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RAHAMA WRIGHT FOUNDER & CEO OF SHEA YELEEN DELIVERS REMARKS AT THE 2nd U.S. AFRICA BUSINESS FORUM
September 23, 2016 | 0 Comments

shea-yeleen-logoRahama Wright discussed the important role women and Diaspora led businesses have in US/Africa trade engagement

Shea Yeleen, today announced its participation in the 2nd U.S.-Africa Business Forum, which was hosted by the U.S. Department of Commerce and Bloomberg Philanthropies on Wednesday, September 21st in New York City at the Plaza Hotel.

During the forum, Ms. Wright spoke about her experience working as an entrepreneur, being part of the inaugural President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business In Africa (PAC/DBIA) and how it was an opportunity to elevate the role of women, youth, and Diaspora led business. Additionally, announced during the forum was Ms. Wright’s reappointment to serve another two-year term on the Presidential Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa. PAC-DBIA members – representing small, medium, and large companies from a variety of industry sectors – advise the President, through the Secretary of Commerce, on ways to strengthen commercial engagement between the United States and Africa.

“Shea Yeleen is a perfect example of how US/Africa trade policy can benefit small businesses that have a social mission,” said Rahama Wright. “I am excited to share our company mission with stakeholders within the business community. Additionally, through my re-appointment on the advisory council, I will continue the work to improve trade engagement between the US and Africa.”

At the Forum, world leaders, including President Barack Obama, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Michael R. Bloomberg and African heads of state, met with private sector CEOs from the U.S. and Africa to examine the partnerships and innovations that have led to deepened business relationships and exciting potential for growth.

The interactive sessions focused on a variety of key issues that impact U.S. – African partnerships, including economic diversification and regional integration, entrepreneurship and bottom-up innovation, and the continent’s digital future.

Shea Yeleen is a social impact business that creates high-quality natural and organic skincare products that create living wages for women in Ghana. Shea Yeleen works hand in hand with women cooperatives members providing them with training, production facilities, and access to capital to develop value added products. The company works with 800 women in Northern Ghana.

Bloomberg Philanthropies works in over 120 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2015, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed over half a billion dollars.

The U.S. Department of Commerce promotes job creation, economic growth, sustainable development and improved standards of living for all Americans by working in partnership with businesses, universities, communities and our nation’s workers. The department touches the daily lives of the American people in many ways, with a wide range of responsibilities in the areas of trade, economic development, technology, entrepreneurship and business development, environmental stewardship, and statistical research and analysis.

 

 

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NEPAD Regional Integration and Trade Department to host key stakeholders’ coordination meeting on Abidjan-Lagos and other West African Corridors
September 23, 2016 | 0 Comments

corridor_bko_abj_421378491Abidjan, Côte dIvoire, September 21, 2016 – NEPAD Regional Integration and Trade Department has convened a two-day meeting on September 27-28, at the African Development Bank (AfDB) headquarters in Abidjan, with development partners, the NEPAD Planning and Coordination Agency (NPCA), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), government officials and representatives of customs and revenue authorities to discuss a more coordinated approach to the management of West African corridors.

The two-day event, jointly organized by the AfDB, ECOWAS, the Accelerating Trade in West Africa (ATWA) project, and the NPCA, seeks to bring together all stakeholders, financiers and technicians to help streamline views, review the latest corridor performance metrics and foster synergies and create a platform for better co-ordination and efficiency in West African Corridor development and management.

“This critical meeting is in line with the Bank’s commitment to promote efficient transport corridors in West Africa and support Africa’s regional integration agenda for inclusive economic growth. At the end of the meeting, we hope to be better equipped to improve the conditions of shippers, transporters and traders in West Africa when they engage in cross-border trade,” said Moono Mupotola, Director of the AfDB’s NEPAD Regional Integration and Trade Department.

The meeting will be structured around two key initiatives that aim at promoting dialogue between different stakeholders involved in the projects. The first day will be dedicated to the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor development led by the AfDB, the ECOWAS Commission and the NPCA, while discussions on the Day 2 will focus on the three corridors covered by the Accelerating Trade in West Africa (ATWA) project, namely Abidjan-Ouagadougou, Tema-Ouagadougou and Lomé-Ouagadougou.

The Abidjan-Lagos Corridor, a flagship project of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), is the busiest corridor in West Africa. The six-lane, 1,028-kilometre highway will connect Abidjan, Accra, Lomé, Cotonou and Lagos, while serving landlocked countries and ports in the region. The corridor is one of the main economic drivers of West Africa with over 75% of economic activities in the ECOWAS region and a total population of 35 million inhabitants.

Experts agree that support to regional trade and integration in West Africa is substantial but fragmented. The meeting is therefore timely to ensure that the approach to the development of corridors is coherent and inclusive of all key players.

Accelerating Trade in West Africa (ATWA) is an initiative funded by the Danish and Dutch Ministries of Foreign Affairs aiming to establish a durable, multi-donor vehicle dedicated to advancing regional integration, expanding trade and lowering costs along key trade routes in West Africa.

ATWA takes inspiration from East Africa, where eight development partners have pooled their support and established a single non-profit organisation working across the East African Community (EAC) to further its integration agenda. The organisation, TradeMark East Africa (TMEA), is a technical partner of the ATWA Project.

The ATWA Project Team will present analysis detailing the performance of selected West African corridors for formal and informal traders, and seek input from participants as to what activities and programmes could be elaborated to improve the situation.

Given the veritable platform that it promises to be, the AfDB intends to take lead and continually play host to this coordination process in order to streamlining efforts and activities among development partners and other stakeholders in the region.

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GE reinforces Commitment to Africa at 2016 U.S.-Africa Business Forum
September 23, 2016 | 0 Comments
GE, which has operated in Africa for over 100 years, committed at the 2014 event to invest $2 billion in facility development, skills training, and sustainability initiatives across Africa by 2018
WASHINGTON D.C., United States of America, September 22, 2016/ — The African growth story is still real .

Construction is booming in Angola’s capital Luanda. The city is already home to more than 6 million people. (Photo: Arne Hoel)

Construction is booming in Angola’s capital Luanda. The city is already home to more than 6 million people. (Photo: Arne Hoel)

Two years ago, the first U.S.-Africa Business Forum drew the attention of the world to the promise of Africa. Governments and organizations discussed and debated opportunities in infrastructure, innovation, and workforce development, and together committed more than $33 billion  in deals, investments, and financing to accelerate African growth.

GE, which has operated in Africa for over 100 years, committed at the 2014 event to invest $2 billion  in facility development, skills training, and sustainability initiatives across Africa by 2018. Today, ahead of the second U.S.-Africa Business Forum, GE is proud to announce significant progress against these commitments, as well as several new initiatives.

