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Gabon’s New Government is Best Placed to Support Energy Industry Recovery
July 20, 2020 | 0 Comments
Gabon’s New Government is Best Placed to Support Energy Industry Recovery

Gabon has always set the tone in Africa when it comes to sustainability and inclusive growth.

The new Gabonese government announced last week by President Ali Bongo Ondimba demonstrates Gabon’s intention to work on a post-Covid19 recovery based on sustainability, transparency and a sound and stable business environment.

The African Energy Chamber salutes the nomination of Gabon’s first women Prime Minister, H.E. Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda. Gabon has always set the tone in Africa when it comes to sustainability and inclusive growth, and the appointment of a capable woman technocrat with a strong financial and economic background is another step in the right direction.

In addition, H.E. Vincent de Paul Massassa has been reappointed Minister of Petroleum, Gas and Mines and will continue leading the industry through its historic crisis while ensuring a swift and sustainable recovery of energy markets in Central Africa. Sine its first appointment at the end of 2019, H.E. Vincent de Paul Massassa has been working to ensure the successful closing of Gabon’s going licensing round, bringing stakeholders together around the development of a stronger gas value chain, and multiplying efforts to further diversify Gabon’s economy with the development of its mining industry.

“Prime Minister Ossouka Raponda, along with Ministre Massassa, are a winning combination for the energy industry. The oil & gas sector needs sound economic policies, an enabling business environment, and a strong vision on how to guide our industry through a historic crisis. We believe that the new government announced by President Ali Bongo Ondimba sets the tone for the recovery of Gabon’s energy sector and increased investments in the value-chain in the coming years,” declared Nj Ayuk, Executive Chairman at the African Energy Chamber.

Gabon’s ongoing 12th Offshore Licensing Round was launched in November 2018 and has already been met with significant success, resulting in the signing of a record number of PSCs in sub-Saharan Africa last year. In response to ongoing market conditions and the pandemic of Covid-19, the Ministry of Petroleum, Gas and Mines extended the submission deadline beyond April 30th, 2020. The extended round gives investors an opportunity to keep studying what is one of Africa’s hottest upstream frontier, with 35 blocks on offer.

The country’s new Hydrocarbons Code, Law No. 002/2019 of July 16th, 2019 now offers a more competitive upstream fiscal regime, provides an even better enabling environment for investors, and promotes the development of marginal fields by local players. Until the start of the covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent production cuts, Gabon had also successfully managed to reverse a historic decline in domestic oil production and had made new significant offshore discoveries.

The African energy sector continues to face challenging economic times due to the coronavirus pandemic and oil price collapse. The Chamber continues to work with governments and the oil sector to enact bold changes that create jobs that get people back to work, build infrastructure and diversify our economies. The Chamber supports Gabon and Africa’s energy sector to build on its economic strengths, attract investment and position the country for future. 

*African Energy Chamber
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Africa Requires Ethiopia Fill Its Dam
July 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Lawrence Freeman*

Artist drawing of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
Artist drawing of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

Ethiopia is entering a crucial period for the future of its nation, as we approach the second half of July. Ethiopia must use the forthcoming rainy season (July to September) to begin the partial filling of its Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) being built on Ethiopia’s Blue Nile River. When fully completed, the GERD, Africa’s largest hydroelectric project is capable of producing over 6,000 megawatts (MW). This is not only a game changer for Ethiopia, but will contribute to transforming the Horn of Africa.

The Blue Nile, which joins the White Nile just north of Khartoum, Sudan, provides 86% of the water that becomes the Nile River. From there, the Nile flows north through the deserts of Sudan and Egypt before emptying into the Mediterranean Sea.  Ethiopia has been involved in intense discussions with Sudan and Egypt, downstream from the dam, about the amount of water to be withdrawn from the Blue Nile to begin filling the GERD’s 76 billion cubic meter storage/reservoir. Egypt continuously attempts to forestall the filling of the dam, alleging that since it is dependent on the Nile, if the volume of the Nile is reduced, its citizens will suffer irreparable harm. For most of the last century Egypt has received the majority of the Nile River’s 84 billion cubic meters (bcm) of water.

Electricity for Development

The GERD, which is 75% finished was entirely funded by the Ethiopian people, is a $5 billion water infrastructure project initiated in 2011. Its purpose is to provide much needed electricity to power Ethiopia’s transition from an agrarian dominated economy to one that encompasses manufacturing and industry. In the years ahead, Ethiopia envisions become a light manufacturing hub for Africa, increasing manufacturing output, and manufacturing jobs by 440%.

The functioning of the GERD is not an option for this emerging nation of 110 million people, but a categorical necessity.

As a physical economist, who has studied Africa for decades, and knows the key drivers of economic growth, I can tell you that nothing is more vital for the survival of Africa, than the production of electricity.  Without abundant and accessible electricity, poverty and disease will not be eliminated. Poverty is the number one enemy of Africa and is the cause of immense suffering for hundreds of millions of Africans.

Approximately 600 million Africans, almost half of the continent’s population, are not connected to a central energy grid. The overwhelming majority of them reside in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). More than 65 million Ethiopians, 40-45% of the population, do not have access to electricity. While Ethiopia suffers from one of the lowest per capita levels of electrical energy consumption, Egypt’s population of 100 million has 100% access.

When completed, the GERD will increase Ethiopia’s power generation from its current level of 4,500 MW to close to 11,000 MW, which will make it the second largest energy producer in SAA, behind South Africa. Ethiopia has already entered into agreements to export its excess electricity to other nations in East Africa.

“The Ethiopians officials have announced an annual investment of one billion dollars over the next decade in the development of specialized industrial parks.” (Courtesy Medafricatimes.com)

Ethiopia’s commitment to construct the GERD resonates with the same vision that compelled the nation to build the Addis-Ababa to Djibouti rail line; to expand their economy, eliminate poverty, and provide a meaningful future for their expanding young population.

