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The AfCFTA: The first step of a long marathon
September 25, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Angelle B .Kwemo*

Angelle Kwemo

Earlier this summer, the two final holdout countries, Nigeria and Benin, signed on to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. When this ambitious plan—which has created the world’s largest free trade zone—was first expressed a couple of years ago, I admit that I was a bit doubtful and wondered if African leaders were fully committed to achieving this historical milestone. However, the progress and enthusiasm around the agreement, as well as its potential to be transformational for all Africans, have eased my reservations.

As noted by many experts, including Dr. Landry Signé in a recent report on this subject, the AfCFTA has great potential: By 2030, Africa will have a combined consumer and business spending of $6.7 trillion, offering some of the world’s biggest opportunities for international investors. The United Nations Commission for Africa also estimates that the AfCFTA has the potential to boost intra-African trade by 52 percent by 2022.

There are, however, significant obstacles: Africa is still heavily reliant on commodity and agricultural exports. Industrialization has been slow and, in some places, stagnant. With a global trade share of less than 3 percent, export diversification is yet to be achieved. Current intra-African trade accounts for a mere 16 percent of the continent’s total trade volume.


As I consider and generally welcome this historical milestone, I still have some mixed feelings about it. Indeed, many experts are torn: While many see the agreement as a crucial move toward fostering regional economic integration and overall economic growth, others fear that African markets are ill prepared for such heightened levels of competition.

Indeed, the continent remains plagued by a number of ­­unpredictable tariff and non-tariff barriers, poor infrastructure, few supportive policies and legal framework, a lack of a transportation network, heavy layers of government bureaucracy, and still-high levels of corruption.


In order to be successful and deliver on the AfCFTA’s promises, a labyrinth of regulatory hurdles need to be addressed and a number of enabling intertwined actions need to be considered by all stakeholders. These include:

1. Keep African unity in mind through education and communication

The African continent is very diverse in every aspect of its societies, from political and economic systems and currencies to religion, race, culture, and language. As much as the idea of building an African single market is very popular on the continent, some countries remain very protectionist: For example, some small countries like Equatorial Guinea and Gabon are still reluctant to open their borders. In fact, Equatorial Guinea announced earlier this month that it intends to build a border wall to prevent Cameroonian and West African illegal immigration, citing security threats. There have even been some cases of xenophobia-inspired attacks in South Africa.

Therefore, before it become fully implemented, the African Union must bring awareness of the AfCFTA to the general public–especially youth, women, and informal sector actors–by educating them about what it entails and how it might affect them. Importantly, leaders should showcase the agreement’s success stories—not just those of multinationals but also the achievements of small, medium, and large African firms. The goal will be to debunk the misperception that reducing borders will equate to jobs lost or mass immigration from lower income countries.

The African Union should declare an official “Africa Economic Community Day” to celebrate the creation of the AfCFTA, and appoint special envoys from among influencers— such as African celebrities in the arts, media, business, and sports—to engage in commercial diplomacy and to promote unity, tolerance, and a sense of common purpose. Their role will be to educate the general public on the importance of reducing barriers and building a common market. It will mitigate future losses and misperceptions of the AfCFTA in general, prevent xenophobia, and, more importantly, turn African ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity into an asset and not a cause of conflict.

2. Attract investments in power and infrastructure development

Perhaps one of the most pressing issues facing the region is the lack of supportive infrastructure. Without enhanced infrastructure, businesses cannot affordably transform products or move people, goods, and services in a cost-effective way. Unfortunately, according to the African Development Bank (AfDB), Africa’s infrastructure financing needs come down to an estimated $130 billion to $170 billion per year. The African Union (AU) must encourage international partners to invest in regional infrastructure projects as well as national infrastructure development, including through the Africa Investment Forum, the Afrochampions Initiative, and the Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa.

3. Establish a fair mechanism to level the playing fields among member countries

The AfCFTA is host to the greatest level of income disparity of any continental trade agreement. It is more than double the levels witnessed in ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and CARICOM (Caribbean Community) countries. As discussed by Signé and van der Ven, these economic disparities could be addressed by putting in place special and differential treatment (SDT) provisions, especially for least developed countries, coupled with technical assistance programs allowing them to gradually fulfill their obligations under the AfCFTA, monitor progress, and establish safety nets.

