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African Energy Developments Demand Sustained Investment with new projects in Mozambique, Uganda, and Senegal
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

A recent uptick in direct investment activities in Africa’s energy sector sheds light on the role of sustained investor interest in catalyzing socio-economic growth
Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan with President Museveni of Uganda

 In the past twelve months, the African energy sector has seen several encouraging developments – in the form of both Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and strategic partnerships – that have advanced the sustainable development of its natural resources. In fact, despite a global downturn in investment in 2020, FDI flows to developing economies accounted for 72% of global FDI, the highest share to date. Given the magnitude of Africa’s oil and gas reserves – not to mention its abundant renewable resource wealth – the continent remains a highly attractive market for inbound investment, which is vital for its growth.

Take Uganda, for instance, which is home to one of the largest onshore discoveries in sub-Saharan Africa. Following multiple petroleum discoveries in Uganda’s Albertine Graben – estimated to contain 6.5 billion barrels of oil, of which 1.4 billion are considered recoverable – foreign investments into the country are expected to reach nearly $20 billion. Last April, Total E&P Uganda B.V. signed a Sale and Purchase Agreement with Tullow Oil PC, through which Total will acquire Tullow’s entire 33.34% interests in Uganda’s Lake Albert development project and the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP). Five months later, the Ugandan Government and Total signed a host government agreement for EACOP, representing a significant step toward reaching a final investment decision. The deal pushes along an extended development process – slowed by infrastructure issues, tax complications, then COVID-19 – that not only promises to bring first oil by 2022, but also provides a pathway to monetization via associated transport infrastructure.

In addition to developments at Lake Albert, the Ugandan Government has proven its commitment to attracting FDI to its hydrocarbon sector through its second licensing round held last year, as well as its invitation to local and foreign entities to forge joint-venture partnerships with the Government. By prioritizing the establishment of mutually beneficial partnerships, the emerging East African producer aims to facilitate the successful transfer of skills, knowledge and technology, initiating an influx of technical expertise and working capital into the country.

“Those who have been locked out from access to opportunity want the same from the energy sector that the energy sectors want from governments.  We must not forget local content, local jobs, local opportunities especially for young people and women” Stated NJ Ayuk Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber ,

Meanwhile, in West Africa, Senegal has been reaping the rewards of a long-standing partnership with Germany, which has resulted in more than one billion Euros in funding, including significant support for small-scale power plants and renewable energy projects. Holding sizeable potential for solar and wind energy development, Senegal serves as a regional leader in renewable deployment as a means of rural electrification. Indeed, energy is a central component of poverty alleviation across Africa, with electricity access enabling greater independence, clean cooking and potable water, as well as dramatically improving the well-being of individuals, businesses and communities alike.  Rural populations are cognizant of the challenges posed by a lack of stable electricity supply – increased urban migration, lack of access to basic services, low economic competitiveness, to name a few – and distributed renewables can represent the fastest and least expensive path to electrification.

European interest in Senegal has shed light on and served as a model for co-operation opportunities between renewable-rich African countries and developed partners, which offer cutting-edge technologies and technical expertise to transform raw resources into viable off-grid and mini-grid solutions.  

Furthermore, while the cost of deploying renewable technology has never been lower, the availability of renewable-focused capital has never been higher. Investment in commercial and industrial solar has demonstrated resilience against the pandemic, continuing to be seen as a safe investment in light of rising utility costs and increasing distribution of both solar and financial technologies. Yet resource potential and low costs of equipment are not enough; Senegal and other resource-rich African nations require active investor interest and strong government support to unlock diversified energy mixes. In turn, a lack of investment represents a pointed threat to the achievement of long-term energy security.

“Young people and women have shown their great resilience, and it is our hope we close these deals in the renewable energy sector, Africans can have a sense of some hope that they will be included in the industry contracts and opportunities. It is no longer correct for the African to be the last hired and the first fired” Concluded Ayuk.

Moreover, without sustained levels of FDI continuing to move the needle on oil, gas and renewable developments, energy export revenues run the risk of being stranded and resources left undeveloped. For emerging producers like Uganda – as well as Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique, among several others – this would mean foregoing critical government revenues that could aid in a much-needed, post-COVID-19 economic recovery. FDI is vital to Africa’s growth, and while it may be challenging to procure capital in a tepid global economy, it is even more difficult not to. Yes, COVID-19 has put emerging producers in a tough spot: new exploration is seen as risky, and new producers lack existing assets or low-cost development of marginal fields on which to fall back. However, it is not an option to slow or postpone time-sensitive developments that promise to harness natural resource wealth and make sustainable improvements in standards of living across the continent. Africa requires a sustained flow of investment and has proven time and again that it offers the scope of projects and magnitude of resources that are worthy of foreign capital.

*African Energy Chamber

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The Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) circular on the trading of foreign securities by investment platforms in Nigeria
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ibrahim Moshood*

The apex regulator of securities in Nigeria, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) has issued a circular, with respect to technology investment platforms providing the Nigerian public with access to foreign securities. The circular dated 8 April 2021, issues a strong warning to these investment platforms and Capital Market Operators (“CMOs”) in partnership with them to provide brokerage services. Both categories of players in the financial space were warned to desist from providing the Nigerian public, with access to foreign securities. This is pivoted on the grounds that these securities are neither registered with the SEC nor listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (“NSE”).

From 2018, technology start-ups have pioneered major disruptions of the financial space in Nigeria. These disruptions have been lauded by Nigerians, particularly at a time when there has been a persistent devaluation of the Naira.  Savvy and upwardly mobile Nigerians have then opted to use these technology platforms, to save in foreign currencies and also purchase foreign stocks that are being offered. Some of these technology investment platforms include Trove, RiseVest, Chaka and Bamboo etc. They typically partner with CMOs in Nigeria for their expertise and already-procured brokerage licence.

As a background, recall that in December 2019, the SEC had published a statement to notify the Nigerian public of its interim orders to restrain an investment platform called Chaka Technologies Limited (“Chaka”). This order came about as a result of the advertisement and sale of foreign securities of companies such as Google, Alibaba, Facebook, Tesla etc. in Nigeria by Chaka. The SEC had informed the Investment Securities Tribunal (“IST”) that Chaka had offered securities for sale “outside the regulatory purview of the Commission and without requisite registration as stipulated by the Investment and Securities Act (“ISA”).

Chaka responded to the allegations above by releasing a press statement, denying the wrongdoing entirely.  However, in March, Chaka announced that it had obtained a newly created licence from the SEC which allows it to offer the services above i.e. advertising and sale of foreign securities to the Nigerian public.

Notwithstanding the development above, the SEC had kept quiet for months on this issue until this recent circular, which Nigerians have reacted to as a deliberate attempt to stifle innovation by the regulators, create a multiple licensing regime, an inordinate drive for revenue and a shoddy attempt at stabilizing exchange rate of the Naira.

Currently, two major questions should be addressed by the SEC.

  1. Is the sale of foreign securities by these platforms prohibited in Nigeria?
  2. Is there a licence issued by the SEC or some other regulatory agency that would allow these investment platforms carry on the business of selling foreign securities in Nigeria?

Hopefully, the SEC will release a more informative circular or press statement clarifying what investment firms should do to continue offering these foreign securities. In the meantime, investors and investment firms alike are enjoined to consult professionals for more clarity.

*Associate, Centurion Law Group,.

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ITFC and the Republic of Cameroon Sign a US$750 Million Three-year Framework Agreement to Support Cameroon’s Key Sectors through Integrated Trade Solutions
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

A EUR 98 Million Murabaha financing agreement with SODECOTON was also signed to facilitate the purchase of agricultural inputs and cotton seeds
Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, CEO of ITFC and H.E. Alamine Ousmane Mey, Minister of Economy, Planning and Regional Development (IsDB Governor)

The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) , a member of the Islamic Development Bank Group (IsDB) and the Republic of Cameroon have signed on April 12, 2021 two agreements in a virtual signing ceremony between H.E. Alamine Ousmane Mey, Minister of Economy, Planning and Regional Development (IsDB Governor) and Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, CEO, ITFC.

The first signing is a three-year framework agreement amounting to US$ 750 Million under which ITFC will provide to Cameroon a financing envelop of US $ 250 Million annually over a period of three years to facilitate the imports of key commodities in the strategic sectors of energy, mining, in addition to the health sector with medical supplies including healthcare equipment. It will also sustain its already strong support to the priority sector of agricultural with the exports of agricultural commodities such as cotton, soy amongst others.

Through this framework agreement, ITFC will also be extending its support to SMEs and private sector through financing facilities to local banks and financial institutions. It will also support trade development through capacity building initiatives to strengthen key sectors including healthcare. The agreement also enshrines Cameroon’s membership to ITFC’s flagship program, the Arab-Africa Trade Bridges (AATB) program, which aims to facilitate trade and investment flows between Arab and African regions.

In this regard, H.E. Alamine Ousmane Mey stated that, “We are very pleased with the agreements signed with ITFC. The three-year renewal of our cooperation framework is a sign of the good and strong cooperation between Cameroon and ITFC, and of the continued goodwill to implement a successful planning strategy in the country. The US $750 Million financing will help the Cameroonian government consolidate its economic recovery efforts in the specific context of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, by facilitating the importation of crucial energy products, medical supplies, and agriculture inputs, whilst strengthening the fundamentals of the economy of Cameroon through private sector and SME development. This is an opportunity for us to reiterate Cameroon’s sincere thanks to ITFC.”

The CEO of ITFC, Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol reiterated the Corporation’s commitment to supporting economic recovery in Cameroon saying that, “We are keen to continue our successful collaboration with the Government of Cameroon through providing trade solutions that best meet the needs of the country, especially in view of the impact of COVID-19. We are committed to working closer with our partners and to support the country in its efforts to develop important sectors such as agriculture, especially cotton, which is a major export commodity, as well as to support the country’s financial institutions to boost private sector development and SME growth.”

The second signing is related to a EUR 98 Million Murabaha Financing agreement in favour of Société de Développement du Coton (SODECOTON), to facilitate the purchase of agricultural inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, seed cotton, and soybeans. ITFC has a long-standing relationship with Cameroon and SODECOTON. ITFC financing to date has enabled the country to achieve a record production of 328,454 tons of seed cotton collected in 2019/2020, of which 115,000 tons of cotton lint were exported despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

About the International Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC):
The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) is a member of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group. It was established with the primary objective of advancing trade among OIC member countries, which would ultimately contribute to the overarching goal of improving socioeconomic conditions of the people across the world. Commencing operations in January 2008, ITFC has provided US$55 billion of financing to OIC member countries, making it the leading provider of trade solutions for these member countries’ needs. With a mission to become a catalyst for trade development for OIC member countries and beyond, the Corporation helps entities in member countries gain better access to trade finance and provides them with the necessary trade-related capacity building tools, which would enable them to successfully compete in the global market.

*SOURCE International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC)

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French oil company, Total, defends the indefensible as investment decision is signed for a massive climate-destroying crude oil pipeline in East Africa
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

Global – French oil company, Total, has been accused of ignoring significant human rights violations and huge environmental and climate risks as it pushed ahead yesterday with the signing of an investment decision to build the world’s longest heated crude oil pipeline through Uganda and Tanzania.

Although the signing will likely see Total, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation and the Ugandan and Tanzanian national oil companies ramp up their efforts to secure financing and insurance, the project still has many hurdles to overcome and affected communities and civil society groups are calling on financial institutions to refuse to support the project.

Instead of responding to the urgent needs of affected communities and repeated alerts from civil society, Total has focused its recent efforts on a greenwashing communication strategy. 

A week after more than 260 African and international organisations sent an open letter to 25 banks urging them not to finance the construction of the EACOP, Total issued statements on its website describing its environmental and social risk assessment and mitigation strategies for the EACOP and Tilenga oil extraction project as “rigorous” and claiming to act “responsibly and transparently” on the social and environmental issues related to the projects. 

The #StopEACOP Alliance has since examined the claims and the previously confidential reports, and is today issuing a detailed response. The statement clarifies several misleading figures Total offered on key aspects of the project, such as the number of oil wells to be drilled within Murchison Falls National Park, and the number of project-affected people for Tilenga and EACOP. Contrary to the company’s claims, more than 100,000 persons and dozens of sensitive ecosystems in Uganda and Tanzania stand to suffer the consequences of the company’s actions.

Vitally, for a corporation that seeks to position itself as somehow being a climate leader, Total chooses to ignore the massive climate risks posed by building a pipeline to transport crude oil that will generate a new source of 34.3 million metric tons of carbon emissions at the peak of its operation.

The response statement, which draws from dozens of independent assessments, NGO reports, and community petitions, clearly disproves the claim by Total’s CEO, Patrick Pouyanné, that the projects would be “carried out in an exemplary manner and create value for the people in both countries.”

These criticisms are not new: the flaws of Total’s handling of the projects have been well documented by independent experts and civil society. 

The Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment has previously stated that the EACOP Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) is “not fit for purpose,” while Oxfam and the International Federation for Human Rights have said that Total has failed to address a large portion of the core recommendations the NGOs made in their community-based human rights impact assessments.

The company is also facing a historical lawsuit in France for its failure to prevent human rights violations and environmental damage linked to these projects. 

#StopEACOP Alliance members reacted today to Total’s greenwashing efforts and the signing of the investment decision. 

Quotes from spokespeople

The agreements concluded   yesterday is a huge setback in the fight against climate change in which the governments and Uganda, Tanzania and Total say to be committed to. Launching oil projects and the associated construction of the pipeline at this moment where global actors are doing their best to keep all all fossil fuels in the ground is likely to serve the only interests of Total as the shareholder while sacrificing the livelihoods of millions of people in the Victoria bassin, destroying the rich and unique ecosystems and adding over 34 million tons of unnecessary CO2 emissions every single year. – Landry Ninteretse, Regional Director

Total’s decision to move forward with opening a new oil frontier in Africa is in blatant contradiction to the CEO’s attempt to depict the oil major as a climate-conscious, responsible, multi-energy company. EACOP will bring climate chaos and biodiversity loss while already causing serious human rights violations. It’s high time for financial institutions to stand up against the group’s criminal acts. We call on banks to publicly commit to stay clear from the project and investors to vote against Total’s climate strategy and the renewal of the mandate of its CEO Patrick Pouyanné the group’s AGM in May. – Lucie Pinson, Founder and Executive Director of Reclaim Finance

There is no reason for Total to engage in oil exploration and the construction of the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) because this means fuelling the destruction of the planet and worsening the already existing climate disasters in the most affected areas. There is no future in the fossil fuel industry and we cannot drink oil. We demand Total to rise up for the people and the planet. – Vanessa Nakate, Founder of the Rise Up Climate Movement

While Total claims to act ‘responsibly and transparently’, our engagements with district leaders and local communities whose land is being compulsorily acquired for the EACOP project shows otherwise. In March 2021, Total published the Resettlement Action Plan [RAP] for the EACOP project online to ostensibly foster information sharing. However, district leaders and local affected communities were unaware that the RAP exists until we informed them about it between April 6 and 8, 2021. The district leaders and communities remain unaware of the contents of the RAP. How can communities for whom the RAP is intended be among the last to know about it? The truth is that Total sought to portray itself as being transparent when the company isn’t where it matters the most, with the local affected communities. – Dickens Kamugisha, CEO of Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO) 

There are grave concerns about the securitisation of oil activities and intimidation. Community liaison officers employed by Total follow CSOs into meetings which creates an atmosphere of fear, as communities have reported that they are intimidated by the community liaison officers. Communities are intimidated when they speak out against low or unfair assessments for their property that is being compulsorily acquired. EACOP-affected communities have also reported being forced to sign compensation assessment forms that they don’t agree with following intimidation by security agencies alongside land acquisition consultants. – Kayinga Muddu Yisito, the Network Co-ordinator for Community Transformation Foundation Network (COTFONE)

The oil companies are trying to dress up the investment decision signing ceremony, but fortunately this climate-destroying project is far from a done deal. Total and CNOOC still need to secure insurance and raise $2.5 billion in debt financing for the EACOP to move forward and they are going to struggle mightily to find enough banks and insurance providers willing to associate themselves with such a reckless project and assume its manifold risks on their books.  – David Pred, Executive Director of Inclusive Development International


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Nigeria: The Man Who Would Be President
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Richard Mammah

Asiwaju Bola Tinubu chaired the 2021 Sarduana Annual Memorial Lecture in Kaduna.Photo courtesy

Interest in the succession to incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari was raised a notch higher recently when the National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Party, APC, and already touted front-runner in the 2023 presidential process, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, undertook two high profile visits to the north-ward Kano and Kaduna states.

