 2020/ — Every Tuesday, Alemondji market in northern Togo swarms with people. Amid the throng, Burkinabe and Ghanaian traders offer clothes and kitchen utensils for sale. Others, calling out their wares, come from the nearby towns of Lawagnon, Moreta and Issati. Their stalls overflow with peanuts, millet, sorghum, sesame and beans.

“Just a few years ago, it was no easy matter to travel to this market. It was open for three days in succession, Tuesday to Thursday, and then again on Sunday, but we only came for one day, because our main route to travel to the market was so poor,” said Robiro Kadokah, a millet seller.

Her taxi from Issati now crosses the Alemondji bridge at a good speed. Located 200 kilometres (km) north of the Togolese capital Lomé, the bridge is a symbol of the opening-up of many of the region’s agricultural communities.

“Before, when we travelled from Lawagnon, Moreta or Issati, we had to make a 50-kilometre detour before reaching the main road. Then, we could set off for Alemondji to go to the market. It all took two or three hours, and we were losing customers. Now, though, it only takes 10 or 15 minutes for us to get to the market place,” the 50-year-old woman explained as she got out at the bus station.

Akilasso Magasso is a tax collector. He too has less to worry about than he used to. “We really were cut off from the rest of the world. Only a few motorcycles managed to make the journey along the muddy road to Alemondji. We have got our smiles back since this bridge was built,” he said enthusiastically.

The 120-metre Alemondji bridge was built as part of the renovation of the roads on the CU9 corridor linking Lomé, Cinkansé and Ouagadougou. The $325 million-project was 70% financed by the African Development Fund, the concessional funding arm of the African Development Bank, and by the Fragile States Facility.

Work was carried out on 150 km of road in Togo and a further 153 km in Burkina Faso. On the Togolese side, the Atakpamé-Blitta (102 km) and Blitta-Aouda (48 km) sections were renovated, 55 km of rural feeder roads were improved, and the Alemondji bridge was rebuilt.

Since the road rehabilitation there has been an increase in traffic to and from Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali to 2 million tonnes of goods per year since 2016. Travel times between the Burkinabe capital of Ouagadougou and the port of Lomé halved from six to three days between 2011 and 2016.

“All the conditions are right to make trouble-free journeys by both day and night. We are seeing many traders every week from neighbouring countries such as Ghana and Burkina Faso working at Alemondji market. This road and especially this bridge have revitalised our region,” said Robiro Kadokah.

Besides the market, other important resources are more accessible, improving the quality of life for residents. For  example, the Lawagnon Adult Training Institute for the Development of Fish Farming and the Order of Malta general hospital are all now reachable across the bridge. 

“Patients are regularly sent to this hospital. They mostly come from the capital, Lomé. Now that the bridge has been restored, it is saving lives,” Magasso said.

“This infrastructure ensures a flow of agricultural production and improved access to markets for inputs and products. Not only that, it stimulates the economy and facilitates the region’s integration into the national and international economies,” said Georges Bohoussou, the African Development Bank’s Country Manager in Togo.

Bohoussou said the CU9 road project had put an end to the isolation of the agricultural communities of Gbécon and Morétan and had improved the supply of drinking water for 15 neighbouring villages. To improve women’s incomes, the project also renovated and extended the international market at Anié and the weekly market at Doufio in northern Togo. 
About the African Development Bank Group:
The African Development Bank Group ( is Africa’s premier development finance institution. It comprises three distinct entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF). On the ground in 41 African countries with an external office in Japan, the Bank contributes to the economic development and the social progress of its 54 regional member states. 

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Nigeria COVID-19 Testing Support Fund Launched by 54gene
March 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

$500,000 [N185m] Raised to Expand Coronavirus Testing Facilities in Nigeria 

Lagos, Nigeria. 26th March 2020, 54gene, the African genomics research, services, and development company, has launched a fund to tackle the current challenges around testing for COVID-19 in Nigeria. To support the ongoing efforts of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control [NCDC], 54gene opened the fund by donating $150,000 and within 24 hours of launch, had already secured an additional $350,000 from partners including Union Bank.  The money raised will help increase COVID-19 testing capacity in the country by up to 1,000 additional tests a day, by buying testing instruments and the required biosafety materials such as biosafety cabinets and personal protective equipment needed to keep frontline healthcare workers safe.

Ongoing discussions with other Nigerian institutions are currently taking place, as the company looks to raise enough to accelerate and expand to up to 5,000 tests per day. By intensifying the testing process for COVID-19, 54gene and funding partners plan to help minimize the spread of the infection, which has had a devastating effect on populations around the world. The team is also making a call for a COVID-19 workforce trained in using qPCR instruments and other molecular diagnostics methods, with the expectation that monies raised will be channelled towards recruiting these people for a period of time to support existing public laboratories. 

Working in unison with the NCDC and other stakeholders, 54gene’s team expects to start deploying the fund within days, purchasing vital testing equipment, to be used by medical professionals. All equipment will be installed in public hospitals and laboratories across Nigeria, and will remain in situ once the current COVID-19 pandemic subsides, to be used by medical researchers and clinicians in case of any future outbreaks. In addition, there will also be significant investment in providing training and support to medical professionals/ personnel and volunteers working in coronavirus testing sites across the country, ensuring the mass roll out of effective and robust testing for tens of thousands more Nigerians.  