4. Strengthen the role of the private sector

Despite the continent’s growth, economists still predict a shortfall of 68 million jobs by 2022, not including the tens of millions of currently underemployed. Even within the context of AfCFTA, the African Union should encourage member states and other institutions to strategically prioritize their private sectors, encouraging investment in infrastructure, technology and power development, and agribusiness. Perhaps more importantly, local and national governments should focus on creating an enabling environment for businesses to prosper and ensuring that the wealth they create is inclusive, sustained, and reinvested in African communities, in youth, and in women.

The informal sector merits special attention, given that it represents more than 66 percent of total employment in sub-Saharan Africa and 52 percent in North Africa. Reducing government bureaucracies and corruption, improving fiscal policies and accountability, and providing training, technology, and access to financial services, will empower start-ups to get out of the informal sector, access the gains of the continental market, and, as a result, increase government revenues.

To conclude, for the AfCFTA to be successful, it is essential that African leaders play their part, keep the bigger picture in mind, and put long-term economic growth and Africa’s betterment before their short-run political agendas. A marathon always starts with one step, but as Madiba said, “It is always impossible until it is done.” Africans have every reason to have hope for a better tomorrow.

*Angelle B. Kwemo is Founder – Believe in Africa,CEO – AstrategiK Group and Author – “Against All Odds”. Article was originally published by the Brookings Africa Blog

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’Africa Must Breed Crop of New Young Pan-Africanists like Robert Mugabe’’ – says Malema
September 25, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu Munhumutapa .

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

HARARE- Economic Freedom Fighters Leader Julius Malema, the most active opposition politician of South Africa paid a visit to Zimbabwe, 23 September on Monday. The main objective of the visit being to console the Mugabe family at the Blue Roof residence in Borrowdale, Harare’s most cheered flashy suburb.

Julius Malema met the widow of the late former President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe who passed away in Singapore on 6 September. The cause of his death has been linked to cancer biologically, though some reasons politically were cited.

Robert Mugabe was described as a true liberal Pan-Africanist of all Historic times despite some other reasons. Malema expressed deep disappointment by sharing light moments of commemorative talk and cheer of the hero’s political maverick charm of Pan-        Africanist leadership style.

‘’Africa must breed crop of new young Pan-Africanists like Robert Mugabe. These must be our new Pan-African Leaders from our young people who must cherish and emulate the work left behind by Robert Mugabe.’’

‘’He made his strong contribution to liberate African people. I do not go against the fact that he was a hero in his time. Still he remains a true hero. What we need then to cherish is the spirit of liberalism in him as a Leader born to lead and direct not only Zimbabwe but the whole of Africa.

‘’The whole of Africa must then work towards social, economic and political emancipation of those who are still undermined as Africans.  The need to work together as one people, one nation is a thrust towards economic growth and development.

Malema has encouragement spirit to make young people become the true epitome of Robert Mugabe so that a new emerging generation become Pan-Africanist in character and style. He urged young people to unite and build communities towards peace and oneness.

‘’Africa no more needs any move towards war or conflict of any sort. It is time to move forward as new Pan-Africanists of unique developmental styles in economic development leadership.  Leadership of today must be charismatic as well,’’ he said.

He was accompanied by his spokesperson Dr Mbuyise Quintin Ndlozi . Malema has made his voice in opposition to xenophobic attack on Zimbabweans who have been under tribal abuses in  South Africa .

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Nyabally Slams Ministry of Interior over its Statement on April 10,11 Demonstration in 2000 as ‘Disrespectful’
September 25, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Adama Makasuba

Dr. Lamin J. Sise, chairperson of the Truth Reconciliation and Reparation Commission

Alagie Nyabally has slammed the Ministry of Interior over its press release on the April 10\11 students’ demonstration in 2000 as disrespectful, annoying and disappointing. He was then a senior student at the Gambia College.

Mr Nyabally was testifying before the Truth Reparation and Reconciliation Commission on Tuesday 25th September, 2019.

“The language (of) (Ministry of Interior) wasn’t respectful, because saying that we have heard the students wanted to go on for demonstration, we will not compromise with the security of the state, and we are advising the students to desist from demonstration,” he said.

He added that: “It was very annoying and disappointing because after knocking their doors they didn’t listen to us, now how can you compelled us to stop what we planned. It was too late.”

