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CAJ Congratulates Moalimmuu on Appointment as Somali Government Spokesperson.
January 20, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Adedayo Osho

Moalimmu,Vice President CAJ,East African Region and Spokesman Somali Government
Moalimmu,Vice President CAJ,East African Region, and Spokesman Somali Government

Congress of African Journalists, CAJ has congratulated one of its foundation members Mohammed Ibrahim Nur Moalimmuu on his appointment as Spokesperson for Somalia government and Senior Media Adviser to the Prime Minister. 

Moalimmuu is the Vice President of CAJ for East Africa Region and former Secretary General to Federation of Somali Journalists, FESOJ.

According to a press release by Michael Adeboboye, CAJ President in Lagos Nigeria “We received the news of the appointment of one of our foundation members and Senior Somali journalist, Mohammed Ibrahim Nur Moalimmuu with excitement.

“CAJ is using this medium to say a big congratulations to Moalimmuu on this new voyage and prayed for wisdom from the Almighty God for him to excel.

“We do not have the doubt that Moalimmuu will perform excellently in his new assignment to serve the government and good people of Somalia. 

“Undoubtedly, Moalimmuu is endowed with stupendous leadership character to the admiration of CAJ and we are confident that he will serve well in his new assignment to his country.

“As a Pan African organisation of African journalists home and diaspora, Moalimmuu has transported with him in many of his opportunities to visit countries around the globe to speak for journalists protection and welfare, CAJ was no exception.

“It is of a massive hope that Moalimmmu’s new appointment will avail him more opportunity to establishing finest and cordial relationship between Somali government and practitioners of the pen profession in Somalia, Africa and across the border.

Michael Adeboboye,CAJ Global President
Michael Adeboboye,CAJ Global President

“We also believe that Moalimmuu’s appointment will open windows of opportunity for CAJ’s objectives presentation, opportunity for friendship and collaborative efforts towards redefining journalism practice in Somalia”

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The rights of disabled Youths still a pipe dream in Sierra Leone
January 20, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

A group of disabled youths march on the street of Kabala town, Koinadugu district, Northern Sierra Leone on international day of persons with disability.

“ The denial of a meaningful political voice to the youth has had devastating consequences for Sierra Leone.  More avenues for the youth to express themselves and to realise their potential need to be created.  Political space should be opened up so that the youth can become involved in governance and in the decision-making process.  Youths must have a stake in governance,  the TRC recommendation 312.  .
For years,  despite the recommendations by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) many youths including disables have been left out in the decision making of the country, with little improvement on their lives and welfare in Sierra Leone, most of the policies geared towards the respect of their rights have been outdated. They still continue to struggle from basic things, employment,  the full realization of  their fundamental human rights even after more a decade with the passing of the Disability Act of 2011.

31-year-old Mohamed Kamara is a disable youth working at the Grafton Camp, a skilled worker in pottery but struggles with life and to get a daily meal for his family. He was born with no disability, but the war left a scar on him when rebels shot his legs during the country’s 11-year civil conflict that left hundreds of thousands of civilians’ dead in which many were left homeless has left him paralyzed only to be walking using crutches. The country has a number of people who were amputated, some left with disability issues as rebels used cruel techniques and means of punishing civilians. Today most of disabled youths across the country wallow the streets of Freetown with nothing to do and some can’t fend for themselves and are forced to begging as it is the means they can fend for themselves.

Even though those disables that are educated, have university or technical and vocational training certificate they still continue to struggle from access to employment, food, shelter, getting access to basic life, and lack of disabled friendly environment.

  Mohamed is not one of, there are others who struggles too with life. The streets, offices, transportation are several challenges disabled struggled with daily with some left on the streets whenever they fend transport as they could not compete with able bodied men. 

‘’War is not good. The rebels left me disabled and paralyzed, now they have left my life in ruins. Life isn’t easy for me ever since and the government hasn’t help us much. most of my other colleagues beg on the streets of Freetown,’’ he said.

He said that due their disability people discriminate them, and when they compete with able bodied men, they are left out adding that despite the passing into law of the disability Act in 2011, most people refused to take them in leadership positions boasting that he is qualified to work in any office.

“I want to urge any disable to report to the disability commission any breach of their human rights especially they been discriminated. we are now have  a legal desk in the commission that specifically look at this issue,’’ said Saa Lamin Raymond Kortequee, Chairman disability Commission.

Saa Kortequee said they as a commission have encouraged many private companies, businesses, and other business that they can hire as many disabled people as possible into their work places and they can give be tax reduction in their firms.

“Private companies, businesses please take this as an opportunity as well as a way you can help in the development of Sierra Leone. By employing many disables, you will help reduce unemployment in the country,’’ the disability commissioner said.

Apart from discrimination, there is still challenge with disable friendly environment as it is visibly seen in almost all the government buildings, streets, offices, colleges, and universities and even in the transportation systems in the country. Many will argue that its only now ten years ago that we have laws for the provisions of disabled friendly environment by the government.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) mentioned in its report , recommendation  stated that  Youths were the driving force behind the resistance to one-party state rule in the 1980s adding that  they also bore the brunt of the state’s repressive backlash as  during the conflict, youths formed the bulk of the fighting forces in all the factions. 

“The civil war has aggravated matters for the youth.  After ten years of war, thousands of young men and women have been denied a normal education and indeed a normal life.  Their childhood and youth have been squandered by years of brutal civil conflict.  Many young Sierra Leoneans have lost the basic opportunities in life that young people around the world take for granted.  These young people constitute Sierra Leone’s lost generation.  The Commission recommends that the youth question be viewed as a national emergency that demands national mobilisation.  This is an imperative recommendation,’’ TRC recommendation 313 .

Despite this recommendation, challenges for youths a very huge even with the establishment of the National Youth Commission by the Koroma -led government huge challenges remain from adequate funding ,

“The Commission recommends that Government work towards the transformation of the youth portfolio of the Ministry of Youth and Sports into a National Youth Commission.   Such a Commission should be located in the Office of the President.  The mission of a National Youth Commission would be to address the youth question as a fundamental priority in post-war reconstruction. Currently, the Youth Ministry is constrained by an overburdened civil service bureaucracy that prevents it from carrying out its basic tasks and functions.  At present the Ministry is unable to finance its programmes in the provinces.  In short, the Ministry of Youth does not have the means to address the youth question,’’ TRC recommendation 308  added.
For this commission recommended that government Protection of Human Rights of citizens and also among many other recommendations the establishment of the National Human Rights Commission (HRC). Government has now established a human rights commission in the country and has made several recommendations also highlighting the need for the protection of the rights of youths in the country including the disabled.

“The Commission recommends that all political parties be required to ensure that at least 10% of their candidates for all public elections are youths.113  This includes national elections, local government and district council elections.  Legislation should be enacted to make this a legal requirement.  The National Electoral Commission should be required to enforce this minimum representation.  Such a stipulation will require all political parties to nurture and develop meaningful participation of the youth.  This is an imperative recommendation’’. TRC Recommendation 313
This Renowned Human Rights Lawyer and Expert Rashid Dumbuya Esq.  said that universities in Sierra Leone should create a disabled friendly environment for Persons living With Disability adding that the law is very clear that disables should be entitle to barrier free environment, and as country that is a signatory to many international treaties, the International Convention on the Rights of Person’s with Disability, thus the country is obligated under law to honour it.

“We are building colleges; we do not think about disables. The same toilet that even poses challenge for able bodied persons is the same the disabled used which is even much more challenging for them. We are building universities and we do not think about ramps; places where disables can just move their wheelchairs. The classrooms are not sensitive to persons with disability,’’ Lawyer Rashid said.

Lawyer Rashid added that there is no brailing system, including recording and special needs for classrooms in the universities across the country, except for the University of Makeni which carters for the disables.

 “We are calling on the University of Sierra Leone, Milton Margai college, College of Medicine, Njala University, Eastern Polytechnic to emulate the University of Makeni that has created special needs for disables, Lawyer Rashid said in statement marking the celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disability in Sierra Leone in collaboration with the National Disabled Women’s Forum.

The Human Rights Expert said the reason why disables are not employed in the country is largely because the buildings aren’t disabled friendly thus stating that it is difficult for organization, private firms not to bring on board disabled in their workplace.

“The challenges are many. I will not be able to name them all here, we know of shelter, transportation, and water. All these things are affecting you. It is not just enough to get the laws, we should implement them,”

Nenneh Kargbo is the Interim Secretary General, National Disabled Women’s Forum (NADWOF), stated that disables are been challenged in all facets of the society.

“Come to think about government building, neither the new ones nor the old that are accessible for women with disability. If you go to the hospital, the hospital that are government owned which disabled should access free medical care, but they are discriminated,’’ she said, adding that it is a real challenged for them and even with banks and other public buildings.

She said many of them have not be able to go school because the schools are disable friendly adding that that is why many are uneducated, unemployed which makes lives miserable for them.

“How many of us have gone far in terms of access to education?  what have we acquired in terms of skills generally? so many of us are in the streets begging. Women with disability have soared in number in the streets more than their counterparts. It is a challenge. How are prepared are we for the future,’’

*This article is produced with support from MRCG through the ATJLF project on: “Engaging the media to change the narrative on Transitional Justice (TJ) issues in Sierra Leone.”

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Sierra Leone: Memories of civil war still fresh in minds of victims on anniversary
January 20, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

A plaque showing a mass grave of compatriots buried who were lost during the January 6th invasion in Freetown at Kingtom . Photo credit Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

January 6th, 1999 will forever be in the hearts and minds of every Sierra Leoneans as it was the day rebels attacked the country’s capital , Freetown, which remained a memorable and unforgettable day in the history of Sierra Leone. The sounds of guns took over the atmosphere of the former British colony. That day scores of atrocities happened and hundred of thousands of people experienced the worst human rights abuses ranging from torture, rape, and the amputation of legs and hands. The war had originally begun in the rural part of the country in 1991 which started because of bad governance, corruption, mismanagement of state resources, endemic poverty, and concentration of resources to certain few were among the principal reason for the country’ internecine war.

Today more than two decades after one of the world’s worst atrocities  happened , this day is commemorated every year, and those that suffered  and affected during civil  war from amputees, war wounded , rape victims, widows and their children  have continued to live with the war experienced and  the trauma that come with it for decades.

For Jenifer Sesay , a rape victim , the memories  of the war are ever fresh in her mind as she said each year on January 6th ,  she remembered that day when she was abducted by rebel and later been raped by them  adding that the day reminds them of their pain and suffering.

 “For some us they rape us  at a  time I was  not even matured , I was just 12 years old. Like me here I was with the rebels until I become matured not  until they ceased fire that was when they released me . Where I was, was  where the war started . At any time , this day reaches it reflects our memories to some of the dark experience we  had,’’ she recounted.  

She added that successive government has  been ignoring them, leaving them astray stating that many believed that  the war is over but said the war is still the war not over provided that how government will take care of us and our needs.  

“we want to express our thanks and appreciation to Late President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah for restoring peace who told us to forgive which we did , but we haven’t forgotten yet . We have forgiven our perpetrators, but we haven’t forgotten what happened to us. May be some of the people that did these things  to us are still in our communities and I have my kids they are all grown up and if I explained  to them that this is what this person did to me may be, I may not have the bad intention to harm him or her , but my kids may revenge,’’ Jenifer Sesay said.

Jenifer added that Like most of them that were sexually abused , some of them had children that they didn’t plan to have at the time stating that  they now have children whom she said they too are struggling with life , they needed counselling and psychosocial support.

“We the sexual abuse victims are traumatized , physically we are okay but inner part we are not okay. We the victims , it is us that will say the war is over or  war is not over yet. Imagine I was at the age of 12 years when the rebels captured me , now I have a 20-year daughter which I didn’t wish to have at the time . I didn’t allow her to live with me I had to take her to my mother to take care of her. She grew up with my mother . I only took her to be with me when she had become grown up. Even when she has come to live with me , my husband isn’t comfortable with my daughter. At times when I and my husband go into confrontation, he takes my situation to laugh at me so I do not feel happy , so my daughter who at home is getting all this  information ,she will develop bad intention it will bring war to our country,’’ Sesay said in a broken voice.

