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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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Innovative Project Improving Food Value Chain to be Launched in Monrovia
November 19, 2013 | 0 Comments

An innovative project aimed at reducing rural poverty and household food insecurity will be launched on November 19 in Liberia

 MONROVIA, Liberia, November 18, 2013/ — An innovative project aimed at reducing rural poverty and household food insecurity will be launched on November 19 in Monrovia. The Smallholder Agricultural Productivity Enhancement and Commercialization (SAPEC) project is jointly financed by the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) ( and the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) ( SAPEC project is managed and administered by the AfDB.

The four-day event, to be launched by the Vice-President of the Republic of Liberia, Joseph N. Boakai, will bring together around 200 participants, including Government officials, Members of Parliament and the Senate, representatives from the donor community, agriculture organizations as well as farmers’ associations and beneficiaries from similar projects.

The SAPEC project will increase income for smallholder farmers and rural entrepreneurs particularly women, youths and the physically-challenged, thus empowering the rural communities and setting the scene for a transformation of agriculture from subsistence activities into revenue-generating business.

“We are excited that GAFSP’s contribution will enable Liberia to rebuild and implement their own food and agricultural strategy, which we believe will have a huge, sustainable impact on the livelihoods of smallholders around the country,” said Geeta Sethi, Program Manager, the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program. “This project will help Liberia set an example for other post-conflict countries on how to build a food secure, stable state with a vibrant agricultural sector that contributes to economic growth, increased incomes, and food and nutrition security, and poverty reduction. Congratulations to Liberia,” she said.

“Indeed, the SAPEC addresses Liberia’s fragility following 14 years of civil conflict that devastated the economy, decimated institutions, destroyed infrastructure and triggered massive rural-urban migration,” said Chiji Ojukwu, Director, Agriculture and Agro-Industry, AfDB. He further highlighted that “the project promotes pro-poor growth by investing in smallholder agriculture to reduce food insecurity, and fosters equity and inclusiveness by ensuring the participation of women, youth and the physically-challenged in agricultural activities. The SAPEC project thus contributes to the peace- and state-building goals of the country as it transitions from conflict and fragility to recovery and resilience.”

The project is expected to improve the food value chain through market development and access through the rehabilitation of 270 km of all-weather feeder roads. Twelve market centres are also expected to be rehabilitated, nine agribusiness centres constructed and three technology transfer centres refurbished.

The project will also increase the productivity of 4,000 ha and 1,000 ha of uplands that will be dedicated respectively to cassava and rice cultivation. The project will also make more land and water available for cropping with the rehabilitation of 1,000 ha of community-owned lowland.

GAFSP is a global effort to aid vulnerable populations afflicted by hunger and poverty. It takes up where emergency and recovery assistance leaves off, targeting transformative and lasting change in agriculture and food security within poor countries. Following commitments by G8 leaders at the L’Aquila Summit in July 2009 and reaffirmed by the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh in September 2009, GAFSP was established in April 2010.

To date, GAFSP expects to improve the incomes and food security of over 10 million beneficiaries, mainly smallholder farmers and their families and has allocated $912 million in grant funds to 25 countries and $50 million in financing packages to agribusinesses.

The World Bank manages the public sector part of the program and IFC manages the GAFSP private sector window. For more information, visit

For the AfDB, strengthening agriculture and food security through an integrated value chain approach can improve the livelihoods of Africans who live in rural areas. By continuing to invest in rural infrastructure (such as rural roads, irrigation, electricity, storage facilities, access to markets, conservation systems and supply networks), the AfDB will help countries increase agricultural productivity and competitiveness.

By investing in regional infrastructure and engaging in policy dialogue to remove trade barriers to importing food and inputs such as fertilizers, it will help restrict food price volatility and reduce food insecurity.

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DHL and Engen announce major African retail partnership
November 19, 2013 | 0 Comments

·       Engen service stations across Africa to serve as DHL Service Points

 Two significant multinationals join forces to increase consumer access in Africa

 CAPE-TOWN, South-Africa, November 18, 2013/ — DHL Express (, the world’s leading international express services provider and Engen, Africa’s leading multinational fuel retailer and provider of convenience services, have signed a retail partnership, in a bid to provide customers with better access to global express services.

