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Burundi: About 7 dead from grenade attacks.
September 26, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Egide Lucky

Two grenade attacks occurred at a bus station in the Bujumbura city center on the 20th of September

Burundian two capital cities, Bujumbura and Gitega, have been subjected to attacks in the last weeks. Besides the rising death toll, over 100 people were injured. The population implores the government to strengthen security. The latter calls on the former to increase vigilance.

In the night of 23rd September, a grenade attack has been carried out at the home of a military officer in Kamenge locality, north of Bujumbura city. Sources in the police confirm death of the officer’s wife and house girl.

On 20th September, three grenade attacks occurred in Bujumbura city, the Burundian economic capital. It was about 7pm o’ clock when a first grenade exploded in the city center at the bus station serving the north of the city. Another grenade was thrown at the same place a few minutes later.

The third exploded in Bwiza locality near Jabe market at some 20 kilometers from the city center. It targeted vendors of vegetables and fishes operating a bit outside the market.

In the city center, people ran from all directions escaping from the explosions. A traffic jam of people, cars, motorcycles amid shootings and explosions was a chaos. Cases of accidents are also reported.

“I was on the queue here waiting for my turn to board passengers. Abruptly, I heard an explosion. I could not leave my car alone. So many people hid themselves in my car, others tried to squeeze themselves under the car. It was terrible,” testified a bus driver met at the bus station the following day. He assumed having seen injured people, some seriously wounded.

He calls on the ministry in charge of public security to double the number of policemen working in the city center.

“It’s not understandable that grenades are hurled near a police camp and no criminal is arrested or shot. We are afraid there may be further attacks in the future,” a conductor expressed his concern over security at the station, also calling the government to strengthen security at public places, especially those that are often overcrowded.

A passenger who was at the same bus station at the time of the explosions denounces a “terrorist and barbaric” attack. “It is so horrible that people throw grenades at a public place and in the night when there is a crowd of people going home after job,” he says, calling the police to reinforce security in public places to prevent further attacks.

At Jabe market where another grenade lobbed, vendors still had great fear the following day. As they had been operating outside of the market, security agents obliged them to go back inside the market for security reasons.

“Many tables are empty here because their owners have been injured by the attack,” says a vendor of vegetables who witnessed the explosion and its aftermath. She deplores that security is not fully guaranteed at the place.

A pub in Gitega, the political capital of Burundi, was subject to a grenade attack in the night of 19th September. A grenade went off in a bar based at Zege bus station in Gitega city. 3 people are reported to have died from the explosion and over 20 were injured.

Before the grenade attacks in Gitega and Bujumbura city, Melchior Ndadaye international airport in Bujumbura was targeted by a bomb attack in the night of 18th September.

A rebel movement RED-TABARA accepted responsibility of the attack. Sources from the airport said that the attack took place outside the airport’s area and did not cause any casualties. However, the rebel group said it was not responsible for the grenade attacks in the city center.

Government condemns the “terrorist” attacks

“The ministry of home affairs, community development and public security condemns those barbaric acts which prove that Burundi is still faced with risks of terrorism,” reads a statement issued by the ministry in charge of security. It calls on the population to increase vigilance especially in crowded public places.

The prime minister Alain Guillaume Bunyoni conducted a visit to the injured people of the 20th September attack at Prince Regent Charles hospital. He said 2 people died from the attacks in Bujumbura city and 104 were injured.

The prime minister promised that the government will pay for treatment of the wounded people, “They will be well treated and invoices will be sent to the government for payment,” he said after visiting the injured at the hospital.

He exhorted the ministry in charge of solidarity to provide support to those who may face financial challenges because of the attacks.

Justice accuses opposition leaders in exile to spearhead the attacks

“They are terrorist attacks and crimes against humanity because they target peaceful civilians and public places,” said Sylvestre Nyandwi, Burundi Attorney General at a press conference on 22nd September.  

He mentioned that all the attacks have been carried out by a “terrorist group” led by Alexis Sinduhije, leader of MSD (Movement for solidarity and democracy) party that has been working in exile since 2015. Mr. Sinduhije is also on the black list of people accused of staging the 2015 failed coup. He has been tried and given a life sentence by the Burundian justice in absentia.

According to the attorney general, the “terrorist group” also includes François Nyamoya, secretary general of the MSD party and Marguerite Barankitse (Maggy). The latter is a representative of Maison Shalom, A humanitarian NGO that helps and support children from poor backgrounds and victims of war.

“International arrest warrants will be issued and sent to host countries so they can arrest them and send them to be tried by the Burundian justice,” said Sylvestre Nyandwi.

The MSD party denies any link with the attacks. “We strongly reject the unfounded accusations by a weak government that can’t ensure security for citizens. None of our leaders or members is committed to violence and terrorism,” reads a communiqué issued on 23rd September.

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Zimbabwe Electoral Commission , ZEC takes time to recognise new emerging opposition MDC parties .
September 26, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu

Spokesperson for ZEC Joyce Kazembe

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has not yet recognised new political party , Citizens Convergent for Change , CCC . This is a new emerging political party  which is widely used by Nelson Chamisa of MDC Alliance . Another party , Zimbabwe Alliance for Movement Unity is yet to be registered as anticipated by MDC Alliance party .

Spokesperson for ZEC Joyce Kazembe said it is difficult to take recognition of the political party because they are not enough details provided upon notifying ZEC of its existence .

”ZEC does not register political parties  . It simply receive_ notifications upon formation of new political parties . The Commission received a notification from CCC political party , however since it was incomplete , its existence was not acknowledged .

” There are no contact details like emails , phone numbers .It was impossible to acknowledge receipt upon notification of their existence”

The challenge still around is over the years there  are no regulations that define registration of political parties . Former ZEC Commissioner Qhubani Moyo contacted by Pan-African-Visions said there is a known and existing challenge to take note of .

”There is no law to register political parties in Zimbabwe .Political parties are not registered .All you do is to write to ZEC and specify , we are a political group  with such a name with full details” .

”Thus why some have been advocating for political parties registration so that a party can be defined in terms of what constitutes political party’s organic composition ”.

It has also been learn that there is another political party called Zimbabwe Alliance for Movement Unity , ZAMU. It is believed to be emerging from Chamisa group trying to confuse ZANU PF party . In Zimbabwe there is no definition of what constitutes a political party . Anyone can come up with a party and register . This is totally different with some countries  where you qualify only if you have registered members in some provinces around the country .

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Zimbabwe: Mnangagwa urges Judicial authorities to adopt ICTs.
September 26, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu

The Judiciary in Africa has been pushed on to climb new heights_ of development to rope in Information Communication Technologies in order to enhance Justice delivery systems. This, the President of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa said when he officially opened the Southern Africa Chief Justices conference in Victoria Falls the country largest tourist town close to Zambia just divided by the Zambezi river where lies the Mighty Victoria Falls one of the seven wonders of the World .

The conference held on 23 and 24 September ran under the theme Judiciary and Technology in Africa . It was attended by several chief justices from the SADC region. He said ICTs are now an absolute necessity especially in the covid -19 pandemic era .

”As judiciary adopt progressive innovations relevant to justice delivery. In the Health sector they have adopted telemedicine and deployment of drones to deliver medicines. Justice sector must harness ICTs and do the same. This helps them in conducting virtual hearings, video conferences and e-justice , including electronic case management , among others .”

”Let’s hope deliberations made here will broaden perspectives on how to take advantage of the various digital solutions and platforms  to further enhance administrations of Justice in the region ”. President Mnangagwa said further on that the vulnerable ones in African communities need to be connected to ICTs in fair way not to infringe their access to justice delivery in the region . He said those vulnerable and marginalised lack connectivity to ICTs in order for total fair justice to be delivered equally . He reiterated on that the rural community in the region as a whole still remain vulnerable and marginalised in in-line with ICTs and justice delivery

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Protests in Eastern Sudan block South Sudan crude oil export .
September 26, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Juba – South Sudan government says that protests in Eastern Sudan have affected the flow of oil to Port Sudan, thus disrupting production in oil fields.

The protestors closed Port Sudan and the airport on Thursday leaving South Sudan stuck with its crude exports.

The protests are against a 2020 peace deal between the government and rebel groups, criticized by the Beja tribes in eastern Sudan as the agreement “marginalizes and does not represent them.”

The area’s tribal council have blocked the main road connecting Port Sudan on the Red Sea and Khartoum affecting operations at the port.

This may affected the flow of oil from South Sudan to Port Sudan where it is transferred to the international market.

Minister of Information Michael Makuei Lueth, said the protests that broke last week leading to the closure of oil terminals at Port Sudan have disrupted transportation of crude to international markets.

“With the closure of Port Sudan, we are not in a position to export our oil so that is another issue which shall affect us because if we don’t export oil then we will be in crisis,” Lueth told reporters after the Council of Ministers regular meeting chaired by President Salva Kiir on Friday in Juba.

South Sudan is currently producing about 154,000 barrels of crude daily.

The oil crude is for basically the day to day running of affairs in the East Africa’s youngest country.

Eastern regions, which complains marginalization, demands the cancellation of the process and the establishment of a national conference for eastern issues, which aims at approving development projects in it.

The transitional government of Sudan declared the situation in Port Sudan as a force majeure, and efforts are underway to have this issue resolved so that our oil can flow.

Port Sudan for oil export

The oil – rich South Sudan is using only Port Sudan for oil flow and export to international markets.

South Sudan relies on neighboring Sudan’s infrastructure to transport its crude for export since her independence from Sudan in 2011 after a three decades of scorched-earth civil war.

“What is happening in port Sudan is a Sudanese issue, it has nothing to do with us, we only came in because we are beneficiaries who are using the port to export our oil,” said Lueth. “If they were just to allow us, to allow our oil to flow, we would have no problem at all but our main concern comes in when our oil is blocked.”

Lueth revealed that “all the tankers in Port Sudan are full, they were supposed to be loaded into cargo ships but up to now they have not done.”

Minister Lueth further warned that “the issue may force South Sudan to shut down production of its crude”.

“So the production will have to stop because there will be nowhere where we will export our oil from and this is why we are struggling to ensure that our oil passes through Port Sudan because this is where the pipeline is.”

Lueth said the Cabinet requested Kiir to make all necessary contacts so that the oil continues to flow.

Of recently, Sudanese transitional council foiled an attempted coup allegedly by supporters of former long-time ruler Omar Al-Bashir in what it said was meant to derail the ongoing transition period following the latter’s ouster in 2019.

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South Sudan passes 287 billion budget
September 26, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Minister of Information, Michael Makuei Lueth Photo by Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Juba – South Sudan Council of Minister has finally passed the 2021/2022 fiscal year budget estimated at 287.04 billion South Sudanese Pounds (SSP).

South Sudan has been operating under 2019/2020 financial year.

The SSP287-billion budget was first unveiled to the council in July at an estimate of about 500 billion.

The huge budge is aimed to finance the implementation of peace activities in the East Africa’s youngest nation.

The budget was passed after a thorough deliberation during the council meeting on Friday in Juba.

Minister of Information, Michael Makuei Lueth says the budget projections will be developed from the oil and non-oil revenues including grants from other countries.

“This budget include the revenues that will be generated from oil and revenue that will be generated from non-oil plus grants that we will get from some of the countries” Makuei told the press after the cabinet meeting.

However, the details of the 287 billion budget and its priorities have not been made public.

The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning is expected to table the draft budget before the R-TNLA, for timely endorsement by the August house.

