A Recipe For African Success In NJ Ayuk’s Billions At Play
November 19, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
Launched recently in South Africa at a heavily attended event, NJ Ayuk’s new book Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals has received rave reviews.
“Africans are more than capable of making our continent a success,” says NJ Ayuk in an interview with Pan African Visions to discuss the book. Past deals have not worked for a majority of African countries and Billions At Play is a road map to the future we Africans want to build for ourselves, says NJ Ayuk.
“Oil only becomes a curse when it is mismanaged, and when extraction is done without proper supervision and regulations, without pragmatic solutions that promise sustainability,” says Ayuk.
Described by OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo as a dreamer who has taken the time to develop a detailed roadmap for realizing that dream, Ayuk says he cherishes the battles he fights to get opportunities for fellow African to have a seat at the table.
“We are showing that we are not a helpless continent and we don’t want handouts – our future will not be based on aid,” says Ayuk in the interview which also discusses the role of the diaspora, women, alternative sources of energy ,and more.
Billions At Play is a roadmap to the future that we, Africans, can build for ourselves by getting a few things right. The biggest message that I seek to convey is that of our shared responsibility towards improving Africa and creating the Africa our future generations will thank us for. It goes beyond the African energy sector. I hope everyone can see how they can be part of the solution in a more practical, sustainable way. Africans are more than capable of making our continent a success.
In terms of doing deals, what is it that African countries have failed to understand, and what are some of the suggestions that you are offering?
It’s no secret that in the past deals have proven not to work for a majority of African countries – only benefiting a selected few. We see the repercussions of that daily, where African countries are rich in oil and gas, but their communities at large suffer from poverty and unemployment. My biggest recommendation? Better deal-making abilities and implementation of local content regulations. We need to learn how to negotiate better deals that benefit everyday Africans. We are getting smarter at building new models for managing petroleum revenue. Africans need to know the worth and value we bring into any oil and gas deals and be confident in that. Our laws must create an enabling environment for international investors who want to transfer technology and empower Africans, to be able to do business with us. As I write in Billions At Play, good deal-making is crucial. We need to negotiate deals that result in long-term benefits for the people, African companies need to negotiate deals that keep them on an equal playing field with their competition and empower them to grow, to create and sustain jobs, and to support the communities they are based in.
Looking at the continent we see some countries that have produced oil for decades unable to maintain a single functional refinery, in other countries the resources seem to benefit a few and not the broader interest of the people, how does Africa turn the resource curse to a blessing ?
Oil only becomes a curse when it is mismanaged, and when extraction is done without proper supervision and regulations, without pragmatic solutions that promise sustainability. Otherwise, it can be a true blessing. We need infrastructure – we need to build and own our own refineries, pipelines, urea, ammonia, and fertilizer plants, power plants etc. The same applies to setting up technology hubs! We have seen how some African countries have started taking steps in this direction, and that makes me really proud.
When we talk of energy, the immediate focus is on oil, could you talk on the potential of other forms of energy like wind and solar and how this could shape the future as well?
Africa will never fulfill its true potential until access to reliable power is widespread, and that can only be attained once we have functional, well-funded, transparent power utilities that make use of new technologies and solutions and that partner with the private sector to promote the continent’s ability to power itself in a sustainable manner.
Yes, most of Africa has solar exposure that is very adequate for power generation, not to mention wind, hydro, and other forms of clean power generation. The likes of Kenya, targeting a 100% clean energy mix is a good example.
“Africans are more than capable of making our continent successful,” you say in the book, looking at what is going on in the continent, what makes you so optimistic?
Take a look around you and across the globe and you will easily spot African brothers and sisters actively doing amazing things in their spheres of influence, each playing a role in transforming the lives of hundreds of thousands of Africans. Similarly, the biggest discoveries made in the world recently are in Africa. We are showing that we are not a helpless continent and we don’t want handouts – our future will not be based on aid. Good things really are happening across the continent, and the petroleum industry is a common denominator. You can find plenty of examples of natural resources contributing to meaningful changes for the better. I’ll forever be optimistic, and I know my hard work and optimism is contagious.
What role do you see for the African diaspora, especially those with the skills set that could make a difference on the energy future of the continent?
