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Winners for Africa’s Top Real Estate Developments Announced at The 10th API Summit
October 10, 2019 | 0 Comments
The winning developments, project teams and professionals came from Ghana, Kenya, Zambia, Nigeria, Mozambique, Namibia, Mauritius and Rwanda
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, October 9, 2019/ — Property developers, suppliers and owners were provided an opportunity to showcase their best projects and services from across sub-Saharan Africa at the annual Africa Property Investment (API) (www.APIEvents.com) Awards which were on held on  the  2nd of October 2019, at a gala networking dinner held at the exclusive Alice & Fifth Restaurant. s

A key component of the 10th API Summit, Africa’s largest investment and real estate development, the Awards, now in their third year, recognised innovation and outstanding achievement across the entire property industry across 13 categories. The categories covered projects and the leaders shaping the future of Africa’s real estate sector. These categeries covered: Retail, Office, Mixed Use, Green Building, Hotel, Alternative Asset, Architectural Design, Banking, High-end residential, Logistics and best women in Property.

The winning developments, project teams and professionals came from Ghana, Kenya, Zambia, Nigeria, Mozambique, Namibia, Mauritius and Rwanda, and critically provided a moment of peer recognition for completed projects, says the managing Director of API Events’ Kfir Rusin.

The projects were judged on a wide range of criteria including location, infrastructure and transport access, integration into the environment, originality of the concept, technical and architectural quality, services offered, sensitivity to the local community, innovation, sustainability, corporate staff involvement, response to market demands, financial performance, occupancy, and the impact of the project on economic convergence.

Kfir Rusin, Managing Director of API Events: “We congratulate all the winners and finalists as well as their respective project teams. They have set an exceptionally high standard for real estate developments across sub-Saharan Africa and continue to shape the African built environment landscape. API Events is proud to be associated with these companies and wishes to aid in further pushing the boundaries of excellence for African property development.”

The calibre of entries was world class and the panel of judges had a challenging time selecting the winners, nevertheless they managed to hone in on the worthy projects. Here are the winners for each category from the  2019 Africa Property Investment Awards.

The 3rd Annual API Awards WinnersBEST AFFORDABLE HOUSINGKaribu Homes | Nairobi, KenyaBEST ARCHITECTURAL DESIGNTatu City Education Village (Crawford International School) | Nairobi, Kenya
           Project Team Award Winner: Boogertman+Partners ArchitectsBEST COMMERCIAL OFFICE DEVELOPMENTSU Tower | Accra, Ghana          Project Team Awarded Winner: Boogertman+Partners Architects,BEST GREEN BUILDINGMon Tresor Business Gateway – Office Park | Plaine Magnien, Mauritius
           Project team Award Winner: Omnicane LtdBEST HIGH-END RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENTPurple Haze | Nairobi, Kenya​ 
            Project team Award Winner: Dewbury LimitedBEST HOTEL DEVELOPMENTHilton Garden Inn Mbabane| Mbabane, eSwatini
           Project team Award Winner: Paragon ArchitectsTOP AFRICAN REAL ESTATE BANK OF THE YEARNedbank CIBBEST RETAIL DEVELOPMENTEast Park Mall | Lusaka, Zambia
           Project team Award Winner: Graduare Property Development LimitedBEST MIXED-USE DEVELOPMENTAppolonia City| Accra, Ghana​           Project Team Award Winner: RendeavourBEST INDUSTRIAL & LOGISTICS DEVELOPMENTAgility Logistics Parks| Maputo, Mozambique
            Project team Award Winner:  Agility AfricaYOUNG PROPERTY PERSON OF THE YEARNeltah Mosimanegape | Tempest Gold, BotswanaWOMEN IN AFRICAN REAL ESTATEOluwatosin Ajose | Deal HQ Partners, Nigeria BEST PROPERTY TECHNOLOGY AWARDLand Layby, Nigeria

The Africa Property Investment Summit & Expo (API) is Africa’s largest and most premier real estate event. It connects the most influential local and international Africa property stakeholders, driving investment and development into a wide range of real estate and infrastructure projects and developments across the continent.

The awards were created to recognize the following characteristics:

RECOGNISE: To recognize and reward excellence in the real estate and associated sectors.

ENCOURAGE: To encourage innovative real estate solutions within the industry.

ENHANCE: To enhance quality standards.

PROMOTE: To promote confidence in the real estate and property industry.

SAFEGUARD: To safeguard and strengthen interest of stakeholders in the industry.

PROVIDE: To provide a strategic and reputable platform of interaction for the different stakeholders in the industry.

About API Events:
API Events (www.APIEvents.com) deliver Africa’s most renowned events in real estate investment and development. Our events across the continent have become the ultimate meeting places for Africa’s property market to learn, network and most importantly to do deals. The company also hosts the API Awards – these prestigious awards provide a platform for distinguished developers, suppliers and owners in the African real estate industry, to showcase their best projects and services. Other services provided by API Events include training programmes and the recently launched Skyline Magazine. 

About API Events:
The Africa Property Investment Summit & Expo (API) is Africa’s largest and most premier real estate event. It connects the most influential local and international Africa property stakeholders, driving investment and development into a wide range of real estate and infrastructure projects and developments across the continent.

API Events (www.APIEvents.com) deliver Africa’s most renowned events in real estate investment and development. Our events across the continent have become the ultimate meeting places for Africa’s property market to learn, network and most importantly to do deals. The company also hosts the API Awards – these prestigious awards provide a platform for distinguished developers, suppliers and owners in the African real estate industry, to showcase their best projects and services. Other services provided by API Events include training programmes and the recently launched Skyline Magazine. 
SOURCE API Events


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African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina receives Emeka Anyaoku lifetime achievement award
October 10, 2019 | 0 Comments
Adesina
The Hallmarks of Labour Foundation presented the Outstanding International Icon Award to Adesina at a ceremony held in Lagos on October 6th
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, October 9, 2019/ — Former Commonwealth Secretary-General Emeka Anyaoku has presented a Lifetime Achievement Award to the African Development Bank (AfDB.org) President Akinwumi Adesina, describing him and the Bank’s work as “ legendary, unprecedented and worthy of emulation.”

The Hallmarks of Labour Foundation presented the Outstanding International Icon Award to Adesina at a ceremony held in Lagos on October 6th.

The Hallmarks of Labour Foundation is a non-profit that recognizes Africans who have achieved success through hard work, honesty, integrity, and justice in every field of human endeavour. Previous beneficiaries of the award include Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka.

Thanking the foundation for the recognition, Adesina said that the African Development Bank had helped 181 million people directly through its investments in the past four years

“There is still much to do. We have gone some way, climbing the steep mountainside of Africa’s development, yet there’s still a long way to go until we reach the mountaintop,” he told the gathering of top government officials, industry leaders, and diplomats.

The Bank has connected 16 million people to electricity and provided 70 million people with improved agricultural technologies to achieve food security. The African Development Bank also gave 9 million people access to finance from private sector companies, provided 55 million people access to improved transport, and 31 million people with water and sanitation.

Adesina congratulated his fellow awardees and urged them to be relentless in their efforts to build humanity. 

