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Mozambique to start commercial oil production in 2014
December 23, 2013 | 0 Comments


Sasol Petroleum International plans to invest around US$2.4bn in Mozambique for a number of oil and gas projects until 2018. (Image source: rsvstks/

Sasol Petroleum International plans to invest around US$2.4bn in Mozambique for a number of oil and gas projects until 2018. (Image source: rsvstks/

Sasol Petroleum International has announced that Mozambique’s first commercial production and sale of crude oil will commence in 2014 from an inland oilfield at Inhassoro

The African explorer has already conducted extended well testing on the Inhassoro oil rim and produced over 236,000 barrels of light oil until the end of March 2013 as part of an appraisal programme.

Ebbie Haan, MD of Sasol Petroleum International, said, “Commerciality was declared earlier this year on the Inhassoro G6 and Inhassoro G10 oil reservoirs in the block.

“If we were to develop the field with one or two wells in the first phase, we would be talking about 1,100 bpd.”

Recent discoveries of gas and coal have triggered billions of dollars in investment in the former Portuguese colony, Reuters reported.

Haan added that Sasol Petroleum International plans to invest around US$2.4bn in Mozambique for a number of oil and gas projects until 2018.

The Mozambican government had, meanwhile, announced in November last that it was set to launch its fifth oil and gas bidding round in 2014.

*Source Oil Review

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Op-ed by WaterAid: Africa’s once in a generation opportunity
December 14, 2013 | 0 Comments


Africa’s leaders have in their hands a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shape the international development agenda, not just for their continent but for the whole globe.

The continent’s leaders are in the midst of negotiating the Africa Common Position (ACP) on what the UN framework for development will look like after 2015. The outcome will be hugely influential.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has pointed out that we are the first generation that has the resources and know-how to end extreme poverty. We must ensure that no one is left behind.

As we debate how to achieve this, we must not forget about the work yet to be completed on the UN Millennium Development Goals. These eight ambitious goals, set in 2000 to address hunger, extreme poverty and other issues crippling the developing world, run out in 2015.

Sanitation is the most off track of all of these goals. UN figures show some 70% of sub-Saharan Africans do not have access to adequate sanitation, while over a quarter — nearly 230 million people — practise open defecation.

This has devastating consequences for the continent. Over a thousand African children under the age of five die every day because of this lack of safe drinking water and poor sanitation.

Last month, Secretary-General Ban called upon the world to “urgently step up” its efforts and put sanitation at the heart of post-2015 development.

Failing to do so will carry measurable financial costs.

UN estimates suggest about 5% of the continent’s wealth is being lost from this lack of access to water and sanitation. If everyone had access to these services, it would add $33 billion US a year to the continent’s economies, according to a conservative 2012 estimate by economists at the World Health Organisation.

Ghana alone, for instance, according to a World Bank assessment, loses $290 million US each year to a lack of sanitation services. Kenya loses $324 million, Nigeria a staggering $3 billion.

Making access to sanitation and safe water a top priority in the African Common Position presents an opportunity for Africa’s children, and for economic growth. This is also in line with the Africa Water Vision 2025.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, along with the UN-established High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, has already called for a new UN development goal of universal access to water and sanitation. In following that lead, African leaders can be seen to be listening to the voices of its citizens, including women and girls, who are calling for the prioritisation of water and sanitation post-2015.

As we now mourn the loss of Nelson Mandela, the ultimate symbol of justice for the African people, we also remember his calls for an African Renaissance.

Safe water and better sanitation can help address so many of the challenges Africa faces today, from reducing the HIV transmission rate to improving child health and school attendance. As Mandela himself said: “Water is central in the social, economic and political affairs of the African continent.”

By prioritising safe water and sanitation, Africa’s leaders can also ensure the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals is dealt with strategically. Africa’s leaders can set the continent onto a trajectory so that by 2030, everyone has access to this basic right to sanitation.

If we miss this opportunity, we risk leaving hundreds of millions of people on the continent behind, stranding them far from that promise of an African Renaissance

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December 14, 2013 | 0 Comments

ABUJA, Nigeria, December 12, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – Five ECOWAS Member States involved in the Abidjan-Lagos road corridor project have agreed to contribute US$50 million in “seed money” to ensure speedy implementation of the 1028-km project.

The Steering Committee agreed at its third ministerial session in Yamoussoukro on 10th December 2013, that the money would help fund preparatory activities and provide further evidence of commitment by the countries for public and private sector operators interested in investing in the project, a six-lane highway expected to carry some 75 per cent of goods transported in the region, linking most of its major ports.