A Yoruba from the South West, Tinubu who has been a two-time governor in Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre, Lagos, was presumably now formally reaching out for the handshake across Jebba as part of what pundits believe is part of a wider process of throwing his hat into the ring and definitively signaling that he was prepared and ready to take the reins of office after President Buhari would have completed his second term in office by May 2023.

Given Nigeria’s political divisions and demographic make-up, it is apparent that no single political player can all by himself work his way into the most exalted office in the land.

First, the constitution prescribes that any intending office holder at this level must not only be fielded by a contending political party, he must also secure a majority of the votes from the contest and a minimum of 25 percent of the votes recorded in two thirds of the 36 states in the country and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT. For Buhari who has for many years, commanded a relative cult-like following across large swathes of the North, meeting this electoral criteria was even a challenge until he found better cross-cutting relationships across more segments of the country.

So, for an aspirant like Tinubu, he must ford the triple hurdles of getting a party nomination, a majority of ballots and a quarter of the votes cast in all 36 states and Abuja, the imperative of reaching across Nigeria’s divisions cannot be discountenanced if his ambition is to attract the required traction. And underscoring this point is the fact that he had even before now almost practically been spending large amounts of time in his Abuja lodgings, from where he had been quietly reaching out to more and more of his supporters and foot soldiers in the North.

Some of this attention surely helped Tinubu in attracting the fairly enthusiastic audience and crowd showings that were recorded in the course of this recent Northern showing.

But not many think that the Jagaban Borgu should now go to sleep after his Kaduna/Kano performance in the belief that all is well with his aspiration as far as the North is concerned.

One of such expressions of caution is coming from the activist and former Senator representing the Kaduna Central District in the National Assembly, Shehu Sani. He has advised the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress to be generally wary in his dealings with northerners, and especially members of the Northern political class.

Rather than be taken in by platitudes and speeches made at such orchestrated events as his appearances at Arewa House, Kaduna and in Kano, the former Senator is advising the political hopeful to ensure that he gets his own team that would work with him and in the process also afford him better counsel as to the deeper and underlying issues about how well or not he is accepted in the region.

Affirming that at the moment, the majority of the common people in the North do not exactly support Tinubu’s presidential ambition, he urged him to take lessons from the experiences of the likes of Bashorun Moshood Kashimawo Olawale (MKO) Abiola who finally found out that he could not count on the support of quite critical northerners that he had been relying on.

“Well, the person of Asiwaju is the one I know in the field of struggle. He was one of those in the struggle for the restoration of democracy and also a leading figure in the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) while I was part of the fight for democracy. We worked together for MKO’s project and for the resistance against the annulment.’

Making an allusion to an earlier tweet where he had counselled that Tinubu should get Hausa speakers who are loyal to him to help with proper translations of remarks made by Northerners in the course of his trips, he remarked that this would help get a proper and accurate gauge that he could work with, even as he linked it with the travails of MKO Abiola.

“I know [Tinubu] personally. But what I tweeted is more of a Biblical/Shakespearian allegory or whatever one can use in sending message to someone and what I am trying to say is that as he is allegedly moving towards contesting for the presidency, he should try to know the actual feeling on the ground as far as the North is concerned because I know what Abiola went through.

“Abiola served the North more than any other businessman from the western part of Nigeria. He printed the Quran and shared it to many Muslims. He donated houses and empowered people; he supported academics and religious clerics. Abiola was one of those passionate about the unity of Nigeria because of the solidarity between the South-West and the northern part of Nigeria. But how did he end up? They (northerners) conspired against him and sabotaged him and at the end of the day, he was gone.”

Keen observers say Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu used his trip to the North to meet voters and power brokers who are normally not on social media.Photo credit twitter

A mine field of booby traps

The deterioration of affairs in the polity at the moment has even made political permutations more difficult as there are indeed an ever increasing array of contending matters. One of these is the inconvenient issue of religion. Though it has almost always been a factor, it promises to take a high note of its own in the Tinubu aspiration at some point in the process. This is more so when the same Tinubu had also been a front-line contender for the VP position in 2015 before religion and several other related-intrigue points stopped him.

In the 2023 drive, the religion card is already registering in two ways in preliminary debates of the subject. One, against the backdrop of the ethno-religious tensions in the land at the moment, would the dominant Christian electorate of the South eventually see the Muslim Tinubu as their own candidate without any scruples? And even for the North, what kind of VP choice should Tinubu be considering? A Northern Christian to balance his Southern Muslim card? But should he take that route, would the majority Northern Muslims see such as choice as sufficiently representative of their own ethos? Heads, tails, this is surely going to be one tough nut to crack.

There is also the issue of South West, South East relations and the continuing clamour for a President of South East origin.

Says the political activist and pundit, Tony Akata:

‘Tinubu’s major obstacles would come from the South, that is from within the Yoruba and Igbo blocs. He is also thinking he would get the support of the North but this is quite tricky. If they get, say a Tambuwal to run against him in the North, he would then have even major issues even in the North. We should not forget the experiences of Abiola and even Obasanjo so easily when it comes to having politicians from the South having dealings with the North.’

But there are those who believe that given the state of political and economic failing in which the country is presently enmeshed, and the very parlous security situation countrywide, angling for political office at this time is simply building on quicksand.

‘My take is that without the institution of serious restructuring and electoral reforms, we should simply not bother with elections and electoral contests in 2023. It is simply a distraction. Will there be a Nigeria by 2023? At least not in a state for these so called elections to be held. And on the specific candidacy of Bola Tinubu, I am not impressed. He does not have what I believe the next leader of Nigeria should have. So my response to his candidacy straight away is a no-no,’ Okiemute Umukoro, a business systems expert remarked.

His view is not dissimilar from that of Allison Etemike, a lawyer and social commentator.

‘Tinubu does not have what it takes to hold Nigeria together beyond 2023. The Nigerian political class know that they have literally boxed the nation into a cul de sac. They are aware. That we are faced with a very onerous task and most herculean challenge. What is needed is a honest, courageous, conscientious, charismatic, even-handed and fair leader. And I am not satisfied that Bola Tinubu is that person.’

Bola Tinubu and President Buhari have been known to be strong allies

The blogger and activist, Sunday Esado is also not enamoured of the Tinubu presidency project and he explains:

‘As a patriotic Nigerian, I believe a Tinubu Presidency would further plunge our country into political nepotism and wanton destruction occasioned by embezzlement, malfeasance, financial recklessness and lawlessness. We should just take a look at what is going on in Lagos and imagine the whole country as an extension of Lagos.’

But he also thinks that there are more obstacles and challenges for the dream of the former Mobil Accountant to become Nigeria’s Number One citizen.

‘First, Tinubu needs massive support in the north where he has little or no popularity at all. A candidate like Atiku would definitely cash in on this loophole if he emerges the flagbearer for PDP in 2023. This would explain why Tinubu has been deliberate in his drive to win the north over.

Second, I would have suggested Nuhu Ribadu or Governor El-Rufai as potential vice Presidents for him, but I am reminded that the Muslim – Muslim equation was the main reason he had to relinquish his Vice Presidential ambition to Yemi Osinbajo in 2015 in the first place. It is surely going to be interesting and full of twists and turns. But one thing is obvious. Tinubu wants to be President. He has always wanted to be. It was one of the main reasons for the coalition that led to the removal of Jonathan in 2015 and there are flyers and posters in that regard already in some parts of Lagos and elsewhere in the country.’

*Culled from April Issue of PAV Magazine

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Laurent Gbagbo And The Politics Of International Justice.
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Chief Charles Taku*

Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands January 2019.Photo credit ICC

The judgment of the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court confirming the acquittal of the former President of Cote D’Ivoire and his former cabinet Minister Charles Goude Ble brings to public attention, once more, the intensity of the problem facing the Court more than two decades after it was created. The acquittal clarifies the debate which I helped to jumpstart, about the unfair and unwarranted exclusive focus on Africa by the ICC Prosecutor.

 From inception, this charge was dismissed with reckless arrogance by persons who miscomprehended the original objectives of the Rome Statute which I strongly support, to be an instrument for settling political scores. Others misconstrued my concerns and criticism for support of perpetrators of atrocity crimes on the continent of Africa.  This was inaccurate. I admitted at every opportunity that atrocity crimes are committed in Africa and that the perpetrators must be held accountable. My participation for over two decades in all international courts  and tribunals contributing with my peers from all parts of the world, Africa in particular,  in the search for international justice and the respect for the international rule of law, attests to my commitment towards accountability for international crimes.

The acquittal of President Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Goude Ble, present an opportunity once more, for the ICC to bring about the reforms which a majority of the State Parties of the Rome State and international justice seekers in Africa and the rest of the world are seeking.  Here are the reasons.  The ICC intervention in political conflicts which escalated into violence and atrocity crimes in Cote D’Ivoire, Kenya and Libya were perceived to be politically motivated. This criticism was validated by the high-profile public statements made by media frenzied Moreno Ocampo, the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC at the time. He has since he left office, publicly admitted this fact, at least on the situation in Kenya.

President Alassane Ouattara pictured in the center says Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Ble Goude are free to return to Ivory Coast after their acquittal at the ICC.Photo courtesy

The Gbagbo trial and acquittal on a no-case submission confirmed on appeal, shows that this case should never have been brought to trial in an international criminal court or any other court.  This followed the familiar path of the Kenyan cases which were either poorly investigated or should never have been brought to trial. This is one of the reasons why I expressed public concerns about the ICC intervention and its case selection.  Should the ICC Chief Prosecutor intervene in African situations where atrocity crimes are committed? The answer indeed is yes. Why then criticise ICC interventions when they occur to confront impunity in the continent of Africa?  The answer is that, the intervention is warranted provided it is not done to satisfy neo-colonial and neo-economic imperialism of super powers from the west and the east and former colonial powers who are still ruling the continent through proxies and stooges. These are the special interests that are behind many of the conflicts in Africa and who have been influencing ICC case selections in Africa in ways which have failed to comprehensively take the interest of victims into consideration. 

The ICC intervention in disputed political conflicts in Africa, provided the opportunity for neo-colonial stooges in power or in search of power, to directly or indirectly manipulate the ICC case selection processes to engineer the removal of their political opponents and through the process, resolve their political problems. Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Goude Ble were victims of this manipulation, which I called from inception, international political justice. The reason for this political label is that despite public assurances, the authorities of Cote D’Ivoire which took over power without any form of democratic process, after the arrest of President Gbagbo, failed to co-operate with the ICC once the Prosecutor evinced an interest to look in their direction.  The result is that the ICC intervention in Cote d’Ívoire and the prosecution of President Laurent Gbagbo was victor’s justice.   It raised the hopes and expectations of victims on the side of victors which with this acquittal have not been realised and victims on the side of President Gbagbo who were abandoned to their fate. In this regard, the Gbagbo ICC prosecution divided Cote  D ‘Ivoire and laid the ground for future conflicts.

Mr Laurent Gbagbo and Mr Charles Blé Goudé in Courtroom at the ICC. Their acquittal was hailed across Africa. Photo credit ICC

 Does the acquittal of President Gbagbo mean crimes were not committed in Cote D’Ivoire?  The answer is no. Crimes indeed were committed in Cote D Ívoire and the victims on all sides were entitled to justice.  The acquittals establishes that the ICC Prosecutor took the wrong persons to the Hague. This has caused significant injustice not just to the acquitted but all the victims and people of Cote d’Ivoire.  The prosecution while it lasted, helped the perpetrators of the atrocity crimes who should have been brought to justice, to strengthen their hold on power, whitewash their crimes, embolden impunity and the tyranny of power. This is a grave injustice done that was done to the people using the ICC prosecution. It had to speculate whether this is what the ICC prosecution bargained for or it fell into a neo-colonial entrapment and realised late while the results began to show, like these acquittals, in Cote D’Ivoire and Kenya? Or it was complicit in the ploy?  I am not able to answer with certainty. The results speak for themselves.

Lest we forget, the acquittals are not a setback for the Rome Statute and its founding objectives per se. We do not measure the success rate of a court by acquittals and convictions. An acquittal or conviction are vectors of justice which must be celebrated when justice is done and seen to be done. So, was justice done by the acquittal of President Gbagbo and Charles Goude Ble? The answer is undisputable in the positive There is an injustice when innocent people are prosecuted and spend almost a decade of their lives in detention far from home for crimes they did not commit and without compensation. The injustice lies in the perceived selective political profiling of the acquitted  President Gbagbo and Charles Goude Ble and the harm caused using the mechanism of international justice.

This case brings into sharp focus the criticism of the ICC for its exclusive focus on Africa for over two decades of the Rome Statute. The Rome Statute intended the Court it established to represent the face of the universe which it was supposed to serve.  The exclusive focus on Africa by the Court has not been compensated by the employment of persons of African origin in the Court or their involvement in the investigations and prosecutions. The citizens of the countries which have opposed ICC interventions outside Africa and in their own backyards have been the ones making decisions on Africa in the Court. This is indeed, unfortunate. 

Chief Charles Taku has consistently raised questions about the unfair and unwarranted exclusive focus on Africa by the ICC Prosecutor

While Fatou Bensouda came with a determination to look beyond Africa, she is leaving after her 9-year tenure without bringing a single charge against a non-African from other parts of the world or involved in African crimes. The minerals- for-arms merchants, land grabbers, mercenaries, economic predators who are sponsoring to engineering atrocity crimes in Africa, appear to be immune from accountability. Neo-economic imperialists and neo-colonial interests that contributed to bringing Gbagbo to the ICC should be worried because even if Gbagbo does not make a comeback to power, he will greatly influence the political destiny of his country and that of progress forces in Africa for the foreseeable future. The acquittal has elevated his profile to that of a living political legend. The ferocity with which he opposed the lingering ghost of colonialism under Houphouet- Boigny, and his political offspring, will be intensified. Cote d’Ivoire and Africa will honour him as a hero. The progressive youth will be inspired and emboldened to pursue the fight for justice and the political and economic emancipation of a truly independent Africa, thanks to the resilience of Laurent Gbagbo.

 * *Culled from April Issue of PAV Magazine.Chief Charles Taku is an International Lawyer and a former President of the International Criminal Court Bar Association- ICCBA.

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Ecofriendly Cooking With Powerstove Energy
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Okey Esse successfully designed and developed Powerstove, a Tier 4 clean cookstove that is smokeless and super efficient

Founded by Okey Esse, Powerstove Energy in Nigeria uses advance technology to deliver a superior smokeless, IoT enabled cookstove that generates electricity.

“What we are doing in Africa has never been done by an African. All the major clean cookstove companies in Africa, from Kenya, Uganda, Lesotho, and Nigeria are not founded by Africans. So, when we started, we knew what the barriers and challenges were, and we were prepared to face that battle head-on,” says Okey Esse.

As of late March, Esse said the company had 111,201 paid orders, 99,822 shipped, and 102,060 users with 98% active monthly users.

“The Jua Fund will help us increase local production capacity to 12,000 units of stove and 100MT Wood Pellets monthly, plus expand to new markets in West and East Africa,” Esse said.

Could you start by telling us about Powerstove Energy and how it was conceived?

I started Powerstove out of personal childhood experience. As a child who grew up in a village without access to electricity till age 16, cooking with firewood was my worse moments (thick smoke, unbearable heat and uncontrollable fires). Unknown to me, the incessant coughs we experienced were a result of firewood smoke and that memory haunted me growing up.

So, while growing up, I was overwhelmed by how inefficient cooking and lack of electricity has been the twin problems hindering human and socio-economic development of 4-billion people globally. This discovery coupled with losing my mum, who worked as a village food vendor to ensure her seven children live and get an education and who died from myocardial ischemia, a heart disease she contracted from inhaling smoke from cooking with firewood, shaped my decision to study Physics at university.