In its recommendation about the war , the Truth and Reconciliation Commission  No. 1 stated that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act 2000 (“the Act ‘’) requires the Commission to make recommendations concerning the reforms and measure whether legal , political , administrative or otherwise needed to achieve the object of the Commission ;namely providing an impartial historical record , preventing the repetition of violations or abuses suffered , addressing impunity , responding to the needs of the victims and promoting healing and reconciliation. Many believed that little has been done by past and present governments towards the implementation of the recommendations in the  report  in order to have a lasting peace as a nation. Many of the experiences , Jenifer and others have gone through not to see a repeat of what has happened in the war as clearly state The Truth and Reconciliation Commission hasn’t been fully realised although there have some steps in the establishing of democratic institutions like the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone, the National Commission for democracy and the democratic reforms to name a few has been hailed a step towards peace consolidation in the country.

Mohamed Tarawallie , National President war wounded and amputees said that they as  war wounded and amputees who were affected during the eleven years civil war haven’t seen government focusing on their issues adding that  government is giving public holiday for what happens In South Africa in which lots of children lost their lives , but what happened in our nation during the 11 years especially January 6th , when the rebels entered Freetown , the casualties that took place , the people who lost their lives , properties , hands, feet ,  thus stating if government is really serious , they should have made this day , a public holiday where in no offices will function , or business on that day.

 “Everyone should sit at home and ponder on what happened on that fateful day. Just as the government didn’t take the January 6th incident seriously , they didn’t take the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report seriously which  has made people not to even think about the TRC .  Yes , they put together in the report what they are supposed to do for  the victims of the war, some who have lost their legs , hands , rape victims what they are supposed to do for them . They do not think about these things . we do not see any momentum , even when its new year you do not hear in the President’s speech do not include us in his many speeches,’’ he said.

 Tarawallie added that government should do something for them so that they can take courage us by providing us with medical facilities , provide scholarships for our children  who wanted to get a university or college degree  stating that they are  extremely challenged.

“They just promise , promise, how long will they continue making promises to us , they wait until we die?  This is not good  for us as a country . TRC recommendation they say it but they do not implement it . Go to the provinces , go to places like Kailahun ,           Kenema , Bo , Makeni and see the number of war victims that are suffering . Even the Norwegian Friends of Sierra Leone houses they built for us are  in bad shape ,we do not have any body to rescue us from this housing challenge’’.

The war wounded and Amputees National President further said some of the donors that have been helping them are tired, adding that  they need the intervention of government to rescue them  from their suffering  and if they don’t rescue them , tomorrow their  kids they have  given birth to , if they do not have better and good education , this will create another problem for the country  which they do not wish anything to happened again.

Sulaiman Sesay , an amputee said he has lived all his life from childhood on to adulthood been amputated which he said a memory he will lived on with  till death  but praised a woman Madam Faith and other good organisation  who has made it a norm to celebrate with them on every January 6th by giving them help and assistance .

“It’s really painful that you were not born an amputee but ended up been an amputee victim , A very young man like me they chopped off my hand  since I was small up to today when I am grown up man I have lived with this trauma and situation ,  I will never forget January 6th. We have a challenge the government do not think about us even the NACSA cash transfers to vulnerable people we didn’t benefit from that . we are pleading to government to help with proper medical care services , transportation, and housing facilities. Imagine if it were not for some good will NGOs that built for us war victims , some of us  we would have been on the streets’’.

Professor Joe A. D Alie , Professor of History and The Dean of the school of Postgraduate studies , Fourah Bay College said consolidating peace is a continuous process stating that if the country has been a united country not deeply divided the rebel war that ravaged the country couldn’t have taken such a huge dimension. 

“If Sierra Leone was a united country, if we were not deeply divided, even if we have had a rebel war here it couldn’t have taken the dimension it took, you know if we had unity in this country if we had freedom, justice and these are three words of our motto of the country. unity Freedom and Justice. If those things had been present in our body politic, if those things had been practiced individual and collective levels in this country even if we had a rebel war it couldn’t have disastrous as it was. But it became so dastardly because we are not a united people, there was no peace or freedom, there was no justice in this country. ‘’the history professor said.

Like the TRC Report No 3. The Commission is of the view that the adoption of its recommendations will assist the people of Sierra Leone to rise above the bitter conflicts of the past, which caused unspeakable violations of human rights and left a legacy of dehumanisation, hatred, and fear. This will greatly help in the restoration of a lasting peace in democratic Sierra Leone

*This article is produced with support from MRCG through the ATJLF project on “Engaging the media to change the narrative on Transitional Justice (TJ) issues in Sierra Leone.

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Pan-African-Vision Agenda and Aspiration Five [5] Shine as President Mnangagwa Signs Fact-Book .
January 19, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu

Africa’s heritage path was paved for its future generations on the 19th of January. This very day President Mnangagwa signed the Africa Fact-Book. It was accompanied by letters to 54 countries of Africa for them to use it as a tool of African Heritage.

The Africa Fact-Book carries unique un-told history of our beloved continent Africa. President Mnangagwa cleared the air that time has come for Africa to rise high up and shine. He spoke State House in Harare accompanied by George Charamba ,  Deputy Chief Secretary for Communications in the Office of the President and Cabinet .

‘’Today I have signed copies of the Africa Fact-Book which Zimbabwe has honor and privilege to host at conceptual age ‘’

‘’We launched this book on 9 September 2020. The 1st edition had been produced under the theme ‘’Busting the myths’’

‘’Let us burst the myths that Africans have never discovered anything. Let us burst myths that Great Zimbabwe walls were not built by Africans ‘’.

‘’I launched this book together with President Cyrill Ramaphosa of South Africa. The reason is we have the same heritage, culture, values and identity ‘’.

The book according to Kwame Muzawazi , Director of INSTAK , Institute of African Knowledge is  a tool for Africans and future generations to learn more about themselves , the history made by those who left us , those with legacy of liberation .

‘’This is a tool for Africans and even those around us to learn more about our identity, culture, values and all that matters and link this ideology. We celebrate through it our being African, our identity, culture and values are greater than ever ‘’.

‘’The book will be distributed soon for people to read and explore their history. This is ever to live African Heritage ‘’. he spoke

The idea to launch the Africa Fact-Book was vitiated and initiated at one of the meetings of the African Union Commission during the time of Dr Nkosazana Zuma of South Africa’s tenure in office at the African Union headquarters. She admired Zimbabwe’s African Book of Records. Then she recommended the country to come up with the Africa Book of Records.

The Fact -Book directs the Pan-African-Vision agenda 2063 of the African Union and Aspiration Five that enhances our African strong culture, identity, common heritage, shared values and ethics. Pan-Africanism and common history, identity, destiny, heritage  , respect for religious diversity and consciousness of African people  is highly cherished ..

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Kenya government imposes 1.5% tax on all social media “influencers”
January 19, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

In Kenya, social media influencers will have to pay 1.5 per cent Digital Service Tax (DST), said the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).

The authority noted the influencers would not be exempted from the new tax saying facilitating online business and individuals earn them income.

“Social media influencers will be liable to pay digital service tax since their income is derived from or accrued from the provision of services through a digital marketplace or by providing digital advertising services in Kenya,” KRA said via public notice.

KRA defined an influencer as a person who commands a following through a media platform through the products or services they use or engage in to drive sales or fame.

The taxman said the new tax that took effect on January 1, 2021, targets both residents and non-residents providing services within the country.

The influencers will pay DST on or before the 20th day of every month.

“Kindly note the tax will be collected and remitted by agents appointed by the commissioner of Domestic Taxes,” KRA noted.

KRA targets above 1,000 businesses and people under the new digital tax. Early this month, it set out a target of ksh5 billion ($45.37 million) to be collected between January and June this year. 

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NGO Accuses North Korea of Evading International Sanctions in DR Congo
January 19, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jean-Pierre Afadhali

D.R.Congo President Felix Tshisekedi
D.R.Congo President Felix Tshisekedi

North Korean businessmen linked to Pyongyang government have been awarded contracts in DR Congo’s government projects and accessed banking services consequently violating international sanctions imposed by European Union, United Nations and USA on North Korea, The Sentry, an anti-corruption NGO revealed in a report.

Findings from the report titled “Artful Dodgers” released on Monday by the organization founded by American actor and activist George Clooney show that the North Korean Businessmen evaded international sanctions to undertake lucrative cities’ design in the DR Congo, raising concerns on transparency in the central African country and international banking system.

The report suggests that the firm Congo Aconde founded by North Korean Businessmen and linked to Pyongyang’s government under international sanctions had access to US dollars through a local bank while undertaking projects in at least three provinces. According to the findings from the study that built on last year’s investigations “the pair [ North Korean entrepreneurs] had closer connections to Pyongyang than first thought. In addition, the two men likely worked in the DRC on behalf of a little-known North Korean government design firm, Korea Paekho Trading Corporation.”

The Sentry alleges that these revelations on DR Congo operations and other information show that the affiliates of Korea Paekho Trading Corporation have operated throughout West and Central Africa signaling that the enforcement of sanctions against North Korea remains problematic.

“In particular, they demonstrate how North Korean actors exploit weak institutional controls and jurisdictions with high levels of corruption, a model other sanctions busters have followed. In the case of the DRC, due diligence shortfalls across private and public institutions may create systemic risk for an economy that relies heavily on access to US dollars through relationships with international banks.” Read the alert on alleged sanction’s violation.

According to the Sentry, the construction firm Congo Aconde run by two North Korean nationals undertook previously unreported projects in the southern city of Kolwezi, the capital of Lualaba province, adding those activities in the area coupled with any local official engagement with the company is a violation of sanctions implemented in 2016 by the European Union, the United and the US.

Contacted by Radio France International, for a comment on sanctions’ violation accusations the governor of Loualaba province did not respond.

The Sentry noted that the province of Kolwezi had dedicated $ 102,000 in 2018 to rehabilitate roundabouts, roadsides and green spaces. “This list of projects in the budget document matches works undertaken by Congo Aconde there during the same period.” Said the American NGO in the report.

Meanwhile, the alert released by the anti-corruption NGO states that the records it reviewed indicate that Congo Aconde also had a previously unidentified US-dollar account at the DRC affiliate of Cameroon-headquartered Afriland First Bank, which was tied specifically to its Kolwezi operations. The Sentry previously identified another US dollar account held by the company at the same bank.

The report concludes North Korean and any companies they control are mostly prohibited by EU and UN sanctions from accessing banking services, and US sanctions strictly limit any access to US dollars. However, the report authors say that the company appears to have cultivated relationships with DR Congo’s city and provincial government executives, even if its expertise may have played a determining role in securing contracts. “Congo Aconde’s apparent relationships with powerful individuals, the opacity surrounding the tenders, and the sanctions risks raise concerns about possible corruption.”

Recommendations

The report concludes that actions by governments, multilateral institutions, and banks regarding sanctions risks in the DRC could help improve enforcement and reinforce the integrity of the country’s banking sector.

The Sentry recommends that “the US Department of State and the IMF should urge the DRC to ensure a transparent public tender process and to make all government contracts, including provincial contracts, publicly available.”

Global multinational banks should carry out enhanced due diligence on the transactions of certain banks operating in the DRC. Banks operating in the DRC should improve screening, training, and awareness of these offenses and add proliferation financing red flags to their filters, recommends investigators.

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Total CEO meets Mozambican President over escalating terrorists attacks
January 19, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jorge Joaquim

The chief executive of French energy giant Total, Patrick Pouyanné, met President Filipe Nyusi on monday to discuss the security situation in Mozambique, according to a statement from the Presidency released on Tuesday afternoon.

The meeting addressed the latest developments in the implementation of the Total’s $20 billion liquefied natural gas project.

Among other points, security issues were also discussed in the northern part of Cabo Delgado which has been the target of terrorist attacks that has intensified in recent months, with attacks occurring near Total’s concession area. The French company paused construction and began evacuating its staff this month.

Due to the situation, the Nyusi and Pouyanné agreed on the need to establish a security plan to ensure the smooth implementation of the project, the statement seen by Pan Afrivcan Visions says.