The Committee, comprising Ministers of the Road Infrastructure and Works of Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Togo, also mandated the ECOWAS Commission to engage with partners to submit proposals for transaction advisory services and the mobilization of external funding for the project.

In addition, it mandated the Commission to finalise a joint funding request for the five countries to the African Development Bank (AfDB) to be signed by their Ministers of finance.

The one-day meeting was convened to review the rules of procedure, which defines the institutional framework for the project, an integral part of its Treaty, particularly the options for funding to fast track the project, as well as the joint request to the AfDB and the signing of the Treaty.

Speaking during the opening session, Cote d’Ivoire’s Minister of Economic

Infrastructure, Mr Patrick Achi praised the road infrastructure, works and legal experts for the diligent finalisation of the working documents during their three-day preceding meeting also held in Yamoussoukro.

He highlighted the importance of the project, the first phase of the Lagos-Dakar highway project to link the eastern and western coastal extremes of the region, as a veritable road artery that would contribute to strengthening the implementation of the region’s integration programme.

The minister pledged the commitment of the country to the realisation of the project, conscious of the determination of regional leaders for its success because of its importance to the economic wellbeing of the region.

In the same vein, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Infrastructure, Mr Ebrima Njie said the project’s realisation would facilitate intra-community movement of goods and persons, the bedrock of the region’s integration project. It would also contribute to stimulating the regional economy and help reduce impediments to intra-community movement of goods and persons through greater efficiency, he affirmed.

In his speech, Nigeria’s Minister of Works, Architect Mike Onolememen, who chairs the Committee, stressed the need for the countries to continue to demonstrate cohesion so as to realise the resolve of their Heads of State and Government towards the project which has attracted remarkable donor interest.

The ministers of Benin, Ghana and Togo also addressed the meeting, renewing their countries’ commitment to the project.

Previous meetings of the Committee were held in Abuja, Nigeria and Accra, Ghana with the fourth now scheduled to be held in Cotonou, Benin Republic.

A minute’s silence was observed at the meeting’s opening ceremony in honour of South Africa’s first black President, Dr. Nelson Mandela, who died last week.


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Africa’s richest man Dangote plans $16bn investment push
December 14, 2013 | 0 Comments


Dangote Group, the Nigerian company controlled by Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote, plans to invest about $16-billion in cement, petrochemicals and agriculture over the next four years to boost expansion.

“We are investing $4.7-billion to finish our projects in cement in about 18 countries, including Nigeria,” Dangote, the company’s president, said in an interview. “We are also spending about $2.3-billion on agriculture, which is sugar and rice.”

The investment will help the Lagos-based company grow by almost a third in 2014, said Dangote, who is worth $22.1-billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, making him the world’s 34th richest man. “We are very, very optimistic for 2014 – we are expecting average growth of 30 percent groupwide,” he said.

Doubling output
Dangote Cement, Africa’s biggest producer of the building material, said in April it plans to double annual total cement output to 55-million metric tonnes by 2015, boosted by new production in Cameroon, Zambia and South Africa.

Dangote Sugar, which plans to start exports to Liberia, Senegal and Mauritania next year, aims to almost double refining capacity to 2.75-million tonnes by 2017 and increase sugar crop production, chief executive Abdullahi Sule said in August.

“We are going to do a backward integration for rice “by growing the crop as well as distributing it,” Dangote said. “We think Nigeria can be self sufficient in rice in the next three to four years.”

Dangote plans to invest in a natural gas power plant to help provide electricity to Africa’s most populous nation, where a supply of 4 000 megawatts of electricity is less than half of demand. Nigeria, Africa’s biggest producer of crude oil, relies on motor fuel imports to meet more than 70% of its needs.

“The only new investment we are looking at is upstream – to look for gas to secure our future businesses,” Dangote said. “We want to step in and make gas available, and this will translate into more stable power in the country.”

