Call Us Now: (240) 429 2177

country

Senegal’s sports minister Matar Ba aiming for the World Cup semi-finals
December 5, 2017 | 0 Comments
Senegal's sports minister Matar Ba believes the Teranga Lions can reach the last four at the 2018 World Cup

Senegal’s sports minister Matar Ba believes the Teranga Lions can reach the last four at the 2018 World Cup

Senegal’s sports minister, Matar Ba, says the Teranga Lions are aiming to do better than any other African nation at the World Cup and reach the semi-finals next year.

In Russia, Senegal are in Group H along with Poland, Colombia and Japan.

In 2002, at their first ever World Cup, Senegal made it to the quarter-finals.

“We have to have our objectives – those objectives are to get to the second round and do better than in 2002,” Ba told BBC Sport.

“The semi-finals are achievable because today football is not about being European or African or American – football is global,

“You look at the biggest championships in the world – in England in Italy, everywhere – there are Senegalese playing and they are in the teams. So we can rival any of the teams.

“We won’t underestimate any of these teams because all 32 teams who are there have won through the qualifiers and so we have to respect them and we have to take them seriously.”

Senegal will begin their Group H campaign against Poland on 19 June in Moscow before they play Japan on 24 June and finally Colombia four days later.

Ba refused to be drawn into making comparisons between the current team and the squad that play in South Korea and Japan in 2002.

“It’s not the same – we can’t compare them,” he said.

“Each generation does its work and this generation want to do better than the team of 2002.

“We have a great team and we have Senegalese coach and we are going to prepare well for a good performance.

“We are ambitious but we are also reasonable and so we are going to set obtainable objective.”

Ba admitted they may not now much about their opponents at the moment but added that can easily be changed.

“Nothing can be hidden these days with the internet. We can see everything we can analyse Colombia’s matches and all the others,” he pointed out.

*Culled from BBC

Read More
Peace diamond: Precious stone fetches $6.5m in New York
December 5, 2017 | 0 Comments

A giant 709-carat diamond unearthed in Sierra Leone has sold at auction in New York for $6.5m (£4.8m).

Laurence Graff, chairman of Graff Diamonds, won the precious stone – nicknamed the “peace diamond” – in bidding on Monday.

Half of the proceeds, $3.8m, will be used to fund infrastructure projects to benefit the community of the small village where it was discovered.

The Sierra Leone government rejected a bid of $7.8m at an earlier auction.

The government is now expected to use the money raised to improve conditions in the village of Koryardu, including the introduction of a fresh supply of water, electricity, roads, medical care and the building and maintenance of schools.

“The Peace Diamond bought by Laurence Graff will change lives even though it’s a shame the diamond hasn’t sold for a wildly expensive price,” the managing director of 77diamonds.com, Tobias Kormind, said.

The earlier bid of $7.8m was rejected by the government when the stone was initially auctioned in Freetown, after it said that the figure was too low.

The “peace diamond”, said to be the 14th largest recorded diamond in the world, was handed to the Sierra Leone government in March after it was unearthed by Emmanuel Momoh, a Christian pastor.

Mr Momoh told the BBC’s Newsday programme before the auction on Monday that selling the diamond to middlemen would not have “benefited the community”.

“We lack a lot of things. We don’t have a good road network … or drinking water,” he added.

The sale of the diamond was handled by Rapaport Group, which waived all charges.

The group’s chairman, Martin Rapaport, told Newsday that the sale could bring about a “sea change in the relationship between artisanal miners and the government” if the community is seen to benefit.

“It will encourage others to work with the government,” he said.

*BBC

Read More
HEINEKEN lays the foundation stone of its first brewery in Mozambique
December 4, 2017 | 0 Comments
HEINEKEN makes $100 million investment
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, December 4, 2017/ — HEINEKEN (www.theHEINEKENcompany.com) today laid the foundation stone of its first brewery in Mozambique in the presence of His Excellency Mr. Max Tonela, Minister of Trade and Industry.

This new brewery, incorporating the latest technologies, represents a $100 million (€85 million) investment. Located in the province of Maputo, between the Marracuene and Manhiça districts, the brewery will have a production capacity of 0.8 million hectoliters and will brew high quality beers for the domestic market. The first bottle of beer is expected to come off the production line in the first half of 2019.

HEINEKEN Mozambique started its activities in 2016 through a sales and marketing office, importing international beers including Heineken®, Amstel, Amstel Lite and Sagres in the country to offer more choice to Mozambican consumers. The construction of HEINEKEN’s very first brewery is a major step forward for the company’s presence in the country.

With this significant investment, HEINEKEN Mozambique is expected to create 200 direct jobs and support additional indirect jobs through its entire value chain.

Aligned with the HEINEKEN ambition of sourcing 60% of its agricultural raw materials in Africa by 2020, HEINEKEN Mozambique will explore the possibility of locally sourcing the raw materials it will need to produce its beers. One of the objectives of this project will be to improve crop yields as well as the capabilities and living standards of Mozambican farmers, contributing to the economic development of the country.

Boudewijn Haarsma, HEINEKEN International’s Managing Director East & West Africa, stated: “We are delighted to enter Mozambique, where we see promising long-term economic perspectives. The project is progressing well thanks to the support of the Mozambican Government and its commitment to bring investments into the country. Investing in a new market like Mozambique supports HEINEKEN’s ambition to expand its footprint and be the number one or a strong number two in all markets in which it operates. With our extensive experience and existing business in Africa, we also aim to be a partner for growth today in Mozambique as we already are throughout the continent. I am convinced our presence will contribute to the economic and social development that is already under way in Mozambique.”

Nuno Simes, HEINEKEN Mozambique’s General Manager said: “With HEINEKEN’s passion for quality, our new brewery will deliver high quality beers to Mozambique according to the international standards of the HEINEKEN Company. We look forward to continue to provide enjoyment to Mozambican consumers with our brands.”

HEINEKEN (www.theHEINEKENcompany.com) is the world’s most international brewer. It is the leading developer and marketer of premium beer and cider brands. Led by the Heineken® brand, the Group has a portfolio of more than 250 international, regional, local and speciality beers and ciders. We are committed to innovation, long-term brand investment, disciplined sales execution and focused cost management. Through “Brewing a Better World”, sustainability is embedded in the business and delivers value for all stakeholders. HEINEKEN has a well-balanced geographic footprint with leadership positions in both developed and developing markets. We employ over 80,000 employees and operate breweries, malteries, cider plants and other production facilities in more than 70 countries. Heineken N.V. and Heineken Holding N.V. shares trade on the Euronext in Amsterdam. Prices for the ordinary shares may be accessed on Bloomberg under the symbols HEIA NA and HEIO NA and on Reuters under HEIN.AS and HEIO.AS. HEINEKEN has two sponsored level 1 American Depositary Receipt (ADR) programmes: Heineken N.V. (OTCQX: HEINY) and Heineken Holding N.V. (OTCQX: HKHHY). Most recent information is available on HEINEKEN’s website: www.theHEINEKENcompany.com

Read More
Guinea: SMB-Winning announces a US $ 3 Billion Investment
December 4, 2017 | 0 Comments
In 2018, the SMB-Winning consortium will launch feasibility studies for the construction of an alumina refinery and a railway line to be built by 2022
CONAKRY, Guinea, December 4, 2017/ — The SMB-Winning consortium (http://SMB-Guinee.com), a major player in the bauxite sector, presented to His Excellency Alpha Condé, President of the Republic of Guinea, a project to build an alumina refinery in Guinea as well as a railway to open up the Boffa corridor and to carry bauxite to the refinery and the Dapilon river port. The total investment planned for the whole project is estimated at US $ 3 billion.

The feasibility and social and environmental impact studies will be carried out as soon as early 2018 for a start of works planned in 2019. The construction phase will create 10,000 jobs and mobilize local companies, among which experts in civil engineering, extraction, construction and services. The refinery will be located in Dapilon, in the Boké Special Economic Zone.

“This investment illustrates our ambitions for the Boké region and our contribution to Guinea’s economic and social development. The mining sector, together with agriculture, is the lung of the country’s development and, in our approach as a mining operator, must also focus on facilitating a local redistribution of the benefits, especially in favor of the communities, education, jobs, and priority sectors such as the agro-industry”, comments Frédéric Bouzigues, Managing Director of Société Minière de Boké (SMB).

“The local processing of raw materials is one of the biggest challenges for a more inclusive growth in Africa because it creates more value locally while leading to economic diversification. This commitment to Guinea also demonstrates our confidence in the continued improvement of both its business environment and macroeconomic stability. This project also demonstrates the technical and financial complementarity of our Franco-Sino-Singaporean consortium to carry out this type of ambitious projects”, said Fadi Wazni, Chairman of SMB.

Founded in 2014, the SMB-Winning consortium brings together three partners in the fields of bauxite mining, production and transportation: Singaporean shipping company Winning Shipping Ltd, UMS, a French owned transport and logistics company that has been present in Guinea for over 20 years, and Shandong Weiqiao, a leading Chinese company in aluminum production. The consortium has planned to export 30 million tons of bauxite in 2017, making Guinea the world’s largest exporter of bauxite and the consortium one of the major contributors to the country’s gross domestic product.

Founded in 2014, the SMB-Winning consortium (http://SMB-Guinee.com) brings together three global partners in the fields of bauxite mining, production and transportation: Singapore’s Winning Shipping Ltd, a leading Asian shipping company; UMS, a transport and logistics company present in Guinea for more than 20 years; Shandong Weiqiao, a leading Chinese aluminum company with 160,000 employees and annual sales of US $ 45 billion. The State of Guinea is a partner and a member of the consortium.
Since its inception, SME-Gaining a review over US $ 1 billion in its extractive activities in the region of Boké. The consortium, which works directly and 5,500 people also built and manages two river ports.

Read More
Sierra Leone Parliament Ratifies Key Bumbuna II Project Documents
December 4, 2017 | 0 Comments
This marks another important milestone in the development of the Bumbuna II hydropower project which, when completed, will provide much-needed all-year round power to Sierra Leone
LONDON, United Kingdom, December 4, 2017/ — Following on from the Government of Sierra Leone’s signing of the 25-year Power Purchase and Implementation Agreements with Joule Africa (www.JouleAfrica.com) in August 2017, these important project documents have now been ratified by the Sierra Leone Parliament. This marks another important milestone in the development of the Bumbuna II hydropower project which, when completed, will provide much-needed all-year round power to Sierra Leone.

Under the conditions of the agreement, local project company Seli Hydropower, jointly owned by Joule Africa and its local partner Energy Services Company (ESCO), will build an extension to the existing 50 MW hydro station, Bumbuna I, situated in the north east of the country, adding a further 143 MW of power capacity. Construction on the extension is anticipated to start in the second half of 2018 with operations forecast to start four years later. Seli Hydropower, will be responsible for building, owning and operating Bumbuna II and will also be responsible for operating Bumbuna I.

Commenting on this announcement, Patrick Beckley, Chairman of Seli Hydropower, said:

“We would like to thank the Government of Sierra Leone for their ongoing support and in maintaining their commitment to the Bumbuna II project ahead of General Elections in early 2018. I am delighted that we received approval for ratification in Parliament with no exemptions –  a clear indication that there is unanimous cross-party support for this project.”

“The development of Bumbuna II has always been a key part of the country’s long-term energy strategy and we look forward to being able to deliver affordable, all-year round power for the consumers of Sierra Leone.”

Andrew Cavaghan, Joule Africa’s Chairman and a Director of Seli Hydropower, added:

“I am pleased that we have reached another important milestone in the development of the Bumbuna II project. We are making good progress on all fronts and will look to build on this momentum in the coming weeks and months as we continue to consult with interested parties, appoint a contractor and finalise the relevant financing.”

The Bumbuna II hydropower project is Sierra Leone’s largest infrastructure project and is a key part of the Government of Sierra Leone’s long term Energy Plan.
Bumbuna II will be located 200km from Freetown on the Upper Seli River in North East Sierra Leone.
The project involves building an extension to the existing 50 MW Bumbuna I facility.
When complete, Bumbuna II will add 143MW of new capacity and will provide Sierra Leone with a minimum of 80MW of reliable, all-year round affordable electricity.

Joule Africa (www.JouleAfrica.com) is a developer owner-operator of sustainable power projects across Africa. In addition to Bumbuna II, Joule Africa is developing Kpep, a 485MW hydro project in Cameroon, while considering various options for its third project.
Joule Africa puts sustainable development and transparency at the heart of its business practice. The company works closely with all of its stakeholders to create infrastructure assets that will generate long-term value and is dedicated to working closely with Governments to help deliver projects that complement existing plans for social and economic development.

Read More
Gambia gets new homeland security minister after Fatty sacking
December 4, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Kebba Jeffang

Mai Fatty

Mai Fatty

The Gambian President Adama Barrow has appointed a replacement for a key coalition member Mai Ahmad Fatty as Interior Minister following his unexplained sacking in November.