Nyusi was accompanied at the meeting by the Ministers of Mineral Resources and Energy, Ernesto Max Tonela; of National Defence, Jaime Bessa Neto and of the Interior, Amade Miquidade.

Mozambique is weighing offers from several countries, including France, Portugal and the U.S., for help fighting the Islamic State-linked insurgents, whose attacks have left nearly 2,500 people dead and caused 570,000 to flee their homes. The government wants to stop any disruptions to the gas investments that it expects will transform one of the world’s poorest countries.

Gas production at the project Total is leading is planned to start in 2024.

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Kenya eager to close free trade deal with US
January 19, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

President Uhuru Kenyatta has reiterated Kenya’s determination to conclude ongoing negotiations with the United States of America and sign a Free Trade Agreement (FTA)

On Tuesday, President Uhuru Kenyatta revealed that Kenya is keen to conclude the ongoing negotiations with the United States and sign Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

Kenyatta spoke at the State House when he bade farewell to the outgoing US Ambassador to Kenya, Kyle McCarter, who paid him a courtesy visit.

President said the FTA would build on the successes achieved under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) by ushering in better and more significant trade opportunities and prospects for Kenya.

“We appreciate what has been achieved through AGOA, but it is time we moved to much more closer trade arrangements that are mutually beneficial. We will not lose focus on concluding the FTA,” reiterated Kenyatta.

The talks began on July 8, 2020, but were halted for several weeks due to disruptions caused by the novel coronavirus but resumed later in August.

The FTA will ensure fair, balanced, and reciprocal trade between the two countries, increase transparency in import and export licensing procedures, and secure comprehensive duty-free market access for each country’s products as reported by the local media.

Kenya is represented by a technical support team of 90 experts led by the Industrialisation, Trade, and Enterprise Development minister Betty Maina.  On the other hand, the US negotiation team is headed by the US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

Betty Maina reiterated Kenya is keen to tap at least five per cent of the US market, which can earn the country more than Sh2 trillion in export revenues per year.

Reports indicate that Kenya is pushing to secure a free trade pact ahead of the lapse of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) in 2025, which will do away with import tariffs on goods from eligible African nations.

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Construction of ACDG’s First Lodge in Gabon Under Way
January 19, 2021 | 0 Comments
The beautiful Petit Loango Bay was selected as the site of ACDG’s first safari-lodge.Photo ACDG

Libreville, 12th January 2021. Despite uncertainties around global tourism recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic, construction work has commenced on ACDG’s first lodge situated on the coast within Loango National Park. The lodge is being developed by The African Conservation Development Group (ACDG) under concession from the National Parks Agency of Gabon (ANPN).

In November 2020, the leadership team of ACDG (formerly known as SFM Africa) took advantage of the gradual opening of African air traffic to travel to Gabon. This mission enabled ACDG to recommit to its development programmes in southern Gabon with the support of Government and institutional stakeholders.

Gabonese workers constructing staff housing at the new Petit Loango Lodge.Photo ACDG

With the appointment of an experienced on-site management team and the local recruitment of qualified workers, the decision was taken to accelerate the construction of the lodge at Petit Loango, located at the heart of Loango National Park. More than two hundred tons of timber, plywood, equipment, and supplies needed for construction of the back-of-house infrastructure was brought onto site in December.

The 24-bed luxury lodge aims to set a benchmark for nature-based tourism in Equatorial Africa. The lodge has been designed by award-winning architects Sylvio Rech and Lesley Carstens, who have crafted some of Africa’s most exclusive safari lodges. All timber and plywood being used for construction has been sourced from Gabonese sustainable forestry concessions.

Alan Bernstein, the chairman and founder of ACDG, said tourism was an extremely important strategic imperative for Gabon. “Our team, which has more than 30 years’ experience in developing high-end eco-tourism in Africa, is committed to contributing to Gabon’s diversification strategy. The first ACDG safari-lodge will be a flagship in Africa and will help position Gabon as a world-class destination for sustainable tourism.”

Forest elephant on the beach in Loango National Park, one of Gabon’s flagship national parks. Photo ACDG

“In the current economic environment, which remains very difficult for the tourism sector, our decision to accelerate construction work on the lodge is proof of our confidence in Gabon’s nature-based tourism potential” added Bernstein.

ACDG plans to establish a network of lodges in Gabon’s national parks, starting in Loango National Park, one of the most beautiful and biodiversity-rich protected areas in Africa.

*African Conservation Development Group

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It’s Time to Rethink Licensing Rounds: For Africa’s Oil- and Gas-Producing Countries, Negotiating the Current Environment May Require…Negotiation
January 19, 2021 | 0 Comments

By NJ Ayuk*

While the details vary by country, the licensing round process has, in general, become too prone to delays and uncertainty.

In late 2019, as the African oil and gas industry was looking to the future with optimism, Offshore Engineer wrote that the continent was had reason to expect a “more productive 2020.” Instead, the unforeseen happened, and the COVID-19 pandemic had a devastating impact on the oil and gas industry in Africa and around the world.

But even at the end of last year, during a fairly strong period for oil and gas, the publication mentioned that “delays and hiccups” were impacting licensing rounds — that is, the processes by which investors can seek oil and gas exploration licenses from the government – and argued that improvements would have to be made going forward.

This is correct. Licensing process improvements were already needed in late 2019, and now that the oil and gas industry is in the survival mode, it’s more urgent than ever to streamline licensing.

While the details vary by country, the licensing round process has, in general, become too prone to delays and uncertainty. All too often, exploration and production (E&P) companies have to wait one or two years before the exploration projects they propose are sanctioned. These practices, which help protect the interests of oil-producing nations, made sense when crude sold for $100 a barrel. But they don’t make sense now.

After all, conditions are still uncertain. True, crude pricing forecasts for 2021 are cautiously optimistic at the moment, and Goldman Sachs has said Brent oil prices could reach $65 per barrel by this summer, up from the $50-range we’re seeing now. But the outlook for Africa’s petroleum market remains shaky at best.

And it’s not just Africa: The global oil and gas industry continues to feel the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which dramatically lowered demand for petroleum products. As a result, oil and gas companies have made dramatic cuts to their capital spending programs, resulting in the postponement and cancellation of numerous exploration and production (E&P) projects around the world.

Under these circumstances, it’s up to African oil and gas producers to do everything possible to encourage as much E&P activity as possible, particularly by international oil companies (IOCs). In the long term, of course, African producer states do need to lessen their reliance on oil and gas revenue. But for now, a number of them rely on it for much of their budgets. And as long as they do, they ought to ask for more. They should lobby for knowledge transfers, training, gas monetization programs, and other significant opportunities so that their strategically managed oil and gas operations can create pathways for economic growth and diversification.

I’ve made a case for the importance of strategic fiscal policies, from revised production sharing contract (PSC) requirements to reduced tax and royalty requirements. Some of my friends in government have strongly criticized me for this and called me a sellout and a whiteboy. I disagree with them and I still love them, but resource nationalism is not the way to go and it is actually dangerous. I truly believe that these changes are necessary to give IOCs an incentive to explore in Africa during the current downturn. But we can’t stop there. We need to consider other pain points that discourage foreign operations in Africa and find ways to eliminate those challenges as well.

The licensing round process is one of those challenges. So why not remove this hurdle? Not all countries use licensing rounds; some use direct negotiation to approve exploration and production rights. I believe it’s time for more African oil and gas-producing states to choose this route. Negotiating with trusted explorers would help them avoid unnecessary delays and bureaucratic red tape. Making these changes would still allow them to emphasize their own priorities – and it might also make IOCs more likely to keep exploring within their borders.

Licensing Rounds Sound Good In Theory

Generally, during licensing rounds, companies submit bids or grants to issuing governments in hopes of being awarded an exploration license – that is, the right to search for commercially feasible petroleum deposits. In the case of bids, the highest ones get a license. Grant approvals, by contrast, are based on prospective explorers’ experience and capabilities. Licenses are awarded for set periods of time, and if commercially viable amounts of oil or gas are discovered, the explorers can negotiate contracts with the government for the right to extract what they find.

The licensing round process does have benefits. For participating countries, it helps make sure interested companies have the necessary financial resources and technical capacity to explore successfully. It ensures that projects are completed in a timely manner. It also helps E&P companies, since the process lays out their rights.

But again, even with their strengths, licensing rounds can create unacceptable hardships for oil companies: Countries tend to take a long time to make their licensing decisions. And when capex budgets have been slashed, waiting one (or even two) years to learn if an exploration project has the green light just won’t cut it. In today’s economic environment, it just isn’t realistic to insist on putting much-needed resources aside on the chance that they’ll be needed in a year or two.

And if we’re going to be honest with ourselves, we have to admit that we’re seeing more and more examples of licensing rounds gone wrong, from extended delays in getting the bidding process started to instances of little to no company participation.

Licensing Rounds Yielding Disappointing Results

Consider Algeria, where oil and gas production rates were already declining in 2019, before the pandemic, largely because of repeated project delays caused by, among other challenges, slow government approval. During four licensing rounds, Algeria saw minimal interest from investors.

Nigeria, too, is known for the less than speedy pace at which it sanctions exploration projects. Even before COVID-19, its slow movement on this front contributed to a decline in oil production over a 10-year period.

And in 2019, as I mentioned, there were licensing round mishaps in multiple countries. “Some rounds, for example, Ghana’s First Licensing Round, have seen limited successes, while others have suffered delays or suspension,” GlobalData Upstream Oil & Gas Analyst Toya Latham told Offshore Magazine. “Gabon’s 12th Licensing Round and Somalia’s First Offshore Licensing Round have been extended in 2020 (in part due to delays in enacting pivotal legislation), whilst Madagascar’s long overdue licensing round has been suspended.”

And we saw licensing rounds go wrong before that. In early 2018, for example, only one company responded to Cameroon’s licensing round, in which eight blocks had been available. Think about it, just one and the bureaucrats still think all is right. These issues haven’t been limited to Africa, by the way. In 2017, only one bidder responded to an opportunity to explore five offshore blocks in Lebanon. Brazil had a couple of licensing rounds fizzle in late 2019: the Transfer of Rights Surplus Round, which only brought in two bids, and the Sixth Production-Sharing Bid Round, which only attracted one bid.

We Must Consider Investors’ Perspectives

Fast forward to the oil and gas industry of 2021. In today’s reality, delayed licensing round starts and long waits for decisions are more likely than ever to dim companies’ interest. These challenges aren’t trivial, since operating in Africa already represents significant risks and expenses for IOCs. Companies must, for example, factor in the possibilities of security concerns and lapses in infrastructure along with the risks that come with every exploration project, including the failure to find commercially viable petroleum stores. Then there are the additional expenses of operating overseas, complying with local content policies, supply costs, and a myriad of taxes and fees, among others.

I’ll be the first to trumpet the opportunities for IOCs in Africa, from our vast stores of oil and gas to large swaths of unexplored territory. But we have to be realistic about how businesses work. Companies need to be able to make a reasonable profit in order to justify their outlays. And when the oil and gas industry is in the midst of a downturn, as it is now, excessive risks and expenses are the last things IOCs can consider. So we have to work with IOCs and do what we can to help them profit in order to convince them to choose African sites over other options.

Direct Negotiations Could Be a Win-Win

That’s why I think a transition from licensing rounds to direct negotiations makes sense for African countries. For one thing, negotiation periods would not be tied to rigid opening and closing schedules as licensing rounds are, minimizing the risk of unreasonably long waits for a decision. Even better, direct negotiations would allow E&P companies to work with countries to discuss, and possibly adjust, the major terms of their production contracts.

With that kind of flexibility, companies with concerns about a country — whether they have questions about tax laws or local content requirements — might be willing to pursue exploration opportunities that they would have turned down, had they been required to participate in the bidding process.

We Can Make This Work

True, even with a different licensing scheme, African countries will have other unique risk factors to address – factors that could make IOCs hesitant to invest in Africa. High on that list are concerns about corruption. That’s why the African Energy Chamber pushes so strongly for meaningful transparency measures.