He said the students requested a dialogue with the government but as he said the government didn’t listen to the students, adding instead they (government) provoked the situation.

He said that the personnel of the Police Intervention Unit arrested many students including the leaders of the then Gambia Students Union (GAMSU), who he said were taken to different security wings within the Greater Banjul Area.

“At the end the students didn’t know what to do, so the students wanted to go home on their normal businesses,  but the security officers confronted the students from different directions from Westfield, Ice man, GTTI, and Sankung Sillah, so at the end they were chasing the students,” he said.

He also laid into the former president Yahya Jammeh as a dictator saying as that Jammeh was everything in his regime, adding “so if he employs you, you can’t say no if you say no he sacrifice you and many those were the breadwinners of their family.”

He said many the officials working in his regime were doing things out of fear to the detriment of the citizens, as he said “most of them were tight to the corner” adding that many of the officials had negative consequences then.

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Bissau-Guinean Chiefs Call on Gambians value peace in the country
September 23, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

  In a meeting with President Adama Barrow on Friday a visiting delegation of traditional chiefs from Guinea Bissau urged Gambians to jealously guard and strongly cherished the prevailing peace and stability in the country.

Coming from a country with a long history of civil war and intermittent political violence, the Bissau-Guinean traditional rulers advised their Gambian brothers and sisters to show more love, and pursue dialogue when in disagreement, stating that war and violence could only bring destruction and social stagnation.

The Chiefs paid a courtesy call on the president at the State House as part of an exchange visit initiated by the Gambian Embassy in Bissau to strengthen the historic cultural ties between the two countries.

President Barrow told the delegates that present-day The Gambia and Guinea Bissau represent what was formerly Gabu, and Fulladu, empires prior to the demarcation of colonial boundaries. The people are, therefore, the same with shared cultures, traditions, and values of peace, unity, and brotherhood.

“The Chiefs have always been the custodians of peace and tradition in this culture. Hence I urge you to be steadfast in your advocacy work to ensure that our people continue to live in peace and harmony at all times,” he told them.

The Minister of Local Government and Lands, Hon Musa Drammeh said the presence of the Chiefs at the Presidency is a testimony of the importance the government attaches to the institution of Chieftaincy in The Gambia. He added that the government is pursuing a deliberate policy of restoring the prestige that Chiefs in the country used to enjoy before the former regime reduced them to political stooges. 

“Not only do we have regular salary attached to the officeholders, but government has also doubled their income and created a standard salary for security and batch messengers working for their offices across the country,” he said.

Honourable Hamat Bah, minister of Tourism and culture praised the Chiefs for being the custodians of cultures of Gabu and Fulladu kingdoms to date, urging that his Ministry will make efforts to send representation to the biggest cultural festivals hosted in Gabu while allowing such representation from them to Gambian festivals too. 

Meanwhile, President Barrow told them to work together to fulfill the dreams of the founding fathers of Africa for peace and development in Africa.

The Gambian Ambassador to Bissau, H.E Alieu K. Jammeh, and his Bissau-Guinean counterpart in Banjul, H.E Mailo Cassama led the delegation to the State House in Banjul.

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Gambia: First Lady Bah Barrow Receives Distinguished Global Award for Excellence at the UN
September 23, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

 Fatoumatta Bah-Barrow, the First Lady of the Republic of The Gambia on September 20, 2019, was honoured with the Distinguished Global Award for Excellence on the sidelines of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly by the Global Empowerment Movement (GEM-USA). The award was in recognition of the work that she does to reduce extreme poverty, assisting marginalized rural women, girls and vulnerable children in The Gambia.

The First Lady was celebrated for her dedication and selfless work in various initiatives, including Children on the Move, to positively impact the lives of the people ensuring that no woman, youth or child is left behind.

Madam Barrow has been exemplary at using her platform as First Lady to making a difference in terms of development and the protection of the rights of Gambian women and children with the support of various Government departments and development partners.

Present at the event were members of the Gambian mission and community, as well as representatives of the Nigerian First Lady amongst others.

GEM-USA is an international non-governmental organization that gives support to underprivileged women and families who are vulnerable to victimization/crimes of abuse, human trafficking, forced prostitution, and provides education to bring these heinous crimes to the attention of others.

