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Nelson Mandela’s golden hand casts sell for $10m in bitcoin
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
HULTON ARCHIVE Image caption Four casts of Nelson Mandela's hands were made by mining group Harmony Gold in 2002

HULTON ARCHIVE
Image caption
Four casts of Nelson Mandela’s hands were made by mining group Harmony Gold in 2002

Gold castings of the hands of South Africa’s first black President Nelson Mandela have been sold for $10m (£7m) in bitcoin.

Canadian crypto-currency exchange firm Arbitrade bought four casts from South African businessman Malcolm Duncan.

The firm said it planned to launch a global “Golden Hands of Nelson Mandela” tour to educate young people about the anti-apartheid icon’s life.

This is the first time artefacts of Mr Mandela have been sold in bitcoin.

Mr Mandela was jailed for 27 years for fighting white minority rule in South Africa.

He was released in 1990, and served as president from 1994 to 1999.

Mr Mandela died in 2013 at the age of 95. He had turned into a global brand, with businessmen and artists cashing in on his name.

Mr Duncan, who now lives in Canada, bought the casts from mining group Harmony Gold in 2002 for about $31,000.

Half of the money paid to Harmony Gold was meant to go to charity, but it remains unclear as to whether that happened, Bloomberg news agency reports.

Harmony said it had “supplied Mr Duncan with the necessary paperwork verifying the provenance as requested by his attorneys,” but declined to comment on what happened to the donation, Bloomberg reports.

Nelson Mandela's old prison cell on Robben IslandImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionMr Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison on Robben Island

The casts, which weigh around 20lb (9kg), include Mr Mandela’s hand, palm and fist. They are part of a collection meant to mark the years the former president spent in prison on Robben Island.

The artefacts are believed to be the only ones left in the world.

The other sets of the collection were ordered to be destroyed by Mr Mandela, Mr Duncan told Bloomberg.

It was part of the former president’s attempt to control his copyright after a number of scandals, including forgery allegations, arose around the sale of art bearing his image and name.

Arbitrade has paid Mr Duncan a bitcoin deposit that has been converted to $50,000, and the rest is expected to be paid in quarterly instalments of at least $2m, Bloomberg reports.

“They take possession when I have the dollar amount in the bank, At two-and-a-quarter million at a time, they take one hand at a time,” Mr Duncan was quoted as saying.

Arbitrade is due to launch an initial coin offering and plans to mine its own crypto-currencies and trade others, Bloomberg reports.

The company’s chairman, Len Schutzman, told the news agency that it will back all its virtual currency with a percentage of physical metal, such as gold.

*BBC

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Ethiopian Airlines Launches Split Scimitar® Winglets in Northern Africa
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
Rendering of an Ethiopian Airlines 737-800 with APB Split Scimitar Winglets (PRNewsfoto/Aviation Partners Boeing)

Rendering of an Ethiopian Airlines 737-800 with APB Split Scimitar Winglets (PRNewsfoto/Aviation Partners Boeing)

SEATTLEMarch 26, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Aviation Partners Boeing (APB) announced today that Ethiopian Airlines has become the first operator in Northern Africa of its latest Split Scimitar Winglet technology.  The first installation of the System was completed on March 20, 2018, at its MRO in Addis Ababa.  Ethiopian Airlines intends to install the Winglets on its fleet of Boeing Next-Generation 737-700 and 737-800 aircraft.  Aviation Partners’ latest Winglet design, the Split Scimitar Winglet, uses existing Blended Winglet technology but adds new aerodynamic Scimitar tips and a large ventral strake, further increasing the efficiency of the airplane.

“Ethiopian Airlines recognizes the importance of investing in their fleet and is taking steps to be the most fuel efficient and environmentally friendly airline in Africa,” says Aviation Partners Boeing director of sales and marketing Christopher Stafford.  “With the installation of the Split Scimitar Winglet System, not only will Ethiopian Airlines show its environmental stewardship, but the fuel savings and additional payload on long haul routes will significantly improve the operating economics of the Boeing Next Generation 737-700 and 737-800 models.”

The Split Scimitar Winglet modification reduces Boeing Next-Generation 737 block fuel consumption by up to an additional 2.2% over the Blended Winglets alone.  The Split Scimitar Winglet System will reduce Ethiopian Airline’s annual fuel requirements by more than 275,000 liters per aircraft, and their carbon dioxide emissions by over 700 tonnes per aircraft per year.