While studying Physics Electronics, I focused on how to build a single affordable product that would solve all the problems associated with inefficient cooking and lighting with candles, kerosene, charcoal, and firewood.

Today, after long painstakingly efforts, I have successfully designed and developed Powerstove, a Tier 4 clean cookstove that is smokeless and super-efficient.

The Powerstove team says consumer confidence and trust keeps growing steadily

Can you explain how the technology works and how it could complement or fill the void created by chronic power problems in Nigeria?

Powerstove is based on Top Lit Updraft and thermoelectric technologies. Once the biomass inside the burn chamber is lit, the airflow system injects the right amount of oxygen into the burn chamber to ensure complete combustion of the fuel hence producing flames without smoke. Within three minutes, the temperature will reach 1000 degrees and initiate the conversion of thermal energy into electricity to charge phones and power LED bulbs and light 12 volt appliances.

What has been the response of the public to Powerstove?

Awesome, consumer confidence and trust keeps growing.

Powerstove Energy was founded in 2018, possible for you to shed some light on its progress, how many people do you serve now and how profitable has business been?

We have 111,201 paid orders, 99,822 shipped, 102,060 users with 98% active monthly users.

What are some of the big challenges that you have faced?

Electricity, double taxation, lack of incentives, and problems accessing skilled workforce

May we get your impressions on the selection of Powerstove Energy as one of the recent recipients of the Jua Fund?

We are extremely happy with our selection as well as being a recipient of Jua Fund. The announcement is timely, as we plan to scale our operations beyond Nigeria.

In concrete terms, may we know how the funding will help you in moving Powerstove Energy to the next level?

Jua Fund will help us increase local production capacity to 12,000 units of stove and 100MT Wood Pellets monthly, plus expand to new markets in West and East Africa.

How important do you think initiatives like the Jua Fund could help in supporting the work of dynamic young entrepreneurs like you?

Hardware is hard, that is why fewer entrepreneurs follow this path. Scaling manufacturing is one of the most difficult adventures to undertake in entrepreneurship and that is why initiatives like Jua Fund are very needed in Africa to help young entrepreneurs not lose interest, momentum and steam as they continue to build the next unicorn within the African startup ecosystem.

The Jua Fund will help increase local production capacity and expand to new markets in West and East Africa, says Okey Esse pictured here with Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo

Going through your profile we see there are a number of other entrepreneurial initiatives that you are involved in, you want to share some with us?

What we are doing in Africa has never been done by an African. All the major clean cookstove companies in Africa, from Kenya, Uganda, Lesotho and Nigeria are not founded by Africans. So, when we started, we knew what the barriers and challenges were, and we were prepared to face that battle head-on. Today, looking back at hat we have achieved within a very short time has encouraged other entrepreneurial initiatives to welcome Powerstove Energy to help us scale our knowledge, network and market access faster. 

How do you juggle your schedule to efficiently manage all these entities that you run?

I have a strong and committed team that works as a family to help each other achieve collective results.

*Culled from April Issue of PAV Magazine

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Adding Flair To Procurement With Xetova
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

We have tested the marketplace, have gotten very promising results and currently preparing to scale, says founder and CEO Bramuel Mwalo

From Kenya, Xetova, a technology solutions provider is reshaping the procurement ecosystem. Xetova is providing big buyers with solutions to be more efficient, better collaborate with suppliers, deliver more value and be more inclusive of local industry.

“By facilitating this level of real-time data and process collaboration, our tech assists 40% more SMEs in the procurement marketplace to access finance they need to fulfil their purchase orders or contracts,” says founder and CEO Bramuel Mwalo.

Could you start by introducing Xetova and the logic behind its creation?

We believe that the procurement marketplace is the largest trade opportunity provider on the continent. A big challenge to access and reap success from these opportunities, is the access to capital, hence the idea to set up the Xetova marketplace.

What is the value that could be added to business in Kenya if they use     your services?

The marketplace is a tool that can be used to enhance their competitive edge. We are not inventing a new transaction instrument for SME financing.

What we have done is provide tools that allow secure data collection, seamless data sharing and processing of relevant insights to enhance the current traditional access to trade finance. By facilitating this level of real-time data and process collaboration, our tech assists 40% more SMEs in the procurement marketplace to access finance they need to fulfil their purchase orders or contracts.

Since its creation what are some of the success stories you have registered and what are the challenges you have faced?

We have tested the marketplace, have gotten very promising results and currently preparing to scale.

Banks have shown considerable interest in taking it up to deploy in their already existing ecosystem.

Banks are uniquely placed as they already have buyers and suppliers as clients. ABSA Bank Kenya PLC, National Bank of Kenya and Momentum Credit are our clients. We have run successful pilots and are currently going through the process of scaling the environment they need to better identify and support performing suppliers.

What is the client base like at the moment for Xetova and any plans to eventually expand it to other parts of East Africa and beyond?

ABSA Bank Kenya PLC, National Bank of Kenya and Momentum Credit are among our clients. And we definitely plan to expand our footprint.

May we get your impressions after the recent selection of Xetova as one of the recipients of the inaugural Jua Fund?

We remain appreciative and encouraged by the deal we have closed with Jua Fund. This was very timely and something we would not easily have gotten elsewhere especially for our type of company as a fully owned African company from the current VC space.

How are things going to change for Xetova with this selection, what impact will this selection have on your vision and operations?

With what we know so far, the Jua team is likely to bring the resource, network and experience we need to scale across the Continent. We can only look ahead and prepare to fly.

The Jua Fund was very timely and something we would not easily have gotten elsewhere especially for our type of company as a fully owned African company from the current VC space, says Bramuel Mwalo

What role do you entrepreneurs like yourself and others playing in the development of Kenya and Africa and how important is it to have more initiatives like the Jua Fund?

Development is simply a bunch of ideas, and resources working together. Entrepreneurs are important in this as either they are good at seeing the opportunities, bringing people together or taking the risk in using their own resources to kickstart something they believe is important. They are important in building the confidence and providing the evidence to stimulate support from government, corporates, and other development actors. Entrepreneurs are the backbone of Africa’s development and solution to Africa’s most difficult problems.

To young Africans who see in you now an example to follow in their entrepreneurial journey, what words of wisdom or success tips can you share with them?

Entrepreneurship is not a sprint. It is also not a competition, so set your own clock and you have all the time to grow. Take your time to learn as much as you can, seek counsel from those you can access, start from where you are and be kind to yourself. It all works out in the end for those who genuinely follow their path.

*Culled from April Issue of PAV Magazine

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Nonjudgmental Access To Sexual & Reproductive Health with Whispa
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Personal and professional experiences with the challenges young people face when trying to access sexual and reproductive healthcare led to the conception of Whispa Health mobile app by CEO, Morenike Fajemisin

From Whispa Health Limited in Nigeria comes the mobile app Whispa that provides people with nonjudgmental access to sexual and reproductive health information, products and services.

“In Nigeria, one out of every 5 women has given birth by age 18 and the use of contraceptives remains very low. There were 3.4 million unintended pregnancies and 2.7 million abortions in 2019. Furthermore, although Nigeria has one of the highest rates of new HIV infection in sub-Saharan Africa, rates of HIV testing remain low and many people living with HIV are unaware of their status, our goal is to change the status quo,” says CEO Morenike Fajemisin

What is the Whispa Health mobile app and how was the idea conceived?

WHISPA is a mobile application that allows everyone (especially young people) to conveniently access Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) education, information, products and services. Our users can have private (even anonymous) chats with a WHISPA doctor, book appointments for contraceptives, cervical cancer screening or laboratory tests. They can also privately purchase sexual health products like HIV test kits, condoms and we discreetly deliver to their homes/offices.

The idea was conceived by our CEO, Morenike Fajemisin, as a result of her personal and professional experiences with the challenges young people face when trying to access sexual and reproductive healthcare.

 May we know how many users that you currently have and the feedback     you have received from the public about the app?

We have over 16,000 users

Talking of sexual and reproductive health, what is the situation like in Nigeria?

In Nigeria, one out of every 5 women has given birth by age 18 and the use of contraceptives remains very low. There were 3.4 million unintended pregnancies and 2.7 million abortions in 2019. Furthermore, although Nigeria has one of the highest rates of new HIV infection in sub-Saharan Africa, rates of HIV testing remain low and many people living with HIV are unaware of their status.

These problems are brought about and worsened by our society’s cultural and religious biases and the lack of shame-free and confidential access to quality sexual and reproductive health information, products and services for young people (especially those who are unmarried. Our goal is to change this status quo.

What are some of the challenges you have encountered in the course of trying to grow the App and your company?

We encountered some typical challenges that start-ups face, like raising our initial capital to build our product, hiring good hands and finding a team that was willing to buy into our vision at such an early stage.

As we began to grow, we needed to manage our funding properly in order to give us ample runway until more funding was secured and we are proud of everyone that has started this journey with us.

Your company Whispa Health Limited was recently selected amongst the recipients of   the inaugural $2 million JUA Fund, how was this news received?

Our team was excited and ecstatic and some of them were also on the private zoom call to receive the news along with WHISPA’s founders. We wanted them to hear from Adam Molai and the judges and to appreciate the validation of the work we have all put in.

How did you find the application process and what are some the things you learned in the process?

We found JUA’s process to be unique and efficient. They were very detailed and thorough and also able to understand that some businesses like ours are just starting while some have many years under their belt.

The best part though was the Olympics. Each day was focused and detailed. As much as we were the one’s competing, we also learnt a lot from the judges.

Adeboye Fajemisin

What impact do you see support from the JUA Fund having on your vision and operations?

The JUA Fund is critical to our growth plan and achieving our target of 200,000+ downloads in 12 months. We also expect it to help us with recruitment and retention of key personnel that are needed as we grow and scale our innovation.

Any plans or thoughts about eventually expanding the Whispa Health Mobile App to other parts of Africa?

Certainly. Our vision is to become the number 1 solution provider for Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare in Africa because African countries have similar challenges when it comes to accessing sexual and reproductive healthcare. Therefore, we see Nigeria as our launchpad for WHISPA with goals to expand to neighboring Ghana and then all over Africa.

Based on the experiences you have acquired, what words of advice do you for other aspiring young entrepreneurs out there?

Find a business you have passion for, think of an innovative way to carry it out, then make a plan to do It. Depending on your background and available financial support, it is not going to be easy, but if you want it hard enough, stay on course and do not give up.

**Culled from April Issue of PAV Magazine

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Affordable Technology For Quality Education with Bryt-Knowledge
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

We believe that the future of knowledge sharing will be online, says co founder and CEO, Rumbidzai Sithole

With its current operational base in Zimbabwe, Bryt-Knowledge is a multifaceted online educational platform that connects students with subject matter experts using technology.

“We believe that the future of knowledge-sharing will be online, and we are helping Zimbabwean students (and students in our future growth markets) to gain access to knowledge from top tutors. Most importantly though, we believe that Bryt-Knowledge’s key impact will be creating a pan African jobs marketplace where people who are skilled (yet unemployed or under-employed) can be paid to share their knowledge, says founder and CEO, Rumbidzai Sithole

Rumbidzai Sithole, is founder and CEO Bryt-Knowledge of Zimbabwe, when was your company created and what does it do?

When the pandemic started, we all found it difficult to find high-quality online tutors for our children. While there are numerous online tutoring platforms across the world, we found that across Africa, most tutoring services were in-person and required committing upfront to a set of lessons. In addition, most ed-tech solutions were pre-packaged and not interactive. We set out to build a flexible, easy, on-demand platform for knowledge-sharing.

In countries where the BRYT APP and BRYT Web platform is available, students can request a 1-1 personalized lesson with a tutor on any subject matter, within their own set budget, and a time convenient for them. Tutors are pre-vetted and also get to set their rate in a bidding system.

How affordable are your services and how have Zimbabweans received it?

Our platforms are a marketplace for tutors, and they bid at will. So, prices can vary across tutors based on the strength of their profile (credentials and ratings) and demand for a particular tutor. We are planning on launching our operations at the end of April and will be able to give an account then of how the market has received our products.

In what ways do you think your services could change the educational landscape in Zimbabwe?

We believe that the future of knowledge-sharing will be online, and we are helping Zimbabwean students (and students in our future growth markets) to gain access to knowledge from top tutors. Most importantly though, we believe that Bryt-Knowledge’s key impact will be creating a pan African jobs marketplace where people who are skilled (yet unemployed or under-employed) can be paid to share their knowledge. We also envision a situation where knowledge-seekers in any of our target markets will have access to the full range of tutors across countries. We envision a future where Africans will be trading in knowledge, through Bryt.

What are some the challenges that you have had to grapple with putting in trying to grow Bryt-Knowledge?

Similar to other early-stage entrepreneurs, the biggest challenge we faced is in building a team. As a start-up, our budget is lean, but we also need to hire a team that is versatile and highly talented (which is a contradiction as the best talent comes at a high cost). We are however very pleased with the incredibly talented team that we have managed to build.

Bryt-Knowledge was recently selected as one of the recipients of the Jua Fund, how helpful will this be to vision of the company?

Prior to entering the Jua Kickstarter Fund, we had contacted a number of Africa-focused venture capital firms with little luck. Most were US-based, had automated responses that stated that they only consider funding applications from entrepreneurs recommended by individuals within their network. What quickly became apparent is that for most African early-stage entrepreneurs, there is very little chance of raising capital without these networks. The Jua Kickstarter gave us a chance to implement our business, an opportunity that we believe we would not have gotten elsewhere.

Jua is a great demonstration of what can happen when African entrepreneurs are given a chance, says Rumbidzai Sithole

How challenging was the selection process and what are some of the things you have learned along the way to help with the progress and sustainability of Bryt-Knowledge?

The Kickstarter process was quite challenging, but extremely helpful in helping us hone our business idea and how we communicated about it. In addition to the very detailed application that we submitted, we had to prepare pitch documents for each of the five days of the competition. Each day had a different theme, which allowed us to think critically about each aspect of our business. The highly thoughtful questions from the judges provided key insights into areas that needed our attention. We are also grateful that the Jua team will continue to play a support and advisory role as we launch our operations.

What role do you see entrepreneurship playing in the development of Zimbabwe and Africa?

The co-founders of Bryt-Knowledge all have prior extensive experience in operational roles at pan African (and African owned) businesses. We have all seen the unique impact that African-owned and African-run businesses have not only in terms of generating income but also in understanding the unique challenges and opportunities that the continent provides. Our ambitions are pan-African so that we can also make our unique contribution.

A word to Mr. Adam Molai who initiated the Jua Fund, what is it you can to ensure that he feels vindicated in the support and believe he has in Bryt-Knowledge and other similar projects?

We are so grateful to Mr. Molai and the whole Jua team for the support not only to our organisation but to the other companies in our cohort. The high quality of the shortlisted companies and the impact that they aim to make beyond profit is heartening. Jua is a great demonstration of what can happen when African entrepreneurs are given a chance – we believe that this is truly the start of a revolution in African early-stage financing.

Culled from April Issue of PAV Magazine

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A Dependable Supplier of Digital and Solar Solutions in Jirogasy
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Our short-term plan is to become a supplier of digital and solar solutions in multiple countries ,says Jirogasy founder Yann Kasay

Founded by Yann Kasay, and based in Madagascar, Jirogasy manufactures, assembles and designs solar home systems and communication systems for solar. In 2019, it invented a solar-powered computer that it is currently improving for a 2nd version.

“This selection is one of the most important milestones achieved for our project. It   shows that our project has gained the attention of some of the most influential business personalities in Africa,” says Yann Kasay.

What motivated the creation of Jirogasy?

The main reason for the creation of Jirogasy was to prove that we could innovate in Africa and we could manufacture locally without importing all the parts. The growth of the open hardware ecosystem and the “Do It Yourself” movement for the past 10 years had been a source of inspiration. When I saw that some DIY makers like Joseph Prusa started with nothing and could manufacture its 3D printers in Czech Republic to become one of the largest suppliers of 3D printers in the world in 4-5 years, I thought that we could do the same in Africa and in my country, Madagascar.

