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African Diaspora Endorses the Continental Free Trade Agreement
October 9, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Organizers and Panelists after the Trade and Development Project session. L-R, Gregory Simpkins, Senior Advisor at USAID, Hope Sullivan, Consultant, OIC of America, Andrew Gelfuso, VP Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center,  Angelle Kwemo, Founder and President of Believe in Africa Foundation, Martin Ezemma Dir of Int Business PG Cty Economic Development Corporation, Felix Obi Commissioner Economic & International Development Task Force MD Governor’s office of Community Initiatives, and Dr Malcom Beech, President Africa Business League -America

A major outcome of the recent Making African Trade Easy Forum in Washington, DC was the resounding endorsement from the African Diaspora towards both the Prosper Africa initiative and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCTA).

At the heavily attended event, policy experts, trade professionals, government officials, and other participants agreed that with its enormous potentials, much was still needed for Africa to enjoy the game changing benefits of trade. In this light, the groundbreaking development in the creation and rapid ratification of the African Continental Trade Agreement was hailed as a harbinger of hope for the future.

Speaking at the event, African Union Trade and Industry Commissioner Albert Muchanga said Africa means business in every sense of the word with the AFCFTA. Typically, agreements like the AFCFTA take about five years to ratify, but within a year of its creation, a majority of African countries have ratified it with the exception of Eritrea which is still working on doing so. Commissioner Muchanga harped on the great work that has been put in, and the myriad of benefits that effective implementation could have on the people of Africa. Speaking with great optimism, Mr Muchanga said political will from the leaders was strong, and there was overwhelming support from Africans across the continent for the AFCFTA. With its Secretariat in Ghana, Mr Muchanga lauded the partnership of institutions like the African Development Bank and financial institutions like the Afrexim Bank, a cosponsor of MATE 2019, which are helping to put the AFCFTA on the right path.

The Award to AU President Moussa Faki was received by African Union Trade and Industry Commissioner Albert Muchanga,(L) flanked here by Gregory Simpkins, Senior Advisor at USAID and Angelle Kwemo, Founder and President of Believe in Africa Foundation. Photo Adam Ouologuem

In appreciation and salute of the progress and renewed optimism that the AFCFTA is bringing to the continent, the African Diaspora represented by Angelle Kwemo Founder and President of Believe in Africa Foundation expressed satisfaction,and encouraged African leaders to do all to ensure that the AFCFTA lives up to its game changing potentials for the continent. 

A seasoned international Trade Professional and Chair of the organizing committee of MATE 2019, Angelle Kwemo presented an award to African Union President Moussa Faki in recognition of the great work that he and his team have put in towards making free trade a reality in Africa. The African diaspora with all its potential will throw its weight behind the AFCFTA and do its part to ensure that it works for the benefit of Africa and its partners,said Angelle Kwemo. 

Accepting the award on behalf of AU President Moussa Faki, Trade and Industry Commissioner Muchanga expressed gratitude for the recognition. The leadership of AUC Faki has been instrumental in facilitating progress made by the AFCFTA, and the award will spur them to keep up the hard work, Commissioner Muchanga said. All hands must be on deck for the AFCFTA to succeed, and the diaspora remains one of the most important partners Commissioner said Commissioner Muchanga.

Equally recognized with awards were prominent business leader ‘Samba Bathily, founder of ADS Group who received the “Pan-African Award for his investments across the continent, and Dr Gloria Herndon, Founder GH Global Group with the Africa Diaspora Award.

Dr Gloria Herndon, Founder GH Global Group (in White) was honored with the Africa Diaspora Award

While Samba Bathily represents the upcoming generation of dynamic young Africans transforming the continent with daring investments, in Gloria Herndon, the award was in recognition of decades of strong, and sustained attachment to Africa. Dr Herndon regaled the audience with humor laced tales of her vast experiences across the continent.My love affair with Africa is far from ended Dr Herndon said, as she accepted her honor.