The diaspora can actively engage with foreign partners, which is essential to Africa’s growth, and contribute to spreading a more objective narrative on the promising future the continent has. Similarly, and as we seek to build better organizations and run better businesses, skills learned and acquired abroad can be highly beneficial to the continent.
“Africa needs companies that are willing to share knowledge, technology and best practices, and businesses that are willing to form positive relationships in areas where they work,” you say, what leverage do African countries have to compel companies from China, Europe, the US and other parts of the world to implement this?
We need foreign oil and gas companies to continue operating in African communities and to continue hiring African people, purchasing from African suppliers, and partnering with African companies. Like I said, foreign partners are essential to Africa’s growth, we need to push ahead, and we cannot live and prosper in isolation. We can also benefit from the companies working on the continent for investment collaborations and to build the infrastructure necessary for industrialization.
You also talk about the paucity of women in the energy sector, what accounts for this and how important is it for the trend to be reversed?
I sit in a lot of boardrooms, I speak at a lot of conferences, and I am always faced with how few and far in between women executives are in these spaces. It’s a fact that amongst African oil firms, women in leadership only account for only about 2-3%. So who is going to push the agenda for women, if not me? Not us? I know and work with a lot of amazingly hardworking, innovative, strong women that I believe need to take their spaces in executive roles. Women have a great deal to offer, and good jobs for women contribute to a more stable, more economically vital Africa. We have to do more to ensure that women and men receive equal compensation, whether it’s wages, community programs, or property royalties, etc. If I can do my part to put pressure, I’ll be happy.
Billions at Play is also hitting the stands at a time of great excitement and growing optimism with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, AfCFTA, how does this factor in into the vision you share?
The AfCFTA like in every other industry or sector, can yield great results for the oil industry. I love unity! I love making money together! I have Centurion Law Group offices in South, West, and East Africa already – I’m glad the entire continent is catching up. I continue to embrace strong regional economy give the continent a competitive edge in the global economy and it will make a lot of pan-African work easier. Lets’ win together.
In his foreword, OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo describes you as a dreamer who has “taken the time to develop a detailed roadmap for realizing that dream,” how far is NJ Ayuk willing to go in rallying Africa and friends of Africa towards the fulfilment of this dream?
That’s what I live for every day. Opening opportunities for fellow African to come and have a seat at the table. It is an honor for me to be able to do that and call it my work. to open doors for other people, the same way as doors were open for me and knowledge imparted. That is what it is all about.
Africa’s infrastructure financing reaches an all-time high in 2018, surpassing $100 billion – Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA)
November 18, 2019 | 0 Comments
|This years’ report shows the role ICA continues to play in institutional and policy reform as well as its consistent financial contribution within the infrastructure space|
|JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, November 18, 2019/ — The Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA) on Tuesday announced a 24% leap in infrastructure financing in Africa in 2018, surpassing $100 billion for the first time, but significant financing gaps remain.|
Launched on 12 November at the Africa Investment Forum (https://AfricaInvestmentForum.com/), the ICA’s Infrastructure Financing Trends in Africa 2018 report shows that financing of infrastructure in Africa reached a new high of $100.8 billion in 2018, a jump of about a quarter on 2017 and 38% up on the 2015-2017 average.
Mike Salawou, ICA Coordinator, and Manager of Infrastructure Partnerships, at the African Development Bank, commented: “Over the years the Infrastructure Financing Trends in Africa report has become an important document for presenting, in a consistent manner, how funding is being mobilised to develop the continent’s infrastructure.
“The report’s publication during the Africa Investment Forum is extremely timely. While the increase in financial commitments in 2018 is very welcome, the report also serves to highlight the size of Africa’s infrastructure financing gap – one of the key issues addressed during the forum,” Salawou said.
This years’ report shows the role ICA continues to play in institutional and policy reform as well as its consistent financial contribution within the infrastructure space. This, along with a 65% and 33% increase in commitments over the previous 3-year average by China and African Governments respectively, and the role of other multilateral organisations resulted in the 24% increase recorded in infrastructure financing for 2018.
Among the key findings of the report was an increase in financing commitments across all sectors, with a notable increase in the energy sector, which attracted financing commitments worth $43.8 billion, an all-time high and a 67% increase on the 2015-2017 average. The ICT sector also saw record commitments in 2018 of $7.1 billion, mostly from the private sector.