While Ethiopia is blessed with several water systems, the Blue Nile provides between 70% of its surface water. Ethiopia suffers from water shortages, droughts, and food insecurity due to inadequate infrastructure and under development.

It is true that Egypt has one of the lowest water per capita consumption rates in the world at 570 cubic meters per year, well below the global average of 1,000. Ethiopia’s amount is a mere 125 cubic meters per capita, barely more than 20% of Egypt’s level.

However, the Ethiopia government has plainly stated that the intention of the GERD is not to provide water for irrigation or consumption. The motivation and sacrifice of the Ethiopian people in undertaking this mega infrastructure project is to provide electrical power for the purpose of developing their nation. Ethiopia intends on becoming a low-middle income nation. It can no longer allow its people to be without electricity, relegated to burning wood. Improving the lives of their citizens today and future generations is the objective of an operational GERD.

Blue Nile joins White Nile in Khartoum, Sudan

Sovereignty Versus Colonialism  

The Blue Nile descends from Lake Tana, deep inside Ethiopia’s mountains, traveling through Ethiopia before entering Sudan. The GERD will capture Blue Nile waters about 40 meters before the Sudanese border. Ethiopia intends to fill the dam’s reservoir with 14.5 bcm of water over the first two years for testing. The withdrawing of this amount from the Blue Nile’s 49 bcm will not adversely affect downstream nations (Sudan, Egypt). In fact, the GERD will benefit these nations by regulating the flow of the Nile, preventing flooding, reducing silt, and decreasing evaporation.

Ethiopia has the wonderful distinction in Africa of having never been colonized. Unlike my beloved American July 4th, celebrating our independence from the British Empire, Ethiopia has no Independence Day. Instead, Ethiopia celebrates Adwa Day, March 1, 1896, when they defeated the Italian army on the battlefield in northern Ethiopia. Yet Ethiopia is fighting the remnants of British colonialism today in its determination to generate energy to free its people from the bondage of poverty.

Contrary to Egyptian claims, the negotiations between Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan are not about water sharing or water allocation. There have been two water allocation agreements regarding the Nile waters, that involved only Egypt and Sudan. Ethiopia was not a signatory nor participants to either accord, yet Egypt asserts historical rights over the Nile River, including Ethiopia’s Blue Nile. The most recent such agreement was in 1959, three years after Sudan’s independence from Britain, which recodified the 1929 British Imperialist agreement guaranteeing 55 bcm of Nile waters to Egypt and 18.5 bcm to Sudan. At the time of the 1929 Anglo-Egyptian Treaty, both Egypt and Sudan were colonies of Great Britain as stipulated by the 1899 Anglo-Egyptian Condominium.  This treaty also “granted Egypt veto power over construction projects on the Nile or any of its tributaries in an effort to minimize any interference with the flow of water into the Nile.”

To maintain geo-political domination and control of trade along the eastern spine of Africa, Britain maintained authority over the Nile waters from Cairo down to Khartoum and beyond into southern Sudan.

Ethiopia, an independent nation was not subject to Britain’s edicts and retained sovereignty over the Blue Nile.

Thus, from whence does Egypt’s historical claim to dominance of the Nile originate.

In a statement signed by the Reverend Jesse Jackson, sent to the Honorable Congresswoman Karen Bass, Chair of the Black Caucus, dated May 19, 2020, Rev. Jackson reveals that Egypt’s “historical rights” over the Nile are derived from the British Queen.

He cites a letter dated May 7, 1929, from Mahmoud Pasha, Chairman of the Egyptian Council of Ministers, to the British requesting affirmation of Egypt’s “natural and historical” rights to the waters of the Nile. Lord Lloyd, Britain’s High Commissioner in Cairo, responded on behalf of the Queen:

“I would like to remind your Excellency [Mahmoud Pasha] that her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom has already recognized the natural and historical rights of Egypt to the waters of the Nile. I am entrusted with the responsibility of declaring that Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom considers the observance of these rights as a fundamental principle of the policy of Great Britain.” 

Rev. Jackson stresses in his letter, that Ethiopia should not be pressured “into signing a neo-colonial agreement will make Egypt a hegemon over the Nile River.”

U.S. Gets Involved

In September, Egyptian President Al-Sisi requested U.S. assistance in negotiating the operation of the GERD. President Trump asked Treasury Department to host a series of meetings in Washington DC, beginning in November 2019. Sudan, Ethiopia, and Egypt attended along with a representative of the World Bank, with Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, to act as an impartial observer, not a mediator. Ethiopia compromised by indicating they would extend the filling beyond 3 years, to 5-7 years and increased the amount of water to be released from 35 bcm to 40 bcm in seasons of healthy rain. With the negotiations failing to lead to a resolution, Ethiopia requested to postpone the February 27-28 meeting. The meeting proceeded without Ethiopia. Sudan and Egypt attending, but Egypt alone initialed an agreement prepared without Ethiopia’s input, which the Ethiopia Foreign Ministry characterized as “unacceptable and highly partisan.”

On February 28, 2020, an official statement from the US Treasury Department praised Egypt’s “readiness to sign the agreement,” and instructed Ethiopia that “final testing and filling should not take place without an agreement.” The next day, Ambassador Shinn (ret), former ambassador to Ethiopia, whose has spent decades in the State Department, questioned whether the U.S. was “putting its thumb on the scale in favor of Egypt.”

In a June 22, 2020 bipartisan letter addressed to Ambassador David Hale, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, seven former Assistant Secretaries of State for African Affairs, asked the U.S. to embrace neutrality regarding the GERD talks. They wrote:

“The U.S. position at this sensitive juncture will also have long term implications. It will either strengthen or seriously weaken our future relations with Ethiopia. While there is no question that resolution of the Nile issue will require flexibility and compromise on all sides, it is not politically viable for Prime Minister Abiy (or any Ethiopian politician) to indefinitely delay filling the GERD. However, the perception—rightly or wrongly—that the United States has sided with Egypt in the negotiations will limit our ability to support efforts aimed at reaching a settlement.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa, Chair of the African Union convening the teleconference on the GERD

Discussions Move to Africa

Egypt, not satisfied with the negotiating process, attempted to involve the United Nations in forcing an agreement on Ethiopia that violated its sovereignty over the GERD. On June 29, 2020, Egypt with the support of the U.S. brought the matter to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). The UNSC is not the normal forum to settle such matters, but Egyptians were hoping to mobilize international pressure against Ethiopia. The UNSC has instead preferred to have the African Union (AU) resolve the issue of Ethiopia’s right to operate the GERD. On the previous Friday, June 26, the Extraordinary African Union Bureau of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government conducted a video-teleconference meeting on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat noted that more than 90% of the issues between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan had been resolved.