“As the leading carrier in Africa, Ethiopian has always been spearheading the introduction of aviation technology into the continent. The planned installation of the Split Scimitar Winglets is yet another testimony to our technology leadership in Africa’s aviation industry,” says Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Ato Tewolde Gebremariam. “Currently, we operate 8 Boeing Next-Generation 737-700s and 16 Boeing Next-Generation 737-800 aircraft. Once these airplanes are fitted with the newest winglets and enter operation, we will benefit a lot in terms of fuel efficiency, which in turn will take our environmental protection efforts one step ahead.” 

Since launching the Boeing Next-Generation 737 Split Scimitar Winglet program, APB has taken orders for over 1,800 systems, and over 1,000 aircraft are now operating with the technology.  APB estimates that its products have reduced aircraft fuel consumption worldwide by over 8.0 billion gallons to-date thereby saving nearly 85.0 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

Aviation Partners Boeing is a Seattle based joint venture of Aviation Partners, Inc. and The Boeing Company. www.aviationpartnersboeing.com

Ethiopian Airlines is largest and fastest growing airline on the African continent and wholly owned by the government of Ethiopia.  In its seventy plus years of operation, Ethiopian has become one of the continent’s leading carriers, unrivalled in efficiency and operational success. It is the first airline to introduce the ultra-modern Boeing 787-8 aircraft into Africa and also operates a mix of modern airplanes with an average fleet age of five years.

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Congo rejects foreign funding for long-delayed elections
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
Congolese president Joseph Kabila casts his ballot in the country's presidential election at a polling station in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo on Nov. 28, 2011.

Congolese president Joseph Kabila casts his ballot in the country’s presidential election at a polling station in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo on Nov. 28, 2011.

Congo’s government says it will not take international funding for its long-delayed elections, calling it a decision to avoid foreign interference.

A statement issued Monday thanks all partners who announced election contributions, saying the government should find a way to direct the money toward projects in health, education and infrastructure upgrades.

President Joseph Kabila, whose mandate ended in December 2016, has said elections will be organized by the Congolese only. The opposition has accused him of trying to cling to power. Some protests have turned deadly.

The election commission has said the vote now will be in December.

The United States last month urged Congo to abandon the use of electronic voting to avoid any challenges to results. Monday’s statement, however, recommends continued public awareness about the machines.

*AP

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Free gift? China extends influence in Africa with $32M grant for regional HQ
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Jenni Marsh*

The African Union building in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was also a gift from China. It cost $200 million to build and was handed over in 2012.

The African Union building in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was also a gift from China. It cost $200 million to build and was handed over in 2012.

(CNN)China raised eyebrows this month by announcing it will give the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) a $31.6 million grant to build a new headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria.

African, right, and Chinese workers, left, build railway track sections for the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line in Tsavo, Kenya.

African, right, and Chinese workers, left, build railway track sections for the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line in Tsavo, Kenya.

Accepting the grant, the president of ECOWAS Jean-Claude Brou thanked China, and confirmed the organization’s commitment to promoting future ECOWAS-China cooperation. A press release said that Mr Brou called this a mark of goodwill from China.

But critics questioned the Asian economic powerhouse’s motives for the donation, which positions it at the center of West African politics.
Earlier this year, a published report in the French daily, Le Monde, alleged that Beijing spied on the African Union through the computer systems it helped install. Citing anonymous sources, Le Monde reported that data was transferred from the AU systems in Ethiopia to its servers in Shanghai. China’s foreign ministry called the Le Monde report “groundless accusations.”  The AU called the report “baseless.”
 “People will interpret this as a symbolic expression of China’s growing presence in Africa,” says Ian Taylor, professor in international relations and African political economics at the University of St Andrews, in Scotland.

“But the real question is 60 years after independence (for most member states), why does ECOWAS think it’s acceptable for a foreign power to build its headquarters?”
ECOWAS and the Chinese Ministry for Foreign Affairs did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment.

Why did ECOWAS accept?