Organized to coincide with the 5th anniversary of Believe in Africa Foundation, the Making African Trade Easy Forum was organized in partnership with USAID and Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center to promote Prosper Africa and the AfCFTA. MATE was opened by Andrew Gelfuso, VP of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, Ian Steff, Director Global Market Bureau at U.S. Department of Commerce with the keynote from Ramsey Day, Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for Africa, USAID.  They all recognized the importance of the Diaspora in fostering trade with Africa.

A lot of hard work was put in by the Mate Organizing Team for the successful event

It was two full days of intense panel discussions and exhibitions.From panels on African Economic Outlook, to Building Africa’s Manufacturing Sector, the African Continental Free Trade area, Facilitating Finance in Africa, Investing and building Africa’s health industry, Building Diaspora Trade and Innovation, Making the African Digital Revolution a reality, Investing in Africa, Growing Sustainable jobs under AGOA, Democratizing Africa’s energy sector,and Growing Africa’s Agricultural Industry, participants had more than a full dose of potentials, realities , challenges , and what must be done to improve doing trade in and with Africa.

Led by Capitol Hill Veterans Angelle Kwemo, Founder and President of Believe in Africa Foundation and Gregory Simpkins, Senior Advisor at USAID the MATE Forum brought together the crème de la crème of African trade and advocacy professionals in the USA including Matthiew Rees, Coordinator, Prosper Africa, David Weld, Senior Director for Africa, MCC, Jeremy Streatfield, Director for Africa at USTR, Heather Lannigan, Regio9nal Director for SubSahara Africa at TDA, C.D. Glin, President and CEO, USADF, Dr. Albert Zeufack, Chief Economist for Africa, The World Bank Group, Leila Ndiaye, President and CEO, IGD, Flori Liser, President & CEO, CCA, Dr. Menna Demessie, Secretary, Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund, Jeannine Scott, Board Chair, CFA, Dr. Sharon Freeman, President & CEO, Gems of Wisdom Consulting, Mariama Camara, Mariama Fashion Production Dr. Mima Nedelcovith, Partner, Africa Global, Maureen Umeh, Fox5 news,  Oren Wyche-Shw, Deputy Assistant Administrator at USAID, Alison Germack, Director of Corporate Development, International Development Finance Corporation, Prof. Landry Signe, Fellow Brooklings institutions, Yousuf Daya, Senior Director Trade policy, market Access, Reseach and International Cooperatio, Afrexim Bank, Steve Lande, VP, Manchester Trade, Tamra Raye Stevenson, CEO, WANDA, Kimberley Brown, Amethyst Technologies, Betty Adera, Betty Adera Foundation, Ollowo-N’Djo Tchalla, CEO Alafia, Salma Seetaroo-Bonnafoux, Ivoirienne de Noix de Cajou, Rahama Wright, Shea Yeleen Katie Auth, Acting Deputy Coordinator, Power Africa, and delegations from many African countries.

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The Unrealized Oil Promise of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the era of “Billions At Play”
October 8, 2019 | 0 Comments

Standing in the 12th position amongst African oil producers, the DRC’s petroleum industry is miniscule at best, producing an average of 25 thousand barrels of crude oil per day

President Tshisekedi of D.R.Congo

 By NJ Ayuk *

It is no secret that the DRC’s mining industry is of vital importance in answering the country’s and the world’s mineral needs. Today, copper, cobalt and other byproducts represent the backbone of the DRC’s economic structure at about 85% of its exports. That has been the case for many years, through several regimes, with little change. Besides metals, diamonds and oil represent the remaining of all that the DRC sends abroad, the vast majority of its outbound trade balance being composed of raw unprocessed goods.

Standing in the 12th position amongst African oil producers, the DRC’s petroleum industry is miniscule at best, producing an average of 25 thousand barrels of crude oil per day off its coastal ageing fields. But that seems rather odd. While there is not much talk about this particular fact, when we think of it, it is somewhat perplexing that the DRC, which is bordered by so many oil producers and has territorial waters in the prolific Gulf of Guinea, has never really developed an oil industry or even seemed to be interested in developing one, despite its prospective reserves. With a population of around 80 million people, of which around 75%, most statistics indicate, live in extreme poverty, the DRC is today amongst the five poorest countries in the world. 

