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Transcorp, GE partner to improve power generation in Nigeria
February 1, 2014 | 0 Comments

Agreements will dramatically increase capacity at the Ughelli power plant in 2014 tony-elumeluTranscorp Ughelli Power Ltd (TUPL), the power subsidiary of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (Transcorp), and General Electric (GE) have signed an agreement to expand the capacity of TUPL’s Ughelli power plant by1000MW over the next 3 to 5 years. Both parties have also signed a separate agreement to rehabilitate the damaged GT 15 turbine at the Ughelli plant, which will add 115MW to the plant’s output. Currently, the Transcorp Ughelli power plant generates 360MW of electricity, up from 160MW on November 1, when Transcorp took ownership of the plant. With the additional 115MW, as well as other rehabilitation works planned at the plant, output at Ughelli will increase to 700MW by December 2014. The Ughelli power plant is Nigeria’s largest gas-fired electricity generation asset.  Purchased by Transcorp during the 2013power privatization programme, the $300 million plant is part of the $2.5 billion investment pledge made by the Chairman of Transcorp and Heirs Holdings (http://www.heirsholdings.com), Tony O. Elumelu, CON, to deliver affordable, accessible power to Africa under the Power Africa Initiative. Heirs Holdings, Elumelu’s pan-African proprietary investment company, is Power Africa’s largest private sector investor and a major investor in Transcorp. The agreements were signed at a closed door meeting between executives of both companies, led by Elumelu and the Global Chairman of General Electric, Jeffrey Immelt. They follow a cooperation agreement executed by Transcorp and GE in 2013. Commenting, Elumelu said, “We are very pleased to work with GE, a proven world leader in power technology development, on the Ughelli plant expansion project.  With this, we’ve taken a bold step in fulfilling our promise to Transcorp’s stakeholders and the people of Nigeria. In a very short period of time, we have achieved significant impact – power production has more than doubled, and with this agreement, we will see increased output before the end of this year. We are confident that this partnership with GE will further accelerate the achievement of our goals in the power sector.” Immelt said,” GE fully appreciates the confidence expressed by Transcorp. We are happy to bring the considerable resources of GE to support Transcorp’s audacious vision for Nigeria’s Power industry. This partnership with Transcorp underlines GE’s deep commitment to developing the Nigerian power sector.” A publicly listed conglomerate with strategic investments in the power, hospitality, business and energy sectors, Transcorp, through TUPL, is committed to transform and bring the plant to profitability by increasing its generating capacity to impact positively on the socio-economic development of Nigeria. GE, one of the world’s most reputable companies is the global leader in the design, manufacture, supply, installation and maintenance of technology and services for the Power, Aviation, Oil & Gas, Healthcare and Transportation sectors. About Transcorp Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (Transcorp) is a publicly quoted conglomerate with a diversified shareholder base of over 300,000 investors, the most prominent of which is Heirs Holdings Limited, a pan-African proprietary investment company. The Transcorp portfolio comprises strategic investments in the power, hospitality, agribusiness and energy sectors. Our notable businesses include Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja; Transcorp Hotels, Calabar; Teragro Commodities Limited, operator of Teragro Benfruit plant – Nigeria’s first-of-its-kind juice concentrate plant; Transcorp Ughelli Power Limited and Transcorp Energy Limited, operator of OPL 281. For more information about Transcorp, please visithttp://www.transcorpnigeria.com About Heirs Holdings Limited Heirs Holdings (http://www.heirsholdings.com) is a pan-African proprietary investment company driving Africa’s development. We are active long-term investors who specialise in building businesses and corporate turnaround. We aim to transform the companies in which we invest and grow them into businesses that last. We invest in Africa to create value for our shareholders and partners, and to create economic prosperity and social wealth for the continent.  Our investments in power, financial services, oil and gas, real estate and hospitality, agri-business and healthcare are helping to build economies, create jobs, drive prosperity and ultimately transform the lives of ordinary Africans in Africa. For more information about Heirs Heirs Holdings, please visithttp://www.heirsholdings.com About GE GE (NYSE: GE) works on things that matter, using the best people and the best technologies taking on the toughest challenges, finding solutions in energy, health and home, transport and finance, building, powering, moving and curing the world. Not just imagining. Doing. GE works. For more information, visit the company’s website at http://www.ge.com. SOURCE Heirs Holdings/APO]]>

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African Youth Forum: “Accelerate Youth Employment in Africa”
January 31, 2014 | 0 Comments

The Department of the Human Resource Science and Technology in collaboration with the Olusegun Obasanjo Foundation (OOF) organized a Youth Forum on accelerating Youth Employment in Africa on the sidelines of the 22nd African Union Summit on 29 and 30 January in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. After debating on the theme during the meeting held in United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) on Wednesday 29th January 2014, the invited African youth and the former Nigerian President Mr. Olusegun Obasanjo, discussed and presented the recommendations to the Heads of States during a luncheon held at the African Union Commission today, 30th January 2014. The lunch was hosted by Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission and Mr. Obasanjowho is the founder and chairman of the OOF. Heads of States of African member states of the AU; among them were the Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia;the President of Burkina Faso (Host country of the AU special Summit on Employment in 2004), President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania and Chairperson of the African Union and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission. The event was moderated and led by Mr. Olusegun Obasanjo and Dr. Martial De-Paul Ikounga, Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology (HRST). The participants discussed the recommendations made by the youths and on the way forward. “The Heads of States have heard you and I am sure that they will dialogue with you”, said Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. She added, “We want you to be the masters of the digital age, the masters of the space age, the masters of the knowledge age, and the masters of the economy age”. She encouraged the youth to input their ideas into what should Africa look like in 2063 before April 2014, through the Agenda 2063 framework. Although African countries have seen tremendous economic growth over the recent years, youth unemployment and education are still pressing issues that need to be addressed by policy makers and African leaders. As President Obasanjo said “Education is the basis for the empowerment of the youth.” The President of Haiti, Mr. Michel Martelly, shared the Haitian experience regarding alternative funding for education with his peers and the invited guests. He explained the ways in which the Haitian government raised funds from its Diaspora to fund the construction of schools. “131Million Dollars were raised and the entire fund was used to build schools” he said. Mr. Dessalegne Hailemariam, strongly commended the youth not to wait for governments to help them. “You must struggle for your rights and you should have a strong African organization to engage with politicians”. He then added “as leaders we have to lead the process and engage the youth in the building of a prosperous Africa”. The event concluded with a message that will be disseminated by the youth. The message included the will to participate actively in reduction of poverty, creating a strong pan African organization and reinforcing leadership of the youth with the assistance of governments at a national and continental level. *In Partnership with APO]]>