“Recognition is never the expectation or endgame when you are passionate about your work. But when one’s modest contributions and efforts are found worthy of honor, it is both a surprise and a delight,” he noted.
*AFDB

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INAUGURAL “SAUDI MEDIA FORUM” SET TO DRAW OVER 1000 GLOBAL MEDIA PROFESSIONALS
October 10, 2019 | 0 Comments
  • Fake news, the changing face of journalism and how to keep print media alive in the digital age, are some of the key topics to come under the spotlight at the forum
  • The first-of-its-kind media event will be held in the Saudi capital from December 2-3, 2019

Riyadh, KSA – October 08, 2019: One of the Kingdom’s key independent civil societies, The Saudi Journalists Association (SJA), and the organizers of the inaugural “Saudi Media Forum” (SMF), have announced that the event is well-positioned to attract more than 1000 media leaders and professionals from around the world.

Held under the theme “Media Industry: Opportunities and Challenges” the 2-day forum in Riyadh from December 2-3, will have a wide number of panels, workshops, and meetings that have been curated around discussing the media industry today and bringing together intellectual, cultural, and media leaders each year. The forum seeks to facilitate the exchange of ideas, and to provide a platform where meaningful dialogue can be initiated. It is an annual meeting of the sector’s key players that aims to leave a remarkable and long-lasting impact on the media industry, in the region and beyond.

The selected theme of the forum is centered around viewing media as an interconnected industry and system, now facing the most difficult period in its history in terms of challenges regarding structuring and the media economy. Today’s media is an industry with tremendous opportunity that emerged as a result of the information revolution and rapid digital developments. The Saudi Media Forum represents a chance to learn about innovative, international experiences that have managed to adapt to changes across the industry, and across media platforms.

“We believe that the media industry as a whole is facing major changes and challenges today. Having a strong media presence within this environment is important for any country, as it is essential and an effective means of soft power that can influence real change at home and abroad. The more media is considered effective and influential, the greater the effectiveness of the community it represents,” says Mohammed Fahad Al-Harthi, President of the Saudi Media Forum.

Some of the key topics that will soon come under the spotlight at the Saudi Media Forum include the war against fake news, the changing face of journalism and how to keep print media alive in a digital age, in addition to other key pressing topics and issues facing the industry.

“The Forum will act as a key platform for local media professionals to get exposure to media expertise and competencies from many countries. It will also give foreign media an opportunity to learn about Saudi Arabia’s true fiber, particularly in regard to the social and economic changes transforming the kingdom today,” explains Al Harthi.

The inaugural Saudi Media Forum will also be the launch-pad for the Saudi Media Awards. The award categories include both print and digital media, as well as audiovisual production, in a move by the Saudi Journalists Association to encourage competition and invigorate the spirit of innovation and creativity in the media industry.

“We still have a long way to go. However, initiatives such as the Saudi Media Forum and the Saudi Media Awards are a step in the right direction towards the development of the media industry in Saudi Arabia and across the region. Through combined efforts and real-world knowledge exchange, we will continue to enhance Arab media as a whole, build a unique platform in which the changing paradigms of media are tackled, eventually affecting overall quality and freedom of press,” concluded Al Harthi.

About the Saudi Media Forum:

The Saudi Media Forum is an initiative launched by the Saudi Journalists Association, one of the Kingdom’s key civil societies, independent from the government, with an elected board of directors. The Forum acts as an important platform for media professionals and intellectuals to discuss, debate, and exchange opinions and share knowledge and expertise on the industry’s most challenging issues and explore opportunities for improvements and best practices.

For more information on the Saudi Media Forum or on the Saudi Media Awards submissions, please visit: https://saudimf.com/en/

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African Diaspora Endorses the Continental Free Trade Agreement
October 9, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Organizers and Panelists after the Trade and Development Project session. L-R, Gregory Simpkins, Senior Advisor at USAID, Hope Sullivan, Consultant, OIC of America, Andrew Gelfuso, VP Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center,  Angelle Kwemo, Founder and President of Believe in Africa Foundation, Martin Ezemma Dir of Int Business PG Cty Economic Development Corporation, Felix Obi Commissioner Economic & International Development Task Force MD Governor’s office of Community Initiatives, and Dr Malcom Beech, President Africa Business League -America

A major outcome of the recent Making African Trade Easy Forum in Washington, DC was the resounding endorsement from the African Diaspora towards both the Prosper Africa initiative and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCTA).

At the heavily attended event, policy experts, trade professionals, government officials, and other participants agreed that with its enormous potentials, much was still needed for Africa to enjoy the game changing benefits of trade. In this light, the groundbreaking development in the creation and rapid ratification of the African Continental Trade Agreement was hailed as a harbinger of hope for the future.

Speaking at the event, African Union Trade and Industry Commissioner Albert Muchanga said Africa means business in every sense of the word with the AFCFTA. Typically, agreements like the AFCFTA take about five years to ratify, but within a year of its creation, a majority of African countries have ratified it with the exception of Eritrea which is still working on doing so. Commissioner Muchanga harped on the great work that has been put in, and the myriad of benefits that effective implementation could have on the people of Africa. Speaking with great optimism, Mr Muchanga said political will from the leaders was strong, and there was overwhelming support from Africans across the continent for the AFCFTA. With its Secretariat in Ghana, Mr Muchanga lauded the partnership of institutions like the African Development Bank and financial institutions like the Afrexim Bank, a cosponsor of MATE 2019, which are helping to put the AFCFTA on the right path.

The Award to AU President Moussa Faki was received by African Union Trade and Industry Commissioner Albert Muchanga,(L) flanked here by Gregory Simpkins, Senior Advisor at USAID and Angelle Kwemo, Founder and President of Believe in Africa Foundation. Photo Adam Ouologuem

In appreciation and salute of the progress and renewed optimism that the AFCFTA is bringing to the continent, the African Diaspora represented by Angelle Kwemo Founder and President of Believe in Africa Foundation expressed satisfaction,and encouraged African leaders to do all to ensure that the AFCFTA lives up to its game changing potentials for the continent. 

A seasoned international Trade Professional and Chair of the organizing committee of MATE 2019, Angelle Kwemo presented an award to African Union President Moussa Faki in recognition of the great work that he and his team have put in towards making free trade a reality in Africa. The African diaspora with all its potential will throw its weight behind the AFCFTA and do its part to ensure that it works for the benefit of Africa and its partners,said Angelle Kwemo. 

Accepting the award on behalf of AU President Moussa Faki, Trade and Industry Commissioner Muchanga expressed gratitude for the recognition. The leadership of AUC Faki has been instrumental in facilitating progress made by the AFCFTA, and the award will spur them to keep up the hard work, Commissioner Muchanga said. All hands must be on deck for the AFCFTA to succeed, and the diaspora remains one of the most important partners Commissioner said Commissioner Muchanga.

Equally recognized with awards were prominent business leader ‘Samba Bathily, founder of ADS Group who received the “Pan-African Award for his investments across the continent, and Dr Gloria Herndon, Founder GH Global Group with the Africa Diaspora Award.

Dr Gloria Herndon, Founder GH Global Group (in White) was honored with the Africa Diaspora Award

While Samba Bathily represents the upcoming generation of dynamic young Africans transforming the continent with daring investments, in Gloria Herndon, the award was in recognition of decades of strong, and sustained attachment to Africa. Dr Herndon regaled the audience with humor laced tales of her vast experiences across the continent.My love affair with Africa is far from ended Dr Herndon said, as she accepted her honor.

Organized to coincide with the 5th anniversary of Believe in Africa Foundation, the Making African Trade Easy Forum was organized in partnership with USAID and Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center to promote Prosper Africa and the AfCFTA. MATE was opened by Andrew Gelfuso, VP of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, Ian Steff, Director Global Market Bureau at U.S. Department of Commerce with the keynote from Ramsey Day, Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for Africa, USAID.  They all recognized the importance of the Diaspora in fostering trade with Africa.