“It was observed that in case of any shortcomings, the ministries and minister of finance are free to make supplementary budgets in areas which are not yet fully covered by the budget,” Makuei said.

Last financial year, the council passed a budget of 205 billion pounds.

South Sudan’s financial year covers 12 months, which runs from 1 July to 30 June each year.

By law, the budget is supposed to be submitted to the national legislature by not later than the 15th of May of each financial year.

But this has not been happening for the last two years due to the absent of a legitimate transitional legislature.

The Transitional National Legislative Assembly and the Council of States were reconstituted recently but they were supposed to be established two years ago, according to the 2018 revitalized peace agreement.

The country is struggling to increase production of crude oil, which finance a major activities of the government after the 2018 peace deal paused the country’s five-year conflict that killed nearly 400,000 people and uprooted four million people from their homes.

The oil production had been disrupted since the outbreak of conflict in December 2013.

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Prime Minister of Mali Choguel Maïga urged the United Nations to more effectively implement peacekeeping mission against terrorism .
September 26, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Martin Kwan

Prime Minister Maïga spoke before the world on 25 September 2021 in New York, during the general debate of the United Nations General Assembly. He reiterated criticisms against France for their unilateral withdrawal of Operation Barkhane army.

This is against the backdrop where armed terrorism in Mali have reformed and gained strength. Malian people are suffering from the horrendous and dangerous situation with mass killings. Victims include women and newborns. The French withdrawal has worsened the situation.

Prime MinisterMaïgastressed that the Malian people have a desire for peace. Despite the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), the Malian situation has scarcely improved. He therefore urged the United Nations to reconsider its approach in helping Mali more effectively in eradicating the threats.

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Cote d’Ivoire Touts Agric Potentials In Washington DC
September 26, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Minister of State in charge of Agriculture and Rural Development Kobenan Kouassi Adjoumani had a hectic schedule in Washington, DC

Cote d’Ivoire’s Minister of State in charge of Agriculture and Rural Development Kobenan Kouassi Adjoumani says investment potentials in his country’s agricultural sector are limitless and open to partnerships and investments.

Speaking at a press briefing at the Embassy of Cote d’Ivoire in Washington, DC to cap off a charm offensive with potential partners and stakeholders, Minister Adjoumani said his country was open for business.

The charm offensive of Minister of State Adjoumani included touting agricultural potentials and opportunities to potential partners and stakeholders

The hectic schedule of Minister of State Adjoumani included meetings with Sylvain Roy CEO of Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture, Jason Hafemeister, Deputy Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, USDA, Simeon Ehui Regional Director for Sustainable Development for Africa at the World Bank.

The Minister said discussions at the various meetings centred on broadening and deepening partnerships that will strengthen the agriculture sector in Cote d’Ivoire.

In addition to its status as the number one producer of cocoa in the world, and a whole range of other highly sort after agricultural products, the Minister of State said Cote d’Ivoire is hard at work in trying to modernize and optimize the potentials of the sector. Processing products in Cote d’Ivoire as opposed to just exporting the raw material is something the Ivoirian government is seriously working on and investors could cash in on the available opportunities, Minister Adjoumani said.

Minister of State Adjoumani and his delegation from Cote d’Ivoire found a willing guide in the dynamic outgoing Ambassador of Cote d’Ivoire Mamadou Haidara

On support to farmers to cushion the impact of COVID-19, Minister of State Adjoumani said the government of President Ouattara had been pro-active in proffering measures that eased pressure on farmers.

The five man delegation of Minister of State Kobenan Kouassi Adjoumani was accompanied to the meetings by the dynamic outgoing Ambassador of Cote d’Ivoire to Washington,DC, Mamadou Haidara

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Human Have Tortured The Planet – Charles Michel
September 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Alice Chisanga

Humans have tortured the planet and committed acts of war against the environment. UN General Assembly has heard from Charles  Michel, President of the European Council of the European Union.

Mr. Michel says It is time to sign a peace treaty with our planet and transform the world as the previous generation did after the last world war. 

He notes that for decades, scientists have sounded the alarm but it is the COVID-19 Pandemic   that has opened the eyes of people to see the reality that humans are inextricably linked to nature. 

“We are indeed at an inflection point,” he said, calling for a world that is fairer and safer, one where cooperation reigns over confrontation, solidarity over isolation and transparency over secrecy. 

Mr. Michel is calling for support towards the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, noting that the European Union has exported 700 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, invested €3 billion in COVAX and mobilized €1 billion to develop pharmaceutical production capacities in African countries. 

Further, the European Council President calls for prevention of the next pandemic and shoring up global resilience, adding that the European Union has proposed an international treaty against pandemics.

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We Can’t Allow Africa To Become A Safe Haven For International Terrorism – Senegalese President Macky Sall.
September 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Alice Chisanga

United Nations has heard from President of Senegal Macky Sall that Africa can not be allowed to be turned into a haven for terrorism.

Giving his Speech to the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly, President Sall says terrorist groups in the Sahel has been waging attacks and engaging in deadly lootings.

He advocated for the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) to be vested with a strong mandate.

 Mr. Sall noted that a crucial need existed  for the G5 Sahel (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger) to receive support in their fight against terrorism. 

 He went on to reiterate the call for Palestinians to enjoy their right to a viable State coexisting in peace through secure and recognized borders.

Turning to COVID-19, President Sall says, Senegal has engaged in transparent management of the COVID-19 Pandemic and has since been publishing daily reports and deploying an economic and USD$2 billion social resilience programme.

 He mentions that, so far, his country has significantly expanded medical resources, provided free tests and care and given free vaccines.

He applauded the surge of support his country is receiving from the COVAX initiative. 

Having said that, Mr. Sall explains that there has been a continued widening division between vaccinated countries in the North and non-vaccinated ones in the South.

 He gives free advise that the mentality of  each one for himself will not end the pandemic as what is likely to end the global  scourge is response and facilitating access to vaccines for all people across the world.

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Gene editing could help Africa build resilient agricultural systems amid climate change.
September 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Joseph Maina

New research has identified gene editing as a strong and viable option for improving the food security situation in the developing world amid a rapidly changing climate, with Africa standing to benefit from this technology.

Gene editing, also known as genome editing, comprises a group of technologies that give scientists the ability to change an organism’s DNA. The technology allows for the addition, removal or alteration of genetic material at particular locations in the genome, and is being used to produce high quality crops and livestock that can thrive in diverse settings.

Africa has already made commendable inroads with gene editing, and a number of projects have already been launched in various parts of the continent targeting key agricultural crops and livestock. Earlier this year, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) produced a report titled “Genome Editing in Africa’s Agriculture 2021: An Early Take-off”, which showed some of the gene-editing projects underway in Africa.

The ISAAA report details the efforts by researchers in the continent using gene editing to improve disease resistance in plants and build more robust crop and animal varieties. Among the crops and livestock targeted for improvement are sorghum, maize, bananas, sweet potato pigs, cattle and goats, which are central to food sufficiency in many parts of the African continent.

The study notes that crop production is very sensitive to climate change effects, with an increase of even 1 °C in average temperature having the potential to cause the reduction of between 5-10% in major food crops.

Climate change, which includes high temperatures, more intense rainfall and drought, is projected to have an unfavorable effect on plant agronomic conditions and soil nutrients while increasing threats from diseases, and insect pests.

“As a result, climate-resilient varieties with broad spectrum and long-term tolerance to both biotic and abiotic stresses are required,” the report notes. “The new genetic engineering method for crop enhancement is precise genome editing.”

Signs of a bleak food security situation are already visible, thanks to the changes in climate.

“It is estimated that climatic changes may cause a considerable decrease in maize production in southern Africa,” observes the report. “It may also cause up to 10% decrease in staple crops of south Asia, including rice while more than 10% decrease in millet and maize production”.

India recorded a dip in production of rice by 23% during the period of 2001-2002, attributed to water scarcity. The report added that in Indonesia, about 1 344 million tonnes production of rice has been lost due to flooding.

Added to the changes in climate is population growth, which is seen in many places not to match the dwindling food production.

“By 2050, it is expected that another 2.4 billion people be added to the population of developing countries of the world”, notes the report. “Agriculture in developing countries is a key source of employment, but at present more than 20% of the population falls on an average, in the category of food-insecurity.”

To counter the looming catastrophic food shortages, the study authors suggest that the agriculture sector must expand globally by 60% by the year 2050 to meet the increasing demand due to continuously increasing human population. In order to spare wild lands from being converted to farming, scientists are seeking to develop crop varieties that are more productive under climate change.

Even though traditional crop improvement through genetic recombination or random mutagenesis have had a measure of success in meeting global food demands, it is a time-consuming process that cannot keep up with rising food demand of the modern day and the future.

The authors recommend strong government commitment to formulate or adapt agricultural policies that will overcome or minimize the impacts of climate change on crop production. But while acknowledging that modern technological tools such as gene editing can revolutionize crop improvement programs in terms of production, the authors note that an integrated approach is required to face the challenges of food security under climate change from global to local level as well as from research to policies and investment level.

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Equatorial Guinea Proposes Restructuring National Gas Company and National Oil Company with a potential merger.
September 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

By merging GEPetrol and SONAGAS, the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons aims to enhance NOC capacity, address industry challenges, and accelerate hydrocarbon development.

In a move to enhance domestic capacity, streamline processes, and position the state-owned companies to better deal with the challenges faced in the oil and gas industry a new hydrocarbon law will be passed in Equatorial Guinea.

Recognizing the realities around building a resilient hydrocarbon sector while dealing with energy transition, Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons, has proposed a National Oil Company (NOC) restructuring process as part of energy industry reform, whereby GEPetrol and SONAGAS will merge into one company.

Speaking at the Leadership Insight Series: Equatorial Guinea webinar on Wednesday the 22nd of September, hosted by the Bilateral Chamber in Houston, H.E. Minister Gabriel Obiang Lima provided insight into the possible NOC restructuring, emphasizing that the Ministry is positioning state-owned enterprises as a driving force of the country’s energy sector growth. With emerging large-scale projects, new sizeable discoveries, and significant infrastructural developments anticipated in the sector, the Ministry has emphasized the role that NOCs will play in accelerating progress. 

This move is central to increasing exploration and production and making the NOC into a more integrated energy company that will move beyond its responsibility as state asset manager. The move is likely to see the NOC supporting major efforts toward economic diversification, raising capital to engage in merger and acquisition and operation of assets, at the same time actively driving the energy sector growth in Equatorial Guinea. According to the Minister, the NOC will be a key player in supporting the development of ESG targets in Equatorial Guinea that are transparent, objective, and accessible to IOC partners and other multilateral institutions.

The development of local content and building a workforce that leverages the progress that has been made in the past and restoring oil and gas as an attractive destination for younger people.

“H.E. Gabriel Obiang Lima is taking huge steps to advance the country’s oil and gas industry. Having a strong National Oil Company while developing competitive fiscal regimes should be done in concert with other measures, such as fine-tuning local content laws and working to ensure greater government transparency — anything that can be done to make Equatorial Guinea more appealing choices for oil and gas companies is welcomed by the Chamber. NOCs have a valuable role to play in Africa, and Equatorial Guinea should position this new NOC as both a driving force and key facilitator of oil and gas exploration, production, and development. Now is the time to act.” Leoncio Amada NZE; President of the African Energy Chamber, CEMAC Zone and CEO of Apex Industries SA

At African Energy Week (AEW) 2021 in Cape Town, a strong emphasis will be placed on current regulatory and structural reforms taking place across the continent, with a spotlight placed on Equatorial Guinea. Africa is in the process of transforming itself into a highly competitive and growth-oriented energy industry, and there are many lessons to be learned from Equatorial Guinea. Leading an Equatorial Guinean delegation to Cape Town in November, H.E. Minister Gabriel Lima will drive a strong discussion on oil, gas, and reform, promoting the country to international stakeholders and accelerating Africa’s energy progress.

