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Nigeria: U.S. firms want Nigeria oil and gas sector reforms before investing
July 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Teslim Olawore

Brent Omdahl,

Brent Omdahl,

 

 

Brent Omdahl, commercial counselor at the U.S. Department of Commerce has said Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer, could attract more U.S. investment if the oil and gas sector becomes less opaque and a fuel-price peg is removed.

“Nigeria needs to think strategically about what is going to make it a more attractive destination,” the U.S. official said in an interview in Lagos. “Our investors are willing to compete on fair terms for new investments if there’s a transparent process to try to win new oil opportunities. What is difficult or a disincentive to investors is when deals are done and then the contracts are not honoured.”

Controls on energy prices are also constraining investment, according to Omdahl, who is leaving Nigeria this month. The country’s national petroleum company imports most gasoline under a swap program and has capped the pump price at 145 naira ($0.40) per litre – one of the lowest prices worldwide. Yet that system cost the government almost $2 billion in subsidies last year, according to the International Monetary Fund, which has called for the cap to be lifted.

The controls “perpetuate a system where only certain people benefit,” Omdahl said. “Why not open it up and let everybody benefit from it. That is money that can be used in making investments in refineries and all of a sudden you are paying less for imported fuel and your price goes down.”

He further said that an accumulation of “easy” loans from China risks increasing debt-servicing costs, and warned against missing out on financing opportunities from multilateral development banks with more stringent requirements.

Nigeria has increased borrowing from China in recent years to finance railways, airports and power plants. Loans from China stood at $2.55 billion as of March 31, which is about one-tenth of Nigeria’s external debt stock, according to the country’s debt management office. While Nigeria has a relatively low 19% ratio of debt to gross domestic product, debt servicing takes up about 69% of government earnings, IMF data show.

“Nigeria needs to ask, money isn’t free, somebody has to pay,” Omdahl said. “So you might as well do what is necessary to earn transparent money.”

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Ghana’s PANAFEST –gov’t slashes visa fees for Jamaica and Guyana to return home
July 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ahedor Jessica

Akwasi Agyemang, Chief Executive Officer of GTA

Akwasi Agyemang, Chief Executive Officer of GTA

The Chief Executive of the Ghana Tourism Authority, Mr Kwasi Agyeman, has stated that by the end of the year, all hindrances to visa processes to Ghana will be resolved. Addressing the media at a press conference in Accra, as part of activities lined up for this year’s celebration of biennial Pan African Historical Festival (PANAFEST) and the Year of Return, he said the programs secretariat is also working with the Foreign Affairs Ministry to ensure that it left behind an e-visa system as a Year of Return legacy initiative to remove the barriers and hustles diaspora face with visa acquisition.

According to him, the measures include slashing visa fees for people from the Diaspora who are coming from countries whose citizens require visa to gain entry into Ghana from $150 to $ 75. It has also done some reforms to the cumbersome visa application processes and applying visa waivers in selected Caribbean countries such as Jamaica and Guyana. Mr Agyeman, says even though some milestones has been chalked in the countries on visa processes there are still some bureaucratic bottlenecks affecting its implementation.

PANAFEST is an annual home coming celebration birthed by the late Efua Sutherland Addy in the mid-1980s as a cultural vehicle to bring Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora together in Ghana. In the last 25 years, the platform has attracted patrons from across the world, particularly in the Diaspora,. Some of the participants observe it as a mission to rediscover their roots and identity.

Hosting this year’s celebration under the theme PANAFEST and Emancipation Day celebrations as part of the Year of Return. Speaking to the chairperson of PANAFEST Foundation, Professor Esi Sutherland-Addy, she says besides the sense of identity for which diaspora appreciated PANAFEST for, it has also provided them the opportunity to reconnect with their cultural heritage. With widespread castles, forts and other footprints of colonialism and slavery in the Central Region, one of the many achievements PANAFEST has spotlighted the region as a tourism hub.

She said the springing up of hotels, hosting of activities at the Cape Coast Centre for National Culture, including trade in artifacts and organic products, are all tangible benefits of PANAFEST in the area. As part of program line up, the celebration of Year of Return include providing opportunity for the participants to relive the experiences of their ancestors who went through the horrifying ordeal of slavery in Cape Coast through the door of no return and ending up at the Elmina Castle on July 26, 2019.