Dr Abasi Ene-Obong, CEO 54gene says, “With the Nigeria COVID-19 Testing Fund, we are working in sync with the NCDC to make Nigeria’s public health an absolute priority during this global pandemic, which has left thousands dead or fighting for their lives. We are extremely ambitious in our mission to expand the testing capacity for Nigeria, and expect to increase the present rate by at least 10X in the coming weeks. In order to contain the spread of COVID-19, it is essential for us to know who has the disease, so we can put in place effective measures around quarantining confirmed cases. 

“The rapid and assured response from some of Nigeria’s most reputable institutions, such as Union Bank, to join us in our fight against this deadly disease, is highly welcome and we thank them for their unwavering support. They, like us, understand the need for a multi-stakeholder, co-ordinated plan, that can be implemented almost immediately, as we work together as a community, side-by-side, to fight COVID-19 and protect our population.” 

To-date, the NCDC has recorded 51 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and the Nigerian Government has taken a number of important steps to control the spread of the disease, including imposing flight and travel restrictions, as well as producing stringent guidelines for mass gatherings and self-isolation. 

Director General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu adds, “This is the kind of support we need. Identify a problem, run with it and include a sustainability plan in your solution. We are very grateful for this new partnership with 54gene at a critical point in our health security”

Dr Ene-Obong concludes, “As a matter of course, we advise that everyone follows the guidelines set by the World Health Organisation [WHO], by washing hands regularly and maintaining social distancing, in order to stop the spread of the disease. Our job, with the COVID-19 Fund, is to build the requisite infrastructure to ensure that testing can be conducted at scale, so together we can better control this virus, before it takes a hold in Nigeria.” 


54gene is a genomics research, services and development company located in Nigeria and the United States. The company was founded in 2019 by Dr Abasi Ene-Obong to improve our understanding of the world’s most genetically diverse population. 54gene utilises human genetic data from diverse African populations, to improve the development, availability and efficacy of medical products that will prove beneficial to Africans and the wider global population. 

Nigeria Centre for Disease Control 

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control [NCDC] is the country’s national public health institute, with the mandate to lead the preparedness, detection and response to infectious disease outbreaks and public health emergencies. 

* For those wishing to contribute to the Nigeria COVID-19 Testing Fund, contact 

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When Covid-19 and OPEC Price War strikes Africa’s Oil & Gas Sector
March 26, 2020 | 0 Comments
The immediate effect of Covid-19 for the sector has been on the demand for crude oil, and on its prices

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, March 26, 2020/ — African governments set to see decline in revenues; Exploration projects put on hold; Thousands of local jobs at risk if nothing is done.

While the short-term effects of Covid-19 on world economies are already being felt and put millions in a situation of economic distress, their long-term ones are yet to be fully grasped. In sub-Saharan Africa, the impact will be felt even stronger because the pandemic is being combined with a historic crash in oil prices, putting pressure on state budgets and testing the resilience of the continent’s strongest energy companies.

The immediate effect of Covid-19 for the sector has been on the demand for crude oil, and on its prices. Most analysts and operators now agree that 2020 could see a negative demand growth for oil globally as industries shut down and countries around the world go on lock down. The effect on prices has been nothing short of devastating: they have reached their lowest levels since 1991 and currently stand at below $25 a barrel.

For Africa, this means an immediate pressure on state budgets and macro-economic stability. Apart from South Africa, the continent’s biggest economies rely heavily on oil revenue to fuel state budget and public spending and ensure macro-economic stability. All sub-Saharan Africa’s producers had budgeted 2020 with an oil benchmark well above $50, from $51 in Equatorial Guinea all the way up to $57 in Nigeria. With predictions that oil prices won’t go anywhere above $30 for the rest of the year, most budgets need to be re-adjusted and public spending needs to be drastically cut.

According to the Atlantic Council, major African producers could expect multi-billion dollar losses in state revenues this year. Congo-Brazzaville could take the hardest hit, with a loss representing 34% of its GPD, in a country where debt-to-GDP ratio is already around 90%. The same applies to Angola, where oil prices at $30 would generate a revenue loss of almost $13bn, or 13% of GDP. Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Chad could see losses of almost 10% of GDP due to the ongoing crisis. Nigeria finally would suffer the biggest lost with $15.4bn, still according to the Atlantic Council. While it would represent only 4% of its GDP, the impact on marginal producers and local jobs would potentially be devastating. Newer producers would also suffer revenue losses: in Ghana, the the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) estimates a potential revenue loss of 53% down to $743 million instead of the $1.567bn the country expected to receive this year.

“Thousands of Africans and expats are going to be laid off in oil-producing countries as companies shut down their drilling rigs and planned projects. We need to face the reality as these times are unprecedented. The uncertainty is even more frustrating for oil companies and the workers. Forgive me but there is blood on the streets, in the water and the air has the coronavirus,” said NJ Ayuk is Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber and Petroleum industry lobbyist. “Petroleum-producing countries need to come together and work with the private sector in order to get us through the COVID 19 crisis and mitigate the economic fallout as much as possible. When the US and Europe are talking about a recession, most African countries and the common man on the streets have likely already entered a depression,” added Ayuk.

The long-term effects that Covid-19 will have on the sector in Africa depends on what happens this year and in the following month. Cuts in exploration spending and cancellation of drilling plans today could potentially mean years of delay in new discoveries, reserves replacement and new fields being brought on stream. The biggest international oil companies operating in the continent are all cutting spending by an average of 20% globally, which is set to impact exploration and projects in Africa. While ExxonMobil considers several reductions in spending, Shell has already announced a reduction of underlying operating costs by $3 to $4bn and a reduction of cash capital expenditure of $5bn. Total’s organic capex is being cut by more than $3 billion, representing 20% of its planned 2020 capex. Chevron is also reducing capital and exploratory spending by 20%, including a $700 million cut in upstream projects and exploration.