Source Mail& Guardian South Africa

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Tanzania Likely to Grow at Seven Percent in 2014 / While Targeted Safety Net Cash Transfers Could Help Reduce Extreme Poverty
December 14, 2013 | 0 Comments

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, December 13, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – Tanzania’s economy is likely to grow at approximately seven percent annually for the next two years, with inflation stabilizing at around five percent largely due to falling food prices and tight monetary policies. The current account deficit should remain equivalent to a value of 13 -15 percent of GDP, unless there are significant changes in global commodity prices and in the demand for Tanzanian products, according to the World Bank’s latest Tanzania Economic Update released today: ‘Raising the Game: Can Tanzania Eradicate Extreme Poverty,’

The World Bank report says that, as in the recent past, Tanzania’s economic growth is driven by a number of industries predominantly located in cities, in the communication, transportation, construction, and retail trade sectors. The report argues for increasing productivity in agriculture and creating more good jobs off the farm. But it also highlights that such strategies are not enough to get everyone out of poverty. Global experience shows that even when agriculture productivity increases, the poorest families tend to be left behind.”This underscores the importance of highly targeted safety net programs to support the most vulnerable,” says Philippe Dongier, the World Bank’s Country Director for Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi.

The latest Economic Update highlights the success of conditional cash transfer programs around the world, including in a pilot program implemented by the Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF) which is showing promising results in addressing the needs of the poorest households. Parents who receive the small monthly transfers spend the money on extra food and on education and health of their children.

The country’s latest Household Budget Survey shows that 12 million Tanzanians are still trapped in poverty today. At least 4.2 million of these constitute the ‘extreme poor’ for whom life means constantly choosing between difficult options, such as keeping the eldest child in school or pulling her out of class permanently to help grow more food on the family farm.

Without access to targeted safety nets, most extreme poor households in Tanzania depend on their relatives or use other social ties to survive in times of hardship. As the Economic Update puts it, “the families of vulnerable Tanzanians are themselves often very poor and thus cannot always provide support.”

“The experience with TASAF has shown that people can do a lot with just a little extra money and that they tend to spend their money wisely. Some spend it on their children’s immediate wellbeing, while others save to invest or to cushion themselves in the face of future hardships,” said Dongier.

“Safety nets in Tanzania currently amount to only one percent of total public expenditure, which is equivalent to less than 0.3 percent of GDP. This is insufficient to urgently address vulnerability among the extreme poor,” says Jacques Morisset, the Bank’s Lead economist for Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi and author of the latest report. “While investments in infrastructure, agriculture, education and health are essential for inclusive growth, well-targeted cash transfer programs can improve the living conditions of extremely poor households,” adds Morisset.

The Tanzania Economic Update is a biannual publication which reports on the state of the country’s economy.


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RwandAir looks to widen West African market share
December 10, 2013 | 0 Comments
RwandAir will in February receive a 67-seater Q-400 aircraft of this model. Officials say the new acquisition will boost the national carrier. Net photo.

RwandAir is set to receive its new Q-400 NextGen aircraft end of February next year, in what official say would help the national carrier consolidate its west African route once.

The brand new 67-seater dual-class Q-400 NextGen aircraft will ensure RwandAir is well-positioned to offer increased capacity on existing popular routes and new, upcoming ones, according to company officials.

RwandAir chief executive John Mirenge in a statement yesterday, said the arrival of Bombardier Q-400 NextGen will put the company in position to surpass the impressive set targets with ease.

“The introduction of the increased number of seats as well as the business class option meets the demands of our domestic market. It also allows RwandAir to embrace its long term expansion goal while staying on target to grow our fleet to 17 by 2020,” he said.

There is growing demand for domestic and regional travel in Africa.

The new aircraft will be delivered just in time for the unveiling of Douala, Cameroon as RwandAir’s 16th destination, added the statement.

The aircraft was manufactured by Bombardier Aerospace, a Canadian company with headquarters in Quebec.

The national flag carrier will reportedly become the 12th operator of the Q-400 NextGen aircraft in Africa.

The cabin configuration and design of this brand new Q-400 NextGen is similar to the CRJ-900 NextGen aircraft already amongst WB fleet.


This new acquisition is hoped to complement, on domestic routes, what the CRJ-900 NextGen achieves on regional destinations.

The Bombardier Q-400 NextGen can operate on Brazzaville, Libreville, Entebbe, Nairobi, Kilimanjaro, Bujumbura, Dar es Salaam, Mombasa and Kamembe the only domestic route, according to the statement.

RwandAir’s fleet now consists of four Boeing 737 series aircraft and one Bombardier Dash-200 series.

Two brand new Bombardier CRJ-900 NextGen regional jets arrived in November 2012, and the next acquisition is expected to introduce business class to domestic routes in February.