ECOWAS was established in 1975 to foster economic integration and collective self-sufficiency in West Africa.
Its 15 member states include one of Africa’s biggest economies by GDP Nigeria, causing Taylor and others to ask why ECOWAS isn’t self-funding the facility. Had the members split the bill, it would have cost just over $2 million each.
Philip Olayoku, project manager at the Abuja-based Information Aid Network, says the official numbers are misleading and many countries in the grouping don’t have cash to spare for such projects.
“For me, reliance on GDP is the wrong way to determine how well a country’s economy is doing,” he says. Corruption in many West African governments, he explains, means “funds that are accrued for national growth are often not where they need to be,” impairing a country’s ability to contribute effectively to bodies such as ECOWAS.
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Ethiopia’s ruling coalition names new chairman, set to be PM
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

By ELIAS MESERET*

Dr Abiy Ahmed

Dr Abiy Ahmed

Ethiopia’s ruling coalition named a chairman set to become the country’s new prime minister late Tuesday amid the latest state of emergency in Africa’s second most populous nation.

Abiy Ahmed is poised to take power, as the ruling coalition and its regional affiliates hold all parliament seats. A vote by lawmakers is expected on Wednesday.

The announcement followed months of the most severe anti-government protests in a quarter-century and the surprise decision by then-Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn early this year to release prominent politicians, journalists and others from prison to free up political space.

But Hailemariam later announced his intention to resign and a new state of emergency was imposed in one of Africa’s fastest growing economies.

Abiy is the first person from Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, to hold the post of prime minister since the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front came to power in 1991.

Ethiopians had eagerly awaited news of their new leader for days. This will be the third prime minister since the current ruling coalition came to power close to 30 years ago after overthrowing the Derg military regime by force.

Many hoped the development would bring calm after the months of protests demanding wider freedoms.

“I believe that the Oromia region president, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, is the answer to Ethiopia’s youths’ questions,” Yonas Alemayehu, an activist in the restive Oromia region, told The Associated Press. The Oromo people, the largest ethnic group among Ethiopia’s population of 100 million, have long felt marginalized.

The outgoing prime minister at times had been labeled as weak and under the shadow of former strongman Meles Zenawi, who died in 2012. Others argued that Hailemariam successfully continued the late leader’s core policies, of both economic transformation and repression.

In a 2016 interview with the AP, the outgoing prime minister acknowledged that good governance was in decline in Ethiopia and people were asking the government to correct it.

“That is the main reason why people are protesting,” he said at the time. “This is really a positive sign. I have recently apologized in front of the parliament for our mismanagement and lack of responsibility that have generated these dissents. We are now taking measures to address those grievances.”

However, the protests continue to this day.

*AP

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Morocco:Over 300 delegates Expected in Marrakech For The African Women in Agriculture Congress” May 8-10, 2018
March 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

-Marrakech will host  the second edition of AWA “The African Women in Agriculture Congress” May 8-10, 2018

-More than 300 delegates will discuss the role of women in Africa’s agricultural development.

Believe in Africa has chosen Morocco to organize its second international conference on the subject: “Women and Agriculture“.

The congress “African Women in Agriculture 2018“, will take place in Marrakech from May 8 to 10, 2018 at the Mohammed VI Museum of Water Civilization in Morocco – AMAN, with the support of the Moroccan Agency for International Cooperation (AMCI) , UN Women, Initiative for Global Develop (IGD) US Africa Foundation (USADF), Forbes Africa, Africa Agriculture, and AllAfrica Magazine.

The main purpose of AWAAfrican Women in Agriculture” is to create a grid of influencers based on an exchange between high-ranking personalities and small scales producers. AWA’s aspiration is to boost women’s empowerment in agriculture, in rural areas particularly, by empowering them to become self-reliant, productive and competitive. AWA covers the four agricultural sectors, which are: agriculture, livestock, fisheries/fish farming and agro-forestry and handicrafts.

Angelle Kwemo, Founder and President of Believe in Africa

Angelle Kwemo, Founder and President of Believe in Africa

For Angelle Kwemo, Founder and President of Believe in Africa; “AWA is a unique place to share knowledge and experience where personal success stories are honored and analyzed and shared.

Furthermore The 2018 edition wants to take tangible actions and develop a roadmap for resource mobilization, training and optimization of production capacity, processing and marketing of agricultural products.

AWA 2018 will be an opportunity to highlight the collective commitment of this network put in place for the empowerment of African women, and above all allow participants to find investors and partners for the marketing of their products on the African and global market.