AEW 2021, in partnership with South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources and Energy DMRE, is the AEC’s annual conference, exhibition and networking event. AEW 2021 unites African energy stakeholders with investors and international partners to drive industry growth and development and promote Africa as the destination for energy investments.

For more information about Africa’s premier energy event, please visit www.aew2021.com or www.energychamber.org and/or reach out directly to Amina Williams at amina.williams@energychamber.org

For registration related enquiries, please contact registration@aew2021.com   

For sales-related enquiries, please contact sales@aew2021.com  

For media-related enquiries, please contact media@aew2021.com  

For speaker opportunity-related enquiries, please contact speakers@aew2021.com

*African Energy Chamber

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COVID-19 vaccines: Rwanda says vaccinating over 2 Million a milestone
September 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti

President Kagame led by example in taking the COVID 19 vaccine

Rwanda has distributed COVID-19 vaccines to more that two million people including a million and half who are fully vaccinated.

The minister for Health Dr. Daniel Ngamije said that of the target population of 7.8million people (representing 60 per cent of the Rwandan population) are fully vaccinated for  Covid-19.

This is equivalent to 10.8 per cent of Rwanda’s population of 13 million.

“Two million vaccinations is a milestone but the journey continues” Minister Ngamije noted.

“The government of Rwanda is doing the best we can to acquire the needed vaccines and we are grateful to different stakeholders who continue to contribute to availing and distributing the vaccines to our people, we aim to reach 30 per cent of the population by the end of this year 2021”  he added.

Rwanda has currently received 3,658,310 doses of COVID-19 vaccines through a variety of platforms including COVAX facility, African Vaccine Acquisition Trush (AVAT), bilateral agreements and government direct purchases in partnership with the World Bank.

According to the Minister, Rwanda will continue mobilising vaccines with the aim of vaccinating as many people as possible.

The government’s effort including vaccination activities have reduced the COVID-19 positivity rates from over 10 per cent in July and August 2021 to currently manageable rate of less than 3 per cent in September, according to the ministry of Health.

The ministry said that such a decrease had ultimately led to opening up a number of economic activities as the government continues surveillance and vigilance.

Early this week, the cabinet meeting resolved reopening of the long awaited bars with COVID-19 prevention measures. 

It has been more than 18 months since the bars have been closed to quell the spread of COVID-19.

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Zambia:HH Commits To Agricultural Innovation And Food Security At Un Food System Summit
September 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Alice Chisanga

As World Leaders commit to tackling Global Hunger, Climate Change and Biodiversity loss at the first of its kind United Nations Food System Summit 2021, Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema has taken a man stand and committed to the cause.

Giving a speech at the Summit, Mr. Hichilema notes the adverse effects of Climate Change on the Agricultural Sector which he says has been compounded by the negative impact of COVID-19 Pandemic posing a danger to food security.

He says the country recognizes that the production of quality food, must be accompanied by robust agricultural value chain which includes the need to establish a good distribution network in addition to investing in food processing, preservation and marketing.

He mentioned the use of appropriate technology, innovation and agricultural research, as key results in enhancing productivity and improving food security.

Mr. Hichilema explains that as part of the commitment to the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the Country has embarked on promoting Sustainable Agricultural Practice, Forest Management as well as regeneration of indigenous forest species.

This he says adds to the robust tree planting program.

” We expect that these actions will lead to preservation of the eco – system and sustainable development.” He says.

Going forward, Mr. Hichilema says the country has developed five measures expected to have a positive impact on food security.

The measures include; improvement of crop and livestock variety, enhancement of animal disease control, mitigation and irrigation schemes, expansion and improvement of provision of agricultural extension services and equipment.

Mr. Hichilema also made known the need to provide affordable financial products to small scale farmers and rejuvenate land and protect biodiversity.

And UN Secretary General António Guterres has made a call on the world to keep its promises for a better future through food systems that work for people, planet and prosperity. 

 Mr. Guterres say keeping the promise will help meet the commitments countries made to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

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When you empower one woman you empower the whole community -2021 ABH Top 20 Finalist Mampho Sotshongaye.
September 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Mampho Sotshongaye, Founder Golden Rewards 1981cc

Mampho Sotshongaye was born into poverty as the daughter of a mine worker. She struggled to pay her further education after finishing high school and comes from a culturally underprivileged family, so she faced many challenges on her way to become the successful lady she is today. She earned her Civil Engineering diploma via hard work, persistence, and dedication. She worked her way up from a Trainee site supervisor to a Contracts Manager, and finally to a Company Founder, after starting her career as a Trainee site supervisor. She founded Golden Rewards 1981cc, a road maintenance firm that empowers women and kids by removing barriers to employment.

She emerged as one of the Top 20 finalists in 2021 Africa’s Business Heroes Competition, the Jack Ma Foundation’s main charitable effort that aims to promote and inspire the next generation of African entrepreneurs across all sectors, resulting in a more sustainable and inclusive economy for the continent’s future.  Mampho together with nine fellow female entrepreneurs and eleven other male counterparts are hoping to be selected among the Top 10 who will be sharing a grant of 1.5 million US dollars in November this year.

Pan African Visions interviewed her to learn her journey dating back from the application of ABH and what is expected of her after the competition. Here is what she said:

What inspired you to apply for the ABH competition?

Covid-19 pandemic motivated me to apply before I used to be scared and underestimate myself. 

How did you feel being selected among the ABH 2021 Top 20 outstanding entrepreneurs and how have you managed to make this far in a tight continent-wide competition?

Making it to the Top 20 was a big surprise looking at the businesses I was competing with. I am honoured and extremely happy to be among the ABH Top 20. The only thing I did was to tell my business journey and what we stand for.

What has the ABH competition meant for you and your business so far?

That as a WOMAN I matter, it does not matter which part of Africa I come from. The support and guidance we have received is amazing, I believe this is an African Time and it is our responsibility to make a change.

What are your impressions about the ABH and how it helps in the growth of entrepreneurship in Africa?

ABH is not doing this competition to tick boxes, for them it is about empowering and validating an African Child Dream. By investing in these entrepreneurs, they help African Countries with job creations and for the businesses to scale up.

What will you do if selected in the final 10 and top winners?

I will share the news with my Clients and South Africa as a whole, but more than anything I will thank my team for a job well done because without them there is no Golden Rewards.

How will the prize change your business operations?

It will assist us with plant and equipment that we desperately need. We have job creation targets for each year, with us not having enough plant and equipment forces us to decline some job opportunities which make it difficult to meet our targets.

What do you think is the motivation behind the fast-increasing female entrepreneurship across Africa?

When you empower one woman you empower the whole community. Women are fighting everyday to be given opportunities, we empower one another and fix each other’s crowns. The cry is too loud to be unnoticed and the doors are slowly opening.

Any advice to budding female entrepreneurs in your country and in Africa especially at a time when the pandemic has left many African economies struggling?

The journey is not easy. As things get more difficult and your vision starts to face away, always remember your WHY of starting.

Always remember that you do not have to walk the journey alone, there are people willing to walk with you, find them and allow them.

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A Beacon of Hope For The Rural Poor In Kenya-ABH 2021 Top 20 Finalist Charlot Magayi
September 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Charlot Magayi is the founder and CEO of Mukuru Clean Stoves

Charlot Magayi is the founder and CEO of Mukuru Clean Stoves . She grew up in Mukuru, one of Nairobi’s largest slums, and became a mother at the age of 16. Charlot was inspired to develop better cooking technology for her community when her two-year-old daughter was severely burned by a primitive burner. Mukuru Clean Stoves was developed by her to help moms keep their children safe, save money on fuel, and minimize home pollution. Global Citizen, the World Bank, and the AWIEF have all acknowledged and honored her efforts. Charlot is an Echoing Green Fellow for 2020.

When the Jack Ma Foundation’s philanthropic program, Africa’s Business Heroes, published the applications for this year’s edition, she was one of thousands of people who submitted their applications in the race to win a portion of USD 1.5 million in grant funding. Fortunately, she made it to the Top 50, and after several rounds of interviews, she sailed into the Top 20. She now wants to be in the top ten, which will be announced in less than two weeks.

In an interview with Pan African Visions, she discussed the motivation behind the fast-growing female entrepreneurship in Africa, what inspired them to apply for the ABH competition, how they have managed to make it this far in a tough continent-wide competition, and what advice she has for other aspiring and existing female entrepreneurs in Africa, particularly at a time when the continent is experiencing a surge in female entrepreneurship.

What inspired you to apply for the ABH competition?

The journey of the previous finalists, I believed it would benefit my business if I was able to get access to the resources they had and possibly create more impact like they did.

How did you feel being selected among the ABH 2021 Top 20 outstanding entrepreneurs and how have you managed to make this far in a tight continent-wide competition?

Lucky, the top 50 was made up of outstanding entrepreneurs and to make it to the top 20 felt lucky.

What has the ABH competition meant for you and your business so far?

Visibility and interest from potential partners and stakeholders in the industry and around the world.

What are your impressions about the ABH and how it helps in the growth of entrepreneurship in Africa?

ABH is shining a light on entrepreneurship in Africa which helps businesses get noticed by the right partners.

What will you do if selected in the final 10 and top winners?

Start planning for the next face of growth for the business.

How will the prize change your business operations?

We plan to use the funding to build a second distribution center, increase production capacity and replicate our business model in the next region in Kenya.

What do you think is the motivation behind the fast-increasing female entrepreneurship across Africa?

Female entrepreneurship is not new in Africa. The difference is we are being taken more seriously today, have access to more resources and visibility than ever before.

Any advice to budding female entrepreneurs in your country and in Africa especially at a time when the pandemic has left many African economies struggling?

Create solutions for your communities, especially now, so much can be done, and the world has never been more willing to support female entrepreneurship.

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Making Disability Rights Matter in Egypt-ABH 2021 Top 20 Finalist Amena Elsaie.
September 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma & Ajong Mbapndah L

Amena Elsaie, co-founder and CEO of Helm

Amena Elsaie is the co-founder and CEO of Helm; the pioneering social enterprise promoting the full inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of life. Driven by her passion for equality; she takes pride in leading Helm with co-founder Ramez Maher to stand at the forefront of the disability field in Egypt and beyond. The Zero Project at the United Nations Headquarters in Vienna honored her with three global best practices.

The Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has accredited Amena in the area of “Improving Accessibility of Social Inclusion – Barrier Free Environment” in Japan. In 2020, Helm Founders took first place in the MIT Pan-Arab business plan competition.

Pan African Visions spoke with her after she made it  into  the Top 20 of the Africa’s Business Heroes Competition, the Jack Ma Foundation’s flagship  program aimed at promoting and inspiring the next generation of African entrepreneurs across all industries. The winners of the competition will receive a total of USD 1.5 million in grant funds, with the winner receiving $300,000, the 1st Runner up receiving $250,000, the 2nd Runner up receiving $150,000, and the remaining seven in the Top 10 receiving $100,000 each, in addition to training, networking, and other opportunities and support.

What inspired you to apply for the ABH competition?