A consumer looking to send documents or parcels overseas can simply walk into an Engen service station to send their shipment, ensuring greater convenience and accessibility to the powerful global network which DHL offers. This includes all domestic and international shipments to major centres across over 220 countries worldwide.

The project, which will pilot at four Engen service stations in the Namibian capital Windhoek, will then be rolled out in phases. Botswana, Ghana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and Tanzania are earmarked for the second phase.

Consumers will also be able to take advantage of DHL’s new product offering, Express Easy, at the Engen outlets. Express Easy provides an easy way to send documents or parcels, as consumers can choose an  envelope or one of seven box sizes and enjoy a fixed price for that size, rather than paying a rate based on the weight of the parcel. Consumers are simply able to pick their box, pay the fixed rate and send their document or parcel to any of DHL’s global destinations.

Sumesh Rahavendra, Head of Marketing for DHL Express Sub-Saharan Africa, welcomed the news, saying that it would have a great impact on consumers across the continent.

“The express logistics industry, and specifically retail services for consumers and small and medium enterprises, are becoming hugely important in Africa. For us to better service this market and open up global opportunities for students, small business owners and general consumers, we needed to both increase access to our express products but, simultaneously, make it easier and more affordable to use them. Engen is therefore an obvious partner for us – they are not only a solid African business but have an extensive retail network across the continent, which can benefit consumers. ”

“As one of Africa’s leading energy companies, we consistently look for ways to deliver on our brand promise of ‘With us you are Number One’,” said Nangula Hamunyela, Managing Director of Engen in Namibia “Partnering with DHL means that we can extend our capabilities and give our valued customers the access and affordability around express services that they need.”

The Namibian pilot includes four sites – Jan Jonker, Bonsmara, Eureka and Klingenberg.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Deutsche Post DHL.

Media Contact:

Lee Nelson. Head: Advertising and Public Relations, Sub-Saharan Africa

Tel +27 21 409 3600 Mobile +27 72 361 0178

About Engen

Engen Petroleum Limited, a subsidiary of Malaysian national oil and gas company PETRONAS, is an African energy company that refines crude oil, markets petroleum products and provides convenience services through an extensive retail network. Engen has a significant presence in 18 countries in Sub Saharan Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands. The company also exports its products to various other territories.

DHL – The Logistics company for the world

DHL ( is the global market leader in the logistics industry and “The Logistics company for the world”. DHL commits its expertise in international express, air and ocean freight, road and rail transportation, contract logistics and international mail services to its customers. A global network composed of more than 220 countries and territories and about 285,000 employees worldwide offers customers superior service quality and local knowledge to satisfy their supply chain requirements. DHL accepts its social responsibility by supporting environmental protection, disaster management and education.

DHL is part of Deutsche Post DHL. The Group generated revenue of more than 55 billion euros in 2012

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Transcorp is delivering on promise to give Nigerians access to country’s growth potential
November 19, 2013 | 0 Comments

Elumelu reports to shareholders on significant progress in power, hospitality, agriculture and oil and gas

 image001 (2)LAGOS, Nigeria, November 18, 2013/ — With interests from hotels, agriculture, and real estate to power generation and oil exploration, Transcorp, the rapidly transforming conglomerate is providing ordinary shareholders a uniquely diversified opportunity to share in Nigeria’s burgeoning economy.

Following major acquisitions in power and agribusiness, new initiatives in its hotel and tourism business and the commencement soon of production from its existing oil block, Transcorp shareholders are already reaping rewards, with the stock one of the strongest recent performers on the NSE.  The extraordinary turnaround in the Company’s business was highlighted in a recent letter to shareholders by the Chairman of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria (Transcorp) Mr. Tony Elumelu, CON.

Giving an update on the recent rights issue by Transcorp, Elumelu noted that the company has already made significant progress in key sectors of its business; a development that is already impacting positively on the company’s share price which closed at N3.00 on Friday last week, up from 50 kobo not more than two years ago.