One would expect that the country’s leaders would strongly push for the exploration of the country’s natural resources to produce wealth and provide for better living conditions for its citizens. Yet, the DRC’s oil and gas reserves remain largely unexplored, while most studies estimate that there could be around 20 billion barrels of undiscovered oil in the country’s basins, both onshore and offshore. That is a tremendous amount of oil which, if confirmed, would place the DRC as the second biggest petroleum holder in Sub-Saharan Africa, behind only Nigeria, and far outdoing Angola’s reserves of 9 billion barrels of oil.

This is not the Africa we want, and this is not the DRC that we want.

First of all, keeping certain communities in poverty to retain power is a complete mistake. Power stability comes from generalized improvement of life conditions. If the country is wealthier and is capable of improving the lives of those that live in it, the more stable it will be and the more capable it will become of sustaining and giving continuity to that development.

Further, as I have extensively defended over the years, the sanctity of contracts is of paramount importance to attract investment and partnerships into any country. What company would want to invest in a country where a contract can be signed and then cancelled a few months later without further explanation or justification? And it is not just a matter of reputation, but of direct financial burden, lest not forget that just in March this year, an international court ordered the Democratic Republic of Congo to pay South African DIG Oil Ltd USD$617 million for failing to honour two oil contracts. That is 1.6% of the country’s 2017 GDP. How can any leader possibly justify such a loss to its economy. Not to, again, mention the enormous economic potential that could come from actually letting those contracts take shape and allow companies to explore the country’s oil regions.

Stability depends on investment, cooperation and development. To attract investment, conditions need to be created for the business environment to be enabling for industry development. Disrespecting contracts does not achieve that. Nor does keeping people from producing wealth.

Just in May, French super-major Total abandoned its exploration license in the DRC. Bloomberg’s article on the matter was titled “Congo’s Lone Oil Giant Quits Search, Partner Says”. That’s right, it was the last major oil and gas company to abandon the DRC’s oil plays. Others had been there over the years, Shell and Texaco for instance. About 10 years ago, Tullow Oil and partners tried to acquire a license for exploration, signed a contract, paid the bonuses, and saw the contract then cancelled and the same block then sold to yet another company just a few months later. Nothing has been done in the acreage since.

This is the absolute opposite of what must be done.

Oil and gas production can bring enormous wealth to the country and its people, not to mention the ability the country’s gas reserves could have to produce electricity to power homes and industry.

Since January 2019, the DRC is led by a new government. It now has the opportunity to change the status quo of the DRC within the global oil industry and to promote investment. The country’s oil and gas laws are fairly well developed and the potential for discoveries is huge; the problem is reputation. If the country’s leaders can reassure international investors that their contracts will be respected and if investments can be facilitated and transactions made transparent, there is little limit to how quickly the country’s industry could grow and how much its people could benefit. Better living conditions across the country would ease ethnic and social tensions and provide the basis for a level of socio-economic development that the country has never seen before.

If the dependency on the volatile prices of mineral commodities continues, as well as the uneven distribution of wealth, and if the generalized situation of extreme poverty is sustained amongst the population, instability, rather than stability, will be the end result.

Further, the DRC has the opportunity to seek the help and support of international institutions and partners in developing its oil industry, such as the World Bank, the IMF or the Norwegian government, which have vast experience in helping other African oil producers. They can also seek closer proximity with the US, where most of the major companies with the capability, technology and capital to help develop their industry reside. 

The US government also has an interest in promoting these developments in the DRC, as maintaining stability in the sub-continent and the Central African region is of particular strategic importance for US interests. 

It is astonishing to me that the leaders in Kinshasa are not willing to look from their windows just across the Congo river to Brazzaville and want to emulate the steps taken by their neighbour, the Republic of Congo, currently the third biggest oil producer in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Finally, good signs are coming from the current administration. In April, at the latest Africa Petroleum Producers Association’s Conference in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, the DRC’s oil minister announced the country would put 38 blocks on offer for bidding and negotiation, located in three different basins. This is an important step in order to call out investor attention to the country, and I applaud the initiative. Hopefully the regime change, the country’s adherence to the EITI, and the new block offer will help bring investment, but more will have to be done to reassure investors that entering this market will be a profitable and safe bet, and that their interests and rights are protected by the law.

