THE VOTING MACHINE INCREASINGLY APPRECIATED IN CONGO HINTERLAND
May 8, 2018 | 0 Comments
-What do Congolese think of the Voting Machines ahead of upcoming elections? Here is what a nationwide road show organized by the Independent National Electoral Commission Found.
Criticised by some political stakeholders from the radical opposition, the voting machine which will help with the simultaneous conduction of national and provincial legislation polls, as well as the presidential election in December, seems to win the minds and souls of ordinary Congolese citizens. The nation-wide road-show, organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), convincingly showcased the device designed in DRC and made in South Korea. From Boma in Kongo Central Province, to Bulungu, Idiofa, Kamonia, Lubumbashi, Kalemie, Mbujimayi, Lodja, Gbadolite all the way to Isiro….news received from these locations attest the performance of the device and the satisfaction of voters who showered praises on the DRC electoral body for this innovation.
In Kamonia, a territory located in the Province of Kasai, the first sensitisation session on the device took place on 28 April 2018 before members of the Territory Security Committee, namely Augustin Kabawu, Daudet Tshibuabua and Jacob Mbombo, respectively CENI Field Office, Logistics Officer and IT Officer Members of the Territory Security Committee, led by M. Jean Paul Kuzo, the Territory Administrator of Kamonia, tested for themselves the device after exchange session with CENI delegates.
In Kalemie, in the province of Tangayika, more than 400 members of Salem Pentecostal Church were sensitised on the Electoral Law, the electoral calendar and the voting machine. This was during their church service on 29 April 2018 which was also attended by the CENI Provincial Executive Secretary, Stéphane Momat. Momat carried on with his sensitisation tour to members of the Dav neighborhood Great Mosque where an estimated 600 people were sensitised on the voting machine, on the 7 innovations of the electoral law, and the key milestones of the electoral calendar. On this occasion, the Tanganyika Province Muslim Church representative, Imam Juma Ussen and his committee, led by example by voting, and getting to appreciate the voting machine.
In Boma, in the Province of Kongo Central, a consultation forum bringing together political stakeholders from the opposition and the regime as well as members of the civil society was held on Saturday 28 April 2018. Moderated by Ms Bernadine Kitondo, CENI Provincial Executive Secretary, the forum was attended by 115 people who got an opportunity to test the voting machine by 4 groups of 20 members each, comprising the four components (opposition, regime, civil society, and women and youth).
Meanwhile, in the territory of Sekebanza, Astrid Nkembi, Head of CENI Field Office, introduced the new voting machine to the Territory Administrator, to members of the Local Operations Committee, to the Territory Administrative Officers, to the President of the Civil Society, to 5 Heads of Sub-Territories invited specifically for the purpose, as well as to local journalists. It is worth mentioning that 16 out of the 24 participants were able to test the device for themselves. All participants recommended that CENI Sekebanza Field Office should ensure that Sub-territories, wards and villages are widely sensitised to the use of the voting machine so that voters get to acquaint themselves with this tool, thus putting to bed the politically-motivated myth stirred around this device which is merely a voting tool.
In Gbadolite in the Province of Sud Ubangi, CENI Executive Secretary held a sensitisation session on 29 April 2018 at the Provincial Parliament Building. A total of 53 people including 12 out of the 18 provincial members of parliament attended the exchange which focused to three aspects, namely: the innovation introduced by the electoral law, the critical path of the electoral calendar, and the voting machine. Participants were happy with the exchange but expressed concerns on the issue of the draft law on the sharing of legislative being tabled at parliament.
Returning from a training in Bandundu-Ville, Heads of CENI Field Offices in Kwilu immediately set out to put in practice the instructions given them by the top management. Following in the steps of the Kikwit and Idiofa Field Offices, the Gungu and Bulungu Field Offices also launched the sensitisation campaign on the electoral law the electoral calendar and the voting machine.
In Gungu, the campaign started on 27 April 2018 in the Gungu Territory Conference Room, with the attendance of members of the Local Operations Committee (CLO). In his remarks, the Acting Head of Field Office, M. Erick Kayimona, explained to the 30 participants the innovations introduced by the electoral law, the key milestones of the calendar and the voting machine. He indicated that the voting machine was chosen to enable the concurrent polls to be held on 23 December 2018. Speaking to participants, the Territory Administrator, M. Trésor Kitambala, was proud of the choice to use the voting machine and commended the presence of the device in his territory in order to sensitise the population of Gungu On 28 April 2018, without resting, the Acting Head of Field Office held a meeting in the conference room of Gungu ITPR, bringing together political parties, faith-based organisations, civil society organisations and media. The three campaing themes, namely the innovations introduced by the electoral law (in particular the legal threshold of representativeness), the key milestones of the electoral calendar, and the voting machine, were the focus of his speech. A total of 93 people attended the activity and wished that CENI Gungu should conduct even more sensitisation activities.
In Bulungu, CENI Head of Field Office, Israël Kasay Malala, launched the campaign on 28 April 2018 in the presence of the Territory Adminstrator and members of the CLO. His message centred on the 7 innovations introduced by the electoral law, the main lines of the electoral calendar and the voting machine. On the machine, the Head of CENI Field Office touched on the context and justified the choice made by CENI of the voting machine with a view to the concurrent holding of polls on 23 December 2018. Mwankimi Kaba, the Bulungu Territory Administrator, expressed his satisfaction to see that, contrary to rumours about the voting machine, this device is rather helping the government by cutting the logistical (budgetary) cost while enabling the voter to cast their ballots, in less than a minutes, for the presidential election, the national legislative elections and the provincial legislative elections. The session was closed with the testing of the voting machine, much to the satisfaction of all.
In Idiofa, following the launch of the campaign, Head of CENI Field Office, Mr Stany Makela , sensitised a group of Primay Education inspectors in Dibaya Lubwe in a training in Idiofa ad journalists. Participants appreciated the presence of the voting machine in Idiofa in order to sensitised voters.
