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Juba condemns Khartoum’s foiled coup, describes it as a blatant attack on peace process
September 23, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Abdalla Hamdok is Sudan’s interim prime minister survived the coup but for how long?

Juba – South Sudan’s transitional government of national unity on Wednesday condemned a failed coup attempt on Tuesday in its northern neighbor Sudan. 

In the press statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said it considers the coup attempt to oust the transitional government in Sudan as a blatant attack on the process of consolidating peace in Sudan.

“The government and the people of the Republic of South Sudan strongly condemn this failed coup attempt and urge the Sudanese government to hold accountable all those involved. The government of South Sudan also condemns any external interference intended to derail the peaceful transition that is currently underway in Sudan,” the foreign affairs ministry said in a statement issued in Juba.

Sudan is calm after a group of military officers attempted to overthrow the transitional government on Tuesday.

In 2020, Sudan Prime Minister Hamdok survived an assassination attempt in Khartoum.

 However, over 40 military officers who are accused of being part of the botched coup attempt have been arrested, according to Sudan media agency.

Sudanese transitional government has accused rogue loyalists of ousted president Omar al-Bashir of orchestrating a failed coup in Khartoum

Juba disclosed that it rejects the use of military means to undermine the power of the people and the leadership of the transitional government.

Juba also urges the IGAD leaders to condemn this attack on the democratic transition in Sudan.

This comes after the President Salva Kiir had phone conversations with the Chairman of the Sudan Transitional Sovereign Council, Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan and Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok on Tuesday morning after the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) successfully thwarted the attempted coup allegedly by supporters of former President Omar Al-Bashir.

“We emphasize our firm position in rejecting the use of military means to undermine the power of the people and the leadership of Transitional Government,” said Kiir in the statement. “Such  unconstitutional shortcuts aimed at blocking the democratic political transition in Sudan should not be allowed to derail the efforts of the Sudanese people,” the statement said.

In October’s last year, President Kiir mediated and oversaw the signing of the Juba Peace Agreement between the Sudan transitional government and various armed rebels from the regions of Darfur, Nuba Mountains and South Kordofan, ending the decades deadly conflict in Sudan region.

This resulted to the integration of these former rebel fighters have been integrated into the Sudan transitional government. 

The statement also called on all the parties and stakeholders in Sudan to embrace peaceful dialogue and protect the transitional government in order to safeguard the democratic gains made during this transitional period.

The statement said “we reaffirm our support to full implementation of the Juba Peace Agreement in Sudan, and urge the parties to recommit to it as the best path forward to achieve the legitimate goals and dreams of the Sudanese people and revolution.”

Kiir’s government pledged full support and solidarity with the government and the people of the Sudan in their efforts to achieve the legitimate aspirations and hopes of the December’s Revolution. 

South Sudan won independence from Sudan in 2011 after decades of the scorched – earth civil war between the then ex-rebel army Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) and successive regimes in Khartoum.

The two foe sisterly countries share a long common border that has not been demarcated and resources.

Of recently, Juba and Khartoum agreed to open by October 1st four border crossing points at Jebeleen area to encourage trade and movement of people across their common border that was shut in 2011.

Sudan has been on a fragile path to democratic rule since the military’s ouster of the country’s longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir in April 2019, following four months of mass protests.

Sudan is currently being run by a joint military and civilians government that faces towering economic and security challenges

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The Foundation for Democracy in Africa’s President, Fred Oladeinde calls on the Biden Administration and the US Congress to support Local Manufacturing of COVID-19 Vaccine in African Countries.
September 23, 2021 | 0 Comments
Today, only 24 million people or 1.7% of Africa’s population has access to COVID-19 vaccines, says Fred Oladeinde
Washington, DCSeptember 22, 2021
Today, we call on President Joseph Biden and the US Congress to increase technology transfer and financial support for the local manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines across Africa because “Health is Wealth.”

According to Fred Oladeinde, “Today, only 24 million people or 1.7% of Africa’s population has access to COVID-19 vaccines, creating ‘Vaccine Poverty” and a threat to more than one billion people across Africa, particularly now – in the midst of the devastating Delta variant of COVID 19 across the globe.” 

The COVID-19 pandemic poses a grave threat to food security and nutrition in Africa and could have long-term effects on the well-being of hundreds of millions of children and adults. The pandemic could potentially double the number of people suffering acute hunger, propelling the number of those hurting to 265 million by the end of 2021.

“To date, about $11.7 trillion or 12 percent of global GDP has been spent worldwide mostly by governments of rich nations to support health care delivery systems and provide lifelines to vulnerable households and businesses, while most of the citizens of cash-strapped nations suffer. We urgently need to address vaccine poverty challenges,” he said.

For more information please contact The Foundation for Democracy in Africa (FDA) on 202-331-1333, Email: comments@democracy-africa.org or visit our website: www.agoacsonetwork.org
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Coventry University Group and MasterStart launch online leadership courses in Africa.
September 23, 2021 | 0 Comments

Coventry University Group and MasterStart launch online leadership courses in Africa in landmark development for UK-Africa educational collaboration.

Educational innovators Coventry University Group and MasterStart have combined their acclaimed teaching frameworks to create courses aimed at developing the next generation of leaders and to inspire under-represented groups to gain leadership skills.

The collaboration sees the launch of a range of programmes aimed at improving access to education in a range of in-demand topics and with a key focus on diversity, inclusion and sustainable development.

Coventry University Group will join some of Africa’s leading providers of executive and business education, including University of Stellenbosch Business School – Executive Development, University of Cape Town – Graduate Business School and Gordon Institute of Business Science, by collaborating academically online with MasterStart.

The four new micro credentials, accredited by Coventry University, are the first of their kind in South Africa, as MasterStart expands its provision of career-enabling courses for Africa’s future leaders.

With an intake every month, the seven-week online courses include Digital Marketing, High Impact Sales, Managing Diversity and Inclusion and Data Analysis.

Ben Pike, MasterStart CEO said: “This is a massive step forward for MasterStart’s mission of unlocking leadership potential across under-represented groups. Through partnerships like these between African and UK organisations we aim to tackle inequality through accessible, flexible, and industry-led qualifications with human connection at their heart.”

MasterStart’s educational model focuses on providing a humanised online learning experience where students can apply the course work to their real-world challenges. They can also learn from and with their peers, industry leaders and course faculty.

The collaboration follows the launch of Coventry University’s new Africa Hub in Rwanda in June 2021, which will support academic collaborations such as this and provide organisations and individuals across Sub-Saharan Africa with regional access to the growing academic research and commercial expertise that exists within all areas of the Coventry University Group.

Coventry University Vice-Chancellor Professor John Latham CBE said: “We collaborate with more than 150 academic institutions across the globe as we believe that high-quality education should be accessible to all.

“We know there is a demand for high-quality online education in Africa and we look forward to being able to support MasterStart through these micro credentials.”

Emma Wade-Smith OBE, Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Africa at the UK Department for International Trade added:

“It’s encouraging to see leading educational innovators from the UK and South Africa work hand-in-hand to help bridge the skills gap and empower our future African leaders. The launch of Coventry University Group and MasterStart’s online leadership courses in Africa is timely and essential. With the changing corporate landscape and economic challenges of COVID-19, providing upskilling initiatives such as these are key to unlock more job opportunities and open pathways to increase economic inclusion and sustainable growth.”

MasterStart has sold courses in more than 60 countries, has more than 400 enterprise clients and has the ability to train up to 600 learners in a single cohort.

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Money seized from Equatorial Guinea VP Goes into Vaccines
September 23, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Kester Kenn Klomegah

Vice President of Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue gestures while arriving at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa, for the inauguration of Incumbent South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on May 25, 2019. Photo credit MICHELE SPATARI/AFP via Getty Images

As a classic precedence, the Justice Department of the United States has decided that $26.6m (£20m) seized from Equatorial Guinea’s Vice-President Teodorin Nguema Obiang Mangue be used on purchasing COVID-19 vaccines and other essential medical programmes in Equitorial Guinea, located on the west coast of central Africa.