Even with the significant increase in commitments in 2018, there remains a total financing gap of $52 billion to $92 billion per year. Yearly estimates of Africa’s financing requirements range from $130 billion to $170 billion. Water and sanitation has the largest financing gap of all the sectors, based on annual financing needs of $56-$66 billion and a 2016-2018 average commitment of $13 billion.
Panellists Dr. T. Nyirenda-Jere, Dr. B. Ben Yaghlane, Dr. I. Urua, Mr. C. Kirigua and Mr. P. Guislain, addressed key messages highlighted in this year’s report, which includes, the need to increase both public and private sector financing, strengthen governance and improve the quality of infrastructure services.
The Africa Investment Forum took place from 11 to 13 November 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa, and offered a platform for sourcing funding for bankable African projects, brokering infrastructure deals and providing innovative financial solutions.
The event attracted key global companies, financial players, and public officials who addressed the continent’s critical infrastructure investment gaps.
‘The cost is going to be high’-Kagame warns Rwanda’s enemies
November 14, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Maniraguha Ferdinand
President Paul Kagame is warning those who want to wage a war on Rwanda and everyone who is involved, that the cost on their part will be very high.
He made the comments on Thursday, 14 November after officiating the swearing in ceremony of new cabinet members.
Among new cabinet members includes General Patrick Nyamvumba who was tasked to lead Internal security ministry. This ministry had been scrapped three years ago.
President Kagame said that people who are planning to destabilize Rwanda, hiding behind politics are going to face consequences.
Though he did not name them, Kagame could have been saying those who are plotting against his government from inside in cooperation with negative forces from outside.
“I want to warn some people among us who hide behind different things, they hide behind politics, democracy , freedom … that we actually want , it is our responsibility to ensure that there is democracy, there is peace, freedom and everything in our country. For people who hide behind this nonsense and they even backed and praised by people outside ..you are going to face us” he said
In his speech that was being aired live on national television, Kagame said that he cannot accept people who consume security that have cost even people’s lives, to cause problems in the country.
“For those who are involved they better come clean very fast. You cannot be here benefiting from security, peace that we have created, we have paid for in blood, over many years and the you do things behind our backs to cause us problems. We will put you where you belong… and those ones who make noises about it we will see what they will do.”
Recently Rwanda has been experiencing attacks from rebel groups who say they want to liberate country. Some of them operates from Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
In early October, assailants launched an attack in Northern Rwanda where they killed 14 people and wounded dozens.
Those who were captured told local media that they are from RUD Urunana rebel group, a faction group that detached itself from FDLR, a rebel group in DRC that Rwanda accuses to be made of many who involved in 1994 genocide against the Tutsis.
Kagame warns whoever collaborate with those groups, saying it will cost them highly.
“We are going to raise the costs on the part of anybody who wants to destabilize our security. The cost is going to be very high whether it is the means, we are going to put into that to make sure that we have everything it takes to ensure security and stability of our country and our people and our development. The source of the cost mainly those people who destabilize our country who want ..it going to be a very high cost on their part absolutely. I mean it and you know that I mean it”, he added.
Africa Investment Forum 2019: Unveiling the Boardroom: $67.6 billion dollars of deals tabled, $40.1 billion investor interest secured
November 13, 2019 | 0 Comments
Africa is winning…Africa is bankable- African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina
It was deals that brought participants to the 2019 Africa Investment Forum and they were not disappointed. The second Forum ended on a high note Wednesday, with 56 boardroom deals valued at $67.6 billion tabled – a 44% increase from last year.
Fifty-two deals worth $40.1 billion secured investor interest compared with $37.8 billion dollars last year.
During the 2018 edition of the Forum, 61 transactions valued at $46.9 billion were tabled for discussions in boardroom sessions and 49 deals worth $38.7 billion, secured investment interest.
Presiding over the session: “Unveiling the Boardroom Deals”, African Development President Akinwumi Adesina said that was the spirit of the Africa Investment Forum: “transactions, transactions, transactions. Deals, deals, deals!”
Over 2,221 participants attended this year’s Forum from 109 countries, 48 from Africa and 61 from outside of Africa. They came from government, the private sector, development finance institutions, commercial banks, and institutional investors.
‘The Forum is a platform that will change Africa’s investment landscape,” Chinelo Anohu, the Forum Senior Director said. “Africa is ready to engage on its own terms.”