And again, we can’t overemphasize the importance of creating fiscal regimes more favorable to IOCs. Those measures should include, along with fairer tax and royalty requirements, the creation of natural gas-specific production-sharing contracts, rather than relying on crude oil PSCs as a one-size-fits-all template. A lot of countries have a difficult time working with companies to get to FID on natural gas discoveries. Not only will gas PSCs help make it easier for companies to conduct profitable gas projects, they also could help prevent problems and lengthy negotiations when explorers find gas, rather than crude.

IOCs are, and can continue to be, invaluable allies to African nations. Their E&P activities contribute revenue that many oil and gas-producing countries rely on now, but we also can work with them to foster economic growth and diversification for tomorrow. African countries need IOCs to create job and business opportunities today, but we also can work with them to achieve capacity building and technological know-how that will pave the way for a better future. It only makes sense to do everything possible to give explorers the certainty, predictability, and incentives they need to be competitive in Africa.

*NJ Ayuk is Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber, CEO of Centurion Law Group, and the author of several books about the oil and gas industry in Africa, including Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals.

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Cyclone Eloise to hit Mozambique this week, one month after Cyclone Chalane
January 19, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jorge Joaquim

The low pressure system forming in the Indian Ocean has now become Tropical Storm Eloise – and is forecast to hit the Mozambican coast on 23-24 January.

According to Mozambique’s meteorological institute, it will affect the provinces of Zambezia, Sofala, and Inhambane.

At 8:00 monday, the storm was 730km from the coast of Madagascar, and was expected to hit Madagascar on Wednesday, 20 January, before entering the Mozambique Channel on Thursday, 21 January – potentially affecting maritime traffic.

This comes barely a month after another cyclone, Chalane had hit Mozambique and Zimbabwe although the effects were not grave compared to Cyclone Idai that swept the Southern parts of Africa in 2019.

In Manicaland, Cyclone Chalane reportedly left a trail of destruction after several electricity poles reportedly fell down because of the strong winds.

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The Great Green Wall and the African Development Bank’s TAAT: two bold initiatives planting Africa’s seeds of change
January 19, 2021 | 0 Comments

Just five years ago, Sudan’s farmers harvested a mere 472,000 tons of wheat from about a quarter-million hectares of land. Today, the Sahel country  is on the cusp of becoming a regional breadbasket.

One of the reasons for Sudan’s agricultural turnaround is the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) program, which is funded by the African Development Bank. Within the next four years, TAAT aims to raise Africa’s food output by 100 million tons and lift 40 million people out of poverty by harnessing high-impact, proven technologies to raise agricultural productivity and mitigate food-security risks associated with climate change.

“Now, we consistently have good-quality wheat and in record quantities,” said Daf’Allah Mohamed Ahmed, a Sudanese farmer taking part in the TAAT program, which includes the provision of training on production techniques. “My wheat yield increased from 2.5 tons to 5 tons,” said Ahmed, with a broad smile.

The new agricultural technologies not only improve harvests but also enhance the quality of life for thousands of families in Sudan.

Sudan and other TAAT success stories have led the Bank to advance other initiatives to fuel the continent’s agricultural transformation. At the One Planet Summit on January 11, 2021 the Bank pledged to help mobilize up to $6.5 billion over five years to advance the Great Green Wall project, which aims to plant an 8,000 km-long swathe of trees, grassland and vegetation across the Sahel to rejuvenate degraded terrain, create green jobs and reduce political instability.

The resources will be made available through a range of programmes supporting the Great Green Wall by drawing on internal as well as external sources of funding, such as the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa and the Green Climate Fund, among others.

The Bank has made the Sahel a top priority for investment and for mobilising new sources of finance to advance Africa’s climate adaptation opportunities. Climate change has led to extreme temperatures and fluctuating rainfall and drought in the region, home to 250 million people across several countries. Millions of livelihoods and hard-won development progress are threatened.

TAAT’s results in Sudan, one of the GGW countries, hold promise for the initiative’s

success. Through TAAT, Sudanese farmers gained access to heat-tolerant wheat varieties and other productivity-enhancing technologies, helping the country to boost yields and move closer to self-sufficiency in the production of wheat, a staple.

While ordinary wheat typically produces high yields at temperatures between 20 and 26 degrees Celsius, heat-tolerant wheat seeds thrive in areas where field temperatures exceed 30 degrees.

Since 2017, the program has rolled out improved, certified seeds that are better suited to Sudan’s hot and dry climate. As a result, the country recently recorded its largest wheat harvest. Wheat production in 2020 reached 1.1 million tons from 315,500 hectares of farmland. Development experts say the nation is on a path to becoming Africa’s next powerhouse wheat producer.

The Great Green Wall initiative, coordinated by the African Union, will promote the inclusive, green development in the Sahel and Sahara regions, a goal that has gained added urgency as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Bank President Akinwumi Adesina noted as much during the One Planet Summit, saying “as we rebuild from the coronavirus and its impacts on our world, we must recalibrate growth. We must prioritise growth that protects the environment and biodiversity, and we must de-prioritise growth that compromises our common goals.”

*AfDB

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Africa Free Trade Agreement: President Adesina receives award for strong leadership and support
January 19, 2021 | 0 Comments

African Development Bank President Akinwumi A. Adesina and 10 African Heads of State and Government were on Friday honoured  for their leadership in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) process.

The AfCFTA, the largest free trade area in the world, began trading on 1 January 2021 and is expected to speed up the recovery of the continent and enhance its resilience by increasing the level of intra-African trade in goods and services.

The award was organised by AeTrade Group in collaboration with the African Union Commission, the African Business Council, the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and the East African Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture.

“As Africans, we are proud of the extraordinary effort made by our leaders towards the success of the AfCFTA,” said former Prime Minister of Ethiopia Hailemariam Boshe at an event held at the Addis Ababa headquarters of the African Union and joined virtually  by many participants.

Boshe, a patron of the AeTrade Group, thanked the awardees for their strong leadership in the process that led to the AfCFTA coming into force.

Ambassador Albert Muchanga, African Union Commissioner for Trade and Industry, noted that the AfCFTA had generated strong support in Africa and the Diaspora, “and we are proud to acknowledge our champions who have been at the forefront of this process.”

He took the opportunity to thank the heads of state and governments whose countries have ratified the Free Trade Agreement and invited others to follow suit.

“We are also celebrating the key milestones achieved from when we laid the foundation for the initiative to the official start of trading on January 1. I would like to call on governments and the private sector to take advantage of the opportunities created by the continental initiative to make Africa more prosperous,” added Muchanga.

The Chairman of the AeTrade Group, Mulualem Syoum, thanked the African Development Bank, under the leadership of Dr. Adesina, for its outstanding technical guidance and financial support to the process.

“Moving forward, we want the private sector to speak with one voice.  The AfCFTA has shown the way. To ensure effective implementation, it is time for the private sector to play its role. The Africa that we want can only be achieved through working together,” Syoum said. “We are confident that there is no need for Africa to depend on aid. We can spur domestic mobilization of resources and synergies.”

Dr. Amany Asfour, Interim Chair of the African Business Council, emphasized the role of the private sector in implementing the AfCFTA. “We in the private sector are committed to the implementation of this initiative. We will support Africa to actualise the free trade area.”

Hajiya Saratu Aliyu, President of the Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and Charles Kahuthu, CEO of the East African Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, echoed Asfour’s sentiments.

“Jobs have to be restored and livelihoods and economies revived,” Kahuthu said. “We also need to come together to promote products made in Africa to effectively implement the AfCFTA.”

The awardees included Felix Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo and incoming Chairperson of the African Union; Egyptian President Ahmed Fattah Al-Sisi; His Majesty King Mswati III, Ngwenyama of Eswatini; Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia; Nana Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana; Alpha Conde, President of Guinea; Mahamadou Issoufou, President of Niger; Muhamadu Buhari, President of Nigeria; Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, and Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, Chairperson of the African Union.

Two former heads of state, Hailemariam Desalegn Boshe, former Prime Minister of Ethiopia, and Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria, were also honoured.

AeTrade Group is a multi-stakeholder group of African Diaspora professionals and businesspeople, with affiliation to the African Union Commission.

*Source AfDB

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FIFA President supports African football’s restart in Cameroon
January 19, 2021 | 0 Comments
Gianni Infantino concluded a two-day trip to Cameroon
Infantino was received in audience by President Paul Biya of Cameroon
Infantino was received in audience by President Paul Biya of Cameroon
YAOUNDE, Cameroon, January 18, 2021/ — FIFA President Gianni Infantino concluded a two-day trip to Cameroon, where he has met with dignitaries of the country and key officials from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and the Cameroonian Football Association (Fecafoot). The trip coincided with the start of the African Nations Championship (CHAN), which is being hosted in three Cameroon cities from 16 January until 7 February 2021.

The FIFA President, who was received in a private audience by Paul Biya, the President of the Republic of Cameroon, at the Unity Palace in Yaounde on Friday, subsequently attended a ceremony which conferred the title of CAF Honorary President to Issa Hayatou, who presided over the confederation from 1988 to 2017.

“I had the pleasure of providing President Biya with an update in relation to FIFA’s role in supporting football, not only in Cameroon, but also across Africa and globally,” said the FIFA President, who was accompanied at the meeting by CAF President Constant Omari. The FIFA President would also later meet Cameroon Prime Minister Joseph Ngute during the visit to Yaounde.

“Equally, meeting with CAF and Fecafoot officials, it was important to show FIFA’s support to football in Cameroon and across the African continent, especially as the African Nations Championship just kicked off, the first international tournament being played in 2021, and spectators are attending matches according to the safety protocols which have been established,” the FIFA President added. “It sends an important message to have football restarting in Africa, particularly in an indisputable football country such as Cameroon.”

Prior to leaving the country, Gianni Infantino attended the opening ceremony and the opening match of the CHAN final tournament, where hosts Cameroon narrowly overcame Zimbabwe at the Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium in Yaounde. In total, 16 African national teams are participating in what is the sixth African Nations Championship, a biennial tournament which involves players from the respective domestic leagues.

The event has also received support from FIFA as, since October 2020, CAF has been using FIFA’s COVID Relief Fund grant (USD 2 million) to restart their competitions, with the medical protocols, flights and accommodation for match officials at CHAN being subsidised through this funding.
*FIFA

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How Optimized Energy Management Delivers Reliability, Efficiency and Sustainability at the Fekola Gold Mine
January 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Luke Witmer*

Since B2Gold first acquired the Fekola gold mine, located in a remote corner of southwest Mali, exploration studies revealed the deposits to be almost double the initial estimates. A recent site expansion has just been completed, and while the existing power units provide enough power to support the increase in production, the company sought to reduce its energy costs, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and increase power reliability. The addition of a 35MWp solar photovoltaic (PV) plant and 17MW/15MWh of energy storage to the existing 64MW thermal engine plant was decided. This new energy mix is anticipated to save over 13 million litres of fuel, reduce carbon emissions by thirty-nine thousand tons per year, and generate a payback in just over four years.

Such an elaborate hybrid configuration needs a powerful brain to deliver on all its potential: Wärtsilä’s GEMS, an advanced energy management system, has been set up to control the energy across the fleet of power sources, thermal, renewable, and battery storage. The integration, control, and optimization capabilities provided by GEMS allow the thermal units to be run at the most efficient rate and enable the battery storage to handle the large load step changes and volatility of the solar PV generation assets.

Integrated Hybrid Energy Solution  

In the context of the Fekola mine, which is an off-grid electrical island, the battery is performing a lot of different services simultaneously, including frequency response, voltage support, shifting solar energy, and providing spinning reserves. The energy load is very flat, with a steady consumption rate around 40MW as the mining equipment is operating consistently, 24/7. However, if an engine trips offline and fails, the battery serves as an emergency backstop. The controls reserve enough battery energy capacity to fill the power gap for the time it takes to get another engine started, and the software inside each inverter enables the battery to respond instantaneously to any frequency deviation.

The reciprocating engines operate most efficiently at 85-90 percent of their capacity, this is their “sweet spot”. But if there is a sudden spike in demand, if a little more power is needed, or if mining equipment is coming online, then another engine needs to be run to meet the extra load. With the battery providing spinning reserves, the engines can be kept running at their sweet spot, reducing the overall cost per kilowatt hour. Moreover, with the solar plant providing power during the day, three to four engines can be shut down over this period, providing a quiet time to carry out preventive maintenance. This really helps the maintenance cycle, ensuring that the engines operate in a more efficient manner.