However, I wanted to have an impact and I thought there were more useful products than 3D printers to produce for my country and Africa. That’s why I decided to produce my own solar kits to begin with and later on we invented a solar powered computer that is one of the few solutions that exist which can give full access to a digital desktop in Africa.

What are the advantages solar presents in Madagascar and what potential do see?

Madagascar has about 360 sunny days per year. When looking at this statistic and the fact that 19 million people don’t have a reliable access to energy, creating a production line of solar products and IoT-based solutions to solve problems around the theme of energy access appeared to be the way to go. We wanted to come up with African solutions for African problems since we believe some of the solutions to African structural problems can be solved by locals for the locals.

May we know the progress Jirogasy has made since its creation, how many people are you serving and how profitable has business been for you?

We sold our devices to NGOs in order to have greater impact from day one. The goal was to reach the maximum of beneficiaries from day 1. By the end of 2019, our devices are present in five regions of Madagascar and we have equipped 20 medical clinics and six high schools. We have also provided access to energy and digital to associations aiming to improve education or rehabilitate vulnerable children.

We will now aim our efforts toward larger distribution to offer our products to the consumer and retail markets.

What are some of the major challenges that you have faced and is there anything the government has done to support you or create a better environment for you to operate in?

We started with limited means and tools to produce our first generation of products back in 2018 and we couldn’t afford to hire a salesperson since all our money went into the product design and the production of the first batches of our solar kits. It was very challenging to convince our first clients to trust us and to generate the first couple of sales. However, some NGO and associations helped us at first by purchasing our products and we cannot express our thanks enough for the trust they gave us 2 years ago.

Of course, we would like to keep pursuing our goal to make universal access to energy and digital a reality in Madagascar by working on a larger scale with a larger distribution as already mentioned, but also with some help from additional public and private institutions.

We would also be pleased to receive some extra help from the government.

Does Jirogasy have plans to eventually serve other neighboring countries or the intent is to remain just in Madagascar?

One of our goals in 2021 is to open an office in East Africa before the end of the year. We are of course discussing the matter with potential partners and investors. Our ambition remains to create African solutions for African problems and an expansion on the Continent has always been part of the plan.

Jirogasy recently scored a big win with its selection as one of the recipients of the inaugural Jua Fund how was this news received?

This selection is one of the most important milestones achieved for our project. It shows that our project has gained the attention of some of the most influential business personalities in Africa.

I was particularly thrilled to receive feedback and advice from Adam Molai in person among other very important personalities that were part of the judging panel. This kind of interaction with experts, successful entrepreneurs and investors helps build confidence and keeps us pushing toward our goals and global vision.

How did you hear about the Fund and what pushed you to apply?

I heard of it online and thought it was a great idea and a great opportunity for us to challenge our ideas and vision. I really like the concept and I wish more funds would organize this kind of event. It can boost the African entrepreneurial ecosystem and help to build connections between experienced businesspeople and young entrepreneurs.

With the support you are going to get from the Jua Fund, what will change for Jirogasy?

We have already started to change the scale of our project – Jirogasy now has 15 fulltime employees in Madagascar. With the help of the Jua Fund, we hope now to double the size of our team before the end of the year, significantly developing our sales team domestically and hopefully opening a new office in east Africa by the end of the year.

On the future of Jirogasy, what short-, medium- and long-term plans and vision do you have?

Our short-term plan is to become a supplier of digital and solar solutions in multiple countries while longer term we hope to diversify and offer services that are related to the know-how we are currently building, especially in the field of data gathering and analysis in remote areas which could help a lot of other projects in Africa to have an impact on the development of Africa.

**Culled from April Issue of PAV Magazine

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Connecting Farmers To Working Capital Through GrowAgric
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

GrowAgric founders Ore Alemede from Nigeria and David Njonjo from Kenya are opening up fresh opportunities for farmers

Founded by Ore Alemede from Nigeria and David Njonjo from Kenya, GrowAgric is a crowd-farming platform that connects farmers to much-needed working capital allowing them to scale and meet market demand while delivering profitability to themselves and their sponsors.

“Our experience in our different countries is a key strength as we are able to explore what has worked or not worked and bring together the best of both worlds to provide a solid offering and add significant values to our farmers, says Co-founder Ore Alemede.

May we start by getting an introduction of your company GrowAgric and how it was conceived?

GrowAgric is a crowd-funding platform that connects farmers to much-needed working capital allowing them to scale and meet market demand while generating profits for themselves and their farm sponsors.

We solve a crucial problem for farmers who have skill, existing demand, and the capacity to scale but lack the working capital required to do so. For these farmers we provide finances and also connect them to buyers with whom we have pre-agreed buying arrangement at a fair market price.

The idea for GrowAgric was conceived by David and me on an incubator programme where we were individually exploring ideas in our areas of passion. Given our background, we both quickly converged on an area of passion, agriculture. The more we talked about it the more we realized how aligned our vision was for transforming the agricultural sector.

You and the co-founder are from separate countries, and others may learn from your experience, how did you two blend the ideas and vision to form the kind of synergy that is bringing success for GrowAgric?

Yes, I am Nigerian, and David is Kenyan, but the key challenges faced by African farmers across the continent are mostly the same – access to finance, absence of a guaranteed market, low prices driven by the high number of middlemen in the value chain, and lack of access to wider market. We could both relate to these problems as David has been a farmer for over 10 years and I discuss these challenges on a daily basis with my parents who are also farmers. This made it natural for us to converge and get really excited about solving these problems.

Our experience in our different countries is a key strength as we are able to explore what has worked or not worked in our respective countries and bring together the best of both worlds to provide a solid offering and add significant values to our farmers.

We decided to start by addressing the financing gap which tends to be the root of the problem. In Africa, a sizeable proportion of the workforce are in agriculture, yet only a small fraction of bank lending goes to agriculture.

Our experience in our different countries is a key strength as we are able to explore what has worked or not worked and bring together the best of both worlds ,says Ore Alemede

In what part of the continent do you have strong operations and for those interested in your services, how can they access or make use of opportunities offered by GrowAgric?

We are currently based in Kenya and work with farmers in and around Nairobi. However, we have recently started to explore ways to service farmers across the whole of Kenya.

Interested individuals and institutions can view available farm projects on our website, request a sponsorship contract and get started on sponsoring farm projects. We provide regular updates on farm progress and are happy to organize visits to sponsored farms. We currently have a huge database of farmers in need of financing, and we are more than happy to discuss private sponsorship of large-scale farming projects with interested parties.

Interested farmers who are in need of funding and a market-based safety net should also register on our website and will be contacted by one of our field officers.

What are some of the challenges that you have faced?

It has been a very interesting journey for us.  There are a host of challenges faced by organisations like ours, but a key one is the lack of reliable data to support agricultural lending decisions. We tackle this challenge through partnerships – partnerships with farmer groups, aggregators and various institutions across the value chain. We use data from all of these sources to support lending decisions.

By continuously combining this data with data collected from our own farming projects, we are actively building a strong database that will support credit decisions and deliver value to a wider population of farmers.

GrowAgric was one of the big recipients of the inaugural Jua Fund, how did you receive the news and what does this mean for you going forward?

We were very excited to have been one of the recipients of the Jua fund. The experience was very invigorating.

In spite of the rigour of the process, one thing that stood out for us was that we were evaluated by a supportive panel of judges who were keen for us to succeed. 

The Jua Fund provides us with an opportunity to improve the functionalities of our platform, achieve operational efficiency, strengthen our product offering while improving our farmers network by over 60%. Even more important is the support and advice that Jua team provides which we started to experience from the first day of the Jua Kickstarter Olympics.

How competitive was the application process and what are some of the lessons you learned along the way?

It was a very competitive process, starting out with 700+ applicants and only 25 shortlisted for the final 5 days. The Jua Kickstarter Olympics really did feel like an Olympics and the format meant we had to be very well-prepared from the start as we got less than 24 hours’ notice that we had qualified for the next phase of the assessment.

David and I learned so much during the process, we learnt to ask ourselves the tough questions before someone else did. Also, it’s not just enough to have a great product or service offering but it is equally important to be able to sell the vision to would-be investors.

How important are initiatives like the Jua Fund in helping dynamic young entrepreneurs live their potential?

Initiatives such as the Jua Fund are the future of Africa. It is common knowledge that it is often very difficult for African entrepreneurs to access the funding they need to launch, grow and scale their businesses. While considerably progress has been made in the last couple of years, much is still to be done as Africa is booming with potential and opportunities.

The Jua Fund is not just a fund, it is also a partnership that provides coaching and mentoring to investees.

GrowAgric is less than a year old, what other successes can you share with us from the experience so far and where do you see the venture in the next two and in the next five years?

As an early-stage startup, we have experienced so much traction in so little time.  We have been able to secure sponsorships and commitment from investors across multiple countries, mainly in Europe and North America but also in Africa. We have successfully completed multiple farming cycles and built a network of farmers going through our onboarding process and who need over $400,000 in finance.

In spite of all this, we have a long way to go. We want to be recognised as the partner of choice for farmers not just in East Africa but across the Continent. We want to enrich the lives of our farmers, connect them to a wider market to trade, and help them with record-keeping which has a direct impact on financial management and sustenance. We are actively building our record-keeping and financial management tool to deliver on certain aspects of our value proposition to farmers before the end of the year.

We are ‘Farmers First’, and that drives everything we do now and our hopes and aspiration for the future.

**Culled from April Issue of PAV Magazine

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Challenging for Africa to Unleash Its Potential Without Industrialization-Adam Molai
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

By By Ajong Mbapndah L

Unless we industrialize, we will fail to unleash the latent potential presented by our abundant resources and youthful population,says Adam Molai

Unless Africa industrializes, it will fail to unleash the latent potential presented by its abundant resources and youthful population, says Adam Molai, African Industrialist, Founder of the JUA Fund, and Chairman of TRT Investments. Speaking in an exclusive interview with PAV, Adam Molai says the youthful population in Africa can either be its greatest asset if well leveraged, or its biggest threat if allowed to become restive owing to lack of opportunity.

“Africa is in a very poor state in as far as industrialization is concerned. We are still significant importers of finished goods and exporters of raw materials,” Molai says of the crusade on Industrialization that he has championed over the years.

“In 2018, Sub-Saharan Africa raw material exports amounted to $148 billion or 52% of total exports. That is a strong case for industrialization to convert a significant portion of our raw materials into intermediate goods or finished products, creating jobs and increasing the value of our GDP,” Adam Molai said.

On the JUA Fund which is his latest initiative to inspire the Continent’s entrepreneurial generation, Adam Molai expressed the hope that it will start a movement which will sweep across Africa. Describing the Fund as a ripple considering the enormous needs of the continent, Molai says the desire is to have a culture in the continent where entrepreneurs give back through facilitating the creation of more entrepreneurs.

Generous in detail about the building of his companies, Adam Molai says opportunities for the continent are immense, but leaders will need to develop confidence in the ability of African entrepreneurs and stop seeing them as inferior to foreign entrepreneurs.

Could you start by telling us your own interest and journey into entrepreneurship, how did Adam Molai become an industrialist?

So, I am a true-blue entrepreneur; I was never interested in working for anybody else. I have never worked for anybody else.

I often share one of my fondest memories being a 10-year-old selling matches to earn pocket money and thinking – ‘I love this!’. This is when the entrepreneurial bug struck.

I embarked on my first entrepreneurial venture when I was just 10 when I sold boxes of in-demand matches for a profit to make pocket money. While at boarding school, I sold food to fellow pupils for spending money.

In my first summer in university in the UK, I joined a network marketing business which was really an entrepreneurial exploit where I would sell frozen food products in Buckinghamshire. I recruited other students to join and work with me raising significant cash that facilitated my move to Canada.

In Canada, I ran the university consulting service, literally as an entrepreneurial venture, and this, together with other work, helped fund my university studies in Canada. I made so much money that I was able to leave a significant sum which created the Adam Molai Small Business Consulting scholarship where the proceeds from this sum are given as a scholarship annually to a deserving student at my former alma mater.

When I returned to Zimbabwe after completing my studies, I knew I didn’t want to work for anybody else.

My first business, whose infrastructure I had started constructing whilst still in university in Canada, was a chicken business of 7,000 broiler chickens. I brought solar equipment with me from Canada, and this facilitated 24-hour feeding of our chickens facilitating faster development of the chickens. There was no power in the area and thus the utilization of solar power with a storage inverter, in 1997, was quite an evolution.

I then re-opened my late father’s service station and supermarket, whilst at the same time also creating a stationery shop and copy bureau in my home time. So, within my first year of being back in Zimbabwe from the diaspora I was running four businesses.

These businesses spanned a significant distance and so my first two years were highly sleep-deficient. I would start my early Monday morning in my hometown, drive to Harare to order supplies for the retail outlets and chemicals for the chicken business; a 150km return journey to my hometown where the stationery business and supermarket were, ensure the goods were priced and then at the closure of the stationery shop after 5pm start the 140km drive to where my service station was. I would then collect the cash takings, use them to buy more grain from the local farmers and maize grinding mills, which we would use to mix with the stock feed, and then drive another 180km to the farm where we were farming chickens. I would monitor the slaughtering, dressing, and packing of the chickens and by 2am start the drive back to my hometown which from the farm was 230km.

I would sleep on this third journey back to my hometown and get back in time to start another day. Without fail, by 7am I would be back at my stationery store where my main office was. This, routine I continued for a full two years.

 I then got the opportunity to acquire the largest service station site in my hometown. I quickly converted what was the office and former car show room into the first 24/7 retail shop in Zimbabwe, taking a cue from the 7/11 concept I had been exposed to in Canada.

The move, which drew criticism from my own family and other businesspeople, led me achieve more than double the shop’s takings, transforming the retail landscape in Zimbabwe. Sixty percent of the retail sales happened in the hours when all the other shops were closed. To crown it off, which irresponsibility I didn’t understand then, we managed to get a liquor license for this shop and used to be the only 24/7 liquor retailer in the country, which resulted in inordinate sales. Within a year a 60 square metre shop was making more than US$1 million! That was the first million I made, at the age of 29.

Another transformation I undertook was transforming the chicken retail sector in Zimbabwe. When I grew up working in my father’s shop, only whole chickens and in some cases half chickens were generally sold in Zimbabwe. You could buy beef and pork in small and as-you-desired and as-you-could-afford portions, but not chicken. I didn’t understand why that was, so I started selling chicken pieces, not just whole chickens. That transformed the chicken retail sector and demand rose beyond our projections.

I also did some dealings in the petroleum sector before turning my attention to the tobacco sector. Zimbabwe experienced significant fuel shortages and I was fortunate to receive permission from Shell, the franchisor, to direct import own fuel. Fuel had always been a controlled product only available from to oil companies through the government monopoly. However, when shortages became severe fuel companies and private individuals could direct import.  Through an old high school acquaintance, who was importing fuel, I was able to receive multiple tankers a week of direct import fuel. Our site never ran dry, and we were selling over a million litres of fuel a month and still couldn’t meet demand. Cars would drive from neighboring towns to fill up as we were receiving fuel non-stop!

I had also, with support of very experienced tobacco skills we had on board, pioneered contract growing of tobacco that transformed the tobacco industry from around 4 500 mainly commercial farmers and opened the way for more than 85 000 local small-scale farmers to enter Zimbabwe’s tobacco sector.

In 2002, I co-founded Savanna Tobacco Company, which has now been rebranded as Pacific Cigarette Company, which is acknowledged as one of only two of the world’s most significant African-owned cigarette manufacturers. The company enjoys a significant share of the Southern African cigarette market.

Our business interests cut across several industries – including energy, manufacturing, property development, transport and logistics, air transport, financial services and beverage bottling – and at least seven African countries, including the African economic powerhouses of Nigeria, South Africa and Mauritius. However, we are now streamlining our portfolio to focus only upon manufacturing and distribution, property development and sales, and technology.

Our business now has over US$200 million of assets under control.

In November 2020, we also launched the $2 million JUA Fund, making it the largest venture capital fund by a private African business individual to empower and support African entrepreneurs.