South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, in his capacity as the Chairperson of the AU is committed to have “an African led process in the spirit of African solutions to African problems.”

In a June 23rd statement, the U.S. Congressional Caucus emphasized the pivotal role of the AU in these tripartite negotiations. They went on to discuss the importance of the GERD for Africa.

The GERD project will have a positive impact on all countries involved and help combat food security and lack of electricity and power, supply more fresh water to more people, and stabilize and grow the economies of the region.”

The Conference of Black Mayors, in a June 29th statement, expressed their support for the filling of the GERD

“Today, on behalf of global leaders throughout the African diaspora that hold the office of mayor, the Conference of Black Mayors released the following statement in support of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and the impact GERD would have on Conference of Black Mayors member cities…

“It is known that Ethiopia generates 86% of the Nile waters but has been unable to use this considerable natural resource effectively in the past. Now, following more than a decade of impressive economic growth, Ethiopia desires to utilize its naturally endowed resource for its nation’s critical growth and development. Countries throughout Africa are in dire need of electric power to enable and sustain their respective nations rise out of poverty. The creation of a sustainable energy source will create a national infrastructure that directly contributes to the wellbeing of citizens our mayors represents through our global mayors’ association…

“We strongly support a timely fill of the dam without further delays to avoid the economic impact on Ethiopia and neighboring countries.”

Ethiopia is desirous to cooperate with downstream nations, but it will not have its sovereignty violated by having the operation of the GERD jointly managed or contingent on the requirements of water for Egypt’s downstream High Aswan Dam.

Ethiopia should and will begin filling the GERD. It would be irresponsible not to use this year’s rainy season to begin filling the reservoir, with the dam already 75% constructed. Ethiopia’s leadership will not disappoint the aspirations of the Ethiopian people, who view the GERD as emblematic of their national identity, and a critical vehicle to raise their standard of living and secure a more prosperous future for their posterity.

Ethiopia’s use of the word Renaissance in describing its new dam is not metaphorical. When fully functional, the GERD will lead to a rejuvenation of Ethiopia’s economy and that of its neighboring nations.

*Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in the economic development policy of Africa for 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

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Gambia:US Department of Justice Files Civil Forfeiture Complaint on Jammeh’s Maryland Property
July 17, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

The American government through its Department of Justice has filed a civil forfeiture complaint seeking the forfeiture of a Maryland property acquired with approximately $3,500,000 by former Preident Yahya Jammeh, through a trust set up by his wife, Zineb Jammeh.

According the US DoJ website, the complaint is that Yahya Jammeh ‘corruptly’ obtained millions of dollars through the embezzlement of public funds and the solicitation of bribes from businesses seeking to obtain monopoly rights over various sectors of the Gambian economy.

“The complaint further alleges that Yahya Jammeh conspired with his family members and close associates to utilize a host of shell companies and overseas trusts to launder his corrupt proceeds throughout the world, including through the purchase of a multimillion-dollar mansion in Potomac, Maryland, which the United States seeks to forfeit through the filing of the civil forfeiture complaint,” the news release on the US DoJ website said.

The news release then quoted Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt as saying: “Yahya Jammeh is a former president of The Gambia who allegedly plundered hundreds of millions of dollars from his country and laundered part of those funds to corruptly acquire real estate in the United States.

“Our action today highlights the tireless work of the Criminal Division’s Kleptocracy Initiative and their global law enforcement partners to protect the integrity of the U.S. financial system and recover the ill-gotten gains of corrupt officials.”

It then quoted U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur for the District of Maryland: “Ex-Gambian President Yahya Jammeh and his wife thought that they could hide funds stolen from the Gambian people by buying a mansion in Potomac, Maryland. This action demonstrates that the United States will not allow criminals to profit from their crimes and will seek justice for crime victims both here and abroad.”

Acting Executive Associate Director Alysa Erichs of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), according to the news release: “The seizure of this property is just another example of our continued efforts to protect the U.S. financial infrastructure by denying a safe haven for foreign kleptocrats. HSI will not tolerate our country being used by foreign officials to hide their corrupt activities and launder their illicit proceeds.”

The news release continued: “The investigation was conducted by HSI’s Illicit Proceeds and Foreign Corruption Group in Miami, with the assistance of the HSI Office of the Special Agent in Charge for Baltimore and the HSI Attaché Office in Dakar. HSI established this group in 2003 to conduct investigations into the laundering of proceeds emanating from foreign public corruption, bribery and embezzlement. HSI’s goal is to prevent foreign-derived, ill-gotten gains from entering the U.S. financial infrastructure.

“The case is being handled by Trial Attorneys Steven Parker and Kaycee Sullivan of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Wine for the District of Maryland. Substantial assistance was provided by the government of The Gambia and Michael Quinley of the Criminal Division’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance, and Training.

“HSI Miami Illicit Proceeds and Foreign Corruption Investigations Group was established in 2003 to target corrupt foreign officials around the world that attempt to utilize U.S. financial institutions to launder illicit funds. Since inception, the group has seized over $500 million in ill-gotten gains traced to foreign corruption. To report suspicious activity, reach out to your local HSI office or call 1-866-347-2423.

“The Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative is led by a team of dedicated prosecutors in the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, in partnership with federal law enforcement agencies, and often with U.S. Attorney’s Offices, to forfeit the proceeds of foreign official corruption and, where appropriate, to use those recovered assets to benefit the people harmed by these acts of corruption and abuse of office.