A lot of hard work was put in by the Mate Organizing Team for the successful event

It was two full days of intense panel discussions and exhibitions.From panels on African Economic Outlook, to Building Africa’s Manufacturing Sector, the African Continental Free Trade area, Facilitating Finance in Africa, Investing and building Africa’s health industry, Building Diaspora Trade and Innovation, Making the African Digital Revolution a reality, Investing in Africa, Growing Sustainable jobs under AGOA, Democratizing Africa’s energy sector,and Growing Africa’s Agricultural Industry, participants had more than a full dose of potentials, realities , challenges , and what must be done to improve doing trade in and with Africa.

Led by Capitol Hill Veterans Angelle Kwemo, Founder and President of Believe in Africa Foundation and Gregory Simpkins, Senior Advisor at USAID the MATE Forum brought together the crème de la crème of African trade and advocacy professionals in the USA including Matthiew Rees, Coordinator, Prosper Africa, David Weld, Senior Director for Africa, MCC, Jeremy Streatfield, Director for Africa at USTR, Heather Lannigan, Regio9nal Director for SubSahara Africa at TDA, C.D. Glin, President and CEO, USADF, Dr. Albert Zeufack, Chief Economist for Africa, The World Bank Group, Leila Ndiaye, President and CEO, IGD, Flori Liser, President & CEO, CCA, Dr. Menna Demessie, Secretary, Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund, Jeannine Scott, Board Chair, CFA, Dr. Sharon Freeman, President & CEO, Gems of Wisdom Consulting, Mariama Camara, Mariama Fashion Production Dr. Mima Nedelcovith, Partner, Africa Global, Maureen Umeh, Fox5 news,  Oren Wyche-Shw, Deputy Assistant Administrator at USAID, Alison Germack, Director of Corporate Development, International Development Finance Corporation, Prof. Landry Signe, Fellow Brooklings institutions, Yousuf Daya, Senior Director Trade policy, market Access, Reseach and International Cooperatio, Afrexim Bank, Steve Lande, VP, Manchester Trade, Tamra Raye Stevenson, CEO, WANDA, Kimberley Brown, Amethyst Technologies, Betty Adera, Betty Adera Foundation, Ollowo-N’Djo Tchalla, CEO Alafia, Salma Seetaroo-Bonnafoux, Ivoirienne de Noix de Cajou, Rahama Wright, Shea Yeleen Katie Auth, Acting Deputy Coordinator, Power Africa, and delegations from many African countries.

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The Unrealized Oil Promise of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the era of “Billions At Play”
October 8, 2019 | 0 Comments

Standing in the 12th position amongst African oil producers, the DRC’s petroleum industry is miniscule at best, producing an average of 25 thousand barrels of crude oil per day

President Tshisekedi of D.R.Congo

 By NJ Ayuk *

It is no secret that the DRC’s mining industry is of vital importance in answering the country’s and the world’s mineral needs. Today, copper, cobalt and other byproducts represent the backbone of the DRC’s economic structure at about 85% of its exports. That has been the case for many years, through several regimes, with little change. Besides metals, diamonds and oil represent the remaining of all that the DRC sends abroad, the vast majority of its outbound trade balance being composed of raw unprocessed goods.

Standing in the 12th position amongst African oil producers, the DRC’s petroleum industry is miniscule at best, producing an average of 25 thousand barrels of crude oil per day off its coastal ageing fields. But that seems rather odd. While there is not much talk about this particular fact, when we think of it, it is somewhat perplexing that the DRC, which is bordered by so many oil producers and has territorial waters in the prolific Gulf of Guinea, has never really developed an oil industry or even seemed to be interested in developing one, despite its prospective reserves. With a population of around 80 million people, of which around 75%, most statistics indicate, live in extreme poverty, the DRC is today amongst the five poorest countries in the world. 

One would expect that the country’s leaders would strongly push for the exploration of the country’s natural resources to produce wealth and provide for better living conditions for its citizens. Yet, the DRC’s oil and gas reserves remain largely unexplored, while most studies estimate that there could be around 20 billion barrels of undiscovered oil in the country’s basins, both onshore and offshore. That is a tremendous amount of oil which, if confirmed, would place the DRC as the second biggest petroleum holder in Sub-Saharan Africa, behind only Nigeria, and far outdoing Angola’s reserves of 9 billion barrels of oil.

This is not the Africa we want, and this is not the DRC that we want.

First of all, keeping certain communities in poverty to retain power is a complete mistake. Power stability comes from generalized improvement of life conditions. If the country is wealthier and is capable of improving the lives of those that live in it, the more stable it will be and the more capable it will become of sustaining and giving continuity to that development.

Further, as I have extensively defended over the years, the sanctity of contracts is of paramount importance to attract investment and partnerships into any country. What company would want to invest in a country where a contract can be signed and then cancelled a few months later without further explanation or justification? And it is not just a matter of reputation, but of direct financial burden, lest not forget that just in March this year, an international court ordered the Democratic Republic of Congo to pay South African DIG Oil Ltd USD$617 million for failing to honour two oil contracts. That is 1.6% of the country’s 2017 GDP. How can any leader possibly justify such a loss to its economy. Not to, again, mention the enormous economic potential that could come from actually letting those contracts take shape and allow companies to explore the country’s oil regions.

Stability depends on investment, cooperation and development. To attract investment, conditions need to be created for the business environment to be enabling for industry development. Disrespecting contracts does not achieve that. Nor does keeping people from producing wealth.

Just in May, French super-major Total abandoned its exploration license in the DRC. Bloomberg’s article on the matter was titled “Congo’s Lone Oil Giant Quits Search, Partner Says”. That’s right, it was the last major oil and gas company to abandon the DRC’s oil plays. Others had been there over the years, Shell and Texaco for instance. About 10 years ago, Tullow Oil and partners tried to acquire a license for exploration, signed a contract, paid the bonuses, and saw the contract then cancelled and the same block then sold to yet another company just a few months later. Nothing has been done in the acreage since.

This is the absolute opposite of what must be done.

Oil and gas production can bring enormous wealth to the country and its people, not to mention the ability the country’s gas reserves could have to produce electricity to power homes and industry.

Since January 2019, the DRC is led by a new government. It now has the opportunity to change the status quo of the DRC within the global oil industry and to promote investment. The country’s oil and gas laws are fairly well developed and the potential for discoveries is huge; the problem is reputation. If the country’s leaders can reassure international investors that their contracts will be respected and if investments can be facilitated and transactions made transparent, there is little limit to how quickly the country’s industry could grow and how much its people could benefit. Better living conditions across the country would ease ethnic and social tensions and provide the basis for a level of socio-economic development that the country has never seen before.

If the dependency on the volatile prices of mineral commodities continues, as well as the uneven distribution of wealth, and if the generalized situation of extreme poverty is sustained amongst the population, instability, rather than stability, will be the end result.

Further, the DRC has the opportunity to seek the help and support of international institutions and partners in developing its oil industry, such as the World Bank, the IMF or the Norwegian government, which have vast experience in helping other African oil producers. They can also seek closer proximity with the US, where most of the major companies with the capability, technology and capital to help develop their industry reside. 

The US government also has an interest in promoting these developments in the DRC, as maintaining stability in the sub-continent and the Central African region is of particular strategic importance for US interests. 

