dotAfrica (.africa) the best option for Africa in cyberspace
September 7, 2017 | 0 Comments
|54 countries in Africa are now united under a single, continent-wide domain name, staying true to the Oliver Tambo and Abuja Declarations of the 1990s|
|JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, September 7, 2017/ — It is now possible to own an Internet address, or domain name, ending with .africa.
Already, more than 8000 of the continent’s and world’s biggest brands, businesses and individuals have registered for this exciting new Internet address.
Diverse organisations ranging from banks to media companies are registering .africa domain names. “Leading continental and international brands are snapping up .africa domain names because they recognise the importance of being associated with Africa’s bright future online. With many positive stories coming out of Africa, brands understand that .africa domain names are valuable virtual real estate,” says Lucky Masilela, CEO of the ZACR, the non-profit company tasked with administering the new .africa domain name on behalf of the continent.
54 countries in Africa are now united under a single, continent-wide domain name, staying true to the Oliver Tambo and Abuja Declarations of the 1990s. These written resolutions stated that ICT will be central to Africa’s future wellbeing and .africa is surely amongst the top African-led ICT initiatives of the last twenty years.
“Initiatives like .africa help harness the power of new technologies to solve old problems. .africa is unique in that it gives Africans an important sense of pride to help motivate them to achieve the very best for their continent and themselves. ZACR appeals to all Africans to take ownership of .africa, because it truly belongs to us all,” concludes Masilela.
.africa domain names are now available and anyone can register through companies listed here: http://Registry.Africa/registrars
Unlocking Solar Capital Africa conference features first Solar Power Incubator to Unlock Potential of Energy in the Region
September 7, 2017 | 0 Comments
|Phanes Group will announce the winners at Solarplaza’s event in Abidjan come October|
|ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, September 7, 2017/ — Solaplaza’s (www.Solarplaza.com) ‘Unlocking Solar Capital Africa’ conference, an event focused on connecting solar project development and finance & investment, will be the first African event featuring a Solar Incubator program, aimed at identifying PV projects of potential in sub-Saharan Africa by providing access to funding, and commercial and technical knowledge.
The initiative, ‘The PV Solar Incubator, Your Project, Our Expertise, For a Sustainable Future,’ will be launched by Phanes Group in partnership with Solarplaza, Hogan Lovells, responsAbility, and Proparco, and invites PV developers to submit proposals for projects that are based in sub-Saharan Africa, and have a clear CSR component.
Candidates are asked to submit their proposals before October 1, 2017, via Phanes Group’s website or through the conference website. Shortlistees will be invited to pitch their projects to an expert panel at Solarplaza’s ‘Unlocking Solar Capital Africa’ conference in Ivory Coast, October 25 – 26, where the industry’s biggest players will hold extensive discussions about solutions for Africa’s solar energy funding gap.
It comes as part Unlocking Solar Capital Africa’s goal to solve Africa’s solar energy funding gap and Phanes Group’s core strategy to collaborate with Africa-focused counterparties, such as local project owners, governments, and developers on projects that seek to create a sustainable future for urban and rural communities across the sub-Saharan region.
“Clean energy has the potential to transform sub-Saharan Africa for years to come, but successfully implemented PV solar projects require a diverse mix of expertise and knowledge to bring them to financial close,” said Martin Haupts, CEO, Phanes Group. “We believe the Phanes Group Solar Incubator will leverage untapped local PV potential, and create more opportunities for local projects. Combined with our strengths in developing bankable solutions for clean, affordable energy and efforts in CSR, the incubator initiative can help to address local needs that haven’t yet been met.”
There are currently more than 620 million people in sub-Saharan Africa(www.WorldEnergyOutlook.org/africa) living without electricity, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), which works to ensure global access to reliable, affordable and clean energy.
This initiative aims to support developers not just in the funding phase, but throughout the project development and delivery phases, to ensure important, CSR-focused projects are brought to financial close. Phanes Group, along with its partners, will provide PV developers with access to a reliable partner that will support them in reaching bankability. Through an initial incubator phase, extensive mentorship, and access to the right network, this year’s candidate will have an opportunity to roll-out a sustainable energy solution in their community, as well as develop a lasting relationship with an end-to-end, integrated solar expert.
After the winning project has been announced at the ‘Unlocking Solar Capital Africa’ event, the developers will be invited to join Phanes Group for an intensive 4-day workshop at its headquarters in Dubai, UAE. This will help lay the foundations for delivering a bankable and sustainable project.
“As dreamers of a future where everybody can have access to electricity for a fair price, initiatives focused on long-term success like the Phanes Group’s Solar Incubator are always dear to our hearts,” said Edwin Koot, Solarplaza. “Renewable energy infrastructure projects result in myriad benefits. We wish participants the best in bringing forth this ripple effect to their communities, and look forward to meeting them at the ‘Unlocking Solar Capital Africa’ conference this October,” Edwin Koot added.
More about the Solar Power Incubator
The inaugural Solar Incubator, held under the theme of ‘Your Project, Our Expertise, For a Sustainable Future’, will be supported by Solarplaza, Hogan Lovells, responsAbility, and Proparco.
The initiative aims to select and develop PV project opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa that haven’t been able to gain access to funding and necessary know-how. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is an integral part of this initiative; along with the project details a solid CSR concept must be submitted and will be further developed during the incubator phase, and implemented in parallel with execution of the PV project.
The candidate of the winning project will enter a partnership with Phanes Group and hold a long-term stake in the project, collaboratively bringing it to financial close. With the incubator, Phanes Group and its partners will provide the winner with extensive mentorship and knowledge transfer throughout the project.
The deadline to submit projects for evaluation and shortlisting ends on October 1, 2017. The final selection process will take place during a live panel session in the ‘Unlocking Solar Capital Africa’ conference in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, October 25-26, 2017, where the winner will be announced. Interested candidates can submit directly on the PV Solar Incubator Competition website at www.PhanesGroup.com/incubator or on the ‘Unlocking Solar Capital Africa’ conference website at http://Africa.unlockingsolarcapital.com/solar-incubator.