“A civil forfeiture complaint is merely an allegation that money or property was involved in or represents the proceeds of a crime. These allegations are not proven until a court awards judgment in favor of the United States.”

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Cameroon’s Paul Biya “Resurrects” to bid farewell to outgoing American and Belgian Ambassadors
July 16, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

Outgoing US Ambassador, Henry Peter Barlerin  with President Paul Biya at the Unity Palace on 14 July 2020 (photo: prc.cm)
Outgoing US Ambassador, Henry Peter Barlerin with President Paul Biya at the Unity Palace on 14 July 2020 (photo: prc.cm)

Cameroon president, 87, has this week hit back at his political opponents who have for months now being strategizing on how to claim his throne. The ‘strongman’ of Africa granted audiences to outgoing American and Belgian ambassadors, Henry Peter Barlerin and Stephane Doppagne respectively.

Rumors had emerged of his death with critics accusing the government of trying to cover-up his demise by falsifying documents with his signature and even using his copycat to grant televised addresses.

Theories of Paul Biya’s death and plots by his collaborators to crown his successor have made news for months now with conspiracy theorist alleging the involvement of the French government, a very close ally and colonial master of Cameroon.

For little over five months, President Paul Biya went ‘missing’ from the public eye, staying away from every public gathering which he previously chaired- including the National Day celebrated every 20th May. Since his three-decade rule, Paul Biya has never missed a National Day celebration but this year he canceled the event altogether. Though COVID 19 was the official reason advanced for canceling the national day, critics of President Biya and conspiracy theorist saw in this additional evidence that Biya was dead.

They also based their assumption on the fact that French Ambassador to Cameroon, Christophe Guilhou break a decade-long tradition when he attended a military graduation in Cameroon’s capital, Yaounde, an event which has for years been chaired solely by president Paul Biya. Major announcements such as an investigation into the death of Cameroon journalist Samuel Wazizi in military custody and Coronavirus response plans were delivered by Ambassador Guilhou who said he had met in-camera with Paul Biya.

After his audience with outgoing American Ambassador, Henry Peter Barlerin at the Unity Palace on 14 July 2020 and another with Stephane Doppagne – the outgoing Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium on 15 July 2020, Biya has strategically and without bowing to pressure, proven he is very much alive and in good health.

Many, called for Biya to prove he was still alive by receiving Ambassador Peter Barlerin, a known critic of Biya’s government. At one point, the US embassy in Yaounde had to go on one of its social media pages to rebuke rumors that the Unity Palace, Cameroon’s executive mansion had denied a request of the US ambassador to visit and confirms if Paul Biya was alive.

Stephane Doppagne, outgoing Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium receives goodbye gift from President Paul Biya at the Unity Place on 15 July 2020 (photo: prc.cm)
Stephane Doppagne, outgoing Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium receives goodbye gift from President Paul Biya at the Unity Place on 15 July 2020 (photo: prc.cm)

Nicknamed the absentee president, Paul Biya who has ruled the Central African nation for 38 years now has swayed ambitions of his main opposition leader, Maurice Kamto of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (MRC) political party, who was gearing up to step in his shoes.

Maurice Kamto has on several occasions urged the government to provide proof that Paul Biya is alive or watch him take over the leadership of the country.  

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Africa Road Builders Babacar Ndiaye Trophy 2020: Egyptian president to receive Great Road Builder Award
July 14, 2020 | 0 Comments
Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara and African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina awarded special prizes.

Egyptian president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi was awarded the Babacar Ndiaye Great Road Builder Award it was announced Monday, a distinction for heads of state whose countries initiate outstanding projects or achievements in relation to the development of roads, transportation and mobility.

Al Sisi was recognized for his “personal leadership” in the development and construction of projects in Cairo such as the Heliopolis metro station, as well as a suspension bridge project on the Nile, George Orido, a spokesman for the selection committee of the Africa Road Builders said during a virtual inaugural meeting of the group, which saw global participation.

Each year, the Africa Road Builders Conference brings together representatives and stakeholders from the road and transport sectors to promote the development of roads, transport and mobility in Africa. This year’s theme is “Roads and transport to improve the quality of life of people in Africa.”

For their “remarkable contribution in the area of road infrastructure and connectivity,” Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara and African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina, were also awarded special prizes, Orido said.  

Presentation of the awards will take place during the final conference of the Africa Road Builders, organized every year on the sidelines of the Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank.

Speaking on behalf of Adesina, Solomon Quaynor, the Bank’s Vice President, Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization thanked the conference organizers for recognising the Bank’s role in road infrastructure on the continent.

“Road transportation is a critical enabler for productivity and sustainable socio-economic growth. Over the past 12 years, the Bank has financed more than $8 billion of regional transport projects. As a result, close to 13,000 km of regional highways have been built on 17 road corridors, along with 26 one-stop border post facilities,” Quaynor said.

Panelists at the event also included Prof. Carlos Lopes, President of the Bureau of the Conference, Ivorian Pierre Demba, Director General of AGERoute –Ivory Coast’s road management agency, Raoul Jaquand, Vice-President Strategic Business Developments and Partnerships for Africa Assault System, and Emile Fort, West Africa Manger for Lumiplan.

Fouad Safer, Director of Transport and Infrastructure Studies at the National Bureau of Studies and Development (BNETD) in Côte d’Ivoire said the challenges to be met, included the balance between the development of cities in Africa and that of transport, the promotion of professionalization of transport, renewal of vehicle fleets, promotion and restructuring of transport networks.

“There is an urgency to have new generation of mass transport to improve the quality of life of our populations,” Safer said.

Mamadou Faye, administrator of the Senegalese Autonomous Road Maintenance Fund (FERA) said: “Road infrastructure is the most expensive capital in Africa. Without proper and timely maintenance, the roads deteriorate. So it’s not just about building, it’s also about maintaining, having a funding model for road maintenance. In addition, we must invest in mass transport and innovation. It’s fundamental to improve performance.”