It is astonishing to me that the leaders in Kinshasa are not willing to look from their windows just across the Congo river to Brazzaville and want to emulate the steps taken by their neighbour, the Republic of Congo, currently the third biggest oil producer in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Finally, good signs are coming from the current administration. In April, at the latest Africa Petroleum Producers Association’s Conference in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, the DRC’s oil minister announced the country would put 38 blocks on offer for bidding and negotiation, located in three different basins. This is an important step in order to call out investor attention to the country, and I applaud the initiative. Hopefully the regime change, the country’s adherence to the EITI, and the new block offer will help bring investment, but more will have to be done to reassure investors that entering this market will be a profitable and safe bet, and that their interests and rights are protected by the law.

I hope to see these developments happening soon and to be a witness to the fulfillment of the DRC’s oil industry’s full potential.

*NJ Ayuk is the CEO of Centurion Law Group, a pan-African law Conglomerate and the current Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber (EnergyChamber.org), the voice of the African Oil and Gas industry. He is the author is the upcoming book “Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals”.

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Angolan Energy Exec Pugliese Says NJ Ayuk’s New Book Connects Governance and Gas Monetization with African Advancement
October 8, 2019 | 0 Comments
Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy will be published by October 2019
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, October 5, 2019/ — “Bribery is not a smart business model.”

Leading African energy attorney NJ Ayuk maintains that corruption in all its forms is one of the most significant barriers to business growth on the continent.

Ayuk’s position, which he elaborates on in his new book, Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals, has earned the support of Sergio Pugliese, President of the Africa Energy Chamber in Angola. Pugliese was an executive with international oil companies BP and Statoil and founded Angola-focused oil and gas services firms Motiva LDA and Amipa LDA. 

 “NJ Ayuk is a champion of African energy investments, and that’s clear in his new book,” Pugliese said. “That doesn’t mean he has blinders on, however. In ‘Calling all Leaders! More on Good Governance’, he presents an unvarnished view of corruption’s negative effect on Africa’s business environment. His message is something anyone who is doing business there, or wants to, should hear.”

In particular, Ayuk says that while the continent has become increasingly attractive to investors, the lack of transparency is keeping it from reaching its full potential. Better policymaking would help, but Africans can’t just count on foreign countries as examples. His belief that “free markets, personal responsibility, less regulation, low taxes, limited government, individual liberties, and economic empowerment will boost African oil and gas markets and economies” is firm throughout the book. He is right when he advocates, “we should fight against a new aid and welfare culture that many young Africans are moving towards”. He demands accountability which is good.

“The global reality is that many countries have policies about how individuals and companies should respond to inducements and kickbacks, and in an era of transparency, they expect Africa to have the same—and enforce them,” Pugliese said. “As Ayuk’s book suggests, Africa has a history of looking abroad for aid and inspiration, and it’s time countries on the continent looked to each other to make sure they meet world-class standards for doing business.”

While Ayuk is not reluctant to call attention to issues Africa—and Africans—need to change, Pugliese said that what is special about Billions at Play is the author’s attention to providing a balanced message. Most important, it is based upon Ayuk’s own experiences as an advocate for everyday Africans.

“This isn’t some pedantic assessment of a problem or, worse yet, a glossed-over version of the truth,” Pugliese said. “In his book, Ayuk offers a boots-on-the-ground perspective and is prescriptive about how countries can change.”

As an example, Pugliese cited Ayuk’s coverage of Nigeria’s response to the 2008 global financial crisis, including reforms to bank oversight. Angola, Cameroon, South Africa, Senegal, Gabon, South Sudan, Ghana, Equatorial Guinea can learn from this book but African investors can learn more.

“Ayuk tells us what has been done, what can be done, and what should be done.  He knows the topic of good governance inside and out, and doesn’t hesitate to show us all sides.”

NJ Ayuk is founder and CEO of Pan-African corporate law conglomerate, Centurion Law Group (https://CenturionLG.com/); Founder and Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber (https://EnergyChamber.org/) and co-author of Big Barrels: African Oil and Gas and the Quest for Prosperity (2017).

He is recognized as one of the foremost figures in African business today.

Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy will be published by October 2019

 For more information about the book, follow us on social media @BillionsAtPlay.
*African Energy Chamber
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Mozambique:Police Admits Responsibility in killing of social activist
October 8, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Arnaldo Cuamba

The Mozambican police confirmed on Tuesday that members of the corporation murdered a social activist Anastácio Matavel, a member of the “Sala da Paz”, an organisation that is preparing to observe independently the general elections scheduled for next week.

Matavel, a key figure from Mozambique’s election observation community and focal point of “Sala da Paz” in Gaza province, south of Mozambique, was murdered on the morning of 7 October upon leaving a training session for national observers.

According to police spokesperson, Orlando Mudumane, 4 of the 5 main suspects responsible for the murder are corporate agents in the Special Operations Group of the Rapid Intervention Unit.

As a result, the General Police Commander, Bernardino Rafael, ordered the suspension of two commanders from the units where the murdering police officers were assigned. On the other hand, a commission of inquiry was created to present a detailed report on what actually happened within 15 days.

On Monday, the “Sala da Paz” called on the press to repudiate and condemn the death, asking those entitled to clarify the crime quickly and to punish the perpetrators.

“The Sala da Paz understands that these acts are against human rights and freedom of expression enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Mozambique,” said Dercio Alfazema, spokesman for the organization “Thus, it calls on the competent authorities, for a thorough investigation to find the perpetrators of this heinous crime and in an exemplary way be punished,” he said.

The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) strongly condemned the attack and also called on the competent national authorities to investigate this violent act and ensure the perpetrators are held to account for their criminal actions.

“Domestic observation is an essential component of a credible electoral process” EU EOM said in a press release published on Tuesday. “Any act that affects or limits the capacity of national observers to perform their essential role is an unacceptable obstacle to the transparency of elections and the respect for the participation of citizens in the country’s political life” they added.

The general elections are scheduled for 15 October in Mozambique, with an election campaign marked by turbulence. Violent clashes between sympathizers of the different political parties have continued throughout the electoral campaign period without a strong, clear and persistent condemnation from political leaders and competent authorities.

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Rwanda inaugurates first smartphones plant in Africa
October 8, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

Kagame was beholden a smartphone produced by Mara Phones

On Monday, president Paul Kagame of Rwanda inaugurated Mara Phone, a first smartphones plant of its kind to be put up in Africa.

The plant is situated in heart of Kigali, in special economic zone, the area that is reserved for industries.

Mara Phones, a subsidiary company of the Mara Group owned by businessman Ashish  Thakkar has started to produce two kinds of smartphones including Mara Z  and Mara X.

President Kagame inaugurating this plant, lauded this achievement and he believes it is going to increase number of Rwandans who use smartphones.

“The percentage is still really low of Rwandans who are already using smartphones, but we want to enable many more who would like to, and this is why dealing with cost and quality is very important.” He said

Kagame inaugurating Mara Phones Plant in Kigali

The cost of first phones produces by Mara Phones ranges between one hundred dollar and two hundred dollar.

Kagame promised that government is dealing with Mara Phones to see how price can be reduced and be paid in instalments.

“The introduction of Mara Phones will put smartphone ownership within reach of more Rwandans. The product is backed by a warranty and  the price can be paid in instalments over two years. They have tried to make it as simple and  possible for Rwandans as they could.”

Kagame revealed that Mara aims to export phones in the  region as well, and beyond.

Ashish Thakkar of Mara Group compares  introducing smartphones plant in Rwanda as African dreams that comes true.