*For more information at http://www.believeinafrica.org/, email: Believeinafrica1@gmail.com

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Access Power launches 2018 edition of the $7 million Access Co-Development Facility (ACF) competition powering Africa & Asia
March 27, 2018 | 0 Comments
The winners of ACF 2018 will be announced during a live final evaluation panel on June 19th 2018 during the Africa Energy Forum in Mauritius
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, March 27, 2018/ — Access Power (www.Access-Power.com), a developer, owner and operator of power projects in emerging markets, today announced the launch of ACF 2018, the third edition of the highly successful funding and support platform for renewable energy projects in Africa and Asia. For this third edition, Access has included Asia for energy projects and invite entrepreneurs across both Africa and Asia to compete.

Now in its fourth year, the ACF is an innovative US$7 million financial support programme designed to provide local power project developers and originators with project development support, technical experience, expertise and funding required to bring their renewable energy projects to life.

ACF 2018 aims to further build on the success of the previous three years where a total of 234 projects have been considered for the prize with several winning projects now benefiting from the mix of funding and technical expertise provided by Access Power. This year’s finalists will once again be evaluated and scored by an independent panel of industry experts, similar to last year’s which comprised of senior representatives from Power Africa, InfraCo Africa, Proparco, and the Dutch Development Bank (FMO) .

The winners of ACF 2018 will be announced during a live final evaluation panel on June 19th 2018 during the Africa Energy Forum in Mauritius. The top three finalists from Africa and Asia will subsequently enter into direct Joint Development Agreement (JDA) discussions with Access Power.

Reda El Chaar, Executive Chairman, Access Power commented; “This year we are delighted to welcome projects across Asia too to compete. By introducing new markets, we hope this will enable us to reach a bigger network of innovative and pioneering entrepreneurs across Africa and Asia with the opportunity to develop their ambitious ideas into tangible projects.”

The ACF 2018 application form and guidelines are available on Access Power website www.Access-Power.com

The ACF 2018 is a financial support mechanism designed to provide local developers and entrepreneurs with the technical expertise and funding required to bring their renewable energy projects to life.
• Applications for the ACF 2018 will open in March 19th  2018
• The submission period runs from March 19th to May 10th 2018.
• An independent judging panel will include industry experts as well as representatives from multilateral development banks.
• Following a pre-selection process, a shortlist of applicants will be chosen to present their projects to a panel of judges at the Africa Energy Forum in Mauritius,June 2018 (www.Africa-Energy-Forum.com).
• Applicants must present their projects to the judging panel during the Forum within a given time and take questions from panel members.
• Panel members will score each project based on the evaluation criteria, using weighted percentages.
• The winners will negotiate and enter a Joint Development Agreement with Access Power, which will take an agreed equity stake in the winning projects and fund all third-party development costs. Access Power will also provide technical support, financing and development process management

About Access Power 
Access Power (www.Access-Power.com) ‘Access’ is a developer, owner and operator of power plants in emerging and frontier markets. Access today is one of the fastest growing independent power producers in emerging markets and is currently developing renewable energy projects worth over US$1 billion in 23 countries across Africa and Asia Our development team has a depth of experience in developing and building large portfolios of renewable energy projects, with a collective track record of financially closing 30 GW of power projects across the globe.

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Why Africa’s free trade area offers so much promise
March 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

By *

African leaders meet in Kigali to sign the continent’s free trade agreement. Paul Kagame/Flickr

African leaders meet in Kigali to sign the continent’s free trade agreement. Paul Kagame/Flickr

African leaders have just signed a framework establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area, the largest free trade agreement since the creation of the World Trade Organisation.

The free trade area aims to create a single market for goods and services in Africa. By 2030 the market size is expected to include 1.7 billion people with over USD$ 6.7 trillion of cumulative consumer and business spending – that’s if all African countries have joined the free trade area by then. Ten countries, including Nigeria, have yet to sign up.

The goal is to create a

single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments.

The agreement has the potential to deliver a great deal for countries on the continent. The hope is that the trade deal will trigger a virtuous cycle of more intra African trade, which in turn will drive the structural transformation of economies – the transition from low productivity and labour intensive activities to higher productivity and skills intensive industrial and service activities – which in turn will produce better paid jobs and make an impact on poverty.

But signing the agreement is only the beginning. For it to come into force, 22 countries must ratify it. Their national legislative bodies must approve and sanction the framework formally, showing full commitment to its implementation. Niger President Issoufou Mahamadou, who has been championing the process, aims to have the ratification process completed by January 2019.

