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Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire Sign “Abidjan Declaration” On Cocoa
March 27, 2018 | 0 Comments
President Akufo Addo and President Ouattara after the signing of the Declaration

President Akufo Addo and President Ouattara after the signing of the Declaration

Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire have resolved to address the challenges of the cocoa sector, within the framework of the implementation of the Strategic Partnership Agreement which links the two countries, by signing the “Abidjan Declaration.”

With the two countries responsible for 60% of the world’s cocoa output, fluctuations of cocoa prices on the international market, marked by a fall of around 20% in 2017, have impacted negatively on the revenues of millions of cocoa farmers, as well as on the budgetary revenues of the two countries.

It is for this reason that President Akufo-Addo and His Excellency Alassane Ouattara, President of Cote d’Ivoire, on Monday, 26th March, 2018, held a consultation devoted to the cocoa economy, and, subsequently, signed the “Abidjan Declaration.”

Reading out the communiqué, the Minister for Trade and Industry, Alan Kyerematen, who accompanied President Akufo-Addo to the bilateral discussions, stated that the Declaration is aimed at “better defending the interests of cocoa producers, as well as the economies of both countries.”

To this end, President Akufo-Addo and President Alassane Ouattara have reaffirmed their commitment to define a better, common strategy and a sustainable solution for the improvement of prices for cocoa producers, in their respective countries.

They also committed themselves to harmonizing their cocoa marketing policies, and agreed to announce, every year, in a concomitant manner, and before the beginning of the campaign, the price to cocoa producers.

Additionally, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire have also agreed to intensify collaboration, in the field of scientific research for the production of cocoa plants, the improvement of plant varieties, and also to adopt and implement a regional programme to fight against the swollen shoot disease.

A commitment by the two countries to process a major part of cocoa, and the invitation of the private sector, notably the African private sector, to invest massively in cocoa processing in Africa, was also reached.

In concluding, President Akufo-Addo and President Alassane Ouattara reaffirmed their commitment to promote jointly the consumption of cocoa on local, regional and emerging markets, and agreed that consultation between Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, on the management of their cocoa sectors, should be done on a regular basis.

*Presidency Ghana

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top 10 and Bottom 10 countries

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Investing in Ghana is safer – Akufo-Addo
March 26, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

President Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo

President Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo

President of the republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo has said his government is keen on building a business-friendly economy. The President, at the 6th Africa CEO Forum assured potential private sector investors of the security of their investments.

In his address at the Forum, held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, President Akufo-Addo stressed that “Ghana is endowed with great potential, where security and the rule of law are upheld, where investments are secure.”

The Ghanaian leader noted that over the last 14 months, his administration has focused its energies on trying to build a resilient economy, and put in measures aimed at helping move Ghana to a situation beyond aid. With some degree of success, President Akufo-Addo told the Forum that “we have put in place, in Ghana, since I took office, a monetary policy that has stabilized our currency, and has reduced significantly inflation and the cost of borrowing.”

President Akufo-Addo stated that the Ghanaian economy, whose growth rate stood at 3.6%, in 2016, the lowest in two decades, grew by 7.9% in 2017, and is expected to grow, in 2018, by 8.3%, which, according to the IMF, would make it the fastest growing economy in the world this year.

He added that “we have implemented a raft of tax cuts which has brought relief to businesses, and, at the same time, reduced substantially our fiscal deficit. These interventions are lowering the cost of doing business, and are shifting the focus of our economy from an emphasis on taxation to an expansion of production.”

In order to create a Ghana that is “able to mobilize our own material and human resources to develop a strong economy, capable of generating prosperity for the mass of our people, and construct a Ghana no longer dependent on handouts and charity”, the President stated that the rapid growth of the private sector is an essential ingredient in realizing his government’s vision of a Ghana Beyond Aid.

“There are many projects in roads, railways, water transport, industry, manufacturing, agriculture, petroleum and gas, renewable energy, the exploitation of our mineral wealth of bauxite, iron ore and gold, and ICT, amongst others, which, if properly structured, can attract private sector financing,” he said.

President Akufo-Addo continued, “Key to attracting private sector investment is not only creating a conducive, business friendly and peaceful environment, but, also, fashioning a state machinery fit to provide strong, regulatory support for private enterprise to thrive. That, for us, is the heart of the private-public-partnership that can fast-track our development.”