I hope to see these developments happening soon and to be a witness to the fulfillment of the DRC’s oil industry’s full potential.

*NJ Ayuk is the CEO of Centurion Law Group, a pan-African law Conglomerate and the current Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber (EnergyChamber.org), the voice of the African Oil and Gas industry. He is the author is the upcoming book “Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals”.

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Angolan Energy Exec Pugliese Says NJ Ayuk’s New Book Connects Governance and Gas Monetization with African Advancement
October 8, 2019 | 0 Comments
Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy will be published by October 2019
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, October 5, 2019/ — “Bribery is not a smart business model.”

Leading African energy attorney NJ Ayuk maintains that corruption in all its forms is one of the most significant barriers to business growth on the continent.

Ayuk’s position, which he elaborates on in his new book, Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals, has earned the support of Sergio Pugliese, President of the Africa Energy Chamber in Angola. Pugliese was an executive with international oil companies BP and Statoil and founded Angola-focused oil and gas services firms Motiva LDA and Amipa LDA. 

 “NJ Ayuk is a champion of African energy investments, and that’s clear in his new book,” Pugliese said. “That doesn’t mean he has blinders on, however. In ‘Calling all Leaders! More on Good Governance’, he presents an unvarnished view of corruption’s negative effect on Africa’s business environment. His message is something anyone who is doing business there, or wants to, should hear.”

In particular, Ayuk says that while the continent has become increasingly attractive to investors, the lack of transparency is keeping it from reaching its full potential. Better policymaking would help, but Africans can’t just count on foreign countries as examples. His belief that “free markets, personal responsibility, less regulation, low taxes, limited government, individual liberties, and economic empowerment will boost African oil and gas markets and economies” is firm throughout the book. He is right when he advocates, “we should fight against a new aid and welfare culture that many young Africans are moving towards”. He demands accountability which is good.

“The global reality is that many countries have policies about how individuals and companies should respond to inducements and kickbacks, and in an era of transparency, they expect Africa to have the same—and enforce them,” Pugliese said. “As Ayuk’s book suggests, Africa has a history of looking abroad for aid and inspiration, and it’s time countries on the continent looked to each other to make sure they meet world-class standards for doing business.”

While Ayuk is not reluctant to call attention to issues Africa—and Africans—need to change, Pugliese said that what is special about Billions at Play is the author’s attention to providing a balanced message. Most important, it is based upon Ayuk’s own experiences as an advocate for everyday Africans.

“This isn’t some pedantic assessment of a problem or, worse yet, a glossed-over version of the truth,” Pugliese said. “In his book, Ayuk offers a boots-on-the-ground perspective and is prescriptive about how countries can change.”

As an example, Pugliese cited Ayuk’s coverage of Nigeria’s response to the 2008 global financial crisis, including reforms to bank oversight. Angola, Cameroon, South Africa, Senegal, Gabon, South Sudan, Ghana, Equatorial Guinea can learn from this book but African investors can learn more.

“Ayuk tells us what has been done, what can be done, and what should be done.  He knows the topic of good governance inside and out, and doesn’t hesitate to show us all sides.”

NJ Ayuk is founder and CEO of Pan-African corporate law conglomerate, Centurion Law Group (https://CenturionLG.com/); Founder and Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber (https://EnergyChamber.org/) and co-author of Big Barrels: African Oil and Gas and the Quest for Prosperity (2017).

He is recognized as one of the foremost figures in African business today.

Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy will be published by October 2019

 For more information about the book, follow us on social media @BillionsAtPlay.
*African Energy Chamber
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Gambia:Police officers engage on community policing
October 8, 2019 | 0 Comments
Nessie Golakai Gould .Pic credit Foroyaa

By Adama Makasuba

The Gambia Police Force in partnership with the United Nations Development Program on Tuesday held a daylong conference on community policing for personnel of the Gambia Police Force aimed at strengthening rule of law and enhancing justice and security service delivery.