“Wherever possible, kleptocrats will not be allowed to retain the benefits of corruption,” an official said in a statement, and reported by British Broadcasting Corporation.

Obiang was forced to sell a mansion in Malibu, California, a Ferrari and various Michael Jackson memorabilia as part of a settlement he reached with the US authorities in 2014 after being accused of corruption and money-laundering. He denied the charges.

The agreement stated that $10.3m of the money from the sale would be forfeited to the US and the rest would be distributed to a charity or other organisation for the benefit of the people of Equatorial Guinea, the Justice Department said.

The UN is to receive $19.25m to purchase and administer COVID-19 vaccines to at least 600,000 people in Equatorial Guinea, while a US-based charity is to get $6.35m for other medical programmes in Equatorial Guinea.

Teodorin Nguema has been working in position as Vice-President since 2012, before that he held numerous government positions, including Minister of Agriculture and Forestry. Known for his unquestionable lavish lifestyle, he has been the subject of a number of international criminal charges and sanctions for alleged embezzlement and corruption. He has a fleet of branded cars and a number of houses, and two houses alone in South Africa,

Teodorin Nguema has often drawn criticisms in the international media for lavish spending, while majority of the estimated 1.5 million population wallows in abject poverty. Subsistence farming predominates, with shabby infrastructure in the country. Equatorial Guinea consists of two parts, an insular and a mainland region. Equatorial Guinea is the third-largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa.

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Africa CDC Director Dr John Nkengasong Tipped for Top PEPFAR Job
September 23, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Cameroonian born Dr John Nkengasong has been head of the Africa CDC since 2016..j

Leading Virologist with nearly thirty (30) years of experience in public health Dr John Nkengasong is tipped to be  appointed by US President Joe Biden to lead the President’s Plan for Aid Reliefs, (PEPFAR)  according to The New York Times.

The Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Africa CDC, since 2016 has decades of experience in the fight against global health issues with the Cameroonian having had long stints at the World Health Organization, WHO, and the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr John Nkengasong is thus the first person of African descent to take up this position which is tied to the Department of State.

“He is a very strong public health leader with many years of experience, and would bring great connectivity to African leaders and community partners,” Dr Chris Beyrer, a professor of public health and human rights at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health told New York Times.

Dr Nkengasong will thus have a lot ahead of him looking at the recent report on the testing for HIV and prevention services. In 2020, the number of people who went for HIV testing decreased by 22 per cent compared to 2019 and that statistic is also worrisome as those who opted for HIV prevention services also fell by 12 per cent.

“To have somebody who is known figure both in the US and around the world, AND IN Africa, is a sign that they are taking this seriously… that they understand that raising African leadership is important,” Gregg Gonsalves, a longtime HIV activist and am epidemiologist at the Yale School, of Public Health, said as quoted by the New York Times.

Dr John Nkengasong has been a leading African figure in the fight against COVID-19. He has led numerous calls on the equitable distribution of vaccines to African countries and also lead the calls for the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine patent to be made available to African countries o they could be able to produce it.

Earlier this year, Dr Nkengasong was appointed as one of the WHO Director-General’s Special Envoys on COVID-19 Preparedness and response.

President’s Plan for Aid Reliefs, PEPFAR, is a 7 billion dollars operation that funds and sets goals for AIDS care in many nations, most of them in Africa.

“This is a huge led forward for the US government to name someone from a region where much of PEPFAR’s work is. It shows a commitment to truly listening to and learning from the people PEPFAR is meant to serve,” Mitchell Warren, Executive Director of AVAC, a non-profit organization promoting HIV treatment worldwide said.

About PEPFAR

PEPFAR is the largest public health programme in the United States and was set up by former president George W. Bush in 2003. Since then, the US government has invested more than 85 billion dollars in more than 50 countries, saving an estimated 20 million lives according to reports.

The funds made available are geared towards schemes that support prevention programmes, testing and antiretroviral therapy for HIV. Dr John Nkengasong is thus well-placed to lead projects that will touch on the lives of Africans, something which other Directors had been accused of failing to come up with meaningful projects for Africans.

Who is Dr John Nkengasong?

Dr John Nkengasong is the current and first Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Africa CDC. Before his appointment with Africa CDC, he was Deputy Principal Director (acting) of the Centre for Global Health at the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, and Associate Director of Laboratory Science and Chief of the International Laboratory Branch at the Division of Global HIV/AIDS and TB.

Earlier in his career (1993-1995), Dr Nkengasong worked as Chief of Virology Laboratory at the Collaborating Centre on HIV Diagnostics at the Department of Microbiology, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium, and later joined US CDC in 1994 as Chief of Virology Laboratory in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

Dr John Nkengasong is an adjunct professor at the Emory School of Public Health and has received numerous awards for his work including the Sheppard Award, the William Watson Medal of Excellence, the highest recognition awarded by the CDC. In September 2020, he was honoured with the 2020 Goalkeepers Global Goalkeepers Award. 

He is also the recipient of the Knight of Honour Medal by the Government of Ivory Coast and was knighted in 2017 as the Officer of Loin by the President of Senegal and was knighted in November 2018 by the government of Cameroon for his significant contribution to public health.

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Cameroon: Samuel Eto’o officially running for FECAFOOT Presidency.
September 23, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Samuel Eto’o hopes to plough back his salary if he is elected to the promotion of amateur football

Leading goal scorer of the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, Samuel Eto’o has officially announced his candidacy for the post of president of the Cameroon Football Governing Body, FECAFOOT, putting to bed weeks of speculations about his intentions for the job.

The four-time African player of the year winner and two-time Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON champion with the Indomitable Lions, has promised to dedicate the totality of his salary as president of FECAFOOT to the development of youth football in Cameroon.

Samuel Eto’o who scored 56 goals for his national team between 1997 to 2014 took to his Facebook account in the late hours of Tuesday, September 21, to make his decision public after several thoughts according to the former Inter Milan, FC Barcelona player.

In his manifesto for the development of football in his country, Samuel Eto’o has pointed out the development of Amateur Football, the smooth handling of finances, something which has been an issue for some time now with other presidents and the consolidation of the gains that’s have been made so far.

“I am honoured and pleased to announce my candidacy for the Presidency of the Cameroon Football Federation. After careful considerations, I have decided to take this initiative out of love for Cameroon and passion for our football…,” Samuel Eto’o began his message.

“I stand before you because time is of the essence. It is time to rebuild our football. We can no longer delay revamping our number one sport because the rest of the world is moving on; it is progressing without us.”

Samuel Eto’o continued: “In a few months, our country will host the African Cup of Nations. In addition to welcoming players and supporters from sister African countries as well as journalists and tourists from all over the world, it will equally be an opportunity to present to the world the incredible pool of talent that our country has always been and the strength of our community.”

Samuel Eto’o is Cameroon’s leading goal scorer with 56 goals

Pichichi as he is sometimes called in his message also touched on other sensitive topics such as good governance in the Federation. To him, he supported a project three years ago that seemed promising for the future of Cameroon football but he has no regrets though expectations were not met.

“… I intend to work as a team because I designed this project based on a spirit of participation and transparency, with regards to the elected representatives of our authorities and all Cameroonians of good. We shall refine the programme together,” Samuel Eto’o added.

“The project is wide-ranging. And if football itself needs shock therapy, its by-products, which are parts of our federation, equally need it. We must regain and maintain a positive dynamic, like in beach soccer… ultimately, the secret to naddr5essing the challenge of rebuilding our football is to remember who we are…”

Elections for the Cameroon Football Governing Body, FECAFOOT, is slated to come up ending November into December with some five candidates, some of whom have officially announced while others are tipped to do so.

Olembe Stadium Director Jules Denis Onana, former Lions goalkeeper Thomas Nkono, incumbent Seidou Mbombo Njoya have all made known their intentions while former Lions player Geremi Njitap, president of the footballer’s Syndicate, SYNAFOC is also reported to be going for the presidency.