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Police woman blames the death of her stillbirth baby on 2000 demonstration
September 23, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Adama Makasuba

Awa Sanneh- Bittaye police officer has laid her blame the death of her stillbirth baby on the April 10/11 student’s demonstration saying she was hit on her right ribs with a stone when she was pregnant of her stillbirth baby during the protest.

Mrs Sanneh-Bittaye was testifying before the Truth Reconciliation and Reparation Commission on Monday 23t September saying “I was there until October when I gave birth and I lost my baby on the same day, because the doctor told me that we will endeavor to make sure that the baby will be alive. I went to the hospital every two days. A stone hit me on my right side of the ribs. Doctor said is because of the stone that led to the death of baby that’s what the doctor said because I am not a doctor.”

She said it was painful to her that the baby was her first born, adding that when she was informed of the death of her baby that she only cry.

She said she was admitted at the hospital for about two weeks, adding she said advice by an Egyptian doctor not do any heavy work and that she had to go on leave for three months.

Meanwhile, she told the commission that she and other two police officers were promised compensation by the regime of Jammeh but that she didn’t receive the compensation, adding that she received a call from Kairaba Police station and that she was asked to report to the police station.

However, she said that they haven’t received the compensation promised from the former regime of Jammeh, adding that “When I came to the Kairaba police station, I met Sankung Badji (deputy inspector of police) Ousman Badjie and the Interior minister and other senior officers. I also met Menga Ceesay (police officer) and other officer …. Tamba I met all of those seated in the SOS office. I got inside and they asked me that, are you Awa Sanneh-Bittaye, I replied yes, and they asked me what happened to you on April 10\11 I explained, Tamba also explained and Menga also explained.”

She said 11 of April met her posted at Kotu Police station, adding on the morning of 11 April 2000 while having their breakfast they immediately heard stoning on their corrugated roof.

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18 percent air pollution in Ghana’s Eye Clinics
September 23, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ahedor Jessica*

Dr Samuel Kyei

Hospitals or clinics are supposed to be ‘’Safe Havens’’ for everybody suffering from ill-health or any health associated problems. This might be mere a Rhetoric as researchers in Ghana are warning of a looming danger to patients and staff at various eye clinics in Ghana as air breathe at the facilities are of poor microbial quality.

In a study conducted by the department of optometry and Vision Science, School of Allied Health Sciences, University of Cape Coast aimed at determining the indoor microbial quality in eye clinics in Ghana confirms, up to 18% of eye clinics have poor indoor microbial air quality as the contamination levels far exceed the allowable threshold for health care facilities.

These airborne microorganisms were found to be resistant against multiple conventional antibiotics available in Ghana. The report concluded that about 18 percent of eye clinics in the country have poor microbial air quality, a situation which requires stakeholder’s attention and redress to prevent both patients and caregivers from contracting infectious diseases in their quest to seeking healthcare.

According to Dr Samuel Kyei, the lead investigator of the research pointed out the crucial factors that contribute to poor microbial air quality in Hospitals in the country needs to be taken a look at by responsible stakeholders.  He advised the structures for healthcare purposes are built with modern techniques while utmost safety guidelines are adhered to at every step in the care process.

“The various buildings and space for eye care the country are after thoughts as they lack the requisite architectural design for proper ventilation so the air inside easily get messy posing a health risk for both hospital workers and patients since no one has control over the  kind or type of air to breathe at such particular places.’’

Dr Kyei and his team recommended that safety mechanisms in hospitals and clinics be adhered to and UV lights installed in those old buildings to avert the situation.

Reacting to the findings of the paper,  Deputy Director of Nursing Services, in charge of Infections Prevention and Control at the Korle-bu Teaching Hospital in Accra Serwah Amoah affirms the implications of polluted air breathed by both clinic staff and patients, and the decontamination processes of reusable ophthalmic devices, is rare hence the need to look at the solutions and other chemicals used at the facilities for disinfection to avoid transferringdiseases or infections from one person to the others or even endangering their own lives in the process. ‘’ We have to be sure of the solutions we are using to clean or disinfect the equipment’s used before using it on another person. Our lives too is in danger because as we use inaccurate concentration of detergents and chemicals for cleaning we can’t escape the danger of being infected ourselves.’’ 


