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The Global Institute for Disease Elimination (GLIDE) Launches Inaugural Awards for Disease Elimination
April 14, 2021 | 0 Comments

New Abu Dhabi-based global health Institute launches its first disease elimination awards; 5 awards of up to USD200,000 each

The Global Institute for Disease Elimination (GLIDE) , a new Abu Dhabi-based global health Institute focused on eliminating infectious diseases of poverty, has launched The Falcon Awards for Disease Elimination, in a drive to discover and implement innovative approaches to disease elimination.

Founded in 2019 by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, GLIDE identifies the latest scientific, cultural, and global health knowledge and puts it into action with partners through programmes to advance disease elimination.

The Falcon Awards, which open for submissions online on 4th May 2021, invites Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), philanthropic foundations, coalitions or networks of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), academic or research institutions, Public-Private Partnerships (PPP), and public or private sector institutions in endemic countries to submit proposals that aim to accelerate the elimination of one or more of GLIDE’s four focus diseases: malaria, polio, lymphatic filariasis, and onchocerciasis.

GLIDE is particularly seeking proposals which address cross-border, cross-disease, cross-programme, or cross-sector approaches to disease elimination. Submissions should focus on the implementation of innovative ideas and established research which has a high potential to be catalytic, transformational, or genuinely novel in approach, or on operational research with prospects to provide solutions to existing disease elimination challenges.

Simon Bland, Chief Executive Officer of GLIDE, commented: “At GLIDE, we firmly believe in an integrated and collaborative approach to tackling infectious diseases of poverty. The Falcon Awards for Disease Elimination will help advance and amplify these efforts.”

Five winners will be announced later this year following a thorough evaluation by a jury panel comprised of esteemed global health experts. Each winner will receive a sum of up to USD200,000 to fund and implement their unique solutions to disease elimination.

For more information on The Falcon Awards and how to enter, please visit:

The Falcon Awards – key dates

  • 4th May 2021: Applications open
  • 13th June 2021: Deadline for submissions
  • November – December 2021: Winners announced

About GLIDE:
GLIDE is a new global health Institute, rooted in Abu Dhabi, focused on accelerating the elimination of four preventable diseases of poverty: currently malaria, polio, lymphatic filariasis, and river blindness, by 2030 and beyond. Founded in 2019 as the result of a collaboration between His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, GLIDE identifies the latest scientific, cultural, and global health knowledge and puts it into action with its partners through programmes, funding, and skills development to support local health care systems and advance global thinking.

For more information, please visit:

*SOURCE The Global Institute for Disease Elimination (GLIDE)

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Merck Foundation and African First Ladies plan to launch media recognition of “Mask Up With Care” to mark “World Health Day“ 2021 for enhancing COVID 19 awareness
April 14, 2021 | 0 Comments

Merck Foundation, year to date, in partnership with African First Ladies and Ministers of Health, have provided for more than 1100 doctors from 42 Countries with 1 & 2 year speciality scholarship to improve access to quality and equitable healthcare in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Senator Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation with Merck Foundation Oncology Fellowship Alumni

Merck Foundation , the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, mark ‘World Health Day’ 2021 together with 19 African First Ladies by starting the “Mask Up With Care” Media Recognition Awards for African Media Representatives for advancing Community awareness about coronavirus.

The awards are also announced for Media Representatives from Latin American and Asian Countries. The theme of the awards is to raise awareness on how to adapt best protection measures such as wearing your masks to show you care and love your family & community; to encourage your community to choose to vaccinate when it is available and to sensitize them to support healthcare workers who are at the forefront of COVID 19 pandemic.

Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation emphasized, “After the huge success of our ‘Stay at hone Awards’ Media Recognition Awards 2020 and receiving more than 1000 applications and announcing more than 90 winners across Africa, Asia and Latin America. I’d like to encourage media to apply for “Mask Up with Care” Media Recognition Awards These Media Recognition Awards will encourage media to sensitize our communities. Raising awareness about coronavirus in our communities will also contribute to supporting health workers who are at the forefront of COVID-19 response – providing high-quality, respectful treatment and care. Also, it will enhance their great efforts in leading community dialogue to address fears and questions. Looking forward to valuable inputs from all media representatives”.

Merck Foundation has been actively raising awareness on sensitive health issues like infertility and eliminating its stigma. Merck Foundation has also raced to respond to coronavirus pandemic, in partnership with 18 African First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Information and Education through various programs and activities.

Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej further elaborated, “As the world marks World Health Day, our hearts and thoughts go out to the people who have been affected by this unprecedented event COVID 19, which has highlighted that access to healthcare is unequal. In accordance with this year’s theme ‘Building a Fairer, Healthier World for Everyone’, we at Merck Foundation are committed towards providing access to quality and equitable healthcare solution by providing for more than 1100 Doctors from 42 countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America with one & two-year speciality training in multiple fields such as Oncology, Diabetes, Preventative Cardiovascular Medicine, Endocrinology, Sexual and Reproductive Medicine, Acute Medicine, Respiratory Medicine, Human Assisted Reproduction and Embryology & Fertility speciality, to be the first in their countries”.

“Furthermore, Merck Foundation together with African First Ladies started the process of providing scholarships for local doctors, of new medical underserved specialities such as; Urology, Ophthalmology, Gastroenterology, Rheumatology, Pain Management, Dermatology, Neonatal, Paediatric Dermatology, Internal Medicine, Surgery Trauma and Orthopedic, Mental Health and Psychiatry and more. We are looking forward to receiving applications from doctors in underserved communities on our email:” Dr. Kelej added.

“At Merck Foundation, we appreciate all the healthcare workers around the world who are on the frontline working towards containing this pandemic. Let us all work together towards a healthier and fairer world” said Dr. Kelej.

About Merck Foundation community support during coronavirus pandemic;
Merck Foundation made Community donations to support the livelihood of thousands of women, casual workers and persons living with disabilities, affected by Coronavirus lockdown in the following countries in partnership with their First Ladies; Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Niger, Malawi, Liberia, Ghana, The Gambia, DR Congo, Burkina Faso and Burundi. Merck Foundation also undertook a similar relief activity in Egypt.

Merck Foundation launched Stay at Home Media Recognition Awards to help raise awareness about COVID 19, and also released a storybook “Make the Right Choice” to sensitize children and youth on how to keep healthy and safe during COVID 19 pandemic across Africa.

Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation also created an inspiring pan African song called ‘My White Army’ which aimed to thank the doctors and nurses fighting on the front lines of the coronavirus battle, who are risking exposure to the virus so everyone else can stay home and stay healthy. “This song is my personal contribution to COVID-19 response, I appreciate and salute all front line workers- doctors, nurses and health workers, for their selfless act during the COVID 19 pandemic” concluded Dr. Kelej.

Listen to the song by clicking here

Details of the Merck Foundation “MASK UP WITH CARE” Media Recognition Awards 2021:

Who can apply:
Journalists from Print, Radio, Online, and Multimedia platforms from the following groups:

  1. Southern African Countries
  2. West African Countries
  3. East African Countries
  4. African French Speaking Countries
  5. African Portuguese Speaking Countries
  6. Latin American Countries
  7. Asian Countries

How to Apply:

Entries can be submitted via email to:

The Subject line of the mail should mention: Merck Foundation “MASK UP WITH CARE” Media Recognition Awards 2021

Please specify your name, country, category of application, and contact details in the mail.

Categories and Prize Money for each group:

CategoriesPrint MediaOnline MediaRadioMultimedia
Prize MoneyUSD 500USD 500USD 500USD 500

About Merck Foundation:
The Merck Foundation, established in 2017, is the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology. Our efforts are primarily focused on improving access to quality & equitable healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity and empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with a special focus on women and youth. All Merck Foundation press releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Foundation Website

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New leadership and energy sector restructuring is expected to boost energy investments into Niger
April 14, 2021 | 0 Comments

Newly elected President, H. E Mohamed Bazoum who took office on 02 April, has wasted no time in naming a new cabinet which is already at work

By Verner Ayukegba*

Niger has once again demarcated itself in the region by overseeing yet another peaceful and democratic transition of power. This transition, which was unanimously acclaimed globally and largely accepted by all political forces in the country, sets a strong foundation for the long-awaited inflow of investments into Niger’s promising energy sector and overall economic revival.

Newly elected President, H. E Mohamed Bazoum who took office on 02 April, has wasted no time in naming a new cabinet which is already at work. The petroleum portfolio, which is expected to become the driving force for growth in the coming decades, has been merged with the energy portfolio and entrusted to Harvard trained Sani Issoufou Mahamadou. A strong proponent of growing Niger through the development of its huge energy resources, H.E Sani Issoufou Mahamadou is expected to immediately focus on the realisation of a 2,000-km, USD 4.5 billion crude oil pipeline linking Niger’s prolific Agadem Rift Basin to the Beninese coast. The pipeline is expected to have a capacity of 90,000 barrels per day when it is completed by 2023 (est.). It will enable Niger’s daily crude production to rise from currently 20,000 barrels to 110,000 barrels per day, making Niger a key gateway to the much-touted resource rich but largely unexplored Sahel region. International Major, China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) is currently the main operator and sole producer in the Agadem region. It is also the lead developer of the Niger-Benin pipeline which is expected to boost jobs and revenues throughout its construction and the operation of the pipeline.

The pipeline is also likely to trigger additional investment into exploration and drilling in Niger, which now represents a proven petroleum system. Additional recent discoveries from British independent Savannah Energy estimated to hold hundreds of millions of barrels of oil to only increase interest in Niger as one of Africa’s next oil frontiers. Savannah Energy holds several permits in the prolific Agadem Rift Basim. “We are very excited about our assets in Niger and are currently exploring a number of development options” said Yacine Wafy, Vice President for West Africa at Savannah Energy PLC. “We are also extremely encouraged by initial discussions we have had with the new administration, and look forward to a fruitful collaboration”, Mr. Wafy added.

Niger’s government is eager to attract more explorers with proven track records to take advantage of its well understood and technically low risk petroleum basins. Exploration in Niger, also comes at a significantly lower cost when compared to other frontiers globally. Minister Mahamadou has already hinted, at a review of the existing operating environment, with the promise to make improvements where needed.

Niger is also appealing to proven service companies, that will bring expertise, skills, training, technology and finance solutions to the many opportunities that the energy sector in general offers. This will lead to the development of skills amongst Niger’s youth, good paying jobs and quality employment in the sector. The people of Niger and their development must remain at the centre of the energy industry’s development. The industry must accept this and seek to build partnerships with Nigerien entrepreneurs that are mutually beneficial and ensure that a substantial amount of industry profits remain in Niger.

Another key focus of the minister is expected to be a push to increase access to power for Niger’s predominantly youthful population from currently over 16% to 80% by 2035. Of particular focus, are Niger’s rural areas which have power access levels of less than 5%. Many of the power projects envisaged, are expected to be solar mini-grids, taking advantage of Niger’s abundance of sunlight throughout the year.

Independent power projects targeted at developing Niger’s equally promising but largely underexplored mining potential also present an interesting opportunity for investors. “We have been following the developments in Niger and are extremely excited about the possibilities that the power sector offers, especially where there is a commercially viable off-taker for that power”, said Mr. Karl Rheinberger, Senior Managing Director at Frankfurt based Emerging Energy Corporation AG which specialises in investing in energy sector deals in Africa.

Affordable and reliable energy are at the core of development. Niger’s government’s ability to provide these, both to industry and to its population will determine its ability to lift vast sections of its populations out of poverty. Expected revenue from the production of hydrocarbons is also going to be key in providing much needed revenue for development.

* Senior Vice President of the African Energy Chamber. Source African Energy Chamber

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The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) and The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business announce major Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
April 14, 2021 | 0 Comments

The MoU will seek to accelerate Canada-Kenya trade and investment, following initial discussion last year in Nairobi
Caroline Kariuki Source USIU Africa

The Kenya Private Sector Alliance and The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business ( are proud to announce collaboration to promote, support and facilitate bilateral trade and investment opportunities from Canada into Kenya.

The first engagement will be a virtual trade mission to Kenya from Canada in May.

The 3-year agreement MoU was signed today during the Second Session of the Binational Commission meeting between the Governments of Kenya and Canada – and is subject to ongoing renewal.

“This MoU will solidify the existing trade relations between Kenya and Canada and establish strong bonds between the two countries that will go a long way to boost private sector trade and investment. The MOU will also enable us to exchange business information with CACB which is critical especially to our members who wish to expand their coverage to international market,” explained Ms. Carole Kariuki Karuga, KEPSA CEO.

The Kenya Private Sector Alliance is the apex body of private sector in Kenya.

The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business is a 27-years old organization committed to accelerating trade, business and investment between Canada and Africa.

‘Nairobi is a vital gateway not just to Kenya and the region, but the continent’s economies of the future in Africa,’ noted Garreth Bloor, President of The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business.

‘KEPSA is world leader in the private sector, showcasing excellence on the global stage. This MoU is a great honour for The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business, our leadership, and all our members across Canada,’ says Deepak Dave, the organization’s long-standing representative in Nairobi and Chief Risk Officer at the African Trade Insurance Agency.

‘The joint intended results of the co-operation agreement between CACB and KEPSA seeks to increase two-way trade and investment between Canada and Kenya in all sectors – while laying the foundations to explore trade missions to Kenya by The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business and to Canada by KEPSA,’ said Sebastian Spio-Garbrah, Chair of The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business.

Guided by this MOU, CACB and KEPSA will work together towards on a case-by-case basis exploring events together, exchange of business information and reciprocity members of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance to enjoy the privileges of membership afforded to CACB members, and to ensure KEPSA members are well-positioned in the Canadian market for investment and trade in all sectors and that CACB members are well-positioned in the Kenyan market for investment and trade in all sectors.

“As KEPSA, we remain committed to establishing progressive business and trade partnerships with Canada and other similar minded parties for a mutual benefit of our members as well as those of our CACB counterparts,” said Ms. Carole Kariuki Karuga, KEPSA CEO.

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Circular economy, a pathway to sustainable economic growth in Africa
April 14, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Circular practices and policies have been identified as some of the potentials for African economic growth, said Jocelyne Landry Tsonang, a team member of the Africa Circular Economy Network (ACEN).

Speaking during a virtual conference organized by Revolve Circular, Jocelyne said if embraced, a circular economy will ensure more sustainable exploitations of resources by preserving their potential for future generations. It also can improve people, the planet, and profit in industries like agribusiness, construction, textile, energy, transportation, manufacturing, and packaging.

The conference also highlighted challenges hindering the implementation of circular practices in Africa, including the lack of institutional capacity and proper understanding of the concept. Many policy-makers have not yet grasped the various benefits and the scope of Circularity for the continent. There is also the misconception that a circular economy is the same as waste management and recycling, only the last resort.

Another problem is regulatory frameworks that do not exist or are counterproductive and a need to embed circular economy education in curricula and practice it in schools & campuses, which would enable the younger generation to work towards a circular Africa.

