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Harvard Center for African Studies to host virtual conference on transformative role of women entrepreneurs to drive socio-economic change in Africa
September 22, 2020 | 0 Comments
The keynote will feature Dr. Vera Songwe, United Nations Under Secretary-General and Executive Secretary, Economic Commission for Africa

Recent studies have pointed to the huge obstacles women entrepreneurs in Africa face when building their businesses: from adverse social and cultural norms to a US$42 billion financing gap, though women operate over 40% of small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) in Africa. COVID-19 has added another level of challenges: the global health pandemic and an economic recession, shutdowns and stay-at-home directives that have had consequential economic impact, and a lack of economic security threatens adverse healthcare outcomes. The African Union recently reported that 20 million African jobs are at threat from the pandemic, with a disproportionate impact on women and youth employment. The global pandemic threatens to further exacerbate gender gaps in education, financing, and other socioeconomic outcomes for women entrepreneurs on the continent. To address these issues and more, Harvard’s Center for African Studies announcement of its virtual conference on “Women and the Changing Face of Entrepreneurship in Africa” on 1 and 2 October 2020 comes at an opportune time.

The conference is a collaboration between Harvard University’s Center for African Studies, Lionesses of Africa, which is a 1 million-strong network of women entrepreneurs on the continent and Diaspora, London Stock Exchange Group, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), and Standard Bank Group, a leading financial institution with a strong track record of supporting female entrepreneurs on the continent.” The conference is also supported by Empower Africa and will feature the annual Hakeem and Myma Belo-Osagie Distinguished Lecture on African Business and Entrepreneurship at Harvard. Over two days, the deliberations of the conference seek to provide a clearer understanding of the landscape of female entrepreneurship on the continent, identify challenges and opportunities, examine policy frameworks, and define policy actions that would position African women, leaders in global female entrepreneurship, to play a transformative role in the world’s largest emerging market.

Opening the conference will be Professor Wafaie Fawzi, Interim Oppenheimer Faculty Director, Center for African Studies, Harvard University, who said: “The Harvard Center for African Studies has longstanding efforts to ensure that African voices and perspectives inform the research and teaching at Harvard University. We see this conference as advancing the scholarship around African entrepreneurship by highlighting the place of women entrepreneurs who are developing and running large-scale and pioneering businesses. We seek to challenge the mainstream narrative that African women operate largely in the informal sector or in small and medium scale enterprises. We look forward to identifying lessons that are critical to understanding this changing face of female entrepreneurship and to defining approaches that sustain and deepen this important agenda.”

Joining Professor Fawzi in the opening plenary session will be Melanie Hawken, founder & CEO, Lionesses of Africa, and Ibukun Adebayo, Director & Co-Head of Emerging Markets, London Stock Exchange Group.

Commenting on the need for this conference at this particular time of global economic upheaval, Melanie Hawken said: “Lionesses of Africa as an organization gets to see each and every day the potential and possibilities for women entrepreneurs to make a massive positive impact on Africa’s development. The continent is alive with energetic, resourceful, and hard-working women seeking to build businesses and take charge of their economic destinies. Our role is to encourage and practically support their start-up dreams so they can achieve economic security for themselves, their families, their communities, and their countries. This conference will play a significant role in stimulating conversations and opportunities for Africa’s women entrepreneurs to get the support they need to fulfill their potential as real social-economic drivers of change on the continent.”

Speaking about London Stock Exchange Group’s support for the conference and women entrepreneurs, Ibukun Adebayo added: “London Stock Exchange has a long history of supporting the development of local capital markets in Africa. Collaboration and partnership is vital in building the infrastructure and technology needed to support robust and efficient markets and foster economic growth across the continent. A diverse workforce is a proven driver of business success and female entrepreneurs continue to drive positive change in Africa. LSEG’s most recent Companies to Inspire Africa report found that 23% of the senior executives of featured companies were female, a near doubling over two years. Highlighting their success stories and easing access to capital enables women entrepreneurs to continue to positively impact economic growth, lead innovation and support employment across Africa.”

The conference program will feature four panel discussions over two days with a keynote speaker on each day, including:

  • Panel 1: Women Entrepreneurs, Business Agility, and Africa’s Massive Job Creation Challenge.
     
  • Panel Two: Women Entrepreneurs, Value-added Commodity Processing, and Economic Diversification.
     
  • Panel Three: The Digital Economy and Economic Growth for Africa’s Women Entrepreneurs.
     
  • Panel Four: Strengthening Institutional and Policy Frameworks, Funding, and Networks to Advance Women Entrepreneurs.

Speaking on behalf of Standard Bank Group’s support for the conference, and as one of the leading experts on the final panel discussion on finance, Sola David-Borha, CEO Africa Regions, said:

“Our drive to maximize our social, economic and environmental impacts across Africa includes a focus on Jobs and Enterprise Development which is closely aligned to the fifth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) – achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls. We believe that sustainable development is only possible if women – a demographic that makes up over half the continent’s population – are afforded their full rights and opportunities. Standard Bank has a number of programs in place aimed at ensuring that women are included in the financial system, have better market access, and have equitable access to education and training. Women have been disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, meaning the public and private sectors need to work closely together to ensure that recent gains in gender equality are not reversed, but are rather built upon.”

In terms of tangible conference outcomes and to support the published post conference report, the organizers will produce a policy paper that will also highlight key facts and figures on women entrepreneurs with infographics on the sectors they are engaged in. The conference organizers will also create an informal working group with a focus on research and policy. The working group will share its research and policy recommendations with groups of women entrepreneurs and through the respective UN bodies, the Africa Union, the African Development Bank, and the African Export-Import Bank.

