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Gadhafi regime’s legacy fuels violence in west Africa
May 24, 2018 | 0 Comments
President Buhari

President Buhari

Centuries-old communal tensions across West Africa are taking an increasingly bloody turn, fueled by competition for land and water and an influx of weapons and fighters from Libya.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has blamed that cocktail of guns and gunmen for the intensifying clashes between crop farmers and herders as well as robberies and kidnapping by bandit gangs. The violence is stoking Nigeria’s ethnic and religious divisions and is rivaling Boko Haram’s nine-year-old Islamist insurgency in the northeast as the nation’s biggest security crisis.

The fallout from the downfall of Moammar Gadhafi’s regime in Libya almost seven years ago is worsening conflict in Nigeria and other countries in the region such as Mali and Niger where al-Qaida- and Islamic State-inspired groups operate, according to analysts including Nnamdi Obasi of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group.

“Some arms looted after Gadhafi’s fall have been acquired by various groups, including Islamist insurgents, cattle rustlers and other bandits, herders and farming communities, aggravating conflicts and insecurity in northern Nigeria,” he said in an interview. “Secondly, some of the fighters that fled Libya have reportedly offered mercenary services to groups in conflict elsewhere or probably formed deadly bandit groups themselves.”

While Buhari’s administration has made some progress in weakening Boko Haram’s insurgency, the office of Senate President Bukola Saraki last week said 937 people were killed in attacks by gunmen and in the farmer-herder violence from Jan. 1 to April 30. Civic groups say about 170,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in Benue state alone.

The proliferation of small arms has played a role in expanding the conflicts, but the government must couple its security efforts with a focus on dealing with environmental change, said Idayat Hassan, executive director of the Abuja-based Centre for Democracy and Development. Issues the authorities must deal with include a constant shift in human and livestock population, the state’s weak capacity and the rise of criminality and insecurity in rural areas, she said.

In the latest attack on May 5, at least 48 people were killed in the town of Gwaska, 330 kilometers (205 miles) northwest of the capital, Abuja, by unidentified gunmen the authorities described as bandits. A similar raid on villages in northwestern Zamfara state on April 20 left 30 people dead.

 

National attention is now focused on the worsening violence between mainly Christian farmers and predominantly Muslim herders who are increasingly moving into the Benue River valley for pasture as the Sahara Desert inches steadily southwards.

An attack last month on a Catholic church in Benue state, in which 19 worshipers, including two priests, were killed, has roused religious sentiments in a country almost evenly split between a mainly Muslim north and a predominantly Christian south.

Thousands of people attended rallies in Abuja and other cities on Tuesday after the Catholic Bishops Conference urged Nigeria’s 30 million Catholics to stage protests against the killing of innocent Nigerians, irrespective of their ethnicity or religious faith.

With Buhari seeking a second four-year term in general elections due in February, the farmer-herder conflict is likely to feature among the emotive issues, said Imad Mesdoua, an analyst at London-based Control Risks Group.

“The reality is that the conflict will become increasingly politically sensitive in the coming months as campaigning for the 2019 elections begin,” he said. “Both sides of the political spectrum will seek to use the issue to score electoral points.”

In this spiraling conflict, farming communities have been encouraged by senior figures such as former army chief Theophilus Danjuma to protect themselves. This has run the risk of sparking further violence. In the Benue town of Gboko in February, at least 10 ethnic Fulanis were attacked and lynched by a mob days after an attack on a rival community was reported.

Buhari’s government has drawn criticism for being too slow to respond to the attacks and relying too much on military solutions to stop them. Unless the authorities move more quickly to stop the raids and prosecute those responsible, local communities will resort to arms, according to Osai Ojigho, director of Amnesty International Nigeria.

“The need for self-defense has led to an increase in demand of weapons,” she said, “Until security is restored, people will continue to seek out black-market traders.”

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Arsenal signs shirt-sponsorship deal with Rwanda
May 24, 2018 | 0 Comments
The deal between Visit Rwanda and Arsenal is for three years.

The deal between Visit Rwanda and Arsenal is for three years.

Change is afoot at Arsenal Football Club. Arsene Wenger is gone. Long-term defender Per Mertesacker has hung up his boots. Unai Emery has been announced as the new manager and, to top it off, the club has signed a new shirt-sponsorship deal with the central-east African nation Rwanda.

The three-year deal with the English Premier League club will be its first ever sleeve sponsorship, the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) said in a statement.
The “Visit Rwanda” logo will be emblazoned on the left sleeve on all first team, Under-23 and Arsenal Women’s shirts from the beginning of the new season this summer.
“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Arsenal and showcasing the vibrancy and beauty of our country,” said Clare Akamanzi, CEO of RDB.
The deal aims to highlight Rwanda’s tourist hotspots, like the national parks, rainforests and wildlife.
Last year 1.3 million people visited Rwanda, the RDB reports, and tourism is the country’s largest foreign exchange earner.
Rwanda will hope to attract visitors by being visible on one of world football’s most popular clubs.
“The Arsenal shirt is seen 35 million times a day around the world,” said Vinai Venkatesham, Arsenal’s Chief Commercial Officer, in a statement on the club’s website. They haven’t disclosed the financial details.
Arsenal is the sixth largest football club in the world, according to Deloitte. Manchester United have the top spot, followed by Real Madrid.
Earlier this year the IMF stated that Rwanda is the third fastest growing economy in Africa, although human rights groups report restricted freedom of speech.
 *CNN
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Ghana FA Boss released on bail
May 24, 2018 | 0 Comments

By  Papisdaff Abdullah.

KWESI NYANTAKYI

KWESI NYANTAKYI

The embattled President of the Ghana Football Association (GFA) Kwasi Nyantakyi has been released on bail by the Criminal Investigative Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service. It comes after the CID escorted him to his residence to search his premises.

“Kwesi Nyantakyi was not arrested as it is being speculated He was escorted to the CID headquarters once he arrived in Ghana. I have been at the CID headquarters since 12noon.  He has just been released on bail,” a source close to him told journalists after his release.

Mr. Nyantakyi handed himself to the CID when he arrived from Morocco to answer questions for allegedly using President Akufo-Addo’s name fraudulently.

In a yet-to-be released video, Nyantakyi allegedly demanded whopping sums of money from the potential investors to facilitate their meeting with the president, the vice and other senior government officials.

The video will be released on June 6, 2018.President Akufo-Addo on Tuesday directed the CID to take up the matter on prima facie basis that his actions are criminal.

Mr. Nyantakyi was out of the country on an official duty but arrived Wednesday morning in a bid to clear his name with the CID officials.

The Ghana Police Service earlier confirmed it is investigating Kwesi Nyantakyi over allegations of fraud.

Confirming the investigation, the police in a statement said: “The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service is investigating Mr. Kwesi Nyantakyi, President of the Ghana Football Association for alleged offences including corruption.

“This follows a complaint received from His Excellency the President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo that Mr. Nyantakyi has used the President’s name and office fraudulently.”

“Police information shows that the suspect is presently outside of the jurisdiction and is expected to return on Wednesday 23rd May, 2018 whereupon he would be required to assist with the ongoing investigation,” a statement signed by director of public affairs Sheila Abayie-Buckman said.

It added: “Further, Police assures the public that due processes would be followed in the investigation. Any person with relevant information may submit it to the Police CID headquarters.”

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Nigeria to pay World Cup bonuses before DRC friendly
May 23, 2018 | 0 Comments
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Korea announces $5-billion financial package for Africa at African Development Bank Annual Meetings
May 23, 2018 | 0 Comments
The Bank and the Republic of Korea also signed an agreement with the intent to provide up to $600 million towards the energy sector
 

Adesina

Adesina

BUSAN, Republic of Korea, May 23, 2018/ — The Government of Korea and the African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org) have issued a Joint Declaration following the conclusion of the Ministerial Roundtable of the Korea-Africa Economic Cooperation (KOAFEC) Conference taking place during the African Development Bank’s 53rd Annual Meetings in which Korea announced a $5-billion bilateral financial assistance package for Africa.

 

The Ministerial Roundtable is the signature event of the biennial KOAFEC Conference, gathering a peer group of African Ministers of Finance who also serve as the African Development Bank Board of Governors to discuss topical issues and a pan-African approach to engagement with Korea. Taking place under the theme “Africa and the 4th Industrial Revolution: Opportunities for leapfrogging?”, the Ministerial Conference highlighted the need for long-term planning for industrial development and execution of projects, as well as a focus on value addition in sectors where Africa has comparative advantage for example in agriculture and natural resources. There was also a need to further leverage technology such as the mobile phone for more inclusive growth, in favour of the youth.

The $5-billion financial assistance package will be delivered over two years through partnerships with various development agencies, including but not limited to the African Development Bank Group. The package leverages resources from various Korean bilateral agencies and platforms, including the Knowledge Sharing Program, the Economic Development Cooperation Fund, Korea Import-Export Bank, among others. Specifically, African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina and the Deputy Prime Minister of Korea, Dong Yeon Kim, signed three cooperation agreements for the implementation of certain components of the $5-billion package by the Bank Group. The first was the extension of the General Cooperation Agreement which allowed for the replenishment of the KOAFEC Trust Fund housed at the African Development Bank with US $18 million. The Trust Fund, now totaling $93 million will continue to provide critical capacity building grants and resources for project feasibility studies. An Action Plan of 20 KOAFEC projects were endorsed during the Conference for 2019-2020 destined for a diverse group of countries and sectors.

 

The Bank and the Republic of Korea also signed an agreement with the intent to provide up to $600 million towards the energy sector. The Bank and the Government of Korea also signed an MOU for the Korea-AfDB Tech Corps Program which will allow for the exchange of technical expertise and human resources, to address ongoing challenges of youth unemployment in both regions. On the occasion, President Adesina noted that “Africa needs to build, and we will build, wider partnerships for development. We want to build strong investment partnerships with Asia going forward.”

The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) (www.AfDB.org) is Africa’s premier development finance institution. It comprises three distinct entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF). On the ground in 34 African countries with an external office in Japan, the AfDB contributes to the economic development and the social progress of its 54 regional member states.

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Lidya Raises $6.9 Million in a Series A Round Led by Omidyar Network
May 23, 2018 | 0 Comments

One of the largest funding rounds in the tech sector in Nigeria will help bring innovation to financing for micro, small, and medium businesses

Lagos, Nigeria, May 23, 2018 — Lidya, the digital financial services platform focused on improving access to credit for micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in Africa, today announced that it has raised $6.9 million in a Series A investment round, one of the largest in Nigerian tech history. The funding was led by Omidyar Network, the Silicon Valley impact investment firm established by Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay. New investors, Alitheia Capital (via the Umunthu Fund), Bamboo Capital Partners, and Tekton Ventures, also joined the round, which included existing investors Accion Venture Lab and Newid Capital.

“Lidya was founded on a simple, yet fundamental idea: technology can unleash and empower a generation of business leaders and entrepreneurs throughout Africa by revolutionizing how risk is assessed, credit is underwritten, and customers are banked,” said Tunde Kehinde, cofounder of Lidya.

“We are excited by the overwhelming support from the investor community, which signals a great confidence in our business model and team,” added Ercin Eksin, cofounder of Lidya.

Globally, MSMEs are one of the strongest drivers of economic development, innovation, and employment, and yet access to finance is frequently identified as a critical barrier to growth for these businesses. 40 percent of MSMEs in emerging markets are underserved when it comes to access to credit—representing an estimated $5.2 trillion credit gap. In Nigeria, where Lidya is based, the IFC estimates that there is an MSME credit gap of at least $25 billion.

“Access to flexible, affordable credit is at the crux of unlocking growth in the MSME sector. Lidya is addressing that by using smart algorithms to analyze transaction data from small businesses to assess their creditworthiness,” said Ameya Upadhyay, investment principal at Omidyar Network and Lidya’s newest board member. “This data-driven approach allows the company to offer loans without the need of hard collateral—a requirement that has scuttled MSME financing in Africa. In the process, Lidya gathers insights that help expand its product portfolio to become a holistic partner to small businesses.”

How it works

In less than 15 minutes, an MSME can create a free account online or download the Lidya app on to their connected devices. The MSME can then share or load bank account or transaction information to the platform. Following this, the MSME can manage cash flows, customer data, and create and send invoices digitally.

Requesting a loan against a pending invoice is easy and decisions are made within 48 hours. Once approved, funds are disbursed on the same day. To assess credit risk, Lidya uses nearly 100 data points to evaluate each applicant and builds a unique credit score. Businesses can apply for loans ranging from $500 to $50,000, without the need to go to a physical location, present audited financials and projections, or provide collateral. Repayment schedules and fees are agreed upfront and with total transparency.

Since inception in 2016, Lidya has made over 1,500 business loans to help MSMEs in farming, hospitality, logistics, retail, real estate, technology, and health to get the capital they need to grow their operations.

The funds raised in the Series A round will allow Lidya to expand its loan book, scale in Nigeria, enter new markets in Africa, and bring in more skilled professionals, particularly data scientists and engineers.

Lidya has also been recently accepted into the MasterCard Start Path Program, a global effort to support innovative startups developing the next generation of commerce solutions.

About Lidya

Lidya is the future of finance for small businesses in frontier markets.  Our goal is to help great business owners access financing and build a credit score through an easy and inspiring lending process. Lidya is currently live in Nigeria and is using world-class technology to help small businesses invoice customers, access credit, and build credit scores to grow their businesses. Lidya was founded by Tunde Kehinde, the former Managing Director of Jumia Nigeria, the largest eCommerce platform in West Africa, and Ercin Eksin, the former Chief Operating Officer of Jumia Africa responsible for operations in six of the largest economies in Africa. Tunde and Ercin also cofounded Africa Courier Express, the largest direct-to-consumer delivery provider in Nigeria. Tunde and Ercin attended Harvard Business School and the University of Chicago-Booth, respectively, for their MBAs. You can learn more here: www.lidya.co.

About Omidyar Network

Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives. Established in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, the organization invests in and helps scale innovative organizations to catalyze economic and social change.  Omidyar Network has committed more than $1 billion to for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations that foster economic advancement and encourage individual participation across multiple initiatives, including Financial Inclusion, Digital Identity, Education, Emerging Tech, Governance & Citizen Engagement, and Property Rights. You can learn more here: www.omidyar.com.