Key moments of the Forum included:
- a $600 million COCOBOD deal for Ghana, for cocoa processing, warehousing and processing
- $58 million for the Alithea Identity Fund for women
- A concession agreement for the Accra Sky Train, worth $2.6 billion
The Forum focused on projects and advancing deals spanning several sectors, including Energy, Infrastructure, Transport and Utilities, Industry, agriculture, ICT and Telecoms.
“Now the hard work begins to fast-track these deals to financial closure… Africa is bankable,” Adesina said.
African Development Bank, Credit Suisse, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Ghana Cocoa Board ink $600 million loan agreement to boost cocoa production
November 12, 2019 | 0 Comments
- Agreement is a turning point for scaling up the cocoa value chain – President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of Ghana
- Ghana is bankable, cocoa is bankable and of course Africa is bankable – Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, President, African Development Bank
The African Development Bank, Credit Suisse AG, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited and Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) signed a $600 million syndicated receivables-backed term loan on Tuesday, to boost cocoa productivity in Ghana – the world’s second-largest cocoa producer.
Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the President of the African Development Bank Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, senior officials from Credit Suisse and ICBC, oversaw the signing of the facility, at a ceremony held on the second day of the 2019 Africa Investment Forum.
The multi-million dollar agreement is a milestone for the Bank-convened Africa Investment Forum, a transactional platform dedicated to transforming the continent’s investment and development agenda, which kicked off in Sandton City Johannesburg on Monday.
The COCOBOD transaction was launched at the Africa Investment Forum in 2018, and a year later, the signing is a demonstration of the Forum’s ability to raise much needed financing, including from international commercial financiers, for projects in Africa. Prior to the agreement, COCOBOD did not have access to long-term debt capital.
At a press conference following the signing, President Akufo-Addo said the agreement would help to ensure higher incomes for Ghana’s cocoa farmers.
“It was critical that we find a mechanism for scaling up the value chain for our farmers and that is where the Bank came in,” Akufo Addo said. “We see this agreement as a turning point and…to what is possible on this continent.”
The Bank, as Original DFI Lender and Initial Mandated Lead Arranger, is partnering with Credit Suisse as Original Commercial Lender, Global Commercial Coordinator, Co-Mandated Lead Arranger. Credit Suisse is also acting as Joint Commercial Underwriter and Bookrunner to structure and fund a dual-tranche facility comprising a $250 million, 7-year DFI tranche with the Bank, as well as a $350 million, 5-year commercial tranche.
The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited London Branch joined as an Original Commercial Lender, Co-Mandated Lead Arranger and Joint Commercial Underwriter and Bookrunner ahead of syndication.
Syndication of the facility is underway.
Making sure that Africa gets to the top of the value chain is one of the African Development’s Bank’s top priorities, President Adesina said, adding that Africa could become a global hub for cocoa and cocoa-based products.
“All cocoa producing countries will get similar support (from the Bank). Ghana is bankable, cocoa is bankable and of course Africa is bankable,” Adesina said.
COCOBOD will use the facility to raise cocoa yields per hectare and increase Ghana’s overall production. These include financial interventions to sustainably increase cocoa plant fertility, improving irrigation systems, rehabilitating aged and disease-infected farms. The funds will also help increase warehouse capacity and provide support to local cocoa-processing companies.
Signing for Credit Suisse, Madthav Patki said the “landmark” transaction would facilitate future long-term investment in the Ghanaian cocoa sector.
“This is a positive contribution to a key sector of Ghana’s economy. “It is a moment of tremendous pride…This is what the Africa Investment Forum is all about,” Patki said. He also commended the Bank’s signature expertise in financial instruments, that enabled them to leverage financing for the deal.
The Africa Investment Forum, an initiative of the African Development Bank is an innovative, multi-stakeholder transactional marketplace, dedicated to raising capital, advancing projects to bankable stage, and accelerating financial closure of deals.
Ghana’s cocoa sector employs some 800,000 rural families and produces crops worth about $2 billion in foreign exchange annually. COCOBOD is a fully state-owned company solely responsible for Ghana’s cocoa industry, controlling the purchase, marketing and export of all cocoa beans produced in the country.