The awards were inspired by Babacar Ndiaye who was president of the Bank from 1985 to 1995. Each year the Africa Road Builders Selection Committee carefully evaluates ambitious and concrete projects that have a real impact on the mobility of populations.

The Africa Road Builders Babacar Ndiaye Trophy is organized by Acturoutes, an information platform on infrastructure and roads in Africa, and the organization Medias for infrastructures and finance in Africa (MIFA), a network of African journalists specializing in road infrastructure. The selection committee is made up of representatives of the media from the five regions of the continent on the basis of media and expert reports on issues related to roads, transport and sustainable development.

*AFDB
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US-Africa Energy Advisory Committee to Push Energy Dialogue and Investment
July 14, 2020 | 0 Comments
C. Derek Campbell, CEO, Energy & Natural Resource Security, Inc.
C. Derek Campbell, CEO, Energy & Natural Resource Security, Inc.
The members of the US-Africa Committee gather several decades of experience in government and the private sector from both sides of the Atlantic.

The African Energy Chamber has appointed a US-Africa Committee to serve on its Advisory Board and support the development of stronger energy cooperation and investment between the United States and Africa. Serving in their personal capacities, the members of the US-Africa Committee gather several decades of experience in government and the private sector from both sides of the Atlantic, and share a passion for Africa and its development. They include:

Reginal “Reg”​ Spiller, CEO, Azimuth Energy Investments LLC
Kola Karim, CEO, Shoreline Energy International
Rogers Beall, Executive Chairman and CEO, Africa Fortesa Corporation
Jude Kearney, President, Kearney Africa
C. Derek Campbell, CEO, Energy & Natural Resource Security, Inc.
Alicia Robinson-Morgan, Managing Director for Africa, Millenium Challenge Corporation
Akinwole Omoboriowo II, Chairman and CEO, Genesis Energy Group
Ann Norman, General Manager – Africa, Pioneer Energy
R. Dean Foreman, Chief Economist, American Petroleum Institute

The African Energy Chamber truly believes that the potential for capital, expertise and technology transfers between the US and Africa is under-exploited. While Power Africa remains to date the most successful initiative to develop Africa’s energy sector by tapping into American capital and technology, more can be done in light of the continent’s continued energy poverty.

From exploration to gas infrastructure, and from power technology to energy funding, the United States remain a global leader that has much to bring to Africa under the right partnerships and joint-ventures that can support local content development and jobs creation.

“The largest but also most recent discoveries in Africa were made by bold and capable American companies who have proven time and again that betting on Africa bears fruits. At times when the continent seeks to develop much stronger gas value chains and attract investment into midstream and downstream infrastructure, we need to look back at the United States and develop stronger partnerships. As Africa embraces energy transition, a substantial part of the capital needed to develop cleaner energy solutions also lies with American companies and institutions,” declared Nj Ayuk, Executive Chairman at the African Energy Chamber.

The US-Africa Committee is the first committee on the African Energy Chamber’s Advisory Board to be announced. The Chamber has put together leading industry experts, executives and public representatives to support several initiatives over the course of 2020 and 2021, such as local content development, natural gas and energy transitions, the promotion of an enabling environment and the expansion of exploration activities.

*African Energy Chamber

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Zambian President Lungu cited in Rwanda rebel leader case
July 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

President Lungu (left) chatting with President Paul Kagame of Rwanda during his official visit to Rwanda in February 2018
President Lungu (left) chatting with President Paul Kagame of Rwanda during his official visit to Rwanda in February 2018

President Edgar Lungu of Zambia has been named among supporters of Rwandan rebel group, National Liberation Forces, FLN, an army wing of Movement for Democratic changes in Rwanda.

FLN’s spokesperson Nsabimana Callixte alias Sankara was arrested in mid 2019 from Comoros, and brought before Rwandan courts where he faces dozens of charges.

The charges include terrorism, kidnapping, murder, Genocide denial, armed robbery, arson, forgery and causing bodily harm among others.

On Monday, 13 July, 2020 appearing before High Court Chamber for International Crimes in Nyanza, Nsabimana continued by explaining more about the charges brought against him.

He revealed  that in the end of 2017, President Edgar Lungu of Zambia promised MRCD’s chairman Paul Rusesabagina of helping them to overthrow current Rwanda’s government.

Nsabimana said that it is President Lungu who gave Rusesabagina 150 000 USD in advance. He allegedly said that such help motivated  MRCD army wing, FLN to organize attacks against Rwanda.

Early 2019, Nsabimana one of MRCD’s senior leader went in Zambia to meet president Lungu on his help to attack Rwanda, according to Sankara.

Nsabimana Callixte (left) told court that Zambian President Lungu supported FLN
Nsabimana Callixte (left) told court that Zambian President Lungu supported FLN

Nsabimana pleaded guilty to all charges but he said he was brainwashed.

FLN launched multiple attacks against Rwanda in 2018, which killed more than ten civilians according to prosecution. Properties including cars were damaged as well.

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As South Sudan Turns Nine, Bloodshed Persist
July 9, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Enthusiastic South Sudanese surrounding the statue of its historic leader John country Garang. The promise of independence has not lived up to expectations
Enthusiastic South Sudanese surrounding the statue of its historic leader John country Garang. The promise of independence has not lived up to expectations

Juba – On Thursday, South Sudan celebrated its ninth year of independence. The   promise from that historic moment when the country became the world’s youngest nation has since fizzled leaving behind a painful trail of anguish  from a bloody civil war that has dogged the country since 2013.

Many inhabitants of its southern region and other peripheral areas were frustrated with what they described as lack of autonomy, marginalization, oppression and neglect from the central government, while Khartoum regime was either unable or unwilling to resolve these long-standing issues peacefully.

This resulted to Southerners’ rebellion in a 1983, lasted for two decades, following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, 2005 in Naivasha – Kenya.