Conference website.

The Harvard University Center for African Studies is a globally recognized, interdisciplinary body committed to broadening knowledge about Africa and engagement with African perspectives through scholarship, collaboration, and dialogue.

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Cameroon’s oil refinery, SONARA dragged to court by Swiss Group Glencore over 9.6 billion FCFA unpaid bills
September 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

The State-owned refinery of Cameroon, SONARA has been sued before the High Court of Justice in London by Swiss commodities group, Glencore over unpaid bills.

Glencore Energy UK Ltd (a subsidiary of Swiss commodities trader Glencore), via the law firm Ince Gordon Dadds, is demanding the payment of €14.7 million, roughly cira 9.6 billion FCFA from the state refinery situated in Cameroon’s coastal port city of Limbe in its South West region.

According to Glencore, the amount represents, for the most part, late payment penalties in connection with a supply contract where 1.6 million barrels of crude oil were delivered to SONARA between November 2012 and January 2015. The Swiss trader is suing for non-payment within the contractual deadlines.

The case bought to the England and Wales High Court accuses SONARA of not respecting its contractual commitments. As per reports between 2012 and 2015, four contracts were concluded between the two parties, but the financial requirements were never concluded.

Sonara has not officially reacted to this legal procedure launched before the British courts since June 2020 and revealed by Law360 on August 11, 2020.  

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Report recommends changes to laws that discriminate against women in Gambia
September 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

Dozens of discriminatory gender laws should be repealed or revised in The Gambia to guarantee equal rights for women and girls within the legal framework.

A report – produced jointly by the Government of The Gambia, Commonwealth Secretariat and UN Women – reveals several discriminatory laws and loopholes which allow discrimination.

Aiming to end discrimination in legislation, the report recommends amending 19 laws and repealing 10 in whole or in part. It also proposes enacting two new laws to ensure The Gambia’s legislative framework meets its international obligations on gender equality.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “Laws, which undermine one over the other, are a fundamental barrier to gender equality, an obstacle to sustainable development and threaten decades of progress already made for women.

“I commend the Government of The Gambia for the bold step in undertaking a comprehensive review of its laws to ascertain the extent to which they are compliant with international and regional norms and standards.

“The implementation of the report’s recommendations will make Gambian women and girls even more empowered and will support the government’s efforts to build back better after the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The report stresses that complying with gender equality standards should be a priority in implementing national laws. For this reason, it proposes 14 policy measures to ensure laws fully deliver on women’s rights, which include investing in post-natal care, providing accessible legal aid, and ratifying and complying with international labour laws.

The Gambia’s Justice Minister Abubacarr Ba Tambadou said: “Taking stock of laws from a gender perspective is critical to the health and progress of The Gambia.

“I endorse this report and its recommendations as my government’s step towards the implementation of equality in law for women and girls by 2030.

“It serves as the framework for achieving full de jure equality, which in turn, is the foundation for de facto and substantive equality.”

The report maps and analyses the national laws of The Gambia. The mapping informs a roadmap for thorough legislative reforms through a review of national laws and verdicts to determine their impacts on women’s rights.

The analysis, guided by the country’s international commitments and obligations, reviews the 1997 Constitution, statutes and corresponding legislative and legal instruments through regulations, orders, guidelines, directives as well as case law.

The report is the knowledge product of the technical assistance provided to The Gambia under an initiative to help implement the ‘Equality in Law for Women and Girls by 2030’ strategy, developed by UN Women, Commonwealth Secretariat and other development partners.

The global strategy aims to boost full legal protection for 50 million women and girls in 100 countries from 2019 to 2023 under the law.

*Commonwealth

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Kenya:Teachers directed to report to school on September 28
September 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Education Cabinet Secretary (CS) Prof. George Magoha

Teachers Service Commission (TSC) has ordered primary and secondary school teachers to report to their respective schools next week on Monday ahead of school re-opening.

Teachers will be required to set everything in order before learning resumes next month as recommended by the Education Response Committee chaired by Sara Ruto of the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD).

The Sara-led committee proposed October 19, 2020, as the opening date and wants standard eight and form four candidates to sit their national exams in April 2021.

The team also recommended a change in the school calendar from January to November cycle to June-May.

Learning institutions in the country were temporarily closed in March following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Initials plans were that primary and secondary schools were to reopen in January.

Education Cabinet Secretary (CS) Prof. George Magoha had declared the 2020 academic calendar lost and ordered students and pupils to repeat classes when schools reopen next year.

However, the team of education stakeholders wants this year’s calendar to reorganize such as the second term begins in October and ends in November, and the third term starts in January and ends in March.

In a bid to manage the spread of the novel virus in schools, the committee came up with two proposals. The first is to have all learners report on October 19 and the government to monitor progress and health concerns.

The second proposal is phased reopening which will see Standard Seven, Standard Eight, Form four and form three students and Grade Four pupils to report back on October 19. Then learners in Pre-Primary One and Two and Grades One to Three, and those in Standard Five and Six to report on November 2 as well as students in Form One and Two.

Meanwhile, Prof. Magoha said that the recommendations will be tabled before a larger committee and thereafter the official dates will be issued.

“It is not for me to give the date for the re-opening, I will table this report before a larger committee for a deliberation on the actual date for the resumption of schooling,” Prof. Magoha said.

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CNN’s Eleni Giokos to moderate discussion on German-African business relations with Chancellor Merkel’s Africa Envoy
September 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

The webinar will be held on 23 September at 15h30 CET.

