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Senegal and France to host Global Partnership for Education Financing Conference
September 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
The announcement of the co-hosting was made by Presidents Macky Sall of Senegal and Emmanuel Macron of France at a high-level event on education financing held at the United Nations
Presidents Macky Sall of Senegal and Emmanuel Macron of France

Presidents Macky Sall of Senegal and Emmanuel Macron of France

NEW YORK, United States of America, September 20, 2017/ — The Global Partnership for Education (GPE)  is delighted that the governments of Senegal and France  will co-host its financing conference, which will take place on February 8, 2018 in Dakar, Senegal.

The announcement  of the co-hosting was made by Presidents Macky Sall of Senegal and Emmanuel Macron of France at a high-level event on education financing  held at the United Nations, which was attended by Secretary General António Guterres, several heads of state and leaders on global education.

“The Global Partnership for Education has made substantial investments in education helping to get 72 million more children into primary school since 2002, including in Senegal,” President Macky Sall said. “We are honored to host the next GPE Financing Conference in Dakar and look forward to continuing our close partnership with GPE.”  

This is the first time a donor and developing country co-host a GPE financing conference, symbolizing the spirit of true partnership, which is the essence of GPE.

President Macron of France stressed that one of his top priorities is to invest in education. “I call on the international community to join us in February 2018 in Dakar for the Global Partnership for Education Financing Conference, which France will co-host with Senegal,” Macron said.

“The financing conference of the Global Partnership for Education is an opportunity for a much needed step change, allowing donors and developing countries to show their financial commitment to education,” said Julia Gillard, GPE Board Chair“Senegal and France jointly hosting the GPE financing conference demonstrates the determination of both governments to help GPE expand its support for strong and sustainable education systems in developing countries.”

The event in Dakar will bring together donor and developing country governments, the private sector, philanthropic foundations, civil society and international organizations to announce commitments to support education in developing countries.

“This is an exciting and pivotal moment for GPE and for global education,” said Alice Albright, GPE Chief Executive Officer“This financing conference will put GPE on track to become a US$2 billion-a-year operation by 2020 . At that level, GPE can have a far greater impact on providing better quality education  to the world’s children.”


GPE’s financing conference seeks to raise US$3.1 billion for 2018 through 2020 to support the education of 870 million children in 89 developing countries that are home to 78% of the world’s out-of-school population.

Currently, 264 million children and youth around the world are not in school and six out of ten children and youth, a total of 617 million, are in school but not learning at the level they need to break the bonds of poverty, poor health and social disadvantage. Though the share of overseas development aid to education has declined over the last six years, leaders around the world are now recognizing the urgency of turning that trend around.

France has been a donor to GPE since 2005. With GPE support since 2006, Senegal has shown great progress raising its investment in education as a share of domestic spending to 24 percent.

“Both France and Senegal are ideally positioned to urge other countries across the globe to increase investments in education,” Ms. Gillard added. “We believe that will make for a successful and productive financing conference and ultimately benefit hundreds of millions of children in some of the poorest countries around the world.

Monze Primary School, Zambia, May 2017

Monze Primary School, Zambia, May 2017

Monze Primary School, Zambia, May 2017

Monze Primary School, Zambia, May 2017

The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) works with developing countries to ensure that every child receives a quality basic education, prioritizing the poorest, the most vulnerable and those living in countries affected by fragility or conflict. GPE mobilizes financing for education and supports developing countries to build effective education systems founded on evidence-based planning and policies.
GPE’s support has achieved the following results in its partner countries:
• 72 million more children in primary school in 2015 compared with 2002
• 76% of children in GPE partner countries completed primary school in 2015 compared to 63%in 2002.
• 74% primary school completion rate for girls in 2015 compared with 57% in 2002
• 78% of GPE partner countries have maintained their education budget at or above 20% of public expenditure, or increased their education budget in 2015.

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Speak up Africa’s second gala convenes the Director General of the World Health Organization, African heads of state and first ladies, foundation partners and business community leaders to celebrate great strides made in African maternal and child health
September 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
His Excellency, President Kikwete, 4th President of Tanzania featured with Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus Director General, World Health Organisation and Dr. Mwele Malecela, Dr. Mwele Malecela is a Director in the Office of the Africa Regional Director, World Health Organization

His Excellency, President Kikwete, 4th President of Tanzania featured with Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus Director General, World Health Organisation and Dr. Mwele Malecela, Dr. Mwele Malecela is a Director in the Office of the Africa Regional Director, World Health Organization

NEW YORK, the United States of America, September 20, 2017, -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Monday night, Speak Up Africa hosted its second annual Gala with over 300 African Heads of State, First Ladies, world health experts, leaders from the non-profit and foundation sector, and the business community to celebrate the tremendous strides already made in terms of child and maternal health on the continent.

Headlining the meeting was the recently elected Director General of the World Health organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia. Also attending were: His Excellency Jakaya Kikwete, former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, representatives of His Excellency Alpha Condé, President of Guinea, and of His Excellency Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the Africa Union Commission, the First Lady of Malawi, H.E. Gertrude Maseko and Her Excellency Mrs. Toyin Saraki, CEO of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa.

The group turned its attention to the importance of mobilizing African leadership around the next set of healthcare goals for the continent – Universal Health Access, the eradication of Neglected Tropical Diseases, the use of midwifery as a means to lower infant mortality and maternal deaths, and the need to make vaccinations more available to families throughout the continent.

In talking about the power of mothers as advocates for their children, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recalled a recent trip to Yemen where he saw mothers fighting for care for the starving children, even while ignoring the fact that these mothers were themselves starving. Dr. Tedros reiterated his signature call for Universal Health Coverage globally – in conflict areas – and in the United States.

Kate Campana, the CEO of SUA remarked, “African leaders are paving the way for new progress in the fight for maternal and child health.  The world has come so far in reducing preventable child death, but we still have a long way to go in preventing maternal mortality.  It is an honor and a privilege for Speak Up Africa to be called on as the high level advocacy and communications partner of choice for institutions such as WHO, CIFF, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The Jakaya Kikwete Foundation. This responsibility is something we take on with focused commitment and sincerity.”


His Excellency Dr. Jakaya Kikwete, 4th President of Tanzania and Founder of The Kikwete Foundation commends Speak Up Africa for being drivers of change and the ultimate partner for effective advocacy and communications

Dr. Jakaya Kikwete, the Former President of Tanzania, and a leader in the movement to improve healthcare on the continent, has joined forces with Speak Up Africa. His remarks on Monday night showed his continued resolve to work towards a healthier and more health-educated population, “No woman should die bringing another life into this world.  It is not fair.  It is not right.  Pregnancy is not a disease.  And women should not be dying.  A child’s birthday should be a day of celebration, not mourning.”

Accepting the Speak Up Africa political leadership award on behalf of Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr. Abba Kalondo,  Spokesperson in the Chairperson’s office, African Union Commission, apologized for Mr. Faki’s absence as he presided over a global security meeting with UN leaders.  She repeated Mr. Faki’s oft-cited link between global security and health security world wide.

