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Research Ghana’s 2021 fiscal deficit at 9.5%
June 1, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Maxwell Nkansah

In its May 2021 edition of the African Markets Revealed (AMR) report, the Standard Bank says this may make the path to fiscal consolidation longer than expected.

The government projects a 9.5% fiscal deficit-to-GDP ratio for 2021 amid rising social expenditure and interest payments, from 11.7% in 2020. Including financial sector costs, the fiscal deficit to-GDP ratio was 13.7% in 2020. Therefore, the path to fiscal consolidation may take a further 4-y as the government does not expect to return to within the Fiscal Responsibility Act threshold of 5% of GDP until at least 2024, the report said. The report added: Fiscal consolidation faster than that would be desirable given the elevated debt service costs. Indeed, the IMF adjudges Ghana as at high risk of debt distress. Total revenue (including grants) for 2021 is projected to increase by 32%, to GHS72.45bn (c.17% of GDP), from GHS54.92bn (14% of GDP) in 2020; 77% of that

will likely come from domestic tax revenues. The government is looking to put a few tax measures in place, such as a percentage point increase each in the National Health Insurance levy and the VAT flat rate.

This, notwithstanding, the May 2021 AMR sees a swift recovery for the country’s economy this year.

According to the report, despite Ghanaian economy had slid into recession in the third quarter of 2020, managing growth of 3.3% year-on-year in the fourth quarter ensured marginal growth of 0.4% year-on-year for 2020. However, the annual growth numbers for the first three quarters of 2020 have been revised. Provisional data had shown 4.9% year-on-year growth in the first quarter of 2020 but that was revised to 6.8% year-on-year. The AMR also attributes the swift economic recovery to strong performances in the agricultural and services sectors.

Agricultural sector led this economy in 2020. This sector grew by 8.2% year-on-year in the last quarter of 2020, while the real estate and ICT sub-sectors drove the recovery in the services sector, which expanded by 4.6% year-on-year in the same quarter. Our base case foresees growth in 2021 and partly assumes no stringent lockdown measures, which should allow for a more meaningful, and broader, economic recovery, the report said. The African Markets Revealed Report is a monthly report issued by the Standard Bank Group and focuses on the economic and financial outlook of African countries.

The report also reviews current economic situations and makes short to medium-term predictions about the economies of African countries.

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Akufo-Addo holds extraordinary ECOWAS summit on Mali impasse
June 1, 2021 | 0 Comments

The Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, will on Sunday 30 May 2021, convene an extraordinary Summit in Accra on the political crisis in Mali.

Ten heads of state and their representatives have confirmed their participation in the Summit aimed at deliberating and taking consequential decisions on the evolving political and security situation in Mali.

Speaking at a press briefing in Accra on Saturday 29 May 2021, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, said that the Summit is in line with efforts by the regional bloc to ensure progressive development of member countries.

She said the Summit will be held to proffer conflict resolution strategies in accordance with relevant protocols to bring an end to the political crisis in the West African state.

The past few days have witnessed some worrying developments in Mali. The arrest and detention of the President and Prime Minister of the transition government by the military has necessitated a re-evaluation of the strategies adopted by ECOWAS to bring normalcy to the country.

“At the behest of the President of the Republic, an ECOWAS Mediation team, led by H.E. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, ECOWAS Special Envoy and Mediator for Mali embarked on a fact-finding mission to Mali from 25 to 26 May 2021 to assess the situation and explore opportunities for the resolution of the crisis. H.E. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan will, therefore, report to the Summit on the outcome of the mission,” Botchway said.

Akufo-Addo will be joined by other well-known dignitaries and representatives from Benin, Guinea, Cape Verde and Senegal. The summit will also see the participation of the President and Vice President of the ECOWAS Commission and the former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and ECOWAS Special Mediator for Mali, Goodluck Jonathan.

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kweliTV is Curating the Global Black Experience
June 1, 2021 | 0 Comments

AFRICA400/HandRadio on Wednesday, June 2nd @2pmEST will host special guest DeShuna Spencer Founder and CEO of kweliTV; a streaming service of 500 indie films all by filmmakers of African descent with delivery across the Diaspora. 

Spencer was inspired to create kweliTV which in Swahili means “truth” in 2016 due to the lack of visual reflections and representations for people of African descent in their various cultural dimensions and celebratory blackness. kweliTV can be found streaming across the Diaspora in North America, Africa, Latin America, Europe, and the Caribbean.

A Cultural Revolution is manifesting for all blacks across the globe so tune in and subscribe to kweliTV and let real change begin right from your home. www.kweli.tv

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Kenya celebrates the 58th Madaraka
June 1, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday led the country in marking the 58th Madaraka Day Celebration held at revamped Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium in the lakeside city of Kisumu.

The ceremony was graced by several dignitaries, including the visiting Burundi President Everriste Ndayishimiye and South African Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Lindiwe Sisulu.

Others included the Chief opposition leader Raila Odinga, Deputy President William Ruto, Chief Justice Martha Koome, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi, his Senate counterpart Kenneth Lusaka, ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) chief of staff Lt. General Robert Kabochi, a section of Governors, Senators and MPs.

Paratroopers drawn from KDF stole the show by parachuting to the stadium while including various flags, including that of the country and President Kenyatta.

Various troupes also entertain dignitaries attending the ceremony. The blend of artistes performed different genres of Luo Nyanza traditional, secular, and gospel music and dances, among them the special composition of ohangla, benga, and gospel tunes.

In his speech, Deputy President William Ruto praised the President for his development project in the region. In the company of his handshake brother and other leaders on Sunday and Monday, President Kenyatta commissioned and launched numerous projects in the area.

Ruto told Kenyans to be wary of “ethnic bigotry and personality cultism” that would defeat the spirit of Independence Day.

He further asked leaders to promote the “rule of law and not the rule of men.”

“As we celebrate this 58th Madaraka Day, Mr. President, I laud your two-day launch of various projects in this county. It is a testimony that there is a government that works and delivers. A government that delivers brings the country together.

This administration’s success has shown in infrastructure development brings into focus the next phase of our development. A phase that will create jobs so that we can deal with the twin challenges of poverty and unemployment,” said Ruto.

On his side, the former Prime Minister began his speech by narrating how the struggle for independence was and who was involved.

He then talked about his war with Covid-19 disease and how the global pandemic has caused an economic downturn.

“Corona visited me, trying to bring me down but I fought it successfully. Its effects are massive. Death and job losses. We need a stimulus program to spur economic recovery and help our people,” noted Odinga.

Political also took the centre stages as Odinga and President Kenyatta touched on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), whose fate lies in the hands of the Court of Appeal after the High Court declared the entire process unconstitutional last month.

Odinga emphasized the need to revive the bill saying it was started to bring Kenyans together. On the other hand, Kenyatta rallied support for it, claiming everyone knows it is good, including those opposing the bill.

“We cannot engage in political stabilization if we live in political denial. For instance, everyone knows that BBI is good. It is good for our country. It is even good for those unhappy with it.

They oppose BBI not because of its substance, which even its harshest critics concede is good, but because, unlike our Founding Fathers, they cannot dare imagine a better Kenya for all. ” he claimed.

Kenyatta also addressed the division between the Executive and the Judiciary. He noted that the Judiciary had put Kenya’s constitutional limits to the test by nullifying the 2017 General Election and attempting to overturn the people’s will through the BBI.

He further emphasized the importance of a National Conversation in Kenya focused on the consequences of choice, saying Judiciary should be bound by the consequences of its decisions as well.

“If the citizens are required to exercise their will and shoulder the burden of their choices, should the independent institutions not do likewise?” he asked.

President Kenyatta is being castigated for disobeying court orders.

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South Sudan: Renewed Arms Embargo ‘Threatens’ Peace Process
June 1, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

President Salva Kiir

Juba – The renewed arms embargo on South Sudan by the UN Security Council is a threat to the implementation of the peace agreement, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

Juba says the extension of the arms embargo poses a great threat to the country’s efforts to realize peace and stability.

Last week, the UN Security Council voted to extend the sanction regime for a year despite resistance from two countries—India and Kenya that absented from the vote, with a clause providing for a review of its relevance in April 2022.

The arms embargo prohibits the supply, sale, or transfer of weapons and the provision of technical assistance, training, and other military assistance to the territory of South Sudan.

It will remain active until 31 May 2022.

Reacting to the extension, Ambassador Thomas Kenneth Elisapana, the acting spokesperson in the South Sudan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said the sanctions impede the peace deal’s implementation.

“These punitive measures undermine the sovereignty of the nation and jeopardize the progress of the implementation of the revitalised agreement,” said Kenneth.

He stated that the action by the UNSC undermines the sovereignty of the country and will delay the graduation of expected unified forces  since the country will not be in a position to buy arms for the peace soldiers.

Kenneth said “By extending the arms embargo, graduation of the National Unified Forces (NUF) will greatly be affected, and will eventually weaken South Sudan to ascertain herself socially, economically, politically and in any unprecedented aggression internally or externally.”

South Sudan, was just emerging from six years of civil war that claimed some 380,000 lives, and uprooted four million from their homes, according to a UN report.

The conflict was officially withheld with the creation of a government of national unity in February 2020, followed 2018 peace deal.

According to Kenneth, the government expected that the recent reconstitution of the national legislature would be enough to reverse the decision.

“The government was expecting the international community to welcome the positive steps it has taken in the implementation of the R-ARCSS by lifting the sanctions. The government needs the encouragement of the International Community to do more towards the implementation of the agreement, instead of continuing renewing sanctions annually although they have proved unhelpful towards the stabilization of the situations in the country,” said Kenneth.

Juba further pointed out that if the international community needs change in South Sudan, then they should lift the sanctions.

“Lifting the sanctions would clear the image of the country and would accord it great opportunity to start acting again with the partners for the wellbeing of South Sudanese people,” said Kenneth. Therefore, South Sudan appeals world heartedly to the international community to review this untenable solution, as the country advances towards trust-building, reconciliation and healing, and peaceful resolution to the conflict.” 

According to a report, the estimated total number of guns (both licit and illicit) held by civilians in East Africa’s youngest nation is 1,255,000 in 2017 and 3,000,000 in 2013.

Besides, the defense forces of South Sudan are reported to have 351,500 firearms.

However, the peace process remains fragile as the confrontation between the parties, including subnational violence still exists.

