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The African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) and Ecobank Group announce the key focus areas of their joint initiative to support Africa’s Micro Small and Medium Enterprises
May 27, 2020 | 0 Comments
Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are critical to the African economy as they account for almost 85% of all private sector employment

AUDA-NEPAD (the African Union Development Agency) and Ecobank Group kick-start their collaboration to strengthen Africa’s response to Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). High level representatives from the African Union Commission, regional development banks, development financial institutions, international organisations and commercial banks from the continent came together to focus their efforts on supporting the MSMEs segment and protect the livelihoods of millions of Africans. A virtual workshop facilitated by McKinsey held on May 26, 2020 provided an opportunity to reinforce the commitment of national, regional and continental institutions to work together to support MSMEs following the COVID-19 pandemic.

MSMEs are critical to the African economy as they account for almost 85% of all private sector employment. Vulnerable jobs are in 5 sectors in Africa, including Trade, Agriculture, Manufacturing, Construction and Hospitality. Some 25 – 160 million jobs in Africa are vulnerable due to the impact of COVID-19. This presents an opportunity to come together to increase capabilities available to MSMEs across the continent. Leaders acknowledged the need to continue ongoing efforts to support MSMEs while leveraging organizational capabilities for medium and long-term support.

Governments have committed in average $20 billion to support MSMEs recovery, however access to existing commitments will likely be limited to registered medium enterprises due to criteria outlined by governments and the reducing appetite of commercial banks to loan to small scale enterprises. The funds allocated for MSMEs are insufficient in most countries, leaving the biggest gaps in micro to small unregistered businesses. Based on this estimated financing gap, only 6 out of 20 countries have made commitments that can cover the MSMEs labour costs, including South Africa, Egypt, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Chad and Cape Verde. For this reason, partnerships such as that being co-led by Ecobank Group and AUDA-NEPAD are vital.

AUDA-NEPAD Chief Executive Officer Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki emphasized that success of this initiative will depend on the number of partners and of the quality of the partnerships. He commended all the attendees for their interest and called their respective organizations to join as partners to drive this mission together.

Ade Ayeyemi, Ecobank Group CEO remarked, this initiative is focused on empowering MSMEs and to ease restarting and growing Africa’s economies with the knowledge that a significant number of jobs will be lost and businesses incapacitated. The workshop provided a platform for stakeholders from East, West, Central, North and Southern Africa to identify priority areas and strengthen our collective approach to safeguarding this sector, especially the micro enterprises. We believe that a multilateral approach which includes organisations, private sectors and governments will be beneficial and imperative for a successful implementation of support for Africa’s MSMEs.

About the Platform:
The AUDA-NEPAD and Ecobank Group will work with other African likeminded institutions and businesses to utilize the platform for monitoring and benchmarking, thus allowing members and MSMEs to share their experiences, best practices, national policies, and challenges, and avail resources to support African businesses and economies to overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic. This will help prioritise the Agency’s actions in the short, mid and long term towards the Member States and the partners, to (i) mitigate COVID-19 economic impact, and (ii) leverage on lessons learned from the 100,000 SMEs project and other national, regional and continental initiatives to increase African economies’ level of resilience amid the pandemic.

About the AUDA-NEPAD COVID-19 Response Plan of Action:
The AUDA-NEPAD COVID-19 Response Plan of Action is a proactive, efficient and direct response in enhancing continental coverage, and improving access to sustainable and resilient health services while ensuring the protection of Africa’s economic foundations. The set of thematic areas that have been addressed by the plan create an ecosystem for the private sector to contribute to its implementation and to benefit from its added value, by opening new markets based on a win-win approach. The AUDA-NEPAD will be a recipient of financial investments and donations for its COVID-19 Response Plan of Action. The Agency plays the role of broker between various service providers and governments, as well as coordinate the value chain from operations to institutional mechanisms.

About Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (‘ETI’ or ‘The Group’):
Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (‘ETI’) is the parent company of the Ecobank Group, the leading independent pan-African banking group. The Ecobank Group employs over 15,000 people and serves about 20 million customers in the consumer, commercial and corporate banking sectors across 33 African countries. The Group has a banking license in France and representative offices in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Johannesburg, South Africa; Beijing, China; London, the UK and Dubai, the United Arab Emirates. The Group offers a full suite of banking products, services and solutions including bank and deposit accounts, loans, cash management, advisory, trade, securities, wealth and asset management. ETI is listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchanges in Lagos, the Ghana Stock Exchange in Accra, and the Bourse Régionale des Valeurs Mobilières in Abidjan.

* SOURCE Ecobank
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I maintain my innocence with regards to trumped up allegations-AFDB President Dr Akinwumi Adesina
May 27, 2020 | 0 Comments
I am confident that fair, transparent and just processes that respect the rules, procedures and governance systems of the Bank, and the rule of law, will ultimately prove that I have not violated the Code of Ethics of this extraordinary institution, says AFDB President Akinwumi Adesina
I am confident that fair, transparent and just processes that respect the rules, procedures and governance systems of the Bank, and the rule of law, will ultimately prove that I have not violated the Code of Ethics of this extraordinary institution, says AFDB President Akinwumi Adesina

Embattled African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina says he is innocent with regard to trumped up allegations that unjustly seek to impugn his honor and integrity, as well as the reputation of the African Development Bank.

In press statement shared with Pan African Visions, Dr Adesina a former Minister of Agriculture in Nigeria says he has been overwhelmed with support from all over the world and has absolute confidence in the integrity of the Bank that he leads and its governance systems, rules and procedures .

” I am confident that fair, transparent and just processes that respect the rules, procedures and governance systems of the Bank, and the rule of law, will ultimately prove that I have not violated the Code of Ethics of this extraordinary institution,” Adesina says in the statement.

Adesina pledged to keep working with all shareholders to ensure that the African Development Bank maintains its hard earned global reputation; and to ensure that its credible and well-functioning institutional and governance systems are reinforced .

Below is the full statement

Press Statement On Recent News Reports And The African Development Bank

In recent weeks and over the last few days especially, I have been overwhelmed by the tremendous support received from around the world. I have absolute confidence in the integrity of the Bank that I lead and its governance systems, rules and procedures.

In spite of unprecedented attempts by some to tarnish my reputation and prejudice the Bank’s governance procedures, I maintain my innocence with regard to trumped up allegations that unjustly seek to impugn my honor and integrity, as well as the reputation of the African Development Bank.

I sincerely appreciate the support of the Bank’s shareholders.

At this time, I remain confident that ultimately and as one collective, the Bank will emerge stronger than before and continue to support Africa’s development drive. I draw great inspiration from my heroes, Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan, whose lives have shown that through pain we grow. As Martin Luther King Jnr. once said, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. “

I am confident that fair, transparent and just processes that respect the rules, procedures and governance systems of the Bank, and the rule of law, will ultimately prove that I have not violated the Code of Ethics of this extraordinary institution.

I will therefore continue to work with each and everyone of our shareholders to ensure that the African Development Bank maintains its hard earned global reputation; and that our credible and well-functioning institutional and governance systems are reinforced, as we collectively press on to fulfill the mission of our founders to accelerate and transform Africa’s development.

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Cameroon Opposition leader, John Fru Ndi says fight remains same as 30 years ago, reiterates stand on federalism and promises “We will come back…”
May 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

SDF Chairman John Fru Ndi says the government should put an end to hostilities in the North West and South West regions and reconvene around a table of true dialogue and reconciliation with the form of state as a plausible solution
SDF Chairman John Fru Ndi says the government should put an end to hostilities in the North West and South West regions and reconvene around a table of true dialogue and reconciliation with the form of state as a plausible solution

Firebrand opposition leader John Fru Ndi credited nationally and at the international level as Cameroon’s father of democracy has in a four-page anniversary message to members and sympathizers of his Social Democratic Front, SDF political party stated that the fight which started some three decades ago, remains the same. 