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Cameroon: “Without Peace, Security there can be no Sustainable Development” – PM Dion Ngute says
September 23, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Prime Minister Dr Joseph Dion Ngute

“We must strive in our deliberation to seize every opportunity to ensure the ultimate goal of improving the quality of life of the people of the North West and South West Regions. Without peace, without security, there can be no sustained development,”

Prime Minister Chief Dr Dion Ngute made the above declaration as he chaired the second session of the Committee to follow up the implementation of the Recommendations of the Major National Dialogue this Wednesday, September 22, 2021, at the National School of Local Administration, NASLA.

The inaugural session of the Steering committee was held in Yaounde in 2020 and during this session, the steering committee took stock of the reforms that have been done and made some recommendations on the need to accelerate these reforms. The holding of this second session is thus the first time such a National Meeting is holding out of Yaounde and the first time since the Major National Dialogue held in the nation’s capital.

The 2nd session was attended by a host of dignitaries such as the Director-General of NASLA, Minister Felix Mbayu, SW Regional Assembly president, Head of the Bilingualism and Multiculturalism Commission amongst others.

According to Prime Minister Dion Ngute, there is relative calm at the moment across the two Regions evident in the high school enrolment figures, the number of academic institutions that have reopened, the re-start of economic activity, and the gradual return of internally displaced persons.

“The once vibrant economy of the South West Region is recovering slowly but steadily. It remains fragile. Agricultural production which has always been the pride of this region is yet to return to optimum output. Unemployment of the youth continues to be a preoccupation,” Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute said in his opening remarks.

“To bring a solution to this, the Prime Minister has ushered in dialogue with GAICAM and other private institutions. They have agreed to take on several youths from these two regions.”

“Industrial production is on the rise; life is slowly and gradually returning to normal. A special focus has been paid to alleviate the problems faced by the CDC, PAMOL, two industrial agro giants in the South West Region as well as SONARA. Erstwhile problems such as the constriction of the ring road in the North West as well as the Limbe Deep Seaport have started finding solutions,” Joseph Dion Ngute added.

The words of the Prime Minister were re-echoed by the Mayor of the Buea municipality, Barrister David Mafani Namange who also mentioned that the government has taken measures aimed at solving the ongoing crisis in the Regions. Some of the things as highlighted by the Mayor include the creation of the National Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission, the creation of the National School of Local Administration, NASLA and the granting of a special status for the North West and South West Regions.

Mayor Mafani Namange further appealed to the “separatist” fighters to silence their guns and give peace a chance. “We cannot solve our present problems without peace,” He said.

The Prime Minister was in Buea September 21 to chair the second session of the Committee to follow up the implementation of the Recommendations of the Major National Dialogue

Appeal to engage vigorously in communicating, defending and spreading nationally and worldwide the context of the full extent of these changes and our collective appetite for peace and social cohesion.

What the government has done so far

In his presentation, Prime Minister Dion Ngute highlighted some of the things that the government has addressed in their effort to bring the crisis to an end, some of which we adopted during the Major National Dialogue held in 2019.

The Head of State also created the presidential plan for the reconstruction and development to address the immediate needs of the affected persons to restore social cohesion, reconstruct and rehabilitate basic infrastructure and revitalise the local economy. UNDP has been designated as the implemented partner of this initiative.

Also, the passing into law the bill of the special status to the two Regions and empowers local administrators who are elected to initiate development projects within their community, sustainable development, economic opportunity and social justice and the protection of local traditions.

“Every one of us has a key role to play in ensuring that the progress is sustained and that peace and security return to our much-cherished regions… The difficulties and unbearable sufferings within our communities have to end. We all have a stake in maintaining the gains towards security and peaceful coexistence amongst all Cameroonians,” Dr Dion Ngute added.

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6th edition of Africa-Risk-Reward Index launched.
September 21, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

On September 21, 2021, leading global specialist risk consultancy Control Risk and Oxford Economics Africa launched the 2021 edition of the Africa Risk Reward Index.

The specialists explained how government responses to three key issues (post-pandemic healthcare, debt, and insecurity) can accelerate or stall Africa’s economic recovery.

This year’s risk-reward scores paint a picture of a continent recovering, though in an uneven and sometimes unpredictable way that raises as many challenges as it does opportunities. Reward scores have increased across the continent, in some cases substantially, but the risk scores show a more varied picture.

According to the policymakers, African governments responded quickly to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, however, testing and treatment have been constrained by lack of capacity. For instance, vaccines rollout has is progressing slowly in the continent due to supply constrains.

Nevertheless, these challenges have prompted new efforts to develop African capacity in the areas of healthcare and biotechnology such as Genome sequencing capacity which currently being established in Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone.

Other intitiatives to increase the continent’s ability to develop and manufacture vaccines, are an mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub in South Africa and manufacturing facilities in Egypt and Morocco.

Numerous laboratories, testing capacities and cross-border digital test and trace solutions have also been established.

“The global vaccine rollout has been extremely poor, with the unequal distribution of vaccines raising both moral and medical objections. Yet the one silver lining is that the challenges Africa has faced in obtaining not just vaccines but a whole range of equipment and treatments has spurred innovation and driven significant investments in African biotech and health-tech capacity. The emergence of an African biotech sector holds huge potential well beyond the COVID-19 pandemic and well beyond just healthcare applications,” said Barnaby Fletcher, Associate Director at Control Risks.

On debt, it has been discovered that Africa’s debt burden has grown massively heavier over the past 18 months, as governments have borrowed to finance both their health response to Covid-19 and stimulus measures meant to lessen the pandemic’s economic impact.

This debt burden poses risks for economies and companies alike as the obligation of servicing that debt will put strain on state-owned enterprises and tend to limit opportunities for private-sector companies that do business with government.

The policy makers believe that the new social bonds and regional funding mechanisms can help reduce the threat such debts pose and offer new opportunities for investors.

On security, they said Africa is at risk now that Western world no longer has the political appetite for foreign military interventions. They raised concern of an increase in militancy and tensions in the Horn of Africa, saying it can make Africa’s security more volatile than it has been in the past.

They added that in the absence of foreign military intervention, new approaches are needed to tackle security threats to shape the continent’s security landscape.

The Africa Risk-Reward Index is an authoritative guide for policymakers, business leaders and investors. 

The report monitors developments in the investment landscape in major African markets and delivers a grounded, longer-term outlook of key trends shaping investment in these economies.

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Ghana President Heralds Historic Agreement to Build A World-Class W.E.B. Du Bois Museum Complex .
September 21, 2021 | 0 Comments

H.E. Nana Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana, attends signing in New York between W.E.B. Du Bois Museum Foundation and Government of Ghana.

NEW YORK, September 20, 2021 – H.E. Nàna Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana, heralded plans to construct a state-of-the-art museum complex honoring the legacy of world-renown black intellectual and civil rights pioneer Dr. W.E.B Du Bois as an important symbolic monument.

“The museum will provide in Ghana, yet another important monument to the collective struggle of the African peoples to get their rightful place in this world,” said President Akufo-Addo in his remarks prior to the signing of a historic partnership arrangement between the Government of Ghana and the W.E.B. Du Bois Museum Foundation’s affiliate in Ghana. The signing took place in New York City where the U.S. foundation is headquartered.

The agreement was signed on behalf of the Government of Ghana by Hon. Ken Ofori-Atta, Minister of Finance of Ghana, and Dr. Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture. Signing for the W.E.B. Du Bois Museum Foundation were Japhet Aryiku, Executive Director  of the foundation in the U.S., and  Humphrey Ayim-Darke, Board Member of the W.E.B. Du Bois Museum Foundation, Ghana.

“Mr. President, let me reassure you of our commitment to making your beloved Ghana a hub of Pan-African research and heritage tourism,” said Daniel Rose, Chairman of the W.E.B. Du Bois Museum Foundation, as he kicked off the ceremony. Rose is a philanthropist and leading real estate developer with deep ties to Ghana.