He further indicated that the aim of his government is to create a state machinery that can manage efficiently its fiscal and monetary responsibilities that can reform its tax administration to ensure that all private sector operators discharge their full tax obligations to enhance domestic resource mobilization, and that can promote the rule of law.

“It is important that all of us make systematic efforts to turn our backs on the sad history of massive flights of capital out of our country and continent from unconscionable inter-company pricing and other practices, and lay the conditions for fairness in the administration of our economies,” he added.

He told the Forum, comprising African CEOs, bankers and investors that Ghana wants to participate in the global market place “not on the basis of the exports of raw materials, but on the basis of things we make. We want to bring greater dignity to the lives of millions of people in Ghana. We want to build a Ghana Beyond Aid.”

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Too early for us to comment on military deal –Pastor
March 26, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah.

Rector of Pentecost University College, Apostle Dr. Daniel Walker, has said it is too early for pastors and other religious leaders in Ghana to comment on the controversial military agreement between the West African country and the United States.

He said it is important for Ghanaians to understand that the nation does not live in isolation thus the need to assist other nations when they are in need.

The comment comes on the back of concerns by some Ghanaians over the seeming silence of the clergy, who were deemed very active under the erstwhile Mahama administration. Terms of the military agreement which was approved by a one-sided

Apostle Walker nonetheless said it is important that the interest of the nation will be put first by government as they go into agreements of this kind.

“I think it is early days yet, I’m sure they’ll come out at the appropriate time. Let’s not forget that we live in an international community therefore we can’t live in isolation, we help each other. As to whether the agreement is right or wrong, that’s another thing. The debate will continue and we’ll see the outcome by praying that every decision we take as a country should be to the benefit of our people.

“We have one country and I think that our sovereignty is crucial when we come to such matters. Any decision that government takes they should put the will of the people first, the comfort and peace of the country as a priority. I believe at the appropriate time the Christian Council or whoever is responsible will come out,” he said.

Meanwhile, former President John Mahama has described the Ghanaian clergy as hypocrites.

“Now today look at it, that’s the new standard and yet civil society is quiet, religious and traditional leaders are quiet. When NDC comes the next time and Alabi or Bagbin or who is the President and they appoint their relatives into government are they now coming to come out and say it? Must the standards of measuring standards differ because of who is in the presidency? That is the hypocrisy of our politics, that’s the height of hypocrisy we have in Ghana,” Mahama told the NDC gathering in the United Kingdom where the party is on a rebuilding tour.

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Bill Gates tells Nigerian leaders to ‘face facts’ so they can make progress
March 26, 2018 | 0 Comments

David McKenzie and Brent Swails*

Bill Gates tells Nigerian leaders to 'face facts' so they can make progress

Bill Gates tells Nigerian leaders to ‘face facts’ so they can make progress

(CNN)Bill Gates traveled to Nigeria to publicly give its leaders some tough talk. It was a highly unusual move but the tech billionaire believes the country is facing a critical moment.