The new Minister was officially disclosed on Monday, December 4th as Habib Saihou Drammeh. With no background in security as per the content of the statement from the presidency, Drammeh becomes the first replacement as a minister for Barrow’s administration that just celebrated one year last Saturday.

He is due to take oath of office on December 6th to officially commence carrying out his responsibility.

Barrow after dismissing Fatty told journalists that the decision was in the best interest of the country. However, he refused to tell why he took the decision.

Mai is the first Minister to be relieved as a cabinet member by the President. He too has been quiet about his removal.

This was one of the most criticized decisions of Mr. Barrow by the Gambians with many describing it a ‘betrayal’ towards one of the key members of the coalition government.

While serving as Interior Minister, Fatty suspended the issuance of National Identity Cards as well as the production of non-ECOWAS Passport. He is undoubtedly one of the most controversial ministers in the cabinet.

Read More
Acting Assistant Secretary Yamamoto Travel to Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, London, and Rwanda
December 4, 2017 | 0 Comments
Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Donald Yamamoto

Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Donald Yamamoto

On December 4, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Donald Yamamoto attended the Somalia Security Pact Review in Mogadishu.  The meeting was chaired by President Farmaajo and provided the opportunity for stakeholders invested in Somalia’s security and stability to discuss the development of Somali security institutions.

Following the Somalia Security Pact Review, the Acting Assistant Secretary will travel to Nairobi, Kenya from December 4-6, where he will meet with representatives of the Kenyan government, as well as with Kenyan civil society.  The visit will encourage all sides in Kenya to participate in a national dialogue following the presidential election.

In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the Acting Assistant Secretary will meet with senior leaders of the Ethiopian government and of the African Union from December 7-9.  In addition to continuing discussions on bilateral issues between the two countries, he will talk with both Ethiopian government and AU officials about regional concerns, including food security, peacekeeping and refugee matters.

In London, Ambassador Yamamoto will participate in the twice yearly gathering of P3 Africa Directors meeting on December 11-12 to discuss current policy issues with defense and development colleagues from France and the UK.

Ambassador Yamamoto will then travel to Kigali, Rwanda on December 13-14, where he will meet with President Kagame ahead of his term as President of the African Union.

*Courtesy of US State Department

Read More
What France’s Macron really means when he says Africa needs to look after itself
December 2, 2017 | 0 Comments

Siddhartha Mitter*

French President Emmanuel Macron is welcomed by Burkina Faso's President Roch Marc Christian Kabore at Ouagadougou airport, Burkina Faso November 27, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

French President Emmanuel Macron is welcomed by Burkina Faso’s President Roch Marc Christian Kabore at Ouagadougou airport, Burkina Faso November 27, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

The Big Africa Speech is a ritual for every French president. For better or worse, it serves as the tone-setter for his Africa policy, and signals his approach to the tangle of political and business networks known as Françafrique.

Nicolas Sarkozy’s speech, given in Dakar in 2007, is remembered for an arrogant, paternalistic phrase: “The African has not yet sufficiently entered History.” It did not go over well. François Hollande’s speech in 2012, also in Dakar, was amiable but insipid. Like Hollande himself, it is largely forgotten.

Emmanuel Macron has now given his own Big Africa Speech. It came Tuesday (Nov. 28), in a raucous auditorium at the University of Ouagadougou, in Burkina Faso. What will likely be remembered most vividly is the atmospherics. Where past presidents went formal and flowery, Macron went casual and scrappy. He fed off the room full of students and their energy. He took questions—a big break from his predecessors—and even solicited direct questions from the crowd after the pre-selected questioners had their turn.

The question phase produced a small blunder that has turned into a viral clip. After serious questions to do with security and economics, a student asked about local power supply, including to the campus, where the air conditioning had gone out. Macron said that was not for him to solve, but for Burkina’s president, Roch Marc-Christian Kaboré, who was standing offstage. An awkward moment ensued as Kaboré briefly left the room (his team later hinted it was a bathroom break) and Macron joked he was going to fix the AC. The social-media take was that Macron “humiliated” Kaboré, though it could also be seen as pantomime with the Burkinabè leader playing along.

Macron fancies himself a disrupter; his Africa tone is no exception. Like past presidents, he announced a new course for France-Africa relations, but he couched it in generational terms, distancing himself—he was born in 1977—from the colonial hangover and urging young Burkinabè to do the same. He was more frank than his predecessors about, as he put it, “the crimes of colonialism.” He hailed Burkina’s late anti-imperialist hero Thomas Sankara, to great applause. He walked back an unfortunate earlier comment of his own about demographic growth as a “civilizational” challenge. His references to African writers and his tactical insertions of Burkinabè phrases were judicious and well-timed.

But Macron’s disruption of French politics comes from the center—a very Establishment kind of disruption—and his Africa policy promises the same. The new approach looks a lot like the old. He is doubling down on France’s security apparatus in the region, he called for applause for French soldiers serving in the Sahel, he celebrated the role of French firms in infrastructure projects, and his economic advice to young Africans was vapid, consisting mostly of buzzwords: entrepreneurship, innovation, and mobility.

Two points in Macron’s speech, however, are truly new and have potential for major consequences. One is political. Macron promised that France’s remaining secret files to do with Thomas Sankara’s assassination, in 1987—which may not have been ordered by France or its close ally Côte d’Ivoire, but was certainly convenient for them—will be declassified and made available to the Burkinabè courts. This sets a major precedent, and could make more than a few Françafrique actors nervous well beyond Burkina Faso. It is also high time, and goes much further than rhetoric toward dealing with the past.

The second is Macron’s reply to a student challenging him on the CFA franc, the currency of 14 African countries. The CFA and its structure, in which the countries, through two regional central banks, deposit 50% of foreign exchange reserves at the Bank of France in exchange for fixed-rate euro convertibility, are facing their most significant criticism in decades.

Macron defended the CFA, but only to the extent of pointing out that separate currencies would still need their own forex backing. (He sidestepped the key point that countries would then be able to determine their own monetary policy and use it to shape development.) But he also said he’d be open to any change the member countries wanted—including expanding the CFA or a successor currency to the rest of the region, Nigeria included; changing the exchange rate-setting mechanism; or ending the whole arrangement altogether.

This, perhaps, was Macron’s most revolutionary talk of all. The CFA is not the “colonial tax” that periodic social-media screeds label it, but it certainly is a fundamental structure of the French-African apparatus. And Macron is right that any decision to change it must come from African leaders themselves. He knows, of course, that this will be hard for them, as political elites in Franc zone countries have used the system for decades to their benefit. Disrupting those interests, he signaled, would be fine with him.

*Culled from Quartz Africa

Read More
Statement from the Archbishop Tutu Fellows to African Heads of State and the International Private Sector, Civil Society and Multilateral Organisations on the Great Stain of Slavery in Libya
November 30, 2017 | 1 Comments
Slavery in Libya is a crime against humanity and immediate action is required by all stakeholders, including African governments
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, November 30, 2017/ — Statement from the Archbishop Tutu Fellows to African Heads of State and the International Private Sector, Civil Society and Multilateral Organisations on the Great Stain of Slavery in Libya:

Your Excellencies, leaders of private sector and civil society organisations, policy makers at the United Nations and the African Union and fellow Africans,

Slavery in Libya is a crime against humanity and immediate action is required by all stakeholders, including African governments, to put an end to this outrageous practice and hold responsible parties accountable.

There are three Great Stains on humanity; War, Genocide and Slavery.

They are the Great Stains not only because they are the fertile soil for many other debasing evils; they are Great Stains because they are assaults and crimes against humanity.

The prevalence of war, genocide and slavery historically is by no means the measure by which we as humanity can accept such behavior as normative, then or now.

Slavery has spawned intergenerational social and economic disruption to the Continent of Africa and other areas; and has stolen the liberties and lives of people for the commoditization of their bodies against their will.

The slave trade is a crime against Humanity.

It is abhorrent to humanity.

It is monstrous.

It is an assault on the dignity of all.

Slavery can and must be stopped.

We, Archbishop Tutu Fellows, call upon the United Nations Security Council and its related organs to urgently declare the practice of Slavery – particularly in Libya- a threat against humanity and to work closely with civil society and member states to arrest the slave trade and create an effective punitive framework to combat against the slave trade globally.

We call upon the Africa Union to demonstrate continental leadership in aggregating national voices on ensuring slavery remains a historical footnote.

We call upon all African heads of State to take action to hold each other accountable, and to engage with other states beyond the continent who can make a contribution toward eradicating the Slave trade, and to stanch the capital flows and lack of consequence which makes this vile economy thrive.

We call upon businesses invested in countries such as Libya- which have failed to abide by the unwritten laws of humanity- to divest and support the removal of the Great Stain.

We call upon the NGO community invested in the fight against human trafficking, forced labor, involuntary migration, social justice and the betterment of the planet to support the removal of the Great Stain.

We call upon all Africans, in particular the nations of the African North, to support the removal of the Great Stain in all its forms.

We call upon the instruments of justice– national and international- to charge beneficiaries of the slave trade as Enemies of humanity.

As Archbishop Tutu Fellows and as Africans, we request the following immediate course of action:

  1. All African countries to recall their ambassadors and diplomatic representatives from Libya, as some have already done.
  2. Appropriate, responsible and action-oriented responses from the countries of origin of our enslaved African brothers and sisters in Libya, with a clear request for support from the international community where needed.
  3. Firm action against Libya from the African Union, of which the country is a member, such as suspension from the multilateral organization once investigations have been concluded.
  4. Other African countries to follow Rwanda’s lead and accept African brothers and sisters who are caught in the slave trade in Libya, and pan-African support for these African host countries.

As a network of more than 300 emerging young African leaders, we, the Archbishop Tutu Fellows, are willing and able to assist where such assistance is needed. We are deeply aware that it is pertinent upon the conscience and humanity of every member of the international community to act against the evils to which our fellow human beings are subject to in Libya. The urgency of the situation is such that we need to act now. Our ancestors fought slavery over hundreds of years and we cannot bear witness to its evils today and do nothing.

The Archbishop Tutu Fellows, of the African Leadership Institute (https://ALInstitute.org), are a diverse group of leading professionals from 42 African countries working at the forefront of positive change on the African continent and representing various sectors  – civil society, government, business, the arts, education, healthcare,  media and more. Tutu Fellows have undergone the Institute’s flagship programme, the Archbishop Tutu Leadership Programme, which is widely considered the premier leadership training programme on the continent. The goal of the programme is to impact the future of Africa through building and nurturing the capability of future leaders of the continent, drawing upon the globally-respected leadership values of ther Patron, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Since the inaugural class of 2006, the network now boasts 300+ Tutu Fellows.

Read More
The National Office of Professional Training Completes Training with 25 Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in the Region of Boke (Guinea)
November 30, 2017 | 0 Comments
The objective is to allow these 25 entrepreneurs to develop and strengthen their management competencies to improve their performance and profitability, while creating more jobs
BOKE, Guinea, November 29, 2017/ — The National Office of Professional Training (ONFPP in French) (www.ONFPPguinee.org), in partnership with the Guinean government’s Delivery Unit (DU), completed a training program for business leaders from 25 Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) in the region of Boke, one of the country’s resource-rich provinces. The two-week training program known by the acronym GERME (Gérer Mieux votre Entreprise) was developed by the International Labor Office and is being implemented in more than 85 countries worldwide. The training is being dispensed by the ONFPP’s certified trainers under the supervision of one of the ILO’s master trainers. A training needs assessment supported the selection of entrepreneurs who benefited from this training. The objective is to allow these 25 entrepreneurs to develop and strengthen their management competencies to improve their performance and profitability, while creating more jobs.

“It is with real pleasure that I am announcing the end of the training of the first cohort of MSMEs in Boke as part of the program to reinforce the competitivity of enterprises and job creation. From January 2018, a structure will open on the site of the Higher Institute of Mines and Geology to pilot ongoing support to companies from the Region as well as the employability of our young graduates. This initiative which will then be replicated in other regions in Guinea demonstrates the determination and commitment of the Government to promote jobs and entrepreneurship in the areas where the population is growing rapidly, particularly in mining regions” declared Mamady Youla, Prime Minister of the Republic of Guinea.

Additional SME strengthening centers are planned in other cities in the mining and agricultural regions.

“The ONFPP is happy that this first enterprise management training course in Boké has been successful. We decided to finance this training and we do not regret it. We found very motivated entrepreneurs and we are ready to support them beyond the end of the training. The ONFPP and its partners are engaged here in Boké, with a physical presence, to reinforce professional training” added Lucien Guilao, Director General of the National Office for Professional Training of the Republic of Guinea.

The DU, which functions under the Office of the Prime Minister of Guinea, aims to accelerate the implementation of Government flagship initiatives through the development and incubation of effective, sustainable, and results-oriented approaches.

“Boké plays a key role today in the economic development of Guinea because of its booming bauxite mining industry. Our role is to ensure that local and national enterprises have all the tools they need to benefit from this growth, and in turn generate employment opportunities.” said Vincent Michi, CEO of the DU.