RwandAir serves one domestic destination, many regional cities such as Nairobi, Entebbe, Mombasa, Bujumbura, Dar es Salaam, and Kilimanjaro. The airline also serves Johannesburg, Dubai, Lagos, Accra, Libreville and Brazzaville. Juba in South Sudan, Douala in Cameroon, and Abidjan in Ivory Coast are also planned for 2014.

The airline is credited for its economic contribution towards the development, especially on trade promotion, tourism and aviation industry.

The government is trying to uplift the face of Kigali International airport and will build a new airport in Bugesera District, which is expected to be ready by 2017 to boost the country’s aviation industry.

*Source New Times

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November 24, 2013 | 0 Comments

MARA GROUP FOUNDER ASHISH J. THAKKAR Dubai, UAE, 21 November 2013: Dell has this week announced the launch of a ‘Global Advisory Board’ as part of the Dell Center for Entrepreneurs. The Board, which comprises a hand-selected group of influential entrepreneurs and experts from around the world, includes Ashish J. Thakkar, Founder of Mara Group – a pan-African, multi-sector investment group.

The Global Advisory Board, which is the brainchild of Dell’s entrepreneur-in-residence Ingrid Vanderveldt, will serve as a collective voice for entrepreneurs worldwide, with members lending their local insight and on-the-ground experience to Dell.

Together, the Global Advisory Board members will act as an extension to Dell’s existing global entrepreneurial initiatives, currently led out of the US. The Board will convene in-person for the first time in December, during Dell World 2013.

Ashish J. Thakkar, Founder of Mara Group, said:“Having started my first company at the age of 15 selling computers in Africa, I have first-hand experience building a business from scratch and understand the challenges that face young entrepreneurs in getting ahead. I admire the work that Dell is doing to empower entrepreneurs to run and grow their own businesses and feel honoured to be joining their Global Advisory Board, particularly at such a crucial turning point in Dell’s history, when the business will return to private.

“I look forward to working with the ‘world’s largest startup’ to help shape the way we support young business leaders globally. Entrepreneurs are the innovators and job creators of tomorrow, so we should do all we can to support and nurture their growth, particularly in developing nations like Africa.”

Ingrid Vanderveldt, entrepreneur-in-residence at Dell, said:“For Dell, supporting entrepreneurs isn’t just a business strategy, but a corporate philosophy. Since launching in the United States a year ago, the Dell Center for Entrepreneurs has been a true testament to the collaborative win-win of startups and corporations partnering for growth.” “Today, we’re excited to be taking big steps forward in expanding this footprint globally.”

The appointment of the Global Advisory Board follows the recent news that Dell is returning to become a private company, under the leadership of its Founder, Michael Dell. The multi-billion dollar deal was completed last month.

Mara groupAshish added: “This is a hugely exciting time to start working with Dell. I’m sure we’ll start seeing a dramatic shake-up in the PC market over the next 12 months.”

Ashish will be joined on the Board by: Ido Leffler, Co-Founder of Yes To Inc., the No. 2 natural beauty brand in the US; and Catherine Graham, President and Co-Owner of RIGHTSLEEVE and Co-Founder and CEO of commonsku.

Last month, Ashish was awarded Young Entrepreneur of the World at the World Entrepreneurship Forum in Singapore. In 2012, Ashish was appointed a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, and invited to sit on their Global Agenda Council on Africa.

About Mara Group

Mara Group is a pan-African multi-sector business with extensive operating experience in both African and international markets. Mara’s current investments and operations span technology, manufacturing, real estate and agriculture. The Group is currently active in 19 African countries and 21 countries worldwide.

Mara possesses in-depth knowledge and unrivalled expertise in Africa. Its approach to business is built around creating value for its shareholders, whilst ensuring a genuine and lasting impact on the communities in which it operates.

In 2009, Mara Group founded the Mara Foundation to foster and support entrepreneurs through mentorship and venture philanthropy.

Mara has been recognised as a Global Growth Company by the World Economic Forum.

 About Dell

Dell Inc. listens to customers and delivers innovative technology and services that give them the power to do more. For more information, visit

Dell World

Join us at Dell World 2013, Dell’s premier customer event exploring how technology solutions and services are driving business innovation. Learn more at, attend our virtual Dell World: Live Online event or follow #DellWorldon Twitter.






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An for Africa?
November 24, 2013 | 0 Comments

IT IS impossible to shop in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, says Jeremy Hodara, the French co-founder of Jumia, an online retailer that began trading in the country 18 months ago. The roads are terrible; the traffic is crazy; the city has only a handful of shopping malls between 20m people; and when you get to a mall many of the branded products on sale are fake. Rich people go to New York or London to shop. “They have no other option,” says Mr Hodara.

