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Activists in Dakar Demand End to Colonial-era Currency
September 19, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Sofia Christensen*

FILE - CFA franc banknotes by the Central Bank of West African States are seen in N'djamena, Chad, April 9, 2016.

FILE – CFA franc banknotes by the Central Bank of West African States are seen in N’djamena, Chad, April 9, 2016.

Protesters gathered in several West African capitals Saturday to demand their countries abandon the CFA franc in favor of a common African currency. Passions over the issue have been reignited since Senegal arrested and expelled an activist for burning a CFA bill at a rally last month.

The PanAfrican Emergencies group called for the protest. Senegal recently expelled the movement’s founder, French-Beninese activist Kemi Seba, after he burned a 5,000 CFA note during a rally in Dakar in August.

France created the CFA in the 1940s for its African colonies. The CFA is pegged to the euro and guaranteed by national currency reserves deposited with the French treasury. Senegal is one of 14 countries in West and Central Africa’s two monetary unions still using the CFA.

At Dakar’s bustling Marche Tilene, many traders are interested in the debate, though the arguments remain more emotional than economic.

“It is not an African currency, so we consider it a Nazi currency imposed by our colonizer,” said trader Adama Badiane.

Shop owner Mariama Seydi also favors a new currency.

“I would like Senegal to have its own currency,” she said. “In the same way as we used to talk about the French franc, I would like us to say the Senegalese franc.”

Moudou Gaye, the head of Marche Tilene, agrees.

“We are Africans. We need to get organized and mobilized for a single currency,” Gaye said.

Advocates of the CFA say it has prevented inflation and instability. They point to the experiences of neighbors like Guinea and Nigeria as cautionary tales of going it alone. But critics argue the currency is too strong and stifles economic growth. Regional trade has expanded outside the eurozone to partners like China and the United States.

“When you have a currency fixed to a strong currency like the euro, it is easy to import. But when you want to export, your products cannot compete with other foreign countries,” said Ndongo Samab Sylla, an economist at Rosa Luxemburg Foundation.

Countries using the CFA are free to abandon it, but none of the 14 governments has announced any such intention. And for onlookers at this latest anti-CFA protest, this may be for the best.

“I do not blame them. Everyone has their way of thinking. But we will go nowhere if Senegal creates its own currency and leaves the CFA,” said Ahmadou Bamba Badiane, while watching the protest.

For now, the debate continues. But in the past year, the presidents of Senegal and Ivory Coast have publicly reaffirmed their support for the CFA, making it unlikely it will disappear any time soon.

*VOA

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Ambitious Road map in the works after Marrakech African Women in Agriculture (AWA)” Conference
September 19, 2017 | 0 Comments

African Women in Agriculture

“AWA”

Marrakech September 13, 2017

Radisson Blu Hotel

The Marrakech Declaration

 

Angelle Kwemo of Believe in Africa with the Wali of Marrakech during the Conference

Angelle Kwemo of Believe in Africa with the Wali of Marrakech during the Conference

We, the women attending the ”Believe in Africa – African Women in Agriculture (AWA)” Conference held in Marrakech on 11-13th September 2017 at the Radisson Blu Hotel.

We express our deep gratitude to His Royal Majesty, King Mohammed VI for his strong leadership in advancing the African continent’s economic development and his special attention to women.

We hereby make this declaration:

We thank Madam Mbarka Bouaida, Secrétaire d’Etat au près du Ministre de l’Agriculture Chargé de la Pêche Maritime for her leadership and commitment to women empowerment;

We thank H.E. John Dramani Mahama, Former President of The Republic of Ghana for his encouragement and unwavering support to women empowerment and specifically in the agricultural sector;

We express to the Ministry of Solidarity, Women, Family and Social Development our willingness to strengthen our collaboration;

We thank M. Abdelfateh Bjioui, WALI of Marrakech region – Safi for his hospitality and support;

We thank the leadership of Office Chérifien des phosphates Group (OCP Group) For their support to women empowerment in the agricultural sector;

We thank the Moroccan Agency for Social Development for their support to women specifically for revenues generating activities

We thank UN Women and US Africa Development Foundation for their support women particularly in Burkina Faso, Senegal and Mali;

After two days of deliberations resolved as follows:

 

  • To establish an “Believe in Africa” Chapter in Africa;
  • To create “African Women in Agriculture” initiatives (AWA).
  • To institutionalize the annual “Believe in Africa African Women in Agriculture congress;
  • Urge all stakeholders to:
    • Create The “African Award for Media in Agriculture and Sustainable Development” to encourage media to promote African women in Agriculture image;
    • Establish an “African Traditional Rulers Award” to encourage African traditional rulers to supporting women access to land;
    • Establish an ”International Day of African

Women in Agriculture” with the aim of:

  • Highlighting and increasing visibility of women’s role in agriculture and sustainable development
  • Rebranding the image of women in agriculture;
    • Launch the “One Roof = One Garden” initiative to promote food self sufficiency, to enhance youth and women job creation in urban areas and promote urban agriculture;
    • Find creative ways to raise and mobilize funding to support African women in agriculture’ access to credit, finance services and business development services.
    • Enhance competitiveness for African women in agriculture by guiding on ways to promote value added products, facilitating market access through proper labeling, safety, marketing and branding;
    • Provide guidance to women on ways to improve safety and quality assurance measures with a view to gaining access to global markets;
    • Advocate and search for an organization that will lead and support an African Certification and labeling structure, internationally recognized.
    • Invest in capacity building programs for women along the entire agricultural value chain;
    • Advise women on ways to have access to land ownership.
    • Increase the use of mechanization and appropriate biotechnology for women in agriculture;
    • Support women to access up to date information on agribusiness, technology and international best practices;
    • Extend all agricultural incentives to women in Art and Handicraft.

 

Signed by Angelle Kwemo, Founder and President Believe in Africa

Approved by women attending African Women in Agriculture conference representing different nationalities (Cameroon, Morocco, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Congo, Kenya, Chad, Guinea Bisau, Senegal, Mali, Cape Verde)

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Official launch of NEPAD’s 5% Agenda initiative for infrastructure financing in Africa
September 19, 2017 | 0 Comments
Bridging Africa’s $68bn infrastructure finance gap
 Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, NEPAD Chief Executive Officer

Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, NEPAD Chief Executive Officer

NEW YORK, United States of America, September 18, 2017/ — The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) (www.NEPAD.org) – African Union’s economic development programme gathered international investors and CEO-level business leaders at the NASDAQ Stock Market today, 18th September, for the launch of its 5% Agenda campaign.

The launch took place five years after a January 2012 African Union Summit adopted the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) which sets out 51 cross-border infrastructure programmes and more than 400 actionable projects in four sectors.

According to the World Bank, the continent needs to spend $93 billion annually (44% for energy; 23% for water and sanitation; 20% for transport; 10% for ICTs; and 3% for irrigation) until 2020 to bridge its infrastructure gap, which is currently removing an estimated 2% of GDP growth every year. On the other hand, Africa only managed to close 158 project finance deals with debt totalling $59 billion over the decade 2004-2013, which represents only 5 percent of infrastructure investment needs and 12 percent of the actual financial flows.[1]

The 5% Agenda campaign highlights that only a collaborative public-private approach can efficiently tackle these issues and calls for allocations of institutional investors to African infrastructure to be increased to the declared 5% mark.

Speaking at the launch event in New York, Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, NEPAD Chief Executive Officer, commented: “Infrastructure plays a leading role in supporting growth on the continent. At the same time, it can represent an innovative and attractive asset class for institutional investors with long-term liabilities. By launching the 5% campaign in New York today, we invite investors to take advantage of the wide-ranging opportunities Africa has to offer and to move forward with what can only be a win-win partnership”.

The launch of the campaign gathered high-level international investors and business leaders, including members of the PIDA Continental Business Network (CBN) which is spearheaded by NEPAD and constitutes a CEO-level private sector infrastructure leaders dialogue platform on PIDA.

Tony O. Elumelu, one of Africa’s most prominent entrepreneurs and active participant in the CBN said: “Africa is getting stronger every day with new business opportunities and innovative ideas but what is still crucially missing is project implementation. A coherent and coordinated approach is needed to mobilize institutional investors while limiting their risk exposure. African governments need to work on creating conducive environments to attract these investments which are so vital for the continent’s growth and development.”

According to a 2016 McKinsey report, institutional investors and banks have $120 trillion in assets that could partially support infrastructure projects.[2]

Now more than ever, Africa needs to tap into this available. As banks face additional regulatory challenges and as governments have limited fiscal space, it is becoming increasingly urgent to unlock additional flows from long-term institutional investors such as insurers, pension funds, and sovereign wealth funds.

For pension and sovereign wealth funds to be able to invest in large-scale infrastructure projects in Africa, a variety of issues need to be addressed to strategically and intentionally facilitate long-term allocations. Chief amongst these matters is the need to reform national and regional regulatory frameworks that guide institutional investment in Africa. Likewise, new capital market products need to be developed that can effectively de-risk credit and hence, allow these African asset owners to allocate finance to African infrastructure as an investable asset class to their portfolio.

All these issues are at the heart of the 5% Agenda roadmap, which is the backbone of NEPAD’s campaign and is foreseen to have the following impact:

  1. Unlocking notable and measurable pools of needed capital to implement regional and domestic infrastructure projects on the continent.
  2. Broadening and deepening the currently very shallow African capital markets, whilst at the same time contributing significantly to regional integration and job creation.
  3. Promoting the development of innovative capital market products that are specific to the continent’s challenges and potential in regards to infrastructure development.
  4. Raising the investment interest of other institutional and non-institutional financiers that so far have been hesitant to include African infrastructure projects as an asset to their investment portfolio based on specific, concrete next steps and project suggestions.
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Nigeria’s Boko Haram crisis: Zannah Mustapha wins UN award
September 19, 2017 | 0 Comments
Zannah Mustapha

Zannah Mustapha

A teacher who takes in orphans of both Islamist fighters and Nigerian army soldiers has won this year’s UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award.

“They are the best of friends,” Zannah Mustapha says of his pupils. “This should be a template for world peace.”

Mr Mustapha is the founder of one of the few remaining primary schools in Nigeria’s troubled city of Maiduguri.

He also negotiated the release of 82 so-called Chibok girls, kidnapped by Boko Haram.

A former barrister, Mr Mustapha played a crucial role mediating between the Nigerian government and the Islamists for the release of the abducted schoolgirls.

More than 100 of the 276 girls kidnapped from their school in Chibok in 2014 are still unaccounted for, and are presumed to still be in the custody of Boko Haram.

At Future Prowess Islamic Foundation School, the volunteer teacher provides the students with a free education, as well as free meals, uniforms and healthcare.

“We have the largest number of girls in school in the whole of region,” Mr Mustapha told the BBC’s Newsday programme.

He added that the children of a “senior member of the insurgents” were studying there.

The UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award honours those who give “extraordinary service to the forcibly displaced”.

Previous winners include Graça Machel, Luciano Pavarotti and Eleanor Roosevelt.

“Education is one of the most powerful tools for helping refugee children overcome the horrors of violence and forced displacement,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

“The work [Mr] Mustapha and his team are doing is of the utmost importance.”

Mr Mustapha will be presented with his award at ceremony in the Swiss city of Geneva on 2 October.

*BBC

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Africa50 Gains Guinea and Democratic Republic of Congo as Shareholders; Highlights Strategy and Investment Pipeline
September 13, 2017 | 0 Comments
DAKAR, Senegal,12 September 2017, -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Africa50, the pan-African infrastructure investment platform, held its third Shareholder Meeting in Dakar on Tuesday, September 12. President Macky Sall of Senegal welcomed the delegates. African Development Bank Group President and Chairman of the Board of Africa50, Akinwumi Adesina, gave a feature address, and Africa50 CEO Alan Ebobisse provided updates on the Fund’s investment pipeline and strategy. They were joined by finance ministers, senior officials, and ambassadors from the 23 shareholder countries and members of the business community.

In his remarks, President Sall expressed his strong support for Africa50’s mission to catalyse private sector investment, from within and outside Africa, in infrastructure in Africa, since public resources are not sufficient. Outlining Senegal’s success, he stressed that governments must improve the business climate and create an environment conducive to private investment in infrastructure, including the regulatory environment for public private partnerships. Stating that “Africa is open for business”, he stressed that the continent has defined its priorities through initiatives such as PISA, and can use Africa50 as an important new instrument. He said, “I encourage all African countries to join this fund, which is ours, to fill our infrastructure funding gap.”

Africa50 Chairman Adesina, reiterated the need for private investment to close the large infrastructure funding gap in Africa, citing growing investor interest. Looking ahead to 2025 and a projected annual funding gap of $30-40 billion, financing African infrastructure will require a balance between development finance, which can fund and de-risk early stage financing, and long-term institutional investment which can quickly narrow the funding gap. Africa50, he said, was designed by the AfDB to help blend public and private finance, and through its project development division, build up the pipeline of “bankable” projects and facilitate public private partnerships. He commended the Africa50 leadership for ramping up operations, hiring top-notch staff and consultants, and naming a respected Investment Committee. The AfDB, he assured the audience, will continue to work closely with Africa50, especially to increase access to power. Chairman Adesina also officially welcomed two new Africa50 shareholders, Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo. (Note: Since the last Shareholders Meeting in July 2016 Tunisia has also joined.)

Thanking Chairman Adesina and President Sall for their presence and support, Africa50 CEO Alain Ebobisse, stressed the importance of the private sector to fill the infrastructure financing gap. He cited three success factors for Africa50’s mission: the strong support of the AfDB and the shareholders, the competence and experience of Africa50’s staff, and the quality of projects, which focus on being commercially viable while having a strong development impact.

In a video presentation that opened the event, Mr. Ebobisse and senior Africa50 staff further outlined Africa50’s comparative advantage for financing infrastructure in Africa. Specifically:
*    Through its close relationship with shareholders and African governments Africa50 can mitigate country risk through high-level public-sector engagement and by leveraging AfDB’s support.
*    Through its project development activities and ongoing dialogues with shareholder governments Africa50 can generate a strong deal flow to attract infrastructure investors.
*    By upholding international best-practice Environmental, Social, and Governance standards, Africa50 can help assure the long-term viability of projects.
*    And, finally, by building an experienced leadership and investment team with a demonstrated track record of successful deal-making on the continent, Africa50 will inspire confidence and catalyse more private investments in infrastructure.

 
Africa50 is an infrastructure investment platform that contributes to the continent’s growth by developing and investing in bankable projects, catalyzing public sector capital, and mobilizing private sector funding, with differentiated financial returns and impact.
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IGD Fall Frontier 100 Forum to Convene African and Global Business Leaders, Investors to Drive Action on Increasing U.S. Investment in Africa
September 12, 2017 | 0 Comments
  • African Development Bank and African Export-Import Bank (Afeximbank) will serve as Collaborating Partners for the IGD Fall Forum

  • Forum to host the Africa investor (Ai) Development Finance-Institutional Investor Roundtable

  • Fireside Chat with a top U.S. government official and Congressional Roundtable on Capitol Hill to focus on shaping U.S.-Africa trade and economic policy 

IGD''s Mima Nedelcovych in audience with Burkina Faso's President  Roch M. C. KABORE

IGD”s Mima Nedelcovych in audience with Burkina Faso’s President Roch M. C. KABORE

WASHINGTON D.C. – September 12, 2017 – The Initiative for Global Development will hold its Fall Frontier 100 Forum on October 11-12, 2017, in Washington, DC, where African and global business leaders will convene to drive action on unlocking greater U.S. investment in Africa and African mid-sized companies for sustainable development and inclusive growth.

The invitation-only Fall Forum will be held on Capitol Hill and Covington law office in Washington, DC.

Under the theme “Growing the ‘Middle’: Investing in African Companies for the Continent’s Economic Transformation”, the Fall Frontier 100 Forum will bring together CEOs and senior executives from IGD’s Frontier Leader network to offer insight and scalable solutions on spurring investment opportunities to grow African companies and forge stronger business relationships between investors and African private sector leaders.