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UN WOMEN AND MARA FOUNDATION ANNOUNCE PARTNERSHIP TO SUPPORT WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS
January 30, 2014 | 0 Comments

 Announced during the Africa Union Summit in Ethiopia, the partnership will see the two entities working side-by-side to provide mentoring, training and business tools designed to meet the individual needs of women entrepreneurs around the world. One such tool, ‘Mara Mentor’, has been developed by Mara Online to help young entrepreneurs connect with their industry peers, as well as gainaccess to valuable business advice, online networking opportunities and training materials. ‘Mara Mentor’ can be accessed via a website (mentor.mara.com), and a recently launched app which helps users connect, anytime, anywhere. UN Women’s Knowledge Gateway for Women’s Economic Empowerment (www.empowerwomen.org), is a global community set up to share resources and tools for women’s economic empowerment, crowd-source feedback on innovative ideas and to connect women entrepreneurs and workers with experts, peers, networks and potential partners.   Combining the strengths of the Mara Mentor online platform and app and UN Women’s EmpowerWomen.org, as well as its network of over 80 country offices around the world, women entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to better connect with policymakers, researchers, teachers, students, civil society activists, investors, social change-makers; access resources and training for the development of business skills; and develop an understanding of how to overcome specific challenges to gender equality. Ashish J. Thakkar, Founder of Mara Foundation, said: “Having founded my own business at the age of 15, I understand all too well the challenges that face entrepreneurs setting up a business. These challenges are even greater for women who continue to lag behind men when it comes to gender equality in the workplace. “I hope that through the combined efforts of UN Women and Mara Foundation, we can create a level playing field for women entrepreneurs and a solid network of women business leaders who will continue to inspire other women in Africa for generations to come.” Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, said: “Women’s economic empowerment is essential to ending poverty and advancing gender equality and we are pleased to partner with the Mara Foundation to make greater progress.” “Women have a right to equal opportunities and equal access to resources and training. When women are empowered and barriers removed, the benefits ripple outward to many others, making economies more inclusive and stronger. Through this partnership, we hope to accelerate gender equality and women’s economic empowerment in Africa and beyond.” Over the next 12 months, UN Women and Mara Foundation will jointly host a series of debates on women’s economic empowerment across both platforms. Experts from around the globe will be invited to facilitate discussions and engage members of Mara Mentor and EmpowerWomen.org in order to better understand the barriers faced by women in business in Africa and globally. It is expected that this will further drive innovative approaches to women’s economic empowerment. UN Women and Mara Foundation will be participating in a number of other joint activities and events to raise awareness of the issues women face in business and further strengthen the support provided to them by both the private and public sector. About UN Women UN Women is the global champion for women and girls, dedicated to upholding the rights of half the world’s people. Its 2010 formation, applauded around the globe, offers an historic opportunity to unleash progress for women and for societies. UN Women acts on the fundamental premise that every woman has the right to live a life free from violence, poverty and discrimination, and that gender equality is central to achieving development. UN Women stands behind women’s equal participation in all aspects of life, but pursues a handful of elements proven to unlock rapid transformation, including ending violence against women; increasing women’s participation and leadership, and enhancing women’s economic empowerment. About Mara Foundation Mara Foundation is part of Mara Group, a pan-African multi-sector business with extensive operating experience in both African and international markets. Established in 2009, Mara Foundation focuses on fostering entrepreneurialism in Africa through a myriad of programmes designed to address the complete life-cycle of an entrepreneur’s business idea. The Foundation works to create sustainable economic and business development opportunities for young entrepreneurs via Mara Women, Mara Mentor, Mara Launchpad and the Mara Ad-Venture Capital Fund. Mara Mentor’s online platform and mobile app have been developed by Mara Online – Mara’s online and mobile technology business. The Foundation is active in a number of countries including Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Nigeria. For more information, visit www.mara-foundation.org.  ]]>

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ONE Joins D’banj and African Partners to Launch ‘Do Agric’ at AU Summit
January 30, 2014 | 0 Comments

