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Sierra Leone: CODE, FRI launches Distance learning in crisis programme in BO and Kambia
December 2, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

The Canadian Organisation for Distance Learning in Crisis (CODE), in partnership with Farm Radio International (FRI) through its local partners The Association of Language and Literacy Educators (TALLE) in Sierra Leone has on Monday 30th November, 2020 launched the Distance Learning in Crisis 240 – DLC, in Bo and Kambia respectively.

The program which  is called “Reading on the Waves” is designed to support education during the COVID-19 crisis which is a family literacy initiative that  will support parents’ ability to engage their children in reading and learning activities by helping to ensure that students do not lose the progress already made through daily radio-programming in addition to supporting them return to school once formal education resumes. For Sierra Leone, school is in progress thus the program will complement the effort of techers in schools

According to a statement from FRI, it said, as part of this partnership, they are  committed  to supporting to plan, design, produce, and broadcast one series of 65 gender-sensitive, interactive programs on family literacy adding that they will work with 4 radio stations to broadcast Reading on the Waves in Sierra Leone which include SLBC in Bo and Radio Kolenten in Kambia that will be producing and Rebroadcasts to Radio Newsong in Bo and Radio Cat Bamie.

“The radio programs aim to change that — and do it safely from a distance — by reaching 350,000 families between the two countries (Sierra Leone) and Liberia, and 70,000 school children — both girls and boys. Working with local writers in Liberia and Sierra Leone, CODE has developed a reading anthology, filled with fun stories, and activities. Different stories talk about safety, handwashing or math, or even local folklore in entertaining, locally relevant, ways,’’ the statement reads.

FRI  said, each radio program is hosted by one radio broadcaster and one teacher — so the magic of radio can combine with good pedagogy to create programs that are both entertaining and educational stating that this marks the first time Farm Radio International has run programs targeting literacy specifically, and the first time they have worked directly in Sierra Leone and Liberia. 

“We’re excited about this new partnership with CODE,” said Caroline Montpetit, the regional program manager for West Africa. 

“We look forward to making radio in a way that can improve literacy rates and support teachers and families not only in their learning objectives, but in improving gender equality and relationships between families.”

Benjamin Fiafor, Regional Representative Farm Radio International for Liberia and Sierra Leone in a statement, said  that the distance learning project is a timely project, adding that the initiative will enable as many people as possible to take advantage of radio to learn in the country.

“In the current situation we believe, this is what we can do, we need to continue even after the Covid -19 situation have become normal. We believe that, this has become part and parcel of our method of training, our method of working with our partners. we will still continue to work from a distance even though there are some challenges,’’ he said.

He said  notwithstanding the challenges, they  still believe in the face to face, as they can’t continue just working from a distance, but promised that they will definitely combine the two to enable them  to have a very good interaction at the same time working relationship with their  partners, the radio stations and other communities in Sierra Leone.

“We also notice very good cooperation from the people who participated because they recognized that this is something that is coming to help their children and the whole country. This is the first time we are seeing such a cooperation from the partners and the people we are working with. I commend them, that they need to continue providing all the necessary support in other projects in education, agriculture and any other area,’’ Fiafor added.

 Fiafor further added that they at Farm Radio International were very happy to have listened to the first programme and that they were pleased with it stating that the launch of the DLC programme in the country is a start of the relationship between FRI and Radio Stations in the country.

“As it is now, the programme is launched, it is a good programmed, we at Farm Radio International also we are very happy to have listened to the first programme, Radio stations with the communities, it’s great to know that we have great staffs. This project we see it as a short project, but we want to say that this is not just the end, but rather the beginning of the relationship between Farm Radio International and Radio Stations in Sierra Leone,’’ Regional Representative Farm Radio International lamented.

The Regional Representative FRI went on to say that they are looking forward to engage more stations in other capacity supports and also other projects in the coming years adding that as it is  the educational project will go up to the end of February next year  and hope that the programmes will be replayed by their partner stations to ensure that the learning continue beyond the time of the project.

“In terms of sustainability we are working together with the education department and we want to say this is very , very important for any project whatever we have started  with the radio stations , we do not expect to just end by the end of February ,the continuation part is very key for us, we want to see radio stations also support  in ensuring the airing of this  wonderful programmes if not its continues without the necessary project support,’’ Benjamin Fiafor stressed.

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US coordinator for counterterrorism travels to Mozambique to discuss new threats
December 2, 2020 | 0 Comments

    By Jorge Joaquim  

      

US coordinator for counterterrorism Nathan Sales is in Maputo to discuss terrorist threats, as the country faces an insurgency since 2017 by Islamist jihadists tgat have killed more than 2,500 people and displaced over 500,000 in north Mozambique’s mineral gas-rich Cabo Delgado province.

Acconrdig to a note from US Department os Stat, on December 2 and 3 during meetings with senior Mozambican government officials, Ambassador Sales will discuss ongoing efforts to counter ISIS-linked terrorism in the country and the region.

Sales also will explore ways the United States can help Mozambique enhance its civilian law enforcement capabilities and border security.

He will also go to Pretoria, South Africa on December 4, where will meet with South African officials to discuss the important role South Africa plays in regional security in Africa and ways to strengthen bilateral security cooperation.

The violence in Mozambique has spiked this year in this aid-dependent country. The insurgents have occupied a strategic port in the town of Mocimboa da Praia since August 12.

Mozambican troops who have been deployed in the region have been overwhelmed by shortage of weapons and equipment. More importantly, they lack military training and familiarization with the northern region.

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Kenya:Is Tomas Trucha plotting his way out of Leopard’s den?
December 2, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Coach Thomas Trucha

Kenyan Premier League side AFC Leopards kicked off the 2020/2021 season over the weekend on high by registering a 2-1 win against the 2016 champions Tusker FC.