The tremendous growth of African mid-sized companies, maturation of African capital markets, bulging middle class, and steady economic growth are making the continent increasingly attractive for investment.

Yet, despite the growth opportunities, investment in the Sub-Saharan African region remains relatively low compared to other regions of the world. Private equity and principal investment capital under management in sub-Saharan Africa remain at only 0.1% of GDP, compared to approximately 1% of GDP in Western countries, cited a 2016 report by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

“African companies are the drivers of growth on the continent,” said Dr. Mima S. Nedelcovych, IGD President & CEO. “Given Africa’s rapidly evolving landscape, our Forum aims to focus on solutions and creative investment strategies to increase U.S. investment in Africa and dynamic African mid-sized companies that deliver high-returns and contribute to the continent’s economic transformation.”

The Fall Forum will host the Africa Investor (Ai) Development Finance-Institutional Investor Roundtable, which will feature a high-level dialogue led by key leaders from the Development Finance industry with counterparts from the institutional investment community. The discussion will center on new partnership strategies and vehicles available to de-risk and finance African infrastructure investment assets. African Ministers and DFI officials will offer responses to the roundtable discussion.

“African asset owners, principally pension and sovereign funds, allocate less than 1.5% of their assets under management (AUM) to infrastructure development on the continent, whilst Africa is struggling to mobilize private capital for its $50 billion plus, per annum infrastructure deficit,” commented Hubert Danso, CEO and Vice Chairman, Africa investor (Ai).  “This Ai dialogue session will build on Ai’s leadership role over the last five years, creating product and execution risk reward alignment, between institutional investors, DFI’s and Ministers of Finance, to pursue infrastructure co-investments and institutional investor public partnerships (IIPP’s),” he added.

On October 11, the Fall Forum will open with an interactive investor session led by a team from PYXERA Global that will take participants through a real-time simulation that moves from traditional investor/implementer relationships to mutually beneficial collaborations that align business goals with growth and opportunity in Africa.

A Fireside Chat with a top U.S. government official followed by a congressional roundtable on shaping U.S.-Africa trade and economic policy to improve Africa’s investment environment will be held on Capitol Hill. An evening reception, sponsored by the African Development Bank, will highlight a congressional delegation visit to West Africa.

A full-day of forum sessions on October 12, will feature keynote addresses and engaging panel sessions on “Attracting Private Equity Investments to Propel Inclusive Growth Opportunities for African Companies”“Strengthening the Value Chain: Financing Africa’s Agro-processing Industry”, and “Exploring Franchise Investment Opportunities: Win-Win for Building Africa’s Private Sector?”.

The Fall Forum will conclude with an evening reception to roll out a grassroots campaign on increasing U.S. investment in Africa. The grassroots campaign is part of IGD’s Africa Investment Rising campaign, a communications and advocacy effort aimed at changing the narrative on doing business in Africa by showcasing the continent’s business and investment potential and private sector leaders through multimedia storytelling, blogs and strategic traditional and social media outreach.

Forum sponsors, to date, include the African Development Bank and African Export-Import Bank as Collaborating Partners; Covington as Platinum Sponsor; Ex-Im Global Partners as Gold Sponsor; Clin d’Oeil Magazine as Silver Sponsor; and Africa investor as Organizational Partner.  

For more information on the Frontier 100 Forum and to register as “Media”, please click here. To become a media partner or to cover the forum, contact Shanta Bryant Gyan, Initiative for Global Development at email, sbryant@igdleaders.org  or call 202-412-4603

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New diagnostic test for human African Sleeping Sickness
September 12, 2017 | 0 Comments

A new diagnostic test developed from research at the Universities of Dundee and Cambridge has been launched with the aim of helping eliminate the disease known as African sleeping sickness.

Sleeping sickness, or Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT), is caused by parasites transmitted by tsetse flies in sub-Saharan Africa and has a devastating impact, causing thousands of deaths each year.

Today, September 12th, the international non-profit organisation FIND and the diagnostics company Alere launched their second-generation rapid diagnostic test (RDT) for sleeping sickness. This second-generation test is easier and safer to produce, using recombinant protein technology to produce the two diagnostic antigens, one of which is completely new.

The new test, SD BIOLINE HAT 2.0, costs US $0.50 each and requires no specialist equipment to diagnose sleeping sickness from a pin-prick of blood, providing the same level of accuracy but in a more robust production format.

The test has been developed from research performed in the laboratories of Professor Mike Ferguson at Dundee and Professor Mark Carrington at Cambridge, with device prototyping done at BBI Solutions in the Dundee Technology Park.

“This is a terrible disease that causes character disintegration, psychological deterioration followed by coma and death, and current treatments are far from ideal,” said Professor Carrington.

“The World Health Organisation’s goal is to eliminate HAT and rapid and accurate diagnosis is essential to achieving this objective. It is extremely encouraging for us as researchers to see our work now being deployed in the field where it can make a real difference to people.”

The work at Dundee and Cambridge was supported through separate funding streams from the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council (MRC).

Both the Dundee and Cambridge labs were supported by the Wellcome Trust at the time the research was done, and much of the work was performed by Dr Lauren Sullivan, MRC PhD student and then MRC Centenary fellow between 2008 and 2013, and Dr Mandy Crow, MRC PhD student between 2000 and 2004.

Professor Ferguson said, “Sometimes impactful work comes from side-projects where one synthesises funding streams, in this case from the MRC and the Wellcome Trust, and works across institutions and with industrial partners to do something more speculative or applied. The science underpinning this new diagnostic device is a good case in point.”

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Announcing 2017-2019 Next Einstein Forum Fellows, Africa’s top scientists solving global challenges
September 12, 2017 | 0 Comments
KIGALI, Rwanda, 12 September 2017 -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- The Next Einstein Forum (NEF) today announces its second Fellows Class, 16 scientists, all under 42 years of age, who are solving Africa’s and the world’s challenges. An initiative of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in partnership with the Robert Bosch Stiftung, the NEF will hold its second global forum for science in Kigali, Rwanda, under the patronage of H.E. President Paul Kagame.

Central to the NEF’s vision of propelling Africa onto the global scientific stage, the NEF Fellows will present their groundbreaking research at the NEF Global Gathering 2018, to be held on 26-28 March 2018, and help craft an exciting, high impact forum.

“Two years ago it was my great honor to announce the inaugural Fellows Class. Today again, I am excited to announce a brilliant NEF Fellows Class. The selected Fellows, six of whom are women, are doing cutting edge research in renewable energy, nanomaterials and nanotechnology, food security, regenerative medicine, cognitive systems related to fintech, cosmology, seismology etc. Beyond just theoretical research, our Fellows have developed impressive technologies from their research. We strongly believe their discoveries and initiatives, current and future, will solve global challenges in health, energy, climate change, education, agriculture to name a few,” said Mr. Thierry Zomahoun, President and CEO of AIMS and Chairman of the NEF.

NEF Fellows are selected by a prestigious Scientific Programme Committee using a rigorous process that looks at academic and scientific qualifications including a strong publication record, patents, awards, and independently raised funds for research. Fellows also have to demonstrate the relevance and impact of their research/innovations to society as well as a passion for raising Africa’s scientific profile and inspiring the next generation of scientific leaders.

“I would like to thank the first Fellows Class who have used their tenure to publish high impact research, multiply collaborations among young researchers globally and mentor the next generation. Their active participation in crafting the program has improved the Fellows Programme. Together with this new Fellows’ class, they join the newly launched NEF Community of Scientists, an exclusive network that offers members opportunities for consulting, grants, research collaborations, speaking opportunities and career mentorship. In return, members will participate in national and continental policy formulation, cross-cutting research and innovation activities, lead public engagement around science and technology in Africa, and provide mentorship to early-career scientists and students,” said Mr. Zomahoun.

Meet the 2017-2019 NEF Fellows:

Dr. Vinet Coetzee (South Africa) is working on affordable and non-invasive methods to screen children for nutrient deficiencies and inborn conditions, by training computer models to recognise the links between physical features and these conditions. For instance, Vinet’s team developed an affordable 3D camera at one tenth of the price of comparable commercial systems.

Dr. Abdigani Diriye (Somalia) is developing, together with his team at IBM Research Africa, new approaches to mine, model and score people, identifying the right amount of credit and appropriate products. Last year, they developed a machine learning approach that leverages new data sources (mobile phone behavior) to evaluate the financial profile and credit score of millions of people in East Africa.

Dr. Kevin Dzobo (Zimbabwe) is leading an inter-university collaboration between ICGEB/University of Cape and the University of Pretoria on developing a ‘stem cell-ECM’ bandage or patch which when fully developed can be used on injured tissue.

Dr. Jonathan Esole (DRC) introduced, while at Harvard University, a new topological invariant known as the orientifold Euler characteristic, which is now used daily by physicists working in F-theory. Jonathan also solved problems in supergravity open for more than twenty years.

Dr. Yabebal Fantaye (Ethiopia) investigates the statistical properties of the Universe using the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) data from the Planck satellite. More practically, his research focuses on developing machine learning and other advanced statistical methods for harnessing the African GIS and social Big Data for extracting actionable insights to help Africa meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Dr. Aminta Garba (Niger) is interested in finding key policies, technologies and applications relevant to the development of ICT, particularly in rural and underserved areas. As well, she is interested in methods that allow increasing the data rate of communication systems by shaping and reducing the interference.

Dr. Mamadou Kaba (Guinea) research projects led to better understanding of the risks of transmission of hepatitis E virus (HEV) from animals to humans. He is currently conducting a prospective longitudinal study on how the composition of the respiratory tract and gastrointestinal microbial communities (microbiota) influences the development of respiratory diseases in African children.

Dr. Rym Kefi (Tunisia) is mainly involved in research on human genetic disorders, genetic diversity in North Africa and the impact of consanguinity on health. As well, she is strengthening research on ancient DNA and providing genetic profiling for paternity tests and human forensic identification at Institut Pasteur de Tunis.

Dr. Aku Kwamie’s (Ghana) research is in the area of health system governance, looking at how and where within health systems decisions get made, applying complexity theory to issues of management and leadership, accountability and organizational innovation.

Dr. Justus Masa (Uganda) leads several research projects in the field of electrocatalysis and energy conversion, focused on the development of advanced low-cost catalysts and electrode materials for electrochemical energy systems, including fuel cells, electrolyzers (power to gas energy conversion), rechargeable metal-air batteries and other modern battery systems.

Dr. Sanushka Naidoo (South Africa) is dedicated to plant defense in the forest species, with an emphasis on Eucalyptus. Her research is focusing on mechanisms that can confer broad-spectrum, long lasting resistance by dissecting gene families and responses to pests and pathogens.

Dr. Maha Nasr (Egypt) focuses on advanced technologies such as nanotechnology based drug carriers and composite delivery systems. She is currently investigating the possibility of creation of novel carriers for treatment of diseases, mainly cancer and Alzheimer’s.

Dr. Sidy Ndao’s (Senegal) research group has recently developed the world’s first high temperature thermal rectifier, a building block for future High Temperature Thermal Memory and Logic Devices, i.e., thermal computer. He is also the founder of the Pan-African Robotics Competition.

Dr. Peter Ngene (Nigeria) developed a strategy which is now widely used to make complex hydride nanocomposite materials for reversible hydrogen storage applications and solid-state electrolytes for rechargeable batteries. He has also developed inexpensive eye-readable hydrogen sensors for the diagnosis of lactose intolerance via hydrogen breath test.

Dr. Tolulope Olugboji (Nigeria) builds sophisticated computer models and designs novel remote sub-surface imaging techniques to improve the understanding of the architecture and composition of the solid Earth interior.

Dr. Hamidou Tembine’s (Mali) research investigates game theory and aims to contribute significantly to existing knowledge on the interactive decision-making problems with incomplete information, and in the presence of self-regarding, other-regarding, altruistic, spiteful, risk-sensitive, and irrational agents.

Launched in 2013, the Next Einstein Forum (NEF) is an initiative of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in partnership with the Robert Bosch Stiftung. The NEF is a platform that connects science, society and policy in Africa and the rest of the world – with the goal to leverage science for human development globally. The NEF believes that Africa’s contributions to the global scientific community are critical for global progress. At the centre of NEF efforts are Africa’s young people, the driving force for Africa’s scientific renaissance. The NEF is a unique youth-driven forum. At our headline biennial scientific events, 50% of participants are 42 or younger. Far from being an ordinary science forum, the NEF Global Gatherings position science at the centre of global development efforts. The next NEF Global Gathering will be held on 26-28 March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda. In addition, through our Communities of Scientists, we showcase the contributions of Africa’s brilliant youth to Africa’s scientific emergence through its class of NEF Fellows, who are Africa’s top scientists and technologists under the age of 42, and NEF Ambassadors, who are the NEF’s 54 science and technology ambassadors on the ground.The NEF is also working together with partners such as the African Academy of Sciences, Ministers’ of Education, Science and Research across Africa, foundations and other global scientific and private sector companies, to build an African scientific identity. By bringing together key stakeholders, the NEF hopes to drive the discussion from policy to implementation by leveraging buy in and best practice results from Africa and the world. Have a look at our benchmark Dakar Declaration.

Dr. Kevin Dzobo (Zimbabwe)

Dr. Kevin Dzobo (Zimbabwe)

Finally, the NEF is telling untold stories of scientific research and innovation across the continent through our various platforms. We want to recalibrate what ‘innovation’ means in Africa. We want to make the link between science and technology, even basic sciences, to everyday life. We want the public involved in science and we have recently concluded the first coordinated Africa Science Week – an annual three to five day celebration of science and technology through coordinated science events across the continent. We believe the next Einstein will be African.

The NEF has been endorsed by the African Union Commission, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Governments of Rwanda, Senegal and South Africa, the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) and a growing number of private sector and civil society partners from across the world who are passionate about positioning Africa’s scientific community as an influential member in the global scientific community, which will ensure sustainable human development in Africa and other parts of the world.

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With new Managing Director, Ghana’s MEST scales as Pan-African incubator
September 12, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Jake Bright*

The MEST incubator has appointed Aaron Fu as its new Managing Director. This comes as the Accra based innovation hub scales up its presence across Africa.

Founded in 2008, MEST operates as a training program and seed fund for African innovators to build successful commercial tech companies.

Fu takes the helm after two years as Managing Partner at early stage VC firm Nest. He also co-founded Metta Kenya, a Nest backed space in Nairobi for tech entrepreneurs and investors. Interim MEST MD Katie Sarro will shift to Head of Partnerships and Fundraising.

Fu plans to focus on the incubator’s continued expansion. “A very big part of that is figuring out what elements we’ve rolled out in Accra that will scale to the rest of the market,” he told TechCrunch. “As the organization transitions to becoming a multi-country entity, there’s going to be some organizational changes…to make sure MEST’s impact also scales.”

The incubator currently has offices or on ground presence in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa. It actively recruits in those countries and Cote d’Ivoire. MEST is in the process of opening physical incubator spaces in multiple countries.

“We want to connect our…startups to markets, resources customers, and teams from all across Africa to make their dream of building truly pan African companies a reality,” said Fu.

MEST’s expansion comes as Africa has seen its innovation spaces grow from a handful, less than a decade ago, to over 300, by a recent GSMA tally. Many of those hubs have been shifting away from singular market focus and an over reliance on grant funding toward broader reach and more revenue from investment related activities. This year Kenya’s iHub launched its own startup fund. Nigeria’s CCHub recently launched its Diaspora Challenge to tap talent and investment outside the country.

Funded primarily by Jorn Lyseggen’s Meltwater Foundation, MEST is also transitioning toward more investment activities. Its seed fund has supported several companies that went on to raise outside capital and two―Claimsyncand messaging app Saya―have been acquired. MEST’s new MD confirmed the incubator plans to launch a VC firm in the near future, though could not provide an exact timeline.