At the same time, Revolve Circular, through its President Sören Bauer, revealed that on April 19, 2021, in partnership with Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development at the Utrecht University, it will be launching Imagine Circularity, the first-ever global survey Initiative engaging citizens and other stakeholders around the world to provide the views, perceptions, and ideas on what the circular economy is.

“The necessary transformation from a linear economy obsessed with an economic growth paradigm to a circular and inclusive society will not happen in well-written reports, press releases or in Zoom meetings,” said Sören.

“In our partnership with REVOLVE Circular we provide expertise from many years of sustainability and circular economy research to ensure the global survey is methodologically strong and captures Circularity in a holistic manner. In addition to a global report, we hope to be able to produce a range of country, city, and industry reports, as many various partners from different countries are already planning to join us in this global effort. We will also use the survey’s findings for producing scientific evidence on how different stakeholders in various world regions and industries understand and perceive the circular economy globally,” said Professor Walter Vermeulen from the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands.

The survey outcome will provide insights on the different understandings and perceptions on the topic among stakeholders and nations.

The initiative will be launched in the English language only, and partners can join it by translating it into their respective languages until November 30, 2021.

However, they can extend the generic survey and adapt it into a culturally customized version for their respective country after November.

Partners worldwide are invited to join Revolve Circular and the Copernicus Institute to bring the global opinion poll to their university, city, country, or industry.

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The family of the ex-US President is mourning again
April 14, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

US President Barack Obama speaks with his stepmother Kezia Obama at his swearing in ceremony as the 44th US President at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on January 20, 2009. AFP PHOTO/ TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)

The retired US President Barrack Obama has lost his stepmother Kezia Obama.

The deceased breathed her last on Tuesday night while receiving treatment at a UK hospital, said the family.

Kezia Obama was the first wife to Barack Hussein Obama Senior and the mother to Auma Obama and Malik Obama.

She has been residing in Berkshire, England, since 2011, when she was granted British citizenship.

Kezia’s demise comes barely a month since the former President lost his grandmother, Sarah Obama, who died aged 99 at a Kenyan hospital after a prolonged illness.

Obama eulogized his grandmother as a strong and hard-working person who defied all odds to contribute Obama family’s success.

“My family and I are mourning the loss of our beloved grandmother, Sarah Ogwel Onyango Obama, affectionately known to many as “Mama Sarah” but known to us as “Dani” or Granny. Born in the first quarter of the last century, in Nyanza Province, on the shores of Lake Victoria, she had no formal schooling, and in the ways of her tribe, she was married off to a much older man while only a teen. She would spend the rest of her life in the tiny village of Alego, in a small home built of mud-and thatch brick and without electricity or indoor plumbing. There she raised eight children, tended to her goats and chickens, grew an assortment of crops, and took what the family didn’t use to sell at the local open-air market,” he said in his condolence message.

He continued, “We will miss her dearly, but celebrate with gratitude her long and remarkable life.”

Kezia died aged 81.

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South Sudan:Central Bank Injects 5M USD Into Market To Stabilize Local Currency, Economy
April 14, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Dier Tong Ngor, Governor of the Bank of South Sudan

Juba – South Sudan’s central bank has injected 5 million U.S. dollars into the local market in attempt to stabilize the local pound (SSP) and the country’s economy.

The money will be released every week to normalize the foreign exchange rate in the East Africa’s youngest nation.
In a press conference on Tuesday, Dier Tong Ngor, Governor of the Bank of South Sudan (BOSS), said they have allocated 3 million dollars to commercial banks and 2 million dollars to forex bureaus in order to stabilize the foreign exchange rate.

“This is the new way we will start to supply the market. We will be supplying an amount of $5 million every week – $ 2 million to forex bureau and $3 million to commercial banks,” Tong told journalists in Juba.
The money were auctioned to 22 commercial banks.

According to the bank’s governor, the move will prevent further depreciation of the South Sudanese pound against the US dollar. It would also have a positive effect on the prices of food and other basic commodities.

“So all in all, we will be supplying an amount of 5 million dollars every week,” said Tong. The allocations are aimed at cushioning the weak pound against the dollar,” said Tong.

“We want to control the excess liquidity in the hands of the public because that is the main thing that affects us and it affects inflation. We feel that the pressure on the pounds is because of excess liquidity in pounds and therefore when we are doing auctions, we are trying to mop up that excess liquidity,” said Tong.

The Governor further said that they will continue with the auctioning of hard currency until the foreign exchange market is developed.

“We will be in this for a long haul, we will do this auction until we develop the foreign exchange market so that the Bank of South Sudan can withdraw from the market-making role and we leave it to banks,” said Tong.
Since December 2020, the Bank of South Sudan says it has auctioned over $30 million to the market.

The bank’s governor insists this move has resulted in the stability of the pounds against the dollar.
1 U.S dollar sells at 195 South Sudanese Pounds as indicated on the Central Bank’s website but in the parallel market, 1 dollar sells at 620 pounds.

Governor Tong believes auctioning of hard currency will counter the black market by strengthening the pound.

“I think it has made an impact because it has at least stabilized the parallel market rated for a number of months now,” said governor.

However, an economist and observers advised the government to stop floating the rate of the currency arguing that it gives room for more speculations in the country. South Sudan’s economy is struggling amid hyperinflation caused by the more than six years of the county’s conflict since December 2013. 

The conflict-affected oil production in the northern oil fields causing a reduction in oil revenue earnings. In addition, COVID-19 and the floods has also impacted the economy affecting both oil and non-oil revenue.

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Former Brazilian bishop says he had death threats from Mozambican government
April 14, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jorge Joaquim

Luiz Lisboa, the former bishop of Pemba, has accused the government of Mozambique of making death threats against him.

Lisboa said he was certain it was the government, because the church was the only source of information on the war in Cabo Delgado province, and the government forbade any discussion of the issue, as “they don’t want the country to be talked about badly”.

Lisboa cited the disappearance of a community radio journalist in Cabo Delgado as evidence. Following a meeting with the Pope, he was offered a transfer to Brazil as his life was at risk.

According to Lisboa, the conflict in the northern province of Cabo Delgado is due to “resources, multinationals and wars”, adding that it was not a religious war but an economic one to control the natural resources in the region, such as gas, gold and rubies.

Lisboa said that the government had neglected the local population and was slow to react to calls for action when warned about groups disrespecting local religious leaders.

The relationship between the multinationals and the region was not good, he added, as they did not follow the law, for example on consulting with the local population, and they caused discontent by expelling people from their land.

In February, the Pope transferred Lisboa from Pemba to a new role as bishop of a diocese in Brazil, and granted him the title of Archbishop. Dom Lisboa has been a prominent voice highlighting the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Cabo Delgado.


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S. Sudan President Kiir Tasks New Army Chief To Reorganize Soldiers, Halt Desertions
April 14, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Juba – South Sudan President Salva Kiir has directed the newly appointed army chief to reorganize the soldiers in order to halt desertions in the military training camps in the East Africa’s youngest nation.

President Kiir appointed Gen. Santino Deng Wol on Saturday to replaced Johnson Juma Okot as the new chief of defense forces.

Gen. Okot was replaced within a year after taking over from former Gen. Gabriel Jok Riak.

Gen. Deng, who was the former South Sudan People Defense Force (SSPDF) deputy chief of defense forces for administration and finance took oath of office on Monday in Juba.

In his remarks, the President and the commander in chief, Kiir instructed General Deng to reorganize the deserted forces.

“You have been brought into this position, and this is a big position among all your peers, because if there are no security forces, there is no security, no army, then there is no nation. You Santino you need to find out what is scattering the soldiers,” President Kiir told the new army chief. “Find it out. You people bring me a big parade and demand money, this is greed for money.”

According to the 2018 peace deal, the peace parties are supposed to unify their forces under one command and transform it into a national army.

There have been several reports  that soldiers are leaving the cantonment sites due to a lack of food, medication and shelter.

The report also said that soldiers are surviving on mangoes after Juba failed to give them food supplies.

In most of the cantonments, there are no vehicles to transport sick soldiers to nearby health facilities.

It’s been two years since the soldiers were assembled at training camps across the country.

Their graduation has been postponed severally due to what the government described as a lack of funds.

Several soldiers had reportedly died while in the training and cantonment camps in Rajaf, Mundri, and other places.

Observers believe the delay to unify and graduate the forces has forced some SSPDF, and ex – rebel soldiers to desert the cantonment sites across the country..

However, the UN have raised concerns that these soldiers could cause insecurity in villages and along the major highways.

Of recently, more than 10 people including foreigners were ambushed, killed and three trucks were set ablaze along major highways in South Sudan.

According to UN, the country’s 2018 peace process remains fragile, despite the parties having registered some positive progress since the formation of the revitalized transitional government of national unity in February 2020.

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Junior Doctors in Sierra Leone go on strike
April 14, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

Dr. Catherine Jackson- Cole

Junior Doctors Association  in Sierra Leone ( JUDASIL) have started a nation-wide strike action following an assault on one of its members, a female medical doctor, Dr. Catherine Jackson- Cole working at the country’s main referral hospital –Connaught Hospital adding that they demand an immediate resignation of the Chief Medical Officer , the permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health including the deputy of Minister of  Health and Sanitation 1 as their members don’t feel safe and confident working with authorities who violate the fundamental human rights of  its people.

According to the release, the junior doctors will be laying down their tools with immediate effect, until appropriate action is taken about the assault and the working environment; the cleaning at Connaught Hospital, the issue of water supply at Princess Christian Maternity Hospital is improved.

“In the early hours of today, 13th April 2021, the executive of Junior doctors’ associations of Sierra Leone was informed about an unfortunate situation at Connaught Hospital where one of its female members was physically assaulted by the permanent Secretary (PS) the chief Medical Officer (CMO) and the deputy Minister of 1 (DM1) of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS),’’ the release reads.

According to the junior doctors they saw the assault on one of its member as frustrating and show the continuous disrespect by the officials at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation towards them as medical practitioners across the nation.

Dr. Jackson Cole has been recently vocal highlighting some of the challenges at the country biggest and largest referral hospital including the state owned children’s hospital, the Princess Christian Maternity Hospital through her twitter account which has been trending on different social media platforms including whatsApp drawing the attention of the Bio-led government to take action over the poor system delivery, the lack of infrastructure in the health sector.

“Walking through Connaught corridors and through ward 1 and 3 was I have patients I am shocked that the problem with the mounting filth has been resolved. I am ashamed to work here. No cleaners around because they haven’t been paid,’’ she wrote on her twitter feeds on 12th April 2021.

“The JUDASIL executive and its membership are following the matter keenly. It is worth noting that the said assaulted member has been very dedicated and proactive in discussing matters concerning health care in Sierra Leone. It is important for the public to that despite the deplorable condition and filth at Connaught Hospital and other facilities around the country, doctors have continued to work and serve the public with commitment. It is unfortunate that authorities that should mitigate the filth at the facility are adding salt to the injury,’’ the junior doctors added.

Meanwhile a release on Tuesday signed by the Minister of Health, Dr. Austin Demby said that the leadership of the Ministry is fully committed to resolving a labour dispute and another incident involving staff of the country’s healthy Ministry.

“The general public and staff of the Ministry are encouraged to remained calm and continue their normal business as these matters are fully investigated to a peaceful and amicable conclusion,’’ the release reads.

“The public will be informed as investigations into all incidents unfold’’

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Kenya impound 39 vehicles ferrying unsafe maize from Uganda
April 14, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Kenya is holding 39 lorries arrested while sneaking unsafe maize in the country from Uganda, announced the Ministry of Agriculture.

The said lorries were seized at Busia border point, western Kenya.

The Ministry revealed that unscrupulous traders import the maize through the non-gazetted border points despite the government’s directive that banned maize from Tanzania and Uganda.

While issuing the ban on March 5, 2021, Kenya’s Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) claims the maize from her neighbors is unfit for consumption due to high levels of mycotoxins beyond the maximum required levels of 10 parts per billion.

Police have been deployed at all border points to stop the maize from entering the country.

A stern warning has been issued against the businessmen contravening the government directive, with those caught will be nabbed and charged in the court of law.

“The Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (EACC) and DCI are on high alert to deal with any corrupt officers and/or traders at border points who shall engage in corrupt practices in exchange for maize entry approval stamps without inspection and verification,” said the Ministry of Agriculture.

The Cereal Millers Association (CMA), on Monday, April 12, said the rise in maize flour is offing due to a shortage of maize occasioned by the ban.

The CMA vehemently opposed the ban, saying there is a lack of coordination and communication between government and regulatory agencies.

“The CMA welcomes the ban on maize that contains aflatoxin levels above the 10 parts per billion (ppb) thresholds but is requesting the government to allow maize that does not breach this level be allowed to avoid a grain shortage,” noted the association.

However, through the Ministry on Tuesday, the government dismiss CMA’s claims saying there is a surplus of 11,807,681 90kg bags expected to last to the end of May 2021, with the price of maize expected to remain stable.

“Currently, the wholesale maize price is averaging Ksh. 2,600 per 90 kg bag, with the highest prices of up to Ksh. 4,392 reported in Garissa county and the lowest prices of Ksh. 1,980 in Laikipia county,” the Ministry reiterated.

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Terrorists in Mozambique are recruiting child soldiers and trafficking women, says OMR
April 14, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jorge Joaquim

Insurgents are kidnapping children, turning them into child soldiers and trafficking women abroad, according to Mozambican NGO Observatory of the Rural World (OMR), based on testimonies from 23 women who escaped their kidnappers.

 It says that hundreds of women have been kidnapped and brainwashed, and that the most attractive girls then announce that they have been selected to go and study in Tanzania. In fact, they are moved through trafficking networks that extend into Europe and the Persian Gulf.

The women report seeing children doing military training, some of which have been training for two to three years. One 14-year-old boy is reported as saying that he was happy with his first murder and decapitation.

The insurgents are far more organised than what the media reports, says the study, adding that there are communications specialists, nurses and mechanics, as well as dedicated soldiers.

The insurgency is recruiting people opposed to the state, the report says, arguing that the misbehaviour of government forces and poor treatment of refugees is creating a cycle of violence.

It calls for greater international cooperation to control the border, share information and investigate the insurgents, as well as economic support for the refugees.

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Zimbabwe’s revenue authority to procure US$2m drones to monitor smuggling at ports of entry
April 14, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Minister of Finance, Prof. Mthuli Ncube

The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) reports that it  will move with speed to procure drones worth an estimated US$2 million that will be used at all ports of entry to reduce smuggling and underhand deals.

 It is reported that plans are also at an advanced stage to place a CCTV camera system at border posts and strategic areas.

 “The CCTV system will be linked to a loss control command centre at ZIMRA head office that will have sight of the footage live feed from the border post. The system is expected to be procured and installed from funding in the 2021 budget,” a spokesperson said.

The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority says that it continues to enforce controls to avoid importation of restricted or prohibited goods through the Electronic Cargo Tracking system (ECTS).