Cause and effect

Some studies have shown that by creating a pan-African market, intra-Africa trade could increase by about 52% by 2022. Better market access creates economies of scale. Combined with appropriate industrial policies, this contributes to a diversified industrial sector and growth in manufacturing value added.

Manufacturing represents only about 10% of total GDP in Africa on average. This falls well below other developing regions. A successful continental free trade area could reduce this gap. And a bigger manufacturing sector will mean more well-paid jobs, especially for young people. This in turn will help poverty alleviation.

Industrial development, and with it, more jobs, is desperately needed in Africa. Industry represents one-quarter to one-third of total job creationin other regions of the world. And a young person in Africa is twice as likely to be unemployed when he or she becomes an adult. This is a particularly stressful situation given that over 70% of sub-Saharan Africa’s population is below age 30.

In addition, 70% of Africa’s youth live on less than US $2 per day.

The continental free trade area is expected to offer

substantial opportunities for industrialisation, diversification, and high-skilled employment in Africa.

The single continental market will offer the opportunity to accelerate the manufacture and intra-African trade of value-added products, moving from commodity based economies and exports to economic diversification and high-value exports.

But, to increase the impact of the trade deal, industrial policies must be put in place. These must focus on productivity, competition, diversification, and economic complexity.

In other words, governments must create enabling conditions to ensure that productivity is raised to international competitiveness standards. The goal must be to ensure that the products manufactured in African countries are competitively traded on the continent and abroad, and to diversify the range and sophistication of products and services.

Drivers of manufacturing

Data shows that the most economically diverse countries are also the most successful.

In fact, diversification is critical as “countries that are able to sustain a diverse range of productive know-how, including sophisticated, unique know-how, are able to produce a wide diversity of goods, including complex products that few other countries can make.

Diverse African economies such as South Africa and Egypt, are likely to be the drivers of the free trade area, and are likely to benefit from it the most. These countries will find a large continental market for their manufactured products. They will also use their know-how and dense industrial landscape to develop innovative products and respond to market demand.

But the agreement on its own won’t deliver results. Governments must put in place policies that drive industrial development, particularly manufacturing. Five key ones stand out:

Human capital: A strong manufacturing sector needs capable, healthy, and skilled workers. Policymakers should adjust curriculum to ensure that skills are adapted to the market. And there must be a special focus on young people. Curriculum must focus on skills and building capacity for entrepreneurship and self-employment. This should involve business training at an early age and skills upgrading at an advanced one. This should go hand in hand with promoting science, technology, engineering, entrepreneurship and mathematics as well as vocational and on-the-job training.

Policymakers should also favour the migration of highly skilled workers across the continent.

Cost: Policymakers must bring down the cost of doing business. The barriers include energy, access to roads and ports, security, financing, bureaucratic restrictions, corruption, dispute settlement and property rights.

Supply network: Industries are more likely to evolve if competitive networks exist. Policymakers should ease trade restrictions and integrate regional trade networks. In particular, barriers for small and medium-size businesses should be lifted.

Domestic demand: Policymakers should offer tax incentives to firms to unlock job creation, and to increase individual and household incomes. Higher purchasing power for households will increase the size of the domestic market.

Resources: Manufacturing requires heavy investment. This should be driven by the private sector. Policymakers should facilitate access to finance, especially for small and medium enterprises. And to attract foreign direct investment, policymakers should address perceptions of poor risk perception. This invariably scares off potential investors or sets excessive returns expectations.

Increased productivity

The continental free trade area facilitates industrialisation by creating a continental market, unlocking manufacturing potential and bolstering an international negotiation bloc.

Finally, the continental free trade area will also provide African leaders with a greater negotiating power to eliminate barriers to exporting. This will help prevent agreements with other countries, and trading blocs, that are likely to hurt exports and industrial development.

*Culled from The Conversation.is a Distinguished Fellow at Stanford University’s Center for African Studies, David M. Rubenstein Fellow at the Global Economy and Development and Africa Growth Initiative at the Brookings Institution, and Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, Stanford University

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IGAD Decided to Lift South Sudanese Rebel Leader Machar House Arrest, Proposes Relocation
March 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Rebel leader Machar is a de facto prisoner in a farmhouse outside of Johannesburg

Rebel leader Machar is a de facto prisoner in a farmhouse outside of Johannesburg

Juba – The regional bloc of Inter –Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Council of Ministers has decided to release South Sudan’s exiled rebel leader Dr. Riek Machar from house arrest in South Africa.