“While it may be easier to be polite, it’s more important to face facts so that you can make progress,” the philanthropist told a room of Nigeria’s government elite that included the president.
In an exclusive television interview with CNN, Gates said he wanted to speak out to implore Nigerian politicians to focus on human capital and its large youth population.
“The current quality and quantity of investment in this young generation in health and education just isn’t good enough. So I was very direct.”
The tech billionaire and founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation feels that he has earned the right to speak.
Gates says he has traveled to Nigeria for more than a decade and the foundation is spending $1.6 billion on programs here — most of it his own money.
Their primary focus is health and their work has been incredibly successful in mitigating the threat of polio, particularly in the crisis hit northeast of the country.
Gates feels, along with many others, that it is time for Nigeria’s government to do better. The continent’s largest economy is moving out of a recession caused by a tanking oil price and moving towards a closely watched presidential election in 2019.
In many ways, the country is transforming, with gleaming hotel towers on Lagos Island competing for real estate and the wealthy fighting in the notorious traffic in ubiquitous black SUVs.
But dig a little bit deeper and the statistics are alarming. As Gates points out, Nigeria is still one of the most dangerous places to give birth and the country’s very young face chronic malnutrition.
University of Washington modeling, commissioned by Gates, estimates that if investment isn’t increased in health and education, then the per-capita GDP, rising steadily for decades, will flatline.
Gates says he wanted to spark action and debate and he certainly has.
Predictably, some see the tough talk as a rebuke of Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s president, who has been struggling to get the economy on its feet and stamp out the persistent threat of Islamist group Boko Haram in the northeast.
On the street, many just want support from their government — whoever is in charge — because right now there often isn’t much.
“These people are just trying to survive, they aren’t being helped,” said banker Moses Uchendu, while grabbing lunch at the popular Obalende market in Lagos.
It’s a bustling market where vendors sell delicacies such as efo riro, a spicy Yoruba stew. Power outages are frequent and the only contact with officials is when they visit for bribes, say residents and traders.
Nigeria is routinely rated as one of the most corrupt nations on the globe. Although the country recently moved up 14 places on the World Bank’s ease of doing business ranking, most of its businesses remain in the informal sector where there is little help and loans are hard to come by.
Few businesses pay their taxes and all these factors have hindered Nigeria from meeting its true potential, says Gates.
Uchendu hopes Nigerians are listening.
“I told my friends… that Bill Gates is saying the truth. It is better we are told the truth about Nigeria’s economy. It is better we say the truth.”
But Gate’s message isn’t a new one. Activists say they have been making frequent calls to invest in people, and end rampant corruption, all which have been ignored.
“These are not new topics. These are the issues that we have been discussing with the government. We have been engaging with them for so many years now,” says Timothy Adewale, a human rights lawyer with one of Nigeria’s largest NGOs.
“Nobody will listen. You know, actually, if they are sincere about the best interest of the people, they should listen. It has always been said that the greatest test of your commitment is your actions.”
But Gates believes, together with Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man and a close partner of the Gates Foundation, that if the Nigerian government does a few things differently, then the country is poised for lift off.
“I really think that of all the countries I have seen, it really hangs in the balance. If they can get health and education right, they can be an engine of growth, not just for themselves but for all of Africa,” said Gates.
*Courtesy of CNN
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Paul Biya: Cameroon’s ‘absentee president’
March 26, 2018 | 0 Comments

Cameroon’s President Paul Biya has been in power for 35 years. But while his longevity in office is a talking point at home, the time he spends out of the country has stirred international comment – as Paul Melly, an associate fellow of Chatham House, explains.

Criticised by some for a supposedly “hands-off” style of rule, Cameroon’s President Paul Biya recently held a cabinet meeting for the first time in more than two years.

Presidential elections are scheduled for October and Cameroonians are waiting to hear if the 85-year-old will seek a further term. But no such announcement was made at the meeting.

Mr Biya has been in power since 1982, making him one of Africa’s longest serving leaders. Under his rule, Cameroon has survived an economic crisis and moved from being a one-party state to multi-party politics.

But it has also been marked by endemic corruption and reversal of democratic gains, leading to the abolition of term limits in 2008, which allowed the octogenarian to run for re-election in 2011.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) accompanies President of Cameroon Paul Biya (R) to view an honour guard during a welcoming ceremony inside the Great Hall of the People on March 22, 2018 in Beijing, China.Image copyrightAFP
Image captionPresident Biya has been in China this week

Today’s Africa is changing. The era of decades-old presidencies is slipping away. Satellite TV and the internet tell a growing urban audience about democratic changes of power in other sub-Saharan countries.

Some 60% of Cameroonians are under 25 and so were not even born when President Biya first came to power. There is massive demand for jobs and viable livelihoods.

The opposition Social Democratic Front has now recognised these generational realities. Earlier this year, the party’s leader, John Fru Ndi, 76, stepped aside to make way for a new presidential candidate, 49-year-old businessman and former pilot Joshua Osih.

Swiss hotel

This is the challenge that confronts Mr Biya as he decides whether to stand for a further term that could take him into a fourth decade in power in a country hungry for change.

His repeated absences from the country have riled critics.

His foreign travels have been the subject of an online spat between the state-owned Cameroon Tribune newspaper and the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), which calculated the amount of time the president spent abroad using reports from the daily newspaper.

The OCCRP estimates that the president spent nearly 60 days out of the country last year on private visits.

It also alleges that he spent a third of the year abroad in 2006 and 2009. The Intercontinental Hotel in Geneva is said to be his favourite destination.

The state-owned Cameroon Tribune called their investigation “a clear electoral propaganda”.

President Paul Biya (L) and his wife Chantal Biya in YaoundeImage copyrightAFP
Image captionCameroon football players bow before President Biya and his wife Chantal to mimic an obsequious greeting

Back home, President Biya adopts a low-key style, staying out of the limelight and sometimes retreating to his home village.