However, the people of Southern voted overwhelmingly for secession in a 2011 referendum.

On the 9th of July 2011, South Sudan gained independence from Sudan after the decades of earth – scorched civil war as the outcome of a 2005 agreement to end Africa’s longest civil war, during which 2.5 million people were killed and 4 million displaced.

At the time, the US –backed secession was hailed as a way forward to peace and stability but it did not end the plight of the South Sudanese.

Nine years on, conflict is still a fact of life in many parts of the country, as the previous fighting between Khartoum and Juba gave way to infighting among the South Sudanese.

Civil war broke out in 2013, when President Salva Kiir fell out with his vice president Dr. Riek Machar, who accused of staging a coup.

The two leaders represent South Sudan’s two largest ethnic groups. Their [Kiir and Machar] provoked a largely ethnic conflict that killed up to 380,000 people and uprooted 4 million people from their homes over five years.

Although a peace deal was signed in August 2018 between president Kiir and ex – rebel leader, SPLM-IO Dr. Machar, ceasefire was partial held but bloodshed and instability persist plus stalling of the peace process.

The UN Mission in South Sudan allegedly recorded 415 violent incidents in the first five months of 2020 alone.

Armed conflict continues between the government and non-signatories to the peace agreement in some areas, while in others, inter-communal violence fueled by competition over resources, easy access to arms and weak rule of law is on the rise.

President Salva Kiir, in his keynote speech for ninth anniversary, said this year, public’s celebration has been affected by the COVID – 19 pandemic outbreaks in the worldwide.

President said the permanent ceasefire is largely holding while interrupted by coronavirus and inter – communal violence across the country.

“Unfortunately, our success in ending political violence is now threatened by a different sort of violence; inter – communal conflict that is ragging in different parts of our country,” said president Kiir. “As the government, we will not allow this new threat to reverse our gains. We shall pursue a multi-layered approach to resolve this problem once and for all.”

Kiir said his government in due days will initiate inter and intra – communal dialogue so that they can address the root causes of this fighting both between and within the communities.

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir Mayardit shakes hands with ex-vice president and former rebel leader Riek Machar during their meeting in Juba, South Sudan October 19, 2019. (Reuters)
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit shakes hands with ex-vice president and former rebel leader Riek Machar during their meeting in Juba, South Sudan October 19, 2019. (Reuters)

“Alongside this process, we shall launch a full – scale disarmament of the civil population, an exercise which is already underway in some parts of the country,” said Kiir.

Despite what have achieved in terms of implementing the revitalized peace deal, Kiir admitted that he is acutely aware that the peace implementation remains painfully slow and far below people’s expectations.

“We must therefore collectively act in a decisive fashion to pick up the pace in resolving sticky issues in the implementation of the agreement,” said Kiir.

President Kiir further calls upon the parties to the peace deal to sort out impasses matters through amicable political understanding.

“It is also critical that we, the parties to the agreement desist from adopting uncompromising positions in the hope that the mediation will eventually back them. We must move away from such attitudes because the peace we seek to consolidate is our own peace as South Sudanese – it is only us who stand to benefit or lose in its success or failure,” Kiir said. Our regional partners and the international community are only there to lend support, but they will never prescribe solutions to our problems. Therefore we must find ourselves through meaningful and genuine dialogue geared towards finding practical solutions rather than scoring political points or maneuvering for future political advantage,” he added.

Hopes of a peaceful

Despite fears of an uncertain future, citizens of South Sudan, who spokes to this media, cling to the hopes of a peaceful South Sudan.

David Wol, Juba resident, is maintaining up hopes along his country’s road to lasting peace through small step.

Violence come and go, so we still hope for peaceful country, said Martha John, Juba resident.

I believe that this country will soon get back to its feet despite these uncertain matters,” Wol said.

The observers need the peace government or parties to come together in unity and peace to respond to this new threat to the country, especially inter – communal violence.

The UN mission in South Sudan said the South Sudanese leaders should reflects the reasons they waged longest wars to be free and then collaborate to settle unresolved matters to achieve vibrant nation.

“It was a proud moment for the people who fought so hard for the right to determine their own future,” said UNMISS in the press statement, today. However, there is still much work that needs to be done to end the outbreaks of violence and to ensure that we have a truly unified government that makes collaborative decisions in the best interests of its citizens,” added in its part.  

President concluded by saying “let us all work tirelessly irrespectively of our political leanings to restore trust among ourselves and to amend the social fabric that was torn apart by war we are now putting behind us. Let us all desist from unnecessary propaganda and instead work together as South Sudanese to put our country permanently on the path of peace.”

South Sudan’s rival leaders officially started the process of forming a transitional coalition government in late February after it was postponed twice, but the security arrangements remained so challenges, which remains trigger violence.

Secession was hailed as the path to peace, freedom but it has been blighted by violence and corruption in the landlocked country.

Moreover, the citizens and analysts believe the current leaders have betrayed the ideals that they fought for, including the vision of the late Dr. John Garang. South Sudanese leaders are yet to move the country towards sustained peace and development.

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Mozambique:Nyusi Calls For Exemplary Punishment For Cabo Delgado Terrorists
July 9, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Jorge dos Santos

President Felipe Nyusi
President Felipe Nyusi

Insurgents who are put on trial should receive “swift and exemplary punishment,” President Filipe Nyusi said during the inauguration of Henriques Carlos Xavier Cossa as a supreme court judge on Wednesday.

“We have to continue to fight violence together, enforcing criminal responsibility for terrorists who are neutralised and sent to court. Our expectation is that in holding responsible those who carry out such acts, the judiciary must be swift and exemplary in their actions, so that a feeling of impunity does not prevail”, the president said, with criminals receiving “exemplary punishment”. Cossa has been a judge since 1992, and until his appointment was president of the Judicial Court of the City of Maputo.