In 2020, ZIMRA reported that they sealed 35,076 trucks which gave the authority USD$1,083,302.88 in sealing fees while the total revenue from fines stood at USD$216,900.00.

The system uses GPS/GPRS technology for tracking. Electronic seals are affixed to cargo containers, box trucks, soft sided trucks (flat decks with side curtains), tankers, and break bulk (goods under tarpaulin) the electronic seals send regular signals to the control room to show the location of the cargo. The electronic seal connects to the internet and the control room is manned 24 hours a day and relays information of violations to the reaction teams.

On sealing of a truck the driver is required to select a dedicated geo-fenced route to the exit port which is captured in the system. Any diversion from these routes or entry into a restricted zone constitutes a geo fence violation which attracts a US$2000.00 fine. Other violations include unauthorized opening of the seal, tampering with the SIM cards, losing and/or damaging the seal. Reaction Teams may immediately be dispatched or action taken at exit point, depending on nature of violation.

In the future, ZIMRA will submit position papers to ensure the system which was imported will be produced locally in partnership with other domestic players who will be required to benchmark against international best practice and to get international accreditation. Currently the ECTS that ZIMRA uses is from Malaysia and there is a keen interest from the Minister of Finance, Prof. Mthuli Ncube, to have ZIMRA investigate the possibility of a locally produced system.

The aim is to expand the transit economy with Zimbabwe acting as a transit hub in the region together with ensuring Zimbabwe adopts and implements the concept of dry ports in areas such as Makuti and Forbes.

The Ministry of Finance said that it will continue to support and equip ZIMRA to remain vigilant in its mandate of mobilizing financial resources for the nation. ZIMRA has been capacitated and has been supported through the provision of new vehicles for its operations. ZIMRA has recently taken delivery of 20 Landcruisers, 5 Hiace Minibuses and 5 NP300 single curb trucks the total is 30 vehicles.

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New report highlights drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in Africa
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

African Climate Reality Project has produced a research report under our their Sink Our CO2 campaign titled :A people-centred approach to managing Africa’s forests as a carbon sink  which reviews the state of Africa’s forests and their carbon stocks, highlighting the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in Africa, and recommends practices and policies to manage forest ecosystems to maximise their capacity as carbon sinks.

 It is reported that the  report can be used  to sensitize communities, host workshops,engaging  elected representatives on how they can best manage their forest ecosystems, and more.

It is reported that climate change is a fundamental threat to global prosperity. Since the Industrial Revolution, human-induced carbon emissions, such as the burning of fossil fuels, have increased the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere by nearly a third, contributing significantly towards the global climate crisis. As atmospheric concentrations of CO2 continue to rise, policy makers have had to explore means not only to reduce emissions, but also to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. One of the ways to achieve this is through the improved management of
ecosystems that behave as carbon sinks.

Between 1960 and 2015, only 44% of anthropogenic (human-induced) carbon emissions were stored in the atmosphere. The remainder was absorbed by the earth’s carbon sinks. Carbon sinks capture atmospheric CO2 and store it in reservoirs such as the ocean, forests, grasslands and soil. Intact forests and tropical forests in particular, play a vital role in sequestering carbon from the atmosphere via photosynthesis and are considered one of the few natural solutions to curbing climate change. Beyond their role in enhancing resilience to climate change, tropical forests are a source of goods and services that support rural livelihoods, health and safety, and food and energy security.

Until recently, tropical forests were considered robust and stable carbon sinks. However, higher temperatures and increased drought in response to climate change have stunted tree growth, increased tree mortality, and enhanced the risk of wildfires and pest outbreaks in tropical forests. In addition, deforestation and forest degradation around the globe releases more carbon into the atmosphere than the European Union. As such, there is concern that these factors may cumulatively reduce the overall strength of the tropical forest carbon sink and that, if left unaddressed, it may reverse into a source of CO2 in coming years.

Africa is home to around 18% of the world’s tropical forests, which cover approximately 23% of the continent in a band stretching from Senegal on the west coast to Jebel Hantara near Somalia. While 20% of the world’s photosynthesis occurs in African ecosystems, the continent is also responsible for 20% of global land use CO2 emissions from forest degradation and deforestation, with Africa exhibiting the highest loss of forest area in the world.

The report provides an in-depth review of the state and distribution of Africa’s tropical forests and their associated carbon stocks. It highlights the current drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in Africa and recommends practices and policies to best manage forest ecosystems in a way that maximises their capacity as a carbon sink.
African governments are urged to adopt and implement these recommendations in their respective countries and to ensure that their sustainable forest management approach has people at its core.

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African Energy Developments Demand Sustained Investment with new projects in Mozambique, Uganda, and Senegal
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

A recent uptick in direct investment activities in Africa’s energy sector sheds light on the role of sustained investor interest in catalyzing socio-economic growth
Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan with President Museveni of Uganda

 In the past twelve months, the African energy sector has seen several encouraging developments – in the form of both Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and strategic partnerships – that have advanced the sustainable development of its natural resources. In fact, despite a global downturn in investment in 2020, FDI flows to developing economies accounted for 72% of global FDI, the highest share to date. Given the magnitude of Africa’s oil and gas reserves – not to mention its abundant renewable resource wealth – the continent remains a highly attractive market for inbound investment, which is vital for its growth.

Take Uganda, for instance, which is home to one of the largest onshore discoveries in sub-Saharan Africa. Following multiple petroleum discoveries in Uganda’s Albertine Graben – estimated to contain 6.5 billion barrels of oil, of which 1.4 billion are considered recoverable – foreign investments into the country are expected to reach nearly $20 billion. Last April, Total E&P Uganda B.V. signed a Sale and Purchase Agreement with Tullow Oil PC, through which Total will acquire Tullow’s entire 33.34% interests in Uganda’s Lake Albert development project and the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP). Five months later, the Ugandan Government and Total signed a host government agreement for EACOP, representing a significant step toward reaching a final investment decision. The deal pushes along an extended development process – slowed by infrastructure issues, tax complications, then COVID-19 – that not only promises to bring first oil by 2022, but also provides a pathway to monetization via associated transport infrastructure.

In addition to developments at Lake Albert, the Ugandan Government has proven its commitment to attracting FDI to its hydrocarbon sector through its second licensing round held last year, as well as its invitation to local and foreign entities to forge joint-venture partnerships with the Government. By prioritizing the establishment of mutually beneficial partnerships, the emerging East African producer aims to facilitate the successful transfer of skills, knowledge and technology, initiating an influx of technical expertise and working capital into the country.

“Those who have been locked out from access to opportunity want the same from the energy sector that the energy sectors want from governments.  We must not forget local content, local jobs, local opportunities especially for young people and women” Stated NJ Ayuk Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber ,

Meanwhile, in West Africa, Senegal has been reaping the rewards of a long-standing partnership with Germany, which has resulted in more than one billion Euros in funding, including significant support for small-scale power plants and renewable energy projects. Holding sizeable potential for solar and wind energy development, Senegal serves as a regional leader in renewable deployment as a means of rural electrification. Indeed, energy is a central component of poverty alleviation across Africa, with electricity access enabling greater independence, clean cooking and potable water, as well as dramatically improving the well-being of individuals, businesses and communities alike.  Rural populations are cognizant of the challenges posed by a lack of stable electricity supply – increased urban migration, lack of access to basic services, low economic competitiveness, to name a few – and distributed renewables can represent the fastest and least expensive path to electrification.

European interest in Senegal has shed light on and served as a model for co-operation opportunities between renewable-rich African countries and developed partners, which offer cutting-edge technologies and technical expertise to transform raw resources into viable off-grid and mini-grid solutions.  

Furthermore, while the cost of deploying renewable technology has never been lower, the availability of renewable-focused capital has never been higher. Investment in commercial and industrial solar has demonstrated resilience against the pandemic, continuing to be seen as a safe investment in light of rising utility costs and increasing distribution of both solar and financial technologies. Yet resource potential and low costs of equipment are not enough; Senegal and other resource-rich African nations require active investor interest and strong government support to unlock diversified energy mixes. In turn, a lack of investment represents a pointed threat to the achievement of long-term energy security.

“Young people and women have shown their great resilience, and it is our hope we close these deals in the renewable energy sector, Africans can have a sense of some hope that they will be included in the industry contracts and opportunities. It is no longer correct for the African to be the last hired and the first fired” Concluded Ayuk.

Moreover, without sustained levels of FDI continuing to move the needle on oil, gas and renewable developments, energy export revenues run the risk of being stranded and resources left undeveloped. For emerging producers like Uganda – as well as Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique, among several others – this would mean foregoing critical government revenues that could aid in a much-needed, post-COVID-19 economic recovery. FDI is vital to Africa’s growth, and while it may be challenging to procure capital in a tepid global economy, it is even more difficult not to. Yes, COVID-19 has put emerging producers in a tough spot: new exploration is seen as risky, and new producers lack existing assets or low-cost development of marginal fields on which to fall back. However, it is not an option to slow or postpone time-sensitive developments that promise to harness natural resource wealth and make sustainable improvements in standards of living across the continent. Africa requires a sustained flow of investment and has proven time and again that it offers the scope of projects and magnitude of resources that are worthy of foreign capital.

*African Energy Chamber

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The Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) circular on the trading of foreign securities by investment platforms in Nigeria
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ibrahim Moshood*

The apex regulator of securities in Nigeria, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) has issued a circular, with respect to technology investment platforms providing the Nigerian public with access to foreign securities. The circular dated 8 April 2021, issues a strong warning to these investment platforms and Capital Market Operators (“CMOs”) in partnership with them to provide brokerage services. Both categories of players in the financial space were warned to desist from providing the Nigerian public, with access to foreign securities. This is pivoted on the grounds that these securities are neither registered with the SEC nor listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (“NSE”).

From 2018, technology start-ups have pioneered major disruptions of the financial space in Nigeria. These disruptions have been lauded by Nigerians, particularly at a time when there has been a persistent devaluation of the Naira.  Savvy and upwardly mobile Nigerians have then opted to use these technology platforms, to save in foreign currencies and also purchase foreign stocks that are being offered. Some of these technology investment platforms include Trove, RiseVest, Chaka and Bamboo etc. They typically partner with CMOs in Nigeria for their expertise and already-procured brokerage licence.

As a background, recall that in December 2019, the SEC had published a statement to notify the Nigerian public of its interim orders to restrain an investment platform called Chaka Technologies Limited (“Chaka”). This order came about as a result of the advertisement and sale of foreign securities of companies such as Google, Alibaba, Facebook, Tesla etc. in Nigeria by Chaka. The SEC had informed the Investment Securities Tribunal (“IST”) that Chaka had offered securities for sale “outside the regulatory purview of the Commission and without requisite registration as stipulated by the Investment and Securities Act (“ISA”).

Chaka responded to the allegations above by releasing a press statement, denying the wrongdoing entirely.  However, in March, Chaka announced that it had obtained a newly created licence from the SEC which allows it to offer the services above i.e. advertising and sale of foreign securities to the Nigerian public.

Notwithstanding the development above, the SEC had kept quiet for months on this issue until this recent circular, which Nigerians have reacted to as a deliberate attempt to stifle innovation by the regulators, create a multiple licensing regime, an inordinate drive for revenue and a shoddy attempt at stabilizing exchange rate of the Naira.

Currently, two major questions should be addressed by the SEC.

  1. Is the sale of foreign securities by these platforms prohibited in Nigeria?
  2. Is there a licence issued by the SEC or some other regulatory agency that would allow these investment platforms carry on the business of selling foreign securities in Nigeria?

Hopefully, the SEC will release a more informative circular or press statement clarifying what investment firms should do to continue offering these foreign securities. In the meantime, investors and investment firms alike are enjoined to consult professionals for more clarity.

*Associate, Centurion Law Group,.

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ITFC and the Republic of Cameroon Sign a US$750 Million Three-year Framework Agreement to Support Cameroon’s Key Sectors through Integrated Trade Solutions
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

A EUR 98 Million Murabaha financing agreement with SODECOTON was also signed to facilitate the purchase of agricultural inputs and cotton seeds
Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, CEO of ITFC and H.E. Alamine Ousmane Mey, Minister of Economy, Planning and Regional Development (IsDB Governor)

The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) , a member of the Islamic Development Bank Group (IsDB) and the Republic of Cameroon have signed on April 12, 2021 two agreements in a virtual signing ceremony between H.E. Alamine Ousmane Mey, Minister of Economy, Planning and Regional Development (IsDB Governor) and Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, CEO, ITFC.

The first signing is a three-year framework agreement amounting to US$ 750 Million under which ITFC will provide to Cameroon a financing envelop of US $ 250 Million annually over a period of three years to facilitate the imports of key commodities in the strategic sectors of energy, mining, in addition to the health sector with medical supplies including healthcare equipment. It will also sustain its already strong support to the priority sector of agricultural with the exports of agricultural commodities such as cotton, soy amongst others.

Through this framework agreement, ITFC will also be extending its support to SMEs and private sector through financing facilities to local banks and financial institutions. It will also support trade development through capacity building initiatives to strengthen key sectors including healthcare. The agreement also enshrines Cameroon’s membership to ITFC’s flagship program, the Arab-Africa Trade Bridges (AATB) program, which aims to facilitate trade and investment flows between Arab and African regions.

In this regard, H.E. Alamine Ousmane Mey stated that, “We are very pleased with the agreements signed with ITFC. The three-year renewal of our cooperation framework is a sign of the good and strong cooperation between Cameroon and ITFC, and of the continued goodwill to implement a successful planning strategy in the country. The US $750 Million financing will help the Cameroonian government consolidate its economic recovery efforts in the specific context of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, by facilitating the importation of crucial energy products, medical supplies, and agriculture inputs, whilst strengthening the fundamentals of the economy of Cameroon through private sector and SME development. This is an opportunity for us to reiterate Cameroon’s sincere thanks to ITFC.”

The CEO of ITFC, Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol reiterated the Corporation’s commitment to supporting economic recovery in Cameroon saying that, “We are keen to continue our successful collaboration with the Government of Cameroon through providing trade solutions that best meet the needs of the country, especially in view of the impact of COVID-19. We are committed to working closer with our partners and to support the country in its efforts to develop important sectors such as agriculture, especially cotton, which is a major export commodity, as well as to support the country’s financial institutions to boost private sector development and SME growth.”

The second signing is related to a EUR 98 Million Murabaha Financing agreement in favour of Société de Développement du Coton (SODECOTON), to facilitate the purchase of agricultural inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, seed cotton, and soybeans. ITFC has a long-standing relationship with Cameroon and SODECOTON. ITFC financing to date has enabled the country to achieve a record production of 328,454 tons of seed cotton collected in 2019/2020, of which 115,000 tons of cotton lint were exported despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

About the International Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC):
The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) is a member of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group. It was established with the primary objective of advancing trade among OIC member countries, which would ultimately contribute to the overarching goal of improving socioeconomic conditions of the people across the world. Commencing operations in January 2008, ITFC has provided US$55 billion of financing to OIC member countries, making it the leading provider of trade solutions for these member countries’ needs. With a mission to become a catalyst for trade development for OIC member countries and beyond, the Corporation helps entities in member countries gain better access to trade finance and provides them with the necessary trade-related capacity building tools, which would enable them to successfully compete in the global market.