Tusker opened the scoring via David Majak, but Robinson Kamura and Elvis Rupia struck a goal each to take the 13-time champions to the top of the table.

Ahead of their next Sunday match against the newly promoted Bidco United, daunting information has emerged that might destabilize the team’s spirit.

Coach Thomas Trucha has claimed that his life is in danger following threats to his agents by people claiming to be supporters of the club.

“The coach’s agent has been threatened by people claiming to be our supporters, and the coach doesn’t feel safe here,” said Dan Shikanda, the club’s chairman.

He added, “I talked to him yesterday, and he says because his representative has been threatened, he doesn’t think he is safe.”

Prior, it was speculated that the former Botswana’s Township Rollers boss is pushing his way out of the club over interference.

It was reported that Trucha is accusing some of the club officials of pushing for some players’ fielding on match days.

Speaking during the launch of the team’s shirt sponsor, Betsafe, Shikanda revealed that they would give away forward on Thursday.

“We will have a press conference tomorrow with the coach, and he will make a decision whether he will stay or leave,” said Shikanda.

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African Energy Chamber projects Africa’s Power Demand to Keep Rising Between 4-5% per year
December 2, 2020 | 0 Comments

The African Energy Chamber forecasts that 2021 generation is likely to range between 870-900 TWh if demand picks up aggressively throughout the year.

The silhouette of the evening electricity transmission pylon

Africa’s electricity generation capacity has grown at an average of 4.8 percent per annum since 2008; The Chamber remains determined in its commitment to seek a fair and just resolution that puts forth the interests of African people, businesses, investors and economic growth; This is an excerpt taken from the Africa Energy Outlook 2021. Get your free copy today on www.EnergyChamber.org.

Total electricity generation in Africa stood at 870 terawatt-hours (TWh) in 2019, an increase of 2.9 percent from 846 TWh in 2018. Africa’s electricity generation capacity has grown at an average of 4.8 percent per annum since 2008, compared to 2.7 percent globally. Nonetheless, Africa’s share of global electricity generation has been around 3 percent since 2000.

The African Energy Chamber forecasts that 2021 generation is likely to range between 870-900 TWh if demand picks up aggressively throughout the year following the gradual removal of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions and economies opening more fully to international trade. Our base case forecast using a conservative 4.5 percent yearly growth (current stated policies) shows that electricity generation on the continent will increase by 25 percent, 55 percent and 141 percent of 2020 baseline levels to reach 1,057, 1,138 and 2,047 TWh by 2025, 2035 and 2040 respectively. This increases to 1,520 in 2030 and 2,700 TWh in 2040 in a more aggressive push to expand capacity at 6 percent per annum.

The latter assessment is premised on Africa aggressively pushing to expand electricity supply and modern energy services within the framework of the Africa Agenda 2063 on energy and infrastructure development. This will ensure that generation expansion will outpace population growth on the continent (Africa will have 1.8 and 2.45 billion people by 2040 and 2050).

Regarding the supply mix, natural gas (39 percent) constitutes the largest element in Africa’s electricity generation mix, followed by coal (29 percent), hydro (15 percent) and oil (10 percent).

While nuclear energy accounted for another 2 percent, the share of renewables (RE) in Africa’s generation mix is growing, albeit at a lower pace than in other regions (5 percent). Most of the RE growth comes from solar, wind and geothermal power plants, and this expected to continue into 2030. Africa generated 830 megawatts (MW), 5,748 MW and 7,236 MW of geothermal, wind and solar installed capacity in 2019, signifying growth rates of 17.4 percent, 26.1 percent and 60.2 percent respectively since 2010.

Nonetheless, most of these RE developments on the continent are limited primarily to Northern (Morocco, Egypt) and South-Eastern Africa (South Africa, Kenya). Given the declining costs of key RE technologies along with rising concerns over CO2 emissions, the level of renewables deployment, particularly solar and wind energy is expected to increase by 1.5 percent annually over the next decade to 2030.

Regarding sectoral electricity consumption, the industrial sector remains the continent’s largest user (41 percent) followed by residential (33 percent), commercial and public services (18 percent) and agriculture (4 percent). Transport consumes a small proportion (approximately 1 percent) while the remaining 3 percent was accounted for by other sectors.

At a sub-regional level, North Africa and South Africa account for more than 70 percent of Africa’s electricity demand.

This is an excerpt taken from the Africa Energy Outlook 2021. Get your free copy today on www.EnergyChamber.org. Engage with us on our social media using #ChamberNews #ChamberEnergy Outlook.

*SOURCE African Energy Chamber

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Ethiopia’s Conflict: A War Won to Preserve the Nation-State
December 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Lawrence Freeman*

Today, the Ethiopian government is reporting that the National Defense Forces have taken control of city of Mikelle, the capital city of Tigray, as well as the airport. This portends the effective defeat of the opposition forces that violently rebelled against the nation over three weeks ago, and the liberation of the Tigray region

Notwithstanding criticisms by some spectators, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was obligated to respond with force to safeguard the sovereignty of Ethiopia, in a similar manner to U.S. President Abraham Lincoln’s all-out war to preserve the Union.  The nation-state, which Prime Minister Abiy was defending, is not a coalition or association of separate states or semi-autonomous regions.  Rather it is a unique sovereign concept of self-governing that transcends various ethnic or religious beliefs. The nation-state is uniquely required to serve all its citizens and ensure the posterity of its people.  That is why throughout history, bloody wars have been fought to preserve the precious nation-state above all other considerations.  The military conflict was not a civil war, but more precisely, it was a war to preserve the integrity of the Ethiopian nation.