New campaign aims to help lift more than 85 million Africans out of poverty through targeted investment in agriculture and “enhanced CAADP” policies The ONE Campaign (http://www.one.org) today released a new report and launched Do Agric, It Pays, a campaign calling for African governments to commit to spending at least 10% of national budgets on effective agriculture investments, through transparent and accountable budgets. At the heart of the Do Agric campaign is an effort to push political leaders to adopt better policies that will boost productivity, increase incomes and help lift millions of Africans out of extreme poverty. Nigerian singer-songwriter D’banj was on hand for the Do Agric, It Pays kick-off event in Addis Ababa today. Civil society partners at the launch included the Pan African Farmers Association (PAFO), ActionAid International, Acord International, Oxfam, East and Southern African Farmers Forum , ROPPA, Southern African Confederation of Agriculture Unions, the Africa Union Commission, Becho Welisho and the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). Campaign champions include Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, Beninois President Dr. Thomas Yayi Boni and Côte d’Ivoire footballer Yaya Touré, with Touré starring in a new ONE PSA, which debuted today onhttp://www.one.org/doagric. The launch of Do Agric in Addis Ababa coincides with the 2014 January African Union (AU) summit, where heads of state have gathered to discuss key development challenges across the continent. The AU has declared 2014 the Year of Agriculture in Africa. “Now is the time to get our leaders to commit to a big push toward implementing effective agricultural policies, scale up public investment in agriculture and catalyze private sector participation in agriculture development,” says ONE Africa Director Dr. Sipho Moyo. “Of the more than 400 million Africans living in extreme poverty, 70% live in rural areas that depend on agriculture. Remarkably, the multiplier effect of agricultural growth in sub-Saharan Africa is estimated to be 11 times greater in reducing poverty than in other non-agriculture sectors, such as utilities and mining.(1)” D’banj said, “There are massive untapped business opportunities in agriculture that could create jobs for millions of Africans on and off the farm. I want Africans to know that farming is not only the foundation of the economy, but also that farming is cool. I believe that, if the needed attention is given to agriculture, we Africans will not only feed ourselves, but also the rest of the world.” “While other African leaders have made statements of good will, currently only eight countries have kept their promise to invest 10% of their national budgets in agriculture. It is therefore essential to do more, to go further. Agriculture is not only important, it is also vital. Agriculture pays,” said Yaya Touré. A new ONE report, called Ripe for Change: The Promise of Africa’s Agricutural Transformation, calls on African governments to implement an “enhanced CAADP” package of policies to accelerate economic development in Africa through an African-led agricultural transformation agenda steered by the AU’s own CAADP (Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme). The package of policy recommendations, which was developed after a lengthy consultation process with African farmers and farmers associations from all over the continent, includes: 1)        Make time-bound commitments to meet the Maputo pledge of spending at least 10% of national budgets on effective agriculture investments, through transparent and accountable budgets. 2)        Eliminate the gender gap in agriculture. 3)        Strengthen land governance and security of tenure rights. 4)        Reduce barriers to intra-regional trade. 5)        Increase R&D investment to at least 1% of agricultural GDP and bolster extension services. 6)        Integrate sustainability and climate resilience into national agriculture plans. 7)        Prioritise the reduction of post-harvest loss in national agriculture plans. 8)        Design nutrition goals into agriculture sector strategies. 9)        Foster an enabling environment for smallholder integration and responsible private sector investment. 10)      Accelerate implementation of agriculture plans and ensure results for smallholder farmers. oneThe report also highlights recent success stories resulting from increased agriculture investment and enhanced CAADP-style policy reforms, such as those in Ghana, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso. In Ghana, agriculture is the biggest driver of poverty reduction, with initiatives such as credit reform, targeted subsidies for farmers, and new infrastructure supporting private sector investment, particularly in the cocoa sector. Perhaps no country illustrates the opportunities that agricultural investment can unlock better than Ethiopia. Three decades after experiencing a devastating famine that captured the world’s attention, the country has boosted cereal production and emerged as a leader in agricultural innovation, with an agriculture growth rate of 7% on average since 2003. In Burkina Faso, the government spends 10% of its budget on agriculture, resulting in growth rates of more than 6% per year in the sector. Following reforms, cotton production has tripled, leading to export earnings of $165 million and household income growing by between 19% and 43%. Dr. Moyo added, “The good news is there are real success stories across the continent to build upon. These African-led successes must now be scaled, adopted and adapted across the region so that small farms can become small firms, young people can find good jobs and African economies can thrive. This virtuous cycle of agriculture-led industrialization will bring stability and prosperity across Africa. This is the future for African agriculture we can create together, if we seize the great opportunity of 2014.”   Citizens can learn more and sign a petition in support of agriculture investment and the enhanced CAADP reforms at http://www.one.org/doagric.]]>

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IMF and Mozambique to Host Regional Conference Africa Rising on Economic Successes and Challenges in Sub-Saharan Africa
January 29, 2014 | 0 Comments

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Government of Mozambique will co-host a conference on May 29-30, 2014, in Maputo to take stock of Sub-Saharan Africa’s strong economic performance and the ongoing challenges in the region. The Africa Rising conferencewill also explore how to strengthen the partnership between the IMF and its African member countries. The conference will bring together policymakers from Africa and beyond, and leaders from the private sector, civil society, and academia with the goal of exploring avenues to sustain the region’s current growth performance and sharing the benefits more widely among all the populations. “The Mozambique Conference will provide a unique opportunity to address Africa’s achievements and the road ahead. We are very much looking forward to listening to all our partners in Africa,” said IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde. “The Fund has a very constructive dialogue with African policymakers that we believe has assisted the region in a reform effort that has paid off significantly. So this event will broaden the policy discussion at this crucial juncture, bringing together all those committed to Africa’s continuing success.” An increasing number of countries in sub-Saharan Africa have achieved strong growth in recent years. This performance has increased standards of living and reduced poverty in many countries. It has also made many economies stronger and more resilient, as demonstrated during the global financial crisis. But many challenges remain. Poverty remains high in many countries. For those that have been doing well, the key challenge now is to maintain high growth, while boosting job creation and accelerating structural transformation. For others, notably those that recently have emerged from conflict, the first priority remains to establish political and economic stability to provide the basis for a strong economy. Discussion at the conference will focus on these key issues, along with others that are central to Africa’s efforts to move up the development ladder: fostering inclusion and job creation; harnessing natural resources wealth for the benefit of current and future generations; financing infrastructure; creating deeper and broader financial markets; and overcoming fragility. *Source IMF.For further information, please refer to the Africa Rising website at http://www.africa-rising.org. Courtesy of APO]]>

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IOM Launches Project to Engage Tanzanian Diaspora
January 29, 2014 | 0 Comments