In his message to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the SDF, the first opposition party in Cameroon, Fru Ndi who doubles as founder and national chairman of the party counted the numerous sacrifices of the party’s founding fathers as they suffered police crackdown, detention and brutality which led to death of many compatriots.

“It has been 30 whole years since we came together bonded by purpose to set our beloved country on a different path. It has been 30 years since we took a firm decision to leave the perceived comforts of the side‐line, nonparticipation and implied complicity with the wrongs of our society, to raise our voices for change and a call for action.”

“It is now 30 years since we started our fight for the very spirit and soul of the country, for the institution of a state of law, for social justice, for equal opportunities and of total restitution of power to the people,” a fight which he points out remains the same and will continue.

Acknowledging that three decades later the social situation remains very preoccupying in Cameroon with poverty, unemployment, lack of basic amenities and now civil unrest threatening the country’s existence, Fru Ndi reiterated his stance on returning the country to a federal system of government.   

Meeting with President Biya, only through the Federal option will each and every Cameroonian be given the unique opportunity to define and design their destiny, says the SDF Chairman
Meeting with President Biya, only through the Federal option will each and every Cameroonian be given the unique opportunity to define and design their destiny, says the SDF Chairman

The vocal politician has twice been kidnapped by separatist fighters in Cameroon’s English-speaking region of North West for his stance on keeping the country united. After his last release, he fled the country but in his anniversary message he promised that this is not the end of the fight.

“In the face of our perceived setbacks we must be reminded that we will come back when people think we should be forgotten; and no matter how far down we may be, we are never too far down to come back”, he said.

He pointed to the fact that Cameroon, purported to be divided by language (English and French) has some 300 local languages which has never been a source of division. “Where then is all the dis‐unity and disarray of the country coming from?” he pondered before adding that.

“We can only point at the centre, to the politics, the administrative set up, the procedures and the laws that govern us. That is what we must change if we are to accomplish our common destiny as a people united in purpose. That only through the Federal option will each and every Cameroonian be given the unique opportunity to define and design their destiny.”

We must build a true democracy where the people decide what is good for them Chairman Fru Ndi said at the launching of the party on May 26 1990, thirty years after the party and Cameroonians are still chasing the same dream

Below is the full message of John Fru Ndi, national chairman of SDF on 30th anniversary of party’s creation

Anniversary Message by National Chairman

Dear Members and sympathisers of the Social Democratic Front,

Fellow Cameroonians,

It has been 30 whole years since we came together bonded by purpose to set our beloved countryon a different path. It has been 30 years since we took a firm decision to leave the perceived comforts of the side‐line, nonparticipation and implied complicity with the wrongs of our society, to raise our voices for change and a call for action.

It is now 30 years since we started our fight for the very spirit and soul of the country, for the institution of a state of law, for social justice, for equal opportunities and of total restitution of power to the people.

Looking back over these years, I want to start by thanking God Almighty, for preserving us to this day. For all that He has done for us through this time; for the amazing highs and very testing lows, and finally, for all the lessons we have learned along the way. All these were to prepare us for the responsibility that has been thrusted on our movement. As it is famously said, to whom much is given, much is expected.

Dear Members and sympathisers, Fellow Cameroonians,

Let us take a trip down memory lane. This same day, 30 years ago, we began our struggle fordemocracy. During the launching speech, we said and I re‐quote “…the essence of our democracy is about local people controlling their day‐to‐day affairs…Because where the people are not free to go about their daily chores without undue molestation, they cannot exhibit their skills and talents… we must build a true democracy where the people decide what is good for them…dictatorship produces the following results in the words of Argentina’s great blind writer Jorge Luis Borges: “…oppression,servility, cruelty and more abominable is the fact that it breeds stupidity.”

Those words which captured the reality of Cameroon at that time, still ring very true in our society today. In the same speech, we never failed to mention that “…make no mistake and do not allow yourself to be misled or misguided by anyone, no matter his station in life. Democracy has never been handed over to a people on a platter of gold!”‐ 6 of our compatriots were later shot dead!

Today, the social situation in Cameroon still remains very preoccupying:

 The war rages on in the North West, South West, Far North and East Regions of the country.

I express my heartfelt condolence to all those who have lost loved ones in these various conflicts;

 The corona pandemic, which is silently decimating our people, has come to add to the list of other pandemics we suffer as a people;

 There is total breakdown in health facilities and inadequate doctors to take care of the health needs of Cameroonians. Scandals are a daily occurrence in our hospitals. And sorrowfully, most of these scandals result in fatalities;

 The level of poverty continues to grow, with less than 1% of the population living in provocative affluence;

 There is still no portable water in a majority of the cities and towns of Cameroon, even during such moments ‐ remember water is the basis of health and life;

 Electricity shortage continues to be chronic;

 The near absence of a good road network in the country continues to be the cause of many fatal road accidents;

 The rate of unemployment and under employment, especially among the youth, continue to provide a ready army of disillusioned people, who can easily be manipulated to engage in unrewarding political actions, which only cause the death of more and more sons and daughters of the country; In fact, we are at the brink of a complete break down and very divided in our thoughts as a people and worst still, how to resolve them.

Over the years, we have made suggestions and contributions on how to shape the future of the country, principally that we must return to a federal form of governance.

Despite the hostile political environment we found ourselves in, even where we were considered enemies in the house for our position and ideals, we have fought hard and contributed tremendously to the building of a progressive image of the country.

Through pressure and persistence, we obtained the first Sovereign National Conference and the admission that our system of administration was not set to deliver the development we all desperately wanted. Our engagement in the politics of the nation, preceded the admission of the country to the Francophonie and the Commonwealth of Nations; organisations who have provided various forms of assistance to the country. We later took part in local elections and won some key cities of the country and some seats in parliament. Even though limited in number and stifled by government control, were able to accomplish the following:

 On the table in local councils, we were able to lay bare how ineffective, limited and cosmetic decentralisation is as a system to ensure the full participation and integration of the local population in their development agenda;

 It is on the floor of parliament, led by formidable men like Joseph Mbah Ndam and Joseph Banadzem (both of blessed memory) and other true social democrats still holding the fort today, that we were able to open the debate on the laws of the land for Cameroonians to be aware of what truly obtained in parliament. We promoted the woman folk and youth, giving them key positions in the bureau of the National Assembly, truly opening up our democracy to every Cameroonian;

 It is not until we mounted the rostrum during ministerial question time, were we able to expose and uncover the infamous Monchipou Seidou Scandal, which subsequently ushered in Operation Sparrow Hawk and the clamping down on corrupt public officials;

 It is not until we introduced the record number of private member bills were we able to mark some progress with the electoral laws of the land.

All these and many more that I cannot enumerate here, are some of the limited actions we could impact on a system that did all to ensure that we failed and tried to pollute public opinion with innuendos that our participation in sovereign institutions was a harbinger of duplexity and complicity with the regime. A political tool they have never stopped using to distract us from the challenges we have at hand.

We demonstrated great strengths and showed great promise, we succeeded where many wrote us off and waited for us to fail. We are far from where we want to be in that fight, but it is a battle we have committed ourselves to win.

Our experience has taught us to always take a seat on the table and make our voices heard. It is not in boycott and abstention that we register the dissenting voice, but in full participation and consistently telling the alternative story and explaining how things can be and should be different, without blinking.

It is our hard work and determination that has exposed the critical weaknesses of our current system. We must therefore in the wake of these new challenges find new strengths. Our country is in dire need of our maturity, our determination, our focus and our experience. The lessons hard learned and the history we have created must be called up if we are to forge the country of the future, where all will be treated equally and as one. We can only succeed in this God ordained mission by staying true to our vision, which is very simple:

“The People must have an equal chance at autonomy and empowerment ‐ for in true democracy lies our development, in true justice our peace and social cohesion and credible elections, our ability to renew our believes in our Fatherland. Our founding fathers found it fundamental to base our core ideals on DEMOCRACY, JUSTICE AND DEVELOPMENT – Power to the People.”