Speaking on behalf of the minister of interior at the conference, deputy commissioner of police attaché to the ministry of interior, Lamin Banda said: “despite the peaceful changes of the government and the increase international support, the legacy of the former administration possesses challenges to a peaceful transition toward democratic governance and rule of law in the Gambia,”

DCP Banda said after a tripe tide cooperation between his ministry, West African Network for Peacebuilding and the United Nations Development Program in an inclusive and nationally driven conflict development analysis of the Gambia last year that “this report identified reputation damage and mistrust between the members of the community and men in uniform.”

He said the participation of the citizens and the civil society organizations is crucial in sustaining peace and stability in the country, adding that a need to focus on proactive policing as important.

He urged the African nations, African Union and the regional economics communities to invest more in prevention than investing resources in fire brigade policing.

“This realization led to the commitment by the government of the Gambia through ministry of interior charged with internal security, the desire to establish and support existing structures for conflict prevention,” he said.

Nessie Golakai Gould UNDP deputy resident assured the commitment of UNDP to Gambia Police Force in the subsequent years, adding the UNDP in partnership with UNICEF initiated a rule of law program in the country in 2017 which works in line with the security sector reform and the transitional justice program.

 “During the previous administration Gambia police force suffered reputational harm due to the engagement of the security sector in allegations of gross human rights violations against the Gambian people as a result there was loss of public confidence and trust in the police force and its personnel,” she said

She  however said now the Gambia Police Force has began rehabilitation itself in order to build public trust, adding the rule of law project “enable us to provide sector wide support increasingly resilience of rule of law institutions and increasing access to justice for citizens”

Speaking on behalf of the Inspector General Police, assistant inspector general of police Ebrima Bah, police chief of administration said the Gambia Police Force has focal persons in some regions “but it is not as locus as it should have been.”

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Rwanda inaugurates first smartphones plant in Africa
October 8, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

Kagame was beholden a smartphone produced by Mara Phones

On Monday, president Paul Kagame of Rwanda inaugurated Mara Phone, a first smartphones plant of its kind to be put up in Africa.

The plant is situated in heart of Kigali, in special economic zone, the area that is reserved for industries.

Mara Phones, a subsidiary company of the Mara Group owned by businessman Ashish  Thakkar has started to produce two kinds of smartphones including Mara Z  and Mara X.

President Kagame inaugurating this plant, lauded this achievement and he believes it is going to increase number of Rwandans who use smartphones.

“The percentage is still really low of Rwandans who are already using smartphones, but we want to enable many more who would like to, and this is why dealing with cost and quality is very important.” He said

Kagame inaugurating Mara Phones Plant in Kigali

The cost of first phones produces by Mara Phones ranges between one hundred dollar and two hundred dollar.

Kagame promised that government is dealing with Mara Phones to see how price can be reduced and be paid in instalments.

“The introduction of Mara Phones will put smartphone ownership within reach of more Rwandans. The product is backed by a warranty and  the price can be paid in instalments over two years. They have tried to make it as simple and  possible for Rwandans as they could.”

Kagame revealed that Mara aims to export phones in the  region as well, and beyond.

Ashish Thakkar of Mara Group compares  introducing smartphones plant in Rwanda as African dreams that comes true.

“This is the first plant that produces smartphones on the continent, It has never been done before. This is the time for Africa to make a difference in producing high quality products not only for Africans but also beyond.” he said

These smartphones uses Android system powered by Google.

Mara Phone in Rwanda employs more than two hundred young Rwandans, with few foreign experts.

The plant has capacity of producing about 1 000 smartphones a day, and building that plant has cost more than 50 000 000 USD.

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Gambia Volleyball Team Unveils Players for World Beach Games
October 8, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

The head coach of Gambia national women Beach  Volleyball team Marie Wadda  release her final list of selected players to represent Gambia at the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC)  World Beach Games to be hosted in Doha, Qatar from October 12th to 16th 2019.

The Gambia is the only African Country qualified to take part in the FIVB inaugural 4×4 beach Volleyball and the West Africans will battle from Pool B against Australia, Canada and Vanuatu.