So impressive was the quality of the projects from the entrepreneurs that we felt compelled to increase the fund from the original $1m announced to $2m,says Adam Molai on the JUA Fund

Today you are Chairman of the Pacific Cigarette Company and the TRT Investments, can you tell us a little more about this companies and how they fit in the vision that you have for Africa?

TRT Investments manages a diversified sector portfolio and operations in Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique and Botswana, and our latest interests have seen a foray into the US and European markets.

The aim is really to play our role in moving Africa from being on the menu to sitting at the global economic table. We believe this will only be achieved through production and productivity. So, we are aiming at driving the industrialization agenda for Africa.

TRT recently acquired, which is the largest non-food contract manufacturing business on the continent. It manufactures many leading multinational household FMCG brands. We aim to replicate this model into East and West Africa to create the largest non-food contract manufacturer in the world.

So, our ambitions are big, and we are committed to creating African institutions, with global recognition.

With the AfFCTA, we aim to leverage this opportunity to ensure localization of production on the Continent where currently there is only 18% inter-Africa trade compared to 80% Inter-Europe trade. So, just by trading more with ourselves as Africans we can grow our economies ad create the much-needed employment for our young population.

Our other area of focus is housing.

With the significant housing supply gap on the continent, and the growing population which is urbanizing at a rapid rate, it is imperative that affordable housing is availed to ensure that we help move from the squalid urban living conditions of the past.

Our final area of focus is technology.

Technology offers Africa the opportunity to leapfrog. It facilitates more efficacious and elegant solutions to Africa’s myriad challenges.

Pacific was born out of the industrialization agenda and fits into the TRT agenda. Having always lamented Africa’s over-reliance on agriculture for survival, I felt we needed to walk our talk and beneficiate this agricultural produce into finished goods and thus participate at a higher level of the value chain. Zimbabwe’s main agricultural export has been tobacco for a long time and therefore we took it upon ourselves to add value to this crop. There is a 15 to 20 times value multiplier from raw tobacco to cigarettes and that is what we have achieved in Pacific. So, the jobs and value which we were exporting in exporting raw tobacco, we are now retaining through producing finished goods. If we look at the $600 million of raw tobacco produced in Zimbabwe, if all transformed to cigarettes, Zimbabwe would have a $6-$12 billion tobacco industry.

For the attention of many out there who see in you a success story, what were some of the big challenges you face in building your companies and how did you successfully navigate them?

Success, to me, is a journey rather than a destination. It is a culmination of many failures and continuing to find different paths where one path has failed. Funding is always a challenge. I remember using $75,000 of my university entrepreneurial savings to start a small chicken business after university because I couldn’t get funding from the banks to augment this capital raise.

The challenge of raising money for my first business or to buy factory equipment, the challenges felt the same, and had the same ultimate impact – no funding – no business. We’ve mitigated fund raising challenges through performance. When you perform and develop a track record for performing, paying, and meeting your debt covenants, it becomes a bit easier to raise funding.

Another significant challenge faced was the dearth of African entrepreneurs available and willing to offer mentorship to others on their entrepreneurial journey. I failed to find takers, amongst those I approached, as unfortunately many in our society still see other people’s success as a threat to their success and attention.

So, the only option available became to be an avid reader, always reading both success and failure books as a way to understand.

Adam Molai says opportunities for the continent are immense, but leaders will need to develop confidence in the ability of African entrepreneurs and stop seeing them as inferior to foreign entrepreneurs

You have been on a crusade for industrialization and entrepreneurship in what shape is Africa in now, and why do you think it is imperative for the continent to change course?

Africa is in a very poor state in as far as industrialization is concerned. We are still significant importers of finished goods and exporters of raw materials.

In 2018, Sub-Saharan Africa raw material exports amounted to $148 billion or 52% of total exports. That is a strong case for industrialization to convert a significant portion of our raw materials into intermediate goods or finished products, creating jobs and increasing the value of our GDP.

China has become the global behemoth owing to industrialization. Thirty years ago, China was where we are today as a continent but has transformed from a developing nation to being at the cusp of being the largest global economy through a deliberate policy of industrialization.

Unless we industrialize, we will fail to unleash the latent potential presented by our abundant resources and youthful population. This youthful population can either be our greatest asset if we leverage it, or our biggest threat if they become restive owing to lack of opportunity.

Late last year you launched the Jua Kickstarter fund to provide entrepreneurs with capital to kickstart or expand their enterprises, may we know what impact you anticipate for Africa for this initiative?

Lao Tzu is famously credited with the saying that “The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step”. The launch and subsequent Jua Olympic week are the start of a movement which I hope will sweep Africa. It is only but a ripple, given the enormous needs on the continent, but we are seeing the impact it is having on encouraging other business leaders to also start looking at how they too can assist entrepreneurs on the continent. Our hope is that this becomes a culture on our continent of entrepreneurs giving back through facilitating the creation of more entrepreneurs, creating a snowball effect. The quality of the finalists as well as the solutions being proffered by the businesses we have decided to invest in give us great confidence that there will be significant impact that will emanate from this initiative.

It was always the intention that the fund would go beyond providing money. Entrepreneurs always need money, that is not in question. But they don’t only need money. They also need mentoring, advice, access to networks, access to markets, people to stress test their ideas, advisors and mentors who can help them see the realities and potential of their businesses.

That is what Jua will provide.

 Jirogasy and Bryt-Knowledge will be furthering education one through hardware the other through software, Side and Grow Agric, are disrupting the value chain of goods from farm to table, Powerstove Energy is saving the environment by their cooking stove innovation, Whispa Health is taking care of wellbeing, and Xetova is adding African flair to procurement.

Less than a year after it was launched, the first recipients were announced, may we know how the selection was done and your overall impressions on the applications and the eventual winners?

We had over 700 applicants who were shortlisted to 25 finalists, who met the criteria that their ideas had impact and were scalable.

The 25 finalists participated in the “Kickstarter Olympics”, a 5-day pitching session during which they were put through their paces by a high-profile panel of judges.

Eventually, we made offers to 7 recipients who all accepted.

We were immensely impressed by all our finalists, even those to whom offers were not made.

So impressive was the quality of the projects from the entrepreneurs that we felt compelled to increase the fund from the original $1m announced to $2m. 

About four of the seven enterprises selected have either female founders or co-founders, what role do you see gender or women playing in the vision that you articulate?

Research is clear that empowering women has more impact on societies and communities than empowering men. I am delighted that the Jua Fund, which is aimed at empowering all entrepreneurs, regardless of gender, has been able to benefit females to the extent that it has.

What metrics and support system does the JUA Fund have in place to monitor the outcomes or progress of recipients?

As I indicated, Jua is not only providing monetary support but non-monetary support in the form of mentoring and advice, introductions to other potential investors and funders. Where applicable, we will sit on the boards.

The phenomenal experience of the JUA judges, who have kindly accepted to offer mentorship and coaching, will serve to really help the entrepreneurs unleash their potential.

Through well-established Key Performance Indicators, designed to facilitate milestone-based release of capital, we hope to see better resource utilization and less of the unintended waste of resources that culminates from non-results-based funding mechanisms.

The Jury had some powerful names in the African corporate world, how challenging was it to get these high profile and busy people to dedicate the required time in the selection process?

It wasn’t challenging at all because all the judges share our vision of the importance of entrepreneurship for ensuring that Africa gets to assume its rightful place at the economic table, and they all wanted to do their bit to pass on the knowledge they have gained as entrepreneurs or in business to these emerging entrepreneurs.

They were so keen that at times we had more judges than we anticipated and needed. We had judges from across the globe, some of whom woke up at 3am daily to listen to the pitches.

As you may be aware, most start-ups / SMMES fail within the first two years, for a myriad of reasons. The judges who participated are aware of the challenges and want to do their bit to reduce this number.

The applicants certainly appreciated it; many commented on how the judges’ questions and insight had helped them rethink parts of their business.

What next for the Jua Fund, there are many young entrepreneurs out there who would love to try their hand in the next round, what are the plans going forward?

What’s next is just to keep growing and to support more SMMEs. We will hopefully have more money to avail in the future and we can structure the non-monetary assistance better as well.

We have learned a lot from this inaugural VC round, and we intend to build on that going forward so that it has much greater impact.

Our hope is that the success of the initial projects will, as we exit, create an even larger pool of funds to support even more entrepreneurs, creating a snowball effect. We have invested $2 million, if they perform and this spawns $20 million on exit, as an example, we then invest $20-millionn to spawn $200-million and this multiplier effect is what we seek and what we believe will facilitate our dream of empowering thousands of entrepreneurs.

Adam Molai is hopeful that the JUA Fund will start a movement which will sweep across Africa

In terms of recommendations to African governments, what needs to be done by them to create the enabling environment for brilliant ideas and initiatives that millions of Africans have to thrive?

Well, entrepreneurs need the right regulatory environment to grow so all governments need to scrutinize the laws, rules and regulations that they have in place to see whether they help or hinder entrepreneurial activity.

Governments also need to realise that they cannot grow economies and create jobs, that that is the ambit of business and they need to ensure that the business environment is conducive to that. So, the economy and entrepreneurs are not dependent on who is in government, but rather that there is policy certainty and that their markets are open to all. If our governments truly embrace the intentions of the AfFCTA, we will see a significant explosion of economies on the continent.

We also need to relook at our education systems which are largely not suited to nurturing entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial activity.

We also need to encourage local investment. African governments bend over backwards for foreign investors but do not do the same for local investors which means that local investors must deal with an unequal playing field.

What is your take on foreign direct investment and what role do you see the African diaspora playing in the development of the continent?

I think all investment is good. Africa lags in terms of investment so the more people who want to invest, the better.

But I do think that governments elevate foreign investment above that of local investment and I think that this is to the detriment of the continent. The reality is that if locals show confidence and invest, foreigners will invest alongside them. So what we should be doing is giving local investors the same benefits that we give foreign investors, we should be levelling the playing fields for local investors as they have more impact on the lives of Africans. They not only invest their money on the Continent, but they spend their money on the Continent too. This provides jobs for others and opportunities for other Africans.

I think the diaspora can be used more meaningfully than it is now. We know that remittances contribute $48-billion or an average 4.17% of Africa’s GDP but we should be looking at how to make better use of the resources of Africans in the diaspora.

Instead of saving their money in low-interest bearing accounts, we should look at getting them to invest in local start-ups and enterprises. In that way entrepreneurs have access to money and the diasporans get better returns whilst positively impacting their home countries to develop.

Looking at the realities today, the challenges, and the potential, what are your hopes and fears for Africa’s future?

Africa is at a major crossroad. With a growing young population, if Africa continues to grow at its current rate, it is expected to double to 2.5billion people; a quarter of the world’s population; by 2050. All these people need food, clothing, transport, housing and many other goods and services.

China’s growth was driven by a large population, creating significant consumption and ability to grow the economy phenomenally through the goods and services required by such a large population.

We dare not fail to rise to the occasion and create the businesses that will produce and provide all the goods and services that will be required by the continent. We certainly cannot afford to create a market for the rest of the world at our own expense. This is going to require significant unity and coordination across the continent to be realized.

China could easily achieve this growth because it is a unitary state. With 54 states, Africa will need significant regional and continental integration and harmonization to facilitate the remarkable infrastructural projects required to cater for such a huge population which is urbanising significantly.

So, the opportunities for the continent are immense, the challenges will really be from our own belief in ourselves to achieve for ourselves. Our leaders will need to develop confidence in the ability of African entrepreneurs and stop seeing our own entrepreneurs as inferior to foreign entrepreneurs.

Our people will need to also develop an appetite for local goods as opposed to foreign goods and our businesspeople will need to ensure that at all levels, our goods meet the exacting global standards for quality. Changing mindsets is a difficult process, as is establishing regional and continental trust; however, if accomplished, Africa could become the global powerhouse it has the potential to be.

*Culled from April Issue of PAV Magazine

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The JUA Fund: An African Initiative with a Pan African Focus
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Launched last year by African Industrialist Adam Molai,  the JUA (Sunrise in Swahili) Fund recently announced recipients of the $ 2 million to support entrepreneurs with capital to kickstart or expand their enterprises.

Bryt-Knowledge (Zimbabwe), GrowAgric (Kenya), Jirogasy (Madagascar), Powerstove Energy (Nigeria), Side (Kenya), Whispa Health (Nigeria) and Xetova (Kenya) all agreed to deals with the fund following a week-long “Kickstarter Olympics” during which they pitched their ideas to a high-profile panel of judges.

Molai, who has successfully started several enterprises across Africa and whose TRT Investments had $125 million of assets under management as of end 2019, says a desire to inspire the Continent’s entrepreneurial generation was behind the creation of the fund.

“Without entrepreneurs, economies cannot grow, and countries cannot advance. But African entrepreneurs unfortunately do not get the support they need to thrive for a myriad of reasons. Yet Africa is full of enterprising people,” says Adam Molai.

“Wherever there is adversity, there is opportunity. Africa is rife with adversity, wherever you turn business prospects are in abundance. Entrepreneurs provide solutions to societal challenges, whilst creating space for the advancement of their communities. I feel that Africa is so much more open, and it is full of so much more opportunity than you would find elsewhere. I want to do everything in my power to ensure that this potential is cultivated and unleashed,” says Adam Molai.

With a  panel of 17 judges included seasoned  Professor Benedict Oramah, President of the $20-billion Pan-African African Export-Import Bank; Dr. Amany Asfour, Chairperson of the African Business Council and Chairperson of COMESA Trade Promotions Council; Joel Nettey, the first African to be appointed President of the International Advertising Association; Brad Magrath, founder of Zoona, Zambia’s leading money transfer platform;  Anna Henry Nyimbo, founder of Cartrack Tanzania, Retriever Limited Kenya, Retriever Limited Rwanda and Neoboemi Africa amongst others, the selected entrepreneurs went through a rigorous selection process.

PAV brings you a special report on the Fund with exclusive interviews of Mr Adam Molai and the entrepreneurs selected as recipients of the inaugural JUA Fund.

*Culled from April Issue of PAV Magazine

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“Even if you don’t remember me, those 2.5 million children will do…”— says President Bio
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

The President who puts high Premium on Education

 By James Samba*

President Julius Maada Bio

 Despite decades of reforms in education especially school improvement initiatives, large number of pupils were still underachieving, failing or being pushed out of school. Clearly, a distinctly new approach was needed, the time for a serious government and policymakers to take a bold and comprehensive approach to education in Sierra Leone. There is no question that education is a powerful driver of change, transformation and prosperity.

 As the 2018 elections drew closer, the conversation about how to change the direction of the country gained even more prominence— focus on education and many other critical issues Sierra Leoneans were facing. During the campaigns, the New Direction Manifesto stood out, representing ideas of how to increase access to childhood education and how to make higher education more accessible and affordable, ensuring that every child in Sierra Leone has an excellent education. What an ambitious plan!!!

 It was on this manifesto that a man of dignity and valor arose to become the 3rd democratically elected President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, His Excellency the President Brigadier (retired) Julius Maada Bio, who postulated equity, accessibility, relevance, system-strengthening and integrity as the core of his Free Quality Education policy.

 In August 2018, the President defied his skeptics and went on to officially launch the New Direction Government’s flagship program—the Free Quality Education (FQE) – paving the way for easy access to education for over 2 million children in the country.

 “When I promised free and quality education my opponents said it was a political gimmick. But today, I have proven them wrong. In less than six months, we have shown that free education is POSSIBLE. I have always prioritized education as a means for development. As President, in order to demonstrate my commitment to education, my government has increased the budgetary allocation to education to 21 per cent of the national budget.” said President Bio at the launch of the FQE on August 20 at the Miatta Conference Hall in Freetown.

 A President, who means well for his country would invest in education in order to reinforce a society’s wealth and growth, where individuals can easily improve their own personal ambition,   productivity and outcomes. According to International Human Rights Law: “primary education shall be compulsory and free of charge whilst secondary and higher education shall be made progressively free of charge”, this is fundamental in guaranteeing everyone has access to education.