Jay Ireland, president and CEO of GE Africa, said: “Meeting Africa’s needs takes leadership and cooperation This week’s U.S.-Africa Business Forum signals the strong commitment by both African and U.S. companies and governments to collaborate for economic growth.  GE is proud to remain a steadfast partner in Africa’s sustainable growth and will continue to invest in people and infrastructure across Africa.”

Nabil Habayeb, president and CEO of GE Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey said: “Building on our decades of presence in the region, we have specifically focused on supporting North African nations to strengthen their energy, healthcare and transportation infrastructure – sectors that are mission-critical for sustained growth. In addition to delivering advanced digital industrial technologies that enhance productivity and efficiency, our emphasis has been to create thriving innovation ecosystems and promote local capacity building. Led by the success of these initiatives, we are taking our partnerships to the next level to accelerate growth and progress.”

Building infrastructure

Africa is home to 12 of the world’s 20 fastest-growing economies, and its manufacturing, services and technology sectors are fueling markets around the globe. Improving access to core infrastructure will equip more Africans to tap its vast potential.

1.      GE’s installed base across Africa totals more than 93 gigawatts of power. We have added approximately 11 gigawatts to the grid since 2014, and 2.74 gigawatts are currently under development by GE in Power Africa projects

2.      GE has spent $15m over the past two years on projects representing roughly 2GW of power in Nigeria and Ghana. Today, we are excited to announce the signing of the PPA and related agreements for the Ghana 300 Bridge Project, which will power the equivalent of 700,000 homes in Ghana.

3.      In Egypt, the government needed help to avoid outages during Ramadan in 2015.  GE delivered 2.6 gigawatts — enough emergency power to supply 2.5 million homes — in 9 months, the fastest project of that size we have ever done.

4.      In Algeria, GE has created 3 joint ventures across the energy spectrum.  We broke ground in 2015 at GE Algeria Turbines (GEAT) and are preparing the site; we expect it to be operational by 2018.

5.      In Nigeria, we launched  a $20M Healthymagination Mother & Child initiative in 2016 with USAID, the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health, and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency. Two million expectant Nigerian mothers are set to benefit from the programby 2020.

6.      GE is supporting  Kenya’s Managed Equipment Services (MES) project in line with the country’s transformation strategy. One of the largest healthcare modernization programs to date in Africa, we have so far upgraded radiology departments at 96 Ministry of Health hospitals. Early results are positive; access to radiology services improved by 50 percent across three pilot hospitals in the first five months after the new equipment was installed.

7.      Through partnership agreements  in Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Angola, we support their development agendas in power generation, healthcare, and transportation. We were even named  one of Nigeria’s most strategic investors this year.

Localized solutions

GE is working with partners in Africa to drive sustainable development and solve local challenges by investing in technology, building capital markets and developing technical skills within communities:

1.      GE launched its first Africa-based innovation center in South Africa in 2016. The Africa Innovation Centre, according to GE Africa president Jay Ireland, will be a “collaborative work space” aimed at “driving innovation in Africa for Africa.”

2.      The Centre, which serves as the Africa HQ for GE’s growing Healthcare business, also houses the first Healthcare Customer Experience Centre in Africa, which is designed to mimic different care areas in a hospital environment.

3.      GE inaugurated  the brand new $13 million GE Healthcare Skills and Training Institute, an education facility for healthcare professionals, in Kenya in 2016, as part of its MES commitment. Through the new facility, GE has committed to training over 10,000 healthcare professionalsfrom across Kenya and East Africa by 2020.

4.      The $19M supplier development fund we outlined in 2014 is operational, and 18 small- and medium-sized businesses are now receiving business and technical services.

5.      In collaboration with the U.S. Africa Development Foundation and USAID, today GE continues its commitment to the “Power Africa Off-Grid Energy Challenge”. The initiative has awarded 50 grants of up to $100,000 each to local enterprises to develop and expand off-grid solutions in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia.

6.      In 2016, GE’s and the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship launched a program to train and mentor African social entrepreneurs addressing maternal and/or child health. The program selected  its first cohort of 17 social entrepreneurs, who will gain support in strengthening their business models, refining business plans, reinforcing organizational development, managing talent, and learning how to scale sustainably.

7.      In Egypt, GE and the Ministry of Communications and IT launched  the GE Egypt Digital Innovation Challenge in September 2016. Entrepreneurs can submit  digital solutions for industrial challenges in healthcare, transportation, and energy until November 30, and winners will receive a cash award of EGP 100,000, as well as an opportunity to receive training to develop their software solution on Predix.

Capacity building

GE investing in capacity building that will ensure sustained growth by providing skills training and developing leaders through partnerships with local governments, schools, and hospitals:

1.      GE employs more than ~4100 workers across 35 countries in Africa. Since the U.S.-Africa Business Forum in 2014, GE has received over $11B in orders. In 2015, GE saw $6.4B in revenue across the continent.

2.      Since 2014 GE upgraded GE facilities in South Africa and Nigeria; opened new facilities in Kenya and Ghana; and launched offices in Ethiopia,Mozambique, and Cote d’Ivoire.

3.      In 2014, the GE Foundation announced a $20M commitment  to advance maternal and child health in Africa, through the extension of programs supporting the Sustainable Development Goals to eradicate preventable maternal and infant mortality. Nearly 800 health workers have been trained so far through biomedical equipment technician and nurse anesthetist programs.

4.      The GE Foundation further committed in 2015  to its Safe Surgery 2020 Initiative, a $25 million-dollar, 3-year commitment to accelerate access to safe surgery in low- and middle-income countries. The Initiative launched in Ethiopia and will expand to Tanzania next.

5.      GE and the GE Foundation’s 2014 investment in Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon  has trained 30 technicians in equipment repair and maintenance in Ethiopia. The program is launching a biomedical center of excellence there.

6.      GE has facilitated leadership development and helped develop curricula at Regional Leadership Centres for President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). GE staff members also serve as mentors to youth in the program.

7.      GE expanded its GE Garages program into Kenya  in 2015, collaborating with Gearbox and Seven Seas Technologies help build a skilled workforce and drive entrepreneurial development in the country.

GE (NYSE: GE) imagines things others don’t, builds things others can’t and delivers outcomes that make the world work better. GE brings together the physical and digital worlds in ways no other company can. In its labs and factories and on the ground with customers, GE is inventing the next industrial era to move, power, build and cure the world.