*SOURCE International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC)

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French oil company, Total, defends the indefensible as investment decision is signed for a massive climate-destroying crude oil pipeline in East Africa
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

Global – French oil company, Total, has been accused of ignoring significant human rights violations and huge environmental and climate risks as it pushed ahead yesterday with the signing of an investment decision to build the world’s longest heated crude oil pipeline through Uganda and Tanzania.

Although the signing will likely see Total, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation and the Ugandan and Tanzanian national oil companies ramp up their efforts to secure financing and insurance, the project still has many hurdles to overcome and affected communities and civil society groups are calling on financial institutions to refuse to support the project.

Instead of responding to the urgent needs of affected communities and repeated alerts from civil society, Total has focused its recent efforts on a greenwashing communication strategy. 

A week after more than 260 African and international organisations sent an open letter to 25 banks urging them not to finance the construction of the EACOP, Total issued statements on its website describing its environmental and social risk assessment and mitigation strategies for the EACOP and Tilenga oil extraction project as “rigorous” and claiming to act “responsibly and transparently” on the social and environmental issues related to the projects. 

The #StopEACOP Alliance has since examined the claims and the previously confidential reports, and is today issuing a detailed response. The statement clarifies several misleading figures Total offered on key aspects of the project, such as the number of oil wells to be drilled within Murchison Falls National Park, and the number of project-affected people for Tilenga and EACOP. Contrary to the company’s claims, more than 100,000 persons and dozens of sensitive ecosystems in Uganda and Tanzania stand to suffer the consequences of the company’s actions.

Vitally, for a corporation that seeks to position itself as somehow being a climate leader, Total chooses to ignore the massive climate risks posed by building a pipeline to transport crude oil that will generate a new source of 34.3 million metric tons of carbon emissions at the peak of its operation.

The response statement, which draws from dozens of independent assessments, NGO reports, and community petitions, clearly disproves the claim by Total’s CEO, Patrick Pouyanné, that the projects would be “carried out in an exemplary manner and create value for the people in both countries.”

These criticisms are not new: the flaws of Total’s handling of the projects have been well documented by independent experts and civil society. 

The Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment has previously stated that the EACOP Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) is “not fit for purpose,” while Oxfam and the International Federation for Human Rights have said that Total has failed to address a large portion of the core recommendations the NGOs made in their community-based human rights impact assessments.

The company is also facing a historical lawsuit in France for its failure to prevent human rights violations and environmental damage linked to these projects. 

#StopEACOP Alliance members reacted today to Total’s greenwashing efforts and the signing of the investment decision. 

Quotes from spokespeople

The agreements concluded   yesterday is a huge setback in the fight against climate change in which the governments and Uganda, Tanzania and Total say to be committed to. Launching oil projects and the associated construction of the pipeline at this moment where global actors are doing their best to keep all all fossil fuels in the ground is likely to serve the only interests of Total as the shareholder while sacrificing the livelihoods of millions of people in the Victoria bassin, destroying the rich and unique ecosystems and adding over 34 million tons of unnecessary CO2 emissions every single year. – Landry Ninteretse, Regional Director

Total’s decision to move forward with opening a new oil frontier in Africa is in blatant contradiction to the CEO’s attempt to depict the oil major as a climate-conscious, responsible, multi-energy company. EACOP will bring climate chaos and biodiversity loss while already causing serious human rights violations. It’s high time for financial institutions to stand up against the group’s criminal acts. We call on banks to publicly commit to stay clear from the project and investors to vote against Total’s climate strategy and the renewal of the mandate of its CEO Patrick Pouyanné the group’s AGM in May. – Lucie Pinson, Founder and Executive Director of Reclaim Finance

There is no reason for Total to engage in oil exploration and the construction of the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) because this means fuelling the destruction of the planet and worsening the already existing climate disasters in the most affected areas. There is no future in the fossil fuel industry and we cannot drink oil. We demand Total to rise up for the people and the planet. – Vanessa Nakate, Founder of the Rise Up Climate Movement

While Total claims to act ‘responsibly and transparently’, our engagements with district leaders and local communities whose land is being compulsorily acquired for the EACOP project shows otherwise. In March 2021, Total published the Resettlement Action Plan [RAP] for the EACOP project online to ostensibly foster information sharing. However, district leaders and local affected communities were unaware that the RAP exists until we informed them about it between April 6 and 8, 2021. The district leaders and communities remain unaware of the contents of the RAP. How can communities for whom the RAP is intended be among the last to know about it? The truth is that Total sought to portray itself as being transparent when the company isn’t where it matters the most, with the local affected communities. – Dickens Kamugisha, CEO of Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO) 

There are grave concerns about the securitisation of oil activities and intimidation. Community liaison officers employed by Total follow CSOs into meetings which creates an atmosphere of fear, as communities have reported that they are intimidated by the community liaison officers. Communities are intimidated when they speak out against low or unfair assessments for their property that is being compulsorily acquired. EACOP-affected communities have also reported being forced to sign compensation assessment forms that they don’t agree with following intimidation by security agencies alongside land acquisition consultants. – Kayinga Muddu Yisito, the Network Co-ordinator for Community Transformation Foundation Network (COTFONE)

The oil companies are trying to dress up the investment decision signing ceremony, but fortunately this climate-destroying project is far from a done deal. Total and CNOOC still need to secure insurance and raise $2.5 billion in debt financing for the EACOP to move forward and they are going to struggle mightily to find enough banks and insurance providers willing to associate themselves with such a reckless project and assume its manifold risks on their books.  – David Pred, Executive Director of Inclusive Development International


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Nigeria: The Man Who Would Be President
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Richard Mammah

Asiwaju Bola Tinubu chaired the 2021 Sarduana Annual Memorial Lecture in Kaduna.Photo courtesy

Interest in the succession to incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari was raised a notch higher recently when the National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Party, APC, and already touted front-runner in the 2023 presidential process, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, undertook two high profile visits to the north-ward Kano and Kaduna states.

A Yoruba from the South West, Tinubu who has been a two-time governor in Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre, Lagos, was presumably now formally reaching out for the handshake across Jebba as part of what pundits believe is part of a wider process of throwing his hat into the ring and definitively signaling that he was prepared and ready to take the reins of office after President Buhari would have completed his second term in office by May 2023.

Given Nigeria’s political divisions and demographic make-up, it is apparent that no single political player can all by himself work his way into the most exalted office in the land.

First, the constitution prescribes that any intending office holder at this level must not only be fielded by a contending political party, he must also secure a majority of the votes from the contest and a minimum of 25 percent of the votes recorded in two thirds of the 36 states in the country and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT. For Buhari who has for many years, commanded a relative cult-like following across large swathes of the North, meeting this electoral criteria was even a challenge until he found better cross-cutting relationships across more segments of the country.

So, for an aspirant like Tinubu, he must ford the triple hurdles of getting a party nomination, a majority of ballots and a quarter of the votes cast in all 36 states and Abuja, the imperative of reaching across Nigeria’s divisions cannot be discountenanced if his ambition is to attract the required traction. And underscoring this point is the fact that he had even before now almost practically been spending large amounts of time in his Abuja lodgings, from where he had been quietly reaching out to more and more of his supporters and foot soldiers in the North.

Some of this attention surely helped Tinubu in attracting the fairly enthusiastic audience and crowd showings that were recorded in the course of this recent Northern showing.

But not many think that the Jagaban Borgu should now go to sleep after his Kaduna/Kano performance in the belief that all is well with his aspiration as far as the North is concerned.

One of such expressions of caution is coming from the activist and former Senator representing the Kaduna Central District in the National Assembly, Shehu Sani. He has advised the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress to be generally wary in his dealings with northerners, and especially members of the Northern political class.

Rather than be taken in by platitudes and speeches made at such orchestrated events as his appearances at Arewa House, Kaduna and in Kano, the former Senator is advising the political hopeful to ensure that he gets his own team that would work with him and in the process also afford him better counsel as to the deeper and underlying issues about how well or not he is accepted in the region.

Affirming that at the moment, the majority of the common people in the North do not exactly support Tinubu’s presidential ambition, he urged him to take lessons from the experiences of the likes of Bashorun Moshood Kashimawo Olawale (MKO) Abiola who finally found out that he could not count on the support of quite critical northerners that he had been relying on.

“Well, the person of Asiwaju is the one I know in the field of struggle. He was one of those in the struggle for the restoration of democracy and also a leading figure in the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) while I was part of the fight for democracy. We worked together for MKO’s project and for the resistance against the annulment.’

Making an allusion to an earlier tweet where he had counselled that Tinubu should get Hausa speakers who are loyal to him to help with proper translations of remarks made by Northerners in the course of his trips, he remarked that this would help get a proper and accurate gauge that he could work with, even as he linked it with the travails of MKO Abiola.

“I know [Tinubu] personally. But what I tweeted is more of a Biblical/Shakespearian allegory or whatever one can use in sending message to someone and what I am trying to say is that as he is allegedly moving towards contesting for the presidency, he should try to know the actual feeling on the ground as far as the North is concerned because I know what Abiola went through.

“Abiola served the North more than any other businessman from the western part of Nigeria. He printed the Quran and shared it to many Muslims. He donated houses and empowered people; he supported academics and religious clerics. Abiola was one of those passionate about the unity of Nigeria because of the solidarity between the South-West and the northern part of Nigeria. But how did he end up? They (northerners) conspired against him and sabotaged him and at the end of the day, he was gone.”

Keen observers say Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu used his trip to the North to meet voters and power brokers who are normally not on social media.Photo credit twitter

A mine field of booby traps

The deterioration of affairs in the polity at the moment has even made political permutations more difficult as there are indeed an ever increasing array of contending matters. One of these is the inconvenient issue of religion. Though it has almost always been a factor, it promises to take a high note of its own in the Tinubu aspiration at some point in the process. This is more so when the same Tinubu had also been a front-line contender for the VP position in 2015 before religion and several other related-intrigue points stopped him.

In the 2023 drive, the religion card is already registering in two ways in preliminary debates of the subject. One, against the backdrop of the ethno-religious tensions in the land at the moment, would the dominant Christian electorate of the South eventually see the Muslim Tinubu as their own candidate without any scruples? And even for the North, what kind of VP choice should Tinubu be considering? A Northern Christian to balance his Southern Muslim card? But should he take that route, would the majority Northern Muslims see such as choice as sufficiently representative of their own ethos? Heads, tails, this is surely going to be one tough nut to crack.

There is also the issue of South West, South East relations and the continuing clamour for a President of South East origin.

Says the political activist and pundit, Tony Akata:

‘Tinubu’s major obstacles would come from the South, that is from within the Yoruba and Igbo blocs. He is also thinking he would get the support of the North but this is quite tricky. If they get, say a Tambuwal to run against him in the North, he would then have even major issues even in the North. We should not forget the experiences of Abiola and even Obasanjo so easily when it comes to having politicians from the South having dealings with the North.’

But there are those who believe that given the state of political and economic failing in which the country is presently enmeshed, and the very parlous security situation countrywide, angling for political office at this time is simply building on quicksand.

‘My take is that without the institution of serious restructuring and electoral reforms, we should simply not bother with elections and electoral contests in 2023. It is simply a distraction. Will there be a Nigeria by 2023? At least not in a state for these so called elections to be held. And on the specific candidacy of Bola Tinubu, I am not impressed. He does not have what I believe the next leader of Nigeria should have. So my response to his candidacy straight away is a no-no,’ Okiemute Umukoro, a business systems expert remarked.

His view is not dissimilar from that of Allison Etemike, a lawyer and social commentator.

‘Tinubu does not have what it takes to hold Nigeria together beyond 2023. The Nigerian political class know that they have literally boxed the nation into a cul de sac. They are aware. That we are faced with a very onerous task and most herculean challenge. What is needed is a honest, courageous, conscientious, charismatic, even-handed and fair leader. And I am not satisfied that Bola Tinubu is that person.’

Bola Tinubu and President Buhari have been known to be strong allies

The blogger and activist, Sunday Esado is also not enamoured of the Tinubu presidency project and he explains:

‘As a patriotic Nigerian, I believe a Tinubu Presidency would further plunge our country into political nepotism and wanton destruction occasioned by embezzlement, malfeasance, financial recklessness and lawlessness. We should just take a look at what is going on in Lagos and imagine the whole country as an extension of Lagos.’

But he also thinks that there are more obstacles and challenges for the dream of the former Mobil Accountant to become Nigeria’s Number One citizen.

‘First, Tinubu needs massive support in the north where he has little or no popularity at all. A candidate like Atiku would definitely cash in on this loophole if he emerges the flagbearer for PDP in 2023. This would explain why Tinubu has been deliberate in his drive to win the north over.

Second, I would have suggested Nuhu Ribadu or Governor El-Rufai as potential vice Presidents for him, but I am reminded that the Muslim – Muslim equation was the main reason he had to relinquish his Vice Presidential ambition to Yemi Osinbajo in 2015 in the first place. It is surely going to be interesting and full of twists and turns. But one thing is obvious. Tinubu wants to be President. He has always wanted to be. It was one of the main reasons for the coalition that led to the removal of Jonathan in 2015 and there are flyers and posters in that regard already in some parts of Lagos and elsewhere in the country.’

*Culled from April Issue of PAV Magazine

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Laurent Gbagbo And The Politics Of International Justice.
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Chief Charles Taku*

Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands January 2019.Photo credit ICC

The judgment of the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court confirming the acquittal of the former President of Cote D’Ivoire and his former cabinet Minister Charles Goude Ble brings to public attention, once more, the intensity of the problem facing the Court more than two decades after it was created. The acquittal clarifies the debate which I helped to jumpstart, about the unfair and unwarranted exclusive focus on Africa by the ICC Prosecutor.

 From inception, this charge was dismissed with reckless arrogance by persons who miscomprehended the original objectives of the Rome Statute which I strongly support, to be an instrument for settling political scores. Others misconstrued my concerns and criticism for support of perpetrators of atrocity crimes on the continent of Africa.  This was inaccurate. I admitted at every opportunity that atrocity crimes are committed in Africa and that the perpetrators must be held accountable. My participation for over two decades in all international courts  and tribunals contributing with my peers from all parts of the world, Africa in particular,  in the search for international justice and the respect for the international rule of law, attests to my commitment towards accountability for international crimes.

The acquittal of President Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Goude Ble, present an opportunity once more, for the ICC to bring about the reforms which a majority of the State Parties of the Rome State and international justice seekers in Africa and the rest of the world are seeking.  Here are the reasons.  The ICC intervention in political conflicts which escalated into violence and atrocity crimes in Cote D’Ivoire, Kenya and Libya were perceived to be politically motivated. This criticism was validated by the high-profile public statements made by media frenzied Moreno Ocampo, the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC at the time. He has since he left office, publicly admitted this fact, at least on the situation in Kenya.