Other attendees at the Gala included:

*    First Lady of Malawi, H.E. Gertrude Maseko
*    Mark Suzman, Chief Strategy Officer, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
*    Dr. Mwele Malecela – Director of the Office of the Regional Director at AFRO, representing Dr. Moeti
*    Dr. John Simon, Chairman of the Global Fund
*    Dr. Mary Ann Etiebet, Merck for Mothers
*    Ms.Theo Sawa African Women’s Development Fund
*    Mr. Carl Manlan, Ecobank Foundation
*    UNICEF Ambassador to Ethiopia
o    Abelone Melesse

SUA is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to inciting behavioral, political and societal reforms concerning African healthcare. Through strategic advocacy, national and Pan Africa media campaigns, SUA ignites a chain reaction of information, empowerment and mobilization around the most important health issues affecting the continent. Much of its work is conducted through high-profile media campaigns with African cultural rock-stars – artists, athletes, entertainers, and political and faith leaders.

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September 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
Administrator Mark Green visits a Feed the Future-supported abattoir in Ethiopia/Somali region.Photo credit USAID

Administrator Mark Green visits a Feed the Future-supported abattoir in Ethiopia/Somali region.Photo credit USAID

The U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative is Expanding. New countries: Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Niger, and Sierra Leone, and expanding existing program in Burkina Faso.

Today, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Mark Green announced that the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), led by USAID and implemented together with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will launch new country programs in Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Niger, and Sierra Leone, and expand its existing program in Burkina Faso.
With the addition of five new focus countries in West and Central Africa, PMI will have programs in 24 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, where malaria remains a significant public health problem.  This is in addition to PMI’s two bilateral programs and targeted support in the Greater Mekong Subregion in Asia, aimed at combating antimalarial drug resistance.PMI’s country expansion will benefit almost 90 million additional people at risk of malaria. The U.S. Government will now contribute to ensuring the availability of effective malaria prevention and control interventions to approximately 332 million people at risk across the west-to-central African corridor from Senegal to Cameroon.  While launching and expanding PMI, the U.S. Government remains committed to partnering with existing PMI focus countries to accelerate progress in malaria control and continue the momentum towards elimination.
Together with partner countries, under national malaria control program leadership, and in collaboration with malaria stakeholders, PMI scales up a comprehensive, integrated package of life-saving interventions in communities.  This includes both prevention (insecticide-treated mosquito nets, intermittent preventive treatment of pregnant women, seasonal malaria chemoprevention, and indoor residual spraying) and treatment interventions (malaria diagnosis and treatment with artemisinin-based combination therapies).  PMI support builds overall country capacity and strengthens health systems while improving malaria prevention and treatment services.  PMI support includes strengthening supply chain logistics, malaria case surveillance, and monitoring and evaluation of impact.
More than 480 million people at risk of malaria have benefitted from PMI programs.  In Fiscal Year 2016, PMI protected over 16 million people by spraying homes, distributed more than 42 million long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets, and provided 57 million treatments of life-saving drugs and 63 million rapid diagnostic tests.
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September 21, 2017 | 0 Comments
Following the signing between Symbion Energy and Highland Group Holdings Ltd. (HGHL) of an agreement that sees HGHL co-invest $100 million towards the implementation of a $370 million, 106 megawatts of methane gas generated power on Rwanda’s Lake Kivu. L- R: USAID’s Acting Assistant Administrator for Africa Cheryl L. Anderson; Lord Irvine Laidlaw, Chairman at HGHL; Chief Executive Officer, Hon. Clare Akamanzi, Rwanda Development Board and a Member of President Kagame’s cabinet; Alexis Kabuto, CEO, Symbion Lake Kivu; Paul Hinks, CEO, Symbion; Albert Jochems, Laidlaw Capital Management.

Following the signing between Symbion Energy and Highland Group Holdings Ltd. (HGHL) of an agreement that sees HGHL co-invest $100 million towards the implementation of a $370 million, 106 megawatts of methane gas generated power on Rwanda’s Lake Kivu. L- R: USAID’s Acting Assistant Administrator for Africa Cheryl L. Anderson; Lord Irvine Laidlaw, Chairman at HGHL; Chief Executive Officer, Hon. Clare Akamanzi, Rwanda Development Board and a Member of President Kagame’s cabinet; Alexis Kabuto, CEO, Symbion Lake Kivu; Paul Hinks, CEO, Symbion; Albert Jochems, Laidlaw Capital Management.

NEW YORK, USA – SEPTEMBER 21, 2017 –  Symbion Energy and Highland Group Holdings Ltd. (HGHL) today signed an agreement that sees HGHL co-invest $100 million towards the implementation of a $370 million, 106 megawatts of methane gas generated power on Rwanda’s Lake Kivu, it was announced today by Paul Hinks, CEO, Symbion.

Lake Kivu contains an estimated 55 billion cubic meters of naturally occurring methane gas.  The total power generation potential of the resource has been conservatively estimated at more than 500 MW over a 40-year period. Only 25 Megawatts is produced today.

Speaking at the signing ceremony in New York City Hinks said, “We are very excited about our new partnership with HGHL, they are injecting $100 million of cash equity into the Rwanda projects of Symbion Energy.  The work will begin in earnest in November 2017 and this funding means we can fast track at least 22MW of power within 18 months.  Roughly 8 to 10 MW of that can be available by mid 2018 from the existing plant we acquired in 2016 which is known as KP1. It will be rehabilitated and expanded.”

Lord Irvine Laidlaw, Chairman at HGHL and Alexis Kabuto, CEO, Symbion Lake Kivu shake hands following the signing between Symbion Energy and Highland Group Holdings Ltd. (HGHL) of an agreement that sees HGHL co-invest $100 million towards the implementation of a $370 million, 106 megawatts of methane gas generated power on Rwanda’s Lake Kivu.

Lord Irvine Laidlaw, Chairman at HGHL and Alexis Kabuto, CEO, Symbion Lake Kivu shake hands following the signing between Symbion Energy and Highland Group Holdings Ltd. (HGHL) of an agreement that sees HGHL co-invest $100 million towards the implementation of a $370 million, 106 megawatts of methane gas generated power on Rwanda’s Lake Kivu.

Hinks continued, “Rwanda is one of the very few countries in Africa that properly plans ahead of time and they understand that substantial power capacity is necessary to attract investors to create economic growth and deliver electricity to its population. The demand for power in Rwanda is suppressed by the lack of surplus capacity and these two projects will facilitate continued growth. As far as Sub-Saharan Africa is concerned, Rwanda ranks highest in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index and our experience there is a complete endorsement of that.  HGHL’s confidence in the country and in Symbion is evidenced by their willingness to make Rwanda their first large-scale investment in Africa.”