About Accion Venture Lab
Accion Venture Lab is the world’s leading seed-stage investor in FinTech for the underserved. Venture Lab invests capital in, and provides support to, innovative FinTech startups that increase access to, improve the quality of, or reduce the cost of financial services for the underserved at scale. Since launching in 2012, Venture Lab has deployed over US$10 million across more than 30 startups that work in over 20 countries worldwide. Venture Lab is a part of Accion, a global nonprofit committed to creating a financially inclusive world, with a pioneering legacy in microfinance and FinTech impact investing. Accion catalyzes financial service providers to deliver high-quality, affordable solutions at scale for the three billion people who are left out of–or poorly served by–the financial sector. For more than 50 years, Accion has helped tens of millions of people through its work with more than 90 partners in 40 countries. For further information, visit https://www.accion.org/venturelab.

About Alitheia Capital (via the Umunthu Fund)

Goodwell’s uMunthu fund is a €100-million inclusive growth fund for Sub-Saharan Africa that invests in financial inclusion, agribusiness, and other inclusive growth sectors, with a heavy focus on the digital economy. The fund is part of the third generation of Goodwell funds, with dedicated and experienced local teams, building on the success of predecessor funds in India and West Africa. The investment in Lidya was executed by Alitheia Capital, co-manager of the uMunthu fund. uMunthu’s portfolio companies include Pagatech (Nigeria), Nomanini (South Africa), Musoni Systems (pan-African), WhereIsMyTransport (pan-African), and Oradian (pan-African).  For more information, please contact Nico Blaauw, Goodwell, at nico@goodwell.nl.

About Bamboo Capital Partners

Bamboo Capital Partners (“Bamboo”) is a pioneering private equity firm that delivers positive social and financial value. Bamboo invests in businesses primarily in financial services, energy and healthcare that leverage technology to have impact at scale in emerging markets. Founded in 2007, Bamboo is a longstanding sector leader and through continuous evolution has a honed strategy for growth. Bamboo has raised over $300m across four funds to date. Bamboo has positively impacted over 96 million lives and created over 30,000 jobs through its investments in over 30 countries. The firm has a team of 25 professionals active across Europe, South America, Africa and Asia. For more information, please visit http://www.bamboocp.com.

About Newid Capital

Newid Capital is a direct-investment fund focused on financial services and financial technology companies in developing markets. Through its investments, Newid Capital aims to expand financial services to currently underserved markets and individuals. Newid actively seeks early- and mid-stage startups that are looking for investment and operational assistance. Newid is able to leverage personal experience in building, and exiting, financial services companies from the viewpoint of both the entrepreneur and the investor.

 

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2019 Teasers: Buhari and Obasanjo Trade Barbs
May 23, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Olayinka Ajayi
Buhari and Obasanjo have been trading barbs

Buhari and Obasanjo have been trading barbs

Following Nigeria’s President Muhamadu Buhari condemnation of previous administration for “ bragging that he spent more than 16 billion American dollars, not Naira, on power. Where is the power?And now we have to pay the debts.” while receiving a delegation of Buhari Support Organisation (BSO) at the Presidential Villa criticised.

In what was interpreted by political analyst as a direct reference to former President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.

Responding, Former President Olusegun Obasanjo who backed Buhari’s election in 2015, but who has since turned one of the fiercest critics of the administration, shot back through a statement by his media aide, Kehinde Akinyemi in a statement‎ said,

“It has come to the attention of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo that a statement credited to President Muhammadu Buhari, apparently without correct information and based on ignorance, suggested that $16 billion was wasted on power projects by “a former President”.

“We believe that the President was re-echoing the unsubstantiated allegation against Chief Obasanjo by his own predecessor.‎”

“While it is doubtful that a President with proper understanding of the issue would utter such, it should be pointed out that records from the National Assembly had exculpated President Obasanjo of any wrong-doing concerning the power sector and has proved the allegations as false.”

“Obasanjo has addressed the issues of the power sector and the allegations against him on many occasions and platforms, including in his widely publicised book, My Watch in which he exhaustively stated the facts and reproduced various reports by both the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which conducted a clinical investigation into the allegations against Chief Obasanjo, and the Ad-Hoc Committee on the Review of the Recommendations in the Report of the Committee on Power on the Investigation into how the Huge Sums Of Money was Spent on Power Generation, Transmission And Distribution between June 1999 and May 2007 without Commensurate Result.

“We recommend that the President and his co-travellers should read Chapters 41, 42, 43 and 47 of My Watch for Chief Obasanjo’s insights and perspectives on the power sector and indeed what transpired when the allegation of $16 billion on power projects was previously made. If he cannot read the three-volume book, he should detail his aides to do so and summarise the chapters in a language that he will easily understand.”

“In the same statement credited to the President, it was alleged that there was some bragging by Chief Obasanjo over $16 billion spent on power. To inform the uninformed, the so-called $16 billion power expenditure was an allegation against Chief Obasanjo’s administration and not his claim.Chief Obasanjo challenges, and in fact encourages, anybody to set up another enquiry if in doubt and unsatisfied with the EFCC report and that of the Hon. Aminu Tambuwal-led ad-hoc committee.”

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Sinking or waiting? The once mighty Biafra movement under pressure
May 23, 2018 | 0 Comments

IPOB’s call for a shut-down might fall flat. But many will nonetheless mark Biafra Day in more or less coordinated, more or less personal, ways.

Protesters in 2017 demanding a referendum on independence for Biafra.

Protesters in 2017 demanding a referendum on independence for Biafra.

At a centre for Biafra war veterans in south east Nigeria, John Oliwe rolls his wheelchair into the backyard. He uses a small cutlass to uproot weeds from his vegetable plot as he recalls his role in the conflict that began when he was just 15 years old.

“I was very young when I left home to join the Biafran army,” he says. “I was scared and the recruiters said I was very young, but they later allowed me to join them because they needed men.”

The bloody war that Oliwe fought in, and whose mental and physical scars he carries to this day, started when Col Odumegwu Ojukwu declared Biafra an independent state. Many in the east rejoiced at the announcement, but it marked the start of a brutal and bitter war with the federal government. It ended three years later with millions dead and the region re-integrated into Nigeria.

Next week marks the 51st anniversary of 30 May 1967, the date of Ojukwu’s fateful pronouncement. Now known by many as Biafra Day, it provides a yearly moment for reflection.

“I sit here and tune in my radio to know what is going on,” says a visibly emotional Oliwe. “I can’t walk so I sit here, but my eyes are always heavy. I remember my colleagues and family members who died during that time.”

For many though, Biafra Day is more than just a time for looking back. Many in the south east claim the region is still marginalised and say they never received justice for the millions of people – mostly Igbo – who died in the war. They see this anniversary as an opportunity to protest against this ongoing status quo and, more recently, revive their predecessors’ calls for secession.

Recently heading this movement is the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), which has organised large-scale demonstrations and disruptions in the past few years demanding independence. Ahead of the upcoming anniversary, the group has called for sit-at-home protests.

“That day will be a total shutdown of Biafraland,” says Emeka Gift, an IPOB leader based in Côte d’Ivoire. “We expect all banks, schools, markets and business places to be on shutdown.”

Many supporters of the group are ready to heed this appeal. “We shall all sit at home and do nothing in respect and honour of our brethren who were ruthlessly killed by the government and her Western allies during the war,” says Brendan Okeke. “It’s a duty and an obligation for everyone who is proud to be a Biafran.”

However, compared to some of IPOB’s previous popularly-answered calls to action, there appear to be more mixed feelings this year. According to Kingsley Udegbunam, a specialist in peace, conflict and counter-terrorism at the University of Nigeria, next week’s protest is unlikely to match the success of some past demonstrations.

“I foresee a situation where the majority of Easterners will ignore the sit-at-home because of the waning influence of IPOB,” he says.

What happened to IPOB?

From around 2015 to 2017, IPOB was highly successful in organising protests in Nigeria as well as among the diaspora. On several occasions, huge numbers would take to the streets despite fear of clashes with security forces. In 2016, more than 150 demonstrators were killed on Biafra Day, prompting rights groups such as Amnesty International to condemn the federal government’s “chilling campaign of extrajudicial executions and violence” against peaceful protesters.

But more recently, the group’s ability to mobilise people has diminished. Analysts suggest that there are a number of reasons behind this.

Firstly, there are ongoing struggles for supremacy within the movement. The longer-standing secessionist group known as the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) has challenged IPOB’s right to call for a shutdown. Its leaders have even issued a counter-directive calling on people to ignore IPOB’s order. “There is a crack in the ranks of Biafra agitators,” says Udegbunam. Some of MASSOB’s members have also been targeted by security forces as they have tried to mark Biafra Day with large parades.

Another factor weakening IPOB is the government’s forceful crackdown on its activities and designation as a terrorist group. In September 2017, the federal government launched Operation Python Dance II and declared the organisation a threat to national security. Armed forces descended on the five states in the South East, arrested dozens of people, and, according to allegations, carried out extrajudicial killings.

IPOB has always rejected its labelling as a terrorist organisation and is challenging the decision in court. Many analysts and lawyers agree that the group does not fulfil the criteria to be proscribed in this way, but the case is still awaiting judgement.

“We are still in court now and if we don’t get justice here in Nigeria we will be heading to the International Court,” says Gift. “We are an armless organisation so they are wrong to brand us a terrorist organisation.”

A final factor behind IPOB’s recent decline is the disappearance of its charismatic leader Nnamdi Kanu. During the clampdown last year, the military invaded the activist’s home. Neither he nor his parents have been seen since.

Rumours have abounded about Kanu’s whereabouts, including that he fled to Ghana or London. But many assume that the IPOB leader was captured or killed.

“I can’t say if he is still alive or not,” says Gift. “I believe the army can explain better because Nnamdi Kanu was at his home before the military invaded and started shooting. We have the video evidence. We want them to produce him whether dead or alive.”

The government has remained silent on the matter, but regardless of Kanu’s whereabouts, the effects of the crackdown and his and other campaigners’ disappearances have been keenly felt by other possible leaders.

“This government’s action has instilled fear in them so that they operate low-key,” says analyst Samson Uche. “Everyone wants to be alive to see the end of the road.”

“They are not forgotten”

Under significant pressure, IPOB appears to be a weakened force. But its supporters point out that it is still able to organise protests abroad, usually around visits by government officials, while many of its largely young activists are keen to emphasise that they remain as committed as ever. Some disrupted a summit on restructuring the country earlier this week.

“Only cowards abandon their ships when it is about sinking,” says Max Okwu, a frequent commenter on IPOB’s social media channels.

“I am a Biafran and I will die one because it is better to die for a cause you believe in than to die for nothing,” declares Obumneme Offia, another young secessionist.

Many elders also still support independence. But after half a century of struggle, it is notable that the way they speak about the cause and protests is a little different.

“I fought for Biafra for over 50 years now and it is not realised after all our sacrifices,” says a downcast Agor Jumbo, 76. “I am sad because the future is not hopeful but gloomy for us.”

Pius Ezechukwu, 75, is a little more upbeat about next week’s actions and sees IPOB’s decline as temporary. “In warfare, you have to pull back and withdraw practically and advance when you gain your strength,” he says. “The Biafran cause is not dead because the right thing has not been done.”

For some such as Oliwe, however, it is the memories of the war that will be most important on Biafra Day. There are several protests being organised, but 51 years on, he is less concerned with the success of these plans than with the opportunity to remember his fallen comrades.

“I know my colleagues and those who have died will be pleased with this celebration,” he says. “They are not forgotten.”

 *Source African Arguments.Patrick Egwu Ejike  is a Nigerian Journalist.
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Ethiopian Airlines positions itself to take over Africa’s skies
May 23, 2018 | 0 Comments

(CNN)In Africa’s battle for the skies, an east African carrier is stepping up its game in an effort to dominate the market.

The state-owned Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s largest carrier by number of passengers, according toFlightGlobal, has taken stakes in a raft of carriers across Africa and opened routes to new destinations, like Manchester, UK.
The expansion is part of the airline’s 2025 Vision to become the leading aviation group in Africa, and increase the share of the market occupied by African airlines.
“Twenty percent of the market is carried by African airlines and 80% of the market is carried by non-African airlines,” said Tewolde Gebremariam, CEO of Ethiopian Airlines. “The market share has been declining for the last 20 years.”
Ethiopian Airlines is looking to fend off competition from South African Airways, the largest carrier by number of flights, according to FlightGlobal, EgyptAir, Royal Air Maroc and Kenya Airways.
Tewolde told CNN that Ethiopian Airlines are expanding into West Africa with Togolese airline ASKY Airlines. They’re also doing business with Air Cote d’Ivoire, Congo Airways and have taken management of CEIBA International in Equatorial Guinea.
The airline has ambitious plans; Ethiopia is working with the Zambian government to relaunch their national carrier with a 45% stake, it also plans to establish a wholly-owned airline in Mozambique and has signed a contract to start an airline in Guinea. Ethiopian has also taken stakes in a Chadian airline.
“Typically, they’re taking a minority stake or around 50%. They tend to go into these joint ventures with local partners,” said Oliver Clark, senior reporter at FlightGlobal.

New routes

Ethiopian Airlines is launching new routes from Addis Ababa to JakartaChicago and Geneva in the coming months.
The airline is looking to make the Ethiopian capital a transport hub, connecting other African countries without long-haul capacity with continents around the world.
“It’s trying to feed traffic from other African countries through Addis to then give them the connectivity to travel on to other continents, US, Europe and Asia in particular,” Clark said.
In 2015, Africa accounted for only 3% of air passenger traffic, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization. The growth of African airlines worldwide will seek to expand the number of travelers.
 *Source CNN
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The Zayed Sustainability Prize Calls for Submissions from the African Continent
May 23, 2018 | 0 Comments
Application window open until 9th August 2018
 ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, May 21, 2018/ — The Zayed Sustainability Prize  is now open to applicants from across the African continent. Having evolved from the Zayed Future Energy Prize, this annual award recognises achievements that are driving impact, innovation, and inspiration in areas across health, food, energy and water sectors with expanding possibilities for a sustainable future.

Applicants are encouraged to submit their entry   for consideration with a submission deadline of 9th August 2018. With a total prize fund of US$3 million, the Prize awards winners across five distinct categories that include: Health, Food, Energy, Water and Global High Schools.

The interconnected pillars of health, food, energy and water represent the basic needs essential to human survival where innovations will yield progress in sustainable development. The evolution from the Zayed Future Energy Prize into the Zayed Sustainability Prize addresses the inter-related nature of the world’s global resource systems that determines progress of social, economic and environmental improvements.

The annual Prize provides a platform for recognising the next generation of sustainability innovators and leaders across the world. The Prize network and fund allow organisations and enterprises with existing innovations or high schools with project ideas in the defined sectors to amplify their work, expanding the reach and impact of the innovations.

