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Zimbabwe’s tourism authorities invite potential investors to establish hotel facilities at country’s main international airport
April 5, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Mr Givemore Chidzidzi

Mr Givemore Chidzidzi

Potential investors and other interested have been called upon to
consider establishing hotel and other accommodation facilities which
are currently lacking at Zimbabwe’s main entry port now called the
Robert Gabriel Mugabe international airport and formerly Harare
international airport.

Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) Chief Operating Officer, Givemore
Chidzidzi told participants and potential investors at a Harare City
Council investment conference that unlike other countries, regionally
and internationally, Zimbabwe’s main port of entry lacked hotel
facilities to accommodate passengers who would have been stranded or
wishing to take rest or further connect to other destinations.

The conference was hosted by the City of Harare to attract
potential investors for the development of the city.
Chidzidzi also added that at least three potential investors had
shown interest in establishing hotel facilities at the country’s main
airport.It is also reported that Harare City council had indicated
that land was available for potential investors interested to carry
out the project.

Regional and international airports like the Oliver Tambo
international airport in South Africa boast of superb hotel facilities
located in close proximity to accommodate travellers.
The airport in South Africa hosts thousands of travellers and
visitors on daily basis and also Harare airport is being upgraded to
international standards and should also move with time providing much
needed accommodation for travellers.

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African Food Security Prize Launched to Stop Devastating Crop Pest
April 4, 2018 | 0 Comments
Feed the Future seeks digital solutions to help stop the spread of Fall Armyworm across Africa
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, April 4th, 2018 -/African Media Agency (AMA) /- Feed the Future, supported by Land O’Lakes International Development and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, has opened its call for applications for the Fall Armyworm Tech Prize. The prize offers to fund up to $400,000 in digital solutions that aim to help stop the spread of fall armyworm in Africa-a pest that is devastating agriculture and demolishing billions of dollars’ worth of crops across the continent. Selected digital solutions will strengthen resilience against fall armyworm and mitigate risks to food security across the continent.

Fall armyworm attacks over 80 different plant species. Agriculture experts estimate the pest could cause between $2.4 and $6.2 billion in losses for maize, a major staple crop in Africa on which more than 200 million people depend. Crops like sorghum, rice, and sugarcane are also at risk. Unchecked, fall armyworm is a threat to the livelihoods of farmers and to food security across the continent.

How the prizes will be awarded:

● One grand prize of $150,000 will be awarded to the most viable solution

● Two awards of $75,000 for the most promising solutions

● Two runner-up awards of $50,000 for early stage developments that show potential

Applications may involve a range of digital solutions and must demonstrate how the proposed tool(s) will help smallholder farmers and those that reach them, such as extension agents, monitor, identify, treat or report the incidence of fall armyworm.

The application deadline is 14 May 2018 via https://fallarmywormtech.challenges.org/. The Prize welcomes entries from around the world that are specific to the context of fall armyworm in Africa. Final prize awards will be announced later this year.

● Full terms and conditions and judging criteria are available at fallarmyworm.challenges.org● Prizes are a tried and tested method for supporting innovation. They offer a reward to those who can first or most effectively deliver a defined result. They act as an incentive for meeting a specific target. Prizes are also a means of opening up the process of solving a problem beyond the ‘usual suspects,’ thus facilitating the engagement and participation of anyone who can solve the problem.

● About fall armyworm:

○ Fall armyworm poses a serious threat to Africa’s food security. Native to the Americas, it was first identified in Africa in 2016. It is now present across sub-Saharan Africa in more than 35 countries. It is on the precipice of devastating food staples as it quickly spreads across the continent.

○ Differing from other types of armyworm present on the continent, like African armyworm, it eats the vegetative as well as the reproductive parts of plants, rendering further crop growth impossible.

○ In the Americas it has, to an extent, been contained through the use of genetically modified (GM) seeds and crops alongside judicious pesticide spraying. Many effective and fall armyworm-specific pesticides have been registered for use in the Americas. However, no pesticides have been fully registered specifically for fall armyworm in Africa, resulting in the use of unregistered and illegal pesticides, or pesticides meant to treat other invasive pests.

○ The female fall armyworm can lay up to 1,000 eggs at a time and can produce multiple generations very quickly without pause in tropical environments.

○ If allowed to reach maturity, female fall armyworm moths can fly distances up to 1,600 kilometers in 30 hours (almost 1,000 miles)

About the partners

Feed the Future: Feed the Future, America’s global hunger and food security initiative, aims to transform lives toward a world where people no longer face extreme poverty, undernutrition and hunger. To achieve this, Feed the Future works hand-in-hand with partner countries to develop their agriculture sectors and break the cycle of poverty and hunger.

Land O’Lakes International Development: Land O’Lakes International Development is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that leverages the farm-to-fork expertise of Land O’Lakes, Inc. to unlock the potential of agriculture to empower the developing world. Since 1981, Land O’Lakes International Development has implemented over 300 dairy, livestock and crops development programs in nearly 80 countries.

Nesta’s Challenge Prize Centre: Nesta is a pioneer in the use of prizes to accelerate innovation for public good. Nesta is a global innovation foundation. We back new ideas to tackle the big challenges of our time, making use of our knowledge, networks, funding and skills. We work in partnership with others, including governments, businesses and charities. We are a UK charity that works all over the world, supported by a financial endowment. To find out more visit www.nesta.org.uk. Nesta is a registered charity in England and Wales 1144091 and Scotland SC042833.

Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research: The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization established by bipartisan congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill, builds unique partnerships to support innovative and actionable science addressing today’s food and agriculture challenges. FFAR leverages public and private resources to increase the scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnerships critical to enhancing sustainable production of nutritious food for a growing global population. The FFAR Board of Directors is chaired by Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum, Ph.D., and includes ex officio representation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation.
Learn more: www.foundationfar.org | Connect: @FoundationFAR

DAI Founded in 1970, DAI is a global development company with corporate offices in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Belgium. Named one of the world’s top 40 international development innovators, DAI works on the front lines of international development, tackling fundamental social and economic development problems caused by inefficient markets, ineffective governance, and instability.

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Mastercard appoints new Sub-Saharan Africa Division President
April 4, 2018 | 0 Comments
Raghav Prasad

Raghav Prasad

Sub-Saharan Africa, April 4th 2018 -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Spurred on by the company’s steady growth in Sub-Saharan Africa and in line with its focus on investing in the continent, Mastercard has appointed Raghav Prasad as Division President for Sub-Saharan Africa. Prasad will strengthen the company’s ongoing commitment to delivering value to customers and consumers in Africa by leveraging technology to build stronger and more inclusive payment ecosystems.

Prasad brings his extensive 30-year global financial services and payments industry experience to further Mastercard’s goal of financially including 100 million people by 2020 – an objective that can only be achieved by working with partners across the public and private sectors and by introducing market-relevant digital payment solutions such as Masterpass QR, Mastercard Payment Gateway Services along with its core Debit, Credit, Prepaid and Commercial solutions.

With a proven track record as a leader, Prasad has a deep understanding of the payments sector, and brings unique insights into the region honed while running his own consulting practice focusing on the Middle East and Africa as well as working for global players like Citibank and RBS.

“The influence and true potential of technology is seen on the continent like almost nowhere else in the world. Africa has an amazing advantage of not having invested in legacy infrastructure and can embrace the latest technologies, especially mobile, to transform the payments landscape. Technology innovation is influencing the way consumers engage with the world around them, shaping economies, creating smarter, more connected and financially inclusive cities,” said Prasad.

Mobile continues to act as a critical conduit of growth in Sub-Saharan Africa, currently accounting for nearly a tenth of the global mobile subscriber base and is predicted to grow faster than any other region globally over the next five years. Additionally, the World Bank estimates that over 64 million adults in the region already have a mobile money account – making it the most easily accessible technology for those currently excluded from the formal financial services sector.

It also serves as an increasingly important tool for the continent’s growing youth population. Africa will become the youngest and most populous continent in the next few decades, according to the Africa Development Bank Outlook 2018 Report. Its labour force will expand to nearly two billion in 2063, a trend that is supported by the fact that over 12 million young people join the workforce every year.

Prasad predicts that the demographic dividend of a large young and tech-savvy population will lead to many of these youth starting up businesses of their own, and becoming job creators. “Our work in supporting the MSME sector is critical to our role in Africa, and solutions such as Masterpass QR are turning the tide on cash dependency as well as helping millions of merchants to go digital for the first time. This is more attractive for businesses and consumers alike – and we see youth being a key driver of the adoption of new technologies now, and in the future”

Mastercard (NYSE: MA), www.mastercard.com, is a technology company in the global payments industry. Our global payments processing network connects consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. Mastercard products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone.

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IGD’s U.S. Roadshow Special Reception to Officially Launch Four-City Tour and Announce Partnership with African Development Bank on Africa Investment Forum
April 4, 2018 | 0 Comments

Charles Boamah, Senior Vice-President of the African Development Bank, to deliver remarks on private sector engagement to accelerate Africa’s investment opportunities 

IGD President Mima S. Nedelcovych meets with AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina and leadership team

IGD President Mima S. Nedelcovych meets with AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina and leadership team

WASHINGTON, D.C. – April 4, 2018 –  The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) will officially launch its inaugural Africa Investment Rising Roadshow Tour with a Special Reception on Wednesday, April 18 from 6:00-7:30PM at the Senate Dirksen Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Charles Boamah, Senior Vice-President of the African Development Bank, will announce the Bank’s partnership with IGD on the Africa Investment Forum (AIF), which will take place in early-November in Johannesburg, South Africa. The AIF is an initiative championed by the Bank to actively engage the private sector and to facilitate projects that have the capacity of transforming the continent. Boamah is leading a delegation of Senior Bank Management to the Spring World Bank/IMF Meetings.

Boamah will offer remarks on the U.S. private sector’s role in accelerating Africa’s investment opportunities at the Capitol Hill reception.

The U.S. roadshow tour, “Africa Investment Rising: Building Momentum for Investing in Africa’s Economic Prosperity”, taking place from April 18-May 1, is aimed at re-shaping perceptions on doing business in Africa by bringing trade and investment opportunities to U.S. companies and forging stronger connections between U.S. and African business leaders in key growth sectors.

Launching in Washington, D.C., the roadshow tour will travel to New York Cityto highlight banking, financing, and investment opportunities; Des Moines, IAfor agriculture and agro-industry; and Houston, TX for energy and power.