There is no shortage of demand. Nigeria has a rapidly-growing economy and a population of 170m, most of them young. But supply is another matter. The boss of Shoprite, Africa’s biggest supermarket chain, said in August that his firm would like to open 700 stores there but it is hard to find places to build them. It has just seven stores in Nigeria. Woolworths, another South African chain, recently announced it would close its three stores in Nigeria because of high rents and gaps in the supply chain.

This creates an opportunity for a business like Jumia. Only online shopping can grow quickly enough to bridge the “shocking” gap between demand and supply, says Mr Hodara. Access to the internet is no bar: Nigeria is smart-phone crazy. The challenge is to offer a wide range of goods and reliable delivery. Jumia stocks 100,000 separate items at its main warehouse near Lagos airport, including phones, TVs, clothes and white goods. It has satellite storage units in the seven other cities it serves. And it has a fleet of 200 mopeds and vans to get the stuff to its customers quickly.

Gaining the trust of shoppers is the biggest test. Web-based scams are common in Nigeria. Shoppers will not pay upfront for goods that may not arrive. So Jumia offers a pay-on-delivery service: “It was the only way,” says Mr Hodara. The firm aims to deliver goods in one to five days. Its customers do not tolerate poor service. “If you say you will deliver on Tuesday, you have to deliver on Tuesday.”

The payoff for Jumia could be huge. Mr Hodara reckons spending online might eventually account for as much as half of all retail sales in Nigeria. But the hassles are also big. It took six months to find a suitable warehouse in Lagos and several more to get it in shape. “Everything in Nigeria is a nightmare,” says Mr Hodara. Then again if it were an easy place to do business, would already be there.

 *Source The Economist
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DRC Inga mega hydropower plant implementation advances with AfDB support
November 24, 2013 | 1 Comments

Tunis, November 20, 2013 – The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) approved US $68 million in financing for the multinational Inga Site Development and Electricity Access Support Project (PASEL). The project will further the development of the Inga hydropower plant located on the banks of the Congo River with a vast hydro-electric potential estimated at 44,000 MW – half of the continent’s installed electricity capacity.

The AfDB’s support, which comes in the form of a Fragile States Facility grant of US $7.7 million and an African Development Fund grant of US $60.6 million, accounts for 43% of the total project cost of US $169 million. With this approval, the support of the AfDB to the Inga project, since the inception of the mandate to lead the implementation of the NEPAD Infrastructure Action Plan, will amount to-US $90 million.

PASEL will finalize the preparation of the first phase of the Grand Inga Hydropower Project, called the Inga 3 Project, which will consist of developing a power-generating capacity of 4,800 MW on the Inga site and building power transmission lines that will supply electricity to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and to the Republic of South Africa.

Specifically, this project will facilitate the development of the local institutions and skills necessary (technical, legal and financial advisors will be provided) to attract private capital for the completion of Inga 3 which is a complex project. In addition, capacity-building efforts will enable local actors to make a wise choice for the project’s principal investor-developer under the public-private partnership. Improved access to electricity is also expected in the semi-urban areas of Kinshasa for more than 25,000 households.

“This is the right project for the DRC and the Bank – at the right time,” said Alex Rugamba, Director of the AfDB’s Energy, Environment and Climate Change Department. “It is timely because it facilitates the implementation of Inga 3 whose investment costs would otherwise be difficult to mobilize in the current context of the DRC.”

The AfDB’s financing will be used to cover the cost of technical assistance to ensure the completion of preparatory activities for the Inga 3 Project. It will also help address electricity scarcity in remote areas that are not directly covered by Inga but where the DRC intends to develop electrical systems around micro- or mini-hydropower plants. The Bank will put several advisers at the disposal of the Inga Site Development and Promotion Authority and conduct several studies on the Inga project that will generate real-time gains in the overall project schedule.

PASEL builds on previous AfDB support to the Inga Hydropower Project, which led to: the development of institutional and technical plans; a feasibility study, which defined the development pattern of the Grand Inga by successive phases; and the identification of an innovative approach to the project that will guarantee the full realization of Inga’s hydro-electricity potential and promote continental integration.

The Inga 3 Project will increase access to more reliable and cheaper energy in the DRC, contributing to an increase from the current 9% to over 40% by 2020. It is also expected to improve the business climate and productivity of the economies of beneficiary countries.