In the mining sector, the DU’s interventions focus on increasing the economic impact of mineral production on the Guinean population. It is supporting the Government of Guinea with three priority interventions:

  1. The creation of Mobile Training Units dedicated to professional training over short periods of time, to improve the employability of young Guineans and respond to the needs of enterprises in the sector.
  2. The establishment of service centers dedicated to enterprises and job seekers to harness the impact of mining activity.
  3. Support to the transformation of the Higher Institute of Mining and Geology (ISMG) into a Center of Excellence.
Read More
Togo Opposition Parties Vow to Keep Up Pressure on President
November 30, 2017 | 0 Comments

FILE - Togo's Faure Gnassingbe speaks to media in Lome, Togo, April 25, 2015.

FILE – Togo’s Faure Gnassingbe speaks to media in Lome, Togo, April 25, 2015.

Togo’s opposition parties pledged Wednesday to maintain the momentum of anti-government protests, as thousands took to the streets once more ahead of promised talks with the president.

The leader of the National Alliance for Change (ANC), Jean-Pierre Fabre, led the crowds in the capital but similar protests were banned on security grounds in the north.

“Mobilization will continue, even during talks. We are not going to give up the fight,” Fabre told AFP.

A source in Togo’s second-largest city of Sokode — the stronghold of Tikpi Atchadam, the Panafrican National Party leader behind the demonstrations — said the streets were calm.

Many young people who had fled into the countryside fearing repercussions have not yet returned home, the source said, adding that sporadic arrests were still occurring.

Wednesday’s march was the first of three planned for this week to put pressure on Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbe to resign.

Gnassingbe has been president of the West African nation since 2005, taking over after the death of his father, General Gnassingbe Eyadema, who ruled Togo for 38 years.

Fourteen opposition parties want two-term limits for presidents which would be applied retroactively to prevent Gnassingbe from contesting the 2020 and 2025 elections.

At least 16 people have been killed in three months of protests after opposition supporters clashed with police and security forces, especially in the north.

Gnassingbe — who left for an Africa-Europe summit in Ivory Coast on Wednesday morning — said last week that preparations were being made for talks with the opposition in the coming weeks.

FILE - A man holds up a sign, which reads: "Faure still how many death by you," during an opposition protest calling for the immediate resignation of President Faure Gnassingbe in Lome, Togo, Sept. 6, 2017.

FILE – A man holds up a sign, which reads: “Faure still how many death by you,” during an opposition protest calling for the immediate resignation of President Faure Gnassingbe in Lome, Togo, Sept. 6, 2017.

But demonstrators said they wanted the issue addressed at the summit.

“I would like the heads of state and France in particular to get involved personally and speak face-to-face with Faure Gnassingbe,” said Abla, a student in Lome.

No meeting has been scheduled so far between Gnassingbe and President Emmanuel Macron, from Togo’s former colonial power, France.

Franck Paris, a spokesman for Macron’s office, said last week that “Togo will be an important subject of talks on the ground.”

Macron, in an interview Wednesday with France 24 television and Radio France Internationale (RFI), said he hoped Togo’s citizens “could express themselves freely.”

“I hope there can be an electoral process … which allows either a democratic confirmation or transition of power,” Macron said.

“Keeping power for a long period of time without any electoral processes, without a framework of pluralism, is not a good thing.”

*AFP/VOA

Read More
Sky captain Gyan: Soccer star to launch ‘Baby Jet’ airline
November 30, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Kieron Monks*

(CNN)Ghana’s record goalscorer has traveled the world over the course of his career.

during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group D match between Serbia and Ghana at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on June 13, 2010 in Pretoria, South Africa.

Asamoah Gyan left his homeland as a teenager and took the scenic route around Europe playing in France, Italy, and England, before taking a detour via China and the United Arab Emirates, and then arriving at his current club Kayserispor in the Turkish Super League.

Gyan has also clocked up the air miles at international level, making 105 appearances for Ghana encompassing three World Cups.
The Black Stars skipper, 32, is now contemplating life after the game. Fittingly, he is planning a career in the travel industry.
The President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo recently announced that Gyan has been granted a license to operate an airline, which will carry his nickname – ‘Baby Jet’.
The new carrier is expected to launch in 2018, beginning with domestic flights before progressing to international routes.
The announcement bought new scrutiny and pressure to the venture, but Gyan was thrilled to have recognition from his president.
“It’s a special honor that the president announced my business and it is positive pressure,” he tells CNN. “All business is a risk and I am ready.”
Gyan has been pursuing the idea for several years after advisers identified aviation as sector with rich potential. Passenger numbers in Ghana have shown strong growth which is expected to continue and accelerate in the coming years.
“I conducted research with my team and we identified business opportunities,” he says. “The airline idea started from 2012 but I waited for the right time and I believe Ghana’s economy is now expanding in many areas (including) the aviation industry.”
Gyan scores against Germany at the 2014 World Cup.

during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group G match between Germany and Ghana at Castelao on June 21, 2014 in Fortaleza, Brazil.

The striker says his motivation is a mix of personal and patriotic: “A desire to help my country, to create more jobs, and also to have a good life after football.”

Gyan expects to face new challenges in the aviation industry, but he believes that skills acquired on the pitch will prove transferable.
“I have learned a lot throughout my career,” he says. “Leadership, determination, commitment, perseverance and mental toughness will come into play.”
However, there is one new skill that the soccer star is determined to pick up.
“I will learn how to pilot,” he says. “Hopefully it will become a part time job.”
Should all go to plan, passengers could soon have Ghana’s top scorer wishing them a pleasant flight.
*Culled from CNN
Read More
House Arrest OK’d for Ex-Diplomat Awaiting Corruption Trial
November 29, 2017 | 0 Comments

By ADAM KLASFELD*

Cheikh Tidiane Gadio is highly respected in his native Senegal and across Africa,and  was instrumental in the forging of close ties between the USA and Senegal in the fight against terrorism

Cheikh Tidiane Gadio is highly respected in his native Senegal and across Africa,and was instrumental in the forging of close ties between the USA and Senegal in the fight against terrorism

MANHATTAN (CN) –  U.S. prosecutors lobbied unsuccessfully Monday to ensure the pretrial detention of former Senegalese diplomat awaiting a New York corruption trial.

Once deeply involved in U.S. peacekeeping and anti-terrorism efforts in Africa following the 9/11, Senegal’s former foreign minister Cheikh Gadio was arrested just over a week ago in connection to a three-year bribery scheme.

Alleging violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, prosecutors say 61-year-old Gadio helped Hong Kong-based businessman Patrick Ho funnel $2 million to Chad President Idriss Deby to help tap the nation’s vast oil reserves.

Though a federal magistrate granted Gadio a $1 million bail package, the government contended at a hearing Monday that Gadio should be considered a flight risk since America has no extradition treaty with Senegal.

“People flee, and they flee for rational reasons,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Richtenthal said this afternoon.

U.S. District Judge William Pauley III found house arrest under GPS monitoring enough to ensure Gadio’s appearance at trial.

“He’s going to be confined to his home in Maryland,” Pauley ruled.

Defense attorney Sean Hecker said Gadio’s reputation in the international community would be enough to ensure his appearance in court.

“This is a man of honor, a man of deep and well-deserved reputation,” said Hecker, from the firm Debevoise & Plimpton.

A West African nation roughly the size of South Dakota, Senegal has been a key U.S. partner in the fight against terrorism.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell heralded Gadio’s leadership on the issue the year after the 9/11 attacks.

“Senegal took a strong position against terrorism in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the U.S., and in October 2001 hosted a conference establishing the African Pact Against Terrorism,” a U.S. State Department noted in 2002 press briefing.

WikiLeaks also published a cable in which former ambassador Janice Jacobs emphasized senegal’s outsized peacekeeping role in a region rife with conflict.

“Despite high rates of poverty and illiteracy, Senegal retains a high degree of political stability and coherence thus enabling GOS to be a diplomatic player on a continent replete with conflicts,” the Nov. 8, 2006, cable said. “With U.S. training and assistance, Senegal has also become one of the world’s top ten contributors of peacekeepers.”

Gadio has not formally entered a plea, but his attorney made clear the diplomat will dispute the charges against him.

“The facts will come out,” Hecker said. “We’ll have the chance to tell our side of the story.”

Although he lived in Ohio for a decade, Gadio will await trial with his wife and children in Maryland. Hecker said that his wife works for the United Nations, where she is stationed in Equatorial Guinea.

Prosecutors say Gadio’s bribery scheme lasted from 2014 to this year, well after his tenure in Senegal from 2000 and 2009. Before his arrest earlier this month, Gadio posed for smiling photographs shaking hands both with Powell and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

*Culled from Court House News

Read More
AfDB Launches Youth Advisory Group to Create 25 Million Jobs
November 28, 2017 | 0 Comments
The Jobs for Youth in Africa initiative aims at creating 25 million jobs and impacting 50 million youth over the next ten years by equipping them with the right skills to get decent and meaningful jobs
Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB)

Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB)

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, November 28, 2017/ — The President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) (www.AfDB.org), Akinwumi Adesina, has launched the Presidential Youth Advisory Group (PYAG) to provide insights and innovative solutions for job creation for Africa’s youth, as outlined in the Bank’s Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy (JfYA) (http://APO.af/nRtVAs).

The Jobs for Youth in Africa initiative aims at creating 25 million jobs and impacting 50 million youth over the next ten years by equipping them with the right skills to get decent and meaningful jobs. It is currently the largest effort going on for youth employment in Africa today.

The advisory group, inaugurated on the sidelines of the 6th EU-Africa Business Forum in Abidjan on Monday, November 27, will work with the Bank to create jobs for Africa’s youth.

“This is a huge opportunity for Africa. If we fix the youth unemployment challenge, Africa will gain 10-20% annual growth. That means Africa’s GDP will grow by $500 million per year for the next thirty years. Africa’s per capita income will rise by 55% every year to the year 2050,” Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) said at the inauguration of the Group.

Adesina, who identified Africa’s greatest asset as its youth, observed that out of the 13 million youths that enter the labour market each year, only 3 million (about 33% of African youth) are in wage employment, while the rest are underemployed or in vulnerable employment. The annual gap of more than 8 million jobs is going to worsen, with the number of youth expected to double to more than 800 million in the next decades.

“Africa has an unemployment crisis among its youth,” he stressed, noting that unless employment opportunities are created for them, Africa’s rapidly growing population of youths can give rise to serious social, economic, political and security challenges.

Africa’s youths, though strong and dynamic, cross the desert or the Mediterranean sea because they do not find decent jobs in Africa. Graduates are wandering in the streets, jobless. The low level of employment opportunities is also fueling violence and extremism in Africa. “40% of African youths engaged in armed violence join gangs or terrorist groups because of limited opportunities in their countries,” Adesina said.

“66 million African youths earn less than $2 a day, less than the price of a hamburger,” the AfDB President emphasized. “66 million is 8 times the size of Switzerland, 6 times the size of Belgium, the same size as UK, France or Italy, and 80% of Germany’s population,” he added.

The Presidential Youth Advisory Group (PYAG) comprises nine members under the age of 40 who have made significant contributions to the creation of employment opportunities for African youth.

The PYAG members are: Ashish Thakkar, CEO, Mara Group, Tanzania (Chair); Uzodinma Iweala, award-winning author, Nigeria; Mamadou Toure, Founder / CEO, Africa 2.0 / Ubuntu Capital, Cameroon; Vanessa Moungar, Human and Social Development Director, AfDB and member of President Macron’s Presidential Council for Africa, Chad; Francine Muyumba, President, Panafrican Youth Union, Democratic Republic of Congo; Jeremy Johnson, Co-founder, Andela, USA; Clarisse Iribagiza, CEO, Hehe, Rwanda; Ada Osakwe, CEO, Agrolay Ventures, Nigeria; and Monica Musonda, CEO of Java Foods, Zambia.

On the rationale behind the setting up of the advisory group, President Adesina explained: “We recognize the enormous amount of energy, creative and innovative thinking, and entrepreneurial excellence that many of our youth bring to the table. For this reason, the Bank must ensure that it is well advised by cutting-edge youth representatives on its policies, actions and programmes, for the benefit of Africa’s youth.”

“The members of the Presidential Youth Advisory Group are expected to actively engage private sector partners, government leaders, civil society, donor partners, and other stakeholders; and support the significant amount of work that the Bank is already doing and promoting across the continent through its Jobs for Youth in Africa strategy,” President Adesina added.

A youth-led economic transformation agenda

PYAG is an opportunity for leading young voices in Africa to develop new and fresh perspectives and recommend innovative solutions that will shape AfDB’s support to African countries, and reduce the scourge of Youth unemployment.

The AfDB is fully committed to working with the PYAG to scale up and expedite results that deliver decent and sustainable jobs for African youth, through formal employment and successful youth entrepreneurship that allows African youth to become their own drivers of economic prosperity, social stability and environmental sustainability.