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Ghana: Health Practitioners charged to take issues of patient safety seriously
September 23, 2019 | 0 Comments

Ghana: Health Practitioners charged to take issues of patient safety seriously

By Ahedor Jessica*

Estimates from the World Health Organization indicates that four out of every ten patients are harmed in the primary and ambulatory settings, 80% of these harms are avoidedable if patient safety issues were taken seriously. This, the WHO maintain contributes to 2.6 million deaths annually. In Ghana, adverse events do occur each year due to unsafe care practices in hospitals across the country. As a low –middle income country, Ghana join the rest of her counterparts in the World to commemorate the maiden edition of Patient Safety Day, Healthcare providers, Health practitioners and caregivers has been tasked to be vigilant in their care for patients.

 Mr. Elorm Otchi the Quality Improvement Manager at the Korle-bu Teaching Hospital in Accra cautioned practitioners to be critical in their care and be mindful of their attitude in the discharge of their duties. He pointed out the need for the sector players to take a relook at the caliber of people recruited for the health sector, as he warns politicians to stay away from healthcare management in the country. This interference he bemoaned has always posed a challenge to ensuring high tenant of patient safety in health care facilities in the Country.

The Food and Drugs Authority FDA, Ghana, says it has put in place a pharmacovigilance system to help address Adverse Drug Reactions so as to ensure the safety of patients in drug administration across hospitals in the country. According the FDA Representative, Mrs Irene Frimpong, the Authority is aware of illegal and counterfeits drugs on the Ghanaian Market and has created a platforms accessible to the public to report persons suspected of flouting the guidelines for possible prosecution.

Themed ‘’Speak up for patient safety; what every healthcare provider should know’ saw one Akosua Agyei a 35 year old victim of an adverse drug reaction who lost her six month old pregnancy. According to her narrative she reported to hospital with the complaint of headache and after taking her prescribed medication for two days, she could not feel the movement of her baby. Further assessment revealed that the baby had died in her womb, and has to go through cesarean section for the dead child to be removed. 

Healthcare providers has advised to take their gate keeping job serious as Ghana is committing resources in creating awareness and educating both the public and healthcare givers on the needs to treat patients with dignity and utmost respect in the discharge of their duties.


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African Energy Sector to send strong message on Investment Potential in Africa at Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition & Conference (ADIPEC) 2019
September 23, 2019 | 0 Comments
The continent’s energy industry will be gathering at ADIPEC in Abu Dhabi on November 11-14, 2019 to set the industry agenda for 2020
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, September 23, 2019/ — After a year of remarkable achievements and continuous recovery across Africa’s oil markets, the continent’s energy industry will be gathering at ADIPEC in Abu Dhabi on November 11-14, 2019 to set the industry agenda for 2020.

As Africa’s energy revolution accelerates, African energy officials from governments and the public and private sectors are joining ADIPEC to send a strong message on the continent’s potential and ambitions for the coming years.

Taking the lead on representing Africa at the world’s largest oil & gas event, the African Energy Chamber ( has signed an agreement with ADIPEC and is officially endorsing the conference & exhibition and inviting all its partners to join the African delegation participating in ADIPEC.

“The good news for Equatorial Guinea and many African countries is, we have the resources. African countries have some much untapped reservoirs of oil and natural gas that have regrettably been underexplored. We need to attract investment in our oil and gas industry, explore, supply the market and also develop our countries. ADIPEC is a great place to meet potential investors. We have a unique relationship with the UAE through OPEC and the GECF. We have worked closely on various oil matters under the leadership of H.E. Suhail Al Mazroui and the Ministry of Energy and Industry,” stated H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons of Equatorial Guinea.

“In the same ways as we push for a stronger African representation within global organizations such as OPEC, we need to have Africa better represented within global investment shows like ADIPEC where major deals and contracts are being discussed,” declared Nj Ayuk, Executive Chairman at the African Energy Chamber and CEO of the Centurion Law Group. “The conference’s focus on technology and the oil & gas sector 4.0 is especially relevant for Africa as the continent seeks to fully embrace digitalization and the latest technologies to leapfrog into next-generation energy initiatives and developments.”

ADIPEC is being organized on the back of tremendous growth in investment and cooperation between the UAE and Africa this year, marked by the recent acquisition by ADNOC of Kosmos Energy’s stakes in Senegalese and Mauritanian offshore licenses. As interest for Africa picks up from Middle Eastern markets and global companies, ADIPEC offers the perfect stage to promote additional opportunities for such deals across African oil jurisdictions.