The full roadshow tour will ultimately culminate in Johannesburg, South Africa, where roadshow attendees are invited to attend the IGD Frontier 100 Forum on Nov. 5-6, followed by the African Development Bank’s Africa Investment Forum (AIF) from Nov. 7-9, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The AIF is designed to enhance private-sector cooperation and drive investment in sectors of strategic interest within Africa.

“IGD is pleased to build on our partnership with the African Development Bank through the U.S. Roadshow Tour to accelerate Africa’s investment opportunities and help attract private capital to the continent,” said Dr. Mima S. Nedelcovych.

“By bringing U.S. investors to the Bank’s investment forum, they will learn firsthand about bankable projects and will have the opportunities to broker deals that will deliver economic transformation in Africa,” said Nedelcovych.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group and USAID’s East Africa and Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hubs are Sponsors of the U.S. Roadshow Tour.

Platinum sponsors as ChevronNorton, Rose and Fulbright LLPIowa State University Research ParkAGCOLilium Capital, and Orrick; Gold sponsors, SasolCorteva AgriscienceEndeavor Energy, and AllAfrica.com as Gold sponsors; and World Food Prize Foundation and Millennium Challenge Corporation as Silver sponsors.

Organizational Partners are PAN Diaspora Capital ManagementHarris Africa Partners/Grant T. Harris, The Serendra Group LLC/Robert van Zwieten, U.S. Bilateral African Chamber of CommerceGlobal Farmer NetworkU.S. Small Business Administration, and Invest Africa.

Media partners are Africa InvestorAfrica.com, Africa Business magazineAfropop WorldwideAlloAfricaNews.comAllAfrica.comAsoko InsightFace2Face Africa,   innov8tiv.comPan-African Visions, and VoxAfrica.
The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) is a Washington, DC-based network of African and global business leaders who are committed to advancing sustainable development and inclusive growth in Africa through business investment. IGD brings together CEOs and senior executives from leading African and global companies through our Frontier Leader Network to catalyze greater business investment and impact on the African continent.

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Israel Reverses Course Hours After Signing U.N. Deal To Resettle African Migrants
April 4, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Sarah Ruiz-Grossman*

Eritrean refugees protest against the Eritrean government outside the nation's embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel, in 2015. (Baz Ratner / Reuters)

Eritrean refugees protest against the Eritrean government outside the nation’s embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel, in 2015. (Baz Ratner / Reuters)

Less than a day after the Israeli government announced a deal with the United Nations’ refugee agency to resettle more than 16,000 African migrants and grant legal status to others, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suspended and then definitively scrapped the deal.

Early on Monday, the Israeli government and the U.N. agency, formally known as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, revealed the outlines of a deal they’d signed concerning the status of more than 34,000 undocumented Eritreans and Sudanese living in Israel. Under the agreement, more than 16,000 would resettle in other countries, largely in Europe. The rest would receive legal status in Israel.

By Monday night, however, Netanyahu had walked back the announcement, saying on Facebook that the deal would be put on hold until further review. On Tuesday, he announced the deal was dead.

“I have listened carefully to the many comments on the agreement. As a result, and after I again weighed the advantages and disadvantages, I decided to cancel the deal,” Netanyahu said, according to a statement.

The Israeli prime minister’s reversal came after a backlash from right-wing politicians and some residents of southern Tel Aviv, where many Eritreans and Sudanese have settled.

Most of the Eritrean and Sudanese people living in Israel have fled war and persecution in their countries of origin. The area of southern Tel Aviv, where many reside, is “economically challenged” with “unemployment and social tension,” UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler told HuffPost on Monday.

Spindler said that Eritrean and Sudanese people in Israel should be considered refugees, not migrants, as they left their homes to escape persecution and war. He also noted that Israel, as the receiving nation, has only in a very few cases processed and officially designated the migrants as refugees.

“It is with regret that UNHCR notes cancellation by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the Israel-UNHCR Agreement,” the U.N. agency wrote in a statement on Tuesday. “We encourage the Government of Israel to consider the matter further, while standing ready to be of help.”

The deal between Israel and the UNHCR, which was to be carried out over the next five years, had rested on the agency’s ability to relocate some 16,000 of the refugees to “developed” countries where the agency has resettlement programs ― including in Europe, the U.S., Canada and Australia, Spindler told HuffPost. As of Monday, no country had officially agreed to take in any of those refugees.

The agreement had also included support services for the African migrants who would be staying legally in Israel, Spindler said, including vocational training to help them find employment beyond southern Tel Aviv.

Per the agreement, Israel would no longer pursue its “non-voluntary relocation policy,” according to a U.N. release.

Earlier this year, Israel had announced a plan to force undocumented African migrants to “voluntarily” leave the country by the end of March or risk being detained. The plan would provide $3,500 to migrants to relocate to countries in sub-Saharan Africa. At the time, the UNHCR criticized the policy as one that left migrants in unsafe conditions. Israel’s high court blocked the policy’s implementation through a temporary order in mid-March.

*Huff Post

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AP Interview: Somaliland president defends UAE military deal
April 4, 2018 | 0 Comments

By MALAK HARB*

Somalia’s breakaway northern region of Somaliland declared its independence nearly three decades ago, but despite having its own currency, parliament and military the predominantly Muslim country hasn’t been recognized by any foreign government.

Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi is hoping to change that by aligning his country’s interests with energy-rich Gulf Arab states eager to expand their military footprint in the Horn of Africa along the vital shipping corridor of Bab al-Mandeb, the entryway to the Red Sea for ships from Asia and oil tankers from the Gulf heading to Europe.

Speaking to The Associated Press in the capital, Hargeisa, on Tuesday, Abdi defended an agreement that allows the United Arab Emirates to establish a military base in Somaliland.

“Our government is not so strong and our zone needs to be protected,” he said. “I think we need a friendly country to have a cooperation with military security, we need it.”

Securing the Horn of Africa has become increasingly important for Gulf countries since March 2015, when a Saudi-led coalition launched a war against Iran-allied rebels in Yemen. On Tuesday, the coalition, which includes the UAE, said the rebels attacked a Saudi oil tanker in the Bab al-Mandeb strait, causing minor damage.

Abdi declined to disclose how many Emirati troops would be based in Somaliland or when construction of the base will be complete. The lease for the base is for 25 years.

“Yes, we are allied to the United Arab Emirates and to Saudi (Arabia),” Abdi said.

“All our business, main assets, are in Dubai. All our imports depend on United Arab Emirates, their ports,” he said. “We have relations of business and economic ties with them, so we are allies with them.”

Abdi, who won elections in November, spoke Tuesday from his office in Somaliland’s capital of Hergeisa, home to around 1 million people. Somaliland is far more peaceful than Somalia, where the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab group carries out frequent attacks.

Except for a Coca-Cola factory outside the largely impoverished city, there are no visible signs of multinational companies. The city, which moves without traffic lights, is not home to any major international hotel chains, American fast food restaurants or bustling shopping malls.

Instead, the country is capitalizing on its strategic location near Bab al-Mandeb.

Somaliland signed an agreement last year with one of the world’s largest port operators, DP World, to operate its Port of Berbera. The agreement with DP World, which is majority-owned by the Dubai government in the UAE, was signed the same year that the UAE’s plans to build a naval base in Berbera were revealed.

It’s the latest example of how DP World’s business dealings in East Africa increasingly mirror the UAE’s military expansion in the region.

The UAE, which is also reportedly building up a long-term military presence in Eritrea, is not the only country with troops in East Africa. Turkey opened a military base in Somalia last year. Neighboring Djibouti is home to a U.S. base that launches drone missions over Somalia and Yemen, as well as a Chinese military base and Japan’s first overseas base since World War II.

Last week, Somalia asked for the United Nations Security Council to intervene to stop the UAE from building the military base in Somaliland. Somalia said the agreement between the Gulf state and Somaliland, which it refers to as the “Northwestern Region of Somalia,” was made without the consent of Somalia’s government and is in “clear violation of international law.”

Somaliland’s minister of foreign affairs, Saad Ali Shire, said his country’s alliance with the UAE is a sign of the growing “realization that Somaliland should be recognized.”

“We feel that we have the right to be recognized. We have the right for self-determination under the U.N. charter,” Shire told the AP. “That’s a fact which I think everybody should recognize, and perhaps the UAE is finally coming around to recognize that fact as well.”

DP World’s recent expansion into Somaliland creates an alternative corridor for imports for landlocked Ethiopia, a country of 110 million people and the largest economy in the Horn of Africa. Cargo going to Ethiopia currently constitutes 15 percent of Berbera port’s operations.

DP World holds a 51 percent stake in the port, Somaliland holds a 30 percent stake and Ethiopia holds the remaining 19 percent.

DP World operations in Berbera threaten Djibouti’s near monopoly on Ethiopia’s imports and exports. Djibouti’s port provides Ethiopia with more than 95 percent of Ethiopia’s imports.

The deal with Somaliland prompted Djibouti to abruptly end DP World’s contract for its Doraleh container terminal in February.

DP World’s Berbera operations manager, Ali Ismail Mahamoud, acknowledged that the port is a competitor in East Africa. He spoke to the AP on a recent visit to the port.

“Whenever you open a port near another port which is close to it, definitely you have to be competitive. (We are) not purely competitive with Djibouti, but I would define it as we have to be competitive,” he said.

*AP

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Africa’s premier investment marketplace to accelerate continent’s economic transformation
April 4, 2018 | 0 Comments

To help Africa find the path to its long-deserved economic fortune, the African Development Bank is championing the region’s premier investment market.

The Bank is providing collaborative leadership for a new 100% transactional initiative – the Africa Investment Forum (AIF) – which provides Africa’s best opportunity so far to encourage accelerated economic transformation.

The African Development Bank is working with the world’s leading financial institutions to de-risk investment through the platform and make it a springboard for Africa’s economic transformation.

The President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, told key Government and private sector leaders at a breakfast session on the sidelines of the 2018 Africa CEO Forum in Abidjan on March 27, 2018, that the AIF would be exclusively about transactions and investment deals.

“This is not a talk shop. There will be no political speeches. It provides an open platform to organise efforts among multilateral institutions, governments and private sector to improve a pipeline of projects capable of transforming the continent,” he said.

The first Africa Investment Forum will be held from November 7-9, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. It will then be held yearly to enable and facilitate interactions to broker and accelerate deals, for candid discussions with policy-makers to shape the business and regulatory environment, as well as to track the implementation of commitments.

Adesina noted that the cost of doing business in Africa is improving.