According to Elumelu, Transcorp, has since the conclusion and listing of the rights issue, made several important business decisions which will have significant impact on its fortunes. Some of the strategic initiative outlined by the Chairman, include the completion of the acquisition of 100% equity stake in the 1000MW capacity Ughelli Power Plc through its subsidiary – Transcorp Ughelli Power Ltd (TUPL). TUPL paid $300m (N48.3 billion) for the complete ownership of the plant. On November 1, 2013, TUPL successfully took over ownership and physical possession of the plant and plans to raise the output from the current 160MW to at least 1,500MW over the next 3 to 5 years.

“With a dedicated pipeline supplying gas to the plant and an existing off-take agreement with the Bulk Electricity Trader, the returns profile of this investment is compelling. The potential impact of the investment on Transcorp’s fortunes is also  significant” he said. “Perhaps most importantly, Transcorp will become one of the leading providers of a robust and sustainable electricity supply into the Nigerian domestic market.”

Further significant progress was shown with  the signing of an agreement with Hilton Worldwide to commence the development of a 300 room five-star hotel in Ikoyi, Lagos. This project, which  will commence in Q12014 and complete in 30 months, according to Elumelu, will be undertaken through Transcorp’s subsidiary, Transnational Hotels and Tourism Services Limited. The hotel is the first of eight new internationally-branded hotels Transcorp plans to build over the next few years.

Just as the Ikoyi project is getting off the ground, Transcorp, he revealed, has also completed the acquisition of a site in Port Harcourt for the development of another 300 room five star hotel. “We expect to sign the management agreement in first quarter of 2014 and commence construction by the second quarter,” Elumelu stated in the letter.

Whilst targeting expansion, Transcorp is not forgetting flagship hotel brand, the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja. The company has commenced the renovation and upgrade of Nigeria’s premier five-star hotel. The exercise will include; “a dramatic transformation of our existing facilities, the addition of a 5,000 seat capacity conference facility and 200 serviced luxury apartments to the hotel, firmly cementing our position as the destination venue in the Nation’s capital, Abuja.”

In agribusiness, Transcorp is producing orange, mango and pineapple concentrates from the Teragro-Benfruit plant in Makurdi, Benue State.  The plant in October 2013, received the ISO 9001:2008 (Quality Management System) and FSSC 22000:2005 (Food Safety Management System) certifications indicating that its products and processes meet the highest global standards.

“We plan to significantly increase the size and scope of this business. Teragro is the only juice concentrate producer in Nigeria and we are creating a fully integrated agro-allied business, ensuring that value added processing occurs here in Nigeria.”

Another important highlight of the Elumelu communication to shareholders is the news of the production date for Transcorp’s existing oil block, OPL 281, which he said will be expected to begin production before the end of 2014.  “This marks a significant progress in the company’s oil and gas strategy” he stated.

Nigerian businessman Tony Elumelu is the founder and chairman of Nigeria-based investment company Heirs Holdings. Elumelu thanked Transcorp’s more than 300,000 shareholders for their support and assured them of further opportunities ahead, stressing that that the Board and Management will not relent in positioning Transcorp as a true vehicle for popular participation in Nigeria’s bright future and prosperity. “We have put in place a world class management team and are committed to developing the synergies between our natural resources portfolio and our power interests, creating an integrated energy approach that directly links Nigeria’s natural resource wealth to the daily needs of our people”.

Transnational Corporation of Nigeria plc (Transcorp) was incorporated on 16 November 2004, with the objective of creating a truly Nigerian conglomerate with the ability to compete successfully on a global scale. Its portfolio of businesses are in the hospitality, agriculture and energy sectors of the Nigerian economy include Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja; Transcorp Hotels, Calabar; Teragro Commodities Limited, operator of Teragro Benfruit juice concentrate plant- Nigeria’s first-of–its-kind juice concentrate plant; Transcorp Ughelli Power Limited and Transcorp Energy Limited, operator of OPL281.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Heirs Holdings.


Heirs Holdings

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Tony Elumelu: The ‘Africapitalist’ who wants to power Africa
November 17, 2013 | 4 Comments

By Earl Nurse and Jill Dougherty*

Nigerian businessman Tony Elumelu is the founder and chairman of Nigeria-based investment company Heirs Holdings. You’ve probably heard by now about the Afropolitans and the Afropreneurs — but what about the Africapitalists?