We have been closely watching ABH impact throughout the past years on the ABH winners; first we knew of the competition through our partnership with Riseup summit where we soon came to realize it is not just a financial grant yet the entire process and the enormous support; whether mentorship, access to resources, the PR and TV show about the winners that allow exposure alongside the credibility that it builds.

ABH is also aligned with our values and vision; where it aims to empower entrepreneurs who want to make a difference in African countries. Learning about the winners of previous years made us believe that as Helm, we need to be part of the ABH community. It even motivated us to be prepared to explore investors who are aligned with our values and our expansion model in the Ed-tech industry specifically regarding Helm Academy.        

Why ABH?

  • For many reasons which I’ll list some below:
  • It is inclusive to all countries, races, genders and age groups/ Grassroots (open for all society levels).
  • Pitching to and being mentored by business legends who would relate to our businesses.
  • We feel confident of the impact that we can make with the grant money to ensure our business foundation is strong and ready for growth of a mission that aims to help more than 64 Million PWD in the MENA region.
  • We are inspired by the passion of the winners from previous years and we can’t wait to be part of such a booming entrepreneurship ecosystem.
  • Being already in the Top 20 I must say that the mentorship is spot on – having the luxury to have one-on-one tailored sessions with amazing business leaders, working on improving our pitch, and enhancing our business model has been truly useful. We believe that we deserve to get the chance to be top 10 and harness the upcoming mentorship and training that Helm needs to achieve its mission.

How did you feel being selected among the ABH 2021 Top 20 outstanding entrepreneurs and how have you managed to make this far in a tight continent-wide competition?

It feels like a new phase is coming up for Helm. It helped us gain more confidence, validation, and injected more motivation and drive to the entire organization.

Our success so far, I would say, comes from our mission which is to foster societies where persons with disabilities and businesses grow together, empowering all and transcending barriers, and our unique way of approaching this issue which is not to go through the charity (pity) approach. This unique approach is what drove the creation of our services and made them stand out and be effective.

What has the ABH competition meant for you and your business so far?

It represents a key milestone in Helm’s story, especially during these difficult times of COVID-19 where such a push is very much needed.

It showed us that we are not alone! There are so many great entrepreneurs and teams who aim to make a difference in Africa; grinding, facing challenges and making impact – and we are now part of this community.

What are your impressions about the ABH and how it helps in the growth of entrepreneurship in Africa?

The bigger the challenges, the bigger the opportunities for entrepreneurship; which makes Africa the best place for harvesting the talents of entrepreneurs. ABH helps set a higher benchmark for entrepreneurs and sets the standard for what to look for in entrepreneurs who aim to make a difference.

What will you do if selected in the final 10 and top winners?
Being one of the top 10 winners is such a great honour for us and will grant us a great chance at getting the exposure and funding we need. It would help us get the guidance and mentorship that we seek and build partnerships and connections in the African countries where we are intending to expand. Additionally, it will allow us to grow our impact through targeting Persons with disabilities in the Middle East and Africa as well as thousands of companies. It will also enable us to grow faster as well as develop better strategies to tackle the issues that each country faces. This chance will give us the push we need to enhance our operations and expand our services to all persons with disabilities as well as companies around the world.

How will the prize change your business operations?
Winning the African Business Heroes prize would allow us to:

It will help us to build a solid foundation for Helm to grow. We shall do so through investing in digitizing our services, and hiring a strong in-house tech staff and management team. We have been preparing for day one after winning the prize to hit the ground running; preparing our scaling plan of human resources, equipment, and even conducting interviews and headhunting strong calibres. As we are expecting to double our size in 2022, we are planning the expansion to a new office space to accommodate this growth. We will increase our market budget to increase our reach and leads. Finally, we will invest in our R&D team, to enhance our current services, and to help us move faster than the market demand.

What do you think is the motivation behind the fast-increasing female entrepreneurship across Africa?

Even though both male and female entrepreneurs face a lot of obstacles in African countries such as lack of capital; however, women are specifically impacted by additional obstacles such as discrimination. I believe that with more female entrepreneurs rising, the momentum is getting stronger. I believe that businesses, governments and development foundations such as Jack Ma foundation play a critical role to ensure that female entrepreneurs are supported and provided equal opportunity. I love how ABH highlights in their statistics the percentage of women and leads the way for others to follow.

Any advice to budding female entrepreneurs in your country and in Africa especially at a time when the pandemic has left many African economies struggling?

We need to empower each other and ensure male entrepreneurs are engaged. We should create inclusive workshops and roundtables that ensure a minimum percentage attendance of female entrepreneurs, to have open discussions about enhancing the collaboration of female entrepreneurs.

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The rise of an Ivorian media mogul – ABH 2021 ToP 20 Hero Adja Mariam Soro.
September 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma & Ajong Mbapndah L

Adja Mariam Soro is the Director of the Ivorian publishing house Voyelles

Adja Mariam Soro is the Director of the Ivorian publishing house Voyelles. This company provides instructive and entertaining content for children that showcases Africa’s historical and cultural richness. Youth periodicals, books, and a variety of games are among them. Voyelles also collaborates on the animation production of African stories with cultural value with her second company, Studio K. Adja’s goal is to help educate a new African elite that is proud of its roots and open to the rest of the world.

Her achievements include selection into the very selective Women In Africa 2020 Program, the Prix d’Excellence 2019 for the greatest women’s initiative, the Prix Sisley 2019, the Prix des services CGECI 2017, and the Prix Spécial Contenu Culturel Afrique et Moyen-Orient 2016.

She shared  her thoughts with Pan African Visions on  what is behind the motivation to the fast increasing female entrepreneurship across Africa, what inspired them to apply for the ABH competition, how they have managed to make it thus far in a tight continent-wide competition, and any tips they have for other budding and existing female entrepreneurs in Africa especially at a time when the pandemic has left many African economies struggling.

When the Jack Ma Foundation’s competition culminates in November, Adja, who is one of the Top 20 ABH contenders for 2021, hopes to receive a share of USD 1.5 million in grant monies. The winner will get $300,000, the first runner-up $250,000, the second runner-up $150,000, and the other seven in the Top 10 will each receive $100,000, in addition to training, networking, and other chances and assistance.

Excerpts

What inspired you to apply for the ABH competition?

I was motivated to apply for the ABH program this year by a very good friend of mine, a finalist entrepreneur in ABH 2020 edition. I had already tried entering in 2019 with no success. I felt not ready yet. I was a bit scared and hesitant to try again, but my friend insisted, and his recommendation was the nudge I needed to get back on the saddle. If, today I am here, it’s because of him and my perseverance. I am having the best experience so far!

How did you feel being selected among the ABH 2021 Top 20 outstanding entrepreneurs and how have you managed to make this far in a tight continent-wide competition?

I felt very honoured, especially at this stage of the competition, we are only two francophones in the running, and I am the only representative of my country which means a lot to me and to my business. It is also the confirmation of the potential and the social impact of my company, two key criteria in the selection of finalists at ABH. Getting this far in such a huge African competition, I think, is a matter of mastering your business and field and the motivation of growing within your company.

What has the ABH competition meant for you and your business so far?

The ABH competition is personally a great human experience. There is really a benevolent dynamic which drives this competition and the team behind it. It is also the connection of some fifty young companies with high potential across the African continent, thus the possibilities of large-scale collaboration. The advantages we get through this experience is beyond words. This is an opportunity to benefit from experienced mentors and judges and get advantage of learning as much as we could. This competition has added credibility to our company, image, as well as our visibility on the continent and beyond.

What are your impressions about the ABH and how it helps in the growth of entrepreneurship in Africa?

I find ABH to be a beneficial initiative for young African entrepreneurs on several fronts. It creates a connecting channel between entrepreneurs who might never have that opportunity otherwise. It provides them with support, visibility, networking and funding, all essential elements for the growth of any business. This is a mission that has a huge social and economic impact for the continent, because it consists of investing sustainably in local potential which we lack in the African continent.

What will you do if selected in the final 10 and top winners?

I think that at first, I will be very moved by the news. It will be a huge upgrade to my company. This journey hasn’t always been easy but has never ceased to be fascinating to all of us. We will definitely celebrate the success no matter what, with my whole team because it will be our common victory.

How will the prize change your business operations?

We are out of most of the back issues of our cultural youth magazine “Bulles”. The latter are in great demand. As a reminder “Bulles” is a magazine that tells the story of Africa to children through comics what we call “Bande déssinée”, country by country. We will therefore be republishing these old issues and we will develop our product catalogue. It will also be our way to expand our market on the continent and in Europe where the African diaspora is very demanding of our content.

What do you think is the motivation behind the fast-increasing female entrepreneurship across Africa?

African women for centuries have always been hard workers. Female entrepreneurship is therefore nothing new on the continent. I think this growth can be explained simply by the fact that contemporary African women have decided to assert themselves a little more and to have bigger ambitions. There is also support for female entrepreneurship which has intensified over the past 10 years, which promotes the emergence of inspiring success stories. A domino effect is therefore put in place in a positive way.

Any advice to budding female entrepreneurs in your country and in Africa especially at a time when the pandemic has left many African economies struggling?

I would like to tell the women entrepreneurs who have been through great hardship lately, to hold on and hold on to their vision regardless. Entrepreneurship can be painful especially when there are insufficient resources to achieve goals. In difficulty, they will need to surround themselves with positive people who can motivate them to move forward and provide them with good advice. Our continent needs the queens, and we are more than ever to get up on all fronts. Good luck!

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Access to clean water is Rwandese right-ABH 2021 Top 20 Hero Yvette Ishimwe
September 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma & Ajong Mbapndah L

IRIBA WATER Group Ltd, a social enterprise that provides innovative drinking water solutions, is founded and led by Yvette Ishimwe

IRIBA WATER Group Ltd, a social enterprise that provides innovative drinking water solutions, is founded and led by Yvette Ishimwe. Yvette graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. She is a YALI Mandela Washington Fellow 2019 and was honored by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth of England in 2017 for the positive influence she has had on the community via her work with IRIBA. For two years, Yvette was the 2nd Vice President of the Rwandan Private Sector Federation’s Chamber of Young Entrepreneurs. Her ongoing purpose is to use social entrepreneurship to transform Africa.

By being among the Top 20 finalists of the 2021 Africa’s Business Heroes Competition Prize, the Jack Ma Foundation’s philanthropic program, she shared with the Pan African Visions her journey and future expectations.

What inspired you to apply for the ABH competition?

The ABH competition is looking for business heroes, entrepreneurs who are driven to positively improve lives, and I see myself as one of those. So I applied for the competition because I saw that they are calling entrepreneurs like myself.

How did you feel being selected among the ABH 2021 Top 20 outstanding entrepreneurs and how have you managed to make this far in a tight continent-wide competition?

I felt so much thrilled and honored to be selected among the ABH 2021 Top 20 entrepreneurs. Given the fact that everyone who made it to the Top 50 really deserved the spot in the Top 20… I am honored and motivated to be part of the Top 20 selected.

What has the ABH competition meant for you and your business so far?

It means an opportunity for us to grow and reach our goals.

What are your impressions about the ABH and how it helps in the growth of entrepreneurship in Africa?

I think ABH is supporting the growth of entrepreneurship in Africa in a very practical way. From mentorships, networking, marketing opportunities and funding…. This is actually what African entrepreneurs need to succeed.

What will you do if selected in the final 10 and top winners?

It feels like a dream right now, but I selected in the final 10 and top winners… that will be a life changing opportunity for me and my business. We will ensure to get the best out of that platform including using the funds to scale our work, leveraging the marketing and networking opportunities that come with the prize, etc.