The conference will notably see the official launch of “Billions At Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals”, the long-awaited book by AEC Chairman Nj Ayuk that paves the way for the development of Africa’s energy sector. On this occasion, the Chamber will be organizing a high-level African oil & gas panel with ministers and executives from across the continent to shed the light on the biggest trends shaping the future of the continent’s energy industry.
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Gambia: National Assembly Suspends session calls for President Appearance
September 23, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

President Adama Barrow

National Assembly members in Banjul on Monday have suspended the session requesting the appearance of the President or Vice President on the debate on the President address to the nation which was held Thursday 19th September.

 According to  Section 77 of the Gambian Constitution which reads: “The Vice-President shall answer in the National Assembly for matters affecting the President, and the President shall be entitled to send a message to the National Assembly to be read on his or her behalf by the Vice-President”

On Monday, Hon. Sidia Jatta , National Assembly Member of Wuli  West tabled a motion for the assembly to suspend session until the Vice President or the president appears in the National Assembly for the debate on state of nation address and the Assembly stand down waiting for the appearance of the Vice President or President.

 After the break, three ministers appear on behalf of the president for the session to continue but Hon. Sanna Jawara, National Assembly of Upper Fulladu raised a point of order, drawing the attention of the Assembly to Section 77 of the Constitution which reads: “The Vice-President shall answer in the National Assembly for matters affecting the President, and the President shall be entitled to send a message to the National Assembly to be read on his or her behalf by the Vice-President”

Hon. Halifa Sallah, National Assembly member of Serekunda stressed that “President in this National Assembly, it is only the vice president who is authorized and mandatory to represent the President. What we also know that all members of cabinet may also come to this National Assembly shall also be requested to appear to deal with any matter dealing with their Department of State. That’s what the Constitution says,”

The veteran lawmaker said: “Hon. Speaker we need to put an end to this practice of having a minister absent or a vice president absent and the session has to be suspended. The Constitution is very clear on the absent of minister or vice president the section 270. They are acting appointees; anybody who appoints a person can also appoint any other authority to act on the behalf of that person. And we must begin that trend in this country”

Sallah further explained that they have abundant, the principles of good governance. What is important is that anytime any minister goes abroad, the president should appoint an acting person from any of the other ministers and simply publishes in the gazette. And that person can appear on behalf of the minister on behalf of the vice president.

“This is what should start. If we are going to continue to proceed, we can’t on the basis that the ministers are simply representing their offices and their department, but not representing the president here”.

 At this juncture, Speaker of National Assembly Hon Mariam Jack-Denton requested for the members to vote for or against the motion of the assembly to continue in the absence of the vice president or president or continue without the president or vice since there was different views on the issue.

The Assembly then proceeded with voting, 28 voted for the Assembly to suspend session for the President or Vice President to appear while 11 voted for the session to continue.

Going by the votes the session was suspended until a request is sent for the President or the Vice President to appear on a later date for the debate on the Speech of the President on the State of the Nation Address to commence.

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LUKOIL Leader says New Africa Energy Book Billions at Play describes Workable Solutions for Africa’s Infrastructure Challenges
September 23, 2019 | 0 Comments
Ayuk sees the irony in oil and gas produced in Africa being sent away to be refined, then returned as finished products that Africans pay a premium for
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, September 23, 2019/ — Leading African energy attorney NJ Ayuk does not believe in handouts as a long-term strategy for impoverished people or nations.

But he does think that the companies working on the continent have a responsibility to help their host nations build the infrastructure necessary to expand industrialization.

Bruce Falkenstein, Joint Operations Manager of License Management & Compliance for LUKOIL, agrees with that premise, which is the focus of chapter 10 in Ayuk’s new book, Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy.

Falkenstein has a 40-year career working in all facets of the international oil and gas industry.  With regard to Africa, he has extensive experience managing offshore blocks in Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Cameroon, and Sierra Leone for LUKOIL and Vanco Exploration, and had great success in the exploration and development of oil fields in Egypt for Amoco (BP) in the 1980s and 90s.