Fu sees a broader benefit to Africa’s tech sector from MEST’s expansion. “We’d like to connect all these smaller, vibrant ecosystems across the continent to present one unified ecosystem,” he said.

And on MEST’s commitment to commercial startups. “We definitely believe in building businesses not apps,” Fu said. “By doing that you create the hero figures to inspire the next generation. That inspires capital to be unlocked across the world to invest in African tech.”

 *Tech Crunch/Yahoo

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Tony Elumelu: why Africapitalists will build a continent’s future
September 8, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Tony O. Elumelu*

Tony O. Elumelu

Tony O. Elumelu

Africa is not a single country but a continent, one that is a place of real business opportunity that the world should be alive to. I know, having built businesses that now operate in 20 African countries and through creating a programme over 10 years that is funding and mentoring 10,000 African entrepreneurs.

I have witnessed first hand the infectious enthusiasm of African entrepreneurs, and my businesses demonstrate the potential of Africa if you invest for the long term and act strategically. In 1997, I had a vision of democratising African banking, seeing financial services not only as a vehicle for financial inclusion, but as a critical enabler of cross-border trade and value creation on the African continent.

Diverging fortunes

Since the end of the commodity supercycle, growth paths in Africa have diverged. Oil-exporting countries, such as Algeria and Angola, and non-energy mineral exporters, including Botswana and Zambia, have experienced substantially weakened growth. Economic giants Nigeria and South Africa have entered recession. However, economies not based on commodities have continued to demonstrate robust expansion. Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Tanzania enjoy gross domestic product (GDP) growth rates of 6% and above.

This diversity teaches us the important lesson that Africa should not be treated as a single economic unit and also shows how governments must create the enabling environment that will allow the private sector to act as the engine of economic and social growth.

The economic progress of the latter countries is unsurprising. Their growth is a result of patient investment in infrastructure to grow the real sector of the economy, and a sustained focus on institutionalising that enabling environment – with business incentives, transparency, safety and policy stability – to allow the private sector to flourish. These factors foster the growth of local value creation, which resolves Africa’s historical over-reliance on raw material and commodity exports that leave their economies susceptible to cyclical boom and bust.

In 2015, Ethiopia launched a light rail project in Addis Ababa, the first metro service in sub-Saharan Africa. As it is now building a $5bn Grand Renaissance dam with a generation capacity of 6000 megawatts and a projected $1bn in revenues from electricity sales, the World Bank recently named it as the world’s fastest growing country. Ethiopia’s big investments in infrastructure have resulted in pay-offs, including double-digit economic growth (averaging 10.8% since 2005).

Tanzania has also made significant investments in infrastructure – particularly in power – strengthening its manufacturing and construction sectors. Construction alone accounted for 13.6% of GDP in 2015, further fuelled by investments in transport and port developments.

The diversity of economic outcomes on the continent illustrates my belief that three interdependent ‘pillars’ for economic and job growth are required: policy reform and a commitment to the rule of law; investment in infrastructure; and a commitment to developing Africa’s manufacturing and processing industries. All three pillars reinforce each other, help to unleash the African private sector and increase both foreign and local investment.

Private sector importance

I firmly believe that only a developed and well-capacitated private sector can unlock economic prosperity and widespread opportunity in Africa. To advance bottom-up economic development, and create jobs and employment for Africa’s exploding population, the private sector must flourish, with a focus on supporting entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). After all, governments and corporates alone cannot create the millions of jobs that the continent desperately needs; only small businesses can.

The best-performing countries on the continent are those that have keenly supported entrepreneurship and enhanced the business climate. The Rwanda Development Board, created to boost entrepreneurship and grow the private sector, has been effective in increasing investor interest in the country. The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report now ranks Rwanda second in Africa, as a result of its reforms that have reduced administrative and operating costs for all businesses via streamlined licensing and permitting processes; reduced tariffs; and ease in registering a new business, accessing credit and paying taxes.

In Côte d’Ivoire, improvements to the business environment continue to attract investment. For example, a reduction in government bureaucracy now allows new businesses to be registered within 24 hours. Tax waivers, exemptions and a 40% cut in custom duties have spurred new investments. The Mauritian government has launched an ambitious SME scheme backed by a bank focused on SMEs with a capitalisation of Rs10bn ($751.6m) over the next five years. The goal is to become a “nation of entrepreneurs”.

It is encouraging to see Africa’s public sector recognise that Africa’s future will be determined not simply by economic growth, but by how successful we are in creating accessible pathways to economic prosperity for all Africans everywhere. It is in those communities where opportunities are the most scarce that social issues are most prevalent. Given the recent commodity crash and subsequent shortfalls in government budgets across the continent, these massive investments in infrastructure and structures to support entrepreneurs may be unfeasible. This calls for a new approach to development assistance.

Partners for the long term

Development partners must be willing to: work side by side with African countries to invest for the long term in critical sectors of the economy such as manufacturing and processing; lend technical support in policy conceptualisation; and finance infrastructure projects such as ports and roads – efforts that will create broad-based prosperity. Assistance in this manner will radically transform the economy and launch it on the path of sustainable development.

In mid-June, German chancellor Angela Merkel met African leaders ahead of the July G20 summit to discuss the ‘Compact with Africa’, an initiative to boost private investment in Africa, improve infrastructure and tackle unemployment. Emphasising the importance of this different style of partnership, Ms Merkel said: “Positive development in the world will not work unless all continents participate. We need an initiative that does not talk about Africa, but with Africa.” This has been backed up by €300m agreement with Tunisia, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana as part of the recently announced Marshall plan.

Germany’s Marshall plan for Africa seeks to support the continent in areas of economic activity, trade and development; peace and security; and democracy, the rule of law and human rights. It is hoped that the plan will accelerate the growth of the African private sector – including entrepreneurs – to make companies more competitive, and to enhance their ability to scale and create formal wage-earning jobs. It also strives to bridge Africa’s $93bn-a-year infrastructure deficit, the major roadblock in its path to prosperity.

I support this reimagined and innovative approach to development. I applaud the well-meaning plans to forge stronger trading ties and cross-border commercial relationships, to support African entrepreneurs, to commit to more technical and knowledge support programmes. Above all, I commend this recognition – though belated – of Africans as befitting partners, capable of working alongside Western governments and corporates to generate new wealth opportunities on the continent.

For me, this goes beyond mere talk. The Tony Elumelu Foundation has committed $100m to support African entrepreneurs, based on our belief in their potential and capacity to develop homegrown solutions to solve the continent’s seemingly intractable economic problems.

My passion for entrepreneurship is rooted in the economic philosophy of ‘Africapitalism’, a term that I coined to emphasise the role Africa’s private sector must play in the socioeconomic transformation of our continent. Africapitalism calls on the private sector – including African entrepreneurs – to make long-term investments in strategic sectors to create both economic profit and social prosperity.

To empower African entrepreneurs to take on this responsibility to transform Africa, the Tony Elumelu Foundation has committed $100m over the next 10 years to funding, mentoring and training 10,000 entrepreneurs whose businesses will create 1 million jobs and generate $10bn dollars in revenue.

An alternative capitalism

At the heart of Africapitalism is the recognition that the private sector is the main driver of growth in any economy. This confers on businesses a critical responsibility and a commitment to prioritise not economic profits alone but social wealth and broad-based prosperity. Africapitalism advocates the need to enable the private sector to take on a more active role in addressing economic imbalances in society. It improves upon the traditional model of capitalism that centres on extractive short-term gains and instead promotes a refined approach that invests for the long term in strategic sectors for both economic and social wealth.

Africapitalism puts people first and identifies entrepreneurship as the solution to Africa’s biggest threats: unemployment and lack of economic hope. Africapitalism advocates for the empowerment of entrepreneurs to enhance job creation. Only small businesses – not governments, not corporates – can create the millions of jobs needed to leverage our youth demographic dividend to guarantee an economic transformation.

The significant political and economic changes today – the backlash against globalisation, anxiety over lost jobs, political upheavals, deepening inequality – reinforce the urgency around rethinking capitalism as historically practised. Africapitalism offers a compelling alternative to modern-day capitalism, and when embraced will douse societal tensions, create new social wealth, inspire renewed public confidence in business, and make our world much fairer. Businesses will be the better for it as bottom lines benefit when there is peace, stability and prosperity.

It is true that Africa needs partners, but more critically, we need Africapitalist partners.

*This article was originally published on The Banker.Tony Elumelu is Chairman at Heirs Holdings.

 

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THE U.S. AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION INVESTS IN 35 YOUNG AFRICAN ENTREPRENEURS
September 7, 2017 | 0 Comments

WASHINGTON, DC – September 6, 2017– The U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) is pleased to announce $375,000 in seed capital funding to 35 young African social entrepreneurs for social and community change in 20 sub-Saharan countries in Africa.

Winners were selected from the 2017 Mandela Washington Fellowship program, as part of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). By pairing seed capital with technical assistance, USADF is empowering young entrepreneurs who are leading the charge in investing in Africa’s economic growth. Each entrepreneur will receive up to $25,000 in start-up capital to strengthen systems that will support the growth of their enterprises – ranging from agribusiness and healthcare services, to renewable energy, waste management and technology. C.D. Glin, President & CEO of USADF says, “These young people represent the best and brightest of Africa’s future business leaders and social entrepreneurs.”

With USADF seed capital and technical assistance, these social entrepreneurs are creating jobs, training and employing other youth, and creating or expanding markets by providing goods and services. They are also working to find new and innovative ways to improve their communities and create economic growth opportunities.

Delia Diabangouaya, CEO of Chocotogo, says, “I am building my business to produce top-quality chocolate and support smallholder cocoa farmers. With this grant, I am hoping to have a lasting impact in my community.” Chocotogo is an artisan chocolate company based in Togo that sources cocoa from rural farmers. With USADF funding, Delia aims to transform the cocoa value chain to benefit over 100 local smallholder farmers and produce high-quality, artisan chocolates.

Entrepreneurs like Chioma Ukonu are finding new ways to manage waste and protect the environment in busy cities like Lagos, Nigeria. Ukonu’s enterprise, Recycle Points, uses a points-based incentive model to encourage recycling in Lagos. Her business hires youth to collect waste door-to-door from subscribers, who in turn receive points redeemable for household items and cash. Ukonu says, “I wanted to find a way to incentivize people to recycle, while also starting my own business. USADF believes in empowering local entrepreneurs to find solutions affecting their communities.”

As Mandela Washington Fellows, these young entrepreneurs have all demonstrated leadership in business, the ability to work cooperatively in diverse groups, and are strong communicators actively engaged in making a difference. They are the future leaders committed to catalyzing change in their communities, countries, and Africa’s growth. USADF’s goal is to catalyze young Africans ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit to launch and expand their social enterprises so every African may be a part of Africa’s growth story. Since 2014, USADF has awarded over $3M to over 150 young entrepreneurs in over 30 countries.

 

About USADF

The U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) is an independent U.S. Government agency established by Congress to support and invest in African owned and led enterprises which improve lives and livelihoods in poor and vulnerable communities in Africa. For more information, visit www.usadf.gov
About the Mandela Washington Fellowship

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, begun in 2014, is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) that empowers young people through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking. In 2017, the Fellowship provides 1,000 outstanding young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa with the opportunity to hone their skills at a U.S. college or university with support for professional development after they return home. For more information, visit www.yali.state.gov/washington-fellowship.

For the official press release, click here.

List of USADF 2017 Mandela Washington Fellows Winners: 

·         Koketso Leshope, Botswana, Ma-Tla-Long

·         Malick Lingani, Burkina Faso, Magic Touch

·         Narcisse Parfait, Cameroon, Agri-Invest

·         Flavien Simo, Cameroon, Save Our Agriculture

·         Henry Foretia, Cameroon, Ets. Henry Et Freres

·         Rock Klahadoum, Chad, First Business Center

·         Yannick Rudahindwa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cedya Systems

·         Joel Mayimbi, Democratic Republic of Congo, First Tech RDC

·         Melaku Lemma, Ethiopia, SLM Teaching Aid Materials

·         Ama Duncan, Ghana, Fabulous Woman Network

·         Isaac Quaidoo, Ghana, Nexlinks Company

·         Silvia Tonui, Kenya, Marigat Gold Enterprises

·         Paballo Mokoqo, Lesotho, Dust Busters Home Cleaning Service

·         Israely Andrianjafiarisaona, Madagascar, Fereau Technologie

·         Mavis Banda, Malawi, Kanjadza Acres

·         Aderonke Jaiyeola, Nigeria, Pattern Design

·         Chioma Ukonu, Nigeria, RecyclePoints

·         Usman Lawan, Nigeria, USAIFA International

·         Atinuke Lebile, Nigeria, Cato Food and Agro Allied Global Concepts

·         Ucheoma Udoha, Nigeria, Cripvision

·         Janvier Uwayezu, Rwanda, Rwanda Biosolution

·         Sylvie Sangwa, Rwanda, SYBASH

·         Papa Zongo, Senegal, Ailes Du Gaal

·         Insa Drame, Senegal, CAIF

·         Thabang Mabuza, South Africa, Ulwazi Resource Center

·         Jennifer Shigoli, Tanzania, Elea Reusable Sanitary Pads

·         Domitila Silayo, Tanzania, Mayai Poa

·         Dina Kikuli, Tanzania, H.D. Agribusiness

·         Delia Diabangouaya, Togo, Chocotogo

·         Adjo Bokon, Togo, MiabePads

·         Francis Asiimwe, Uganda, Kaaro Telehealth

·         Rodney Nganwa, Uganda, My Boda

·         Guy Mbewe, Zambia, Kukula Solar

·         Muzalema Mwanza, Zambia, Lakefarms and Fishing Lodge

·         Connie Karoro, Zimbabwe, Coco Seed Culture

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dotAfrica (.africa) the best option for Africa in cyberspace
September 7, 2017 | 0 Comments
54 countries in Africa are now united under a single, continent-wide domain name, staying true to the Oliver Tambo and Abuja Declarations of the 1990s
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, September 7, 2017/ — It is now possible to own an Internet address, or domain name, ending with .africa.

Already, more than 8000 of the continent’s and world’s biggest brands, businesses and individuals have registered for this exciting new Internet address.

Diverse organisations ranging from banks to media companies are registering .africa domain names. “Leading continental and international brands are snapping up .africa domain names because they recognise the importance of being associated with Africa’s bright future online. With many positive stories coming out of Africa, brands understand that .africa domain names are valuable virtual real estate,” says Lucky Masilela, CEO of the ZACR, the non-profit company tasked with administering the new .africa domain name on behalf of the continent.

54 countries in Africa are now united under a single, continent-wide domain name, staying true to the Oliver Tambo and Abuja Declarations of the 1990s. These written resolutions stated that ICT will be central to Africa’s future wellbeing and .africa is surely amongst the top African-led ICT initiatives of the last twenty years.

“Initiatives like .africa help harness the power of new technologies to solve old problems. .africa is unique in that it gives Africans an important sense of pride to help motivate them to achieve the very best for their continent and themselves. ZACR appeals to all Africans to take ownership of .africa, because it truly belongs to us all,” concludes Masilela.

.africa domain names are now available and anyone can register through companies listed here: http://Registry.Africa/registrars

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Unlocking Solar Capital Africa conference features first Solar Power Incubator to Unlock Potential of Energy in the Region
September 7, 2017 | 0 Comments
Phanes Group will announce the winners at Solarplaza’s event in Abidjan come October
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, September 7, 2017/ — Solaplaza’s (www.Solarplaza.com) ‘Unlocking Solar Capital Africa’ conference, an event focused on connecting solar project development and finance & investment, will be the first African event featuring a Solar Incubator program, aimed at identifying PV projects of potential in sub-Saharan Africa by providing access to funding, and commercial and technical knowledge.