*GE

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Israel’s African Union Observer Bid: An Uphill Struggle
September 21, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ramani*

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn speak during a joint press conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Thursday, July 7, 2016. Netanyahu is on one day state visit to Ethiopia. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn speak during a joint press conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Thursday, July 7, 2016. Netanyahu is on one day state visit to Ethiopia. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

In early July, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a historic four-nation trip to East Africa. The trip was a resounding success. Netanyahu’s aspirations of becoming a global statesman were boosted considerably by the willingness of African leaders to expand their trade and security linkages with Israel. Israel’s goal of becoming an observer state in the African Union (AU) also gained momentum, as the leaders of Ethiopia and Kenya endorsed Israel’s AU observer bid.

Despite these positive developments, Israel’s desire to become an AU observer state and expand its diplomatic involvement in Africa is fraught with many obstacles. Even though Israel was an observer state in the Organization of African Unity (OAU) until its dissolution in 2002, eleven African countries still do not recognize Israel’s right to exist. Israel’s support for Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, and alleged arms exports to Rwanda during the 1994 genocide have ensured that anti-Israel sentiments remain widespread amongst Africa’s political elites.

Visceral anti-Israel hostilities have even surfaced within African countries with close ties to Jerusalem. During Netanyahu’s visit to Kampala, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni repeatedly referred to Israel as “Palestine.” This deliberate mix-up was covered extensively in the international press and overshadowed the Netanyahu-Museveni bilateral summit.

The Palestinian Authority’s (PA) AU observer status also complicates Israel’s hopes of increasing its involvement in the African Union. Since 2013, PA President Mahmoud Abbas has called for an African boycott of Israeli goods and has urged AU members to support peace negotiations on Palestine’s terms. As Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories has been widely criticized in Africa, Abbas’s anti-Israel rhetoric has resonated strongly with many African leaders.

The ideological synergy between African leaders and Palestinian nationalists was strikingly revealed by Abbas’s praise for the AU’s solidarity with the Palestinian cause. Some African officials are concerned that Israel’s membership in the AU could polarize African leaders’ views on the Israel-Palestine conflict and weaken the AU’s harmony.

In addition to tensions over Palestine, two major AU member states, South Africa and Egypt will likely oppose Israel’s application for AU observer status. South Africa’s opposition to Israel becoming an AU observer can be explained by the governing African National Congress (ANC)’s belief that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is as egregious as apartheid. Israel’s extensive economic linkages to South Africa’s National Party government during the 1970s and 1980s has caused allegations of Israeli apartheid in Palestine to resonate strongly with the South African public.

Even though Israeli heads of state like Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert reached out to the ANC to improve Jerusalem-Pretoria relations, the ANC has remained stridently critical of Israel. In June, the ANC condemned the opposition Democratic Alliance’s close relations with Israel, praised the 200,000 South Africans who campaigned for the Palestinian cause in the Western Cape region, and expressed solidarity with Palestine against “Israeli apartheid.” Many analysts have speculated that Netanyahu’s decision not to visit the AU’s headquarters in Addis Ababa was the result of a snub by the AU Commission’s South African head, Nkosanza Zuma’s.

Egypt’s opposition to Israeli observer status in the AU dates back to the Hosni Mubarak era. Even though large African states like Ethiopia, Nigeria and Kenya strongly supported Israel’s campaign to become an AU observer in 2003, Egyptstaunchly opposed Israel’s inclusion in the organization. Egyptian policymakers feared that Israel would use AU membership to back Ethiopia’s claims to the Nile River basin. As tensions between Egypt and Ethiopia have increased in recent months, Cairo’s position on Israel’s accession as an AU observer is unlikely to change.

Although Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s 2013 coup strained the Egypt-AU relationship, Egypt’s AU membership was restored earlier this year. Egypt will host the Pan-African Parliament’s October 2016 session at Sharm al-Sheikh. During the October parliamentary session, Egypt is expected to reject Ethiopia’s colonial history-based claims to the Nile River basin. Israel’s strong relationships with both Ethiopia and Egypt could force Netanyahu to take a neutral stance out of strategic necessity. This non-committal approach to one of Africa’s most heated territorial disputes could cause Ethiopia to scale back its support for Israel’s AU observer status bid.

Even if Israel gains enough African support to neutralize potential opposition from South Africa and Egypt, Jerusalem’s role in Africa remains highly controversial. In recent months, Israel has attempted to act as a mediator between the United States and AU countries that have strained relations with Washington.

Israel has urged the United States to improve its relationship with Sudan, as Khartoum has distanced itself from Iran’s geopolitical clutches since late 2014. Even though Israeli officials have expressed concerns about Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s deplorable human rights record, Israeli policymakers have covertly urged European policymakers to ameliorate Sudan’s crippling $50 billion debt burden.

Sudan has responded negatively to Israel’s willingness to facilitate Khartoum’s normalization relations with the West. The Sudanese government has insisted that any improvement in Khartoum-Washington relations will occur through bilateral dialogues that exclude Israel. Some Sudanese policymakers are concerned that Israel’s leverage over US policy decisions could alter Washington’s approach to Sudan in a way that unduly benefits Netanyahu’s anti-Iran agenda.

Ethiopia’s contention that Israel is a constructive presence on the world stage has countered Sudan’s animosity towards Israeli diplomacy in Africa. Yet past grievances towards Israel continue to undercut the success of Israel’s soft power campaign in Africa. With notable exceptions like Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, the perception that Israeli diplomats are acting at the behest of American interests has prevented anti-Western authoritarian leaders in Africa from embracing Israel as a constructive diplomatic presence in the AU.

Under Netanyahu’s leadership, Israel’s efforts to expand its diplomatic footprint in Africa have made striking progress. But historical legacies and anti-Israeli sentiments within many crucial AU member states could undercut Israel’s ambition of becoming an active observer within the African Union. It remains to be seen whether Israeli peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance initiatives increase Israel’s soft power enough for anti-Western African leaders to soften their opposition to a closer Israel-Africa relationship.

*HuffPost.Samuel Ramani is a DPhil candidate in International Relations at St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford. He is also a journalist who writes regularly for the Washington Post, The Diplomat and National Interest magazine. He can be followed on Twitter at samramani2 and on Facebook at Samuel Ramani.

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BioTherm Energy awarded 20MW Ghana Solar Project
September 21, 2016 | 0 Comments

8412019568_f9142084da_bLeading African IPP, BioTherm Energy has emerged victorious in the recent 20MW solar tender in Ghana, West Africa. The company was selected as the preferred supplier out of the numerous bids submitted and will build, own and operate the facility on a 20 year PPA basis. This ground breaking project will be one of the first of its kind at a utility scale for Ghana and paves the way for future developments in the renewable power sector. This facility will generate enough clean power to support over 10 000 homes, adding much needed power to the Ghana grid where power interruptions are frequent and will provide jobs for members of the local community.  These planned activities will advance BioTherm Energy’s commitment to Power Africa’s goal of providing access to clean, reliable energy across subSaharan Africa.