Phanes Group is an international solar energy developer, investment and asset manager, strategically headquartered out of Dubai with a local footprint in sub-Saharan Africa, through its two offices in the region’s largest economies – Nigeria and South Africa.
Unlocking Solar Capital Africa is an event entirely focused on connecting solar project development and finance & investment across the entire African solar sector (On-grid Solar, micro-grids, off-grid lighting and household electrification). Unlocking Solar Capital Africa 2017 will bring together hundreds of representatives from development banks, investment funds, solar developers, IPPs, EPCs & other solar stakeholders to engage in extensive discussions to solve Africa’s solar energy funding gap – and get projects realized.
Africa50 to Announce its New Strategy, New Investments, and New Members at its Shareholder Meeting in Dakar on September 12
September 7, 2017 | 0 Comments
CASABLANCA, Morocco, 7 September 2017, Africa50, the pan-African infrastructure investment platform, will hold its third Shareholders Meeting in Dakar on Tuesday, September 12, at 11:00 a.m. at the King Fahd Hotel.
Hosting the first such meeting in West Africa, his Excellency Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal, will welcome the delegates. His Excellency Bruno Tshibala, Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, will also attend. Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Africa50, will give a feature address, and Africa50 CEO Alain Ebobissé will provide updates on Africa50’s most recent investments and its growing investment pipeline, as well as announcing two new country shareholders. Africa50’s 23 shareholder governments will be represented by finance ministers, senior officials, and ambassadors. Distinguished members of the business community and the Senegalese government will also attend.
Delegates will review Africa50’s 2016 activities and approve its financial statements. Africa50’s Board of Directors will present the fund’s updated investment, fund-raising and capital increase strategies.
Following the event, the media is invited to a press conference with the principals at 12:30 p.m. at the hotel conference center.
Africa50 is an infrastructure investment platform that contributes to the continent’s growth by developing and investing in bankable projects, catalyzing public sector capital, and mobilizing private sector funding, with differentiated financial returns and impact.
ATA’s 41st Annual World Tourism Conference Showcases African Tourism
September 5, 2017 | 0 Comments
Kigali, Rwanda – September 5, 2017: The Africa Travel Association (ATA) hosted the 41st Annual World Tourism Conference in Kigali, Rwanda from August 28-31, 2017. The conference, which was developed to promote tourism as an engine for economic growth across Africa, was attended by H.E. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, who delivered the keynote address.
Hosted in collaboration with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), The 41st Annual World Tourism Conference attracted a select group of more than 200 public and private stakeholders in the African tourism sector including ministers of tourism, senior officials of national tourism boards from across the continent, airlines, hotels, travel agents and tour operators, as well digital platforms and service providers in the tourism industry such as TripAdvisor, Expedia, MasterCard, Tastemakers Africa, Facebook, Uber, Afro Tourism, Tourvest, and Marriott International.
In addition to President Kagame, other notable guests included Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, UNCTAD Secretary-General, Ms. Clare Akamanzi, CEO of RDB and the United States Ambassador to Rwanda, Amb. Erica Barks Ruggles.
“Rwanda, like other countries on the continent, is keen to convert our favourable demographics into economic growth and prosperity,” said President Kagame in his keynote address. “The services sector – in particular, tourism – provides some of the best opportunities.”
Tourism is already doing well in Rwanda and the country is a strong example of how tourism can boost economic growth. The tourism sector is the country’s largest foreign exchange earner and Rwanda has liberalized its visa policies, which has led to a huge growth in tourists especially from Africa. The government is also investing heavily in infrastructure including a new airport to support a growing number of tourists. President Kagame did note however, that more could still be done to grow Rwandan tourism especially by harnessing technology and the new opportunities technological innovation can bring.
“This conference is particularly important to us, because tourism plays a key role in Rwanda’s economy,” said Ms. Clare Akamanzi, CEO of RDB, who welcomed attendees to Rwanda. According to Ms. Akamanzi, Rwanda’s tourism receipts doubled between 2010 and 2016 to more than USD $400 million.
CCA President and CEO, Ms. Florie Liser focused on the unique role ATA and CCA will play in the sector’s development “Under CCA’s new vision and leadership, I would like to affirm our commitment to continuing the promotion of sustainable development of tourism to and within Africa through new initiatives,” said Ms. Liser. One of those initiatives, ATAcademy, is a platform to support capacity building and inclusive growth for tourism professionals on the continent. The second initiative, ATA Connex, will focus on increasing investments in tourism through facilitated business-to-business and business-to-government linkages.
As part of the ATAcademy initiative, ATA hosted a series of capacity building sessions at the conference. Travel agents and tour operators attended sessions focused on North American travelers and on the tourism market and sustainability. “The United States – we are pleased to say – accounts for the single largest source of tourism in Rwanda as well as the largest single bilateral foreign direct investment country,” said U.S. Ambassador Erica Barks Ruggles.
UNCTAD Secretary-General, Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, shared highlights of the recent UNCTAD report on African tourism, Economic Development in Africa Report 2017: Tourism for Transformative and Inclusive Growth. “The most startling and interesting discovery in our study is that by far, the fastest growing tourism in Africa is intra-African tourism,” said Dr, Kituyi. “Intra-African tourism is 12 months a year.” Over the last 10 years, intra-African tourism has grown from 34 percent to 44 percent of total African tourism revenues and is projected to be more than 50 percent in the next 10 years. Dr. Kituyi also emphasized a need to change Africa’s image perception and the importance of peace and security for tourism to thrive.
In less than 15 years, Africa’s travel and hospitality industries have quadrupled in size, and the continent remains one of the world’s fastest-growing tourist destinations, second only to Southeast Asia. The 41st World Tourism Conference featured more than 20 in-depth plenaries and breakout sessions with industry experts and professionals to discuss the latest trends and insights in African tourism and how best to grow the continent’s market share.
This year was the first time ATA’s Tourism Conference was hosted in Rwanda. The conference aligned with Kwita Izina, Rwanda’s annual gorilla naming ceremony, a national celebration creating awareness of the country’s efforts to protect the jewel of Rwanda’s tourism crown: the mountain gorillas and their habitat.