The initiative, ‘The PV Solar Incubator, Your Project, Our Expertise, For a Sustainable Future,’ will be launched by Phanes Group in partnership with Solarplaza, Hogan Lovells, responsAbility, and Proparco, and invites PV developers to submit proposals for projects that are based in sub-Saharan Africa, and have a clear CSR component.

Candidates are asked to submit their proposals before October 1, 2017, via Phanes Group’s website or through the conference website. Shortlistees will be invited to pitch their projects to an expert panel at Solarplaza’s ‘Unlocking Solar Capital Africa’ conference in Ivory Coast, October 25 – 26, where the industry’s biggest players will hold extensive discussions about solutions for Africa’s solar energy funding gap.

It comes as part Unlocking Solar Capital Africa’s goal to solve Africa’s solar energy funding gap and Phanes Group’s core strategy to collaborate with Africa-focused counterparties, such as local project owners, governments, and developers on projects that seek to create a sustainable future for urban and rural communities across the sub-Saharan region.

“Clean energy has the potential to transform sub-Saharan Africa for years to come, but successfully implemented PV solar projects require a diverse mix of expertise and knowledge to bring them to financial close,” said Martin Haupts, CEO, Phanes Group. “We believe the Phanes Group Solar Incubator will leverage untapped local PV potential, and create more opportunities for local projects. Combined with our strengths in developing bankable solutions for clean, affordable energy and efforts in CSR, the incubator initiative can help to address local needs that haven’t yet been met.”

There are currently more than 620 million people in sub-Saharan Africa(www.WorldEnergyOutlook.org/africa) living without electricity, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), which works to ensure global access to reliable, affordable and clean energy.

This initiative aims to support developers not just in the funding phase, but throughout the project development and delivery phases, to ensure important, CSR-focused projects are brought to financial close. Phanes Group, along with its partners, will provide PV developers with access to a reliable partner that will support them in reaching bankability. Through an initial incubator phase, extensive mentorship, and access to the right network, this year’s candidate will have an opportunity to roll-out a sustainable energy solution in their community, as well as develop a lasting relationship with an end-to-end, integrated solar expert.

After the winning project has been announced at the ‘Unlocking Solar Capital Africa’ event, the developers will be invited to join Phanes Group for an intensive 4-day workshop at its headquarters in Dubai, UAE. This will help lay the foundations for delivering a bankable and sustainable project.

“As dreamers of a future where everybody can have access to electricity for a fair price, initiatives focused on long-term success like the Phanes Group’s Solar Incubator are always dear to our hearts,” said Edwin Koot, Solarplaza. “Renewable energy infrastructure projects result in myriad benefits. We wish participants the best in bringing forth this ripple effect to their communities, and look forward to meeting them at the ‘Unlocking Solar Capital Africa’ conference this October,” Edwin Koot added.

More about the Solar Power Incubator 

The inaugural Solar Incubator, held under the theme of ‘Your Project, Our Expertise, For a Sustainable Future’, will be supported by Solarplaza, Hogan Lovells, responsAbility, and Proparco.

The initiative aims to select and develop PV project opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa that haven’t been able to gain access to funding and necessary know-how. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is an integral part of this initiative; along with the project details a solid CSR concept must be submitted and will be further developed during the incubator phase, and implemented in parallel with execution of the PV project.

The candidate of the winning project will enter a partnership with Phanes Group and hold a long-term stake in the project, collaboratively bringing it to financial close. With the incubator, Phanes Group and its partners will provide the winner with extensive mentorship and knowledge transfer throughout the project.

The deadline to submit projects for evaluation and shortlisting ends on October 1, 2017. The final selection process will take place during a live panel session in the ‘Unlocking Solar Capital Africa’ conference in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, October 25-26, 2017, where the winner will be announced. Interested candidates can submit directly on the PV Solar Incubator Competition website at www.PhanesGroup.com/incubator or on the ‘Unlocking Solar Capital Africa’ conference website at http://Africa.unlockingsolarcapital.com/solar-incubator.

Phanes Group is an international solar energy developer, investment and asset manager, strategically headquartered out of Dubai with a local footprint in sub-Saharan Africa, through its two offices in the region’s largest economies – Nigeria and South Africa.
Phanes Group has a pipeline of 600 MW under development in Africa, with 260 MW of grid connected solar PV in Nigeria across three different projects. The first of the three to be built, in the Sokoto region, is backed by one of the Nigerian government’s 14 PPAs. In addition, the group is developing off-grid solar solutions to ensure communities across the region have access to a stable and clean energy supply.
Established in 2012, Phanes Group’s integrated approach, combining financial and engineering expertise, enables the company to deliver end-to-end solar energy solutions. The group has a growing portfolio of solar investments and developments spanning multiple geographies with a distinct focus on emerging markets, especially MENA and sub-Saharan Africa.

Unlocking Solar Capital Africa is an event entirely focused on connecting solar project development and finance & investment across the entire African solar sector (On-grid Solar, micro-grids, off-grid lighting and household electrification). Unlocking Solar Capital Africa 2017 will bring together hundreds of representatives from development banks, investment funds, solar developers, IPPs, EPCs & other solar stakeholders to engage in extensive discussions to solve Africa’s solar energy funding gap – and get projects realized.
As a professional solar event organizer, Solarplaza has hosted over 90 events in 30 countries around the world, ranging from exploratory trade missions in emerging markets to large-scale conferences with 450+ participants. Unlocking Solar Capital Africa 2017 is Solarplaza’s 8th conference on the African continent, and directly builds on our previous Unlocking Solar Capital Africa (Nairobi, Kenya) and Making Solar Bankable (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) conferences.
For more information regarding the program, attendees, and registrations, visit http://Africa.unlockingsolarcapital.com.

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“I invite you to invest in Chad” – President Idriss Deby
September 7, 2017 | 0 Comments

PARIS, France, September 7, 2017/ —

  • The president of Chad made a personal request of the international investment community to come and invest in Chad
  • This comes on the coat tail of the Chad National Development Plan 2017-2021 two-day Round Table where development partners are meeting to approve Chad’s budgetary gap of 3710 billion FCFA
Idriss Deby Itno, President of the Republic of Chad

Idriss Deby Itno, President of the Republic of Chad

As the president of the Republic of Chad I am in Paris today addressing a distinguished and talented group of international partners who will be validating the financing of the next step of Chad’s National Development Plan 2017-2021.

Not all readers know to what degree the world relies on Chad to help enforce the security and stability of central Africa and the African continent. Chad has also emerged as a global model for humaine integration of hundreds of thousands of immigrants whom we have welcomed and educated. Chad has adopted an inclusive and consensual development framework and has fostered a constructive dialogue between its administration, civil society, religious groups, parliament, and our technical and financial partners.

Aside from mobilizing resources in Paris to meet the funding requirements of our National Development Plan (over 6 billion USD), we are here to gather suggestions on how to do more in the process of reviving our growth. Chad has been doing the work needed to provide the legal and economic environment for investors to come and participate in the future. We have been improving transparency and governance; we have shown that development and protection of the environment and our natural resources go hand in hand.

Admittedly, Chad faces challenges. The global drop of oil prices has lessened our national revenues and tax base, and the absorption of immigrant populations is a costly responsibility. National and regional security is an ongoing task that requires massive resources. The financing commitments we are achieving in Paris today are essential, and are greatly appreciated, but beyond the solidarity of our partners Chad calls out to the international investment community to consider the attractiveness of Chad by accompanying us as we diversify our economy and develop our non-oil sectors. We have ripe opportunities to share.

Today, as the partners approve pledges at the Paris Round Table, I personally invite business leaders from around the world to come and invest in Chad. Your investments will not only support the development of an emerging country, the opportunities in Chad will represent handsome returns for those who join us.

With gratitude,

SEM Idriss Deby Itno
President of the Republic of Chad

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Five years on: Syngenta’s Africa ambition bearing fruit, but access to technology by small farmers remains limited
September 7, 2017 | 0 Comments
Smallholder development projects, run in partnership with industry, academia, farmer organisations, civil society and enabled by national governments and international organizations, are crucial to achieving impact at scale
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, September 6, 2017/ —

  • African market leader in agritech initiates stock-taking exercise with African partners
  • African Green Revolution Forum a “springboard” for forging more collaborations to reach more smallholders
A lead farmer checks his rice field in Senegal

A lead farmer checks his rice field in Senegal

In 2012, following the G8 in Camp David, USA, Syngenta (www.Syngenta.com) announced an ambitious ten-year growth plan for our African business. This year marks the midway point in our African growth journey. Syngenta wrote in the Wall Street Journal “the continent can be food-secure within a generation…a boon for business and humanity alike” (May 22, 2012). As we take stock, what have we achieved so far and where are the bottlenecks?

Tabitha Muthoni grows tomatoes in Utange, near Mombasa. There are more than 450 million smallholder farmers like her around the globe, most of whom have family farms of less than 2 hectares of land.

For farmers like Tabitha, increased productivity can make a big difference in their ability to support their families, send their children to school and continue investing in their fields.

Tabitha Mavuno Zaidi

Tabitha Mavuno Zaidi

Since 2016, Tabitha has been part of Mavuno Zaidi, a project by Syngenta and TechnoServe that tackles difficulties faced by potato and tomato farmers in Kenya, including access to inputs, training opportunities and post-harvest storage solutions. Farmers participating also get better linkages to local markets. “Before the program” Tabitha says, “I had tried out tomato farming but had little knowledge on the crop and its diseases, often visiting agrovets with picked leaves to explain the problems I was facing.” Now she makes $5,000 per season on her small tomato farm—an increase from $2,000—and has grown from 4 to 11 employees.

To date, Mavuno Zaidi, or “grow more” in Swahili, has helped Syngenta and TechnoServe reach over 25,000 farmers, returning an average productivity increase of 185% for those tomato farmers.

Reaching out to farmers like Tabitha is just one example of our Africa ambition.

Alexandra Brand, Syngenta’s Regional Director for Europe, Africa and Middle East, joining this week’s AGRF explains, “Our chief aim is supporting the inclusion of smallholder farmers into viable value-chains so that they produce more of what national and global markets want. We strive to transform farmer yields at scale and increase their profitability in a way that creates sustainable value.”

How does Syngenta do this exactly?

Alexandra summarizes: “Our expertise lays in bringing top-class technology and agronomic knowledge tailored to the needs of diverse growers. Recognizing that Syngenta cannot achieve these goals alone and that farmers require holistic solutions, we continue to invest in innovative partnerships. These collaborations must tackle such barriers faced by African farmers as access to inputs, inadequate financial solutions, limited produce aggregation, dysfunctional markets, skills and information gaps.”

But despite many collaborative efforts, progress is slow.

Moving Africa closer to the UN Sustainability Development Goal of “Zero Hunger” requires long-term commitment. Moreover, the food chain revolving around the smallholder remains too disjointed.

Alexandra elaborates: “We see AGRF as a springboard to build stronger partnerships with like-minded organizations who share our vision and who can complement our skills and expertise with their own.”

Smallholder development projects, run in partnership with industry, academia, farmer organisations, civil society and enabled by national governments and international organizations, are crucial to achieving impact at scale. We at Syngenta believe that only through creative and committed collaborations can farmers access the full suite of products and services they need to succeed.

Tabitha Mavuno Zaidi

Tabitha Mavuno Zaidi

Syngenta is a leading agriculture company helping to improve global food security by enabling millions of farmers to make better use of available resources. Through world class science and innovative crop solutions, our 28,000 people in over 90 countries are working to transform how crops are grown. We are committed to rescuing land from degradation, enhancing biodiversity and revitalizing rural communities.

Working across more than 50 countries in Africa and the Middle East with a team of over 3000 people, Syngenta is driving growth through local investment, capacity building and business development initiatives that aim to provide crop protection and seed technologies tailored to the specific needs of this territory’s vast potential. Our ambition is to increase large and small scale farmer’s ability to sustainably invest in agriculture, leading to dignified livelihoods and thriving rural communities.

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Africa50 to Announce its New Strategy, New Investments, and New Members at its Shareholder Meeting in Dakar on September 12
September 7, 2017 | 0 Comments

CASABLANCA, Morocco, 7 September 2017, Africa50, the pan-African infrastructure investment platform, will hold its third Shareholders Meeting in Dakar on Tuesday, September 12, at 11:00 a.m. at the King Fahd Hotel.

Hosting the first such meeting in West Africa, his Excellency Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal, will welcome the delegates. His Excellency Bruno Tshibala, Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, will also attend. Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Africa50, will give a feature address, and Africa50 CEO Alain Ebobissé will provide updates on Africa50’s most recent investments and its growing investment pipeline, as well as announcing two new country shareholders. Africa50’s 23 shareholder governments will be represented by finance ministers, senior officials, and ambassadors. Distinguished members of the business community and the Senegalese government will also attend.

Delegates will review Africa50’s 2016 activities and approve its financial statements. Africa50’s Board of Directors will present the fund’s updated investment, fund-raising and capital increase strategies.

Following the event, the media is invited to a press conference with the principals at 12:30 p.m. at the hotel conference center.

Africa50 is an infrastructure investment platform that contributes to the continent’s growth by developing and investing in bankable projects, catalyzing public sector capital, and mobilizing private sector funding, with differentiated financial returns and impact.

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ATA’s 41st Annual World Tourism Conference Showcases African Tourism
September 5, 2017 | 0 Comments
Rwandan President Paul Kagame in a hand shake with Florie Liselle of the CCA

Rwandan President Paul Kagame in a hand shake with Florie Liselle of the CCA

Kigali, Rwanda – September 5, 2017: The Africa Travel Association (ATA) hosted the 41st Annual World Tourism Conference in Kigali, Rwanda from August 28-31, 2017. The conference, which was developed to promote tourism as an engine for economic growth across Africa, was attended by H.E. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, who delivered the keynote address.

Hosted in collaboration with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), The 41st Annual World Tourism Conference attracted a select group of more than 200 public and private stakeholders in the African tourism sector including ministers of tourism, senior officials of national tourism boards from across the continent, airlines, hotels, travel agents and tour operators, as well digital platforms and service providers in the tourism industry such as TripAdvisor, Expedia, MasterCard, Tastemakers Africa, Facebook, Uber, Afro Tourism, Tourvest, and Marriott International.

In addition to President Kagame, other notable guests included Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, UNCTAD Secretary-General, Ms. Clare Akamanzi, CEO of RDB and the United States Ambassador to Rwanda, Amb. Erica Barks Ruggles.

“Rwanda, like other countries on the continent, is keen to convert our favourable demographics into economic growth and prosperity,” said President Kagame in his keynote address. “The services sector – in particular, tourism – provides some of the best opportunities.”

Tourism is already doing well in Rwanda and the country is a strong example of how tourism can boost economic growth. The tourism sector is the country’s largest foreign exchange earner and Rwanda has liberalized its visa policies, which has led to a huge growth in tourists especially from Africa. The government is also investing heavily in infrastructure including a new airport to support a growing number of tourists. President Kagame did note however, that more could still be done to grow Rwandan tourism especially by harnessing technology and the new opportunities technological innovation can bring.

“This conference is particularly important to us, because tourism plays a key role in Rwanda’s economy,” said Ms. Clare Akamanzi, CEO of RDB, who welcomed attendees to Rwanda. According to Ms. Akamanzi, Rwanda’s tourism receipts doubled between 2010 and 2016 to more than USD $400 million.

CCA President and CEO, Ms. Florie Liser focused on the unique role ATA and CCA will play in the sector’s development “Under CCA’s new vision and leadership, I would like to affirm our commitment to continuing the promotion of sustainable development of tourism to and within Africa through new initiatives,” said Ms. Liser. One of those initiatives, ATAcademy, is a platform to support capacity building and inclusive growth for tourism professionals on the continent. The second initiative, ATA Connex, will focus on increasing investments in tourism through facilitated business-to-business and business-to-government linkages.

As part of the ATAcademy initiative, ATA hosted a series of capacity building sessions at the conference. Travel agents and tour operators attended sessions focused on North American travelers and on the tourism market and sustainability. “The United States – we are pleased to say – accounts for the single largest source of tourism in Rwanda as well as the largest single bilateral foreign direct investment country,” said U.S. Ambassador Erica Barks Ruggles.