2019 Africa Investment Forum kicks off delivering on the promise to redefine and unpack the continent’s investment opportunities
November 11, 2019 | 0 Comments
- $500 million equity closed for the Africa Infrastructure Investment Fund to speed up investments in agriculture
- Financial close for the Africa Guarantee Fund $175 Equity transaction to support Small and Medium Size Enterprises, and $350 million for South Africa’s beef agro-processing project
The 2019 Africa Investment Forum opened on Monday living up to its promise to move from commitment to action.
A $500 million equity deal presented by the Africa Infrastructure Investment Fund last year, to speed up investments in agriculture, and a $175 million equity transaction from the Africa Guarantee Fund for investors to support Small and Medium Size Enterprises, are among the transactions that found financial close over the past year.
The opening ceremony was attended by President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa; President Nana Akufo Addo of Ghana; President Paul Kagame of Rwanda; and Prime Minister Agostinho do Rosario of Mozambique.
“The time is now to move with speed to ensure that we unlock our potential…Indeed our continent is ripe for investments, but more importantly, it is also brimming with enormous profitable opportunities,” President Ramaphosa said in his address, as he urged investors to move beyond pledges.
The Africa Investment Forum is an innovative, multi-stakeholder transactional marketplace conceived by the African Development Bank, aimed at raising capital, advancing projects to the bankable stage, and accelerating financial closure of deals.
“As the investor community, your presence here shows your unwavering will to help us and support us to succeed. I invite you, therefore, to join us as we pass the flickering torch of progress across every border of this great continent until the light of development and economic prosperity illuminates every African village, every African town, every African city, in every African household.” he said.
The inaugural Africa Investment Forum secured investment interests for deals valued at $38.7 billion in less than 72 hours. “A lot of progress has been made on these investment interests,” with a highly dedicated team of partners working around the clock to accelerate financial closure for transactions,” African Development Bank President Akinwuni Adesina said.
Another transaction tabled last year – a $600 million transaction for COCOBOD to help improve processing and value addition for cocoa – has also reached financial close, and will be signed during this edition of the Forum. Similarly, South Africa’s $350 million beef agro-processing project has reached financial close.
“Promise made, promise kept,” said Adesina. He noted that Mara Phones Ashish Takkhar made a commitment during the 2018 Forum. “In 2019, he delivered.”
“It is a new, more confident Africa. A continent now aware of its place in the world and determined to be a global investment haven. And Africa is harnessing investors’ interests and investments. Welcome to the Africa Investment Forum, the place to be for investors,” he said.
Several leading figures were in attendance including, the Premier of Gauteng province, David Makhura; Tito Mboweni, Minister of Finance and African Development Bank’s Governor for South Africa; Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Minister of Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs and Ibrahim Mayaki representing the chairperson of the African Union Commission. Minister Philip Mpango from Tanzania; Minister Jean Jacques Bouya from the Republic of Congo; Mr. Vital Kamerhe from the Democratic Republic of Congo were among the high-level delegates who took part in the opening ceremony. Executive Governors from Nigeria, including Kayade Fayemi of Ekiti State; Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, and Adulrahman Abdurazaq of Kwara State.
Shortly after the opening ceremony, Masai Ujuri, President of the Toronto Raptors; Ashish J. Thakkar, CEO of Mara Group and Tokunboh Ismael Managing Partner of Alitheaia IDF Fund shared their views on progress made since 2018.
The Africa Investment Forum inaugural edition was launched in 2018 in partnership with Africa50, Afrexim Bank, the Trade Development Bank, the Development Bank of South Africa, the Islamic Development Bank, the Africa Finance Corporation, the European Investment Bank.
The Forum runs from 11 to 13 November in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Zimbabwe: fresh Misfortunes as ED Mnangagwa Is Sandwiched from All Corners of the World
November 9, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Nevson Mpofu Munhumutapa
Following last week’s message sent to President ED Mnangagwa by Boris Johnson British Prime Minister more is coming shadowing Zimbabwe with fresh, new misfortunes. The message came in the hands of two plenipotentiaries Harriet Mathews Director for Africa, Foreign Affairs and Common-Wealth Office and Debbie Palmer, Director for West and Southern Africa, UK Department for International Development. Some other countries like among them China are dragging cold feet over Zimbabwe following several reports.
The two envoys told Journalists in Harare that Britain is concerned with the observance of Zimbabwe Government to Human Rights, rule of law and the need for reforms to be put in place. They added that there are new signs of lack of human rights at a time the World is watching.