Solar PV volatility can be intense. On a bright day with puffy clouds passing by a solar farm of this size can easily see ramps of 25MW over a couple of minutes. This requires intelligent controls, dynamically checking the amount of solar that can be let into the grid without causing an issue for the engine loadings or without overloading the battery.  

Conducting the Orchestra

The GEMS intelligent software provides the optimization layer that controls all the power sources to ensure that they work together in harmony. The user interface (UI) gives access to all the data and presents it in a user-friendly way. Accessible remotely, all operations are simulated on a digital twin in the cloud to verify the system controls and simulate the most efficient operating scenarios to lower the cost of energy. This is an important software feature, both during and after commissioning as it allows operators to train on the platform ahead of time and familiarise themselves with the automated controls and dynamic curtailment of renewables. The UI provides the forecast for renewables and the battery charge status at any given moment, it can provide push email or phone notifications for alerts; telling operators when to turn off an engine and when to turn it back on.

The software is constantly analysing the data and running the math to solve the economic dispatch requirements and unit commitment constraints to ensure grid reliability and high engine efficiency. Load forecasting integrates the different trends and patterns that are detectable in historic data as well as satellite based solar forecasting to provide a holistic approach to dispatching power. The Fekola site has a sky imager, or cloud tracking camera with a fisheye lens, that provides solar forecasts for the next half hour in high temporal resolution.

To ensure that operators really understand the platform, and have visibility over the advanced controls, the UI provides probability distributions of the solar forecast. Tracking the forecast errors enables operators to see whether the solar is overproducing or underproducing what the forecast was expecting at the time and provides visibility to the operators on the key performance indicators. This feedback is an important part of the machine/human interface and provides operators with insight if an engine is required to be turned on at short notice.

Automated curtailment enables the optimization of the system providing a reactivity that people cannot match. By continually monitoring the engine loadings and battery, the system is ready to clamp down on solar if it gets too volatile or exceeds some spinning reserve requirement. For example, if a large, unexpected cloud arrives, the battery is dispatched to fill the gap while the engines ramp up. Once the cloud disappears however, the engines remain committed to operating for a few hours, and the solar power is transferred to recharge the battery.

Over time, as load patterns shift, the load forecasting algorithm will also be dynamically updating to match the changing realities of the load. As mining equipment hits layers of harder rock, increasing the power load, the system will adjust and dispatch the engines accordingly.

Hybrid solutions will become the new gold standard for off-grid heavy energy users

The Fekola mine project incorporates the largest off-grid hybrid power solution in the world, demonstrating the growing case for clean energy and its sustainable and economic potential for mines in Africa and beyond.

As the cost of batteries and solar panels continues to become more competitive, hybrid solutions are proving to be a realistic and effective means for increasing energy reliability and lowering operating costs in any context, thus freeing up resources to improve the human condition; whether through cheaper materials and gainful employment, or by providing broader access to reliable electricity for healthcare, education, and improved quality of life. 

*General Manager, Data Science, Wärtsilä Energy Storage and Optimization

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Kenya:Diaspora remittances hit ksh340 billion in 2020
January 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Despite the global economic downturn occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic, Kenya’s diaspora remittance grew by 10.7 per cent from January to December 2020.

Kenyan government received ksh340 billion, which is equivalent to $3.094 billion, from its citizens living and working abroad, according to data released by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK).

CBK Governor Dr. Patrick Njoroge noted that last year’s remittance was higher than ksh307.7 billion ($2,796 million) recorded in 2019.

Dr. Njoroge attributed the growth in figures to financial innovations that provided numerous channels for transactions.

“This remarkable growth of remittance has been supported by financial innovations, that provided Kenyans in the diaspora with more convenient channels for their transactions,” Dr. Patrick Njoroge said.

In the same period, Kenya also recorded an increase in the inflow of ksh33 billion ($299.6 million) in the month of December from ksh28 billion in the month of September.

The country’s April remittance hit a low record after it registered ksh22.9 billion from ksh25 billion, and it was projected to slump further in the future. This was due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. 

Nevertheless, the inflows started to increase the following month and continued to rise nonstop, indicating that the Word Bank’s projection was correct.

The international bank had anticipated that Kenya would bear fewer consequences of Covid-19 in source countries compared to its neighbours.

“Within the region, remittances to Kenya have so far stayed positive, though flows are likely to eventually decline in 2021. All major remittance-receiving countries will likely see a decline of remittances,” World Bank reported.

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Zambia:Copper Giants Sets Sights on improving working conditions for miners
January 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu.

First Quantum Minerals Limited which operates Kansanshi Mining Private Limited Company [PLC] , the biggest Copper mine in Africa descended on collective bargaining agreement arising from collective bargaining unit negotiations for the year 2021 to 2022. This comes in the wake of regular news release from Langmead and Baker Limited  based in Zambia .  

 Sweet deal negotiations look at better salaries, corporate social responsibility, agronomical, educational allowances, pension schemes and standardized   conditions of service between Kansanshi Mining [Private] Limited] Company and five big giant mining unions of Zambia.

 Mine Workers Union [ MWU]

National Union of Mining Allied Workers [NUMAW]

United Mine Workers Union of Zambia

Miners and Allied Workers Union

Consolidated Mine Workers Union of Zambia [CMWUZ]

The above collectively represent 2,500 unionized workers/ employees at its mine in Solwezi. Collective Bargaining Unit representatives are from Kansanshi Management. The negotiations concluded on Wednesday 13 January 2021.

Kansanshi Mining [Private][Limited] General Manager, Antony Mukutuma said the conditions of service agreed are favorable to a mass of mine workers whose past conditions have been degrading and low. He added that the agreement meant to end on 31st December 2022 is a collective agreement that brings together all workers into a union that has people at heart.

‘’ Let us all together value the people who do work on ground by giving them better conditions. This is what we have agreed to, like salary increment, minimum basic salary for lowest paid employees has been adjusted to suit better, good conditions. Besides there are educational allowances and introduction of pension scheme ‘’

Salary increments of 15% for 2021 and 11% for 2022. Minimum basic salary for the lowest paid employees adjusted to K4,460/ month.

Educational allowances increased to K2,800/term for 2021 and to K3,108 / per term for 2022. There is introduction of a company sponsored private pension scheme for all employees. The company will contribute 5% basic pay to each employee.

‘’ Let us focus on production. Let us as well support local communities during this covid-19 pandemic. Let us as well build business resilience’’. Antony Mukutuma is a General Manager of such stylistic notion.

First Quantum Minerals Limited mines gold, copper and zinc. It is International. Is found in Zambia, Spain, Mauritius, Australia, Finland, Turkey, Panama, Argentina and Peru. At World-wide scale of mining business, it has produced 702,000 tons of copper, 257,000 ounces of gold and 18,000 tons of zinc. Kansanshi is the largest copper mine in Africa. It runs as well Sentinel Mine and Smelter in Kalumbila. Zambia is the second   largest copper mining country in Africa and ranks amongst the third in the world

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Kenya: Prominent Leaders Trade Barbs Over Land Grabbing
January 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Deputy President (DP) William Ruto and former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka.Photo courtesy
Deputy President (DP) William Ruto and former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka.Photo courtesy

Deputy President (DP) William Ruto and former vice president Kalonzo Musyoka have been involved in the heated verbal exchange over land grabbing allegations.

The dispute between the duo was elicited by Kalonzo’s claims that Ruto ignored other communities in his 50 per cent share of the top government positions. Instead, he awarded the posts to men and women from his community.

“Who doesn’t know that Uhuru got 50 per cent of the government and Ruto 50 per cent, to the exclusion of everybody else. At least, Uhuru took his 50 per cent as a national leader and gave out some slots to other communities,” said Kalonzo.

In rejoinder, the second in command hit back at the Wiper party leader, claiming the only legacy he left behind after serving as the vice president and in the various government dockets is the grabbing of 200 acres of National Youth Service (NYS) land in Yatta, Machakos county.

Address the press on Monday, January 18, 2021, Kalonzo denied claims that he grabbed the government land. He accused Ruto of disparaging his reputation and asked the investigative agencies to move in and conduct investigations distancing himself from the deputy president’s allegations.

“I have nothing to hide and I today challenge the authorities to open an investigation into this matter. I am today presenting myself for a thorough investigation by the Directorate of Criminal Investigation as well as the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission. I want the matter settled once and for all. Indeed, this is the time to separate the truth from lies and malicious propaganda,” he said.

In retaliation, Kalonzo branded Ruto a chief land grabber listing several scandals which he claimed have been linked to the DP.

Some of the scandals listed include the Weston Hotel land saga, attempted land grabbing of Lang’ata Road primary school, more than 100 acres belonging to the late Adrian Muteshi, and land belonging to Joseph Murumbi, Kenya’s first vice president, among many others.

Kalonzo challenged Ruto to present himself for probe concerning numerous graft allegations, calling himself a person of high moral and ethical standards.

He further accused the former agriculture minister of inciting Kenyans and causing divisions ahead of 2022 polls.

“DP Ruto has been fomenting bitter division and a class war instead of preaching unity and cohesiveness. As a disrupter of law and order, he is easily comparable to outgoing US President Donald Trump. People like DP Ruto must not be given the chance to wreak havoc through manipulation. They must be stopped on their tracks,” he added.

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Rwanda:COVID -19 Surge Puts Kigali in total Lockdown
January 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

The capital Kigali was put under lockdown due to the surge of Covid-19 cases
The capital Kigali was put under lockdown due to the surge of Covid-19 cases

Due to the surge into Covi-19 cases, Rwanda’s capital Kigali has been placed under total lockdown since this Monday, 18th January 2021.

The announcement was made this Monday after a cabinet meeting that was chaired by President Paul Kagame.

In one week, Rwanda has recorded more than 1400 Covid-19 cases, with 22 deaths. Over 60 % of total cases have been found in Kigali.

Schools, businesses and public transport were banned in the capital during next 15 days. According to the statement, only essential services like medical, banks and food shopping are allowed.

Dr Ngamije Daniel, Minister of Health told national television that lockdown was the only option ‘to put down’ the increase of cases, as Rwanda awaits vaccine in coming weeks.

The move comes a day after government shut down all schools in Kigali, due to the increase in Covid-19 cases over recent weeks.

Since March last year, Rwanda has recorded 11 032 where 142 have died.

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REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR: WHERE ART THOU?
January 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Chris Fomunyoh and Judith Johnson*

If ever there was extraordinary significance in the celebration of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day, it is now.  Everything Dr. King, the civil rights icon, worked and died for; his voice and vision, and what he continues to represent is being tested in today’s America and the world at large. The bedrock of Dr. King’s life and legacy — social justice, racial equality, equity and inclusion, human dignity and non violence — are being tested: in emerging democraciesin which the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and similar organizations typically provide democracy strengthening technical assistance, and here in the very heart of the oldest, established democracy, the USA. Most notably, the storming of the U.S. Congress on January 6 had the world gaze in amazement, wondering whether in the words of the 20th century Irish poet W.B. Yeats (in the Second Coming) later adopted by the Nigerian literary icon Chinua Achebe (in his seminal novel ‘Things Fall Apart’), “The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.”

The bill making the MLK Day a federal holiday was signed into law in 1983, coincidentally the same year NDI was founded; although only from 2000, has the day been celebrated as a federal holiday in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Had his life not been snatched by the bullet of an assassin in Memphis, Tennessee in April 1968, Dr. King would have turned 90 last summer. 

If Dr. King lived through 2020, he would have been appalled and saddened by the America he saw, struggling under the heavy weight of racial injustice, especially in matters of policing and law enforcement, and racial tensions that boiled to the surface after a series of brutal murders of unarmed African-American men and women by white police officers. The most abhorrent of those cases was that of George Floyd, who suffocated under the knee of a white police officer as he pleaded he couldn’t breathe, and after close to eight minutes in that position, drew his last breath. The images of George Floyd, like those of Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, Ahmauld Arbery, and a total of 226 black Americans killed by police in 2020 alone, went viral on television and social media. Revolted by what they saw and learned, citizens in cities and towns across the U.S. and wellwishers in foreign lands overseas, erupted in shock and disapproval. Many participated in peaceful protests and some Americans committed to confronting injustices head on by leading movements for greater social justice and enhanced political participation and representation for African-Americans and other minorities.