Lord Irvine Laidlaw, Chairman at HGHL, said “This is perhaps the most interesting and exciting project that I have undertaken, inclusive of our recent offshore wind farms in the North Sea, in Germany.” He continued, “We will be producing electricity by utilizing a unique renewable resource, methane from the bottom of Lake Kivu.  Delivering this will be a challenge I look forward to.”  “Even more important, we are generating power for one of the fastest growing countries in Africa, so we’ll be making a major contribution to its continued growth.  As with all my colleagues I am proud to be assisting Rwanda,” said Laidlaw.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Rwanda Development Board and a Member of President Kagame’s cabinet, Honorable Clare Akamanzi said, “This partnership is a really great example of a co-investment that will fuel our country’s sustainable development and our growth agenda. We are impressed and we are committed to support the investors and the project to attain Rwanda’s full potential in the energy sector.”

During the signing between Symbion Energy and Highland Group Holdings Ltd. (HGHL) of an agreement that sees HGHL co-invest $100 million towards the implementation of a $370 million, 106 megawatts of methane gas generated power on Rwanda’s Lake Kivu. L- R: USAID’s Acting Assistant Administrator for Africa Cheryl L. Anderson; Paul Hinks, CEO Symbion; Lord Irvine Laidlaw, Chairman at HGHL and Chief Executive Officer, Hon. Clare Akamanzi, Rwanda Development Board and a Member of President Kagame’s cabinet.

During the signing between Symbion Energy and Highland Group Holdings Ltd. (HGHL) of an agreement that sees HGHL co-invest $100 million towards the implementation of a $370 million, 106 megawatts of methane gas generated power on Rwanda’s Lake Kivu. L- R: USAID’s Acting Assistant Administrator for Africa Cheryl L. Anderson; Paul Hinks, CEO Symbion; Lord Irvine Laidlaw, Chairman at HGHL and Chief Executive Officer, Hon. Clare Akamanzi, Rwanda Development Board and a Member of President Kagame’s cabinet.

USAID’s Acting Assistant Administrator for Africa Cheryl L. Anderson joined Symbion at the signing, underscoring the continued partnership between Power Africa and Symbion and the importance of American companies in accelerating energy sector investment to bring power to millions of Rwandan households and businesses.

These two power projects will reduce the risk of gases that are trapped in the deep layers of the lake escaping and rising to the surface, endangering the surrounding communities.

Symbion is working closely with the government of Rwanda and its regulatory agencies to ensure that its Lake Kivu projects deliver affordable energy in an efficient and environmentally responsible manner.

Symbion Energy is a developer and investor in Independent Power Projects on the African continent.

Highland Group Holdings Ltd. is one of the investment vehicles owned by Lord Laidlaw of Rothiemay. Highland’s total assets are predominantly invested in liquid instruments and renewable energy projects. Highland has successfully invested in and developed the Deutsche Bucht (252MW) and Veja Mate (400MW) offshore wind energy projects in Germany.


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CryptoMetalExchange© will usurp the dominant fraudulent paper schemes that are currently perpetrated on COMEX and LBMA
September 21, 2017 | 0 Comments
MetalZoom.Energy aims to disrupt this system by using open source Lynux Hyperledger Fabric blockchain to enable open bid auctions of Cryptocurrency for metal delivery
Marc Ward, Founder of MetalZoom.Energy

Marc Ward, Founder of MetalZoom.Energy

DENVER, United States of America, September 21, 2017/ — MetalZoom.Energy (the “Company”) ( advises that it has embarked upon the creation of the world’s first Crypto Metal Exchange. The founder of MetalZoom.Energy Marc Ward tells us “Our Crypto-Metal Exchange will provide a platform for miners to auction physical metal to the global consumer without any interference. The blockchain technology ensures zero corruption and results in untampered supply and demand forces to play out transparently.”

Ward, a Data Scientist who scored a perfect 800 on the quantitative GRE wrote an algorithm that correctly predicted the next move of the Nasdaq 100 futures market 88% of the time, over 4,000 times each trading day.
Ward believes that our markets are rigged by algorithmic dictates causing the price of precious metals to be controlled. “I see it as a closed-loop algorithm that announces the prices continuously throughout the day across all futures markets and humans in brokerage firms reacting to the change in prices”. As it is a closed-loop no one can overwhelm this pricing mechanism.

MetalZoom.Energy aims to disrupt this system by using open source Linux Hyperledger Fabric blockchain to enable open bid auctions of Cryptocurrency for metal delivery. Ward explains that “the futures exchange settles in debt currency instead of metal delivery. We plan to disrupt this by having metal ready for delivery and enabling consumers and investors to bid for that metal delivery with Cryptocurrencies across a transparent yet private blockchain framework”.

There are other facets to MetalZoom.Energy including Crypto Metal Mining which will enable miners to initiate a mine to produce metal. Those who acquire these Metal Delivery contracts will fund the miners directly via smart contracts with Cryptocurrency payouts and expect delivery of the metal extracted by the miners via the MetalZoom delivery services.

MetalZoom.Energy is quickly gaining the support of industry leaders with endorsements from the likes of Bill Murphy, Chairman of GATA (Gold Ant-trust Action Committee), Craig Hemke (aka Turd Ferguson of TF Metals Report), Elijah Johnson of, Cardwell Lynch of the C-Sigma Show, V of Rogue Money Radio, GManIV and SilverDoctors.

Ward is embarking on a tour to Africa where he aims to promote MetalZoom.Energy to the local crypto community and convince miners to offer their metal for auction on the Crypto Metal Exchange. Ward arrives in Johannesburg on 18 October 2017. He will be the keynote speaker at a business breakfast on Thursday 19 October 2017 being held at the Wanderers Golf Club in Sandton, hosted by Mail & Guardian, before moving onto Cape Town where he will be attending several events.

MetalZoom.Energy is the world’s first private energy firm and the first Cryptocurrency with an honor code. MetalZoom.Energy has created the private-partnership Crypto-Metal Exchange. A private platform where producers and end users can engage in trades based upon unfettered real value.

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September 21, 2017 | 0 Comments

Fort Lauderdale, FL (September 20, 2017) – South African Airways Vacations® (SAA Vacations®) launches its 2018 Collection brochure, featuring an expanded portfolio of affordable air-inclusive vacation packages to a variety of destinations throughout Southern and East Africa. The new 2018 brochure features a curated collection of the most popular value-packed vacation packages along with product information on South African Airways (SAA) and South African Airways Vacations®. Once again, SAA Vacations® is offering a digital version of the Collection brochure to make it easier and more efficient for both travel agents and consumers to explore options and book an African vacation of a lifetime.

For 2018, SAA Vacations® has introduced an array of 15 new hotels and safari lodges, nearly doubling their product offering to some of the most popular destinations throughout Africa. From trendy four and five star hotels in cosmopolitan cities like Johannesburg and Cape Town to luxury safari lodges, where guests can experience the “Big Five” wildlife, the enhancement of the SAA Vacations® portfolio greatly increases travelers’ options of affordable air-inclusive luxury packages to Africa.