The Gambia face Australia on October 12th in Pool B opener at the beautiful Al Gharafa beach. The players selected are: Anna Marie Bojang Gamtel/Gamcel, Fatoumatta Ceesay   Interior, Abie Kujabi   GAF, Mariama Ginadou   Interior, Aminata Gaye   Interior and Sainabou Tambedou   Interior

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Gambia: Scorpion Striker ‘I Am Always Proud To Represent My Country’
October 8, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Assan Ceesay

Less than five days to Gambia’s opener at the Afcon 2021 preliminary Qualifiers to Djibouti slated for Wednesday 9th October at Stade Gouled in Djibouti City, Scorpions striker Assan Ceesay has again undoubtedly made the cut to Coach Tom Saintfiet’s final list of 20 players for the double header.

The Swiss based FC Zurich striker has  to talk about his preparation ahead of the qualifiers away to Djibouti this week.

 Speaking to Pan African Visions, the former FC Lugano forward said he is ever prepared to represent his country. ” I am always proud to represent my country and it is always a pleasure and honor”.

He said having the chance to be called up for national duty means a lot to do more for your country. “There are many players who do not have the chance and for me having the chance means something for me and that i should do a lot for my country”.

Asked about the importance of the game, the former Gamtel FC and Cassa Sport forward said, the importance of the game cannot be over emphasized. He said all the players are very concerned and eager to qualify the country.

 “We have nothing to lose. We have to make our country proud and qualify the team. We are all fighting to do our best because it is also good for our career”, Ceesay highlighted. 

He said the strikers in the team will make the difference.

“We are doing it in our clubs so we can do it for our country and we will play as a team but also respect our opponents”.

The Banjul born FC Zurich stellar performer will return to his home country with hopes of making another glorious performance at Djibouti next week. He scored Gambia’s only goal away to Angola when the Scorpions lost to the Palancas Negras 2-1 in the return leg of the World Cup 2022 preliminaries.

Assan is counted amongst the most effective and heart given Scorpions in the squad. ” I feel emotional whenever I wear the Gambian jersey to play for my country and ready to fight for my country and that is why I always give my best”.

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FIFA Fines Gambia for ‘Misconduct of Fans’
October 8, 2019 | 0 Comments
Fans Watching Gambia Vs Angola .Picture credit Chronicle

By Bakary Ceesay

The Gambia Football Federation (GFF) regrets to inform the general public that it has received communication from FIFA that the Gambia is been fined CHF10,000 for the misconduct of its fans at the first leg of World Cup Qualifier preliminary match at home to Angola on Saturday 6th September 2019.

According to FIFA, the fine is necessitated by the unruly behavior of Gambian fans at the end of the game and thus warranted the world football governing body to levy such a penalty for the infringement of the provisions of FIFA code of conduct for match security and order.

In light of this development, the  GFF regrets that such a behavior still persists amongst fans and therefore remains a worrying situation for our football.

The general public is reminded that this is the latest fine amongst many that has been levied on the Gambia all largely due to fans’ misconduct at match days at the Stadium. The situation cannot be left unattended and as such all are urged to stay away from hooliganism and use of unsporting behaviors as it is contrary to the norms of football.

While we crave your indulgence to be patient with us in our drive to the development of the beautiful game, we equally indulged on you to desist from any form of trouble that might be a jeopardy to Gambian football and our quest to heighten football in the Gambia

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Gambia Gov’t, Japan Signed Food Assistance Grant
October 8, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

The Governments of The Gambia and Japan signed food assistance grant worth $2,337,650 at a ceremony held at Atlantic Hotel in Banjul on Saturday October 5th, 2019.

The rice assistance is part of Japan’s annual Official Development Assistance (ODA) to The Gambia. Following the signing ceremony, the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad, Dr. Mamadou Tangara said the ceremony is testament of Japan’s commitment to work closely with the Government of The Gambia to addressing Gambia’s food security situation and also part of efforts aimed at elevating Gambia – Japan bilateral relations.

Dr. Tangara thanked the Government of Japan for the level of support the country has so far received.

He said discussions have been done with members of Japan’s Parliamentary Council to the African Union on the margins of TICAD 7th in Yokohama, and The Gambia is working towards intensifying collaboration in the areas of agriculture, infrastructural development and capacity building for the youth.

He called on the Japanese private sector through the Japanese Embassy to invest in potential sectors of The Gambia’s economy, including agriculture and fisheries.