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Coventry University Group appoints Rwanda’s former education minister to lead its new Africa Hub
June 1, 2021 | 0 Comments
Professor Silas Lwakabamba

Coventry University Group has appointed Rwanda’s former education minister Professor Silas Lwakabamba as Regional Managing Director for its new Africa Hub in Kigali.

The veteran academic will be the most senior representative of the university group in the region and will have oversight of its activities across Africa, including policy development, research, enterprise and innovation, and alumni engagement, among others.

Prof Lwakabamba will drive business development in the region, using his vast experience, knowledge and network of contacts. He will build collaborative relationships and partnerships to assist long-term knowledge transfer.

The Africa Hub will serve as a base for Coventry University Group in the region, enabling new relationships and strengthening established ones. Located in Kigali Heights, next to the Kigali Convention Centre, the Hub is part of the university group’s plan to develop a sustainable network of multi-faceted overseas offices. Coventry University Group’s ambition is to have a presence near to its stakeholders in key regions and follows the success of the Singapore and Dubai hubs.

Prof Lwakabamba earned his BSc and doctoral degrees in engineering in the United Kingdom and has held senior positions in higher education in Tanzania and Rwanda. He has also served in the cabinet of the Rwandan government, first as minister of infrastructure and then as minister of education.

Professor Silas Lwakabamba, Regional Managing Director, Africa Hub, Coventry University Group, said: “I am delighted to join Coventry University, which is one of the most entrepreneurial universities I know. For me, it is exciting to be part of an institution with great potential to make a difference for our African economies.”

Professor Mohamed Loutfi, Vice-Chancellor’s Envoy, Coventry University Group, said: “We are excited to welcome Prof Silas Lwakabamba as the inaugural managing director of the Africa Hub. He is an exceptional leader, with a distinguished track-record in sub-Saharan countries. His wealth of experience, extensive network of strategic contacts, and profile as a highly respected thought leader will certainly add to Coventry University Group’s understanding and building of further relations within the Sub-Saharan Africa region.”

Coventry University Group is focussed on creating a global reputation as one of the world’s leading education providers and has achieved success as a leading recruiter of international students. Increasingly, through partnerships and directly, the university group is delivering education internationally. Its network of international hubs will support this work, helping to develop, oversee and manage all of the university group’s activity in their region.​​

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Africa’s Best Brands unaffected by pandemic
June 1, 2021 | 0 Comments

 Nike, Dangote, MTN, DSTV and GTBank ranked the most admired brands in Africa.
– WHO and MTN top list of brands recognized as most helpful during the Covid-19 Pandemic
– African brands retain 13% share of the Top 100 most admired brands in Africa
– Top 10 largely same as previous years despite pandemic and much wider sample sizes  


African Business today released its June cover story featuring its exclusive ranking of Africa’s Best Brands. This year’s ranking was released during a virtual event from Uganda organised by Brand Africa, founders of the Brand Africa 100:  Africa’s Best Brands. A full schedule of events is taking place during Africa Day to release not only the continental ranking but country and regional rankings.
 
During a year defined by the pandemic which brought the world to a halt, as markets having to adapt to a new reality, African brands retained their 13% share of the Top 100 most admired brands in Africa.
 
Despite an increase in sample size and countries, the Top 10 Most Admired Brands show little change from previous years.  MTN, consistently the only African brand among the Top 10 brands overall, dropped to #11 for the first time in a decade.  American sports and fitness giant, Nike retains the top spot for the fourth year in a row.  MTN and Dangote retain their status as the most admired African brands recalled spontaneously and when prompted, respectively. Nigeria’s GTBank retains its position as the most admired financial services brand in Africa.
 
With Covid limiting entertainment options beyond the house, while many businesses struggled, many digital businesses such as streaming services thrivedThis undoubtedly explains South Africa’s DSTV becoming the most admired media brand In Africa, knocking off BBC from its long held position.  
 
Top 100 brands in Africa continue to be dominated by European brands which have held their share at 41% (-1), North America (+1), Asia (no change), and Africa retaining its 13% share of the most admired brands in the world.  Similarly, the leading African countries that dominate the rankings largely retained their positions with Nigeria (-1) and South Africa (-) with 5 brands each, Ethiopia (+1) and Kenya (-) accounting for the13 brands among the Top 100 most admired brands in Africa.
 
Computer/electronics (17%)(+3), consumer (non-cyclical) (14%)(+6), luxury (8%)(-2), auto manufacturers (13%)(+3), and apparel (8%)(-) make up the top 5 categories.
 
Most helpful brands during Covid-19
The shifts in the rankings this year’s rankings are bound by a common theme – the Covid-19 pandemic.  Given its impact on lives and livelihoods, this year Brand Africa survey sought to understand which brands were perceived to have been helpful during the pandemic.  Predictably, given its global omini-presence during the pandemic, the WHO emerged as the #1 most admired global brand perceived to have been most helpful during the pandemic.  MTN, which donated over 7 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to 9 African countries, is the leading African and private sector brand at #2, in private sector list where all multinational mobile operators in Africa –  Vodafone Group (#3), Orange (#4), Airtel (#6) – and media brands, Facebook (#10) and DSTV (#24) made the list of the Top 25.  They were instrumental in communicating about the pandemic and in keeping people connected. Underlying the role the private sector is playing during the pandemic, the list is 80% dominated by diverse private sector brands and 20% governmental and non-governmental agencies such as the Red Cross (#5), multi-lateral agencies such as WHO and Unicef (#7), government agencies such as the Center for Disease Control (#16) and USAID (#19). Unsurprisingly, the leading pharmaceutical groups, Johnson & Johnson (#12) and Astrazeneca (#25) rounded off the list.  Nigeria’s Dangote (#8) is the only industrial brand in the list.
 
Ethiopian Airways, the only African airline to have seemingly thrived during the pandemic, the first of the continent’s airlines to resume service and converting passenger planes into cargo planes to transport critical PPE’s around the world and the continent during the pandemic’s depths, spectacularly broke into the Top 100 most admired brands in Africa, the only airline, at #51.
 
With loconomies a central pivot during the pandemic, upstart South African brand, Bathu, muscled its way into a Top 25 at #10 among the most admired African brands list dominated by the stalwart brands, Dangote (#1), MTN (#2) and DSTV (#3), which retained their top respective rankings.
 
Out of all the 28 countries surveyed, only 5 (18%) have an African as the #1 most admired brand in the country.
 
Now in its 11th year, every year on or around Africa Day, 25 May, Brand Africa releases the results of the survey on the most admired brands in Africa. 
 
The announcement of the pan-African list, kicks of marathon series of announcements for the day, which started with morning with a virtual event at 05h45 GMT in Uganda with the most Africa-wide, East African and Uganda’s most admired brands; which will be followed by the announcement of the most admired brands in Southern Africa, featuring Lesotho, Botswana and Namibia, then West African and Nigeria; then North African Morocco, and will close with a live announcement of the Francophone Africa and Ivory Coast list hosted by Opinion & Public at 18h00 GMT at Royal Work Club, Le Plateau in Abjidjan, Ivory Coast.
The Brand Africa 100 results are published in the June issue of African Business magazine which will be on newsstands globally from 31 May 2020 and is available online to subscribers on https://shop.exacteditions.com/african-business.
 
The Brand Africa 100: Africa’s Best Brands events are organised by IC Events, Brand Leadership and africapractice, and supported by Africa Media Agency and BCW in communication and the Africa Brand Leadership Academy as the academic partner.
 
Established in 2011, the Brand Africa 100: Africa’s Best Brands rankings are the most authoritative survey and analysis on brands and underlying businesses in Africa, based on a study by Geopoll across 28 countries spanning all the five economic regions and analysis and ranking by Kantar and Brand Leadership. Collectively they account for over 80% of the population and over 80% of the GDP of Africa.  An analysis of the data over the past 10 years, has established that on average, only 20% of the brands admired by Africans are made in Africa. 
The 2021 survey was conducted between March and April 2021 and yielded over 80,000 brand mentions and over 3,500 unique brands.
“There is no doubt the pandemic, that continues to cost lives and livelihoods, and coincided with the launch of the implementation phase of the AfCFTA which aims to accelerate intra-Africa trade from 18% to 50% in 2030, is becoming a catalyst for loconomies with nations having to look internally for sustainability.  The internal shifts in the rankings in particular the African brands,   Africa can and will need to grow its own brands to meet the needs of its growing consumer market,” says Thebe Ikalafeng, Founder and Chairman of Brand Africa and Brand Leadership. “African brands will continue to play a dual role of being globally competitive but most importantly of transforming the continent’s promise into a real change.”
“While mobile has always been an expedient and effective tool to provide us reach and accessibility across the continent, it became more important during the pandemic as virtually the only way to reach respondents across the continent, providing us vital and timeous results at a critical time,” said Caitlin van Niekerk, Global Client Development Manager, GeoPoll.
Karin Du Chenne, Chief Growth Officer Africa Middle East for Kantar, which has been the insight lead for Brand Africa since inception in 2010 says, “Despite the increase in the sample size and countries surveyed – and more than 80,000 in brand mentions, the survey continues to yield a very consistent picture of a steadily transforming continental brand landscape and the brands that will drive the African transformation.”
 

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BRAND NEW WORKING SPACE FOR KAMPALA CODING COMMUNITY FRESH, NEW AND OPEN: THE TUNGA HUB
June 1, 2021 | 0 Comments
Ambassador says cheers and good luck

Kampala, May 31, 2021 – African-Dutch ICT company Tunga opened on May 27, 2021 her brand-new office in Kampala, Uganda. Tunga, founded in 2015, helps European and US companies meet their IT-needs through outsourcing and remote development by cooperating with Africa’s talent network. The company is growing and so is the talent pool. The opening act of the Tunga Hub was performed by the Dutch Ambassador in Uganda H.E. Karin Boven: “Did you know ‘tunga’ means ‘creation’ in Swahili? It is very promising to see that the cooperation between the Dutch and African colleagues appears to be so fruitful that office expansion is required”. She continued: “Apart from that, creation in the sense of economic development and jobs, is what Uganda needs so very much”.
 

Next stop

The Tunga Hub has sufficient capacity for up to 50 colleagues and is conveniently located next to Bugolobi Market for shopping and close to Bandali Rise, offering plenty of bars and restaurants. In other words: the ideal combination of work and play and therefore offering the perfect working environment. The new center has capacity for presentations, meetings and workspaces with guaranteed internet access. Several lectures have been planned for the Tunga Academy, providing free courses for software developers. These courses will take place either online or in the brand-new meeting rooms. Tunga is now looking into opening a similar hub in Lagos, Nigeria, as the company is outgrowing its office there as well.