About the Africa Travel Association
Established in 1975, The African Travel Association serves both the public and private sectors of the international travel and tourism industry. ATA membership comprises African governments, their tourism ministers, tourism bureaus and boards, airlines, cruise lines, hotels, resorts, front-line travel sellers and providers, tour operators and travel agents, and affiliate industries. ATA partners with the African Union Commission (AU) to promote the sustainable development of tourism to and across Africa.
About the Corporate Council on Africa
Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) is the leading U.S. business association focused solely on connecting U.S. and African business interests. CCA serves as a neutral, trusted intermediary connecting its member firms with the essential government and business leaders they need to do business and succeed in Africa.
*Courtesy of CCA
RAILA ODINGA: THE CONFLICTING PERSONALITY OF AN ELECTION PETITION WINNER
September 3, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Chief Charles A. Taku*
Honourable Raila Omolo Odinga, the controversial and polarizing Kenyan opposition politician is a conflicted personality. He is a career politician and civil society political activist combined. These qualities make him unmistakably the Lakayana of Kenyan politics. While both qualities may on occasion advance his diverse political objectives, they often collide at critical moments in his political life making the attainment of his political ambition elusive.
These qualities make him complex; even mesmerizing. Those who love and adore him, do so passionately. Those who abhor and distrust him do so passionately in equal measure. He is unmistakably a polarizing personality in dire need of political power in a country in need of a uniting leader.
During the last election which earned Uhuru Kenyatta his first presidential mandate, Philip Ochieng, one of the most respected journalists in Kenya, wrote in the Sunday Nation that following on the footsteps of his father Jaramogi Odinga Odinga, Raila Omolo Odinga was his own worst enemy. All it needs to prove the validity of this assessment, is to provide Raila with a platform and crowd. Then he has no control over his speech, its consequences and its political cost. This quality was on display when he faced the press, his cheering supports and an anxious electorate after the delivery of the Supreme Judgment in his favour annulling the presidential elections in which President Uhuru Kenyatta was proclaimed the winner.
He was everything but presidential in his speech. Rather to take the opportunity of that rare election petition victory to calm a politically restive nation. He threatened, castigated, criticized, pontificated, and baited his perceived or real enemies. In short, he sounded more like a civil society political activist during his election petition victory speech than a presidential candidate who had just been granted another lease of life to contest a crucial election in two months. In the end, he failed to even appeal to the electorate to vote for him.
The hard fact is that, the decision of the Supreme Court of Kenya annulling the Presidential election result that favoured President Uhuru Kenyatta should be applauded not for its outcome, for like all judicial decisions it still has to undergo the rigours of informed scrutiny, but for the fact that at long last an African country, and Kenya for that matter, has proved that it has the capacity to deliver effective, efficient and independent justice. The International Criminal Court with the hypocritical approval of erstwhile colonial Western powers relied on this fallacy to violate the complementarity safeguards of the Rome treaty to inappropriately target Kenya and indeed Africa in its interventions from when it was established.
The constitution of Kenya that provided the constitutional guarantees of the separation of powers which was exercised in the full glare and satisfaction of the world at large in particular the Western world, in this election petition, was in place when Moreno Ocampo, urged on by the same Western actors and by Raila Odinga intervened in the 2007 election violence conflict in Kenya on the grounds that Kenya did not have an effective, efficient and independent Judiciary to investigate and punish the perpetrators of the 2007 election violence. With the present decision, the scales of prejudice have sudden fallen and the Kenya Judiciary is all praises from the patronizing erstwhile colonial West; not for the justice of the Supreme Court judgment that is still subject to judicial scrutiny, but for the fact that in context, it comes close to doing what they would have wanted done but for the fact that in this case, popular sovereignty as opposed to judiciary fiat may yet again determine the outcome of the elections in two months.
I must admit, and all respecters of the rule of law must, as President Uhuru Kenyatta did, that the Supreme Court of Kenya and indeed the lower courts before whom election petitions were brought, fulfilled their constitutional mandate effectively, efficiently and independently. For this, the Judiciary of Kenya merits praise. It always has. It is another thing if the outcome of judicial proceedings before the courts were acceptable or not. In this case, the ultimate arbiter, call it the supreme judge is not the judiciary, it is the sovereign people of Kenya in their exercise of its inalienable, unimpeachable right of popular sovereignty to elect its leaders.
If there was any lingering doubt therefore, about the falsity of the claims that Kenya did not have an independent, efficient and effective judiciary as alleged by Moreno Ocampo and his handlers, then the successful litigation of election petitions by Kenyan lower courts and ultimately, its Supreme Court has proved them wrong. However, the ghost of the ICC was visible in this election and will remain visible in the next round and future elections. In many ways, it will inhibit the ability of Raila Odinga to win the repeat elections.
This may be discerned from the misplaced message conveyed through his Supreme Court election petition celebratory speech. His resolve to prosecute election officials instead of using the moment to celebrate in measured humility, reassure millions of voters who perceive him as vindictive, abrasive and dictatorial, may further alienate him from critical voters who value peace and unity of the nation over triumphalist display of person power.
During the last election which saw Uhuru Kenyatta win his first mandate, Raila squandered his best opportunity of ever becoming the President of Kenya by deconstructing a formidable alliance he formed with a youthful, ambitious, savvy and perhaps most skillful politician in Kenya Deputy Vice President William Ruto. He did so by offering him as a sacrificial lamb to Ocampo.
In his miscalculation, he perceived the ICC intervention as a means of depriving William Ruto of the possibility of sharing in the effervescence of his then rising political profile. He miscalculated, for Mr Ruto is a political product of the majority ordinary people of Kenya who see their image in him and consider him as one of theirs. The ordinary people of Kenya have long traced and refined his path to presidential power and this is obvious even to the jaundiced eye. He has merely been playing for his time to come to embark on the journey to fulfill his people’s will. A smart politician, he did not want to squander the opportunity when the potential path to the presidency in 2020 came calling. Raila Odinga’s political miscalculation and the ICC proceedings provided him that opportunity.
Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto are good students of history. The patronizing support given by Western countries to the ICC proceedings gave them the opportunity to position themselves as defenders of the sovereignty of Kenya and the liberating cause of new Africa. The humiliating campaign against the ability of the judicial institutions of Kenya to conduct post-election violence proceedings, the same institutions that are being hailed by the same erstwhile colonial Western countries, required genuine leaders to standup to the challenge and mobilize Kenyans to defend their national pride and their sovereignty. Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto offered this leadership while Raila Odinga largely portrayed himself through his own public pronouncements as a Western poodle in his unqualified support for the ICC proceedings. Whatever motivations he had for seeking political leadership while supporting proceedings which placed the sovereignty of his country under the ward of the ICC, in the political context of the proceedings, he was perceived as relying on the case as a means of settling internal political scores and eliminating his political opponents from contesting the elections against him.
That backfired and he lost the elections. The credibility of the ICC came out seriously bruised in the process because its intervention was not perceived to be in the best interest of Kenya and the victims of the election violence. The overwhelming evidence of Western interference portrayed the Kenya ICC cases as politically motivated. At the end of his mandate as the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC, Moreno Ocampo in published newspaper and television interviews confirmed this fact.
During this election, an ICC official in the Prosecutor’s Office made a misguided statement in a conference in Arusha in neighbouring Tanzania linking the potential outcome of the Kenya election to a potential reviving of the ICC cases in the case the opposition candidate won. This admittedly uncoordinated statement nevertheless places the statement by Raila Odinga about prosecuting election commission members into the providential focus which Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr William Ruto may in addition to their largely positive development record, ride on to victory once again.
Why must Raila Odinga want to get election officials prosecuted when the Supreme Court did not make a finding of criminal conduct? Was this a forewarning that a result short of victory for him in the repeat elections will not be accepted by him? Was it a forewarning of another round of litigation to dissolve the election commission and compromise the organization of the election he may lose? Will this not lead to a constitutional crisis where this to happen? No matter from what perspective this attack and threat of prosecution may be perceived, it portrays Raila Odinga as a potentially vengeful politician who thrives on the politics on politics of bitterness.
Raila Odinga squandered his moment of glory in focusing on yet another prosecution rather than taking advantage of the glare and focus of the moment to mobilize his base and Kenyans in general to give him their votes in two months. He failed to appeal for peace, reconciliation and national healing after a very polarizing judicial experience. He failed to explain why he sought for the poll to be nullified to the electorate. He impressed professional judges of the Supreme Court about his reasons for seeking and obtaining an annulment of the elections in which he lost. He still must do a better job explaining to the electorate he will be facing in two months.
The case, its outcome and his celebratory rhetoric may energize the majority who voted against him to defend their franchise by voting against him in even greater numbers. The bane of Raila Odinga has always been his inability to reconcile Raila the civil society political activist from Raila the career politician. He has never understood that although bed partners, these attributes are on critical occasions strange bed fellows. The bull instant in political activism is at critical moments, the bane of career politicians. It may take an election petition victory and a repeat election to lose for Raila Odinga to finally come to terms with this reality.
In contrast, Uhuru Kenyatta was presidential and humble in his speech in which he disagreed with the outcome of the judgment but accepted the outcome nevertheless. Calling for peace to reign, he took the opportunity to relaunch his election campaign. He reminded the people of Kenya to whom he and his deputy have turned to since the ICC challenge, that the power to decide the destiny of Kenya belonged to them not to six individuals constituting a court of law.
That appeal succeeded and helped them to win the Presidential elections regarding the ICC proceedings. It may succeed once more with the Supreme Court Judgment acting as a tonic, call it a fig leaf of mobilization for a greater electoral victory come two months. Raila Odinga by promising Kenyans further court cases and prosecutions may have paved the way for the people to deny him that opportunity. He may have unwittingly placed the spotlight on the focus on the possibility of a revived ICC nightmare under a Raila Odinga presidency. He seems not to have learnt the painful lesson that his prior support for this nightmare among other reasons led to a majority of his people rejecting him in the last election.
Kenyans know that Raila did not challenge the election outcome which largely favoured his opponent. He challenged but the constitutionality and the legality of the conduct of the elections. His greatest challenge remains how to convince the majority that elected Uhuru and Ruto to switch over and vote for him. If he carefully reflected on the Supreme Court Judgment prior to making his celebratory speech, he should have known that that Judgement did not find any wrong doing against Uhuru Kenyatta based on which the electorate would have sanctioned him. On the contrary, the constitutional violations, illegalities and procedural inadequacies by the election commission deprived him of victory in an election whose outcome was neither in doubt nor contested by Raila in his petition. Raila in his celebratory speech inappropriately sought inappropriately to place blames for the failures of the election commission on his adversary where none was found by the Supreme Court. If his Supreme Court election speech is a template of his election performance in two months, then I regret, he may not prevail in the court of popular sovereignty.
There are several logistical and organizational odds that militate against his ability to conduct an effective campaign within just two months. He benefitted from a steady flow of international goodwill, tactical and strategic support during the annulled poll. It is inconceivable, considering the electoral map of Kenya, that this key constituency will again invest in a repeat election when the outcome of the annulled election was never challenged. The appeal for calm by President Uhuru Kenyatta apart, the calm that followed the Supreme Court Judgment may be an unmistakable exercise of confidence that in two months this silent majority may yet again reassert its sovereignty over its choice of leader. And Raila Odinga tacitly acknowledged the reality of that choice by not challenging the critical choice that was made in the annulled poll.
- Chief Charles A. Taku is an international lawyer writing from The Hague The Netherlands.
Insight Into Atlas Africa: It is about Aligning Business Opportunities With Interested Parties, says CEO Lindi Gillespie.
August 31, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
For Lindi Gillespie, connecting the right people to opportunities in the market place and creating viable and strategic partnerships is her passion. Leveraging her vast networks and experience garnered over a twenty year period in diverse marketing and business roles, Lindi Gillespie founded Atlas Africa, an investment and brokerage company with operational base from South Africa. The firm offers clients the opportunity to expand business prospects on a broad range of sectors across Africa and on the global stage.