Noting that Mozambique is looking for foreign military support, Islamic State’s al-Naba’ newsletter  warned South Africa that if it intervened, this “may result in pushing the soldiers of the Islamic State to open a fighting front inside its borders.” And it adds “If the Crusaders reckon that their support for the disbelieving government in Mozambique will protect their investments and guarantee the continuation of their plunder of the resources of the region, they are deluded,” and the “soldiers of the Caliphate” will push them out of the gas fields.

Whatever, an MP for South African opposition party the DA said in parliament yesterday that soldiers from SA’s Maritime Reaction Squadron and Special Forces are deployed in Mozambique. DA MP Kobus Marais told the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans: “As we stand, we know we have soldiers in Mozambique,” and asked about the budget for the Maritime Reaction Squadron and Special Forces. The question went unanswered.

“Technically speaking, any deployment of SANDF troops must be made public via a letter to Parliament that details size, deployment time, and estimated cost. But that is incompatible with clandestine Special Forces operations,” Darren Olivier, editor of South African publication African Defence Review, said on Twitter. The maritime reaction squadron deployment could have taken place under Operation Copper, an existing joint operation involving South Africa in defending Mozambique’s coastline; but the special forces deployment “may be technically illegal if it is taking place.” On the other hand, “revealing a clandestine SF reconnaissance or advise & assist mission isn’t ideal either,” Olivier said.

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Post COVID-19: Africa’s growth stands to rebound to 3% in 2021, African Development Bank says in African Economic Outlook 2020 Supplement
July 8, 2020 | 0 Comments

-Governments and development partners must respond in a more coordinated, targeted, and rapid manner to be effective in limiting impacts

-An additional 49 million Africans could be pushed into extreme poverty by the pandemic and its aftermath; West and Central Africa stand to be worst hit

Africa’s economic growth could rebound in 2021, provided that governments manage the COVID-19 infection rate well, according to updated forecasts from the African Development Bank, released on Tuesday.

In a comprehensive socio-economic assessment of the pandemic’s impact, the Bank said growth was now projected to rebound to 3% in 2021 from -3.4% in the worst-case scenario for 2020.

The predictions are contained in a supplement to the Bank’s African Economic Outlook, which was released on 30 January. At the time, Africa’s growth was forecast at 3.9% in 2020 and 4.1% in 2021.

The supplement cautioned that the growth outlook for 2021 and beyond would depend largely on African governments’ effectiveness in flattening the curve of the outbreak and policies to reopen economies.

Charles Leyeka Lufumpa, Acting Chief Economist and Vice President for Economic Governance and Knowledge Management, at the African Development Bank, said: “To reopen economies, policymakers needed to follow a phased and incremental approach that carefully evaluates the trade-offs between restarting economic activity too quickly and safeguarding the health of the population. “

“Economic activities can be restarted incrementally on the basis of the transmission risks of different sectors,” Lufumpa said.

The spread of the virus in Africa depends largely on the preparedness of countries to separate and treat infected patients, the supplement stated, noting that only 21 out of 54 African countries are clinically prepared to deal with epidemics.

Executive Director of the African Economic Research Consortium and Former Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya, Njuguna Ndung’u described the African Economic Outlook 2020 supplement as “a very important and useful policy tool for African countries who actually need it  at this time.”

“It will be useful now and in the future. It gives us important short, medium- and long-term strategies,” he added, stressing crises like COVID-19 present a good opportunity for innovative  reforms in countries.

The supplement noted that the curve of the pandemic in Africa was flattening gradually. However, COVID-19 remains a serious threat to lives and livelihoods, given weak healthcare systems and limited social protection. The continent also remains vulnerable to other regional threats such as the locust swarms that have struck East Africa, as well as to extreme climate events.

Under projected scenarios for contraction of growth, Africa could lose between $145.5 billion and $189.7 billion of GDP in 2020, according to the publication.

Hanan Morsy, Director of the Macroeconomic Policy, Forecasting and Research Department at the African Development Bank, said “The African Economic Outlook 2020 Supplement shows that for the first time in the last half-century, Africa would be facing an economic recession as a fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. This would affect the gains achieved in poverty reduction as an estimated 49 million Africans could be pushed into poverty, with about 30 million jobs at the verge of disappearing.  Policymakers need to act fast to alleviate the impact of the crisis on vulnerable groups through well targeted social safety net measures.”

Urgent interventions required

The report called for urgent policy interventions to mitigate the impact of the pandemic: “Across Africa, the response must be well-sequenced and multipronged, involving a public health response to contain the spread of the virus and minimise fatalities, a monetary policy response to ease liquidity constraints and solvency risks, and a fiscal response to cushion the economic impacts of the pandemic on livelihoods and to assist businesses.”

Other proposed interventions included labour market policies to protect workers and their jobs, and structural policies to enable African economies to rebuild and enhance their resilience to future shocks.

The supplement warned that the tourism, transportation, and entertainment sectors may take longer to recover. Between 2017 and 2018, African travel and tourism grew by 5.6%, compared with the global average of 3.9%.

According to Morsy, the supplement projected that, in the worst-case scenario, an additional 49 million Africans could be pushed into extreme poverty by the pandemic and its aftermath. The number of people in extreme poverty in Africa (using the $1.90 international poverty line) could reach 453.4 million in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, compared to 425.2 million under the no-outbreak scenario.

People in West and Central Africa faced a higher risk of falling into extreme poverty due to the pandemic, but COVID-19 would also deepen poverty in East and Southern Africa.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 54 African countries stood at 304,642, with 8,087 reported deaths as of 22 June 2020. According to the supplement, reported figures were likely to be higher in reality because of limited testing capabilities in most countries.

The authors said to reopen economies, policymakers needed to follow a phased and incremental approach that carefully evaluated the trade-offs between restarting economic activity too quickly and safeguarding the health of the population. They also must build public trust and buy-in and address structural bottlenecks that make the continent more vulnerable to future shocks.