Eleni Giokos
Eleni Giokos

The discussion will be centred on the topic: Investment and Trade for Africa’s Economic Development; Co-moderated by the Germany Africa Business Forum and spearheaded by H.E Günter Nooke, Africa Envoy to Chancellor Merkel, the discussion also includes NJ Ayuk, Chairman of the African Energy Chamber and René Awambeng of the African Export-Import Bank; The webinar will be held on 23 September at 15h30 CET. To attend, please register here .

With German visibility and participation on the rise in Africa’s energy industry, the Germany Africa Business Forum (GABF) will host its second instalment of its Germany-Africa cooperation focused webinar series.

Germany, through the G20 Compact with Africa initiative, has pledged to increase investment for private sector engagement in Africa in industries such as finance and capital investment, infrastructure, power and energy, agriculture, consumer goods, health care, and information communication technology.

“From Senegal to Kenya and from South Africa to Egypt, African countries have astounding and untapped world-class opportunities for German Public and Private Companies. Our German business and political leaders must work with their African counterparts to urgently capitalize on these prospects, especially in a post Covid environment. This would create jobs and improve lives on both sides.” stated Sebastian Wagner, Executive Chair of the GABF.

The webinar will be moderated by Eleni Giokos, CNN Africa Correspondent, who will facilitate the discussion on how German investments can sustainably strengthen the development of the African continent. Anchored in the topic Investment and Trade for Africa’s Economic Development, the webinar will highlight key efforts to mobilise German funding for African energy projects as a means to advance German-African cooperation. African Gas projects in Mozambique, Tanzania, Nigeria, Equtorial Guinea, Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana, Congo, Gabon, and Cameroon could see a spike in German interest.

“With H.E. Nooke, Mr Awambeng and Mr Ayuk joining this conversation, we hope to foster stronger ties between Germany and Africa that will drive greater economic growth and bring profit to both places”. concluded Wagner

H.E. Günter Nooke, Africa Envoy to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, will spearhead the webinar with a headline keynote speech. Joining the panel discussion will be NJ Ayuk, Chairman of the African Energy Chamber and Rene Awambeng, Global Head Client Relationship at the African Export-Import Bank.

“We are proud of the work done by the Germany Africa Business Forum to create opportunities for Germans and Africans alike, especially at a time when we must move our relationship with Germany from a relationship based on aid to one based on trade.” stated NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber “We will continue to support partnerships and initiatives that deepen our ties through commerce and investment between Germany and Africa, especially in a Post Covid era”. concluded Ayuk

The webinar will be held on 23 September at 15h30 CET. To attend, please register: https://bit.ly/3mEjg5J

About the Germany Africa Business Forum:
The Germany Africa Business Forum (GABF) is a private think tank with the mission to strengthen investment relations between Germany and Africa. As a “Private for Privates”, GABF supports German investors in viewing the African continent as a profitable and important investment destination.

*African Energy Chamber

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Gambia:Banjul Mayoress Shortlisted to Contest for Presidency of Mayors of Africa Capital Cities
September 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Banjuk Mayor Rohey Lowe-Saidykhan
Banjul Mayor Rohey Lowe-Saidykhan

The Mayor of Banjul, Rohey Lowe-Saidykhan has been shortlisted to contest the presidency of mayors of 54 Africa capital cities. 

She will contest the prestigious position against three others, Muhamed Sidiq of Rabat Morocco, Madam El Wardani of Dakar, Senegal and Juliana Kaduya of Lilongwe, Malawi. The election will be held in three week’s time.

A preamble announcing the nominations said the nomination of the Banjul mayor by ULCD to contest the presidency is based on the trend of development that has been delivered to the citizens of Banjul barely two years after her election as the first female mayor in Gambia’s history.

The person elected to the presidency of the African Capital Cities Sustainability Forum (ACCSF) will, apart from being the main promoter of the ACCSF to institutions such as AU and during summit or conference if elected, will be in charge of the strategic direction and development.

He/she will also represent entire 54 African capital cities mayors and governors of ACCSF.

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Mozambique LNG Project Could Be Transformational for Mozambique – If Western Environmentalists Don’t Interfere
September 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

By NJ Ayuk*

Mozambique’s first onshore LNG plant would be creating tens of thousands of jobs – and contributing to sustainable, long-term economic growth.

When Anadarko Petroleum Corp. confirmed last year it would be constructing a $20 billion liquified natural gas (LNG) plant in Mozambique, this was major news. Mozambique’s first onshore LNG plant would be creating tens of thousands of jobs – and contributing to sustainable, long-term economic growth that would impact millions of people.

Two additional LNG projects have been announced since then: the $4.7 billion Coral FLNG Project by ENI and ExxonMobil, and the $30 billion Rovuma LNG Project by ExxonMobil, ENI, and the China National Petroleum Corporation. While these two have been postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the original LNG Mozambique project has been moving forward.

French oil major Total acquired the project and finalized project funding in July, even in the face of recent terror attacks in northern Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province, where Total’s LNG plant will be constructed.

That’s why it’s so disheartening to learn that a UK-based environmental group is pursuing actions that could jeopardize the project’s timely progression, all in the name of preventing climate change. Friends of the Earth has said it will initiate a legal challenge against the UK’s decision to provide $1 billion in funding for the Mozambique LNG project.

Never mind the project’s importance to everyday Africans. Never mind its potential to grow and diversify the economy. Never mind that projects like this are just what Mozambique needs to address its energy poverty, or that the Mozambique government has invested considerable time and resources into making this LNG project possible.