‘’There are several abuses reported since this Government got power. Britain is totally against this. There is need of observing the flow of human rights in the country. . There is rotting wave of challenges socially, politically and economically’’.
Harriet Matthews and Debbie Palmer assured ED and his Government that Britain has more in store only if human rights were observed. They also talked of the need to go for reforms in the country. This, they note is the route to full Democracy. Britain seems to go deep into some form of sanctions looking at lack of human rights in the country.
‘’There are issues these people need to follow, take into action and implement. There is need for human right to be followed without failure. There are a lot of abuses Zimbabwe has to account for. This is what UK is against.’’
‘’Looks like Zimbabwe is sanctioned by Britain , it’s like they claim , but it’s all about failure to be accountable , failure to respect rule of Law and end human rights violations .
‘’Reform or no support’’, UK Tells ED.
Nicholas Soames, British Member of Parliament talked openly about the need for the country to go for reforms and observe human rights. He added that Mnanggwa is a disappointment failure of him to observe human rights and rule of law. He said this while in the House of Commons on 4 September.
‘’Mnangagwa is a disappointment. He must hold accountable those who abuse human rights. He has failed to handle the situation at the same time everything is going bad in the country. What we want to see are reforms put in place then an end to human rights abuses.
‘’All in All its about Accountability in terms of human rights , political and economic reforms , stopping human rights violations , abductions and several /other form of abuses . Besides, there is corruption. Thus why we channel our funds through Non-Governmental Organisations not the Government of Zimbabwe. We have given 94 million pounds aid between 2018 and 2019. We also gave 100 million pounds before that,’’ he was quoted.
European Union and USA told Zimbabwe the same words in terms of the country’s need to be accountable to human rights, observance of peace and no human rights abuses. Tim Olkonnen EU Head of Delegation to Zimbabwe gave a brief comment late end of week. He cited repetition of mistakes
‘’There must be an end to repetition of what I bad like fresh abuses .What Zimbabwe must observe is Human Rights. Ending human rights violation, abuses and past few days’ abduction is questionable. Who argues that, let alone an abuser of human rights? Humanity is an International area of recognition for any country to attain economic and human development. Even churches, civil society, NGO’s, AU, and EU. We are looking at what we want to see as change’’
Even China may be developing a cold feet over Zimbabwe .This, an insider of anonymity talking to Pan-African-Visions Journalist pointed out that the country might have gone pretty well in terms of its economy .He further points out that China as well looks at what the West looks at.
‘’It is all about human rights respect , respect of rule of law and ending corruption .We want to see everything in place like what the west is looking at . How can we just ignore issues of Human-Rights? We- are one World of Peace, Unity and Human-Rights respect for Economic development.
‘’We are as well not interested by what is taking place, especially corruption. It makes China stoop low over Zimbabwe because you al know, we hate corruption .To show this, we kill those involved’’, he concluded.
Zimbabwe has been plunged into pool of more miserable misfortunes this new week with countries like China taking low interest to push Zimbabwe going. The secret source says China can- not make noise over this but get into it slowly and nicely. Mnangagwa , source note is always in fresh new headaches .
Kagame refutes claims that Rwanda spies on dissidents abroad
November 9, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Maniraguha Ferdinand
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda is denying claims of his government’s involvement in spying on opposition members who live abroad using a new powerful spyware ‘Pegasus’ that was developed by an Israeli company.
Last month Facebook filed a lawsuit against against an Israeli software company, NSO that is alleged to have hacked phones of political dissidents on behalf of governments.
The most hacked as Financial Times reported, were human rights activists, lawyers, journalists and others.
An investigative story from the Financial Times reported, that “on the list of targeted individuals identified by WhatsApp, a considerable number were from Rwanda.”
Briefing media on this Friday at his office in the capital Kigali, President Paul Kagame admitted that Rwanda does spying, however it never spies what is out of human interests.
“Our country like any country, does intelligence. They even monitor people’s communication…For us to know our enemies and what they do wherever they are, is something we have always tried to do , it is in our rights and it is in the rights of all countries you know all over the world” he said
However Kagame refutes claims that they used Pegasus to monitor communication of dissidents who live abroad.
He said from what he has heard, such technology is expensive and Rwanda cannot afford it.