Prime Minister Abiy launched the now victorious military campaign against the leadership of the TPLF (Tigray People’s Liberation Front), not against the people of Tigray. The immediate cause for the government’s offensive was in response  to an early morning attack by the TPLF on November 4, on the Northern Command post of Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) located in Mekelle. This assault, which murdered many soldiers and seized equipment and ammunition, was deemed by the Ethiopian government, as “crossing the red line.” The government was compelled to respond with full force to safe the nation. No nation could continue to exist if it allowed its armed forces to be slaughtered. A six month state of emergency for the Tigray region was declared by the Council of Ministers on November 6. The stated intent of the government is to arrest and bring to justice a small “TPLF criminal clique” that has been funding and mobilizing to destabilize the nation.” (1)

TPLF Rejects Abiy’s Reform

To understand the underlying origin for this conflict requires reviewing the modern history of Ethiopia. In 1991, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), a coalition of forces, overthrew the fascist-Marxist Derg regime and took over control of the government of Ethiopia. For the next twenty-seven years, the TPLF not only governed the northern Tigray region, but as well, exerted unparalleled influence over the central government and the other ethnic regions of the country.

A year after he was selected by the EPRDF to become the new prime minister in April 2018, Prime Minister Abiy initiated a democratic-reform process that included replacing the countries narrowly focused ethno-national parties with a new nation-wide Prosperity Party.  Three regional parties that were part of the EPRDF coalition joined the new Prosperity Party as equals, in effect dissolving the EPRDF. However, the TPLF refused to accept losing its dominant political power. It voluntarily declined to join the new party, leaving the TPLF isolated with weakened political power.

Ethiopia’s constitution and its federation of a central government coexisting with regional ethnic states was formed as a compromise to various ethnic-nationalities that historically had been marginalized. This dubious arrangement indicates the ethnic pressures prevalent in Ethiopia, which must be overcome to unify the nation.  Consideration should be given to modifying the constitution following next year’s national elections. It is now imperative to reinforce a national Ethiopian identity that transcends ethnic-nationalism. This is what Prime Minister Abiy intended with his reforms and the creation of the non-ethnic Prosperity Party.  (Read: Ethiopia’s Prosperity Party: A Revolutionary Necessity). Confronted by open rebellion from the TPLF leadership, Prime Minister Abiy had no choice but to respond forcefully, otherwise the very existence of Ethiopia would be put in danger.

In harmony with his Medemer philosophy, Prime Minister Abiy proclaimed that all Ethiopians should accept responsibility for their past offenses, and all should be forgiven. He embraced the belief that the slate should be wiped clean of the past, in order for Ethiopian society to unite in a common pursuit of prosperity for all. (2)

Without concern for the future of Ethiopia, the TPLF rejected Prime Minister Abiy’s outlook and proceeded to commence an open rebellion against the Ethiopian nation.

Chair Persons of the eight parties who also represent eight Regions as governing parties worked under the umbrella of the EPRDF coalition signed a document for the establishment of Prosperity Party. Photo Credit OPM

Abiy Acted to Preserve Ethiopia 

Prior to attacking the soldiers of the ENDF in Mekelle, which the TPLF viewed as a foreign army, the TPLF disregarded national election law. After Ethiopia’s elected government-the House of People’s Representatives-postponed national elections in March of this year due to circumstances resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the TPLF conducted its own illegal elections in Tigray in September, violating the nation’s decree.

Prime Minister Abiy charged the TPLF leadership of trying to derail his transition, making the country ungovernable by instigating religious and ethnic conflicts, and inciting violence against the central government in Addis Ababa.

Although, Prime Minister Abiy is an Oromo, and is the first non-Tigrayan to become prime minister since 1991, he is acting in the interest of all Ethiopians, not simply or narrowly on behalf of his ethnic origin. If, Prime Minister Abiy were to allow the TPLF to defy federal law and initiate an armed attack on the defense forces of the federal government without responding as he has, this would encourage other ethno-separatist movements to flout the authority of the nation. Thus, contrary to what people may have wanted to believe, Prime Minister Abiy’s military campaign to subdue the reckless TPLF leadership, was the best way to prevent the conflict from becoming a civil war.

Bronwyn Bruton of the DC based, Atlantic Council Africa Center, argued that intuitive calls for negotiations endangered the future of Ethiopia. In her blog post Ethiopia: Calls for Negotiation Are Driving Ethiopia Deeper Into War, written before the defeat of the TPLF, she wrote:

“The most effective means of discouraging the continuation of this conflict is to finally put pressure on TPLF leaders…to stand down…in the interest of protecting the local population. Abiy urgently needs to be persuaded that he can rely on the international community–and not only his army–to ensure that the TPLF will be prevented from returning to power. Counterintuitively, the fastest way for the international community to do that is to stop calling for negotiations, and to start demanding accountability for the TPLF.

Calling for negotiations, as so many are advocating, will only encourage TPLF leaders to believe that violence will permit them to fight their way to a bigger chair at the table. That is not only a losing strategy in Ethiopia–it sets up an extraordinarily dangerous precedent for the next armed insurgency that wants to challenge central authority.”

Ethiopia, East Africa’s leader in economic development and a key nation providing stability to the Horn of Africa. There are confirmed reports that the TPLF fired missiles across the border into Eretria, and on the Bahir and Gondar airports in Amhara, Ethiopia. Thus, it is clear that the TPLF posed an immediate danger not only to Ethiopia, but to the entire region, and had to be defeated.

President Abraham Lincoln meeting with his generals at Antietam, Maryland. (courtesy history.com)

Lincoln Waged War to Save the Union

U.S. history records a troubled and dangerous time when the Army of the Federal Government came under attack.