“Last year, and the year before, at least 30% of all the business and regulatory reforms that were done globally were not done in Asia. They were not in Latin America. They were done in Africa. If you look at what is happening in terms of foreign direct investments coming to Africa, it continues to rise. Why are they rising? This is because of the greater political stability that is found on the continent,” he said. “So there is a lot of optimism about our continent and in fact there is a discussion among our leaders towards an Africa beyond aid.”

He highlighted Africa’s human and material resources, stressing how they could be harnessed to make Africa the powerhouse of the world. “I think that the sovereign wealth of Africa is actually not being invested in Africa. It is being invested outside of Africa. And if Africa doesn’t invest enough, then who is going to invest? One of the reasons this happens is because people have a perception of risk. But the issue is not risk. It is about how you manage risk.”

On the AIF platform are the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, among others, who are working with the African Development Bank to set up a “mutualized co-guarantee platform” to de-risk investments.

“We also have those that are working on pipelines – Africa50 and others – that are very actively involved in this,” Adesina said.

Ghana’s Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, stressed that the bond market should be a strong part of the new move to mobilize resources for Africa’s economic transformation and lauded the idea of the African Development Bank and partners coming together through AIF to de-risk investment.

“The reality for the world is that Africa has to be, and will be, the best place to invest in future. What do we do for ourselves so that we unlock our own potential for investments? I think the emphasis now is on increasing infrastructure so that we open up the continent for investment opportunities to be properly exploited,” he said.

The Chief Executive Officer of one Africa’s largest distributor of consumer goods, Massmart, Kuseni Dlamini, called attention to the need for Africa to move from risk to opportunities and to take advantage of the many investment opportunities presented on the continent.

“The time to talk transaction is indeed now. I think that Africa has a lot to offer and we need to take advantage of opportunities,” he said.

Tigui Camara, Chief Executive Officer of Tigui Mining Company, said she was delighted that the African Development Bank was leading the investment initiative and called for more support for women in the informal sector.

Alain Ebobissé, the Chief Executive Officer of Africa50 – the Pan-African infrastructure investment platform – called on African Governments to create the right environment to attract investors to the continent.

The breakfast session was well attended by top Government officials, industry leaders and financial institutions, including the President of African Export–Import Bank (Afreximbank), Dr. Benedict Okey Oramah.

The Africa Investment Forum will focus on improving the ease of doing business in Africa by advancing and promoting investment-friendly regulation. It will also champion ethical business practices in Africa.

*AFDB

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ENGIE and Fenix complete acquisition to bring affordable power to the last mile across Africa
April 4, 2018 | 0 Comments
This partnership will accelerate and expand Fenix’s ability to scale off-grid energy and financial services
KAMPALA, Uganda, April 3, 2018/ — Global utility company ENGIE (www.Engie-Africa.com) and off-grid energy leader Fenix International (www.FenixIntl.com) have closed their acquisition agreement today. Fenix is the first Solar Home System “SHS” company to join a major worldwide energy company and has already delivered clean, safe and affordable energy and financial services to over one million people.

ENGIE and Fenix have ambitious targets to reach millions of households across Africa and this partnership will accelerate and expand Fenix’s ability to scale off-grid energy and financial services. Fenix will gain access to ENGIE’s supply chain, expertise, long-term capital investments and talent across the energy value chain.

Aligned with ENGIE’s core values, the Fenix team and mission will remain unchanged and at the heart of the company.  Fenix headquarters and key offices are anchored in Africa, close to their customers and operations, so that Fenix can continue its pursuit of an exceptional customer experience.

Bruno Bensasson, CEO of ENGIE Africa, said: “Closing this acquisition gives us the go-ahead to accelerate access to energy through Fenix’s strong solar home system model. Until now, availability of capital has been a major hurdle in the solar home system business, a constraint that we are now helping to remove.

We believe this is a major step along the path to universal energy access. The dramatically falling price of solar panels and batteries, combined with the inclusive “pay-as-you-go” financing platform created by Fenix, make solar home systems a key part of the energy mix for Africa’s future in combination with grid extension and micro-grids.”

Lyndsay Handler, CEO of Fenix International, said, “It’s unacceptable that over 600 million people across Africa lack access to energy. By joining forces with ENGIE, we aim to bring affordable energy and other life-changing products to millions of people living off-grid.

Realizing this ambitious vision will require significant commercial investment and innovation in product, last-mile distribution, inclusive financing and customer experience. With this agreement, ENGIE will provide the support, expertise and opportunities the Fenix team needs to innovate in these areas and rapidly scale the business.”

Fenix’s flagship product, ReadyPay Power, is one of the most affordable solar home systems on the off-grid market. Customers pay as little as $0.19 per day to access power for lighting, phone charging, and products such as TVs and radios. After 24-36 months of payments, customers own the solar home system outright. Based on the credit score customers establish while paying off their power systems, they are able to purchase upgrades to their energy system, energy-efficient appliances, or other life-changing financial products.

ReadyPay Power, by providing off-grid families with clean, affordable energy and a safer home environment, is a natural fit with ENGIE’s goal to provide decarbonised, decentralised energy using the latest digital technologies.

As Fenix officially joins the ENGIE group of companies, Lyndsay comments: “It is a privilege to be a part of a bold global energy company with over 50 years’ experience with energy in Africa.  Over 100 years ago, Ford set out on a mission to make cars affordable in America. MTN have made telecommunications and Mobile Money affordable to all across Africa, and today Tesla is working to make rockets and electric cars affordable. Together, Fenix and ENGIE want to make modern energy radically affordable to all.”