In an interview, CEO Jasandra Nyker explained that “as a company, BioTherm Energy is growing from strength to strength and this latest award is a significant milestone achievement. We are committed to producing clean and sustainable power at competitive pricing, ensuring benefit for local communities, and look forward to concluding the necessary agreements with the Government to take this project into construction.”

Recently, BioTherm also secured 34MW of solar projects in Burkina Faso, 284MW of wind and solar in South Africa as well as being shortlisted in numerous countries across the African continent.  In addition, it has embarked on a greenfield development program and is engaging with several African governments in this regard.

-ENDS-

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Africa has a secret weapon in its diaspora-Abou Dieng CEO Global Green International Holdings
September 19, 2016 | 2 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Abou Dieng CEO and President of Global Green International Holdings LLC believes that Africa is the next destination

Abou Dieng CEO and President of Global Green International Holdings LLC believes that Africa is the next destination

With its buying power combined with expertise and knowledge, the Diaspora is Africa’s could be Africa’s secret weapon says Abou Dieng, Director of EMONECO, a publicly traded financial company on the US-Stock. Dieng, originally from Senegal would rather be referred to as African because to him, the boundaries are artificial and Africans are one people.

Dieng, who is also CEO and President of Global Green International Holdings LLC, Executive Director and Ambassador for Africa of Global Treasury Supreme Trust believes that more needs to be done to extend banking services to the broader African population especially in rural areas.

A member of Arizona’s Who’s Who Top 100 Executives, Mr. Dieng has been invited to the White House to discuss the new Immigration Bill, S-744 and works extensively with The US State Department’s African Desk, and has more than 20 years of experience in Finance and International market development.
Strongly attached to his roots, Mr Dieng was closely linked with the organization of the World Pan-African Congress in Atlanta GA in 2003, the International Summit of Descendants of African Kings and Queens in Atlanta, GA, the First ECOWAS US-Africa Textile Tradeshow in Indiana and many other Africa themed events.

His current projects revolve around opportunities for hundreds of millions of Africans with no access to formal banking images, and rebranding Africa, a media project to showcase the unseen side and unheard side of Africa to the world.

 Mr Dieng you are President and CEO of Global Green International Holdings, may we know about your company and what services it offers?

Well first of, I would like to thank you for your time and the great work you are doing in keeping us informed for almost a decade with the PanAfricanVisions News website.

My company Global Green International is a Holding Group is comprised of many companies 100% geared towards the development of the African Continent. I started building this company as a consulting company in 1995, then got into mining, agriculture, and started doing acquisition of other technology companies in 2002. We acquired a Housing System Technology that can produce 150 homes a month using concrete and cement. In 2010, in partnership with Katec Group, we started developing an educational system based on tablets and a proprietary closed circuit telecommunication system. In 2014 we partnered with Phoenix Renewable Technologies to introduce Waste to Energy to Africa. Today we are also involved in Media with our Rebranding Africa Project with East West Communication, Digital Banking with Emoneco, Mining and Petroleum. Over the years, we have developed great relationships with more than 600 banks around the world, and we work with the World Bank, IMF, Millennium Challenge Corporation, United Nations, African Union. We have office presence in 10 countries including US, Switzerland and Africa, we have done business in 29 African countries and have interest in 45.

 You are of Senegalese descent and apparently very proud of your African heritage, what did it take for Mr Dieng to get to where he is,we ask the question because there are struggling African immigrants who could learn from your success.

Well, anyone who is successful today will tell you that Success is the end result of Hard work, struggles and sacrifices. I have been there.

In october 1990, I remember having a conversation with someone in the NYC subway and he asked me what country I was from? I said Senegal. He asked where is Senegal? I said West Africa. Is Senegal poor or rich he asked? I said poor. Do you have land he asked? I said Yes. Do you have rain or running water for agriculture? I said Yes. How about Natural Resources, do you have any? I said Yes. Do you have access to the coast for fishing he asked? I said yes. Then he looked at me straight in the eyes and said to me: “My friend it is your fault if you are poor!” I remember this conversation as if it was yesterday, and my world was turned upside down, It seemed like I was just given a knock out punch, and for days I tried to figure out something. For someone who love Africa like me, I took it personal to change that and I started putting together a game plan and  “blue print” for the development of Africa. I made a decision to dedicate the rest of my life for the development of Africa. I wanted to be part of the actors of the development and a role model. I dropped everything I was doing and went to school. I started putting together a blue print and a plan to follow. After school I traveled extensively to Africa. I divided the continent in five regions (West, North, East, Central and South), and I divided every region in Industries (Housing, Energy, Finance, Agriculture, Mining, Healthcare….). Then I started putting together a quiet underground network of major players in those industries in those regions. This way I was aware of the problems in every part of the continent.

I went back to the US to start a company and surrounded myself with other companies that could offer solutions to African problems, and I never looked back.

 So what you see today is the result of hard work, sacrifices, struggles, failures and starting overs, discipline and dedication. So to all my struggling African peers, my advice is to have a plan and follow it with dedication and discipline… You will be succesful.

We understand you did some mentorship for the Washington Mandela Fellowship also known as Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI Fellows) this year, can you share your experience with us and what impressions the YALI Fellows left on you?

Abou Dieng with Dana Hyde, CEO of MCC

Abou Dieng with Dana Hyde, CEO of MCC

I have known about this program now for a couple of years and I do have many Fellows who I am mentoring in my network. This Year I was invited by Arizona State University to teach a Leadership Class to the Fellows in Phoenix and it was a great experience to share my activities and meet 50 young leaders from different African countries. Everyone of these leaders reminded me of myself when I started my journey. It also gives me hope that what Global Green is building now will be duplicated in many countries, and these Fellows will continue the journey to develop Africa.

Overall, what do you think that particular program, we mean the YALI program could do in changing the fortunes of Africa?

When President Obama started this Initiative, it is designed to empower Young Africans to be more involved in building their communities and give them the leadership training they need to become good leaders. However, after the training is done and the certificates are framed, what each and every Fellow does is what will eventually determine the success of this program. The program by itself is just an initiative. It’s like you buy your kid a brand new car with all the latest techonologies, and they decide to park it on the driveway. Unless your kid decides to put the car on the road and put the metal to the ground, you will not know what impact it will have. Each Fellow needs to understand that they are the hope of their community and when they get back home from the training, they are the light of that community and they need to apply the 3i process: Inspire, Influence and Impact the community. And collectively we can be the light in many parts of Africa.