“There is no getting around it: Africa is exporting raw materials it could be refining and processing, if it only had the capabilities, but not everyone is willing to admit that with the level of candor Ayuk does,” Falkenstein said. “What’s more, he has correctly linked infrastructure deficits to the lack of industrialization and describes workable solutions based on examples from around the world.”

Ayuk sees the irony in oil and gas produced in Africa being sent away to be refined, then returned as finished products that Africans pay a premium for. Roads, railways, and reliable electricity are key to building a manufacturing base in Africa, but they take resources—some of which should be provided by the international energy companies making millions on the continent, he argues.

“It is simply not ethical for American, French, Italian, and other companies to come here and not help lift people out of poverty,” Falkenstein said. “True, they employ indigenous workers and provide training, but one of the biggest benefits would be in committing to help build sustainable infrastructure and physical assets that will remain a plus for the people long after the companies have pulled up stakes and left Africa, and I will add that sustainability of the work force, also a key component of a venture’s ‘built assets’, is critical to the future industrial output of the nations and currently many of the work force assets are left behind without local supporting employment agencies after the stakes are pulled up.  Sustainability is only achieved through alignment of the projects with both the real needs of the impacted communities and the spectrum of government stakeholders.

As Ayuk alludes to in chapter 9, Calling All Leaders! More on Good Governance, part of good governance requires that good leadership needs to be able to recognize the upfront additional cost to achieve sustainability results in reduced project risks and improved long-term project stability and economics.”

In Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy, Ayuk does not overlook the issues Africa has caused for itself, including unscrupulous leaders who have siphoned off funds that were intended for the public good. At the same time, as Falkenstein noted, he points out how countries like Kenya have created an enabling environment for manufacturing that supports economic diversification and should reduce the country’s exposure to external shocks, including oil and gas price volatility.

“In NJ Ayuk’s world, there are few villains, just people and businesses who can and need to do more,” Falkenstein said. “That is what makes his book so compelling—it is, truly, fair and balanced. Learning from Ayuk will put you on the successful path in Africa. His first book, Big Barrels: African Oil and Gas and the Quest for Prosperity, should be within close reach for any serious oil and gas executive and negotiator. With that said, Ayuk’s newest book needs to be in even closer reach as each of you pursue your own quest for Billions.”

NJ Ayuk is founder and CEO of Pan-African corporate law conglomerate, Centurion Law Group (; Founder and Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber; ( 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.

Pre-order your copy on Amazon. (
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Ivory Coast first lady Dominique Ouattara Talks Child Labor in Cocoa Sector
September 23, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

First Lady Dominique Ouattara speaking at the Atlantic Council

After a fierce rebuttal by the US administration with treats of sanctions and a possible ban on the importation of Ivorian cocoa due to allegations of child trafficking, exploitation and child labor in Ivorian cocoa farms, the first lady of Ivory Coast, Dominique Folloroux-Ouattara accompanied by a strong delegation from the West African nation, has presented the Atlantic Council with some stringent measures undertaken to fight child abuse in cocoa farms.

Speaking at the headquarters of the Atlantic Ocean, a think tank American organization that galvanizes US leadership and engagement in the world in the field of international affairs, the first lady asserted that they were deeply concerned by the letter written by Senators Ron WYDEN and Sherrod BROWN suggesting an embargo on Ivorian cocoa, because of child labor in cocoa production.

Recognising the fact that child labor plays a minute role in the Ivorian cocoa, a country ranked as the top producer of the beans worldwide, the first lady took out time to present measures implemented to fight the against child traffic which has adversely affected the cocoa sector in Ivory Coast.

“Since 2011, The National Oversight Committee, which I chair, and the Inter-ministerial Committee have carried out actions to curb child labor in cocoa farming, in collaboration with our partners. Since 2012, we have implemented three successive National Action Plans to combat child labor in Côte d’Ivoire. The third National Action Plan for 2019-2021 has just been launched, with a budget of 127 million dollars, to fight the root causes of child labor from a holistic approach.”

The first lady with Ambassador Haidara Mamadou at a reception in Washington ,DC

+“Immediately in 2012 upon taking up my new role, I sought to understand: Who are these children who are working on cocoa farms? Where are they? Where do they come from? and do they go to school?” she said.

Citing research conducted by the US Department of Labor which revealed that 85 % of the children involved in cocoa farming attend school; live with their parents and occasionally accompany them to the fields after school hours and on weekends; and 15 %, they do not go to school and often don’t live with their parents.