In the province of Haut Katanga, women from the PPRD party were sensitised on the voting machine on 28 April 2018. The event took place in the Bâtiment du 30 Juin and was themed on “Patriot women, mobilise for elections”. PPRD women invited the CENI Provincial Executive Secretary to update them on the current electoral developments, focused on the three themes: the milestones of the electoral calendar, the 7 innovations in the electoral law, and the voting machine. More than 350 people attended the sensitisation session during which about 40 people tested the voting machine, much to the satisfaction of all.
In Kananga in the province of Kasai Central, the managers of the Justice and Peace Commission in Kananga had the opportunity to test the voting machine. Meeting on 28 April 2018 in the conference room of the Pastoral Diocesan Centre in the municipality of Katoka. These managers from 18 catholic parishes in the city carefully followed the outline of the electoral law, the electoral calendar and the voting machine given by the Head of Kasai Central CENI Field Office. Almost all the participants (both men and women) rushed to hold the voting machine. The Vice President of the Commission, Richard Lukamba, was the first to vote, followed by 46 persons including 28 women and 18 men. All (118 people) promised to sensitise on the voting machine in their respective parishes.
In the same Province of Kasai Central, another presentation of the voting machine took place on 27 April 2018, involving the Provincial Youth Council. This was in the presence of the Provincial Youth Minister, Pauline Kamuandu, the Head of the Youth Division, Lumana Bilolo, and the Provincial Youth President, Peter Bakandowa. CENI Kasai Central Provincial Executive Secretary outlined the key milestones of the electoral calendar, the innovations of the electoral law and the voting machine to 242 young from the Council. After showing the importance of these three tools, he introduced the major breaktrhoughs of the electoral process, a testament to the fact that CENI will organise elections on 23 December 2018.
The first person to test the voting machine was the Provincial Youth Minister, then followed the Head of Youth Provincial Division and the Provincial Youth President. Finally, 36 youth were able to test the machine before a questions and answers session. Many questions related to the machine were asked and the answers given were satisfactory to the participants who appreciated this working tools by their spontaneous testimonies.
In the Province of Ituri, 104 taxi-bikers, also known as “Wewas” and 19 traditional chiefs were able to test the machine in Mambasa. On 30 April 2018, during the Territory meeting, CENI Mambasa Field Officer, M. Rachidi, sensitised 104 taxi-bikers also known as Wewas, who are members of the Association of Congolese Drivers (ACCO) on the benefits and use of the voting machine. After a quick introduction, the bikers voted using the machine. It was observed that 12 Wewas were able to vote in less than 10 minuets. Satisfied, they stated that they will no longer fall prey to the manipulations of politicians.
After the “Wewa”, 19 Traditional CHiefs, who attended the meeting with the Territory Administrator, also, voted on 1 May 2018, using the machine. The Chiefs were surprised how easy it was to vote with the machine as opposed to the rumours being circulated. They vowed to sensitised their villagers in order for them to adopt this tool which will help them to properly elect, come the polls.
In Aru in the same province, 84 sick people, nurses, and health helpers as well as pastors in the CECA-20 General Hospital were targeted to use the voting machine. After a quick introduction on the benefits of the machine, CENI Field Office Head in Aru and his team demonstrated how the vote will take place on 23 December 2018. Participants tested the machine and said they were convinced by its performance.
In Isiro, taking advantage of a refresher training for community radio presenters from the 7 provinces of eastern DRC by the Minister of Communication and Media, CENI Executive Secretary from Haut Uele overwhelmingly convinced the participants who were joined by provincial ministers of the sector from the provinces and conducted a demonstration of the voting machined widely hailed.
Cairo to Cape Town road boosts cross-border economies, links Tanzania to rest of Africa
May 6, 2018 | 0 Comments
Rehema Tukai grew up in Kondoa and works in Dodoma, Tanzania’s capital city. Until now, visiting her family in Kondoa involved a five-hour journey along a bumpy and dusty road. Thanks to a new road co-funded by the African Development Bank, it takes her a little over one hour to travel the same distance.
Tukai was one of several locals to celebrate when the President of Tanzania, John Pombe Magufuli, and the President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, commissioned the Dodoma-Babati road project on Friday.
Until its completion, the Dodoma-Babati road was a critical missing link in the 10,228-kilometre Trans-Africa Highway, linking Cairo to Cape Town, connecting nine African countries from South Africa to Egypt, through Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan.
With the completion of the road, traders and travelers now conduct immigration procedures on only one side of the border, reducing time and costs. Thanks to these efforts, the volume of trade between Tanzania and the rest of Eastern and Southern Africa has risen to US $1.1 billion in 2016, a level both Adesina and Magufuli described as historic.
Magufuli said the Dodoma-Babati road will improve the lives of people living in Tanzania and neighbouring countries. “Projects financed by the African Development Bank have a real impact on people,” Magufuli said, thanking the Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for their strategic partnership in co-financing the project.
“Roads change everything. They bring hope alive. Such is the case of this road. While economic activity expands, so will family connections. It has brought much joy to families,” said Adesina, referring to beneficiaries such as Tukai.
The 251-kilometre road is expected to provide rural communities with renewed hope, through expanded economic activities, improved access and better prices for farmers, and to transform several communities.
The Bank President congratulated Tanzania on the 54th anniversary of the union of the Republic of Tanganyika and the People’s Republic of Zanzibar and described the country’s unity as its strength and an example for the rest of Africa.
“Tanzania is headed in the right direction. With 7% economic growth this year, it has posted one of the highest growth rates in the world. That shows me the future of the Republic is very bright indeed! There will be need for massive physical and social infrastructure. There will be need for a Dodoma Airport. There will be need for a new road network to support increased transport, especially the Dodoma Ring Road. I wish to assure you that the African Development Bank will strongly support you on critical infrastructure for the new City of Dodoma,” Adesina said.
The African Development Bank has invested US $3.6 billion in Tanzania, with an active portfolio of US $2 billion, 53% of which is in road projects. The institution has invested more than US $1.1 billion in five road projects in Tanzania, covering close to 1,400 kilometres.
At the commissioning ceremony, the Japanese Ambassador to Tanzania, Masaharu Yoshida, commended the African Development Bank for its contribution toward the completion of the project.