“SAA Vacations® offers exciting and varied itineraries to both Southern Africa and East Africa that are fully customizable to cater to both luxury and budget travelers,” said Terry von Guilleaume, president of South African Airways Vacations®. “We are excited to partner with some of Africa’s best hotels and lodges to bring spectacular packages for 2018. And with air-inclusive packages starting at just $1899, travel to Africa is more affordable than ever.”

Highlights of the SAA Vacations® 2018 Collection include exceptional value on some of their most popular air-inclusive packages:

“Captivating Cape Town” This 5-night package is designed for those travelers who want to explore the beautiful city of Cape Town. Starting at $1,899* (restrictions apply) per person and includes five-nights in Cape Town with deluxe accommodations, full day Cape Peninsula tour, half day Cape Wine lands tour with wine tasting , Hop-on-Hop off bus pass and ground transfers.

“Wine and Safari” This vacation package begins with a three-night stay in Cape Town, a full-day tour of the Cape Peninsula and the Cape of Good Hope. Then off to South Africa’s wine region with a two-night stay in the historical town of Stellenbosch and a private Winelands tour. The experience continues with a safari and accommodations at Kapama River Lodge for a three-night stay near the world-famous Kruger National Park to enjoy morning and afternoon game drives to view Africa’s Big Five. The 8-night package starts at $4,399** (restrictions apply) per person.

“Introducing Ghana” Explore Accra with this 5-night package, starting at $2,999* (restrictions apply) per person and includes deluxe accommodations in Accra, Kumasi, and Cape Coast, full day tours, private vehicle transportation and ground transfers.

The South African Airways Vacations® 2018 Collection brochure is available online, click here or below. Travelers are encouraged to contact SAA Vacations’® Africa specialists at 1-855-FLY-SAAV or their professional travel consultant. For more information about our 2018 Collection visit:

All advertised air-inclusive packages are commissionable and can be customized for both groups and individuals. Tailor made itineraries are our specialty and our team of Africa Specialists are standing by to assist you in creating a vacation of a lifetime.

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Launching of the new edition of Digital Africa, an innovation competition to take up the challenge of digital transition in Africa
September 21, 2017 | 0 Comments
Deadline for startups to submit their projects on is the 22nd of October
PARIS, France, September 20, 2017/ — For the 40th birthday of Proparco, the subsidiary of the Agence Française de Développement (AFD, French Development Agency) ( focused on private sector, AFD, Bpifrance ( and the La French Tech ( have launched on 19 September the second edition of Digital Africa, a startup competition and digital innovation to support sustainable development in Africa. The first edition of the Digital Africa challenge, launched in October 2016, received more than 500 applications and rewarded 10 start-ups which convinced the judging panel on the potential impact of their innovation. Building on this success, AFD, Bpifrance and La French Tech have decided to renew the experience with the objective of offering a long-term support to the emergence of mature and solid digital ecosystems, catalysers of new economic opportunities.

Digital technology, a great accelerator of Africa’s development 

Digital revolution is transforming the African continent. It’s an innovative catalyst that revolutionizes economies and societies. Ecology, energy, culture, education, artistic creation, governance, and media: digital technology has a transversal and multiplying impact in all those key sectors.

“Digital innovation is abundant in Africa. Africans are making a technological leap that accelerates the emergence of the continent. Through Digital Africa, AFD supports emblematic start-ups of the digital African ecosystems, and fulfils its mission of development in the service of education and innovation, in the digital age. Development is now moving in both directions, between the two shores of the Mediterranean” – Rémy Rioux, AFD Executive Director.

Nicolas Dufourcq, Bpifrance Executive Director claims “We are proud to participate in the Digital Africa challenge and to support 5 French start-ups in their development on the African continent which nowadays offers great opportunities. This challenge represents a straight continuation of our action for the internalization of enterprises and their cooperation with the African continent”.

Innovation in Africa is showing extraordinary development, ecosystems are being structured, and start-ups are spreading across the continent. By promoting the links between French and African entrepreneurs today, our ecosystems are building a common future. Digital Africa is for French Tech an additional step to bring this ambition with Africa”, David Monteau, La French Tech Director, Ministry of Economy and Finance.

A fully customized program 

All the startup winners of this second edition of the Digital Africa challenge will benefit from a high visibility and access an international network of partners, clients and investors. They will be part of a community that gathers the best talents of digital innovation in Africa and for Africa, in order to share experiences and good practices.

The 5 African winning startups will be accompanied by the AFD through an “acceleration pack”, a customizable, technical and financial support up to a 30.000 euros value.

The 5 French winning startups will be accompanied by Bpifrance up to a 10.000 euros value support pack to strengthen their expertise and develop new opportunities on the African continent: Bpifrance Université training, networking and discovery trip to Abidjan and Cape Town with the French entrepreneurs community in the French Tech Hubs.

“For a young startup, Digital Africa offers a great opportunity to gain a continental and international visibility.” – Dieu-Donné Okalas Ossami, E-Tumba, winning startup of the first edition of Digital Africa.

What are the selection criteria? 

For the second edition of Digital Africa, startups are invited to propose innovative projects linked to the following themes:

  • Territory (urban challenge, rural transformation, and Smart City etc.)
  • Citizenship (e-government, civic engagement, activism, and alternative media etc.)
  • Knowledge and creativity (education, formation, creative and cultural industries etc.)
  • Environment and climate (green tech, clean tech, sustainable transportations, blue economy, and renewable energies etc.)

The relevance of the solutions proposed, their feasibility, sustainability and potential impact will be key criteria in the selection process divided in several steps:

  • An extensive analysis of the projects, of their innovative nature and of their business model;
  • A review of the pre-selected projects by AFD and Bpifrance experts;
  • A final selection by a jury composed by experts of the technological and entrepreneurial ecosystem in Africa.


  • Pauline Mujawamariya, Director of the Innovation Prize for Africa – African Innovation Foundation;
  • Tidjane Deme, General Partner of Partech Venture;
  • Emeka Okofore, TED Global, for Africa;
  • Aissatou Sow, Director of Development in Africa, Intel Corporation;
  • Erick Young, CEO Greentec Capital Partners.

Agence Française de Développement (, a public financial institution that implements the policy defined by the French Government, has been working for more than seventy-five years to combat poverty and promote sustainable development.
AFD operates on four continents via a network of 75 offices and finances and supports projects that improve living conditions for populations, boost a sustainable and inclusive economic growth, protect the planet and participate in the stabilization of fragile states and post-conflict situations.
In order to include the new digital concerns for development in its opportunities as well as in its challenges, AFD has set as a main objective to accompany the transformation of African economies and the promotion of human development through the stimulation of digital innovation.