This is not the first time that not so well informed radical activist have attempted to interfere with Africa’s energy industry in ways that do not help poor Africans but serve their own interest. International organizations, including the World Bank, and private investors, under pressure by environmental groups, have been dropping support for African fossil fuel production. A lot of poor people are suffering from this and hundreds of millions more will if we to change direction.

I find it stunning that, during a time when much of the world is talking about the need to respect black perspectives, environmental groups seem to have no qualms about dismissing African voices.

As I’ve said in the past, I agree that climate change should be taken seriously. And I understand the risks it poses to Africa. The thing is, why are non-African organizations trying to dictate how African countries address those risks? The message in this case seems to be that “they know best.” That idea is insulting, and interfering with an African country’s efforts to build up its economy – simply because fossil fuels are involved – is completely unacceptable.

A ‘Missed Opportunity?’ Really?

UK Export Finance (UKEF) is one of eight export credit agencies to provide funding for Total’s Mozambique LNG project, which includes the construction of a two-train liquefaction plant with a capacity of 12.9 million tonnes per year.

UKEF’s $1 billion commitment includes awarding $300 million in loans to British companies working on the gas project and guaranteeing loans from commercial banks worth up to $850 million. The UK’s parliamentary under-secretary for the Department for International Trade, Graham Stuart, has pointed out that Total’s LNG project could be transformational for Mozambique and create 2,000 jobs in the UK as well.

But Friends of the Earth has said they will seek a judicial review into the UK government’s decision to help finance a project that, as they put it, will “worsen the climate emergency.” The group’s director, Jamie Peters, also expressed his disappointment in a letter to the UK government. The UKEF’s funding decision, Peters said, represents a “lost opportunity” for the UK to be a world climate leader.

My question to Mr. Peters is, what about Mozambique’s opportunities? To help everyday people improve their lives? To earn a decent living? To have a reliable source of energy? I’m talking about an opportunity to nudge the average life expectancy in Mozambique above 59 years, where it stands now.

The Mozambique LNG project is poised to make those things possible. As far as I’m concerned, losing that opportunity would devastating.

What Mozambique Stands to Gain

I can’t overstate the far-reaching implications and potential that Total’s Mozambique LNG project represents for local businesses, communities, and individuals.

Total estimates that its plant will generate about $50 billion in revenue for Mozambique’s government during its first 25 years in operation. That revenue can be directed toward much-needed infrastructure, educational programs, and economic diversification programs.

Consider direct foreign investment in Mozambique: Total’s US$25 billion investment in the LNG plant is more than twice Mozambique’s current GDP.

How about the plant construction project? Not only will it generate tens of thousands of local jobs, but it also will provide training opportunities for local people. Indigenous companies will be contracted to provide goods and services.

This pattern will continue once the plant is operational. Locals can train for and take a wide range of positions, including professional and leadership roles. Over time, subject matter experts who can share their knowledge in Mozambique, and with other African companies, will be cultivated. And, once again, the plant will be looking to local companies to provide products and services.

LNG Can ‘Em-power’ Mozambique

In addition to these far-reaching economic opportunities, the LNG produced at the plant will provide affordable energy for Mozambique.

The need is urgent. Only about 29% of the population has access to electricity today. Medical care is hindered. Education is impacted. And sustainable economic growth is an uphill climb.

Earlier this year, I praised the government of Mozambique for negotiating for part of the LNG production to be diverted to the domestic market, meaning it can be used for power generation. Since then, the government secured financing for a 400MW gas-fired power plant and transmission line to Maputo, the country’s capital, which will dramatically improve power reliability there.

By the way, when the Mozambique government ensured that some of the plant’s LNG production would be available for domestic use, it also laid the foundation for monetization and economic diversification. In Mozambique, LNG will be available to serve as feedstock for fertilizer and petrochemical plants. It can be exported by pipeline to neighboring companies. And that, in turn, can help Mozambique build even more infrastructure and contribute to even greater widespread prosperity.

Mozambique Has Been Working for This

I’d also like to point out the thought and preparation that the Mozambique government has put into making its natural gas operations beneficial for the country as a whole since approximately 180 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves were discovered there in 2010.

Mozambique’s national oil company, ENH, hired global energy research and consulting firm Wood Mackenzie to help it prepare for the responsibility of managing and selling its corresponding portion of the resources. Since then, ENH formed a consortium with international oil and gas trader, Vitol.

The government also has sought the support of more experienced energy producers and international partners. Earlier this year, President Filipe Nyusi met with Norway’s Crown Prince Haakon and signed an agreement for support on natural gas resource management.

But even before that, Mozambique laid the foundation for a successful oil and gas industry with the new Petroleum Law of 2014. And with that legislation in place, the country completed a successful bidding round for exploration blocks. These efforts, along with careful negotiations with international oil companies, is what brought Mozambique to where it is today: on the cusp of becoming a major LNG producer. And these efforts are what will make Mozambique’s LNG industry a success, not just in terms of government revenue, but also in improving the lives of everyday people.

We Must Put People First

Mozambique is not asking for aid to lift its people out of poverty. It’s attempting to capitalize on its own natural resources. The government isn’t trying to make a quick buck. It’s working to lay a foundation for long-term growth. And efforts like the Exxon and Total Mozambique Projects are more than an opportunity for international oil companies, or even Mozambique’s government. They have the potential to improve the lives of millions of everyday people.

I recognize the need to protect our planet and prevent climate change. But interfering with financing for Africa’s fossil fuel projects is not the right path. We must not dismiss the value of projects like these or their ability to make meaningful changes for the better in Mozambique. And we must not put environmental ideals ahead of the pressing needs that are facing people right now.