President Alassane Ouattara pictured in the center says Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Ble Goude are free to return to Ivory Coast after their acquittal at the ICC.Photo courtesy

The Gbagbo trial and acquittal on a no-case submission confirmed on appeal, shows that this case should never have been brought to trial in an international criminal court or any other court.  This followed the familiar path of the Kenyan cases which were either poorly investigated or should never have been brought to trial. This is one of the reasons why I expressed public concerns about the ICC intervention and its case selection.  Should the ICC Chief Prosecutor intervene in African situations where atrocity crimes are committed? The answer indeed is yes. Why then criticise ICC interventions when they occur to confront impunity in the continent of Africa?  The answer is that, the intervention is warranted provided it is not done to satisfy neo-colonial and neo-economic imperialism of super powers from the west and the east and former colonial powers who are still ruling the continent through proxies and stooges. These are the special interests that are behind many of the conflicts in Africa and who have been influencing ICC case selections in Africa in ways which have failed to comprehensively take the interest of victims into consideration. 

The ICC intervention in disputed political conflicts in Africa, provided the opportunity for neo-colonial stooges in power or in search of power, to directly or indirectly manipulate the ICC case selection processes to engineer the removal of their political opponents and through the process, resolve their political problems. Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Goude Ble were victims of this manipulation, which I called from inception, international political justice. The reason for this political label is that despite public assurances, the authorities of Cote D’Ivoire which took over power without any form of democratic process, after the arrest of President Gbagbo, failed to co-operate with the ICC once the Prosecutor evinced an interest to look in their direction.  The result is that the ICC intervention in Cote d’Ívoire and the prosecution of President Laurent Gbagbo was victor’s justice.   It raised the hopes and expectations of victims on the side of victors which with this acquittal have not been realised and victims on the side of President Gbagbo who were abandoned to their fate. In this regard, the Gbagbo ICC prosecution divided Cote  D ‘Ivoire and laid the ground for future conflicts.

Mr Laurent Gbagbo and Mr Charles Blé Goudé in Courtroom at the ICC. Their acquittal was hailed across Africa. Photo credit ICC

 Does the acquittal of President Gbagbo mean crimes were not committed in Cote D’Ivoire?  The answer is no. Crimes indeed were committed in Cote D Ívoire and the victims on all sides were entitled to justice.  The acquittals establishes that the ICC Prosecutor took the wrong persons to the Hague. This has caused significant injustice not just to the acquitted but all the victims and people of Cote d’Ivoire.  The prosecution while it lasted, helped the perpetrators of the atrocity crimes who should have been brought to justice, to strengthen their hold on power, whitewash their crimes, embolden impunity and the tyranny of power. This is a grave injustice done that was done to the people using the ICC prosecution. It had to speculate whether this is what the ICC prosecution bargained for or it fell into a neo-colonial entrapment and realised late while the results began to show, like these acquittals, in Cote D’Ivoire and Kenya? Or it was complicit in the ploy?  I am not able to answer with certainty. The results speak for themselves.

Lest we forget, the acquittals are not a setback for the Rome Statute and its founding objectives per se. We do not measure the success rate of a court by acquittals and convictions. An acquittal or conviction are vectors of justice which must be celebrated when justice is done and seen to be done. So, was justice done by the acquittal of President Gbagbo and Charles Goude Ble? The answer is undisputable in the positive There is an injustice when innocent people are prosecuted and spend almost a decade of their lives in detention far from home for crimes they did not commit and without compensation. The injustice lies in the perceived selective political profiling of the acquitted  President Gbagbo and Charles Goude Ble and the harm caused using the mechanism of international justice.

This case brings into sharp focus the criticism of the ICC for its exclusive focus on Africa for over two decades of the Rome Statute. The Rome Statute intended the Court it established to represent the face of the universe which it was supposed to serve.  The exclusive focus on Africa by the Court has not been compensated by the employment of persons of African origin in the Court or their involvement in the investigations and prosecutions. The citizens of the countries which have opposed ICC interventions outside Africa and in their own backyards have been the ones making decisions on Africa in the Court. This is indeed, unfortunate. 

Chief Charles Taku has consistently raised questions about the unfair and unwarranted exclusive focus on Africa by the ICC Prosecutor

While Fatou Bensouda came with a determination to look beyond Africa, she is leaving after her 9-year tenure without bringing a single charge against a non-African from other parts of the world or involved in African crimes. The minerals- for-arms merchants, land grabbers, mercenaries, economic predators who are sponsoring to engineering atrocity crimes in Africa, appear to be immune from accountability. Neo-economic imperialists and neo-colonial interests that contributed to bringing Gbagbo to the ICC should be worried because even if Gbagbo does not make a comeback to power, he will greatly influence the political destiny of his country and that of progress forces in Africa for the foreseeable future. The acquittal has elevated his profile to that of a living political legend. The ferocity with which he opposed the lingering ghost of colonialism under Houphouet- Boigny, and his political offspring, will be intensified. Cote d’Ivoire and Africa will honour him as a hero. The progressive youth will be inspired and emboldened to pursue the fight for justice and the political and economic emancipation of a truly independent Africa, thanks to the resilience of Laurent Gbagbo.

 * *Culled from April Issue of PAV Magazine.Chief Charles Taku is an International Lawyer and a former President of the International Criminal Court Bar Association- ICCBA.

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Ecofriendly Cooking With Powerstove Energy
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Okey Esse successfully designed and developed Powerstove, a Tier 4 clean cookstove that is smokeless and super efficient

Founded by Okey Esse, Powerstove Energy in Nigeria uses advance technology to deliver a superior smokeless, IoT enabled cookstove that generates electricity.

“What we are doing in Africa has never been done by an African. All the major clean cookstove companies in Africa, from Kenya, Uganda, Lesotho, and Nigeria are not founded by Africans. So, when we started, we knew what the barriers and challenges were, and we were prepared to face that battle head-on,” says Okey Esse.

As of late March, Esse said the company had 111,201 paid orders, 99,822 shipped, and 102,060 users with 98% active monthly users.

“The Jua Fund will help us increase local production capacity to 12,000 units of stove and 100MT Wood Pellets monthly, plus expand to new markets in West and East Africa,” Esse said.

Could you start by telling us about Powerstove Energy and how it was conceived?

I started Powerstove out of personal childhood experience. As a child who grew up in a village without access to electricity till age 16, cooking with firewood was my worse moments (thick smoke, unbearable heat and uncontrollable fires). Unknown to me, the incessant coughs we experienced were a result of firewood smoke and that memory haunted me growing up.

So, while growing up, I was overwhelmed by how inefficient cooking and lack of electricity has been the twin problems hindering human and socio-economic development of 4-billion people globally. This discovery coupled with losing my mum, who worked as a village food vendor to ensure her seven children live and get an education and who died from myocardial ischemia, a heart disease she contracted from inhaling smoke from cooking with firewood, shaped my decision to study Physics at university.

While studying Physics Electronics, I focused on how to build a single affordable product that would solve all the problems associated with inefficient cooking and lighting with candles, kerosene, charcoal, and firewood.

Today, after long painstakingly efforts, I have successfully designed and developed Powerstove, a Tier 4 clean cookstove that is smokeless and super-efficient.

The Powerstove team says consumer confidence and trust keeps growing steadily

Can you explain how the technology works and how it could complement or fill the void created by chronic power problems in Nigeria?

Powerstove is based on Top Lit Updraft and thermoelectric technologies. Once the biomass inside the burn chamber is lit, the airflow system injects the right amount of oxygen into the burn chamber to ensure complete combustion of the fuel hence producing flames without smoke. Within three minutes, the temperature will reach 1000 degrees and initiate the conversion of thermal energy into electricity to charge phones and power LED bulbs and light 12 volt appliances.

What has been the response of the public to Powerstove?

Awesome, consumer confidence and trust keeps growing.

Powerstove Energy was founded in 2018, possible for you to shed some light on its progress, how many people do you serve now and how profitable has business been?

We have 111,201 paid orders, 99,822 shipped, 102,060 users with 98% active monthly users.

What are some of the big challenges that you have faced?

Electricity, double taxation, lack of incentives, and problems accessing skilled workforce

May we get your impressions on the selection of Powerstove Energy as one of the recent recipients of the Jua Fund?

We are extremely happy with our selection as well as being a recipient of Jua Fund. The announcement is timely, as we plan to scale our operations beyond Nigeria.

In concrete terms, may we know how the funding will help you in moving Powerstove Energy to the next level?

Jua Fund will help us increase local production capacity to 12,000 units of stove and 100MT Wood Pellets monthly, plus expand to new markets in West and East Africa.

How important do you think initiatives like the Jua Fund could help in supporting the work of dynamic young entrepreneurs like you?

Hardware is hard, that is why fewer entrepreneurs follow this path. Scaling manufacturing is one of the most difficult adventures to undertake in entrepreneurship and that is why initiatives like Jua Fund are very needed in Africa to help young entrepreneurs not lose interest, momentum and steam as they continue to build the next unicorn within the African startup ecosystem.

The Jua Fund will help increase local production capacity and expand to new markets in West and East Africa, says Okey Esse pictured here with Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo

Going through your profile we see there are a number of other entrepreneurial initiatives that you are involved in, you want to share some with us?

What we are doing in Africa has never been done by an African. All the major clean cookstove companies in Africa, from Kenya, Uganda, Lesotho and Nigeria are not founded by Africans. So, when we started, we knew what the barriers and challenges were, and we were prepared to face that battle head-on. Today, looking back at hat we have achieved within a very short time has encouraged other entrepreneurial initiatives to welcome Powerstove Energy to help us scale our knowledge, network and market access faster. 

How do you juggle your schedule to efficiently manage all these entities that you run?

I have a strong and committed team that works as a family to help each other achieve collective results.

*Culled from April Issue of PAV Magazine

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Adding Flair To Procurement With Xetova
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

We have tested the marketplace, have gotten very promising results and currently preparing to scale, says founder and CEO Bramuel Mwalo

From Kenya, Xetova, a technology solutions provider is reshaping the procurement ecosystem. Xetova is providing big buyers with solutions to be more efficient, better collaborate with suppliers, deliver more value and be more inclusive of local industry.

“By facilitating this level of real-time data and process collaboration, our tech assists 40% more SMEs in the procurement marketplace to access finance they need to fulfil their purchase orders or contracts,” says founder and CEO Bramuel Mwalo.

Could you start by introducing Xetova and the logic behind its creation?

We believe that the procurement marketplace is the largest trade opportunity provider on the continent. A big challenge to access and reap success from these opportunities, is the access to capital, hence the idea to set up the Xetova marketplace.

What is the value that could be added to business in Kenya if they use     your services?

The marketplace is a tool that can be used to enhance their competitive edge. We are not inventing a new transaction instrument for SME financing.

What we have done is provide tools that allow secure data collection, seamless data sharing and processing of relevant insights to enhance the current traditional access to trade finance. By facilitating this level of real-time data and process collaboration, our tech assists 40% more SMEs in the procurement marketplace to access finance they need to fulfil their purchase orders or contracts.

Since its creation what are some of the success stories you have registered and what are the challenges you have faced?

We have tested the marketplace, have gotten very promising results and currently preparing to scale.

Banks have shown considerable interest in taking it up to deploy in their already existing ecosystem.

Banks are uniquely placed as they already have buyers and suppliers as clients. ABSA Bank Kenya PLC, National Bank of Kenya and Momentum Credit are our clients. We have run successful pilots and are currently going through the process of scaling the environment they need to better identify and support performing suppliers.

What is the client base like at the moment for Xetova and any plans to eventually expand it to other parts of East Africa and beyond?

ABSA Bank Kenya PLC, National Bank of Kenya and Momentum Credit are among our clients. And we definitely plan to expand our footprint.

May we get your impressions after the recent selection of Xetova as one of the recipients of the inaugural Jua Fund?

We remain appreciative and encouraged by the deal we have closed with Jua Fund. This was very timely and something we would not easily have gotten elsewhere especially for our type of company as a fully owned African company from the current VC space.

How are things going to change for Xetova with this selection, what impact will this selection have on your vision and operations?

With what we know so far, the Jua team is likely to bring the resource, network and experience we need to scale across the Continent. We can only look ahead and prepare to fly.

The Jua Fund was very timely and something we would not easily have gotten elsewhere especially for our type of company as a fully owned African company from the current VC space, says Bramuel Mwalo

What role do you entrepreneurs like yourself and others playing in the development of Kenya and Africa and how important is it to have more initiatives like the Jua Fund?

Development is simply a bunch of ideas, and resources working together. Entrepreneurs are important in this as either they are good at seeing the opportunities, bringing people together or taking the risk in using their own resources to kickstart something they believe is important. They are important in building the confidence and providing the evidence to stimulate support from government, corporates, and other development actors. Entrepreneurs are the backbone of Africa’s development and solution to Africa’s most difficult problems.

To young Africans who see in you now an example to follow in their entrepreneurial journey, what words of wisdom or success tips can you share with them?

Entrepreneurship is not a sprint. It is also not a competition, so set your own clock and you have all the time to grow. Take your time to learn as much as you can, seek counsel from those you can access, start from where you are and be kind to yourself. It all works out in the end for those who genuinely follow their path.

*Culled from April Issue of PAV Magazine

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Nonjudgmental Access To Sexual & Reproductive Health with Whispa
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Personal and professional experiences with the challenges young people face when trying to access sexual and reproductive healthcare led to the conception of Whispa Health mobile app by CEO, Morenike Fajemisin

From Whispa Health Limited in Nigeria comes the mobile app Whispa that provides people with nonjudgmental access to sexual and reproductive health information, products and services.

“In Nigeria, one out of every 5 women has given birth by age 18 and the use of contraceptives remains very low. There were 3.4 million unintended pregnancies and 2.7 million abortions in 2019. Furthermore, although Nigeria has one of the highest rates of new HIV infection in sub-Saharan Africa, rates of HIV testing remain low and many people living with HIV are unaware of their status, our goal is to change the status quo,” says CEO Morenike Fajemisin

What is the Whispa Health mobile app and how was the idea conceived?

WHISPA is a mobile application that allows everyone (especially young people) to conveniently access Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) education, information, products and services. Our users can have private (even anonymous) chats with a WHISPA doctor, book appointments for contraceptives, cervical cancer screening or laboratory tests. They can also privately purchase sexual health products like HIV test kits, condoms and we discreetly deliver to their homes/offices.

The idea was conceived by our CEO, Morenike Fajemisin, as a result of her personal and professional experiences with the challenges young people face when trying to access sexual and reproductive healthcare.

 May we know how many users that you currently have and the feedback     you have received from the public about the app?

We have over 16,000 users

Talking of sexual and reproductive health, what is the situation like in Nigeria?

In Nigeria, one out of every 5 women has given birth by age 18 and the use of contraceptives remains very low. There were 3.4 million unintended pregnancies and 2.7 million abortions in 2019. Furthermore, although Nigeria has one of the highest rates of new HIV infection in sub-Saharan Africa, rates of HIV testing remain low and many people living with HIV are unaware of their status.