We are proud that we have not only just said these words, but we have demonstrated the truth in it through our “active intervention” policy. This policy made us tour every nook and cranny of the nation 21 times in 30 years. We slept in all the divisions and almost every village of the country, spreading our message and the merits of our struggle to the people. In all our public engagements, meetings and conventions, from Bamenda (1992), Bafoussam (1993), Maroua (1995), Buea (1996), Yaoundé (1999), Bamenda 2001, 2006, 2012 and 2018, we found more things that unite us than separate us. The only problem we noted is the fact that we have not mustered the political will nor provided the best opportunity to celebrate and encourage these unique attributes we share as a people.

At a time where the debate is rife, let us consider some of these issues and reflect carefully on them. We are mysteriously purported to be divided by language, even though besides our colonial heritage of English and French, we have over 300 local languages, which have never been a source of division.

We have over 30 national dishes, which are a delicacy and appreciated across the nation as a strength and not a point of division. That we have danced, sang and celebrated music across the nation, which doesn’t remind us of division, but prides us as a nation. Where then is all the dis‐unity and disarray of the country coming from?

We can only point at the centre, to the politics, the administrative set up, the procedures and the laws that govern us. That is what we must change if we are to accomplish our common destiny as a people united in purpose. That only through the Federal option will each and every Cameroonian be given the unique opportunity to define and design their destiny.

Dear Members and sympathisers of the Social Democratic Front,

Fellow Cameroonians.

Every time we entertain this critical topic, our detractors find a way of either diluting or misrepresenting our position. The Federal form of governance can be achieved through restoration.

Restoration as a process of constitutional change whereby the political system resumes an earlier structure as a result of the failure of the subsequent structure to evolve into a viable vehicle that adequately addresses the pressing needs of that society. While restoration is usually conceived as a return to the old structure, it is, however, the case that the restored structure, more often than not,turns out to be an updated and much improved version of the earlier one. This is what we should strive for as soon as possible.

I therefore call on government to put an end to the hostilities in the North West and South Wes tregions.

To reconvene around a table of true dialogue and reconciliation.

To have the sincerity of tabling the form of the state as a plausible solution no just to the crisis in the North West and South West, but for the country as a whole. I pray that for once, we will do the right thing for our nation.

I end this note by thanking all the Founding Fathers of the SDF. This band of fine gentlemen who developed a mantra that has stood through time. The work we all started, will live forever in the hearts and minds of the people and indeed we shall overcome. May the souls of all our departed heroes and comrades continue to find peace in the bosom of the Lord.

Let me go on to thank and congratulate every one of you, members and sympathisers of the party, for your steadfastness, tremendous sacrifices, some with their lives and others their unflinching support, that we may truly be able to change our country. My hearty congratulations go to you, who despite the ominous odds, understand the discipline of faith and belief in ideals. In your 30 years of commitment and servitude, you have made the distinction between a journey and a destination. You have matured over these years, learning the art of resilience and focus on the goal. In the face of our perceived setbacks we must be reminded that “we will come back when people think we should be forgotten; and no matter how far down we may be, we are never too far down to come back”.

Finally, I want to commend the efforts of all our medical personnel who are sparing no energy to ensure that we all make it through this pandemic. I call on the population therefore to respect all the directives in place, avoid public gatherings, wash your hands regularly and maintain safe social distances.

Long live the Social Democratic Front

Long live our nation Cameroon

Ni John FRU NDI

National Chairman

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Mozambique reports first death from Covid-19
May 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Jorge dos Santos

Mozambique has registered its first death from covid-19, health authorities announced on monday. The victim was a 13-year-old child whose sample was collected on May 20 in the city of Nampula, northern province of Mozambique. She was hospitalised three months ago for other reasons and after having fever and a cough on May 20, she returned to the health centre, where she would die from Covid-19.

The deceased girl is one of 15 new cases announced yesterday, of which eight are children under 14. four are in Cabo Delgado, of which one is in Palma and two in Pemba; two are in Beira; two are in Nampula; two in Maputo City; one in Maputo Province; two in Manjacaze, Gaza; and one in Changara, Tete.

The Covid-19 pandemic is clearly in the stage of community transmission, at least in some parts of Mozambique, as more than two dozen positive cases were diagnosed for the first time in a single day, triggering a cumulative total of 209 infected in the country.

This leaves President Filipe Nyusi with few options regarding the measures to contain the pandemic in Mozambique that has been living under State of Emergency regulations since April 1st, extended until the end of May. Leisure facilities are closed and all meetings banned, and the public urged to stay at home wherever possible.

Public transport capacity is capped, the use of masks in public is mandatory, schools are closed and the issuing of entry visas to the country has been suspended.

On monday the Ministry of Health, through the Mozambique Medical Emergencies Service (SEMMO) has set up a telephone exchange in Maputo specifically to receive calls about the Covid-19 pandemic.

The initiative seeks to reduce the number of people going in person to the health units because they suspect they may have Covid-19. The health professionals answering the phones will provide information and guidance about the symptoms of Covid-19.

jorgedossantosmz@gmail.com

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Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) Awards 2020 call for nominations announced
May 26, 2020 | 0 Comments
L-R Genet Kebede - AWIEF Creative Industry Award winner 2019, Arunma Oteh - former VP & Treasurer, World Bank and Abby Ikomi, AWIEF Creative Industry Award Finalist 2019
L-R Genet Kebede – AWIEF Creative Industry Award winner 2019, Arunma Oteh – former VP & Treasurer, World Bank and Abby Ikomi, AWIEF Creative Industry Award Finalist 2019
AWIEF Awards are Africa’s top honours for female founders and entrepreneurs designed to recognise and celebrate their contribution to the growth of Africa’s economy

The Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) (www.AWIEForum.org) is pleased to announce the call for nominations for AWIEF Awards 2020.

This year marks the fourth edition of the highly-anticipated AWIEF Awards which serves as the premier platform to highlight achievements in women entrepreneurship across Africa. AWIEF Awards are Africa’s top honours for female founders and entrepreneurs designed to recognise and celebrate their contribution to the growth of Africa’s economy.

This year a new award category, the Energy Entrepreneur Award, has been created to recognise excellence in the power, oil & gas, and renewable energy sector.

According to Irene Ochem, AWIEF founder and chief executive officer, “AWIEF Awards is a recognition of excellence in female entrepreneurship across Africa and we have seen an exponential growth in both the quality and number of nominations over the three previous editions. We have an obligation, now more than ever, to recognise and showcase those women founders and entrepreneurs who are building solutions and driving change in the African economy.”

Past AWIEF Awards winners have included: Stella Okolie (Nigeria), Wendy Luhabe (South Africa), Jennifer Riria (Kenya), Soraya da Piedade (Angola); Temie Giwa-Tubosun (Nigeria); Caroline Pomeyie (Ghana).

Nominations can be submitted for the following eight (8) categories. Nominees can either be nominated by a third party or be self-nominated.

Young Entrepreneur Award
Tech Entrepreneur Award
Agri Entrepreneur Award

Creative Industry Award
Energy Entrepreneur Award

Social Entrepreneur Award
Empowerment Award
Lifetime Achievement Award

To submit nominations for the AWIEF Awards, please follow this link: https://bit.ly/2ZAO6TA

Nominations close on Tuesday, 30th June 2020 at 23:59 GMT.

Last year, the APO Group African Women in Media Award was launched to recognise the support of female journalists for African women’s entrepreneurship. The call for entries for the 2020 edition of this prestigious award given each year by APO Group during the AWIEF Awards will be announced by APO Group at a later date.
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Open call for Nominations: Growth Stage Impact Venture for the SDGs
May 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

UNDP teams up with EPFL, Orange and SAP to pick top 12 entrepreneurs to change the landscape of health, energy and waste management in developing countries.

Geneva, 26 May 2020 – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Orange and SAP launch the second edition of the Growth Stage Impact Ventures (GSIV) for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) initiative; aimed at identifying and showcasing mature impact ventures in emerging countries with the catalytic potential to drive both large impact and yield sustainable profit.