Rebel leader Machar is a de facto prisoner in a farmhouse outside of Johannesburg. He is isolated from his friends and family, and has been frozen out of South Sudan’s peace process and the future of his country.

 The IGAD’s communique issued following its 61st Extra-Ordinary Session held on Monday in Addis Ababa, said it would release Dr. Machar as soon as possible if he would agree to renounce violence, not obstruct the peace process and relocate to any country “outside the region not neighboring South Sudan.”

Meanwhile, the wife of Dr. Machar told the VOA that the family is disappointed in a decision made by IGAD calling for a conditional “lifting of house arrest.”

“If you read it carefully, actually, there is no lifting of any house arrest. Because what they said is very clear that they will transfer him from where he is now, which is South Africa, to another location that is not in the region, and that would not be in any proximity with South Sudan,” Angelina Teny, Machar’s wife said, who is also senior opposition member.

The statement said that IGAD ministers would decide on a possible location for prominent South Sudanese rebel leader Machar, something his wife said the ministers of the regional bloc are not being fair to her husband.

Dr. Machar, who ended up in South Africa, came in aftermath of a new outbreak of fighting in July 2016 destroyed a tentative peace deal that had restored Machar to his government post, and forced him to flee the country.

The opposition groups say they are upset by the government demand to exclude Machar from the SPLM reunification process, peace revitalization forum, and the national transitional government.

President Kiir government made it clear since last year that Machar can only run for president at the end constitutional process, insisting that he should remain away from the rest claiming he would obstruct the whole operation.

Over the weekend, the government Chief Negotiator for the peace process said they have rejected the opposition proposal at the High Level Revitalization Forum talks to reinstate 1st Former Vice President Riek Machar to his former position, describes as problematic.

 “This of course is problematic and we don’t want to repeat that tragic history if that formula could work but we tried it could not work,” Chief Negotiator Nhial Deng Nhial said at the party rally, SPLM in Juba. “It’s an obstacle we hope that the SPLA/IO of Dr. Riek focus more on the representation of position as an institution rather than in the person of Riek SPLM/IO is fully entitled in key position in the government in keeping in its political weight that is something that we are already to consider.”

However, the observers said this new condition may obstruct the peace process as the third round of revitalization process is at doorstep.

Machar, who has long dominated South Sudanese politics, though he was rebelled against former SPLM leader Dr. John Garang De Mabior, was an instrumental figure in South Sudan’s fight for independence from Sudan, and has served as vice president twice in the very short history of the world’s newest nation. It became independent in 2011.

However, power struggling between Dr. Machar and President Salva Kiir sparked the civil war that began in 2013, leaving the country devastated in its wake.

The regional bloc also called upon the Transitional Government of National Unity and the nine opposition groups not to squander the opportunity for ending the suffering of the people of South Sudan.

IGAD did not set new dates for the resumption of the peace talks. Its special envoy, South Sudan Ambassador Ismail Wais, will consult various South Sudanese stakeholders to reconcile the position of the parties on power sharing and permanent security arrangements before the next talks.

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Louis Vuitton names Ghanaian-American as new creative boss
March 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

Virgil Abloh, the founder of streetwear brand Off-White and Kanye West’s creative director, has been named the new menswear designer for French fashion label Louis Vuitton.

“I feel elated,” the 37-year-old , saying the opportunity was “always a goal in my wildest dreams”.

The news site says Abloh is one of the few black designers at the helm of a major French fashion house.

Others include Olivier Rousteing – the creative director at Balmain, and British designer Ozwald Boateng who led Givenchy men’s wear from 2003 to 2007.

Abloh will present his first menswear collection for Louis Vuitton in June at Paris Fashion Week.

Louis Vuitton chief executive Michael Burke praised the designer’s “sensibility towards luxury and savoir-faire” adding he would be “instrumental in taking Louis Vuitton’s menswear into the future”.

*BBC

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SimbaPay launches Pan-Africa remittances chatbot in collaboration with Interswitch
March 27, 2018 | 0 Comments
Technology news: Techstars alumni, SimbaPay in collaboration with Interswitch announces the launch of a remittance chatbot, to enable SMS based Pan-Africa digital money transfer.
LONDON, United Kingdom, March 26, 2018/ — SimbaPay (www.SimbaPay.com) – a London based digital money transfer provider – today announced the launch of an AI (Artificial Intelligence) powered chatbot service which now makes International Money Transfer (remittance) possible with only an SMS. The SimbaPay chatbot will also enable 24/7 instant customer service for its customers across Africa and Europe.