How will the prize change your business operations?

The prize will help us to grow our work and expand them further in Rwanda and DRC.

Wat do you think is the motivation behind the fast increasing female entrepreneurship across Africa?

Even though we still have a long way to go with motivating female entrepreneurship across Africa; but I think today one of the key reasons why female entrepreneurship is fast increasing is because the society is progressively shifting the mindset around women empowerment. And once a woman is empowered and believed-in, she creates impressive ventures.

Any advice to budding female entrepreneurs in your country and in Africa especially at a time when the pandemic has left many African economies struggling?

My advice to budding female entrepreneurs in Africa is … never give up on your aspirations and dreams. The road is not always smooth, but with persistence and dedication you will reach your destination regardless of the bumps on your way.

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A mission to promote organic skin care products – 2021 ABH Top 20 Hero Violet Awo Amoabeng
September 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma & Ajong Mbapndah

Violet Awo Amoabeng is Founder and CEO of Skin Gourmet Limited in Ghana

Violet  Awo  Amoabeng,  Founder and CEO of Skin Gourmet Limited in Ghana, is a high energy super hopeful entrepreneur who has always been passionate about people and has attained Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Business administration – specializing in marketing, supply chain management and accounting.

In 2014, Violet created Skin Gourmet with GHS 145 (USD 45.00). Skin Gourmet is now distributed in over 17 different countries and Violet has been featured in Glitz and EMY Magazine as an emerging industry leader. Skin Gourmet has been featured in Forbes, Elle, Pop Sugar and Indian Cosmopolitan for an Editor’s Best Product Pick Award.

Thousands of businesses applied for the 2021 Africa’s Business Heroes competition, which will award a USD 1.5 million grant fund to the winners. She is one of nine ladies who made it to the Top 20 finalists and is now aiming for the Top 10 which will be announced. ABH is the Jack Ma Foundation’s flagship philanthropic program in Africa to support entrepreneurs, with the goal of identifying, supporting, and inspiring the next generation of African entrepreneurs who are making a difference in their communities, working to solve the most pressing problems, and creating a more sustainable and inclusive economy for the future.

What inspired you to apply for the ABH competition?

I applied to the ABH Competition because it offers the opportunity to grow Skin Gourmet through mentorship from industry experts and potential access to reasonable debt financing.

How did you feel being selected among the ABH 2021 Top 20 outstanding entrepreneurs and how have you managed to make this far in a tight continent-wide competition?

To be selected as a Top 20 ABH finalist makes me feel grateful and extremely hopeful. It also motivates me to keep going, to keep trying, to keep working because help is on the way. How did I make it this far?  I don’t believe that I managed to make it this far, I believe we (the Skin Gourmet Team) made it here because we believe in our vision.

What has the ABH competition meant for you and your business so far?

So far, this competition has opened up so many more opportunities for Skin Gourmet. We have been introduced to solutions and strategies we did not even know were at our disposal. This competition has given us exposure and business knowledge through mentorship that most would not have access to. We are extremely grateful.

What are your impressions about the ABH and how it helps in the growth of entrepreneurship in Africa?

I am extremely fascinated with this competition – who knew you could learn so much in so little time? The competition teaches us how to fish – it helps us to help ourselves and I believe that is the answer to real growth in Africa = A true Africa beyond aid.

What will you do if selected in the final 10 and top winners? 

First, I’ll thank God.

Then I’m going to dance and shout for about 5 minutes (maybe more). 

Then I’ll get right back to work.

How will the prize change your business operations?

It will help us take over the world by increasing our export capacity, brand awareness and compliance.

What do you think is the motivation behind the fast increasing female entrepreneurship across Africa?

I believe the number of female entrepreneurs is increasing throughout Africa because gender equality in Africa is on the rise thanks to education and  changes in the African mentality about the role of women in the society. Plus, African girls now have more role models who confirm their dreams that they too can be great.

Any advice to budding female entrepreneurs in your country and in Africa especially at a time when the pandemic has left many African economies struggling?

“Keep walking – every challenge is just an opportunity to improve. Do not give up – adapt.”

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A champion for strong women and safer menstrual hygiene management -ABH 2021 Top 20 Hero Lucy Achieng’ Odiwa.
September 24, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma & Ajong Mbapndah L

Lucy Achieng’ Odiwa, 37, is an Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights Advocate, Menstrual Health Hygiene Management Activist

Lucy Achieng’ Odiwa, 37, is an Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights Advocate, Menstrual Health Hygiene Management Activist, and Quality Health Access Practitioner. She is the first place winner of the Global SDG&HER female entrepreneurs Award 2018, the first and second place winners of the Seed Star World Africa, Tanga and Dar es Salaam Regions, Tanzania 2018, and the second place winner of the Seed Star World Africa, Tanga and Dar es Salaam Regions, Tanzania Official Winner Invest2 Impact 100 female entrepreneurs Award, 2019, Co-founder & CEO, WomenChoice Industries, Winner New Venture Competition Harvard Business School 2020, Alumnus Young African Leaders Initiative YALI EAST Africa 2019, Alumnus Young African Leaders Initiative YALI EAST Africa 2019, Alumnus Young African Leaders Initiative YALI EAST Africa 2019, Alumnus Young African Leaders Initiative YALI EAST Africa 2019, Alumnus Young African Leaders Initiative YALI E Ms. Odiwa has a clinical medicine diploma and a bachelor’s degree in social sciences and public administration.

Ms. Odiawo is among 20 people in the race to win a share of USD 1.5 million grant funding of the Africa’s  Business Heroes Competition prize, a flagship philanthropy program launched by the Jack Ma Foundation that aims to promote and inspire the next generation of African entrepreneurs across all sectors.

Pan African Visions reached out to her and interviewed her about her brief journey in the 2021 Africa’s Business Heroes competition, inspired by her efforts in sexual reproductive health. Excepts .

What inspired you to apply for the ABH competition?

Being a champion and a strong women and girls safer menstrual hygiene management advocate, ABH competition, was an avenue and a platform through  which I could better offer myself and engage the global world to addressconsequences of period poverty and showcase the consequences of lack of period management absorbent in Africa.

How did you feel being selected among the ABH 2021 Top 20 outstanding entrepreneurs and how have you managed to make this far in a tight continent-wide competition?

The news of being selected among the top 20 outstanding entrepreneurs was one of overwhelming joy and excitement I reallyshed tears, not only because we won but also because the plight of that young girl in the village of Kwafungo, Muheza, Tanzania who had to miss school, because her parents could not afford her a piece sanitarytowels, that young girl a shamed and stigmatized just because her skirt leaked menstrual blood while in school and had to commit suicide, that young girlforcedby circumstances ‘’ to exchange sex for pad’’ to a Bode boda’’ motor bike riders so she could  be in school and competing with boys, was being recognized. I felt frightened that without the ABH platform the period conversation would ever be  kept silent and girls would continue failing to capture their  best moments in  life and   in nation building, just because of a simple biological challenge, that would have been solved throughopening upof national, regionaland global conversations to  unlock the futureallowinggirlsto lead their own future. The ABH 2021Top 20pronouncement has spurred my inspiration and I have continued taking centre  stage, midfield striking, championingand advocating for safer menstrual hygiene  management conversation through social media platform, engaging likeminded professionals and peopleof Good-will telling them that ‘ the decision-making round  table is for all of us and every one need to be on the table and that Ending period poverty is putting dignity above everything. 

What has the ABH competition meant for you and your business so far?

The ABH 2021 competition, isnot onlya platform of competitiveand outstanding entrepreneurs but a platformforprofessionalism,knowledge gain,challengeand experienceand success stories sharing. It is a forum for interaction and engagement   with great business founders and peopleofgreatacumen, men and women who have in their own capacities in one way or the other challenged the status quo, innovated, and made use of their various idea tosolve some of the most pressing need intheir societies in 21st century. It is with this background thatI feel being partofABH 2021 competition platform, would steer me personally,institutionally, and inspirationally to create cobweb of great champions, advocates inspirators that can be capitalized on to push forward for genderequality andcreate apurposeful world. The ABH2021 Competition hascome at the right   time and strategically placed to connect and link and increase our network tothe great ABH2021 Top 50 institutions. Thementoring session, feedback and trainings have offered and opportunity to translate passion to professionalism by building our business acumen. The publicity hashelped prove WomenChoice industries asa legitimate entity leveraging more connections with potential partners. It is not all about being ABH2021 Top 50 and or Top 20, but it isall about what one delivers that bettershumankind.

What are your impressions about the ABH and how it helps in the growth of entrepreneurship in Africa?

The future is Africa! Besides being a 10 years acceleration and mentorship focused program for Africa, ABH offers growth opportunities for social entrepreneurs, tomake goodtheir ideaand promotesocial wellbeing for all.ABH besides being a 10-year acceleration and mentorship focused program for Africa, offers growth opportunities for social entrepreneurs, tomake good their ideasand promotesocial wellbeing for all.The handy cash offered and associated with winners, best business, high class men and women who have shown great prowess in empowering and creating opportunities for others, would like be able to create first class jobs, promote creativity and innovation, promote quality leadership and governance and social economic balance; bridging the poverty gap and giving opportunity for everyone to take charge of his or her destiny and promoting equitable growth and development for all.

What will you do if selected in the final 10 and top winners?

Following the lives   of great African legends and Icons, Nelson Mandela and of course Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere,whose roles and actions prompted attainability of Africa independence, fighting for afree space of Nation hood, and living a mark as greatest men in the 20th century.I wouldwork hand in hand   with people ofgood will, buildgreat networksofchampions, advocatesthat would be enshrined with the purposeof living amark andbuilding the next generation of men and women leaders who would be able to end period povertyandbringing about dignityabove everyone, going notch toglobal championsafer menstrual hygiene management, opening global conversationaround menstruation, and fightingperiodpoverty.Iwould continue empowering women socially disadvantaged to be agents of change and expand accessto lowpriced sanitary towels in the global world.

How will the prize change your business operations?

The Prize would not only come with handy cash whichwould beappropriatefor   buildingand strengtheningsystems and operations, butalsocomewithfame, recommendations and respect and an increased callfor commitmentsof purpose that would propelWomenChoice Industries to the nextstepinaccomplishing its mission and visonforwhichit was set. The prize money, would becapitalized on further to expand production and distribution, reaching to morewomenand girls,purchase of raw materialsand supplies as well as recruitment and employment of administrative staff.

What do you think is the motivation behind the fast increasing female entrepreneurship across Africa?

Women in Africa have for a long time desired to create change in their lives and that of their families, with limited opportunities women have taken the lead to capitalize on their major strength-resilience, and venture into entrepreneurship. African women have in their own capacities advocated and championed against status quo across Africa. Africa has a fast-growing number of educated women who have felt the pinch of financial male dominancy in social economic spectrum and there’s a declining female dependency over their male counterparts and male-dominated decision-making positions altering every issue to favour male gender and catapulted by the consequences of poverty in a resource rich continent. The continued acceleration programs on women-led business institutions, programs and initiatives across the continent have in one way or the other influenced change of behaviours among the feminist community, enhancing adoption of new plans of action for growth and sustainability of enterprises. The increasingly case scenarios and readily available institutions of financing for women-led projects have been major factors for the growth of female entrepreneurs.

Any advice to budding female entrepreneurs in your country and in Africa especially at a time when the pandemic has left many African economies struggling?