These problems are brought about and worsened by our society’s cultural and religious biases and the lack of shame-free and confidential access to quality sexual and reproductive health information, products and services for young people (especially those who are unmarried. Our goal is to change this status quo.

What are some of the challenges you have encountered in the course of trying to grow the App and your company?

We encountered some typical challenges that start-ups face, like raising our initial capital to build our product, hiring good hands and finding a team that was willing to buy into our vision at such an early stage.

As we began to grow, we needed to manage our funding properly in order to give us ample runway until more funding was secured and we are proud of everyone that has started this journey with us.

Your company Whispa Health Limited was recently selected amongst the recipients of   the inaugural $2 million JUA Fund, how was this news received?

Our team was excited and ecstatic and some of them were also on the private zoom call to receive the news along with WHISPA’s founders. We wanted them to hear from Adam Molai and the judges and to appreciate the validation of the work we have all put in.

How did you find the application process and what are some the things you learned in the process?

We found JUA’s process to be unique and efficient. They were very detailed and thorough and also able to understand that some businesses like ours are just starting while some have many years under their belt.

The best part though was the Olympics. Each day was focused and detailed. As much as we were the one’s competing, we also learnt a lot from the judges.

Adeboye Fajemisin

What impact do you see support from the JUA Fund having on your vision and operations?

The JUA Fund is critical to our growth plan and achieving our target of 200,000+ downloads in 12 months. We also expect it to help us with recruitment and retention of key personnel that are needed as we grow and scale our innovation.

Any plans or thoughts about eventually expanding the Whispa Health Mobile App to other parts of Africa?

Certainly. Our vision is to become the number 1 solution provider for Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare in Africa because African countries have similar challenges when it comes to accessing sexual and reproductive healthcare. Therefore, we see Nigeria as our launchpad for WHISPA with goals to expand to neighboring Ghana and then all over Africa.

Based on the experiences you have acquired, what words of advice do you for other aspiring young entrepreneurs out there?

Find a business you have passion for, think of an innovative way to carry it out, then make a plan to do It. Depending on your background and available financial support, it is not going to be easy, but if you want it hard enough, stay on course and do not give up.

**Culled from April Issue of PAV Magazine

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Affordable Technology For Quality Education with Bryt-Knowledge
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

We believe that the future of knowledge sharing will be online, says co founder and CEO, Rumbidzai Sithole

With its current operational base in Zimbabwe, Bryt-Knowledge is a multifaceted online educational platform that connects students with subject matter experts using technology.

“We believe that the future of knowledge-sharing will be online, and we are helping Zimbabwean students (and students in our future growth markets) to gain access to knowledge from top tutors. Most importantly though, we believe that Bryt-Knowledge’s key impact will be creating a pan African jobs marketplace where people who are skilled (yet unemployed or under-employed) can be paid to share their knowledge, says founder and CEO, Rumbidzai Sithole

Rumbidzai Sithole, is founder and CEO Bryt-Knowledge of Zimbabwe, when was your company created and what does it do?

When the pandemic started, we all found it difficult to find high-quality online tutors for our children. While there are numerous online tutoring platforms across the world, we found that across Africa, most tutoring services were in-person and required committing upfront to a set of lessons. In addition, most ed-tech solutions were pre-packaged and not interactive. We set out to build a flexible, easy, on-demand platform for knowledge-sharing.

In countries where the BRYT APP and BRYT Web platform is available, students can request a 1-1 personalized lesson with a tutor on any subject matter, within their own set budget, and a time convenient for them. Tutors are pre-vetted and also get to set their rate in a bidding system.

How affordable are your services and how have Zimbabweans received it?

Our platforms are a marketplace for tutors, and they bid at will. So, prices can vary across tutors based on the strength of their profile (credentials and ratings) and demand for a particular tutor. We are planning on launching our operations at the end of April and will be able to give an account then of how the market has received our products.

In what ways do you think your services could change the educational landscape in Zimbabwe?

We believe that the future of knowledge-sharing will be online, and we are helping Zimbabwean students (and students in our future growth markets) to gain access to knowledge from top tutors. Most importantly though, we believe that Bryt-Knowledge’s key impact will be creating a pan African jobs marketplace where people who are skilled (yet unemployed or under-employed) can be paid to share their knowledge. We also envision a situation where knowledge-seekers in any of our target markets will have access to the full range of tutors across countries. We envision a future where Africans will be trading in knowledge, through Bryt.

What are some the challenges that you have had to grapple with putting in trying to grow Bryt-Knowledge?

Similar to other early-stage entrepreneurs, the biggest challenge we faced is in building a team. As a start-up, our budget is lean, but we also need to hire a team that is versatile and highly talented (which is a contradiction as the best talent comes at a high cost). We are however very pleased with the incredibly talented team that we have managed to build.

Bryt-Knowledge was recently selected as one of the recipients of the Jua Fund, how helpful will this be to vision of the company?

Prior to entering the Jua Kickstarter Fund, we had contacted a number of Africa-focused venture capital firms with little luck. Most were US-based, had automated responses that stated that they only consider funding applications from entrepreneurs recommended by individuals within their network. What quickly became apparent is that for most African early-stage entrepreneurs, there is very little chance of raising capital without these networks. The Jua Kickstarter gave us a chance to implement our business, an opportunity that we believe we would not have gotten elsewhere.

Jua is a great demonstration of what can happen when African entrepreneurs are given a chance, says Rumbidzai Sithole

How challenging was the selection process and what are some of the things you have learned along the way to help with the progress and sustainability of Bryt-Knowledge?

The Kickstarter process was quite challenging, but extremely helpful in helping us hone our business idea and how we communicated about it. In addition to the very detailed application that we submitted, we had to prepare pitch documents for each of the five days of the competition. Each day had a different theme, which allowed us to think critically about each aspect of our business. The highly thoughtful questions from the judges provided key insights into areas that needed our attention. We are also grateful that the Jua team will continue to play a support and advisory role as we launch our operations.

What role do you see entrepreneurship playing in the development of Zimbabwe and Africa?

The co-founders of Bryt-Knowledge all have prior extensive experience in operational roles at pan African (and African owned) businesses. We have all seen the unique impact that African-owned and African-run businesses have not only in terms of generating income but also in understanding the unique challenges and opportunities that the continent provides. Our ambitions are pan-African so that we can also make our unique contribution.

A word to Mr. Adam Molai who initiated the Jua Fund, what is it you can to ensure that he feels vindicated in the support and believe he has in Bryt-Knowledge and other similar projects?

We are so grateful to Mr. Molai and the whole Jua team for the support not only to our organisation but to the other companies in our cohort. The high quality of the shortlisted companies and the impact that they aim to make beyond profit is heartening. Jua is a great demonstration of what can happen when African entrepreneurs are given a chance – we believe that this is truly the start of a revolution in African early-stage financing.

Culled from April Issue of PAV Magazine

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A Dependable Supplier of Digital and Solar Solutions in Jirogasy
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Our short-term plan is to become a supplier of digital and solar solutions in multiple countries ,says Jirogasy founder Yann Kasay

Founded by Yann Kasay, and based in Madagascar, Jirogasy manufactures, assembles and designs solar home systems and communication systems for solar. In 2019, it invented a solar-powered computer that it is currently improving for a 2nd version.

“This selection is one of the most important milestones achieved for our project. It   shows that our project has gained the attention of some of the most influential business personalities in Africa,” says Yann Kasay.

What motivated the creation of Jirogasy?

The main reason for the creation of Jirogasy was to prove that we could innovate in Africa and we could manufacture locally without importing all the parts. The growth of the open hardware ecosystem and the “Do It Yourself” movement for the past 10 years had been a source of inspiration. When I saw that some DIY makers like Joseph Prusa started with nothing and could manufacture its 3D printers in Czech Republic to become one of the largest suppliers of 3D printers in the world in 4-5 years, I thought that we could do the same in Africa and in my country, Madagascar.

However, I wanted to have an impact and I thought there were more useful products than 3D printers to produce for my country and Africa. That’s why I decided to produce my own solar kits to begin with and later on we invented a solar powered computer that is one of the few solutions that exist which can give full access to a digital desktop in Africa.

What are the advantages solar presents in Madagascar and what potential do see?

Madagascar has about 360 sunny days per year. When looking at this statistic and the fact that 19 million people don’t have a reliable access to energy, creating a production line of solar products and IoT-based solutions to solve problems around the theme of energy access appeared to be the way to go. We wanted to come up with African solutions for African problems since we believe some of the solutions to African structural problems can be solved by locals for the locals.

May we know the progress Jirogasy has made since its creation, how many people are you serving and how profitable has business been for you?

We sold our devices to NGOs in order to have greater impact from day one. The goal was to reach the maximum of beneficiaries from day 1. By the end of 2019, our devices are present in five regions of Madagascar and we have equipped 20 medical clinics and six high schools. We have also provided access to energy and digital to associations aiming to improve education or rehabilitate vulnerable children.

We will now aim our efforts toward larger distribution to offer our products to the consumer and retail markets.

What are some of the major challenges that you have faced and is there anything the government has done to support you or create a better environment for you to operate in?

We started with limited means and tools to produce our first generation of products back in 2018 and we couldn’t afford to hire a salesperson since all our money went into the product design and the production of the first batches of our solar kits. It was very challenging to convince our first clients to trust us and to generate the first couple of sales. However, some NGO and associations helped us at first by purchasing our products and we cannot express our thanks enough for the trust they gave us 2 years ago.

Of course, we would like to keep pursuing our goal to make universal access to energy and digital a reality in Madagascar by working on a larger scale with a larger distribution as already mentioned, but also with some help from additional public and private institutions.

We would also be pleased to receive some extra help from the government.

Does Jirogasy have plans to eventually serve other neighboring countries or the intent is to remain just in Madagascar?

One of our goals in 2021 is to open an office in East Africa before the end of the year. We are of course discussing the matter with potential partners and investors. Our ambition remains to create African solutions for African problems and an expansion on the Continent has always been part of the plan.

Jirogasy recently scored a big win with its selection as one of the recipients of the inaugural Jua Fund how was this news received?

This selection is one of the most important milestones achieved for our project. It shows that our project has gained the attention of some of the most influential business personalities in Africa.

I was particularly thrilled to receive feedback and advice from Adam Molai in person among other very important personalities that were part of the judging panel. This kind of interaction with experts, successful entrepreneurs and investors helps build confidence and keeps us pushing toward our goals and global vision.

How did you hear about the Fund and what pushed you to apply?

I heard of it online and thought it was a great idea and a great opportunity for us to challenge our ideas and vision. I really like the concept and I wish more funds would organize this kind of event. It can boost the African entrepreneurial ecosystem and help to build connections between experienced businesspeople and young entrepreneurs.

With the support you are going to get from the Jua Fund, what will change for Jirogasy?

We have already started to change the scale of our project – Jirogasy now has 15 fulltime employees in Madagascar. With the help of the Jua Fund, we hope now to double the size of our team before the end of the year, significantly developing our sales team domestically and hopefully opening a new office in east Africa by the end of the year.

On the future of Jirogasy, what short-, medium- and long-term plans and vision do you have?

Our short-term plan is to become a supplier of digital and solar solutions in multiple countries while longer term we hope to diversify and offer services that are related to the know-how we are currently building, especially in the field of data gathering and analysis in remote areas which could help a lot of other projects in Africa to have an impact on the development of Africa.

**Culled from April Issue of PAV Magazine

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Connecting Farmers To Working Capital Through GrowAgric
April 13, 2021 | 1 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

GrowAgric founders Ore Alemede from Nigeria and David Njonjo from Kenya are opening up fresh opportunities for farmers

Founded by Ore Alemede from Nigeria and David Njonjo from Kenya, GrowAgric is a crowd-farming platform that connects farmers to much-needed working capital allowing them to scale and meet market demand while delivering profitability to themselves and their sponsors.

“Our experience in our different countries is a key strength as we are able to explore what has worked or not worked and bring together the best of both worlds to provide a solid offering and add significant values to our farmers, says Co-founder Ore Alemede.

May we start by getting an introduction of your company GrowAgric and how it was conceived?

GrowAgric is a crowd-funding platform that connects farmers to much-needed working capital allowing them to scale and meet market demand while generating profits for themselves and their farm sponsors.

We solve a crucial problem for farmers who have skill, existing demand, and the capacity to scale but lack the working capital required to do so. For these farmers we provide finances and also connect them to buyers with whom we have pre-agreed buying arrangement at a fair market price.

The idea for GrowAgric was conceived by David and me on an incubator programme where we were individually exploring ideas in our areas of passion. Given our background, we both quickly converged on an area of passion, agriculture. The more we talked about it the more we realized how aligned our vision was for transforming the agricultural sector.

You and the co-founder are from separate countries, and others may learn from your experience, how did you two blend the ideas and vision to form the kind of synergy that is bringing success for GrowAgric?

Yes, I am Nigerian, and David is Kenyan, but the key challenges faced by African farmers across the continent are mostly the same – access to finance, absence of a guaranteed market, low prices driven by the high number of middlemen in the value chain, and lack of access to wider market. We could both relate to these problems as David has been a farmer for over 10 years and I discuss these challenges on a daily basis with my parents who are also farmers. This made it natural for us to converge and get really excited about solving these problems.

Our experience in our different countries is a key strength as we are able to explore what has worked or not worked in our respective countries and bring together the best of both worlds to provide a solid offering and add significant values to our farmers.

We decided to start by addressing the financing gap which tends to be the root of the problem. In Africa, a sizeable proportion of the workforce are in agriculture, yet only a small fraction of bank lending goes to agriculture.

Our experience in our different countries is a key strength as we are able to explore what has worked or not worked and bring together the best of both worlds ,says Ore Alemede

In what part of the continent do you have strong operations and for those interested in your services, how can they access or make use of opportunities offered by GrowAgric?

We are currently based in Kenya and work with farmers in and around Nairobi. However, we have recently started to explore ways to service farmers across the whole of Kenya.

Interested individuals and institutions can view available farm projects on our website, request a sponsorship contract and get started on sponsoring farm projects. We provide regular updates on farm progress and are happy to organize visits to sponsored farms. We currently have a huge database of farmers in need of financing, and we are more than happy to discuss private sponsorship of large-scale farming projects with interested parties.

Interested farmers who are in need of funding and a market-based safety net should also register on our website and will be contacted by one of our field officers.

What are some of the challenges that you have faced?

It has been a very interesting journey for us.  There are a host of challenges faced by organisations like ours, but a key one is the lack of reliable data to support agricultural lending decisions. We tackle this challenge through partnerships – partnerships with farmer groups, aggregators and various institutions across the value chain. We use data from all of these sources to support lending decisions.

By continuously combining this data with data collected from our own farming projects, we are actively building a strong database that will support credit decisions and deliver value to a wider population of farmers.

GrowAgric was one of the big recipients of the inaugural Jua Fund, how did you receive the news and what does this mean for you going forward?