The Du Bois Memorial Centre in Accra where Dr. Du Bois and his wife, Shirley Graham Du Bois, are buried, opened to the public in 1985, but in recent years had required additional upkeep and maintenance. Two years ago, Rose and two board members of the foundation, Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., a professor at Harvard University and foremost scholar on Dr. Du Bois, and Dr. Kwame Anthony Appiah, a professor at New York University whose father had worked with Dr. Du Bois, approached President Akufo-Addo about transforming the Du Bois Memorial Centre into a world-class living museum for scholars and heritage tourists.

The partnership arrangement will grant authority for the W.E.B Du Bois Museum Foundation to construct a multi-million dollar museum complex to preserve Dr. Du Bois’ legacy over a 50-year period. The complex will be designed by Sir David Adjaye, renowned Ghanaian architect and designer of the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

The Foundation’s goal is to realize the Du Bois Museum’s full potential as an international treasure and historic memorial honoring one of the leading and most revered black voices in world history. The ambitious project features a museum, library and reading room, event hall, outdoor auditorium and amphitheater, lecture space, guest house for visiting scholars and the refurbished bungalow where Dr. Du Bois lived and worked until his death. The complex also includes a Memorial Pavilion, housing the remains of Dr. Du Bois and the cremated ashes of his wife. 

Dr. Du Bois, who was a confidant of Ghana’s first president Kwame Nkrumah, became a citizen of Ghana and resided in the country until his death in 1963. While living in Ghana, Du Bois envisioned building a unified ancestral home for Africans in the diaspora around the world.

President Akufo-Addo has invited the Africans Diaspora to follow the footsteps of Du Bois by making Africa their home and contributing to the continent’s development through the government’s “Year of Return” and “Beyond the Return” campaigns.

“The ‘Beyond the Year of Return’ campaign promotes economic empowerment and encourages  people in the Diaspora to come to Africa to invest, to live, and to do more to uplift the continent, “ said Japhet Aryiku, Executive Director, W.E.B. Du Bois Museum Foundation. Aryiku, a Ghanaian American with more than 40 years of experience in corporate America and the philanthropic community, was inspired at a young age by Du Bois’ writings and ideals.

Other speakers at the ceremony included Kwame Anthony Appiah, novelist and professor of philosophy and ethics, New York University and board member, W.E.B Du Bois Museum Foundation; and guests included Hon. Shirley Aryorkor Botchwey, Minister of Foreign Affairs, H. E Hajia Alima Mahama , Ghana’s Ambassador to the USA, Akwasi Agyeman, CEO, Ghana Tourism Authority and Humphrey Ayim-Darke of the Du Bois Museum Foundation, Ghana.

ABOUT W.E.B DU BOIS MUSEUM FOUNDATION: The W.E.B Du Bois Museum Foundation is a leading New York-based non-profit organization dedicated to honoring the life, purpose, and legacy of Dr. W.E. B Du Bois. Daniel Rose, a philanthropist and leading real estate developer of major properties serves as the foundation’s Chairman of the Board. Ambassador Harold Doley, Jr. is the foundation’s President. Prominent board members include renowned scholars of the Du Bois legacy Professors Henry Louis Gates, Jr., of Harvard University; Kwame Anthony Appiah of New York University;  Emmanuel K. Akyeampong of the Center for African Studies at Harvard University; and Deborah Rose, a Visiting Scholar at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

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Rusesabagina’s ruling triggers row between Rwanda, Belgium.
September 21, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti

The fate of Paul Rusesabingana has drawn international attention. Photo credit REUTERS / Clement Uwiringiyimana

Rwanda has called off the meeting that was to bring together foreign affairs ministers on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

The cancellation follows reactions by the Belgian over the court verdict against Paul Rusesabagina.

Rusesabagisa was accused of terror related suspects and was tried by a Rwandan court which handed him a 25-year-sentence.

Following the ruling on Monday, Sophie Wilmès, the Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium said Rusesabagina did not “get a fair and due trial”

A statement released by Rwanda’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation says the remarks by Wilmès are in contempt of Rwanda’s judicial system and Kigali won’t take it sitting down.

“The statement of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium regarding today’s verdict by Rwanda’s High Court Chamber for International and Cross-Border Crimes, reflects the contempt shown by the Government of the Kingdom of Belgium towards the Rwandan judicial system since the start of this trial, despite the significant contribution of relevant Belgian institutions to the investigation of this case,” reads the statement.

“The victims of the terrorist acts of the FLN, admittedly less famous, have just as much right to justice as Mr. Rusesabagina and his co-defendants. For this reason, a scheduled bilateral meeting at ministerial level, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, will no longer take place,” the statement adds.

Rusesabagina claimed to be of Belgium nationality and that he was kidnapped to Rwanda when he was planning to go to Burundi to share testimonies.

The convict left Brussels and relocated to the United States where he remained until he left for a trip destined for Burundi, leading to his arrest.

The court found Rusesabagina guilty of being part of a terrorist group that conducted attacks in Rwanda taking lives of innocent people while wounding others and looting properties.

Rusesabagina the president of the Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD) that formed FLN as its armed wing-based in eastern DR Congo.

He was considered the prime suspect and withdrew from the hearing citing lack of justice on his side.

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Equatorial Guinea Secretary of State of Planning Will Lead a Strong Finance Delegation to African Energy Week in Cape Town.
September 20, 2021 | 0 Comments

Led by Bindang Ndong Okiri, the Equatorial Guinean Ministry of Finance delegation will enhance the conversation on financing Africa’s energy transition, the role of domestic financing institutions, and oil and gas finance in 2021 and beyond.

With a strong focus on African financing mechanisms that enhance both the oil and gas industry as well as the energy transition, African Energy Week (AEW) 2021 in Cape Town will be the platform where deals regarding Africa’s energy future will be made. In pursuit of an African financing narrative, Equatorial Guinea’s Secretary of State of Planning for the Minister of Finance, Economy and Planning has committed to coming to Cape Town on the 9th-12th of November 2021. Joined by Miguel Luba Bahosi, Director General of Planning, and Nieves Andeme Engonga, staff representative, Okiri will promote the role of domestic financing, digitization, and foreign investment in driving Africa’s energy future.

Having served as Secretary of State of Planning for the Minister since April 2021, Okiri has made notable progress in enhancing Equatorial Guinea’s financial sector. Dedicated to improving domestic financing institutions, and promoting the role that digitization will play in advancing Equatorial Guinea’s financial sector, Okiri is committed to driving a sustainable and inclusive financial sector, emphasizing the cross-benefits that financial stability has for the country’s emerging energy sector.

With significant energy sector developments in both onshore and offshore areas, and across multiple sectors including oil, gas and renewables, Equatorial Guinea is ramping up industry expansion, and is positioning its financial sector to help drive this. Projects such as the country’s Gas Mega Hub – a gas plan overseeing the development of several offshore gas facilities to monetize and exploit the country’s 1.5 trillion cubic feet of gas – the Punta Europa crude oil refinery, and several green energy developments, are attracting significant levels of investment into the country. Accordingly, the Ministry of Finance, Economic and Planning aims to ensure the country is ready for investment, and is focused on establishing sustainable partnerships with international financiers and stakeholders.

“The Equatorial Guinean finance delegation will both contribute and drive the discussion on financing Africa’s energy future. With the country hosting a pavilion at AEW 2021 in Cape Town, Okiri, Bahosi, and Engonga will help drive a strong discussion on Equatorial Guinean opportunities, positioning the country and both its financial and energy sectors as enabling, proactive, and poised for accelerated growth. By emphasizing the role of collaboration between these two Ministries, Okiri will promote integration and unity as being key drivers of energy sector growth,” stated Leoncio Amada NZE, Executive President of the CEMAC region, the African Energy Chamber (AEC).