“I wish I could have access to the technology. But I also know that it is very costly and I know how best to spend my money. I would not spend so much money over nobody or nothing. I would not spend that much I saw the technology cost to run after those of no consequences”, He said
Kagame told journaliste he doesn’t fear those who appeared in the reports, rather he would concentrate his efforts to fight assailants who attacked people in Northern province last month, where they killed civilians wounding others.
“I worry about these fellows who enter through Kinigi (Northern) and kill people. These are the ones I am concerned with” , he added
Financial Times reported that the hack worked by the user receiving a video- or voice-call request from an unknown number on WhatsApp. However, even when the number was ignored it was enough for the call to be used to hack into the user’s phone even without them answering it.
Kenya:KNBS downplays 2019 census rigging claims
November 7, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma |@journalist_27
Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, an agency mandated to collect and compile cross-sectorial data for the government has dismissed claims raised by a section of political leaders that the 2019 census figures were skewed.
Addressing the press on Thursday, the agency Director General Zachary Mwangi defended themselves saying people were counted on where they were found and not based on regions they hail from.
“We counted people where we found them not where they live; my assurance is that the census was credible. We followed internationally agreed principles and recommendations of conducting a population and housing census,” said Mwangi.
He reiterated that he will expound to the leaders how the results came about.
“We are asking our leaders to give us time to explain because it’s a point of explanation of what we have done,” he said.
Kenya’s Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa had also rebutted the allegations that the results were doctored for political gains.
“Some individuals are complaining that their counties recorded less people, meaning the regions would receive less allocation of the national cake. The exercise was undertaken by qualified personnel and we must congratulate them for doing a good job,” said Wamalwa.
A group of elected leaders from North Riftvalley, Central, North Eastern and Eastern regions of the country had objected the results released on Monday arguing the data is not a true reflection of what is on the ground. They challenged KNBS to come out clean on the matter or they take a legal suit.
“I’m shocked to see those results because that is not we expected. I think there is something fishy that has been done. But we shall have a meeting as Mt. Kenya leaders to look into these figures keenly and take a position on this issue,” reiterated a lawmaker from central Kenya.
The statistics indicated that the population grew by 9 million in the last ten years to 47.5 million with women accounting to 50.5 per cent. It was the first time in Kenyan history that the collection of data was captured electronically and the report was released in a period of two months. Previously, the outcomes were announced after one year.
Africa can be world’s next economic hub if supported with right policies – Singapore’s Senior Minister tells lecture audience
November 6, 2019 | 0 Comments
Africa must spread its economic openness by strongly showcasing specialisation along the production value chain and invest more boldly in social foundations
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, November 6, 2019/ — With the right policies and linkages, Africa can become an indispensable global economic hub, Singapore’s Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam noted Tuesday, commending the continent’s diverse economic potential.
Delivering this year’s Kofi A. Annan Eminent Speakers’ Lecture series at the African Development Bank headquarters in Abidjan, Shanmugaratnam outlined five strategies which must underpin the continent’s transformation drive and efforts to build inclusive growth.
Africa must spread its economic openness by strongly showcasing specialisation along the production value chain and invest more boldly in social foundations. The continent must also maximise policy coherence and effectiveness, think in the long-term and maximise the benefits of global financial system, Shanmugaratnam told diplomats, students, government representatives and senior Bank officials gathered in the Babacar Ndiaye auditorium.
The lecture, the third in a new series organised by the African Development Institute, had the theme: “Inclusive Growth: Learning from Experience, Partnering for the Future – How Africa and Asia can work together for broad-based prosperity.” He was accompanied by senior government officials from Singapore.
“There are challenges, but there are also opportunities. There is much more to be done,” said Shanmugaratnam who is also Singapore’s Coordinating Minister for Social Policies.
In order to build economic resilience and create job opportunities for their bulging youth population, there must be stronger connectivity and economic interaction among developing regions, especially between Africa and Asia which share demographic similarities.
He noted that there is a significant interest by Singapore businesses in Africa which needs to be scaled up. “We need to take practical steps to spur this collaboration with more bilateral investment treaties that provide some assurance to investors.”
Singapore is the eighth largest foreign investor in Africa. It invested around $90 billion in the continent in 2018.