As the first African American President of the United States, what legacy do you think Mr Obama will leave for Africa, did anything change for Africa in his Presidency?

During his Presidency , President Obama has visited more countries in Africa than any other American President before him. He also started different programs like the US-Africa summit, the Lighting Africa Project, the Washington-Mandela Fellowship… These are all great programs that can contribute to better business relationships between the US and Africa. However, The meaningfull changes that will help develop Africa, will be initiated in Africa, by Africans. So our Presidents in Africa need to be Leaders and Visionaries at the same time, even if it may feel uncomfortable at times.

In a recent interview with AfricanNews, you expressed concerns on the population of Africa that does not have access to Banking, what suggestions is Mr Dieng bringing to the table to improve the situation?

A big part of the African population don’t have access to Banking, yet the economy in africa is projected to reach $29 Trillion by 2030. Banks usually have very complicated process just to open an account. So Emoneco, one of the companies I am involved with as Member of the Board of Director has created a solution that combine the latest technologies in Finance, Banking and Telecom to offer a real time payment solution and can use your cell phone number as your bank account with a triple layer of security and a backup bank card. People like retirees will get their pension payments on their cell phone, Government workers, military, can get pay on their cell phone, students can receive their educational grants on their cell phone. Specialists in this sector have done an indepth eveluation of our system and concluded that we are 7 to 10 years ahead of everyone in this industry. This solution will help millions of Africans to have access to banking in the next 18 to 24 month, governments will save money and increase revenues and GDPs will increase as well.

You are also working on the a concept to rebrand Africa, why is this important and what plans do you have to make these concepts realities?

With Thione Niang at the White House,the diaspora could be Africa's secret weapon says Abou Dieng

With Thione Niang at the White House,the diaspora could be Africa’s secret weapon says Abou Dieng

To this day most investors don’t want to go to Africa and this is the direct result of the negative image the media is showing about Africa. So we decided to change that by starting a Rebranding Africa project. We picked the country that was the poorest country for decades and decided to rebrand it. My friend and partner Thomas who is the CEO of East West Communication travelled to Equatorial Guinea and put together a video showcasing all positive realisations of the government. During my Leadership conference at Arizona State University, I asked the question if anyone was interested to go to Equatorial Guinea, no one wanted to go, I asked the same question 10 minutes later after I played the video, and everyone wanted to go. That’s the reaction we want to create. This rebranding program has many phases. We want to show the best image of every country starting from the Embassy by creating a high quality investment magazine, a dvd investment portfolio, a tourist program, a new website and 3 to 4 investment trips to the country. We will work hand and hand with the governments to bring our expertise and help them create an Emerging Economic Plan for their country. The highlight of the plan is that we are able to guaranty investments to the country that follow our program. You can view this video for Equator Guinea at  www.EGVistas.com

On and how and what the diaspora can do to contribute to a more meaningful way to change the fortunes of Africa, any recommendations you have in mind?

The Diaspora constitute the secret weapon of Africa for two reasons:

  • The buying power; For example the Senegalese Diaspora sent back to Senegal in 2015 more than $800 million to family and friends. We are working with major financial institutions to setup an Investment fund fully funded by the Diaspora, and we can use that to finance major projects in  
  • Expertise and knowledge: the majority of people in the Diaspora went to school and have some sort of qualification or experience that can benefit the country of origine. This will eventually be the source of new entreprenorship, job creation….

If there is a way to bring all the Diaspora into a Federated African Diaspora we can have access to funding for our own project.

 To those who look around the continent and see the bad infrastructure, the galloping unemployment, the electoral violence with the recent example of Gabon, the corruption and more, how does Abou Dieng sustain the case that Africa has potential and is indeed the continent of the future?

We all know that Africa has billions of tons of natural resources that are still not exploited, and we have many more natural resources that are not even discovered yet. If you take a nation like the Republic of Guinea, this nation alone has enough natural resources that can develop the entire continent. I can say the same thing for other nations like Liberia, Sierra Leone, both Congos, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Angola, Botswana, South Africa, and the list goes on. So the potential from the exploitation of the natural resources alone is very exciting.

Other factors that will make a big difference are the potential in Education, Agriculture and Manufacturing. Africa is at the same level where India was 25 years ago in terms of wanting to increase the education level of the population. Africa is at the same level where China was in the 1980s with the Agriculture needs and investment. Africa is also at the same level where Turkey and Mexico were 15 years ago in terms of Manufacturing increasing investments. So if you combine those 3 levels of readiness, you can conclude that Africa is heading to the same path that led India to its boom because of Education, Africa is heading to the same path that led China to its boom in Agriculture and Industrization , and Africa is heading to the same path that led Mexico and Turkey to their boom in Manufacturing. This is exciting.

With Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona

With Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona

But the most exciting factor yet for Africa is its young population. As Walt Disney once said “Our greatest natural resource is the minds of our children”. More than 60% of Africans are between the ages of 15 and 24 years old. The number of young Africans is going to continue to get bigger year after year till 2050. The Middle Class is growing and the urbanisation rate is at 37% just like China and bigger than India. This is why I  can say that Africa will be where Turkey and Mexico are today in the next 10 years and where China is today in the next 20 years. Demographie is destiny.

Finally, we can also mentione that we have better quality of Leaderships now, and they are putting the right reforms for economic growth. The debt level is low 10 t0 30% to GDP in most African countries compare to 130% to GDP in China, more than 200% to GDP in US, UK and Spain.

So when you put together all of these factors that I mentione, Economic growth becomes inevitable.

Thank you Mr. Dieng for your sharing your vision with us. Before we conclude, on a personal note, can you talk about the recent attacks regarding your person and your divorce.

Thank you again for this opportunity to talk about my passion that is Africa.

There is a trend I have been noticing for a while, and now I find myself in it. More and more I see succesful African businesmen brought down by ex wife who are going after them for monetary gains. Unfortunately many of them end up losing everything. Success makes you an easy target.

Regarding my divorce, you are right, there are malicious attacks rescently that are very disturbing. This divorce was filed in Arizona by my ex wife back in 2007 to take over 50% of my networth according to Arizona laws. Unsatisfied with the results, my ex wife filed another law suit in a smaller court to claim that I abandoned her and my 3 kids for 32 months and she requested $2000/ month for child support and $1000/ month for alimony. When this law suit was filled I was in Africa and  my 3 kids were with me in Senegal. Once the suit is filled the court gives you 30 days to respond, and since I was in Senegal and in fact didn’t know anything about the law suit, I didn’t file a response in time and she was given a judgement by default, and overnight I owe her $96,000 plus fees and penalties. This is unfortunate, but this was done since 2010. And my ex wife and I are in good terms since then for the sake of the kids and I am taking care of my kids who I am very closed with.