He entrusts the day-to-day running of the government to the Prime Minister, Philemon Yang, who holds monthly gatherings of a “cabinet council”.

The prime minister is accorded wide latitude to manage the work of his ministerial team, while the head of state meets senior figures in private at the presidential palace in the capital, Yaoundé.

President Biya’s hands-off approach has led critics to talk of an “absent president”.

However, this relationship at least partly reflects Cameroon’s unusual dual heritage of both British and French colonial rule. President Biya, like his predecessor Ahmadou Ahidjo, is from the Francophone regions, while the premier is always an Anglophone.

The president has to be seen to leave the head of government to get on with the job, says one non-partisan Cameroonian analyst.

So when President Biya does summon ministers to a rare formal cabinet gathering, it is usually for a special reason.

The most recent one was the official first meeting of a new ministerial team after a reshuffle earlier in the month. It is similar to the last cabinet meeting, in 2015, which had come soon after the previous government revamp.

This time there was speculation that Mr Biya would announce whether or not he would stand in this year’s election, to seek yet another term in office – but in fact he gave no hint of his thinking on that.

Yet the surprise cabinet meeting did matter in another way.

Language matters

For more than a year, Cameroon’s Anglophone regions in the North-West and South-West have been mired in crisis.

This started as a protest by lawyers and teachers demanding better provision for the use of English.

Media captionCameroon’s English-speaking region protests explained

But tensions rose, leading to confrontation between the security forces, a 93-day blackout of internet services across Anglophone Cameroon, and separatist militants fighting for an independent “Ambazonia”, with a rising death toll on both sides.

The government took steps to address the language issues, but the situation still looks dangerous. Both the UK and France have discreetly pressed for dialogue.

President Biya responded with a cabinet reshuffle on 2 March, signalling a carrot and stick approach: firmness on security and law and order was balanced with the creation of a ministry for decentralisation, holding out the promise of greater local control over development and public services.

Map of Cameroon
Image captionNorth-West and South-West are Cameroon’s two English-speaking regions

He used this rare cabinet meeting to show his full backing for his ministers as they pursue this twin-track strategy – a firm stance on security in the troubled Anglophone region, but, at the same time, decentralisation, to give local people more control over their own affairs.

So, the so-called absent president had to show a firm hand while also preparing to loosen his grip.

*Source BBC

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Carolyn Kennedy Bags Leadership and Service Award In Washington, DC
March 26, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Carolyn Kennedy receiving the award from Therapeutic Interventions Inc

Carolyn Kennedy receiving the award from Therapeutic Interventions Inc

Carolyn Kennedy, Executive Director of the Silver Spring, MD, based Brotherhood and Sisterhood International-BSI, is the 2018 recipient of the Therapeutic Interventions Inc. Leadership and Service Award.

The award was presented to Carolyn Kennedy at recent event organized by Therapeutic Interventions Inc. at the Historic Fraser Mansion in Washington, DC as part of the Women’s History Month Celebration 2018.

With a career span of 30 years in civil rights and providing services to the disabled, it was with a standing ovation that Carolyn Kennedy received the award from the management of Therapeutic Interventions Inc. led by Fatmata Koroma.

For some thirty years Carolyn Kennedy has put in her all for civil rights and serving people with disabilities

For some thirty years Carolyn Kennedy has put in her all for civil rights and serving people with disabilities

Accepting the honor , Carolyn Kennedy shared motivational experiences on the long and windy road she has traveled to get to where she is.Stick to your dreams and remain steadfast in the midst of all odds said Carolyn Kennedy, who was accompanied  to the event by her husband Dr. Kofi Agyapong -Founder of Sons and Daughters of Africa,SADA.

The event was graced with musical performances, presentations by Miss Culture USA Pageants, video presentations and more.

The women from Miss Culture USA 2018 answered present at the event

The women from Miss Culture USA 2018 answered present at the event

Therapeutic Interventions Inc. was founded to enhance the quality of life for all people and empower the community to develop habits and techniques that promote a healthy lifestyle, positive self-esteem, positive self-image, interpersonal skills, ethical values, character, and entrepreneurship  and leadership abilities.