UNCTAD Secretary-General, Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, shared highlights of the recent UNCTAD report on African tourism, Economic Development in Africa Report 2017: Tourism for Transformative and Inclusive Growth. “The most startling and interesting discovery in our study is that by far, the fastest growing tourism in Africa is intra-African tourism,” said Dr, Kituyi. “Intra-African tourism is 12 months a year.” Over the last 10 years, intra-African tourism has grown from 34 percent to 44 percent of total African tourism revenues and is projected to be more than 50 percent in the next 10 years. Dr. Kituyi also emphasized a need to change Africa’s image perception and the importance of peace and security for tourism to thrive.

In less than 15 years, Africa’s travel and hospitality industries have quadrupled in size, and the continent remains one of the world’s fastest-growing tourist destinations, second only to Southeast Asia. The 41st World Tourism Conference featured more than 20 in-depth plenaries and breakout sessions with industry experts and professionals to discuss the latest trends and insights in African tourism and how best to grow the continent’s market share.

This year was the first time ATA’s Tourism Conference was hosted in Rwanda. The conference aligned with Kwita Izina, Rwanda’s annual gorilla naming ceremony, a national celebration creating awareness of the country’s efforts to protect the jewel of Rwanda’s tourism crown: the mountain gorillas and their habitat.

About the Africa Travel Association 

Established in 1975, The African Travel Association serves both the public and private sectors of the international travel and tourism industry. ATA membership comprises African governments, their tourism ministers, tourism bureaus and boards, airlines, cruise lines, hotels, resorts, front-line travel sellers and providers, tour operators and travel agents, and affiliate industries. ATA partners with the African Union Commission (AU) to promote the sustainable development of tourism to and across Africa.

About the Corporate Council on Africa

Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) is the leading U.S. business association focused solely on connecting U.S. and African business interests. CCA serves as a neutral, trusted intermediary connecting its member firms with the essential government and business leaders they need to do business and succeed in Africa.

*Courtesy of CCA

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Baker Hughes, a GE Company Awarded Second Major Contract for Eni East Africa’s Coral South FLNG
August 31, 2017 | 0 Comments
The second contract – which was awarded through the former GE Oil & Gas business – will allow BHGE to provide rotating equipment for the power and gas refrigeration process of the new FLNG facility
LONDON, United Kingdom, August 30, 2017/ —

  • Rotating equipment including aeroderivative gas turbines for power and gas refrigeration process of the new Floating Liquefied Natural Gas (FLNG) facility, the first-ever built in Africa, for Africa.
  • This is the second major contract award for Coral South FLNG project, with BHGE also providing leading subsea technologies and services for the development of Rovuma basin Area 4 gas resources. 
  • BHGE will also supply Boil-Off Gas (BOG) and booster compressors capable of operating at -180° C to re-liquefy excessive BOG evaporating out of the LNG storage tanks.
BLC centrifugal compressor

BLC centrifugal compressor

Baker Hughes, a GE company (www.BHGE.com) has announced a second major contract for Eni East Africa’s (EEA) Coral South FLNG development, offshore Mozambique, underlining the company’s position as the world’s first and only integrated fullstream provider of products, services and digital solutions that maximize productivity, efficiency and cost reduction.

The contract was awarded in 2Q this year by a joint venture formed by TechnipFMC and JGC Corporation, the lead partner in a consortium that will provide engineering, procurement, construction, installation, commissioning and start-up (EPCIC) of Coral South’s FLNG facility.

The second contract – which was awarded through the former GE Oil & Gas business-  will allow BHGE to provide rotating equipment for the power and gas refrigeration process of the new FLNG facility. The order consists of four Turbo-compression trains for mix refrigeration services, using the company’s aeroderivative gas turbine (model PGT25+G4) technology and driving its centrifugal compressors. In addition, the company will provide four Turbo-generation units, also driven by aeroderivative gas turbines (model PGT25+G4).

The components of the turbo compressor trains and turbo-generation units will be manufactured at BHGE Nuovo Pignone facility in Florence, Italy where the train will be assembled, and tested in the Massa facility, Italy.

Demonstrating the benefits for customers of BHGE’s access to the GE Store – where the company can draw technologies (such as the gas turbines derived from the Aviation business) and expertize from multiple industries – the Turbo-generation units will be equipped with electric generators provided by the GE Power Conversion business.

A third contract was also awarded to BHGE after the closing of the integration between GE Oil & Gas and Baker Hughes last July and it includes the supply of Boil-Off Gas (BOG) and booster compressors capable of operating at -180° C to re-liquefy excessive BOG evaporating out of the LNG storage tanks. In particular, BHGE boil-off gas compressor draws on extensive in-field experience and has been validated through a dedicated experimental campaign of detailed analysis and testing.

“Coral South LNG is an enormously important development for Mozambique and the region – the first new-built FLNG facility to be installed in Africa and one of only a small number in the world today,” said Rod Christie, President and CEO, Turbomachinery & Process Solutions, BHGE, “These awards further underline BHGE’s position as a fullstream provider of smart, cost-effective advanced technology and solutions to drive reliability, flexibility, efficiency and productivity for major energy developments, while building on our relationships with oil and gas operators and our technical expertise that has been a true differentiator in this project.”

The contracts won by BHGE follow an earlier award in June this year for the supply of seven xmas trees, three 2-slot manifolds with integrated distribution units, MB rigid jumpers, seven subsea wellheads with spare components, a complete topside control system to be installed on the Coral South FLNG facility, and associated Services equipment and support including IWOCS and Landing Strings, tools, spares and technical assistance for installation, commissioning and start-up.

BHGE announced on July 3rd the completion of the transaction combining GE’s oil and gas business with Baker Hughes. The new company is the first and only to bring together industry-leading equipment, services and digital solutions across the entire spectrum of oil and gas development.

The Coral South FLNG project, the first phase of EEA’s wider plan of development for the world-class gas discoveries made in the Rovuma Basin Area 4, will see the installation of an FLNG facility with a capacity of around 3.4 MTPA, fed by six subsea wells and expected to produce around 5 TCF of gas during its 25 years of production, with an anticipated start-up in mid-2022. The first ever offshore project to start producing gas in Mozambique, it will provide significant local economic benefits through job creation and support the region’s future energy needs.

EEA is the operator of Area 4, and holds 70% participation interest in the Area 4 Concession. Eni (71.43%) and CNPC (28.57%) are shareholders of EEA.

Baker Hughes, a GE company (NYSE: BHGE) is the world’s first and only fullstream provider of integrated oilfield products, services and digital solutions. We deploy minds and machines to enhance customer productivity, safety and environmental stewardship, while minimizing costs and risks at every step of the energy value chain. With operations in over 120 countries, we infuse over a century of experience with the spirit of a startup – inventing smarter ways to bring energy to the world

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Insight Into Atlas Africa: It is about Aligning Business Opportunities With Interested Parties, says CEO Lindi Gillespie.
August 31, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Lindi Gillespie is CEO of Atlas Africa

Lindi Gillespie is CEO of Atlas Africa

For Lindi Gillespie, connecting the right people to opportunities in the market place and creating viable and strategic partnerships is her passion. Leveraging her vast networks and experience garnered over a twenty year period in diverse marketing and business roles, Lindi Gillespie founded Atlas Africa, an investment and brokerage company with operational base from South Africa. The firm offers clients the opportunity to expand business prospects on a broad range of sectors across Africa and on the global stage.

As CEO of Atlas Africa, Lindi, a Graduate of the University of Cape Town has surrounded herself with a solid team of talented associates who pride themselves in providing tailor made investment brokerage services and the delivery of first class returns to their clients.

“We do our best to understand our client’s business needs and long term plans when putting together a marketing strategy for bringing their services and products into the African markets,” says Lindi, who was recently ranked amongst Africa’s top 25 Women in Leadership by Amazon Watch Magazine.

With the goal of building long term professional relationships based on honesty, integrity, and sustainable revenue generation, Atlas Africa has steadily grown its business portfolio across Africa and beyond. In addition to South Africa and the SADC sub region, Atlas has excelled in West and East Africa, and Lindi says there are a growing number of hotel deals going through in the Maldives and Europe.

“Our clients stick with us because we work hard for them and always do our very best to find the best solutions to their needs by using our International network,” says Lindi as she expresses the ambition to further grow and sustain the strong reputation of Atlas Africa when it comes to investing in the continent.

Ms Gillespie, thanks so much for accepting to grant this interview , you are CEO of Atlas Africa Group, could you start by introducing the Group for us, what does it do, and when was it created?

Atlas Africa Group was formed in December 2015 when I attended the Global African Investment Summit in London. The Atlas Africa Group finds financing for renewable energy projects internationally; but predominantly in Africa. I raise these funds from individual investors; pensions fund; renewable energy funds and private equity funds. We also focus on Projects that are property related. We are very involved in development of hotels and also the buying and selling of hotels in Africa and its surrounding islands. Other sectors of the economies in Africa are covered as well.

What motivated you to create the Group, what skill set did you have, may we also have an idea of the staff strength and profile of those who make up the Group?

The motivation to start the Group was the dire need for infrastructure development; electricity; urbanisation development and especially agriculture to feed the people of Africa. Sustainability in Africa was my core motivation – to assist with this process. My skills are mainly in marketing and in introducing people where synchronicity exists to make things happen around the continent. For example I work closely with the Swiss who have foundations to help the poor and also various funds that have budgets to help the underprivileged people in our communities. The kind of people I choose to work with are professionals who are experts in all the fields that I can’t fill! Such as accounting and office administration. I prefer face to face contact with clients; travelling for work related projects and marketing our pipeline of projects.

Lindi Gillespie and her talented associates at Atlas Africa pride themselves on offering tailor made, investment brokerage services and delivering first class returns to their clients

Lindi Gillespie and her talented associates at Atlas Africa pride themselves on offering tailor made, investment brokerage services and delivering first class returns to their clients

Let’s talk about the success stories, are there concrete examples of successful projects that have been carried out by the Atlas Group? Potential clients may be interested in knowing something about the track record of Atlas

Our success stories are mainly in renewable energy and infrastructure development. At the moment deals are being processed in the Ivory Coast and Mali. These deals are private and public projects. We also have a number of hotel deals going through in the Maldives and Europe. These deals involve International hotel brands and private equity firms. We are processing low cost housing projects in two areas of Namibia where building of houses will begin within the next few weeks.

For people interested in using the services of Atlas, what do they need to do and what additional guarantees does the Group have to assure clients of positive results?

For positive result with new clients, it is a question of what stage the project is based. For instance we have investors of Greenfield renewable energy projects but projects with all licences and a PPA is where most of the clients invest. When it comes to PPPs, countries that offer sovereign guarantees or some form of guarantees make the project more attractive to investors. For projects needing funds Atlas Africa is always open to consider these projects.

What other parts of Africa is the Group operating in besides South Africa where it is based?

Atlas Africa focuses mainly on countries of good governance. We focus on areas where is safe for workforce to complete projects. Our presence is mainly in the SADC region and various countries in East and West Africa.

How will you describe the business climate first in South Africa and on other parts of the continent where you do business?

With the downgrading of South Africa’s economic sector; there are challenges in all parts of the economy including private and public business. I focus most of Atlas Africa Group’s growth outside of South Africa. I have a number of property interests however in South Africa. Our press in South Africa is bullish which helps with addressing the corruption in the country. The corruption has affected growth in all areas of the economy and many people are taking their money out of the country; emigrating or disinvesting.

Lindi Gillespie was recently profiled as one of Africa’s Top 25 Women in Leadership by Amazon Watch Magazine, what did this mean for you?

Being chosen as one of the 25 most influential women in Africa was a huge achievement for me. It showed that the work I do in Africa counts and that I have a voice on the continent. I would like to become more involved with positive movements and change.

With Former President Thabo Mbeki and Zanele Mbeki in Johannesburg

With Former President Thabo Mbeki and Zanele Mbeki in Johannesburg

To young Africans especially the women who see in you a role model, and will want to emulate your example, what are some secrets of success that you have for them?

The secret of success for young women is to have a specific focus. The best choice is to align yourself with positive people who will support your ideas and your business growth. If you are an entrepreneur like myself ,you need to expect difficulties and challenges. This will keep you up at night but you need faith to keep going. So many deals fall through but it’s all part of being in the game of business. Try and secure finance so that you can get through the hard times when deals are taking years to come through!!

We end with a last word on the future of the Atlas Group, what next after growing it to where it is, any big plans in the years ahead to grow and improve the client base?

Our big plans and ambitions are to grow and sustain our strong reputation when it comes to investing in Africa. Our clients stick with us because we work hard for them and always do our very best to find the best solutions to their needs by using our International network.

 

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Confessions of a Boko Haram Defector
August 28, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Haruna Dauda,Salihu Garba & Dan Joseph
Boko Haram defector Bana Umar is seen at an undisclosed location. Umar agreed to be photographed on condition that his face not be shown. (H. Dauda for VOA Hausa).

Boko Haram defector Bana Umar is seen at an undisclosed location. Umar agreed to be photographed on condition that his face not be shown. (H. Dauda for VOA Hausa).

The way Bana Umar tells it, VOA and other broadcasters helped convince him to leave Boko Haram.

Until the night of August 18, Umar was a fighter for the Islamist radical group, living at a camp in the vast Sambisa Forest, one of the group’s long-time strongholds in northeastern Nigeria.

The experience was certainly exciting. Umar says he served as a bodyguard for a commander, Abu Geidam, who he describes as very close to Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram’s best known leader.

And he saw action across Nigeria’s Borno State. “I have been to war about six times,” he says. “I fought in Wulari. I fought in Bita. I participated in the fighting around Chad. I was in the group that repelled Nigerian soldiers whenever they ventured into Sambisa.”

But his conscience was just as active as his gun. When asked if what Boko Haram does is good and right, he says it is not, because the group attacks people “mercilessly and unjustly,” and in his view, manipulates Islam to its own violent ends.

FILE - This image taken from video released by Boko Haram militants in Nigeria in May 2014 shows leader Abubakar Shekau, the group's most prominent leader.

FILE – This image taken from video released by Boko Haram militants in Nigeria in May 2014 shows leader Abubakar Shekau, the group’s most prominent leader.

Radio prompted him to make an escape plan. Umar says he heard promises from the Nigerian chief of army staff, General Tukur Buratai, that defectors from Boko Haram would be welcomed, not punished. And he heard how Boko Haram’s deadly ambushes and suicide bombings were received in the outside world.

“Many of us listened to radio stations like BBC and VOA,” he says. “I listened to these radio stations frequently to the extent that when I laid down to sleep I would be thinking of what I heard. I realized that all our activities were evil. We killed. We stole. We dispossessed people of their properties in the name of religion. But what we are doing is not religion. Finally I got fed up with the group.”

Umar is now in the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, after fleeing the Boko Haram camp. He described his experiences this week in an interview with VOA Hausa Service reporter Haruna Dauda. His comments, translated from Hausa, provide insight into how the militants recruit and retain fighters and are managing to survive in the face of a multi-nation offensive.

Persuaded to join, scared to leave

Umar is 27 years old and hails from Banki, a town on Nigeria’s border with Cameroon. Until 2014, he made his living as a cell phone repairman and burning CDs.

Boko Haram militants (in camouflage) embrace and shake hands with Boko Haram prisoners, released in exchange for a group of 82 Chibok girls, who were held captive for three years by the Islamist militant group, near Kumshe, Nigeria, May 6, 2017.

Boko Haram militants (in camouflage) embrace and shake hands with Boko Haram prisoners, released in exchange for a group of 82 Chibok girls, who were held captive for three years by the Islamist militant group, near Kumshe, Nigeria, May 6, 2017.