The target for the Zayed Sustainability Prize is to attract applications from all countries across Africa opening up new opportunities for innovators in organisations, enterprises and high schools to amplify their impact and reach. The Prize awards unique, pioneering innovations that have the potential to affect a positive impact on humanity by helping entities scale up their efforts and yield greater success.

Dr. Lamya Fawwaz, Director of the Zayed Sustainability Prize, said: “The categories of the Zayed Sustainability Prize have been carefully selected to reflect the most pressing sustainability challenges and offer the greatest socio-economic impact on the lives of people around the world. The Prize will also look to inspire today’s youth to be forward-thinkers and cultivate within them a vested interest in becoming agents of change for sustainable development – after all, youth of today are leaders of tomorrow.”

“Africa represents the fastest growing region for entrepreneurship in the world.  With award-winning projects, our winners from the continent and globally have had positive and sustainable impact on its people. Over the last decade, we have witnessed a growing interest from participants across the African continent and we expect the momentum to continue growing this year. We hope to facilitate collaborations between our ever-growing network of innovators to build stronger, more sustainable innovations and projects that will propel the continent forward,” Dr. Lamya added.

The Zayed Sustainability Prize has a three-stage evaluation process, beginning with the due diligence that is conducted by a reputed international research and analysis consultancy. Following this, the shortlisted entries will undergo evaluations by a Selection Committee to determine the finalists. From these finalists, a Jury will select the winners in all five categories, including the winning schools from six world regions.

The deliberations on who wins the Zayed Sustainability Prize are set against three core criteria where entrants must demonstrate:

  • Impact: Significant and tangible outcomes on the quality of people’s lives
  • Innovation: Distinctive characteristics to change the “status quo” and potential to catalyse opportunities that will have a disruptive positive impact and transformative change
  • Inspiration: The potential to scale up project outcomes in the next decade and the ability to inspire others

In the past decade, the Prize focused on closing the energy gap and ensuring energy security. Africa is an important continent as it is where access to energy has significantly improved the quality of life of its people. The evolution to the Zayed Sustainability Prize and its alignment to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals allows the Prize and its winners to affect an even greater impact on humanity by increasing the influx of resources in Health, Food, Energy and Water into the region.

Winners of the Zayed Sustainability Prize will be announced at the awards ceremony during the opening of the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week on 14th January 2019.

 

Established by the UAE leadership in 2008, as the Zayed Future Energy Prize, the Zayed Sustainability Prize (www.ZayedSustainabilityPrize.com) is a global initiative inspired by the environmental stewardship and global sustainability vision and legacy of the UAE’s founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

Culminating in an annual awards ceremony, held each year during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, the Zayed Sustainability Prize invites pioneers and innovators from around the world to be part of a growing community, committed to developing impactful sustainability initiatives and accelerating the development of solutions that serve people across the world – for today and for the future generations to come.

The Zayed Sustainability Prize categories are: Health, Food, Energy, Water and Global High Schools.

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Tilting Trade Towards Africa: Becoming The World’s Food Basket
May 23, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Mimi Kalenda
Mimi Kalenda

Mimi Kalenda

As we celebrate Africa Day and all the continent’s historical accomplishments, let’s also look ahead and determine how best we can up the ante in terms of trade so that Africa does not lose out on the benefits of it. The scales of international trading need to be balanced with the world’s poorest nations, especially Africa, to achieve fairness.

Africa has lots to offer the world and it could easily become the world’s food basket and be a force to be reckoned with. But for this to happen trade needs to be favourable and not tilted towards more developed nations with huge export capacity and greater competitiveness. To ensure fairness of trade, Africa needs to be on the same level.

The debate on trade is a contentious one with many arguing that free trade will never exist, and that policies on trade should be in the public interest.

Let’s for a moment look at the signing of the recent African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA). On 21 March 2018, the CFTA was signed in Rwanda, which was advanced by the African Union in accordance with its 2063 Agenda. It details a long-term development plan to create the largest free trade area in the world. It aims to create a single African market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, by liberalising trade and making it easier for African businesses to trade within Africa. The AU predicted that this plan would increase the level of intra-African trade by 60% by 2022. It hopes to gradually eliminate tariff barriers between member States to ease doing cross-border business.

The agreement, with a predicted cumulative GDP of $2.5 trillion, may look really good on paper but will it in reality be conclusively implemented, completed and monitored? Surely our leaders need to be accountable to the people of Africa for what they sign. They need to explain what the strategy entails, provide an outline of the plan, detail how will it be implemented, clarify who will be monitoring deliverables, and illustrate how output will be measured. Africa has been scarred by politicians who love signing agreements and creating huge publicity for a moment, with Africa’s people not seeing the results in the long term.

Only 10 AU members chose not to sign the CFTA including Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria. President Muhammadu Buhari has been quoted as saying that his administration will not be in a hurry to enter into any agreement that would make the country a dumping ground and jeopardize the security of the nation. In my opinion, these are real considerations one should take into account to determine whether it has merit or not.

Last month, writer David Pilling in an opinion piece in the Financial Times said the CFTA could unlock Africa’s potential, even though the principles of free trade were under ideological attack in many parts of the world.

“Africa needs free trade for many reasons. The most important is to remake history,” he said in the article.

“Colonialism left Africa in bad shape to develop. It broke the continent into more than 50 pieces, few of which today have the scale to attract sufficient investment or ramp up manufacturing. The whole of Africa has a gross domestic product of about $2.5tn, roughly the same as the UK. Imagine if Britain were broken up into 54 units, each with its own politics, language, regulatory environment and hard border.”

He said that even if they tried, many post-colonial African governments were unable to break the basic pattern of trade: ship raw materials out and bring manufactured goods in. Most African economies were stuck as suppliers of basic commodities and missing out on the classic benefits of international trade.

Trading with each other was a way out of that bind, he said.

Meanwhile, Debate Wise argues that poorer countries will suffer due to the ‘unfairness’ and ‘expensive’ nature of free trade agreements. It believes poor countries will ultimately abandon free trade agreements, and it would cause more harm than benefits.

Africa can continue to rise if the scales of trade were tilted toward poorer nations that have a huge basket, filled with a variety of commodities and goods to offer. It has an abundance in natural resources and mineral reserves, and holds about 98% of the world’s chromium, 90% of the its cobalt and platinum, 70% of the world’s tantalite, 64% of its manganese, 50% of its gold and one-third of its uranium. Guinea is the world’s largest exporter of bauxite and the Democratic Republic of Congo has more than 30% of the world’s diamond reserves.

Africa remains the poorest and most underdeveloped continent in the world, despite technological advances and massive efforts over the past two decades to change the status quo. Surely, the time for written agreements that remain unimplemented are over. Now is the time for action.

*Mimi Kalinda is a respected Tutu Fellow and thought leader on the African narrative. This New York University graduate is also the Director of Communications for the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), a network of centres of excellence incubating STEM education for Africa’s brightest students while searching for the next Einstein in Africa. Originally published at Farmers Review Africa
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$16Billion Comment: I Regret Not Probing Buhari In 1999 Despite Damning PTF Reports – Obasanjo
May 23, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Uchechukwu Ugboaja – Abuja

(Flash back photo) Late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha flanked by Wife, Maryam Abacha, President Buhari & others

(Flash back photo) Late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha flanked by Wife, Maryam Abacha, President Buhari & others

While Nigerians are yet to come to terms with the recent turn of events between Presidents Muhammadu Buhari and Olusegun Obasanjo on the bulk passing over the poor state of electricity in the country in spite the infamous $16 billion investment into the power sector under the latter’s administration, reports reaching TMNews.ng reveal that Chief Obasanjo may be regretting his decision not to probe the Buhari led Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund (PTF) tenure as recommended in the 1999 report.

On the 7th of July, 1999, there was a report released by the ‘Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund (PTF) Interim Management Committee’, instituted by then President Obasanjo which revealed that the PTF under Buhari’s supervision was grossly mismanaged. 

However, with developments which have seen Chief Obasanjo publicly advising President Buhari not to seek a second term over poor performance so far, and President Buhari’s recent $16 billion power comment indicting Obasanjo’s 1999 – 2006 administration, a reliable source close to the former President has stated that had then President Obasanjo acted on the recommendations of the 1999 PTF committee, Nigerians could have had a clearer picture of the incompetence we are witnessing today. 

TMNews also gathered that the 1999 report revealed how the Committee had advised President Olusegun Obasanjo to “SET UP A HIGH POWERED JUDICIAL PANEL TO RECOVER THE HUGE PUBLIC FUND AND TO TAKE NECESSARY ACTION AGAINST ANY OFFICER, CONSULTANT OR CONTRACTOR WHOSE NEGLIGENCE RESULTED IN THIS COLOSSAL LOSS OF PUBLIC FUNDS.”

Part of the report disclosed that the sum of N26 billion was mismanaged by the company contracted by the PTF as management and project consultant when Buhari was the chairman.

Recall that then Gen. Muhammadu Buhari was appointed the Chairman of the PTF by late Military Head of State and dictator Lt. Gen. Sani Abacha, whom he had absolved of any corruption allegations despite the infamous ‘Abacha loot’ being repatriated by the Swiss government under this administration.

Speaking at the Presidential Villa yesterday while receiving a ‘Buhari Support Organisation’ led by the Comptroller General of Customs Hameed Ali, President Buhari was reported to have said, “I don’t care the opinion you have about Abacha, but I agreed to work with him and we constructed roads from Abuja to Port Harcourt, Benin to Onitsha and so on. We also touched education and health institutions.” 

Apparently referring to Chief Obasanjo without mentioning his name, he said “Where is the power after a former president claimed to have spent $16 billion on the project?”

Probably hinting that former President Olusegun Obasanjo may have questions to answer over the spending of $16 billion on power projects during his administration (1999-2006), coupled with the fact that the House of Representatives in 2008 described the amount spent on power by the then government as colossal waste and a case of “poor budget planning and a lack of proper oversight by relevant bodies,” Chief Olusegun Obasanjo expressed shock why the facts are not being relied upon by President Buhari in spite the plethora of reports available to President on the same subject matter.

“How can a president who has all the information at his beck and call degenerate to this level ? Is it on account of a famed short attention span which precludes him from grappling with any serious reading beyond his self confessed affinity for newspaper cartoons ? Is it with this kind of levity that he attends to Federal Executive Council memos ?”

“We are now beginning to see the reason why Nigeria is fast disappearing into abyss of primitive stone age leadership. It really is not too late for him to heed the well considered advice of his doctor to go home, eat more and sleep more,” the former President said.

Relations have gone South between Obasanjo and Buhari

Relations have gone South between Obasanjo and Buhari

Nigerians vividly recall that Chief Obasanjo was a key supporter of then candidate Buhari in the build-up to the 2015 general election, but Chief Obasanjo has, however, recently, pledged to work against Mr Buhari’s re-election in 2019 saying he has performed poorly in office so far.

Read a brief summary of the 1999 PTF Committee report below…

SUMMARY OF REPORT OF THE PETROLEUM (SPECIAL) TRUST FUND (PTF) INTERIM MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE, INSTITUTED ON JULY 7, 1999.

 – The report revealed that the Committee advised President Obasanjo to “Set up a high powered judicial panel to recover the huge public fund and to take necessary action against any officer, consultant or contractor whose negligence resulted in this colossal loss of public funds.”

 – The report disclosed that the sum of N25, 758, 532, 448 was mismanaged by the company contracted by the PTF as management and project consultant when Buhari was the chairman.

 – It revealed that Buhari delegated to the Afri-Project Consortium the power of Engineer in all appropriate project requiring such power, which made them assume absolute powers to initiate, approve and execute all projects by the PTF.

 – The mismanagement of funds under Buhari’s Chairmanship of the PTF was carried out by the APC (the company) in their capacity as management and project consultants. It said both their management services fee and budget for various projects executed during the existence of the PTF were greatly overpriced.

 – The Committee made up of Dr. Harouna Adam as Chairman, and Alhaji Abdu Abdurrahim, Mr Achana Gaius Yaro, Edward Eguavoen, Mr. T. Andrew Adegboro and Mr. Baba Goni Machina as members, while carrying out its obligations, engaged three management consulting firms to verify all payments made to PTF from inception to September 30, 1999.

 – The Committee during verification discovered that the consulting firms had overcharged PTF for their services to the tune of N2, 057, 550, 062. Also, while intervening on behalf of the PTF in the road and waterways, education, food, health, and other sectors, the company, according to the report, inflated all the prices, for example intervention in the health sector was said to have amounted to N9 billion in total, and projects in this sector were said to have been executed by the APC and PTF in-house staff, where loss of billions of naira were recorded due to price inflation of products and services.

 – The committee also discovered that the APC (Company) bought spectacle frames, which could have been done locally at a price between N80 to N880, under the watch of Buhari, at an inflated price of N1, 900 each. Ambulances were said to have been purchased at N13 million per unit, instead of N3 million. And then price inflation of drugs were done to the tune of N1.5 billion.

 – The report further revealed that the PTF lost money to the tune of N3.5 billion from its bank account operations and that PTF operated its bank accounts under three different categories: Administration, Project and Treasury accounts, and the loss of money to these accounts were said to have been due to “overcharge on Cost of Turnover (CoT), non-payment of interest on current account balances as stipulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), short payment of interest on deposited funds, and other various discrepancies.”

 – The Committee also discovered that an average income of N182 billion accrued to the PTF from its inception to the date of filing their report. The Committee’s report showed that the PTF used about 70 per cent of that income on highways and urban road projects.

 – In the project there was a total variation of contract sums of N68 billion. These variations were not done with properly priced bills of quantities and approved service contracts procedure as stipulated by government regulations. Taking the experience of what has been discovered after verification of various contracts awarded by PTF the minimum potential recovery will be about 15%. This estimated percentage will be about N10 billion. 

 – The verification of this project sector was about to take off when the committee members were replaced, the report stated.

The report was however neither made public nor was it acted upon by the then President Obasanjo.

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Janngo raises seed funding to shape digital ecosystems and create panafrican tech champions
May 23, 2018 | 0 Comments
Janngo, 1st Social Startup Studio in Africa, closes first funding round to launch new digital platforms offering solutions to African SMEs, with an inclusive approach
 

Fatoumata Bâ, Founder & CEO, Janngo

Fatoumata Bâ, Founder & CEO, Janngo

PARIS, France, May 22, 2018/ — Janngo (www.Janngo.com) successfully closes its first funding round, launches its Paris and Abidjan offices and unveils its strategy of building digital ecosystems in Africa during Paris Tech for Good Summit and Viva Technology. This €1 million seed funding will enable Janngo to launch and grow new digital platforms targeting African SMEs while creating tech-enabled jobs at scale for women and youth.