Buses would be provided to convey people from Accra to Cape Coast, Elmina, Assin Manso and Assin Praso; communities that would play key roles in the celebrations for free. The event which started on Juyl 20, 2019, with the crossing of the Prah, a durbar at Assin Praso and a pre-slave route pilgrimage atonement which ends on August 2, 2019. Other highlights are a wreath-laying ceremony to pay tribute to pioneers of Pan Africanism at the W.E.B Dubois Centre, George Padmore Memorial Library and the Nkrumah Mausoleum, all in Accra on July 24, 2019; the opening of One Africa Walls of Remembrance at One Africa Health Resort in Elmina; international variety night at the Cape Coast Stadium on July 27 and an inter-faith dialogue at the Cape Coast Sports Stadium. There will also be a colloquium for people of Africa descent and reparation at the University of Cape Coast on July 29, which will be followed by a Women’s Day on July 30 and musical performances on August 3, 2019.

 

 

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Abuse of cannabis and alcohol on the rise in Ghana -Yale report.
July 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ahedor Jessica

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Mental Health Authority Dr Akwas Osei

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Mental Health Authority Dr Akwas Osei

 

A research shepherded by a group of scholars from Yale University in the US and the University of Ghana, Legon, has revealed that 41 percent Ghanaians are mentally unstable due to abuse of cannabis and alcohol. The report also says the country is experiencing low level of productivity as a result of the trend and has amounted to seven per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Reacting to the impact of this, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Mental Health Authority Dr Akwas Osei said apart from the loss in GDP, mental health problems are threatening the security of Ghanaians as such situations could even lead to attacks on one another due the frustrations one might be going through. Dr Osei, added the 41 percent figure is largely a mental disorders, caused by psychological distress.

Speaking in an interview in Accra at the sidelines of an international conference on precision in psychiatric medicine, he debunked the belief that the use of cannabis has no effect on one’s mental health and said studies over the years had shown a strong and indisputable correlation between the two.

“Cannabis distorts the ability of one’s brain to grow the way it should so one is not able to reason or judge properly,” he said, adding that many users of cannabis dropped out of school because of their inability to cope with academic work.  He, however, expressed the hope that with the coming into effect of the Mental Health Law and a Legislative Instrument to support it, a mental health levy would be exacted from Ghanaians to provide funding for the sector.

According to the Counseling Center, Faculty of Education, University of Cape Coast, Cape Coast, C/R Ghana, reports from school surveys in countries across Africa show that the use and abuse of alcohol and drugs by adolescents start with alcohol and cigarettes. The average age at first use of substances ranged between 14-19 years, with extremes of 6 and 25 years.

The findings indicate that substances most commonly used by the youth included alcohol, cigarette, cannabis, cocaine, tranquilizer and heroine and more common either at the school or at home.  Some of the reasons given for alcohol and drug use among the youth centered on the perceived benefits, such as enabling them to study, to do hard work, to get rid of shyness, and to forget about their problems; for curiosity, for fun, and due to peer pressure.

Other reasons include the lack of parental control and rebelling against parents.  In previous studies conducted in some other African countries and in Ghana researchers seem to indicate that lifetime prevalence rates of alcohol, cigarette, and cannabis are significantly greater for boys compared to girls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ebola outbreak declared global emergency
July 20, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

The World Health Organization, WHO has declared Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo a “public health emergency of international concern”.

The outbreak which has killed more than 1,600 people in the DRC alone has devastated West Africa since the outbreak in 2016.

But the WHO stopped short of saying borders should be closed, saying the risk of the disease spreading outside the region was not high.

“It is time for the world to take notice,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference in Geneva on Wednesday at which the emergency was declared.

He said he accepted recommendations there should be no restrictions on travel or trade, and no entry screening of passengers at ports or airports outside the immediate region.

Reacting to the declaration, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said they welcomed the move.

“While it does not change the reality on the ground for victims or partners engaged in the response, we hope it will bring the international attention that this crisis deserves,” it said in a statement.

The outbreak in the DRC, is the second largest in history with more than 2,500 people infected and two-thirds of them declared died.

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AFCON 2019: Algeria crowned Champions of Africa
July 19, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Photo credit should read GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images

Photo credit should read GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images

The 2019 edition of the Africa cup of Nations has been won by the Desert Foxes of Algeria, a second crown in their history. Algeria defeated the Teranga lions of Senegal by a goal to nil thanks to a second minute strike from Baghdad Bounedjah, in the final of the AFCON played at the Cairo International stadium July 19, 2019.

Chances in the game were few and far between an ill-tempered affair as Algeria withstood almost constant pressure and also saw a Senegal penalty awarded overturned by the Video Assistant Referee, VAR.