The top 12 nominated entrepreneurs will be invited to pitch their products and solutions at the SDG Finance Geneva Summit, scheduled to take place in the first quarter of 2021 during the Building Bridges Week and will get support to access strategic partners to scale up their venture.

The 2020 the Call for Nominations only accepts Post Series A impact ventures providing products and services which reduce inequalities (with particular attention to gender inequalities) by providing solutions that empower people at the bottom of the pyramid to access to quality health, affordable and clean energy, and by reducing and recovering waste. Only ventures with headquarters, primary workforce and service provision or product market in developing countries can be eligible for the selection. 

“We are delighted to support UNDP in its focus  on impact ventures that address the SDGs. Contrary to the multitude of awards and competitions targeting early stage start-ups, companies invited to GSIV have the potential to bring about rapid and positive change at scale, targeting in particular the bottom of the pyramid,” said Julia Binder, Project Leader of EPFL Tech4Impact.

UNDP calls for third parties (accelerators, impact funds, family offices, international organizations, etc.) to nominate from their own pipelines, up to 3 entrepreneurs which meet the eligibility criteria. Self nomination is not be accepted. The call will remain open till July 15th.

“The GSIV is a fantastic vehicle to identify top entrepreneurs with solid business models and impact track records from across the developing world. Finalists demonstrate the business case for the SDGs, even in the most difficult contexts and in sectors that are traditionally publicly funded. In a post Covid19 world in which investments decrease, supporting innovative entrepreneurs from developing countries is a priority”, noted Sarah Bel, Manager of UNDP SDG Finance Geneva Summit.

A first screening of nominees will be carried out by EPFL  to shortlist  the top 20 enterprises. Finalists will then be reviewed by technical experts, investors and UN officials to select the top 12 finalists, who will attend the SDG Finance Geneva Summit, in 2021.

In 2019, 76 third-parties submitted 119 proposals from 40 developing countries. Eighty-five percent of the nominated ventures had raised at least half a million dollars at the time of nomination, and closed their Series A. All 12 finalists were mid-sized, with an average of up to 50 employees, annual revenue of over US$3 million, and with a cumulative impact on more than 15 million lives through their products and services. Full profiles are available here.

“As a corporate venture capital investor, it has been very exciting to be part of this selection process that puts the spotlight on active ventures which deliver social and environmental impact across their countries. The quality of the applications in 2019 is a great sign of hope with regard to this new generation of entrepreneurs”, added Gregoire de Padirac, Investment Manager, Orange Digital Ventures.

Each venture will be invited to attend a a preparatory workshop and to participate in the SDG Finance Geneva Summit, where they will have the opportunity to pitch to potential partners including investors, large corporates and international organizations.

The GSIV selection takes place within the framework of the SDG Finance Geneva Summit. The broader objective of the summit is to promote SDG aligned investments, showcasing emerging market examples of businesses that do well by doing good. By bringing together the unique ecosystem of development professionals, investors, development finance institutions, academia and entrepreneurs, UNDP aims to catalyze a shift of capital from mainstream finance to impact investing with a focus on addressing the SDGs.

UNDP is the leading United Nations organization fighting to end the injustice of poverty, inequality, and climate change. Working with our broad network of experts and partners in 170 countries, we help nations to build integrated, lasting solutions for people and planet.

 EPFL is one of Europe’s most vibrant and cosmopolitan science and technology institutions, located in Lausanne on the shores of Lake Geneva. Tech4Impact is EPFL’s sustainable impact initiative and the key instrument for enhancing the University’s social and environmental impact in research, innovation and entrepreneurship.

SAP is the world’s largest provider of  enterprise application software, serving more than 437,000 customers in more than 180 countries. SAP’s purpose it to help the world run better and improve people’s lives. With courage, perseverance, and breakthrough technology, SAP customers are tackling some of the world’s biggest challenges.

The SAP Next-Gen program is a purpose driven innovation university and community for the SAP ecosystem enabling companies, partners and universities to connect and innovate with purpose linked to the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

Orange is one of the world’s leading telecommunications operators with sales of 41 billion euros in 2018 and 149,000 employees worldwide at 31 March 2019, including 90,000 employees in France. The Group has a total customer base of 264 million customers worldwide at 31 March 2019, including 204 million mobile customers and 20 million fixed broadband customers. The Group is present in 27 countries. Orange is also a leading provider of global IT and telecommunication services to multinational companies, under the brand Orange Business Services. In March 2015, the Group presented its new strategic plan “Essentials2020” which places customer experience at the heart of its strategy with the aim of allowing them to benefit fully from the digital universe and the power of its new generation networks.

For additional information, please contact:

Ms Laura Eboa Songue, Communication Consultant, Email: laura.eboa@undp.org
Ms. Sarah Bel, Communications Specialist, Email: sarah.bel@undp.org

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Uhuru -Raila Handshake May Have Changed Kenyan Politics For Generations To Come-Political Commentator Samuel Omwenga
May 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Former Lawyer, seasoned Political Commentator, and Digital TV Host says the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga has changed dynamics in Kenyan politics

The impact of the memorable 9 March 2018 handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta, and his opposition challenger Raila Odinga may changed Kenyan politics for generations to come, says Samuel Omwenga. In an interview to discuss recent developments in Kenya, the former Lawyer, seasoned Political Commentator, and Digital TV Host says something definitely changed and things have been turned upside down in the country for the better.

“More than 2 years later, the handshake is holding and this has not only stabilized the political situation in Kenya, it has the potential of reaching the handshake’s ultimate goal, and that is, removing catalysts for electoral misconduct and disputes, destruction of property, violence and deaths that follow each general circle,” says Mr Omwenga.

Talking about Deputy President Ruto, Mr Omwenga says corruption charges against him are real though the extent may not be fully known yet. Mr Omwenga dissects the complex political equations, and opines that with the impending implementation of BBI, Kenya may  be on the way to finally enjoying the fruits of independence that have eluded the country for decades..

We hear accusations of corruption labelled against Ruto and his associates, are the corruption charges real or just giving a dog a bad name to hang it?

The corruption charges are real, though the extent of the corruption is hard to tell simply because those accused of corruption often find ways to camouflage the corruption or altogether make evidence disappear. For example, the government has reopened a corruption case against the DP going back to 2001 where all these charges started. In that case, Ruto and two co-defendants were charged with fraudulently obtaining Sh272 million from a state corporation by selling it public land.

The case dragged on in the court system for years and was ultimately dismissed for “lack of evidence” The government has now reopened this case as it is believed the dismissal of the case itself was the product of corrupt influence. Ruto’s name has also been linked or mentioned in connection with a number of mega corruption cases and his efforts to downplay those cases has led to conclusions there must be a reason and that can only be it is true he is involved or at least the beneficiary of the proceeds.  

If the corruption charges against Ruto and associates are real, what does it say about the judgement of President Kenyatta, I mean, he picked Ruto as running mate twice , is he not at fault for making a choice of Deputy that he now regrets?

I think the best way to answer this is to say everyone in government has been involved in corruption of one kind or another. There are no saints in government or in politics, except rare unknown players. If they are household name politicians or people in government, you can rest assured they have been involved in some corruption either directly or the indirect beneficiaries of corruption.

So, starting from that perspective, one cannot say this says anything about the judgment of President Uhuru Kenyatta in having Ruto as his running mate in 2013 and 2017. However, it should be noted that what makes Ruto the exception, is because he has amassed so much wealth in the years since becoming DP that can only be possible if one was engaged in the mega corruption he is accused of being engaged in. There is just no other way to explain the wealth.

What options are there for President Kenyatta, does the Law permit him to fire his Deputy in case the relations continue to get frail and Mr Ruto refuses to resign or step down?

Unlike under the old constitution where the president picked his deputy and had the power to fire him at will, the new constitution promulgated in 2010 makes removal of deputy president extremely difficult. For one, the president cannot just fire the DP. The only way a deputy president can be removed from office besides resignation or death, is either by establishing mental incapacity or by impeachment, both of which require legislative action. More significantly, a motion to impeach must be supported by two-thirds majority in the National Assembly and the impeachment charges must be upheld by two-thirds majority in the Senate upon hearings or trial.