Tunga community

Ernesto Spruyt, Tunga CEO: “We had outgrown our old office and started looking for a larger and more multifunctional Tunga hub center. We wanted a space that has educational, recreational and of course developing facilities to offer, including meeting rooms which are really crucial to facilitate knowledge transfer. The new hub is in line with the vision I had for Tunga since day one: lots of space, high ceilings and a large garden boasting a swimming pool and a BBQ pit. This is a place where we can house, inspire and help flourish our growing Tunga community. All Tunga developers are welcome here, where a sense of freedom will fuel dedicated and inspired development work. We are open now, ladies and gentlemen developers, so be welcome and bring your table tennis bat, your swim shorts and of course your good mood!”


About Tunga

With offices in Uganda (Luthuli Rise 236, Bugolobi, Kampala), Nigeria and The Netherlands and a network of over 500 software developers spread all over Africa, Tunga successfully helped more than 175 companies – both start-ups and bigger corporates – with their IT staffing and software outsourcing. Tunga drives a change by matching experienced African software developers with its – mainly European and US – clients in demand of coding support. Thus enabling their experts to grow, be successful and take their spot in the international tech sector. Tunga was founded in 2015 as an initiative of social entrepreneur Ernesto Spruyt and the not-for-profit organization ​Butterfly Works. ​See ​www.tunga.io. ​ 

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Out Now: MLB’s ‘Levels’ EP Hits Digital Platforms
June 1, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

MLB, German based Gambian Afropop Reggae dancehall artiste has released his debut Extended Play, EP called ‘Levels’ comprising seven tracks available in all digital platforms worldwide.

The EP is produced by Jlive music and depicts informative, entertaining and educative messages. MLB told Pan African Visions that the song preaches love, unity, encouraging young people to stardom and also paying tribute to his  late Dad’s blessed memories.

He added that the messages in his music are entertaining, educating and inspiring the younger generations to positivity at all times.

The tracks include ‘One question’, ‘Di Papa’, ‘Daddy’, ‘Rock your body’, ‘Da One’, ‘Levels’, and ‘Come my place’. With one video of high quality currently making waves in TV stations in Gambia and beyond.

MLB BIOGRAPHY

Modou Lamin Beyai, best known for his stage name as MLB which is an inventive synthesis of his birth name. MLB is a Gambian Afropop/Afrobeat, Reggae  and Dancehall artiste currently based in Germany.

MLB was living in the slums of London Corner in the Gambia where talent are abundant among the youths and that was the best experience for him, been a young boy this place thought him lot about the struggles and realities of life, because of this, he is always proud of what this place has made him to become.

Music is his everyday life. The feeling of joy when he is singing or listening to good music is unimaginable. Music disappears all his worries so one could say yes music is his strength.

MLB started music at a very young age, inspired by his late father, OUSMAN BEYAI a Guitarist, songwriter, composer, arranger and sound engineer. His father was also a member of the great Ifan-bondi Band and played with music veterans like Jaliba Kuyateh, Abdul Kabirr (Lie Ngum) the late Paps Touray, Musa Afia Ngum and Yankuba Saho.

However, being the first and only son, his father desired him to do music at a very early age. Coming to Gambia for his frequent holidays his father will always asked ‘when are you going to start your guitar lessons’ but as a teenager growing up in The Gambia in a place called London Corner, all his dreams was to become a professional soccer player and showed so much passion to it but his father always encourage and seed the love of music in his
heart, there is no way he could escape music.

Singing became his hobby at a very early age and his father was like “it’s your way, you can’t escape it “, sadly his father passed away in 2014.

After that MLB realized the direction his father was trying to push him and eventually understood this was destined to be.

MLB’s music has so much impact as he entertains and spreads positive messages across his fans. The contents of his lyrics are 0% violent. Always make sure his music connects emotionally and touches the hearts of his listeners.

Professionally, MLB started music in 2019 but however, he knew music was going to be a life time career for him in the early 2014 and as well understand is part his genetics. Getting into the real music business he began as a mobile DJ in 2010, in the process his aim was to be a music Composer and Producer.

In the same 2014, he wrote his first song ‘I Need You’ which depicted love. MLB has four maiden hit songs and has just released his anticipated debut EP called ‘Levels’ comprising seven available in all digital platforms. 

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Kenya:Uhuru, Ndayishimiye sign pact to enhance relations.
May 31, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

The two heads of State signed a Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) to facilitate better relations and collaborative efforts

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Burundi counterpart Evariste Ndayishimiye on Monday held bilateral talks in the lakeside city of Kisumu, Kenya.

The meeting took place a few hours after the Burundi Head of State jetted into Kenya for a two-day state visit. He was accompanied by First Lady of Republic of Burundi Angeline Ndayubaha.

President Ndayishimiye was received by Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo, and other senior government officials at Kisumu International Airport.

The two heads of State signed a Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) to facilitate better relations and collaborative efforts.

The countries also agreed to collaborate on Agriculture, livestock, and fisheries industries.

They also signed a deal that would see their countries working on sports culture and heritage and enhancing education standards in the region.

Kenyatta further noted that they would work together to enhance security operations. He further encouraged people-to-people relations between the two nations by enhancing trade investment.

On his part, Ndiyishimiye urged Kenyan investors to make use of investment opportunities in Burundi.

“We hope the MOUs we have signed will be implemented as soon as possible, we are committed to improving the business climate in our countries,” said Ndiyishimiye.

President Ndiyishimiye will be the chief guest during Kenya’s Madaraka Day Celebration slated for tomorrow at Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium, Kisumu.

Madaraka is the Swahili word for ‘power .’ It is celebrated in the East African nation annually to commemorate the day that Kenya took power when it attained internal self-rule in 1963.

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Dryland is Hindering the Fight to Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 2030), GLF experts impart reporting skills.
May 31, 2021 | 0 Comments

Telling the story is essential for raising awareness on environmental concerns; thus, journalists and media professionals are integral in inspiring a global effort to end the imminent challenges our planet faces today.

By Uzman Unis Bah 

GLF training 2021– as the African dryland issue continues to pose a threat to the farming sector, stalling the progress of achieving SDG zero hunger and the elimination of poverty; the Global Landscape Forum (GLF) organises training that reveals reporting skills for journalists in helping raise the awareness and inspiring a global call to help address the crisis.

The GLF training lasted for three days, imparting knowledge to over 40 professional and fledgling journalists in the African continent. The experts shared vital storytelling skills, sharing knowledge and deepening the insight into the looming environmental issues affecting the continent. According to Susanne Wallenöffer, the head Forests4Future, although this is a virtual engagement, it points out the scale at which land damage is taking place and at the same time highlighting the continent’s potential in tackle the problem.

Susanne says the role of the media is to continue raising awareness on the topic and the importance of restoring forests and despoiled lands in the continent, inspiring political actions, reporting and setting the agenda for broader deliberations. “The other point is to simply raise awareness among the communities and the general public on the potential that restoring degraded lands and forests has fought for everyone.” She said.

The journalists and media specialists are pivotal in telling the stories of affected communities from the most affected to the least affected places of our globe. In raising awareness and stirring aspirations for a lasting solution, the media and journalists play are pivotal. Susanne hailed the Global Landscapes Forum, climate track and partners for hosting such media training.

Storytelling is vital in promoting awareness of the situations affecting people and their livelihood and the environmental danger our society is currently facing. The press and the drivers of conservation stories are crucial in casting light on the signs the planet is witnessing.

“It’s been estimated that there’s potential to generate $2 trillion globally from Sustainable Agriculture and forest protection.” Jonathan Davies, Global Agriculture Programme Lead at International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Jonathan said.

In giving an overview of dry land in Africa, Peter Minang, a Principal Scientist with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), said land degradation is the deterioration or loss of productive capacity of soils. Peter asserts that land degradation is often resulting in desertification and primarily importing desertification in drylands.

Most of our forest areas are dry ecosystems that are also important and needed for growing several crops that mostly do well in drier areas, like cotton,  so it good to be aware of these facts; Peter clarifies.

Africa is vulnerable to land degradation; millions of hectares are affected, close to 500 million hectares; desertification affects around 45% of Africa’s land area, where there is 55% high risk for further degradation; a study in 2016 estimates that the annual losses in land degradation in Africa, especially in Agriculture, accrue losses of billion Euros, he explains.

According to Peter, population increase, poverty, and a host of other issues contribute to the land loss, but the most dynamic causes are poor governance, poor policy enforcement and lack of investments in land management.

Salima Mahamoudou, a Research Associate at World Resources Institute (WRI), said, often, when we hear of land degradation in Africa, our mind run to pictures of cracked and broken soil, but the fact is, degradation doesn’t necessarily need to be to the extreme, where you will witness the physical markers.

According to Salima, while reporting dryland stories, it is good to consider the common environmental impacts, but it is worth noting that some of the dryland impacts might not be as visible as others.

There is a great potential to store carbon in the soil, arousing interest in developing land carbon sinks, which will benefit the African continent. The opportunity will bring immense possibilities for land use and proper land regime systems in Africa, stated Jonathan.

Birguy Lamizana Diallo, Senior Project Officer, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, said desertification is growing; it is noticeable at the environmental level, but predominantly in the social sector, leading to disputes and migrations, economic losses that hugely affect the livelihood of women and youth in the rural communities.

Desertification is land degeneration in arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid areas emanating from many factors, including climatic shifts and human activities. It leads to a reduction in crop yields and minimises the resilience of agricultural and pastoral systems – key livelihood pillars in Africa. According to the policy brief of the African Group of Negotiators experts Support.

Our food heroes, the farmers who toil, breaking backs to achieve food security, in the face of all hurdles, are the most challenged when it comes to desertification and the altering of the landmass, either by climate change or natural emergencies. Issues that impact our planet need coverage, but to tell stories that will help raise awareness and inspiring solutions, journalists’ need to be equipped to better understanding the issues for better reportage. 