He assured Ambassador Tatsuo Arai of the principle of transparency and accountability adding that the government will ensure that the arrangements under this partnership is worked out to achieve Gambia’s common objectives and support Japan’s international commitment.

He commended Japan for interventions in education, rural water supply, health, youth and sports and other development.

For his part, Ambassador Arai told reporters that the two countries have fruitful cooperation in the areas of education, health, fisheries and food assistance. The food assistance, he adds, will alleviate food shortage, stabilise food price and socio-economic development through the utilisation of the counterpart fund. He assured that Japan will continue to work with the Barrow Government in order to address the needs of the population.

He said human security is one of the main pillars of Japan’s Official Development Assistance, ODA, policies and the establishment of food security and food self-sufficiency holds a special importance in these policies.

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Gambia government discloses D50 million in reparations for Jammeh’s victims
October 8, 2019 | 0 Comments

Former President Yaya Jammeh

By Adama Makasuba

The Gambia government has disclosed fifty million dalasi (D50) reparations for the victims whose rights were grossly violated during the 22-year rule of former president Yahya Jammeh and that the money is from sales of Jammeh’s assets.

This revelation came two months after the launched of victims’ trust fund by the government and almost a year into the public hearings the Truth, Reconciliations and Reparations Commission into the past human rights violations and abuses occurred in the 22-year rule of former exile president Yahya Jammeh.

Speaking during a press conference on Monday in Banjul, Abubacarr Tambadou Minister of Justice and Attorney General told journalists that: “it is with great pleasure that I announce the decision of the government of the Gambia to contribute to the TRRC victims’ trust fund and initial amount of fifty million dalasis with immediate effects.”

He added: “this fifty million dalasi is being out of proceeds of sales of former president Jammeh’s assets which are currently being sold in accordance with the recommendations of Janneh Commission.”

He said the government is fulfilling its promise to grant reparations for the victims of human rights violations and abuses within the mandate of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission.

Mr Tambadou said the government deemed it just that ‘reparations for Jammeh’s victims should be granted directly come from his wealth and assets’ which he said come from Jammeh’s assets, and called for more donations to the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission’s victims’ trust fund.

Dr Lamin Sise, chairman of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission described the amount of money as splendid contributions by the government to the reparations fund established by the TRRC, describing that it as a “a very good gesture on part of the old Gambians to assist in healings, the reconciliations and hopefully bringing justice.”

He said: “the victims deserve this kind of attentions they are once, who really suffered enormously in the 22-years of dictatorship and the tyranny,” adding that every Gambian was a victim of the 22-years of Jammeh’s rule.

Sheriff Kijera, chairman of the victims centre commended the government to fulfilling its promise to repatriating the victims of human rights violations and called on private sectors to extend helping hand to the victims.

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Gambia: GDC Concerned about Military Officer Threats on Its Youth President
October 8, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Hon Mamma Kandeh

The Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC) has learned with dismay the recent threat meted against the party Youth president Momodou Cham Junior by a military officer called Sarjo Conteh.


The GDC party is expressing its profound concern as the alleged Sarjo Conteh has sworn to shoot at MC Cham if he is out on the street by December demanding President Barrow to step down. Mr. Conteh made mentioned of the training of 100s of security personnels against the “3 years Jotna” movement in December.


However, in a press release signed by Hon Mamma Kandeh, Secretary General and Party Leader said that: “It is saddened to know that the new Gambia that would have been guided by the respect for human rights, freedom to assemble and respect for protesters view are being oppressed which does not tell well in the building of a new Gambia for all”


He explained that the alleged, Sarjo Conteh has apologised to Cham which is accepted and the party leadership would use this opportunity to remind the entire security sector to be more loving and protective to the Gambians as their priority.


He stressed that the GDC is calling on the government to be more responsible to her people as part of their mandate is to protect Gambia and Gambians irrespective of their political differences.

“The party would like to thank individuals, media houses, activists and political parties who have shown great concern during this trying times,” GDC leader noted.