* Executive Chairman, African Energy Chamber
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Founder and CEO of 54gene Selected as Endeavor Entrepreneur
September 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

 Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong joins the leading global entrepreneur support organisation.

Dr Abasi Ene Obong – Founder and CEO of 54gene

21 September, 2020. Lagos, Nigeria. Endeavor has welcomed a new entrepreneur into its global network; Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong of 54gene, was selected as an Endeavor Entrepreneur on September 17, 2020. 54gene is a health technology company whose mission is to advance precision medicine capabilities in Africa through research, advanced molecular diagnostics and clinical programs. 54gene joins 10 other Endeavor Entrepreneur-led companies in Nigeria, and over 1,300 in Endeavor’s 37 markets across Africa, Latin America, Asia, Europe and North America. 

Endeavor is a mission-driven organisation that is leading the global movement for high-impact entrepreneurs and their companies. Endeavor Nigeria selects, mentors and accelerates the best high-impact entrepreneurs in the region, supporting them to scale their companies and drive economic growth. As well as 54gene, this year, Endeavor has welcomed the founders of Daystar Power, Migo and Kobo360 into its local and global network. 

Africa is home to the most genetically diverse population in the world. However, less than 3% of the continent’s genomic data is available for research purposes making it a potentially rich source of new genetic information used for medical discoveries. 54gene is solving this challenge and equalising the access to precision medicine through the advancement of the state of healthcare in Nigeria and on the continent. This is being achieved through local clinical research programs and advanced molecular diagnostics.

“54gene is a critical part of the continent’s push to equalize access to precision medicine for millions of Africans. The rapid pace at which the company has scaled over the past year is testament to Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong’s leadership, his drive and talented team. He is an inspiration to other high-impact entrepreneurs in Nigeria and we are thrilled to welcome him into the Endeavor network.” Says Eloho Omame, Managing Director & CEO of Endeavor in Nigeria.

Since launching in 2019, 54gene has scaled its operations in generating novel insights in human genetics research that will lead to high impact health discoveries. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, 54gene raised funds to increase the country’s testing capacity and launched mobile laboratories across 5 Nigerian states. The company has raised $21 million in investment and also launched the African Centre for Translational Genomics (ACTG) to fund the study of Non-Communicable Diseases in 100,000 Nigerians. In September of this year, the company announced a partnership with Illumina to establish a world class genomics facility in Lagos, Nigeria, which will help expand its sequencing-based research and molecular diagnostics offering.  

Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong, CEO and Founder of 54gene, says, “It is an absolute honour to be selected as an Endeavor entrepreneur. We started 54gene to significantly improve the inclusion of African populations in global genomics research and I am glad to see our work is being recognised. Our mission is to continue driving innovation and change in research and I look forward to the opportunities that arise as a result of being supported by the global Endeavor network in expanding 54gene’s impact globally.”

Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong was successfully selected as part of a cohort of 9 entrepreneurs from 6 markets. With the recent addition of 54gene, Endeavor Nigeria now supports 17 entrepreneurs who lead 11 scale-up stage companies in Nigeria, spanning lifesciences, fintech, renewable energy, entertainment, logistics and retail. 

About Endeavor

Established in 1997, Endeavor is a mission-driven, global organization leading the high-impact entrepreneurship movement. Endeavor was founded on the belief that job creation, innovation, and overall prosperity flourish where there is robust support for high-impact entrepreneurs. To date, Endeavor has screened more than 60,000 entrepreneurs and selected more than 2,000 founders leading over 1,200 scale-up companies. Endeavor Entrepreneurs have created over 4 million jobs, generate more than $20 billion in revenue each year, and inspire future generations to innovate, take risks, and build strong entrepreneurship ecosystems in underserved markets. Headquartered in New York City, Endeavor currently operates in nearly 40 growth markets throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and North America.

Endeavor launched its Nigeria office in 2018, to select and support the best founders of companies at

the scaleup stage, who have potential to leverage Endeavor’s global resources, mentors and network to create large-scale wealth and jobs. Endeavor Entrepreneurs are committed to multiplying their impact by reinvesting their time and money to help others in Nigeria’s ecosystem take off. Today, in Nigeria, Endeavor supports 17 Endeavor Entrepreneurs leading 11companies. 

About 54gene 

54gene is a health technology company advancing the state of healthcare through large-scale discovery and translational research, advanced molecular diagnostics, and inclusive clinical programs for the benefit of Africans and the global population. Founded in 2019, 54gene utilizes human genetic data derived from diverse African populations, to improve the development, availability, and efficacy of medical products and diagnostics that will prove beneficial to Africans and the wider global population.

About the Founder and CEO

Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong holds a PhD in Cancer Biology from University of London, a Masters in human molecular genetics from Imperial College London and a Masters in Business Management from Claremont Colleges, California. He also worked as a cancer researcher and published a seminal paper on pancreatic cancer immunology, Gastroenterology Journal.

He has extensive experience operating in the US, UK and Nigerian healthcare industries. Prior to 54gene, Dr Ene-Obong worked with leading healthcare organisations, including Fortune 100 pharmaceutical companies, academic and research institutions, and governments as a management consultant with PwC and IQVIA (formerly QuintilesIMS). Dr Ene-Obong was also listed as 1 of 30 most innovative entrepreneurs on the African continent in 2019 by Quartz Africa and recently as one of Fortune’s 40 Under 40 in the healthcare category.