As CEO of Atlas Africa, Lindi, a Graduate of the University of Cape Town has surrounded herself with a solid team of talented associates who pride themselves in providing tailor made investment brokerage services and the delivery of first class returns to their clients.
“We do our best to understand our client’s business needs and long term plans when putting together a marketing strategy for bringing their services and products into the African markets,” says Lindi, who was recently ranked amongst Africa’s top 25 Women in Leadership by Amazon Watch Magazine.
With the goal of building long term professional relationships based on honesty, integrity, and sustainable revenue generation, Atlas Africa has steadily grown its business portfolio across Africa and beyond. In addition to South Africa and the SADC sub region, Atlas has excelled in West and East Africa, and Lindi says there are a growing number of hotel deals going through in the Maldives and Europe.
“Our clients stick with us because we work hard for them and always do our very best to find the best solutions to their needs by using our International network,” says Lindi as she expresses the ambition to further grow and sustain the strong reputation of Atlas Africa when it comes to investing in the continent.
Ms Gillespie, thanks so much for accepting to grant this interview , you are CEO of Atlas Africa Group, could you start by introducing the Group for us, what does it do, and when was it created?
Atlas Africa Group was formed in December 2015 when I attended the Global African Investment Summit in London. The Atlas Africa Group finds financing for renewable energy projects internationally; but predominantly in Africa. I raise these funds from individual investors; pensions fund; renewable energy funds and private equity funds. We also focus on Projects that are property related. We are very involved in development of hotels and also the buying and selling of hotels in Africa and its surrounding islands. Other sectors of the economies in Africa are covered as well.
What motivated you to create the Group, what skill set did you have, may we also have an idea of the staff strength and profile of those who make up the Group?
The motivation to start the Group was the dire need for infrastructure development; electricity; urbanisation development and especially agriculture to feed the people of Africa. Sustainability in Africa was my core motivation – to assist with this process. My skills are mainly in marketing and in introducing people where synchronicity exists to make things happen around the continent. For example I work closely with the Swiss who have foundations to help the poor and also various funds that have budgets to help the underprivileged people in our communities. The kind of people I choose to work with are professionals who are experts in all the fields that I can’t fill! Such as accounting and office administration. I prefer face to face contact with clients; travelling for work related projects and marketing our pipeline of projects.
Let’s talk about the success stories, are there concrete examples of successful projects that have been carried out by the Atlas Group? Potential clients may be interested in knowing something about the track record of Atlas
Our success stories are mainly in renewable energy and infrastructure development. At the moment deals are being processed in the Ivory Coast and Mali. These deals are private and public projects. We also have a number of hotel deals going through in the Maldives and Europe. These deals involve International hotel brands and private equity firms. We are processing low cost housing projects in two areas of Namibia where building of houses will begin within the next few weeks.
For people interested in using the services of Atlas, what do they need to do and what additional guarantees does the Group have to assure clients of positive results?
For positive result with new clients, it is a question of what stage the project is based. For instance we have investors of Greenfield renewable energy projects but projects with all licences and a PPA is where most of the clients invest. When it comes to PPPs, countries that offer sovereign guarantees or some form of guarantees make the project more attractive to investors. For projects needing funds Atlas Africa is always open to consider these projects.
What other parts of Africa is the Group operating in besides South Africa where it is based?
Atlas Africa focuses mainly on countries of good governance. We focus on areas where is safe for workforce to complete projects. Our presence is mainly in the SADC region and various countries in East and West Africa.
How will you describe the business climate first in South Africa and on other parts of the continent where you do business?
With the downgrading of South Africa’s economic sector; there are challenges in all parts of the economy including private and public business. I focus most of Atlas Africa Group’s growth outside of South Africa. I have a number of property interests however in South Africa. Our press in South Africa is bullish which helps with addressing the corruption in the country. The corruption has affected growth in all areas of the economy and many people are taking their money out of the country; emigrating or disinvesting.
Lindi Gillespie was recently profiled as one of Africa’s Top 25 Women in Leadership by Amazon Watch Magazine, what did this mean for you?
Being chosen as one of the 25 most influential women in Africa was a huge achievement for me. It showed that the work I do in Africa counts and that I have a voice on the continent. I would like to become more involved with positive movements and change.
To young Africans especially the women who see in you a role model, and will want to emulate your example, what are some secrets of success that you have for them?
The secret of success for young women is to have a specific focus. The best choice is to align yourself with positive people who will support your ideas and your business growth. If you are an entrepreneur like myself ,you need to expect difficulties and challenges. This will keep you up at night but you need faith to keep going. So many deals fall through but it’s all part of being in the game of business. Try and secure finance so that you can get through the hard times when deals are taking years to come through!!
We end with a last word on the future of the Atlas Group, what next after growing it to where it is, any big plans in the years ahead to grow and improve the client base?
Our big plans and ambitions are to grow and sustain our strong reputation when it comes to investing in Africa. Our clients stick with us because we work hard for them and always do our very best to find the best solutions to their needs by using our International network.
Power Africa Releases Annual Report
August 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
Power Africa, a U.S. Government-led initiative to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa, has released its annual report. The initiative consists of more than 150 public and private sector partners, which have collectively committed more than $54 billion towards achieving Power Africa’s goals. It is among the world’s largest public-private partnerships in development history.
The 2017 report highlights how Power Africa continues to lay the foundation for sustainable economic growth in Africa while creating opportunities for American businesses as it makes progress towards its goals of increasing installed generation capacity by 30,000 megawatts (MW) and adding 60 million new electricity connections by 2030.
Since its inception, Power Africa has facilitated the financial close of power transactions expected to generate more than 7,200 MW of power in sub-Saharan Africa. The 80 Power Africa transactions that have concluded financing agreements are valued at more than $14.5 billion, and Power Africa projects have generated more than $500 million in U.S. exports. In addition, Power Africa has facilitated more than 10 million electrical connections, which have brought electricity to more than 50 million people for the first time.