Current demand for electricity in the region is huge and steady, guaranteeing a market for the energy to be produced from the hydropower plant. Indeed, South Africa has already signed an agreement with the DRC to import about half of the electricity that will be produced, guaranteeing the bankability of project. Signed by the presidents of South Africa and DRC in October 2013, the treaty, which is the framework for the energy-purchase agreement, is awaiting ratification by their respective national parliaments.



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African Exchange Holdings Delivers on Receipts System
November 20, 2013 | 0 Comments

Nigerian warehouse receipts system shows technical superiority in the region

 ABUJA, Nigeria, November 19, 2013/ — Today, the Nigerian Strategic Grain Reserve (SGR) and Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) conducted a technical walkthrough of a pioneering electronic warehouse receipt platform deployed by Africa Exchange Holdings (AFEX), which enables Nigerian farmers, cooperatives and traders to safely store their produce at accredited warehouses and access financing. Within two months of signing an MOU with FMARD, AFEX has commenced operations of the Warehouse Receipt System – a record speed in public private partnerships.

AFEX is the pan-African commodity exchange company founded by Tony O. Elumelu, Chairman of Heirs Holdings, Nicolas Berggruen, Chairman of Berggruen Holdings, and Jendayi Frazer, President of 50 Ventures, which was started to establish commodity exchanges across Africa.

When fully operational, the new warehousing project will significantly reduce the risk of lending to stakeholders in the agriculture sector, by providing secure storage and real time online tracking of warehouse receipts; increasing speed and reducing transaction costs.

Commenting to the media, Tim Shortley, Chief Operating Officer, AFEX, said, “The timing for the project is ideal because trading and storing of harvested commodities just started and the system is ready. We have launched the system in the northwest region of Nigeria; however, we plan to scale across other states in 2014 so farmers across Nigeria can feel the benefits of the warehousing project. We hope that agricultural commodities in excess of N10 billion will be financed this season.”

Dr Jide Olumeko, Director of the SGR said, “We are already seeing evidence of how this system is helping our farmers reduce post-harvest losses. Today’s demonstration shows that we have chosen the right partners in AFEX.”

The two-year pilot phase of the warehouse receipt system covers seven states, mostly in northern Nigeria, where agriculture is by far the largest economic sector – Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara, Kwara, Gombe and Oyo.  Nigerian farmers may now use receipts for their produce as collateral for loans. This will control price volatility due to the availability of buffer stock, enabling farmers to sell produce at better price points.

For more information, please contact:

Moky Makura

Director, Marketing and Corporate Communications

Heirs Holdings Ltd


Telephone: +234 (0)1 277 4641



Heirs Holdings



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AfDB Board approves US120 million financing for Nairobi’s outer ring road
November 20, 2013 | 0 Comments

AfDB Board approves US120 million financing for Nairobi’s outer ring road

 Project to take 4 years; starting 2014; Complete road will reduce travel time from 45 to 15 minutes

 african-development-bank-2NAIROBI, Kenya, November 19, 2013/ — The Board of the African Development Bank ( on Wednesday November 13th approved US$120 million financing for the Nairobi Outer Ring road project which involves the improvement of the existing single carriageway road to a 2-lane dual carriageway complete with service roads, grade separated intersections, pedestrians–foot-over bridges, walkways and cycle tracks over the entire length of the road.

The 13-kilometer project, on completion is expected to directly enhance the traffic circulation and eliminate traffic bottlenecks to various economic activity centers such as the industrial zone, and the vast populous residential areas of Eastlands.

AfDB Regional Director for Eastern Africa, Mr. Gabriel Negatu confirmed the financing as a mix of grant and loan from the Africa Development Fund (ADF), with the Government of Kenya as the counterpart financier of the project whose total cost in US$130million.

“The Africa Development Bank Group will provide 89.8% financing for the total project through Africa Development Fund (ADF) loan of US$115.9million and a grant of US$5million. We believe that this road will not only reduce the travel time from the current 45 minutes to 15 minutes, but will also transform the socio-economic welfare of the people living along the transport corridor,” the Director said.

The road traverses Nairobi’s East and North districts serving an estimated population of at least 2.2 million representing some 70% of the Nairobi County population. Other beneficiaries include users of major city connecting arterial roads of: Nairobi-Thika highway, Eastern Bypass, Northern Bypass, Mombasa Road, and onto the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

Negatu pointed out that the key outcomes of the project will include improved property values arising from reduced congestion, and improved business environment for informal traders owing to access to new market facilities and improved sanitation.