“Our cooperation with the Bank on this project will further strengthen the relationship between Japan and Tanzania and with Africa as a whole,” said Yoshida. “This road will contribute to the economic growth of Tanzania and all of Africa because it is, in fact, part of the ‘Trans-African Highway No. 4’ that connects Cape Town-Lusaka-Dodoma-Arusha-Nairobi up to Cairo.”
IGD’s Africa Investment Rising Roadshow Tour Builds Momentum and Action on Increasing Greater U.S.-Africa Trade and Investment
May 6, 2018 | 0 Comments
- The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) concluded its inaugural U.S. roadshow tour, which was held from April 18-May 1, to showcase the tremendous business and investment potential in Africa.
- The full roadshow tour will culminate in Johannesburg, South Africa for IGD’s Frontier 100 Forum and African Development Bank’s Africa Investment Forum in early-November.
- An engaging forum and executive speed networking with U.S. and African private sector leaders and investors will provide a platform to make deals and business agreements to create new markets in both regions.
The U.S. roadshow tour, “Africa Investment Rising: Building Momentum for Investing in Africa’s Economic Prosperity”, which took place from April 18-May 1, traveled to four U.S. cities to re-shape perceptions on doing business in Africa by bringing trade and investment opportunities to U.S. companies and forge stronger connections between U.S. and African business leaders in key growth sectors.
“For the past two weeks, we’ve started building awareness and momentum for increasing trade and investment in Africa,” exclaimed Dr. Mima S. Nedelcovych, president and CEO of the Initiative for Global Development (IGD) at the closing reception at the Houston Club.
“The Africa Investment Rising roadshow tour is just the start of accelerating a strong economic partnership between the U.S. and the African region,” said the IGD president. The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) is a network of Africa, U.S. and global business leaders who are committed to sustainable development and inclusive growth through business investment in Africa.
Launching in Washington, D.C., the roadshow tour traveled to New York City to highlight banking, financing, and investment opportunities; Des Moines, IA for agriculture and agro-industry; and Houston, TX for energy and power.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group and USAID’s East Africa and Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hubs are Sponsors of the U.S. Roadshow Tour.
Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world, consistently averaging GDP growth of 5.2 percent. Today, only about 1.5 percent of U.S. exports are flowing into sub-Saharan Africa.
Each roadshow stop featured panel discussions on the trends, opportunities and constraints to trade and investment in that sector. The speed networking and company match among investors and business leaders, led by representatives from the Southern and East Africa Trade and Investment Hubs, offered tangible opportunities on how to enter the African marketplace to spur greater U.S. investment in Africa.
Exclusive site visits with an IGD-led delegation drew attention to the pioneering innovations in each industry sector. The delegation met with Dan Keeler, Frontier Markets editor at the Wall Street Journal in New York City on re-shaping news coverage of Africa and participated in site visits to Corteva Agriscience™, Agriculture Division of DowDuPont™ in Johnston, IA and ISU Research Park in Ames, IA for agribusiness and The Eaton Experience Center for power generation in Houston.
The full roadshow tour will ultimately culminate in Johannesburg, South Africa, where U.S. and African private sector leaders and investors from all sectors are invited to attend the IGD Frontier 100 Forum on Nov. 5-6. The Frontier 100 Forum will be followed by the African Development Bank’s Africa Investment Forum (AIF) from Nov. 7-9, in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Financing key growth sectors, such as agriculture, power and infrastructure, and finance and banking, will require an estimated $600-700 billion annually, the African Development Bank estimates.
The AIF is designed to enhance private-sector cooperation and drive investment in sectors to promote economic and social development on the African continent. The Bank’s investment forum is a completely transactional marketplace dedicated to advancing projects to bankable stages, raising capital, and accelerating the financial closure of deals.
“The forum will be a landmark platform to scale up bankable projects and facilitate transactions to close the investment gap in Africa,” said Hassatou Diop N’Sele, Treasurer and Director of the Treasury Department at the African Development Bank. N’Sele spoke on behalf of the Bank at the roadshow’s opening reception on April 18 in Washington, DC.
IGD will continue to engage roadshow participants and investors interested in Africa through multimedia content, including blogs, video spotlights and webinars leading up to the November events in Johannesburg to generate ongoing interest among U.S. investor and business leaders to inspire action on investment opportunities in Africa.
“IGD is pleased to build on our partnership with the African Development Bank through the U.S. Roadshow Tour to accelerate Africa’s investment opportunities and help attract private capital to the continent,” said Nedelcoych. “By bringing U.S. investors to the Bank’s investment forum, they will learn firsthand about bankable projects and will have the opportunities to broker deals that will deliver economic transformation in Africa.”
Roadshow platinum sponsors are Chevron, Norton, Rose and Fulbright LLP, Iowa State University Research Park, AGCO; Lilium Capital, DAI, and Orrick; Gold sponsors are Thomson Reuters, John Deere, Sasol, Corteva Agriscience, Endeavor Energy, AllAfrica.com, and Eaton; and Silver sponsors are World Food Prize Foundation and Millennium Challenge Corporation.
Media partners are Africa Investor, Africa.com, African Alternative, African Trade Magazine, Africa Business Magazine, Africa Stopover, Afropop Worldwide, AllAfrica.com, AlloAfrica.com, Applause Africa, Asoko Insight, Face2Face Africa, innov8tiv.com, Oak TV, Pan-African Visions, and VoxAfrica.
AFRICA INVESTMENT RISING U.S. ROADSHOW TOUR: HOUSTON STOP RECAP
May 5, 2018 | 0 Comments
Access to power is an essential driver of sustainable economic growth and development progress in Africa. Opportunities abound for public-private sector partnership and investment to expand access to electricity across the African continent.
The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) launched its Houston roadshow stop on April 30, to boost U.S.-Africa trade and investment in the power and energy sectors and match U.S. and African investors and private sector leaders to expand greater access to reliable electricity on the continent.