Algeria’s only victory until now in the competition was back in 1990. Some 29 years to this day. Before reaching the final, the team defeated Nigeria 2-1 after outsmarting Ivory Coast in the quarter finals.

For Senegal, the wait is still on for their maiden title. The team can however take solace to having reached the final but just fell short of clinching it. Congratulations have been extended to their coach Aliou Cisse for having guided the team to such a level.

Algeria succeeds Cameroon as the best team in Africa with Cameroon eliminated in the round of 16. Their next challenge will be that of defending the trophy during the AFCON 2021 that will be hosted by Cameron.

For star forward Riyad Mahrez, this victory in the AFCON goes to add to his numerous titles won for his club side Manchester City in England. The player has so far won five titles to close the football season.

Algeria and Senegal’s meeting in the final created a huge milestone for local coaches. Two local coaches were competition for the Holy Grail of African football, with one joining the prestigious list of African coaches to have won the competition.

After 32 editions of the competition, it was only the fifth time two African coaches have met at the AFCON finals. Just four times before the final was an All African affair. In 1962 hosts Ethiopia coached by legend Yidnekatchew Tessema won their first (and only to date) AFCON title, defeating Egypt 4-2 in the final. The Pharaohs were then coached by the duet of Mohamed El Guindy and Hanafy Bastan.

Ghana won the 1965 edition, beating hosts Tunisia 3-2. The Black Stars coach Charles Gyamfi had his second successive AFCON glory then, defeating Tunisian counterpart Mokhtar Ben Nacef. Another Ghanaian, Fred Ousam-Duodu led the Black stars to the 1978 title at home, defeating Uganda led by local legend Pete Okee 2-0 in the final.

And in 1998, Egyptian Mahmoud El Gohary became the first man to win AFCON as a player (1959) and coach. He guided the Pharaohs to their fourth title in Burkina Faso, defeating South Africa, coached by local icon Jomo Sono 2-0 in the final.

Overall, 11 local coaches had won 15 AFCON titles in the previous 31 editions. Ghana’s Gyamfi and Egypt’s Hassan Shehata had each won record three titles, Nigerian Stephen Keshi won it in 2013. Djamel Belmadi now joins the illustrious Africans to have won the award.

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CAF Modifies Qualifier Dates For Afcon 2021
July 19, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) at its Executive Committee meeting held in Cairo on Wednesday 17th July, 2019 has unanimously decided to change the dates of the Qualifiers of the Africa Cup of Nations 2021.

The new dates according to CAF, will be in phases as the Preliminary rounds will be in two legs between the 7th and 15th October, 2019.

CAF further stated that Day One and Two will be from the 11th to 19th November, 2019 while August 31st to 8th September, 2020 will be for Day three and Four. Day Five will be from 5th to 13th November, 2020 while penultimate day Six will be between the 9th and 17th November, 2020.

The Gambia amongst other countries will this year begin their campaign with a preliminary round on a double legged tie in October where the winner in each pair will join in the series for a spot at the 2021 edition in Cameroon.

The Gambia is on the verge of resuming the campaign after its Technical training camp in Morocco where the Scorpions went wild in two friendly internationals against Guinea’s Syli Nationale before capping off with another win against hosts Morocco in June.

The Gambia is currently ranked 161 on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World ranking released in June moving up two places from 163 making a total of 1002.

 

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Gambia’s National Team Head Coach Tom Sainfiet Sounds Upbeat After Afcon Draw
July 19, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Gambia national team Scorpions Coach Tom Sainfiet

Gambia national team Scorpions Coach Tom Sainfiet

Gambia national team Scorpions Coach Tom Sainfiet has reacted to the Afcon 2021 draw after his Scorpions side have been paired with Djibouti in the preliminary round conducted at the CAF Extra Ordinary General Assembly meeting held on Thursday July 18 in Cairo.

Speaking to Pan African Visions from his base in Europe, the ‘Saint’ expressed satisfaction with playing Djibouti in the preliminaries. “I am quite satisfied with playing our opponents but I respect them very well too”, he posited. Tom said he has been wishing to avoid Liberia and other big Nations hence their strength but “Djibouti is a quite small football nation and they are doing well and have good players in French lower leagues”

Quizzed about the Scorpions chances in 2021, Tom emphasized that the performance of the Scorpions against big Nations across Africa in the last 12 months is enough testimony that the Gambia is on the right track to make its debut appearance at the Afcon.