Recently a powerful group doing business in Africa approached me to join forces with then, but I refused. I cannot join forces with a group that does not have the best interest of Africans in mind. A week before my leadership conference at Arizona State University, the attacks started and this group is spending a lot of money to try to tarnish my image and to discredit me thus the recent attacks. I am glad to say that in 26 years doing business in the US, I always focus on being my best and the fact that they are out trying to attack me, this only confirms to me that I am on the right path and I will continue to fight for the Emergence of Africa.

One last advice to all my fellow Africans: we need all hands on desk to develop Africa, and “the best way to predict the future is to create it”.

GOD BLESS!

 

 

 

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Fuel ‘too dirty’ for Europe sold to Africa
September 16, 2016 | 0 Comments
Sulphur particles in diesel emissions have been linked to a range of health problems

Sulphur particles in diesel emissions have been linked to a range of health problems

Swiss firms have been criticised in a report for their links to the African trade in diesel with toxin levels that are illegal in Europe.

Campaign group Public Eye says retailers are exploiting weak regulatory standards.

Vitol, Trafigura, Addax & Oryx and Lynx Energy have been named because they are shareholders of the fuel retailers.

Trafigura and Vitol say the report is misconceived and retailers work within legal limits enforced in the countries.

Three of the distribution companies mentioned in the report have responded by saying that they meet the regulatory requirements of the market and have no vested interest in keeping sulphur levels higher than they need to be.

Although this is within the limits set by national governments, the sulphur contained in the fumes from the diesel fuel could increase respiratory illnesses like asthma and bronchitis in affected countries, health experts say.


Why are regulations so lax?

The picture is changing but there are still several African countries which allow diesel to have a sulphur content of more than 2,000 parts per million (ppm), with some allowing more than 5,000ppm, whereas the European standard is less than 10ppm.

 

Rob de Jong from the UN Environment Programme (Unep) told the BBC that there was a lack of awareness among some policy makers about the significance of the sulphur content.

map showing legal limits for sulphur levels across africa

For a long time countries relied on colonial-era standards, which have only been revised in recent years.

Another issue is that in the countries where there are refineries, these are unable, for technical reasons, to reduce the sulphur levels to the standard acceptable in Europe. This means that the regulatory standard is kept at the level that the refineries can operate at.

Some governments are also worried that cleaner diesel would be more expensive, therefore pushing up the price of transport.

But Mr De Jong argued that the difference was minimal and oil price fluctuations were much more significant in determining the diesel price.


What’s so bad about sulphur?

The sulphur particles emitted by a diesel engine are considered to be a major contributor to air pollution, which the World Health Organization (WHO) ranks as one of the top global health risks.

It is associated with heart disease, lung cancer and respiratory problems.

Traffic in Nigeria

The WHO says that pollution is particularly bad in low and middle income countries.

Reducing the sulphur content in diesel would go some way to reducing the risk that air pollution poses.


What’s being done about it?

Unep is at the forefront of trying to persuade governments to tighten up the sulphur content regulations and is gradually making progress.

In 2015, the East African Community introduced new regulations for Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania. Diesel cannot now have more than 50ppm in those countries.

It is clear that the situation has improved since 2005.

map showing legal limits for sulphur levels across africa in 2005

Unep’s Jane Akumu is currently working with the West African regional grouping Ecowas and its Southern African counterpart Sadc to try and change the regulations there.

She told the BBC that she was optimistic that governments would bring down the legal sulphur limits as the arguments in favour are compelling.

*BBC

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Agriculture investment yields growth and nutrition gains for Africa
September 6, 2016 | 0 Comments

Growth in agriculture has pushed down poverty in Ghana, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso, report says

By Isaiah Esipisu*

 

farming-2NAIROBI, Sept 6 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – African countries that took early action in the past decade to invest in agriculture have reaped the rewards, enjoying higher economic growth and a bigger drop in malnutrition, a major farming development organisation said on Tuesday.

In a report, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) said: “After decades of stagnation, much of Africa has enjoyed sustained agricultural productivity growth since 2005.”

That has helped push down poverty rates in places like Ghana, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso, it added.

Countries that adopted the policies promoted by the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) not long after it was created by African Union governments in 2003 saw productivity on existing farmlands rise by 5.9 to 6.7 percent per year, the report said.

That helped spur a 4.3 percent average annual increase in gross domestic product (GDP).

By contrast, states that sat on the sidelines saw farm productivity rise by less than 3 percent a year and GDP by only 2.2 percent, said the Africa Agriculture Status Report 2016.

“The last ten years have made a strong case for agriculture as the surest path to producing sustainable economic growth that is felt in all sectors of society – and particularly among poor Africans,” AGRA President Agnes Kalibata said in a statement.

Growth in agriculture is more effective at cutting poverty than growth in other sectors in sub-Saharan Africa because farming is a main source of income for more than 60 percent of the labour force, and will continue to be a major employer in most countries for a decade or more, the report noted.

On malnutrition, countries that were quick to put the CAADP into practice experienced an annual average decline of 3.1 percent, while those that did not sign up saw a drop of only 1.2 percent.

The countries adopting the programme early – between 2007 and 2009 – were Benin, Burundi, Cape Verde, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Togo, according to the report.

MORE EFFORT NEEDED

“Africa is no longer in the dark. It has done a lot towards agricultural transformation in the past decade,” said David Ameyaw, AGRA’s head of monitoring and evaluation and a lead author of the report.

“But there is a need to double the effort by 2030 for a meaningful agricultural transformation,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The report, released to inform discussions at the African Green Revolution Forum in Nairobi this week, noted that gains were made in early-moving African countries even if their governments did not hit a target set by the CAADP to allocate 10 percent of national budgets to agriculture.

Only 13 African countries have met or surpassed that goal, the report noted. If others followed suit, public funding for agriculture across Africa would rise from $12 billion – the amount allocated in 2014 – to $40 billion, it added.

Agriculture in Africa is still threatened by low productivity due to limited use of inputs like improved seeds and fertilisers, rising water stress, and climate-related disasters such as floods and droughts that are affecting crop, livestock and fish production, according to the report.

A 2014 World Bank study found that around two-thirds of small-scale farmers surveyed in Ethiopia, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda did not use chemical fertilisers.

There is a need for such farmers to invest further in irrigation, both studies said, with the World Bank estimating that only 1 to 3 percent of land cultivated by smallholders in sub-Saharan Africa is irrigated.

Ameyaw said further agricultural progress in the region would require political will, the right policies and technology transfer to improve productivity and reduce post-harvest losses.

Linking small-scale farmers to markets and giving them access to finance are also key, he said.