The report also highlights the role of women in Africa’s power sector, by chronicling the contributions of select members of Power Africa’s Women in African Power (WiAP) network. It includes an executive letter from the Honorable Irene Muloni, Minister for Energy and Minerals in Uganda, as well as profiles of women whose drive is strengthening Africa’s power sector.
Over the next year, Power Africa will work with more than 100 U.S. companies, African partners, other donors, and the private sector to harness the technology, ingenuity, and political will necessary to bring the benefits of modern energy to even remote parts of Africa while promoting economic growth. The initiative will also expand beyond its initial focus on solar lanterns and renewable energy to support more on-grid power projects in natural gas and other sources.
Integrating Financial Services In Africa
August 18, 2017 | 0 Comments
A defining objective of the African Union is to promote sustainable development at the economic, social and cultural levels as well as the integration of African economies. This noble mandate, enshrined in Article 3, of the Constitutive Acts of the AU, actually predates the AU, and was a principal goal of the Organization of African Unity, OAU, the predecessor body of the AU.
Economic integration also provided a fundamental impetus in the formation of the various Regional Economic Communities, RECs, and monetary zones in Africa – viz. ECOWAS, UMOA, CEMAC, CEEAC, EAC, AMU, CEN-SAD, SADC, COMESA, IGAD, etc. Together, these RECs have striven to promote and co-ordinate social, political and economic integration in the continent.Interestingly, some countries are even members of up two or three RECs. This is a testament to the overarching criticality of economic integration in the vision, plans and activities of African states.
In this treatise, I will focus on the integration of financial services in Africa, an unheralded field, but where remarkable results are being recorded. A Payment System is a facilitator of monetary transactions, and a veritable integrative node. In the UEMOA zone, in West Africa, the Groupement Interbancaire Monétique de I’UnionEconomique et MonétaireOuestAfricaine, more widely known by its French acronym, GIM-UEMOA, set up by BCEAO, the Central Bank of West African States in 2003, in striving to create a cashless region, has grown to become a regional platform for cards, electronic payments, and clearing of interbank transactions. With over 100 banks, financial and postal institutions as members; cardholders in the GIM network,pay relatively low transaction fees.
Also, the Central African equivalent, GIMAC,created in 2013, under the guidance of the Central Bank of Central African States, BEAC, is working with Banks to integrate the electronic payments system in the region, and ensure inter-operability and acceptance of GIMAC cards, for ATMs, POS, etc, by banks and for international payments,and reduce transaction and cash handling costs, while facilitating e-commerce.
The East African Payment System, EAPS, provides a platform for the real time settlement of cross border payments in the region. Driven by the Central Banks in the region, and piloted in 2013, the payment system took off immediately in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and subsequently, Rwanda. More remarkable is that EAPS is based on direct convertibility, and the use of the currencies of participating countries for transactions and settlement, without the intermediary facilitation of any OECD currency. For instance, transactions initiated in Tanzania shillings can be directly settled in Uganda shillings or Kenya shillings.
In Southern Africa, the SADC Integrated Regional Electronic Settlement System (SIRESS),and the Regional Payment and Settlement System, REPSS, launched separately in 2014, are two integrative payments systems worth referencing. Through SIRESS, funds can be wired, real time, to beneficiaries with accounts in SIRESS commercial banks. REPSS, with a clearing house in Zimbabwe, and the Central Bank of Mauritius as its Settlement Bank, utilizes an electronic platform for cross-border payments and settlement.
Quite positively, these initiatives, operationalized under the auspices of Central Banks, and with the active participation of commercial Banks are technologically advanced, rapid, and secure. While leveraging on the real-time gross settlement systems of the countries, they seek to enhance efficiency, reduce settlement time, lower transaction costs and generally facilitate intra-African trade, and economic integration in the continent.
In tandem, the banking sector, in Africa, has expanded exponentially in the last decade, in asset size and profitability; geography -distribution channels and network; product sophistication- digital banking, cards, mobile payments; and, financial inclusion. Access to financial services continues to improve across the continent. Furthermore, leveraging on enhanced capacity, pan-African banks are increasingly able to collaboratively finance large ticket and transformational infrastructural projects through syndications and risk sharing. Currently, the top 20 pan-African Banks have assets over $800b, with over 11,000 branches. Beyond banking, we are also witnesses to the birth and growth of pan-African insurance, micro finance, and other financial service companies across the continent that offer greater diversity and depth of products and solutions. All these have led to the increase in the range, frequency, and diversity in the classes of risks that Banks, and other financial institutions, face. Concomitantly, risk management, regulatory compliance and corporate governance have become more stringent, and with onerous application, as they remain important variables for assessing the health of Banks, in the drive towards overall sector viability and sustainability.
Imperceptibly, but surely, the regulatory environment of the financial services sector, is also being integrated. The Association of African Central Banks, headquartered in Dakar, brings together 39 regional and country Central Banks in Africa. In line with its statutes, and practices, its Assembly of Governors, usually meets yearly, to deliberate on financial system stability, monetary and payment system integration, the African Central Bank initiative, etc.Another critical arm is the Community of African Banking Supervisors (CABS) which works to strengthen banking regulatory and supervisory frameworks.In the last decade, I have observed, first hand, this increased collaboration between African Central Banks,with MOUs being signed, to facilitate cross border supervision, exchange of ideas and information sharing between host and home regulators. Also, the College of Supervisors set up by the Central Bank of Nigeria, as a forum that brings together host regulators of Banks, with headquarters in Nigeria, but with operations in other jurisdictions,to strengthen governance practices, and ensure soundness in the banking sector, is also a positive development.
An evolving trend in the African banking space, is the initiative to connect Africa, andenablecustomers of a bank to conveniently access their accounts, deposit cash and make cheque withdrawals in any branch, in different countries across Africa, where the bank operates, outside the primary country holding the account. This has the distinct capability to alter the face and operation of banking in the continent as it will open up and facilitate easy movement of goods, services capital, and people. I also look forward to the day, soon enough, for instance, when a Moroccan manufacturer of fertilizer visiting Zambia to negotiate a contract; agrees payment terms, issues a paymentinstrument right away to a Zambian exporter of high quality packaging materials and gets value immediately, using simple electronic payment instruments.