Six weeks after Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States on November 6, 1860, South Carolina seceded from the Union on December 20, and demanded the removal of all federal troops. On December 26, 1860, Major Robert Anderson of the U.S Army in South Carolina, moved his 68 troops into Fort Sumter, an island in the Charleston Harbor. Immediately following his inauguration on March 4, 1861, President Lincoln was confronted with the threat of the dissolution of the United States. South Carolina, one of seven states that formed the Southern Confederacy on February 8, 1861, insisted that the Federal Fort Sumter belonged to them, and commenced a siege around the beleaguered federal troops.  President Lincoln had to make the most momentous decision of his two week old presidency, which he knew would impact the very existence of the United States; whether to send supplies to the troops or relinquish the fort. In the words of author Doris Goodwin:

“He [Lincoln] must make the decision between a surrender that might compromise the honor of the North and tear it apart, or a reinforcement that might carry the country into civil war.” (3)

On April 6, President Lincoln told the governor of South Carolina he would send provisions to the troops-no arms or ammunition. In response, Jefferson Davis, provisional president of the Confederacy, ordered Major Anderson to surrender the fort, which he refused. The Civil War officially began at 4:30 in the morning of April 12, when the Confederacy fired on Fort Sumter. President Lincoln rightly considered Fort Sumter as an outpost of the Federal Government, and thus an attack on the fort was an attack on the United States. Within days President Lincoln issued a call for 75,000 volunteers to join the Union Army to defeat the Southern rebellion and secure the very existence of the nation.

In President Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address on March 4, 1865, he discussed the reason for the federal government’s war against the rebel South. He remarked that while he was seeking to save the Union without war “insurgents were seeking to destroy it…seeking to dissolve the Union, and divide effects by negotiation.” The South, he said, “would make war rather than let the nation survive” and the North “would accept war rather than let it perish.”

President Lincoln made clear in this address, and throughout his entire tenure as president, that he would spare no effort, including the tremendous loss of life, to preserve the Union. The Confederacy, supported by the British, intended to abolish the Union, had to be defeated, even at the dreadful price of 750,000 soldiers perishing in combat. Americans and all people of the world should give thanks that President Lincoln was victorious, and that the United States of America survived as a sovereign nation.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (left) with former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn

No Moral Equivalency

Throughout the entirety of the of the four year long war, President Lincoln would only describe the enemy of the Union as a “Southern Rebellion.” He never recognized the legitimacy of the Confederacy of Southern States, because, to President Lincoln there was only one government representing all of the United States.

Former Ethiopian Prime Minister from 2012-2018, Hailemariam Desalegn espoused a correlated judgement in regard to the TPLF in his argument: Ethiopia’s Government and the TPLF Leadership Are Not Morally Equivalent. On November 24, he admonished the international community’s view of the conflict:

“The key problem…is the assumption of moral equivalence, which leads foreign governments to adopt an attitude of false balance and bothsidesism.” He continued: In the meantime, those who are advocating dialogue with the TPLF leadership should carefully consider the full implications of what they are calling for, as they will open a Pandora’s box that other ethnic-based groupings are ready to emulate. Those calling for talks should understand that the very prospect of negotiating with the TPLF’s current leadership is an error—as matter of both principle and prudence.”

While Prime Minister Abiy was not fighting a civil war, analogous to President Lincoln he was forced to make decisions that would determine the very existence of Ethiopia. Nations must be supported against separatist, ethnic or religious movements that attempt to tear apart the fabric of national sovereignty. All human beings, regardless of where we were born, are united by our universal innate potential of creativity. The power of our creative-soul is what makes us distinctively human, unique from all other species. It is our common heritage.  The nation-state exists to promote the creative potential of all its citizens from the past to the present and into the future.  Thus, its value to civilization is inimitable and must be safeguarded at all costs.

Updates on the unfolding developments of Ethiopia, Office of the Prime Minister, November 6, 2020

2 Ethiopia’s Prosperity Party: A Revolutionary Necessity

Team of Rivals, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Simon and Shuster, New York, 2005

*Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in the economic development policy of Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

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Ten years after the inaugural Development Effectiveness Review, The African Development Bank is once more shepherding African economies through a global crisis
December 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

We should be in no doubt that Africa faces its gravest threat in many years, and that national health and social protection systems will be severely tested.” Akinwumi Adesina

The COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed health and economic crises across the world, including in Africa, undoing decades of economic growth and human development. Post-pandemic, comes the challenge of recovery and reviving growth.

The African Development Bank’ s 2020 edition of its Annual Development Effectiveness Review, (ADER) marks ten years since the report was first published to assess the institution’s and Africa’s progress. The report, which evaluates the Bank’s impact in 2019 in meeting strategic and cross-cutting objectives and on strengthening development impact, is even more relevant as one looks at the COVID-19 era challenges.

The current edition, released on 19  November, assesses the Bank’s progress on achieving each of its High 5 strategic priorities: Light Up and Power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialize Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the Quality of Life for the People of Africa.

Although much has changed in the last decade, one thing remains the same: the Bank remains at the forefront in guiding Africa’s economies in times of both progress and crisis.

As African Development Bank president Akinwumi Adesina notes in the 2020 report’s foreword: “We should be in no doubt that Africa faces its gravest threat in many years, and that national health and social protection systems will be severely tested.”

The inaugural ADER was released in 2011—covering the previous year—just as  regional member countries were emerging from the 2008 global financial crisis, which halted the continent’s impressive run of growth.  “With a collective GDP of $1.6 trillion, Africa looked on the verge of sustained economic take-off,” the executive summary noted. “Then came the global financial crisis, which reduced Africa’s growth to 3% in 2009 and set the continent back significantly. We acted swiftly to help African countries limit the effects of the global financial crisis.” In terms of the Bank’s impact and operations, the inaugural edition concluded, “Overall, over three quarters of our projects reached or surpassed their expected outputs,” noting there was room to improve.

Throughout the decade, the Bank continued to notch milestones in its operations. By 2012, its disbursement ratio stood at 22%– a significant improvement on the previous two years. Also at that time, 65% of new Bank projects were climate-proofed, a significant emerging priority for the institution.