“This is the first plant that produces smartphones on the continent, It has never been done before. This is the time for Africa to make a difference in producing high quality products not only for Africans but also beyond.” he said

These smartphones uses Android system powered by Google.

Mara Phone in Rwanda employs more than two hundred young Rwandans, with few foreign experts.

The plant has capacity of producing about 1 000 smartphones a day, and building that plant has cost more than 50 000 000 USD.

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Climate and environmental civil society organizations urge AFDB President Adesina to curb funding for coal projects in Africa
October 7, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Adesina

 Climate and environmental civil society   organizations  have submitted  an open letter  to Mr Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank calling to immediately stop the financing of all coal projects on the African continent.

The letter reads:

We, the undersigned civil society organisations call on the leadership of the African Development Bank to immediately put in place and publish on the AfDB website a policy that denies the bank’s funding or financial services to any coal project on the African continent.

 We welcomed your announcement made on Tuesday, September 24, 2019, in which you reiterated the AfDB’s commitment to no longer fund coal plants on the continent, but rather build the “largest solar zone in the world” in the Sahel region.

  This announcement follows a series of scientific reports confirming that stopping the construction of coal fired power plants and closing existing plants is a crucial element in achieving the Paris Agreement’s objective.

  Africa’s vulnerability to climate change is well known and documented. According to the 2018 Climate Change Vulnerability Index, seven of the ten most climate-vulnerable countries are in Africa.

  During this year alone, two powerful hurricanes plunged Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi into a state of disaster, at a time when droughts have taken their toll in Eastern Africa and the Horn of Africa.  Successive reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) confirm that after the polar zones, Africa is expected to be the second hardest hit region by the effects of climate change. These effects are already hampering economic development, sometimes eroding years of economic progress, exacerbating conflict and pushing hundreds of thousands of people every year into exile, especially those living in arid zones and areas affected by desertification.

  Despite this gloomy picture, Africa remains one of the few continents where the development of coal fired power plants continues while the latest IPCC report stated that all coal-fired plants must close by 2040 to reach the 1.5 °C target set in the Paris Agreement. If fossil fuel projects continue at the current rate, Africa is heading straight for warming of 3 to 4 °C; a scenario that would have disastrous consequences, with extreme heat that would affect the majority of the continent’s land, increased risks of extreme drought (especially in Eastern and Southern Africa), a decline in agricultural yield, and extreme flooding as highlighted in the latest IPCC report. The same report made it clear that anyone who supports the fossil fuel industry knowingly contributes to untold suffering around the world. In the face of these extreme weather events and associated risks that threaten the lives and livelihoods of millions of Africans, the youth and civil society organisations of Africa took action from the 20 to 27th September, calling for immediate and radical climate action in agreement with science, and an end to the fossil fuel era. In this historic mobilisation called “Global Climate Strikes”, people from all walks of life, including fishing communities, farmers, women, young people, civil society groups, traditional and religious leaders took part in diverse actions sending a strong message to their governments and financial institutions that Africa does not need fossil fuels to meet its energy demand and grow its energy supply, but should rather lead the world in the energy transition fueled by renewable resources.  

   Frontline communities affected by the coal projects of Bargny (Senegal), Lamu (Kenya) and South Africa have taken the lead in the strike mobilisations. While thanking and congratulating you for your commitment to rid Africa of the coal influence and to accelerate the use of renewable energies, we are convinced that the AfDB can do more by officially and definitively disengaging itself from any current or future coal project, starting with the Bargny project (Senegal) where the AfDB Board of Directors had approved a preferential loan of € 55 million on November 25, 2009. Subsequently, the same board approved an additional loan of $ 5 million. By doing so, we will be truly convinced that the statement made in New York is not a mere announcement, but rather a firm commitment to actively and concretely support the renewable energy transition and development that Africa so badly needs to not only fight against the climate crisis but also boost its development and improve the well-being of its inhabitants. That is why we, therefore, urge the AfDB to:  Immediately put in place and publish on the AfDB website a policy that denies the bank’s funding· or financial services to any coal project on the African continent.  Shift the AfDB’s portfolio to 100% renewable energy projects and sustainable, low-emission· agriculture and infrastructure;  Publish a roadmap to reduce portfolio-wide emissions and align with 1.5ºC goal.· 3  Increase transparency and access to information as well as increased transparency in stakeholder· engagement and consultation in relation to energy finance;  Release additional information or a timeline for the release of additional information regarding· the construction of the “largest solar energy zone on the planet” in the Sahel region; We look forward to hearing from you on what steps will be taken towards achieving these changes. Our hope is that we can all work together to create a brighter, sustainable future for the African continent.

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The Future of Africa lies in Agro Business-Mohamed Kagnassy
October 7, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

The Future of Africa lies in Rural Economy says Mohamed Kagnassy

Young, dynamic, innovative and optimistic, Mohamed Kagnassy has enjoyed the kind of success story that should inspire many young Africans. Currently serving as Adviser on Agro business, and rural development to President Alpha Conde of Guinea, Kagnassy has previously held similar roles with the government in his native Mali, and continues to meet with other leaders and stake holders across the continent to harp on the game changing potentials of agro-business.

In Guinea, Mohamed Kagnassy says there have been significant improvements towards modernizing the agricultural sector in the country. From more quality seeds, to fertilizers, and general education on the potentials in the agricultural sector, Kagnassy says Guinea is getting its act together. Contributing to the changing landscape of agriculture in Guinea is an app created by Kagnassy called Kobiri which matches farmers with resources like tractors at affordable rates.

Mohamed Kagnassy has his eyes firmly set on making Africa as a whole to pay greater attention to agro business.With its size,climate, population, and more, there is no reason for Africa to keep spending vast amounts to import food that should be grown on the continent, says Kagnassy interviewed recently in Washington,DC by Ajong Mbapndah L

PAV: You have been adviser on agro-business and rural development to President Conde since 2016, what is it you do and how is it like working for President Conde?

Mohamed Kagnassy: As you said, I started in 2016 and it has not been that long, but so far so good. I am very happy to bring my vision to what we call rural development in Guinea in trying to modernize this sector. And this is my vision, trying to advice on how to restructure the rural economy in Guinea and how to modernize it.  

PAV: Since you started advising the President in 2016, what are some of the changes you have noticed with regards to rural development in Guinea?

Mohamed Kagnassy: The first thing is education. We are there to communicate and rebrand agriculture. That is why we are talking of innovation. We have been able to improve or produce new varieties or techniques of agriculture. For example, we import more fertilizers than before as Africa produces fewer fertilizers. When you compare with some countries like India that produces up to 200kilo per hectares, in Africa, some countries have 10kilo per hectares. The farmers have more fertilizers than before; we have new variety of plants like cocoa. We produce Arabic coffee in some parts of Guinea and good seeds such as corn, rice and others.

PAV: We also know that you are President/Director of West Wing. What does your company do and how do you manage your duties as adviser to the President and President/Director of that company?

Mohamed Kagnassy: Private and public association could be one of the solutions to Africa. Today we can notice that many private initiatives are more or better  structured than many public ones. But since we are working for the national interest, we are just experts bringing the expertise of our private sector experiences to improve public actions. The target is to get better results and that is what we have to keep in mind.

Mohamed Kagnassy is using his expertise to help President Conde in modernizing Agriculture in Guinea

PAV: You are young and successful, what potential do you see for agrobusiness in Guinea and across Africa?