It was previously believed these votes were just not there, given inroads Ruto had made in Central Kenya with many MPs there supporting him, but this is now in doubt as Uhuru has been able to easily purge Ruto’s loyalists from their Jubilee party, leading many to believe this belief Ruto had the numbers was a farce propagated by Ruto and his supporters.

Besides accusations and going after what some see as associates of Deputy President Ruto, what palpable results has Kenya seen in the fight against corruption?

The fight against corruption in Kenya has become a cliché. To be sure, there has always been corruption in Kenya since independence, with each successive government announcing various efforts to “fight corruption” only for the corruption to get even worse with each successive government. Kenya, like many other countries in Africa and elsewhere, is breeding ground for “state capture,” which is defined by Catrina Godinho and Lauren Hermanus as “. . . a political-economic project whereby public and private actors collude in establishing clandestine networks that cluster around state institutions in order to accumulate unchecked power, subverting the constitutional state and social contract by operating outside of the realm of public accountability.”

In other words, private individuals and their cohorts in high places in government collude to form a cartel that controls mostly procurement in a manner such that they line their pockets with large sums of money in ways no one outside that cartel would know or even do anything about even if they know. This is the system President Uhuru has been trying to dismantle to no success thus far, and many believe Ruto has been the beneficiary at least until he fell out of Uhuru’s favor.

There have been echoes that opposition leader Raila Odinga is open to joining the government, if this were to happen, what impact will it have on the political dynamics in Kenya?

Raila is effectively in government since his famous handshake with Uhuru back in 2018. Although his primary focus has been spearheading efforts to turn Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) into law, he has no doubt been one of the key advisers of the president at least in as far as handling Ruto and those opposed to BBI goes.

More recently, there has been talk of formalizing his role in government in forming a government of national unity (GNU) but this is now less likely because it would require Raila and ODM being fused into Jubilee, which is an undesirable prospect for many political and practical reasons. As a result, what is likely to happen, is Raila continuing to act as co-president without the title but helping Uhuru accomplish his legacy objectives, some of which overlap with Raila’s own political and party interests. Presently, one of these is making sure Ruto’s power is sufficiently clipped as to not to be an obstacle to BBI implementation or having Uhuru succeeded by someone other than Ruto.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga have been moving in sync since the famous handshake. The playbook could help leaders in other African countries to diffuse political tensions, says Samuel Omwenga. Photo credit REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya/
President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga have been moving in sync since the famous handshake. The playbook could help leaders in other African countries to diffuse political tensions, says Samuel Omwenga. Photo credit REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya/

Do you share the view from many other observers that something definitely changed in Kenyan politics following that memorable handshake 9 March 2018 handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr. Raila Odinga, and in follow up to that what lessons do you think African leaders both in power and in the opposition can learn from the détente between these two fierce rivals?

Yes, something certainly changed in Kenyan politics following the memorable handshake of 9 March 2018 between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga. Nobody saw that coming even among the closest advisers and insiders of these two men. That is how secretive and monumental the pact was because the men knew the handshake will turn things in the country upside down though for the better as it has.

More than 2 years later, the handshake is holding and this has not only stabilized the political situation in Kenya, it has the potential of reaching the handshake’s ultimate goal, and that is, removing catalysts for electoral misconduct and disputes, destruction of property, violence and deaths that follow each general circle. As things stand now looking ahead, implementation of BBI, which is the byproduct of the handshake is well under way and poised to happen and, when it does, Kenyans can go into the next election circle more confident the elections will be credible and without the disputes, destruction of property, violence and death that would otherwise be lurking to yet again rear their ugly heads.

For this reason, I would say, yes, African leaders both in power and in the opposition should borrow the playbook and apply the same in their respective countries. A key element to note here is, even as this handshake remains intact and BBI is likely to be implemented, what is happening is those in the system are not simply giving up control; rather, they are allowing more inclusivity in the government and that is key because one of the reasons those in power never want to give it up is because they do not wish to give up control. In this setting, they retain control, but power is shared more widely than before. That may be hard to understand but the short of it is, it is better to have that than nothing or status quo.

Mr Kenyatta is approaching the sunset of his second and last term of office as President, how has he fared so far, where has Kenya seen progress and failure under his leadership?

If you ask most Kenyans the question how has Uhuru fared thus far, you will find a surprising answer as those who supported and voted for him twice, will tell you Uhuru has been a total failure and they will throw in a few epithets and insults to make the point while those who did not vote for him and even hated him, now find him acceptable and say he is doing a good job.

The explanation is simple: the handshake and the reason being Raila. It is not possible to go into details here but the short of it is when Uhuru and Ruto joined forces to face Raila in the 2013 elections, they took advantage of dislike and even hatred of Raila in Mt. Kenya region, which is Uhuru’s backyard and demonized him there and a good part of Rift Valley, which is Ruto’s backyard with the promise they elect the duo, power will remain in the two communities for at least another 20 years, with mutual benefit.

It was not the winning formula as neither Uhuru nor Raila had the requisite 50%1 majority vote in the 2013 elections, but putting together the two strange bedfellows and their respective communities gave the system enough votes and cover to rig in Uhuru in the first round of the elections—though I should hasten to add I and others long ago conceded Raila would have likely lost in the second round, had there been a run-off between him and Uhuru as should have been had the constitution been followed, but the system chose to rig Uhuru in therefore doing away with the required runoff.

This, then, became the basis for the two men (Uhuru and Ruto) to have the pact they had to keep the presidency in their respective communities for at least 20 years or “kumi kumi” as they baptized the illegal power grab, meaning 10 years for Uhuru, followed by 10 years by Ruto.

The handshake tossed that agreement out of the window, or shred it to pieces and thus the flip in Uhuru support from those diehards who bought into the kumi kumi nonsense now hating him and calling him names, while those in the opposition and, specifically, supporters of Raila see the handshake as paving the way for Raila to be finally sworn as president.

Objectively, I would say the country’s economy under Uhuru has been nothing but mediocre at best if the comparison is to previous years when the economy was worse but on the political front, the handshake is making it possible for Uhuru to reshape his legacy such that by the time he is done with his two terms, things would have picked up enough to lift his performance to acceptable levels on both fronts, namely, economically and politically.

The wild card here is COVID-19 and the aftermath but, with the handshake in place and Raila being positioned to be a key player in the post-COVID-19 economic recovery, things will be far much better than they would be were the handshake not in place.

Mr Raila Odinga has been unsuccessful in previous attempts to seek the top job in Kenya, how are things shaping out for him, could 2022 finally be his year?

Just so it is clear, it is not true that Raila has been “unsuccessful” in his previous attempts to seek the top job in the country; rather, on at least 2 tries, he was successful except the system (those in power) denied him the opportunity to be sworn in after flooring his opponents at the ballot. Given that, the right question to ask is, will he (a) be as successful as in the past come 2022 and (b) will the system allow him to be sworn as president if he is. The answer to the first question is even though Raila remains to be a popular opposition figure, now quasi-in government, his level of support is not at the same level as it was back in 2007 when he clearly won the election, and each election circle since where support is strong but less so than all these other years.

For Raila to win at the ballot as he did previously, he has to be the flagbearer for the grand coalition being formed to take care of and ensure Uhuru’s successor. If he is the flagbearer for that coalition, then it’s hard to imagine how he is not successful and, if he is successful, the system will not prevent him from being sworn because the grand coalition being formed has its blessings, which answers the second part of the question.  

Elections in Kenya are often fraught with tensions, what lessons have been learned over the years and what reforms have been put in place to minimize tensions, and prospects of fraud and violence?