*AFDB

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Rwanda:Former PM Habumuremyi Under Arrest
July 5, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

Former Prime Minister of Rwanda, Dr Habumuremyi Damien has been arrested
Former Prime Minister of Rwanda, Dr Habumuremyi Damien has been arrested

Rwanda Investigation Bureau has arrested former Prime Minister, Dr Habumuremyi Pierre Damien over breach of trust and issuing a bounced cheque.

He was arrested on Friday, 3rd July 2020 according to Rwanda Investigation Bureau, while investigation is going on.

Dr Habumuremyi who was Prime Minister from 2011 to 2014,  is alleged to have committed such crimes as the Chancellor of  Christian University of Rwanda, a college in the capital Kigali which he co-founded.

Christian University which was founded in 2017, has been in the news recently, with staff decrying to spend months without salaries, which paralyzed teaching at the university.

Arrested also is Professor  Egide Karuranga, the former Vice chancellor of University of Kibungo which was closed recently due to internal conflicts and mismanagement.

Karuranga is alleged to have misused public funds, nepotism among others.

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The African Continental Free Trade Area – from agreement to implementation
July 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Robyn Berger*

African leaders at the launch of the AfCFTA   in Kigali, Rwanda  in 2018.Photo credit  AFP
African leaders at the launch of the AfCFTA in Kigali, Rwanda in 2018.Photo credit AFP

The Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) was brokered by the African Union (AU) and adopted by 44 of its 55 member states on 21 March 2018. By February 2019, all AU countries, save for Eritrea, had become signatories to the AfCFTA, which came into force on 30 May 2019.

The AfCFTA aims to increase Africa’s presence in the global economy by improving intra-African trade flows and attracting foreign investment. Once the AfCFTA is fully operational, it will be the world’s largest free trade area by number of countries.

However, in order for the AfCFTA to be binding on the signatory states, it must be ratified in accordance with each country’s internal procedures, and to date, only 28 AU member states have ratified the agreement.

The AfCFTA is to contain the following six protocols, of which only the first three have been concluded:

  • Protocol on Trade in Goods;
  • Protocol on Trade in Services;
  • Protocol on Rules and Procedures on the Settlement of Disputes;
  • Protocol on Investment;
  • Protocol on Intellectual Property Rights; and
  • Protocol on Competition Policy

The Protocol on the Trade in Goods is aimed at creating a liberalised single market for the free flow of goods within the African continent. This is to be achieved through progressive elimination of tariffs and non-tariff barriers (NTBs), such as customs and administration requirements.

State Parties are to accord products imported from other State Parties no less favourable treatment than that accorded to similar domestic products. However, State Parties are permitted to apply some protectionist measures, such as anti-dumping measures and measures to protect infant industries, when necessary.

The Protocol on the Trade in Services is aimed at inter alia enhancing competitiveness of services, fostering domestic and foreign investment and accelerating efforts on industrial development. It allows State Parties to enter into agreements for the recognition of the education or experience obtained or license or certifications granted by other member states and requires each State Party to regulate territorial monopolies.

What has been implemented?

The AfCFTA promises significant gains for the continent in respect of welfare gains, GDP, employment and intra-African trade growth and a reduction of Africa’s trade deficit.

However, little has been achieved thus far in terms of its implementation. The operational phase of the AfCFTA was launched at the 12th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the AU held on 7 July 2019, where it was decided that inter alia

  • the final schedules of Tariff Concessions and outstanding Rules of Origin, which will formulate annexures to the AfCFTA, would be submitted at the next ordinary session of the Assembly in February 2020, and
  • the dismantling of tariffs would commence no later than 1 July 2020, with the goal of elimination of tariffs on 90% of goods within five years for non-LDC countries, 10 years for LDC countries and 15 years for G6 countries.

Although the February 2020 session took place, final schedules of Tariff Concessions were not submitted and the Assembly urged State Parties to submit these at the Extraordinary Summit of the AfCFTA Council of Ministers to be held in May 2020 in order to start trading under the AfCFTA on 1 July 2020.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting of the Council of Ministers took place virtually; however, it is unclear what decisions were taken and whether all schedules of Tariff Concessions were submitted.

Commentary

Africa is one of the least integrated continents, with intra-African exports constituting only 16.6% of total exports in 2017, which is one of the issues the AfCFTA aims to improve. However, some of the initial concerns commentators have identified include:

  • difficulty with ongoing negotiations, particularly the services liberalisation, given the number of State Parties and their varying economic positions;
  • confusion regarding integration between AfCFTA and the various other regional economic arrangements already in existence, such as the SADC Protocol on Trade and the Tripartite Free Trade Area; and
  • the potential effect of increasing the economic imbalance among member countries due to concentration of economic activities in a few African countries with low production costs.

Studies have shown that there will only be small gains from a reduction of import tariffs, with the larger gains occurring as a result of the reduction of NTBs. Furthermore, African countries generate significant revenue from trade tariffs. While the agreement is meant to offset those losses by resulting in higher tax revenue from increased consumption and income, there will be a period of loss and the gains will be determined by how countries pursue the necessary steps to lower NTBs.

As most African countries have significant NTBs and other protectionist measures, this will pose a significant challenge. The continent will also need to reduce infrastructure deficits, such as poor quality roads and ports, if the agreement is to operate effectively.

Ultimately, the view seems to be that there is promise in AfCFTA achieving its goal of increasing intra-Africa trade and foreign investment in the continent, but there is a lot for African countries to do before the agreement can actually achieve those goals.

The COVID-19 pandemic arguably creates a pressing need to reduce Africa’s high trade dependence on non-African states. The AfCFTA could help facilitate this, but it would mean intensifying the process and reducing the current five-year timeline for the liberalisation of tariffs.

Reducing this timeline, however, becomes even more challenging in light of the current lockdowns and border closures across the continent in addition to the Secretary General of the AfCFTA having postponed the commencement date of 1 July 2020. Although it is unclear to when the commencement has been postponed, some reports suggest trade under the AfCFTA will only take off in January 2021.

*Executive: Tax, Theunis Claassen, Senior Associate, and Catherine Robson, Candidate Attorney, Bowmans

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