Mohamed Kagnassy: In Africa More than 70 per cent of the population lives in the rural areas. The future of Africa lies in rural economy. This should be a priority for any political action in my point of view. Today in Guinea, we have made it a priority in government actions. We cannot ask the young people today to practice agriculture like traditional agriculture. We have seen that the youths will not go for that kind. And that is why we are talking about modern agriculture and innovation. It characterises various factors like mechanization, fertilizer, good seeds and methods. That is what we are promoting like other parts of the world are doing. Today we just have to go for it despite the challenges we face.

PAV: In Guinea, you have created a platform called Kobiri. How does it work and what impact does it have on rural development and agribusiness?

Mohamed Kagnassy: It is a social or digital platform. Today in Guinea we are doing our best to get mechanization that is tractors available to all farmers. They do not need to buy because of farm areas or communities that are so small, and we cannot give a loan for such a small supply. So we need to scale up and what we need is through a digital platform we can visualise. Today in Guinea, through Kobiri, we have the possibility to rent a tractor for hectare to hectare which can take time for farmers to grow their seeds. We have a data system which aids in recovery and support to farmers.

Mohamed Kagnassy, at an international trade fair earlier this year in Paris.The Kobiri platform is opening farmers to vital resources at affordable rates in Guinea. Photo credit Théau Monnet ,Jeune Afrique

PAV: What impact has it had with farmers in Guinea?

Mohamed Kagnassy: It is very simple. When you have mechanization, it eases the burden. For example, what you had to do with 25 guys to prepare one hectare of farm land, with a tractor you can do it at a faster and cheaper rate.

PAV: How affordable is it for the farmers to use the platform as sometimes people complain that getting network is a problem, getting credit for the phone or other cost involved?

Mohamed Kagnassy: That is a good question and like I said it is a choice. To get access you have a choice to either call if you have credit on your phone, go to the various centres- 7 of them in number covering all parts of Guinea, and if you have application you can order. So it is not only one single way. The cheapest one now is digital. When distance is too far and the road network in Africa is a problem, through digitalization you can make profit as you can be in your field working and ordering at the same time as movements cost money and time. So, we just given the choice to our farmers for them to make the one that is convenient for them.

 PAV: So, we know it is working for Guinea. Any plans to move the platform to other African countries for them to benefit?

Mohamed Kagnassy: Yes, and as I said we have a model which is adapted to Guinea. We will go and offer the platform to other African countries. Each country has its own reality. As I said agriculture is not theory, it is reality. Anything which is social means progress.

PAV: You are currently adviser to President Conde; you have had experiences working in Mali, and recently you met with President Tshisekedi. When you interact with them, do you get a feeling, they are willing to attach seriousness to agriculture and rural development?

Mohamed Kagnassy: Most of our African countries are very young. There are a good number of challenges in Africa, and we have very few resources available. I like to show them today that some solutions can be gotten to improve on rural economy that we didn’t have few years back at a very affordable cost. Africa has a good climate, water, young people, and it doesn’t make sense today for us to keep importing everything even to feed ourselves. We are used to it but we have to change now and say this is not normal. This sector can give jobs to the majority of our people, and this is the start to get a secondary sector which is industrialization. If we don’t produce how can we transform? Everything starts from production, and we can get other sectors growing. This sector has a lot of potential with an available market to increase economic growth across Africa.

By investing in agro business, African governments will not go wrong, says Kagnassy here with PAV’s Ajong Mbapndah L in Washington DC

PAV: What message do you have for the youths on how to make use of the huge potential agriculture has?

Mohamed Kagnassy: I will invite them to come see the innovation in agriculture today. We will like the youths to go into agribusiness as it is the branding of agriculture. Farmers in Africa today are not like those of 50 years back. Our children go to school, and they have more knowledge of the world because of technology and the internet. Most of the immigration today is for economic reasons. I will like to tell the young people to take time to see what is available. Agriculture made America and there is no economy without agriculture. So they should not go away from agriculture as people are coming from China because they know the value of agriculture.

PAV: You are originally from Mali and here you are advising the President from Guinea, what can Africa learn from this in terms of integration?

Mohamed Kagnassy: Thank you for that interesting question and I can only say how grateful I am to President Alpha Conde, a leader who has also been President of the African Union. Like Mandela, and other great men, great nations like America had Barack Obama whose father is originally from Kenya. Guinea has been the capital of Africa. When I was in West Africa I was told that President Nkrumah was called the President of Guinea which was of course a title. President Conde believes in an Africa which is united, and it is easy for him to look for expertise around Africa. Colours or origins do not matter for President Conde, but how useful you are for your community whatever your nationality. For us the integration of Africa should be a reality, but the reality is that it is rare, leaders like President Conde should be saluted for their openness and strong vision.

PAV: We end with recommendations you have not just for President Conde, but other Presidents. What is it that all countries in Africa must be able to do so that they can get maximum potential from the benefits of agribusiness?

Mohamed KagnassyAfrica should invest in agriculture and agribusiness. Africa has water, land and young people. Africa has a population of more than 1 billion and by 2050; we should be the most populated continent. The future of agriculture is in Africa due to its population growth, availability of land, and our leaders must do everything to create the enabling environment, and for young people to take advantage of the huge opportunities in the sector.  

*Full Interview will feature in the October Issue of PAV Magazine

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How the 1996 Constitution Can Take Care of the NW/SW Exception: A legal Perspective of a ‘third option’.
October 5, 2019 | 0 Comments

BY: ASHU NYENTY (Ph.D.).*

Cameroon Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute chaired the dialogue

As delegates to the major national dialogue, especially those from the two regions that triggered the dialogue in the first place, converge on the Conference Centre beginning this Monday, and judging from the tenor of proposals in the consultations engineered by Prime Minister, Chief Dr. Joseph Dion Ngute, the debate has largely focused on two potentially rancorous and divisive concepts: Unitarism v Federalism. It is on these two concepts that most of the attention is focused, as if to say it is   either one or the other, as a solution to the crisis in the NW and SW regions.

The mistake that may be ineluctable if care is not taking is that delegates get into what I call an ideological blockage and fail to adequately explore an alternative that appears to be at arm’s length, but which seems to have been long forgotten. This is mainly so because of lack of familiarity with the various territorial or regional organization models available to Cameroon.

The purpose of this paper, as my own contribution to the major national dialogue, is therefore, to inform public opinion that these two are not the only alternatives and that they should watch out for the potency of a possible ‘third option’ or model that may send everybody home happy- the NW and SW, the other eight regions and of course the government.   The issues discussed here would be more relevant to the commission on decentralization and local development, though they may necessarily have ramifications on the work of other commissions such as education and justice system. The reason is that this is the most politically sensitive area of the discussions that may have legal repercussions after the dialogue.  

                      What is the current status of the issues at stake?

Writing on the issues at stake in the national dialogue, Barrister Paul Simo, who has over 20 years’ experience working on countries undergoing peace-processes and political transitions across the world, opined that the discussion has often been tailored in terms of three options, to wit, “separatism, federalism and unitarism”.

In this analysis, I deliberately leave out separatism, because in the context of a national dialogue, that option is dead on arrival. I will proceed to discuss the other two.    Federalism in the present state of discussions has two variables. First, an “arrangement similar to the 1961-1972 federation, or in another, to a new multiple federated-state configuration”. The inconvenience of this is that if either of the two configurations is adopted it would lead to a sudden and drastic transformation of the administrative configuration of the state that may force the other eight regions into an arrangement they never asked for or for which their base did not mobilize for; many in the other regions do not yet understand the contours and ramifications of a federation. If there could be an agreement on that fine, but in my view, still coming out of a three-year gruesome war, be sure this option will be resisted with vigour.