Imagining if Dr. King had lived through summer 2020, he would have run head on into the beehive of current U.S. electoral politics during which hard won gains of civil and voting rights obtained in the 1960s came under threat from attempts at voter suppression and disenfranchisement, compounded by the global COVID-19 pandemic.  The ever eloquent Dr. King would have run out of words on January 6, as rioters sought to undermine American democracy by disrupting the counting of electoral college votes and certification of the presidential election results. They forced their way violently into the citadel of U.S. democracy — the U.S. Congress — rampaged through offices, including that of the Speaker, and manhandled law enforcement officers charged with the security of members, staff and the building itself. Lives were lost, property destroyed and the Capitol desecrated. Worse still, the psyche of “small d” democrats, nationally and internationally was shaken because no one imagined such a frontal attack on the embodiment of American democracy. Moreover, speculation was rife about the possible complacency or complicity of individuals whose responsibility it is, paradoxically, to protect, nurture and defend the country’s democracy.  

Almost everything about that march on Congress was unkingly, such as the chants about violently hurting and even hanging elected officials, and open display of symbols of racism and antisemitism. A noose was later found on the premises of the Congress. The rioters or insurrectionists of January 6, started their march from the Lincoln Memorial, otherwise noted for one of Dr. King’s most remarkable speeches on racial justice, equality and the hope that we’ll all “be judged not by the color of…skin, but by the content of …character.” 

But Dr. King left the stage before now and wouldn’t see any of that; and with him went Congressman John Lewis, another giant of the civil rights movement. They went early but the pillars of their faith in the goodness of humanity remain unstained, and their combined gospel on racial justice, equality and non violence continue to echo here and across the globe — and therein lies the umbilical cord that binds to them, organizations such as NDI that seek to promote and strengthen their values of improving the human condition.

NDI’s affinity to the MLK Day goes beyond the symbolic linkages of an organization launched in the same year (1983) as the legalization of this day: it goes to the symbiosis of our efforts to project, promote and represent through our mission and programming internationally, and however imperfectly, the values that Dr. King espoused dearly. Democracy support entails strengthening non-violent means of citizen engagement and active participation in political processes from the bottom up and public service delivery from the top down. Similarly, NDI efforts at enhancing women and youth political participation and representation, and advocacy for other marginalized groups seek to sync with Dr. King’s aspirations for equality and inclusion.

Part of the beauty of our practice is that in the countries in which we work, the democracy champions, civic and political actors who are our partners and program beneficiaries, are adepts and disciples of Dr. King. Many of them already stood in Dr. King’s corner long before NDI opened shop. While that often translates into a welcoming mat for NDI on arrival, it also raises the bar by which we ourselves would be assessed.  

So we must acknowledge that being privileged by such proximity imposes additional responsibilities; and while we have a distance to travel on the MLK highway, we have, as an organization, raised the level of consciousness among staff at headquarters and in country offices in close to 60 countries, hoping eventually to also impact our local partners and program beneficiaries.  

NDI launched its first ever Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Council in July 2020, and set out to stimulate and facilitate frank, open conversations about what is lacking or broken on these issues, and how it could be fixed. The goal is to create secure spaces where every voice within the organization can be heard, and where we can benefit from everyone’s input to better perfect the organization we love dearly, and whose mission is for many a calling and not just a job. We show our commitment to the DEI cause and to the greater mission of the organization, knowing that despite the dark clouds that may have traversed the skies in 2020 and early 2021, the day will dawn and lightness will emerge; for, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.”

*Co-chairs, NDI’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council.Courtesy of NDI

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Cameroon: PM Dion Ngute’s Two Years Of Shouldering Crises, Feuds With Regime Extremists
January 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Andrew Nsoseka     

Many believe that with a free hand the affable Prime Minister could play an instrumental role in resolving the the crises in the English speaking regions of Cameroon.Photo Twitter

On January 4, 2019, President Paul Biya appointed Chief Dr Joseph Dion Ngute as Cameroon’s Prime Minister, replacing Philemon Yang. PM Dion Ngute’s appointment was particularly unique in that he came into office, at a time the country was going through its greatest challenge since independence and reunification.

Thus, since his taking over as head of the Biya led government regime, he has principally shouldered the responsibility to fight for a return to normalcy in the face of the Anglophone crisis and the Maurice Kamto-led civil disobedience, revive the economy, make Cameroonians to believe in the system, – all these which he does from within a government he heads, but not without stiff resistance from some ministers and members of the CPDM regime. Particularly, the handling of the country’s Anglophone crisis, that has created factions within the government, at various extreme ends.

The appointment of Dion Ngute, a diplomat who in his person, carries a charisma, and a diplomatic smile that enables him to relate and discuss almost with anyone- even perceived regime staunch enemies, gave some hope that some of the dire problems faced by the government could as well be in their last days.

There was hope, particularly in Anglophone regions, which were immediately toured by the new PM, with a message of hope, from President Paul Biya. As he toured the crisis-ridden regions, PM Dion Ngute held consultative talks with locals and groups. He promised that his new government was this time around, committed to solving the Anglophone crisis. He promised those he spoke to, that their views and demands, as well as opinions on how to solve the crisis will be presented to President Paul Biya for prompt action.

Organisation of Major National Dialogue

After his tours, the PM’s promises seemed to be taking shape. A Major National Dialogue was announced by President Paul Biya, principally to handle the Anglophone Crisis. The new PM was assigned to organise and chair the dialogue process, where the general expectation was that separatists who were the principal actors were going to take part in the process, in order to bring forth a lasting solution agreed on by both parties.

Invitations were dispatched to various separatists’ leaders who immediately picked holes in the process. Many asked for guarantee that they would not be arrested on arrival and imprison. Many demanded that the arrested leadership in Kondengui Prison in Yaounde, be released and dialogued with. Others also demanded that the dialogue be organised in a neutral territory where both parties will feel free to express their opinions. Most demands of separatists were not factored in.

Also, a clause that doused off the aspirations of many, was that noting that delegates were to discuss on any subject, but the form of state was not up for discussion.

The PM finally chaired the dialogue process, boycotted by main actors, and attended by political parties, and regime flunkeys. Many rather described it as a monologue. The main outcome was the conference of a ‘special status’ on the crisis-ridden Anglophone regions.

Cameroon Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute chaired the Major National Dialogue

Tabs On The PM Begin

Tabs on PM Dion Ngute are said to have started when he was appointed to chair the Major National Dialogue. Before canvassing and securing the idea of handling the crisis through a dialogue, PM Dion Ngute was aware of the extremists in the regime, who did not appreciate the idea of dialoguing with separatists. It is reported that the Secretary-General at the presidency, Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh lurked around, to keep tabs on what was going on. He reportedly placed people around, to closely monitor what was done.

The PM was thus in a tight spot, to execute the mission given him, and at the same time, please all, especially those within the regime, who barely respect the Prime Ministry as head of governance. The extremists within the regime, particularly form walls to ward off what they consider to be against their interests. Many have blamed extremists in government for fighting against a peaceful end to the crisis. Many had hoped that PM Dion Ngute, as he promised, will deliver a peaceful deal, to quell the crisis in the Anglophone regions.

Critics have faulted a group of ministers and regime bigwigs for only supporting the use of the military option in solving the Anglophone crisis. They have also been accusations of many benefitting from the war situation, and as such, fighting any initiative to peacefully resolve the crisis.

Regime Extremists Again Frustrate Move To End Crisis

In the first week of July 2020, representatives of Cameroon’s government held their first direct talks with separatist leaders serving life jail terms at the Kondengui Central Prison. The talks were the closest thing the government and separatists have come to addressing their differences, since the crisis started in 2017.

News of the talks was received with joy throughout the country, and particularly in the Anglophone regions.  People who had been frustrated by the war were relieved, hoping that the talks could yield fruits, after the much trumpeted Major National Dialogue failed to deter the determination of separatists who boycotted.

Information of the talks was confirmed by Julius Ayuk Tabe, the leader of the separatists serving a life jail term alongside many others. He said the talks were geared towards a possible ceasefire. He assured his followers that their goal of independence still stands. The talks were held out of the prison facility, in a neutral place, a Bishop’s house where both parties could express their views freely. Government representatives left the meeting, promising to get back to the leaders, after forwarding their demands to government’s high command.

Regime Extremists Botch Plan

Hopes of those who welcomed the talks, were again dampened when the extremists in government and the CPDM party who oppose the dialogue option of the crisis launched frantic efforts to discredit the move spearheaded by PM Chief Dr Dion Ngute. The group, led by the Secretary-General at the Presidency, Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, after learning of the underground talks immediately tried to sabotage the talks.

Ngoh Ngoh who favours the failed Swiss mediated talks that had mainly targeted less influential separatists abroad saw the talks as being against their interest, especially as he was not consulted. The direct talks with the incarcerated leaders were viewed both by those who favoured the seemingly sluggish and unproductive Swiss-mediated talks, as well as those who favoured just the military option as posing a great danger to their interests. Again Dion Ngute’s initiative was sabotaged.

Cameroon Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute shakes hands with a traditional ruler in Bamenda, the capital of the North West region in Cameroon on May 9, 2019 holding a peace plant on a mission to reconcile separatist groups and government forces. . PHOTO credit Ndi Eugene/Nation Media Group

Days after the first meeting, the anti-talks faction in government strong-armed the Minister of Communication and government spokesperson, Emmanuel Rene Sadi to issue a press statement to discredit the talks. Sadi went on to issue a statement saying that information circulating about underground talks with imprisoned separatist leaders was not “consistent with reality”. The statement was then touted around by extremists in government as a win against the pro-dialogue faction led by PM Dion Ngute. The move killed the euphoria that was created when news of the talks filtered out.

Dion Ngute though open minded principally failed in finding a solution to the Anglophone crisis through the Major National Dialogue, probably because of the restrictions placed on discussion topics, and the lack of political will to make the talks open enough for the main actors, separatists to attend.

He, however, through tact, made a few to believe in the system, though somewhere along the line, they were seemingly let down, especially by actions that were beyond the PM’s competence, especially as not all government members submit to him as head of government.

Though the crises facing the country have dominated what Dion Ngute can be evaluated on, he has also succeeded in some areas, like the encouragement of local production of essential goods, dousing off of some anti-government feelings, he has equally tried to promote the idea of attracting foreign investments in Cameroon, though it is particularly difficult due to the hostile political climate. In the domain of infrastructural development, especially as the Country planned to host major African football tournaments, the Dion Ngute led government has given some towns face lifts, though the construction or maintenance of some roads, and even the construction or renovation of some football infrastructure.

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Insight Into The Lucrative Bride Price Business in Kenya
January 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Photo courtesy

Kenyans were left reeling in shock when the news about a 63-year-old man who turned down millions of shillings offered as a bride price for his daughter emerged. The report indicated Hussein Maro hailing from Tana River County, a coastal region of the East African state, only asked for Ksh7, leaving the groom’s entourage puzzled.

“My fellow elders, it is a great joy to have my daughter married to a good family. Therefore, as my daughter and I had already agreed, we shall take seven shillings,” he told the Nation media. The old man’s move elicited mixed reactions given the hefty amount, which Bride’s parents usually demand. While some made fun of Hussein, others praised him, calling him the “wisest man on earth.”

 “The Bride is not a commodity for sale. He is the wisest man on earth. Let bridegroom appreciates the in laws and respect and love their daughter for she is a precious jewel with no price tag,” said Rossie Omwamba.

“A peaceful marriage is better than money, this Mzee (old man) could be old but very wise. This is a powerful message to the families who use their daughters to solicit and milk cash from poor brides. Kudos to Mzee (old man)!” added James Odhiambo.

Bride price, also known as dowry or bridewealth, is a long-standing customary practice in the African culture. It is the gift given by the groom to the kindred of his prospective wife before marriage.  In Tanzania, it is called Mahari. The Shona community of Zimbabwe calls it Roora, and the Yoruba of Nigeria calls it Iyawo.  The practice was meant to bring two families together. It was treated like a gift, not a price; it serves as a token of appreciation to the lady’s parents for bringing her up and further proves that the man can take care of his wife.