Female entrepreneurs should understand that taking up economic opportunities is a challenge to the status quo just like other female emancipation initiatives and will require the power of the will to continue once you begin. Again, it is time that female entrepreneurs stop downplaying what they do and realise that it is their work that has contributed to the economic growth experienced in Africa and launch higher. The road to entrepreneurship will not be a walk in the path but certainly it will be worth the sacrifice. Always be ready for crisis and strive to learn and acquire those mitigation strategies that will ensure that after the dust has settled you will remain standing. In every situation strive to keep your sanity and self-esteem, mental health is key.

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Woman behind the first Kenyan running shoes-ABH 2021 Top 20 Hero Navalayo Osembo.
September 24, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma and Ajong Mbapndah

Enda Athletic, Inc.’s Co-Founder and CEO is Navalayo Osembo

Enda Athletic, Inc.’s Co-Founder and CEO is Navalayo Osembo. Osembo is a London School of Economics graduate who has worked in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Kenya, where she put her broad abilities as an accountant, a lawyer, a risk manager, and in international development to good use.

She hails from a Kenyan village near Eldoret that has produced generations of world-class distance runners. Prior to founding Enda Athletic Inc., Osembo founded a sports academy in Bungoma, Western Kenya, to offer underprivileged athletes with much-needed professional training without jeopardizing their education.

In order to maximize social impact in Kenya through sports, Osembo teamed up with her Co-Founder to create Enda Athletic Inc., a made-in-Kenya running shoe brand that creates jobs, invests in local communities, and spurs economic development through exports.

Navalayo was privileged to appear in the list of the Top 20 finalists of the Africa’s Business Heroes competition prize, a flagship philanthropy program launched by the Jack Ma Foundation that aims to promote and inspire the next generation of African entrepreneurs across all sectors. The finalists are in the running to win a share of USD 1.5 million in grant funding.

Pan African Visions interviewed Navalayo to learn  more about her experience in the competition and her expectations in future. Below is what she said:

What inspired you to apply for the ABH competition?

I was inspired by the opportunity to get my brand known at a continental level, the desire to create a better supply chain, marketing and PR networks that will help me expand my business, and also by the opportunity to inspire many African youth that it is possible to grow a global brand from Africa.

How did you feel being selected among the ABH 2021 Top 20 outstanding entrepreneurs and how have you managed to make this far in a tight continent-wide competition?

I was elated! This was my second time applying and in the previous application, I never made it to the top 50. So to get to top 50 and now top 20 is a dream come true. I do not take it for granted. I believe I have managed to get this far because the business and its potential are massive – and I am glad that so far, the judges have agreed with me on the same.

What has the ABH competition meant for you and your business so far?

ABH has been a validation that my team and I are on the right path. Manufacturing, especially, in a new industry isn’t easy but I know for a fact that value addition in Africa is the only way we can lift millions out of poverty. Being among the top 20 is a validation for us, which is important for encouraging myself and the team that the vision we are pursuing is worthwhile.

What are your impressions about the ABH and how it helps in the growth of entrepreneurship in Africa?

ABH has become the continent’s business competition, meaning that viewership is across all over Africa. The judges’ feedback, the media opportunities, the quality of entrepreneurs you meet along the way…. all of it is critical in showing the possibility of how much entrepreneurship on the continent can grow, if only we make the right investments.

What will you do if selected in the final 10 and top winners?

I will say a prayer of gratitude, call my parents and then my team to share the amazing news.

How will the prize change your business operations?

The cash grant will go a long way in making us closer towards our goal of manufacturing 100% of our products either in Kenya or the continent. We have a lot of research and development to do, and the grant will hasten our pace. It will also be great for our company’s reputation. Finally, I am hoping that supply chain and business networks from Asia will help us make great leaps rather than reinvent the wheel.

What do you think is the motivation behind the fast increasing female entrepreneurship across Africa?

I’d say that female entrepreneurship has always lagged, and it is about time we catch up to our make counterparts. Better access to finance, more accelerators, and better education are among the factors fueling the rise.

Any advice to budding female entrepreneurs in your country and in Africa especially at a time when the pandemic has left many African economies struggling?

Find advisors who have walked the journey you are on and seek their knowledge. Information is power and when you have few resources, you want to maximize everything you’ve got. Good advice saves you from time and energy wasted in recreating the wheel. Also, you must constantly think of innovative ways to solve a problem. Just because it hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean it’s not possible!

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Meet the Top 9 outstanding African Female Entrepreneurs in the ABH 2021 Top 20
September 24, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma and Ajong Mbapndah

Recent reports indicate that Africa is now a world leader in women business owners. It is evident that unlocking women’s potential can make a massive contribution to the continent’s growth and prosperity.

The Jack Ma Foundation continues its all-inclusive commitment to addressing barriers to economic development and entrepreneurship across Africa with grant funding support to outstanding entrepreneurs who are creating solutions and making a difference in their communities. With an overall goal of supporting African economies grow through entrepreneurship, each year for ten years (2021 being the 3rd edition), the foundation’s philanthropic initiative ‘Africa’s Business Heroes’ (ABH) prize competition awards grant funding to 10 outstanding African startups as follows: the winner receives $300,000, the 1st Runner up receives $250,000, the 2nd Runner up receives $150,000 and seven others in the Top 10 each receives $100,000, all on top of training, networking and other opportunities and support.

This year nine female entrepreneurs are competing together with 11 male African entrepreneurs (making a total of the ABH Top 20), each aiming to be selected among the Top 10 who will be sharing a grant of 1.5 million US dollars in November this year.

These nine female entrepreneurs are from Kenya, Egypt, Ghana, Tanzania, South Africa, Rwanda, and Cote d’Ivoire. They represent eight key sectors mainly: media and entertainment, consulting, beauty and wellness, education, energy, retail, food & beverages, plus construction.

The previous 2 ABH editions, 2019 and 2020, have been won by female entrepreneurs;  Nigeria’s Temie Giwa-Tubosun, Founder and CEO, LifeBank, a medical logistics startup who won in 2019, and Kenya’s Chebet Lesan, Founder & CEO of BrightGreen Renewable Energy, who won last year. Women continue to exhibit incredible potential in founding and managing businesses across Africa.

With a 45% female representation in the ABH Top 20 this year, Pan African Visions interviewed the 9 ABH female Top 20 finalists to learn more about what is behind the motivation to the fast increasing female entrepreneurship across Africa, what inspired them to apply for the ABH competition, how they have managed to make it thus far in a tight continent-wide competition. They have tips for other budding and existing female entrepreneurs in Africa, especially when the pandemic has left many African economies struggling. Here is a wealth of knowledge they shared.

“Always remember that you do not have to walk the journey alone, there are people willing to walk with you, find them and allow them,” said South Africa’s Golden Rewards 1981cc Founder Mampho Sotshongaye.

“Create solutions for your communities, especially now, so much can be done, and the world has never been more willing to support female entrepreneurship,” stated Charlot Magayi, Founder and CEO of Mukuru Clean Stoves in Nairobi’s slum of Mukuru.

“It is time that female entrepreneurs stop downplaying what they do and realize that it is their work that has contributed to the economic growth experienced in Africa and launches higher. The road to entrepreneurship will not be a walk in the path, but certainly, it will be worth the sacrifice. Always be ready for crisis and strive to learn and acquire those mitigation strategies that will ensure that after the dust has settled, you will remain standing. In every situation, strive to keep your sanity and self-esteem; mental health is key,” added Lucy Achieng’ Odiwa.

What inspired female entrepreneurs to apply for the ABH competition?

The entrepreneurs applied for the competition after being inspired by numerous reasons like the Covid-19 pandemic, the journey of the previous finalists, and to inspire African youths that it is possible to grow a global brand from Africa.

“I was inspired by the opportunity to get my brand known at a continental level, the desire to create a better supply chain, marketing and PR networks that will help me expand my business, and also by the opportunity to inspire many African youth that it is possible to grow a global brand from Africa,” said Kenyan Navalayo Osembo-Ombati, Co-Founder & CEO of Enda Athletic Inc.

Lucy Achieng’ Odiwa, Co-Founder&CEO of Women Choice Industries (Tanzania), said, “Being a champion and a strong women and girls safer menstrual hygiene management advocate, ABH competition, was an avenue and a platform through which I could better offer myself and engage the global world to address consequences of period poverty and showcase the consequences of lack of period management absorbent in Africa.”

How have the nine female entrepreneurs managed it so far?

“Getting this far in such a huge African competition, I think, is a matter of mastering your business and field and the motivation of growing within your company,” said Adja Mariam Mahre Soro, Director of the Ivorian publishing house Voyelles Editions in Cote d’Ivoire.

“Our success so far, I would say, comes from our mission which is to foster societies where persons with disabilities and businesses grow together, empowering all and transcending barriers, and our unique way of approaching this issue which is not to go through the charity (pity) approach. This unique approach is what drove the creation of our services and made them stand out and be effective,” added Amena Elsaie, an Egyptian Co-founder and CEO of Helm Ltd.

What is the motivation behind the fast-increasing female entrepreneurship across Africa?

“Even though we still have a long way to go with motivating female entrepreneurship across Africa; but I think today one of the key reasons why female entrepreneurship is fast increasing is because the society is progressively shifting the mindset around women empowerment. And once a woman is empowered and believed-in, she creates impressive ventures,” stated Rwanda’s IRIBA Water Group Ltd Managing Director Yvette Ishimwe.

Violet Awo Amoabeng, CEO & Founder of Skin Gourmet, said, “ I believe the number of female entrepreneurs is increasing throughout Africa because gender equality in Africa is on the rise thanks to education and  changes in the African mentality about the role of women in the society. Plus, African girls now have more role models who confirm their dreams that they too can be great.”

Summary

Female entrepreneurship in Africa has no limit to specific industries. Women are working hard across the continent to build successful businesses in various sectors, employing people, impacting communities, and are playing a significant role in changing the African business world – a move that shows the true power of female entrepreneurship. Supporting female entrepreneurship in Africa is supporting the continent’s accelerated growth.

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Filipe Nyusi and Paul Kagame to discuss terrorism in Mozambique.
September 24, 2021 | 0 Comments

Rwandan president Paul Kagame will arrive in Pemba, the capital of Cabo Delgado province, this morning, received by his Mozambican counterpart Filipe Nyusi.

Kagame will visit Rwandan troops in Pemba, and take part in Armed Forces Day celebrations tomorrow, 25 September, according to an announcement from the Mozambican Presidency.

Also in Pemba, the two statesmen will hold official talks to analyze the bilateral cooperation between Mozambique and Rwanda, as well as review matters of common interest, the region and the continent.

The visit coincides with the success that Rwandan troops have notched up remarkable early successes against insurgents in the Cabo Delgado region of northern Mozambique. Rwanda’s contingent of 1,000 soldiers is the biggest foreign force in resource-rich Cabo Delgado, which is the site of a $20 billion liquefied natural gas project operated by French energy giant Total.

Despite the early success of Rwandan military involvement in Cabo Delgado, all is not as kosher as it might look. There are downsides. President Kagame’s warmongering reputation, extractive mineral ventures, his extreme securitisation approach to conflict resolutions and his recently disclosed role in the use of Pegasus spyware, by the Israeli security company NSO Group, call for caution about his ultimate military motives into Mozambique.

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Cabo Delgado Governor to Emphasize the Value of LNG for Mozambique’s Socio-Economic Growth at African Energy Week.
September 24, 2021 | 0 Comments

Joining the Mozambican delegation led by H.E. Max Tonela in Cape Town, Valige Tauabo will emphasize how the country’s natural gas projects will serve as a foundation for accelerated socio-economic growth.