It’s the term created by Nigerian entrepreneur Tony Elumelu, one of Africa’s most successful businessmen, to describe what he believes holds the key to the continent’s future well-being.

According to Elumelu, Africapitalism is the economic philosophy “that the African private sector has the power to transform the continent through long-term investments, creating both economic prosperity and social wealth.”

Elumelu champions the idea that long-term focus on key sectors such as infrastructure and power does not only offer high returns but, in the process, can also help Africa deal with pressing problems such as unemployment and food security.

“The information people have about Africa in America and the western world is one of aid, one of squalor, one of poverty, one of religious crisis,” says Elumelu, who first found success after turning a struggling Nigerian bank into a global financial institution. “They need to begin to see that Africa is a continent of economic opportunities — a lot of potential and the returns on investment in Africa is huge.”

Backing his words with actions, Elumelu, the former chief executive of the United Bank for Africa, who went on to create investment company Heirs Holdings in 2010, has pledged $2.5 billion to U.S. President Barack Obama’s“Power Africa” initiative — a campaign aiming to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa.

CNN’s African Voices spoke to Elumelu about Africapitalism, doing business in Africa and his goals for the future. An excerpt of the interview follows.

CNN: What is Africapitalism and how does it work?

Tony Elumelu: From interacting with customers, with communities, with local governments, state governments and national governments, I started to see a pattern that indeed we can as a private sector help to develop Africa in a manner that’s truly sustainable. I also, as a good student of economic history, have observed the development of the African continent and come to realize that despite all the aid inflows into Africa and despite our sovereign government commitment to develop in the continent, not much was achieved.

But … if we can mobilize the African private sector and non-African private sector operating in Africa to think long-term, to invest long-term in Africa in key sectors, then we might end up creating economic wealth, economic prosperity and social wealth. That is Africapitalism.

CNN: Which areas does the private sector in Africa focus on?

TE: The private sector in Africa was largely dependent on government patronage, government contracts. But today, it has changed significantly. You have the private sector in Africa today that is adding real value to the economy through engagements in payment systems; through engagement in key infrastructure projects; through engagement in manufacturing and processing of raw materials in Africa and exporting this within the continent.

So it’s a significant shift from where the private sector was before to where it is today and we’re beginning to see a new crop of private sector people in Africa who believe under the sun that they have a role to play in the development of the continent.

CNN: Why did Heirs Holding decided to commit $2.5 billion to the “Power Africa” initiative?

TE: Because we understand as Africapitalists the importance of power, access to electricity, in unleashing the economic potential of Africa. Because of that, we felt since we preach that the private sector should do long-term investment in Africa in key sectors, there is no sector at this point in time to us that is as strategic as power sector in dealing with the issue of economic empowerment, democratization of economic prosperity across the continent than power.

CNN: Looking ahead, what do you think is going to be the most important source of power?

Earlier this year, Heirs Holdings backed U.S. President Barack Obama's "Power Africa" plan -- an initiative aiming to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa.TE: Africa is coming from a deficit position — only 20% of 1.2 billion people have access to electricity. So we need to think of the kind of projects that will help us create the quantum leap we need in power. And I think that that is what should guide the options that we take.

So for me, I believe that we need five years of sustained, massive billion dollar investments (in the) power sector in Africa before we come to the level where we need to discriminate, is it this kind of power or that type of power? But let there be light first in Africa.

CNN: What are your goals for the future?

TE: My goals for the future are twofold — one is personal and two is about the continent. For my personal goal I would like to continue to impact my team. Because you get to a certain level where you wake up in the morning not necessarily because you want to earn a living — you wake up in the morning I think about impact, about legacies, what impact am I going to leave behind?

And so I decide to look at the African continent and I tell myself this is a continent that is about to explode but lacks certain vital ingredients. And so what role can I play in making sure that some of those challenges are addressed in my lifetime, so that my children will not as a kind of question I asked of my parents and grandparents, where were they when the war started?

So that’s important to me. And that is why we invest in power. Not just because I want to make more money, which is good, but because we touch lives significantly making that money.

*Source CNN

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