ADER 2016 marked the first release of the report under the leadership of Adesina, and the introduction of the High 5 priorities as a benchmark for the Bank’s success while maintaining indicators from the earlier reports. The report also marked a shift toward greater decentralization of Bank operations to increase responsiveness to the needs of regional member countries. In 2015,the Bank exceeded its target of achieving a satisfactory rating on 78% of completed operations, hitting 83%.  Further, Ninety percent of completed operations had sustainable outcomes in that year, also beating expectations.

In the foreword to the 10th edition, Adesina notes the continent “has advanced steadily along the path towards a brighter future. Its progress has been driven by Africans’ determination to fulfil their potential as productive members of society and to forge better lives for themselves and their families, supported by continuing improvements in public services and infrastructure.”

Over the past years, the institution has posted strong progress toward meeting High-5 goals.  For example, in the 2015-2019 period, 20 million people gained access to electricity, while 74 million people benefited from improvements in agriculture and 69 million people gained better access to transport. 

The backdrop to these strong results is of course the continuing pandemic.  As the 2020 report notes, “despite… the expectation that 2020 would be another year of growth, the COVID-19 pandemic will put many of Africa’s recent development gains at risk.” GDP might decline by as much as 3.4%, as a result of sharply reduced trade, tourism and remittances as well as lower prices for commodities.

The Bank’s swift response, setting up a COVID-19 response facility worth up to $10 billion has helped cushion some of the economic and health impacts.

The road to recovery is expected to be long and difficult but the Bank remains in a position to help Africa build back better and smarter, and at the same time to continue to strengthen its own operations.

*AfDB

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“It brings us hope”: African Development Bank leads drive to deliver electricity to all
December 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

Kindergarten teacher Fatima Zahera Hagou recalls that just a generation ago, when the sun went down over the Moroccon countryside, her rural village of Dar Laain ground to a halt and locals bedded down for the night.

Nowadays, Dar Laain, about 25km southwest of Marrakech, booms with life after dark, thanks to the expansion of the electricity grid. Residents have benefited from youth clubs, a communal bathhouse and a busy women’s farming collective.

“I cannot imagine life in the village without electricity,” said Hagou. “It brings us hope.”

Given its importance to economic activity, quality of life and service delivery, energy is a cornerstone of the African Development Bank’s development strategy for the continent through its Light Up and Power Africa High-5 priority.

With other development finance institutions, the Bank plays a critical role in financing electricity projects.

Bank operations helped to install 291 MW of new power capacity in 2019, 60% of which was renewable, according to the institution’s Annual Development Effectiveness Review (ADER) 2020, published on November 19. The Bank also installed or improved 435 km of power distribution lines and supplied 468,000 people with new electricity connections.

One of those people is Araya Hizkias, the owner of a water bottling company in South Sudan’s capital Juba. He used to rely on a diesel generator to keep his business going, which gobbled into his profits each month.

In November 2019 the city’s new power grid was partially commissioned under the Bank’s $38 million Juba Power Distribution System Rehabilitation and Expansion Project, which aims to boost security and economic activity in a city still recovering from conflict.

“We don’t experience random damage to our machines anymore and things are working easier. We are making more savings and expanding production,” Hizkias said.

Despite these positive strides, access to electricity on the continent is still low, at 45%. The Covid-19 pandemic may further constrain the pace of expanding electricity access to millions of Africans not connected.

A key element of the Bank’s work to address energy shortages includes expanding investments in renewable energy. The Bank recently approved a new solar project in Sudan and new hydropower projects in Liberia and Madagascar.

In Chad, a Bank loan approved last year kickstarted the first phase of the 32 MW Djermaya solar project. The loan also covered a Partial Risk Guarantee, key to unlocking investment in the Central African country, which has enormous solar potential but currently depends heavily on polluting wood fuels.

The guarantee is an example of the Bank’s efforts to bridge the financing gap and leverage public and private sector investment to meet the continent’s energy demand. The International Energy Agency estimates that achieving reliable electricity supply in Africa would require a quadrupling of investments to around $120 billion annually through 2040.(link is external)

Achieving this will require innovation and partnerships that allow energy sector players to move faster to assure sustainable energy access even in remote or rural parts of Africa.

One solution is to decentralise energy networks. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the African Development Bank Board last year approved a loan of $20 million to support renewable-based, mini-grid solutions in the off-grid cities of Isiro, Bumba and Genema.

Someday, DRC and many other countries could be like Morocco, where the power grid now reaches most citizens, with some 40,000 new villages hooked up in the last two decades.

“Since I’ve had access to electricity, my business has grown. I can now afford to work on my art and expand my clientele,” said Mohamed Dakni, a 32-year-old welder in the village of Douar Bou Azza near Marrakech.

“I used to make small objects that I sold for a cheap price at the market. Today I can develop my business, my creativity, and make a better living.”

*AFDB

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African Businesses and Officials Demand Justice Against Disgraced Spanish Police Commissioner José Villarejo and Diario Rombe Founder Delfin Mocache Massoko
December 1, 2020 | 0 Comments
According to a Spanish government indictment, Villarejo received money and worked with Massoko to discredit African businesses and politicians.


 Former Spanish Police Commissioner José Villarejo and Delfin Mocache Massoko, who manages Equatorial Guinea’s digital newspaper Diario Rombe, will be sued and brought to justice. According to a Spanish government indictment, Villarejo received money and worked with Massoko to discredit African businesses and politicians, using privileged information to sell and extort customers and conduct illegal spying activities.

Over the past few years, individuals tied to Diario Rombe have indeed been trying to extort companies and public officials, and threatened to inflict substantial financial and reputational harm on them if their demands were not met. These are serious offences that should no longer go unpunished. As the affairs grows, it is becoming clear that not only did José Villarejo receive USD 5 million in exchange for working with other already disgraced individuals to discredit African companies and officials, but also kept making false public statements alleging wrongdoing from them.