Mozambique’s Governor of Cabo Delgado Province Valige Tauabo has confirmed his participation at African Energy Week (AEW) 2021 in Cape Town, taking place on the 9th-12th of November. Representing the richest natural resource province in Mozambique, and being the location of the country’s three large-scale Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) developments, Tauabo serves as a bridge between the energy sector and local community, and will promote local content, capacity building, and infrastructure developments in Cape Town.

As the Governor of Cabo Delgado Province, Tauabo is focused on ensuring that the country’s significant LNG developments translate into tangible socio-economic benefits for both the provincial and national community. The region is considered the home of oil and gas, and hosts the $20 billion Mozambique LNG project led by TotalEnergies; the $4.7 billion Coral Floating LNG project led by Eni and ExxonMobil; and the $30 billion Rovuma LNG project led by ExxonMobil, Eni and the China National Petroleum Corporation. With some of the most significant LNG projects, not only in Mozambique but in Africa, being developed in the Rovuma Basin off the coast of the Cabo Delgado Province, the Governor aims to use energy sector developments as a catalyst for strong and sustainable economic growth across the province and will promote this at AEW 2021 in Cape Town.

Despite having only served as Governor since 2019, Tauabo has demonstrated a commitment to both the community and the regions energy sector enhancement. The Governor was proactive in implementing security measures with the onset of the insurgency in the northern province. With regional assistance, government regained control of the LNG project development area earlier this year and is now focused on the resumption of project activities and the acceleration of infrastructural growth. With a primary focus to promote investment in Cabo Delgado, Tauabo is working directly with the African Energy Chamber (AEC) and the oil and gas industry to generate investment back into the province.

“When I visited Mozambique and talked to President Nyusi about the issues in Cabo Delgado, he proactively asked me to visit Cabo Delgado along with many oil industry players. Governor Valige Tauabo was kind enough to receive us and work with us on exploring opportunities in the province, creating a good environment for oil and gas companies and service companies to operate and pushing for investment in the province. Bringing the story of Cabo Delgado into AEW 2021 is an amazing opportunity to work with investors, and also tell a story about the province and its challenges and also its potential beyond oil and gas,” stated NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the AEC.

Additionally, Tauabo is focused on the diversification of the local economy. By drawing attention to the role that international oil companies and large-scale energy developments have and continue to play in driving economic growth, Tauabo reaffirms his commitment to the Cabo Delgado community. In Cape Town, Tauabo will promote local content, emphasizing how job creation opportunities will spur socio-economic growth, as well as capacity building, emphasizing how training and skills transfer will not only advance energy sector developments but significantly increase domestic capacity. Joining the Mozambican delegation in Cape Town, Tauabo will provide an alternative perspective to attending stakeholders, representing the community, energy sector, and government.

“Valige Tauabo will drive a strong discussion on the role of capacity building, local content, and job creation in Mozambique. With the right investment and resumed development, Mozambique has the potential to become a southern African energy hub and both Tauabo and the AEC aims to make this a reality.,” continued Ayuk.

AEW 2021, in partnership with South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources and Energy DMRE, is the AEC’s annual conference, exhibition and networking event. AEW 2021 unites African energy stakeholders with investors and international partners to drive industry growth and development and promote Africa as the destination for energy investments.

For more information about Africa’s premier energy event, please visit www.aew2021.com or www.energychamber.org and/or reach out directly to Amina Williams at amina.williams@energychamber.org

For registration related enquiries, please contact registration@aew2021.com   

For sales-related enquiries, please contact sales@aew2021.com  

For media-related enquiries, please contact media@aew2021.com  

For speaker opportunity-related enquiries, please contact speakers@aew2021.com

*African Energy Chamber

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Equatorial Guinea to Revise its Oil and Gas Law to Incentivize Investment in Upstream, Midstream and Downstream, Other African Countries Should do the Same.
September 24, 2021 | 0 Comments

Speaking at a Bilateral Chamber hosted webinar on Wednesday the 22nd of September, H.E. Minister Gabriel Obiang Lima indicated a new Hydrocarbon Law in Equatorial Guinea, with more insights to be provided at African Energy Week in Cape Town.

H.E. Gabriel Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons of Equatorial Guinea, has announced the Ministry’s intention of preparing a new Hydrocarbon law focused on attracting oil investment into the country’s sector. With national targets to establish the country as an oil and gas leader, the new Hydrocarbon Law aims to enhance investment, attract both regional and international energy participants, and accelerate growth and development in 2021 and beyond.

During his presentation at the Leadership Insight Series: Equatorial Guinea webinar hosted by the Bilateral Chamber in Houston, Texas, the Minister provided insights into the proposed Hydrocarbon Law, stating that with new fiscal terms that encourage investment, the country will be able to realize its ambitious energy sector goals. H.E. Minister Gabriel Lima addressed some of the challenges related to the preparation of the new Hydrocarbon Law, emphasizing the value this new piece of legislation will have for creating both an enabling and enticing environment for investors.

Equatorial Guinea is endowed with significant oil and gas reserves that have and continue to attract significant level of foreign capital. To date, the country holds over 1.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves and approximately 1.1 billion barrels of crude oil reserves. With the Minister leading a strong campaign to enhance investment in emerging exploration and production prospects in order to drive large-scale project developments, the new Hydrocarbon Law will drive progress, promoting investment and enhancing energy sector advancement.

“Equatorial Guinea has already established itself as both an African and global oil and gas competitor. We have seen great companies like Hess, Marathon, ExxonMobil, Devon, and Chevron, explore for hydrocarbons offshore Equatorial Guinea with tremendous success. This is no time to stop and be comfortable. In the era of energy transition, and stiff competition for capital, it is important to be pragmatic and have a hydrocarbon law that deals with today’s realities and incentivize growth. We have to be more competitive, cut red tape, promote free markets, balance local content, create more jobs and increase our tax base,” stated H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons.

H.E. Minister Gabriel Lima will provide further insight into the new Hydrocarbon Law at African Energy Week (AEW) 2021 in Cape Town – taking place on the 9th-12th of November – and at the U.S.-African Energy Forum in Houston – taking place on the 9th-10th of December. By detailing the legislative specifics, addressing challenges to implementation, and emphasizing the value of the Law for enhancing investment in Equatorial Guinea’s hydrocarbon sector, the Minister is focused on accelerating energy sector growth and positioning the country as an African hydrocarbon leader.

“We’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 have been critical of us for advocating this. I disagree with them, and I still love them, but resource nationalism is not the way to go and it is actually dangerous for Africa. Equatorial Guinea taking the lead to make reforms is a step in the right direction. I truly believe that these changes are necessary to give IOCs an incentive to explore in Equatorial Guinea 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. If needed the Chamber will provide advice and support,” stated NJ Ayuk. Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber (AEC).

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.

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.

AEW 2021, in partnership with South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources and Energy DMRE, is the AEC’s annual conference, exhibition and networking event. AEW 2021 unites African energy stakeholders with investors and international partners to drive industry growth and development and promote Africa as the destination for energy investments.

For more information about Africa’s premier energy event, please visit www.aew2021.com or www.energychamber.org and/or reach out directly to Amina Williams at amina.williams@energychamber.org

For registration related enquiries, please contact registration@aew2021.com   

For sales-related enquiries, please contact sales@aew2021.com  

For media-related enquiries, please contact media@aew2021.com  

For speaker opportunity-related enquiries, please contact speakers@aew2021.com

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Cocobod Signs Us$1.5 Billion Syndicated Finance Facility For 2021/2022 Cocoa Season
September 24, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Maxwell Nkansah

Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has signed a US$1.5billion Pre-export Syndicated Finance agreement with a consortium of local and international financial institutions to finance cocoa purchases for the 2021/2022 Cocoa Season.

The latest loan facility of USD 1.5 billion provided by a Consortium of 28 banks has an interest rate plus libor of 1.10%, and is repayable in equal installments for seven (7) calendar months beginning February to August 2022.

The loan is projected to help purchase about 600,000 metric tonnes of cocoa for the season under consideration. The signing ceremony which took place in Accra at the Headquarters of Standard Chartered Bank of Ghana was attended in-person and via video-conferencing by officials from COCOBOD, government and representatives of the financial institutions who participated in this year’s syndication.

Speaking at the ceremony, Chief Executive of COCOBOD, Joseph Boahen Aidoo who joined via zoom, expressed his gratitude to the banks for their trust in Ghana’s cocoa industry and assured that the loan will be used for its intended purposes and paid on schedule. He further mentioned that cocoa beans purchased for the 2020/21 season stood at record high.

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According to Hon Aidoo, despite the challenges that the cocoa industry faced as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the country was able to achieve its target of significantly increasing productivity per hectare, leading to the attainment of a record high production at the end of the 2020/21 crop season.

“I wish to officially inform stakeholders that through our continued implementation of the Productivity Enhancement Programmes (PEPs), at the close of the 2020/21 crop year, cocoa beans purchased stood at one million and forty-five thousand five-hundred metric tonnes (1,045,500mt), breaking the 10-year-old record set in the 2010/2011 crop year which was 1,024,526mt,” he stated.

He expressed confidence in a “blissful future” for Ghana’s cocoa industry and invited all stakeholders along the value chain to challenge themselves to achieve greater milestones in the coming season.

Hon. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, the Minister for Food and Agriculture, in a statement at the event, said Ghana’s cocoa industry has served as an icon of good corporate governance in the sub-region and has remained vibrant because of its continued partnership with relevant stakeholders across the globe. He commended the Management of COCOBOD for the prudent leadership of the cocoa sector, especially, in the past couple of difficult years.

The Minister assured the consortium of banks that put together the US$1.5 billion amount that the facility would be fully committed to its intended purpose, which is to ensure prompt payment to farmers for their produce at the buying centers.

Speaking on behalf of the lenders, Mrs Mansa Nettey, the Chief Executive Officer of Standard Chartered Bank, Ghana Plc, said the financial institutions remain committed to a continuous beneficial relationship with COCOBOD.

She said the facility received commitments in excess of US$1.7billion due to COCOBOD’s impeccable credit profile and market relationships.

A total of 28 institutions, made up of 4 local and 24 international financial institutions participated in this year’s syndication facility. She mentioned the Initial Mandated Lead Arrangers as Standard Charted Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Coöperatieve Rabobank, MUFG Bank Ltd, Natixis, Nedbank Ltd and Ghana international Bank.

The four local banks are EcoBank Ghana Limited, Standard Chartered Bank, Société General Ghana Limited and Absa Ghana Limited. The facility is expected to be repaid in seven (7) equal installments, from February to August 2021.

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Call for independent inquiry into killing of Rwandan refugee in Mozambique
September 24, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jorge Joaquim

The president of the Association of Rwandan Refugees in Mozambique has called for an independent commission to be set up to investigate the murder of a prominent Rwandan refugee in Mozambique last week.

Revocat Karemangingo was shot dead on 13 September when two cars blocked his car as he was driving home through the city of Matola.

The president, Cleophas Habiyareme, said he also wanted the same commission to investigate the disappearance of Rwandan journalist Cassien Ntamuhanga  in May, as well as an attempt to kidnap the association’s secretary.

“These are three cases that occurred within the same community. Here we have four large refugee communities; Rwandans, Burundians, Congolese and Somalis; but the only one that is doing badly, suffering kidnapping, disappearance, death, is the Rwandan community,” he said.

Habiyareme said that Karemangingo had been persecuted by the Rwandan government of president Paul Kagame since 2016, and had survived an earlier assassination attempt. Police said they were still investigating the murder.