To her, these children are more at risk, and need all our attention.

“As regards forced labor, available research including recent studies undertaken by the American NGOs Vérité and the Walk Free Foundation estimate the number of children victims of forced labor in cocoa production at 0.17 % of the total population of children working in cocoa farming, she told attendees at the gathering.

She was accompanied to Washington DC by Patrick ACHI, Secretary General of the Presidency; Mamadou Haidara, Ambassador of Côte d’Ivoire to the United States of America; Patricia Sylvie YAO, Executive Secretary of CNS, the National Oversight Committee to Fight Child Trafficking, Exploitation, and Child Labor: Georges Koffi, Chief of Cabinet for the Secretary General of the Presidency; Nadine Sangare, Director of the Children of Africa Foundation; Tod Preston, Senior Vice President of GPG; Tessy Winkelman, CNS Consultant on Child Labor Issues and Brahima Coulibaly, Director of Communication.

 Before forging ahead with her presentation, she took out time to thank Congressman Dight Evan; Chris Fomonyoh, Director for Africa at NDI; Connie Hamilton, Assistant US Trade representative for Africa; Ambassador Philipp Carter III; and Scoley, President of the World Cocoa Foundation, for their support and contributions towards bettering the cocoa production and marketing sector in Ivory Coast, stating that; “today’s roundtable gives me the opportunity to present the progress made in the fight against child labor in Côte d’Ivoire.”

On some of the implemented measures she said “We have launched extensive communication campaigns throughout the country. Changing mindsets and making farmers aware that child labor is strictly prohibited has proven to be the most important part of our work and it was difficult. We have explained that the children who help their parents on the farm after school should not be exposed to dangerous work, notably involving the use of machetes or pesticides.”

“We have also hosted seminars and trained over 70,000 key players in the remediation chain, including cocoa farmers’ cooperatives. In 2011, we realized that there were few schools near the cocoa-growing communities. To remedy this shortage, the Government of Côte d’Ivoire and its partners have invested massively in the construction of schools and canteens, health centers, and hydraulic wells, to improve the cocoa-producing communities’ living conditions. 30,000 classrooms have thus been built in rural cocoa-producing areas.”

All these actions, she said, enabled the Government to make schooling compulsory in Côte d’Ivoire, in 2016 thus increasing the number of children attending school from 59 % in 2008 to 90 % in 2019.

With poverty identified as the root cause of child labor, she explained the engagement of the President of the Republic who has undertaken reform of the coffee and cocoa sector that guarantees a fixed income for the farmers.

“For my part I am personally engaged in the fight against women’s poverty, notably via FAFCI, a micro-credit program I have set up with the help of the President of the Republic; it has enabled more than 200,000 women to become autonomous and improve the living conditions of their families.”

With Ivory Coast been the economic spearhead of French-speaking West Africa; with 40% of the French-speaking sub-region’s GDP, many people from neighboring countries cross over for greener pastures and this leads to cross-border child trafficking.

As an offset to this, Dominique Folloroux-Ouattara stated that in 2017, she organized the conference of the First Ladies of West Africa and the Sahel on combating cross-border trafficking and child labor, with the participation of 14 West African and Sahelian countries.

“This conference allowed our different countries to sign cooperation agreements against child trafficking. As regards child protection and professional care, my Foundation Children of Africa has built three shelters for child victims inside the country to provide support and care for children victims of exploitation and to ensure their safe return to their families and their reintegration in society.”

Citing laws put in place which has so far seen more than 220 traffickers have been sentenced to imprisonment, she beamed with smiles while saying their efforts have been acknowledged by the US Government.

 “Indeed, the State Department has commended our initiatives on several occasions and has ranked Côte d’Ivoire among the countries that have made significant efforts toward the elimination of child labor. This has been the case every year since 2012.”

“Furthermore, in May 2019 Côte d’Ivoire was recognized by the International Labor Organization as a pioneering country toward achieving Target 8.7 of the United Nations’ sustainable development goal on the elimination of child labor.”

Maintaining that over 6 million farmers rely on the cocoa sector to make a leaving, the first lady acknowledged the fact that the USA and Ivory Coast are both committed to eliminating the scourge of child labor in West Africa.

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