 The cornerstone of President Bio’s FQE is to increase nationwide access to quality pre-primary, primary and secondary schooling, as well as school level technical and vocational education and training. The goal is that ALL children will be able to successfully complete basic education and be prepared to move on to pursue higher education or training as appropriate for the workforce needed for national development.

 In 2020, the Government allocated Le1.4 trillion to the education sector representing 22% of the country’s annual budget. The FQE package includes: payment of tuition fees from primary to senior secondary school, provision of core text books, furniture and other learning materials including the payment of fees for all public examinations.

 Because we have a President, who understands that in many developing countries, families often cannot afford to send their children to school that was why he separated the education sector, where we now have the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary School Education (MBSSE) and the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education (MTHE) and appointing a young, energetic, and dynamic Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary School Education in the person of Dr. David Moinina Sengeh.

This Minister, together with his team has been working very hard to provide sufficient supply of learning and teaching materials, providing a conducive environment for learning by constructing spacious classrooms, providing adequate text books, furniture, WASH facilities, trained and qualified teachers, increasing teachers’ salary by 30% and the recruitment of 5,000 more teachers ensuring that even the ‘hard-to reach-areas’ are not left behind. What an audacious step taken by the New Direction Government!

 Under his leadership, Dr. Sengeh has also enticed cabinet to overturn the 2010 decision by the past administration that prevented pregnant girls from attending school. The New Direction administration has replaced the discriminatory procedure instituted by the APC government with two new policies focused on the ‘Radical Inclusion’ and ‘Comprehensive Safety’ of all children in the education system irrespective of class, ethnicity, tribe, disability, location, gender, reproductive or parenting status.

Recently, in Pujehun District, the Ministry commissioned 18 new and refurbished schools in hard-to-reach places across the riverine areas. This also includes providing training and stipends for the volunteer teachers in those parts of the country that have been neglected for decades. Mohamed Kallon, a resident in Bormu, YKK Chiefdom, Pujehun District, said “At first, when I heard, the President was going to pay school fees for every child, I didn’t believe until the day I went to pay my son’s fees, and was told that it was free—I felt so relieved”.

 “Every time I wake up in the morning, I always get excited because I now know there will be hot lunch waiting for me at the school”, said Alie Conteh, a class six (6) pupil at the Holy Angels Roman Catholic Primary School, Kambia District, Tonko Limba, Yankanbor village.

 In his citizen’s engagement on FM 98.1 ‘Good Morning Salone Breakfast Program’ on Thursday 8th April, 2021, whilst speaking about his Government’s three years administration, President Julius Maada Bio noted that in order to have a happy nation, individuals and their families should be happy.

 He said that was why he took the burden of paying school fees for about 2.5 million school children in the country and that the parents of those children, who now put those school fees into other use, are quite happy because his government has taken away that burden from them.

James Samba is a Mass Communication graduate from Fourah Bay College

 “No nation can ever develop without education. The future of this nation is our children. So, we have to invest hugely in educating the children and to have a happy and progressive nation in future”, he stated.

 After his 10 or more years of effective leadership of this great country, H.E President Julius Maada Bio would be widely considered as one of the greatest Sierra Leonean President’s because of his courage and leadership in making education Free for ALL.

 So, even if you don’t remember him, Alie Conteh together with those 2.5 million children would remember him…

 They would remember him for the 103 billion Leones subsidy paid for school fees…

 They would remember him for the 69 billion Leones paid for school feeding…

 They would remember him for the 3 billion Leones paid for furniture and other school materials.

 They would remember him for the 5,000 teachers recruited…

 They would remember him for 4,334 teaching and learning materials procured…

 They would remember him for the 3,044 schools approved…

 Candidates taking NPSE, BECE, WASSCE and NVQ in government and government assisted schools will also remember him.

*James Samba is a Mass Communication graduate from Fourah Bay College. He is the Technical Assistant (TA) to the Minister of Planning and Economic Development, NAO Building, Tower Hill, Freetown.

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Mozambique: Governement forces kill 36 terrorists in Palma
April 12, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jorge Joaquim

Mozambique’s Defence and Security Forces say that they have killed 36 insurgents during the terrorist attack on the town of Palma, at the Afungi peninsula in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, home to the site of French multinational Total’s natural gas project.

The forces added that the number might be higher, as the terrorists collected their casualties quickly. The attackers invaded the town on 24 March killing an unknown number of people.

“Up to this moment we have confirmed 36, but the number might be higher” Brigadier Vidigal Chongo told journalists in Palma on Sunday. “The terrorists have a tactic that they use. The first thing when they are dead is to quickly gather their victims to the rear” he added.

Chongo highlighted that the work of clearing the entire perimeter of the town had ended, and that they were now moving on to the phase of recovering the population that had fled to the forests.

He added that it was a critical phase which would require a lot of attention from the Mozambique’s Defence and Security Forces, so as not to allow terrorists to mix with the population and create more disturbances in the town.

The attacks come after Total removed its entire workforce from the site, leaving it in the hands of the FDS. Currently, there are around 30,000 refugees in Afungi.

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Kenyan, Ugandan Truck Drivers End strike, Deliver Cargo to South Sudan
April 12, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Juba – Ugandan and Kenyan truck drivers have ended their strike and finally agreed to deliver cargo to South Sudan after two weeks of protests over killings of some colleagues and general insecurity.

This was after the truck drivers refused to cross into South Sudan over the killing of their colleagues (Ugandan and Kenyan truck drivers) along the major highways such as  the Juba-Nimule highway, Juba-Mundri, and Yei-Juba roads.

This was reached after two days of negotiations between Ugandan and South Sudanese security chiefs at the border.

Early this week, hundreds of trucks delivering essential commodities to Juba parked at the Elegu border post on the Ugandan side as drivers demanded assurances from the Ugandan government over safety concerns in South Sudan.

This prompted a meeting of truck drivers and security chiefs of the two countries.

After two days of discussions, the South Sudanese government agreed to provide security to all truck drivers plying the main highways linking the two countries.

The South Sudan People Defend Force  (SSPDF) said they will now station soldiers along the roads connecting Juba to Nimule, to Yei up to Kaya –to ensure safe passage for travelers and commercial goods and services after a recent spate of ambushes and killings. 

They also agreed illegal checkpoints will be removed to ease the movement of trucks along major highways in South Sudan.

Business and traders said the government should continue to provide security to truck drivers along major highway to mitigate the soaring commodity prices in the market. 

More than 10 people including foreigners were killed and three trucks were set ablaze last week. 

Since yesterday, hundreds of trucks and cargos has arrived in Juba.

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Sierra Leone: A Time To Review And Take Sport Seriously
April 12, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Joe Pessima

For over 25 years, the Leone stars of Sierra Leone have not qualified for the prestigious African Cup of Nations tournament. Although the match didn’t play on the scheduled date (with controversy of COVID-19 test result in the way), it was a day of great significance. A deeply polarized nation was brought together by football. Seven million people were in bated breath in anticipation of a history making moment – where we become the sole deciders of our footballing fate. It is without doubt our darling Leone stars pull us all together in unity of purpose without regard to our common enemies of politics, religion, region etc. How much we can learn from that!

Let me digress. Sport has a unique and an unquantifiable impact in society. Be it a community causes to the inspiring of children from deprived regions, sport influences the lives of people on daily basis. In 2011, after Cristiano Ronaldo won the European golden shoe, he sold it at an auction for £1.2 million and donated the money towards building schools in war-torn Gaza.

Sport is a mega billion-dollar industry. In 2018, the global sports market was valued at approximately 471 billion U.S. dollars (Statista Research Department, 2020). The annual New York City marathon boosted the city’s economy to the tune of $340 million. Apart from its revenue generating ability, the sports industry in America produced 456,000 jobs with an average salary of $39,000 (Economic modeling specialist Intl.).

Back to Sierra Leone and sport. The importance of sport in the lives of Sierra Leoneans cannot be overemphasized. The New Direction manifesto listed sports as one of its sub-pillars in youth empowerment. It highlighted nine action points that will be implemented within a five-year mandate of the SLPP led government. This is so because President Julius Maada Bio believes that sports play an integral role in national development.

“The Government of Sierra Leone recognizes the enormous benefit sport provides and therefore acknowledges its importance in sustaining peace, building social and national cohesion, and creating enormous economic potential (job creation, income generation and stability), especially for young people. The relevance of sport has been neglected by successive governments and the entire society” (National Development plan 2019-2023).”

As President Bio has clocked three years in Office, it is necessary that we evaluate the impact his government has created in Sports. In the 2021 Citizen’s budget, the sum of Le 2.3 billion was allocated to the Ministry of Sports to cover the thirty-six sporting disciplines. Sadly, this is an extremely meager sum when compared to the ‘youth car wash project’ that enjoys the sum of 8.0 billion Leones. It is difficult to ascertain if the Bio administration has significantly increased budgetary allocation to Sports.

However, whilst they complain about a tight national budget in justifying the inadequate allocation, the Ministry of Finance intermittently allocates king-sized amounts to selected sporting disciplines upon qualification to international tournaments. In a Press release from the Ministry of Finance, the public was informed that from April 2018 to date, “the Government has disbursed 68,318,694,632.75 to the Ministry of Sports and the National Sports Authority for the PROMOTION, DEVELOPMENT and INTERNATIONAL PARTICIPATION of different sporting disciplines in the country.”

In his manifesto to the people of Sierra Leone, President Bio made several promises in relation to sports development.  He vowed to establish sport academies and provide facilities for sports development and recreation around the country. Currently, there is no functional football academy nor has Minister Ibrahim Nyelenkeh started any project of such.

Furthermore, the President promised to establish a sports development fund. In my research, there is no existing sports development fund in Sierra Leone.

The Inter-Secondary School sports meet was one of the most anticipated events for talent sourcing and it provided valued recreational opportunities to school going children. Reactivating it and other community activities was another marvelous hope given to the people of Sierra Leone, but it is yet to be delivered upon.

Alongside the resumption of national competition for all sporting disciplines, the President also promised to build standard stadium facilities in ALL regions including Western Rural communities in order to enhance the capacity of Sierra Leoneans in sport. All of these still remain in black and white as his mandate nears the end.

Undoubtedly, though, the Ministry of Sports and NSA has enjoyed over Sixty-Eight billion Leones in financial support from the Government with little or no evidential impact to show for it. Even so, it is not too late for a change in the direction of the New Direction. It is in my opinion that the policy and legal environment for sports development have to be reviewed. Before the end of 2021, the President should commit into having a national sports transformation conference in which experts will brainstorm the way forward.

The local councils have to be included if gainful transformation is to be achieved. Right across the country, very few schools can boast of having at least two recreational facilities for different sporting disciplines. Most communities are only proud of a football field and in most cases, it is the field of these schools that double as community playground. No wonder the infrastructure in these schools wears out quickly.

Conclusively, the major problem we face as a nation is the unwillingness to start our building blocks from ground zero. To attain an enviable height in any sporting discipline, we have to catch the talents at a tender age. Physical Health Education on Fridays should be reinstated across all schools. It will take 10-20 years of planning, monitoring & evaluation and deliberate investment if we are going to talk about sustainable and life changing gains. Generations before have failed us but we owe it to the next to prepare a solid foundation. We have to provide the enabling environment that will allow talents to decide their career pathway.

For far too long, our society has regrettably regarded University degrees as the only meaningful glory children can bring to their families. This moribund policy and inflexible system has left an insurmountable pressure on government for employment opportunities. Not everybody can be a Davidson-Nicol. Sierra Leone is in dire need of Mohamed Kallons, Cristiano Ronaldos, Serena Williams, Roger Federer and Anthony Joshuas too!

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COVID-19 Vaccine, Christian Right End-time Prophecy, and Conspiracy Theory
April 11, 2021 | 2 Comments

By Primus M. Tazanu

Dr Primus M. Tazanu is an anthropologist and Senior Guest Researcher at the Centre of African Studies, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

This article pivots around COVID-19 and its vaccine with the main point focusing on a claim by the Christian right that taking a COVID-19 vaccine may prepare your body and soul for an afterlife of eternal damnation. They believe the only way to avert everlasting doom is to refuse the vaccine. This trajectory of the Christian right anti-vaccine campaign further posits that there is a furtive plot by sinister forces behind COVID-19 vaccine to swindle human souls to Satan. Secondly, I state that these anti-vaccine campaigns that have garnered enough traction online and are cautioning the uptake of new inventions, are not new. My last argument cites examples as a way of demonstrating an anti-vaccine conspiracy theory may draw from concrete histories.

I use the term Christian right (CR) advisedly to refer to Christian fundamentalists found predominantly in Pentecostal and charismatic wings of Christianity. In relation to Africa where I draw my examples, several philosophies of the Christian right have overwhelmingly infiltrated and influenced the (Christian) religious views and practices, leading scholars to talk of an African Pentecostalite space. Concerning the present pandemic, how do we address some of these religious views that we now subsume under the general rubric of conspiracy theory? I will first flesh out the deeper meaning surrounding this belief that the vaccine alters the eternal destination of Christians and then, turn to an anthropological reading of how people respond to crises.

As children, we would, out of mischief, pull tricks on our chickens when we wished for free eggs. We touched the chickens’ fresh eggs, hoping that the hen would reject them. After observing for a while, and if we were lucky, the chicken would refuse to incubate the touched eggs. We then informed our parents about the development and they, in turn, told us to collect the rejected eggs. This trick worked only occasionally. Among the Christian right, the narrative surrounding COVID-19 vaccine runs on similar lines: God rejecting His (Christian God is male) children. Why God rejects those inoculated is because, suspects the Christian right, the vaccine transforms these individuals into new humans, unrecognizable by their creator. 

Since their bodies (and spirits) have been tampered with the vaccine, those vaccinated in turn have their bodies and spirits align more with malevolent forces; they are in Satan’s camp, so to speak. These unfortunate victims become pawns in the hands of the devil whose sole motive is to deceive, molest and torture. This sounds bleak and ominous, but you only need to turn to the bible to see where such interpretation is coming from, as some Christian rights cautiously associate the vaccine with the apocalyptic 666, the famous mark of the beast mentioned in the Revelation (13:17-18), the last book of the bible. This dreaded section of the Holy Book tells how buying and selling is reserved only to those having the mark of the beast. Push this a little further and you will reach this conclusion: you cannot succeed in conducting any transaction in the world unless you have a COVID-19 vaccine in your body. It sounds like the prophecy in the Revelation. Or does it?

A while ago, I mentioned that the Christian right cautiously associates the vaccine with eschatology for a good reason; linking the vaccine with the end times would denote what some Christians believe as rapture must have taken place. By rapture, they mean God has already sucked up his unpolluted children from the corrupt earth, suggesting being in a situation where you must take the vaccine/666 is already a post-rapture era. This is an interesting twist, a pyrrhic conundrum the CR conspiracy theory finds hard to resolve. No Christian right dare thinks the rapture has occurred. Those familiar with this version of Christianity in Africa would confirm that they always see themselves as the pure, the elect, and chosen children of God. Anyone, including non-fundamentalist Christians, not abiding by their dogma easily falls into the category of the infidel, those the Christian right speculates would not make heaven. To live in a period they interpret as post-apocalyptic is to admit that they share that world with the rejected, those that were left behind after the rapture.

For the Christian right, it is never a matter of doubt if they are the privileged children of God. They arrogate their proximity to God to set standards on what they consider as rightful Christian discourse. This is seen in the ways in which they – consciously or unconsciously – intimidate lukewarm Christians and non-Christians that they (CR) have direct access to God. We only need to turn to social media to understand what I am saying here. These media platforms are awash with countless god-told-me prophecies and Christian right anti-vaccine campaigners habitually draw their energies from the god-told-me narrative to place a curse on the vaccine and the forces behind it. Come to think of the god-told-me doctored and graphic images, the deepfake, the videos, text, and voiceovers that urge Christians to fight back at the evil forces promoting the vaccine technology. This attempt at saving their communities, admittedly, draws on supposedly personal revelations from God. And since the messages are delivered to them personally – usually in dreams – it is convenient for anyone to invoke God to convey divine anti-vaccine missives, presenting the jab as a temptation, as one of the many spiritual objects understandable in these binaries: good/bad, benevolence/malevolence, heaven/hell, God/Satan, pure/polluted, etc. Because satisfactory answers in relation to COVID-19 are sometimes hard to come by, added to the speed at which unverified information circulates online, what the Christian right is doing is simply asking questions and casting doubts in the minds of people. How the coronavirus spreads, whom it kills the most, the speed with which the COVID-19 vaccine was developed, the manufacturers’ concurrent announcement (collusion?) of the vaccine roll-out, the paranoia of the lockdown, further lend a speculative substrate on which their conspiracy theory thrives.