The Houston roadshow stop, which was held on April 30 and May 1, was the final stop of IGD’s four-city inaugural U.S. roadshow tour, “Africa Investment Rising: Building Momentum for Investing in Africa’s Economic Prosperity”. The U.S. Roadshow Tour, which took place from April 18-May 1, was aimed at re-shaping perceptions on doing business in Africa by bringing trade and investment opportunities to U.S. companies and forging stronger connections between U.S. and African business leaders in key growth sectors.
Launched on April 18 in Washington, D.C., the roadshow traveled from New York City for banking, finance, and investment to Des Moines, IA for agribusiness and agro-industry and then Houston, TX for power and energy.
Some 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa or two-thirds of the region’s population are still living without access to reliable power. Without access to power, Africa’s global competitiveness and economic growth will continue to lag behind other regions of the world.
The two-day roadshow stop brought together investors, African and global private sector leaders and policymakers to discuss investment opportunities in power and energy in order to maximize Africa’s energy potential for sustainable and inclusive growth.
The opening session of the Houston roadshow stop took place at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, where Robert Mosbacher Jr., Board Chairman of IGD and Mosbacher Energy Company, spoke about IGD’s founding partnership with Power Africa and work on business opportunities in the power and energy sectors.
Significant opportunities exist to invest in Africa’s power sector. Mosbacher, who is also former president and CEO of Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), noted how a proposed bipartisan bill, Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development Act, known as the BUILD Act, will consolidate multiple federal programs into one new development finance corporation that aims to promote sustainable growth in emerging markets through U.S. business investment.
Blake H. Winburne, Partner and Co-Head of the Global Energy and Infrastructure Group at Orrick, spoke about his practice, where lawyers in the Group are dedicated to working on energy projects in Africa. “We are extremely interested in developing markets, especially in Africa,” said Winburne. Orrick, a Frontier Leader, was the host partner for the Houston roadshow stop.
A panel of U.S. and African private sector leaders convened for an energy-focused investor roundtable aimed at finding the right energy mix to accelerate electrifying the African continent.
Moderated by Carol Pineau, award-winning journalist and documentary producer, panelists included Sean T. Long, Chief Executive Officer at Endeavor Energy; Rajen Ranchhoojee, Special Legal Consultant, Energy & Infrastructure Group at Orrick LLP; Matt Rees, Deputy Coordinator for Power Africa at USAID; Paula Swain, Managing Director, Global Energy, Project Finance Division at Export Import Bank; and Peter Manoogian, Executive Director, Mozambique at Sasol.
The potential for “leapfrogging” in Africa’s energy sector to bypass conventional energy development by adopting efficient and renewable technologies was discussed by panelists.
Finding the right energy mix on the continent requires building strong public-private partnerships and being “technology agnostic,” said Rees of Power Africa. “We need to ask governments to do a better job with energy diplomacy.”
Given the high cost of electricity generation in Africa, Long of Endeavor Energy recommended that African countries need to develop sustainable off-grid solutions that combine technological innovation with finance to accelerate power projects.
“Africa can shape the future,” asserted Ranchhoojee of Orrick, saying there are tremendous opportunities for African countries to chart their own path and take a multi-pronged approach to power generation. “The ‘textbook’ has not been written yet and it is now possible to write that textbook,” he said about the opportunity for African governments to leverage a hybrid approach to electrifying the continent.
Infrastructure was cited as a major challenge to a rapid development of Africa’s power supply. Peter Manoogian, Sasol’s Executive Director for Mozambique, acknowledged that the lack of infrastructure in Mozambique has contributed to the high cost of implementing projects in a former war torn country. Yet, since Sasol expanded its market beyond South Africa into Mozambique, the country has become a fast-growing economy and the company’s production and market for oil and gas has grown over time. Sasol has invested in a major gas-to-power plant to help meet the electricity demand in the southern African country.
Financing power projects was highlighted as another impediment to the fast delivery of power generation. aula Swain, Managing Director for Global Energy in the Export Import Bank’s Project Finance division stressed the importance of mobilizing lenders, bankers, and actors to finance projects. “It takes everyone to get the deal done,” said Swain.
Long also built on the central theme throughout the roadshow tour: separating perceived risk from actual risk while doing business in Africa. “There’s a low default rate for project financing in Africa,” said Long.
After the roundtable, Pamela Ward, Regional Senior Commercial Officer of Sub-Saharan Africa at the U.S. Department of Commerce, forecasts that East Africa will be one of the fastest growing regions. “Power is the energy that drives economic growth,” said Ward. She also expressed her optimism for the impact that the Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will have on intra-Africa trade. In late-March, some 44 African countries signed one of the world’s largest free-trade agreements that creates a single continental market for goods and services across the continent.
The Houston roadshow forum concluded with a speed networking session. Jason Bauer, director of Finance, Investment and Trade at the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and Albert Osueke, Private Investment Officer at Power Africa invited to learn more about opportunities for public-private sector partnerships and resources in Africa.
The U.S. roadshow tour’s closing reception was held at the historic Houston Club, where IGD President and CEO Dr. Mima Nedelcovych offered brief remarks. The evening reception, sponsored by Sasol, helped to set the course for strengthening U.S.-Africa business, trade, and investment relations. Nedelcovych mentioned that Sasol is also a major investor in the United States, noting that the South African-based company made a $11 billion investment in the energy sector in the U.S.
“It’s not just U.S. investments into Africa; it’s African investments in the U.S. as well,” said Nedelcovych.
The final day of the roadshow featured an exclusive site visit to the Eaton Experience Center in Houston. The IGD team and USAID personnel participated in an interactive tour of the power management company’s hands-on facility and learned about their reliable, efficient, safe, environmentally-friendly technologies that manage and control power at various levels.
Eaton’s portfolio features electrical services and products such as power distribution and circuit protection, lighting and security, and back up power protection as well as industrial services and products including aerospace, automotive, and hydraulics.
Herman Fletcher, Eaton’s Vice President of Commercial Business Development, gave a brief presentation on Eaton’s micro-grids, which serve as a resilient, cost-effective solution to the high cost of electricity and improve the reliability of energy supply.