The Equatorial Guinea finance delegation is committed to scaling up investment in the country, promoting partnerships, regional collaboration, and multi-lateral financing mechanisms in energy sector development. With the aim of strengthening national and institutional capacities, the delegation will not only promote Equatorial Guinean opportunities and achievements in Cape Town, but will share challenges, solutions, and future plans.

AEW 2021, in partnership with South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources and Energy DMRE, is the AEC’s annual conference, exhibition and networking event. AEW 2021 unites African energy stakeholders with investors and international partners to drive industry growth and development and promote Africa as the destination for energy investments.

For more information about Africa’s premier energy event, please visit www.aew2021.com or www.energychamber.org and/or reach out directly to Amina Williams at amina.williams@energychamber.org

For registration related enquiries, please contact registration@aew2021.com   

For sales-related enquiries, please contact sales@aew2021.com  

For media-related enquiries, please contact media@aew2021.com  

For speaker opportunity-related enquiries, please contact speakers@aew2021.com

*African Energy Chamber

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African exhibitors to feature at the International Floriculture Trade Fair
September 20, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Organizers of the 2021 International Floriculture Trade Fair to be held in Vijfhuizen in the Netherlands on 3 to 5 November, 2021 have confirmed that exhibitors from Africa will also feature at the trade fair.

 According to the fair spokesperson, exhibitors from Africa will be from Kenya, Ethiopia and Rwanda.

  It is also reported that preparations for the 2021 edition of IFTF are going full speed ahead after the announcement of further lifting of restrictions earlier this week.

 They say that IFTF is back with a strong increasing number of exhibiting companies reconfirming their participation, as well as a fast-growing list with visitors registering to attend this year’s IFTF.

  It is added that luckily also the list of countries from where travelers were banned before to fly into Europe is shrinking, allowing international business travel to resume.

 “The show must go on, and it is now all about getting back on track and business as usual,” the spokesperson said.

 The organizers said that they are looking forward to reunite the world of floriculture by bringing the industry together at one place, date and time.

  Dick van Raamsdonk, CEO of HPP Exhibitions,  said  last year in September, when the corona pandemic blocked IFTF 2020, “By being prepared at all times, we can kick off any exhibition, at any time.”

  It is reported that IFTF 2021 trade fair is on course also because the venue ‘Expo Haarlemmermeer’ meets all current required conditions to host an exhibition.

 This is reported to include  include the fresh air ventilation system that the greenhouse-type exhibit hall has standard built-in.

 “With this, together with the upcoming easing of the current COVID-19 restrictions, organizers are confident that IFTF will have another successful edition,” the spokesperson said.

  It is added that IFTF 2021 is an international fair.

 It is added that alongside Dutch exhibitors, the organization welcomes more than 130 participants from all over the world. For instance from Italy, France, Denmark, Ecuador, Colombia, Kenya, China and Japan.

  They add that they expect to see the latest from renowned breeders and growers like Alexandra Farms, De Ruiter’s Spray Roses, Evanthia, Naranjo Roses, Rosaprima, and Roses Forever.

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Mozambique’s Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy to Lead the Mozambican Energy Industry to African Energy Week in Cape Town.
September 20, 2021 | 0 Comments

Led by H.E. Max Tonela, the Mozambican industry will come to Cape Town in November, including state-owned ENH and participating oil companies.

Mozambique has been identified as one of the most promising energy sectors globally, with lucrative natural gas reserves positioning the east-African country as a globally competitive investment destination. With Africa’s premier energy event taking place on the 9th-12th of November 2021, Mozambique is committed to promoting its resources, securing further investment, and accelerating regional economic growth, and will join the east-African producers in Cape Town at African Energy Week (AEW) 2021.

H.E. Ernesto Max Elias Tonela, Mozambique Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy (MIREME), will led the Mozambican industry delegation to Cape Town, promoting the role of the state-owned Empresa Nacional de Hidrocarbonetos (ENH), as well the country’s significant projects, abundant investment opportunities, and strategic position within the southern-African regional trade network.

Mozambique rapidly emerged as a competitive investment destination, with its significant energy reserves, prime geographical and demand placement, and market-driven approach to energy sector development. With over 100 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves, the largest untapped coal reserves worldwide, and one of the largest hydroelectric facilities in Africa, the country has positioned itself as both a hydrocarbon and renewable energy leader. Despite development delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and political insurgency in the northern province of the country, H.E. Minister Max Tonela’s is committed to accelerating energy sector growth through ensured operational security, public-private sector collaboration, and regional support.

ENH, as the state-owned entity responsible for researching, prospecting, producing and marketing petroleum products in Mozambique, has been an instrumental organization in the country’s energy transformation. Representing the state in petroleum operations, and with a core mission to add value to natural resources through commercial participation, ENH has positioned itself as both a leading African state company, and key driver in Mozambique’s energy growth.

In addition to a proactive and committed state-owned company, global energy majors are working collaboratively with government to drive Mozambique’s energy sector growth, and the country is well on its way to lead Africa in the move towards natural gas. Participating companies in Mozambique include TotalEnergies, ExxonMobil, Anadarko Petroleum, Sasol, Chevron, BP, Petronas and China’s CNPC. By focusing on public-private partnerships and sector integration, both the Ministry and ENH will emphasize the value of collaboration in enhancing energy sector growth.

In Cape Town, both H.E. Minister Max Tonela and ENH will promote Mozambique’s emerging Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) sector, emphasizing projects such as TotalEnergies offshore area 1 development in the Rovuma Basin – whereby Total managed to secure the largest private debt-raise in African history, securing approximately $15 billion in financing –, ExxonMobil’s Rovuma LNG Liquefaction plant in offshore area 4 of the Rovuma Basin, and the $8.6 billion Coral South Floating LNG project. With capacity pegged at 13 million tons, 15-16 million tons, and 3.4 million tons of LNG per year, respectively, these projects have positioned the country as a globally competitive natural gas giant, and the Minister and ENH will emphasize this to global stakeholders.

“Mozambique represents one of the leading natural gas destinations worldwide. Despite delays and project uncertainty, the country is committed to scaling up security, driving foreign investment, and accelerating both project and socio-economic growth. With the Minister leading a delegation to Cape Town in November, including the state-owned ENH, Mozambique will be showcased to the world, and the country will take up its rightful place as a globally competitive gas producer,” stated NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber (AEC).

Meanwhile, Mozambique has all the ingredients to become a regional energy producer and distributor, with major pipeline and power projects enabling the transportation of critical natural gas and electricity to neighboring countries such as Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Zambia. The country’s significant resources are critical for rising regional demand, regarding both petroleum and gas-to-power. Pipeline projects such as the 865km Republic of Mozambique Pipeline Company Project– linking Mozambique’s Pande and Temane fields to Sasol’s operations in South Africa – and the South African Power Pool have enabled the country to become a regional gas hub. With the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement in January 2021, the country is able, now more than ever, to accelerate regional gas trade, serving as a trend for other emerging natural gas producers in Africa.

By bringing the Mozambican energy industry to Cape Town in November, both the Minister and ENH will showcase the country’s current and upcoming projects, promote its role as a regional natural gas producer and distributor, and emphasize effective strategies for the safe and efficient resumption of project activities in Mozambique.

AEW 2021, in partnership with South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources and Energy DMRE, is the AEC’s annual conference, exhibition and networking event. AEW 2021 unites African energy stakeholders with investors and international partners to drive industry growth and development and promote Africa as the destination for energy investments.

For more information about Africa’s premier energy event, please visit www.aew2021.com or www.energychamber.org and/or reach out directly to Amina Williams at amina.williams@energychamber.org

For registration related enquiries, please contact registration@aew2021.com   

For sales-related enquiries, please contact sales@aew2021.com  

For media-related enquiries, please contact media@aew2021.com  

For speaker opportunity-related enquiries, please contact speakers@aew2021.com

*African Energy Chamber

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Dubai Chamber Continues Bolstering Economic Ties Between UAE And Africa.
September 20, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Kester Kenn Klomegah

United Arab Emirates has launched its 6th edition of Global Business Forum Africa (GBF Africa) that aims at scaling-up and strengthening multifaceted business with Africa. With its first class Emirates airline, the airline network will facilitate the participation in the forum of African leaders and corporate business leaders.

Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, GBF Africa is bringing the trade and investment community back together to explore bilateral trade opportunities between Dubai and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Now in its 6th edition, Global Business Forum Africa facilitates international revenue flows by engaging leading decision-makers on the global investment scene. Influential stakeholders participate in constructive dialogue at the highest level, focusing on key economic developments and investment opportunities emerging across the continent.

This forum among other key objectives aims to build bridges between UAE and African business communities and explore untapped trade and investment potential. It represents an unprecedented opportunity for businesses of all sizes, international organizations and government entities from across the world, to come together to foster a more diversified and resilient global economy, inspire a vibrant business environment and drive sustainable growth.

Besides Africa, it has the Global Business Forum ASEAN established as a platform for insightful dialogue between government and business leaders in the UAE and ASEAN by identifying opportunities for mutual growth. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership is set to re-shape global connectivity and add US$186 billion to global GDP by 2030.

It further launched in 2016, Global Business Forum Latin America that seeks to pave the way for long-lasting partnerships between business communities in the GCC, Latin America and Caribbean (LAC). The forum explores existing trade synergies and bilateral business opportunities, while strengthening Dubai’s position as a gateway for Latin American companies.

As expected, Heads of State, more than 30 Ministers, high-ranking Government officials and prominent influential business leaders from Africa have confirmed their participation for the sixth edition of the Global Business Forum Africa (GBF Africa), which takes place on October 13-14, 2021 at Expo 2020 Dubai.

Dubai Chamber is organizing GBF Africa 2021 in partnership with Expo 2020 Dubai under the theme “Transformation Through Trade” and the event will be held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

The organizers have listed top-level participants including H.E. Filipe Nyusi, President of Mozambique; H.E. Felix Tshisekedi, President of Congo; H.E. Dr C.G.D.N. Chiwenga, Vice President of Zimbabwe; the Chief Minister of Jersey; the Secretary General of COMESA; more than 30 ministers and high-ranking African officials, including ministers from Ghana, Angola, Ethiopia, Uganda Zimbabwe and Liberia, Kenya, Botswana, Côte d’Ivoire, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Senegal, Seychelles, Congo and the Kingdom of Lesotho, as well as government officials from Rwanda and Kenya.

H.E. Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General of Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “Countries from across the world that are participating in Expo 2020 are eager to widen and deepen their ties with Africa, and GBF Africa will be a crucial forum where the continent can share its plans and achievements, seek investments and solutions to its challenges and forge new relationships across the globe.”

H.E. Hamad Buamim, President and CEO of Dubai Chamber, said: “The success that GBF Africa has had in attracting African presidents, ministers and influential leaders to join its high-level talks reflects the forum’s position as a leading global platform for exploring investment opportunities in the African continent. It reinforces the crucial role played by Dubai’s wise leadership in expanding the emirate’s trade links with emerging markets around the world.”

According to Buamim, the Dubai Chamber is keen to continue its efforts to promote building strategic partnerships with the key players in the African business ecosystem. The Chamber is also committed to encouraging and supporting local and national companies to invest in African markets and enhance sustainable economic growth and development.

Ambareen Musa, Founder and CEO of Souqual in the UAE said: “As we grow and scale-up in the Middle East, this gives us a lot of exposure for potentially getting into Africa as a region.”

Through its network of international representative offices, trade missions and high-profile business forums, Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry works to raise Dubai’s profile as a global trade and investment hub. The Chamber represents more than 260,000 companies, making it one of the world’s largest membership-based Chambers of Commerce.

About Dubai Chamber: Established in 1965, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry is a non-profit public entity, whose mission is to represent, support and protect the interests of the business community in Dubai by creating a favorable business environment, supporting the development of business, and by promoting Dubai as an international business hub. www.dubaichamber.com

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Cameroon: “No One will Partition Cameroon” – CRM President Kamto lashes out
September 20, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Maurice Kamto, leader of the opposition CRM party

Maurice Kamto, President of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement, CRM, an opposition party in Cameroon has made it categorically clear that “no one will partition Cameroon. No one!” as security forces continue to fall in the ongoing battle against separatist fighters.

The president of the MRC Party was speaking following the bloody scenes that characterized September 10-12 as more than 12 security forces and even civilians were killed. “There is no need to recall here all the dead, civilians and soldiers, killed in this unnecessary internal armed conflict,” Maurice Kamto said in a communique.

“We have resources and intelligence to bring peace and harmony to this beautiful country, which is the guarantee of lasting security and stability. All we need to do is to recognize our mistakes and call on our fraternity, our patriotism and our collective genius.”

In this spirit, it is high time to stop the bloodshed and repeated macabre spectacle that is plunging families and the nation into mourning, and to mobilize all energies and resources of our country towards shared progress and the international influence it deserves,” Maurice Kamto added.

The leader of the opposition party has, however, fault the present government for their lack of will in solving the crisis that started as a legitimate one and is still a legitimate one.

He said: “Indeed, the problem posed by our Anglophone compatriots was and remains legitimate. This legitimate problem needed a political response. But because of the arrogance, the feeling of the omnipotence of the regime, the narrow selfish interests of certain circles and the triumph of extremists within the ruling circles of the country, the war was declared with disconcerting lightness. The authorities made a mistake in this matter.”

“However, no one could reproach the regime if it were to get its act together in the national interest. For the hours is grave. It is our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, our parents, who are killing each other. The Great National Dialogue was a failure. Could it have been otherwise?” Maurice Kamto wondered.

“Now that no one in our country or among the government’s foreign partners can believe that violence and war cannot bring peace and stability to the NW/SW, the Nation must stand together to get out of this war room.”

Maurice Kamto went further to state: “I will present again, shortly, the updated proposals that I made, on 19 May 2019, with the allies of the CRM in the 2018 presidential campaign, from the bottom of the Yaounde Main Prison, where we were imprisoned following the Peace Marches of 26 January 2019.”

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UN agency calls for “thorough investigation” into murder of Rwandan National in Mozambique .
September 20, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jorge Joaquim

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has called for a swift and thorough investigation into the murder of Revocat Karemangingo, a Rwandan refugee in Maputo, and for the killers to be held to account, according to a UN statement.

The businessman was shot by unknown gunmen on Monday in Matola, on the outskirts of the city of Maputo. Matola is the largest suburb of Maputo and it is home to the biggest industrial area in the southern African country.

The crime is being investigated by the National Criminal Investigation Service.

According to Cleophas Habiyareme, president of the Association of Rwandan Refugees in Mozambique, the murdered businessman was the target of political persecution from the government of Rwandan president Paul Kagame, as were other opponents of the regime.

“The entire Rwandan refugee community is terrified; it’s scared,” said Habiyareme. Rwandan troops have been in Mozambique since July to help fight the terrorist insurgency in the north of the country.

Revocat Karemangingo owns supermarket in Maputo.

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Rwanda:Paul Rusesabagina gets 25-year jail term for terror related crimes.
September 20, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti

Paul Rusesabagina

The High Court Chamber for International and Cross-Border Crimes on Monday 20, September 2021 handed a 25-year jail sentence to Paul Rusesabagina after it found him guilty of terror related crimes.

The ruling took place in Kigali as the court ruled the verdict of 20 other co-accused.

The court found Rusesabagina guilty of being part of a terrorist group that conducted attacks in Rwanda taking lives of innocent people while wounding others and looting properties.

Rusesabagina the president of the Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD) that formed FLN as its armed wing-based in eastern DR Congo.

He was considered the prime suspect and withdrew from the hearing citing lack of justice on his side.