Ashish Thakkar, CEO of the Mara Group and Chair of the PYAG, said: “It is a great honour to serve our continent in this function. We know that the stakes are high, but we are committed to the task of creating flourishing youth businesses that provide tremendous value. We are also focused on facilitating the achievement of AfDB’s High 5s and Sustainable Development Goals. We have just concluded our work program for the next year and have hit the ground running.”

He described how his family lost everything they had during the genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s.

“I have borrowed $5,000 to launch my business without any form of support. Today, Mara Group has 14,000 employees around the world. I was alone, but imagine what we can do together with the support of an institution like the AfDB.”

“I have never heard of an institution as important as the AfDB setting up and advisory group only made of youth. A Chinese proverb has it that if you want 1 year of prosperity, plant a grain. If you want 10 years of prosperity, plant a tree. If you want a century of prosperity, invest on people,” said Mamadou Touré, a member of the group.

Also speaking, Ada Osakwe said: “40% of entrepreneurs in Nigeria are women, but 73% operate in consumer retail systems. We need to address that and provide youth with more lucrative jobs.”

To make agriculture more attractive to young people, the AfDB last year invested $800 million in supporting young entrepreneurs in agriculture as a business in 8 countries. It will reach 15 countries this year. The Bank expects to invest 1.5 billion per year for the next 10 years to support young agripreneurs.

The AfDB is delivering on its youth strategy

The AfDB has made great progress toward implementing its strategy through three key pillars: innovation, integration and investment. In terms of integration, the Bank entered into partnership with the International Labour Organization to strengthen the capacity of African countries to harmonize Youth Employment into national policies.

The Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation Multi-Donor Trust Fund which will serve as a financial and operational instrument, with initial support of USD 4.4 million by Denmark and Norway.

The African Development has also developed the Enabling Youth Employment (EYE) Index to measure youth employment outcomes and enabling policies at country levels.

“With this amazing group of very diverse young individuals, we even hope to exceed the Bank’s goal to create 25 million jobs and 50 million youth equipped with the right skills,” said Thakkar enthusiastically. “It is time to change the narrative about Africa’s youth!”

Read More
Folorunso Alakija Inspires 300 Women at Prestigious 2017 Flourish Africa Conference
November 28, 2017 | 0 Comments
The 66-year-old business magnate has persistently championed the causes of women in Nigeria from her work with widows and orphans
LAGOS, Nigeria, November 28, 2017/ — Folorunso Alakija, one of a handful of successful female entrepreneurs on the continent listed as one of Forbes most powerful women in the world, attended the Africa conference. The 66-year-old business magnate has persistently championed the causes of women in Nigeria from her work with widows and orphans through the Rose of Sharon Foundation which Alakija uses as a medium to empower thousands of impoverished women and their children through Flourish Africa (http://FlourishAfrica.com) which is the first platform of its kind designed to create an impact on the lives of women in Africa by providing the tools they need to fulfill their God given potential. Through a series of conferences, workshops and mentorship programs, the platform hopes to bring women from all walks of life together to share in their unique experiences and become who God has destined for them to be.

Initiatives designed to give them a better standard of living

As CEO of Famfa Oil (www.Famfa.com), one of the largest indigenous oil companies in Africa, she has built schools, science labs, roads as well as providing scholarships to thousands of young students all over Nigeria. Her philanthropic work continues this year with the launch of the women empowerment platform, Flourish Africa.

The first Flourish Africa conference took place at the Renaissance Ikeja Hotel in Lagos at an exclusive invitation only event hosted by Forbes Africa Head of Digital Media and Partnerships and West Africa Correspondent, Peace Hyde, which saw applications from over 2000 women vying for the opportunity to be part of the 300 people who were selected to partake in the exchange of knowledge from powerful women like Folorunso Alakija, Ibukun Awosika, Senator Daisy Danjuma, Mrs. Fashola, Juliet Ehimuan Chiazor, Uche Pedro, Ayo Mogbepe and many more.

Flourish Africa (http://FlourishAfrica.com) is the first platform of its kind designed to create an impact on the lives of women in Africa by providing the tools they need to fulfill their God given potential. Through a series of conferences, workshops and mentorship programs, the platform hopes to bring women from all walks of life together to share in their unique experiences and become who God has destined for them to be.

Read More
African Union Commission Awards Thirteen Consortia of Institutions to Implement the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa Support Programme
November 28, 2017 | 0 Comments
The award ceremony holds on the margins of the 5th AU-EU Summit in Abidjan, Cote d`Ivoire
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, November 28, 2017/ —

The African Union Commission (AUC) (https://AU.int) officially awards grants to thirteen successful consortia of institutions that will serve as Regional Implementing Centres for the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa (GMES and Africa) (http://GMES4Africa.blogspot.in) Support Programme. The award ceremony holds on the margins of the 5th AU-EU Summit in Abidjan, Cote d`Ivoire.

Following a Call for Proposals in May 2017, a number of African institutions operating in the areas of water, natural resources, marine and coastal areas, applied for the GMES and Africa Support Programme Grants. To evaluate the applications and select the most suitable consortia of institutions that submitted proposals, the African Union Commission instituted a committee supported by a team of assessors comprising African earth observation experts.

Thirteen consortia of institutions were finally selected and the award marks the official announcement of their selection.

1. Central Africa: Agence Gabonaise d’Etudes et d’Observations Spatiale (AGEOS) and Commission Internationale du Bassin Congo-Oubangui-Sangha (CICOS) for Water and natural resources service.

2. East Africa:

  • IGAD Climate Prediction and Application Centre (ICPAC) and Regional Centre for Mapping off Resources for Development (RCMRD) for Water and natural resources service
  • Mauritius Oceanography Institute (MOI) for Marine and coastal areas service

3.North Africa:

  • National Authority for Remote Sensing & Space Sciences (NARSS) for marine and coastal area service
  • Observatoire du Sahara et du Sahel (OSS) for water and natural ressources service

4. Southern Africa:

  • Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for marine and coastal areas service
  • Southern African Development Community Climate Services Centre (SADC-CSC) and Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL) for water and natural resources service

5. West Africa

  • Centre de Suivi Ecologique (CSE) and Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria (CSSTE-Obafemi) for water and natural resources service
  • University of Ghana (UG) for Marine and coastal areas service

At the award ceremony, the Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology at the African Union Commission, Professor Sarah Anyang Agbor, felicitated the successful institutions on their selection, which she said was based on their experience and proven capacities. She implored them to deliver the goods, and promised the African Union Commission’s unflinching support.

GMES and Africa (http://GMES4Africa.blogspot.in) Support Programme is a 30 million Euro joint programme co-financed by the European Commission (https://EC.europa.eu) and the African Union Commission. It will use and adapt the Copernicus Programme data and services to the African context. It is designed to specifically respond to African needs with respect to services related to water, natural resources, marine and coastal areas and to address the global needs to manage the environment, mitigate climate change and ensure civil security. It is to enable the implementation of the African Space Policy and Strategy, formulated to harness the continent’s capabilities in utilizing space science and technology for economic growth and sustainable development. In the implementation agreement, the African Union Commission is the ‘delegated authority’ responsible for the management of the programme.

Indeed, GMES & Africa Programme aimed at improving African policy-makers’, planners’, scientists’, business and private sector and citizens’ capacities to design, implement, and monitor national, regional and continental policies and to promote sustainable management of natural resources through the use of Earth Observation data and derived information.

GMES & Africa introduced several key innovations: for the first time, with the inclusion of the North African countries, the Programme is pan African. It is totally managed by the African Union Commission, through the Human Resource, Science and Technology (HRST) Department. It engages the African private sector and national and regional academia.

Read More
Merck Foundation conducts 3rd UNESCO-Merck Africa Research Summit – MARS 2017 in partnership with the Office of the President of Mauritius and their Ministry of Health
November 28, 2017 | 0 Comments
Third edition UNESCO-MARS 2017 continues to build Research Capacity in Africa with special focus on Cancer and Vaccines Development
PORT LOUIS, Mauritius, November 28, 2017/ —

  • Merck Foundation partners with the Government of Mauritius, UNESCO, African Union and African Governments for their annual UNESCO-MARS to contribute to empowering Women and Youth in STEM.
  • Third edition UNESCO-MARS 2017 continues to build Research Capacity in Africa with special focus on Cancer and Vaccines Development. 
  • Winners of the 2017 MARS “Best Young African Researchers Award” and “Best African Women Researchers Award” to be announced.

 

Mr. Getachew Engida, Deputy Director General of UNESCO; Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E. Merck KG; President of the Republic of Mauritius, Her Excellency Mrs Ameenah Grurib-Fakim (centre) and Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation follow proceedings at the inauguration of the UNESCO Merck Africa Research Summit on November 28, 2017

Mr. Getachew Engida, Deputy Director General of UNESCO; Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E. Merck KG; President of the Republic of Mauritius, Her Excellency Mrs Ameenah Grurib-Fakim (centre) and Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation follow proceedings at the inauguration of the UNESCO Merck Africa Research Summit on November 28, 2017

As part of Merck STEM program For Women and Youth, Merck Foundation (www.Merck-Foundation.com), a non-profit organization and a subsidiary of Merck (www.Merck.com) KGaA Germany conducts the 3rd edition of their annual “UNESCO-Merck Africa Research Summit” on the 28th and 29th of November 2017 under the patronage of the President of the Republic of Mauritius, Her Excellency Mrs. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim and in partnership with Government of Mauritius, UNESCO, African Union and African Governments.

The President of the Republic of Mauritius, Her Excellency Mrs. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim emphasized during the inauguration; “We are very happy to partner with the Merck Foundation and UNESCO to empower women and youth in STEM. The UNESCO – Merck Africa Research Summit is a valuable opportunity for all those engaged and interested in health research in Africa to learn about the full spectrum of ground-breaking scientific research currently underway, and prepare the road ahead in Africa’s development as an international hub for research and scientific innovation.”

Speaking on Merck Foundation’s support for Research Capacity building in Africa, “We are keen to support young gifted researchers by passing on the knowledge and experience we have gathered over the 350 years of Merck history. Through our ‘Merck STEM Program’ we aim to promote women and youth in scientific research through providing them with training opportunities to advance their capacity with special focus on Cancer care,” Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of Executive Board and Family Board of E.Merck KG & Chairman of Board of Trustees of Merck Foundation emphasized.

“For the third year, Merck Foundation continues their long- term commitment towards building Research Capacity in Africa. Supporting the African research community, with special focus on Women and Youth is one of our most important objectives, this year in partnership with The Head of State of Mauritius together with African Governments, we focus on The Role of Scientific Research in responding to Cancer and Vaccines Development – two critical challenges in Africa”, said Dr. Rasha Kelej, Merck Foundation’s Chief Executive Officer.

Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E. Merck KG, President of the Republic of Mauritius, Her Excellency Mrs Ameenah Grurib-Fakim (centre), and Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation pose for a group photo with ministers and dignitaries at the inauguration of the UNESCO Merck Africa Research Summit on November 28, 2017

Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E. Merck KG, President of the Republic of Mauritius, Her Excellency Mrs Ameenah Grurib-Fakim (centre), and Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation pose for a group photo with ministers and dignitaries at the inauguration of the UNESCO Merck Africa Research Summit on November 28, 2017

UNESCO-MARS 2017 was officially inaugurated by; Her Excellency Mrs. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, President of the Republic of Mauritius and Dr. the Hon. Mohammad Anwar Husnoo, Mauritius’ Minister of Health and Quality of Life.

Merck Africa Research Summit – MARS Awards 2017

During the Summit Award ceremony, five winners from Cameroon, NigeriaRwanda and Mauritius were recognized and awarded respectively for their excellence in research under the category of ‘Best African Women Researchers Award’. Furthermore, three winners from South Africa, SenegalandBotswana were presented with the ‘Best Young African Researchers Award’ during the 3rd UNESCO-Merck Africa Research Summit held in Mauritius.

For the first time, an additional three female researchers from Mauritius, were presented with special “MARS Best Mauritian Women Researchers Award”.“This is to contribute to the Mauritian government’s efforts to promote women in STEM with special focus on scientific research in cancer,” Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation added.

After previous successful editions of the Summit, UNESCO and Merck Foundation join hands for the third time to respond to Africa’s STISA (Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa) 2024, reinforcing the axiom that only through building local capacities can Africa rise again to becoming an equal partner in advancing STEM research and education.

To this, UNESCO–MARS 2017 brings together African researchers to discuss the generation, sharing and dissemination of research data and to prepare for the road ahead in developing Africa as an international hub for research excellence and scientific innovation. These include researchers from Francophone countries such as Benin, Senegal, Tunisia, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Congo, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burkina Faso, and Anglophone countries such as Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa, Ghana, Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan, Egypt, South Sudan and Ethiopia.

Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E. Merck KG, and Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation pose for a group photo with President of the Republic of Mauritius, Her Excellency Mrs. Ameenah Grurib-Fakim (centre) at the inauguration of the UNESCO Merck Africa Research Summit on November 28, 2017. Also with them are Mr. Getachew Engida, Deputy Director General of UNESCO (extreme left) and Dr. the Hon. Mohammad Anwar Husnoo, Minister of Health and Quality of Life, Republic, Mauritius (extreme right)

Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E. Merck KG, and Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation pose for a group photo with President of the Republic of Mauritius, Her Excellency Mrs. Ameenah Grurib-Fakim (centre) at the inauguration of the UNESCO Merck Africa Research Summit on November 28, 2017. Also with them are Mr. Getachew Engida, Deputy Director General of UNESCO (extreme left) and Dr. the Hon. Mohammad Anwar Husnoo, Minister of Health and Quality of Life, Republic, Mauritius (extreme right)

More than 60% of young African Researchers attending this year, are women, emphasizing Merck Foundation’s long-term commitment towards empowering women in STEM with special focus on Scientific Research in Cancer and Vaccines Development.

Key African ministers attending the Summit to participate in the Ministerial Panels

This year’s Summit has attracted many African ministers of Health; Education; Science and Technology; Gender and Social Development to participate in the ministerial high-level panels which will focus on ‘Empowering Women & Youth in STEM – with special focus on Scientific Research – Challenges & Solutions to be considered in the national strategy in developing countries.’

The ministers participating in the panel include: Hon. Sarah Opendi Minister of State of Health, Uganda; Hon. Leela Devi Dookun- Luchoomun Minister of Education and Scientific Research, Mauritius; Hon. Dr. George Kronnisanyon Werner Minister of Science and Higher Education, Liberia; Hon. Dr Anwar Husnoo Minister of Health, Mauritius; Hon. Susan Shabangu Minister in the Presidency Responsible for Women, South Africa; Hon. Julia Duncan Cassell, Minister of Gender and Social Development, Liberia; Hon. Chitalu Chilufya, Minister of Health, Zambia; Hon. Malam Adamu Adamu, Minister of Science and Higher Education, Nigeria; Hon. Awut Deng Acuil, Minister of Gender Child and Social Welfare, South Sudan; Hon. Fidelis Macdonald Molao and Deputy Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Botswana. The panel also includes, Hon. Samuel Mvondo Ayolo, Ambassador of Cameroonto France, and Hon. Christine Nina NIYONSAVYE and Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of Burundi to UNESCO.

About Last year MARS Awards Winners:

In 2016, five winners from Kenya, Burkina FasoGabonUganda and Ethiopia were recognized and awarded for their excellence in research  under the category of  ‘Best African Women Researchers Award’ and four winners from BotswanaCameroon, Gambia and Zimbabwe for ‘Best Young African Researchers Award’ during the 2nd UNESCO-Merck Africa Research Summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This was the first time the ‘Best African Women Researchers Award’ was launched.

The Merck Foundation (www.Merck-Foundation.com), established in 2017, is a philanthropic organization that aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology. Our efforts are primarily focused on improving access to innovative healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity and empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) with a special focus on women and youth. All Merck Foundation press releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Foundation Website.

Merck (www.Merck.com) is a leading science and technology company in healthcare, life science and performance materials. Around 50,000 employees work to further develop technologies that improve and enhance life – from biopharmaceutical therapies to treat cancer or multiple sclerosis, cutting-edge systems for scientific research and production, to liquid crystals for smartphones and LCD televisions. In 2016, Merck generated sales of € 15.0 billion in 66 countries.
Founded in 1668, Merck is the world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed corporate group. Merck holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the company operates as EMD Serono, MilliporeSigma and EMD Performance Materials.

Read More
The laureate of the US$1million 2017 cycle of the Al-Sumait Prize in the field of Education has been announced following its Board of Trustees meeting in Kuwait City
November 28, 2017 | 0 Comments
The recipient organization of the US$1million prize of this prestigious award is the African Women Educationalists (FAWE), Nairobi, Kenya
Al-Sumait’s Board Chairman H.E. Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah at the Board Meeting with other Board Members of Al-Sumait Prize

Al-Sumait’s Board Chairman H.E. Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah at the Board Meeting with other Board Members of Al-Sumait Prize

KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait, November 27, 2017/ — Laureate for the 2017 cycle of Al-Sumait Prize (www.AlSumaitPrize.org) for African Development in the field of Education has been endorsed by the Prize’s Board of Trustees for its exemplary work in Education development in Africa.

The recipient organization of the US$1million prize of this prestigious award is the African Women Educationalists (FAWE), Nairobi, Kenya. The decision was announced at the conclusion of Al-Sumait’s Board of Trustees meeting in Kuwait City.

The African Women Educationalists is awarded the prize for its achievements in significantly enhancing gender equity and equality in education through targeted programs, having a profound impact on attitudes and practices towards girls’ education and influencing education policies in 33 African countries.

Commenting, Al-Sumait’s Board Chairman H.E. Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, said “Our goal, with this prize, is to promote positive change across Africa, and this newly announced laureate of the Al-Sumait Prize for African Development has been working tirelessly in the field of education to create a positive and sustainable difference across Africa.”

Dr. Adnan Shihab-Eldin, Director General of the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS) (www.KFAS.org), which administers the award, said: “The organization awarded the 2017 Al-Sumait Prize in the field of Education represents innovative, exciting initiatives being carried out to address education access and quality as well as gender equity challenges facing Africa”

He added that FAWE will receive the award at the KFAS Prizes Ceremony in December under the patronage of His Highness the Amir of the State Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah.

The 2015 Al-Sumait Prize in the field of Health is was awarded to Professor Kevin Marsh in recognition of his sustained research and fieldwork to control and eradicate malaria. The2016 prize in the field of Food Security was jointly awarded to the International Potato Center (CIP) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).

Al-Sumait’s Board is chaired by H.E. Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, Kuwait’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. Other board members include: Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Kwaku Aning, Chairman of the Governing Board of Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, Chairman of Ghana Nuclear Energy Institute and Former Deputy Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Abdulatif Alhamad, Director General and Chairman of the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, Tareq Al-Mutawa, Executive Member of the Board of Public Gathering Charity Committee and Makhtar Diop, Vice President for Africa, The World Bank.

His Highness the Amir of the State Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah meeting with members from The Board of Trustees for Al-Sumait Prize for African Development and officials from KFAS in 2016

His Highness the Amir of the State Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah meeting with members from The Board of Trustees for Al-Sumait Prize for African Development and officials from KFAS in 2016

Al-Sumait Prize for African Development, which honors individuals and/or institutions who help advance economic and social development, human resources development and infrastructure in Africa, was instigated on the initiative of His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al- Sabah, the Amir of the State of Kuwait.

Al-Sumait award, which covers one of three categories each year: Health, Food Security and Education, is administered by the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS) and a Board of Trustees who oversee the selection of the recipients. The award commemorates the legacy of the late Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sumait, a Kuwaiti physician who dedicated his life to addressing the health, education and food security challenges confronting Africa and established the Direct Aid humanitarian organization.

Read More
International Trade Centre Joined Forces with ATIGS 2018
November 28, 2017 | 0 Comments
ATIGS 2018 and the Sustainable Development Goals
WASHINGTON D.C., United States of America, November 27, 2017/ — GAA Exhibitions & Conferences, organizers of ATIGS 2018 (www.ATIGS2018.com) today announced that the International Trade Centre (ITC) (www.intracen.org) has joined forces with the Africa Trade and Investment Global Summit (ATIGS), to advance the event goals and objectives.

ATIGS 2018 will be held under the main theme “Driving Trade, Unleashing Investment and Enhancing Economic Development: the Gateway to African Markets”, ATIGS 2018 goals and objectives are aligned with two of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): (SDGs 8 and 17).

The vision of ATIGS is built on the model of rotating the location of the summit every two years through a bidding process and organizing country specific ATIGS in between, with upcoming editions in Washington D.C – 2018, Dubai-2020; Beijing -2022; Brussels-2024, Addis Ababa -2026; and, South America-2028. Several high-level speakers have already confirmed to grace ATIGS 2018 from South Africa, Ghana, USA, Nigeria, UAE, Australia, China, and Kenya among others.

The Preliminary Featured Sessions will include: Africa and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, AU Agenda 2063: The Africa Future We Want, Stepping Up the Pace: African Development Bank ‘High 5’, African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), Doing Business in Africa tracks, Investing in Africa tracks, and Investor talks, Public Private Partnership, Government Keynotes, Regional Focus Discussions, Countries Focus Briefings, and Industrialize Africa tracks, among others.

“ATIGS 2018 is designed to contribute to AGOA, Trade Africa, World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), SDGs Agenda 2030 and AU Agenda 2063 by playing an important contribution in enabling companies all around the world and global investors to access African markets as a one-stop shop facilitating international trade and investment partners to support all internationally agreed sustainable development goals and objectives” said Bako Ambianda, director GAA Exhibitions & Conferences.

ATIGS 2018 – www.ATIGS2018.com, will bring together new and established partners from around the world under one roof in to increase business ties and partnerships, highlight and showcase trade and investment opportunities across Africa and enable companies from around the world to expand or establish operations in Africa.

Read More
TP Mazembe hold SuperSport to retain Confederation Cup
November 26, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Mark Gleeson*

TP Mazembe got the draw they needed at SuperSport United as they successfully defended the African Confederation Cup

TP Mazembe got the draw they needed at SuperSport United as they successfully defended the African Confederation Cup

Congolese giants TP Mazembe held out for a goalless draw in the second leg of the African Confederation Cup final in a cold and rainy Atteridgeville on Saturday to overcome South Africa’s SuperSport United and successfully defend their crown.

Both teams finished with 10 men at the end of a tempestuous tie which Mazembe won 2-1 on aggregate, after home success in the first leg in Lubumbashi last Sunday.

It means Mazembe win a continental title for the third successive year after taking the 2015 Champions League as well.

They played the better tactical game and showed their experience against the South Africans who were in their first ever final.

Mazembe’s line-up had three changes from the first leg in Lubumbashi that suggested they had come to defend their tenuous lead, but came out of the starting blocks in a much more attacking approach than that of their hosts.

They caught SuperSport hopping with their approach and should have been 2-0 up inside the opening quarter-hour, missing two sitters right in front of goal that – had they gone in – would have certainly killed off the tie.

After 10 minutes Rainford Kalaba beat the offside trap and was one-on-one with SuperSport goalkeeper Ronwen Williams but rushed his shot and blasted over the bar.

If that miss was not bad enough, there was further horror for the sizeable contingent of Mazembe supporters from the large expatriate Congolese community who live in South Africa.

Kalaba made a dashing run down the right with a quick burst of pace before cutting the ball back to striker Ben Malongo who slipped at the vital moment, but it fell perfectly for Daniel Adjei behind him, only for the Ghanaian import to somehow fluff his shot just wide when it seemed easier to score.

It took SuperSport at least 30 minutes to settle but as the rain continued to fall they began to win the midfield battles and set up chances.

Centre back Tefu Mashamaite, who had come forward for a free kick, was just offside as his diving header went into the net only to be correctly disallowed by the Senegalese officiating team.

In the second half, Mazembe only allowed SuperSport one clear shot on goal, dealt with competently by goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo.

Mazembe central defender Kasango Chongo got sent off with 10 minutes to go but SuperSport lost their numerical advantage when Thuso Phala got a straight red for a dangerous tackle.

*BBC

Read More
US former Vice President Al Gore to host 24-hour live broadcast about climate activism around the world
November 26, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Former US Vice President Al Gore

Former US Vice President Al Gore

  Former Vice President of the USA  and Climate Reality Founder and Chairman Al Gore will on December 4 to 5, 2017 host 24 Hours of Reality: Be the Voice of Reality, a 24-hour live broadcast focused on the climate crisis and its solutions.

  According to a spokesperson, this year’s program will look at the extraordinary climate activism happening all over the world and encourage the millions watching to speak up for solutions.

 

 The Climate Reality Project announced that the seventh-annual 24 Hours of Reality broadcast , a star-studded, 24-hour live event focused on the climate crisis and its solutions will take place December 4-5, 2017.

 Hosted by former US Vice President and Climate Reality Founder and Chairman Al Gore, 24 Hours of Reality: Be the Voice of Reality will explore the extraordinary climate activism happening all across the planet, encouraging the millions watching to use their voices to speak up for solutions, science, and truth at this decisive point in history. It will be carried by broadcast partners globally, and streamed live online at 24HoursofReality.org.

  It is also reported that a variety of international celebrities, musicians, elected officials, advocates, and other special guests will join the broadcast, including musicians Annie Lennox, Avicii ft Sandro Cavazza – ‘Without You’ performed by Sandro Cavazza, Belinda Carlisle, Billy Bragg, Ellie Goulding, Iggy Pop, Jason Mraz, Jean-Michel Jarre, Maná, Nile Rodgers, Rag’n’Bone Man and Young Paris; actors including Calum Worthy, Helen Hunt and Patrick Adams; elected officials and thought leaders including New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, California Governor Jerry Brown, World Economic Forum Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab; and television personalities including HGTV’s Property Brothers’ Jonathan Scott and Sam Champion.