“We’re thrilled at the prospect of the chatbot service resolving most customer enquiries instantly at any time of day or night” said Daniel Howard, CTO for SimbaPay. “Another major objective we achieved with the chatbot service is that it also works without internet. This means customers with a mobile phone, even a basic phone without internet access, can access the SimbaPay chatbot using SMS”.

Speaking on the Interswitch (www.InterswitchGroup.com) partnership with SimbaPay, Paul Mwaura Ndichu, CEO Interswitch East Africa (K) said, “Interswitch is proud to be associated with a company as innovative as SimbaPay which is continually looking to improve and expand its product offering. We will continue to collaborate in development of products and services that contribute to expansion of the fintech space”.

Together with Interswitch, SimbaPay’s B2B division offers its instant remittance technology to banks & telcos who want to provide their customers with a modern digital remittance service.

SimbaPay platform senders can now send money with just an SMS. All they require is the recipient’s phone number and the chatbot will automatically obtain the recipient bank account or mobile money details.

With this launch, recipients of money transfers from SimbaPay now also have the flexibility of choosing whether to get their cash delivered to their Mobile Money wallet (e.g. M-Pesa, MTN Money, Airtel Money) or their bank account.

In some instances, recipients may not have a smartphone or internet data bundles or airtime credit. To address this, the SimbaPay chatbot is accessible through free of charge SMS.

Some of the banks that offer SimbaPay powered remittance services have millions of customers and therefore receive a high volume of enquiries. The chatbot provides the scalability to handle thousands of customer enquiries per hour.

The SimbaPay chatbot service is also accessible on SimbaPay’s social media channels including Facebook. Popular enquiries that are now resolved by the chatbot include exchange rate queries, how to send money instructions and coverage enquiries.

Accolades
Last year SimbaPay was nominated as the Best Remittance Service in Africa at the Digital Impact Awards Africa. In consideration of its social impact, this month SimbaPay was selected to receive investment from Katapult, a Norwegian based social impact fund.

In 2016, SimbaPay was selected as one of 10 companies to join the first ever Barclays Accelerator powered by Techstars (https://goo.gl/yHdFKn) in Africa. The app continues to disrupt the cross-border remittance industry with its focus on Financial Inclusion, extreme speed and convenience.

How SimbaPay Works

To send money via SimbaPay, customers living in activated African & European countries simply download the SimbaPay app from the Apple AppStore or Google Play . App users can then proceed to securely make money transfers straight from any smartphone, tablet or computer.

Together with Interswitch, SimbaPay’s B2B division offers its instant remittance technology to banks & telcos who want to provide their customers with a modern digital remittance service.

SimbaPay (www.SimbaPay.com) is an award winning mobile app transforming the international remittance space. With a focus on Financial Inclusion, extreme speed, convenience and constant innovation, users are able to send money instantly to loved ones or even merchants across Africa and beyond, from wherever they are at any time of day or night.

The company is headquartered in London and can be found online at www.SimbaPay.com .

Interswitch (www.InterswitchGroup.com) is an Africa-focused integrated electronic payments and commerce company that facilitates the electronic circulation of money as well as the exchange of value between individuals and organizations on a timely and consistent basis.

Interswitch helps Africans conduct millions of transactions safely, securely and without hassle every day. It serves the African market to connect Africans to each other and enhance intra-African trade while promoting strong and sustainable economic growth across the continent.

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Morocco top ranked investment destination in Africa for 2017
March 26, 2018 | 0 Comments
Egypt, Algeria, Botswana and Cote d’Ivoire amongst top five investment destinations
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, March 26, 2018/ —

  • Quantum Global Research Lab releases new 2018 Africa Investment Index
  • Top five investment destinations attracted a combined net FDI of $12.8 bn in 2016
  • Egypt, Algeria, Botswana and Cote d’Ivoire amongst top five investment destinations
Prof. Mthuli Ncube, Managing Director, Quantum Global Research Lab

Prof. Mthuli Ncube, Managing Director, Quantum Global Research Lab

Morocco is the most attractive economy for investments flowing into the African continent, according to the latest Africa Investment Index 2018 (AII) by Quantum Global’s (http://QuantumGlobalGroup.com) independent research arm, Quantum Global Research Lab.