Unitarism on the other hand is considered, even by many in the other regions as largely responsible for the despicable state of affairs in the North West and South West regions. Many in the other regions also feel the pinch of Unitarism even though they have not been as vocal as their counterparts’ from the two regions. It is clear that Unitarism as it is currently perceived and practiced may not satisfy or meet “the high aspirations of the people of the NW and SW” and also “of all the other components of our nation”, who clearly want to have a greater say in the management of their local affairs.  If these two concepts, in the current state of affairs may be resisted or rejected, what then is the way out?

                                     What is the ‘third option”?  

The crux of the matter  is that because of their peculiarities( to be discussed shortly) the NW and SW regions desire an arrangement that would provide them with a greater hand in what goes on in their respective regions. That is what leads us to what I have termed the third option (its political and administrative advantages will also be elucidated shortly). In discussions of this nature and based on our immediate past history, I think it would be counter-productive to appear intransigent or take a zero-sum posture of this or nothing. It seems to me that it is advisable to be flexible, weigh the different options and then give and take. That is the very essence of a dialogue.

 In my view, the third option is found in the current Constitution of Cameroon. Since the 1996 Constitution was adopted, one provision that has often been ignored and indeed even overlooked, since the search for solutions to the crisis started, is the last Section of Part X devoted to Regional and Local Authorities.  That Section 62(2) stipulates that:

“Without prejudice to the provisions of this Part, the law may take into consideration the specificities of certain Regions with regard to their organization and functioning”.

The underlying notion in that section is what is known in modern constitutional engineering as “territorial asymmetry”, which is consonant in countries that have an entrenched minority factor as is the case of the NW and SW regions.   According to Barrister Simo,   this is an arrangement “in which some regions…would be granted certain attributes and competences different from those granted to other regions”, because the latter regions do not have the same specificities.  This model has been practiced with success in countries such as India and even China over Hong Kong, in what is known as the one country two systems paradigm. Even though not everybody in Cameroon espouses this variable geometry in the treatment of regions, the beauty of this asymmetric treatment is that it also works well in a unitary form of state. The example of China and its asymmetric treatment of Hong Kong, and which is a much more centralized system than Cameroon is necessary to point to again. This means that the present Decentralized Unitary system could be maintained, while at the same time the NW and SW find satisfaction in the management of their local affairs. Besides, given that the present Constitution of Cameroon allows for the continuous application of the Common Law, it is recognition of the exceptions that constitute the NW and SW regions. Apart from the examples already given, two of Cameroon’s colonial masters, whose double heritage the Cameroon of today enjoys, that is, Britain and France are  plausible other examples. In   the case of the United Kingdom, there is a separate status each for Wales, Scotland and even Northern Ireland within the same unitary state. In France, the Corse has a special status. It must be pointed out that it were calls for greater autonomy and threats of breakaway that among other factors pushed the French authorities to give a separate administrative status to that region.

Dr Ashu Nyenty

Furthermore, in the couching of the provisions of Section 62(2), it would appear the drafters were foresighted enough to preempt the possibility of considering variations between the different regions in the extent of the powers they should have, depending on their ability and history. My understanding of that section is that the drafters of the Constitution of Cameroon had already envisaged a situation where some regions could be allowed to sail in different boats within a unitary state framework, based on their linguistic, historical, cultural or even demographic peculiarity. The case of the two regions is a very good example, where these conditions of peculiarity are amply fulfilled.  

                                How are the NW and SW peculiar?

To amply justify the need for a special status each for the North West and South West, it would be necessary, in my view, to demonstrate the peculiarity of these two regions. It is clear to everybody of good faith in Cameroon that there are fundamental differences between the NW and the SW on the one hand, and the other eight regions on the other. However, some detail analysis of a few examples would be necessary to make the point. The fact that francophone parents in their numbers send their children to English speaking schools is an eloquent testimony to the fact that there are differences in the educational systems between the two components. It is not simply the language of instruction, the culture of teaching and learning is also fundamentally different.

In addition, in the legal domain, the common law is practiced in the English speaking regions while the civil law holds sway in the other regions. Though some attempt has been made at harmonizing some aspects of the two, they still remain for all intent and purposes walls apart. The Constitution of Cameroon clearly recognizes this legal disparity. It is instructive that it is the perceived adulteration of the educational and legal systems that is the immediate cause of the current crisis.

Again, the colonial past of the two components is different. While the British practiced indirect rule and the Native authority which gave the people much leverage in the management of local affairs, the French system of assimilation, paternalism and the Jacobin-style strong state authority did not afford much of that. So in matters of governance the colonial experiences of the two components differed and this heritage which has been transferred to younger generation has now met zones of friction and conflict.

Even though there are many other examples, these few, in my view sufficiently make the case for the NW/SW exception, within the bigger Cameroonian picture.  

          What should be the content of the special status arrangement?

Since the current constitution already mentions that possibility, it sounds reasonable that the main worry now for the delegates, if this third option were to be adopted, is  to present  a basket of what should go into the special status arrangement. What powers do the two regions want to have for themselves exclusive from the central state authorities? Before I proceed to discuss what this basket could contain, it is germane to point out that the special status arrangement could be applied exclusively to the two regions concerned as a matter of priority. However, in order to allay the fears of geometric treatment of regions, which I mentioned, earlier, these powers could also be extended, of course   in relative degrees to the other regions if they find no objection for the time being.

Having said that emphasis should at this juncture be focused on the package deal or what I will call the content of the basket.  That is what I think the commission on decentralization and local development should be able to do. This is because as I said earlier this is the most political of all the eight commissions. The other issues to be canvassed by the other commissions could only come to add up to that.  The basket would certainly be for the delegates to fill but based on my own experience in the understanding of the conflict, the package deal may include but not limited to the management of the education system, the protection of the common law legal system, the proportion of the use of the two official languages in the regions. That basket will include the powers that the regions want to control and the powers of the local councils as well. The central government should be clear on what it intends to irreversibly relinquish to both the regions and the councils. 

In addition to the merit of this model mentioned already, this model is neither to the right nor to the left of the debate spectrum. It is at the Centre. It accommodates the desires of those who are opposed to a change of the form of state and also satisfies those who seek greater autonomy. There is no doubt about it; we have already seen that special status arrangements work perfectly well in a unitary state arrangement. In that way everybody is satisfied and consensus is easy to reach on both sides.

Some of these changes if adopted would obviously necessitate legislative, administrative, policy or even constitutional reform. If the commissions consensually agree on what  to do then they can easily propose the kind of reform that may suit their agenda so as to protect what they may have proposed.

 I submit that the tenor of section 62 discussed above requiring the law to “take into consideration the specificities of certain Regions” is weak.  I would rather propose that based on comparative constitutional law, and even Cameroonian history, such fundamental aspects are better guaranteed in the highest legal norm in the hierarchy. In this case it is the Constitution. If that were the case a constitutional revision could be sought to the extent that those guarantees are entrenched.

                       Is a constitutional amendment possible? 

In the run up to the convening of the dialogue and even after the fundamental question on many lips was whether proposals and or conclusions arrived at may be translated into constitutional reform. To this question and analyzing the tenor of President Paul Biya’s 10 September speech, convening the dialogue, some legal experts have argued that such reform was “neither mandatorily required of, nor specifically excluded from the purview of the Dialogue process”.