One must admit that Christian right COVID-19 conspiracy theory follows a consistent trend of their suspicions of inventions. For example, even as they are reputed as avid users of new media technologies, the Christian right has, at times, had this struggle to accept technologies from the onset. Not long ago, they suspected personal media identities such the mobile phone numbers, Facebook, and email accounts introduced users to an evil online world. In my research on mediated Pentecostalism, I have heard people testify that Facebook and chat rooms initiated them into a demonic world of promiscuity and unquenchable sexual desires. Perhaps, this is just an addiction to sex, but beaming a Christian ray on their experience lends it a necessary mystical dread, allowing the pastors to intervene as expert exorcists. Anyone watching the Pentecostal scene in Africa quickly realizes that these exorcisms are instantly mediated (and shared) on social media platforms. In fact, take away social media, the smartphone and TV from the pastors and that would, undeniably, be almost the end of their world.

From the online material shared by, and about the pastors, we easily notice that these leaders have developed a personality cult. We get to understand they have the supernatural powers to see, hear, perceive, feel, etc. As mentioned before, we get the impression that they are privy to God’s mind. Challenge CR leaders who associate 5G with COVID-19 and the response you get from some of their followers – inspired by Jesus chiding people who do not see beyond the face value – is that you are blind and incapable of seeing what their pastors see. For many followers, whatever a pastor Christianizes is an incontestable truth. And with the COVID-19 pandemic, an all too familiar scenario has emerged whereby the pastors beef up their relevance by staying in the spotlight, lead conversations, and most of all, exercise influence over their audience. They cannot imagine a world in which they do not speak about events that affect their followers and in doing so, some of them set themselves as experts on everything, even if what they say is premised on falsehood. Again, think of this assertion that 5G network causes COVID-19 or that COVID-19 is a strategy to lockdown places, keep people indoors while authorities embed 5G cables into the earth. Yet again, challenge this assertion and you will be accused of propagating fake news.

Though the conspiracy theory may not have as its main point, the jumbling of what appears to be generally accepted knowledge, it would sound uninformed to completely dismiss some of the grounds on which it draws its doubts. Even if it does not turn out to be true, a conspiracy theory may be based on prior experiences. Take the case of black people. That many of them easily lend ears to treacheries surrounding COVID-19 is not unfounded; historical records exist on how their bodies have been abused in the name of improving medicine and science. A few recollections: remember the Tuskegee untreated syphilis experiment on black men as well as the American gynecological practices whereby black pregnant women’s bodies were abused for the sake of scientific advancement? Or a South African mercenary group – posing as medical practitioners – spreading HIV/AIDS among black South Africans during the apartheid period? For sure, these harrowing histories linger in the memories of black people and their skepticism of COVID-19 vaccine cannot be dismissed as unfounded.

The point I am emphasizing here is that, if black people shun the hospital or do not want to participate in drug clinical trials, it is not because they do not believe in science; they may just be skeptical of the scientists. It is because they read deeper meanings when influential figures like Melinda Gates says (rightly or wrongly) that blacks and people of colour should be among the first folks to get the vaccine. Who does not remember a French doctor suggesting that a repurposed drug used to treat tuberculosis patients could be tried on Africans to see if it works against the coronavirus? Add this rhetoric to the many rumours and misinformation that circulate online and what you observe is an apprehensive black population. For people who have had an uncomfortable encounter with the medical and scientific establishments, rumours that the vaccine sterilizes black people, causes miscarriage in black women, compromises their genes and that it is a eugenics venture to reduce the black population, are terrifying.

Anthropologists have long understood that in times of crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, people grapple to make meaning of the world around them by turning to what they know and for the Christian right, the bible is a perfect repository from where they draw valuable coping instructions. What the Christian right leaders are doing is Christianize our understanding of this pandemic, grounding it within a framework of skepticism and by so doing, maintain a certain degree of social integration among their followers. Emile Durkheim, an early 20th-century French sociologist would probably agree to this. Similarly, Victor Turner would see the pastors’ conspiracy narrative surrounding COVID-19 as an attempt by these church leaders to manage social change and restore social order in an apparently chaotic situation.

How people check the boxes on what COVID-19 (and its vaccine) is, how it came about, the direction it is leading the world to, etc., are primarily animated by their interpretations of the diseases. Most of the conspiracy theories simply hypothesize the virus is not necessarily a health crisis. And what we realize is that those propagating these theories do all they can to emotionalize their audience, making it hard at times to engage them in non-emotional conversations. Imagine debating a shouter who steadfastly believes the vaccine alters people’s spiritual makeup or that it spreads through 5G network! What underlies most of these conspiracies is rebellion steeped in profound mistrust. For the Christian right, resisting the vaccine is the surest way of keeping the human being untainted and therefore, recognizable by the creator.  It would be interesting if similar narratives emerge in relation to other vaccines and drugs. For how long some of them – staunch anti-vaxxers – will resist COVID-19 vaccine is all a matter of speculation.

*Dr Primus M. Tazanu is an anthropologist and Senior Guest Researcher at the Centre of African Studies, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. His research focuses on social practices and the production of meanings through media technologies:  new/social media and sociality/governance, media and Pentecostalism as well as media and racism.

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South Sudan President Kiir Replaces Army Chief, Security Chief
April 11, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

General Santino Deng Wol.

Juba – South Sudan President Salva Kiir has named a new army chief and a security chief follow soaring insecurity along the country’s major highways.

In a presidential decree, broadcasted on the state – owned television the country’s army chief General Johnson Juma Akot was replaced with General Santino Deng Wol.

The president also assigned former army chief Johnson Juma into the foreign service as grade one ambassador to Belgium.

The new chief is not new to the military. He has been serving as Assistant Chief of Defense for administration and finance.

Wol was first promoted from lieutenant-general to general before his new post.

Gen. Thomas Duoth was relieved from his position as Director-General of the General Intelligence Bureau, National Security Service, and replaced by Maj. Gen. Simon Yien Makuac, a senior SPLA-IO commander.

Duoth was reassigned to Kuwait as a grade one ambassador.

The President also dismissed Minister of Presidential Affairs Nhial Deng Nhial and appointed Dr. Barnaba Marial as his replacement.

Kiir also relieved a deputy defense and Veteran’s minister Malek Reuben Riak and replaced with Chol Thon Balok. Gen. Malek assigned to Eritrea as grade one ambassador.

No reason was provided for their dismissal but a source in the office of the president said the move was part of normal changes by the president.

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A South Korea-based International NGO Advocates a Forum for Peace Dialogue by Stakeholders in Myanmar
April 11, 2021 | 0 Comments
Nai Kasauh Mon, CEO of Mon News Agency

An international NGO named HWPL, headquartered in South Korea and affiliated with the UN ECOSOC, issued a statement expressing deep concern about the crisis of human rights arising from the recent military coup and mass protests in Myanmar, calling for the international community to join in efforts to support peaceful approach to resolve the current conflict in the country.

On the “HWPL Statement on Human Rights Crisis in Myanmar”, the organization announced that global actors of the globe with one voice are encouraged to display their support for conflict resolution through the channel of dialogue between the military and civil society actors.

In the statement it said hundreds of deaths and injuries were caused by “the recent efforts of the Myanmar military to suppress nonviolent protests” and highlights that “no conflict of interest can justify violence against civilians, and no interest of any group can prevail over human life.”

It asked all parties in Myanmar to “settle the crisis through consensus based on mutual respect and understanding” and “engage in dialogue to seek a peaceful resolution.” And it further asked global actors to “to issue statements urging authorities and civilians in Myanmar to pursue dialogue and seek a peaceful solution in order to restore peace to the country.”

“The number of deaths from protests exceeded 200, and more than 2,000 people have been arrested by the military. We, the people of Myanmar are very glad Korean people and HWPL, as a peace advocate, supports our democracy and peace movement. Currently, we are demanding international pressure against the military regime, in order to stop their brutality against peaceful demonstrators,” said Kasauh Mon, CEO of Mon News Agency in Myanmar.

Chairman Man Hee Lee of HWPL

For the past five years, this international civil society advocacy for peacebuilding led by HWPL has shown support and initiatives at the national and international levels. The organization collected over 730,000 letters written by citizens in 176 countries to call for development of peace in each country, which led government and social leaders to express their support and engagement.

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French historian Duclert hands over the voluminous report on Genocide against the Tutsi to President Kagame
April 10, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti

President Kagame received the report from prof. Vincent Duclert on Friday

The French historian Prof. Vincent Duclert on Friday submitted to the Rwandan President Paul Kagame a voluminous report on the role of France in the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi.

“President Kagame receives a President Kagame today {Friday) received French Historian Vincent Duclert, who presented the report titled France, Rwanda and the Genocide Against the Tutsi. The report was commissioned by President Emmanuel Macron two years ago and was done by a team of 13 researchers and historians,” reads a Friday Tweet from the president’s office.

Released on March 26, 2021, the report reveals an ‘Overwhelming and heavy responsibility’ over the 1994 Genocide but denied any evidence of French complicity in committing genocide.

President Emmanuel Macron formed a commission of 13 experts led by Prof. Vincent Duclert to consult all France’s archives relating to the genocide” and “analyze the role and engagement of France between 1990 and 1994.

Early last week President Macron joined Rwanda and its people as a commemoration week started to morn over one million innocent people who lost their lives.

He said that France has committed to opening all archives related to the relationship and exchanges between Rwanda and France before and during the Genocide.

“April 7 is a national day of remembrance and meditation. We think of the victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi, the survivors, their families, the Rwandan people. The work of truth must continue through the opening of archives of this period,” Said President Macron.

President Macron granted rights of opening presidential archives of Francois Mitterrand relating to Rwanda between 1990 and 1994.

The access, according to France was extended to archives of Édouard Balladur and to the documents cited in the report of Duclert Commission.

Balladur is a French politician who served as Prime Minister of France under François Mitterrand from 29 March 1993 to 10 May 1995.

President Kagame has blamed the former French officials of unwillingness to reveal the truth on France’s role in genocide and welcomed the current government led by President Macron move to reveal the truth.

“Recently, a commission of historians appointed by the French government released a detailed report after reading official archives that had remained secret. The report shows that President Mitterrand and his closest advisers knew that genocide against Tutsi was being planned by their allies in Rwanda,” he said as he launched the commemoration period last week on April 7, 2021.

“Despite that knowledge, the president decided to continue supporting them, because he believed this was necessary for France’s geopolitical position. Rwandan lives were just pawns in geopolitical games. We welcome this report because it marks an important step toward a common understanding of what took place,” he added.

He added it also marked a change, showed the desire, even for leaders in France, to move forward with a good understanding of what happened.

“We welcome this. We are going to have the report presented to us; I have been informed about it. It is a good thing. Rwanda will also have a word to say in the near future, maybe around the third week of this month,” he noted.

He said there were findings on the Rwandan side based on the work that has been done by people who were commissioned to do that in parallel to what was being done in France  stressing that the findings go in the same direction.

“The important thing is to continue working together to document the truth. This is the truth. The decades-long effort by certain French officials to cover up their responsibilities has caused significant damage,” Kagame concluded.

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Cameroon Native Set For Installation as Bishop in the US Virgin Islands
April 10, 2021 | 0 Comments

 By Joseph Besong

Jerome Feudjio is the First African-Born Bishop appointed in the United States of America.

Jerome Feudjio , a native of Cameroon precisely from Dschang in the West province is on his set to make history with his imminent installation as Bishop in the US Virgin Islands. The  new Bishop-Elect was appointed by Pope Francis for the Diocese of Saint Thomas  in the US, Virgin Islands recently.  He was ordained priest by His Eminence Cardinal Sean O’Malley of the Diocese of Saint Thomas on September 29,1990.

 His numerous pastoral and administrative assignments in the Diocese include serving as Vicar General, the Moderator of the curia, the Vicar for Clergy and Vocations, and the Rector of Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral. On March 2nd, His Holiness Pope Francis appointed him as the 6th Bishop of the Diocese of Saint Thomas in the US, Virgin Islands. He is the First African-Born Bishop appointed in the United States of America. 

On April 16,2021 Msgr.Jerome Feudjio will be installed and ordained as the Bishop of Saint Thomas, Virgin Islands. The Cameroonian population as well as a cross section of African faithful are expected to play a significant role in the ordination either in person or in spirit. This is indeed an indication that the Church in Africa has grown. Africa now sends in missionaries to the United States, Europe, and Asia.

 The news of an immigrant Bishop was received with joy especially in the United States. The humble Bishop-Elect has proven beyond thought that Africa is a blessed land. The task of a Bishop is not easy but with prayer all things are possible. 

The  Episcopal  Ordination and Installation will be broadcast live via or on local EWTN, Channel 7.

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Mozambique: Number of refugees from Palma rises to 12,800; Nyusi appoints ministerial task-force
April 10, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jorge Joaquim

About 12,800 refugees have now left the town of Palma in Cabo Delgado province following the recent terrorist attacks on the town, of whom 43% are children, a spokesman for the United Nations (UN) has said.

The UN had provided help to 500,000 people in Cabo Delgado since the beginning of the year and was closely monitoring new reports of violence against civilians, beheadings and the use of child soldiers, he added.

The secretary-general of the UN, António Guterres, said that the organisation was working with Mozambique to help address the root causes of the violence and respond to immediate humanitarian needs. The UN urgently needed $254m to fund its humanitarian response plan to help 1.1m people, he added.

Due the situation, seven ministers and one secretary of state make up a task-force created by President Filipe Nyusi to respond to the humanitarian crisis caused by terrorism, in particular the attacks on the town of Palma.

They are defence minister Jaime Neto, interior minister Amade Miquidade, education minister Carmelita Namashulua, agriculture minister Celso Correia, trade and industry minister Carlos Mesquita, health minister Armindo Tiago, minister of state administration Ana Comoana, and the secretary of state for youth and employment, Osvaldo Petersburgo.

Meanwile, on Thursday, leaders from Southern African countries have agreed to immediately send a technical team to Mozambique to assess what it needs to fight terrorism in the north of the country.

The team is due to arrive in Mozambique by 16 April and must report back to ministers by 28 April, who in turn will report to an SADC security summit on 29 April.

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa went further than the official communique, telling reporters that the leaders “agreed that the SADC Force should be resuscitated and capacitated immediately so that it can intervene.”

SADC’s Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) is made up of troops from South Africa, Tanzania, and Malawi.

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UNHCR finally gives road map on definite closure of Kenyan refugee camps
April 9, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

UNHCR’s Representative in Kenya Fathiaa Abdalla

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has recommended measures to solve the impasse surrounding refugees at Dadaab and Kakuma camps in Northern Kenya.

“We have heard the concerns expressed by the Government of Kenya and hope that these measures will be a significant step forward in accelerating sustainable solutions for all those concerned,” said UNHCR’s Representative in Kenya Fathiaa Abdalla.

Last month Kenyan government announced its intention to close the two world’s largest refugee camps citing security threats, a directive that has elicited mixed reactions.

The UN refugee agency is now advocating for voluntary repatriation in safety and dignity while putting into account movement restrictions imposed in various regions to avert the spread of the Covid-19.

It has also proposed providing alternative-stay arrangements to refugees from the East African Community (EAC) to enable them to become self-reliant and contribute to the local community.

UNHCR further suggested resettlement to third countries a few refugees who cannot return home and face protection risks.

The agency also called for speedy issuance of national identity cards to more than 11,000 Kenyans who have previously been identified as registered in the refugee database and continued vetting process for others in similar circumstances.

Abdalla added that they would continue with dialogue and collaboration with local authorities and partners.