These IOCs were expected to take major final investment decisions this year or in the near future on multi-billion dollar projects in Africa. These include Shell’s Bonga South-West project, ExxonMobil’s Bosi, Owowo West and Uge-Orso projects, or Chevron’s Nsiko project. regardless of how close each of these were to FID, they are very unlikely to get sanctioned this year. Recent statements from independents are going in the same direction. Woodside Energy for instance is currently reviewing all options to preserve and enhance the value of its Sangomar Offshore Oil Project in Senegal, whose first oil was expected in 2023.

Beyond oil, natural gas and LNG projects are also already being delayed. ExxonMobil’s announcement that it would postpone the green-light on Mozambique’s multi-billion dollar Rovuma LNG project is sending worrying signals for instance. Similarly, BP and Kosmos are already working to defer the 2020 Tortue Phase 1 capital spending for their multi-billion dollar FLNG project in Mauritania and Senegal. Together, Rovuma LNG and Greater Tortue Ahmeyim represent the biggest hopes Africa had to strengthen its position as a new global LNG export hub. Delaying such projects will have significant consequences on forecasted economic growth in each country.

Finally, the long-term impact of Covid-19 is taking shape right now, as exploration programs are put on hold. Much-awaited drilling like FAR’s plans in The Gambia this year have been suspended. Other planned seismic acquisition projects have also already been cancelled, such as EMHS’ CSEM Survey offshore Senegal and Mauritania for BP which was set to begin this month, or Polarcus’ 3D seismic acquisition project offshore West Africa. Meanwhile, most licensing rounds that were set to confirm Africa as a global exploration frontier this year will most likely not live up to expectations. South Sudan for instance has already announced the suspension of its oil & gas licensing round this year.

While African nations grapple with the crisis brought by Covid-19 and the OPEC price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, the initiatives they take today will determine the future of their oil & gas industries for years. Local companies, be they producers or services providers, are at the frontline and need all the possible support they can get to avoid cutting jobs and survive the crisis. As Shoreline Energy CEO Kola Karim recently phrased it, “when the elephants fight, it’s the smaller producers that suffer.” Supporting these smaller producers and their local contractors should be a priority to preserve the long-term future and prosperity of Africa’s oil & gas sector.

*Source Africa Energy Chamber
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Three Things the G20 must do to support Africa in COVID-19 Pandemic
March 26, 2020 | 0 Comments
The G20 Summit 2019 in Osaka, Japan .Photo Reuters
The G20 Summit 2019 in Osaka, Japan .Photo Reuters

Addis Ababa, 26 March 2020 (ECA) – This is a global crisis affecting the whole world. Africa, however, will be hit harder with a heavy and durable economic toll, which will threaten progress and prospects, widen inequalities between and within countries, and worsen current fragilities.

African countries need support in preparing for the health crisis, and for the economic fallout. The measures being taken in Asia, Europe and North America such as physical (social) distancing and regular hand washing will be a particular challenge for countries with limited internet connectivity, dense populations, unequal access to water and limited social safety nets.

In line with the steps being taken across the globe, African countries are preparing for the worst effects of this pandemic.

Here are the three things the G20 must do:

1. Support for an immediate health and human response

a. G20 leaders should support and encourage open trade corridors, especially for pharmaceuticals and other health supplies, as well as support for the upgrade of health infrastructure and provide direct support to existing facilities. This will enable countries to focus on prevention as much as possible and start building curative facilities. Support should be provided to WHO and CDC Africa with funds channelled through the Global Fund, GAVI and others.

b. G20 leaders should support public health campaigns and access to information including through an expedited private sector partnership for internet connectivityto enable economic activity to continue during social distancing measures and to support the effective sharing of information about the pandemic.

2. Deliver an immediate emergency economic stimulus to African governments in their efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic

a. G20 leaders should announce a US$100 billion (in addition to the $50bn already committed) to fund the immediate health response, social safety nets for the most vulnerable, feeding for out of school children, and to protect jobs. As a proportion of GDP this is consistent with measures taken in other regions. To ensure immediate fiscal space and liquidity, this package should include a waiver of all interest payments, estimated at US$44 billion for 2020.

b. G20 leaders should support a waiver on principal and interest for African Fragile States such as the Sahel, Central African Republic and others who are already struggling with the burden of debt and have limited fiscal space.

c. G20 leaders should endorse for enhanced predictability, transparency and accountability of financial flows so finance ministers can plan effectively and civil society stakeholders can help track flows to ensure reach those most in need.

3. Implement emergency measures to protect 30 million jobs immediately at risk across the continent, particularly in the tourism and airline sectors.

a. G20 leaders should take measures to support agricultural imports and exports, the pharmaceutical sector and the banking sector. An extended credit facility, refinancing schemes and guarantee facilities should be used to waive, restructure and provide additional liquidity in 2020.

b. G20 leaders should support a liquidity line available to the private sector operating in Africa to ensure essential purchases can continue and all SMEs dependent on trade can continue to function.

c. G20 leaders should ensure that national and regional stimulus packages covering private and financial systems include measures to support African businesses through allowing for the suspension of leasing, debt and other repayments to global businesses

*Economic assessments of the impact of COVID-19  presented to the African Ministers of Finance can be found here:

*Source ECA

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Afreximbank Announces $3-Billion Facility to Cushion Impact of COVID-19
March 25, 2020 | 0 Comments
Prof. Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank

Cairo, 24 March 2020: – The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has announced a $3-billion facility, named Pandemic Trade Impact Mitigation Facility (PATIMFA), to help African countries deal with the economic and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

PATIMFA, approved by the Bank’s Board of Directors during its sitting on 20 March, will provide financing to assist Afreximbank member countries to adjust in an orderly manner to the financial, economic and health services shocks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to information released by the Bank.