« With Janngo, we want to empower African SMEs, leveraging technology to improve access to market and business performance. We build turnkey solutions to support their growth, access new market opportunities, build capacity, improve their productivity and boost their competitiveness.» explains Fatoumata Bâ, Founder & CEO of Janngo.

Janngo closes a €1 million seed funding led by top-tier investors and opens offices in Paris and Abidjan

Janngo announces its first funding round to launch digital solutions tackling challenges faced by African SMEs. Janngo demonstrates its ability to attract both African and international capital with a pool of experimented investors including :

Mulliez Family, a family office with a long-term patrimonial vision ;

Clipperton, a leading independent Investment bank fully focused on high growth Technology companies and backed by Natixis ;

Soeximex, leader in international trading supporting access to consumer goods in West Africa for more than 5 decades and specialized in commodity and vehicles trading.

« We are excited to be leading Janngo’s first funding round as they embark on a journey of building world-class digital services for SMEs, at the backbone of african economies. With this investment, we demonstrate again our vision of enabling passionate entrepreneurs promoting innovation that make sense and creating a larger and long-term impact on the whole ecosystem. We have recently opened an office in Nairobi which illustrates our commitment and trust in Africa” comments Benoît Leclercq, President of Pole Innovation Metiers of Mulliez Family.

« Clipperton supports Janngo since inception. It’s unusual for investment bankers to join a seed round but Janngo has achieved unanimous backing, a great testimony of the quality of their vision combined with the team’s track record and execution capabilities. We see them as a potential tech champion in Africa, in line with our core focus and positioning as technology experts for high growth tech companies with global ambitions » explains Nicolas von Bulow, Managing Partner at Clipperton.

« Soeximex Group is very proud to be backing Janngo. We were not only convinced by the relevance of their vision but also by the strong social component of their approach. Our African roots motivate us to endeavour to give back to this amazing continent, while contributing to build robust business models, capable of delivering economical performance for the ecosystem.” highlights Christel Dagher Hayeck, Senegalese-born Director of Soeximex.

« We are extremely proud to have been able to bring together this quality of investors onboard, committed to delivering our vision of technology as a lever of betterment of our society. They come with a unique blend of expertise as leaders in their respective fields combined with a long term vision and commitment to Africa, a strong mission alignment and values fit, solid operational synergies and evergreen funding, particularly critical for Africa where patient capital is needed to deliver sustainable impact. The successful closing of our €1 million seed funding is only a first step towards delivering our long term vision.» adds Fatoumata Bâ, Founder & CEO of Janngo.

A unique positioning towards building digital ecosystems

The need to develop tech-enabled ecosystems to digitize entire value chains of key african sectors

Janngo focuses on building world-class digital solutions adapted to the african context and enabling SMEs targeting essential sectors such as :

(i) sectors providing African consumers for their fundamental needs; in particular agriculture, health and education ;(ii) sectors enabling African SMEs to gain competitiveness, reducing their operations costs, saving time or optimizing their efficiency such as affordable logistics or financial services ;

(iii) sectors with a potential to generate large pools of direct and indirect jobs; such as fashion and tourism industries both still underleveraged while offering huge growth prospects.

From its Abidjan office, Janngo builds, pilots and grows tech platforms serving the needs of African SMEs and their end-customers to improve access to fundamental services, products and information.

Combining the very best of marketplaces and SAAS business models to serve the real economy, with an inclusive approach has been an ongoing passion turned into reality by Fatoumata Bâ, Founder of Jumia in Côte d’Ivoire, previously Managing Director of Jumia in Nigeria and Member of Jumia Executive Committee at Africa level, having driven the performance of up to 130 websites and mobile apps across the continent in more than 30 countries, with an impact of more than 3000 direct jobs, 70 000 indirect jobs and opportunities created for hundreds of thousands of SMEs in Africa.

Accelerate the growth of African SMEs through faster, better and cheaper access to market

African SMEs represent up to 17% of the GDP but face fragmented markets, prohibitively expensive operational costs, under optimized and non integrated supply chains with limited access to international markets, insufficient capacity and limited access to capital to scale their business; yet, they generate more than 85% of jobs on the continent, with major untapped opportunities. With fast growing markets such as Côte d’Ivoire consistently delivering a record 8% growth, a booming middle class, a continent home to more 1 million inhabitant cities than Europe already and mobile leapfrog pioneers such as Nigeria, with the highest number of mobile internet users worldwide.

« We strongly believe that our central thesis of being a technology-driven backer of African SMEs is a powerful lever to accelerate growth, owing to their preponderant role in the larger economy. That’s why Janngo mobilizes both technology and capital, providing solutions to grow their business, win additional markets, further build their capacity, accelerate their growth and enable their market expansion to ultimately become national, regional or pan-African champions.» explains Fatoumata Bâ.

Invest in startups and SMEs growth with an inclusive approach to boost employment creation and capacity building for women and youth

In a context where African countries are getting ready to tackle an unprecedented demographic challenge with more than 900 millions of jobs needed to absorb the growing labor pool by 2030, Janngo develops a double bottom-line approach boosting value creation from African start-ups and SMEs while contributing to the economic empowerment of women and youth.

« This is most likely our bigger challenge and best answer to the sense of urgency : create, via our platforms and our ecosystem of SMEs, directly and indirectly, qualified jobs at scale enabling as many women and young individual to earn their living with stable and recurring income. Many African countries are recording record high GDP growth at a global level but these numbers need to be translated into concrete improvement of population living conditions, higher disposable income and more job opportunities. If we manage, through Janngo, to generate long-term job opportunities at scale, especially for women and youth, while creating more opportunities for thousands of African SMEs in the coming years, then only we would be able to say that our mission is accomplished. It’s our North and the ciment of our team.» concludes Fatoumata Bâ.

Janngo (www.Janngo.Africa) builds, grows and invests in pan-African digital champions with proven business models and inclusive social impact. We build digital ecosystems in high growth sectors by providing business support and digital platforms allowing Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to scale and contribute to the economic empowerment of youth and women through job creation and capacity building.

Pole Innovation Metiers consists of private equity investment vehicles controlled by the Mulliez family and focusing on evergreen funding to back innovative and passionate entrepreneurs who share common values of fostering an entrepreneurial spirit while empowering team members. They invest in companies providing access to essential goods and services at scale such as healthcare, education, employability and environment.

Clipperton (www.Clipperton.net) is a European independent corporate finance advisory firm exclusively dedicated to the Technology & Internet industries, advising innovative companies on M&A transactions, debt financings and equity offerings. With offices in London, Paris, and Berlin and an international reach, Clipperton is a European leader in Technology financial advisory. Over the past 15 years, the team has successfully completed more than 230 high profile transactions globally.

As a historic actor, SOEXIMEX (www.Soeximex.com) acquired an experience of markets in Africa and in the Middle East, but also in Far East, in South America or in the Eastern Europe.
With several boats chartered every month and hundreds of containers sent towards more than 50 countries, SOEXIMEX takes place among very first French exporters.

Solid capital bases, the best notation possible for the Bank of France (B3 ++) and partnership with international banks allow SOEXIMEX to maintain favored links with the major economic actors both in the international trade and in the automotive.

 

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Think Tank demand resignation of Communication Minister over $89m Kelni GVG deal-Ghana
May 23, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah.

Ursula Owusu Communication Minister

Ursula Owusu Communication Minister

President of policy think tank IMANI Ghana, Franklin Cudjoe, has called on the Minister of Communications Ursula Owusu-Ekuful to step aside and allow investigations into the $89 million contract with Kelni GVG.

Government of Ghana has signed an $89 million contract with Kelni GVG to deal with revenue losses and simbox fraud involving telecommunication companies.

According to IMANI, the contract is fraudulent and must be cancelled. He argues that the company does not have the track record to undertake the job that has been given it adding that the amount involved is too huge.

In an interview with an Accra based radio station, Mr. Cudjoe demanded that President Akufo-Addo immediately order the minister step aside and a probe conducted into the contract.

“Nana Addo should step in immediately and save the government’s image because there several aspects of the government that are doing well. The President must step in immediately and cause the minister to step aside and cause a proper investigation and the board members must give reasons why they think this is not a good deal,” Mr. Cudjoe said.

Meanwhile, the Communications minister has defended the contract, accusing the IMANI boss of being a hired assassin.

“You don’t know what you are talking about and if you had enquired before going off halfcocked, you’d have been educated. Every step taken was with the full knowledge and collaboration of the finance minister and the evidence is there. Public procurement rules were followed to the letter. The evidence is there.

“The same process is being undertaken in Rwanda currently with the same telcos here, and the one network policy being undertaken by the Smart Africa Initiative member states is facilitated by this same technical partner you are busily vilifying ignorantly here.

“Imani has not spoken to the MTN CEO on this Kelni GVG transaction yet Franklin Cudjoe quotes him on air as being opposed to this transaction. Who are you working for?? Everything digital falls under the purview of the Ministry of Communications including digital financial services,” she wrote in response to the claims by IMANI.

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Akufo-Addo calls for arrest of GFA boss
May 23, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah.

Kwesi and Akufo Addo

Kwesi and Akufo Addo

President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo is demanding the arrest of the president of the Ghana Football Association (GFA) Kwesi Nyantakyi by the police for allegedly using his name to defraud others. The confirmation by the director of communications at the presidency Eugene Arhin follows the alleged surfacing of Nyantakyi’s name in a yet-to-be premiered investigative video under the auspices of Tiger Eye PI being managed by investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas.

The FA boss is seen in the Anas video trying to use the President’s name to allegedly defraud some people of some millions of dollars, sources have disclosed to Starrfmonline.com.

Abu Jinapor, a deputy chief of staff, told journalist the Criminal Investigations Department of the Police Service has been tasked to investigate the allegation.

“Excerpts of the documentary has been brought to the attention of the president and clearly in that footage you can see that there is a prima facie case of crime of false pretenses and the president after watching has done wide consultation and he is satisfied that per what is brought to his attention it is appropriate for the lawful security agencies that is the Ghana Police CID to commence investigation into this matter.

“Mr. Nyantakyi allegedly is seen to be seeking to induce unsuspecting potential investors trying to part money to give them attention and the president and the vice president’s name are being used to part with the money. And this is a clear prima facie case and the president takes a serious view about this case.

“If anyone is found culpable he will face the full rigors of the law,” Mr. Jinapor stressed.

The explosive investigative piece, according to the award-winning journalist, will cause a stir in the football fraternity and can cost several appointees their jobs.

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African Development Bank Group Annual Meetings: Regional cooperation, structural reforms key to economic transformation
May 23, 2018 | 0 Comments
Muhammadu Sanusi II, the Emir of Kano and a former Governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank is attending the 2018 Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank Group in Busan, Korea
 

Muhammadu Sanusi II, the Emir of Kano and a former Governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank is attending the 2018 Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank Group in Busan, Korea

Muhammadu Sanusi II, the Emir of Kano and a former Governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank is attending the 2018 Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank Group in Busan, Korea

BUSAN, Republic of Korea, May 22, 2018/ — Africa’s development agenda must focus on the socio-cultural and commercial interests of Africans and the upliftment of Africa’s trade and economic ecosystem, said Muhammadu Sanusi II, the Emir of Kano and a former Governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank, during his address at the 2018 Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank Group (https://am.AfDB.org/en) in Busan, Korea.

“Africa’s economic transformation will be best achieved through fast-tracking regional cooperation and the execution of hard-nosed structural reforms that focus on the development of the continent’s human capital and material resources,” said Emir Sanusi II.

The Emir shared insight about revamping African regional integration, trade and economic relations with Executive Directors and Governors of the Bank, comprising Finance, Budget and Economic Planning Ministers from member nations.

An economist and financial risk expert, the monarch traced Africa’s post-colonial economic woes to the continent’s fiscal indiscipline and endemic disregard for its competitive advantages. For these reasons, he asserted, Africa’s development was stunted and its global trade ties lopsided in favour of offshore trading partners.

“Nine out of every 10 countries in Africa have huge trade deficits with China, but Asia developed mostly on domestic investments and resources,” he noted, underscoring the need for African Governments to invest in and promote creativity and indigenous enterprise.

The Emir advocated a series of structural reforms, including strategic investments in key sectors including agriculture, infrastructure, education, and small and medium enterprises. He called for deliberate industrial diversification noting that China has begun to move its mega-sized manufacturing capabilities out of low-cost industries.

African Governments also need to eradicate constitutional provisions and structures that increase the cost of governance at national and sub-national levels, manage demographic growth, and revamp and harmonize moribund and ineffective customs and excise duties that promote cross-border smuggling and revenue losses to governments, he said.

Africa’s debt burden continues to inhibit capital investment in industrialization, he observed, lamenting the misallocation of resources: “We need to begin to ask ourselves, ‘what do we do with the available funds in our coffers?’”

“Perceptions matter. So there is an urgent need for improved transparency, as this is clearly linked to good governance,” he said. “We need to accept that we have a perception problem that we must address. We need to tackle corruption, block leakages and create opportunities for new jobs.”

“Private sector capital is crucial for sustained economic growth but so is government’s intervention in guaranteeing business externalities like power, water and waste management, roads, housing and the legal and regulatory environment for innovation, commerce and industry.”

On trade, the Emir called for a regional and pan-African approach to trade negotiations, a tactical model which should be led by the Bank.

“The African Development Bank has the intellectual resources and clearly is better positioned to negotiate with China on behalf of Africa as a bloc of nations,” he said. “Europe approached global trade as a bloc so why can’t African nations do the same? This is clearly another area in urgent need of the Bank’s intervention.”

President Adesina recalled the Emir’s progressive posture during his time in public service. “As Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was pro-development. He channeled significant investments into agriculture, infrastructure and SMEs.”

The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) (www.AfDB.org) is Africa’s premier development finance institution. It comprises three distinct entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF). On the ground in 37 African countries with an external office in Japan, the AfDB contributes to the economic development and the social progress of its 54 regional member states.

*AFDB

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East African Banks dominate this year’s African Banker Awards
May 23, 2018 | 0 Comments
This is the first time the African Banker Awards take place in South Korea, more precisely in the port city of Busan
 BUSAN, Republic of Korea, May 22, 2018/ — Winners of the 2018 African Banker Awards (http://AfricanBankerAwards.com) have been announced at a prestigious Gala Dinner in Busan, South Korea. The Awards, held annually on the fringes of the Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank, celebrate excellence in banking and finance on the African continent.