Bride price among Kenyan communities

Forty-two (42) Kenyan tribes have not been an exception in dowry payment. Traditionally, it was a high-esteemed norm that was celebrated in all communities. Besides being a token of appreciation, it also adds value to a woman, legalizes customary marriage, and validates children born in the new union. Each community has a local name for dowry. Luo community calls it Ayie; in Agikuyu, it is known as Ruracio, Kambas call it Ngasya, and in Kalenjin, it is called Koito.

The dowry payment varies from one community to the other. For example, traditionally, a man seeking to marry a lady from the Abaluhya community was required to pay thirteen cattle heads. The Maasai, Kalenjin, Luo communities, etc., also accepted dowry in the form of cattle. Agikuyu, it’s composed of goats, traditional brews, honey, and cows. In most communities, dowry is not paid once; it is given in phases or installments to create strong ties between the groom and the Bride’s family.

Society’s role in dowry payment

Dowry payment used to be a society affair. After a man had proposed to a lady and agreed to marry him, he was supposed to approach his parents or guardians and inform them about his intention to get married. The parents would research the lady’s background information, and once satisfied, they would go ahead and notify the extended family and the clan. Once every relative was informed, a select committee consisting of reputable elders was established to facilitate dowry payment and probably marriage.

The Bride also approaches her parents or guardians and notifies them about her decision to get married. Like the groom’s side, they inquire more about the man, his clan, and his community and then inform the entire clan before forming a select committee of elders. The elders would meet and agree on what to be paid to the Bride’s family as a gift paving the way for the wedding.

Commercialization of bride price

Dowry, once a noble tradition, has been contorted in the recent past. What was supposed to be a uniting factor between families has become a business venture. Parents perceive their daughters as an investment that should fetch much gain when they get married. Unlike in the past, when virginity was the determinant factor during the dowry payment, it is education level, social class, and career in the modern era. A highly educated lady is expected to earn millions of shillings for her family.

Traditionally, the man and his family had the right to settle on what and how much to pay for the Bride’s family. However, things have changed. Today, such freedom does not exist. The Bride’s family set the price, and two families must negotiate. Moreover, some ladies also conspire with their family to fleece her future husband his hard-earned money, a behaviour that should be condemned by society.

The unreasonable demand for dowry is now causing what we did not expect. Marriages are ending, relationships are breaking, and weddings are being called off, but no-one is taking responsibility; instead, we blame the devil. The number of single motherhood and young couples who have chosen to cohabit to avoid dowry has hit a high record. Overpriced bride prices have also seen women being seen as acquired property that a man can mistreat the way he wants.

It does not end there; some families have plunged into crippling debts as they were forced to take loans to raise the required amount of dowry. Some men have also been exposed to harassment and mistreatment by their wives and in-laws simply because they cannot pay dowry. It is high time the Kenyan government regulates dowry payment to save vulnerable means from the hands of greedy parents who are out to use bride price as a gateway to riches.

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Ghana: From ‘trotro’ mate to millionaire-The Story of Yoks Investment Founder Seth Yeboah Ocran
January 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Maxwell Nkansah

Hard work, they say, brings success but often, one needs to add some level of smartness in order to succeed.  Seth Yeboah Ocran, is the Founder/Executive Chairman of Yoks Investment Limited. With Subsidiries such as Yorks Rent A Car. Yoks Travel, Tours,Tourists Watch Limited.Seth went into business soon after finishing school i.e trotro mate. He traded in stationary, Jewelry and Textiles. He left his private business to work with Vane/Europcar as a driver and sale representative with a seed capital of 500 Gh.

Seth returned to his private business, where he set up Yoks Investment Limited in 2001 as a sole proprietorship with just one car. Throughout his career, Seth has demonstrated continuous leadership in business excellence, strategic thinking and project execution. He is an award winning entrepreneur, he believes in Integrity, Humility and believing in oneself. Mr. Seth has featured in public speaking engagement aimed at promoting “thoughtful” leadership, and also inspiring the youth to take their destiny into their own hands.

Seth drove and managed Yoks with a single minded vision to become the reliable car rental Company in the country. Today, after over a decade, Yoks investment limited is now in an enviable position as the most reliable car rental and transportation management company, with its industry in Ghana; with a highly recognized brand that equals and rivals any of the known international brands. Seth, ambition is to continue to build a world class business that is at par with any global company. The business mogul recounted his journey from grass to grace. Mr. Ocran had a challenging childhood, having lost both his mother and father by the age of 14.

However, he kept his hopes up and continued to strive for a better future. The lack of support also meant that he had to drop out of school.

He dropped out of school and did not have any SHS certificate,” He picked up a menial job as a commercial bus conductor (mate). According to him, his textbook business dwindled when an English teacher joined the business and caused his earnings to reduce. He was forced to ditch the textbook business and began a textiles and jewelries business. Mr. Ocran used to travel to neighboring Togo to buy his goods and returns to sell them at the Makola market in Accra. But, unfortunately, his business came crashing on its knees when the Makola market was gutted by fire and he lost his investment.

He said; if we have one person in our lives who totally accepts us, totally believes in us, totally loves us and totally supports us, we can certainly achieve what we want to reach and where we want to go.  Mr. Ocran said. ”Therefore, surround yourself with people who believe in you and accept you totally regardless of your success or failure, and also be that person of someone”! 

Having once worked as a driver’s mate, Mr. Ocran is a business mogul today, serving as the CEO of YOKS Investments Limited.

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Airlink Steps Up Its Game in Southern Africa
January 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu

Despite the fact that South Africa has abruptly closed its 20 land boarders, Air-Link remains winged in air working throughout but following covid-19 regulations, laws and curfew of countries in which they operate in, in the Southern African region.

A posted press release reveals  Airlink is on track providing reliable air services to clients travelling in Southern Africa. Airlink Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer [CEO] Rodger Foster said as they do business, they cherish the health and safety of their travelling customers who they take care of throughout their business operations.

‘’Health and safety is critical so as economy continuity for which regional air travel is the only viable alternative. Airlink continues to provide travelers with safe, reliable, affordable connectivity in the Southern African Region ‘’.

Airlink is operating daily adhering to regulations in line with covid-19 as echoed by the World Health Organization and Ministries of Health in countries where it operates in. It follows security protocols, health measures by doing check-ups and providing necessary facilities in line with covid-19 Global, regional and national health guidelines.

Airlink departs after 08HOO. It arrives before 20H00 and 21H OO as restricted by curfew. Wellbeing of customers is always given first priority as Airline adheres to security protocols. Business, Trade and Tourism is crucial for economic development in the region of which Airlink values as an airline.

‘’Wellbeing of customers is no doubt what Airlink values.  We give them the first priority. This is done to necessitate the fast growth and development as well as continuity of links in Business, Trade and Tourism. Airlink supports the continuity and vibrant existence of Business, Trade and Tourism ‘’. Says Airlink Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Rodger Foster.

Air-Link is an independent airline that operates in the Southern African region. Its destinations up-dates Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC] , Tanzania , Maseru ESwatini , Harare and Bulawayo , Gaborone , Maun and Kasane in Botswana , Windhoek in Namibia , Lusaka , Ndola in Zambia , Maputo , Beira and Pemba in Mozambique . It links as well several destinations in South Africa.

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MOZAMBIQUE: New measures in Covid-19 Fight
January 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jorge Joaquim

President Nyusi
President Nyusi

The Mozambican government decided to tights restrictive measures in an attempt to halt the rapid spread of Covid-19 in the country, where four per cent of patients infected had needed hospitalization, and 0.9 per cent had died.

In an address broadcast to the nation on Wednesday night, President Filipe Nyusi stressed that the Covid-19 situation has deteriorated dramatically since the New Year, what obligated the Council of Ministers to decide to reactivate several measures, which had been relaxed, or scrapped, in December.

Thus all bars and stalls selling alcoholic drinks must close. Bars had been closed when the first state of emergency had been declared on 1 April, but a decree of 17 December allowed them to re-open. Other leisure activities that must close include discotheques, casinos, and games rooms.

Gymnasiums, swimming pools and other places for the practice of physical exercise must also close, and cultural activities in places such as cinemas, theatres, museums, galleries and the like are suspended.

The opening hours for restaurants (which had largely escaped the earlier restrictions) are from 06.00 to 20.00 Mondays to Fridays, and 06.00 to 15.00 on Saturdays and Sundays. All shops and other commercial establishments must close not later than 18.00 every day.

Bottle stores can open from 08.00 to 13.00 Monday to Saturday, but must close on Sundays. Drinking alcohol on the premises is forbidden. The areas in supermarkets which sell alcohol are subject to the same restrictions as bottle stores, and so the owners must partition off these areas and close them at 13.00. No new licences for bottle stores will be issued.

The new regulations also close, once again, the country’s beaches. No-one may swim or practice sport on the beaches. Citizens may walk along them, but not in large groups.

Nyusi announced that national sports championships will go ahead, but will be closed to the public.

Private events, including weddings and birthday parties, can have no more than 30 participants, if held in a closed space, or 50 if held in the open air. They must finish no later than 20.00.

No more than 50 people may attend any religious service, and attendance at funerals is limited to 20 (and, if the deceased died from Covid-19, only ten participants are allowed).

The government moved to end the lengthy queues seen recently at a public offices as citizens attempt to renew documents such as identity cards or driving licences. All official documents that have expired are now considered valid until 31 May 2021.

Wherever possible, the staff of both public and private institutions should work from home, and people who have respiratory problems, or are running a fever, must not go to their workplaces or to any schools.

Nyusi announced that anyone entering the country must have a negative Covid-19 test result. Truck drivers will be expected to show test results at control posts set up inside the country.

Non-compliance with these measures will constitute a criminal offence.

All measures announced previously remain valid if they do not contradict the new decree. This includes, the obligatory wearing of masks on buses, minibuses, in markets or anywhere else that crowds are likely to gather.

The new government decree takes effect today. Nyusi said the measures will be reviewed in three weeks. If citizens behaved responsibly, then it might be possible to relax the measures “so that we can return to a normal, or near normal, life”.

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South Sudan announces environmental audit of oil fields in move to curtail immense pollution
January 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Petroleum Minister Puot Kang Chol with President Salva Kiir
Petroleum Minister Puot Kang Chol with President Salva Kiir

Juba – South Sudan Thursday announced a comprehensive environmental audit of all its oil – producing fields in a bid to reduce pollution following years of negligence and witlessness.

Petroleum Minister Puot Kang Chol said comprehensive environmental audit of all the country’s producing oilfields is to inspect the impact of pollution on the people and the land.

Minister said his ministry formed the committee that comprised of all agencies of the government and include the civil society to do the selection of the firms to carry out environment audit. Currently, 11 tenders are in its finale scrutinizing from the committee – both are international tenders or companies.

 “I am pleased to announce the full environment audit in all the oil fields of the Republic of South Sudan – the audit will come in the current oil fields of block 3 & 7, block 1, 2 & 4 and block 5 A,” Kang said.

Tender for audit comes amid efforts to reduce pollution affecting communities living in oil-producing areas in South Sudan.

This audit will allow the country to put systems in place to prevent further damage and pollution as the country looks to ramp up production.

In August 2019, President Salva Kiir warned that his government would be taking a stronger stance against pollution in oil-producing areas. He warned: “I will not tolerate irresponsible activities in the oil sector.”

The lack of environmental standards and guidelines to safeguard the exploration and exploitation in the extractive industry has led to pollution in the oilfields and in the surrounding areas.

Despite the 2012 Petroleum Act that imposed high health and safety standards on oil production activities.

This had caused losses of properties and livestock, losses of grazing land, as well as deforestation, soil and water contamination and health issues in and around oil-producing areas resulted a human deformation, infant deformities, miscarriage and death.

“We are here to please the law, not individual and I would want the committee to make sure whether they do, they do it within a parameter of the law, not the minister or individual,” said Kang.

Kang said the whole world and our citizens were being looking after us, they were condemned us that something need to done about our environment.