Fenix (www.FenixIntl.com) is a next-generation, end-to-end renewable energy company that does eve-rything from design, manufacturing, sales, financing and customer service. Fenix’s flagship product, ReadyPay Power, is an expandable, lease-to-own home solar system financed through ultra-affordable instalments over Mobile Money. Fenix uses real-time transaction data to create a next-generation credit score to finance power upgrades or other life-changing loans. To date, Fenix has sold over 180,000 ReadyPay Power systems and is growing its product portfolio and geographic coverage to bring power and a wider world of financing to millions of customers by 2020. Fenix is an awardee of Scaling Off-Grid Energy: A Grand Challenge for Development. Scaling Off-Grid Energy is a global partnership founded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, Power Africa, the U.K. Department for International Development’s Energy Africa campaign, and the Shell Foundation – a UK-registered charity. The Grand Challenge for Development aims to extend energy access to 20 million households across sub-Saharan Africa through off-grid household solar solutions.
Fenix was advised by Enclude and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati on this transaction.

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Khama leaves the stage after a successful preservation of Botswana democracy
April 3, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

Like his predecessors,Khama has set a new standard for African leaders to follow

Like his predecessors,Khama has set a new standard for African leaders to follow

On the 1st of April 2008, Ian Khama rose to assume the reigns of the most powerful office in Botswana. While giving his inauguration speech, Ian Khama stated that he never had the desire to become a President nor to assume a political office but was persuaded. He, however, acknowledged the task at hand, maintaining Africa’s best model of democracy and helping to improve the plight of the rural poor as had been done by his predecessor in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Ian Khama’s time in office was going to be a tough one and he knew it. In order to effectively address all of the areas that needed his attention, Ian Khama on his inauguration outlined the 5Ds i.e. Democracy, Discipline, Development, Dignity, and Delivery.

Assuming office, Ian Khama already had critics. Khama’s critics increased during the time when he was the country’s Vice President and the Minister for Presidential Affairs. During that time, he was termed an authoritarian who didn’t take kindly to opposition. In supporting their claims, critics cited the way he clamped down on ‘Dikgang tsa palamente.’ The programme aired the comments of MPs and encouraged debate among the populace. Khama also faced criticism in that he ordered without permission to be flown around the country by BDF choppers in violation of the BDF Act.

Despite his shortcomings during his time as the Vice President, Khama was determined to become a success during his time as President and this is how he leaves the country.

Domestically

On the political front, Khama strayed away from the status quo. Rather than leading in the way his predecessors had done in the past, Khama was more of an executive president who liked the executive ‘part’ of his job. Not clamping down on human rights or violating Botswana’s democracy, he ruled the country with a firm hand something Botswana citizens had not experienced before. Khama was media shy at least when it came to debates and other like events, during the times he would be covered by the media, often times he was visiting the rural poor playing to traditional songs and pampering them with goodies. While Botswana nationals had not been used to the firm hand Khama ruled with, he still managed to preserve the country’s democracy. Khama’s past as the commander of the BDF can be used in his defence for his firmness.

Economically, Ian Khama inherited an economy that was one of the biggest in Africa. Credit to him, he not only managed to maintain the strong economy but further developed it. Leaving Botswana on a far stronger standing, the country’s economy is expected to grow by 5.3 percent this year from last year’s 4.7 percent. The country’s economy has largely been aided by the recovery in the global economy in relation to mining.

On other fronts, Khama managed to do his bit in helping to stop the spread of rural poverty. Botswana’s disparity between the rich/middle class and the rural poor had been increasing for a decade or so before Khama’ tenure. Though he failed to eliminate rural poverty, the foundations he put in place will be a good start for his successor, Mokgweetsi Masisi. Khama also worked hard to electrify parts of rural Botswana which still relied on primitive energy such as firewood.

Internationally

While Khama’s firmness in Botswana may have resulted in him getting more enemies, the exact opposite did happen in the international sphere as his firmness made him more friends especially on the African continent. Khama was not shy to tell neighbouring Zimbabwe’s the then leader, Robert Mugabe that his time was up at a time when all other African presidents could not utter a word but instead showered the authoritarian leader with praises for his outspokenness.

Khama was not fazed by personality or the strength of a nation, while Zimbabwe’s new leader said his response to the US president, Donald Trump comments on Africa as a shithole continent was in solidarity with the African Union (AU)’s response and could not give his own (something also said by many other African countries), Khama took it upon himself to issue a strongly worded response to the US President.

In all, Ian Khama brought a new leadership style to Botswana politically, and even though some of the country’s citizens may not have liked it, all he did was for their good and benefit.

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A legacy like no other: Winnie Mandela 1936 to 2018
April 3, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

Winnie Mandela

Winnie Mandela

South Africa’s anti-Apartheid icon, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has died. Winnie who was the face of the blacks’ struggle against the ruthless white regime in pre-independent South Africa succumbed to a long illness at the Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg aged 81.

Victor Dlamini, the Madikizela family spokesman said Winnie who was affectionately known as the ‘Mother of the Nation’, “succumbed peacefully in the early hours of Monday afternoon surrounded by her family and loved ones” following a long illness, which had seen her go in and out of hospital since the start of the year.