“We are very optimistic of making it through but we have to respect Djibouti because they have young players on development stages and one cannot rule them out”, Sainfiet noted.

He said preparation is needed hence Djibouti is a far away region and lot of travel will be needed. “But we can count on our  good planning, good organisation and the good players we have at our disposal, I think we can come out with win over Djibouti”, Sainfiet said.

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Introducing JULZA Senegalese Rap Musician
July 19, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Thiaroye, one of the popular districts of Dakar, its history, very peculiar to others because of two facts: The first one reminds us of the tragedy of the massacre of our valiant soldiers in 1944 at the Thiaroye military camp.

What has made this district remains in the political history of Senegal, and the second marks the history of young people who try to take the canoe to immigrate to Europe to help their parents.

It is in this legendary district that the young artist Julza grew up. founding member of the Rap Fippu Clan group which means “Rebeler”, this young man has the mission to denounce the evils of the society but especially to contribute to the socio-cultural development of the country particularly Thiaroye,

After a few years spent in hip hop, the artist has imposed his style at the front of the Senegalese rap music scene. Thanks to this style, Julza has become one of the best of his generation, which has enabled him today to speak the word of the voiceless of his hometown Thiaroye

Thus, the artist has just released his first opus entitled “Obi” featuring with the great diva Penda GUISSE.a mixture of two different styles “Rap and Tassou” or the artist boasts of his person and his origin Al Pulaar.

 

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Gambia’s Afro-Pop Awards Winning Artiste to Release Debut Album, Set for European Tour
July 19, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

 Jizzle, award winning an Afro-Pop sensational artiste has announced that he will release his debut album called ‘Finally’ on 9th August, 2019 at The Chop Shop Restaurant at Kairaba Avenue.

He is expected to embark on a European tour in Sweden, German and Italy and he will finally return to launch the album at the independence stadium on 23rd November, 2019.

Jizzle, who won Collobo of the year, People’s Choice Award, Afro Fusion of the year, album of the year and song of the year during Wah Sa Halat Awards recently.

Jizzle, told Pan African Visions that: “As my debut album, #finally is going to be released on Friday, August 9th 2019 worldwide on all Digital Platforms by @umgnigeria and also on physical copies (USB flash drives)”

Jizzle, also brand Ambassador of one of the leading GSM Operator in Gambia Africell added that: “I will be hosting a Meet & Greet and Signing with my Fans on the same Day Come through and buy a copy of the album for D250 and get 25% off on all Foods from Chop Shop on that day!”

Born in Bakau in The Gambia in 1989, Jerreh Jallow, popularly called Jizzle D Lyrical Kiddo is a dancehall and rap artist. He began singing at the age of 17 in 2009 after completing Grade 9 at Ndows. He majors in rap but occasionally sings dancehall. He sings in three West African languages namely Fula, Mandingo and Wolof.

In 2010, he released his first single called ‘Over Sona’. The song highlights the plights of young people neglected by the adult world. ‘Over Sona’ is an exaggerated expression of despair common among Gambian young people.

In 2011, he dropped a second single called ‘Life Is Not Easy’. He sings are about war, poverty, young people and many other social ills.

In 2014, he released a 14-track debut mixtape titled ‘Food Is Ready’. Some of the popular songs on the album are ‘Rumpa’, ‘Mi Deh Pan Mi Side’, ‘Together We Make It’, ‘Let Stand Up and ‘Fight For Our Right’ and ‘Man of The Year.

In 2015, he won the Best Upcoming Artist of the Year 2014 category at the Gambian Entertainment Awards.

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Gambians in Abu Dhabi thank President Barrow for New UAE Embassy
July 19, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Barrow with Gambians in UAE

Barrow with Gambians in UAE

Representatives of the Gambian Community in Abu Dhabi have heaped praises on President Barrow for his government’s response to their calls for the establishment of a Gambian Embassy in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Scores of speakers at a well-attended meeting with Gambian residents from across the Emirate expressed gratitude for the establishment of a fully-fledged diplomatic mission manned by hardworking diplomats who look after their needs.

‘’We are very happy and would like thank you, Mr. President Barrow, for not only establishing a embassy since your visit last year, but also for appointing the best staff’’, the Public Relation Officer of the association of Gambians in UAE,  Mr. Lamin Jallow said.

He added that the staff are quite open and often consult with the association on most pertinent issues, singling out the Ambassador for taking up their matters almost immediately after his arrival.