Wellness Professional Candice Camille (in yellow) spoke at the event while Christine White thrilled the audience with some exquisite West African dance moves

Wellness Professional Candice Camille (in yellow) spoke at the event while Christine White thrilled the audience with some exquisite West African dance moves

Its vision is to develop career skills and opportunities for the minority and the African Diaspora community by providing career development courses, programs in health and human services, youth engagement initiatives and education, promotion of arts, culture and the humanities. Therapeutic Interventions Inc. creates a platform to celebrate the creative and innovative lifestyle of the community.

Next on the hectic agenda of the organization is the Miss Culture USA 2018 pageant in April.

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Annual Meetings of the Boards of Governors of the African Development Bank Group: “Accelerating Africa’s industrialization”
March 24, 2018 | 0 Comments
21 – 25 May 2018, Busan Exhibition Conference Center, Busan, Republic of South Korea
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, March 23, 2018/ — The 53rd Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the African Development Bank and 44th Meeting of the Board of Governors of the African Development Fund (http://www.AfDB.org/am), the concessional arm of the Bank Group, are scheduled to take place from May 21-25, 2018 in Busan, Korea.

While Africa has enjoyed strong economic growth for almost two decades, the continent has not seen a commensurate rise in industrialization. On average, African industry generates merely US$700 of GDP per capita, which is barely a fifth in East Asia (US$3,400). In addition, African exports consist of low technology manufactures and unprocessed natural resources, which represent more than 80 percent of exports from Algeria, Angola or Nigeria, for example.

Africa’s rapid industrialization holds the potential for a win-win scenario – for the world, and certainly for the continent. It would also help raise productivity by spurring technological progress and innovation while creating higher-skilled jobs in the formal sector; promote linkages between services and agricultural sectors; between rural and urban economies; and among consumers, intermediates and capital goods industries. Industrialization will also make the prices of manufactured exports less volatile or susceptible to long-term deterioration than those of primary goods, as well as help African countries escape dependence on primary commodity exports.

The theme is generating a lot of interest at a time when Korean and Asian companies are increasingly active in Africa. What lessons can Africa learn from Korea’s development experience? Can relations between both regions, built on a win-win formula, enable Africa claim a more significant share of world trade? Can Afro-Asian commercial and financial ties favor the development of the African private sector? What are the most effective policy levers that could foster structural transformation on the continent? How can the continent learn from the experiences of Korea and leading African nations such as Mauritius, Morocco, Ethiopia, and Rwanda in the industrialization process? These and other questions will be debated during the Busan Annual Meetings.

The Annual Meetings are one of the largest economic gatherings on the continent. Thousands of delegates, Heads of State, public and private sectors stakeholders, development partners and academics, will reflect on Africa’s industrialization − one of the Bank’s High 5 strategic priorities (https://www.afdb.org/en/the-high-5) and an avenue to improve the living conditions of Africans.

During the meetings, the Bank will organize a series of knowledge events to generate new ideas for developing and financing Africa’s industrialization. Highlights of the meetings will include a high-level presidential panel on Accelerating African Industrialization: Bringing the future to the present. The panel will be a platform for political leaders from Africa and Korea to present their visions and strategies for industrialization as well as ideas for overcoming implementation challenges.

The Bank will launch the updated version of the African Economic Outlook (AEO) 2018 – the Bank’s flagship economic publication. Several knowledge events are on the programme such as Pathways to Industrialization, where panelists will deliberate on the various trajectories African countries can follow towards sustainable industrialization. A panel on Future of Work and Industrialization will examine how Africa can adapt its educational systems and workers’ skills to suit new economic realities, particularly for industrial development of the continent, among other sessions.

Journalists willing to take part in the Meetings are requested to send to the Bank a designation letter from their news organization at the following address: (media@afdb.org). Upon receipt of the letter, the Bank will send a personal code that will allow online registration. Online registration will close on 13th May 2018. Journalists from countries without Korean diplomatic representation should register early enough in order to get assistance from the Bank in obtaining a visa should they need one.

The African Development Bank will not cover transport and subsistence costs for journalists travelling to Busan.

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Today’s technology offers financial institutions in Africa countless opportunities to improve their business
March 24, 2018 | 0 Comments

KIGALI, Rwanda, March 23, 2018/ — Speakers at the International Conference on Responsible and Inclusive Finance (ICRIF) (http://www.amir.org.rw) held in Kigali on 21 March urged Rwandan microfinance institutions (MFIs) to embrace new-age technology to streamline their operations and to enhance their ability to extend financial inclusion among the country’s unbanked and underbanked population.