“We stand at a pivotal moment in our mission to solve the climate crisis,” said Al Gore. “While the Paris Agreement gave the world a critical framework for solving the crisis, it’s up to us – concerned citizens of all backgrounds – to keep this progress going, no matter what actions the Trump Administration takes. This year’s 24 Hours of Reality broadcast will highlight empowered citizens taking action across the world, and will inspire those watching to use their own voices to be part of the solution.”

In the US, where the federal government has retreated from the climate fight, citizens have stepped up to push for practical solutions everywhere and in every way possible. In April, 200,000 Americans marched on the White House to demonstrate broad, bipartisan support for climate action. When President Trump announced his plan to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement, hundreds of thousands of citizens, business leaders, mayors, governors, and more across the nation stood up to say, “we are still in.”

24 Hours of Reality: Be the Voice of Reality will highlight these and many other voices and share inspiring stories of political, business, community, and personal activism that illustrate how we can all make a difference, right now, when our planet needs us most.

“This year’s theme – Be the Voice of Reality – is a call to action for anyone concerned about the climate crisis and everyone who wants to secure a safer future for our children and grandchildren,” said Ken Berlin, Climate Reality President and CEO. “24 Hours of Reality is a reminder of how far we have come and the work that remains, and we hope to encourage people to join the movement and speak out for climate action at all levels of society – from local city halls to the chambers of Congress.”

The program will begin on Monday, December 4 at 6:00 PM EST and will be broadcast live from New York City’s Roosevelt Island. The broadcast will travel around the globe highlighting stories of climate activism in six regions: North America, Oceania, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, Europe, and Central and South America. Al Gore will also share stories and statistics from his slideshow presentation made famous in the film An Inconvenient Truth and the recently-released An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.

Previous 24 Hours of Reality events have each focused on a different theme related to the climate crisis. Last year’s broadcast, 24 Hours of Reality: The Road Forward, examined both the challenges and opportunities for climate action and clean energy in the world’s 24 largest carbon-emitting countries.

For more information, one can  visit 24hoursofreality.org and watch a preview of the broadcast at http://bit.ly/2jt1plY.

  Founded by Nobel Laureate and former US Vice President Al Gore, The Climate Reality Project is one of the world’s leading organizations dedicated to mobilizing action on climate change. With a global movement of more than 5 million strong and a grassroots network of trained Climate Reality Leader activists, it is  spreading the truth about the climate crisis and building popular support for clean energy solutions.

Read More
Miracles and Testimonies on Sale
November 24, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Fr. Wilfred Emeh*

Fr. Wilfred Emeh

Fr. Wilfred Emeh

It is baffling to watch or read how modern-day preachers and prophets anticipate miracles and testimonies, almost as a form of advertisement for their ministries or churches. On social media platforms, miracle seekers are quick to ‘share’, ‘like’, or type ‘Amen’ on a story in exchange for some spiritual favor. In these transactions, people are expected to fulfill certain conditions if they wish to experience a miracle, have a breakthrough, or obtain any favor.  I recall one of my pastoral visits in Cameroon: a knock at the door brought me into a home where the entire family was glued to “Testimonies and Miracles Show”. As soon as I stepped in, someone changed the channel! This didn’t surprise me at all, because I was aware of the proliferation of healing and prophetic ministries, and I knew that more people were becoming desperate in search for this or that favor from God. Spiritual prostitutes abound, moving from church to church in search for ready-made answers to their problems.

In the case of Cameroon, Pentecostalism gathered momentum in the 1980s, a time of intensifying economic crisis. To console their congregations, the preachers’ messages pivoted on a prosperity gospel, with refrains like, “Poverty is not my portion,” “Suffering is not my portion,” “Death is not my portion,” and so on. Scripture is often twisted to back up such claims, for example in the verse, “Christ became poor so that we should become rich” (1Cor 8:9). But this verse doesn’t refer to material wealth. Paul means richness in Christ, as expressed in Philippians 3:8, “I count all things as loss compared to the surpassing excellence of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” This richness is also summed up in the beatitudes, in which the spiritually rich are those who are poor in spirit, pure of heart, meek, humble, peacemakers, merciful, and so on (cf. Mtt 5:1-12).

Recently, I watched a video clip circulated by many Catholics, in which televangelist Benny Hinn said, “Many miracles are taking place in the Catholic Church.” Though the evangelist is right, true worshipers don’t need miraculous signs or testimonies to substantiate their faith in God. Oh yes, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (Jn 20:29). Christ never, ever took delight in commercializing miracles, healings, or testimonies. This wasn’t because he didn’t have social media; it was because Christ was neither out to sell miracles nor to self-promote. Instead, sick persons who were healed by Jesus were often instructed not to tell anyone about it (cf. Mk 1:40-45; Mk 7:36; Mtt 8:4). Similarly, after the miraculous multiplication of five loaves and two fish, a huge crowd started following Jesus, but he denounced them for their wrong motives when he said, “Truly, I say to you, you look for me not because you have seen through the signs, but because you ate bread and were satisfied. Work then, not for perishable food, but for the lasting food which gives eternal life” (Jn 6:26-27). This “lasting food” was his own Body and Blood, which he would offer before his transition to heaven (Mk 14:22).

Decidedly, miracles were not the centerpiece of Christ’s message. It was, rather, calling sinners to repentance. Even the raising of Lazarus was only an illustration of Jesus’ power over life and death (Jn 11:38-53). After all, Lazarus would eventually die. That’s why Christ explains, after the resuscitation of Lazarus, “I am the resurrection and the life, those who believe in me will never die” (Jn 11:25). Similarly, all the physical healings and miracles of Jesus were only signs to show that, in Him (Jesus), the Kingdom of God has come. “The kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the gospel” (Mk 1:15). Therefore, miracles were not a substantive part of Jesus’ ministry, they were only signs pointing to the Kingdom. Understandably, when the disciples rejoiced that they had cast out demons, Jesus said to them, “Do not rejoice that the demons bow to you, rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Lk 10:19-20). He tells his followers to seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness and every other thing shall be added unto us (Mtt 6:33).

In no way does the Kingdom-driven message suggest that Jesus doesn’t care about our physical health, social welfare, economy, and so on. Rather, he implores us to make distinctions between the ephemeral and the eternal, so we can set our priorities right—where your treasure is, there your heart will be too (Mtt 6:21). Remember, the booming economy can crumble within the twinkle of an eye, just like the physically healthy can die in an instant. What, then, shall it profit anyone if he gets all the healing, testimonies, and worldly success he asks for, yet loses his soul? There is much more to abundant life in Christ than mere signs and wonders.

Among other reasons, ignorance and the denial of God’s will constitute the main reasons that many people fall for the miracle and healing business today. Scripture rightly says, “My people perish from lack of knowledge” (Hos 4:6). With an unprecedented gullibility, many adherents to modern day preaching fail to identify the characteristics of soothsaying and divination that are exhibited by self-styled prophets. The prophets of God were humble and selfless messengers, called by God to speak on His behalf. The true prophets didn’t preach a prosperity message, neither did they compel their followers to “sow seeds” by giving them money for a luxurious lifestyle. The prophets of God didn’t point fingers, accusing friends and family members of being witches and wizards blocking their progress. The true prophets didn’t promise visas, breakthroughs, wives, or husbands to their clients in exchange for sowing seeds.

In sharp contrast, the prophets preached repentance and conversion. They called out the kings and people against social injustice, bribery, corruption, and persecution of widows, orphans, and the less fortunate in society. They often sounded warnings of impending danger if the people didn’t change their ways (cf. Is 1:4; Jer 8:8-12; Amos 5:10-13). Prophets were not predictors of the future. Rather, the prophets’ primary task was to call the people as a community to accountability and responsibility in their relationship with God. Even when they spoke about the future, it was for the purpose of calling people to be responsible before God in the present (Is 51:7; Jer 20:12).

As earlier indicated, the denial of God’s will is a major spiritual crisis of our time. With their preconceived plans for life, relationships, family, and wealth, many people are in rebellion against God’s will. And when things don’t work out your way, you go in search of quick fixes and instant answers to ordinary, day-to-day challenges. We behave as if our birth certificates stated somewhere that life should be easy! The miracle preachers are already very aware of this desperation, and they use it to prey upon you. Some of them even have agents who survey territories and learn about the people ahead of their miracle crusades, so they can startle you with stories about your own life. Indeed, wonders shall never end!

Of course, it is natural to shout out, “God’s blessings upon you!” to your family and friends. It is impossible to keep quiet after having received some special favor from God. However, Jesus specifically denounced any form vain publicity. For example, he said to the man he had freed from demonic oppression to go tell his family how the Lord had shown him mercy, yet this excited man uncontrollably went spreading the news all over the place (Mk 5:19-20). If Jesus asked us to keep quiet about his own miracles, imagine how much worse it is when testimonies are fabricated and miracles faked as a means to promote a church or ministry. It is sheer extortion when these so-called “men of God” demand that their clients sow a seed by making specific donations in hope of spiritual favor. Inexhaustible forms of duplicity are employed by the modern-day messiahs. Suffice it to say, “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. Beware of false prophets prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds’” (Jer 23:16).

Since antiquity, there have always been traders of the Word; these are opportunists who used the Scripture and the name of Jesus for fame and personal aggrandizement. In Acts 8:9-25, we read about Simon the magician, who wanted to buy miraculous powers from Peter and John. He was condemned for thinking that the gift of God could be bought with money.  Paul clearly states, “We are not like so many others who peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity as men sent from God” (2Cor 2:17).

In conclusion, it is time to wake up to all the soothsayers and diviners who pose as prophets and preachers with the sole aim of taking advantage of spiritually weak and ignorant followers. Don’t allow yourself to be lured by commercials for miraculous solutions to the ordinary challenges of life. Be aware that all you see on social media and miracle TV channels has been altered or outright faked. In Jesus’ time, testimonies were spontaneous and sincere, because there was no time for rehearsal or make-up, as there is today.

Be aware of your worth as a child of God. Scripture says, “All who have received him he empowers to become children of God” (Jn 1:12). You have power to tread underfoot serpents and scorpions, and if you only believe in Him and do His will, the miracles and testimonies will begin to follow you, and in abundance! No matter how real or exciting someone else’s testimony appears to be, it will never be your own. Therefore, it is better to desist from wasting precious time on miraculous entertainment and testimonies. The best way to use your time profitably is to nourish your mind with good reads. Read and wise up!

*Father Wilfred E. Emeh is a Roman Catholic priest ,Communications Profressional and author of  the book  New Media and the Christian Family: Experiences from the USA and Africa

 

 

Read More
National Aviation Services (NAS) Partners with #VisaFreeAfrica
November 24, 2017 | 0 Comments
#VisaFreeAfrica (VFA), a continental effort to facilitate mobility in Africa
KIGALI, Rwanda, November 22, 2017/ — The Kigali Global Shapers (http://APO.af/wpzZY9) has partnered with National Aviation Services (NAS) (www.NAS.aero), the fastest growing aviation services provider in the emerging markets, for an exclusive sponsor of #VisaFreeAfrica (VFA), a global campaign to facilitate mobility in Africa.

For the past 30 years, the African Union has attempted to address free movement on the continent. The “Agenda 2063” plan to introduce a common African passport by 2020 is in motion but African citizens still need visas to travel to 42 out of 54 African countries.

The #VisaFreeAfrica campaign, launched by the Kigali Global Shapers during the World Economic Forum for Africa in 2016 includes a global petition that calls for:

  • All 54 African countries to grant a 30-day visa on arrival to all African citizens by 2022.
  • Achieve free movement of people across all African countries by 2030.

In addition to the petition, Global Shapers across the African continent are engaging their leaders and policy makers in dialogues about the need to ease mobility on the continent. Through this initiative, African youth will find a platform to voice the reasons why facilitating movement of people across the continent now can fast track the continent’s 2063 Agenda.

The NAS and VFA partnership took roots at the World Economic Forum meeting held in Davos, Switzerland in January 2017 and was formalized almost immediately. NAS has made a five-year commitment to support this campaign which will be implemented in several African countries in the coming months.

Michaella Rugwizangoga, ‎Curator at World Economic Forum Global Shapers said “With support from National Aviation Services (NAS), the Kigali Shapers will be able to better coordinate a continental effort towards open African borders and facilitate the removal of visa requirements on the continent.”

On a global scale, Africa’s competitiveness is tied to labor mobility. With the African market set to grow to 2 billion by 2050, greater integration and human mobility is the need of the hour. Liberal visa policies will help boost tourism revenues, foster new business opportunities and facilitate economic growth. It will also open up new job opportunities to the 60 percent* of African youth that is currently unemployed.

Hassan El-Houry, Group CEO NAS, said “NAS has a presence in over ten airports in Africa and continues to grow quickly in the region. As we expand our footprint of operations in Africa, our responsibility towards the local communities also increases. As a partner in Africa’s development, we are aware of the mobility issues faced by youth and businesses in the region. With our investments in the region and by supporting Visa Free Africa we continue to drive efforts for the development of the continent and its people.”