Anti-Apartheid Activist- Before 1994

In 1936 in the small town of Bizana in Transkei (Eastern Cape), a girl by the name of Winnie Madikizela was born. Unbeknown to many at the time, Winnie was going to be the face of the struggle against white minority rule. When she reached the age of 22 in 1957, she met Nelson Mandela, a lawyer who was at the forefront in the fight against Apartheid. The two romantic flirtations grew quickly and they married a year later.

Their union was however cut short by the government as Nelson Mandela was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964. Left alone, Winnie was left with a daunting task, not just to look after the family but to champion for his husband’s release and to spearhead the campaign against Apartheid. For any other woman, this would have been a task too much to handle but not for the feisty Winnie. She took her newly found responsibilities with gusto.

Leading the struggle against white rule from the front, Winnie organised rallies and protests. Her action made her an enemy of the white government. She was ultimately arrested in 1976 and spent much of her time in prison in solitary confinement. In 1976, she was banished to a small town where she lived in solitary confinement.

The government thought they were going to break Winnie by putting her in solitary confinement. Instead, their actions only hardened the resolve of Winnie, she came out of prison more determined to fight her oppressors. In her own words after leaving prison, Winnie said, “ The years of imprisonment hardened me … Perhaps if you have been given a moment to hold back and wait for the next blow, your emotions wouldn’t be blunted as they have been in my case. When it happens every day of your life when that pain becomes a way of life … there is no longer anything I can fear. There is nothing the government has not done to me. There isn’t any pain I haven’t known.”

Start of the controversy

Winnie just like all other humans was not flawless, she was subjected to some criticism in her life. The first controversial moment came soon after her release from prison. While addressing thousands of Anti-Apartheid supporters in Soweto, she boldly stated that “Together, hand-in-hand, with our boxes of matches and our necklaces we shall liberate this country.” This was in reference to necklacing, a painful method used by the ANC to eliminate those accused of treason amongst its ranks by inserting a petrol-filled burning tyre around the neck of a ‘sell-out’.

Winnie Mandela

Winnie Mandela

Winnie also had a team of personal bodyguards known as the Mandela United Football Team (MUFC). In 1989, Winnie’s MUFC was accused of killing a 14-year-old boy, Stompie Seipei. The case attracted wide media coverage but Winnie herself was found not guilty of murdering the young boy by the courts but was found guilty of a lesser crime, kidnapping. For her role, she was sentenced to 6 years in prison but did not serve the term as it was suspended for a fine.

Winnie had to face massive criticism for her role in the murder of Stompie Seipei but she vehemently denied any involvement. Perhaps the most severe criticisms came from revered Archbishop Desmond Tutu after South Africa had gained its independence in 1994 during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) hearings. Tutu begged Winnie to apologise for Stompie’s death but she refused. Since that day, Winnie said she hasn’t forgiven Tutu for forcing her to apologise for an act she knew nothing about. Until her time of death, Winnie had not forgiven Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Winnie was however exonerated of any wrongdoing or involvement in Stompie’s death when Jerry Richardson, the team coach for Winnie’s MUFC confessed to murdering Stompie. Stompie and Richardson were allegedly police informers who also worked for Winnie. Richardson stated that he killed Stompie after he had threatened to expose him to Winnie. Richardson was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison but died in prison in 2009.

Winnie also had confrontations with the law later on in post-independent South Africa with the standout coming in 2005 when she was alleged to have defrauded a bank and involved in corrupt practises. She never faced jail time.

The last of Winnie’s feisty nature was seen during the xenophobic attacks of 2008 when foreigners in South Africa were subjected to torture. Winnie stood on the side of foreigners against the perpetrators of xenophobic violence.

Relationship with Nelson Mandela

Winnie and Nelson were married for 38 years but they spent much of that time separate as Nelson spent 27 years behind bars. The two divorced in 1996, two years after Nelson became South Africa’s first black president. The real reasons behind the divorce were never divulged but it’s suggested in some quarters that Winnie had become too radical for the reformed Nelson Mandela and that she was involved in an affair during the time Nelson was in jail. Winnie kept Nelson’s surname after the divorce and they both kept close contact with her visiting Nelson almost on a daily basis before his death in 2013.

The family of the late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela is yet to release burial details.

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President Xi hails Mugabe’s successor as ‘old friend of China’
April 3, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Ben Dooley*

Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa (L) stands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on April 3, 2018 Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa (L) stands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on April 3, 2018 (AFP Photo/Greg BAKER)

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa (L) stands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on April 3, 2018
Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa (L) stands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on April 3, 2018 (AFP Photo/Greg BAKER)

President Xi Jinping greeted Zimbabwean counterpart Emmerson Mnangagwa as an “old friend” of China on Tuesday as the African leader visited Beijing, which previously backed his ousted predecessor Robert Mugabe.

Mnangagwa, who received military training in China when he was a young liberation fighter in the 1960s, was met with a military honour guard at the Great Hall of the People on his first state visit outside of Africa.

The two leaders oversaw the signing of six documents, including a letter on economic and development cooperation and another on emergency food assistance, as Mnanangwa seeks help from a major ally with historic ties to Zimbabwe.

“I heartily welcome President Mnangagwa on his visit to Beijing,” Xi said as the two sat down for talks.