Reforming the land tenure system is important in countries where arable land is inherited by siblings, the scientist added.

“When agricultural land is subdivided from generation to generation, it shrinks (and) thus becomes meaningless for agricultural production,” Ameyaw said.

*Reuters

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From teenage headmaster to building the ‘Harvard’ of Africa
September 6, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Robert Howell and Phoebe Parke*

At just 18 years old, Fred Swaniker became a head teacher.

Fred Swaniker

Fred Swaniker

Since then he’s built an empire that he hopes will enrich and empower the entire continent.

“The greatest equalizer in life is education,” Swaniker told CNN.
“If you can give people a chance to get this education, then we can actually get people out of poverty, and into the middle class, and then eventually creating wealth for others.”
The Stanford Business School graduate, who has beencommended by Barack Obama, founded the African Leadership Academy, a residential school for 16 to 19 year-olds in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Good leadership skills = a brighter future for Africa

Swaniker is committed to investing in the next generation and empowering young people to be leaders, but his ambition goes beyond his students; he wants to revolutionize Africa.
“I realized leadership was the single biggest thing that was holding us back from achieving our potential as a continent,” he explained.
“The idea… came to me, ‘why don’t I create a special school for leaders?’ If you give a young person a chance to practice entrepreneurship at 17 or 18 in a small way, that will give them the confidence and the practice to do something much bigger.”
“Mark Zuckerberg started a little computer project in his dorm room when he was 19. That became Facebook.”

Head teacher at 18

After Swaniker’s father passed away, his mother decided to open up a school in Botswana. She was a popular teacher in their town, and started a school in a small church room with five students, making her son headmaster.
“It was a lot of responsibility, parents were giving you their most valuable asset really their children. For me to look after and to mold their minds, and determine in some ways the path of the rest of their life.”
Within three years the school was doing better than its private competitors, after five the school was the best in the country.
“The best advice my mother ever gave me… is that when you’re building a great school, it’s not about the buildings, not the facilities,” he continued. “What makes a great school are three things – great teachers, great students, and [a] great curriculum.”

The African Leadership University

Now, Swaniker is embarking on a new adventure, providing students with the opportunity to split their education between the classroom and the real world. He founded the African Leadership University in 2013 in Mauritius, and hopes to open 25 campuses around Africa by 2060.
“Our aim is to transform Africa by developing what we believe is our most precious resource, which is not gold, it’s not oil, it’s not all these minerals that we obsess about in Africa – it’s the brains of our young people.”
“We’ve been missing the boat, and trying to dig up the resources underground. Our most valuable resource is above ground.”
Named one of 2016’s most innovative companies by Fast Company, Swaniker sees the African Leadership University in Mauritius growing to 15,000 employees over the next 30 to 50 years.
“I believe that the transformation of Africa is not a short-term game,” Swaniker argued. “I think in Africa we too often focus on quick wins and short term fixes.”
“There is no short term quick fix to creating prosperity, and development and peace. You have to take the long-term view.”
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Uganda to host 2016 forum on internet freedom in Africa
August 30, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

FIFA-e1466142978819-667x340_cThe Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) will on 27 to 29 September 2016 host the 2016 forum on internet freedom in Africa to explore new issues affecting internet freedom in Africa, according to a recent statement released by the organisation.

According to CIPESA, this year they expect to expand on the number of countries they conduct research in on the state of internet freedom as well as broaden the discussions that form the pillar of the forum.

It is also reported that in 2015, the forum brought together 200 human rights defenders, journalists, government officials, bloggers, developers and representatives from academia, the arts community, law enforcement agencies and communication regulations from 18 countries.

The 2014 forum hosted 85 participants from six countries. Some of the countries which have participated in previous forums include Burundi, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Cameroon, DRC, Ethiopia, Germany, Italy, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia, UK,USA and Zambia.

Organisers say that as internet use has risen in Africa, so have the abuses and attacks on internet freedom, including a proliferation of laws, legal and extra-legal affronts, as well as limited judicial oversight over surveillance and interception of communications.

It is also reported that the forum is one of a kind in Africa that is committed to advancing an understanding and upholding of internet freedoms and how they impact media freedom, free expression and privacy for a range of civic actors such as journalists, human rights defenders, sexual minorities, women, political actors and bloggers.

“It is one of very few gatherings that assemble an African audience within the continent to discuss matters related to upholding internet freedom. While similar conferences are held elsewhere like in Asis, America and Europe, it is expensive for Africa-based actors to attend and for some of these events only bits of the agenda are relevant to Africa,” CIPESA said.

The forum is also being held at a time when the conversation on the need to promote internet freedom is crucial and the forum will provide a unique opportunity for deliberations and building a network of African actors to promote internet freedom for a range of civic actors.

CIPESA says that presently there is a minimal collaboration between African tools developers and those on the frontlines defending human rights. It is also expected to bring together African technical experts to explore ways in which they can work together in advancing internet freedom, including on testing tools and user interfaces, on digital security training and secure design.

It is expected to empower developers from the region to appreciate internet freedom tools design and to turn them into advocates of secure tools to protect internet freedom.

Another key feature of the forum is the assembly of discussions that take place and how each of these influences the work onwards of many of the participants at the forum.Topics explored to date include discussions around the growing presence of online violence against women, whose magnitude and manifestation is not clearly known, as most cases in Africa go unreported.

Combating hate speech and violations of freedom of expression including during periods of electioneering, empowering media as infomediaries and advocates of digital rights whilst also recognizing them as a vulnerable group, advocating for increased judicial oversight over surveillance and interception of communications and  bridging the gap between techies.

The need to address gaps, policy and legislative in the right to privacy will be explored including continued capacity building and awareness raising among citizens, media, human rights defenders and activists on the appreciation of digital safety tools and practices.

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Kenya to host 6th African Green Revolution forum
August 27, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

C-63-780x439African leaders are set to meet in Nairobi, Kenya at the African Green Revolution (AGRF) forum to be held on September 5 to 9 with an ambition of transforming agriculture into an engine for inclusive socio-economic growth and development.

According to a statement released by Waiganjo Njoroge, AGRA, Global Media Lead, the historic gathering will  include hundreds of influential leaders and CEOs and is also expected to award the newly established Africa Food prize.

Njoroge adds that the sixth African Green Revolution forum or AGRF 2016 is Africa’s largest agricultural event.

“This year’s forum arrives at a time when an unprecedented number of leaders in both African and donor countries are signalling that agriculture development is essential to Africa’s long term economic growth,” Njoroge said.

It is also reported that the emergence of agriculture as the sector that will determine Africa’s future is reflected in the theme of the 2016 forum titled: Seize the moment: Africa rising through agricultural transformation.