It will support member country central banks, and other financial institutions to meet trade debt payments that fall due and to avert trade payment defaults, said Afreximbank. It will also be available to support and stabilize the foreign exchange resources of central banks of member countries, enabling them to support critical imports under emergency conditions.

In addition, PATIMFA will assist member countries whose fiscal revenues are tied to specific export revenues, such as mineral royalties, to manage any sudden fiscal revenue declines as a result of reduced export earnings. It will also provide emergency trade finance facilities for import of urgent needs to combat the pandemic, including medicine, medical equipment, hospital refitting, etc.

The facility will be available through direct funding, lines of credit, guarantees, cross-currency swaps and other similar instruments, according to Afreximbank.

Explaining the rationale for the facility, Prof. Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank, noted that the COVID-19 pandemic brought with it considerable suffering and major economic disruptions.

“Besides its worrying effect on human life, the pandemic is projected to cost the global economy up to $1 trillion and to result in a significant 0.4 per cent decline in global GDP growth, which is expected to drop from 2.9 per cent in 2019 to 2.5 per cent in 2020,” he said.

“A rapid and impactful financial response is required to avert a major crisis in Africa,” he said, pointing out that “Africa is exposed in many fronts, including significant declines in tourism earnings, migrant remittances, commodity prices and disruption of manufacturing supply chains.”

Afreximbank had already seen sharp pandemic-induced declines in commodity prices, a sudden significant drop in tourism earnings, disruptions in supply chains, and closure of export manufacturing facilities, said the President. The impact on medical supplies and medical systems in many markets had also been unprecedented.

He said that Afreximbank would work with multilateral development banks that had put in place financial assistance programmes in order to secure support to help African countries deal with adverse external shocks and crises arising from the pandemic.

Afreximbank has a history of providing support to African economies in times of economic crisis.

During the 2015 economic crisis, it introduced a Counter-Cyclical Trade Liquidity Facility under which it disbursed more than $10 billion on a revolving basis to enable member countries adjust to the adverse economic shocks. That facility helped key African economies to manage that crisis and recover swiftly.

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Coronavirus: Cameroon records First Dead as confirmed cases reach 70
March 25, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Cameroon has recorded its first dead due to the coronavirus that is sweeping across various countries across the globe, Cameroon’s Minister of Public Health Dr Manaouda Malachie has said.

“This is patient 3 who came to us from Italy already very affected by the disease. Sincere condolences to his family, and courage to our health professional,” the Minister said in a tweet.

This number is expected to go up as the days go by. By March 21, the number of cases in Cameroon were at 40.

Cameroon has recorded the most cases of the virus so far in sub-Saharan Africa. In South Africa, the number of confirmed cases have jump by 128 to 554 and counting. Egypt has recorded 402 cases, Burkina Faso has 114 cases, Nigeria is at 46 cases.

Dr Manaouda Malachie has continued to urge the population to honour the measures put in place by the government to prevent the spread of the virus. He said: “I would like to call again for a sacred union around measures to combat the coronavirus. It is together, in discipline, solidarity, and in all responsibility that we will overcome.”

There is however is debate ongoing whether this confirmed dead was the second or the first case as said by authorities in Cameroon. Earlier, former Cameroonian footballer Patrick Mboma posted on his Twitter account that he had lost his uncle Achille Essome Moukouri due to the coronavirus.

“Bad News! A call from my mum at 5am this Monday informed me of the death of my uncle. To all Cameroonians who think the virus is an illusion, I am advising you guys to stay at home. This is the only way out,” Mboma wrote on Twitter.

The government has dispelled that saying the death was not as a result of the virus. Officials of the Laquintini hospital in Douala acknowledge reports of the death but denied reports it was due to the coronavirus.

The Director of the Hospital Dr Njock Louis Richard is on record to have told CRTVWeb that Achille was a diabetic and had cardiac problems which are that likely cause of his death. However, the Director has denied that he granted an interview to the national station disproving saying the death was not due to the coronavirus. According to him, Achille Essome did indeed die of covid-19.

This incident has caused mixed feelings amongst the Cameroonian population who continue to accuse the government of wanting to cover the supposed death case at the Laquintini hospital in Douala.

The coronavirus has since been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, WHO with medical personnel urgently seeking for a vaccine for the virus.

Some 19,752 people have died so far from the coronavirus outbreak as of March 25. There are currently 440,318 confirmed cases in 196 countries and territories. The fatality rate is still being assessed.

Amid the growing number of confirmed cases, another figure is equally staggering — the number of those who have recovered from the virus. More than 82,000 people and counting have so far recovered from the coronavirus.