This comes just a day after the country’s High Court suspended the camps’ closure for 30 days pending hearing and determination of a petition filed by a local politician.

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Cameroon: No UN Security Meeting in Sight for the Anglophone Crisis
April 9, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

UN Security Council. Archive image

As the violence and killings continue in the North West and South West Regions of the country the UN Security Council has indicated that the crisis is not on their agenda anytime soon. The body has, however, made known the situation that will get the Security Council to talk about it and that will only be the degeneration of the crisis.

The revelation was made known by the current UN Security Council Chief for April, Ambassador Dang Dinh Quy at the council’s press conference for April on conflicts and crises in the world

“There is no plan as of right now for the Security Council to have a meeting on Cameroon,” said the official according to the World Federation of United Nations Association, WFUNA

“… If the situation on the ground worsens and warrants a meeting, then the Security Council will meet and address the issue,” the Vietnamese diplomat was quoted further.

Judith Nwana, member of the Coalition for Dialogue and Negotiation while questioning the diplomat said.… the humanitarian and human rights situation in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon is worsening by the day…We are pleading for you to bring up the conflict for discussion at the Security Council. How possible is that?” she quizzed

This recent announcement by the UN Security Council Chief only goes to dampen the aspirations of those who have been fighting for a breakaway state of “Ambazonia”.

In a tweet Mark Bareta, one of the Anglophone activists abroad said: “We have wasted 2 years seeking international recognition to no avail. Can you believe the UN Security Council has just declared that the Anglophone crisis is not even on their agenda any time soon?”

The Anglophone crisis has led to thousands displaced from their homes

“The UN Security Council has largely kept silent on the crisis,” a group of nine human rights campaigners including Human Rights Watch said about the slow response of the Security Council on the matter. “Without expeditious action, the situation is likely to worsen,” they further warned.

On the 15 of January this year, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres urged authorities in Cameroon to take steps to prosecute perpetrators behind two recent deadly attacks in the Anglophone Regions of the country.

“The Secretary-General urges the Cameroonian authorities to take all necessary measures to swiftly bring the perpetrators of both attacks to justice and enhance the protection of civilians”, the note said

The UN chief also reiterated his call on all parties to cease hostilities and engage in a political dialogue to end the crisis.

About the Anglophone Crisis

Long-running tensions in the English-speaking North West and South West Regions of Cameroon erupted into conflict in late 2016, prompting crackdowns by security forces and leaving 1.3 million people in need of aid, according to the United Nations.

Cameroon’s English speakers have felt increasingly marginalized by the French-speaking government. The military stepped in and thousands of Anglophones fled the ensuing crackdown, which Cameroon authorities described as an anti-terrorist operation.

A U.N. human rights committee in February criticized the “heavy-handed approach” of the security forces to the crisis, which saw medical facilities, schools and entire villages destroyed.

Allegra Baiocchi, the then U.N.’s humanitarian coordinator in Cameroon, said the violence was hampering relief efforts, and also blamed a lack of funding from other countries.

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Cardinal Christian Tumi: An Ardent Lover of Peace in Cameroon
April 9, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Cardinal Christian Tumi

The retired Roman Catholic Cardinal, Christian Tumi died in Douala on Friday, April 2 breaking Saturday, April 3, 2021, after what reports say of a brief illness. He was 91-years-old by the time of his death.

Many have described him as a veritable servant of God as for over 40 years his life was devoted to winning souls to Christ. Cardinal Tumi has been vocal in calling for dialogue and peace as the Anglophone crisis in the North West and South West Regions entered its fifth year.

The Archbishop of the Douala Metropolitan Archdiocese, Mgr Samuel Kleda has announced that the funeral of His Eminence Christian Cardinal Tumi will take place from the 19th to the 20th of April 2021 in Douala.

“Christian Cardinal Tumi was the first and only Cameroonian Cardinal. He was a staunch advocate for a just society, a defender of the rights of the oppressed, suppressed and marginalized. His death is a great loss to our nation and humanity. May he find eternal rest in the Lord,” Felix Agbor Nkongho “Balla”, Human Rights Lawyer and activist said.

Cardinal Tumi with Agbor Balla during a workshop organized by CHRDA in Buea

“His Eminence Christian Cardinal Tumi was not just a religious leader within Cameroon but a father to many including me, I have lost an icon. Papa Tumi was a man of the people; he went beyond religious boundaries, descended and transcended religious boundaries…” Rt Rev Fonki Samuel Forba, PCC Moderator told a CRTV journalist as he paid homage to the fallen Cardinal.

“All I pray is that we religious leaders in Cameroon should be able to emulate him, carry on his legacies and keep them to the end. The legacies of bringing peace in our land, the legacies of justice, transparency and accountability, the legacies of being the voice of the voiceless and the legacies of bringing Cameroon into a united front…” He added.

A veritable Peace crusader

Cardinal Tumi was an ardent lover of peace and was one of those who were championing the peaceful resolution of the ongoing Anglophone crisis. He amongst other Christian Bodies like the PCC, Baptist, and the Imam of Buea initiated the All Anglophone General Conference, though the conference did not see the light of day as it was banned by the Cameroon government.

Cardinal Tumi was also amongst those who participated in the Major National Dialogue, a dialogue many have lambasted as having no barring in solving the crisis. During this meeting, a host of resolutions were taken in solving the crisis and some of them are being instituted, though observers say the government is not tackling the crisis as it should be doing.

His relentless efforts for peace have often seen him on the cross-hair of those fighting for separation. The cardinal had sometimes been accused of siding with the government of Cameroon and was even abducted by the non-state armed fighters.

In his recent outing to his village Nso, on Thursday, November 5, 2020, at 7:00 p.m. he was intercepted and abducted by the liberation fighters in Ndop; he was detained in their camp overnight for questioning (and released the following day), together with the Paramount Fon of Nso, His Majesty Fon Sehm Mbinglo (whose release took place later on Tuesday 10). They were on their way to broker peace deals in the village of Nso which has been hard-hit by the current socio-political crisis rocking the country, but unfortunately, their mission was never fulfilled.

In his last book titled: My Night in Captivity, he narrates his ordeal in the camp of his abductors. In an interview with ACI Africa Tuesday, January 12, the co-author of Cardinal Tumi’s memoir, Martin Jumbam said that it was important for the Cardinal to narrate his experience with the kidnappers because “the government has always suspected him of supporting opposition forces in Cameroon.”

“… In the book, the Cardinal makes his position very clear that he does not support these guys in the bush although the government suspected him of being one of the supporters because he tells the separatists, very clearly, that he does not support what they are doing,” Jumbam said.

Cardinal Tumi with SDF’s Ni John Fru Ndi during the Major National Dialogue in Cameroon

Who was Cardinal Christian?

Cardinal Christian Wiyghan Tumi, Archbishop emeritus of Douala (Cameroon), was born on 15 October 1930 in Kikaikelaki, a small village in the Nso Clan, situated in the Northwest Region, of Cameroon. He resigned as Archbishop of Douala in 2009 after being head since 1991.

He was ordained a priest on 17 April 1966 (at 35) in Soppo, diocese of Buea, by Bishop Julius Joseph Willem Peeters † M.H.M. From 1966 to 1967 he carried out his ministry as a parochial vicar at Fiango (Kumba). From 1967 to 1969 he taught at the Bishop Rogan College minor seminary. In 1973, after having studied abroad, he returned to his diocese and was named rector of the major regional seminary of Bambui, archdiocese of Bamenda. He was also chaplain to the Catholic Women Association and was very involved in promoting the ecumenical movement, obtaining much esteem from Presbyterians and Baptists.

He was elected on 23 April 1982 vice-president of the National Episcopal Conference, and on 19 November 1982, he was promoted to Coadjutor Archbishop of Garoua. On March 17 1984 he was made Archbishop.

In 1985 he was elected as president of the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon (until 1991). He also served as president of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), 1990-1994.

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Cameroon: 200,000 Doses of Chinese Sinopharm Vaccine Arrive April 11
April 9, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Mass testing have been employed by officials in Cameroon against the coronavirus

With the country said to be in its second wave of coronavirus officials in Cameroon say the first doses of vaccine against the health pandemic will arrive in the country on April 11. Cameroon is said to receive 200,000 doses of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine.

Over 500 vaccination centres that will be involved in administering the vaccines have been identified across the country. Dr Shalom Ndoula, Permanent Secretary of the Expanded Program on Immunization says the vaccines will be dispatched to these vaccination centres as soon as they arrive in the country.

This will be the first phase of vaccination exercise in the country and people don’t need to take the jab. Frontline health caregivers, teachers, taxi and bus drivers, and motorbike riders are among the target groups of persons to receive the vaccines. Authorities say other persons willing to be administered the vaccine will be permitted to do so after the persons at risks should have been vaccinated.

Dr Shalom Ndoula said: “The first vaccination will be just for a small group of people who are at risk, and very exposed especially people with pre-existing health conditions like diabetes, hypertension, which are at high risk of severe forms of COVID.”

The arrival of this vaccine will be to fulfil a promise the Chinese Ambassador made to Cameroon’s Minister of External Relations. In early March, the Chinese Ambassador to Cameroon, Wang Yingwu had a meeting with the Minister of External Relations, Lejuene Mbella Mbella, during which he announced that his country will offer 200,000 samples of the COVID19 vaccines to Cameroon.

This is a major shift for a country that continues to see cases on an upward trajectory. It is also a major shift in the type of vaccine that the country will be receiving.

A few weeks back, Russia had indicated that their Sputnik V vaccine will be sent to Cameroon after the country declined the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine due to complications.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF, Russia’s sovereign wealth fund) announced the approval of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine against coronavirus by the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Cameroon on March 19 2021. The government of Cameroon has yet to officially confirm this information and the Minister of Public Health is also muted on the matter.

Chinese Sinopharm Vaccine

“Africa is among the leaders in terms of the number of approval of Sputnik V. We welcome the decision of the Ministry of Health of Cameroon which will help the population of the country to obtain access to one of the best solutions against coronavirus in the world,” Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russia Direct Investment Fund said as quoted by Pharmieweb.

According to the Minister of Public Health Dr Manaouda Malachie the country currently has a total of 61, 731 cases of COVID-19 with 56, 926 have recovered. There have been 919 deaths since the first cases were detected in the country in March last year.

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Big blow to Kenyan government as court halts closure of Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps
April 8, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

The actions intended by the directive are draconian and will expose the lives of innocent, helpless refugees to the danger of trauma, torture, harm and possible loss of life,says Gichira

Kenya’s High Court on Thursday temporarily suspended the state’s directive to have Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps closed.

Justice Antony Mrima issued the order pending the hearing and determination of an application filed by former presidential aspirant Peter Gichira challenging the government’s decision.

Gichira said the directive violates Kenya’s Constitution, International Laws, and treaties protecting refugee rights in his application.

“The actions intended by the directive are draconian and will expose the lives of innocent, helpless refugees to the danger of trauma, torture, harm and possible loss of life,” says Gichira.

He wants the court to stop the enforcement of the directive permanently.

The case will be mentioned on April 13, 2021.

Kenyan government gave UNHCR a 14-day ultimatum to develop a plan on the closure of the two camps, which host 196 000 (Dadaab) and 217,000 (Kakuma) refugees, respectively citing security threat.

Interior Cabinet Secretary told the UN agency that there is no room for negotiation.

The agency had pleaded with Kenya not to close the camps saying the move will only cause more misery to the refugees amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

It asked the East African nation to hold on until suitable and sustainable solutions are found, noting the notice was extremely short.

UNHCR further committed to supporting Kenya’s government in continuing and further strengthening the ongoing work to find orderly, sustainable, and respect refugee rights.

“UNHCR is concerned about the impact this decision would have on the protection of refugees in Kenya, including in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue our dialogue with the Kenyan authorities on this issue,” reiterated the agency.

On the other hand, Amnesty International urged Kenya to use its position in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to champion for more resources for refugees and host countries instead of closing.

Amnesty International Kenya Executive Director Irũngũ Houghton said the two camps’ closure without an orderly approach that respects human rights would result in a humanitarian disaster.

The two-week ultimatum expired today (Thursday, April 8).

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South Sudan: Covid-19 Vaccine Finally Launched.
April 8, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

First Vice President of the Republic, Dr. Riek Machar Teny, was vaccinated on, Wednesday, 7 April, 2021, in his office with the AstraZeneca jab vaccine against Covid-19 .Photo credit Press Unit Office of the First Vice President Juba

Juba – South Sudan on Tuesday launched the Covid-19 vaccination exercise in three centers in Juba capital of East Africa’s youngest nation after a week of deliberation within the country’s leadership.

On March 30th, medical doctors made a presentation to President Salva Kiir Mayardit and the leadership of the country about the vaccine but the presidency downplayed prospects of  its launching.

But, on Tuesday, South Sudan’s Minister of Health, Elizabeth Acuei officiated a launching at the Juba Teaching Hospital, she became the first government official in the country to take the vaccine. 

The three facilities where the vaccine will initially be available are Juba Teaching Hospital, Giada Military Hospital, and the Police Hospital in Buluk in Juba.

In the coming weeks and months, all frontline health workers in South Sudan will be offered the vaccine through a national vaccination campaign. 

Subsequently, people with co-morbidities and people above 65 years of age will also be offered the vaccine.

Speaking to journalists during the vaccine launch, Minister Elizabeth Achuei reassured that the vaccine is safe.

Minister Achuei said  “the aim of the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine is to protect the prioritized groups against COVID-19”.The vaccination is targeting health care workers as well as persons aged 65 years and older, given their increased risk of severe disease and death due to a potential COVID-19 infection.”

“Do not be afraid, I just took it now. So there is nothing really to be afraid about,” minister said.

South Sudan aims at vaccinating 40 per cent of its population against COVID-19.

The COVAX facility has committed to providing half of the required doses meaning 732,000 doses in total. 

Therefore, the vaccination must be done in phases as the vaccines arrive.

“This is a significant moment for the people of South Sudan. “said Patience Musanhu, Gavi Senior Country Manager for South Sudan. “By protecting the most vulnerable groups, we can save lives, take pressure off health systems and ease the economic burden brought on by the pandemic.”

A person being vaccinated with the Astra Zeneca vaccine requires two doses to ensure optimal immune response against the COVID-19 virus. 

The COVID-19 vaccination in South Sudan will be provided on a voluntary basis and free of charge.  All people receiving the vaccine will be asked to consent prior to being vaccinated.

“The COVID-19 vaccination marks an important step towards control of COVID-19 in South Sudan, which pose a threat to our well-being”, said Dr Fabian Ndenzako, WHO Representative to South Sudan. “Safe, effective, and quality vaccines for COVID-19 are our best hope for bringing the pandemic under control, together with other public health interventions, such as physical distancing, washing hands and mask use”.

Over several months, COVAX partners have supported governments and partners, particularly in low-income countries including South Sudan, to prepare for the vaccination roll-out. 

This includes assisting with the development of national vaccination plans, supporting cold chain infrastructure, as well as stockpiling of half a billion syringes and safety boxes for their disposal, masks, gloves and other equipment to ensure that there is enough equipment for health workers to start vaccinating priority groups as soon as possible.

“If there is one lesson we can draw from the pandemic, it is that we need more partnerships like these in the world,” said the UNICEF South Sudan Representative Hamida Lasseko. “UNICEF is proud to have made vaccine deliveries all over the world including South Sudan on behalf of COVAX. Children in South Sudan are now safer because the warm hands of health workers are safer through vaccination.

Minister Achuei further commended the health ministry’s partners such as UNICEF and WHO for their continuous support to combat Covid-19 in the restive country.

In his statement to the press during the vaccine launch in Juba on Tuesday, the World Health Organization Country representative in South Sudan, Dr. Fabian Ndenzako said he was excited to witness the launch.

The health body further advised the public to continue practicing safety measures even after taking the vaccine.

This is the first time the country rolls out the vaccine since receiving the first batch of its 132,000 doses of AstraZeneca from the COVAX facility on March 25.

They are part of the 2.4 million doses South Sudan requested from COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access, known as COVAX.

The jabs will also be put in the arms of people with underlying conditions such as cancer, asthma, and heart disease, among others.

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