Eaton has a 91-year relationship with Africa and has hav five African offices in South Africa, Morocco, Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, and Kenya and distribute widely throughout the continent. Eaton officially signed on as a Power Africa partner in October 2017, and are actively seeking a stronger presence in Africa. “Our CEO has made it clear that he wants to expand in Africa,” said Fletcher.
Guinea President Conde says Bollore graft probe is slander
May 5, 2018 | 0 Comments
CONAKRY (Reuters) – Guinean President Alpha Conde told Reuters on Friday that he would file a complaint in Paris over “slanderous denunciation” in a probe the by French authorities into tycoon Vincent Bollore’s Africa operations.
Bollore is under formal investigation over allegations that his company Groupe Bollore undercharged for work on behalf of presidential candidates in Guinea and Togo in return for port contracts. He denies wrongdoing.
“I am going to file a complaint for slanderous denunciation, and we have all the evidence proving that I did nothing except defend the interests of Guinea,” Conde said in a brief telephone interview.
He said he welcomed opposition calls for a parliamentary inquiry into how Bollore obtained the concession to run the main port in Conakry. Conde added that France’s Getma International, whose contract was canceled in favor of Bollore, had not respected its contractual obligations.
Ghana beats Namibia to top Africa in 2018 World Press Freedom Index
May 3, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Papisdaff Abdullah*
The World Press Freedom Index measures the level of media freedom in 180 countries. Nigeria ranked 119 in the world.
Namibia topped the rankings in 2017 in Africa.
Curbs and restrictions on press freedom remain a huge concern on the continent and media watchdogs and press freedom advocates continue to voice these concerns.
The numerous restrictions range from subtle forms of censorship by political and government authorities to imprisonment of journalists and media activists in practice.
The 2018 World Press Freedom Index recently released, compiles the degree of freedom available to journalists in 180 countries. It takes into consideration the degree to which the media are able to function independently of sources of political, governmental, business and religious power and influence is a strong indicator of the level of press freedom at play.
A group of experts responded to a questionnaire that was based on pluralism, media independence, media environment and self-censorship, legislative framework, transparency, and the quality of the infrastructure that supports the production of news and information.
The index scored each country according to points. From 0-15 points (good), 15.01 to 25 points (fairly good), 25.01 to 35 points (problematic), 35.01 to 55 points (bad), and from 55.01 to 100 points (very bad). Eritrea, Djibouti, and Sudan had zero points and were the least ranked on the index.
For Nigeria, human rights have continued being trampled upon and concerning cases include the use of the police by the state against the protesters of Bring Back Our Girls, and the Muslim minority Shiite group whose leader has been under arrest for more than a year.
Eritrea was ranked the worst in Africa in the report. For the past 26 years, Eritrea has been a dictatorship in which there is no room for freely reported news and information. At least 11 journalists are currently detained without any charges or trial.
Declared by United Nations General Assembly, every year, the day of May 3 is celebrated as World Press Freedom Day to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press.
UNESCO also brings together the media professionals, press freedom organizations and UN agencies to evaluate the state of press freedom worldwide and discuss solutions for addressing the prevailing challenges.
Trump and Nigerian President Buhari deflect awkward question
April 30, 2018 | 0 Comments
US President Donald Trump’s reported disparaging of African countries did not come up in his talks with Nigeria’s president, the two leaders have said.
Muhammadu Buhari sidestepped a reporter’s question about Mr Trump’s alleged use of the term “shitholes” to describe certain developing nations.
In their White House news conference, Mr Trump added: “We didn’t discuss it.”
The Nigerian was the first sub-Saharan African leader to be invited for talks with the Trump administration.
Mr Buhari was asked during Monday’s joint press conference about a report in January that Mr Trump had complained about immigrants coming to the US from “shithole countries”, specifically referring to Haiti, El Salvador and some African nations.
The Nigerian president diplomatically replied: “I’m not sure about, you know, the validity of whether that allegation against the president is true or not.
“So the best thing for me is to keep quiet.”
Mr Trump did not deny he had used the term in his own reply.
“The [Nigerian] president knows me and he knows where I’m coming from,” he said.
“And you do have some countries that are in very bad shape and very tough places to live in.”
Mr Trump took the opportunity to rail against US immigration laws, calling them “obsolete”, “weak” and “pathetic”.
“Our immigration laws in this country are a total disaster,” he said, renewing calls for a border wall.
The White House recently sold 12 counter insurgency aircraft worth $496m (£360m) to Nigeria to help in its fight against Boko Haram jihadist insurgents.
The US previously refused to sell military aircraft to Nigeria, citing human rights concerns.
Mr Trump said he hoped the Nigerian authorities would “protect innocent civilians of all faiths, including Muslims and including Christians”.
He also addressed sectarian strife in the African country, where 18 people, including two priests, were killed in an attack last week on a church.
“We’ve had serious problems with Christians who have been murdered, killed,” Mr Trump said. “We’re going to work on that problem and working on that problem very, very hard.”
BBC Nigeria correspondent Mayeni Jones says an increasingly sectarian conflict is affecting central Nigeria, where nomadic Fulani herdsmen and local farmers have been clashing over grazing land.
Fighting terrorism is a priority for both administrations, our correspondent says.
Mr Trump also said he hoped Nigeria would remove trade barriers to allow imports of American agricultural produce.
This is another contentious issue as the Nigerian government has been trying to develop its own agriculture sector as it seeks to deal with mass unemployment and an economy reliant on oil.
At home, President Buhari faces multiple security challenges, including the nine-year-old insurgency by Boko Haram in the north-east, and mounting insecurity in the centre of the country.
Mr Buhari, who is seeking re-election next year, in 2015 became the first opposition leader to be elected president in Nigeria.
Uganda Government selects Consortium comprising YAATRA, BHGE, LionWorks, and Saipem to develop, finance, construct and operate a greenfield Oil Refinery in Hoima District, Uganda
April 30, 2018 | 0 Comments
|When executed, this will help develop the industry infrastructure and provide livelihood for the Ugandan people and, by extension, other East African countries|
|KAMPALA, Uganda, April 25, 2018/ — Following the favourable evaluation of its private sector-led offer by the Uganda Government, the Albertine Graben Refinery Consortium (AGRC) comprised of YAATRA Ventures (www.YAATRAVentures.com), Baker Hughes, a GE company (www.BHGE.com), LionWorks Group (http://LionWorksCapital.com) and Saipem (www.Saipem.com), signed a project framework agreement confirming its selection for the realization of a 60,000 barrels per day capacity refinery with a project estimated value of around $3 billion.