Other complementary civil works elements include: 250 market stalls and associated sanitary facilities, planting of 4,500 trees along the corridor, children’s traffic safety park, and 3 Wellness centers for HIV/AIDs and related illnesses.

It is further estimated that by improving the existing road, the annual vehicular GHG emission rates in tones in the corridor would drop by at least 70% due to improved average traffic operating speeds along the project corridor particularly, with the integration of the Bus Rapid Transit System as envisaged by the year 2022.

“Our approach to this and every project that we have undertaken is guided by our commitment as a Bank to realize inclusive and green growth in Africa. Under this project, at least 500 disadvantaged youth from the informal settlements will gain from artisan training program aimed at enhancing their skills to assure long-term gainful employment thereafter.” Negatu added.

The Africa Development Bank previously financed the successful completion of the 50km Thika Superhighway, which was jointly financed by the Republic of China and Government of Kenya. Outer Ring Road project brings to 63 the kilometers of roads financed by the Bank within the Nairobi metropolitan.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of the African Development Bank (AfDB).

About African Development Bank

The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group ( is a multi- lateral development finance institution established to contribute to the economic development and the social progress of African countries. The Bank Group comprises three entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF).

As the premier development finance institution on the continent the AfDB’s primary objective is to assist African countries – individually and collectively in their efforts to achieve economic development and social progress. The Bank Group finances projects, programs and studies in multiple sectors such as infra- structure, agriculture, health, education, higher education and training, public utilities, environment, climate change, gender, telecommunications, industry and the private sector.

contact: Mercy Randa Tel: +254 771 048 558 /


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Extraordinary Ethiopia – ancient, booming but undemocratic
November 20, 2013 | 0 Comments

By Richard Dowden*

The Axum Obelisks had been looted by Italian fascists in 1937. It was returned to Ethiopia in 2005 and is now a very important landmark. It originated before the 400th century.When you say to people in Britain: “I’ve just been in Ethiopia”, they give you a look which says: “Poor you. Was it too terrible to talk about?”

That is the trouble with the modern media. Faraway places of which we know little are only shown to us when something bad happens. In the case of Ethiopia, the 1984 famine and subsequent hungers have fixed its image in the global mind. It is as if the image of the collapsing Twin Towers in 2001 typified America. But of course we have other, more positive, images of America but none of Ethiopia. So I tell them: “Ethiopia? It’s great. It’s Booming!”

Addis Ababa is being transformed as if by monstrous engines boring through the heart of the city. A new motorway flows into town sweeping aside all before it and an urban rail system is smashing through buildings, roads, gardens – everything accompanied by cranes and trucks, noise and dust. All along its path the traditional one-storey homes of mud, wooden planks and rusted corrugated iron roofs are bulldozed into heaps and replaced by six or more stories of concrete and brick. Hammering, grinding and showers of glittering acetylene sparks proclaim the arrival of armies of Chinese workers and the rise of mighty steel and glass constructions.

The lesser building sites are full of Ethiopian workers; some newly arrived from the rural areas. Addis used to feel like a timeless city. People hung around talking or walked slowly as if on a long stroll. Now they march the streets with speed and urgency. All seem to have watches and mobile phones. Even the poor seem to have purpose. I watched one man sitting by the roadside carefully stitching the seams of his disintegrating trousers with string. For the better off the vast market quarter,Mercato, is seething with bustle and business.

Ethiopia has one rich asset that much of sub Saharan Africa has lost or never developed. It has been a state for a very long time, longer than Britain and most of Europe. Its people, language, culture are all rooted more than two thousand years ago and further back the first humans and their hominid ancestors walked here. Ethiopians’ connections to the Semitic world go back thousands or years through migration and trade. Its Coptic Christian rituals and ceremonies came from Egypt in the 3rd century A.D.

When Europe took over much of Africa at the end of the 19th century Ethiopia was already a state, capable of raising an army that defeated the invading Italians in 1896. It then made an alliance with the invading Europeans which gave it new territories. The Emperor Haile Selassie cooperated with the European powers, but in 1936 Italy seized the country. Only seven years later it was free again and, unlike its northern part, now Eritrea, never colonised. All this gives Ethiopians a special self-confidence in who they are, where they come from and where they are going.