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Dangote Refinery Oil Refinery: XCMG’s End-to-end Service Supports 2,500 Units of Equipment for Construction of the Largest Oil Refinery
May 31, 2021 | 0 Comments

XCMG Construction Machinery Co.Ltd (000425.SZ), global top three construction machinery manufacturer, has deployed a team of 81 engineers and technicians to work on the construction of the world’s largest oil refinery project, the Dangote Refinery, located at Lekki Free Zone in Lagos, Nigeria. The team is providing end-to end, round-the-clock service to facilitate more than 2,500 units of construction machinery equipment.

Built with an investment of nearly $35.38 billion (29 billion Euro), the Dangote Refinery project covers an area of 250,000 hectares, and the phase I and II of the project is expected to be completed by 2022. Once in full operation, the refinery will produce gasoline and other petrochemical products such as polyethylene and polypropylene.

Nigeria, the largest oil-producing country in Africa, currently has four operating oil refineries. However, due to equipment aging and poor maintenance, the plants are in a state of partial shutdowns with a combined daily output of less than 445,000 barrels, while the average daily consumption is approximately 40 million liters, 7 million liters lesser than of which are produced locally.

“The refined oil output of the Dangote Refinery will be able to fulfill the gasoline demand in Nigeria sufficiently, even meeting West Africa’s demand for refined oil, freeing Nigeria from its dependence on oil imports. XCMG is proud to participate in this mega refinery project,” said Jiansen Liu, Vice President of XCMG and General Manager of XCMG Import and Export Company.

Led by Liu Jiansen, the team submitted a complete construction technology solution with more than 500 units of equipment from 13 categories within one month for the construction contract bidding. 

Subsequently, XCMG won a massive order of 504 equipment from 37 models, the largest export order to Africa across the Chinese construction machinery industry, including 27 concrete mixer trucks, two pump trucks and five mixing plants. Throughout the construction period, the XCMG project team provided after-sales engineer support at the site to monitor the construction conditions.

End-to-end Service

The team managed several other challenges including the road conditions which required levelling with road rollers and graders, and excavators to dig waterways for drainage every few days. Liu and the team also took on tasks such as 30-ton hoisting, HB41A pump truck debugging and sand pumping from the Gulf of Guinea to fill up the marsh – a task completed by XCMG excavators and dump trucks, also aiding in anti-flood rescues.

To facilitate the maintenance of XCMG equipment, the end-to-end service team set up a 5,000-square-meter equipment maintenance workshop on site to provide support, mechanical debugging and maintenance services. The comprehensive after-sales service prompted Dangote Group to sign an additional order of 183 crawler cranes, 201 concrete equipment and 40 hydraulic vibratory hammers with XCMG.

To date, the Dangote Refinery Project has purchased XCMG machinery equipment totaling $400 million and spare parts worth $35 million.

About XCMG Construction Machinery Co. Ltd

XCMG, a multinational heavy machinery manufacturing company, leverages on its experience and expertise of over 78 years to manufacture top of the line goods. It currently ranks third in the world’s construction machinery industry and exports to over 187 regions worldwide.

*Source XCMG

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350Africa.org reacts to Mount Nyiragongo eruption and displacement crisis in Goma, DRC
May 29, 2021 | 0 Comments
Nyiragongo volcano may erupt again very soon according to experts

Africa–On Saturday 22nd May, Nyiragongo volcano which is located near the city of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo, erupted. As a result, at least 32 lives were lost and nearly 4500 homes were destroyed, leaving an estimated 20,000 people homeless. Officials have since ordered evacuation of parts of the city due to fears of another eruption of Mount Nyiragongo. The evacuation orders followed aftershocks of the volcanic eruption, which resulted in tremors being experienced in the region, on Tuesday. According to the Norwegian Refugee Council, the DRC already has the world’s most neglected displacement crisis, occasioned by multiple conflicts in the eastern parts of the country. 

Landry Ninteretse, 350Africa.org Regional Director said:

“As a climate justice organisation, we stand in solidarity with our comrades and partners in eastern DRC, where lives and homes have been lost following the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo. The eruption and the resultant evacuation have made an already dire situation of displacement in the DRC worse. We applaud the efforts of humanitarian agencies in moving with speed to offer humanitarian assistance to the communities already affected by spiralling violence, food insecurity, ravages of extractivism and climate impacts that could be further exacerbated, if the proposed oil projects come to life. Communities living in such extreme vulnerability need viable and sustainable livelihoods based on renewables and cannot afford oil battles that enrich only corrupt politicians and the fossil fuel industry.”

Mount Nyiragongo’s last major eruption took place in the year 2002, where 100 lives were lost. The volcano is among the world’s most active and dangerous volcanoes. While it is being monitored closely, the worst case scenario would be an eruption beneath the floor of Lake Kivu, which would force carbon dioxide to the surface.

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Kenya to start the second dose of Covid-19 jabs on Friday
May 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Chairperson of the Vaccine Taskforce, Dr. Willis Akhwale

Kenya has announced that it will start administering the second dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine tomorrow, May 28.

The country’s Chairperson of the Vaccine Taskforce, Dr. Willis Akhwale, announced on Thursday that there are only 100,000 of the AstraZeneca, expecting 72,000 others from South Sudan.

According to Dr. Akhwale, those to be vaccinated have been notified.

“In keeping with the recommendations of the World Health Organization, second dose is administered after 12 weeks so people who are due have received a message as a reminder which is being sent 48 hours to when one is expected to go for their second jab from tomorrow,” Dr. Akhwale said.    

So far, the East African nation has inoculated more than 960,000 people and is committed to vaccinating 60 percent of the population by June 2022.

As of Thursday, May 27, Kenya’s population was 54 831,547, based on Worldometer elaboration of the latest United Nations Data.

Since the first case was reported in the country on March 13, 2020, more than 169,000 people have contracted the virus, above 3,000 people have succumbed to Covid-19 related conditions, and more than 100,000 have recovered from the disease.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe has revealed that Kenya is preparing for a possible 4th wave of Covid-19 in the coming weeks, urging Kenyans to be extra vigilant by adhering to protocols instituted by the ministry.

At the same time, he noted that 28 people had contracted the Indian variant calling on the County governments to enhance capacity in health facilities to avert further crisis.

He added that the detection of the Indian variant appears to have shaken the country’s healthcare system as hospitals in the Lake City of Kisumu, where the virus was detected, are full of Covid-19 patients, and additional patients are being referred to neighbouring counties.

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Kenya mulls scrapping off Bachelor of Education Degree
May 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

TSC Director of Quality Assurance and Standards Dr.Reuben Nthamburi making a presentation

It is just a matter of time before Kenya does away with the Bachelor of Education course (B.Ed) in the universities in line with the new education system known as Competence Based Curriculum.

Kenya’s Teachers Service Commission (TSC), tasked to hire teachers, wants students aspiring to pursue teaching as a career to take regular arts or sciences degrees instead.

In the new proposal, students would be required to pursue the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Sciences courses for three years, followed by a one-year post-graduate diploma in education to qualify to be teachers in secondary schools.

The minimum requirements would be a mean grade of C+ and a minimum of B- in three teaching subjects.

“In order to professionalise the teaching service and improve the quality of education, the commission needs to review entry grades to the teaching service and advice the national government. This will raise the standards of the teaching profession and attract more quality grades,” read the report prepared by TSC Director of Quality Assurance and Standards Dr.Reuben Nthamburi.

The TSC wants the proposals to take effect in September this year.

However, the proposed changes face opposition from university education lecturers and the University Academic Staff Union (Uasu). They have branded the new framework unnecessary and unfounded.

According to university lecturers, many staff will lose their jobs should the new changes be implemented. They vowed to author a counter-report based on constructive research.

“We feel the TSC framework is unacceptable as it is going to water down our education system, teachers require specialized training from the start,” Kenyatta University Uasu official told the Daily Nation.

The Bachelor of Education training course in Kenya has existed since 1972.

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CARLING BLACK LABEL CUP EXCITES ZAMBIAN BREWERIES
May 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

Local football fans could soon have the opportunity to coach their favourite club as Black Label Cup heads to Zambia.

Africa soccer legend Samuel Eto’o with AB InBev Africa heads of marketing during the launch of the Carling Black Label Cup in Johannesburg, South Africa .

LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – Zambian Breweries is impressed with the popularity of the recently launched Carling Black Label Cup in South Africa and has announced plans to replicate the competition in Zambia.
The tournament which kicked off in Johannesburg on May 26, 2021, allows fans to employ their own tactics and select matchday teams from their favourite local clubs.

The pre-season Carling Black Label Cup competition was first introduced in 2011 in partnership with Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and Stadium Management to give fans unprecedented power and influence over the fiercely contested Soweto Derby.

Last year’s edition was called off due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Carling Black Label Brand Director, Arné Rust said that this year’s edition of the tournament would give fans unprecedented access and control over the game, allowing them to make game-changing decisions.

“What will really set this year’s Cup apart from previous years is that fans will have access to all the game-changers, giving them even more power and control of the game,” he said.
“As with each Carling Black Label Cup, we will be putting the power in the very capable hands of Champion fans. Supporters of Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates will select their starting line-up along with new and exciting game-changers which will certainly amplify their match day experience.”

A football fixture that is largely dependent on fans’ ability to manage their favourite club has given the beautiful game a fresh dynamic in terms of fan engagement.

And speaking during the launch, Zambian Breweries Marketing Manager Sibajene Munkombwe said the brewery was honoured to have been part of the 2021 kick-off, adding that he was confident the pre-season tournament would be a fan favourite upon its introduction in Zambia.

He said: “We are excited to be part of the Carling Black Label Cup in South Africa which is uniting people from different walks of life – a strong passion point for us. As such we thought we could replicate the competition in Zambia in the coming year or so.”

“Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates are some of the biggest teams in African football and I am proud to note that we have had several Zambian players like Collins Mbesuma, Muwowo and Kambole play for the two clubs.”

“The Carling Cup Soweto Derby fixture will see two titans collide with Zambian professional footballers likely to be in the thick of things if Kaizer Chiefs forward Lazarous Kambole and Orlando Pirates winger Austin Muwowo make the fans’ starting 11 on the July 31 this year at the FNB Stadium.”

Given the prevailing restrictions around gatherings, there will be no fans to witness the showpiece live in the stadium for the first time in the competition’s history.

As with previous years, two lucky fans, representing Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates will have an opportunity to become the Champion Coach.

The winning fans will coach their respective teams during training, attend the pre-match briefing and lead their team from the dugout on match day.