East Africa dominated the awards this year. The CEO of Equity Group Holdings Plc in Kenya, James Mwangi, won Banker of the Year. His bank has seen impressive growth through a series of innovations and diversified investment channels away from consumer loans. Kenya’s Equity Group also beat off strong competition from four other shortlisted nominees to win the coveted ‘African Bank of the Year Award’. Tanzania’s Dr Benno Ndulu, former central bank governor who finished his second term last year won Central Bank Governor of the year for his work in pushing for financial inclusion as well as for sound macroeconomic management. CRDB, also from Tanzania was named the ‘Best Regional Bank in East Africa’.

South African banks dominated the investment banking and deals of the year categories. Standard Bank Group swooped three awards, including the one for ‘Investment Bank of the Year’. Standard Bank and Rand Merchant Bank in South Africa took the ‘Infrastructure Deal of the Year’ for the $5bn Nacala corridor rail and port project in Mozambique and Malawi, one of Africa’s largest private sector funded infrastructure projects. The project covers 912km of railway running from the Tete province in western Mozambique to Nacala port on the east coast through a section of Malawi. A deep sea port at Nacala also features in the project. Rand Merchant Bank in South Africa was also recognized for the listing of Steinhoff Africa Retail that took place last year. Veteran South African banker, Stephen Koseff, won the Lifetime Achievement Award. As the co-founder of Investec he has built a global leader in banking and asset management.

The ‘Socially Responsible Bank of the Year’ title went to BMCE Bank of Africa Group in Morocco. The bank is widely regarded as a leader in sustainable finance and le Credit Agricole du Maroc won the award for financial inclusion. Ecobank won the award for innovation and also for Retail Bank of the year largely for the way it has integrated technology to considerably widen its products and reach.

Commenting on the ceremony, Omar Ben Yedder, Publisher of African Banker, commented on the impressive achievements of the banks shortlisted for the 2018 awards: “The winners of the African Banker Awards reflect the innovation and energy within Africa’s banking market. The categories that most catch my eye are the Deals of the year and the ones on innovation. They reflect the true energy and vigour of the banking sector. I cannot stress enough though the important role financial services have to play to drive the development of the continent.”

This is the first time the African Banker Awards take place in South Korea, more precisely in the port city of Busan. As a shareholder in the African Development Bank, the South Korean government offered to host this year’s Annual Meetings aiming to strengthen its long-standing relationship with Africa.

The 12th edition of the African Banker Awards, hosted by African Banker magazine and BusinessinAfricaEvents took place at the Paradise Hotel Busan. The awards which are held under the high patronage of the African Development Bank are sponsored by the African Guarantee Fund as Platinum Sponsor, the Bank of Industry as Gold Sponsor and Banco Nacional de Investimento, Mozambique as Silver Sponsor. Other sponsors include Afreximbank and Credit Agricole du Maroc.

THE 2018 AFRICAN BANKER AWARD WINNERS

African Banker of the Year

James Mwangi, Equity Group Holdings Plc, Kenya

Lifetime Achievement Award

Stephen Koseff, co-founder Investec

African Bank of the Year

Equity Group Holdings Plc, Kenya

Best Retail Bank in Africa

Ecobank

Investment Bank of the Year

Standard Bank

Award for Financial Inclusion

Groupe Crédit Agricole (Morocco)

Socially Responsible Bank of the Year 

BMCE Bank of Africa Group (Morocco)

Innovation in Banking

Ecobank

Deal of the Year – Equity

Steinhof Africa Retail Listing – Rand Merchant Bank (South Africa)

Deal of the Year – Debt

$300m Diaspora Bond, Nigeria

Standard Bank / FBNQuest Merchant Bank (Nigeria)

Infrastructure Deal of the Year 

Nacala Railway and Port Corridor

Standard Bank / Rand Merchant Bank (South Africa)

Best Regional Bank

East Africa – CRDB (Tanzania)

West Africa – BDM (Mali)

Southern Africa – State Bank Mauritius (SBM)

Central Africa – BGFI, Gabon

For more on the African Banker Awards, please visit: ICEvents.net

African Banker (http://AfricanBankerAwards.com) is a quarterly magazine dedicated to banking and finance in Africa. It taps into the growing demand for information about Africa’s banking and financial world, a sector that is consolidating rapidly and reshaping the economy of the continent.

IC Publications (www.ICPublications.com) has over 50 years’ experience in publishing magazines, newsletters, country supplements, industry reports and market intelligence on Africa. Our market-leading titles (African Business, African Banker, New African, and New African Woman) are published in both English and French, with a combined global readership of over 2 million.

IC Events (www.IC-Events.net) was established to complement IC Publication’s publishing arm. Together with its dedicated team of specialists and extensive network of contacts, IC Events tailors innovative forums, roundtables and workshops responding to the most pressing issues in Africa. IC Events’ activities are 100% results-driven, bringing together major stakeholders and partners involved in the topics tackled to achieve concrete action plans.

 

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Republic of Zimbabwe becomes Africa Finance Corporation’s 19th Member State
May 23, 2018 | 0 Comments
From L to R: Ini Urua, Senior Vice President Country & Investor Relations - AFC; Oliver Andrews, Chief Investment Officer - AFC; Sibusiso Moyo, Minister of Foreign Affairs _ Government of Zimbabwe - Sanjeev Gupta, Executive Director, Financial Services - AFC.

From L to R: Ini Urua, Senior Vice President Country & Investor Relations – AFC; Oliver Andrews, Chief Investment Officer – AFC; Sibusiso Moyo, Minister of Foreign Affairs _ Government of Zimbabwe – Sanjeev Gupta, Executive Director, Financial Services – AFC.

LAGOS, Nigeria, May 22nd, 2018,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- The Republic of Zimbabwe (“Zimbabwe”) has become the nineteenth (19th) member state of the Africa Finance Corporation (“AFC” or “the Corporation”), Africa’s leading infrastructure development finance institution.

Referencing infrastructure development as being amongst the top of his agenda, His Excellency President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared Zimbabwe “open for business”. As such, AFC has already begun the process of exploring, alongside the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe (“IDBZ”), opportunities for investment. The IDBZ has a national mandate to champion infrastructure development in Zimbabwe in the key sectors of energy, transport, housing, ICT, water and sanitation. Recently, the Bank was designated by Government of Zimbabwe to be the focal and national implementing entity for Green Climate Finance and is currently undergoing accreditation to GCF; a development which makes the IDBZ an ideal partner for the AFC’s entry into the Zimbabwean market. Zimbabwe’s membership in the AFC will significantly enhance the Bank’s resource mobilisation efforts towards funding the country’s huge infrastructure needs.
Against this background, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Finance and Economic Development has signed the Instrument of Adherence to the Member of Africa Finance Corporation on 09 May 2018.
In 2018 alone, AFC has already marked some major milestones in the diversification of its membership and shareholding; with the African Reinsurance Corporation and the Republic of Malawi joining the Corporation in February and March, respectively. Zimbabwe’s membership of AFC is a welcome development for both the country and the Corporation.
Andrew Alli, President and CEO of AFC, commented on the announcement: “We are pleased to welcome Zimbabwe as a member state of AFC. We view the ongoing political and economic renaissance positively and hope that we can contribute effectively to the revitalization of infrastructure within the country”.
Hon. Patrick Chinamasa, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Finance and Economic Development, commented on the announcement: “AFC’s business model has proven that the African continent can effectively mobilise infrastructure financing by itself. We enjoin other African States to join the Corporation, promulgating home-grown solutions to our infrastructure challenges”.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Zimbabwe, Honourable Lt. Gen. (Rtd) Dr. Sibusiso Moyo also commented as follows: “It is refreshing to see an African focused financing institution like AFC. We look forward to AFC leading the infrastructure and industrial renaissance of Zimbabwe in particular, and Africa in general”.
Thomas Zondo Sakala, Chief Executive Officer of IDBZ added: “We look forward to working closely with the AFC, particularly in the areas of project development, capacity building, and infrastructure delivery”.
AFC, an investment grade multilateral finance institution, was established in 2007 with an equity capital base of US$1 billion, to be the catalyst for private sector-led infrastructure investment across Africa. With a current balance sheet size of approximately US$3.5 billion, AFC is the second highest investment grade rated multilateral financial institution in Africa with an A3/P2 (Stable outlook) rating from Moody’s Investors Service. AFC successfully raised US$750 million in 2015 and US$500 million in 2017; out of its Board-approved US$3 Billion Global Medium Term Note (MTN) Programme. Both Eurobond issues were oversubscribed and attracted investors from Asia, Europe and the USA.
AFC’s investment approach combines specialist industry expertise with a focus on financial and technical advisory, project structuring, project development and risk capital to address Africa’s infrastructure development needs and drive sustainable economic growth. AFC invests in high quality infrastructure assets that provide essential services in the core infrastructure sectors of power, natural resources, heavy industry, transport, and telecommunications. To date, the Corporation has invested approximately US$4 billion in projects within 28 countries across North, East, West and Southern Africa.
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Nigeria to add 189m people between 2018-2050 – UN
May 22, 2018 | 0 Comments

NIGERIA has been projected to add no fewer than 189 million people to its current population between 2018 and 2050, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), said.

UN, in a new report: ‘2018 Revision of World Urbanisation Prospects’, projected that around 2.5 billion more people would be living in cities by 2050.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that DESA in earlier report said “by 2050, the third most populous country will be Nigeria, which currently ranks seventh, and which is poised to replace the U. S.”.

Announcing the latest findings, DESA said most of the projected increase in urbanisation is expected to be highly-concentrated in just a handful of countries.

“Together, India, China and Nigeria will account for 35 per cent of the projected growth of the world’s urban population between 2018 and 2050…

“It is projected that India will have added 416 million urban dwellers, China 255 million and Nigeria 189 million,” DESA said.

The UN department said by 2050, two out of every three people are likely to be living in cities or other urban centres, highlighting the need for more sustainable urban planning and public services.

Owing to both demographic shifts and overall population growth, that means that around 2.5 billion people could be added to urban areas by the middle of the century, predicts DESA predicted.

The report also estimates that by 2030, the world could have 43 so-called megacities – up from 31 today, according to reports.

Megacities are those with more than 10 million inhabitants and the reports says most of them would be in developing countries.

By 2028, the Indian capital, New Delhi, is projected to become the most populous city on the planet.

Currently, Tokyo is the world’s largest, with an agglomeration of 37 million inhabitants, followed by New Delhi – 29 million, and Shanghai – 26 million.

Mexico City and São Paulo, come next; each with around 22 million inhabitants.

These swelling populations will place extra demands on both resources and services in urban areas, the report noted.

“Many countries will face challenges in meeting the needs of their growing urban populations, including for housing, transportation, energy systems and other infrastructure; as well as for employment and basic services such as education and health care.”

DESA urged governments to adopt better integrated policies to improve the lives of both urban and rural dwellers.

The report added that linkages between urban and rural areas would need to be strengthened, building on their existing economic, social and environmental ties. (NAN)

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China-style state-led growth won’t work in Africa, former Nigeria finance minister warns
May 22, 2018 | 0 Comments
  • As ties between China and African countries continue to strengthen, former Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has warned that Beijing-style economic governance will not work for Africa.
  • Corruption could result from increased government intervention in business, she said.
  • In her view, Nigeria’s “vibrant private sector” does not lend itself to state-led development.
    • But Ethiopia, an East African country with high percentage economic growth, has echoed Beijing’s state-led approach.
  • Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

    Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former finance minister of Nigeria, during a panel discussion at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, U.S., on September 19, 2016.
    Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

    China has funneled billions of dollars into aid, loans and business deals on the African continent in recent years.

    But as ties continue to strengthen, a former Nigerian finance minister has warned that Beijing-style economic governance will not work for Africa.

    “China has been very helpful,” particularly with building much-needed infrastructure in Africa, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a two-time former finance minister in Nigeria, told CNBC on Wednesday.

    But while less economically advanced countries may wish to emulate China’s economic success, the Chinese approach of state-led development would prove unsuccessful for the majority of Africa, she said.

    “In most African countries, it has been shown that state-led growth — pure state-led growth — has really not worked,” Okonjo-Iweala said, citing the example of Nigeria’s “vibrant private sector.”

    In her view, the Nigerian government, through state-owned enterprises, has not shown itself capable of managing its manufacturing and heavier industries, for example.

     

    Corruption could result from increased government intervention in business, Okonjo-Iweala said. “Some of our governments, when they get into direct provision of jobs and services — that’s where corruption creeps in because it’s not well-handled, the institutions of state are not strong enough, the checks and balances are not strong.”

    Okonjo-Iweala served as Nigeria’s finance minister twice, from 2003-2006 and most recently during 2011-2015 under previous President Goodluck Jonathan. She is a former director at the World Bank and is currently an adviser at the Asian Infrastructure Development Bank.

    A worker fits parts to the underside of a raised Hyundai Accent car at a vehicle assembly plant in Lagos, Nigeria, on February 17, 2016.

    A worker fits parts to the underside of a raised Hyundai Accent car at a vehicle assembly plant in Lagos, Nigeria, on February 17, 2016.

    Where China-style economic management has worked

    Nonetheless, one African country known for its economic partnership with China is Ethiopia. Infrastructure, as well as industrial parks to boost the manufacturing sector, have been built as part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, a multi-billion dollar spending plan to resurrect ancient trading routes centered on China.

    Ethiopia, an East African country that has seen double-digit gross domestic product (GDP) growth as recently as 2017, has echoed China’s state-led development style.

    This approach “will only work in countries where the power is highly centralized,” Anna Rosenberg, research director at emerging market advisory firm Frontier Strategy Group, told CNBC on Friday. Besides Ethiopia, she cited Mozambique and Rwanda as suitable examples. Nigeria’s entrepreneurial society was less conducive to China-style economic management, she said.

     

    History could also play a role, Rosenberg suggested. While Cold War allegiances to the Soviet Union may be present in some African countries, Nigeria, by contrast, is a former British colony and therefore more espoused to a free market system.

    China’s strategic partner

    “I think China sees Africa as a strategic continent that it wants to be a partner with,” Okonjo-Iweala said. “Africa does have the natural resources that China lacks in many ways.”

     

    But, she added that in her view, this partnership extends beyond pure economic deals. “I believe strongly there is overarching political and soft power that is involved.”