On the whole, these emerging trends contribute significantly to the on-going African-led processes of creating a powerful, vibrant pan-African financial infrastructure, to further undergird and deepen Pan African economic, commercial, business and social interactions through access to personal and business finance across Africa. Together with the various similar initiatives in different spheres by African economic communities identified above, these initiatives will serve as a powerful signal of the march of African economic advancement through financial facilitation to build a fully integrated financial system that enhances financial inclusion, and serves the people.
Work remains. To accelerate financial integration, existing regional mechanisms and frameworks, including those highlighted above, must now begin to coalesce and fuse into larger pan-African systems, Central Banking, common currency, payments and collections; intra-African trade facilitation; etc. In spite of existing differences, but given the importance and fluidity of finance to agriculture, infrastructure, industry and economic development, the largest economies in each region showered as regional anchors, within a defined framework of the Assembly of the African Union.
*Emeka is Executive Director; CEO Africa- Francophone at UBA Group.Piece culled from linkedin page.
The Africa Travel Association to host the 41st Annual World Tourism Conference in Rwanda this month
August 17, 2017 | 0 Comments
Africa: A.P. Moller Holding launches new infrastructure fund with a focus on Africa
August 12, 2017 | 0 Comments
|The new fund will focus on investments in infrastructure in Africa to support sustainable economic growth in the region while delivering an attractive return to its investors|
|COPENHAGEN, Denmark, August 10, 2017/ — A.P. Moller Holding (www.APMoller.com) has together with PKA, PensionDanmark and Lægernes Pension launched a new infrastructure fund with a focus on Africa. The fund has received commitments of USD 550 million from anchor investors.
The new fund will focus on investments in infrastructure in Africa to support sustainable economic growth in the region while delivering an attractive return to its investors.
The fund will be managed by A.P. Moller Capital, which is an affiliate of A.P. Moller Holding, and consists of a team lead by four partners, Kim Fejfer, Lars Reno Jakobsen, Jens Thomassen and Joe Nicklaus Nielsen. The partners all have extensive industrial and investment experience combined with a substantial network in Africa.
“We are very pleased with the significant support from the Danish pension funds and A.P. Moller Holding. Together, we will build and operate infrastructure business in Africa to support sustainable development and improvements in living standards across the continent. We will combine the best from industry in terms of project management and operational capabilities with the best from private equity in terms of agility and focus,” says Kim Fejfer, Managing Partner and CEO of A.P. Moller Capital.
“A.P. Moller Holding was established to build value creating businesses that have a positive impact on society. Africa, with a working-age population likely to reach more than one billion people in the next decades, has a pressing requirement for more investments in infrastructure. In this respect, we are delighted to have established a new promising company in our portfolio with a strong team, who hold the right capabilities and experience to manage infrastructure investments in emerging markets,” says Robert Mærsk Uggla, CEO of A.P. Moller Holding.
The fund has a duration of 10 years and has an initial target of 10 to 15 investments in total.
Peter Damgaard Jensen, CEO at PKA: “PKA has for many years invested in infrastructure both in Denmark and abroad. We have positive experiences investing in Africa and we have for a long time wanted to invest more on the continent. With this new fund we will be making infrastructure investments in Africa and get the opportunity to provide a good return to the pension savers and at the same time make a positive difference in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals”.
Torben Möger Pedersen, CEO PensionDanmark: “We are delighted to be among the seed investors in Africa Infrastructure Fund I. We see this as a unique opportunity to invest in a region with high economic growth and attractive investment opportunities alongside a partner, A. P. Moller Capital, that has extensive investment experience combined with a strong network and a promising pipeline of potential investment projects. The fund is a good example of how private capital can be mobilized on large scale to implement the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals”.
Chresten Dengsøe, CEO at Lægernes Pension: “Lægernes Pension are delighted to invest in the development of sustainable infrastructure in Africa together with similar-minded Danish pension funds. The team has many years of experience and a proven track record in the region and we expect them to provide attractive investment opportunities going forward”.
Following first commitments, the fund will be open for additional institutional investors for the next 12 months. The ambition is to raise USD 1bn in commitments.
AFRICA’S SKYROCKETING UNEMPLOYMENT: WHO IS TO BLAME, THE UNIVERSITIES OR THE STATES?
August 12, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Moses Hategeka
A few years back, I wrote an article titled, “Universities/Varsity Curricula Must be Practical” that was published in, The Herald, Zimbabwe’s most popular and biggest Newspaper, and was as well republished in various other Newspapers and Magazines in other African countries.
In that article, I argued that, theory based and powered curricula as administered in most African universities, cannot spur a critical mass of skilled graduates needed to transform African economies and called, for its total overhaul.
In the same article, I called upon, African governments to step up funding to their universities and compel them to overhaul cramming based learning and adopt research powered learning.
Research powered learning especially in the experimental sciences curricula, makes students, to gain knowledge of producing inventions, innovations, and ground breaking technologies, which if backed by supportive conducive governments’ policies, can be a catalyst, in spurring industrial and entrepreneurial development in African countries. It also enables the students from social sciences and humanities field, to gain interdisciplinary knowledge, that in turn makes them, critical thinkers, capable of objectively analyzing public policies and other issues at hand, and provide remedies where inadequacies exists.
Africa’s skyrocketing unemployment problem, especially youth unemployment that is affecting millions of youth on the continent, is a manifestation, of the failure of governments and universities, to harmonize their visions, into one complimentary vision of finding solutions to the challenges facing the continent.
Universities are supposed to be the center of knowledge production and dissemination where learners are equipped with relevant knowledge and skills that makes them capable of solving societal problems and meeting societal needs. Are African universities serving this purpose fully?
Globally, research is a chief driver of new knowledge and innovation crucial for spurring sustainable industrial and entrepreneurial development, but how much of the research have African universities done or are doing that have translated or are translating into industrial commercial usable products? Why is it that, African industries are majorly powered by imported technologies despite the fact that we have engineering and technology faculties at our universities?