“You are an old friend of China and I appreciate your efforts to develop relations in all areas,” he said.

Mugabe sacked Mnangagwa from his job as vice president in November over a succession tussle with the first lady Grace Mugabe, leading to a military intervention that culminated with the veteran president’s ousting and Mnangagwa taking office.

The country’s then-army chief, General Constantino Chiwenga, had visited Beijing shortly before the military action, leading to questions about whether China had any role in the power transfer.

Chiwenga was named vice president in December. China denied it played any part in the transition.

Beijing had long been one of Mugabe’s most powerful allies and a major trade partner, as the West shunned him over his government’s human rights violations, but it avoided publicly taking sides during his ousting.

“Last November Zimbabwe achieved a peaceful, smooth transfer of power that was broadly recognised by the international community,” Xi said.

“I am willing to work with Mr. president (Mnangagwa) to jointly map out our future cooperation and write a new chapter in China-Zimbabwe relations for the benefit of our two peoples.”

Mnangagwa, wearing a scarf in the the colours of Zimbabwe’s flag, told Xi he appreciated China’s “political support and goodwill” following the “peaceful political transition in Zimbabwe”.

– ‘Socialism with Zimbabwean characteristics’ –

Mnangagwa has also been accused of playing a key role in his mentor Mugabe’s authoritarian regime that left the economy in ruins and under sanctions.

He was targeted by EU and US measures imposed on Mugabe and his close allies over violence and intimidation during Zimbabwe’s 2008 presidential campaign.

The visit comes as China takes a more proactive role in Africa, where it has long invested in infrastructure projects and sought resources. It has recently built its first overseas military base in Djibouti.

Relations between China and Zimbabwe date back to the liberation struggle of the 1960s, when Beijing provided arms and trained some of the top guerrilla leaders including Mnangagwa.

Before his arrival on Monday, Mnangagwa told China’s official Xinhua news agency that his trip was aimed at thanking Xi and the Chinese people for supporting his country “during the hard times when the West imposed sanctions on us”.

He said he would seek to sell Zimbabwe as a destination for Chinese investment and take part in economic forums aimed at attracting business to the country.

Zimbabwe was China’s largest foreign supplier of tobacco, with some 40 percent of the product imported by the Asian country coming from the African nation.

China also set up a joint venture with Zimbabwe in a diamond mining company, but Mugabe announced the nationalisation of the nation’s diamond mines in 2016.

Chinese companies have also been involved in projects to install a cellular phone network, expand a hydropower station and build a coal-fired power plant.

Mnangagwa will meet Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday, then visit the eastern provinces of Anhui and Zhejiang before his visit ends on Friday.

The Zimbabwean leader gave a nod to his host’s political philosophy, “Xi Jinping thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era.”

“I will take this mantra to Zimbabwe and hope to develop some socialism in Zimbabwe with Zimbabwean characteristics,” he said.

*AFP

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Veteran Egypt goalkeeper El-Hadary eyes World Cup history
April 3, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Tarek Talaat

Egypt's Essam El-Hadary, 45, would become the oldest man to play at a World Cup if he features at Russia 2018

Egypt’s Essam El-Hadary, 45, would become the oldest man to play at a World Cup if he features at Russia 2018

Egypt goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary, who at 45 could become the oldest man to play at a World Cup, says he hopes his story inspires others to follow their dreams.

El-Hadary is desperate to make Egypt’s squad for Russia where he hopes to make his World Cup debut.

“I’m very happy to play at the World Cup, and that is a message to all footballers and others around the world, that you should believe in your dreams and fight to make them come true,” El-Hadary told BBC Sport.

“My age is 45 years old, but for me, this is just a number on paper.

“I train hard every day, I don’t know what the word ‘impossible’ means. I will keep fighting until the World Cup to have the chance to play and defend my homeland colours,” he added.

Faryd Mondragon of Colombia became the oldest man to play at the World Cup when he featured against Japan in Brazil in 2014 aged 43 years and 3 days.

El-Hadary, who currently plays for Al-Taawoun FC in the Saudi Professional League, says his late father’s memory is pushing him to break that record.

“My father who passed away told me that his dream is to watch me playing at a World Cup and I want to make my dad proud.

“I’ve won many titles, but I have not played at a World Cup and this is the dream I want to make true, that is my main objective.”

Egypt team
Essam El-Hadary was part of the Egypt side which beat Congo Brazzaville 2-1 to qualify for the Russia World Cup.

Egypt qualified for the World Cup thanks to a 95th minute penalty from Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah in a 2-1 victory over Congo Brazzaville.

El-Hadary says Salah’s phenomenal season has motivated the whole Egyptian side.

“I’m so proud of what Mohamed Salah keeps doing – he’s started a new era for Egyptian players.

“He changed the way that Egyptian players think and now many players have decided to search for clubs in Europe – even small clubs.

“They want to follow in Salah’s steps because what he’s done will make many clubs around the world trust in Egyptian players.”

Egypt have been drawn in Group A for the World Cup where they will face hosts Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay.

“All the teams in our group are very strong. Saudi Arabia is an Arabic team and our matches with them will be very interesting, so it will not be easy.

“Russia will play in front of their fans and in their grounds, and when you talk about Uruguay you talk about an amazing team and big names like Edinson Cavani and Luis Suárez, so it will not be easy at all.”

*BBC

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