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Tanzania: A Crusade Against Foreign Dependence For Magufuli
September 21, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Mohammed M. Mupenda

President Magufuli inaugurating a water project
President Magufuli inaugurating a water project

Tanzanian president Dr. John P. Magufuli has urged citizens to stop looking at foreigners as people they can depend on but always sacrifice themselves, work hard, and develop their country.

The president was addressing hundreds of Arusha and Meru residents earlier this month where he told them that foreigners who pretend to support Tanzanians do not love them but rather, they are money-makers and business oriented.

“There is no development that comes in an easy way, it is important that we struggle,” he told participants.

“I beg you Tanzanians, let’s wake up, there is no one on earth who will come to support you and there is nothing for free, these {Foreign} people are money makers and business oriented,” he added.

He told residents from Meru, Arusha and Tanzanians in general to always sacrifice themselves and work hard to liberate themselves from economic dependency.

“We have got our independence and that is good news, but we are yet to be economically independent, we have got to fight, that is why we have requested a loan to construct the rail gauge, they never gave it to us, we requested funds to increase electricity coverage, we have been rejected, they cannot offer,” he said.

It is important we wake up, love our country and let us stop calling ourselves poor, our country is rich,” he added.

He said that the country has achieved a lot over the years and assured that a lot was yet to be achieved, should they combine work together as one.

“We can go far together and where there is a will there is a way, my colleagues, I want to assure you  God is there with us, I can’t stand in front of people and say,  we depend on you, I am a driver on my own,” he assured residents amid applause.

He urged Tanzanians to always strive to work hard even if there are people who do not get well with that knowing that they are doing it for the good of their country.

“It requires a true sacrifice and that is why I said I am grateful to the almighty God and I am grateful to you patriots for praying for me and giving heart, I am grateful for God to stand with our country, we have got an exemplary nation,” he noted.

He assured them that it is only by fighting the economic struggle that Tanzania would be among the top developed countries worldwide.

He said that the country was rich thanks to natural resources such as minerals and can be economically independent if more efforts were invested.

“We have targeted to collect 194 billion shillings and surpassed that thus collecting 301billion shillings,… that why I always tell you that our country is rich and people do not understand this, every time we wonder who will support us, but we need to support ourselves because you are rich,” the East African country president said.

Lenders Confident

The president Magufuli told residents that money lenders were confident in them and agreed to offer loans just because they are sure such loans would be serviced.

“If you want a loan, you need to be conversant on how you will service it, that is why the African Development Bank is willing to lend us money because they are sure we will service the loan,” he said.

 “But revenues collected internally are the ones we can use to build rail gauges from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma, that construction is worth 7 trillion,” he added.

He said that Tanzania had spent many years without having Air Tanzania and every time nationals wanted to fly, they flew with planes from other countries.

“That is why we decided to buy planes and we bought seven, other two planes are coming in December carrying 150 people each and are brand new from Swissland. We will be the first in Africa to have such planes,” he said amid applause.

Reducing the cost of electricity

Magufuli said that while the country has done a lot in availing electricity to citizens, the current power capacity is not equivalent to the number of people using it and that makes the price higher and not affordable by many.

“We had an issue of electricity, we have power in the whole country but the coverage is not 49% but the issue is now the cost of electricity, our plant generates 1560MW but looking at the number of people who need electricity, the cost is high as it $11 per unit while in Europe it 0.12 per unit,”  he said.

He said this makes business tough and very expensive if you compared local products with those coming from overseas.

“We need to look for other water resources so that we can build other hydropower plants as they are affordable, that is why we decided to build a mega power plant that will generate additional 1200MW” he concluded.

He said that availability of power and other alternatives would also help stop cutting trees as a source of cooking which is a threat to the forest and biodiversity in general.

Tanzania is one of five East African countries with a population of over 56 million. It was in June this year declared by the World Bank, the second middle income country in the region.

*Culled from September Issue of PAV Magazine

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Africa’s Great Lakes States Demand Reparations from Germany and Belgium for Colonization
September 21, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Jean-Pierre Afadhali*

King Philippe and Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi in 2019. The Belgium monarch has referred to the colonial past as cruel and violent . photo credit Belga
King Philippe and Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi in 2019. The Belgium monarch has referred to the colonial past as cruel and violent . photo credit Belga

Nearly 60 years after Independence- Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo are demanding reparations from German and Belgium, their former colonizers over the brutal colonial past that also sparked post-independence conflicts in the Great Lakes of Africa.

The former colonies are now demanding financial reparations and repatriation of cultural property looted by European countries that colonized Africa in the 19th century, a period that was characterized by dehumanization of locals, divide and rule policies and plundering of cultural artifacts as well as natural resources.

Burundi was first colonized by German in 1880 in what was then called ‘German East Africa’ that included Rwanda and Tanzania until the end of World War l. After the First World War the defeated Germany was stripped of its colonies in favor of Belgium that ruled Rwanda, Burundi and DR Congo until 1962. In 2018, the Burundian Senate set up a commission of historians and anthropologists to examine the impact of colonialism in the Great Lakes country.

Gitega appears to be more pragmatic in reparations issue by setting a price. The Great Lakes country has recently demanded $ 43 billion from Germany for colonial crimes. The amount was calculated by referring to a fine that was imposed on the Burundian king by the Germans in 1903, which forced him to hand over 424 cows for resisting German rule.

According to Burundi’s special commission on the colonial past, the current value of those cows would be $43 billion. There are reports that German is not willing to pay the price amid similar reparation request from Namibia its former Southern African colony over genocide crimes.