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`Is there such a thing as a good coup in Africa?
September 24, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jude Mutah*

Many Malians supported the 2020 coup. Credit: Afrobarometer

Although not a new phenomenon in Africa, military takeovers or coups occurred with disturbing frequency over the last year, writes Dr. Jude Mutah, an Africa program specialist at the United States Institute of Peace and a Penn Kemble Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). While experts argue that democracy is backsliding or shrinking in Africa, recent developments prompt the question: were democratic values ever really embedded?

Democracy is not only about elections and the transfer of power. Africa’s problem is not merely democratization; it is primarily inefficient leadership that cares less about good governance and development, emphasizing elections as a vehicle for merely accessing political power.

Coups are not surprising in countries where the social contract between the state and the citizens is either weak or broken.  In Mali, for example, rising insurgency, corruption, floundering economy, and the poor handling of the COVID-19 pandemic pushed protesters to the streets in 2020 and 2021, leading to military intervention. In Chad, the military disregarded the constitution following Idris Deby’s death and appointed his son (a general) to head the country. In Guinea Conakry, “poverty and endemic corruption” drove soldiers to remove President Alpha Conde from office. Conde manipulated the constitution last year to perpetuate his stay in office. Some might suggest that military takeovers under such circumstances constitute  “a good coup.” But what happens next?

Some pundits insist that there is no such thing as a good coup. This is understandable because after each one, state bodies start afresh from ground zero – government and parliament dissolved, the constitution suspended, etc., as after the coups in Mali and CAR in 2012 and 2003, respectively.  Even as citizens celebrate coups on the streets, as in Guinea Conakry, the euphoria is usually short-lived because social and economic conditions hardly improve. Instead, reality sets in; coup is the easy part; governance is far more challenging – citizens’ unmet expectations breed frustration and disillusion.  Coups also serve as a springboard for a long-term civil war or a recipe for more coups, as seen in the Central African Republic (CAR), Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Burundi, and Sudan.

Africans are supportive of democratic ideals, but often disillusioned with the political reality. Credit: Afrobarometer

However, is it acceptable to ignore the factors that drive coups, only to condemn them when they happen? The African Union condemned the coups in Mali and Guinea and even suspended Mali from the union. In the same vein, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) condemned the military takeover in Guinea and suspended the country from membership. Yet these same bodies remained silent amid extreme economic hardship in Guinea and Conde’s controversial attempts to stay in power. The regional bodies remained unmoved when Mali suffered wanton corruption, nepotism, and worsening extremist activities leading to the 2020 and 2021 coups. When CAR experienced dictatorial rule, corruption, and severe political instabilities, prompting at least ten coups within a decade, regional bodies remained silent.

Military coups in Africa have tended to follow a familiar pattern. The military often takes advantage of protests by disgruntled young people to arrest and depose members of the ruling elite. After a coup, one might imagine that any subsequent military or civilian administration would do whatever it takes to avert future coups by addressing the underlying factors that gave rise to them, yet that rarely happens because the original goal of gaining power is achieved.

Dr. Jude Mutah

To end or at least reduce the frequency of coups, African leaders and their international counterparts or partners must tackle the poor quality of leadership by fostering and incentivizing legitimate governance and democratic values, such as robust socioeconomic opportunities, respect for constitutional term limits, to address and avert the resentments that prompt the kind of protests exploited and co-opted by soldiers to overthrow the incumbent regime. The African Union and other regional bodies should be proactive—instead of exclusively reactive—in identifying and responding to the warning signs of insurrection, such as a lack of socioeconomic opportunities for youth, manipulation of the constitution, and rising insecurity.  Otherwise, coups in Africa will remain a recurring phenomenon.

*Dr. Jude Mutah is a program specialist for Africa at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP); a Penn Kemble Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), both in Washington, DC; and an International Affairs professor at The University of Baltimore’s School of Public and International Affairs, Maryland, USA. The views expressed are those of the author.

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HOPE Consortium and Astral Aviation Sign MOU to enhance vaccine distribution solutions in Africa.
September 23, 2021 | 0 Comments

The two entities have formed a strategic partnership with the aim of accelerating vaccine distribution to African nations.

Abu Dhabi, UAE – September 23, 2021: As part of its continued commitment to vaccine distribution in Africa, the HOPE Consortium has partnered with Kenya-based cargo airline, Astral Aviation, to offer vaccine distribution solutions to Africa. This highlights the HOPE Consortium’s efforts in reinforcing partnerships that focus on fighting the COVID-19 global pandemic, as well as fulfilling the organisation’s mission as a global logistics facilitator, by aiding in vaccine delivery.

As part of the partnership agreement, both entities will focus on intra-African cooperation to enhance vaccine distribution within the African continent. The HOPE Consortium will utilise Astral Aviation’s comprehensive network, technologies, and market expertise, to support its global objective of facilitating vaccine availability with a specific emphasis on the African continent. The alliance will ensure timely delivery of vaccines and critical supplies to all 54 African nations.

Astral Aviation operates a diverse fleet of 14 freighter aircraft and provides innovative, flexible, and cost-effective UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) and UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) integrated drone-based solutions, as well as warehousing solutions to both in-store and remote locations.

This synergetic collaboration with the HOPE Consortium will see Astral Aviation provide capacity for vaccine deliveries on its scheduled and charter freighter network, in addition to world-class drone solutions and systems to Africa, with the purpose of facilitating immunisation programmes.

Commenting on the partnership, Mr. Sanjeev Gadhia, CEO of Astral Aviation said: “We are truly honoured to partner with the HOPE Consortium and participate in the critical distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, based on our track record in performing humanitarian initiatives and vaccine flights within Africa. Astral will add further technological and warehousing solutions for distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines from the hub in Abu Dhabi, to all the 54 countries in Africa directly or via its Nairobi Hub, which occupies 9000 m2 of cold-storage facilities.”

It is worth mentioning that Astral has also been selected by UNICEF to perform vaccine flights for COVAX and for the African Union via the African Medical Supplies Platform.  

Through this partnership, the HOPE Consortium furthers its end-to-end supply chains required to distribute vaccines from their base in Abu Dhabi to all African countries. The HOPE Consortium has geared its operations to transport millions of critical COVID-19 vaccines to any country in need and thus far has handled over 100 million vaccine doses across 40 countries.

Robert Sutton, Head of Logistics Cluster, Abu Dhabi Ports, said: “Africa has always been a high priority market for the HOPE Consortium, and to that end, we are pleased to join hands with Astral Aviation. With a track record of operating over 20 years within Africa, their expertise provides a new dimension towards achieving our overarching objectives. This partnership reinforces the HOPE Consortium’s aim of creating a sustainable ecosystem, based on our collective global networks, logistics and supply chain capabilities, in order to facilitate vaccine distribution across the world. Our partnership with Astral Aviation is another benchmark towards our commitment to serve every country, region, and locale. We are confident that this partnership will help enhance HOPE Consortium’s efforts in Africa and ensure that no one is left behind in the quest against the pandemic.”

About the Hope Consortium:

The Hope Consortium is an Abu Dhabi-based public-private partnership offering a unique end-to-end supply chain solution capable of delivering large quantities of COVID-19 vaccines, from production to those in need, anywhere in the world, safely, transparently and efficiently.

The Hope Consortium has pooled the collective expertise of its partners to provide multi-faceted logistics services to handle transport, demand planning, sourcing, training, and digital technology infrastructure, to facilitate vaccine availability across the world.

The Hope Consortium’s founding partners consist of the Department of Health Abu Dhabi, Etihad Cargo, Abu Dhabi Ports, Maqta Gateway, Rafed, and SkyCell.

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Wärtsilä signs Concession Agreement to develop, supply, construct, operate and maintain major 120 MW power plant project in Gabon.
September 23, 2021 | 0 Comments
Nicolas Mathon, Director, Project Development, Africa and Europe, Wärtsilä Energy and Managing Director, Orinko S.A and Akim Daouda, CEO of Sovereign Fund of the Gabonese Republic ©FGIS

The technology group Wärtsilä and Gabon Power Company (GPC), the subsidiary of the Sovereign Fund of the Gabonese Republic (FGIS) dedicated to energy and water, have on 22 September 2021 signed a Concession Agreement with the Government of Gabon for the development, supply, construction, operation and maintenance of a 120 MW gas power plant. Wärtsilä, jointly leading the project development with GPC, will build the plant under a full Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) contract and will then operate and maintain the plant under a long-term 15-year Operation and Maintenance (O&M) agreement. The EPC contract and the O&M agreement will be signed in 2022 with Orinko S.A., the joint venture between Wärtsilä and GPC.

The plant will be located at the industrial site of Owendo, close to Libreville, the country’s capital. When commissioned, the plant will supply electricity to Société d’Energie et d’Eau du Gabon (SEEG), the Gabonese utility, under a 15-year Power Purchase Agreement. The project represents one of the largest of its kind in Sub-Sahara Africa and a sizeable energy infrastructure project for Gabon.

“There is currently a structural deficit between the supply capability and the demand for electricity, which is increasing year by year. This project will play an important role in bridging this deficit, and some 600,000 people will ultimately benefit from a more sustainable and economical electricity supply delivered to SEEG. The plant will replace rented generation assets by SEEG and bring significant benefits, in line with Gabon sustainability ambitions,” said Marcelin Massila Akendengue, General Director, Gabon Power Company.

“This is a major and very comprehensive project that will deliver sustainable energy at a competitive price. It highlights many of Wärtsilä’s strengths, including the efficiency and flexibility of our generating sets, our EPC capabilities, our project development skills with insight into the financing arrangements, and our lifecycle support through long-term O&M agreements,” said Nicolas Mathon, Director, Project Development, Africa and Europe, Wärtsilä Energy and Managing Director, Orinko S.A. “The project also emphasises the leadership role that Wärtsilä plays in moving the industry towards a decarbonised future by delivering solutions that enable a transition to renewable energy.”

The project is being developed under a Public Private Partnership framework, with the asset to transfer to the Gabonese authorities at the end of the concession agreement. It has the full support of the government of Gabon, with the Council of Ministers approval received in May 2021, and the Concession Agreement having received approvals by the country’s President, Prime Minister, and the relevant Ministries. When completed, the project will have a major impact on the Gabonese economy.

Wärtsilä’s installed base in West Africa comprises 440 plants with 946 engines producing 4928 MW in 34 countries. In Gabon, Wärtsilä has a long-term presence from projects delivered and contracted with SEEG and private energy intensive companies.

Wärtsilä Energy in brief

Wärtsilä Energy leads the transition towards a 100% renewable energy future. We help our customers in decarbonisation by developing market-leading technologies. These cover future-fuel enabled balancing power plants, hybrid solutions, energy storage and optimisation technology, including the GEMS energy management platform. Wärtsilä Energy’s lifecycle services are designed to increase efficiency, promote reliability and guarantee operational performance. Our track record comprises 74 GW of power plant capacity and more than 80 energy storage systems delivered to 180 countries around the world.

Wärtsilä is a global leader in smart technologies and complete lifecycle solutions for the marine and energy markets. By emphasising sustainable innovation, total efficiency and data analytics, Wärtsilä maximises the environmental and economic performance of the vessels and power plants of its customers. In 2020, Wärtsilä’s net sales totalled EUR 4.6 billion with approximately 18,000 employees. The company has operations in over 200 locations in more than 70 countries around the world. Wärtsilä is listed on Nasdaq Helsinki

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