Bpifrance ( finances businesses from the seed phase to transfer to stock exchange listing, through loans, guarantees and equity. Bpifrance accompanies firms in their innovation projects on an international scale and in their export activities through a wide range of products. The support offered to entrepreneurs also includes consultancy, university, networking opportunities and accelerating programme for startups, SME and middle-market companies.
Thanks to Bpifrance and its 48 regional branches, entrepreneurs benefit from a close, unique and efficient support to accompany them to overcome challenges.
La French Tech ( is the collective name for all those working in the French startup market. It is also an innovative public initiative in the service of this collective. For some years now, French Tech have as a group shown incredible dynamism, driven by a new generation of entrepreneurs, investors, engineers, designers, and other talented people. The French Tech mission is the team that coordinates within the Ministry of Economy and Finance the deployment of the actions of the French Tech initiative launched in November 2013 by the government and structured around 3 axes: federating the ecosystem of startups French, accelerate the growth of startups and spread French Tech internationally. The founding partners of the Initiative are: General Direction of Enterprises, General Direction of the Treasury, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Caisse des Dépôts, Bpifrance, Business France, Commissariat Général pour l’Investissement.

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African Women in Agriculture The Marrakech Declaration
September 21, 2017 | 0 Comments
The city of Marrakech hosted on 11 – 12 and 13 September 2017 an important international Congress on the subject “African Women in Agriculture” (AWA).
This unprecedented meeting is organized by the American Association Believe in Africa in collaboration with the PRESMA Agency.
Some 200 participants from 17 African countries and the USA took part in the meeting for three days. Mrs Angelle KWEMO President and Founder of this important initiative, at the opening stated that “in terms of agricultural production in Africa, women do not hold the key but they are the solution to the continent’s food challenge. It is through women that the continent will achieve not only its food self-sufficiency but above all its “food sovereignty”.
Mrs Mbarka Bouaida, Secretary of State in the Ministry of Agriculture in charge of Maritime Fisheries, highlighted the role of women in agriculture in Africa and explained the situation in Morocco.
Mr. Abdelfateh Bjioui, Wali of the Marrakech-Safi region, who gave the participants a warm welcome, congratulated the participants on the choice of Morocco and recalled the ambitious policy of His Majesty King Mohammed VI that God help him develop partnership between countries of the African continent.
Mr. Aziz Mekouar, former Ambassador of Morocco to the USA, explained the importance of the effective involvement of women in the light of the climate change of the planet.
The opening ceremony ended by the keynote address delivered by His Excellency Mr. John Dramani Mahama, former President of Ghana and a great friend of Morocco who recognized that “in Africa, no other sector of the economy has such a large participation of women than of agriculture. “
Work continued over two days and resulted in important resolutions. “All are committed to see the role of African women in agriculture recognized, with the establishment of the” African Prize for the Media in Agriculture and Sustainable Development “to encourage the media to improve the image of African women in agriculture, “says Fawzia TALOUT MEKNASSI, one of the partners of the event.
The words of the end of this agricultural congress was delivered to Mrs. Angelle KWEMO, who said that “it is time for Africa to produce the leadership that will enable the continent not only to achieve food security,  but also enhancing women actions, as pillar of this food security’.
The event was supported by OCP SA. Thus, during the plenary session titled “women central point of the green revolution”, Mrs. Imane Belghiti explained the concrete actions carried out by the OCP in Morocco as in the rest of the African continent.
The Social Development Agency represented by its dynamic Director GeneralM. Yassine HAMZA, shared with the other international agencies its expertise in supporting women’s agricultural cooperatives.
The event was also supported by international bodies such as UNO Women and the US Africa Development Foundation which not only supported rural women’s agricultural associations but also facilitated the participation of many women from the continent including leaders such as Korka Diaw, Korka Rice of Senegal and Mrs. Sirebara Foumata Diallo, President of the Union of Women Cooperatives in Agriculture of Mali. Appointment is therefore given in May 2018, for the second edition of “African Women in Agriculture”. Read the AWA Marrakech Full Declaration
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Hitachi Introduces Hitachi Vantara: A New Digital Company Committed to Solving the World’s Toughest Business and Societal Challenges
September 21, 2017 | 0 Comments
Company Formed to Help Customers Achieve Unprecedented Outcomes by Tapping the Full Potential of Their Data
NAIROBI, Kenya, 21 September 2017,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Hitachi, Ltd. (TSE:6501, “Hitachi”) has launched Hitachi Vantara, a new business entity to leverage the broad portfolio of innovation, development and experience from across Hitachi Group companies to deliver data-driven solutions for commercial and industrial enterprises. This new company will unify the operations of Hitachi Data Systems, Hitachi Insight Group, and Pentaho into a single integrated business as Hitachi Vantara to capitalise on Hitachi’s social innovation capability in both operational technologies (OT) and information technologies (IT).

More Than a Century of OT Expertise Combined with IT Trusted by the World’s Largest Enterprises
Hitachi has been a leader in OT for industries such as finance, government, manufacturing, power/energy and transportation for over 100 years, providing solutions that have positively impacted cities, industrial operations and businesses at large. The company has also been a leader in IT for over 50 years-bringing IT applications, analytics, content, cloud, and infrastructure solutions to market that have transformed the way enterprises do business. Combining Hitachi’s broad expertise in OT with its proven IT product innovations and solutions, Hitachi Vantara gives customers a powerful, collaborative partner in data – unavailable in any one company until today.

“Hitachi Vantara marks a monumental change for Hitachi as we continue to advance our unified corporate vision of Social Innovation,” said Hitachi, Ltd. President and CEO Toshiaki Higashihara. “Hitachi has been helping customers harness the power of their data to support meaningful business action for years. Now as the world is being transformed by digital tools and processes, we are unifying our strongest digital solutions companies together as a new Hitachi company that delivers exponential business impact for our customers and the betterment of society. The formation of Hitachi Vantara underscores Hitachi’s commitment to collaborative creation with customers and partners, and being a true innovation partner for the era of IoT.”

The Opportunity in Data
Hitachi Vantara is uniquely able to help customers extract all the value their data has to offer. By bringing new data-driven solutions and services to market, Hitachi Vantara will help its customers achieve tangible outcomes that positively drive business and society forward.

The market opportunity for mission-critical data solutions has never been greater. Data has become a businesses’ greatest asset-if they can extract actionable insights from it. Data holds the key to new revenue streams, better customer experiences, improved market insights and lower costs of doing business. However, a comprehensive offering has yet to emerge that combines both OT and IT expertise to uncover its true potential-until now.

Filling a Critical Gap in the Emerging IoT Market
Hitachi Vantara will continue to provide superior infrastructure and analytics technologies that enterprises rely on for their mission-critical data in their data centres, in the cloud and at the edge of new innovations. The new company is targeting the emerging IoT market opportunity, in which there is no clear winner yet.