    For Okonjo-Iweala, it is important to demonstrate the fruits of African business deals with China to the public. She described Beijing-funded new airport terminals in the Nigerian capital Abuja as an example of this because “people will be able to see them, and witness them, and know that the money went into something concrete.”

    Last week, China’s state-run news agency Xinhua reported that Nigeria had signed a deal with the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation to build a railway from its economic hub Lagos to Kano, a commercial hotspot in the north of the country.

    African countries must enter business deals with China “with our eyes open,” Okonjo-Iweala said, to capitalize on its manufacturing expertise and technological development.

    Africa is in the process of expanding its manufacturing sector in an attempt to bolster economic development. Nigeria, as part of an attempt to wean itself off oil dependence, has grown its manufacturing base from just 2.5 percent of value added to GDP in 2009 to 8.8 percent in 2016, according to the World Bank.

    But with regards to regulating Africa-China business deals, “we are absolutely not there,” Okonjo-Iweala said, although she added that this varied between African countries. Providing that fair and transparent agreements are drawn up, “we can work with China – why not?”

     *CNBC
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Korea is a model for Africa’s industrialization, says President Adesina
May 22, 2018 | 0 Comments

Young Africans should be trusted and supported to drive the continent’s industrialization

Adesina

Adesina

The 53rd Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank opened in Busan, Korea, on Monday with a call on African Governments to create the right environment for the private sector to lead the continent’s industrial revolution. Participants also advocated for a balance between the role of the State and the private sector.

Korea was presented as a good model for industrialization which African countries can learn from.

“Korea’s example is incredible. Korea was as poor as any African country in the 1960s with a low per capital income. Today, thanks to the determination of its people and its commitment to industrialization, Korea is the 11th biggest economy in the world, an example Africa should learn from,” said African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina at a media breakfast.

Discussions around the media breakfast table focused on the theme of the 2018 Annual Meetings, “Accelerating Africa’s Industrialization,” and the need to tell the great stories of Africa – the story of a resurgent continent ready to take its rightful place in the industrial world.

“If you look at countries that have industrialized – China, South Korea, Singapore and many others – the role of the State was clear. One of the things that I think we need to take out of this conversation is that the State has a great role to play in Africa’s industrial revolution, particularly in terms of industrial policy, providing direction, support for infrastructure, and directing capital to particular industries,” he stressed. “Ethiopia is a very good example.”

Adesina explained that industrialization was selected as the theme of the 2018 Annual Meetings to further showcase what Africa can learn from a country like Korea.

“There is nowhere better than Korea to address this theme. Korea’s incredible success over the last 60 years provides a perfect model to the African Development Bank to redouble its efforts towards Africa’s economic development. Africa is a tremendously blessed continent, but it needs to industrialize, create lots of jobs, and be more competitive in the global market.”

For Africa to witness true agricultural transformation, technologies need to reach farmers to enhance productivity. This was the message of the Leadership4Agriculture Forum, held on Day 1 of the meetings.

“We cannot say we have leadership when we still have 65 percent of the land in Africa uncultivated. We must develop solutions to agriculture and ensure that the sector can grow to a US $1-trillion business,” Adesina said.

Participants in Monday’s Leadership4Agriculture session included Ministers and key partners involved in the development of agricultural industrialization of the continent. They emphasized the need to enhance the competitiveness of Africa’s agriculture sector and to develop industrial value chains required to power the growth of the sector to a world-class industry.

Mima Nedelcovych, President and Chief Executive, Initiative for Global Development, said the African agriculture sector required efforts to improve its competitiveness and called for reforms to ensure that low-interest rate lending is available to the agriculture sector.

“We have to take action as well as talk. Talk is important, but we also want to take people to task,” said Jennifer Blanke, the Bank’s Vice-President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, on moving past discussing agricultural challenges to executing solutions for them.

How to leverage the continent’s youth to accelerate economic prosperity through industrialization was the focus of a session on “Bridging innovation and industry: African youth solving continental challenges.”

Badr Idrissi, a young Moroccan industrialist, co-founded ATLAN Space, a start-up that uses artificial intelligence and drone technology to solve some socio-economic problems. The innovation has helped Morocco to effectively fight illegal fishing.

“They say that artificial intelligence is not meant for Africa. We are here to prove that wrong,” Idrissi said.

Idrissi used his 12-year international work experience at Microsoft and Nokia to develop and provide tech solutions, which have created employment for several young Moroccans.

In Kenya, a young banker, Lorna Rutto, quit her job to co-found EcoPost, a social enterprise that has created thousands of sustainable jobs for people in marginalized communities, in addition to conserving the environment.

“I was inspired by what I thought was going wrong in my community. Trees were being cut down and plastic waste was all over the place,” Rutto told the session. “It was very scary for me to resign a good bank job, but I had to fulfil my ambition as an entrepreneur. That was when I developed the idea that waste was a resource and not a thing to throw away.”

EcoPost has so far transformed over 3 million kilograms of plastic waste into plastic lumber, saved over 500 acres of forest and helped mitigate climate change in Kenya.

Adesina commended the young entrepreneurs for converting challenges into opportunities and urged them to continue representing the industrialization of Africa.

“Young people are not just the future of Africa, they are the present,” said Adesina. “They represent entrepreneurship and energy. This must be nurtured, harnessed and scaled up to propel Africa’s industrial revolution and the Bank is here to harness that.”

For more information on the 2018 Annual Meetings, visit: www.afdb.org/am

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GAMBIAN WARRIORS FIGHT FOR A GREENER FUTURE
May 22, 2018 | 0 Comments
A man walks by the mosque in the coastal city of Gunjur on February 26, 2018. Environmentalists allege a Chinese plant there is polluting the sea.SOURCE ANNA PUJOL MAZZINI

A man walks by the mosque in the coastal city of Gunjur on February 26, 2018. Environmentalists allege a Chinese plant there is polluting the sea.SOURCE ANNA PUJOL MAZZINI

The tiny West African nation is emerging as a model of activism in battling climate change and managing waste.

On a dumpsite on the outskirts of the Gambian capital of Banjul, cows rummage through cardboard sheets, car parts and a lone toilet, searching for food. Smoke is all around and darkest in the corners filled with burning tires and plastics. Scavengers are not working the site, which is unusual for a Saturday morning. Instead, they have gathered to discuss a new plan to make the dump less harmful to their neighbors’ health and the environment.

Leading the meeting is Kemo Fatty, a 25-year-old campaigner who has spearheaded efforts for two years to close the Bakoteh dump site he has lived next to his whole life. After months of sustained protests and negotiations, local and national authorities have agreed to work with Fatty and his colleagues to manage it more sustainably. Scavengers, suspected of lighting fires to find valuable metals to sell, will not be allowed in until the smoke has cleared, after which dumping will be controlled by volunteers.

“This is one of the biggest victories,” says Fatty.

The campaign is part of a larger shift sweeping across this small West African nation, since it got rid of its authoritarian leader Yahya Jammeh in 2017. The Gambia’s environmental activists are vocally, forcefully — at times militantly — demanding the country address waste management and the protection of its rich biodiversity as a priority.

A month after Jammeh lost the election and left the country, activists staged the first environmental protest in decades, against the demolition of part of a forest park known for housing monkeys and a large array of birds. The protests forced an admission from the government that the demolition was unlawful – and ensured that much of the park has remained intact. Protesters in Bakoteh also closed the dumpsite for four months in a standoff with local authorities, which culminated in waste being dumped outside the mayor’s office. In Gunjur, a coastal town popular with tourists, where a Chinese food-processing factory has been accused of dumping waste in the sea, fishermen and neighbors have regularly protested for better treatment of their coast. In March, they removed pipes believed to transfer waste from the factory into the sea. Not every activist effort has been equally successful, but the environmental campaigns are also fueling a broader political debate that was simply not possible under Jammeh.

“His departure has opened the gates to more reflection on environmental issues and activism in the Gambia,” says Sidat Yaffa, the director of a climate change program at the University of the Gambia. “People are getting more politically conscious and standing up for their rights.”

The Gambia knows well the effects of climate change: 70 percent of its people rely on agriculture to survive, and crops and people are regularly hit by floods and droughts. Only a third of the country lies more than 10 meters above sea level, making the country and particularly its capital, which lies on the coast, vulnerable to sea-level rise.

But for many years, the environment was not on activists’ priority list: Gambians feared expressing their concerns under Jammeh’s brutal 22-year-long dictatorship, which saw many vocal opponents imprisoned, tortured and killed. No environmental activists are known to have been arrested, but the climate of fear effectively muzzled them, activists say.

Ironically, some of Jammeh’s authoritarian measures benefited the environment — such as a ban on plastic bags and monthly forced street-cleaning exercises. Despite the despotism, “Jammeh himself, I would consider him an environmentalist,” says Fatty. While the plastic-bag ban remains in place, the street cleaning has stopped, and waste has visibly risen on sidewalks. Many other environmental issues were never addressed during Jammeh’s rule.

In its three-year national development plan, the new government acknowledged climate change as “one of the most significant external factors” slowing economic growth, especially in the agriculture and tourism sectors. But in the rush for much-needed development in the Gambia, the government has also repeated its hope for foreign investment, which campaigners say often comes at the expense of wildlife and ecosystems around their houses.

The Gambia’s environmental warriors know they face stiff challenges. In some cases, such as the Bakoteh dump site, they are making unprecedented progress. In other instances, like the protests in Gunjur, the struggle is still sharp, and stacked against the protesters. After activists removed pipes believed to connect the Chinese plant to the sea, police questioned a well-known local activist. Often, those at the forefront of environmental fights are local residents directly affected by the problem who form community groups and charities. They feel the government has failed to protect them. “We just give courage to each other,” says Lamin Jassey, an environmentalist in Gunjur. “But sometimes we think maybe we can’t win; it’s just a waste of time.”

Still, the activists aren’t giving up. Aside from protests that grab attention, many are involved in the less vocal, everyday fight that is adapting to a changing climate. Fatty, from Bakoteh, knows he cannot only work on one front. So when he is not at the dump site, he provides tree seedlings to farmers to help them swap crops for trees, which not only absorb planet-warming gases but also can better resist droughts and floods. They can increase farmers’ salaries too while requiring less labor, he says.

All this, he hopes, will not only help the environment, but may also contribute to dissuading thousands of his fellow young citizens from risking their lives to go to Europe. “Climate change continues to threaten the livelihoods of people,” he says. “That contributes to migration more than any other thing I could think of.”

Despite everything that’s up against them, that hope for change among the Gambia’s home-grown environmentalists doesn’t appear an impossible dream. After all, the country’s 2 million citizens cleared out a menace far more dangerous than garbage just 15 months ago.

 *OZY
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Ebola deaths in Congo rise to 26, health ministry says
May 22, 2018 | 0 Comments
Health workers are sprayed with chlorine after leaving the isolation ward to diagnose and treat suspected Ebola patients, in Congo.

Health workers are sprayed with chlorine after leaving the isolation ward to diagnose and treat suspected Ebola patients, in Congo.

KINSHASA, Congo — Congo’s health ministry says there is one new death from Ebola, bringing to 26 the number of deaths from the deadly outbreak in Equateur province in the country’s northwest.

Four new cases have been confirmed as Ebola, said the health ministry in a statement released early Sunday. A total of 46 cases of hemorrhagic fever have been reported in the current outbreak, including 21 confirmed cases of Ebola, 21 probable and four suspected.

Congo President Joseph Kabila and his Cabinet agreed Saturday to increase funds for the Ebola emergency response which now amounts to more than $4 million. The Cabinet endorsed the decision to provide free health care in the affected areas and to provide special care to all Ebola victims and their relatives.

The spread of Ebola from a rural area to Mbandaka, a city of more than 1 million people, has raised alarm as the deadly disease can spread more quickly in densely populated urban centers.

The World Health Organization on Friday decided not to declare the outbreak a global health emergency, but it called the risk of spread within Congo “very high” and warned nine neighboring countries that the risk to them was high. WHO said there should be no restrictions to international travel or trade.

A new experimental Ebola vaccine will be used to try to contain the outbreak. The vaccine is still in the test stages, but it was effective in the West Africa outbreak a few years ago. Vaccinations are expected to start early in the week, with more than 4,000 doses already in Congo and more on the way.

A major challenge will be keeping the vaccines cold in this vast, impoverished, tropical country where infrastructure is poor.

While Congo has contained several Ebola outbreaks in the past, all of them were based in remote rural areas. The virus has twice made it to Kinshasa, Congo’s capital of 10 million people, but was rapidly stopped.

Health officials are trying to track down more than 500 people who have been in contact with those feared infected, a task that became more urgent with the spread to Mbandaka, which lies on the Congo River, a busy traffic corridor, and is an hour’s flight from the capital.

The outbreak was declared more than a week ago in Congo’s remote northwest. Its spread has some Congolese worried.

“Even if it’s not happening here yet I have to reduce contact with people. May God protect us in any case,” Grace Ekofo, a 23-year-old student in Kinshasa, told The Associated Press.

A teacher in Mbandaka, 53-year-old Jean Mopono, said they were trying to implement preventative measures by teaching students not to greet each other by shaking hands or kissing.

“We pray that this epidemic does not take place here,” Mopono said.

The WHO appears to be moving swiftly to contain this latest epidemic, experts said. The health organization was accused of bungling its response to the earlier West Africa outbreak —the biggest Ebola outbreak in history which resulted in more than 11,000 deaths.

There is “strong reason to believe this situation can be brought under control,” said Robert Steffen, who chaired the WHO expert meeting last week. But without a vigorous response, “the situation is likely to deteriorate significantly,” he said.

This is Congo’s ninth Ebola outbreak since 1976, when the disease was first identified. The virus is initially transmitted to people from wild animals, including bats and monkeys. It is spread via contact with bodily fluids of those infected.

There is no specific treatment for Ebola. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain and at times internal and external bleeding. The virus can be fatal in up to 90 percent of cases, depending on the strain.

*AP

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Burundi votes to allow president to extend time in power
May 22, 2018 | 0 Comments

Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza speaks to the media after casting his vote in the constitutional referendum in Buye, north of Ngozi, in northern Burundi Thursday, May 17, 2018. The country is voting in a referendum proposing constitutional changes that could extend President Pierre Nkurunziza's rule until 2034. Berthier Mugiraneza AP Photo

Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza speaks to the media after casting his vote in the constitutional referendum in Buye, north of Ngozi, in northern Burundi Thursday, May 17, 2018. The country is voting in a referendum proposing constitutional changes that could extend President Pierre Nkurunziza’s rule until 2034. Berthier Mugiraneza AP Photo

A majority of Burundi’s voters agreed to amend the constitution in changes that could prolong the rule of President Pierre Nkurunziza until 2034, the country’s electoral commission announced Monday.