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African Energy Chamber encouraged by Recent Gas Monetization Drive in Côte d’Ivoire
March 25, 2020 | 0 Comments
At the beginning of the month, Petroleum and Energy Minister Abdourahmane Cisse laid the foundation stone for the Azito IV expansion project
At the beginning of the month, Petroleum and Energy Minister Abdourahmane Cisse laid the foundation stone for the Azito IV expansion project
In a region rich in natural gas, such initiatives are driving Côte d’Ivoire’s energy transition and paving the way for more industrialization and jobs creation

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, March 25, 2020/ — Côte d’Ivoire is establishing a new energy leadership in West Africa following several initiatives taken to monetize natural gas across power generation and public transport. In a region rich in natural gas, such initiatives are driving Côte d’Ivoire’s energy transition and paving the way for more industrialization and jobs creation.

Since January 2020, the country has secured key financing for its major gas-to-power projects, Azito and Atinkou. The former is a brownfield expansion of the existing Azito gas-to-power station, a 460MW plant owned and operated by Globeleq which uses natural gas supplied from Côte d’Ivoire’s offshore gas fields. Azito is being expanded by 253MW and its expansion project reached financial close in January 2020. Upon completion, the Azito plant will represent about 30 percent of Côte d’Ivoire’s installed power generation capacity.  The expansion project relies on a debt financing package of EUR 264 million provided by several financial institutions such as the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the African Development Bank (AfDB); the West African Development Bank (BOAD); the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) and a pool of European Development Finance Institutions (EDFIs). Minister of Petroleum, Energy and Renewable Energies of Côte d’Ivoire, M. Abdourahmane Cisse, laid the foundation stone for Phase IV on March 7th, 2020 and first power is expected this year.

The latter, Atinkou or Ciprel V, is a project carried out by the Eranove Group to develop a 390MW combined cycle gas-to-power station outside of Abidjan. A 20-year concession agreement was signed for the project in December 2018, and it just secured a financing package of EUR 303 million from the International Finance Corporation in March 2020. The full debt financing package was provided by several financial institutions such as the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Dutch entrepreneurial development bank FMO, Germany’s Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft (DEG), the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund and the OPEC Fund for International Development (OPEC Fund).

The government is also enabling the right kind of business environment for the sector to thrive. Four decrees were signed in the Council of Ministers on March 11th, 2020, to renew the exclusive exploitation authorization for the oil and gas fields of Foxtrot, Mahi, Manta and Marlin in Block CI-27. The decrees extend each authorization by 10 years, with the explicit goal of “ensuring the stable and continued supply of gas to the new power plants CIPREL 5 and AZITO 4 and guarantee national power supply sufficiency.”

The African Energy Chamber is extremely encouraged by such developments, not only because they will allow Côte d’Ivoire to generate cheaper and cleaner power, but because they demonstrate financial institutions’ continued appetite for Africa’s gas-to-power sector. According to a 2018 study by Power Africa, sub-Saharan Africa has the potential to develop 400GW of gas-to-power capacity based on its known gas reserves. Côte d’Ivoire is one of the market with the highest potential and Power Africa estimates that over 1.2GW of gas-to-power capacity could be developed there by 2030. The ongoing expansion of Azito and construction of the new Atinkou plants have set Côte d’Ivoire on a path to fully exploit that potential, and open the way for its African neighbors to follow.

But Côte d’Ivoire is not stopping there. At the end of 2018, its transport company SOTRA (Abidjan’s Transport Company) received 50 buses that run on compressed natural gas (CNG). These buses are part of the world’s latest vehicles running on CNG technology, and are providing additional monetization to the country’s offshore gas reserves. Following successful trials since 2018, up to 150 CNG buses are expected to be driving on Abidjan’s roads by 2021.

“At times when hydrocarbons are being criticized the world over for emitting too much carbon emissions, we need African nations to take the lead in showcasing the benefits of natural gas for the planet and for Africa’s industrialization and jobs creation efforts,” declared Mickaël Vogel, Director of Strategy at the African Energy Chamber. “Natural gas vehicles are an effective answer to environmental concerns, and so are gas-to-power plants who emit about twice as less carbon as stations run on diesel and coal. Such developments will justify increased investment into upstream gas developments and support the development of the entire value-chain, from gas production to gas monetization.”

Côte d’Ivoire is showing the way for other African economies to monetize their gas across industries, from power to transport, fertilizers and petrochemicals. Natural gas is a resource of the future for Africa and its utilization needs to be further encouraged as a way to create jobs and support overall industrialization in the continent.
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Insight Into The Rainbow Model For Sports and Development In Africa
March 25, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

 Rainbow Founder and CEO Kingsley Pungong is taking the lead when it comes to blending sports and development in Africa
Rainbow Founder and CEO Kingsley Pungong is taking the lead when it comes to blending sports and development in Africa

While many young stars view the exploits of superstars like Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto’0, Patrick Mboma, Sadio Mane and others in awe and will like to emulate them, the complex dynamics and structures of football management in Africa make the odds very slim. In structures like the Rainbow World Group, Africa is coming to terms with the fact that beyond entertainment, sports can be a critical ingredient in sustainable development and that talent can be programmed to succeed.

With stakes in in energy, telecoms, sports and media, the Rainbow World Group is impacting lives in a positive way with creating jobs and driving prosperity across Africa. PAV caught up Rainbow Founder and CEO Kingsley Pungong, and James Woods-Nkhutabasa Regional Director, Rainbow Sports to get  insight into the operations of the group and its sports section which is shaping up to be a reference in Africa.

Could we start this interview by getting an introduction of the Rainbow World Group in general and Rainbow football in particular?