But that possibility comes to life when you read other portions of the speech together with legal and constitutional provisions in force. On page 14 of the English language version of the speech, he announced his decision to convene a national dialogue “in line with our Constitution”, to “enable us to seek ways and means of meeting the high aspirations of the   people of the North West and South West Regions”. My understanding is that if the high aspirations of the people in those two regions are to take charge of those affairs as we have discussed above, and possibly other arrangements agreed to in other commissions,  it means that based on what the President said we have to go into the Constitution to seek to satisfy them. Either the Constitution has the answer directly or it points at the direction we must take.

If the Constitution does not have a direct response then a constitutional revision may be necessary to accommodate the issues at stake. And if a proposal is made in this regard, it seems to me that it does not overstep the confines of the Constitution. Provided the revision is pursued in a procedure that is in line with the Constitution of Cameroon, which the President swore to uphold.

On this score, it should be noted that the ‘Natonal Dialogue’ if it is working within the Constitution, does not have the locus standi or power   to deliver “binding resolutions” or seek Constitutional amendments. It may only propose. Based on the President’s speech, which for now is the guiding instrument on the purview of the Dialogue’s powers, it has the power to propose whatever it wants to propose, if these can address the concerns and aspirations of the people in those two regions.  But it is not within its powers to insist, to push amendment to Parliament, otherwise it would be acting ultra vires and out of tune with the fundamental law of the land.

People gather at the Congress Palace during the opening session of the National Dialogue called by President Paul Biya, in Yaounde, Cameroon, Sept. 30, 2019. Photo Credit VOA

Who has the power to seek a constitutional amendment in Cameroon? According to section 63(1), “Amendments to the Constitution may be proposed either by the President of the Republic or by Parliament. These are the only two authorities that are constitutionally empowered to seek an amendment of the Constitution. This may of course be through a government bill from the President of the Republic to Parliament or a Private Members bill in Parliament. However, The President of the Republic may also decide to bypass Parliament and directly “submit any bill to amend the Constitution to a referendum; in which case the amendment shall be adopted by a simple majority of the votes cast” and that will be constitutionally correct. .

 While a constitutional amendment is not illegal,   there are some amendments that will be inadmissible.

According to section 64 “No procedure for the amendment of the Constitution affecting the republican form, unity and territorial integrity of the State and the democratic principles which govern the Republic shall be accepted”. This means in clear terms that any amendment that seeks to change the state from a Republic to a monarchy, transfer part of our territory to another state or institute a one-party state shall not be accepted.

In fine, given the positions held by the different protagonists in the national dialogue and leveraging on my understanding that more consensual conclusions and recommendations may be viewed in a better light, I submit unequivocally, that a third option as I have discussed should be given a thought and explored, if all the parties must take back something to their bases.  

*The author of this article is a Doctor in Law and Political Scientist. (The content are his personal views) .The article was previously published in the Median Newspaper on 30 September before the National Dialogue started in Cameroon

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Nigeria: David Cameron Got it wrong On Nigeria Under Me-Goodluck Jonathan
October 5, 2019 | 0 Comments

– My Response To David Cameron’s Claims

By Goodluck Jonathan*

British Prime Minister David Cameron (L) takes part in a press conference with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan at the State House on July 19, 2011 in Lagos, Nigeria. Photo credit Christopher Furlong/Getty Images Europe

I read the comments by former British Prime Minister, David Cameron, in his new book, For the Record, in which he accused me and the Nigerian Government, which I headed, of corruption and rejecting the help of the British Government in rescuing the Chibok Girls, who were kidnapped on April 14, 2014.

It is quite sad that Mr. Cameron would say this because nothing of such ever occurred. As President of Nigeria, I not only wrote letters to then Prime Minister David Cameron, I also wrote to the then US President, Barrack Obama, and the then French President, François Hollande, as well as the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, appealing to them for help in rescuing the Chibok Girls.

How could I write to appeal for help and then reject the very thing I appealed for?

Also, history contradicts Mr. Cameron. On March 8, 2012, when the same Boko Haram linked terrorists abducted a British expatriate named Chris McManus, along with an Italian hostage Franco Lamolinara, in Sokoto, I, as Nigerian President, personally authorised a rescue effort by members of the British military Special Boat Service supported by officers and men of the Nigerian Army, to free the abducted men.

So, having set a precedent like that, why would I reject British help in rescuing the Chibok Girls, if it was offered?

I also authorised the secret deployment of troops from the United Kingdom, the United States and Israel as a result of the Chibok incident, so how Mr. Cameron could say this with a straight face beats me.

Moreover, on March 8, 2017, the British Government of former Prime Minister, Theresa May, in a widely circulated press statement, debunked this allegation and said there was no truth in it after Mr. Cameron had made similar statements to the Observer of the UK.

In his book, Mr. Cameron failed to mention that I wrote him requesting his help on Chibok. Why did he suppress that information? I remind him that copies of that letter exist at the State Houses in Nigeria and London. He never called me on the phone to offer any help. On the contrary, I am the one that reached out to him.

He accused me of appointing Generals based on political considerations. How could that be when I fired my service chiefs twice in five years, to show that I would not tolerate anything less than meaningful progress in the war on terror.

I was completely blind to ethnic or political considerations in my appointments. In civil and military matters, I appointed people that I had never even met prior to appointing them, based on their professional pedigree. Though I was from the South, most of my service chiefs came from the North.

I do, however, know that Mr. Cameron has long nursed deep grudges against me for reasons that have been published in various media.

On July 24, 2013, while celebrating the passage of the United Kingdom’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, 2013, Mr. Cameron said “I want to export gay marriage around the world”.

At that occasion, he boasted that he would send the team that successfully drafted and promoted the Bill, to nations, like Nigeria, saying inter alia:

“I’ve told the Bill team I’m now going to reassign them because, of course, all over the world people would have been watching this piece of legislation”.

As President of Nigeria at that time, I came under almost unbearable pressure from the Cameron administration to pass legislation supporting LGBTQ Same Sex marriage in Nigeria. My conscience could not stomach that, because as President of Nigeria, I swore on the Bible to advance Nigeria’s interests, and not the interest of the United Kingdom or any foreign power.

As such, on Monday, January 13, 2014, I signed the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill into law after the Bill had been passed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority of Nigeria’s parliament, in line with the wishes of the Nigerian people. This happened shortly after a study of 39 nations around the world by the U.S. Pew Research Center came up with a finding which indicated that 98 percent of Nigerians were opposed to the idea of Gay Marriage.

Immediately after I took this patriotic action, my government came under almost unbearable pressure from Mr. Cameron, who reached me through envoys, and made subtle and not so subtle threats against me and my government.

In fact, meetings were held at the Obama White House and at the Portcullis House in Parliament UK, with the then Nigerian opposition to disparage me, after I had signed the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill into law.

On the issue of corruption, it suffices to say that Mr. Cameron is not as competent as Transparency International, which is globally acknowledged as the adjudicator of who is corrupt and who is not.

During my administration, in 2014, Nigeria made her best ever improvement on the annual Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, moving from 144 the previous year, to 136, an 8 point improvement. As a nation, we have not made such improvements on the CPI before or after 2014.

In line with these facts, I would urge the public to take Mr. Cameron’s accusations with a grain of salt. I will not be the first person to accuse him of lying on account of this book, and with the reactions in the Uk so far, I definitely will not be the last.

*Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, Chairman of the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation and President of Nigeria 2010-2015. Caption from PAV and response culled from his facebook page.

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