As noted above, the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga was specifically to make sure we no longer have circular disputes, destruction of property, violence, and deaths each election circle. The BBI team was tasked with canvassing the country and gathering views to formulate proposals to make this a reality and what they have proposed is what was in the process of being brought up as a referendum to make it law but the process is halted owing to COVID-19.

The key proposal in BBI that will make a big difference in making elections disputes and violence a thing of the past, is restructuring the Executive branch to allow for sharing of power between the president and a prime minister, rather than having all executive power resting in the president’s office. Kenya has had this power structure before; at independence for a brief period and in 2008 as means of avoiding a civil war following the post-election violence that rocked the nation. However, in both cases, the prime minister was not what is envisioned in BBI. The details of what the new structure would be are yet to be hammered out but, it is expected the PM position will be very powerful position with a weaker presidency and this may end this winner take all associated with the current US-style presidential system.   

President Uhuru Kenyatta (centre), Deputy President William Ruto (left) and ODM leader Raila Odinga . Deputy President Ruto may be the big loser in the high stakes political games with corruption charges against him and his associates gaining steam
President Uhuru Kenyatta (centre), Deputy President William Ruto (left) and ODM leader Raila Odinga . Deputy President Ruto may be the big loser in the high stakes political games with corruption charges against him and his associates gaining steam

What is your take on the way the government of Mr Uhuru Kenyatta has handled the coronavirus pandemic?

Uhuru is certainly doing a far much better job in handling the coronavirus pandemic in Kenya than President Donald Trump is doing for America.

More specifically, actions taken by the Kenya government to strengthen the health system and caring for the infected as well as health policy measures such as promotion and encouragement of social distancing, working from home, travel restrictions, the closure of schools, the suspension of public gatherings, and a nightly curfew have all thus far been effective in keeping the spread of the virus at relatively low rates ditto deaths from the pandemic. However, the poor and most vulnerable are bearing the brunt of these policies as the government is not proving enough assistance to enable them to feed themselves and have access to essentials for their daily living. To compound the problem, it is feared money provided by the World Bank and other sources to combat the pandemic has either been stolen or misused, which is a shame but, nothing surprising at all. The CS for Health has been doing a good job and he promises to make sure all the funds are accounted for, which means if there is any monkey business with it, those culpable will be held responsible.  

We end with a last word from you on the future of Kenya, what makes you hopeful, and what are your fears?

Kenya is a beautiful country with an abundance of natural resources, human capital, and great potential to become an emerging economy. Bad governance, disputed elections and tribalism have all combined to become a roadblock to reaching this utopia. However, I am hopeful with the impending implementation of BBI, we can go over this roadblock and finally get to enjoy the fruits of independence that have eluded us all these decades.

My biggest fear is fear of uncertainty from the pandemic for we truly don’t know how this ends, but  we hope and pray for the best.

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UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP ANNOUNCES THE LAUNCH OF DEF JAM AFRICA
May 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

New label group dedicated to supporting the best in African hip-hop talent and culture across the continent

Label launch roster includes some of Africa’s most influential artists and MC’s including: Cassper Nyovest, Nasty C, Larry Gaaga, Boity, Nadia Nakai, Tellaman, Tshego, Ricky Tyler & Vector

SANTA MONICA / JOHANNESBURG / LAGOS, May 26, 2020– Universal Music Group (UMG), the world leader in music-based entertainment, today announced the launch of Def Jam Africa, a new label division within the continent dedicated to representing the best hip-hop, Afrobeats and trap talent in Africa. Def Jam Africa will follow the blueprint of the iconic Def Jam Recordings label, which has led and influenced the cutting-edge in hip-hop and urban culture for more than 35 years.

The label will initially be based in Johannesburg, South Africa and Lagos, Nigeria, but will identify and sign artist talent from across the entire continent. It will be supported by dedicated A&R, marketing, creative and digital teams from the UMG teams in both Nigeria and South Africa and will report to Sipho Dlamini, MD, Universal Music Sub-Saharan Africa & South Africa.

The label launches with a flagship roster, that includes some of the most influential, successful and followed African talent including: Boity (South Africa), Cassper Nyovest (South Africa), Larry Gaaga (Nigeria) Nadia Nakai (South Africa), Nasty C (South Africa), Tshego (South Africa), Tellaman (South Africa), Ricky Tyler (South Africa) and Vector (Nigeria).

In making the announcement, Sipho Dlamini said, “Many of us in Africa grew up on music from legendary labels under the UMG umbrella. From Blue Note for jazz fans, to Mercury Records, which was Hugh Masekela’s first US label and Uptown Records, the home of Jodeci and Mary J Blige and many more. For those into hip-hop, no label has such cultural and historic relevance as Def Jam. From Run DMC, to LL Cool J, Disturbing tha Peace, Jay-Z, Big Sean and Kanye West, Def Jam has always been the ultimate destination for hip-hop and urban culture worldwide. It is a historic achievement that we’re now able to bring this iconic label to Africa, to create an authentic and trusted home for those who aspire to be the best in hip-hop, Afrobeats and trap. Together, we will build a new community of artists, that will push the boundaries of hip-hop from Africa, to reach new audiences globally.

Jeff Harleston, interim Chairman & CEO, Def Jam Recordings said, “Def Jam is a globally recognized brand, synonymous with excellence in hip-hop, and we enthusiastically welcome the launch of Def Jam Africa as an opportunity for audiences worldwide to discover the incredibly talented hip-hop artists emerging from across the continent.”

Adam Granite, EVP, Market Development said, “Def Jam has always been a respected mark of hip-hop quality, and the calibre of artists already on the roster, shows that this is a label, truly dedicated to helping the very best rap talent from Africa, reach new audiences on a global level.”

Earlier this year it was announced that South African rapper Nasty C will release his forthcoming album Zulu Man with Some Power in partnership with Def Jam Recordings in the U.S., during Summer, 2020. Other forthcoming releases on Def Jam Africa include singles from: Ricky Tyler, Boity, Nasty C, Tellaman feat. Alpha P, Vector, Cassper Nyovest and Tshego.

About Def Jam Recordings

Founded in 1984, Def Jam Recordings has represented the cutting-edge in hip-hop music for more than 35 years. Def Jam began as a maverick independent label inspired by downtown New York City’s vibrant street culture and the emerging sound of hip-hop, pioneered by iconic stars like LL Cool J, Slick Rick, The Beastie Boys and Public Enemy. Over the following two decades, Def Jam established its dominance with superstar acts like Jay-Z, DMX, Ja Rule, Method Man & Redman, Ludacris, Rihanna, Jeezy, and the inimitable Kanye West. Now in its fourth decade, Def Jam’s music and lifestyle has grown into a global brand – synonymous with creativity, quality and authenticity – encompassing a diverse roster of marquee and emerging stars like West, Justin Bieber, Alessia Cara, Logic, Pusha T, Jadakiss, Vince Staples, Jeremih, Big Sean, YG, 2 Chainz, Dave East, and Jhene Aiko, among others. Today, Def Jam has reaffirmed its passion for and commitment to hip-hop culture, and has expanded its global brand reach to become the most-followed major label on all major social media platforms.

About Universal Music Group

Universal Music Group (UMG) is the world leader in music-based entertainment, with a broad array of businesses engaged in recorded music, music publishing, merchandising and audiovisual content in more than 60 countries. Featuring the most comprehensive catalog of recordings and songs across every musical genre, UMG identifies and develops artists and produces and distributes the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful music in the world. Committed to artistry, innovation and entrepreneurship, UMG fosters the development of services, platforms and business models in order to broaden artistic and commercial opportunities for our artists and create new experiences for fans. Universal Music Group is a Vivendi company. Find out more at: http://www.universalmusic.com.