The Carling Black Label Cup boasts eight sold out clashes between the Soweto Giants over the last decade.
Orlando Pirates has clinched the Cup five times – 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2019; while Kaizer Chiefs were victorious in 2013, 2016 and 2017.

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A Fair Chance For African Entrepreneurs From All Sectors To Win Big With The ABH Prize Competition
May 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

The search for Africa’s Business Heroes 2021 is ongoing, and the application is open to all entrepreneurs from all African countries, all sectors and all ages.

The Jack Ma Foundation’s flagship philanthropic program gives all entrepreneurs a chance to showcase their talent and sell their businesses across all sectors.

“As we open our third annual pitch competition, we want to acknowledge the huge inspiration coming from Africa’s extraordinary entrepreneurs, whose business ventures not only are successful and profitable but can generate a positive impact on their local communities,” said Jason Pau, Executive Director of International, Jack Ma Foundation.

Jason Pau, Executive Director of International, Jack Ma Foundation

For instance, the 2020 ABH Heroes represented six key industries: agriculture, fashion, education, healthcare, renewable energy, and financial services.

Apart from taking home grant funds ranging from $100000-$300000, the top ten finalists and also all participants have access to mentorship and through Africa’s Business Heroes Network of Partners and Judges. They will also gain global recognition and exposure through Africa’s Business Heroes Show, and a number of engagements with media across Africa.

“My biggest take-away has been the mentorship l got from the ABH journey. I do not think I would get such world-class mentorship anywhere in my lifetime had l not entered the competition. The mentorship did not prepare me for the ABH grant finale – it prepared me for a lifetime entrepreneurship journey,” said Ethel Mupambwa, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Moneymart (Zimbabwe) – ABH 2nd Runner Up in the ABH 2020.

Ethel Mupambwa, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Moneymart (Zimbabwe) – ABH 2nd Runner Up in the ABH 2020.

Heroes also have the opportunity to pitch business legends and network with like-minded entrepreneurs.

“The best thing that came out of the ABH competition for me was the relationships I formed with fellow entrepreneurs, and the wider network connections we all made. It’s fantastic that ABH provides a platform to bring the entire ecosystem together,” stated Christelle Kwizera, founder of Water Access Rwanda and the 2019 ABH 2nd Runner Up.

All eligible applicants also receive tailored feedback from judges, which will help them grow their business.

Aboubakar Karim, CEO & Founder, INVESTIV (Côte d’Ivoire), one of the finalists in 2020, said, “The judges gave us valuable advice which I am already applying, for example, on how to anticipate future challenges.”

2019 top prize winner Temie Giwa-Tubosun, CEO and Founder of LifeBank

The diversity of ABH’s winners is proof that heroes can be found in all sectors and industries. The 2019 top prize went to Temie Giwa-Tubosun, CEO and Founder of LifeBank, a company that uses data and technology to help health workers discover critical medical products. The 2020 overall winner Chebet Lesan is the CEO and Founder of BrightGreen Energy, a Kenyan company that is saving lives and protecting the planet with energy-efficient biofuel blocks.

Get a chance to win a share of the $1.5 million grant by submitting your application via africabusinessheroes.org latest by June 21, 2021. Entrepreneurs from all African countries, regardless their sector, age and gender are welcome to apply.

Other criteria to be considered eligible include: being of African origin, being the founder or co-founder of a business based and operated in Africa. Your business must also be at least three years old and have revenues.

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Time to reconcile our memories- President Macron says as he visits Rwanda
May 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti

President Emmanuel Macron visits the Kigali Genocide Memorial as part of his official visit to Rwanda

French President Emmanuel Macron said that only survivors and victims of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi can tell the pain and the ordeal they went through adding that time has come to reconcile memories to recognize the past, bow to the victims, and listen to the pain of survivors.

“The time has come to reconcile our memories to recognize the past and bow to the victims and listen to the pain of the survivors. It is France’s honor to face its history. It is up to us to build the future of these children,” said Emmanuel Macron, the French president.

Macron who is visiting Rwanda today, Thursday was speaking at the Kigali Genocide Memorial where over 250,000 victims of 1994 Genocide are buried.

While at the memorial, President Macron was guided through the Kigali Genocide Memorial where he was briefed about the causes, reality and consequences of the Genocide against the Tutsi as well as the incredible stories of post-genocide reconstruction.

The visit is live broadcast at France 24 TV and on Rwanda television.

“France has a role, historical and political responsibility in Rwanda. And she had a duty to face history and recognizes the amount of suffering it inflicted on Rwandan people,” Macron said.

President Macron at the Kigali Genocde Memorial.

“On this path, only those who have been through the night can perhaps forgive, give us the gift of forgiving ourselves,” he added.

France is accused of having played a role in 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi be it in its preparation and execution.

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Rwanda:Kagame says Macron recognition of Genocide is risky but valuable
May 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

President Kagame thanked Macron for recognising that his country had a role in genocide against the Tutsi

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda hailed President’s Emmanuel Macron ‘courage’ in recognizing the role of France into the history that lead to the genocide against the Tutsi in 1994.

Kagame was speaking at press conference with Emmanuel Macron, after the latter’s historic visit at Kigali genocide memorial on Thursday, May 27, 2021.

After touring the memorial,  Macron  said that French authorities of 1990s blindly kept helping  a regime that was planning to exterminate  part of its population in Rwanda.

“By engaging in a conflict in which it had no precedence in 1990, France failed to hear the voice of those who had warned it, or else it overestimated its strength by thinking be able to stop the worst” he said

“France did not understand that, by wanting to prevent a regional conflict or a civil war, it was in fact standing alongside a genocidal regime. By ignoring the warnings of the most lucid observers, France took overwhelming responsibility in a gear that ended in the worst, even though she sought precisely to avoid it.”

He went on asking apology. “As I stand with humility and respect by your side today, I come to recognize the extent of our responsibilities [..]Recognizing this past, our responsibility, is an unrequited gesture. Demanding towards ourselves and ourselves. Debt towards the victims after so many past silences. Gift to the living whose pain we can, if they accept, still ease. This journey of recognition, through our debts, our donations, offers us hope to come out of this night and walk together again. In this path, only those who have been through the night can perhaps forgive, give us the gift of forgiving ourselves”.

Macron is the first France’s president to recognize his country’s role into the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

President Kagame thanked Macron for such milestone aimed at normalizing relations of both countries which has  been  bad for past 27 years.

“This was a powerful speech, with special  meaning for what is taking place now, and which will resonate well  beyond Rwanda.  His words were something more valuable than an apology: they  were the truth.”

 “Speaking the truth is risky. But you do it because it is right, even  when it costs you something, even when it is unpopular. Despite  some loud noises and voices, President Macron took this step.  Politically and morally, this was an act of tremendous courage”, Kagame said.

For Kagame,  Macron is different from other Western people who see Africa as a continent with losers.

“This is not to say that Africa has no bad actors. It does. They are  there; they may even be numerous. But no more so than  everywhere else in the world. The difference is that Africa as a  whole comes to be defined by those bad actors, whereas  elsewhere, these bad actors are exceptions.”

Kagame said Macron’s deeds are risky but valuable. Photo credit Ludovic Marin, gettyimages

“This assumption creates a reference point where Africa is always  down, while others are up. It secures those others in the conviction  that they have a natural right to do and say whatever they want in  relation to Africa, to give lessons and pass judgment on our  choices.”

President Macron committed to redefining Rwanda and France relations that will benefit both sides.

He brought a donation of 100 000 Covid-19 vaccines to Rwanda and he promised more developmental  agreements to follow.

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Ecobank Transnational Incorporated holds its 33rd AGM and Shareholders approve resolutions
May 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

LoméTogo, May 27, 2021 – Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (“ETI”), the parent of the Ecobank Group, the leading pan-African bank with operations across 34 countries, held its 33rd Annual General Meeting (AGM) & Extraordinary General Meeting virtually today.  

Ecobank Group Chairman Mr Alain Nkontchou said: “I became Chairman of the Ecobank Group in June 2020, when our world was dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. We offered our support in numerous ways to customers, employees, communities, health authorities and governments. Through our multiple distribution channels and the substantial investments in technology, we were able to offer a seamless continuity of service. We are intent on growing our business and will remain at the forefront of trade, payments, remittances and financial inclusion by continually leveraging on technology and appropriate partnerships.”  

Ade Ayeyemi, Chief Executive Officer, Ecobank Group, remarked: “We have invested and focused significantly in ‘Building Back Better’ to position us for long-term growth and sustainability. We will be driving our execution momentum agenda towards utilising these investments to deliver revenue expansion and the generation of long-term growth and return of capital for the company and its shareholders.” 

Shareholders applauded the Group’s progress in 2020 and how it rose to the challenging environment.  Profit for the year at ETI, the holding company, was $201 million compared with $184 million in 2019. For the consolidated Group, net revenues increased 4 per cent to $1,680 million. The gradual shift from physical to digital channels among consumers accelerated with the pandemic, which has changed the way of working in so many ways. With our technology investments over the years, we were prepared and ensured that we steadfastly provided our customers with 24/7 access to their financial services’ needs. For example, our call centres were open, and Rafiki, our artificial intelligence (AI) self-help bot, supported routine banking services. Our full suite of banking services remained available on all our digital platforms: mobile, online, Omni Plus and Omni Lite. 

All the resolutions presented at the AGM, were approved including the renewal of the mandates of Messrs Alain Nkontchou, Brian Kennedy and David O’Sullivan as directors for another 3 years.  

Shareholders also ratified the co-option of Mr. Herve Assah, as Director for a term of three years ending on the third anniversary of his co-option as Director.  

The mandates of the Joint Auditors, Deloitte Nigeria, and Grant Thornton, Côte d’Ivoire for a term of six years were renewed, subject to the amendment of the Articles of Association of the Company. 

The AGM was followed by an Extraordinary General Meeting at which Shareholders voted to amend the relevant section in the Company’s Articles of Association to only reflect the appointment of auditors by the Company in General Meeting. 

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Zambia: Lusaka’s water point ambassadors turn the tap to protect residents from Covid-19
May 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

A water point attendant in Zambia’s capital Lusaka has a new role beyond filling up containers for residents at the community tap. John Nyambe spreads the word about the novel coronavirus – its dangers, and what residents can do to protect themselves.

The role comes with a new title too – “coronavirus prevention ambassador.” Nyambe, 71, bears the title with pride. His message was especially vital in a city with a history of inadequate sanitation and disease outbreaks.