YAATRA Africa is an infrastructure development and financing company which provides innovative infrastructure solutions on the continent. LionWorks is a private equity company focused exclusively on pan-African infrastructure opportunities. Other companies involved are Saipem, a global leader in engineering, procurement, construction and installation, as well as drilling, in the oil and gas market that will act as services provider to the project investors, and BHGE, the only global Fullstream company, which will provide a comprehensive portfolio of equipment, technical and financial services.
The refinery, to be located in Hoima district, will process crude oil from fields developed by Total, Tullow and China’s CNOOC and future upstream operators. The Ugandan government has included in the project scope a refined-product pipeline to Kampala for transporting finished products from the facility as well as the distribution of refined products.
“The Ugandan Government’s commitment to fully realize its oil and gas sector and acceptance of the innovative solution provided by AGRC is driven by its strategic goals, leading to achieving middle income status. We look forward to the execution phase and delivering a world class facility that represents a unique opportunity for investors. The Project will deliver a broad, significant economic development impact for Uganda and the East Africa region.” Rajakumari Jandhyala, President & CEO, YAATRA Ventures, said.
“The Government’s selection of our Consortium as preferred bidder is a testament to the collaborative efforts of these best-in-class enterprises leveraging each other’s strengths to produce a solutions-focused proposal. When executed, this will help develop the industry infrastructure and provide livelihood for the Ugandan people and, by extension, other East African countries” said Ado Oseragbaje, BHGE’s Vice President, Sub-Saharan Africa.
Ronald Mincy, CEO & Managing Partner of LionWorks, commented “This is a unique opportunity to work with Uganda on a transformational project that will provide jobs and skills to the country through improved access to substantially cleaner refined products for Uganda and the East Africa region.”
Maurizio Coratella, Saipem E&C Onshore Division Chief Operating Officer said, “The selection of AGRC will allow the development of a robust proposal leveraging both financial capabilities of YAATRA Africa and LionWorks and the technical resources and expertise of Saipem and BHGE, addressing the Government’s expectations for the growth of the energy sector. We are pleased to have been selected to help Uganda delivering this Project.”
Today’s announcement follows the formal announcement of the Ministry of Energy regarding the conclusion of the PFA agreement. The Albertine Graben Refinery Consortium will have each member undertake a specific role during Pre-Final Investment Decision (Pre-FID) Activities and Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) of the refinery.
YAATRA Africa, A YAATRA Ventures company (www.YAATRAVentures.com), is an Africa-focused infrastructure platform that provides investors with a systematic and repeatable approach to deploying capital into value-added infrastructure opportunities. YAATRA focuses on developing innovative infrastructure solutions in sectors that unlock productivity and drive economic growth in key African countries on the path to achieving middle-income status. YAATRA brings a rare combination of 25 years of public sector experience in Africa and in-depth understanding of private sector capabilities to execute high-impact projects that deliver financial returns for investors. The YAATRA approach resulted in a development solution for the estimated USD $3 billion Uganda refinery via the Albertine Graben Refinery Consortium.
IFF2018: Experts Assess State of Internet Freedom in Africa
April 30, 2018 | 0 Comments
For three days, digital rights experts and stakeholders assessed the state of internet freedom in Africa. This was the recently concluded 6th Internet Freedom Forum organised by Paradigm Initiative at NAF Conference Centre, Abuja, between April 24 and 26, 2018.
The experts, who came from countries across Africa and the world, gathered in Abuja to help shape the future of policy on the Internet in Africa.
According to Tope Ogundipe, the Director of Programs at Paradigm Initiative, “The Internet is rapidly changing every aspect of life in Africa – including education, work, business, entertainment, governance and health, amongst others. Its growing importance has made it a contention ground for interests in government, the private sector and civil society. The Forum, therefore, serves as a platform to actively and proactively engage with policies that affect freedom and rights online.”
Speaking at the event, Titi Akinsanmi, Head Public Policy and Government Relations at Google stated, “The Internet has become an indispensable tool for development in all sectors of life. All hands must be on deck to enable more access to the Internet, and to eliminate abuses such as privacy violations”.
Also speaking at the event, Akua Gyekye, Public Policy Manager West Africa for Facebook, remarked, “As Nigeria approaches the 2019 elections, the Internet is a useful vehicle for civic education for citizens on the best practices for political participation. Facebook will work with stakeholders in Nigeria to ensure that our platform is not abused to impact negatively on the elections.”
Nnenna Wakama, Senior Manager, Africa, for the World Wide Web Foundation, highlighted the challenge of the rising cost of Internet data across the continent saying, “The conversation on Internet freedom must begin at looking at the prohibitive cost of data bundles which prevents millions of people from accessing the Internet in Africa”.
On the side session on Nigeria’s Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF), Mr Damen Ilevbaoje, Program Manager at Budgit Nigeria, stated, transparent and effective use of the Universal Service Provision Fund is a priority if Internet access is to reach underserved areas in Nigeria’s rural areas”
Speaking at the International event, the Executive Director, Paradigm Initiative, ‘Gbenga Sesan, noted, “The Internet is, without doubt, one of the most important technological innovations of the 20th century, and has radically transformed every aspect of our modern society. IFF 2018 is a continuation of the conversation we must continue to have with all stakeholders as we seek to build a healthy and free Internet space for Africa, and the world”.
‘Gbenga Sesan said further, “in continuation of this important conversation and to cater for an expanded audience, from 2019 the Internet Freedom Forum will now be known as the “Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum.”
Paradigm Initiative also announced the creation of a Digital Rights and Inclusion Media Fellowship, which is designed to give “media professionals, who are important stakeholders in this conversation, an opportunity to interact with professionals working on digital rights and inclusion across the continent”.