Secretary General, Modou Lamin Kambi, who also pleaded with the government to assist them with scholarship packages for career development. He also enlisted the support of the government to assist those who wish to be repatriated.

Taking turns to respond to the various speakers, President Barrow assured the gathering of their unalloyed commitment to the welfare of Gambians at all times.

The Gambian Ambassador in the United Arab Emirates, His Excellency Nfansu Bojang informed the gathering of the new memoranda of understanding signed between the governments of The Gambia and UAE that will put in place a legal framework of protection for Gambian workers in the country.

However, he was quick to urge the residents to seek work legally and regularize their status with the embassy while clarifying that the embassy will not send anyone back.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Mamadou Tangara called on them to remain law abiding, stating that the level of hospitality and respect accorded to the president and his delegation in UAE signaled the commitment and promises of the cooperation between the two countries.

President Barrow thanked the speakers for being genuine and acknowledging the good efforts of the government and the embassy staff.

He advised the association to work on a financial plan to assist members in addressing their welfare and in emergencies.

 

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Private Sector, Investors enjoy legal protection and respect in The Gambia, President Barrow tells Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce
July 19, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Barrow With Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce

Barrow With Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce

President Adama Barrow has described The Gambia as the best place for international businesses that are interested in exploring business and investment opportunities in Africa. Outlining the unique comparative advantages of the country during a meeting with the Director General and top officials of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce, President Barrow said The Gambia is strategically located in the West African sub region pointing out its close proximity to some of the biggest economies on the African continent.

He said his government is creating the right environment for investments and business to reach their fullest potentials, indicating that they were putting in place flexible policies and stringent legal cover for businesses to thrive unhindered.

‘’Our economy is driven by the private sector, which is why we have high regards and respect for the private sector’’, he said. ‘’We have legal protection for investors, we embrace free trade and have an open door police towards businesses’’.

President Barrow extended an invitation to the members of the business fraternity in Abu Dhabi to visit The Gambia and take advantage of the investment potentials that exist in agriculture, tourism, telecoms, health, among other sectors.

H.E Mohammed Helal Al Mheiri, Director General of Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce thanked the president for meeting and exploring with them the possibilities of investment in The Gambia. He said his association has a membership of 120, 000 and promised to work with members to visit and explore investment potentials in The Gambia.

Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs also thanked them for their interest in the Gambian market.  He revealed that the governments of The Gambia and Abu Dhabi had signed an MOU on trade protection, promising that a double taxation treaty will be presented to the next sitting of the Parliament.

Abu Dhabi Fund for Development

The President also held a separate closed-door meeting with officials from the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development.

 

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Nigeria: Unemployed Nigerians rises to 21 million
July 19, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Teslim Olawore

Joseph Ari, the Director-General of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) has said that the number of unemployed Nigerians rose from 17.6 to 20.9 million between the last quarter of 2017 and the third quarter of last year.

Ari while speaking at a news briefing on Thursday in Abuja, said the unemployment record was sourced from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

He said, “Despite the fact that the number of people in employment increased from 68.4 million in the third quarter of 2015 to 68.72 million in the third quarter of 2016 to 69.09 million in the third quarter of 2017 and 69.53 million in the third quarter of 2018.

“The statistics are scary and staggering and should not only be a source of worry for any administration that is as committed to the welfare of Nigerians as the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari but indeed all patriotic Nigerians.

“This administration has made tremendous efforts to create jobs as could be seen in the increase in the number of people employed as cited by the NBS report.

“There are countless reasons for us to worry as government, as institutions vested with the arduous task of equipping Nigerians with life skills for employability and entrepreneurship we will do all we can, there is no doubt that unemployment has wrought a terrible damage on all facets of our national life.

“No reasonable analysis will divorce unemployment from the needless incidence of violence that has claimed thousands of lives across the nation. It will equally be difficult to separate rising criminality and harmful social vices that are being perpetrated by Nigerians because of unemployment and the attendant poverty. Consequently our population that should be a resource has become an albatross because we cannot provide a greater proportion of our population with a source of livelihood.

“ITF outlined 11 implementable programmes for 2019 which are: National Industrial Skills Development Programme (NISDP); Women Skills Empowerment Programme (WOSEP); air-conditioning and refrigerator (training on wheels); design and garment making; training on wheels for Nigerian youths under passion to profession programme; skills training and empowerment programme for the physically challenge (Step C); aquaculture fish farming; manure production; crop production and greenhouse technology; poultry farming and training programme development on international marketing and test running.”

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