More than 73 percent of 4.7 million voters in the May 17 referendum supported the constitutional amendments, with only 19 percent opposing the changes, official results showed.

On Saturday the leader of a Burundian opposition coalition, Agathon Rwasa, said he would reject the outcome, calling the vote undemocratic and marred by intimidation.

Another opposition figure who lives in exile, Hussein Radjabu, urged Burundians to use other means to push Nkurunziza out of power, raising the possibility of renewed violence.

Nkurunziza had campaigned forcefully for the constitutional changes that include extending the president’s term from five years to seven, making him the latest African leader to prolong his stay in office. That could give him another 14 years in power when his current term expires in 2020.

The referendum raised concerns about bloodshed in Burundi that has seen deadly political violence since April 2015, when Nkurunziza sought and ultimately won a disputed third term.

Nkurunziza’s opponents say he already has ruled longer than the constitution allows.

The 54-year-old Nkurunziza, a former rebel leader, rose to power in 2005 following a peace deal ending a civil war in which some 300,000 people died. He was re-elected unopposed in 2010 after the opposition boycotted the vote.

Nkurunziza in 2015 asserted he was eligible for a third term because lawmakers, not the general population, had chosen him for his first term. Critics called the third term unconstitutional as the deal ending the civil war says the president can be re-elected only once, but the constitutional court said Nkurunziza could run again.

More than 1,200 people have been killed in in sporadic violence since April 2015, according to the United Nations.

International Criminal Court judges last year authorized an investigation into allegations of state-sponsored crimes — a decision unaffected by Burundi’s unprecedented withdrawal from the ICC.

Observers ahead of the vote expressed alarm at reported violence and intimidation of the referendum’s perceived opponents, including threats of drowning and castration.

A presidential decree criminalized calls to abstain from voting, with a penalty of up to three years in jail.

In a new report Human Rights Watch says it documented 15 killings and six rapes used as punishment against those opposed to the referendum. It accused Burundi’s security services and ruling party youth league members of abducting, beating and intimidated suspected opponents.

The government rejects such allegations, calling them propaganda by exiles.

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How We Made ‘N30 Billion Concert’ Possible – NCC DG Reveals
May 21, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Uchechukwu Ugboaja – Abuja
Mr. Afam Ezekude, DG NCC

Mr. Afam Ezekude, DG NCC

The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) Director General, Mr. Afam Ezekude was my guest in this exclusive interview where he revealed the significant role the commission has been playing in terms of protecting the creative works of Nigerians especially those in the entertainment industry through enforcements, prosecution and public awareness on copyright issues. He also gives insight into the commission’s new bill before the National Assembly and how its strategic partnership with the Nigeria Customs, EFCC and others will curtail activities of pirates in the industry to the barest minimum. Excerpts;

QUESTION: Can we get a brief summary of what the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) does ?
RESPONSE: The NCC is the sole agency of the federal government responsible for enforcement and administration of the Copyright Act which includes enforcement, prosecution and creating public awareness of copyright issues for the benefits of Nigerians.
QUESTION: Since your assumption of office how have you been able to help the Commission achieve these objectives ?
RESPONSE: I came on board precisely in December 2010 but fully resumed as the Director General in January, 2011, and from that period the Commission has done so much in terms of its fundamental responsibilities.
QUESTION: In terms of awareness we know that the commission to a very large extent can not do it alone, so do you have partners in civil society and other pressure groups that you work with in other to push this mandate to Nigerians ?
RESPONSE: Yes we have a very robust collaboration with a lot of stake holders in the music industries, publishing, films, software, and the broadcast industry too. I can tell you that these organisations have given us a lot of support in providing us with intelligence reports on where copyright infringements take place, like the popular Alaba market, Onitsha market and others. So we are quite close with stakeholders because we definitely can’t do this job alone we depend on information and intelligence to be able to carry out our enforcements.

I must also add that we have been very fortunate for the last 7 years to have received so much information from our stakeholders and partners and that has led us to record numerous achievement.
Still on enforcement, the Commission has over this period, from 2011 till date, carried out about a total of over 340 enforcement actions, and that is spread across the country in most notorious piracy hubs. Out of the 341 raids carried out, we have seized or confiscated over nine million goods and items of pirated products, removing them from the markets, from the streets and shops. Some of these items include, CD’s, DVD’s, and books.
The value of these items looking at the street value is over 10million naira, and imagine if those items weren’t confiscated and they found their way into the black market, it will definitely distort the local production and distribution chain, which could lead to loss of jobs for Nigerians. However, we don’t intend to stop at enforcement we also make ensure those arrested as part or in the process of our enforcement raid are actually prosecuted in any of the Federal High Courts all over the country, and from 2011 till date when I came on board we were able to secure a total of 58 convictions in the Federal High Courts across the country.
Many of those convicted were not just fined but also been prosecuted, because its an economic crime, not just to the copyright owner but a crime against the country so we try as much as possible to make the fraudsters face the wrath of the law.
QUESTION: Does your commission see copyright crime as financial crime to the extent where specialized agencies of government are brought in to collaborate with you in the prosecution of these cases ?
RESPONSE: Yes we have been working closely with the Nigeria Police in view of the fact that we are not an arms carrying agency, so we need the backing of the police in all of those raids. More importantly we have a standing MOU with the Nigerian Customs Service which allows us to intercept containers coming in from countries across the world. Under the years in review, we have actually intercepted about 28 container loads of books, DVD’s, CD’s as well as broadcast equipment. So we must not loose sight of the fact that if these goods had found their way into our local markets, it will affect our writers, artistes and they would have obviously suffered the impact.
A few years ago under the leadership of Ibrahim Lamorde, we signed an MOU with the EFCC, so yes we are in collaboration with the anti-graft agency also and we do work together to combat economic sabotage of Nigerians in this industry. There are several cases that we have handled which we eventually refer some of them to the EFCC for onward prosecution of the criminals. In the long run we will continue to try to see how we can strengthen the relationship between the NCC and the EFCC for the overall benefit of Nigerians.
QUESTION: How can Nigerians register their works with the NCC ?
RESPONSE: It is quite a straightforward process though, but before 2014 when we launched our E- Registration

Copyright Portal, copyright works were be reported to us manually, where people registered to notify us, however, we felt it was better to create a portal for easy access and today the registration is not only evidence of existence of that work but also evidence of the ownership of the work but there is also a portal for the registration of that work.
QUESTION: Can you give us actual figures as to the amount of revenue that the commission have added to the economy through all these efforts you have outlined so far, because we found out the movie and music industry have experienced an exponential growth in terms of its revenue base – like we have heard of the ‘N30 BILLION CONCERT’ by an artiste – are there any numbers to show a deliberate link with the NCC’s efforts ?
Response: ABOUT 3YEARS AGO THE BUREAU OF STATISTICS INDICATED THAT THE COPYRIGHT INDUSTRY CONTRIBUTED ABOUT 2% TO THE GDP. THAT FIGURE CAME ABOUT AS A RESULT OF THE WORK THAT WE DO, SO THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY TODAY HAVE AND CAN CONTRIBUTE A LOT MORE TO THE GDP IF THE NCC SUSTAIN THE MOMENTUM GOING FORWARD. So by doing more in terms of prosecution and rejigging our legal frame work to align with international best practice our entertainers and artistes have a lot to gain.
Something we are equally doing right now is that regards is that the NCC has come up with a Copyright Draft Bill which have been approved by the federal executive council for onward transmission to the National assembly, when that bill becomes law the industry will become more viable and with that viability it will mean that the industry will be able to contribute more in terms of revenue, in terms of taxes for the govt, in terms of employment, so we are hoping that that bill will get passed into law so that Nigerians can begin to benefit.
QUESTION: Lastly can you give us a scope of your man power across the country because we understand the enormity of the work the Commission has to do ?
RESPONSE: The NCC, due to the nature of the job we are doing, we cover the entire country, but right now we just have about 370 personnel workforce across the country which is quite small in terms of the vast lands we have to cover. So we hope that there will be need for an increase in human capital if the commission is to function optimally and carry out its mandates effectively.
Our draft bill is something we are hoping will become law by the end of this year with a view to transform copyright perspective in the country. Copyright is a viable economic area were Nigerians can achieve a lot and so it is imperative that that this bill becomes law.
Thank you Sir.
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Cameroon holiday hit by violence in English-speaking areas
May 21, 2018 | 0 Comments
Even in Yaounde it was a heavy escort around the President

Even in Yaounde it was a heavy escort around the President

Cameroon’s national day Sunday was marked by violence in its troubled English-speaking region, with two policemen killed, soldiers wounded and a mayor kidnapped by suspected armed separatists.

In the capital, Yaounde, in central Cameroon, President Paul Biya, who has ruled since 1982, presided over a public show of the country’s military might.

But in the English-speaking town of Bangem in southwest Cameroon, the mayor, Ekuh Simon, was kidnapped. In a video shared by suspected armed separatists Simon said he and his deputy were kidnapped by separatists for planning independence celebrations. He said he is being held hostage by the Ambazonia Restoration Forces that had said the national day should not be celebrated. Ambazonia is the name separatists have given to the English-speaking area they want to become independent from French-speaking Cameroon.

Fighting was also reported in the English-speaking towns of Konye, Batibo, Ekona and several villages of Kupe Muanenguba, an administrative area in southwestern Cameroon.

 

At least two policemen and several people were killed, according to the governor of the south west region Bernard Okalia Bilai. In the towns that were attacked, many escaped to the bushes and safer neighboring towns.

 

In the northwestern city of Bamenda, there was a strong show of force to prevent any violence, but only a few residents turned up for the celebrations, saying that they feared retaliation from the separatists. Some students at the University of Bamenda showed up for the parade, saying they were forced by officials to come under the penalty of expulsion. Government officials also said they were also forced to come.

The Cameroon government had asked the population to come out in numbers and celebrate the national day as a sign of national unity adding that the military will protect the people from armed separatists who had vowed the day will not be celebrated in the English-speaking regions.

Cameron again imposed a curfew on its English-speaking regions. In spite of the curfew and heavy presence of the military, the armed separatists were able to chase out some public officials and close some schools.

Both the government and separatists have committed abuses, according to the U.S. ambassador. Ambassador Peter Henry Barlerin last week met with Biya and urged the president to initiate dialogue to lead the way out of violence.

International humanitarian organizations and rights groups have accused the government of harsh measures in its crackdown and the indiscriminate arrests of suspects.

Unrest in Cameroon began in November 2016, when English-speaking teachers and lawyers in the northwest and southwest regions took to the streets, calling for reforms and greater autonomy. They expressed frustration by the dominance of the French-speaking parts of the country and with what they charged is the marginalization of Cameroon’s Anglophone population. Cameroon’s English-speaking community accounts for about one-fifth of the country’s 25 million people.

The protests were followed by a harsh government crackdown, including arrests and a shutdown of the internet.

The crisis intensified when Ayuk Tabe, who declared himself the president of the English-speaking Republic of Ambazonia, was arrested in December with 48 others in Nigeria and extradited to Cameroon. They have not been seen in public since. The separatists are demanding his immediate release.

The separatists have chased many government workers and forced the closure of man schools, timber and palm oil processing factories. They vowed on social media to paralyze the country until they Ayuk Tabe and his colleagues are released.

Parts of southwest Cameroon remain under a curfew because the separatists continue to commit atrocities, said Bernard Okalia Bilai, governor of the Southwest Region

“The gunmen are hiding in the bushes, in the forests and usually they would appear on the roads to try to kidnap some passengers,” said Bilai. He said security information indicates most of the armed separatists are hiding in the bush along Cameroon’s southwestern border with Nigeria, especially in the Manyu and Lebialem administrative areas.

AP journalist Joel Kouam in Bamenda, contributed to this report.

 *AP
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Autograph Collection Hotels debut in South Africa with rebranding of five African Pride hotels
May 20, 2018 | 0 Comments
From contemporary urban to boutique country houses, each of these hotels offers travellers an enviable range of artistic, culinary and cultural adventures with a unique character and a defining sense of place

BETHESDA, United States of America, May 17, 2018/ — Autograph Collection Hotels (www.AutographHotels.com), Marriott International’s (www.Marriott.com) distinctive collection of passionately independent hotels, today welcomed five African Pride Hotels to its growing global portfolio, marking the debut of the brand in South Africa. These hotels include, African Pride Melrose Arch Hotel, African Pride 15 on Orange Hotel, African Pride Mount Grace Country House & Spa, African Pride Irene Country Lodge, Arabella Hotel & Spa, Arabella Country Estate, and join the brand’s diverse portfolio of more than 135 one-of-a-kind hotels that champion values of vision, design and craft.

African Pride Melrose Arch Hotel

Ideally situated in the heart of Johannesburg, the 118 room, residential hotel is a unique blend of chic design and outstanding service. Located in a bustling neighborhood, brimming with cafés, al fresco dining, high street fashion and more, the hotel sets the tone for a distinctly contemporary urban experience within a pulsating city. Dine at the March Restaurant that offers global cuisine, or linger by the fire at the Library Bar over a drink or simply lounge by the crystal waters of the outdoor pool and be inspired by the oversized buckets and mirrors and the surprise design pop ups throughout the hotel that heighten the unique character and style of this hotel.

African Pride 15 On Orange Hotel

Set in the trendy Gardens area of Cape Town, the hotel is just a short distance from the city center and offers convenient access to the city’s world-famous landmarks. With 129 contemporary rooms, the hotel reflects a quirky style and stand-out decor. Soak up the Cape Town sun at the rooftop pool; indulge in a globally inspired menu at Savour; sip a cocktail in the elevated chandelier pod while enjoying panoramic views of the majestic Table Mountain; or pamper yourself with a relaxing spa.

African Pride Mount Grace Country House & Spa

Nestled amongst the ruggedly beautiful Magaliesburg Mountains, merely an hour’s drive from Johannesburg and Pretoria, the 121 room intimate hotel offers a serene country escape. Ignite the imagination and rediscover yourself in the serene gardens of the famed hydrotherapy spa. Relax in the Jacuzzi while listening to the soothing sound of the waterfall or escape in the sound flotation pool and let time fade away. Relish wholesome fresh food that showcases seasonal fruits and vegetables perfectly complementing the relaxing spa treatments at the Spa Café, indulge in delicious country garden style food with a chic flair at the award-winning Rambling Vine restaurant that features quarterly seasonal menus and an award winning wine list or try a ‘fun’ meal at Twist where unlike other restaurants, the kitchen is brought into the restaurant with an unusual buffet style offering. The charming country setting makes this experience truly special.