The Internet Freedom Forum welcomed over two hundred delegates from some thirty countries in Africa and beyond and received support from organisations including Microsoft, Ford Foundation, The Guardian, Mozilla, Google, Facebook, Premium Times and Civicus.
Africa: Open for Business! Canada to host The Commonwealth Africa Forum in July 2018
April 30, 2018 | 0 Comments
|Convening over 250 delegates and a number of high profile speakers, the Canada Forum will offer unrivalled insight into business on the continent from the boldest innovators and decision makers in Africa|
|LONDON, United Kingdom, April 26, 2018/ — Senior Government and Business Leaders from Africa and North America will gather in Toronto from the 5th – 8th July 2018 for The Commonwealth Africa Forum Toronto 2018 with the theme: Africa – Open for Business. www.CASevents.org/tafcanada2018
Past Speakers at CAFI EVENTS have included: HRH Prince Andrew The Duke of York, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (Former Nigerian Head of State); Rt Hon Baleka Mbete (Speaker of the Parliament of South Africa), Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (Former President of Nigeria), H.E John Dramani Mahama (Former President of Ghana), Amina J Mohammed (UN Deputy Secretary General) represented by H.E Bience Gawanas (UN Under Secretary for Africa), H.E Mrs Toyin Saraki (Wife of the Senate President of Nigeria), Dr. Hassan Ahmed Hilal (Minister of Environment Sudan), Chief Mrs Folorunso Alakija (Vice Chair – Famfa Oil and Richest Black Woman), and more.
The Commonwealth Africa Forum is a premier event for those curious and excited about Africa. It is an excellent opportunity to learn about the challenges and opportunities on the continent.
The Canadian edition of The Africa Forum is conceived as a high level thematic business-related event with the vision that Canada and Africa must move beyond donor/recipient relationship towards long-term cooperation based on principles of ownership, partnership and solidarity.
“Africa is a continent of paradox. It has buckets of possibility and investment opportunity, and it is well on the path to achieving that full potential however if still faces a multitude of challenges”, says Adonis Abboud, Member of the Board of Governors of the Commonwealth Africa Initiative (http://CommonwealthAfrica.com) .
Convening over 250 delegates and a number of high profile speakers, the Canada Forum will offer unrivalled insight into business on the continent from the boldest innovators and decision makers in Africa. A gala dinner will close the Forum which will focus on Doing Business in Africa, with the theme: Africa, Open for Business.
Three of the five fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa. Africa has 300+ tech hubs in 93 cities across 42 countries. Increased internet penetration, mass urbanization and growth in smartphone adoption, combined with rapid population growth, and has made Africa extremely attractive to investors.
Africa is the continent of the future: Africa is home to the world’s youngest population. In 20 years, the number of sub-Saharan Africans reaching working age (15-64) will exceed that of the rest of the world combined. By 2040, less than 25 years from now, half of the world’s youth will be African or of African descent.
“It is in light of this that the Forum will feature a High Level Youth Dialogue with participation from Young leaders from across Africa and North America. Conversations at the Youth Forum will consider how Diaspora and African Youths can collaborate to help Africa fulfil the aspirations of the AU Agenda 2063 and the SDGs” says Napoleon Jay, Co-Chair of the Local Organising Committee.
The Forum will bring together African and North American business leaders representing multi-nationals, large corporations, small and medium-scale enterprises and confederations, civil society representatives and multilateral and regional institutions to discuss how to improve the business and investment climate between Africa, Canada and North America at large.
TAF Canada will also be an opportunity to showcase that Canada is also open for business and investment and the forum will showcase Canadian opportunities to African investors. In the words of Prime Minister Trudeau at the World Economic Forum “We have a diverse and creative population, outstanding education and health care systems, and advanced infrastructure, we have social stability, financial stability and a government willing to invest in the future”.
Come listen to distinguished speakers who are helping to shape the future and trajectory of the abundant continent called AFRICA.
The event is organised by the Commonwealth Africa Initiative (CAFI) in association with Common Cause Africa Canada, YTI Canada, APO Group, Piety Inc, Pan African Diplomacy Center and other organisations.
African government representatives and policymakers to grace 2018 sustainable energy for all forum in Portugal
April 30, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Wallace Mawire
African countries’ representatives and policy makers are expected to grace the forthcoming sustainable energy for all 2018 forum to be held on 2 to 3 May 2018 in Lisbon, Portugal to deliberate on and advance sustainable energy initiatives in their respective countries.
According to the organizers, this year’s forum programme includes a number of government ministers and other policymakers from countries in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean Islands, Mexico and Europe. It is reported that ministers from Rwanda, Ghana, Saint Lucia, Portugal and other countries will be discussing the importance of government policy in stimulating, or impeding, energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy efforts. They will also join other key stakeholders to discuss critical topics such as clean fuels for cooking and electrification for all in Sub-Saharan Africa.
It is added that leaders from government, business, civil society and international organizations will gather in Lisbon for the fourth Sustainable Energy for All Forum. The organizers add that the 2018 Forum, “Leaving No One Behind”, will take place at a pivotal juncture for accelerating progress on global sustainable energy goals — under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 — and the Paris Climate Agreement. At stake are significant populations that are missing out on education, health, jobs and broader economic opportunities because they do not have access to clean, affordable energy. Closing these energy gaps — especially for ‘last mile’ populations — is the Forum‘s imperative.
The agenda will focus on sharing the latest evidence of scalable innovations in providing electricity access, accelerating renewable energy and improving energy efficiency in all corners of the world. It will shine a spotlight on the urgency for bringing affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy to under-served populations, communities and regions that are at risk of being left behind in the global clean energy transition. These populations are especially vulnerable to energy poverty, climate impacts and other extreme economic challenges; yet they also lack a voice, finance and political capacity for changing their situation.
Hosted by Sustainable Energy For All (SEforALL) at the Convento do Beato in Lisbon, the Forum will examine the latest data on progress — or lack of — in achieving SDG7 goals. A highlight will be the launch of the 2018 Global Tracking Framework report, which benchmarks annual progress towards achieving universal access to modern energy services, doubling renewable energy and improving energy efficiency by 2030.