But that year, Boko Haram overran the town. Umar says his friend, Abu Mujaheed, lured him into becoming a member of the group. All Nigerians are infidels, and only the followers of Abubakar Shekau are true Muslims, Mujaheed said. Join and you can fight to kill all the infidels.

Umar joined, but says he quickly got scared and wanted to run. He didn’t, he says, because Abu Mujaheed told him he would be killed if he tried to escape.

Asked this week if that was true, Umar said there is no doubt about it. “Even mere rumor or allegation that someone is contemplating leaving the group would lead to the killing of the person,” he says.

He says Boko Haram also discouraged defectors by telling them General Buratai’s promise of amnesty for any escapee was a ruse.

There are more than 1,000 Boko Haram members who would like to leave the group, Umar says. “There are many people that were abducted from their home towns who don’t know the way back to their places of origin. They [Boko Haram leaders] preach to such people not to leave, as if it was divine for them to be there.”

He adds: “Even some original members of the sect now want to leave because soldiers have intensified the war against them unlike in the past.”

FILE - Family members wait to claim bodies of suicide attack victims at a hospital in Konduga, outside Maiduguri, Nigeria, Aug. 16, 2017. The attack was blamed on Boko Haram militants.

FILE – Family members wait to claim bodies of suicide attack victims at a hospital in Konduga, outside Maiduguri, Nigeria, Aug. 16, 2017. The attack was blamed on Boko Haram militants.

All Boko Haram members must take new names when they join the group, and Bana Umar’s name was changed to Abu Mustapha. He says he became a fighter, not a commander. He said the militants were living in the Jimiya section of the Sambisa Forest, which, according to him, was the headquarters for Boko Haram.

At one time, he implies, living conditions were decent. In 2014, Boko Haram ruled large parts of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states, and could operate almost at will.

Now, he says, “Life is difficult. It is not what it used to be in the past. Food is difficult for everyone.”

Some militants grow their own food, he says. “But even when you farm, your leader could take all your farm produce from you in the name of religion. You are always told that your leader has rights over all you have and yourself,” he says.

Boko Haram leaders also use religion as a prod to violence, he says.

“They use religion to tell us to kill with the promise of going to paradise. Leaders quote profusely from the Quran and the sayings of the prophet [Mohammed] to support their arguments. As they explain to make us understand their own point of view as the absolute truth, we must keep saying Allah is great, Allah is great. Then we would go out to kill,” he says.

FILE - A photo shows a general view of one of the biggest camps for people displaced by Boko Haram and likeminded Islamist extremists in Maiduguri, Nigeria, Aug. 28, 2016.

FILE – A photo shows a general view of one of the biggest camps for people displaced by Boko Haram and likeminded Islamist extremists in Maiduguri, Nigeria, Aug. 28, 2016.

A call to ‘repent’

Boko Haram has killed at least 20,000 people across Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger since it launched its insurgency against the Nigerian government in 2009. Attacks and bombings continue, even though the joint task force sponsored by those countries and Benin has stripped Boko Haram of nearly all the territory it once controlled, which leader Abubakar Shekau said would form the base of a “caliphate.”

With the weight of the group’s deeds bearing down on him, Bana Umar felt a growing need to flee. He didn’t act, however, until someone else encouraged him to believe what General Buratai promised.

He escaped on the night of August 18 with that person — the wife of his commander, Abu Geidam. On the 20th, they turned themselves in at a Nigerian army base in Maiduguri.

Asked what he would say to Boko Haram fighters still in the Sambisa Forest, Umar says: “I am calling them to repent, especially those who want to come out but are afraid… Let people know that soldiers would not do anything to whoever voluntarily repents. I came out and no one harms me. Not one single soldier lays his hand on me.”

Nigerian officials are currently debriefing Bana Umar, as they do with all Boko Haram members who leave the group voluntarily. When they finish, he will be reintegrated into Nigerian society, although not in his hometown of Banki. He will be taken to another location where he isn’t known, to make a fresh start.

*Culled from VOA

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Philanthropists join forces to fund Africa’s cash-strapped health sector
August 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

Billionaires Bill Gates, Aliko Dangote come together to fund health care projects

Tristate Heart and Vascular Centre in Nigeria. Photo: Tristate Heart and Vascular Centre

Tristate Heart and Vascular Centre in Nigeria. Photo: Tristate Heart and Vascular Centre

In the 2017 World Happiness Report by Gallup, African countries score poorly. Of the 150 countries on the list, the Central African Republic, Tanzania and Burundi rank as the unhappiest countries in the world.

Some of the factors driving unhappiness are the poor state of the continent’s health care systems, the persistence of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, and the growth of lifestyle diseases such as hypertension, heart disease and diabetes.

Few African countries make significant investments in the health sector—the median cost of health care in sub-Saharan Africa is $109 per person per year, according to Gallup. Some countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Madagascar and Niger, spend just half of that per person annually.

In 2010 only 23 countries were spending more than $44 per capita on health care, according to the World Health Organization. These countries got funding from several sources, including government, donors, employers, non-governmental organisations and households.

Private investment is now critical to meet the considerable shortfall in public-sector investment, say experts.

While many international organisations, such as UNICEF and the International Committee of the Red Cross, continue to support Africa’s health care system, private entities and individuals are also increasingly making contributions. For example, Africa’s richest person, Aliko Dangote, and the world’s second richest person, Bill Gates, have formed a partnership to address some of Africa’s key health needs.

In 2014 the Nigerian-born cement magnate made global headlines after donating $1.2 billion to Dangote Foundation, which used the money to buy equipment to donate to hospitals in Nigeria and set up mobile clinics in Côte d’Ivoire.

A philanthropist himself, Mr. Gates wrote of Mr. Dangote in Time magazine: “I know him best as a leader constantly in search of ways to bridge the gap between private business and health.”

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation focuses, among other projects, on strengthening Africa’s health care resources. According to the Gates Foundation, as of May 2013 it had earmarked $9 billion to fight diseases in Africa over 15 years. In 2016 the foundation pledged to give an additional $5 billion over a five-year period, two-thirds to be used to fight HIV/AIDS on the continent.

While acknowledging the Gates’ generosity, locals noted that for many years the Foundation had invested in the oil companies that have contributed in making health outcomes extremely poor in some areas of Nigeria. These companies include Eni, Royal Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron and Total.

Facing a backlash, the Gates Foundation sold off some 87% of its investments in major coal, oil and gas companies, leaving approximately $200 million in these stocks as of 2016.  Groups such as Leave It in the Ground, a non-profit organization advocating for a global moratorium on fossil exploration, are pushing for divestment.

“The link between saving lives, a lower birth rate and ending poverty was the most important early lesson Melinda and I learned about global health,” said Mr. Gates recently. The Gates Foundation supports reducing childhood mortality by supplying hospitals with necessary equipment and hiring qualified local practitioners to take care of patients and their children.

Dangote-Gates collaboration

In 2016, the Dangote Foundation and the Gates Foundation formed a philanthropic dream team when they announced a $100 million plan to fight malnutrition in Nigeria. The new scheme will fund programmes to 2020 and beyond, using local groups in the northwest and northeast Nigeria. The northeast has for the past seven years been ravaged by the Boko Haram’s Islamic militant insurgency, affecting all health care projects in the region.

Malnutrition affects 11 million children in northern Nigeria alone, and Mr. Dangote said the partnership would address the problem.

The Foundations had already signed a deal to work together to foster immunization programmes in three northern states: Kaduna, Kano and Sokoto.

The Gates Foundation states on its website, “Contributions towards the costs of the program by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dangote Foundation, and state governments will be staggered across three years: 30% in year one, 50% in year two, and 70% in year three, with the respective states taking progressive responsibility for financing immunization services.”

The future of about 44% of Nigeria’s 170 million people would be “greatly damaged if we don’t solve malnutrition,” said Mr. Gates, at a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.

Building trust

Despite the many international and local efforts, cultural and religious factors often impede efforts to address Africa’s weak health infrastructure. For example, in 2007, religious leaders in northern Nigeria organized against aid workers administering polio vaccinations after rumours started circulating that the vaccines were adulterated and would cause infertility and HIV/AIDS.

In 2014, during the Ebola crisis, villagers chased and stoned Red Cross workers in Womey village in Guinea, accusing them of bringing “a strange disease”.

The big players may be Mr. Dangote and Mr. Gates, but others less well known are also making important contributions to Africa’s health care. After the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, for example, which resulted in the loss of about 11,300 lives, private companies in the three most affected countries—Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone—partnered with the government to fight the virus.

The Sierra Leone Brewery, for example, helped in constructing facilities for Ebola treatment. Individuals, such as Patrick Lansana, a Sierra Leonean communications expert, also volunteered their services for the Ebola fight. He said: “I joined the fight against Ebola because I wanted to help my country. My efforts, and those of others, made a difference. It would have been difficult for the government and international partners to combat the virus alone.”

Public-private partnerships

Private and public sectors need to collaborate to help Africa’s health care system from collapse, notes a report by UK-based PricewaterHouseCoopers consultancy firm. The report states that public-private partnerships, or PPPs, when fully synergised can bring about quality health care. Under a PPP in the health sector, for example, a government can contribute by providing the health care infrastructure, while private entities can be involved in the operations.

In a widely published joint opinion piece last April, Mr. Dangote and Mr. Gates stated that improving health care in Africa depends on a “successful partnership between government, communities, religious and business leaders, volunteers, and NGOs. This ensures that everyone is rowing in the same direction.”

*Culled from Africa Renewal

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Integrating Financial Services In Africa
August 18, 2017 | 0 Comments

By *

A defining objective of the African Union is to promote sustainable development at the economic, social and cultural levels as well as the integration of African economies. This noble mandate, enshrined in Article 3, of the Constitutive Acts of the AU, actually predates the AU, and was a principal goal of the Organization of African Unity, OAU, the predecessor body of the AU.

Emeke E Iweriebor

Emeke E Iweriebor

Economic integration also provided a fundamental impetus in the formation of the various Regional Economic Communities, RECs, and monetary zones in Africa – viz. ECOWAS, UMOA, CEMAC, CEEAC, EAC, AMU, CEN-SAD, SADC, COMESA, IGAD, etc. Together, these RECs have striven to promote and co-ordinate social, political and economic integration in the continent.Interestingly, some countries are even members of up two or three RECs. This is a testament to the overarching criticality of economic integration in the vision, plans and activities of African states.

In this treatise, I will focus on the integration of financial services in Africa, an unheralded field, but where remarkable results are being recorded. A Payment System is a facilitator of monetary transactions, and a veritable integrative node. In the UEMOA zone, in West Africa, the Groupement Interbancaire Monétique de I’UnionEconomique et MonétaireOuestAfricaine, more widely known by its French acronym, GIM-UEMOA, set up by BCEAO, the Central Bank of West African States in 2003, in striving to create a cashless region, has grown to become a regional platform for cards, electronic payments, and clearing of interbank transactions. With over 100 banks, financial and postal institutions as members; cardholders in the GIM network,pay relatively low transaction fees.

Also, the Central African equivalent, GIMAC,created in 2013, under the guidance of the Central Bank of Central African States, BEAC, is working with Banks to integrate the electronic payments system in the region, and ensure inter-operability and acceptance of GIMAC cards, for ATMs, POS, etc, by banks and for international payments,and reduce transaction and cash handling costs, while facilitating e-commerce.

The East African Payment System, EAPS, provides a platform for the real time settlement of cross border payments in the region. Driven by the Central Banks in the region, and piloted in 2013, the payment system took off immediately in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and subsequently, Rwanda. More remarkable is that EAPS is based on direct convertibility, and the use of the currencies of participating countries for transactions and settlement, without the intermediary facilitation of any OECD currency. For instance, transactions initiated in Tanzania shillings can be directly settled in Uganda shillings or Kenya shillings.

In Southern Africa, the SADC Integrated Regional Electronic Settlement System (SIRESS),and the Regional Payment and Settlement System, REPSS, launched separately in 2014, are two integrative payments systems worth referencing. Through SIRESS, funds can be wired, real time, to beneficiaries with accounts in SIRESS commercial banks. REPSS, with a clearing house in Zimbabwe, and the Central Bank of Mauritius as its Settlement Bank, utilizes an electronic platform for cross-border payments and settlement.

Quite positively, these initiatives, operationalized under the auspices of Central Banks, and with the active participation of commercial Banks are technologically advanced, rapid, and secure. While leveraging on the real-time gross settlement systems of the countries, they seek to enhance efficiency, reduce settlement time, lower transaction costs and generally facilitate intra-African trade, and economic integration in the continent.

In tandem, the banking sector, in Africa, has expanded exponentially in the last decade, in asset size and profitability; geography -distribution channels and network; product sophistication- digital banking, cards, mobile payments; and, financial inclusion. Access to financial services continues to improve across the continent. Furthermore, leveraging on enhanced capacity, pan-African banks are increasingly able to collaboratively finance large ticket and transformational infrastructural projects through syndications and risk sharing. Currently, the top 20 pan-African Banks have assets over $800b, with over 11,000 branches. Beyond banking, we are also witnesses to the birth and growth of pan-African insurance, micro finance, and other financial service companies across the continent that offer greater diversity and depth of products and solutions. All these have led to the increase in the range, frequency, and diversity in the classes of risks that Banks, and other financial institutions, face. Concomitantly, risk management, regulatory compliance and corporate governance have become more stringent, and with onerous application, as they remain important variables for assessing the health of Banks, in the drive towards overall sector viability and sustainability.

Imperceptibly, but surely, the regulatory environment of the financial services sector, is also being integrated. The Association of African Central Banks, headquartered in Dakar, brings together 39 regional and country Central Banks in Africa. In line with its statutes, and practices, its Assembly of Governors, usually meets yearly, to deliberate on financial system stability, monetary and payment system integration, the African Central Bank initiative, etc.Another critical arm is the Community of African Banking Supervisors (CABS) which works to strengthen banking regulatory and supervisory frameworks.In the last decade, I have observed, first hand, this increased collaboration between African Central Banks,with MOUs being signed, to facilitate cross border supervision, exchange of ideas and information sharing between host and home regulators. Also, the College of Supervisors set up by the Central Bank of Nigeria, as a forum that brings together host regulators of Banks, with headquarters in Nigeria, but with operations in other jurisdictions,to strengthen governance practices, and ensure soundness in the banking sector, is also a positive development.

An evolving trend in the African banking space, is the initiative to connect Africa, andenablecustomers of a bank to conveniently access their accounts, deposit cash and make cheque withdrawals in any branch, in different countries across Africa, where the bank operates, outside the primary country holding the account. This has the distinct capability to alter the face and operation of banking in the continent as it will open up and facilitate easy movement of goods, services capital, and people. I also look forward to the day, soon enough, for instance, when a Moroccan manufacturer of fertilizer visiting Zambia to negotiate a contract; agrees payment terms, issues a paymentinstrument right away to a Zambian exporter of high quality packaging materials and gets value immediately, using simple electronic payment instruments.

On the whole, these emerging trends contribute significantly to the on-going African-led processes of creating a powerful, vibrant pan-African financial infrastructure, to further undergird and deepen Pan African economic, commercial, business and social interactions through access to personal and business finance across Africa. Together with the various similar initiatives in different spheres by African economic communities identified above, these initiatives will serve as a powerful signal of the march of African economic advancement through financial facilitation to build a fully integrated financial system that enhances financial inclusion, and serves the people.

Work remains. To accelerate financial integration, existing regional mechanisms and frameworks, including those highlighted above, must now begin to coalesce and fuse into larger pan-African systems, Central Banking, common currency, payments and collections; intra-African trade facilitation; etc. In spite of existing differences, but given the importance and fluidity of finance to agriculture, infrastructure, industry and economic development, the largest economies in each region showered as regional anchors, within a defined framework of the Assembly of the African Union.

*Emeka is Executive Director; CEO Africa- Francophone at UBA Group.Piece culled from linkedin page.