According to Gartner, Inc., “more than $440 billion will be spent on IoT in 2020,”[1] and the firm estimates that by 2020, “there will be more than 21 billion connected sensors and endpoints, and digital twins will exist for potentially billions of things.”[2] in the same timeframe. To address this market, Hitachi Vantara will harness business, human and machine data across OT and IT environments to build comprehensive, data-driven solutions. Customers will be able to manage, store, govern, blend, analyse, and visualise data-and then take action based on uncovered insights.

Hitachi Vantara’s Breadth of Solutions: From the Data Centre to the Factory Floor
Hitachi Vantara will continue to develop the trusted data management and analytics technologies Hitachi is known for, including Hitachi’s popular data infrastructure, storage and compute solutions, and Pentaho software. It will also be driving the development of strategic software and services solutions, including Hitachi Smart Data Centre software and services, Lumada, Hitachi’s IoT platform, now available as a standalone, commercial software offering, and Hitachi co-creation services. Lumada has been fully updated with enhanced artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and advanced analytics capabilities. It also has an elegant, portable architecture that enables it to run both on-premises or in the cloud, and supports industrial IoT deployments both at the edge and in the core.

The company will focus on serving global Fortune 1000 companies with best-in-class data management, infrastructure, content and analytics products and industrial IoT solutions for a number of industries including financial services and insurance, government, industrials/manufacturing, telecom, and transportation.

“No other company brings together more than a century of operational technology expertise with informational technology trusted in the world’s most demanding enterprise environments,” said Hitachi Vantara CEO, Ryuichi Otsuki. “Hitachi Vantara capitalises on this unique combination by creating solutions that meet the needs of an increasingly connected world. Like our customers with whom we partner and co-create, Hitachi Vantara sees data as an opportunity-a path to outcomes that matter.”

Hitachi’s new Lumada IoT platform and Smart Data Centre solutions are on display at the Hitachi NEXT 2017 user conference in Las Vegas, September 19 and 20, where event attendees can see live demonstrations of the company’s software and IoT solutions. For more information, visit

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of Hitachi Limited.

About Hitachi Vantara
Hitachi Vantara, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd., helps data-driven leaders find and use the value in their data to innovate intelligently and reach outcomes that matter for business and society. We combine technology, intellectual property and industry knowledge to deliver data-managing solutions that help enterprises improve their customers’ experiences, develop new revenue streams, and lower the costs of business. Only Hitachi Vantara elevates your innovation advantage by combining deep information technology (IT), operational technology (OT) and domain expertise. We work with organisations everywhere to drive data to meaningful outcomes. Visit us at

About Hitachi, Ltd.
Hitachi, Ltd. (TSE: 6501), headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, delivers innovations that answer society’s challenges with our talented team and proven experience in global markets. The company’s consolidated revenues for fiscal 2014 (ended March 31, 2015) totaled 9,761 billion yen ($81.3 billion). Hitachi is focusing more than ever on the Social Innovation Business, which includes power & infrastructure systems, information & telecommunication systems, construction machinery, high functional materials & components, automotive systems, healthcare and others. For more information, please visit the company’s website at
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Could a former winner of the Ballon d’Or become Liberia’s next president?
September 19, 2017 | 0 Comments

George Weah was the presidential runner-up in 2005. Ahead of the October vote, he is drawing huge crowds again and hopes to do one better


Weah is one of the frontline candidates in the upcoming elections in Liberia

Weah is one of the frontline candidates in the upcoming elections in Liberia

On Saturday, 19 August, ardent supporters of Liberia’s presidential candidate George Weah brought the capital to a standstill. Over the course of 14 hours, the opposition senator, accompanied by Ivorian musician Meiway, paraded through the streets Monvoria as thousands thronged to hear him speak.

Even under the falling rain, devotees continued to dance and chant slogans into the night. Eventually, a few minutes to midnight, the 50-year-old former footballer arrived at his party headquarters in Congo Town to address excited supporters.

“Fellow partisans, throughout the history of our struggle and my political journey, I have been besieged by criticisms and overwhelmed with the question as to why I am seeking the presidency…No amount of negativity will distract me from fighting for change and a prosperous Liberia,” he said to thunderous applause.

With Liberia set to go to the polls on 10 October, political campaigning is now in full swing. The incumbent, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is required to step down after two terms in office, which means the country is about to get a new president.

The candidate who would provide the most continuity is Sirleaf’s 72-year-old vice-president, Joseph Boakai. But many Liberians are looking for change. As the leader of the largest opposition party, the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), those who attended Weah’s rally see him as the figure most likely to provide it.

“From what I see today there is no way Weah will lose this election,” said Esther Pailey, a petty trader. “Boakai is too old to lead us. Besides, there is no way you can separate Boakai from Ellen.”

“In 2005, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her VP cheated us,” said James Sammy, a CDC supporter, referring to Weah’s 2005 presidential bid in which he lost in the run-off. “We accepted the result because we just came from war. But this is our time to win the election.”

Heading for the top job

Weah first became known in Liberia and around the world in the 1990s for being one of the best footballers of his generation. He played for the likes of Monaco, Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan, and was the first African player to win the prestigious FIFA World Player award and Ballon d’Or.

In 2003, the same year that Liberia’s brutal civil war ended, Weah retired from football. In 2005, as the country held its first post-war elections, he put his name forwards to contest for the presidency.

Off the back of his popularity as a footballer and despite accusations of his lack of experience, Weah won the first round with 28%. In the run-off against Sirleaf, he lost comprehensively to the former World Bank official with 41%.

Weah stayed in politics, however. In 2011, he stood as the running-mate of Winston Tubman, again losing in the run-off. And in 2014, Weah became a Senator for Monteserrado County after defeating President’s Sirleaf’s son Robert at the ballot box.

Now, as Liberia gears up for this third combined post-war elections, Weah is vying for the top position once more. In a crowded race of 20 candidates, he hopes that his popularity with young people and his extra support gained by joining forces with running-mate Jewel Howard-Taylor, the ex-wife of imprisoned former leader Charles Taylor, could take him closer than ever.

“Weah’s popularity cannot be overlooked,” says political analyst Samuel P. Freeman. “He’s the most popular opposition candidate as we have seen in all the elections he’s participated. If the people we saw at that rally really translate into votes, then Weah stands a better chance than any candidate.”

He faces a strong opponent in Vice-President Boakai, however, who held a huge political rally in Monteserrado County this weekend along with his running mate and speaker of the House of Representatives, Emmanuel Nuquay. The size of the crowds has made some question whether the populous county can still be counted on as a CDC stronghold.

Tackling Liberia’s challenges

In his campaigns, Weah has promised to transform Liberia if elected. Like his fellow competitors for the presidency, he has made the struggling economy one of his main talking points. Liberia is in recession and the government’s tax increases earlier this year led to mass protests.

Weah vows to turn this around and make Liberia a middle income country. “My presidency will focus on building an economy that will focus more on empowering the lives of the masses and improving their livelihoods,” he announced. “I want to see a Liberia where our market women and petty traders too will own cars and be able to drive to their various areas of business.”