“It is time to save the life of our people and to save our environment. “I say lives of people first – this oil can deplete tomorrow but our land should not deplete – the land must remain there because is the first resource that our people have, not the oil,” Kang told the press in Juba. “We need to protect the lives of our people and we should not give them any reason to think that oil is the problem to them but instead to be blessed to them, particularly to the oil – producing communities. So, whatever we do let have it at the back of our minds that the people living in land and that land come first before the oil itself, therefore we must save lives and the land,” he added.

Oil is the dominant source of revenue for the East African’s youngest nation, which has boosted output to stand at about 170,000 barrels per day, as it struggles to rebuild an economy shattered by six years of civil war that killed nearly 400,000 people and uprooted four million people from their homes.

Mary Ayen, Acting Speaker of the Council States acknowledged that the oil pollution has caused uncalled damages on the locals, which need urgently bold decision to mitigate the suffering on time.

“What is taking place is not a joke,” said Ayen, seeing that human being is deformity – we witnessed kids are deformities – this is not the nation we want, we want everyone to enjoys free, have a dignify life, healthy and enjoys all the basic rights,” she added.

Ayen further said the life of the people and environment is a most better because at the end we want resources to enhance our lives.

She urges the oil companies to cooperate with the government and do the best practice to the oil – producing communities.

Last year, the SUDD Institute documented 13 cases of babies born with deformities in Melut, Ruweng and Rubkona in the country’s northern part.

Also, a research conducted by a German organization, Sign of Hope, years ago found that more than 180,000 locals who live near oil fields use water that is contaminated by the oil companies.

The actual work of the full environment audit will kick on after the finalization of tender process that due to commence at the end of March and to continue for the period of six (6) months.

The audit exercise is expected to reveal the environmental damage that may have been caused by the oil activities over the years since the start of oil production in then Sudan in the late 1990.

“We don’t want to assume the findings but we believe whatever they come up with, being the government and partners should be ready to accept and implement whatever they recommend for us to do and also to mitigate any further pollution of the environment,” the minister said.

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CHAN 2020: Banga Solomon’s Strike Gives Cameroon Victory against Zimbabwe
January 17, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Banga Solomon, the hero for the intermediate lions
Banga Solomon, the hero for the intermediate lions

An overhead kick from Coton sport of Garoua’s Banga Solomon was enough for the Intermediate Lions to win the Warriors of Zimbabwe in the opening game of the Africa Nations Championship, CHAN.

The goal from Banga Solomon which turned out to be the winning goal came in the 72 minutes of play through a freekick on the edge of the Zimbabweans goal. A missed header from the Warriors saw the ball come to Banga who produced a spectacular overhead kick to score. 

The team were made to work hard for that victory with little scoring chances created by the intermediate lions. Captain Jacques Zoua has a series of these chances but could not deliver. The player was substituted at the 80 minutes with many looking at him to be the scorer should Cameroon need goals.

The intermediate Lions had been under pressure to deliver as many had questioned the selection of the final 23 man squad released by Coach Martin Mpile. A squad of 23 players were called up with 10 on the waiting list.

There was a beautiful display from Martin Loic Ako Assomo for the intermediate Lions. His beautiful display during the game saw him picking up the man of the match award.

Goalkeeper Haschou Kerido of PWD Bamenda showed his class in the game. He was calm and collected in the face of opposition, coming out of his box to catch the ball – a display that will surely raise confidence in him and his backline. The backline of the intermediate lions was manned by players from Coton Sport.  

It should be noted that Cameroon is in Group A alongside Zimbabwe, Mali and Burkina Faso. In the second game played, it was Mali that defeated Burkina Faso by 1-0. The goal for the Malians was scored by Bagayoko at the 70th minute.

The Intermediate Lions of Cameroon will next be in action on January 20 at 5 pm local time against Mali. It is a crucial game as both teams are tied on 3 points. A victory by the intermediate lions or Mali guarantees them a spot in the next round of the competition.

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Cameroon: Donation from Fomunyoh and Partner to Physically Challenged in Kumba
January 17, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Dr Christopher Fomunyoh
Dr Christopher Fomunyoh

More than 20 Persons living with disability in Kumba, the chief town of Meme Division of the South West Region have benefited from financial support and start-up capital to help them start-up small businesses.

Dr Christopher Fomunyoh, Senior Associate and Regional Director for Central Africa Programs at NDI and a philanthropist and partner Madam Robison made available cash envelopes and other items (groundnut oil, soap and others) to make the persons living with disability to be financially independent.

The physically challenged were encouraged to use the money provided to them with care which will encourage the donors, Dr Christopher Fomunyoh and madam Robison to do more for them.

Toko Virginie, a bridge between the donors and the physically challenged said: “I want to appreciate and thank Dr Fomunyoh and Sister Robinson. We are so happy and that could be seen on the faces of the physically challenged who benefited.”

“With this money that has been provided to me I am heading straight to the market,” Tayong Anna, another beneficiary stated.

“I want to thank our sister for what she has done to think about us,” one of the beneficiaries said.

To another, he said: “This money will help to empower me in the small business I have been carrying out.”

Dr Christopher Fomunyoh is an expert on democratization in Africa and also a former adjunct professor of African politics and government at Georgetown University.

It should be noted that another huge package from The Fomunyoh Foundation is to be made available to internally displaced persons, IDPs of the Anglophone crisis.

Beneficiaries of the aid from Dr Christopher Fomunyoh and Madam Robison
Beneficiaries of the aid from Dr Christopher Fomunyoh and Madam Robison

For the past four years, separatist fighters have been battling government forces in the North West and South West regions. The former is looking to establish an independent state of “Ambazonia”. The conflict started in 2016 has seen thousands of people who have been killed, maimed, kidnapped and others forced to flee their homes for shelter in neighbouring Nigeria and other parts of the country.

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Senegal already produces Gas: Investors should look Onshore
January 16, 2021 | 0 Comments
The emergence of Senegal as a regional energy power is an exciting story

DAKAR, Senegal, January 15, 2021/ — Senegal is the hotspot for energy investment in West Africa right now, owing to a string of huge offshore hydrocarbons discoveries since 2014 (as well as its compelling renewables potential). The emergence of Senegal as a regional energy power is an exciting story. But for almost two decades, in fact, the country has been producing its own natural gas onshore, an hour’s drive from Dakar. Further investment could unlock Senegal’s onshore potential.

Introducing Onshore Senegal

Fortesa International, led by CEO Rogers Beall, started exploring in Senegal in 1997 and from the start, Beall aimed to create a business that was fully Senegalese. Today, the company has a staff of 125, with two expatriate mentors and some African expatriate staff, but the vast majority (around 98 percent) is Senegalese nationals. Beall has continually advocated for Senegal with U.S. companies and now serves on the U.S.-Africa Committee for the African Energy Chamber.

As AOP drove out to the Fortesa production site this week, Beall pointed to a plateau in the far distance, while we passed through a shallow valley. That, he said, is the edge of the 120-square-kilometer Thiombane Dome geological formation. It sits on the eastern side of the carbonate shelf edge that runs north to south along the coast of West Africa.

Volcanic eruptions in the sea 175 million years ago, joined up by sand blown in from the Sahara, created the Dakar peninsula. That same feature on the carbonate shelf edge extends deep into the Atlantic Ocean, and this is the basis for the massive offshore oil and gas fields generating so much excitement globally. This is where North America used to connect to Africa, and where we are driving now used to be the state of Georgia before it was the deep ocean bed. The African plate itself never moved.

“The single place between Morocco and Guinea where that shelf comes onshore is east of Dakar,” says Beall. Here, on land and a short drive from the capital, Fortesa is operating seven wells (one out of service temporarily due to an accident – the company’s first serious one – on December 20, 2020) tied back to a gas processing plant. The manifolds and tanks were built in Senegal, the whole facility was assembled by a local team, and on our visit, we met with dozens of Senegalese workers who had trained with Fortesa and were operating the facilities.

The Gadiaga field usually produces 3 million cubic feet (mcf) per day and could produce 7 mcf per day. This small field has produced just over $95 million of natural gas. But, as Beall says, “This is small potatoes compared to what Senegal needs.” The geology says that Gadiaga may sit next to a much larger gas field situated on the edge of the shelf in the Thiombane Dome. This strong potential is what Fortesa wishes to explore and develop, with fellow investors.

Natural Gas Could Do More

Fortesa’s operation may look familiar in the Niger Delta, where local companies have been producing onshore from marginal fields since 2002. But in this region, Fortesa’s gas production business is unique, and like the most effective Niger Delta marginal field companies, it enjoys the support of the local community to staff and safeguard the well sites, pipe yard and processing plant.

Energy independence is the key to Senegal’s success, says Beall. Energy poverty is a trap that ties people down to subsistence living from Senegal to Somalia. Natural gas, available in abundance onshore as well as far out to sea, can be a fuel to remove those limits.

“Right now, this country is paying $14 per mcf by using heavy fuel oil. [In doing this] they are making six times the pollution, six times the negative effect on the planet, and nearly double the cost,” says Beall. “We are able to make the investment and take the risk of drilling onshore, and [in this region] only Fortesa is doing this.”

Natural gas is cleaner and cheaper than the alternatives. It provides direct and indirect jobs for hundreds at Gadiaga, and more of it is available onshore. The company is keen to expand within its acreage to find and develop the onshore elephant that the geology points to, as well as optimizing current production. But with European and other Western financing institutions now shutting down funding for hydrocarbons, few options are available to fund expansion.

The Foundation Is Already There

Fortesa built a foundation for Senegal’s emergence as an energy player. Beall believed in the potential of Senegal before many in Europe and North America had thought to examine the country’s subsurface. His company worked with or trained many of the people now going on to run the sector or work at the national oil company Petrosen and others.

Onshore gas growth is possible and would lead to direct job creation and sustainable energy provision to households and businesses – and save on costly and high-polluting fuel oil imports.

“This is one of the most cost-effective operations in Africa. Fortesa has essentially unlocked the value of Senegal’s energy resources. The projects run by Rogers and his team are sound and are an example of projects that can generate cash and deliver the return on capital that investors are looking for,” said NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber, to AOP. “I see a team that is focused on improving asset-level economics, reducing capital outlay, and stretching their dollars to do more with less.”

AOP’s mission is to bring investment to African energy of all kinds, with a view to making life better for people and businesses. Issues of climate change and sustainability must be addressed urgently. But comparatively clean natural gas and the people that produce it (and industries that can use it) should not pay the price for Western institutions’ opposition to funding hydrocarbons. “We need to give a chance to people to advance,” Beall told us. “Let’s do things that work.”

*SOURCE African Energy Chamber

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Cameroon: Security Beefed up Ahead of CHAN Tournament
January 16, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Security forces patrolling Muyuka, a town in the South West Region of Cameroon, as they try to battle separatist fighters

Barely a day to the start of the Africa Nations Champions, CHAN in Cameroon, security forces have been heavily deployed to the South West Region to protect the various teams, fans who are scheduled to watch the games.

Games for the CHAN, a competition for locally-based players will be played in Limbe, Douala and Yaounde.

Separatist fighters had earlier warned people not to go and watch games and the fighters had cautioned the teams taking part not to go to the Region. That decision has, however, not been adhered to as the Zambians and Tanzanians made their way to Buea and Limbe but under tight security.

The separatist fighters seemed to have lied up to their bidding as they are reported to have set ablaze some vehicles closer to the middle farms’ stadium in Limbe – the middle farms’ stadium serves as a training facility to some of the teams.

Breaking this January 15 gunshots were heard in Likomba with reports of the main transformer at the Tiko market set ablaze. 2 separatist fighters were killed by Cameroon’s security forces that have been stationed along the roadside.

Local authorities and CAF officials have assured the players of their safety in the Region as they said security dispensation have been stepped up. Zambia received a letter from CAF indicating that their security is assured as the Cameroon government has put all measure to guarantee their safety.

It promises to be an exciting Africa Nations Championship in the country. Cameroon gets the competition underway on January 16 against Zimbabwe, who came to the country with some 23 players to participate in the competition. The second game that comes up at 8 pm local time will see Mali facing Burkina Faso. Both teams are already in the country and carrying out various training sessions.

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