Straton Habyalimana, senior programme manager for responsible financing at the Small Enterprise Education and Promotion Network, told the 400 delegates at the conference that MFIs should adopt digital platforms to enhance their interactions with their customers. Kigali-based digital financial services expert, James Kwezi, said that MFIs should use technology to become more efficient and profitable.

This aligns with the National Bank of Rwanda’s (BNR) call to Rwandan financial sector firms to embrace automation to reduce their operating costs and their rate of bad loans. “Many microfinance institutions in East Africa still depend on paper-driven processes or Excel spreadsheets to manage their businesses,” commented Vedran Lescan, business development manager at Oradian, a global financial inclusion company that delivers a cloud-based toolset for financial institutions.

“But with the latest advances in financial technology (fintech) and cloud software, Rwandan MFIs now have access to powerful, affordable tools that can help them transform inefficiencies into operational excellence, scale their businesses for rapid growth and get better visibility into the performance of their portfolios. This, in turn, can boost their profitability and enable them to better serve the needs of their financially excluded customers.”

At the conference, Lescan took part in a panel discussion about finding ways to overcome the challenges that financial institutions face when it comes to adopting new technology and implementing it across an entire business with multiple branches.

He said: “Data migration is an important step in digital transformation, but organisations often overlook it or underestimate how time-consuming and complex it can be. Even though an MFI’s workforce can quickly learn a new system, the software wont add value if data isn’t migrated from the previous legacy system or from spreadsheets in a consistent manner.”

As part of Oradian’s toolset, Oradian’s in-market teams provide data migration training and support to ensure the financial institution’s data is treated as an asset that enables better decision-making and better client service. Lescan also advised MFIs to seek out toolsets that offer robust security and data protection features, including audit trails, user permissions and other functions to combat data leakages, fraud and user error.

“Today’s technology offers financial institutions in Africa countless opportunities to improve their business,” Lescan said. “However, financial inclusion leaders are promoting partnerships with fintech providers (https://goo.gl/iSjsG6), rather than vendor relationships, to drive truly successful implementations. “

Fintech partnerships provide financial institutions with the resources and global best practice they need to rapidly overcome the common challenges of digital transformation.

“Strategic partnerships within the digital ecosystem are proving to be the most effective way to enable our customers to provide better service to their end-clients,” Lescan said. “We are eager to work with the central bank, MFIs and other members of the value chain to drive financial inclusion in Rwanda.”

Oradian is a financial inclusion company serving financial institutions in remote, hard-to-reach communities. Using insights from our community of customers, we build a cloud-based toolset that smart financial institutions plug into to access best practice and efficiency. Oradian’s global community is made up of over 50 financial institutions in seven countries with a concentration in the Philippines and Nigeria. Collectively, Oradian’s partnering financial institutions provide access to financial services for over one million end-clients.

 

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Ghana: Police block Freedom Fighters from entering Parliament
March 24, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

The Ghana Police Service has blocked members of the Economic Freedom Fighters, who are campaigning against Parliament ratifying the Ghana – US defense cooperation agreement, from entering the premises of the Lawmaking House.

The group, is threatening a showdown with the law enforcement agents at the main gate of Ghana’s Parliament.

The pressure group is storming Parliament as part of moves to reject the military pact as the legislators debate the details before going on recess.  The group is demanding a withdrawal of the agreement by government despite assurances by Ghana’s Defense minister, Dominic Nitiwul.

“We’re going to respect the Ghana Police for the time being. We didn’t come with knives and guns. We’ll hold on patiently for some time,” Mr. Yeboah, leader of the group told the media outside the gate.

He added: “We’ll exercise what the constitution says. We’re going to resist oppressors’ rule. We’ll resist and you’ll see the results. There won’t be any bloodshed. We’re no longer prepared to allow ‘misleaders’ to rule this country. Our strength lies in our commitment to make Ghana work again.”

The Government of Ghana, according to a leaked document, has approved the agreement with the US to set up a military base in Ghana and also allow unrestricted access to a host of facilities and wide-ranging tax exemptions to the United States Military—a claim the government of Ghana and the US denied.

Ghana’s Parliament is due to ratify the agreement today before it rises by close of Friday, March 23, 2018.