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The Africa Travel Association to host the 41st Annual World Tourism Conference in Rwanda this month
August 17, 2017 | 0 Comments
Washington DC – August 17, 2017: The opportunities tourism brings to African economies will be highlighted when African leaders, international investors, and travel professionals meet for the 41st Annual World Tourism Conference, in Rwanda from August 28 – 31.
Hosted by the Africa Travel Association (ATA), a division of the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), and the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), the conference will highlight the economic and job opportunities being fuelled by the sector’s continued growth.
In less than 15 years Africa’s travel and hospitality industries have quadrupled in size, and the continent remains one of the world’s fastest-growing tourist destinations, second only to Southeast Asia.
President and CEO of the Corporate Council of Africa, Florizelle Liser, says CCA aims to use the conference to encourage investments and policies that contribute to the sector’s growth.
“The tourism conference will highlight opportunities in the tourism sector and intersecting sectors such as infrastructure, ICT, health, real estate development, and finance. Through strategic partnerships, we will also offer capacity building workshops for travel professionals of all levels,” she said.
Adding: “I look forward to working with [RDB CEO] Ms. Akamanzi and her team at RDB to showcase what Rwanda has to offer.”
This year will be the first time ATA’s Tourism Conference will be hosted in Rwanda, one of East Africa’s premier tourism destinations and one whose sector continues to grow. According to the RDB, Rwanda’s tourism sector generated US$303 million in revenue, in 2014 up three percent in the previous year.
On the sidelines of what is expected to be a packed agenda, ATA is working with Facebook to deliver training to SMEs in Kigali. The ‘Boost Your Business’ is a training initiative, developed by Facebook and facilitated by Digify Africa, designed to train and upskill small business owners on how to leverage digital tools to grow their businesses. The training will be held on August 26 at the Kigali Serena Hotel.
The conference also aligns with Kwita Izina, Rwanda’s annual gorilla naming ceremony, a national celebration creating awareness of the country’s efforts to protect the jewel of Rwanda’s tourism crown: the mountain gorillas and their habit.
The 41st Annual World Tourism Conference will be held in Kigali, Rwanda, on August 28-31, 2017.
Established in 1975, The African Travel Association serves both the public and private sectors of the international travel and tourism industry. ATA membership comprises African governments, their tourism ministers, tourism bureaus and boards, airlines, cruise lines, hotels, resorts, front-line travel sellers and providers, tour operators and travel agents, and affiliate industries. ATA partners with the African Union Commission (AU) to promote the sustainable development of tourism to and across Africa.
Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) is the leading U.S. business association focused solely on connecting U.S. and African business interests. CCA serves as a neutral, trusted intermediary connecting its member firms with the essential government and business leaders they need to do business and succeed in Africa.
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Africa: A.P. Moller Holding launches new infrastructure fund with a focus on Africa
August 12, 2017 | 0 Comments
The new fund will focus on investments in infrastructure in Africa to support sustainable economic growth in the region while delivering an attractive return to its investors
COPENHAGEN, Denmark, August 10, 2017/ — A.P. Moller Holding (www.APMoller.com) has together with PKA, PensionDanmark and Lægernes Pension launched a new infrastructure fund with a focus on Africa. The fund has received commitments of USD 550 million from anchor investors.

Access the A.P. Moller Holding – Factsheet here (http://APO.af/qrt5D5).

From left: Peter Damgaard Jensen, CEO of PKA; Kim Fejfer, Managing Partner and CEO of A.P. Moller Capital; Torben Möger Pedersen, CEO of PensionDanmark; Chresten Dengsøe, CEO of Lægernes Pension, Robert Mærsk Uggla, CEO of A.P. Moller Holding

From left: Peter Damgaard Jensen, CEO of PKA; Kim Fejfer, Managing Partner and CEO of A.P. Moller Capital; Torben Möger Pedersen, CEO of PensionDanmark; Chresten Dengsøe, CEO of Lægernes Pension, Robert Mærsk Uggla, CEO of A.P. Moller Holding

The new fund will focus on investments in infrastructure in Africa to support sustainable economic growth in the region while delivering an attractive return to its investors.

The fund will be managed by A.P. Moller Capital, which is an affiliate of A.P. Moller Holding, and consists of a team lead by four partners, Kim Fejfer, Lars Reno Jakobsen, Jens Thomassen and Joe Nicklaus Nielsen. The partners all have extensive industrial and investment experience combined with a substantial network in Africa.

“We are very pleased with the significant support from the Danish pension funds and A.P. Moller Holding. Together, we will build and operate infrastructure business in Africa to support sustainable development and improvements in living standards across the continent. We will combine the best from industry in terms of project management and operational capabilities with the best from private equity in terms of agility and focus,” says Kim Fejfer, Managing Partner and CEO of A.P. Moller Capital.

“A.P. Moller Holding was established to build value creating businesses that have a positive impact on society. Africa, with a working-age population likely to reach more than one billion people in the next decades, has a pressing requirement for more investments in infrastructure. In this respect, we are delighted to have established a new promising company in our portfolio with a strong team, who hold the right capabilities and experience to manage infrastructure investments in emerging markets,” says Robert Mærsk Uggla, CEO of A.P. Moller Holding.

The fund has a duration of 10 years and has an initial target of 10 to 15 investments in total.

Peter Damgaard Jensen, CEO at PKA: “PKA has for many years invested in infrastructure both in Denmark and abroad. We have positive experiences investing in Africa and we have for a long time wanted to invest more on the continent. With this new fund we will be making infrastructure investments in Africa and get the opportunity to provide a good return to the pension savers and at the same time make a positive difference in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals”.

Kim Fejfer, Managing Partner and CEO of A.P. Moller Capital

Kim Fejfer, Managing Partner, AP Møller Fonden

Torben Möger Pedersen, CEO PensionDanmark: “We are delighted to be among the seed investors in Africa Infrastructure Fund I. We see this as a unique opportunity to invest in a region with high economic growth and attractive investment opportunities alongside a partner, A. P. Moller Capital, that has extensive investment experience combined with a strong network and a promising pipeline of potential investment projects. The fund is a good example of how private capital can be mobilized on large scale to implement the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals”.

Chresten Dengsøe, CEO at Lægernes Pension: “Lægernes Pension are delighted to invest in the development of sustainable infrastructure in Africa together with similar-minded Danish pension funds. The team has many years of experience and a proven track record in the region and we expect them to provide attractive investment opportunities going forward”.

Following first commitments, the fund will be open for additional institutional investors for the next 12 months. The ambition is to raise USD 1bn in commitments.

 

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AFRICA’S SKYROCKETING UNEMPLOYMENT: WHO IS TO BLAME, THE UNIVERSITIES OR THE STATES?
August 12, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Moses Hategeka

 A few years back, I wrote an article titled, “Universities/Varsity Curricula Must be Practical” that was published in, The Herald, Zimbabwe’s most popular and biggest Newspaper, and was as well republished in various other Newspapers and Magazines in other African countries.

In that article, I argued that, theory based and powered curricula as administered in most African universities, cannot spur a critical mass of skilled graduates needed to transform African economies and called, for its total overhaul.

In the same article, I called upon, African governments to step up funding to their universities and compel them to overhaul cramming based learning and adopt research powered learning.

Research powered learning especially in the experimental sciences curricula, makes students, to gain knowledge of producing inventions, innovations, and ground breaking technologies, which if backed by supportive conducive governments’ policies, can be a catalyst, in spurring industrial and entrepreneurial development in African countries. It also enables the students from social sciences and humanities field, to gain interdisciplinary knowledge, that in turn makes them, critical thinkers, capable of objectively analyzing public policies and other issues at hand, and provide remedies where inadequacies exists.

Africa’s skyrocketing unemployment problem, especially youth unemployment that is affecting millions of youth on the continent, is a manifestation, of the failure of governments and universities, to harmonize their visions, into one complimentary vision of finding solutions to the challenges facing the continent.

Universities are supposed to be the center of knowledge production and dissemination where learners are equipped with relevant knowledge and skills that makes them capable of solving societal problems and meeting societal needs. Are African universities serving this purpose fully?

Moses Hategeka

Moses Hategeka

Globally, research is a chief driver of new knowledge and innovation crucial for spurring sustainable industrial and entrepreneurial development, but how much of the research have African universities done or are doing that have translated or are translating into industrial commercial usable products? Why is it that, African industries are majorly powered by imported technologies despite the fact that we have engineering and technology faculties at our universities?

In the medical field, why is that all the health complications that requires specialized surgeries are mainly done outside Africa with those unable to afford it dying miserably despite us having medical schools/faculties at our universities? Still in medical sector, why is that the few molecular biologists in our countries are unable to use computerized technologies to read and analyze the genomes of viruses and only do so after being subjected to re-training by experts trained from abroad?

African governments are supposed to apportion a good percentage of their national budgets for research development, if research, is to result into implementable policies and industrial usable products. But wait a minute! Looking at countries’ national Budgets, how much money percentage wise does African countries allocate to their institutions for research development?

Governments are also supposed to create robust favorable environment and opportunities for its employable citizens not only at national level, but also at international level, by incorporating in their foreign policies and international relations, the issue of systematically and legally transporting their employable labor to other countries where it is needed through bilateral relations, like what Cuba, Russia, China, and India have done and are doing. What are African countries doing in this regard?

For example, on realizing that, it cannot employ, all its trained Doctors, Cuba, decided to integrate medicine as a fundamental element in its foreign policy and international relations, as thus, eighty percent of Doctors and health professionals in Venezuela, are Cubans, send there by the Cuban government, on bilateral arrangement with Venezuelan government, where by Cuba, supplies medical workers in return for oil and gas supplies from Venezuelan government. Cuba also has hundreds of Doctors working on bilateral arrangement in other Latin American and African countries. Russia, India, and China, who produces, highest number of technology specialists and professionals in life and experimental sciences also does the same.

To the Chinese government, where there is Chinese capital and trade, there should be Chinese labor. Many people keep on wondering, why there is large presence of Chinese engineers, technicians, and traders, especially allover in African countries and other developing nations, forgetting that, transportation of labor to foreign countries, is a cardinal part of Chinese foreign policy and international relations. In fact, all the major infrastructural development projects in Africa, like major road high ways, Dams, buildings and industries construction, have been and are being executed by Chinese supported companies and labor

To overcome, the waves of rural- urban migration tied unemployment, and curb horrible unemployment figures among its science and technology specialists, the Chinese government, developed an economic diversification policy aligned, to urbanization, industrialization, and transformation of rural locations, into production centers, which involved relocating major industries from already congested industrial centers to rural areas, thus expanding industrial base and creating new towns and employment in the process, Wuxi and Nantong for example, owe their transformation from rural to major industrial centers to this policy.

In sum, universities’ curricula must be research derived and interdisciplinary powered, for the graduates to translate the acquired knowledge and skills, into industrial usable products and attaining critical thinking skills, capable of finding solutions to the societal challenges and needs and African governments must ably fund their varsities for this to happen in addition to putting in place, the implementable policies that stimulate entire spectrum

Moses Hategeka is a Ugandan based Independent Governance Researcher, Public Affairs Analyst, and Writer

Email: moseswiseman2000@gmail.com

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Fitch affirms African Development Bank’s Triple ‘A’ rating with Stable Outlook
August 12, 2017 | 0 Comments

Leading global rating agency Fitch Ratings has affirmed the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at ‘AAA’ with a Stable Outlook and its Short-Term IDR at ‘F1+’ (best quality grade, indicating exceptionally strong capacity to meet its financial commitments).

In a statement released on 4 August, the agency said the ‘AAA’ rating primarily reflects extraordinary support from AfDB’s shareholders which provides a three-notch uplift over the Bank’s intrinsic rating.

“AfDB enjoys strong support from its 80 member states, which include 26 non-African countries with high average ratings. Callable capital subscribed by member states rated ‘AAA’, the largest of which are the US, Germany and Canada, accounts for 21% of the total. This fully covered the Bank’s net debt at end-2016, underpinning the ‘aaa’ assessment of shareholders’ capacity to support,” the statement said.

The report underscores the strong propensity of member states to support the Bank in case of need as illustrated by previous capital increases and the Bank’s important role in the region’s financing.

In the assessment, Fitch maintains that fast growth in AfDB’s lending in the last two years has translated into a rapid increase in its indebtedness, noting that the Bank’s Management has indicated that if there is no clear evidence of a capital increase within the next two years, it will have no choice but to curb lending growth to preserve the Bank’s solvency metrics. The report added that if no capital increase is approved by 2019, debt will not be fully covered by callable capital from ‘AAA’ rated countries, adding that this would place substantial pressure on Fitch’s assessment of extraordinary support and, hence on AfDB’s IDR.

Fitch asserts that the relatively high risk profile of borrowers is mitigated by the preferred creditor status (PCS) that the Bank enjoys on its sovereign exposures.

Fitch assesses AfDB’s liquidity at ‘aaa’, which reflects excellent coverage of short-term debt by liquid assets (2.9x). However, Fitch notes that the share of the portfolio invested in securities or bank placements rated ‘AA-‘ or above (83% in 2016) is declining, although their quality is still assessed at excellent. Fitch understands that management intends to rebalance the treasury assets portfolio in order to increase the proportion of assets rated ‘AA-‘ or above. This would help underpin Fitch’s assessment of the strength of extraordinary support, given the relevance of liquid assets’ quality to the net debt calculation.

“The -1 notch adjustment to AfDB’s solvency stemming from our assessment of its business environment reflects the high risk operating environment in which the bank operates,” the report says, noting that the majority of African countries are classified as low income by the World Bank. The average income per capita and average rating of member states are the lowest of all regional MDBs, and they are subject to an overall high level of political risk.

Commenting on the rating, AfDB Acting Vice-President for Finance, Hassatou Diop N’Sele, said, “We welcome the confirmation of the AfDB’s AAA rating by Fitch, with a stable outlook. The Bank is dedicated to doing the most to make a marked positive difference in the lives of hundreds of millions of Africans, while at the same time preserving its financial integrity. Our High 5agenda is our response to the need to accelerate and scale up Africa’s development to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of the continent. The High 5 agenda, reflecting five identified priority areas (namely energy, agriculture, industrialization, integration and human capital development), enjoys strong support from our shareholders. The AfDB will continue to maintain a careful balance between maximizing its development effectiveness and assuring complete preservation of the interests of its stakeholders.”

*AFDB

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Terrorism: Trump’s Approval And End Of The Black Days
August 10, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Anthony Kolawole*
The Trump administration recently approved the sale of strategic arms to Nigeria in support of the fight against terrorism

The Trump administration recently approved the sale of strategic arms to Nigeria in support of the fight against terrorism

 

 

 

 

 

The conjured and demonic opinions of skeptics on the unabated degeneration of Nigeria under a Buhari Presidency is the least of my nightmares. I am the more comfortable with myself because only falsehood struggles to be concealed, but truth breaks the most secured of jails to quench he thirst of man with its effervescent aura.