As soon as the first cases of Covid-19 were identified in Lusaka in March 2020, the African Development Bank adjusted one of its programs to address the outbreak. The aim was to engage communities benefiting from the Lusaka Sanitation Program to keep them up to date with information on the pandemic, dispel misinformation and to distribute hygiene products.

Nyambe, who was appointed by the Lusaka Water Supply and Sanitation Company, has witnessed a difference in behaviour since the sanitation program accommodated its new mission.

“We have seen change in the community and people are now following the guidelines that have been set because they now understand that the disease is deadly and they need to take care of themselves,” said Nyambe, who also works as a security guard for a local firm.

Since the Covid-19 hygiene project got under way, 400 hand sanitiser stations have been installed in public spaces such as markets, health centres, water points, and places of worship. And over 600 water tap attendants like Nyambe have become coronavirus prevention ambassadors. The key message was around the importance of staying safe by practising social distancing and washing hands thoroughly. This helped change the perceptions of people, many of whom were sceptical about the pandemic.

“This project is good for, not only the water tap attendants, but for the community as well. The tap attendants were able to sensitize the community and did so by demonstrating, using the materials that were given by the Bank,” said Josephine Moono Chihongo, the Lusaka Water and Sanitation Company community development officer for the area known as Peri-Urban West.

“Today, when you go to the community water collection points, no one draws water without a mask and without sanitizing their hands. This shows us that there is behavioural change among the communities,” Chihongo added.

The measures were rolled out in addition to ongoing activities that are part of the Lusaka Sanitation Program, a $243 million project jointly funded by the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, the German Development Bank and the World Bank.

The African Development Bank is providing $50 million to build healthier and happier families by elevating residents’ quality of sanitation, especially the poor living in peri-urban communities around Lusaka. At the time that the Lusaka Sanitation Program was launched in 2015, around 70% of the city, roughly 2.2 million people, lived in high-density, unplanned peri-urban neighbourhoods. Five years later, the sanitation program provided a foundation to fight the pandemic.

By late March 2021, Zambia had registered more than 87,000 cases of Covid-19 and the death toll from the disease was more than 1,000. Bank support enabled the production and translation of messages and jingles, the distribution of bottles of hand sanitizer, and face masks.

“We now understand that coronavirus is real and we were empowered by the Lusaka Sanitation Program with information on how to protect ourselves,” said Easter Kumbana, a resident of Kanyama. “I had no money to buy facemasks and hand sanitizers because the little money I had, I needed to feed my children, so I was extremely happy to be assisted with the sanitizers and face masks.”

*AfDB

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President Adesina receives honorary doctorate from renowned Makerere University in Uganda
May 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

-Dr. Adesina recalled how the university helped turn an oversupply of bananas into a revolution in the matooke industry in Uganda

African Development Bank President Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina reminded an audience of Africa’s knack for unique home-grown innovation as he was honored by one of the continent’s oldest and most respected universities last Friday.

Adesina joined graduates at a ceremony in Uganda, where he received an honorary doctorate from Makerere University. He recounted how a phone call from Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni some 20 years earlier had led to one of the country’s most famous inventions.

Back then, Adesina was associate director at the Rockefeller Foundation. Museveni had sought his advice to deal with the country’s banana glut. That conversation eventually led to a relationship with Makerere University’s food technology department, which developed a method to transform bananas into shelf-stable flour that could be used to prepare the local staple dish, matooke.

Adesina told the audience that in his home language, Yoruba, “makerere” meant “megaphone of good news.”

The African Development Bank president told students and faculty: “It is such good news to join the roster of your distinguished honorary graduates of Makerere. Makerere is close to my heart. Makerere University is known for innovation.”

The honorary doctorate recognized Adesina’s “distinguished contribution to science, research and academic leadership, reform and thought leadership”.

Ahead of the ceremony, the Bank president met with the university’s Chairperson of Council, Lorna Magara, and university management. “University education is the most critical thing that any society should do, and when it comes to Africa, you find that not more than 9% of our population has access to tertiary education,” Adesina said at the meeting.

He called for more investment in science and technology to cope with the fourth industrial revolution, marked by advances in artificial intelligence, big data, robotics, nanotechnology and biotechnology.

Professor Barnabas Nawangwe, Vice-Chancellor of the university, said the African Development Bank had helped Makerere modernize laboratories and build new ones. As a result, he said, the university could produce vaccines and medicines, including the anti-tick vaccine and diagnostics to manage Covid-19 and other diseases, as well as the low-cost medical ventilator, Bulamu.

Nawangwe said the increased research and innovations by Makerere would help Uganda reduce dependence on imports, provide an alternative source of revenue for the university, and create jobs for unemployed youth.

“Makerere University has also benefited from your visionary leadership in the various positions you have held in different organizations,” Nawangwe told Adesina.

*AfDB

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Most common Bitcoin myths busted
May 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

Thursday 27th May 2021: Bitcoin has smashed through all-time price highs in 2021 – and many other cryptocurrencies have too. Many people hold strong views – that Bitcoin is a scam, a crashing bubble and that it has no intrinsic value at all. What is all the fuss about? Is it just a passing fad or the future of money?

Marius Reitz, Luno’s GM for Africa, unpacks the most common misconceptions and questions about Bitcoin. 

Myth: Bitcoin is a massive bubble waiting to burst

A longer term view of Bitcoin performance

Only time will tell whether Bitcoin will continue to surge or not. For now, however, it may be useful to take a longer term view of Bitcoin’s performance. What is evident is that reports of the demise of Bitcoin seem to have been greatly exaggerated. 

Many former naysayers are now dipping into Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and adoption rates continue to rise. JP Morgan, one of the largest investment banks in the US, indicated that while more than $3 billion had flowed into the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust in the last quarter of 2020, gold ETFs had bled $7 billion over the same period.

Bitcoin is a monetary network. When the concept of electricity being used to power appliances in the home was introduced, it wasn’t considered a bubble but an engineering breakthrough. There will always be people who are afraid of progress.

Myth: With wild volatility, you can’t take Bitcoin seriously

Many have declared Bitcoin dead (or dying), simply based on the latest changes in the price. The technology that drives cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin is one of the most important financial innovations of our time and the current price of Bitcoin has nothing to do with the long-term value that cryptocurrencies will bring.

If you’re a trader, the volatility can be stressful and potentially profitable, but if you believe in Bitcoin as the future of money, your investment objectives are long-term and therefore short-term volatility matters less to you.

Volatility has decreased over time and the market is stabilising. Michael Saylor, CEO of MicroStrategy, who led the charge when his listed company elected to keep a significant portion of its treasury reserve in Bitcoin, has an interesting view of volatility: “Things that are dead are not volatile. Stability is stagnation. Living things are volatile.” 

Myth: Bitcoin has no intrinsic value 

This thinking could be applied to any currency. If people stopped believing in the dollar, it would also have no value. The price of Bitcoin is determined by supply and demand: the buyers who want Bitcoin and the sellers who have Bitcoin. 

The reason Bitcoin has value is that it is a handy form of value or money commonly accepted by people. It is used to transfer value and buy or sell things. Unlike fiat currency – like the US dollar or the rand – where its value and legal status are enforced by the government, Bitcoin’s value comes from its code, infrastructure, scarcity (there will only ever be 21 million) and adoption. By upgrading the financial system, Bitcoin empowers people. 

Bitcoin has grown exponentially and has surpassed a market cap of $1 trillion, yet this is still relatively small as an asset class.

In the context of the constant devaluation of fiat currencies, people are looking for ways to protect their wealth, including governments. Bitcoin is set to disrupt the world of money in the same way the internet disrupted everything a few years ago. Many believe that it is the future of money.

Myth: Bitcoin cannot be a currency, investment, and a store of value

To be termed a currency, Bitcoin would need to be divisible, scarce, durable, transferable and fungible (can be exchanged for the same value or type). It meets all of these requirements – one Bitcoin divides into units as small as one hundred millionth; it is scarce as the total supply is limited to 21 million Bitcoin; it is durable in that it it doesn’t exist in physical form so it cannot wear out; Bitcoin is digital so you can transfer it to anyone, anywhere in moments and finally, any particular Bitcoin is equal in value to any other Bitcoin.

Bitcoin crosses many lines: it can be used for payment, like a currency; it can be used as a store of value since it has controlled supply, like gold or other commodities; and it derives more value and utility from developers who improve the code and ways it can be used.

This multifaceted aspect of Bitcoin makes it tricky to decide whether it should be treated as an asset, as a currency, as a payment mechanism or as an open, global technology. Regulators grapple with this as they decide how it should be treated. 

Myth: Bitcoin is a Ponzi or pyramid scheme

A pyramid scheme recruits members by promising them payment or rewards for enrolling others. A Ponzi scheme is very similar to a pyramid scheme, with the difference that you are not rewarded for enrolling other people. Instead, you earn a part of whatever recruits pay. 

Bitcoin operates on a decentralised model with no hierarchy. There is no reward for buying coins nor are there guaranteed returns. In addition, the blockchain on which Bitcoin is built is entirely transparent; anyone, at any time, can inspect the public ledger. If you are considering investing in Bitcoin, increase your knowledge on Luno’s free learning portal

Big companies like PayPal and Tesla entering the crypto space, as well as listings like the Coinbase exchange on the Nasdaq, should help to end this myth.

Marius Reitz, Luno’s GM for Africa

Myth: Bitcoin is only used by criminals

People found a way to carry out illegal activities, long before Bitcoin existed – they always will. But criminal use of crypto has shrunk dramatically over the past few years. In fact, cryptocurrency-related crime fell significantly during 2020, according to the latest Chainalysis report. In 2019, criminal activity represented 2.1% of all cryptocurrency transaction volume whereas in 2020, the criminal share of all cryptocurrency activity fell to just 0.34%. 

Although Bitcoin is pseudo-anonymous in that it cannot be immediately linked to one’s identity, Bitcoin is actually a terrible choice for carrying out anything illegal. Once your identity is linked to Bitcoin, your entire history is available and movements are far easier to trace than cash as blockchain technology is a public ledger.

As Bitcoin continues to gain legitimacy and use cases, data and law enforcement is getting better at tracing transactions to search for criminal uses and figuring out to whom an address belongs. 

About Luno

Luno is a leading global cryptocurrency company on a mission to upgrade the world to a better financial system. Headquartered in London with regional hubs in Johannesburg and Cape Town, Luno now has a team of over 400. 