IOM has launched a new outreach project designed to engage Tanzanians living abroad in the country’s development. The project “Enhancing the Migration Evidence Base for the Development of Tanzania” started this week with a three-day diaspora engagement workshop to highlight the ways in which the diaspora can contribute to national development. The event, which ends today, was attended by high-level representatives and key stakeholders from government ministries, academia, civil society organizations and research institutions. In his opening remarks, Tanzania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Bernard Membe said that the Tanzanian diaspora now numbered some 3.7 million. “Engaging with the diaspora and creating opportunities for the transfer of human, social and financial capital could result in enhanced development, particularly in sectors such as education and health, but also in view of expanding private sector investments in Tanzania, which would lead an increase in employment opportunities,” he noted. The minister also highlighted the importance of creating a favourable environment in Tanzania, to enable members of the diaspora who wish to invest, and noted that allowing Tanzanians to obtain dual citizenship will be crucial to maximize contributions from the diaspora and to build confidence between them and the Tanzanian government. The IOM project will also include the creation of a “Migration Profile” to provide better understanding and knowledge of Tanzania’s migration dynamics. The project launch follows the Government of Tanzania’s request for IOM’s technical and financial support to promote enhanced coordination amongst ministries on migration matters; undertake a comprehensive Migration Profile; enhance the understanding of approaches to diaspora engagement; and support the creation of a diaspora website. The project is funded through IOM’s International Development Fund (IDF). *SOURCE International Office of Migration (IOM)/ APO]]>

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“Project Atlantis will contribute in making Lagos look like Dubai”-Dr Gerhard Staats of The Nigerian Business Club
January 28, 2014 | 1 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L German and married to a Nigerian, investing in Nigeria is almost like an obsession when you talk to Dr Gerhard Staats. He is so passionate about Nigeria, fascinated by the dynamic people he sees each time he visits Nigeria but equally disappointed at the corruption, administrative bottle necks and the negative label imputed on the country by scammers that have give Nigeria a bad name. It has been challenging to set up shop in Nigeria but Dr Staats and his Team are willing to keeping pushing on with plans underway to set up a permanent office in Nigeria. Already involved in sending cars to Nigeria, Staats is scouting for serious partners to launch a housing project in Lagos. The plan designed by his Atlantis firm, has plans for building a city that will host about one million inhabitants and a vibrant economic hub. While consultations are own going with credible partners in Nigeria, Dr Staats believes that the projects he has in mind will be of profound benefits to the people and authorities should take a second  look at the revolutionary housing projects that he and his partners are offering. Dr Gerhard Staats you are German but we see you very involved in formulating projects across Nigeria and Africa before we get into specific projects, why are you so interested in Africa? The question you should ask me is why should I not be interested in Africa and Nigeria? Africa is a fascinating continent, it is a huge market with big investment potentials and the everyday people you see in the continent are very dynamic. Although I love Africa and will be working towards investing in different parts of the continent like Ghana where my friend Mike Baffour hails from, Nigeria is my first interest. Besides the potential there, I have been married for six years to a Nigerian and have been there a couple times and came back with very interesting experiences. I intend to use my expertise in Real Estate, Transport, Logistics, Mining, industry and Religion to see how far my plans for big investments in Nigeria can go. Lets discuss some of your projects and the motives or intended outcomes, the Nigerian Business Club you created has a membership of almost thirty thousand now on social media, how does this membership translate into concrete results that impact on business in Nigeria? Yes NBC is a project what we started on XING (German Business Network) and later on Facebook.  Our goal was to create a business platform where all kinds of international business can meet, share perspectives, opportunities, network, and build mutually beneficial partnerships for more investments in Africa. The Nigerian Business Club now has a membership of about thirty thousand on social media and we will soon open an office in Lagos, Nigeria to better play a consulting role. The Nigerian Business Club has highlighted opportunities from big machines, to trucks, used cars, fashion, food, solar industry, and more, hopefully the office in Lagos will be able to offer better coordination so that all these opportunities and services can have better prospects been translated into concrete results in a way that a more positive impact is felt on the overall economy of Nigeria. May we know about your project company Atlantis and the Lagos Lagoon Project? The Project Atlantis is something similar to the Eko Atlantic City in Lagos. When one sees the efforts made by the Governor of Lagos Babatunde Fashola to draw investors and when one sees the potential available, it was hard to remain indifferent. The Lagoon has the space to build a new metropolis that is safe, clean, fun and booming with business. With the German know how that I and my partners can bring in, this is very feasible. A town for one million people can be created with independent water, electricity, garbage system, fast and affordable internet and telephone, a palm tree garden, hotels, shops and more. When do you actually start the implementation phase of the project? We have been trying to make our plans public and holding discussions with potential partners. One of our partners was asked about the prospects of 12.000 low cost houses and it is an idea we are looking at. This entails a lot especially with the absence of viable partners on the ground but we are working towards the creation of a permanent presence in Nigeria and hopefully once this is done, things will speed up. You have to know first that all Africa Experts in Germany work alone and there is no network what I can use for myself to talk with business partners in Africa for projects. There is no chance to meet real partners from Africa (Investors) in internet why they are afraid for scammers and 419 industries. All of this make a start in many projects very difficult and expensive. Like I mentioned earlier, we are very close to establishing a permanent presence in Nigeria for final talks with partners and investors. In 2013 alone, we sent over 1000 used cars and trucks to Nigeria and that is just a small indication of how huge the market is. For the used car sector we have trustful partners in Nigeria and they became rich in only 2 years. So that’s why I am optimistically for the project Atlantis, our homes which are standard, and low cost will have a big market. What are some of the challenges that you have faced so far as you conceive these projects, and based on the realities in Nigeria, do you think the projects can actually be implemented? [caption id="attachment_8164" align="alignright" width="219"]Dr Gerhard Staats Dr Gerhard Staats[/caption] With its size, its might, its resources and very hard working people, Nigeria should be the envy of everyone; Nigeria should virtually be the Eldorado of Africa. Unfortunately this is not the case right now. Doing business in Nigeria or attempting to get a foothold is very challenging and very complex. You get people especially some who should be custodians of the public trust thinking about themselves first before the people there are suppose to serve. This has earned Nigeria a bit of a bad reputation with international partners who are skeptical about who there deal with in the country. Should the corruption and challenging business climate be enough to make me back off? Not yet, it is my intention to push ahead. As mentioned earlier, my wonderful wife is not only Nigerian but I have been there myself and continue to believe in its incredible potential. Many look at Dubai today and wonder in amazement how wonderful it is, but we tend to forget that about 40 years ago, Dubai was barely more than a little fishing village. Imagine what Lagos can be like in the next 25 years with the right planning, with the right vision, with people thinking about the common good of the people and not just themselves. With all its human and natural resources, many are disappointed with the way things are evolving in Nigeria , you have been there, you have an idea about how things, from the perspective of an outsider interested in investment that will help the economy, what recommendations do you have for the government, what can be done to facilitate investment initiatives like yours? I agree with you about the human and natural resources that Nigeria has and I believed I have mentioned that in the course of this interview. When you compare the potential that Nigeria has to the realities of today, there are like day and night. There are a number of problems from security, to corruption and the negative image that these and the activity of scammers have labeled on the country. The country needs to  be more friendly and welcoming to foreign investors, do more to crack down on corruption and also do more to clean its image. I understand the policies of Europe in Africa have sometimes not been very helpful and full of the double standards that makes people doubtful of the kind of opinions I  am sharing now, but I share them with all the love and interest I have in that country. If Nigeria gets its act right, it will be a power to reckon with not just in Africa but on the global stage. The resources are there, the human potential is there with the best of Doctors, Engineers, Musicians, global business players like Dangote and others. There is no excuse for Nigeria to remain the way it is and I hope the leaders will come together, put Nigeria first before partisan politics, shun and eradicate corruption by showing the right example and punishing culprits and putting to shame all those who indulge in any forms of practices that tarnish the image of Nigeria. Do you have plans to invest in other parts of Africa or you are limited to Nigeria? I would say investing in other parts of Africa is a real possibility. The potentials are not limited to Nigeria and while that country has a special place in my heart and forms the corner stone of our investment plans, the challenges there are big and we will see how things go. There have be overtures from other West African countries like Ghana and a number of countries in East Africa. While we pursue our investment objectives in Nigeria, we will eventually be open to investing in other African countries as well. [caption id="attachment_8165" align="alignleft" width="300"]Dr Gerhard Staats with a truck destined for Nigeria Dr Gerhard Staats with a truck destined for Nigeria[/caption] And I should also add that we are professionals in designing projects and there is one we have in mind that can be set up in any country called the   International Music Hotel. The plan we have comprise up to 11 floors with different kinds of music and  about 340 rooms that are for 340 different stars of music. We have a digital music studio and a stage for events. We have a music university and a Kindergarten. We have private flats for VIP buyers. We need 23.000 m² of land for this and about $ 300-500 million for such a project. Who knows, this is something we may eventually set up in Nigeria or another African country. So back to your question, while Nigeria is our focus now, we will eventually get to other African countries.    ]]>