Rusesabagina was flown to Rwanda as he thought he was heading to Burundi, a neighboring country to share testimonies in a certain churn along with his then colleague Consitantin Niwemwungeri.

Rusesabagina and his lawyers had prayed the court to release him as he was kidnapped and was of Belgian nationality so that he could be tried by the competent court from his country.

The court also sentenced Callixte Nsabimana, also known as Sankara for 20 years for 20 years for similar charges.

Nsabimana served as a spokesperson of the FLN Army wing and was heard on various media outlets including international ones claiming attacks and the plan to plot the established government of Rwanda.

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Cameroon: “Violence in English Speaking Regions Senseless and completely unnecessary” – Dr Wilson Eseme
September 20, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Dr Wilsom L. Eseme, is of the Cameroon Federalist Movement

Dr Wilson Lobe Eseme of the Cameroon Federalist Movement has said the killing of security forces was a sad day for all Cameroonians. The US-based medical doctor was speaking in a video shortly after a video emerged showing the decapitated bodies of security forces, who met their doom against separatist fighters. 

Unbearable images of soldiers shot in armoured vehicles stripped naked are currently making rounds on social media in Cameroon. These horrific images are accompanied by comments from one of the separatist generals, “No Pity” promising hell on Cameroon’s security forces.

“No one deserves to die like that, however wrong they may be. And no one deserves to take lives however right they think they are. This was is completely unnecessary and should end,” Dr Wilsom L. Eseme said in the video.

“To the Cameroon government we ask, how many lives are you willing to sacrifice for a war you cannot win; a war you will not win because it is a mistake. To the rebels fighting the government we ask you this, how many lives are you willing to take for a war you will not win; a war you will not win.”

The Cameroon Federalist Movement is an association of Cameroonians from all ten regions who believe that Federalism is the right political system for Cameroon. Federalism addressed two realities: on the one hand, it will correct a historical constitutional error made in 1972 when the Federation was dissolved. Also, it will address the rich diversity we enjoy in this country. “It is therefore not by mistake that our slogan is Unity in Diversity,” Dr Wilson Lobe Eseme once said in an interview.

The Anglophone crisis that escalated in 2017 has seen many people killed, displaced, maimed and others kidnapped for ransom. The Cameroonian government has taken some steps in addressing the present problem but many feel the government has been too slow or given a solution that does not have weight.

And Dr Wilson says the special status that the government has been selling to the population has not worked, is not working and will not work because it is a wrong solution.

He went further to make several recommendations, some of which we made during the Major National Dialogue organized last year. Dr Wilson and the Federalist Movement have called for the Cameron government to immediately facilitate the organization of an Anglophone General Conference amongst the people of the NW/SW to determine their future.

One of the separatist fighters parades near a burnt military vehicle

“…Such a conference will eventually lead to an agreement to form a federation; a system of government where each state will elect their local government and take charge of their affairs to be it in the economy, internal security, public health, education, infrastructure,” Dr Wilson Said.

“The central government will be limited to only five areas, protecting the borders; regulating trade between the states; formulating immigration policy; formulating financial policy and formulating foreign policy. It is time to end the outdated system where administrators are appointed.”

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Burundi:Prime Minister Bunyoni slams public companies over poor management.
September 20, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Egide Lucky

Prime Minister Alain Guillaume Bunyoni has called on bankrupt public companies to draw up recovery plans

During an evaluation workshop on dividend payment on 14th September, the Prime Minister accused public companies of poor management marred with nepotism and embezzlement. Directors of those companies said that government debts impede their development.

“Some companies have many employees compared to the job to be done,” said Alain Guillaume Bunyoni, Burundi Prime Minister, adding that there has been nepotism and favoritism in their employment. According to him, some managers hire their relatives and friends without available tasks to be undertaken.

He deplored that some public companies’ managers embezzle or misuse public things. “If that has been your habit in the last years, you must understand that now is the time to change. We are a new generation that must bring about change,” he told them.

Among others, the prime minister pointed a finger at Regideso (Burundi power and water supplier) and ONATEL (national telecommunication company) for poor management. “Imagine that clients ask for invoices for four months and these companies still tell them that they are not yet available,” he complained. A company cannot be developed if months go by without payments from clients, he added.

Alain Guillaume Bunyoni called on the public companies to immediately design recovery plans.

“Every employee from high rank to the bottom must have concrete activities. If they can’t perform them well, they have to leave the company,” he recommended to managers of public companies.

He also reminded them that public things like vehicles are to be used exclusively for company’s affairs.

Of 36 public companies, 12 did not pay dividends to the government from 2014 to 2020 and their turnover is under zero, shows a study presented during the same evaluation workshop. 24 public companies have returned to the government over 150 billion BIF of dividends from 2014 to 2020.

According to the same study, in some companies, employees are paid salaries superior to their company’s income.

As solution, the prime minister suggests that some companies reduce the number of employees and salaries.

Companies hold the government responsible

According to Charles Ndagijimana, Director general of SOCABU (a Burundian public insurance company), the government is also responsible for bankruptcy in some public companies.

“The government owes some companies billions of money. These means should help us improve the financial stability of our companies. It is difficult to develop our companies with all those government debts,” he said.

Privat Kabeba, ONATEL director general regretted that the government favors private telecommunication companies, what is for him one of the reasons for his company’s bankruptcy.

He recognizes that ONATEL has many employees, some of whom are not effective on the job. He, also, assumes that the company has an old staff that is no longer productive.

The prime minister Alain Guillaume Bunyoni said that the bankruptcy responsibility is shared between companies and the government. “The government should have been careful about the management of both public and private companies, because their bankruptcy affects the country’s financial situation,” he also said.

He promised that the government will pay all debts to public companies as soon as possible.

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St. Martin authors Sekou and Badejo praise historic African Union / CARICOM Summit 2021.
September 20, 2021 | 0 Comments
St. Martin writers, L-R, Lasana M. Sekou, editor of National Symbols of St. Martin and Fabian Adekunle Badejo, author of SOS: Season of Storms, hail the Africa – CARICOM Summit 2021 as remarkable. (HNP photo. Badejo photo: Ryan Tackling)

ST. MARTIN, Caribbean (September 16, 2021)—Two of St. Martin’s authors, Lasana Sekou and Fabian Badejo, have praised the historic Africa-CARICOM Summit held virtually on September 7, 2021, said their publisher HNP.

The summit was hosted by Kenya and chaired by Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta under the theme “Unity across Continents and Oceans: Opportunities for Deepening Integration.”

The event was attended and addressed by the heads of state and government of the African Union and CARICOM member states. Heads of regional integration secretariats and institutions of CARICOM and Africa also attended.

“This is the unique culmination of continuous efforts by the people of Africa and the Caribbean to solidify the historical, cultural, and blood connections that they share across centuries,” said Sekou, a poet and publisher.

“It is the spirit of the African connections so concretized by Garvey that lives on among us,” said Sekou. The pan-African and pan-Caribbean themes of Sekou’s poetry have long been reviewed in critical journals and books.

“Blood is indeed thicker than water,” noted Badejo. “Throughout history, the longing for reconnection between Africa and the African Diaspora has never waned.”

The longing and connectedness—often against great political and social odds and even violence—may be subtle as hush-hush stories in Caribbean families about an African ancestor, to defiantly speaking African-based Caribbean languages; “from folk songs of longing sung in Carriacou for centuries, to Cuba’s decades-long role in the liberation of southern African countries,” said the writers in a joint statement.

“Just as Europe, and in particular the UK, has special relations with its diaspora, especially in the USA, so too it should be considered natural for Africa to have similar special relations with people of African descent in this part of the world,” said Badejo.

The late, great Barbadian poet and historian Kamau Brathwaite, who lived and worked in Ghana and Kenya at the onset of his career, understood this from a personal and professional point of view, Badejo explained.

“So did many others understand and inform this point of view practically and intellectually, from David Walker to Marcus Garvey, from Queen Mother Moore to Kwame Nkrumah,” said Badejo, who is also a journalist and cultural critic.