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Climate and environmental civil society organizations urge AFDB President Adesina to curb funding for coal projects in Africa
October 7, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Adesina

 Climate and environmental civil society   organizations  have submitted  an open letter  to Mr Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank calling to immediately stop the financing of all coal projects on the African continent.

The letter reads:

We, the undersigned civil society organisations call on the leadership of the African Development Bank to immediately put in place and publish on the AfDB website a policy that denies the bank’s funding or financial services to any coal project on the African continent.

 We welcomed your announcement made on Tuesday, September 24, 2019, in which you reiterated the AfDB’s commitment to no longer fund coal plants on the continent, but rather build the “largest solar zone in the world” in the Sahel region.

  This announcement follows a series of scientific reports confirming that stopping the construction of coal fired power plants and closing existing plants is a crucial element in achieving the Paris Agreement’s objective.

  Africa’s vulnerability to climate change is well known and documented. According to the 2018 Climate Change Vulnerability Index, seven of the ten most climate-vulnerable countries are in Africa.

  During this year alone, two powerful hurricanes plunged Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi into a state of disaster, at a time when droughts have taken their toll in Eastern Africa and the Horn of Africa.  Successive reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) confirm that after the polar zones, Africa is expected to be the second hardest hit region by the effects of climate change. These effects are already hampering economic development, sometimes eroding years of economic progress, exacerbating conflict and pushing hundreds of thousands of people every year into exile, especially those living in arid zones and areas affected by desertification.

  Despite this gloomy picture, Africa remains one of the few continents where the development of coal fired power plants continues while the latest IPCC report stated that all coal-fired plants must close by 2040 to reach the 1.5 °C target set in the Paris Agreement. If fossil fuel projects continue at the current rate, Africa is heading straight for warming of 3 to 4 °C; a scenario that would have disastrous consequences, with extreme heat that would affect the majority of the continent’s land, increased risks of extreme drought (especially in Eastern and Southern Africa), a decline in agricultural yield, and extreme flooding as highlighted in the latest IPCC report. The same report made it clear that anyone who supports the fossil fuel industry knowingly contributes to untold suffering around the world. In the face of these extreme weather events and associated risks that threaten the lives and livelihoods of millions of Africans, the youth and civil society organisations of Africa took action from the 20 to 27th September, calling for immediate and radical climate action in agreement with science, and an end to the fossil fuel era. In this historic mobilisation called “Global Climate Strikes”, people from all walks of life, including fishing communities, farmers, women, young people, civil society groups, traditional and religious leaders took part in diverse actions sending a strong message to their governments and financial institutions that Africa does not need fossil fuels to meet its energy demand and grow its energy supply, but should rather lead the world in the energy transition fueled by renewable resources.  

   Frontline communities affected by the coal projects of Bargny (Senegal), Lamu (Kenya) and South Africa have taken the lead in the strike mobilisations. While thanking and congratulating you for your commitment to rid Africa of the coal influence and to accelerate the use of renewable energies, we are convinced that the AfDB can do more by officially and definitively disengaging itself from any current or future coal project, starting with the Bargny project (Senegal) where the AfDB Board of Directors had approved a preferential loan of € 55 million on November 25, 2009. Subsequently, the same board approved an additional loan of $ 5 million. By doing so, we will be truly convinced that the statement made in New York is not a mere announcement, but rather a firm commitment to actively and concretely support the renewable energy transition and development that Africa so badly needs to not only fight against the climate crisis but also boost its development and improve the well-being of its inhabitants. That is why we, therefore, urge the AfDB to:  Immediately put in place and publish on the AfDB website a policy that denies the bank’s funding· or financial services to any coal project on the African continent.  Shift the AfDB’s portfolio to 100% renewable energy projects and sustainable, low-emission· agriculture and infrastructure;  Publish a roadmap to reduce portfolio-wide emissions and align with 1.5ºC goal.· 3  Increase transparency and access to information as well as increased transparency in stakeholder· engagement and consultation in relation to energy finance;  Release additional information or a timeline for the release of additional information regarding· the construction of the “largest solar energy zone on the planet” in the Sahel region; We look forward to hearing from you on what steps will be taken towards achieving these changes. Our hope is that we can all work together to create a brighter, sustainable future for the African continent.

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