Rainbow World Group (RWG) is a diversified holding company with interests in sports, investments and trading in Africa. It is a Pan-African proprietary investment company which is driving development within the African continent, as well as globally. We specialize in building and growing businesses that last. Our investments in Sports, Media, Energy, Telecoms, just to cite a few, are helping to create jobs, build economies, drive prosperity, and eventually transform lives of ordinary people in Africa.

Rainbow football on the other hand is a division of RWG, which focuses its investments in the football industry. Rainbow football operates a global sports management company covering the entire sports value chain including but not limited to sports marketing and management, sports franchise ownership, sports financing and consulting. In regard to the sports franchise ownership, we currently own Rainbow Football Club in Cameroon and MFK Vyškov in the Czech Republic.

Rainbow football explores specific opportunities pertaining to on-field talent which can be integrated within its parent company and serves as a link between Africa and the rest of the world in activities such as talent identification, retention, development and management.

In what parts of Africa do you have operations?

Africa generally is our home of operations where we then extend these operations globally. We are currently pursuing projects with international partners in sub-Saharan Africa. Our specific focused operations at the moment are found in Cameroon, Tanzania, DRC, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Gambia, Kenya, Benin, while we also have satellite operations in other African nations. Malawi is also a terrain our group has an interest in on the football front and other areas of  investment.   

James Woods Nkhutabasa is Regional Director at Rainbow Sports. The out fit is slowly but steadily expanding its operations to all corners of Africa
James Woods Nkhutabasa is Regional Director at Rainbow Sports. The out fit is slowly but steadily expanding its operations to all corners of Africa

What does football represent for Africa today and how could it be a factor in building a better future for the continent?

Football is the most popular sport in Africa just as it is in the world. It is embedded in the social realities of the continent and it is played, watched or followed almost everywhere in the continent. This tells you the level of attachment and passion we Africans have with this beautiful game. This therefore represents a form of HOPE for Africa. Young people use it to dream of a better future for the continent.

Through football a lot can be achieved that can change the narrative of the African continent. Due to the love and association to the sports of lots of African, it can used as an educational portal for the young African population, as well as it can be used to bring infrastructural development in most areas of the continent. For example, football instill a lot of relevant life skills in those involved that it can be transferred into other works of life. Discipline, Leadership, teamwork, are just some of the very important skills gotten out of the game that can be further enhanced in the youths of the continent if this game is factored in properly in the building of the continent. That is why we at Rainbow Football, are putting in place an educational program which will have a high level of impact in the youths of our operating areas that will help in their future development and hence leading to a better future of the continent in its own small way.

May we know how you identify the talents that you work with?

Well the identification of gifted and talented young players requires specialist knowledge of the game and a deep understanding of athletic potential, psychological profiling and motivation. We have drawn upon knowledge from the growing body of research and expertise gathered throughout football and other professions to aid the identification of talented and gifted young people and have built a leading understanding of its potential to support our recruitment process.

We possess ties to a strong and extensive network of scouts, coaches, club and academy owners across Africa. In addition to our own scouting team and processes, we are often contacted when promising players show themselves.

Furthermore, we host open trials across Africa which gives recruiters significant access and exposure to unseen talent that can emanate from areas across the region. We then supplement the on-ground presence with extensive video review analysis.

That’s how we identify the talents we work with. I believe that our strong competitive advantage its our ability and willingness to scout in places that which scouting organizations will not go to or may not know exist nor have easy access to get there.

Founder and CEO Kingsley Pungong is committed to making young African talent emulate the example of icons like Didier Drogba in optimising their full potential
Founder and CEO Kingsley Pungong is committed to making young African talent emulate the example of icons like Didier Drogba in optimising their full potential

When you identify the talents what next, what is it Rainbow does to help have successful careers?

When a talent is identified, the next step is to figure out where the player can be placed in order to have a successful career. Nonetheless, we undergo a couple of procedures in house to make sure all is in order before having them move.

When this happens, the player is signed to one of Rainbow’s teams through a standard FIFA approved player contract where they either play for the team or gets loaned/transferred to a professional club in our network of club contact, either in the USA, Europe, China (Asia) or Latin America. This helps to give the players further exposure in terms of visibility and development to attract top clubs.

Younger players (U18) are sent into academy structures to complete their secondary education (a key component that we value) and for further development of their already strong football skills where they will become eligible to play professional football upon graduation, given they will have reached 18 years of age.

May we know some of the famed football products or stars that you can use to show case the success of Rainbow?

Sure, we have a few famed players, though I can say most of our players do pretty well for their clubs and country and are still young with a very bright future ahead of them.

There is Christian Bassogog who plays in the top flight Chinese Super League, for Henan Jainye, and for the National team of Cameroon. He was best player of the 2017 African Nations Cup. He is one of the best forwards in his league.

There is Nohou Tolo, who plays for Seattle Sounders and Cameroon U23 National Team; Olivier Mbaizo for Philadelphia Union and Cameroon U23 national Team; Brian Anunga for Nashville SC; Alfusainey Jatta for Saalfelden in Austria and The Gambia; Michee Ngalina for Philadelphia Union; Oyongo Bitolo who plays for Montpelier in France and Cameroon’s National side; Yamikani Chester who spent 2019 at North Carolina FC and joined Las Vegas Lights for 2020 – he is star player for the Malawi National side. These are just few of the ones I can mention now and definitely in the near future most of our players will be top stars as a number of them have already attracted interest from clubs in top European and Asian leagues.