The Sustainable Energy for All Forum will be a marketplace featuring an exhibition space that will allow SEforALL partners to showcase their work, a platform for leaders and organizations to share their latest announcements and ‘pitch’ bigger collaborations,diverse, cutting-edge voices from Africa and the Middle East, to South America and Asia who are all accelerating and scaling action at the local, national and international level,unique networking opportunities for brokering new partnerships between governments leaders, business CEOs and civil society leaders and regional and sector-focused discussions through 16 Partner Working Sessions.
It is reported that other key events will include the fourth edition of the Global Tracking Framework, updates from SEforALL Accelerators, including the People-Centered Accelerator and others focused on industry, business and efficiency, a new interactive website that maps stakeholder engagement on gender equality, social inclusion and women’s empowerment at the nexus of sustainable energy and climate change agendas, the launch of a new report on socio-economic trends impacting the gendered uptake of energy access and SDG7 and announcements from the Shine campaign.
“I’m back”, Ex Malawi President Joyce Banda returns after a 4 year self-imposed exile
April 30, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Prince Kurupati
The former president of Malawi, Joyce Banda returned to the country after spending 4 years in exile; this despite allegations of corruption and an arrest warrant hanging over her head. Hundreds of supporters of her party (People’s Party) clad in the party’s orange colours sang and ululated as Joyce Banda got off the plane.
Joyce Banda, the second woman in history to be the president of an African country after Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia became the president of Malawi in 2012. The 68-year-old ex-president who formed a splinter party in 2011 competed and won the presidential election against her former party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) after the death of Bingu wa Mutharika; he died in office.
Circumstances leading to her self-imposed exile
Joyce Banda’s reign as the president of Malawi was short-lived as she lost the 2014 Tripartite General Elections to DPP. One of the major reasons behind Joyce Banda’s election loss is due to the Cashgate Scandal.
The Cashgate Scandal became a public secret just six months before the 2014 Tripartite General Elections. A British accountancy firm, Baker Tilly tasked with auditing the flow of donor money in Malawi unravelled huge financial discrepancies and fraud in government business. The firm’s report revealed that there were 501 suspicious transactions between April and September of 2013. These suspicious transactions involved massive fraud activities as invoices were overstated by thousands and sometimes millions of dollars. The report also revealed that there were some invoices written to companies that had not rendered any services or products to the government. The report stated that US $14.5 million had been paid to dormant companies just for money laundering purposes.
As the media frenzy around the story started to rise, the public also started to connect the dots as rumours started doing the rounds on how many high ranking civil servants were acquiring properties in affluent suburbs around the country. At one point, a government clerk was found with $300, 000 in his car.
Though the report didn’t name any perpetrators, it led to a growing public dissatisfaction and resentment of the Joyce Banda led government. Consequently, she went on to lose the election. Fearing that she might be used as a sacrificial lamb by the incoming government, Joyce Banda fled the country spending most of her time in the US.
It took some time for the new government to officially charge Joyce Banda but it did so in 2017 when an arrest warrant was issued for her on corruption charges.
A case of using scarcity to increase respect and honour?
The timing of Joyce Banda’s return is somewhat interesting. Joyce Banda while in exile always claimed her innocence whenever the Cashgate Scandal topic was raised. If indeed that is the case, then she surely didn’t stay much longer in exile due to fear of prosecution in her mother country. The mere fact that she finally decided to return even when the arrest warrant is still valid to some extent proves this assertion correct.
However, not discrediting the above, we can also say that Joyce Banda’s return is inspired by the quest to clear her name and involvement in the Cashgate scandal. In all her time living in exile, Joyce Banda has always said that the practice of inflating invoices and siphoning donor money started long before she ascended to power. This claim is supported by many officials both in government and in non-governmental organisation, even the accountancy firm, Baker Tilly who unravelled the Cashgate Scandal first concur that the practice of siphoning public funds certainly didn’t start with the reign of Banda. However, the same report suggests that money laundering increased significantly when she was in charge. This means while trying to exonerate herself from any wrongdoing, Banda still needs to explain how the siphoning of donor funds increased under her watch.
Renowned author Robert Greene’s 16th law of power taken from his book, The 48 Laws of Power reads’ “Use absence to increase respect and honour” while the 22nd law reads, “Use the surrender tactic: transform weakness into power.” There is no doubt (whether she was involved or not) that the Cashgate Scandal dampened and stained Joyce Banda’s political fortunes more so considering the election loss. Recognising the damage done, Joyce Banda had to look for a strategy, either to stay in the heat or to strategize in private. She opted for the second option and it was (it seems) the right option. Staying in Malawi would have further damaged Banda’s reputation as she was going to be an easy target for the blame game.
By staying away from the public eye, she created value by her scarcity. She returning exactly a year before the next presidential election and announcing on her arrival her intention to hold a rally the very following day clearly shows that she is not done with politics. Banda used the surrender tactic by going into exile and that transformed her previously stained and weak position into a position of power. The challenge now for her is to reenergise her political base. This won’t be easy however considering that her party’s leadership has been fighting in her absence. Just like the proverbial sheep scattering all over after the ‘death’ of the shepherd, Banda’s task in the immediate future is to bring back the sheep into a single grouping before next year’s presidential election in May.
The only communication issued by the government thus far concerning Joyce Banda’s return has come from the Police spokesperson James Kaledzera, who said that the arrest warrant for Joyce Banda is still valid. He, however, could not be drawn into saying if the police are going to act on the arrest warrant and arrest Joyce Banda. With the Malawi Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) stating that there is no solid evidence implicating the former president in the Cashgate Scandal, it seems right at this time to conclude that Joyce Banda is not going to face an arrest over the corruption allegations.
The likelihood of an arrest is also very slim if reports from the media are anything to go by. There are reports that Joyce Banda and the incumbent president, Peter Mutharika are planning to strike a deal which will see their two parties entering the upcoming elections as an alliance. It’s not clear at this point who the presidential candidate is going to be if the two agree to form an alliance.