With over 7 million customers (wallets) spanning more than 40 countries, Luno’s products and services make it safe and easy to buy, store and learn about cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Luno was recently acquired by DCG, the world’s largest blockchain investor.

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DR Congo: Population urged to evacuate for fear of fresh eruption from Nyiragongo volcano
May 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

Nyiragongo volcano may erupt again very soon according to experts

North Kivu authorities in Democratic Republic of Congo have urged population in proximities of Nyiragongo volcano to evacuate immediately for fear of fresh eruption.

Nyiragongo volcano which is situated near the border between Rwanda and Congo erupted last weekend and dozens of people perished while properties were destroyed. Earthquakes that followed eruption are causing havoc in the Eastern city of Goma and the bordering Rwandan town of Gisenyi which is at the shores of lake Kivu.

On Wednesday, North Kivu Governor, Lt Gen Constant Ndima Kongba issued an alert asking people in eight neighborhoods that are closer to Nyiragongo volcano to evacuate. He said the signs are showing that Nyiragongo may erupt anytime soon.

“It is very important to stay away from lava flows which represent a danger of death from asphyxiation or severe burns, additional risks are linked to the interaction between lava and water. They are of several natures: interaction of magma with lake water, destabilization of the volume of dissolved gas under Lake Kivu and emission of potentially dangerous surface gas to populations exposed to the fumes, ” he was quoted saying according to Actualite Congo.

Lake Kivu has in abundance methane gas which is very dangerous when mixed with lava flows from volcano.

People from Goma have started to flee towards Rwanda and remote areas of Sake which is far from Nyiragongo volcano. Authorities told people to stay where they have fled to, until further notice.

Since last Saturday, earthquakes between 4 and 5 magnitude are hitting hard the city of Goma in Congo and that of Gisenyi on the side of Rwanda. Citizens were urged to stay out of their houses avoiding any consequences that may arise.

Goma is a town of more than two million population. It is at the foots of Nyiragongo and there is fear that if it erupts, consequences may be huge. Last time that Nyiragongo erupted was in 2002. More than 250 died.

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Chinese National Killed in South Sudan
May 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Chinese road workers work on a section of the Juba-Terekeka-Yirol-Rumbek road in Juba, capital of South Sudan, Feb. 16, 2021. Photo credit Xinhua/Denis Elamu

Juba – At least two people, including a Chinese national have reportedly been shot dead in South Sudan. 

The victims are part of the team deployed by Shangdong Hi-Speed Company to help in the construction of the Juba-Rumbek highway.

According to multy eyewitnesses, the Chinese national was driving a truck loaded with road construction aggregate when an assailant shot at them at Jebel Lady in Juba County.

The driver was being accompanied by a soldier from the Tiger Division.

The Shino-Truck was reportedly sprayed with at least six bullets, killing both the unnamed driver and the soldier.

The almost 400-kilometre road is undergoing major reconstruction by the Shandong Hi-Speed Group Company at a cost of some $700 million dollars

According to eyewitnesses, they heard six gunshots, but there was no exchange of fire. 

They added when the company security from the company went to the scene, they found that they were all dead.

The pair were “attacked, shot and died instantly. The reason behind the killing is yet to be known as the attackers have not been arrested.

Meanwhile, the Central Equatoria State’s police confirmed the incident, citing that the killers are still at large.   

In the recent months, South Sudan has witnessed several attacking on the civilians, humanitarian workers and commercial vehicles along the major highways across the country such as Juba – Nimule and Juba – Yei roads.

Insecurity in the East Africa’s youngest country persists even after the signing of a 2018 peace deal to end a brutal five-year civil war that has left some 400,000 dead and uprooted four million people from their homes.

The murders come a week after South Sudan security officers arrested 12 suspects accused of carrying out a spate of abductions, kidnappings for ransom, torture and killings of civilians — mainly businessmen or women — along major roads in the country.

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Rwanda: Residents still in panic Over Nyiragongo eruption
May 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti

Picture showing stranded people in Goma after the eruption. Photo AP

Following DR Congo based Nyiragongo volcano eruption earlier on Saturday On 22 May 2021 panic still continues among the residents living near the volcano.

Barely a week after the eruption, earthquakes are still felt and continues to affect people and their belongings.  

Nyiragongo volcano is located in DR Congo’s Goma town that is at the border with Rwanda.

According to sources, 32 people have died in DR Congo as a result of the eruption and over 1000 homes were destroyed.

Residents in both sides are still in panic and unaware of what may happen to them as earthquakes continue to be felt, destroying their crops as well as weakening their homes.

“We are in panic, there are subsequent tremors being felt every now and then,” says a Jean Pierre Gasana, a resident in Gisenyi sector, Rubavu district.

“Most of the houses were partly destroyed and we are all living out of our houses fearing that they may be destroyed by earthquakes,” he adds.

Some schools were also closed while some institutions have vacated their employees waiting for the situation to normalize.

“The earthquakes are becoming more strong than before, we fear that more houses can be destroyed, we also fear for lives,” Charlotte Uwimana another mother of three also living in the area.

 According to data from Rwanda Seismic Monitor, earthquakes were mostly experienced in Rubavu District but there were also trembling in Kigali and the Eastern Province.  

In Rubavu town, a long fissure can be seen in the ground traversing residential houses, shops, and one road leading to the border with DR Congo.

According to official figures, at least 40 houses have been damaged by the earthquakes as of Tuesday 25th May 2021.

“We have talked with Rubavu District and agreed to rent houses for those families for two or three months; as the families look for ways to rehabilitate their houses,” Jean-Marie Vianney Gatabazi, the Minister of Local Government told journalists on Monday.

He added that people should be careful with any information circulating about the earthquakes and eruption

The successive earthquakes varied in magnitude. The Seismic Monitor said that the heaviest quake recorded so far happened Monday at 10:37 am, with magnitude 5.1. It originated from Lake Kivu.

This is the second time Nyiragongo volcano erupts over the past two decades as it last erupted in 2002 killing over 250 people.

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Macron Seeks New Chapter In Visit To Rwanda
May 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti

French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame as he arrives to attend the International Conference in support of Sudan at the Temporary Grand Palais in Paris, France, May 17, 2021. Photo credit Reuters Photo

As the French President is expected to visit Rwanda today, Thursday, 27th May 2021, he expects that his country and Rwanda will write a new page in the two countries relationship that was stained for years.

“As I take off for Kigali, I have a deep conviction: over the next few hours, we will be writing together a new page in our relationship with Rwanda and Africa,” President Macron said on his official Twitter handle.

President Macron will be in Rwanda for a one-day state visit after Rwanda’s President, Paul Kagame was in France barely 10 days ago.

The meeting had brought together African leaders and heads of global financial institutions in France and sought to help Sudan in its new dispensation and also provide Africa with critical financing needed to minimise Covid-19 effects.

 According to Radio France International, Macron will have time to talk about the bilateral relations between Rwanda and France and notably about the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

News has it that upon his arrival in the morning, Macron will visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial to honour victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and is expected to deliver the speech while there.

Macron is also expected to visit the Rwandan Presidency for a state banquet with President Paul Kagame.

They will afterwards hold a joint press conference, during which they will talk about the prospects for the bilateral ties of both countries.

Macro is also expected to inaugurate the state of the art French Cultural Centre together with the Secretary-general of International Organisation of the Francophonie Louise Mushikiwabo, who is also Rwanda.

It is expected that the French President will appoint a future French ambassador to Rwanda which was not there since 2015 as France has not had an accredited ambassador in Kigali.

Macron visits Rwanda at a time when the two countries are trying to mend relations. Rwanda has for long accused France of supporting the government that planned and executed the Genocide in 1994.

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DFC Advances COVID-19 Response in Africa with $5 Million Investment in Africa Healthcare Network
May 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

The direct loan will help Africa Healthcare Network expand dialysis center operations across Sub-Saharan Africa.

DFC continues to support global health and sustainable economic growth in developing countries during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond,” says DFC’s Vice President of the Office of External Affairs and Head of Global Gender Equity Initiatives Algene Sajery.Photo courtesy

WASHINGTON – U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) announced the first disbursement of a $5 million direct loan to Africa Healthcare Network (AHN), the largest operator of dialysis centers in East Africa. The project is part of DFC’s comprehensive COVID-19 Response through which the agency is mitigating the economic and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and DFC’s Global Health and Prosperity Initiative, under which the agency is working to strengthen global health systems.

“DFC continues to support global health and sustainable economic growth in developing countries during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond,” said DFC’s Vice President of the Office of External Affairs and Head of Global Gender Equity Initiatives Algene Sajery. “This investment in AHN will expand access to affordable, high quality healthcare across Sub-Saharan Africa through its operation of lifesaving dialysis centers.”

The pandemic has caused disruptions to health services worldwide and has impacted the ability for countries to address and respond to non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Those living with NCDs, including chronic kidney disease (CKD), are at an increased risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19. Independent studies estimate that there are over 1 million patients with CKD in Sub-Saharan Africa requiring dialysis and the region requires over 50 times the current number of centers to meet the demand. DFC’s financing will help increase patient access to safe dialysis treatment and help mitigate disruption to essential health services.  

AHN is the largest and most expansive dialysis services provider in East Africa with 18 dialysis centers in Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda offering high-quality, affordable care. DFC funding will allow AHN to support growth throughout Sub-Saharan Africa as it continues to build and operate additional dialysis centers through partnerships with leading hospitals in the region.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, DFC has undertaken a multifaceted approach to mitigate the pandemic’s impact by providing rapid response recovery lending to existing DFC clients in developing countries; providing economic recovery lending to new DFC clients in vulnerable regions that support small and medium sized businesses, especially women-owned or women led businesses; and strengthening health systems. Also, as part of the overall U.S. global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, DFC is partnering with the private sector, other DFIs, U.S. government agencies, and other organizations. At a time when developing markets are experiencing liquidity strains, the agency is helping stabilize industries, safeguard jobs, and speed private sector recovery.

In addition to financing this vital project, DFC is strengthening global health systems by working to provide businesses with financing to increase capacity in the manufacturing, production, and distribution of vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccine, under DFC’s development strategy Roadmap for Impact. DFC is also prioritizing investments that empower women and advance its 2X Women’s Initiative, as women are often disproportionately impacted by crises, especially when they seek access to capital.