This is a case where a corrupt police officer teamed up with unethical Equatorial Guinea blogger to blow well past the line of aggressive advocacy, and crossing into the territory of illegal extortion and spying in an attempt to enrich himself and his companions by extracting millions of dollars from African businesses and government officials.

Consequently, a criminal and civil complaint is currently being pursued by Centurion Law Group on behalf of the victims. This criminal and civil complaint demonstrates the continuous commitment to unmasking malicious actors behind some of the most egregious attacks on black businesses and everyday Africans. The fight against corruption and mismanagement should be aggressive and we must work together to get results.

The consequences of Delfin Mocache Massoko and Villarejo’s actions are far reaching, affecting not only individuals, but also entire African economies trying to recover from Covid-19 and economic slowdowns. Engaging in abuse of power for extortion purposes is a dangerous and illegal game and African executives and officials are now ready to stand up for their rights. Those found guilty will be held accountable for their actions, and Centurion Law Group intends to continue working with the Spanish authorities and other relevant jurisdictions to vigorously seek justice.

By calling out and seeking justice against those who threaten hardworking Africans, we expose criminals who hide behind their computer and blogs and launch attacks that threaten our public safety, our businesses, our jobs and our ability to get Africans out of poverty. Our firm, with other law firms in Spain, Europe and the United States and with the assistance of Spanish and European authorities, is sending a strong message that we will work together to investigate and hold these criminals accountable.

*SOURCE Centurion Law Group
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International Rescue Committee intensifies feeding programmes as Zimbabwe is named in top 16 global hunger hotspots
December 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire 

In a recent report from the World Food Programme, Zimbabwe was named amongst the world’s top 16 global hunger hotspots. In recent years, drought and crop failure exacerbated by macro-economic challenges have created a humanitarian crisis for over 7 million people in Zimbabwe with many people unable to meet their daily food needs. Inflation has eroded purchasing power and affordability of food and other essential goods is a daily challenge. Cyclone Idai last year, coupled with the COVID- 19 pandemic has compounded the situation as families have been unable to obtain income or access food due to movement restrictions. Over 125,000 people remain in need of humanitarian assistance across the 12 affected districts in Manicaland and Masvingo provinces following the cyclone last year. 

  It is in the midst of the scenario that the International Rescue Committee (IRC) has stepped in to supporting affected households with multi-purpose cash transfers and essential items such as smart agriculture inputs like drought resistant crops and drip irrigation to mitigate hunger and build resilience. 

  The IRC is also working to safeguard communities from the COVID-19 pandemic by raising awareness on COVID-19 risk factors, providing personal protective equipment, infection protection and control materials and building and installing water points to help people practice preventative methods.  10,222 households in Chimanimani and Chipinge are benefiting from feeding programmes while 4380 farmers from 34 operational Wards in Beitbridge and Nyanga are being supported with smart agriculture inputs.

Women and children are the most vulnerable in times of disaster, hence the IRC continues to offer psychosocial support and essential gender-based violence case management services through Safe Spaces in Manicaland.  

Zvidzai Maburutse, IRC Zimbabwe Country Director says,

“Climate change manifesting through frequent shifting weather patterns is affecting the ability of people to feed themselves because of a loss of crops and livestock. This has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic which has affected livelihoods that people rely on for daily survival.  Due to the gravity of the situation, the United Nations also scaled up launching a US$331.5 million aid appeal for Zimbabwe to help it recover from drought that has driven millions to the brink of starvation. At the IRC we are working to reduce the impact by providing cash as immediate support to buy basic needs. We are also looking at long term solutions like supporting communities to recover livelihoods through seeds that can withstand drought; water saving technology like drip kits and training of farmers on climate proofing.  Still, more needs to be done and we are appealing to donors and other partners to urgently assist with humanitarian support.”

The IRC began working in Zimbabwe in 2008 to respond to the devastating cholera outbreak and has since significantly scaled up our programming to work with local communities to improve sanitation, access to clean water, safe delivery for pregnant women, and livelihood opportunities and improved agriculture for farmers. 

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 28 offices across the U.S. helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities.

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African Development Bank Invests in Pioneering SPARK+ Africa Fund to Deliver Clean Cooking Solutions
December 1, 2020 | 0 Comments
The Bank’s investment, which will come from its Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA), is expected to enable the participation of other interested investors.

The African Development Bank’s Board of Directors has approved a $5 million investment in the SPARK+ Africa Fund to deliver clean cooking solutions to over two million households across Africa.

The European Commission will contribute an additional €10 million. The Bank’s investment, which will come from its Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA), is expected to enable the participation of other interested investors. As an anchor investor, the Bank will channel first-loss equity from SEFA and the European Commission thematic blending facility.

In addition to delivering clean cooking technologies, the investment is expected to reduce carbon emissions by 15.9 Mt of CO2 equivalent, by cutting emissions from the use of inefficient stoves and open fires and forest degradation for wood fuel.

Switching to cleaner cookstoves reduces exposure to harmful cooking smoke and the time spent collecting firewood, a burden that falls disproportionately on women.

“By investing in the rollout of clean cooking solutions to millions of households, the Bank is also contributing to women’s empowerment, employment creation and reduced deforestation associated with charcoal production,” said Dr. Kevin Kariuki, African Development Bank Vice President for Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth.

The investment complements the Bank’s wider efforts to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said: “Positive health impacts from the reduction of household in-door air pollution also contributes to resilience toward diseases attacking respiratory systems such as COVID-19.”

Dymphna van der Lans, Chief Executive Officer of the Clean Cooking Alliance said: “The Clean Cooking Alliance is very pleased to have collaborated with Enabling Qapital, the African Development Bank, and the European Commission to develop this ground-breaking investment facility. We believe the SPARK+ Africa Fund will have a tremendous impact in the market and accelerate clean cooking sector growth to positively impact the lives of millions of people in the years to come.”