We were very excited to have been one of the recipients of the Jua fund. The experience was very invigorating.

In spite of the rigour of the process, one thing that stood out for us was that we were evaluated by a supportive panel of judges who were keen for us to succeed. 

The Jua Fund provides us with an opportunity to improve the functionalities of our platform, achieve operational efficiency, strengthen our product offering while improving our farmers network by over 60%. Even more important is the support and advice that Jua team provides which we started to experience from the first day of the Jua Kickstarter Olympics.

How competitive was the application process and what are some of the lessons you learned along the way?

It was a very competitive process, starting out with 700+ applicants and only 25 shortlisted for the final 5 days. The Jua Kickstarter Olympics really did feel like an Olympics and the format meant we had to be very well-prepared from the start as we got less than 24 hours’ notice that we had qualified for the next phase of the assessment.

David and I learned so much during the process, we learnt to ask ourselves the tough questions before someone else did. Also, it’s not just enough to have a great product or service offering but it is equally important to be able to sell the vision to would-be investors.

How important are initiatives like the Jua Fund in helping dynamic young entrepreneurs live their potential?

Initiatives such as the Jua Fund are the future of Africa. It is common knowledge that it is often very difficult for African entrepreneurs to access the funding they need to launch, grow and scale their businesses. While considerably progress has been made in the last couple of years, much is still to be done as Africa is booming with potential and opportunities.

The Jua Fund is not just a fund, it is also a partnership that provides coaching and mentoring to investees.

GrowAgric is less than a year old, what other successes can you share with us from the experience so far and where do you see the venture in the next two and in the next five years?

As an early-stage startup, we have experienced so much traction in so little time.  We have been able to secure sponsorships and commitment from investors across multiple countries, mainly in Europe and North America but also in Africa. We have successfully completed multiple farming cycles and built a network of farmers going through our onboarding process and who need over $400,000 in finance.

In spite of all this, we have a long way to go. We want to be recognised as the partner of choice for farmers not just in East Africa but across the Continent. We want to enrich the lives of our farmers, connect them to a wider market to trade, and help them with record-keeping which has a direct impact on financial management and sustenance. We are actively building our record-keeping and financial management tool to deliver on certain aspects of our value proposition to farmers before the end of the year.

We are ‘Farmers First’, and that drives everything we do now and our hopes and aspiration for the future.

**Culled from April Issue of PAV Magazine

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Challenging for Africa to Unleash Its Potential Without Industrialization-Adam Molai
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

By By Ajong Mbapndah L

Unless we industrialize, we will fail to unleash the latent potential presented by our abundant resources and youthful population,says Adam Molai

Unless Africa industrializes, it will fail to unleash the latent potential presented by its abundant resources and youthful population, says Adam Molai, African Industrialist, Founder of the JUA Fund, and Chairman of TRT Investments. Speaking in an exclusive interview with PAV, Adam Molai says the youthful population in Africa can either be its greatest asset if well leveraged, or its biggest threat if allowed to become restive owing to lack of opportunity.

“Africa is in a very poor state in as far as industrialization is concerned. We are still significant importers of finished goods and exporters of raw materials,” Molai says of the crusade on Industrialization that he has championed over the years.

“In 2018, Sub-Saharan Africa raw material exports amounted to $148 billion or 52% of total exports. That is a strong case for industrialization to convert a significant portion of our raw materials into intermediate goods or finished products, creating jobs and increasing the value of our GDP,” Adam Molai said.

On the JUA Fund which is his latest initiative to inspire the Continent’s entrepreneurial generation, Adam Molai expressed the hope that it will start a movement which will sweep across Africa. Describing the Fund as a ripple considering the enormous needs of the continent, Molai says the desire is to have a culture in the continent where entrepreneurs give back through facilitating the creation of more entrepreneurs.

Generous in detail about the building of his companies, Adam Molai says opportunities for the continent are immense, but leaders will need to develop confidence in the ability of African entrepreneurs and stop seeing them as inferior to foreign entrepreneurs.

Could you start by telling us your own interest and journey into entrepreneurship, how did Adam Molai become an industrialist?

So, I am a true-blue entrepreneur; I was never interested in working for anybody else. I have never worked for anybody else.

I often share one of my fondest memories being a 10-year-old selling matches to earn pocket money and thinking – ‘I love this!’. This is when the entrepreneurial bug struck.

I embarked on my first entrepreneurial venture when I was just 10 when I sold boxes of in-demand matches for a profit to make pocket money. While at boarding school, I sold food to fellow pupils for spending money.

In my first summer in university in the UK, I joined a network marketing business which was really an entrepreneurial exploit where I would sell frozen food products in Buckinghamshire. I recruited other students to join and work with me raising significant cash that facilitated my move to Canada.

In Canada, I ran the university consulting service, literally as an entrepreneurial venture, and this, together with other work, helped fund my university studies in Canada. I made so much money that I was able to leave a significant sum which created the Adam Molai Small Business Consulting scholarship where the proceeds from this sum are given as a scholarship annually to a deserving student at my former alma mater.

When I returned to Zimbabwe after completing my studies, I knew I didn’t want to work for anybody else.

My first business, whose infrastructure I had started constructing whilst still in university in Canada, was a chicken business of 7,000 broiler chickens. I brought solar equipment with me from Canada, and this facilitated 24-hour feeding of our chickens facilitating faster development of the chickens. There was no power in the area and thus the utilization of solar power with a storage inverter, in 1997, was quite an evolution.

I then re-opened my late father’s service station and supermarket, whilst at the same time also creating a stationery shop and copy bureau in my home time. So, within my first year of being back in Zimbabwe from the diaspora I was running four businesses.

These businesses spanned a significant distance and so my first two years were highly sleep-deficient. I would start my early Monday morning in my hometown, drive to Harare to order supplies for the retail outlets and chemicals for the chicken business; a 150km return journey to my hometown where the stationery business and supermarket were, ensure the goods were priced and then at the closure of the stationery shop after 5pm start the 140km drive to where my service station was. I would then collect the cash takings, use them to buy more grain from the local farmers and maize grinding mills, which we would use to mix with the stock feed, and then drive another 180km to the farm where we were farming chickens. I would monitor the slaughtering, dressing, and packing of the chickens and by 2am start the drive back to my hometown which from the farm was 230km.

I would sleep on this third journey back to my hometown and get back in time to start another day. Without fail, by 7am I would be back at my stationery store where my main office was. This, routine I continued for a full two years.

 I then got the opportunity to acquire the largest service station site in my hometown. I quickly converted what was the office and former car show room into the first 24/7 retail shop in Zimbabwe, taking a cue from the 7/11 concept I had been exposed to in Canada.

The move, which drew criticism from my own family and other businesspeople, led me achieve more than double the shop’s takings, transforming the retail landscape in Zimbabwe. Sixty percent of the retail sales happened in the hours when all the other shops were closed. To crown it off, which irresponsibility I didn’t understand then, we managed to get a liquor license for this shop and used to be the only 24/7 liquor retailer in the country, which resulted in inordinate sales. Within a year a 60 square metre shop was making more than US$1 million! That was the first million I made, at the age of 29.

Another transformation I undertook was transforming the chicken retail sector in Zimbabwe. When I grew up working in my father’s shop, only whole chickens and in some cases half chickens were generally sold in Zimbabwe. You could buy beef and pork in small and as-you-desired and as-you-could-afford portions, but not chicken. I didn’t understand why that was, so I started selling chicken pieces, not just whole chickens. That transformed the chicken retail sector and demand rose beyond our projections.

I also did some dealings in the petroleum sector before turning my attention to the tobacco sector. Zimbabwe experienced significant fuel shortages and I was fortunate to receive permission from Shell, the franchisor, to direct import own fuel. Fuel had always been a controlled product only available from to oil companies through the government monopoly. However, when shortages became severe fuel companies and private individuals could direct import.  Through an old high school acquaintance, who was importing fuel, I was able to receive multiple tankers a week of direct import fuel. Our site never ran dry, and we were selling over a million litres of fuel a month and still couldn’t meet demand. Cars would drive from neighboring towns to fill up as we were receiving fuel non-stop!

I had also, with support of very experienced tobacco skills we had on board, pioneered contract growing of tobacco that transformed the tobacco industry from around 4 500 mainly commercial farmers and opened the way for more than 85 000 local small-scale farmers to enter Zimbabwe’s tobacco sector.

In 2002, I co-founded Savanna Tobacco Company, which has now been rebranded as Pacific Cigarette Company, which is acknowledged as one of only two of the world’s most significant African-owned cigarette manufacturers. The company enjoys a significant share of the Southern African cigarette market.

Our business interests cut across several industries – including energy, manufacturing, property development, transport and logistics, air transport, financial services and beverage bottling – and at least seven African countries, including the African economic powerhouses of Nigeria, South Africa and Mauritius. However, we are now streamlining our portfolio to focus only upon manufacturing and distribution, property development and sales, and technology.

Our business now has over US$200 million of assets under control.

In November 2020, we also launched the $2 million JUA Fund, making it the largest venture capital fund by a private African business individual to empower and support African entrepreneurs.

So impressive was the quality of the projects from the entrepreneurs that we felt compelled to increase the fund from the original $1m announced to $2m,says Adam Molai on the JUA Fund

Today you are Chairman of the Pacific Cigarette Company and the TRT Investments, can you tell us a little more about this companies and how they fit in the vision that you have for Africa?

TRT Investments manages a diversified sector portfolio and operations in Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique and Botswana, and our latest interests have seen a foray into the US and European markets.

The aim is really to play our role in moving Africa from being on the menu to sitting at the global economic table. We believe this will only be achieved through production and productivity. So, we are aiming at driving the industrialization agenda for Africa.

TRT recently acquired, which is the largest non-food contract manufacturing business on the continent. It manufactures many leading multinational household FMCG brands. We aim to replicate this model into East and West Africa to create the largest non-food contract manufacturer in the world.

So, our ambitions are big, and we are committed to creating African institutions, with global recognition.

With the AfFCTA, we aim to leverage this opportunity to ensure localization of production on the Continent where currently there is only 18% inter-Africa trade compared to 80% Inter-Europe trade. So, just by trading more with ourselves as Africans we can grow our economies ad create the much-needed employment for our young population.

Our other area of focus is housing.

With the significant housing supply gap on the continent, and the growing population which is urbanizing at a rapid rate, it is imperative that affordable housing is availed to ensure that we help move from the squalid urban living conditions of the past.

Our final area of focus is technology.

Technology offers Africa the opportunity to leapfrog. It facilitates more efficacious and elegant solutions to Africa’s myriad challenges.

Pacific was born out of the industrialization agenda and fits into the TRT agenda. Having always lamented Africa’s over-reliance on agriculture for survival, I felt we needed to walk our talk and beneficiate this agricultural produce into finished goods and thus participate at a higher level of the value chain. Zimbabwe’s main agricultural export has been tobacco for a long time and therefore we took it upon ourselves to add value to this crop. There is a 15 to 20 times value multiplier from raw tobacco to cigarettes and that is what we have achieved in Pacific. So, the jobs and value which we were exporting in exporting raw tobacco, we are now retaining through producing finished goods. If we look at the $600 million of raw tobacco produced in Zimbabwe, if all transformed to cigarettes, Zimbabwe would have a $6-$12 billion tobacco industry.

For the attention of many out there who see in you a success story, what were some of the big challenges you face in building your companies and how did you successfully navigate them?

Success, to me, is a journey rather than a destination. It is a culmination of many failures and continuing to find different paths where one path has failed. Funding is always a challenge. I remember using $75,000 of my university entrepreneurial savings to start a small chicken business after university because I couldn’t get funding from the banks to augment this capital raise.

The challenge of raising money for my first business or to buy factory equipment, the challenges felt the same, and had the same ultimate impact – no funding – no business. We’ve mitigated fund raising challenges through performance. When you perform and develop a track record for performing, paying, and meeting your debt covenants, it becomes a bit easier to raise funding.

Another significant challenge faced was the dearth of African entrepreneurs available and willing to offer mentorship to others on their entrepreneurial journey. I failed to find takers, amongst those I approached, as unfortunately many in our society still see other people’s success as a threat to their success and attention.

So, the only option available became to be an avid reader, always reading both success and failure books as a way to understand.

Adam Molai says opportunities for the continent are immense, but leaders will need to develop confidence in the ability of African entrepreneurs and stop seeing them as inferior to foreign entrepreneurs

You have been on a crusade for industrialization and entrepreneurship in what shape is Africa in now, and why do you think it is imperative for the continent to change course?

Africa is in a very poor state in as far as industrialization is concerned. We are still significant importers of finished goods and exporters of raw materials.

In 2018, Sub-Saharan Africa raw material exports amounted to $148 billion or 52% of total exports. That is a strong case for industrialization to convert a significant portion of our raw materials into intermediate goods or finished products, creating jobs and increasing the value of our GDP.

China has become the global behemoth owing to industrialization. Thirty years ago, China was where we are today as a continent but has transformed from a developing nation to being at the cusp of being the largest global economy through a deliberate policy of industrialization.

Unless we industrialize, we will fail to unleash the latent potential presented by our abundant resources and youthful population. This youthful population can either be our greatest asset if we leverage it, or our biggest threat if they become restive owing to lack of opportunity.

Late last year you launched the Jua Kickstarter fund to provide entrepreneurs with capital to kickstart or expand their enterprises, may we know what impact you anticipate for Africa for this initiative?

Lao Tzu is famously credited with the saying that “The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step”. The launch and subsequent Jua Olympic week are the start of a movement which I hope will sweep Africa. It is only but a ripple, given the enormous needs on the continent, but we are seeing the impact it is having on encouraging other business leaders to also start looking at how they too can assist entrepreneurs on the continent. Our hope is that this becomes a culture on our continent of entrepreneurs giving back through facilitating the creation of more entrepreneurs, creating a snowball effect. The quality of the finalists as well as the solutions being proffered by the businesses we have decided to invest in give us great confidence that there will be significant impact that will emanate from this initiative.

It was always the intention that the fund would go beyond providing money. Entrepreneurs always need money, that is not in question. But they don’t only need money. They also need mentoring, advice, access to networks, access to markets, people to stress test their ideas, advisors and mentors who can help them see the realities and potential of their businesses.

That is what Jua will provide.

 Jirogasy and Bryt-Knowledge will be furthering education one through hardware the other through software, Side and Grow Agric, are disrupting the value chain of goods from farm to table, Powerstove Energy is saving the environment by their cooking stove innovation, Whispa Health is taking care of wellbeing, and Xetova is adding African flair to procurement.

Less than a year after it was launched, the first recipients were announced, may we know how the selection was done and your overall impressions on the applications and the eventual winners?

We had over 700 applicants who were shortlisted to 25 finalists, who met the criteria that their ideas had impact and were scalable.

The 25 finalists participated in the “Kickstarter Olympics”, a 5-day pitching session during which they were put through their paces by a high-profile panel of judges.

Eventually, we made offers to 7 recipients who all accepted.

We were immensely impressed by all our finalists, even those to whom offers were not made.