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From Maasai market to facebook success
January 28, 2014 | 0 Comments

Imbuhira Lamba: Owner of Facebook page Willing Buyer, Willing Seller Imbuhira Lamba: Owner of Facebook page Willing Buyer, Willing Seller[/caption] Local markets are known to be crowded, noisy and sometimes mucky. To avoid all this, young generations have founded their markets.  All they need is Internet and a mobile phone, and they sell their products to the world. Welcome to the world of virtual markets.  With the escalating costs of rent, exorbitant goodwill and many business licences, young people are skipping all the bureaucracy to sell their wares online, get paid through M-Pesa, and deliver the goods at the home or office of the buyer. Imbuhira Lamba, a young businesswoman in her mid-20s set up Willing Buyer, Willing Seller page on Facebook, and within weeks, the page had attracted thousands of members and now receives more than 2,000 views per day. “It is basically a market. If you have anything to sell, or you want to buy anything, you post it online and the interested parties will contact you,” says Lamba. She says most young people, fresh from universities have brilliant business ideas but are held back due to lack of capital. With the virtual market, a business owner can now skip the exorbitant costs of setting up business but work from home, and sell their wares online. “It has made it very easy for young people, when you are fresh from college, you don’t have to step a foot into anybody’s office, but work from your bedroom, and sell whatever product you have online,” says Lamba. A beneficiary of virtual markets, Shish Maya, 23, is still in college, and uses her spare time making bangles, and necklaces. “I have been in business for the past one year. I used to go sell my products at Maasai Market but then I realized, there was a lot of competition and sometimes I would spend a whole day and make minimal sales,” says Shish. She set up a Facebook profile, and sells her handmade jewellery. All she does is post pictures of her products and how much each costs. “It also helps because a buyer will also decide if I can custom make a necklace or bangle to their specification.” Shish delivers her products to her clients and is paid upon delivery or via M-Pesa. Wiling Buyer, Wiling Seller founder Imbuhira Lamba says the biggest challenge in hosting a virtual market is trust. “Most Kenyans, especially senior citizens would want to know where your shop is. If you tell them you work from home, they will dismiss you and think you are just another struggling young person,” says Lamba. *Source –The Standard]]>

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World Bank Group Announces US$100 Million in Crisis Response for the Central African Republic
January 24, 2014 | 1 Comments