African Pride Irene Country Lodge

In the quaint and historical village of Irene, in the heart of Gauteng, South Africa’s economic capital, lies African Pride Irene Country Lodge, a haven of peace and tranquility. The scenic long and winding oak- lined lane leading up to the lodge’s entrance leaves you feeling like you’ve left the city without actually having done so. With beautiful lakeside views, the lodge boasts of 75 spacious rooms a range of dining options and an award winning Spa. Irene is known for its roots in art and culture and the local markets are a testament to the creativity that abounds here. Irene Farm across the road from African Pride Irene Country Lodge, Autograph Collection provides an authentic country experience, where dairy cows are milked daily and the local shop stocks an abundance of farm fresh delicacies.

 

Arabella Hotel & Spa, Arabella Country Estate

Situated in the heart of the Kogelberg Biosphere, close to Hermanus’ the world-famous whale watching destination, the 145 room Arabella Hotel & Spa overlooks a spectacularly attractive natural lagoon, surrounded by a lush landscape. The hotel boasts a 18-hole golf course designed by Peter Matkovich, ranked amongst the best in the country, exquisite on-site dining options, an award winning spa, a fully equipped fitness center, multiple swimming pools and more. Just an hour away from Cape Town, the Estate places you near a wide selection of outdoor adventure activities that provide enough and ore for an adrenaline rush.

“This is an incredibly exciting time for us, and we are thrilled to have the African Pride Hotels join Autograph Collection Hotels’ dynamic hotels in some the most desirable countries of the world,” said Alex Kyriakidis President and Managing Director, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International. “South Africa is a strategic growth market for us and key to our success in the region. A land of astounding diversity, it never fails to create an imprint on the minds and hearts of travellers from across the globe. This rebranding is in lockstep with the growing demand from consumers and their desire for unique and differentiated experiences wherever they travel.”

From contemporary urban to boutique country houses, each of these hotels offers travellers an enviable range of artistic, culinary and cultural adventures with a unique character and a defining sense of place.

 

“African Pride Hotels bring to life the vision of the brand and celebrate the distinctive character and individuality of each hotel by curating an authentic and enriching travel experience… Exactly Like Nothing Else,” said Neal Jones Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Middle East and Africa, Marriott International. “We are delighted to see these hotels join the brand’s global portfolio of iconic hotels in destinations like Dubai, Rome, Kuala Lumpur and London amongst others.”

With more than 135 independent, one-of-a-kind hotels in the world’s most desirable destinations, Autograph Collection Hotels (www.AutographHotels.com) is a diverse and dynamic portfolio that champion values of vision, design and craft. Exactly like nothing else, Autograph Collection Hotels are hand selected for their rich character and uncommon details each celebrating the founder’s passion, thoughtfulness of design, inherent craft and connection with the locale. For more information, please visit www.AutographHotels.com, and explore our social media channels on Instagram (www.Instagram.com/AutographHotels), Twitter (https://Twitter.com/autographhotels), and Facebook (www.Facebook.com/autographhotels) to learn more about championing the independent spirit that is #ExactlyLikeNothingElse.

Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) (www.Marriott.com) is based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, and encompasses a portfolio of more than 6,500 properties in 30 leading hotel brands spanning 127 countries and territories. Marriott operates and franchises hotels and licenses vacation ownership resorts all around the world. The company also operates award-winning loyalty programs: Marriott Rewards®, which includes The Ritz-Carlton Rewards®, and Starwood Preferred Guest®. For more information, please visit our website at www.Marriott.com, and for the latest company news, visit www.MarriottNewsCenter.com. In addition, connect with us on Facebook (www.Facebook.com/marriottinternational) and @MarriottIntl (https://Twitter.com/MarriottIntl) on Twitter and Instagram (www.Instagram.com/marriottintl).

 

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Official Launch of the Preparations for the Africities 2018 Summit
May 20, 2018 | 0 Comments
Local Authorities are Resolute to Start the Transition to Sustainable Cities in Marrakesh
 

 

RABAT, Morocco, May 17, 2018/ — United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa) (www.UCLGA.org) and the Moroccan Association of Presidents of Municipal Councils (AMPCC) launched the 8th edition of the Africities Summit on May 15, 2018, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in Rabat, Morocco. The Summit will take place from November 20-24, 2018 in Marrakesh, Morocco, under the theme: “The transition to sustainable cities and territories: The role of local and regional governments in Africa.”

Local and regional authorities from over 20 African countries participated in the ceremony, including presidents of associations of local and regional governments in Africa, mayors and governors of metropolitan cities in Africa and members of the Network of African Locally Elected Women (REFELA).

The ceremony was attended by the Chair of the African Union Technical Committee for Public Service, Urban Development, Decentralization and Local Government (STC 8); the Minister of Decentralization and Local Governance of Benin; the Minister of Local Governments of Lesotho and Member of the Bureau of STC 8; members of the diplomatic corps accredited in Morocco; representatives of the Moroccan Parliament; and the Secretary General of the International Association of Major Metropolises (Metropolis).

Participants heard speeches from the representative of the Interior Minister of Morocco, Mr. Khalid Safir, “Wali” (Head Governor) Director General of Local Governments; His Excellency Mr. Barnabé Zinsou DASSIGLI, Minister of Decentralization and Local Governance of the Republic of Benin and President of the African Union STC 8; His Excellency Mr. Mouhamadou Youssifou, Ambassador of Cameroon and Vice Dean of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to Morocco; Mrs. Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda, Mayor of Libreville and UCLG’s Vice-President for Africa; and Mr. Mohammed Boudra, President of the AMPCC association (Morocco).

In his opening speech, Mr. Khalid Safir reaffirmed the importance of the Kingdom of Morocco hosting the 8th edition of the Africities Summit.

“I would like to express to you all the joy and pride of the Kingdom of Morocco in welcoming the eighth edition of this summit in its territory. The theme will lead participants to discuss the future of cities, territories and local governments in Africa and Africa’s challenges in the face of globalization and urbanization and this theme will lead the participants to highlight the changes underway and the role and strategy of African local governments in the transition.”

The president of the STC 8 committee of the African Union, Mr. Barnabé Zinsou Dassigli, declared that the Africities Summit was considered by the ministers members of the STC 8 committee as one of the best opportunities offered to Africa to speak with one voice on the issue of decentralization and that this was the surest way to involve people in the management of affairs that concerned them.

“Over the course of its successive editions, the Africities Summit has proven to be a great platform for the exchange of views for the implementation of decentralization policies in Africa. It is for this reason that the African Ministers of Decentralization have decided to establish Africities as the African space for the evaluation of the impact of decentralization policies and corresponding cooperation programs for the improvement of living conditions for citizens and the good governance of our states in general. This is why STC 8 wants to include the issue of the signing and ratification of the African Charter on the Values and Principles of Decentralization, Local Governance and Local development on the agenda of the Africities Summit 2018.”

The mayor of Libreville and Africa Vice President of UCLG, Mrs. Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda, said she was convinced that Marrakesh 2018 would mark a milestone in the path towards the structural transformation of Africa advocated by Agenda 2063 of the AU. “I invite all municipalities around the world, especially those in Africa, to come and share with us the thinking that we are going to begin on the “transition to sustainable and resilient cities and territories.”

The President of the Moroccan Association of Presidents of Municipal Councils (AMPCC), Mr. Mohamed Boudra, stated that, “the Africities 2018 Summit will be an opportunity to exchange ideas and opinions, enrich experience and support African cooperation in the field of local management.”

The highlight of the ceremony was the handover of the baton to the city of Marrakesh, now host of the Africities 2018 Summit, and receiving the Africities flag from Mr. Mpho NAWA, representative of the President of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and host of the 7th edition of the Africities Summit held in 2015 in Johannesburg.

The Mayor of Marrakesh, Mr. Mohamed Larbi Belcaid, was delighted to accept the torch and launched a call for the massive participation of the different actors in this great event in the ‘ochre city’ considered to be the beating heart of Africa in motion.

Following the baton handover Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG Africa, presented the framework and program of the Summit, as well as the requirements for participation and taking part in the Africities Exhibition, which is organized in parallel. Participants were invited to register online at the following sites:

For the Summit: www.Africities.org

For the Exhibition: www.SalonAfricites2018.com

Nearly 5,000 participants are expected at the conference and 500 exhibitors are expected at Africities.

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Nigeria’s Ogun State Assembly Speaker Shuns Pro-Restructuring Group
May 20, 2018 | 0 Comments

 …” As Gov. Amosun orders removal of all our pro-restructuring banners”, Group Alleges

By Olayinka Ajayi

Governor Amosun

Governor Amosun

In Nigeria, the members of a Pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group campaigning for the restructuring of Nigeria’s socio-economic and political systems, Yoruba KO’YA Movement were on Thursday shunned by the Speaker of the Ogun State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Suraj Adekunbi when they visited the state assembly complex to submit a protest letter to the number three citizen.

The group members numbering about 50 who stormed the assembly complex in a peaceful manner demanded to see the Speaker were told by security personnel and staff of the parliament that the Speaker had gone to attend the ongoing All Progressive Congress (APC) Ward Congress in the state.

The visibly angry members of Yoruba KO’YA who flashed the acknowledgment copies of the two letters written to the Speaker on their visit said information available to them has it that the state Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun ordered the Speaker and other members of the parliament including the Clerk, Deputy Clerk and Senior staff of the assembly not to attend to them.

Buttressing their allegation against Amosun and Adekunbi, the National Organizing Secretary of Yoruba KO’YA Movement, Mr. Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye alleged that all the pro-restructuring banners of the group erected across the nooks and crannies of the state have been removed by officials of the state signage agency and council officials on the order of the state Governor.

“We were here a fortnight ago to submit our protest letter on the state of the nation and the position paper of our organization on the ongoing restructuring debate but we were told to come back today because the Speaker was not around despite writing a letter to him to that effect.

“Last week, we wrote another letter to the speaker, acknowledged, reminding him of our visit today but unfortunately, he is nowhere to be found. Our representative was here on Tuesday, we were told that the Speaker had referred the letter to the Deputy Speaker but today, both the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker are nowhere to be found.

“All the Senior Civil Servants that we approached said there was an instruction from above not to receive any letter brought to the office of the Speaker today. Why are the duo of Amosun and Adekunbi afraid of restructuring? Why are they avoiding us? All our banners erected across Ogun State on why people should join the crusade to get Nigeria restructured economically, politically and socially have been removed on the order of Amosun.” Adeleye alleges.

Our correspondent who witnessed the protest confirmed that the gate of the assembly complex was locked against the pro-restructuring group.

A senior civil servant in the Assembly complex who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity said the speaker received the letter of the group on Tuesday and immediately referred it to the Deputy Speaker.

However, efforts made to speak to the Speaker have not yielded a fruitful result as at time of filing this report as his lines were switched off while text messages sent to his three mobile lines were not replied.

 

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Senate vote of no confidence on the IGP
May 20, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Olayinka Ajayi

The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr. Ibrahim Idris, refusal to appear before the Senate on the spate of killings across the country and the inhuman treatment allegedly meted out to Dino Melaye, the senator representing Kogi West in the National Assembly, the Senate, vote of no confidence on the IGP, declaring him unfit for any office. Stating the IGP’s continual refusal to appear before it portended grave danger to the country’s democracy, the Senate declared him persona non grata and resolved to notify the international community, embassies, the country’s international partners and Interpol of its decision.

In response, the IGP said, “It’s a deliberate blackmail, witch-hunt, unfortunate and mischievous.” He added that he had informed Senate President Bukola Saraki in a letter on Tuesday that he would not be honouring the Senate’s invitation, that the ‘attack’ on his person by the senators was a “deliberate blackmail, witch-hunting with a to hand-twist” him “to pervert the end of justice in a felonious and serious offenses (sic).”

The IGP sought refuge in the constitution: “In accordance with the extant laws in Nigeria, the functions, duties and responsibilities of the Inspector General of Police as stated in Section 215(1a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, and the Police Act and Regulations Section 309(1) can also be carried out as mentioned in sections 7(1),312(1), 313(2) of the Police Act and Regulations by a senior officer of the Force of the Rank of Deputy Inspector General of Police or an Assistant Inspector General of Police who if permitted by the Inspector General of Police to act on his behalf or represent him in an official capacity at any official function event or programme within and outside Nigeria, can do so in consonant with the provisions of the Police Act and Regulations (sic).”

The face-off between the IGP and the Senate would have been unthinkable only a few years ago. But, with the country’s gradual descent into anarchy, nothing seems to amaze Nigerians anymore. This is why a police chief, would lord himself over the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is not such a big surprise after all. Yet the point has to be stated that in carrying out its oversight functions, the National Assembly has the power to invite any public official to appear before it. There has been no law enacted as yet to nullify its oversight functions as enshrined in the constitution. That being the case, the IGP’s refusal to honour the Senate’s summons is an affront on the National Assembly. It is also an act of contempt for the constitution and the Nigerian people. Besides, even if he had cause to disagree with the Senate on any issue, he should have been very civil and circumspect in his utterances, particularly as they were directed at the highest lawmaking organ in the country.

It is saddening that, as pointed out by the Senate, the IGP flagrantly disobeyed the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari to relocate to Benue State following the horrendous killings on New Year day. As a matter of fact, Mr. Idris has issued a number of statements disclaiming the positions expressed by the Presidency on his disgraceful conduct. What is a man who treats the Presidency with contempt still doing in office? In the developed world over, no appointee of the executive has the luxury to choose which summons of the parliament to obey and which to ignore. Contempt of the parliament is a serious offence. When the Senate invites a public office-holder, it does not matter what he or she thinks would be the topic of discussion. The invitee can go to the parliament and refuse to speak on things that he or she feels would be prejudicial to comment on. But how can he or she cannot choose to discard parliamentary summons? By action, Idris clearly undermined democracy and, ultimately, even his own office. There is an office of the IGP because the National Assembly appropriates money to run the police.

The foregoing notwithstanding, the press release by the Senate showing the gory details of killings across the country is unnecessary. The Senate does not need to state its reasons for inviting any office-holder to appear before it. There is no way Nigeria’s democracy can advance when people have no regard for institutions. The IGP’s disregard for the Senate is a threat to democracy and he needs to be relieved of his duties before he does further damage.

 

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