Def Jam Africa artists on social media

Cassper Nyovest https://www.instagram.com/casspernyovest/?hl=en

Nasty C https://www.instagram.com/nasty_csa/?hl=en

Boity https://www.instagram.com/boity/?hl=en

Nadia Nakai https://www.instagram.com/nadianakai/?hl=en

Vector https://www.instagram.com/vectorthaviper/?hl=en

Larry Gaaga https://www.instagram.com/larrygaaga/?hl=en

Tellaman https://www.instagram.com/tellamanofficial/?hl=en

Tshego https://www.instagram.com/tshego_worldwide/?hl=en

Ricky Tyler https://www.instagram.com/rickytylershow/?hl=en

www.defjam.africa

*Source UMG

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Cameroon: PWD Bamenda President Pascal Abunde Narrates Escaping Relegation Zone to winning the Elite 1 Football Championship
May 25, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

In 5 years at the helm of PWD Bamenda, Pascal Abunde has taken the team to the title of Elite 1 Champions
In 5 years at the helm of PWD Bamenda, Pascal Abunde has taken the team to the title of Elite 1 Champions

Five years as President of PWD of Bamenda, Pascal Abunde has taken the football team from the brink of relegation to be crowned champions of the Elite 1 football championship in Cameroon. Pascal Abunde in 2019 was voted the best President in the Cameroon Professional League during the second edition of the Cameroon sports Awards held in the nation’s capital Yaounde.

In an exclusive interview granted PAV Cameroon correspondent on May 25, 2020, the energetic President of PWD Bamenda, Abunde Pascal narrated the teams escape from the relegation zone during the 2018/2019 season to winning the 2019/2020 football season. He has called on the government of Cameroon to provide the necessary financial assistance that will help the team prepare for the CAF Champions League. 

Reporter: PWD barely survived relegation last year, and now the side has won the championship this season, what is your reaction to the side’s performance last year and the side winning the championship this year?

PWD President Pascal Abunde: This scenario is gradually becoming part of our DNA. Worth noting is that we had the same scenario in 2017 that we were almost relegated to the Regional Division 3 championship, and then next year (2018) we had an excellent year as we were promoted to Elite 1 football championship. This is the second of its kind and it is probably proving something, a trend that we are all realizing.

In 28 games played PWD won 13 games, drew 8 and lost 7 games boasting 47 points (1)
In 28 games played PWD won 13 games, drew 8 and lost 7 games boasting 47 points (1)

Reporter: It must have been a challenge to come from a relegation battle and go on to win the championship this season?

PWD President Pascal Abunde: Obviously we knew we were underdogs in this championship; we were not even tipped to be amongst the first 10. We came into this competition with our hidden objective; we knew we could also have our own something to prove in the championship. Coming from that position as an underdog, we gradually moved to the position of an outsider, and later on, came to the top of the championship to the surprise of many people. We thought we could not be champions but from everything we learn especially going through the difficult phase last season there was a lot to be exploited and we knew that there were possible areas we could find our way through. That is the strategy we used, and we are happy to realize that it actually paid off.

Reporter: Can we also say the strategy to maintain the coach (David Pagou), when other teams were sacking their coaches due to poor results, help you as a team?

PWD President Pascal Abunde: There was a change of strategy, change of approach at the beginning of the season, especially learning from the difficult time we had last season. Last season we had a change of coach, but it did not really salvage the situation that much. We thought that we should get a coach that shares the same philosophy as that of management, getting young players who are ready to prove something, contrary to the older or more “experienced” players we had in the past. Putting all the parts to the puzzle together so that we could possibly achieve something great and that is what we did.

Reporter: How has PWD been coping with the security challenges the region has been going through for the past years?

PWD President Pascal Abunde:  It is a huge handicap for teams plying their trade in this part of the country. First of all, the training sessions are not consistent, you have Mondays that are ghost towns, and nothing happens on Mondays. We have lesser times to prepare our team contrary to the other teams based in the other parts of the country.

Secondly, it is not easy to follow a specific programme because of the insecurity we have been witnessing. You might prepare to travel on a Friday, and something happens and you find yourself travelling on a Saturday when you have a game on Sunday; you arrive maybe 12 hours to game time. It actually affects the results that you will have in the game; the proof is the game we had against Bamboutos.

Reporter: What support have you been getting from your fans not just in the North West but across the national triangle with a huge fan base in the South West and Centre Region?

PWD President Pascal Abunde: One thing we have succeeded in doing is to build a strong fan base. I am proud to say that we might have one of the strongest fan bases now in Cameroon, and not only in the country but in the Diaspora. We have organized our fans in several zones, and they are doing an incredible job. We have fans in the South West, Littoral, Centre, North, West, and all over the national territory. All those fans have shown that once people are united for a particular course/objective (genuine objective) they will definitely succeed. The great reason for the success is because of our huge and highly coordinated fan base.

Reporter: PWD will be participating in a continental assignment this year, what are you expecting from the government in terms of support? 

PWD President Pascal Abunde: Participating in the CAF champions league (the second most prestigious cup after the AFCON) is a new thing for us and a huge exploit. We are going to be discovering this competition for the first time. Based on government legislation we have acquired the status of a national team. We expect the government to come in and give us support. Presently, Cameroon has fallen down the pecking order in terms of participation in Africa due to our mediocre performance in the continental championship. We expect the government to give us a very serious push, maybe considering us as a national team, give us the necessary resources we might need to prepare this team so that we can have a good team in place ready to challenge; not only to go and learn but to challenge and also to bring back our position in terms of representation in the continental championships.

 In 2019 Pascal Abunde was voted the best President in the Cameroon Professional League during the second edition of the Cameroon sports Awards
In 2019 Pascal Abunde was voted the best President in the Cameroon Professional League during the second edition of the Cameroon sports Awards

Reporter: let us talk about finance, what are the sources of income your club have?

PWD President Pascal Abunde: Our main source of finance comes from the shareholders who put in financial resources in the holding company that manages and runs the club. Again, we receive some subventions from the football Federation (just like any other team in the country). We receive contributions from our fans that go a long way to finance some of the aspects of the team, not forgetting the sales of gadgets, and gate fees, and other initiatives we put from time to time in order to generate income to run the cup.

Reporter: Going back to your continental exploit next year, with the poor nature of the pitch in Bamenda, where will your team be playing their matches in the CAF Champions League?

PWD President Pascal Abunde: Bamenda would have been the best place to host the games since it is the hometown of PWD. You would imagine PWD taking against TP Mazembe at the Mankon Municipal Stadium. Unfortunately, the stadium is the way it is, works have been suspended there. We are hoping that something can be done. We have other options, Limbe that has been so fair to us (that is where the team was maintained last season and that is where the team won this year’s championship), we equally have Yaounde that has a huge fan base. On a personal note, if Bamenda is out of the picture then Limbe should be the next option. The board has to make the decision taking into consideration so many factors. 

Reporter: Let us talk about the Coronavirus pandemic that has affected sporting activities, how has the club been supporting its players?

PWD President Pascal Abunde: It has been an extremely challenging time for not only PWD but for clubs worldwide as some have been slashing salaries, suspending payments. We as PWD have used a community approach in handling this issue. We discuss with our players on a regular basis. We try to give them some allowances on a monthly basis, not up to what they would have been earning full time but again it is something that can enable them to keep them up and running. It is not easy for clubs, but I hope we get over it as soon as possible.

Reporter: Talking about the assistance that was given to clubs by the Federation, what can you say about it?

PWD President Pascal Abunde: The assistance was a good gesture, highly welcome by PWD as it was the first of its kind. We could not possibly reach out to all the players (PWD used some 31 players last campaign), but again we have an approach where we made sure that everybody feels the impact of the gesture. Officially, 20 players and 5 staff were assisted. We have 35 licences but it is worth noting that not all the 35 players are available (about 28 players are available), so we used another approach as management to make sure that the other players feel an impact of the very important gesture.

PWD Bamenda will play continental matches out of its traditional home turf in Mankon because it does not meet international standards
PWD Bamenda will play continental matches out of its traditional home turf in Mankon because it does not meet international standards

Reporter: What motivates you to take on this huge challenge of managing PWD?