Catherine Samba-Panza is the first female leader in the country's history [AP] Catherine Samba-Panza is the first female leader in the country’s history [AP][/caption]The World Bank Group announced today that it will mobilize US$100 million in emergency development funds to help restore key government services and provide much-needed food, healthcare, and other vital supplies for the people of the Central Africa Republic (CAR) after violence overwhelmed their country in recent months, and displaced more than 25 percent of the population. Briefing its Executive Board, the World Bank’s Vice President for Africa said that the funds would be released in the course of 2014 and only in line with a steadily improving peace and security situation in the country. Even before the latest crisis struck, CAR had one of the world’s highest poverty rates (62%) and suffered from a long history of political volatility and upheaval. “The people of the Central African Republic are facing one of their most profound tragedies in recent memory, which requires urgent support from the international community. We are moving quickly to mobilize US$100 million to help reestablish key government services and get people the life-saving supplies they need to survive this ordeal and resume their lives. We pledge to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of CAR in their time of need, and beyond,” says Makhtar Diop, the World Bank’s Vice President for Africa. Nearly one million people in the Central African Republic fled their homes after political and sectarian violence erupted in March 2013 following the overthrow of President Francois Bozize. More than 1,000 people have been killed in the violence and an estimated 100,000 are seeking refuge at the international airport in Bangui, the country’s capital. The U.N. has reported that 2.2 million people are in desperate need of live-saving assistance. Along with the African Union, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), and other development partners, the World Bank Group continues to monitor the security and development situation closely. The Bank will restructure its portfolio to help provide basic health services and food supplies, and mobilize additional IDA resources to re-establish essential government operations. The earliest support will speed help to the many internal refugees and other people displaced by the conflict in the capital and countryside. The Bank’s undisbursed portfolio in the Central African Republic stands at about US$200 million, delivered through the World Bank’s fund for the poorest, the International Development Association or IDA*. The Bank Group will move quickly with its partners and civil society organizations to set up emergency health services and public works programs to prevent outbreak of diseases among the many displaced and provide people with jobs and desperately-needed income. Over the coming weeks, the Bank Group will also support feeding programs to stem the devastating effects of displaced communities and the collapse of agricultural production during the crisis. As basic government activities resume, the Bank will work closely with CAR and its communities to look at how to re-establish government functions and basic services, ensure timely salary payments, and rebuild public institutions. “Staying committed to the development needs of the people and government of the Central African Republic will be essential as the country moves through this tragic chapter towards rebuilding livelihoods, communities, and revitalizing the national economy,” said Greg Binkert, the World Bank’s Country Director for the Central African Republic. In addition to its immediate emergency support, the Bank will continue to work with CAR on existing projects and programs including the US$132 million Transport-Transit Facilitation trade and road connectivity project; the US$11.7 million Emergency Urban Infrastructure project; the US$5.5 million Emergency Power Response project; and the US$3.3 million regional Central Africa Backbone project, which will build capacity and increase access to regional broadband network services for Chad, Cameroon and CAR. *The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing zero-interest development financing for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 82 poorest countries, 40 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change for 2.5 billion people living on less than $2 a day. Since its inception, IDA has supported activities in 108 countries. Annual commitments have increased steadily and averaged about $15 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent of commitments going to Africa.Source World Bank/APO]]>

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Young innovators can change how world sees Africa
January 18, 2014 | 0 Comments

David Sengeh* [caption id="attachment_8025" align="alignleft" width="300"]David Sengeh, right, mentoring Kelvin Doe, a 15-year-old Sierra Leonean who built a radio station from scrap materials David Sengeh, right, mentoring Kelvin Doe, a 15-year-old Sierra Leonean who built a radio station from scrap materials[/caption] When Chinua Achebe, the father of modern African literature, passed away recently, the world noticed. There was an Achebe quote in particular that was repeated many times by various people, from CNN writers to friends in remote villages in Africa. “Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” Achebe explained that once he realized the truth in this saying, he had to be a writer, he had to be that historian to capture the stories of his native African people. This idea of telling one’s own story has now been championed by young African notables like author Chimamanda Adichie — whose TED Talk The Danger of a Single Story has been viewed roughly four million times and BBC anchor Komla Dumor– whose talk Telling the African Story at TEDxEuston has similarly gone viral. In addition to telling stories from the African perspective, as African youth, we must create new powerful stories to change the narrative of Africa. Our generation is already doing this, and in particular, we are doing this in the world of innovation. Over the last five years, three telling examples have been repeatedly used to represent the kind of growth and innovation happening in Africa: Ushahidi (“a tool to easily crowdsource information using multiple channels, including SMS, email, Twitter and the web”), M-PESA (“an innovative mobile transfer solution that enables customers to transfer money”) and iHub (“Open Space for technologists, investors, tech companies and hackers in Nairobi”). Tools created by Ushahidi and M-PESA have been used all around the world while iHub is used as a model for innovation hubs in Africa. While these efforts deserve commendation, the question must be asked, where will new African stories of innovation begin? Africa needs a generation of inspirational story-makers to develop a new set of diverse stories for its orators to share. Five months ago, in collaboration with the YouTube channel THNKR, we made a video about a 15-year old self-taught Sierra Leonean student who had created his own batteries, generator and FM radio station and as a result, won an International Development Initiative fellowship to world-renowned MIT in the United States. While that video garnered over 4.4 million views from people all over the world and an online fundraiser to support the initiative, more stories of young innovatorschanging their communities continue to emerge from Sierra Leone. As the World Bank and the rest of the world predict a growing African economy, what we need for Africa to grow is more makers and entrepreneurs — those who change the continent by literally making things and ideas that enable others to do the same. In March 2012, we launched a high school innovation challenge “Innovate Salone” in Sierra Leone to promote a culture of problem solving and tinkering among youth. One year later, millions of people across the globe have participated in our story of progress by viewing/sharing our videos while many have directly donated to our cause. Today, other ambitious young people are championing their own initiatives in Kenya (Innovate Kenya) and Cape Town (Innovate the Cape). Every community needs its own hackers, makers and moral compasses, and people who can share the results with integrity and perspective. Africa’s future towards sustained and equitable growth lies in the hands of its capable youth. With a little help and encouragement, we will rewrite, rebuild and share our stories of Africa. *Source CNN.David Sengeh is a doctoral student from Sierra Leone, working at MIT’s Media Lab.]]>