Aloys Batunganayo, a Burundian Historian and doctoral researcher from Lausanne University said that current Burundian political challenges are linked to Belgium’s colonial past in a decree by Belgian King Albert l that classified the population in three ethnic groups.

“It is this decree that has led to conflicts in Burundi and the region because some of the population was excluded from the ruling class because of the decree,” Dr Batunganayo was quoted as saying.

Since its independence in 1962, the East African country has experienced ethnic conflicts that led to large scale civil war in 90s and various massacres.

Similarly, neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has also called for reparations after the Belgian King Phillippe expressed “deepest regrets” over his nation brutal colonial legacy in the central African nation. King Phillippe expressed shock on 30 July 2020, the Independence Day in DRC.

According to Brussels’ media reports, King Phillippe is the first reigning Belgian Monarch to qualify as “acts of violence and cruelty” committed under Belgian colonial past led by King Leopold ll in current DRC.  His majesty Philippe also expressed sympathy with Kinshasa over “suffering and humiliation” experienced by Congolese people under colonization.

However, Kinshasa’s officials say this is not enough and are now calling for compensation over brutal colonial past. Mr. Andre Lite, Minister of Human Rights was quick to react on Belgian King’s comments saying that Brussels should compensate the victims of colonization.

In an interview with a local news website ‘7 Sur 7 CD’, Lite said that the regrets about abuses of human rights by some Belgium officials about their country’s colonialism are not enough.  “The regrets of certain Belgian officials will never be enough in the face of their obligation to grant reparations to the victims of colonization and their relatives. It is contradictory or illogical to claim to be part of the respectful state and pretend not to know anything about serious crimes that were committed in the past,” the minister of Human Rights was quoted as saying.

According to Historians, many well-documented crimes were committed in ‘Congo Free State’, current DR Congo, the then colony under the personal rule of Belgian King Leopold ll. One of the serious crimes committed under Belgium colonization was called “red rubber system”- a forced labour created to maximize the collection and export of rubbers. Workers who refused to supply their labour were coerced with “constraint and repression”.

Meanwhile, Belgium has set up a commission to examine the Belgium colonial past in DR Congo, Burundi and Rwanda. Rwandan parliament welcomed the commission but denounced one of its members without mentioning name who it called a genocide “denier”.

While the increasing reparations calls from African countries to former colonizers has attracted interests from activists, media across Africa and scholars around the whole. In the wake of the killing of George Floyd in the USA; Anna Kirstine Schirrer, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University wrote in her recent paper titled “On reparations for Slavery and Colonialism” that neither reparative logic nor appeals for mass reparations are new.

Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye.His government is asking for $ 43 billion from Germany for colonial crimes Photo.Tchandrou Nitanga ,AFP via Getty Images
Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye.His government is asking for $ 43 billion from Germany for colonial crimes Photo.Tchandrou Nitanga ,AFP via Getty Images

“What is new, however, is the conversation about material reparations occurring within governmental and international organizations, and the proliferation of various reparative rationales across multiple scales.” The scholar wrote in an article published in June.

*Published in September Issue of PAV Magazine

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Cameroon:Women Groups Call for six month ceasefire in conflict-ridden Anglophone Regions
September 21, 2020 | 0 Comments

In honour of the International Day of Peace, September 21, five women’s organizations in Cameroon have joined their voices to call for a ceasefire in the conflict-ridden Anglophone regions. Below is the statement.

A CEASEFIRE CALL FROM WOMEN

In early 2020, the United Nations characterized the situation in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon as a complex humanitarian emergency with 2.3 million people in need. This is a dramatic increase from 2019’s 160,000 persons in need of humanitarian assistance. Although estimates of persons killed as of 2019 by the UN stood at 3000 people, this number has since risen, and could today even be doubled or tripled. UNHCR estimates over 600,000 people have been internally displaced, and a further 60-70,000 refugees are seeking asylum in neighboring Nigeria. UNICEF estimates that more than 855,000 children are out of school due to the conflict. The situation since has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic; an escalation of violent clashes; and continued human rights violations as well as the perpetration of many dehumanizing acts on the civilian population. As such:

-Alarmed by significant human rights abuses committed by both security forces and separatist armed groups in Cameroon—including summary or arbitrary killings, forced disappearances, torture, arbitrary detention, repression of fundamental rights, and violence against women and children, as cited in the Department of State 2019 Country Report on Human Rights Practices for Cameroon;

-Recognising the loss of thousands of human lives, massive destruction of properties, and displacement of persons occasioned by the conflict;

-Considering the damage to livelihoods, disruption of peace and security to the entire Cameroonian nation and most especially within the North West and South West Regions (former British Southern Cameroons), the loss of human dignity, and:

• Four years of no schooling,

• Increased child and maternal mortality,

 • Absence of primary health care,

 • Increased food shortages and other basic necessities;

-Determined to encourage and engage parties to the conflict to arrive at a peaceful and lasting settlement through negotiations;

-Convinced that as women, we bear the brunt of this violent conflict irrespective of our historical background, cultural, linguistic and political affiliation;

-Focusing on the provisions of the United Nations Security Council Resolution UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, and basing our call on the AU’s decade of ceasefire in Africa: Silencing the Guns in Africa 2020 as well as the UN Secretary General’s global call for a ceasefire and United Nations Security Council Resolution UNSCR 2532 on cessation of hostilities in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic;

We provide a thoughtful suggestion for stakeholders to engage in a ceasefire and eventual peace negotiations.

We, the women, urge parties to the conflict to:

Ø Respect human life and dignity and protect the population to stop the alarming death toll.