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Kenyatta, Uhuru détente: Time for African politics to reinvent itself
March 23, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

President Uhuru Kenyatta shakes hand with Raila Odinga when they met at Harambee House, Nairobi. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE

President Uhuru Kenyatta shakes hand with Raila Odinga when they met at Harambee House, Nairobi. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE

On August 8, 2017, Kenya held its presidential election. The election was conducted in a tense environment and since then, the two main candidates going into the elction (Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta) had been at loggerheads. However, Kenyans woke up to a surprise on 16 March, 2018 as the two held a press release where they stated their new found desire to move on a reconciliation path as ‘brothers’.

The news came as a surprise to virtually everyone especially considering that it had barely been a month since Odinga had inaugurated himself as the ‘People’s President’ in a move which prompted Kenyatta to retaliate by charging some of Uhuru Kenyatta’s supporters with criminal nuisance and even issued arrests for some including the lawyer who inaugurated Odinga.

While the path of reconciliation taken by Odinga and Kenyatta is commendable, it is a bitter taste for those that were involved in the political violence and disturbances that saw over a 100 people dead and hundreds of others injured and displaced in the aftermath of the August 8, election. It is against this background that this article calls for Africa to reinvent itself.

Shifting from the culture of violence

From Cape to Cairo, African politics suffer from the culture of violence. Be it, sponsored violence induced by politicians or the random desire by one group (ethnic/tribal/race/social class etc.) to dominate another, African countries at one point or the other experience disturbing acts of violence that are politically motivated.

While the top hierarchy rarely suffers from this violence, it’s the total opposite when it comes to those at the bottom. True to the proverb, “when two elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers” the general African populace has been affected and suffered the most from political disturbances. This, therefore, means that if any reinvention is to come, it is imperative that it starts from the bottom up for it to be effective.

Conscientization

One of the many memories that the legend Bob Marley left us is his wisdom and this wisdom is perfectly embedded in this saying, “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but our selves can free our minds.” The first and probably the only step that Africans need to take in order to overthrow the culture of political violence is for them to become aware of the political, economic and social conditions that lead them to engage in acts of violence. Such conditions which among other things include race, ethnicity, tribalism, and inferiority complex are so enmeshed in the hearts and minds of most Africans such that they subconsciously dictate how Africans think and act.

In order for Africans to emancipate themselves from these terrible conditions, it’s imperative that first, they become conscious of the conditions that exist within their minds which blindly leads them to engage and commit in terrible acts. Only when the people become conscious can there be a shift from the culture of violence to a culture of peace in African politics.

Politics of personality

While the public possesses the power to force a shift from the culture of violence, the politicians themselves can also play a part in this shift. Often times, politicians prey on the vulnerabilities of the masses, they draw support from entrenching themselves in the politics of ethnicity, tribalism and in some cases religion and gender.

By identifying with one group, they become the hero or saviour of that group and the result is that it ends up creating politics of personality; the problem with politics of personality is that it blinds people, instead of following the objective path they become subjective. They blindly follow even when the politician goes on a wrong path and when another group tries to highlight his/her flaws, those blindly following feel like they and their ‘hero’ have been attacked and find a justification for defending themselves in often times a violent manner. It’s important therefore that African politicians move past politics of personality to politics of substance.

Africans need conscientization and African politicians need to desist from politics of personality to politics of substance, then and only then can Africans see each other as friends in the political arena even when disagreeing just like the newfound friendship of Kenyatta and Odinga.

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Group storms Ghana’s Parliament over US military pact
March 23, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

Ernesto Yeboah

Ernesto Yeboah

Pressure group, Economic Freedom Fighters, says it is mobilizing people to Ghana’s house of Parliament today as the law makers begin debate on the controversial military pact between the West African country and the United States.

The group is demanding a withdrawal of the agreement by the government of Ghana despite assurances by Defense minister Dominic Nitiwul.

Leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters, Ernesto Yeboah said they will explore all means to ensure that Parliament does not pass the agreement.

“It’s a call to national duty that all of us make ourselves available to remind our members of parliament and indeed our political leadership that power belongs to us. When the Burkinabe people found that their members of Parliament had become insolent and were taking them for granted, they simply converged and burnt down parliament.

“We are simply converging at Parliament to send a message to our parliamentarians that the power they wield in terms of representing us actually comes from us. We are not converging to burn down parliament. Of course if we are pushed into the wall under certain circumstances, certain drastic actions could be taken,” he warned.

The Government of Ghana, according to a leaked document, has approved the agreement with the US to set up a military base in Ghana and also allow unrestricted access to a host of facilities and wide-ranging tax exemptions to the United States Military—a claim the government of Ghana and the US denied.

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