“We are in an unusual time globally – a time of unusual challenge where some of the basic beliefs of how the world prospect together are being challenged. But it’s also a time of immense opportunities… in the international economy, in international finance and in international cooperation,” the minister stated.
It is projected that in the next decade, Africa will have the largest working age population in the world, larger than China and India with about 1.1 billion people of working age population of between 15 and 64 years.
Shanmugaratnam said African leaders must prepare to take advantage of the strong bulging workforce, coupled with the high mobile technology penetration to drive innovation for growth.
In his welcoming remarks, Bank Group President Akinwumi Adesina noted that Africa could learn a lot from Singapore. He described Mr Shanmugaratnam as someone with expansive knowledge who was chosen because of his inspiring works in the Asian nation.
Adesina said the Eminent Lecture series was dedicated to Kofi Annan, a former Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) in recognition of his contributions to humanity. Annan launched the UN millennium development goals.
“As we continue our efforts to do more, we want to learn from the impressive achievements of Singapore, and no one is better placed to discuss this and all of the things around Asia and Africa with us than Tharman Shanmugaratnam,” he said.
The African Development Bank launched the Eminent Speakers Lecture series in 2006 to provide a platform for a robust exchange of ideas to meet the challenges of African development.
Since then, the series has featured world-class speakers, politicians, top academics, businesspeople and civil society representatives, who have spoken on a diverse range of topics and issues, including economics, finance, regional integration, human development, the environment, and philosophy.
President Kagame appoints new chief defense of staff and new foreign affairs Minister
November 5, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Maniraguha Ferdinand
President of Rwanda Paul Kagame has made changes in high military command where General Jean Bosco Kazura is new chief defense of staff replacing General Patrick Nyamvumba who has been in that position since 2013.
Kagame also made a cabinet reshuffle where Dr Vincent Biruta was appointed to the Foreign Affairs Ministry replacing Dr Richard Sezibera who took up the Ministry in 2018.
Sezibera has been off public since August this year and it is reported that he is hospitalized.
Dr Biruta, the new Foreign Affairs Minister is a doctor by profession with a previous stint as Minister of environment.
General Patrick Nyamvumba who was chief defense of staff, was appointed as Minister of internal security. This ministry had been scrapped since 2016.
Rwanda gets a new Foreign Affairs Minister at a time when its relations with neighboring countries including Uganda and Burundi are tense.
There has been efforts to normalize relations with Uganda with which Rwanda accuses of harboring its enemies but it seems all efforts were fruitless till now.
Kenya:Maraga says the executive is frustrating Him
November 4, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma |@journalist_27
Kenyan Chief Justice David Maraga has spoken out about tag of wars going on between the Judiciary and Executive citing frustrations emanating from the latter.
He took a swipe at the government for under-funding and failure to treat him with dignity saying he is no longer recognized at the public functions and has been denied access to VIP lounge at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Maraga stated that he would choose the state functions to attend decrying over undermining of the Judiciary.
“We have a huge backlog of cases which continue to pile because of lack of funds to even move judges around, judges are not able to get fuel for their cars and we them to get money from their pockets so that we can refund them,” said Maraga.
His statement comes in the wake of financial crisis facing the Judiciary which many believe might interfere with administration of justice to Kenyans. In September, the Treasury Cabinet Secretary issued a directive to all public agencies proposing a slashing of recurring and development budgets by 50 per cent in a move to cut cost and encourage saving for the government four big agenda which include manufacturing, affordable housing, food security and Universal Health care.
As a result communication, transport for both domestic and foreign travels, printing, advertising and information supplies and services, training expenses, hospitality, office and general supplies, routine maintenance of vehicles, machines and other transport equipment, refurbishment of buildings and purchase of vehicles have been affected.
Mobile Court sessions and Services weeks programs have been halted and the Judiciary has suspended provision of tea and newspapers to its staff and payment of tea allowances.
Last week, a Nairobi High Court suspended the implementation of the order until the case before it presented by the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) is heard and determined. LSK sued the Treasury and Attorney General over the budget cut noting that the decision interferes with the Judiciary Independence.
“Pending the hearing and determination of this case, an order is hereby issued restraining the National Treasury, its agents, officers or any persons from implementing a September 24 circular or issuing any unwarranted directive with the same effect on the judiciary’s budget,” said the Court’s Justice Makau Mutua.