According to the AII, Morocco ranks first on the Index based on its increasing solid economic growth, strategic geographic positioning, increased foreign direct investment, external debt levels, social capital factors and overall favourable business environment.

Prof. Mthuli Ncube, Managing Director, Quantum Global Research Lab commented:

“In spite of the improvements to oil production and prices, African economies are turning their attention towards diversification to stimulate industrial development, and to attract investments in non-oil strategic sectors. Morocco has been consistent in attracting an inward flow of foreign capital, specifically in banking, tourism and energy sectors and through the development of industry.”

Top 10 and Bottom 10 countries

Rank Top 10 (best to worst) Bottom 10 (worst to best)
1 Morocco Central African Republic
2 Egypt Liberia
3 Algeria Somalia
4 Botswana Eritrea
5 Cote d’Ivoire Equatorial Guinea
6 South Africa Gambia, The
7 Ethiopia Sierra Leone
8 Zambia Guinea
9 Kenya Sao Tome and Principe
10 Senegal Zimbabwe

 

According to recent data by the Moroccan Exchange Control, Morocco attracted nearly $2.57 bn of foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2017, up from 12 percent compared to 2016. The country is being recognised as one of the best emerging markets for overseas investment. International investors are looking at wide range of sectors for investments including in areas such as energy, infrastructure, tourism, and ICT amongst others.

According to AII, the top five African investment destinations attracted an overall FDI of $12.8 bn in 2016. Cote d’Ivoire ranks 5th while being the fastest growing economy in Africa and scores relatively well in liquidity and risk factors such as real interest rate, exchange rate risk and current account ratio. The improved risk profile, combined with strong liquidity, business environment, demographics and the social capital record has rendered Algeria a rise to the 3rd position in the second edition. Botswana, previously ranked as Africa’s top investment destination in the first edition, ranks 4th scoring well in risk factors as well as the business environment.

Prof. Ncube further commented: “Continued FDI inflows will continue to drive the much-needed capital to develop Africa’s primary sectors to meet the demands of the continent’s rapidly growing middle-class, and into manufacturing sectors to create more jobs, enhance economic growth and support structural transformation.”

In terms of improvements in the ranking over the last 3 years, countries such as Swaziland, Angola, Rwanda, Chad, Comoros, Seychelles, South Sudan and Sierra Leone registered strong upward movements as shown in AII three-year rolling rankings.

Quantum Global (www.QuantumGlobalGroup.com) is an international group of companies active in the areas of private equity investments, investment management as well as macroeconomic research and econometric modelling. Quantum Global’s private equity arm manages a family of funds targeting direct investments in Africa in the sectors of Agriculture, Healthcare, Hotels, Infrastructure, Mining and Timber – as well as a sector agnostic Structured Equity fund. Our team combines a solid track record and proven expertise to identify and execute unique investment opportunities with focus on Africa. Quantum Global works in close partnership with key stakeholders to maximise investment value and returns through active management and value creation. For more information, visit www.QuantumGlobalGroup.com.

The AII is constructed from macroeconomic and financial indicators and the World Bank Group’s Ease of Doing Business Indicators (DBI). The DBI ranks countries in terms of a regulatory environment conducive to business operation. The AII focuses on 5 pillars or factors from a wider range of investment indicators, which include the share of domestic investment in GDP, the share of Africa’s total FDI net inflow, GDP growth rate forecast, population augmented GDP growth factor, real interest rate, the difference of broad money growth to the GDP growth rates, inflation differential, credit rating, import cover, the share of the country’s external debt in its GNI, current account ratio, ease of doing business and the country’s population size (Figure 1). The AII indicators are based on secondary data collected from World Bank Development Indicators, IMF World Economic Outlook, UNCTAD Data Centre and own estimates.

The AII is a combination of individual indicator’s rank into a single numerical ranking. It averages the country’s macroeconomic and financial indicators rankings on the five different factors. Each indicator, and hence factors, receives an equal weight.  Their rank score is then averaged to produce the total average score, which is consequently ranked from 1 to 54. The higher the value of the ranking, the lower the implied business investment climate.

To produce an index score that captures medium-term changing aspects, individual country’s ranking is scaled relative to a benchmark or reference value (i.e., the past 3-year rolling average ranking). In addition to the intended measurement, this approach enables us to avoid periods of structural changes (which may compromise the index) that may be present in a longer time span, whether we consider a change from a reference average value or a historical reference period.

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