DFC is accepting proposals under its Global Health and Prosperity Initiative. The agency seeks to invest between $5 million and $500 million per eligible project through its full range of financial tools, which includes equity and debt financing, political risk insurance, and technical development. Eligible projects should deliver highly impactful health outcomes in developing countries.

U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) is America’s development bank. DFC partners with the private sector to finance solutions to the most critical challenges facing the developing world today. We invest across sectors including energy, healthcare, critical infrastructure, and technology. DFC also provides financing for small businesses and women entrepreneurs in order to create jobs in emerging markets. DFC investments adhere to high standards and respect the environment, human rights, and worker rights.

*DFC

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MCC Celebrates Africa Day 2021
May 27, 2021 | 0 Comments
ACEO Mahmoud Bah (right) at the Port of Abidjan where MCC is rehabilitating critical roadways to ease congestion and support the port’s growth as part of the MCC – Cote d’Ivoire Compact.

Today, MCC joins colleagues and partners across Africa and around the world to celebrate Africa Day. We do this to honor the spirit of African unity and to commemorate the founding of the Organization of African Unity, which has evolved into today’s 55 country strong African Union.

While addressing the 2021 African Union Summit earlier this year, President Biden called on the United States to work together with African nations “to advance our shared vision of a better future.” At MCC, we are doing just that.

Since the agency’s founding in 2004, MCC has invested more than $9 billion in grant funding across 23 countries in Africa. MCC’s programs—designed and implemented in partnership with the countries themselves—tackle constraints to economic growth and include work with governments to address policy and institutional reforms that are responsive to the needs of their citizens. Together with partner countries, we have built and upgraded roads, increased access to reliable and affordable electricity, supported agriculture and irrigation, and provided people with greater access to clean water, education, and healthcare services.

MCC is continuing to innovate for the benefit of our partners. On May 17, MCC signed a cooperative agreement with the West African Power Pool (WAPP), a cooperation of the national electricity companies in West Africa under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). For MCC this is a first-of-its kind agreement with a regional institution and will allow the agency to leverage the expertise, broad network and knowledge of the WAPP as we work on a potential regional program to connect the power sectors of Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire.

The ability to support cross-border regional programs like this is relatively new for MCC and recognizes the importance of regional integration. If successful, this potential regional program could expand electricity access in both countries and improve a key economic constraint in the region—the lack of access to reliable and affordable power.

As the Acting CEO of MCC and a naturalized American who was born and raised in Africa, my commitment is both professional and personal. Traveling across the continent, the talent, ambition, and the energy of African youth is undeniable. It is clear that Africa is on the cusp of transformative growth, with the digital transformation as one powerful example. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic has reversed years of progress across key systems; climate change and extreme weather volatility are contributing to violent conflicts, increases in food insecurity, malnutrition and health challenges, and threatening the livelihoods of an entire generation. Moreover, economic growth and access to innovative financial tools remain unequal, marginalizing women, the key engine of the African socio-economic fabric.

As the Acting CEO of MCC and a naturalized American who was born and raised in Africa, my commitment is both professional and personal.
—Mahmoud Bah, Acting CEO of MCC

A robust, African-led COVID-19 recovery plan that is endorsed by key international development and African regional institutions is critical to overcoming the challenges facing Africa. This is urgent work, and although recent IMF  data shows that African economies contracted by an average of 2.6 percent in 2020 for the first time in 25 years and forecasts show growth on the continent will be slower than the global average, it remains imperative that tackling these challenges will require steadfast commitment and accountability, both within the continent and from external partners.

MCC is well-positioned to accompany partner countries as they get back on their feet. MCC’s investments in infrastructure—combined with the agency’s ability to leverage investments to press for policy and institutional reforms that unlock private sector opportunities—will continue to be essential for kick-starting economic growth in partner countries.

I continue to be inspired by the commitment and hard work of MCC partner countries. I thank the staff of the MCC accountable entities, MCC staff in the field, as well as our partners from government, the private sector and civil society. Africa Day is a wonderful reminder of the importance of unity and solidarity—within societies at the national level, across countries on the continent, and with the international community. It is only through a collaborative approach that we will achieve a sustainable and inclusive recovery from COVID-19. As an American with African roots, I believe that, together, we can build a brighter future for Africa and its people.

*MCC

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Investment Boost For Angola As US Judge Throws Out $ 1.1B Law Suit
May 26, 2021 | 0 Comments

False claims that Angola does not respect the rule of law were debunked says Lead Attorney Michael D. Ehrenstein

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Michael D. Ehrenstein led the team that freed Angola from the shackles of a 1.1 B lawsuit in New York

The Republic of Angola is pleased with the result in this case—not just because Angola “won”—but because this righteous victory rejected false claims that Angola does not respect the rule of law, says Attorney Michael D. Ehrenstein on a New York Court ruling that threw out a 1.1 billion lawsuit against President Joao Lourenco’s country.

Working in tandem with Henrique Abecassis in Lisbon as client liaison, Marc Rosen in New York as local counsel, and himself as lead, Attorney Michael D. Ehrenstein successfully defended Angola in the suit filed by Aenergy on claims that contracts for construction and maintenance of power plants were wrongfully terminated.

Responding to questions from Pan African Visions, Attorney Ehrenstein thinks that the court’s acknowledgement that Angola is an adequate forum might bolster foreign investors’ confidence when investing into Angola-especially when combined with the landmark reforms underway.

May we start with an understanding of the issue that was at stake between the government of Angola and Aenergy and why the case was heard in New York?

Michael D. Ehrenstein: Aenergy claims that the Republic of Angola wrongfully terminated contracts worth $1.1B for the construction and maintenance of power plants in Angola.  On the other hand, Angola contends that Aenergy ruptured its contractual relationship with Angola by misappropriating Angola’s funds to purchase extra turbines for its own account—all without Angola’s knowledge or consent, and contrary to the terms of the parties’ agreements. Aenergy initially sought judicial relief in Angola.  But its efforts in Angola have failed, at least so far.  Apparently seeking a more favorable reception from a different court, Aenergy initiated suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Angola asked the New York Court to dismiss the action because the case belongs in Angola, and only Angola— the place where the parties contractually committed to resolve their disputes.

We understand the Judge had a favorable ruling for you and the government of Angola, can you sum that for us?

Michael D. Ehrenstein: Judge Cronan wrote an excellent and detailed 43-page order dismissing Aenergy’s case, concluding that Aenergy’s claims must be adjudicated in Angola.  In so doing, the Court importantly determined that Angolan courts provide an adequate forum for adjudication of Aenergy’s claims and Angola’s defenses—notwithstanding Aenergy’s protestations that Angola is corrupt and lacks rule of law.   Judge Cronan wrote:

“The Court finds that Plaintiffs’ vague concerns about corruption in Angola and lack of due process in Angolan courts do little to show that Angola lacks procedural safeguards or is an inadequate forum…”

 What was the reaction of your clients the Angolan government to the verdict and what does this change in issues it has with Aenergy?

Michael D. Ehrenstein:  The Republic of Angola is pleased with the result in this case—not just because Angola “won”—but because this righteous victory rejected false claims that Angola does not respect the rule of law.  That invective is belied by well-documented and comprehensive reform effort underway in Angola that includes as a key component a robust anti-corruption effort and improvements in good governance.  These and other reforms, such as strengthening the judiciary and increasing the capacity and transparency of government institutions, enjoy strong support from the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the United States, the European Union, and many others.  As for Aenergy, it may still choose to pursue its claims in Angola.

  How long did the case go for, and what message does it send to investors in Angola and Africa?

Michael D. Ehrenstein: The US case lasted for just over one year. While I am no expert on foreign investment into Angola, one would think that a United States federal court’s acknowledgement that Angola is an adequate forum might bolster foreign investors’ confidence when investing into Angola-especially when combined with the landmark reforms underway

 Prior to the case, and defending the government of Angola, did you have any prior experience representing a foreign government?

Michael D. Ehrenstein: Yes.  Actually, I previously represented Angola in another dispute in the United States concerning power contracts.  And I have previously been involved in litigation and arbitration involving select sovereign entities in various contexts.  It is a part of my practice that I find truly fulfilling because the results of my effort in court can translate very directly to benefits for the client—not the government itself, but the citizens of the country represented.

 Are cases like this common nature, I mean where a company doing business in Africa is sued in a US court?

Michael D. Ehrenstein: Though not “common”, business disputes between African countries and their contracting partners occasionally end up in US courts.  The frequency of such matters appears to be increasing.

Angola’s President, Joao Lourenco has embarked on reforms such as strengthening the judiciary and increasing the capacity and transparency of government institutions which enjoy strong support from the IMF, World Bank, the United States, EU, and many others. Photo credit Andrew Caballero-Reynolds, AP

  The African Energy Chamber through its Chairman NJ Ayuk said the ruling reinforces the hope that African countries and Africans have when it comes to the fairness of the American judiciary as compared to many rulings against Africans in the UK and European courts, that have been seen as biased, any word on this reaction and others you may have received?

Michael D. Ehrenstein: I agree with my friend NJ Ayuk that American courts are fair.  I cannot comment on whether any particular decisions from the UK or Europe against Africans were in fact unfair or biased.  But—considering the sheer size of some of the awards against African countries and the speculative nature of certain damage models used, I can certainly understand the perception of many Africans that some of these decisions were unfair.  And that perception of unfairness is a real problem because it undercuts the legitimacy of the decision and makes it politically challenging to comply with the decision. I hope that African sovereigns and businesses alike continue to recognize the fundamental fairness of our US courts.

 What are some of the lessons you drew from the case, what advice would you have for African countries and for potential investors to avoid the kind issues that prompt this kind of cases?

Michael D. Ehrenstein: Respectfully, two pieces of advice—

As one of America’s founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin famously wrote: “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  I would advise all sovereigns and businesses to invest time and effort in the negotiation of their contracts to specifically spell out a detailed dispute resolution clause, including choice of forum, choice of law, choice of venue, and choice of language. This ounce of prevention can alleviate significant expenditures of time and money fighting over process rather than the merits once a dispute erupts.

Choose the right team—lawyers who are knowledgeable, passionately committed and have the resources to effectively advocate for the client.  Often, that does not mean choosing the biggest firm.  In this case, Angola smartly engaged the right team—including Henrique Abecassis in Lisbon as client liaison, Marc Rosen in New York as local counsel, and me as lead.  I am proud to say that we were the right team for Angola in this case.

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