NAS operates across the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia, with a presence at 30 airports, managing more than 31 airport lounges and handling seven of the world’s top 10 airlines. With an employee base of over 8,000 capable and experienced employees at the core of its network, NAS is committed to providing aviation services that benchmark to the best in the world.

The Kigali Global Shapers (http://APO.af/wpzZY9) are part of a global network of 600 Hubs under the umbrella of the World Economic Forum. Hubs are developed and led by young people who are exceptional in their potential, achievements and drive to make a contribution to their communities.  The community encompasses 7000 change makers.
Established in 2012 by Founding Curator Diana Mpyisi, the Kigali Hub has now positioned itself as one of the most active and impactful youth-led groups in Rwanda.

The flagship project “Twumve Twumve” Forum, loosely translated “Hear us, we hear you”, empowers Rwandan youth to make their voices heard. Twumve Twumve is a unique opportunity for youth to engage in direct conversation with leaders from the public and private sector on issues facing Rwanda and the continent.

The Kigali Shapers created and lead the #VisaFreeAfrica campaign, a call to action for African leaders and the African Union to ease visa procedures across the continent. The Kigali Hub is partnering with NAS and coordinating actions across youth-led organization in Africa to raise awareness around the issues of mobility and accelerate the ease of travel procedures across the continent.

National Aviation Services (NAS) (www.NAS.aero) is the fastest growing aviation services provider in the emerging markets.
Established in 2003, NAS quickly transformed from a Kuwait based ground handling company into an emerging markets leader in the industry. NAS is present in over 30 airports across the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, handling seven out of the world’s top 10 airlines and managing more than 31 airport lounges.
With an employee base of over 8,000 capable and experienced employees at the core of its worldwide network, NAS is committed to providing aviation services that benchmark to the best in the world.

The NAS portfolio of services includes ramp and passenger services, cargo handling, engineering and line maintenance, airport technologies, fixed base operations, terminal management, aviation training, travel solutions, lounge management and meet-and-assist packages.
Affiliated with leading industry organizations, NAS follows international aviation standards with certifications from ISO, EMS and OHSAS practices. NAS is one of the first ground handlers in the world to obtain the IATA’s Safety Audit for Ground Operations (ISAGO) certification illustrating the company’s commitment to providing high quality services, with a focus on safety and security.

Read More
Secure, Trusted Internet Critical to Advancing African Economy
November 24, 2017 | 0 Comments
New Internet Society report highlights how Africa can benefit more from the Internet economy
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, November 23, 2017/ — Many African countries have made significant progress towards creating an Internet sector, with broad reforms that focus on increasing broadband availability.  There have been further successes within countries in developing online platforms, fostering growth of local companies and increasing the incentive to go online– says a new report launched today by the Internet Society (www.InternetSociety.org), a global non-profit dedicated to ensuring the open development, evolution and use of the Internet.

“Promoting the African Internet Economy” highlights how greater use of the Internet and digitization of the traditional economy will spur economic growth in Africa.

The report further examines Internet adoption and use by companies and governments throughout the region, identifying barriers that must be overcome in order to create an Internet economy that delivers innovative services, job opportunities and income growth across the continent.

Both businesses and citizens can benefit from an Internet economy. Businesses across all sectors gain access to a global marketplace of billions of people, and citizens in both rural and urban areas benefit from enhanced educational and training opportunities and access to new job possibilities.

The report also outlines what needs to be done for Africa to take full advantage of the digital opportunity offered by the Internet. It highlights local successes as well as broader challenges, offering recommendations for policymakers in Africa to adopt.

“The Internet economy presents a major opportunity for Africa. However, Africa needs a secure and reliable Internet infrastructure that users trust in order to bringing large and small businesses online, along with governments and other social services,” explains Dawit Bekele, Africa Region Bureau Director for the Internet Society.

The Internet Society in collaboration with the African Union recently introduced Internet Infrastructure Security Guidelines for Africa  to help AU member states strengthen the security of their local Internet infrastructure through actions at a regional, national, ISP/operator and organizational level.

In Kenya, the Internet economy already represents 3.6% of the country’s GDP and in other developing countries 1.3% of GDP  comes from the Internet economy. The McKinsey Global Institute predicts that in addition to contributions to GDP, the Internet will deliver productivity gains across Africa. These productivity gains across six key sectors:  financial services, education, health, retail, agriculture and government are projected to be valued at between US$148 billion and $318 billion by 2025.

However, a thriving Internet economy in Africa could be put at risk by the increasing number of Internet shutdowns in the region. In 2016 alone, there were at least 56 shutdowns of the Internet around the world. These shutdowns affect individuals and organizations that depend on the Internet for their daily lives and have negative effects on the economy.

“In addition to the economic costs, Internet shutdowns also affect trust. If people don’t know whether they will have connectivity, they can no longer rely on that connectivity to build Internet-based businesses. This will affect entrepreneurs in greatest need of digital-led innovation for their own future, and the future of the Internet economy in Africa,” added Bekele.

Read More
Gambia’s Court set to rule on Constitutionality of False News, Others
November 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Kebba Jeffang

More press freedom is expected under the leadership of President Adama Barrow

More press freedom is expected under the leadership of President Adama Barrow

The Gambia’s Supreme Court on November 22nd heard the arguments from both the plaintiff’s lawyer and the State on the Constitutionality of Sedition, False publication and broadcasting as well as criminal defamation before adjourning the matter to May 2018 for judgment.

Hawa Sisay-Sabally, lawyer for the Gambia Press Union who is challenging the Constitutionality of such laws said the Attorney General had already admitted their unconstitutionality. She said the only law he contested for it to remain is the law on false news.

According her, law on false news does not only affects journalists from enjoying their right but it even denied the readership their right to receive information and ideas. She argued that such law is against Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Right and ECOWAS treaty and they will rely on all other authorities to proof the case.

“It can discourage the journalists for what they do as it exposes them to arrests. Not only are the rights of journalists are restricted by these provisions but the right of the readership by restricting them to receive information and ideas,” she told court.

The lawyer submitted that section 207 of the Constitution places obligation on journalists to hold the government to account to the people, justifying the need to declare false news unconstitutional.

According to her, news must past three tests such as ‘legitimate, proportionate and necessary before being considered false.

“We have a civil court all over that can award damages in any form,” she said.

She said it would be better to if journalists are punished in the civil light than criminal procedures.

“These provisions are unconstitutional and they do not hold a place our statute,” she submitted.

Meanwhile, State lawyer objected to decriminalizing false news saying it should be retained in the laws of the country for national and security interests.

“Limiting of exercise of rights is a restriction necessary for the democratic society. Restrictions are provided under section 21 (4) of the Constitution and 181 of the Criminal Code,” he said.

He argued that there is no absolute right of freedom as National Assembly is empowered to create laws to protect the interest of the country.

However, the judges questioned him the rationale for having the law criminal when civil remedies are available.

“The point is that we should not leave room or expose people to the risk of criminal prosecution for exercising their right to free speech,” one of the judges said.

The matter is adjourned to next May, 2018 for judgment.

The Gambia Press Union has sued the government of the Gambia in 2015 for the Supreme Court to decriminalize such laws. This was done during a difficult time for the media in the country as former ruler Yahya Jammeh created a hell for journalists.

Several journalists were charged with sedition and jailed while others were tortured, disappeared and some where even killed.

Read More
Africa must implement 1990 Yamoussoukro agreement for open skies, says AfDB President
November 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

 

“Together, let’s open up the skies of Africa, and together let’s integrate Africa. By so doing, we will build stronger and more resilient economies.” – Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has called on African countries to implement the 1990 Yamoussoukro agreement for open skies.

While 20 countries have signed on, the 27-year old accord still faces implementation challenges, Akinwumi Adesina, President of the AfDB said Tuesday at the opening ceremony of the third ICAO World Aviation Forum in Abuja.

“Rigid bilateral air service agreements have made it difficult to liberalize the regional aviation markets. We must make regional aviation markets competitive and drive down costs, raise efficiencies and improve connectivity and convenience,” Adesina said.

The Bank President also emphasized the Bank’s strong support for Nigeria and expressed confidence in the ability of Nigeria to deliver on its policy commitments.

“The hosting of this global forum here in Abuja is a clear mark of confidence in Nigeria. Let me use this opportunity to commend you and the government on the Economic Recovery and Growth Program, to build a more resilient economy,” Adesina said.

“As you know, we provided $600 million to support the government to address its budget deficit challenges and stand ready to continue to fully support the government as it embarks on efforts to diversify the economy and raise the revenue profiles and productivity of the non-oil sectors.”

The Bank President also commended the Government of Nigeria for its efforts to improve the state of aviation in Nigeria. The aviation sector plays an important in opening up doors to investors, he added.

Air transport promotes trade, investments and tourism, and boosts economic growth. Today, Africa’s aviation industry adds US $73 billion to the continent’s annual GDP and employs about 7 million people – an average 130,000 people per country in Africa, according to the Bank President.

The aviation industry is projected to grow by 5% annually for the next 20 years. From serving 120 million passengers in 2015, the industry will triple and serve over 300 million passengers by 2035, Adesina observed.

“That’s the good news,” he said, adding that regrettably Africa’s aviation growth is held back by very restrictive regulatory environments which limit market size, profitability, and drive up costs.

“Aircraft departure fees alone in Africa are 30% above the global average, while taxes, fees and charges are 8% higher. Given lower per capita incomes in Africa, high fares essentially tax the poor out of the air! We may have an open sky policy, but then end up with empty skies!”

The AfDB President called for the development of airport terminal capacity to expand passenger growth, develop regional aviation hubs to improve connectivity, and upgrade air navigational services and air traffic control to improve safety.

“Modern and cheaper technologies such as the satellite based air navigation services now preclude the need for ground infrastructure, and make it possible to serve remote areas with radars. We must also develop within Africa, aircraft maintenance services and strengthen regional and sub-regional aviation safety agencies,” he noted.

The AfDB has invested $20 billion in infrastructure over the past 10 years, with over $1 billion in the aviation sector. The Bank’s investments include building modern airports and terminal extensions in Senegal, Morocco, Kenya, Ghana, Egypt, Cabo Verde and improving airport navigation systems in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The AfDB supported aircraft fleet expansion programs for Ethiopia and Côte d’Ivoire. The Bank also supported regional efforts for improving aviation safety and capacity building.

Adesina congratulated Nigeria on the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) certification of two airports in Abuja and Lagos as a consequence of meeting global standards, noting that the feat makes Nigeria the only country with two ICAO-certified airports in West and Central Africa.

The objective of the Bank is to support the ICAO safety and security standards certification of 20 African airports by 2019, Adesina said.

The African Development Bank will soon be going to its Board with a new aviation sector framework to support the revitalization of the aviation industry in Africa, he said.

The Bank, Adesina explained, is working with other partners on establishing facilities to de-risk financing for aircraft acquisition, upgrading of airports, expansion of regional navigational and air safety, and deregulation of the aviation industry to be more competitive and efficient.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) is partnering with the Nigerian Government, the African Union Commission (AUC), and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency to co-host the third ICAO World Aviation Forum from November 20-22 in Abuja, Nigeria.

*AFDB

Read More
Rebuilding after the dictator: New Gambia’s slow road to reform
November 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

President Jammeh spent over two decades centralising power and sowing distrust. How do you rebuild a nation after that? 

BY JAMES COURTRIGHT*

Ferry crossing at Barra. Credit: James Courtright.

Ferry crossing at Barra. Credit: James Courtright.

How do you dismantle over two decades of repressive and corrupt governance in order to build a fresh democratic system? That’s the challenge currently facing The Gambia.

Since Yahya Jammeh lost the 2016 elections and finally relinquished power under regional pressure in January 2017, the new government of President Adama Barrow has been trying to heal the deep scars left by the former dictator’s 23-year-long dictatorial rule and establish a “new” Gambia.

The administration has a lot to do. Under Jammeh, a series of constitutional amendments made criticism of the government essentially illegal. In the judiciary, the president chased talented officials from the Ministry of Justice and appointed foreign “mercenary judges”. The National Assembly became a rubber stamp parliament that approved anything the president put before it.

At the same time, Jammeh wielded the much-feared National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and paramilitary force known as the Jungulers to sow fear through unlawful killings, torture and arbitrary detention. To protect against possible challenges, he divided the Armed Forces by constantly moving soldiers around and filling the top ranks with loyalists.

“He knew that if the security sector was well organised, it could be a force against him,” says Dr Ismaila Ceesay, a professor of political science at the University of The Gambia. “It was better to divide the security sector to foster mistrust amongst everyone.”

Reform and reconciliation

Since it came to office in January 2017 then, the government of President Barrow has had myriad challenges with which to contend.

On the one hand, the government is trying to forge forwards in building a new order. The National Assembly is working to establish a team to consult the public and draft a new constitution to be put to a referendum. Foreign judges have been replaced with qualified Gambians in the judiciary. And at the justice ministry, staff are being trained up, while additional qualified and experienced lawyers are being sought.