In the medical field, why is that all the health complications that requires specialized surgeries are mainly done outside Africa with those unable to afford it dying miserably despite us having medical schools/faculties at our universities? Still in medical sector, why is that the few molecular biologists in our countries are unable to use computerized technologies to read and analyze the genomes of viruses and only do so after being subjected to re-training by experts trained from abroad?
African governments are supposed to apportion a good percentage of their national budgets for research development, if research, is to result into implementable policies and industrial usable products. But wait a minute! Looking at countries’ national Budgets, how much money percentage wise does African countries allocate to their institutions for research development?
Governments are also supposed to create robust favorable environment and opportunities for its employable citizens not only at national level, but also at international level, by incorporating in their foreign policies and international relations, the issue of systematically and legally transporting their employable labor to other countries where it is needed through bilateral relations, like what Cuba, Russia, China, and India have done and are doing. What are African countries doing in this regard?
For example, on realizing that, it cannot employ, all its trained Doctors, Cuba, decided to integrate medicine as a fundamental element in its foreign policy and international relations, as thus, eighty percent of Doctors and health professionals in Venezuela, are Cubans, send there by the Cuban government, on bilateral arrangement with Venezuelan government, where by Cuba, supplies medical workers in return for oil and gas supplies from Venezuelan government. Cuba also has hundreds of Doctors working on bilateral arrangement in other Latin American and African countries. Russia, India, and China, who produces, highest number of technology specialists and professionals in life and experimental sciences also does the same.
To the Chinese government, where there is Chinese capital and trade, there should be Chinese labor. Many people keep on wondering, why there is large presence of Chinese engineers, technicians, and traders, especially allover in African countries and other developing nations, forgetting that, transportation of labor to foreign countries, is a cardinal part of Chinese foreign policy and international relations. In fact, all the major infrastructural development projects in Africa, like major road high ways, Dams, buildings and industries construction, have been and are being executed by Chinese supported companies and labor
To overcome, the waves of rural- urban migration tied unemployment, and curb horrible unemployment figures among its science and technology specialists, the Chinese government, developed an economic diversification policy aligned, to urbanization, industrialization, and transformation of rural locations, into production centers, which involved relocating major industries from already congested industrial centers to rural areas, thus expanding industrial base and creating new towns and employment in the process, Wuxi and Nantong for example, owe their transformation from rural to major industrial centers to this policy.
In sum, universities’ curricula must be research derived and interdisciplinary powered, for the graduates to translate the acquired knowledge and skills, into industrial usable products and attaining critical thinking skills, capable of finding solutions to the societal challenges and needs and African governments must ably fund their varsities for this to happen in addition to putting in place, the implementable policies that stimulate entire spectrum
Moses Hategeka is a Ugandan based Independent Governance Researcher, Public Affairs Analyst, and Writer
Fitch affirms African Development Bank’s Triple ‘A’ rating with Stable Outlook
August 12, 2017 | 0 Comments
Leading global rating agency Fitch Ratings has affirmed the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at ‘AAA’ with a Stable Outlook and its Short-Term IDR at ‘F1+’ (best quality grade, indicating exceptionally strong capacity to meet its financial commitments).
In a statement released on 4 August, the agency said the ‘AAA’ rating primarily reflects extraordinary support from AfDB’s shareholders which provides a three-notch uplift over the Bank’s intrinsic rating.
“AfDB enjoys strong support from its 80 member states, which include 26 non-African countries with high average ratings. Callable capital subscribed by member states rated ‘AAA’, the largest of which are the US, Germany and Canada, accounts for 21% of the total. This fully covered the Bank’s net debt at end-2016, underpinning the ‘aaa’ assessment of shareholders’ capacity to support,” the statement said.
The report underscores the strong propensity of member states to support the Bank in case of need as illustrated by previous capital increases and the Bank’s important role in the region’s financing.
In the assessment, Fitch maintains that fast growth in AfDB’s lending in the last two years has translated into a rapid increase in its indebtedness, noting that the Bank’s Management has indicated that if there is no clear evidence of a capital increase within the next two years, it will have no choice but to curb lending growth to preserve the Bank’s solvency metrics. The report added that if no capital increase is approved by 2019, debt will not be fully covered by callable capital from ‘AAA’ rated countries, adding that this would place substantial pressure on Fitch’s assessment of extraordinary support and, hence on AfDB’s IDR.
Fitch asserts that the relatively high risk profile of borrowers is mitigated by the preferred creditor status (PCS) that the Bank enjoys on its sovereign exposures.
Fitch assesses AfDB’s liquidity at ‘aaa’, which reflects excellent coverage of short-term debt by liquid assets (2.9x). However, Fitch notes that the share of the portfolio invested in securities or bank placements rated ‘AA-‘ or above (83% in 2016) is declining, although their quality is still assessed at excellent. Fitch understands that management intends to rebalance the treasury assets portfolio in order to increase the proportion of assets rated ‘AA-‘ or above. This would help underpin Fitch’s assessment of the strength of extraordinary support, given the relevance of liquid assets’ quality to the net debt calculation.
“The -1 notch adjustment to AfDB’s solvency stemming from our assessment of its business environment reflects the high risk operating environment in which the bank operates,” the report says, noting that the majority of African countries are classified as low income by the World Bank. The average income per capita and average rating of member states are the lowest of all regional MDBs, and they are subject to an overall high level of political risk.
Commenting on the rating, AfDB Acting Vice-President for Finance, Hassatou Diop N’Sele, said, “We welcome the confirmation of the AfDB’s AAA rating by Fitch, with a stable outlook. The Bank is dedicated to doing the most to make a marked positive difference in the lives of hundreds of millions of Africans, while at the same time preserving its financial integrity. Our High 5agenda is our response to the need to accelerate and scale up Africa’s development to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of the continent. The High 5 agenda, reflecting five identified priority areas (namely energy, agriculture, industrialization, integration and human capital development), enjoys strong support from our shareholders. The AfDB will continue to maintain a careful balance between maximizing its development effectiveness and assuring complete preservation of the interests of its stakeholders.”