So impressive was the quality of the projects from the entrepreneurs that we felt compelled to increase the fund from the original $1m announced to $2m. 

About four of the seven enterprises selected have either female founders or co-founders, what role do you see gender or women playing in the vision that you articulate?

Research is clear that empowering women has more impact on societies and communities than empowering men. I am delighted that the Jua Fund, which is aimed at empowering all entrepreneurs, regardless of gender, has been able to benefit females to the extent that it has.

What metrics and support system does the JUA Fund have in place to monitor the outcomes or progress of recipients?

As I indicated, Jua is not only providing monetary support but non-monetary support in the form of mentoring and advice, introductions to other potential investors and funders. Where applicable, we will sit on the boards.

The phenomenal experience of the JUA judges, who have kindly accepted to offer mentorship and coaching, will serve to really help the entrepreneurs unleash their potential.

Through well-established Key Performance Indicators, designed to facilitate milestone-based release of capital, we hope to see better resource utilization and less of the unintended waste of resources that culminates from non-results-based funding mechanisms.

The Jury had some powerful names in the African corporate world, how challenging was it to get these high profile and busy people to dedicate the required time in the selection process?

It wasn’t challenging at all because all the judges share our vision of the importance of entrepreneurship for ensuring that Africa gets to assume its rightful place at the economic table, and they all wanted to do their bit to pass on the knowledge they have gained as entrepreneurs or in business to these emerging entrepreneurs.

They were so keen that at times we had more judges than we anticipated and needed. We had judges from across the globe, some of whom woke up at 3am daily to listen to the pitches.

As you may be aware, most start-ups / SMMES fail within the first two years, for a myriad of reasons. The judges who participated are aware of the challenges and want to do their bit to reduce this number.

The applicants certainly appreciated it; many commented on how the judges’ questions and insight had helped them rethink parts of their business.

What next for the Jua Fund, there are many young entrepreneurs out there who would love to try their hand in the next round, what are the plans going forward?

What’s next is just to keep growing and to support more SMMEs. We will hopefully have more money to avail in the future and we can structure the non-monetary assistance better as well.

We have learned a lot from this inaugural VC round, and we intend to build on that going forward so that it has much greater impact.

Our hope is that the success of the initial projects will, as we exit, create an even larger pool of funds to support even more entrepreneurs, creating a snowball effect. We have invested $2 million, if they perform and this spawns $20 million on exit, as an example, we then invest $20-millionn to spawn $200-million and this multiplier effect is what we seek and what we believe will facilitate our dream of empowering thousands of entrepreneurs.

Adam Molai is hopeful that the JUA Fund will start a movement which will sweep across Africa

In terms of recommendations to African governments, what needs to be done by them to create the enabling environment for brilliant ideas and initiatives that millions of Africans have to thrive?

Well, entrepreneurs need the right regulatory environment to grow so all governments need to scrutinize the laws, rules and regulations that they have in place to see whether they help or hinder entrepreneurial activity.

Governments also need to realise that they cannot grow economies and create jobs, that that is the ambit of business and they need to ensure that the business environment is conducive to that. So, the economy and entrepreneurs are not dependent on who is in government, but rather that there is policy certainty and that their markets are open to all. If our governments truly embrace the intentions of the AfFCTA, we will see a significant explosion of economies on the continent.

We also need to relook at our education systems which are largely not suited to nurturing entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial activity.

We also need to encourage local investment. African governments bend over backwards for foreign investors but do not do the same for local investors which means that local investors must deal with an unequal playing field.

What is your take on foreign direct investment and what role do you see the African diaspora playing in the development of the continent?

I think all investment is good. Africa lags in terms of investment so the more people who want to invest, the better.

But I do think that governments elevate foreign investment above that of local investment and I think that this is to the detriment of the continent. The reality is that if locals show confidence and invest, foreigners will invest alongside them. So what we should be doing is giving local investors the same benefits that we give foreign investors, we should be levelling the playing fields for local investors as they have more impact on the lives of Africans. They not only invest their money on the Continent, but they spend their money on the Continent too. This provides jobs for others and opportunities for other Africans.

I think the diaspora can be used more meaningfully than it is now. We know that remittances contribute $48-billion or an average 4.17% of Africa’s GDP but we should be looking at how to make better use of the resources of Africans in the diaspora.

Instead of saving their money in low-interest bearing accounts, we should look at getting them to invest in local start-ups and enterprises. In that way entrepreneurs have access to money and the diasporans get better returns whilst positively impacting their home countries to develop.

Looking at the realities today, the challenges, and the potential, what are your hopes and fears for Africa’s future?

Africa is at a major crossroad. With a growing young population, if Africa continues to grow at its current rate, it is expected to double to 2.5billion people; a quarter of the world’s population; by 2050. All these people need food, clothing, transport, housing and many other goods and services.

China’s growth was driven by a large population, creating significant consumption and ability to grow the economy phenomenally through the goods and services required by such a large population.

We dare not fail to rise to the occasion and create the businesses that will produce and provide all the goods and services that will be required by the continent. We certainly cannot afford to create a market for the rest of the world at our own expense. This is going to require significant unity and coordination across the continent to be realized.

China could easily achieve this growth because it is a unitary state. With 54 states, Africa will need significant regional and continental integration and harmonization to facilitate the remarkable infrastructural projects required to cater for such a huge population which is urbanising significantly.

So, the opportunities for the continent are immense, the challenges will really be from our own belief in ourselves to achieve for ourselves. Our leaders will need to develop confidence in the ability of African entrepreneurs and stop seeing our own entrepreneurs as inferior to foreign entrepreneurs.

Our people will need to also develop an appetite for local goods as opposed to foreign goods and our businesspeople will need to ensure that at all levels, our goods meet the exacting global standards for quality. Changing mindsets is a difficult process, as is establishing regional and continental trust; however, if accomplished, Africa could become the global powerhouse it has the potential to be.

*Culled from April Issue of PAV Magazine

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The JUA Fund: An African Initiative with a Pan African Focus
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Launched last year by African Industrialist Adam Molai,  the JUA (Sunrise in Swahili) Fund recently announced recipients of the $ 2 million to support entrepreneurs with capital to kickstart or expand their enterprises.

Bryt-Knowledge (Zimbabwe), GrowAgric (Kenya), Jirogasy (Madagascar), Powerstove Energy (Nigeria), Side (Kenya), Whispa Health (Nigeria) and Xetova (Kenya) all agreed to deals with the fund following a week-long “Kickstarter Olympics” during which they pitched their ideas to a high-profile panel of judges.

Molai, who has successfully started several enterprises across Africa and whose TRT Investments had $125 million of assets under management as of end 2019, says a desire to inspire the Continent’s entrepreneurial generation was behind the creation of the fund.

“Without entrepreneurs, economies cannot grow, and countries cannot advance. But African entrepreneurs unfortunately do not get the support they need to thrive for a myriad of reasons. Yet Africa is full of enterprising people,” says Adam Molai.

“Wherever there is adversity, there is opportunity. Africa is rife with adversity, wherever you turn business prospects are in abundance. Entrepreneurs provide solutions to societal challenges, whilst creating space for the advancement of their communities. I feel that Africa is so much more open, and it is full of so much more opportunity than you would find elsewhere. I want to do everything in my power to ensure that this potential is cultivated and unleashed,” says Adam Molai.

With a  panel of 17 judges included seasoned  Professor Benedict Oramah, President of the $20-billion Pan-African African Export-Import Bank; Dr. Amany Asfour, Chairperson of the African Business Council and Chairperson of COMESA Trade Promotions Council; Joel Nettey, the first African to be appointed President of the International Advertising Association; Brad Magrath, founder of Zoona, Zambia’s leading money transfer platform;  Anna Henry Nyimbo, founder of Cartrack Tanzania, Retriever Limited Kenya, Retriever Limited Rwanda and Neoboemi Africa amongst others, the selected entrepreneurs went through a rigorous selection process.

PAV brings you a special report on the Fund with exclusive interviews of Mr Adam Molai and the entrepreneurs selected as recipients of the inaugural JUA Fund.

*Culled from April Issue of PAV Magazine

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“Even if you don’t remember me, those 2.5 million children will do…”— says President Bio
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

The President who puts high Premium on Education

 By James Samba*

President Julius Maada Bio

 Despite decades of reforms in education especially school improvement initiatives, large number of pupils were still underachieving, failing or being pushed out of school. Clearly, a distinctly new approach was needed, the time for a serious government and policymakers to take a bold and comprehensive approach to education in Sierra Leone. There is no question that education is a powerful driver of change, transformation and prosperity.

 As the 2018 elections drew closer, the conversation about how to change the direction of the country gained even more prominence— focus on education and many other critical issues Sierra Leoneans were facing. During the campaigns, the New Direction Manifesto stood out, representing ideas of how to increase access to childhood education and how to make higher education more accessible and affordable, ensuring that every child in Sierra Leone has an excellent education. What an ambitious plan!!!

 It was on this manifesto that a man of dignity and valor arose to become the 3rd democratically elected President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, His Excellency the President Brigadier (retired) Julius Maada Bio, who postulated equity, accessibility, relevance, system-strengthening and integrity as the core of his Free Quality Education policy.

 In August 2018, the President defied his skeptics and went on to officially launch the New Direction Government’s flagship program—the Free Quality Education (FQE) – paving the way for easy access to education for over 2 million children in the country.

 “When I promised free and quality education my opponents said it was a political gimmick. But today, I have proven them wrong. In less than six months, we have shown that free education is POSSIBLE. I have always prioritized education as a means for development. As President, in order to demonstrate my commitment to education, my government has increased the budgetary allocation to education to 21 per cent of the national budget.” said President Bio at the launch of the FQE on August 20 at the Miatta Conference Hall in Freetown.

 A President, who means well for his country would invest in education in order to reinforce a society’s wealth and growth, where individuals can easily improve their own personal ambition,   productivity and outcomes. According to International Human Rights Law: “primary education shall be compulsory and free of charge whilst secondary and higher education shall be made progressively free of charge”, this is fundamental in guaranteeing everyone has access to education.

 The cornerstone of President Bio’s FQE is to increase nationwide access to quality pre-primary, primary and secondary schooling, as well as school level technical and vocational education and training. The goal is that ALL children will be able to successfully complete basic education and be prepared to move on to pursue higher education or training as appropriate for the workforce needed for national development.

 In 2020, the Government allocated Le1.4 trillion to the education sector representing 22% of the country’s annual budget. The FQE package includes: payment of tuition fees from primary to senior secondary school, provision of core text books, furniture and other learning materials including the payment of fees for all public examinations.

 Because we have a President, who understands that in many developing countries, families often cannot afford to send their children to school that was why he separated the education sector, where we now have the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary School Education (MBSSE) and the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education (MTHE) and appointing a young, energetic, and dynamic Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary School Education in the person of Dr. David Moinina Sengeh.

This Minister, together with his team has been working very hard to provide sufficient supply of learning and teaching materials, providing a conducive environment for learning by constructing spacious classrooms, providing adequate text books, furniture, WASH facilities, trained and qualified teachers, increasing teachers’ salary by 30% and the recruitment of 5,000 more teachers ensuring that even the ‘hard-to reach-areas’ are not left behind. What an audacious step taken by the New Direction Government!

 Under his leadership, Dr. Sengeh has also enticed cabinet to overturn the 2010 decision by the past administration that prevented pregnant girls from attending school. The New Direction administration has replaced the discriminatory procedure instituted by the APC government with two new policies focused on the ‘Radical Inclusion’ and ‘Comprehensive Safety’ of all children in the education system irrespective of class, ethnicity, tribe, disability, location, gender, reproductive or parenting status.

Recently, in Pujehun District, the Ministry commissioned 18 new and refurbished schools in hard-to-reach places across the riverine areas. This also includes providing training and stipends for the volunteer teachers in those parts of the country that have been neglected for decades. Mohamed Kallon, a resident in Bormu, YKK Chiefdom, Pujehun District, said “At first, when I heard, the President was going to pay school fees for every child, I didn’t believe until the day I went to pay my son’s fees, and was told that it was free—I felt so relieved”.

 “Every time I wake up in the morning, I always get excited because I now know there will be hot lunch waiting for me at the school”, said Alie Conteh, a class six (6) pupil at the Holy Angels Roman Catholic Primary School, Kambia District, Tonko Limba, Yankanbor village.

 In his citizen’s engagement on FM 98.1 ‘Good Morning Salone Breakfast Program’ on Thursday 8th April, 2021, whilst speaking about his Government’s three years administration, President Julius Maada Bio noted that in order to have a happy nation, individuals and their families should be happy.

 He said that was why he took the burden of paying school fees for about 2.5 million school children in the country and that the parents of those children, who now put those school fees into other use, are quite happy because his government has taken away that burden from them.

James Samba is a Mass Communication graduate from Fourah Bay College

 “No nation can ever develop without education. The future of this nation is our children. So, we have to invest hugely in educating the children and to have a happy and progressive nation in future”, he stated.

 After his 10 or more years of effective leadership of this great country, H.E President Julius Maada Bio would be widely considered as one of the greatest Sierra Leonean President’s because of his courage and leadership in making education Free for ALL.

 So, even if you don’t remember him, Alie Conteh together with those 2.5 million children would remember him…

 They would remember him for the 103 billion Leones subsidy paid for school fees…

 They would remember him for the 69 billion Leones paid for school feeding…

 They would remember him for the 3 billion Leones paid for furniture and other school materials.

 They would remember him for the 5,000 teachers recruited…

 They would remember him for 4,334 teaching and learning materials procured…

 They would remember him for the 3,044 schools approved…

 Candidates taking NPSE, BECE, WASSCE and NVQ in government and government assisted schools will also remember him.

*James Samba is a Mass Communication graduate from Fourah Bay College. He is the Technical Assistant (TA) to the Minister of Planning and Economic Development, NAO Building, Tower Hill, Freetown.

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Mozambique: Governement forces kill 36 terrorists in Palma
April 12, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jorge Joaquim

Mozambique’s Defence and Security Forces say that they have killed 36 insurgents during the terrorist attack on the town of Palma, at the Afungi peninsula in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, home to the site of French multinational Total’s natural gas project.

The forces added that the number might be higher, as the terrorists collected their casualties quickly. The attackers invaded the town on 24 March killing an unknown number of people.

“Up to this moment we have confirmed 36, but the number might be higher” Brigadier Vidigal Chongo told journalists in Palma on Sunday. “The terrorists have a tactic that they use. The first thing when they are dead is to quickly gather their victims to the rear” he added.

Chongo highlighted that the work of clearing the entire perimeter of the town had ended, and that they were now moving on to the phase of recovering the population that had fled to the forests.

He added that it was a critical phase which would require a lot of attention from the Mozambique’s Defence and Security Forces, so as not to allow terrorists to mix with the population and create more disturbances in the town.

The attacks come after Total removed its entire workforce from the site, leaving it in the hands of the FDS. Currently, there are around 30,000 refugees in Afungi.

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