On the other hand, however, the government also needs to grapple with the past before it can go forwards. “We must understand what happened under Jammeh so we never slide back,” says Abubacarr Tambadou, Gambia’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

In order to investigate how Jammeh amassed a fortune as president, a Commission of Inquiry was established this July. It has been investigating the financial relations between government ministries, companies and the former president. Its public hearings are being closely followed by the public and its mandate was recently extended by another six months.

The government is also preparing to establish a Truth, Reparations and Reconciliation Commission (TRRC) to shed light on human rights abuses committed under Jammeh. The TRRC is slated to start touring the country early next year to record testimony from victims and perpetrators.

Many are eager for justice as soon as possible, but some have raised concerns over what they see as a rapid time frame for rolling out the commission. Others have pointed out that the TRRC has not yet been allotted funding.

Anna Roccatello, an expert at the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) warns that truth commissions can be tricky to handle. “They are resource intensive and politically explosive,” she says. “It’s a very complicated process so if they really want to do it they need to be prepared to do a good job because otherwise it can be counter-productive.”

Gambia’s security services

Another key part of the government’s plans to build a new Gambia lies in reforming the security services. As Tambadou puts it, “if the judicial and legal sector was the brains of the old regime, then the hand used to perpetrate the atrocities was the security services”.

As part of this strategy, President Barrow rebranded the NIA as the State Intelligence Services (SIS) within weeks of taking office, while nine former NIA officers are currently on trial.

It is hoped this will lead to new revelations and accountability, but many complain that most perpetrators are still walking free and that little has changed in the agency itself beyond its name. “The structures are still there and the process still remains the same,” says Ceesay. “They are still in the same building where they were torturing people.”

Ceesay and others have suggested that the agency could be disbanded altogether, but Maggie Dwyer, a researcher at the Centre of African Studies at University of Edinburgh, warns against hasty action.

“If you simply fire all of the NIA, it sets a bad precedent,” she says. “If there are no trials then people will say ‘they just fired 500 people and they didn’t prove that those people did anything wrong. Is this really a just system?’”

Dealing with the military

The Gambian Armed Forces (GAF) also requires significant reform from Jammeh’s days. On that front, public relations officer Lamine Sanyang claims the military is embracing change under the new administration. “We are subservient to civilian authority,” he says. “In the previous system, the military was seen as untouchable, but now we’re trying to change that narrative.”

Sait Matty Jaw, director of Gambia Watch, acknowledges this but says trust is still lacking. “They’re being pushed back to the barracks, but they still need a lot of education. Their understanding of security is more about using force. If this remains they cannot build relations with civilians.”

Challenges in reforming the military are exacerbated by frictions within the army. In July, at least five soldiers were detained in relation to allegedly “mutinous” WhatsApp messages. According to Gambian press, at least two of the accused were alleged to be involved in an assassination attempt of high ranking officers. In early October, an additional seven soldiers were discharged without a stated reason. Late last week, 12 soldiers alleged to support Jammeh were charged behind closed doors with a range of unknown offences.

Dwyer says it’s to be expected that some members of the armed forces might still be loyal to Jammeh. “The idea that everyone would suddenly switch allegiance right away is not realistic,” she says. But the problem, she explains, lies in a lack of transparency in how these soldiers were removed.

Some of those who were discharged say it was because they come from the same region as former President Jammeh, a region where he remains popular. Among the former president’s supporters, these discharges have only added to a building narrative of political, and increasingly ethnic, discrimination.

A long road

Transitioning from 23 years of tyranny is a fraught and painful process. Uncovering the truth, righting past wrongs, and rebuilding corrupt institutions are all essential, but can lead to greater instability in the short-term.

Since the start of the year, the government in Banjul has made some missteps and suffered from poor communication. But despite setbacks, observers suggest that it is pursuing the necessary reforms to avoid a return to the dark days of dictatorship, even if progress has been slow.

“It’s clear the new government is genuinely resolved to make a clear and unequivocal break from the dictatorial past,” says Jeffery Smith, director of Vanguard Africa, a pro-democracy outfit that works across the continent. “But the perception is that much of that goodwill has yet to be translated to on-the-ground results.”

*Culled from African Arguments.James Courtright is a freelance journalist based in Dakar, Senegal.

 

Read More
Burkina Faso recalls ambassador to Libya over “slave markets” report
November 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Thiam Ndiaga*
Minister of Foreign Affairs Alpha Barry of Burkina Faso in Manhattan, New York, U.S. September 19, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Minister of Foreign Affairs Alpha Barry of Burkina Faso in Manhattan, New York, U.S. September 19, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) – Burkina Faso’s foreign minister said on Monday it had recalled its ambassador to Libya over a report that black African migrants were being auctioned as slaves there.

The decision by the West African nation followed the broadcast by CNN of footage of what it said was an auction of men offered to Libyan buyers as farmhands and sold for $400, a chilling echo of the trans-Saharan slave trade of centuries past.

Libya’s ambassador to Burkina Faso said his country was being unfairly blamed for a global problem that all nations affected must come together to solve.

Foreign Minister Alpha Barry announced the decision by President Roch Marc Kabore in a news conference.

“The president of Burkina Faso has decided to recall the ambassador to Tripoli, General Abraham Traore, for a consultation,” Barry said.

He had also “summoned the Libyan charge d’affairs in (Burkina Faso’s capital) Ouagadougou to express our indignation at these images that belong to other centuries, images of the slave trade”.

In a news conference on Wednesday, Libya’s ambassador to Burkina Faso, Abdul Rahman Khameda, appealed for help from both the European Union and African Union to help Libya reach a lasting resolution of the migrant crisis.

“Libya alone can not solve this problem,” he said. “We call on the international community to intensify efforts to help Libya cope with this danger (illicit migration), which is tearing at its social fabric.”

African and European leaders are due to meet next week in Ivory Coast’s main city, Abidjan, where migration and Europe’s efforts to tackle it by co-opting Libya will be high on the agenda.

“Adopting an effective solution will prevent certain parties from exploiting such unfortunate events to tarnish Libya’s name,” Khameda said.

An agreement between Europe and Africa to stem the flow of migrants coming through Libya to Europe had failed to tackle the severe abuses they face, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein wrote in an article published in September.

*Reuters

Read More
Access Power and FMO launch second edition of Solar ‘Shark Tank’ Competition for Innovative Solar Projects
November 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
Access Power and FMO launch second edition of Solar ‘Shark Tank’ Competition for Innovative Solar Projects
Submission window opens as Solar Projects Compete for US$ 100,000 Grant to Develop their Projects
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, November 20, 2017/ — FMO (www.FMO.nl), the Dutch development bank, and Access Power (www.Access-Power.com), a leading developer, owner and operator of power projects in emerging markets, today announced the launch of the 2018 FMO Access Power Solar ‘Shark Tank’ Competition following the competition’s successful first installment in 2016 at the ‘Making Solar Bankable’ conference. The initiative is aimed at helping local solar power developers that require development support to make their innovative solar projects more impactful.

In order to be considered for the grant, the proposed projects must be located in Asia, Africa or Latin America and be based on solar PV technology. They should also meet the capacity criterion of 10MW or more, and be at an advanced stage of development (preliminary feasibility studies should have been completed). Furthermore, eligible projects should have an innovative or impactful angle to the project that can be developed with support of the grant.

Proposals will be screened and scored by a pre-selection committee assembled by FMO and Access Power. Four shortlisted finalists will be invited to present their projects and answer questions from a panel of judges in front of a live audience on the 15th of February 2018 during the second edition of the ‘Making Solar Bankable’ conference, co-organized by FMO and Solarplaza in Amsterdam, Netherlands on 15 and 16 February. The winning project will be announced at the end of the session during the event.

The winner will receive a $100,000 grant towards the development costs of their project from FMO and Access Power. In addition to that, Access Power will pre-qualify the winning proposal of the Solar Shark Tank competition for the 2018 edition of the Access Co-Development Facility (ACF) (https://goo.gl/76qvjJ) competition, subject to meeting ACF qualification requirements. Access Power will provide the ACF winner with technical support, financial structuring and development process management.

Reda El Chaar, Executive Chairman of Access Power, commented: 
“Following the competition’s successful launch in 2016, we are thrilled to have once again partnered with FMO to promote and help development of early stage solar projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In 2016 we received over 36 of applications from 21 countries and 2018 looks set to build on that success. We look forward with great interest to receiving this year’s entries and hearing the judge’s final decision during an exciting live event at the ‘Making Solar Bankable’ conference in Amsterdam”.

Jurgen Rigterink, CEO of FMO, added:
“FMO is proud to partner again with Access Power to help improve access to energy in the regions in the world where it is most needed. The entries of this year’s competition will all contribute to clean and affordable energy, making it possible for people to improve their livelihoods. We look forward to an inspiring event”.

Application procedures close on 5th of January 2018. Visit the Solar Shark Tank page on https://goo.gl/aeoEKg or https://goo.gl/Cn8w9h to download the application form.

About Solar Shark Tank 2018

  • Following a pre-selection process, a shortlist of applicants will be chosen to present their projects to a panel of judges 15th of February 2018 during the ‘Making Solar Bankable’ conference in Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Applicants must present their projects to the judging panel during the conference within a given time and take questions from panel members.
  • Panel members will score each project based on the evaluation criteria, using weighted percentages.
  • Submission period runs from 20th November, 2017 to 5th January, 2018.

Access Power (www.Access-Power.com) is a fast-growing developer, owner and operator of power assets in emerging and frontier markets and is currently developing power projects worth over US$1 billion in 23 countries across Africa and Asia. In late 2016, Access Power commissioned East Africa’s largest solar power plant in Soroti Uganda which currently provides clean energy for over 40,000 homes, schools and small businesses.

FMO (www.FMO.nl) is the Dutch development bank. As a leading impact investor, FMO supports sustainable private sector growth in developing countries and emerging markets by investing in ambitious projects and entrepreneurs. FMO believes that a strong private sector leads to economic and social development, and has a more than
45-year proven track-record of empowering people to employ their skills and improve their quality of life.FMO focuses on three sectors that have high development impact: financial institutions, energy, and agribusiness, food & water. With a committed portfolio of EUR 9.0 billion spanning over 92 countries, FMO is one of the larger bilateral private sector developments banks globally.

Read More
Mercer Launches Francophone Africa Hub in Morocco
November 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
New regional hub increases Health and Benefits footprint to enhance client service and enable the expansion of Mercer’s Wealth and Career offerings in Francophone Africa
CASABLANCA, Morocco, November 20, 2017/ — Mercer (www.Mercer.com), a global consulting leader in health, wealth and career and wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc. (NYSE: MMC) (www.MMC.com), has announced an expanded footprint as part of an important initiative to strengthen service to the Francophone region of Africa. Through its new Casablanca Financial City hub in Morocco, Mercer will bolster its Health business and further penetrate the African market with Wealth and Career solutions.

“Africa is an important part of our growth strategy for Mercer. We’ve been operating on the continent for many years and we continuously look for ways to bring differentiated value to our clients,” said David Anderson, President of Mercer’s Growth Markets Region. “Strengthening our footprint in this growing and thriving region will allow us to improve client service across their Health and Benefits needs, and will allow clients greater access to our world class Wealth and Career services.”

Mercer currently serves clients in 41 of Africa’s 54 sovereign states.  The firm is expanding its market presence to match the burgeoning business landscape. North Africa continues to show great promise and Mercer is committed to being a partner in assisting our clients in the region. Mercer’s ongoing investment in Francophone Africa and throughout the continent will enable the global consulting leader to service evolving client needs with greater flexibility and customization.

“Morocco is the ideal hub for Mercer’s continued growth across Francophone Africa.” said Mustafa Faizani, CEO UAE & India, Middle East, Turkey, and Africa Zone, Mercer. “The new Casablanca Financial City hub and existing strategic partnerships will support the growth of Mercer’s local business in Morocco and enable us to grow the Mercer Marsh Benefits (MMB) footprint. Expanding our presence to Morocco is a critical step toward enhancing our leading position in the region and leveraging the market’s full potential to address our clients’ unique hyperlocal needs, across health, wealth and career.”

Mercer already has a presence in Francophone African markets by providing Africa Health and Risk Solutions (AHRS) for multinational companies seeking standardized benefit structures in more than one country and pricing power through placement of coverages in the international insurance market. Mercer’s existing Moroccan client base is serviced locally through an established strategic partnership with AFMA, the largest brokerage in the country.

The arrival in Casablanca marks the 14th city expansion for Mercer in the growth economies in the past two years. Currently over 15,000 clients in 84 countries are served by colleagues located in 22 countries across our Growth Markets Region.

Mercer  delivers advice and technology-driven solutions that help organizations meet the health, wealth and career needs of a changing workforce. Mercer’s more than 22,000 employees are based in 43 countries and the firm operates in over 130 countries. Mercer is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies , the leading global professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people. With more than 60,000 colleagues and annual revenue over $13 billion, through its market-leading companies including Marsh , Guy Carpenter and Oliver Wyman  Marsh & McLennan helps clients navigate an increasingly dynamic and complex environment.

Read More
1 186 187 188 189 190 201