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“The future of Africa is Mobilemoney”- Emmanuel Okoegwale on Mobile Money Expo 2014
January 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

banner-img (1)In a trend that is has been slowly but steadily gathering steam, Africa is moving towards a future of Mobile Money . The affirmation comes from Emmanuel Okoegwale Principal Associate at Mobile Money Africa.Okoegwale who is one of the Chief Organizers of the  upcoming Mobile Money Expo in Lagos, Nigeria says Mobile money is moving into main stream of financial services in many parts of Africa. “Due to strong compelling need of Africans and lack of well developed financial services like other parts of the World, Africans ingeniously started using airtime as a means of exchange and that progressed into using the mobile phone as a channel to access basic financial services,” Okoegwale said. Taking place from Feb 2-4, Mobile Money Expo 2014 focus on addressing financial inclusion Okoegwale said, while confirming an unprecedented high level of participation compared to previous events in an interview with Ajong Mbapndah L for PAV We understand the Mobile Money Expo 2014 will be taking place in Lagos, Nigeria, can you tell us about the event? In its 4th Year now, the mobilemoneyexpo series is the leading mobile financial services conference focused solely on the African continent and held annually in Lagos- Nigeria.it is the gathering of top executives from mobile network operators, Banks, regulators, systems and application providers  in the emerging mobile financial services space across  Africa and beyond. Last year we focused on inter operability and in 2014 we are addressing financial inclusion. May we have an idea of some of the confirmed participants, what will be some of its highlights? The expo gets bigger and better every year! For 2014, leading providers from across the world are already confirmed for the two day event. Verifone MobileMoney, Ingenico, Mfino, CIT Global , Etisalat Nigeria are some of the firms already confirmed. For how long have you been having the Money Expo Events and how have there evolved over the years? The event was established only four years ago to address the strong compelling needs in the African mobile financial services ecosystem. As a stakeholder in the industry, we observed that there is a need to have thought leaders and influencers in the ecosystem meet  and deliberate on pertinent issues in the industry. Over the Years, we have been signing speakers from all around the World and this year, we have speakers from 16 countries and delegates from every continent is represented. And now to Mobile Money, what is all about? Can you explain the concept in plain language and its place in Africa today? Due to strong compelling need of Africans and lack of well developed financial services like other parts of the World, Africans ingeniously started using airtime as a means of exchange and that progressed into using the mobile phone as a channel to access basic financial services. Subscribers can visit local agents and load e-money in exchange for cash which can be stored (Savings), transferred or used to pay for goods and services. It is a service that enabled millions to have basic access to financial services using the mobile phone as a means of authentication in a continent where millions do not have access to formal Banking, no documentation and many often, the Bank branches are very far away but yet all these excluded have access to a mobile phone. Mobile Money helped Africans to commoditized money. Africa has a population that now exceeds a billion people, what would you say is the potential for mobile money? With the record level adoption in some parts of Africa already like East Africa, the future of Africa is mobilemoney and many Government’s cashless initiatives and policies is helping to push the frontiers.  Mobilemoney is moving into main stream financial services in many parts of Africa. In future, some younger generation may interact with money first time via money rather than physical cash. Infrastructure is still an issue, from power, to the millions of people who do not have access to cell phones, what can be done for the mobile market industry to live its full potential? The Infrastructure challenge is still there but we are seeing improvements yearly. Government privatization efforts is moving power generation and distribution from inefficient government owned monopolies to better managed private sector enterprises.We expect significant improvements in coming years. Mobile subscription in Africa is growing rapidly with some countries nearing 90 percent penetration. Ghana and many others are in this category. Nigeria with a population of 160 million has over 110 million mobile subscriptions though impressive but many still lack access to a mobile network coverage or even a mobile device due to economy disadvantage. Can you give us statistics on the industry in Africa, in which countries is the industry growing fastest and what impediments are holding its progress back in others? East Africa is leading in the mobile money race with Kenya as the poster child of mobilemoney. There are more than 200 deployments worldwide with 100 in Africa and 47 of such in West Africa but Kenya with only 7 deployments transacts average of a 1 Billion USD daily according to latest figures released. In 2013, mobilemoney platforms transacted 300 billion usd in Kenya alone. The impediments faced by many others may be due to regulation, inadequate agency network and  non availability of mass access channels like Sim tool kit, USSD needed to reach the masses. [caption id="attachment_7997" align="alignright" width="247"]EMMANUEL OKOEGWALE EMMANUEL OKOEGWALE[/caption] In what ways could governments help in creating the appropriate climate for an ambitious industry like yours to reach its potential? Governments are contributing by way of regulation which creates certainty and appropriates risk in the industry. Many governments are scrambling now to put in place regulation for mobile financial services where they do not currently have, some are reviewing and updating current policies in line with the realities and needs of the industry. In what way do folks in the mobile money industry guard against fraudsters? Fraud is a universal phenomenon and mobile money industry is not excluded however any decent provider will put in place sound risk management processes to prevent fraud and mitigate the effects in case of occurrence. Central Banks around Africa are mandating certain security standards that will help manage and reduce fraud to the barest minimum in the sector. Most of the frauds that had been experienced were those committed internally due to weak governance structure and poorly trained agency network providers. To those who will be interested in joining the expo after this interview, what do they need to do, what does it take to be part of Expo 2014? Three ways to participate namely sign up as speaker but we are pretty over loaded in that aspect now, take up an exhibition space and lastly register as a delegate at www.mobilemoneyexpo.com What next after the expo, any other events of a similar nature slated for the rest of the year? Like I mentioned, the event is annual and the rest of the year is devoted to smaller workshops while we work towards the 2015 agenda.            ]]>

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Africa: Leveraging the Continent's Resources to Finance Vital Infrastructure – Kaberuka
January 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