In his campaigning, the opposition figurehead has also honed in on corruption, an issue that has dogged President Sirleaf’s time in office.

“There will be no recycling of corrupt officials in my government,” said Weah. “If you are found culpable of corruption, you will no longer work in my government. This is a promise to the Liberian people.”

A like for like substitution?

Following 12 years of President Sirleaf, the 10 October elections provide an opportunity for change and a break from the Unity Party’s rule. But it remains difficult to predict which way people will vote. Sirleaf and VP Boakai have a mixed record in office, while a host of new political entrants has further complicated the race.

Some commentators, however, argue that focusing on the presidency misunderstands the nature and depth of Liberia’s challenges.

“No one builds a house beginning with the rooftop,” says Torli Krua, president of Universal Human Rights International. “Liberians focussing on presidential candidates instead of the flawed, corrupt and broken constitution are building their houses without a plan…We have a corrupt system and people are going crazy over a bunch of ignorant 20 aspirants interested only in getting rich at the expense of the people.”

Krua claims that Sirleaf centralised power in herself, and suggests that Weah’s approach would be similar. “Weah’s first and second presidential campaigns were all about putting Weah at the help of power within a corrupt, deadly and broken system. Weah had no plans of changing Liberia’s corrupt system of governance,” he says.

This suggests that a change of power at the top may do little to instigate real change. However, the symbolic act of a transition of power may be transformative in of itself for a country whose brutal civil war ended just 14 years ago.

Many today believe that Weah is best-placed to provide this shift. Freeman suggests that if no candidate gains a majority in the first round and there is a run-off, the opposition parties may well coalesce behind Weah. If this happens, he says, “that’s the end of the Unity Party”.

*Source African Arguments.Stephen D. Kollie is a freelance Liberian journalist based in Monrovia. He previously worked for FrontPage Africa . He is a 2015 fellow of the Bush Chicken news outlet. He can be reached at


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Runners and riders: Liberia gears up for most unpredictable elections yet
September 19, 2017 | 0 Comments

With President Sirleaf set to step down after 12 years in office, 20 candidates are competing to replace her.


On 10 October 2017, Liberia will go to the polls in what could be the country’s most hotly-contested and unpredictable elections yet. In a race that has seen a host of fresh political entrants, Liberians will select a new president as well as members of the House of Representatives.

These will be Liberia’s third combined presidential and legislative elections since the end of a devastating 14-year armed conflict in 2003. The first, in 2005, were remarkable. After a century of one-party state rule followed by decades of struggles for multi-party democracy, Liberia’s 2005 elections were highly competitive. State resources were fairly evenly spread. Violence and overt rigging were almost absent.

The results were similarly noteworthy. With Liberia beginning to recover from the protracted war, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf won the presidential run-off to become Africa’s first democratically-elected female head of state. In the Senate and House of Representatives, a wide range of parties gained representation with no single party winning more than a quarter of the seats. There were still questions over where campaign finances came from and went. But overall, the clean, competitive and peaceful elections were of a kind not seen before in Liberia.

In 2011, the advantages of incumbency helped President Sirleaf’s bid for re-election. She won again in a run-off, which the opposition boycotted alleging fraud. Her ruling Unity Party (UP) tripled its seats in the House of Representatives and doubled its number of Senators.

Now, six years on, it is time for Liberians to vote again. Having been in office for two six-year terms, Sirleaf is constitutionally required to step down, leaving a partial political vacuum in her wake. This means that Liberia will get a new president, and there are currently 20 candidatesvying for the position. Some of these are familiar faces, but some figures are notable for their absence, while a host of interesting new contenders have also entered the race. As in the past two elections, it is very likely a run-off will be required.

In the House races meanwhile, there are nearly 1,000 candidates jostling for simple majority wins and many incumbents could well be ousted.

The context for the elections

Liberia’s 2017 elections come at a time that the country is facing several challenges. Economically, mismanagement has led to repeated budget shortfalls and high inflation. The Ebola crisis of 2014/15 and downturn in iron ore and rubber prices have helped drag Liberia into a recession.

Sirleaf’s first term saw steady growth rates of 5-8% and sharp increases in export revenues. But even these advancements did little to improve the lives of most Liberians, 64% of whom live below the poverty line.

At the same time, high-level corruption has become a hot-button issue under Sirleaf. The president has been widely criticised for promoting relatives to senior government positions. Many have come to see elected office as a route to amassing personal wealth. And various corruption scandals involving state officials have emerged.

In the upcoming vote, the management of the election itself is also under the spotlight. In terms of security, the police and military have been criticised for not being ready and may face a particularly stern test given the drawdown of the United Nations peacekeeping force.

The National Elections Commission (NEC) has faced scrutiny too. It has already had its legitimacy questioned after its voter registration exercise was mired by technical and logistical glitches, while its chairman, Jerome Korkoya, is suspected of violating the Constitution for allegedly holding American citizenship.

Finally, the judiciary has already been called upon to settle disputes. The Supreme Court has been petitioned to uphold a controversial 2014 provision that says executive branch political appointees must resign at least two years before vying for elected office. Although a few candidates were barred from running in the House race because of this Civil Service Code of Conduct, some presidential and vice-presidential candidates have been approved under technicalities.

The contenders for president

The pseudo-incumbent

With Sirleaf stepping down, her loyal and unassuming vice-president Joseph Boakai managed to secure the UP nomination despite infighting over the coveted position. His running mate is current House speakerEmmanuel Nuquay.

Boakai’s campaign will benefit from the advantages of what we call a “pseudo-incumbency”. The VP can divert state funds to infrastructure projects in politically-sensitive areas to win support. Or they can be pumped directly into the campaign to pay for t-shirts and bags of rice, and to please power-brokers who claim they can deliver block votes for UP.

Boakai is also likely to lean on ethno-regional bases to shore up support. However, this is not as straightforward in Liberia as it is in much of Africa where patterns can be more predictable. In Liberia, a wide range of parties and independents have won votes in previous elections, and there has been significant turnover of politicians at the local level. What this means is that while Boakai is likely to do well in his home county of Lofa and probably in Sirleaf’s stronghold in Bomi, everywhere else is up for grabs.

In terms of a campaign platform, Boakai’s mantra thus far has been the delivery of “roads, roads, roads”. But his record in office is not without problems, and his platform does not deviate significantly from other candidates. In fact, party policy announcements in Liberia tend to be broad, and actual substantive divergences between candidates are rarely prominent. They typically all promise employment, financing for agriculture, better infrastructure, investment in education and health, the elimination of corruption, and the security of the nation.

Instead, parties lean more on personalities, patronage, ethno-regionalism and claims of previous achievements. For instance, in the 2005 race, Sirleaf made much of her international finance experience. In 2017, Boakai’s choice of self-presentation in the campaign has been a delicate balancing act, knowing that his boss’s record and reputation as president are mixed.