Its recent history is also extraordinary. In 1974 Emperor Haile Selassie was overthrown by the army. But a group of Marxist students from the Tigray region at Addis Ababa University who had fought to overthrow the Emperor, saw the revolution hijacked by an army coup led by Major Mengistu Haile Mariam. Led by Meles Zenawi, these intellectuals formed the Marxist Leninist League of Tigray, left Addis and took the long march to the mountains in the far north. Linking up with their Eritrean neighbours and cousins who had already been fighting for years for their independence from Ethiopia, the Tigrayan Peoples Liberation Front started a new war against the military regime.

12 years later Mengistu fled as the TPLF and the Eritreans arrived at the gates of Addis Ababa. It was an astounding achievement, especially since they had no regional supporter. But the truth was that, for all their bravado, the TPLF leaders had not expected the Soviet Union to collapse so suddenly and with it the Mengistu regime. They may have hoped that a long struggle might nibble away and gain greater independence for Tigray. Suddenly they found they could eat the whole cake.

How could they claim legitimacy? As their army approached Addis Ababa Meles came up with a brilliant solution. The TPLF would find allies among Ethiopia’s other ethnicities and create a national umbrella body, the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front. They also created parties for Ethiopia’s other ethnic groups; the Amhara, Oromo, Somalis and ethnically mixed southerners (who were traditionally regarded as slaves). Like the Eritreans, all these ‘nationalities’ were given the constitutional right to secede from Ethiopia by referenda. In theory.

In this way Ethiopia took the opposite direction to other African countries. The rest all tried to create nationalism by suppressing ethnicity and even banning ethnic-based political parties. Ethiopia based its political system on its constituent parts. It was an extraordinary gamble. It works at the moment but of course no referenda have ever been organised or even discussed.

At the time Meles said his movement’s model was Albania. The Americans and Europeans who felt they had just engineered the total defeat of global communism, gulped. After all, Mengistu may have been a Communist but he wasn’t a looney. Then it became clear that this model simply meant that, like Albania, the TPLF was independent socialist, not aligned to Moscow or Beijing. It was not at all committed to the economic policies of Enver Hoxa.

Like any good socialist who wins the jackpot, Meles Zenawi was not going to squander his winnings. While the state retained close control over land, the economy and key state-owned companies, Ethiopia was to allow capitalism to flourish and have the best of both worlds. Key sectors are state-controlled but the buccaneer capitalists are given free rein.

With the Soviet Union gone, Meles engineered good relations with the United States and Europe. When he and Isias Afwerke, his former ally in the revolution who became President of independent Eritrea, went to war – twice, the West backed Ethiopia. It won both rounds of the war but did not press home its victory, another counter intuitive but brilliant decision by Meles although it nearly cost him his job. The Ethiopian army wanted to carry on to Asmara and change the government there. Now the two armies face each other along the border; landlocked Ethiopia open to the world, coastal Eritrea – like its president – a reclusive, closed and difficult state.

When Meles appointed Hailemariam Desalagne, a southerner and a Protestant to boot as Deputy Prime Minister, many saw this as a token gesture to the southerners and a manoeuvre to prevent a rival emerging from one of the powerful highland ethnic groups. But when Meles died in July last year, the succession fell to Hailemariam. Although he sounds more like a technocratic civil servant than a national leader, he is beginning to consolidate his power and appoint his own people in top jobs. Ethiopians are beginning to realise the deeper meaning of his appointment.

Meles’ successor could not be another Tigrayan. Nor could it be an Amhara because Ethiopia has almost always been ruled by Amharas and the Oromo, a larger group, would be up in arms. The choice of an Oromo would upset the Amhara. A Somali? Since Ethiopia invaded Somalia in 2006 and again in 2010 and is still interfering there, that is unthinkable. In the past a southerner could no more have ruled Ethiopia than an Arab could rule in Israel. But Hailemariam, hardworking, technocratic, continuing to deliver the economic boom and not part of the traditional Ethiopian power struggle, was the perfect choice. It will work as long as the economy keeps growing at a good clip.

But make no mistake, parliamentary democracy as we in the West understand it, has no role in today’s Ethiopia. Out of the 547 elected members of the country’s lower chamber only one is from an opposition party. I met him. Girma Seifu Maru is a nice man but a lonely one. As Meles Zenawi said: “There is no connection between democracy and development”.

And whose picture hangs in every government office in Ethiopia? Not President Muluta Teshome, whose name and face few Ethiopians would recognise. Nor Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalagne. It is Meles Zenawi.

*Source African Arguments.Richard Dowden is Director of the Royal African Society and author of Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles published by Portobello Books

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