 But every day and across the globe, relations with Nigeria, comments about Nigeria and the engagement of her people by other nationals render these theorists of doom prostrate. Nigeria is unstoppably regenerating under President Muhammedu Buhari. Its war on terrorism is a resounding success and the administration’s no nonsense posture on fighting the monster of corruption in all spheres of public life attracts world-wide acclaim.
And it is evident in a hitherto obstinate America under President Donald Trump also identifying with Nigeria on its drive to reinvent itself on all fronts. This has expressed in the approval the United State Government has granted Nigeria to sale 12 high-tech, Super Tucano A-29 attack aircrafts worth N219 billion ($600 million) to Nigeria’s Air Force to assist in battling Boko Haram insurgency.
We do know that America had resisted such offer to Nigeria in the past, under the Obama Presidency, a development exacerbated by the mistaken bombing of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp in Rann, Borno State. And that America has recounted its position is a consideration of several factors, including transparency, accountability and respect for human rights of people.
But we are today consoled because we have not stopped improving ourselves and making amends where possible. The Holy Scriptures says, in Exodus 14:13 that “These Egyptians that you see today, you shall see them no more.”
Whilst the torment of Boko Haram lasted, lives were lost and properties destroyed and varying layers of social dislocation, some nations in the world in the position to assist Nigeria looked at terrorism as an isolated Nigerian problem. Nothing griefs the heart more like when a neighbor sits in celebration of your misfortune. That was the fate of Nigeria and international organisations also conscripted into the conspiracy against Nigeria.
One cannot help but frown at the destructive roles played by Amnesty International (AI) and its array of local franchise and extremists sects like the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) and some briefcase  Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), which only existed on letterhead papers.
They spared generous time to mock the plight of Nigerians in the time of sorrow and some went to the extent of initiating actions that inflamed the situation. These entities deployed fully to add to the deep pains and afflictions Boko Haram brought upon our land. They were everything an enemy would be to his neighbor;  but today the narrative has changed for good.
We cannot hold our joy that the Service Chiefs came and turned the tables against Boko Haram insurgents, which these soulless detractors and extremists used as canon folder in the destabilization plots against Nigeria. Their motley of minions satanically added some paraffin to the conflagration.
But our courageous military have proved them wrong, by decimating and defeating Boko Haram. Nigerian troops have shattered the dreams of those who wanted to see more of a sinking Nigeria and embarked on nocturnal voyages to frustrate its bounce back to full economic life or harnessing its full potentials, with her blessed children.
Today, we see a Nigeria where love and patriotism are returning back, after some statesmen came out to disown IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu and his agents. We are on the path of a new Nigeria where everyone will be proud of his country. And a new nation where ethnicity would no longer be a factor against merit and talents would saunter on the center stage.
We are proud to say, it is not in doubt that Nigeria defeated Boko Haram before the end of the Obama administration in America. That our military took over every lost territory before the end of 2016 is not also in doubt. To also say the current Service Chiefs and the last soldier in Nigeria are true patriots is also not in doubt.
These rare breed of Nigerians came at a time we had lost our integrity, pride and honour to a ragtag Army of street urchins. But they restored this dignity. It may not be good to continue to  keep reflecting in this direction, but to appreciate the Nigerian military.
It is in this light that we celebrate the recent approval by President Trump to sale military warplanes to Nigeria. It is an undeniable confirmation of the victory which our military secured for us over the terrorists. It is also a certification that Nigerian military played according to the rules of engagement in the counter-insurgency war.
And the international organizations which operate in league with detractors and destabilization agents of Nigeria by fabricating stories about imaginary human rights abuses by the Nigerian military in the counter-terrorism campaigns have had the veil removed from their eyes in shame by America’s reversal of its position.
I again reiterate, much as millions of patriotic Nigerians that it is an open endorsement of the professionalism and transparency in our military operations as being marshaled by the Chief of  Defence Staff (CDS), Gen.  Olonishakin ; the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu  Buratai and the rest. The appreciation for saving  our collective destiny stretches down to the lowest on the rung of military personnel, obviously down to even a Private A A Goodluck. They have all done well and deserve all the golden applauses from us as a people.
And to the extent that the gift of the Tucano attack aircrafts is coming after the rain, does not imply that the Nigerian military has not appreciated the approval, in spite of its belatedness. It is in reality a testament to the fact that our military is one of the best in Africa and have a leading role to play on the continent as the first to defeat Boko Haram.
Nonetheless, a new vista of collaboration has been opened between Nigeria and the United States as both strive to work together in the global fight against terrorism. America soldiers can now freely share notes with Nigerian troops on how to defeat any insurrection against a sovereign state. The aircraft gift embodies many other lessons beyond the mere package, as it also signifies the overall endorsement of the war against insurgency in Nigeria.
More exciting, President Trump has re-invoked the essence of the Biblical verse that the “Egyptians we saw yesterday, we shall see them no more.” So, those who are already afraid of the military procuring such hardware must now know it has become a reality. And they are powerless to bring back the era of horror and sorrow anywhere close to Nigerian soil anymore.
They should lick their wounds quietly. I mean the likes of Amnesty International and all the dissident elements who once held us to the jugular should know that the world is now aware of their antics to destabilize Nigeria and nobody will ever take them serious again.
*Kolawole PhD, a University teacher writes from Keffi, Nasarawa State.
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Has France Found an African Solution to an African Problem?
August 8, 2017 | 0 Comments

The days of the French colonial empire may be long gone, but Paris’ involvement in the unstable region of the Sahel is not. French forces have been offering support for countries in the region — notably Group of 5 (G5) members Burkina Faso, Mali, Chad, Niger and Mauritania — for years. But as French concerns about the overmilitarization of the Sahel have grown, Paris seeks to find another solution in the form of the G5 Sahel Force. Made up of African troops from the G5 states, this counterterrorism and counter-trafficking entity may eventually play a critical role in stabilizing the Sahel region.

As recently as Aug. 2, French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly visited the Sahel states of Chad, Niger and Mali to engage with soldiers and speak with leaders. The subtext for Parly’s trip was a desire to reaffirm French support for the Sahel Force. France and its allies are hoping that the entity will one day offer regional security using local forces, enabling Paris and other Western nations to lessen their involvement in the Sahel.

The Long Struggle

Africa’s Sahel region is most commonly associated with a handful of countries stretching across the sub-Saharan portion of the continent, including the G5. These nations are prone to several forms of state weakness, including a lack of resources and investment, poverty, corrupt and ineffectual armed forces and an inability to assert control over vast territories. Thus, the region has historically been a hotbed for terrorism, political instability and the trafficking of arms, drugs and humans. As a result, Western nations — particularly France, a former Sahel colonizer — have often stepped in to help stabilize the area. The French military, for example, has been conducting counterterrorism operations there under the auspices of Operation Barkhane since 2013, when Paris intervened to prevent Mali’s collapse amid an assault from Tuareg and Islamic militant forces.

France has been fairly successful as the region’s security guarantor, pulling its diplomatic and security weight to aid Mali and shore up other relatively weak regional allies such as Niger. But recently, Paris has sought to lessen its defense burden in the Sahel by increasingly offloading onto African and European allies. (The U.S., for its part, is already involved in the region, engaging in special operations, drone operations and logistical support.) All European states are ultimately threatened by the problems of the Sahel, given that its relative proximity to the Mediterranean Sea provides a thin barrier for transnational issues. It is therefore understandable that France would expect these nations — especially Germany — to increase their contributions.

One key component of this redistribution of resources has been the European Union Training Mission in Mali (EUTM), designed to advise and train the Malian military. As noted, Mali has been at the epicenter of the region’s terrorism problem, and since 2013, the EUTM has been critical in building up the Malian armed forces following a coup and decades of corruption. Training missions such as the EUTM have been particularly useful in encouraging involvement from European countries — including Germany — that are more reticent about exercising hard power overseas.

The EUTM mission and Operation Barkhane are successes in many respects. But the overall picture of Sahel security in the coming years is one that will heavily feature French forces, simply because of the limited capacity of regional governments and militaries. From Mauritania to Niger, countries on the continent continue to struggle with border security: On July 12, the Mauritanian minister of defense declared the country’s border with Algeria closed and its immediate area a military zone, with the Mauritanian armed forces considering all individuals in the zone to be legitimate targets. The decision was no doubt the result of increased drug trafficking and terrorist group operations in the area.

And the degradation of the security environment in recent months and years is not exclusive to Mauritania’s remote north. Other zones, such as the tri-border region between Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, have seen increases in terrorist activity: militants have attacked wayward government outposts to steal provisions, wreak havoc on locals and sometimes kidnap the few Westerners left in the vast space. Thus, the local authorities of formerly stable zones are now under additional pressure to address the metastasizing threat.
An African Solution

The reality is that France cannot significantly reduce its security burdens in the Sahel right now. The former colonial power has instead been attempting to broaden the scope of its strategy. French President Emmanuel Macron has expressed concern about France’s strategy in the region becoming overly militarized in recent years, to the detriment of longer-term state building. Since May 2017, Macron’s administration has accelerated efforts to get the G5 Sahel Force up and running. Designed to tackle the more transnational nature of terrorism and crime, the standing force has been touted as “An African solution for African problems” (a term no doubt used to drum up international support). But as with everything in the instability-plagued region, the launch of the G5 Sahel Force has been marked by almost equal parts success and setbacks.

There are countless examples of African forces struggling to make progress without being totally dependent on the financial and logistical support of the United Nations, the European Union and other global powers. For instance, the standby forces of the Economic Community of West African States and the Economic Community of Central African States both faced serious difficulties in their efforts to become productive and autonomous. The G5 Sahel Force is almost certainly headed in the same direction.

On June 5, the European Union committed $56 million to the force following a visit to Mali by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. France has also ponied up, reportedly providing an initial $9 million along with 70 tactical vehicles, in addition to $228 million in regional development aid over the next five years. As Macron put it, France’s real contribution will be “advice, material and combat.” Moreover, Berlin is expected to host an international donors conference in September to partially fund the G5 Sahel Force.

In spite of these initial and prospective gains, the financial viability of the force is still in question. Reportedly, each G5 Sahel member state will contribute $10 million each, bringing in another $50 million. But Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita recently noted that current levels of funding were nowhere near the estimated $500 million annual budget that he sees as necessary to fund the 5,000-member force.

A “two steps forward, one step back” dynamic was further on display at the United Nations on June 21, when the U.N. Security Council unanimously passed a resolution that backed the Sahel Force. U.S. objections to additional U.N. spending obligations forced France to water down the resolution’s text. (The Trump administration has sought to cut its international commitments, including in the realm of peacekeeping.) The version of the resolution that ultimately passed states only that the U.N. Security Council “welcomes the deployment” of the force; it does not commit the international organization to any funding.

Putting the Sahel Force Into Action

Nevertheless, Macron is pushing hard to have the G5 Sahel Force up and running by October, so that it can “prove itself” on the ground. Some facts about the entity have already been revealed: For example, it will be headquartered in Sevare in northern Mali and will reportedly focus on three critical border regions: the West Zone (Mali-Mauritania), the Center Zone (Mali-Burkina Faso-Niger), and the East Zone (Niger-Chad). This follows the emphasis on cross-border security challenges implemented by the Multinational Joint Task Force, which was designed to address the threat posed by the Boko Haram insurgency. And in a broader sense, the regional focus continues a trend of Sahel states pooling their resources. In one such recent instance, Mali, Chad and Niger signed an agreement in May allowing the three countries to expedite potential terrorist or criminal suspects, exchange judicial records and obtain information about travelers.

However, the exact number and composition of the Sahel Force remain uncertain. It will reportedly be composed of battalions of 750 soldiers from each country, although this would tally up to a 3,750-member force, well short of the oft-cited 5,000-member figure. Moreover, it has been stated that these soldiers will operate under their own respective flags rather than being part of a supranational group. This could prove problematic if political leaders become unwilling to spread various burdens across the broader force. Chadian President Idriss Deby recently complained that his country’s armed forces — a key French ally and the region’s most capable military — are “overstretched” in their struggle to combat terrorism. The G5 request for more troop contributions comes amid Chad’s continued financial difficulties in the wake of falling crude oil exports prices. Deby is likely hoping to drum up more financial support from Western allies, namely France.

Overall, it remains to be seen how much interoperability can truly be achieved by the five nation, seven battalion Sahel Force — and how heavily the entity will rely on France. There have been joint African military operations in the past, such as Mali and Burkina Faso’s Operation Panga, which focused on rooting out militants in the Fhero Forest. But while that operation was hailed as a success because militants were killed and captured, materiel was seized and intelligence was gained, it relied heavily on the French military as its backbone. France’s Operation Barkhane furnished soldiers, tactical vehicles, fighter jets and drones.

One thing is clear: Along with limited help from other international actors, the French military is instrumental in holding the Sahel region together. Getting the G5 Sahel Force up and running is a big step forward in finding regional solutions for regional problems. But even in the best case scenario, France is still many years away from being able to significantly reduce its security burden in the Sahel.

*Culled from Stratfor Worldview

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US military investigating Cameroon base torture allegations
August 5, 2017 | 0 Comments

BY JULIA MANCHESTER *

The U.S. has begun investigating allegations of torture involving U.S.-supported Cameroonian troops on a base used by U.S. military advisers.

The head of U.S. Africa Command Gen. Thomas Waldhauser initiated the inquiry, an official confirmed to CNN on Friday.

Amnesty International first raised the allegations in a July report that claimed detainees endured beatings and instances of individuals being tortured to death.

The report said torture had occurred at military sites, including four military bases.

U.S. and French military personnel have been present at the Rapid Intervention Batallion (BIR) headquarters in Salak, which was one of the sites where a majority of the victims were tortured, Amnesty International claimed.

The U.S. has provided military support in Cameroon’s fight to combat the ISIS-linked terror organization Boko Haram.

Amnesty claims hundred of people are accused without evidence of working with the terror group in Cameroon.

“I can confirm that at the request of the AFRICOM commander an inquiry is being conducting into the Cameroon torture allegations,” U.S. Army Major Audricia Harris told CNN on Friday.
“At any time up to 300 US military personnel advise and assist the Cameroonian Rapid Intervention Battalion as part of a broader multinational effort to counter violent extremist organizations in the Lake Chad Basin region,” Harris added.
*The Hill
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AU: Return of Nigerian Refugees from Cameroon Should Be Voluntary
August 2, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Moki Edwin Kindzeka*

FILE - Refugees are seen gathered at Minawao Refugee Camp in northern Cameroon, April 18, 2016. The U.N. refugee agency has called on Cameroon to stop forcibly repatriating Nigerians refugees on its territory.

FILE – Refugees are seen gathered at Minawao Refugee Camp in northern Cameroon, April 18, 2016. The U.N. refugee agency has called on Cameroon to stop forcibly repatriating Nigerians refugees on its territory.

The African Union Peace and Security Council has urged Cameroon to ensure the repatriation of Nigerian refugees fleeing Boko Haram is done on a voluntary basis.

Hundreds of refugees, most of them children, complain they are thirsty and hungry as they leave Cameroon on their way back to Nigeria.

They are escorted by troops from the multinational joint task force fighting the Boko Haram insurgency.

Cameroon Red Cross official Joseph Guisso is among the humanitarian staff accompanying the refugees. He said the military escort is necessary because Boko Haram fighters can surprise them at any moment.

He said they have confidence in the task force and strongly believe the killings will end soon.

The soldiers told VOA Boko Haram has been organizing sporadic attacks on a small scale since January. During the past two years, the regional force has retaken much of the territory Boko Haram once controlled.

The number of Nigerian refugees repatriated from Cameroon has not been made public. In March, the governments of the two countries signed a tripartite agreement with UNHCR that stipulated the repatriations must be voluntary.

In June, the U.N. refugee agency condemned what it called the Cameroonian government’s forced repatriation of 887 Nigerian refugees to the border town of Banki. The United Nations said there had been other similar incidents.

Cameroon’s government has denied allegations of forced returns.

Cameroon has struggled to meet the humanitarian needs of the approximately 115,000 Nigerian refugees within its borders, as well as an estimated 200,000 Cameroonians displaced by the conflict.

Suicide attacks have picked up recently in border areas in Cameroon, with at least 30 attacks reported in June, including some targeting refugee camps. Far North region of Cameroon Governor Midjiyawa Bakari has argued it would be better for refugees to go to safer localities in their own country.

A delegation from the African Union visited the northern town of Maroua on Friday. The chairman of the African Union Peace and Security Council, Nigerian-born Ambassador Bankole Adeoye, led the delegation. He told VOA only refugees who choose to go back should be repatriated.

“We want to thank the government and people of Cameroon first for hosting these refugees and coordinating all the necessary sectors. With the United Nations agencies, we are suggesting and proposing that all the refugees should return in safety and in dignity,” said Adeoye.

Aid agencies have also expressed concern about the conditions to which refugees are returning. UNHCR and Doctors without Borders have warned food, water and other resources are dangerously overstretched in border communities in Nigeria.

*VOA

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