Organisers say that the forum will feature a strong slate of influential leaders and CEOs from the public and private sector.

They add that a major highlight of the forum will be the inaugural award of the new Africa Food prize which was created to call attention to individuals and institutions that are inspiring and driving agriculture innovations that can be replicated throughout Africa.

Also the landmark annual African Agriculture Status Report, which this year will chronicle agricultural progress on the continent over the last decade and suggest strategies towards accelerated economic growth and development through agricultural transformation will also be launched.

Over 1000 leaders from politics, business and civil society from across Africa and beyond are expected to grace the event.

Some of the key speakers at the forum will include President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Former President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo, Strive Masiyiwa, Chair and Founder of Econet Wireless who is also Board Chair of the AGRA, just to mention a few.

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For The People Of Africa: Quality And Empowerment
August 27, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Shinzō Abe*

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta

On August 27th and 28th, Japan will co-host the Sixth Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD VI) in Nairobi, together with Kenya and major international organizations. TICAD VI represents the latest milestone in Japan’s deep and longstanding commitment to Africa.

Following TICAD V held in Yokohama three years ago, this year’s TICAD VI will be held for the first time on African soil, really historic.

When do you guess Japan started its cooperation with Africa? Some may assume in the 1970s, when the Japanese economy achieved full postwar recovery? No. Then around the 1960s, when many African nations gained independence? Not really. It was in 1927, almost 90 years ago. That was when Dr. Hideyo Noguchi, a Japanese physician who dedicated his life to the cause of medicine, departed for Accra in Ghana, pledging “I shall not return home without achieving my objective.”

Dr. Noguchi tasked himself with finding a cure for yellow fever, a disease that was causing hundreds of thousands of deaths in Africa. He did so despite partial impairment to his hand resulting from burns he had suffered in his childhood. Dr. Noguchi himself eventually succumbed to yellow fever, which cost him his life a year after moving to Accra.

“For the people of Africa.” This firmly remains the guiding principle of our engagement with Africa and drives Japan’s involvement in TICAD.

Africa has tremendous potential for sustainable growth. Yet daunting challenges remain in areas fundamental to development. Water supply. Food production. Healthcare. Lack of quality infrastructure. Lagging education and technical training. Political instability. All these challenges have hindered Africa’s progress.

Africa’s growth not only benefits Africa, but the world as a whole. Under this belief, Japanese government and businesses, as well as individual citizens, have all made contributions to the development of Africa.

Exactly 50 years ago, three young men, Mr. Hideo Rikitake, Mr. Takeshi Inada, and Mr. Goro Furuya, became the first volunteers to go to Africa as Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers. They were tasked with the transfer of technology for electrical facilities and construction machinery to Kenya. These pioneering spirits were only the first of many. Since then, more than 15,000 Japanese young people in 31 countries across Africa have committed their time and skills under this program.

Our approach is to help African nations cultivate industries and to focus on each individual in Africa. This is why our economic development initiatives have initially focused on agriculture and light industries that are closely tied to people’s lives. These are the areas where the technology required is relatively easy to acquire and simultaneously result in products that directly improve the wellbeing of individual Africans. In short, we support the formation of “homegrown industries.” They will put Africa on a path to sustainable prosperity and self-sufficient growth.

Typically, African countries with abundant natural resources experience rapid economic growth when commodity prices are high, but this does not necessarily last. A downturn in prices negatively affects Africans by depressing wages. And sometimes this happens very quickly. The pace of development is therefore at the mercy of price movements in volatile commodities markets.

This is why I believe in the formation of “homegrown industries” throughout Africa.

To achieve the development of “homegrown industries” in Africa, building human resource capacity is vital. In Ethiopia, people are embracing the Japanese KAIZEN initiative that empowers all the workers to continuously improve their current working methods to increase productivity. The Toyota Kenya Academy equips African trainees with expertise in car maintenance, construction equipment and agricultural machinery. The Kenya Nut Company, launched by a Japanese entrepreneur, has developed into a world-class supplier of nuts with its popular “Out of Africa” brand. And in Tanzania, Japan’s Sumitomo Chemical transferred production technology for Japanese-style mosquito nets, creating a local mosquito net industry and contributing to the prevention of malarial infection.

At TICAD V in 2013, I announced the African Business Education (ABE) Initiative for Youth to emphasize our commitment to human resources development. The initiative invites young Africans from across the continent to Japan in order for them to receive master’s degrees at universities and participate in internships to groom future business leaders. African young people studying under this program will soon hit 1,000.

As Africa’s human resources expand, our relationship with Africa continues to deepen with the public and private sectors working hand in hand. Going beyond a sell-and-buy relationship, we help African businesses develop by providing investment and technology as well as expertise in production processes.

Japan’s businesses and universities are at the forefront of these efforts. In fact, a business mission with 77 leaders from Japanese businesses and universities will accompany me to Nairobi this time. More than 200 companies will also come to Nairobi to participate in a wide range of events, and as many as 72 MOUs with African nations are set to be signed. At TICAD VI, I will establish the Japan-Africa Public and Private Economic Forum, bringing together top business leaders from Japan and all over Africa to deepen economic ties.

We will provide US$ 200 billion in investment funds for infrastructure that will be highly sustainable and remain cost-competitive factoring in maintenance and repair over the mid- to long-term. These funds will further boost economic development in Africa.

Let me return to healthcare, another important cause in Africa. The deep conviction that drove Dr. Noguchi 90 years ago continues to be a source of inspiration in Japan today.

Dr. Satoshi Omura, who received the Nobel Prize last year, developed Avermectin, a therapeutic drug for endemic diseases caused by parasitic worms. The medicine has been provided for free to countries in Africa, in cooperation with Merck & Co., saving 300 million people each year from blindness. During the Ebola virus outbreak, Japan also provided financial assistance for Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, dispatching experts and delivering medicine and medical equipment, as part of a $184 million assistance package. Additionally, we are supplying diagnostic equipment and mobile testing units for cancers affecting women.

This year, Japan unveiled a new vision to advance global healthcare. We will promote Universal Health Coverage to prevent and prepare for public health crises in Africa and across the world, and enhance emergency response capabilities. To support this drive, I announced an assistance package of $1.1 billion for the health sector.

Africa’s enormous potential is fast becoming a reality. The African continent is now home to 1.2 billion people, and its economy is growing at a higher rate than the global average. I believe there can be no global development without African development. We are fully committed to our partnership with Africa. I very much look forward to renewing my friendship with African leaders again and advancing our collective efforts at TICAD VI in Nairobi.

* Source Huffpost. Author is the 96th Prime Minister of Japan, President of the Liberal Democratic Party

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