Donald Kaberuka has ambitious targets for his second and final five-year term as President of theAfrican Development Bank. At the Bank’s annual luncheon earlier this month, he pinpointed security, peace, stability and job creation as 2014 goalsfor Africa and the multilateral institution he has led since 2005. His legacy would appear secure: the Bank has a triple-A designation from international credit rating firms and has tripled its capital base since 2010. Now Kaberuka – who served as Rwanda’s minister of finance from 1997 to 2005 – is spearheading an ambitious initiative, the Africa50Fund, designed to leverage capital from Africa’s own institutions to attract substantially greater global private equity to finance the continent’s vast infrastructural needs. This week in Abuja, Kaberuka is receiving the “African of the Year” award from the Nigerian newspaper, Daily Trust, which cited “his innovative idea … to speed up the financing of infrastructure in the continent.” Announcing the choice in November, Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim, a former Tanzanian prime minister and Organisation of African Unity secretary-general, who chairs the selection panel, praised Kaberuka for “bringing to fruition the idea of domestically financed development.” When the award was announced at the African Media Leaders Forum in Addis Ababa, AllAfrica’s Tami Hultman and Reed Kramer interviewed Kaberuka about the Bank’s plans and priorities. Excerpts: Why have you focused on infrastructure as a top priority for the Bank? To put it simply, the current needs of infrastructure in Africa are about U.S. $92 billion a year. At the moment we can monetize from all sources only half that amount – about $50 billion. To mobilize the balance, we decided that we should use the limited amount of public resources available to leverage additional resources in the capital markets. But to do that, we will have to build a vehicle with an equity base based on Africa’s own pools of savings. And on those bases we go into the market to raise money. So how is that vehicle, the Africa50Fund, designed to work? Africa50 is about transformational, commercially viable projects of regional significance. It’s about using Africa’s own savings to leverage the private sector, and it is a tool to make a whole range of projects in the PIDA program – the Priority Infrastructure Development for Africa – bankable and commercially viable. These pools of savings are currently invested in the U.S. and Europe. They are looking for a good return, they are looking for liquidity, and they are looking for security. Africa50 seeks to provide those three. Maybe do even better on the returns. At the moment, because of the QE [quantitative easing, the monetary policy pursued by the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank, which lowers interest rates] and the financial markets, the return is not particularly attractive. I think we can provide a better return. I think we can provide the liquidity. I think we can provide security, at the same time building Africa’s transformational infrastructure. How can Africa50 deliver a higher return and also finance infrastructural development? I don’t want to walk you through all the sophisticated financial engineering which you have to do, but I’ll just give you an example. Many of these economies are growing at 6 percent. And everywhere on the continent, the maritime ports have become a huge constraint. There’s almost almost no port on the Atlantic or the Indian [Ocean] belt, apart from Durban, which have enough capacity to cope with the growth in the economies. So the demand is there. We are going to go there and expand the port capacities. It’s a commercially viable business. We charge a price. and we shall be able to provide a return to the investors. Let me tell you, in the 1990s, if you told someone that IT-related infrastructure, communications, the mobile phone – that was a good return, they would’ve thought you were crazy! That is where the returns have been very, very interesting. Our analysis at Africa50 is that energy is the next revolution, and next are maritime ports, railways, highways and airports. And how do you mobilize sufficient capital to finance all the needed infrastructural development? We have started with African-owned institutions, including equity provided by the African Development Bank. We’ll go to African central banks who are now holding half a trillion dollars of reserves. We are not naïve enough to think that central banks will invest all of their reserves in an instrument like this, because the reserves have an economic purpose. So we will be targeting them, and we’re looking at sovereign wealth funds for equity. As the project pipeline increases, we are going to market and scale up progressively. We keep hearing about the high growth rate of African economies – but that it too often is “jobless growth”. How do you address that? I think “jobless growth” is not a good definition, although it describes the phenomenon. You have to look at three things. One is the sources of growth, the drivers of growth. In most cases, the drivers of growth are in services and extractives. The biggest employer on the African continent is agriculture. That is not where the source of growth is. So the plain-vanilla solution is basically to do everything we can to invest as much as we can in agriculture and small businesses. That’s where the jobs are created, not in the extractives. The second thing, which is simple math, is that you have an economy growing at nominal rates of six-and-a-half percent and a population increasing at three and a half percent, as we saw when we were recently in the Sahel. In Niger it is four percent. It means you are growing at basically three percent. And if inflation is running at two percent, it means your real growth is one percent. So there is the issue of population increase and drivers of growth, and those two combined have created a huge bout of inequalities, which itself is becoming a break on growth. So we need to tackle inequalities directly. We need to try to return some of the revenues from natural resources into agriculture, into small businesses, which is where jobs are created. But I must say to you, whether you are a small garage owner in northern Nigeria or a woman owning a boutique in the city or you own a cement factory, it is power cuts for half a day for three days a week which eat into your margins, which eat into your possibilities of creating jobs. So this focus on infrastructure is precisely the starting point for creating jobs. You cannot create jobs unless the country has energy which is available, affordable and sustainable. Kaberuka4(1)Finally, we need to rethink safety nets. We need to figure out how to provide a safety net to poor people, whether it is by transferring some money from oil and gas revenues, by removing wasteful subsidies and better targeting them to the poor. All these things can be done. So – tackle inequality, tackle sources of growth, and figure out how to remove some of these barriers to growth like energy.That’s how jobs are created. What do you hope will result from the recent high-level focus on the Sahel after your November visit to Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad, along with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank and African Union and European Union leaders? The Sahel region is a crucible of the challenges Africa faces. In 1973, the Sahel region faced a huge drought problem. There was a lot of suffering there. Nowadays suffering is the result of security-related problems. When you take the security challenges of the Central African Republic and the Sahel and you add climactic problems, you see clearly the link between development, security, and the climate. Our visit was the first time that leaders of the United Nations, the African Union, World Bank, the European Union and the African Development Bank go together through four nations to learn, to listen, to see how we can help. All of us came back energized by what we saw and determined to rally behind the countries in the Sahel region. The challenge is enormous. We think the response should be appropriate. We have committed to action, and we each play complementary roles. Ban Ki-moon is very much leading on the security side. The AU is leading on the political side, and we the financial organizations rally behind them with the financial packages for reconstruction of the Sahel, for job creation, for integration – to give hope to the region. What is the AfDB role? The Sahel goes from Somalia to Mauritania, so in this case the concentration is on five core countries. We’ve already committed up to $2 billion in those five countries. What I have announced is new money equivalent to $1.9 billion for the next three years. And on top of that, we shall commit an additional $500 million for the ‘greater Sahel’, which means the five core countries plus two additional countries, to execute programs of regional integration and cooperation. The essence of the AfDB’s program is “resilience” – building the capacity of the region to resist climatic shocks or man-made crises like this one. We shall do infrastructure, and we shall do water management and programs of economic integration across the region. *Source All Africa.com]]>

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