PWD President Pascal Abunde: Well, I have been in office for five years now.  I actually created this new philosophy of PWD in the community when we started this project in 2015. The club barely existed. We played in the fourth division in the regional league; we played the third division and came up the next year to the Elite 2 where we played for two years. From there we came up to the Elite 1 championship where we have been playing, this is our second year that we are at the pinnacle of the championship. It is a dream that I had at the very beginning and I am very happy that in a short time we have grown through the ranks and we are where we are now.

The dream does not stop here, the motivation is still there, and we fill that we can still do more. We have to do everything possible to confirm our position next year. We want to be a household name in Cameroonian football, we want to be there, take part in African competitions on a more regular basis. That is the motivation, that is the dream I have, and I think with the support of the fans, management, players we may achieve a lot in the years to come. 

Reporter: President any last word?

PWD President Pascal Abunde: I want to use this opportunity to thank all the fans of PWD in Cameroon, in the Diaspora, the sympathizers of this club, local authorities where we are based, the management of this club (the board of directors) who have put their trust in me for this project to be fruitful. I thank the players, the staff, everybody who has played a role most especially the press; they have been impeccable for this period of time projecting our darling club to the limelight. I call on everyone to continue in the same spirit, and if we do that the sky is never going to be our limit and this is just the beginning, there are better things, and days to come. 

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COVID-19: Traumatized Cameroonians Stranded in Kuwait Plead to be brought back home
May 25, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Cameroon government repatriated some 139 of its citizens stranded in Dubai due to the coronavirus pandemic

Cameroonians stranded in Kuwait, a country in western Asia, situated in the Northern edge of Eastern Arabia at the tip of the Persia Gulf, have called on their government to look into their plight and repatriate them back home as the number of coronavirus in Kuwait continues to soar.

A video circulated on Facebook shows the poor living condition in which some Cameroonians living in Kuwait are going through. In the video, though the location of the Cameroonians cannot be ascertained by this reporter, as many as 11 women can be seen in a room (looks like a hospital with beds), with some on the floor.

Since the first case of the Coronavirus pandemic was first announced in Kuwait on 24 February 2020, the country as at May 24 had 21,302 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with the recovery of 6,117 cases and 156 deaths.

The Kuwait government has launched a repatriation exercise according to one of the stranded Cameroonians in Kuwait, speaking in a recorded video on Facebook. They (Cameroonians) have been allowed to go back to their homeland and other countries have repatriated their nationals from Kuwait. This largess that has been offered to the Cameroonians has been in place for the past one month now. “We are tired of waiting,” one of the stranded Cameroonians cried out loud.

The Cameroonians have asked immigration police in Kuwait why they can’t leave the country and what they have been told is that their government (Cameroon) has not given the green light for them to live.

Members of Cameroon, government officials, (President) Paul Biya, why are we still lagging in Kuwait,” the stranded Cameroonians in Kuwait questioned.

“We plead for return as no father will want to leave their children out of the house. Kuwait has granted us repatriation and the Cameroon government should evacuate from Kuwait.”

“We are pleading!!! “Papa Paul Biya we are pleading, help us!! “We di beg you!!! “No, abandon your pikin them!!! “We want to return!!! Many could be heard crying.

Since Cameroon closed its borders to the outside world on March 18, 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic, two exercises have been organized by the government to bring its citizens residing out of the country back home.

Within the framework to repatriate Cameroonians blocked abroad, on May 9, 139 Cameroonians who were stranded in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates were brought home onboard an Ethiopian airline flight, according to the country’s Ministry of External Relations.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led many countries to close their borders to other countries
The COVID-19 pandemic has led many countries to close their borders to other countries

From May 8-11, Cameroonians stranded in various parts of the world such as Toronto, Washington, Paris, Dakar, Tunisia, Libreville were flown back to the country.

Over 1,200 Cameroonians have been repatriated back to the country through negotiations with countries that have exceptional landing rights with 626 Cameroonians earmarked to be repatriated within this current repatriation programme, the country’s national broadcaster reported.

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Burundi :Gen Ndayishimiye is new President
May 25, 2020 | 0 Comments
General Evariste Ndayishimiye of the ruling CNN-FDD party won presidential elections that were held last week (AP Photo/Berthier Mugiraneza)
General Evariste Ndayishimiye of the ruling CNN-FDD party won presidential elections that were held last week (AP Photo/Berthier Mugiraneza)

The Electoral commission in Burundi has ,  announced that General Evariste Ndayishimiye of the ruling CNN-FDD party won presidential elections that were held last week.

Provisional results show that the 52 old Ndayishimiye, will replace Pierre Nkurunziza who has been in power since 2005.

Ndayishimiye emerged first among seven candidates with 68.72% of the votes, followed by a long time opposition figure, Agathon Rwasa of CNL who got 24.19 %.

Results of parliamentary elections, the ruling party CNDD-FDD scooped 72 seats with 68 % of the votes, CNL got 22.43 % while UPRONA came at third place .

Some observers witnessed violence towards opposition members during recent Burundian elections, where hundreds of CNL supporters were jailed and abused.

Born in Gitega province, the same region as President Nkurunziza, Ndayishimiye has been serving as Secretary General of CNDD-FDD since 2016.

Ndayishimiye is an early recruit of CNDD FDD army wing, a party that was founded in 1994, a year after the assassination of President Melchior Ndadaye, the first president of Burundi democratically elected.

He served in various positions in Burundian army , like being appointed as Chief of Military Logistics, Military Assistant to Nkurunziza , Minister of interior among others.

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The African Development Bank: Tolling Bells for Humanity
May 25, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Cesar A. MBA ABOGO*

Cesar A. MBA ABOGO
Cesar A. MBA ABOGO

COVID-19 is severely testing Africa’s social, economic and political resilience. While it is true that our countries are taking bold actions to slow down and contain the spread of the virus, it is also undeniable that recession looms in our continent. 

The Central African sub region is one of the areas most exposed to an economic recession. We face a double danger. On the one hand, we are fighting COVID19 with a scarcity of financial resources and fragile health systems. On the other hand, we are trying to mitigate the adverse economic effects of this pandemic, and safeguard our economies – especially those extremely dependent on revenues from natural resources.

It is not a secret that the most affected countries in Central Africa are Sao Tomé and Equatorial Guinea. In terms of the impact on the economy, we have been punched by COVID19 like no other country.

COVID19 is an unprecedented challenge. But crisis moments also present opportunities. I frankly believe that COVID-19 could inadvertently spark a better future for Africa.

For that to happen we need Africa’s flagship development institution, the African Development Bank, to be stronger than ever, as it is the primary duty of the institution* to assist Africa at this critical time.

We therefore salute the AfDB’s bold response and its commitment to assist our countries by creating a $10 billion COVID-19 Response Facility to help cushion the economic and social impacts of the pandemic in regional member countries.

We are certainly satisfied with the Bank’s performance and the visionary leadership of its President, Dr Akinwumi Adesina.

I would like to commend the credible and exhaustive work of the  Bank’s Board-constituted Ethics Committee’s chaired by the  Honorable Takuji Yano. The Committee’s report referencing sixteen allegations by whistle-blowers against Dr. Adesina and other executives of the Bank, unequivocally stated that “these allegations are not valid and should be rejected”.

With regard to the whistle-blower’s rejection of the conclusions of the Ethics Committee, we express our deep concern about how this not only undermines and affects Dr. Adesina’s credibility but is also contributing to the erosion of the bank’s credibility, especially the strength of its internal institutions.

We believe that this is just the opposite of what humanity needs at this time when we are facing an unprecedented crisis. We therefore echo the call by the Chair of the Board of Governors, Honourable Niale Kaba, for “restoring peace and serenity within the Bank.”

In conclusion, and as a testimony of my support for Dr. Adesina and all the Bank executives who have personally and adversely affected by this situation and unfounded allegations, a few verses penned by John Donne (and popularized by Hemingway) come to mind.

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”

Today in the African Development Bank, the bells toll not for Dr. Adesina but for Africa … for humanity.

* Cesar A. Mba ABOGO is Minister of Finance, Economy and Planning of Equatorial Guinea

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