Xavier Pierluca, Managing Partner of Enabling Qapital stated: “We have designed the SPARK+ Africa Fund to take an ecosystem approach to further the outreach of quality solutions to low-income communities by offering tailored investment instruments throughout the value chain from design and manufacturing companies to last-mile distributors.”

SPARK+ Africa is a pioneering impact investment fund launched by Enabling Qapital and the Clean Cooking Alliance to channel debt and equity financing to enterprises that manufacture, distribute and finance clean cooking solutions across Sub-Saharan Africa. The Fund targets a capitalization of $50-70 million.

The scale of the challenge of widening access to clean cooking in Africa remains daunting, in part because much needed investment has been hindered by high perceived risks and, in many cases, a return profile insufficient to attract commercial investment. The SPARK+ Africa Fund is a direct response to this challenge and is a key component of the AfDB’s response to the clean cooking challenge. The investment in the Fund’s first-loss tranche will directly address a critical financing gap and enable the participation of other interested financiers.

The Clean Cooking Alliance works with a global network of partners to make clean cooking accessible to the three billion people who live each day without it. Enabling Qapital Ltd. is an impact investment advisory company with a track record in advancing financial inclusion and access to energy.

SEFA is a multi-donor special fund administered by the African Development Bank and anchored by the Governments of Denmark, the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Spain ─ to support Renewable Energy (RE) and Energy Efficiency (EE) projects in Africa.

The approval was made on November 24, 2020.

*AfDB
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Don’t Underestimate the Power of Natural Gas to Transform Africa
December 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

By NJ Ayuk

 NJ Ayuk is Executive Chairman, African Energy Chamber

The continent’s gas industry is on the verge of real transformation, as the African Energy Chamber (AEC) notes in our 2021 Africa Energy Outlook.

Africa has already made an indelible mark in the oil industry. It is home to four of the world’s top 20 crude oil producers — Nigeria, Angola, Algeria, and Libya — and these same four countries also have some of the largest oil reserves in the world.

So far, it hasn’t made quite as much of a splash in the gas industry. The only African countries on the list of the world’s top 20 gas producers are Algeria and Nigeria, and one of the states that has the largest gas reserves is Mozambique, which is still several years away from bringing its major fields on line.

But the gap between African oil and gas doesn’t have to be permanent. The continent’s gas industry is on the verge of real transformation, as the African Energy Chamber (AEC) notes in our 2021 Africa Energy Outlook, released earlier this month. I’d like to describe what forms that shift might take — and explain how the changes would benefit Africans.

New Sources of Production

Some of the change I expect is going to happen in the upstream sector — that is, in the realm of exploration and production.

First, the continent’s current leading producers are likely to produce more. North African states such as Egypt and Algeria will account for part of this increase, as they are looking to ramp up development at existing natural gas fields. But another part of it will stem from programs designed to reduce the flaring of associated gas found in oil fields. Both Nigeria and Angola, for example, have plans to expand the use of associated gas. The former aims to deliver its production to the domestic market, while the latter is looking to split its production between the local market and the export-oriented Angola LNG project.

The upshot of these trends is that the list of Africa’s top gas producers will probably remain static until the middle of the decade. As the AEC’s outlook explains: “The (continent’s) top five crude oil producers — Nigeria and Angola from the west, and Algeria, Egypt, and Libya from North Africa — complete the top five natural gas producers for 2020 and 2021. These five countries contribute about 90% of the overall natural gas output from the continent for both (2020 and 2021), and the expected forecast suggests the share of these countries will remain the same going into the mid-2020s.”

At that point, though, new producers will start to play a more prominent role. Mozambique is due to launch its first greenfield project at Area 1 in 2024, and its offshore zone may become a major source of natural gas by 2025-2026. The Mauritania-Senegal offshore zone may follow a similar timeline, as the Greater Tortue/Ahmeyim blocks may begin yielding natural gas in 2023, followed later by the Yakaar-Teranga and BirAllah projects. What’s more, all four of the projects mentioned in this paragraph will support gas liquefaction plants capable of producing and exporting LNG.

By the end of the decade, then, there will be more than five countries accounting for the bulk of Africa’s total gas production. Nigeria, Angola, Algeria, Egypt, and Libya will be joined by at least three others —Mozambique, Mauritania, and Senegal.

Domestic Consumption vs. Exports

Meanwhile, consumption patterns are going to shift along with production patterns. Once again, this shift is likely to begin once the large new fields in the Mozambique and Mauritania/Senegal provinces come online.

The change may not be obvious on a macro level, because it won’t be evident in the split between exports and domestic consumption. That is, Africa will continue to use about 70% of the gas it extracts and will export continue to the remaining 30%. As the AEC’s outlook explains, though, the geography of African gas exports will not remain static.

“The pattern has been relatively stable since 2012 with about 70% serving local markets, 20% exported to Europe and 10% exported to Asia,” the report states. “The mid-2020s LNG startups are also expected to distort this picture by increasing the market share for East Asia LNG exports. This development is, however, not (a consequence) of local markets’ (rising demand), but rather the shrinking ability of North African countries to maintain their export capacity to Europe on the back of strong domestic demand growth. By 2030, the expectation is effectively for East Asia and Europe to be inverted, while domestic market share remains constant.”

In short, Africa is on track to produce more gas by the end of the decade but will keep the same share of the total for its own use. At the same time, Asia will replace Europe as the most important market for African gas exports.

Gas Means Jobs

These trends are interesting, but you may want to ask: What do they mean for ordinary Africans, for people who are less concerned with production data and trade balances than with questions about how to support their families?

They mean a great deal.

As I’ve mentioned, the 2021 Africa Energy Outlook report projects that African gas production is going to rise, especially after new fields come on line and ramp up development in the middle of the decade. It also anticipates that African gas consumption will rise, even if domestic consumption continues to absorb a full 70% of total production.