-Cease all hostilities by all armed actors immediately. We expect all parties to announce a cessation of hostilities within the next 30 days.

Ø Sign a written ceasefire agreement by November 2020, with each party clearly stating its commitment to making the process a success.

Ø Agree to a pilot ceasefire for six months, during which the parties improve their technical and security policies, with the contribution of civil society representatives. This agreement whose terms are borne out of a mutual respect for each faction must be binding on all parties with a local/international monitoring committee, composed of at least 50% women peacebuilders and religious women groups, put in place for follow up.

Ø Work toward a peace agreement and negotiation that is inclusive and sincere where all stakeholders, and not only those with political interest, are involved. A gender-balanced, inclusive commission should be set up to make the peace negotiation gender-responsive. Each faction should make provision for female participation of at least 50%, while civil society and other interest groups should also ensure gender balance for effective representation.

Ø Cooperate with all the humanitarian agencies in their efforts to provide relief and assistance to the ailing population.

Ø Form a think tank with members of the government of Cameroon and separatists armed factions as well as civil society to serve as a monitoring taskforce, aligned with other local/international bodies, to ensure all parties respect the ceasefire. Local women peacebuilders and women leaders should be prioritized.

We call on the Government of Cameroon to:

• Contribute to confidence-building among the parties to the conflict by releasing all arrested in relation to the armed conflict;

• Agree to a 6-month ceasefire to allow for political space to discuss these points with separatist groups and representatives of Anglophone civil society;

• Speed up an inclusive and sincere peace negotiation to address the root causes of the conflict with all factions for the sake of the ailing population within the conflict-affected areas.

We call on separatists armed groups to:

§ Agree to a 6-month ceasefire to allow for political space to discuss these points with the Government of Cameroon and representatives of Anglophone civil society;

§ Engage in sincere talks to identify measures that will return peace to our land.

This call is put out by women in the affected regions and beyond who—as mothers, aunties, sisters, and daughters—ache for a peaceful resolution to this deadly, violent, and traumatic conflict. It is piloted by the following organizations:

  1. South West North West Women Taskforce SNWOT
  2. Southern Cameroons European Women SCEW

3. Christian Women Fellowship CWF (PCC)

 4. Cameroon Baptist Convention Women’s Department CBCWD

5. United Methodist Women Association in Cameroon UMWAC

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African Energy Chamber to Outline Post-COVID-19 African Energy Roadmap in New Book
September 19, 2020 | 0 Comments
The book will contain data, insight, analysis and interviews, and will assess risks, opportunities and what is ahead for the African energy sector.

The African Energy Chamber will launch the book “African Energy Road to Recovery: How the African energy industry can reshape itself for a post-COVID comeback” in December; The book will contain data, insight, analysis and interviews, and will assess risks, opportunities and what is ahead for the African energy sector; Leading voices in African energy and global oil markets will create a valuable resource for the continent’s post-COVID-19 rebound.

The African Energy Chamber  is pleased to announce the launch of a pivotal publication – “African Energy Road to Recovery: How the African energy industry can reshape itself for a post-COVID comeback”’ – in December 2020. This important work will unpack how Africa’s energy industry can overcome the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic across the entire energy value chain.

Produced by Africa Oil & Power  – the African continent’s leading investment platform for the energy sector – the book will highlight crucial aspects of Africa’s post COVID-19 energy industry recovery by harnessing the knowledge and expertise of the African Energy Chamber’s Advisory Board.

Made up of 35 seasoned energy professionals, the Advisory Board will be central to the Chamber’s policy advocacy and advisory efforts across the continent to provide an enabling business environment for investors and entrepreneurs.

The inaugural Advisory Board book will include interviews, moderated discussions, articles, resources, opinion pieces, round table discussions and vital data for moving beyond the pandemic. It will also provide a clear picture of how the African energy industry can not only recover, but make a strong comeback, offering a roadmap to create a strong and sustainable context within which energy companies can thrive.

“The onslaught of COVID-19 has impacted every country and every sector around the globe – the energy sector has not been spared. Moving forward, it is critical that the African Energy sector unites around a shared strategy and on a unified path toward recovery post-COVID-19,” says NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber.

The publication will further emphasise how to create a competitive environment that will attract investment, pinpoint how African countries can tackle the energy transition while also addressing issues of energy poverty across the continent. Through its incisive content, readers will better understand the range of recovery strategies which can be applied to Africa’s energy sector value chain, from upstream oil and gas to the renewable energy transition, while key insights from industry leaders will provide a framework for moving forward.

“At the African Energy Chamber, we know the African energy sector can make an incredible rebound and that the opportunities for investment and growth will be exponential, but the energy industry must first be reshaped for a post-COVID-19 comeback — to be ready to spring into action once a recovery is possible,” Ayuk adds. 

Be Part of Africa’s Energy Revolution:
To advertise or be featured in the African Energy Chamber’s “African Energy Road to Recovery,” out in December 2020, contact sales@africaoilandpower.com.

About the African Energy Chamber:
The African Energy Chamber is the voice of the African energy industry, representing all facets of the African oil and gas sector. The Chamber was created out of a need to ensure a strong, united voice advocating for the African continent on the global energy stage. It is now the leading chamber of successful networks, transactions and partnerships at the helm of Africa’s growing energy industries. The Chamber’s work funnels into four key pillars: advocacy and campaigning; community building and networking; capacity building; and investment outreach. The African Energy Chamber’s passion and core tenets are that of creating jobs, free market policies and limited government, because we know that is the recipe for prosperity.
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