Indomitable Lions star and AFCON winner Christian Bassogog is one of the success stories of Rainbow Sports
Indomitable Lions star and AFCON winner Christian Bassogog is one of the success stories of Rainbow Sports

When Rainbow is placing a player with a foreign club  what criteria is taken into consideration…the USA major league is not the most competitive, the Chinese league may be flowing with money but still not the most mediatized, so do prioritize monetary gain or an avenue where the player will grow in talent and career like Europe?

Our major concern is the player’s future development as we know how to ensure they develop in the right infrastructure, by doing so there is a higher likelihood of a successful career. However, we have a strategic approach to player placement across the global ecosystem and take certain key factors into consideration.

The key factors we look are:

  • Fit into its “Growth and exposure” strategy,
  • The style of play; which club does the players style of play fit with?
  • Player’s interest: where the player’s desire lies,
  • Status of the transfer window as it differs by country,
  • The Demand available, and
  • The Economics of the opportunity for the player, the club and our company.

As earlier mentioned, we host African combines twice a year to give teams from around the world access to players in our network. This often leads to deals for players being made during and immediately after these events.

For those aspiring to have successful careers and benefit from the expertise of Rainbow, what recommendations or advise do you have for them?

In our experience we have worked with all sorts of players, partners, clubs and affiliates. We have a well-informed understanding of what kind of player is going to make a successful career or not. Thus, the advice we give to aspiring talents is that they should be focused on their dream, be determined, have a strong work ethic and be disciplined. Talent is just about 20% of what a player needs to be successful. Those who keep a level head and work harder achieve a very successful career.

Malawian star Yamikani Chester is part of the Rainbow franchise
Malawian star Yamikani Chester is part of the Rainbow franchise

May we know some of the challenges that you typically face?

When you are working in the African space, this is one aspect you can not miss in your operations. However just like any other operations we have numerous issues we get to deal with in order to achieve our goals on a daily basis.

Firstly, the lack of investment at the grassroots level makes it challenging for the development of top talents that can compete at the global stage. Very few academies or organizations really invest or have the resources to invest rightly in player development at the grassroots level. As such you come across talents who require a lot more effort to be ready for the big stage.

Another major challenge is the lack of sporting/football infrastructure to support the countries’ football development or level of competitiveness. Take for example Cameroon which has been a top football country for decades but it is only now that we can boast of a couple top level football stadia only because we have to host the 2021 African Nations Cup, which was even withdrawn in 2019 because the infrastructure was not ready.

These are jut some of the challenges with a lot more that we have to deal with like corruption, lack of integrity and incompetence as well.

There have been complains that the quality of the game in Africa as dropped and most young African footballers only dream of playing in Europe with some staking all to get out of the continent only to end up frustrated, what is it Rainbow is doing or thinking of doing to strengthen the domestic leagues or grow local talent in Africa?

It is true that the quality of the game has dropped and it’s partly due to the reasons I mentioned earlier. The best talents are taken out because they can’t be rewarded well in their countries as such the quality of play is not top.

What we need to do is to think about working together as actors in the industry to create avenues to further develop talents locally and hence the game within the continent. That is why in our own capacity at Rainbow football, we are taking steps towards this because we believe there is a bright future for the game in Africa.

We have developed a process to promote and support the development of a world leading talent identification, recruitment, mentoring and management system which we call the RAINBOW WAY. It aims to deliver an environment that promotes excellence, nurtures talent and systematically converts these talents into professional players capable of playing first team football at the highest levels of the global game.

We are also thinking of investing heavily in football clubs to create top level professional clubs which will permit for top talents to still be held within the continent and achieve their career goals of making a living out of the game. This we hope will attract top talents as well with push the governments and other actors in the industry to put heads and hands together to build a better future for the game within the continent. Investment in football on the continent is often left to the government, which cannot sustain the sport hence why we see ourselves and a key player and catalyst in investing, supporting and enhancing the already existing structures, driving forward a robust commercialization of the sport and also attracting more involvement from the private sector.  

How do you see the future of the game in Africa, and what more does Rainbow envisage to continue playing a leading role?

The future of the game in Africa is very bright. Just as many European nations have been running back to invest in other sectors in Africa termed Neocolonialism, so to there will be opportunities in football. Due to its low development at the moment, it can only get more attention for future development.

We are proud of having built the most extensive pan-African talent recruitment network. Successful talent identification and recruitment of players of all ages is vital to the future development of African football. This is a pivotal aspect of the Rainbow Way. Talent identification is a fundamental concern for African football and its youth development system. The Rainbow Way through its management, coaches and support staff have clearly defined roles and responsibilities vis-a-vis the identification of the very best talent on the continent. Its core strength is in yielding opportunities to generate attractive risk-adjusted returns in a complex and challenging yet lucrative region while at the same time contributing to the socio-economic development of the continent.

At Rainbow Football, we believe exceptional youth talent is central to the creation and the advancement of a better positioning of the African contribution to the world’s leading sport. Through the Rainbow Way, we plan to continue developing independent decision makers through the education provided that will ensure support to players to be able to achieve their full potential both in and out of the game. These tools will go a long way in contributing to the development of the future of African football.

* *Culled from March Issue of PAV Magazine

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Botswana leaders’ fight blights Africa’s democracy poster child
March 25, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Khonani Ontebetse

The fight between former President Ian Khama and current President Mokgweetsi Masisi is threatening the image of Botswana as a leading democracy in Africa
The fight between former President Ian Khama and current President Mokgweetsi Masisi is threatening the image of Botswana as a leading democracy in Africa

Botswana’s reputation as one the least corrupt countries on the continent is under renewed scrutiny as the tension between the immediate former and current administration boils over.