As production goes up, upstream operators will create jobs. They will need people to help them build, operate, maintain, and repair production, transportation, and processing facilities. They will also need people to administer their local operations. Additionally, they will need to meet legal requirements or contractual commitments for local content, so they will need to hire African contractors. Those African contractors, in turn, will need employees of all kinds, and so will hire African workers.

And as consumption goes up, even more jobs will be created. Distributors will need new pipelines to deliver the gas to end-users, so they will need people who can help them build, operate, maintain, repair, and administer those pipelines, along with associated infrastructure facilities such as storage depots. And even in the absence of pipelines, they will need to acquire tankers and containers so that they can bring gas to customers by road, rail, or river. Accordingly, they will need people to procure, operate, maintain, repair, and administer these operations.

Meanwhile, there’s more. The hiring of more African workers is sure to have knock-on effects. If, for example, employees of upstream operators need a way to get to a remote worksite, local transportation companies may be able to serve them. If so, those transportation companies may have to hire more people to drive their vehicles. Likewise, if African construction firms need to procure extra building materials to uphold their contracts with upstream operators, local suppliers may be able to meet their needs. And if so, those local suppliers may have to hire more people to handle their inventory.

In other words, as Africa’s gas industry grows, it has the potential to create thousands and thousands of jobs! Of course, some of them, such as construction jobs, will be temporary. Some of them will be more permanent, though, especially if the governments of gas-producing states work with upstream operators to develop local hiring and training standards that expand the capacity of the local workforce.

All the Way Down the Value Chain

But the knock-on effect doesn’t have to stop there.

In my most recent book, Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals, I urged African oil and gas producers to look as far down the value chain as they could. I advised them to pursue projects that treated hydrocarbons not just as exportable raw materials but as inputs for value-added operations such as fertilizer or petrochemical manufacturing. I also suggested that they look for ways to focus on gas-to-power projects with the intent of improving domestic electricity supplies — and not just because new power grids would benefit African businesses.

It is true, of course, that some African businesses will be able to create more jobs if they do not have to worry about blackouts. Likewise, it is true that gas-to-power projects will create jobs of their own in areas such as construction, operations, maintenance, and administration. But it is also true that African households need and deserve access to reliable energy supplies, regardless of employment levels — and that gas-to-power plans can help them!

I’m hardly the only person to reach this conclusion. When I wrote Billions at Play, several African countries had already rolled out ambitious gas-to-power schemes. Nigeria, for example, was in the process of implementing a program that promoted associated gas as fuel for new power plants. Since then, others have followed suit. For instance, as the AEC’s energy outlook notes, Senegal has unveiled plans for using its future gas production to generate electricity for the domestic market. Mozambique already has a couple of gas-to-power projects in the works, too.

But it shouldn’t stop there. I’d like to see more gas producers do this as they ramp up gas production in the second half of the decade. If they do, they will have accomplished something beyond merely increasing output levels. They will have taken concrete action to strengthen their economies and benefit their own citizens. And in so doing, they will have made their mark on the world!

*SOURCE African Energy Chamber. 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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Egypt, South Sudan leaders talk Nile water, regional stability
December 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir in Juba, South Sudan. Photo  Egyptian Presidency via Reuters.

Juba — Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, in his first visit to South Sudan said he and President Salva Kiir discussed regional security and the usage of Nile waters, including areas of trade and investment.

Abdel Fattah Al- Sisi, President of Arab Republic of Egypt, who arrived in Juba, capital of South Sudan on Saturday, was received by President Salva Kiir. His visit also comes at the time, the Federal Republic of Ethiopia is in political turmoil.

The two leaders broadly discussed matters relating to water resources management, especially Egyptian readiness to use their expertise to help mitigate the impact of current floods, both in short and medium terms through dredging water sources and water harvesting methods such as dams construction.

The statement after Saturday’s meeting made no mention of the deadly conflict inside neighboring Ethiopia, which is also in a dispute with Egypt over a massive dam that Addis Ababa is nearing completion on the Blue Nile.

Both Egyptian president El – Sisi and president Kiir agreed on the need to enhance mutual cooperation in areas of education, healthcare, media, energy, trade and investment, and infrastructural connectivity especially with respect to road and rail links. 

President Salva Kiir said, South Sudan government strongly feels Egyptian leadership and expertise in these areas can make a difference in our developmental priorities. 

El-Sisi in the statement said he and Kiir discussed maximizing the usage of Nile waters, which he said should be a source of hope and national development. 

El-Sisi’s administrations described Ethiopia’s dam project as an existential threat to his country, which relies on the Nile for most of its water supply.

Ethiopia earlier says the dam is needed for development and poverty alleviation in the region.

However, talks among Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan on the dam have been challenging as issues including the mediation of any disputes have yet to be agreed on.

Thought, South Sudan is a part of Nile water, is yet to be involved in the talks over the share of the Nile water.

Observers want South Sudan to be represented in any discussion over the Nile River

The region has been watching to see whether Egypt would try to take advantage of Ethiopia’s current instability as Ethiopia’s clashes with the country’s heavily armed northern Tigray region for almost a month now.

Egypt’s president also said he’s asking the international community to lift sanctions on South Sudan, which is slowly recovering from five years of civil war that killed nearly 400,000 people. The implementation of a peace deal is behind schedule.

South Sudan’s president also stressed the importance of dialogue in dealing with issues affecting regional stability.

“South Sudan’s firm commitment to regional solidarity and responsibility of Africans to seek African solutions to African problems,” said president Kiir.

President El – Sisi also expressed his readiness to Support the implementation of the fragile Revitalized Peace agreement, where required. 

Egyptian president also pledged the Egyptian full support in alleviating some of the challenges facing South Sudan such as the impact of falling oil prices, COVID-19 pandemic and recent devastating flood across the Country. 

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