Familiar opponents

George Weah, of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) (previously the Congress for Democratic Change), is perhaps the most prominent candidate among the opposition. He was the presidential runner-up in 2005 and vice-presidential runner-up in 2011. His glittering football career makes him popular with youth, while he has previously garnered strong support in the capital Monrovia and his ancestral homeland in the south-east. Weah’s running mate Jewel Howard-Taylor, the ex-wife of the warlord-turned-president Charles Taylor, is likely to add to the ticket’s appeal in the populous Bong County.

Charles Brumskine, of the Liberty Party (LP), is another familiar contender. He has already run for the presidency twice, gaining 13.9% in 2005 and 5.5% in 2011. On those attempts, he polled well in his home county of Grand Bassa and neighbouring Margibi and River Cess, but struggled to accumulate votes further afield.

Prince Johnson, of the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction’s (MDR), is also well-known on Liberia’s political scene. However, the former military leader’s popularity is largely confined to Nimba Country – where he has served as a two-term senator – largely because of his actions during the war. Elsewhere, many see Johnson as an un-convicted war criminal. This is unlikely to change in 2017, while Johnson may see his position as a powerbroker tested by whether other Nimbaians in the race – namely Brumskine’s running mate Harrison Karnwea – manage to wrestle votes from him.

Along with these figures, a couple of other prominent politicians are notable for their absence. For example, lawyer-turned-senator and former presidential candidate Varney Sherman, along with former speaker of the House J. Alex Tyler, have kept out of the race. They were both indicted for their alleged involvement in a highly controversial iron ore concession deal in northern Liberia last year.

New entrants

There are also, however, a number of new presidential aspirants who could change the shape of the race.

J. Mills Jones, of the Movement for Economic Empowerment (MOVEE), is Liberia’s former Central Bank Governor. Formerly of the World Bank in Washington DC, he was a returnee technocrat catapulted into the higher echelons of power by Sirleaf in 2006. He was reappointed in 2011, but resigned in 2014 after a new law was passed that prohibited Central Bank officials from contesting political office within three years of stepping down.

Jones is rumoured to have been seen as a threat to the ruling establishment when he was Central Bank Governor because of his control over fiscal policies and financial disbursements. It is speculated that Jones’ introduction of a loan programme targeting the rural poor was a clever guise to secure political support. Although he is largely known by Monrovia’s political elite, Jones has virtually no ethno-regional base.

Benoni Urey, of the All Liberian Party (ALP), became head of the lucrative Bureau of Maritime Affairs (now the Liberia Maritime Authority) in 1996. He stepped down in 2003 after Charles Taylor left office. He was appointed Mayor of Careysburg in 2009, a position he held until 2012.

Urey is also a serial entrepreneur who reportedly amassed significant wealth in his dealings with Taylor, including through their monopoly in the telecommunications sector via mobile service provider Lonestar Cell. At one point, Urey was included on a UN travel ban and assets freeze list, before his name was removed in 2013.

Although the multi-millionaire politician has the financial clout to pull off an election upset, his largely peri-urban focus and lack of significant party recognition mean he is unlikely to pose a major threat to more established figures.

Alexander Cummings, of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), is a former executive vice-president and chief administrative officer of Coca-Cola. He is perhaps the greenest presidential aspirant. Cummings has held neither an elected nor appointed position in central government. Demonstrating his natural political astuteness, however, he managed in April 2016 to clinch the nomination of the ANC, a splinter faction of Weah’s CDC.

Although he has been heralded as a results-driven corporate manager and appears to be gaining momentum, Cummings’ relative political inexperience suggests that he is only likely to garner name recognition in the 2017 race to benefit him in future elections.

MacDella Cooper, of the Liberia Restoration Party (LRP), is a political novice and has no chance of clinching victory. She is, however, noteworthy as the sole female presidential candidate. This state of affairs is reflective of the decline in the number of women elected during Sirleaf’s two terms in office, with some critics arguing that she has done very little to position women favourably to win votes.

Joining forces

In 2011, there were some small-scale political coalitions, but not on the scale of attempts ahead of 2017. At a summit in September 2016, twelve leading opposition parties – including Weah’s CDC, Brumskine’s LP, Johnson’s MDR, Urey’s ALP, and Cummings’ ANC – came together to discuss collaborating, though they fell short of formalising a grand coalition united against the UP.

Adding to complications, Weah’s CDC not only endorsed the declaration that arose from the opposition summit, but subsequently forged separate alliances with Howard-Taylor’s National Patriotic Party (NPP) and Tyler’s Liberia People Democratic Party (LPDP). This illustrates the potentially advantageous yet still tenuous nature of opposition solidarity in Liberia.

Coalitions are effective not just in uniting support bases, but in fuelling a sense that the opposition might win, thus increasing turnout. However, while a grand opposition alliance in Liberia was initially thwarted, personal ambitions could be put aside to unite behind a single opposition candidate should Boakai advance to a run-off.

A referendum on Sirleaf

While Liberia’s 2005 and 2011 presidential elections were saturated with recycled politicians, 2017 will usher in a new batch of candidates. This includes various political neophytes relatively untainted by controversy, but with name recognition and financial clout. This could make an election that appears to be predictable, unpredictable.

Essentially, however, 2017 is more likely to be a three-man race with Boakai, Weah and Brumskine as top contenders. Political novices may be least likely to win the presidency, but they have at least forced established politicians into more meaningful alliances.

2017 is also largely a referendum on Sirleaf’s 12-year presidency and Boakai’s “pseudo-incumbency”. Although policy issues have not featured prominently in the public discourse, recent televised debates sponsored by the Deeping Democracy Coalition (DDC) have forced candidates to articulate their party platforms for public scrutiny.

Candidates continue to preach the same gospel of economic revitalisation, reformed governance and rule of law, improved infrastructure and social services. But the electorate seems to be yearning for practical solutions to Liberia’s grim socio-economic outlook. What seems to matter most to voters is contenders’ previous performance in delivering goods, both nationally and more parochially, and their ability to maintain Liberia’s fragile peace.

Liberia’s third post-war combined elections on 10 October will be keenly contested. But after 12 years under President Sirleaf and with her deputy vying to replace her, it remains difficult to predict whether Liberians will end up voting for continuity or change.

 *Culled from African Arguments.Robtel Neajai Pailey is a Liberian academic, activist and author of the anti-corruption children’s book Gbagba (2013, One Moore Book). David Harris is a specialist in African politics, in particular in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ghana, and author of Sierra Leone: a political history (2013, Hurst & Co). A longer version of this analysis was first published in the Review of African Political Economy (ROAPE).

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

African Women in Agriculture


Marrakech September 13, 2017

Radisson Blu Hotel

The Marrakech Declaration


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

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

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

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

We hereby make this declaration:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After two days of deliberations resolved as follows:


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

Women in Agriculture” with the aim of:

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


Signed by Angelle Kwemo, Founder and President Believe in Africa

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

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