There are no indications that former Botswana President Ian Khama and his chosen successor and current President Mokgweetsi Masisi may find themselves sitting side-by-side as part of their reconciliation efforts.

This was not helped by Khama’s decision late last year to quit the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) which was founded by his father in the 1960s and has been ruling the southern African nation since independence from Britain in 1966.

It is understood that hopes of Khama and Masisi smoking a peace pipe were dashed when Khama founded the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) together with some disgruntled BDP members, a few months before the general election last year.

Initially, the rumblings of displeasure and growing agitation behind the scenes between the two men was swept under the carpet a few months after Khama handed his chosen successor the baton. Masisi’s administration tried to play down the tension between the two men. But it exploded into the public domain during the build up to the October general election held last year when Khama accused Masisi of failing to provide effective leadership.

Masisi and Khama have never made the reason for their fallout public except that the latter accused the former of reversing some of his policies such as the hunting ban and alcohol levy. On the other hand, Masisi accused Khama of trying to force him to do him favours which were outside the precincts of the law.

“I have met a couple of times with the mediators and expressed my sentiments regarding the conflict with Masisi, but I have never received any feedback following our meetings,” he was quoted as saying in March this year.

For his part, Masisi has since informed Parliament that relations between him and Khama is so bad that he has asked former president Festus Mogae and former Speaker of the National Assembly Patrick Balopi to mediate between them, but to no avail.

The tension between the two men took a new twist late last year, when Khama and some BPF members did not attend Masisi’s inauguration. Before that, at one point Khama even advised opposition coalition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) leader Duma Boko to investigate what the BPF termed grand election fraud that was allegedly done by the BDP in last year’s tightly contested election. Prior to the poll day, Khama even campaigned for the UDC and opposition in general as he sought to oust Masisi whom he also accused of being undemocratic and drunk with power.

While the BDP won the general election after securing 38 of 57 seats and UDC garnering 15 seats, BPF three seats and Alliance for Progressives managing one seat, Khama and UDC insisted that the elections were rigged. The UDC even went to the extent of challenging the outcome of the general election as it accused the BDP of rigging the election aided by the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) and the Independent Electoral Commission. The UDC petitioned the High Court lost the case on technical grounds as among other things it did not file the petitions within 30 days as prescribed by the law.

Still the UDC and Khama insist that the elections were rigged, something that observers say makes it difficult for Khama and Masisi to reconcile.

Recently, Khama reacted angrily to thin veiled insinuations by Masisi that he is the invisible hand behind the escalating rhino poaching crisis in the country.  Khama said Masisi was to blame because when he occupied office, he withdrew arms of war from the anti-poaching unity on the grounds that it was illegal for the unit to be armed with such guns.

President Masisi is firmly in control and is expected to deliver positive results .Photo AFP
President Masisi is firmly in control and is expected to deliver positive results .Photo AFP

Masisi’s government has also taken a decision to sideline Khama as former head of state who should be invited to important and official government events. Under normal circumstances, former heads of states are invited to come and commemorate special events such as the annual commemoration of the fallen heroes and heroines that is organized by the Botswana Defence Force and the Office of the President.

There is no evidence to suggest that the Office of the President extended invitation to Khama just like it happened last year.

In a previous interview with this reporter last year, Khama said over the phone “I was not invited. I don’t understand why I was not invited because as a former commander of the Botswana Defence Force it is within my right,” he said. Khama added that does not necessarily mean that not being invited would stop him from commemorating the fallen heroes.

While President Masisi officiated at the commemoration of the fallen heroes and heroines at the Central Business District by laying a wreath for the fallen BDF heroes and heroines, Khama also had a parallel commemoration whereat he as was accompanied by his younger brother and former Tourism Minister Tshekedi Khama. Tshekedi has also quit the BDP and he is representing BPF in Parliament.

While former president Khama was in March this year quoted as having adopted a reconciliatory tone, he had used the commemoration of the fallen heroes and heroines to take a swipe at Masisi’s administration.

“We will continue fighting to restore democracy in Botswana,” Khama told his audience, mostly former soldiers from his influential tribe called Bangwato.

Last year BDF spokesperson Tebo Dikole confirmed that the former President was not invited. When asked why they did not invite Khama since he was not only a former president but also former commander of the armed forces, Dikole explained that the designation of former president precedes that of former commander hence the reason Khama did not receive a an invitation.

Commenting on the ongoing feud and reports of escalating corruption, political analyst, Mpho Mojaki said “Botswana has long been regarded as a diamond –rich nation, corruption-free, democratic, prosperous, and peaceful. Smooth transfer of presidential power, meaning that the incumbent vacates office a year before his chosen predecessor occupies office and normally that is before the general elections.” He added that “with these tension and other cases of corruption, the country’s image is at risk.”

As the tension between Khama and Masisi rages on, they have also been linked to a $25 USD million money laundering case. The prosecution claims that the money siphoned off from the National Petroleum Fund was meant to build fuel storage facilities across the country but was diverted by the former Directorate of Intelligence and Security Isaac Kgosi to buy military equipment from Israel. Some of the accused persons who had acted as middleman have since claimed that Khama and Masisi benefitted from the money. The two men have since distanced themselves from such accusations. 

*Culled from March Issue of PAV Magazine

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