The summit produced proposals to further strengthen the ties between the two regions. These include direct air links between destinations in Africa and the Caribbean and visa-free travels for the citizens of African and CARICOM countries.

“The Leaders indicated support for the establishment of a CARICOM/Africa public-private partnership dedicated to mobilizing resources and deploying them in critical cutting-edge projects, including renewable energy, the creative industries, and digital technology … (And) the contribution of the African Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP) in making vaccines available to CARICOM was lauded,” according to CARICOM news.

Sekou said that “It is key for the general populations to see themselves as the foundation of this official level summit. What this multilateral cooperation will achieve over time, including ‘wielding global bargaining power,’ widening the diasporic reach to include non-CARICOM members in the region and institutions of Brazil and other nations of the Americas, is invariably based on people’s movements.”

“It is the same people’s movements and consciousness that produce activists and artists such as St. Martin’s Thomas Duruo and Carlos Cooks, Trinidad’s Claudia Jones, Jamaica’s Bob Marley, Antigua’s Dobrene O’Marde, or Barbados’ Ambassador to CARICOM David Comissiong. And that’s just to name a few of the many who have been about this pan-African liberation business,” said Sekou.

While on September 7, CARICOM “proposed the creation of a Forum of African and Caribbean Territories and States,” both authors said that for St. Martin to critically tap into the opportunities that are sure to open because of the initiatives proposed at the summit, the nation has to act on Nkrumah’s dictum and seek political independence.

“We are at a critical time when we must join the comity of nations coming together to build and rebuild the world to benefit our people. We can only do this if we attain political freedom,” Sekou and Badejo stressed.

This first Africa-CARICOM Summit was a giant step towards pan-African unity, which will facilitate political, economic, educational, cultural, and technological cooperation, Sekou and Badejo said.

“We applaud the vision of all those who made this summit possible on both sides of the Atlantic and encourage them to intensify their efforts to achieve the goal of reuniting the African family at home and abroad,” they added.

It has also been proposed at the Africa-CARICOM Summit for September 7 to be observed annually as “Africa-Caribbean Day.”

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The African Court on Human and People’s Rights is Zuma’s Next Stop in His Battle with the South African Justice System .
September 20, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

Former South African president Jacob Zuma in recent times has found the going tough following his battles with the South African justice system. Just a few weeks back, Zuma was incarcerated for contempt of court in a corruption case stemming back from the early 2000s arms deal. Spending just some few days in prison, the 79-year old Zuma was released from prison on medical grounds but was still ordered to adhere to all the rules laid out by the South African justice system. Adamant that he is innocent, the conditional release of Zuma angered him something which has prompted him to approach the African Court on Human and People’s Rights as he seeks to regain his freedom.

The news that Zuma was seeking to approach the African Court on Human and People’s Rights was first released by the Jacob Zuma Foundation. In a Twitter post, the Jacob Zuma Foundation said that the former South African president had instructed his legal team to approach the African Court on Human and People’s Rights.

“H.E. Prez Zuma has been in consultation with his legal team on various developments. He has given his lawyers instructions to take the legalization of detention without trial by Acting Chief Justice Zondo & the ConCourt to the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights,” the Tweet said.

The announcement by the Jacob Zuma Foundation that Zuma is seeking to approach the African Court comes days after his application for the rescission of his contempt of court order was dismissed by the Constitutional Court.

The African Court on Human and Peoples Rights is an African court designed to reinforce the functions of the Commission on Human and Peoples Rights. The Commission is a body which is charged with monitoring the implementation of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Established in 2004, the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights is located in Arusha, Tanzania and it hears cases from 26 African Union member states that have ratified the Protocol establishing the Court. South Africa is one of the 26 member states that have ratified the Protocol.

The decision by Zuma to take his case to the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights has divided opinion in South Africa. Zuma’s supporters have welcomed the move saying that it gives the former president the opportunity to present his case to an independent panel. They argue that the South African justice system is currently under the influence of political actors who are using the legal route to persecute Zuma even though there is no wrongdoing on his part.

However, they are some who argue stating that Zuma deserves his day in court to answer to all allegations of corruption arising from the arms deal. The argument goes on stating that like any other ordinary person accused of wrongdoing within the confines of the South African borders, Zuma has to defend himself in the South African courts of law.

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The Government of Ghana to Sign Historic Agreement with W.E.B. Du Bois Museum Foundation to Build Du Bois Museum Complex .
September 20, 2021 | 0 Comments

H.E. Nana Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana, to offer remarks at the signing

NEW YORK, September 20, 2021 –The W.E.B Du Bois Museum Foundation, a leading New York-based international organization, will hold today an official signing of a historic agreement between the foundation and Government of Ghana to transform the current Du Bois Memorial Centre and burial site in Accra, Ghana, into a state-of-art museum complex and world-class destination for scholars and heritage tourists.

Dr. Du Bois, a civil rights pioneer and one of the world’s leading black intellectuals and thinkers, became a citizen of Ghana and resided in the country until his death in 1963. Du Bois’ vision of a continent of free and independent African nations was a major influence on Ghana’s first president Kwame Nkrumah.

The historic agreement will grant authority for the W.E.B Du Bois Museum Foundation to construct a multi-million dollar museum complex to preserve Dr. Du Bois’ legacy over a 50-year period. The complex will be designed by Sir David Adjaye, renowned Ghanaian architect and designer of the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

The Du Bois Memorial Centre in Accra where Dr. Du Bois and his wife, Shirley Graham Du Bois, are buried, opened to the public in 1985, but in recent years had required additional upkeep and maintenance. The Du Bois Museum Complex aims to transform the Center and create a living museum that revives the transformative spirit and vision of Dr. Du Bois for a unified ancestral home for Africans in the diaspora around the world. The complex will serve as a historic memorial site where visitors can honor his life and legacy, connect to their cultural and ancestral roots, and serve as an impetus to inspire solidarity between people of African descent.

At the signing, H.E. Nana Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana, will offer remarks on the significance of the agreement in strengthening historical, cultural, and economic ties between Ghana and the United States and Diaspora Africans. This agreement will build on the government’s “Year of Return” and “Beyond the Return” campaigns that encourage the return of African Diaspora from around the world.

“The Du Bois Museum Complex will usher in a renewed commitment to building an international treasure and historic memorial honoring the legacy of Dr. Du Bois, and fostering unity among the African Diaspora through a vibrant cultural and research center,” said Japhet Aryiku, Executive Director, W.E.B. Du Bois Museum Foundation. Aryiku, a Ghanaian American with more than 40 years of experience in corporate America and the philanthropic community, was inspired at a young age by Du Bois’ writings and ideals.

Speakers at the signing will include leading political, financial, and cultural leaders from the U.S. and Ghana, including Dr. Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Republic of Ghana; Japhet Aryiku, Executive Director, W.E.B. Du Bois Museum Foundation; Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director, Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University; Kwame Anthony Appiah, novelist and professor of philosophy and ethics, New York University and board member, W.E.B Du Bois Museum Foundation; and Daniel Rose, Chairman, W.E.B. Du Bois Museum Foundation, philanthropist, and leading real estate developer of several award-winning properties.

ABOUT W.E.B DU BOIS MUSEUM FOUNDATION: The W.E.B Du Bois Museum Foundation is a leading New York-based non-profit organization dedicated to honoring the life, purpose, and legacy of Dr. W.E. B Du Bois. Daniel Rose, a philanthropist and leading real estate developer of major properties serves as the foundation’s Chairman of the Board. Ambassador Harold Doley, Jr. is the foundation’s President. Prominent board members include renowned scholars of the Du Bois legacy Professors Henry Louis Gates, Jr., of Harvard University; Kwame Anthony Appiah of New York University;  Emmanuel K. Akyeampong of the Center for African Studies at Harvard University; and Deborah Rose, a Visiting Scholar at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

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ZAMBIAN PRESIDENT SCHEDULED TO ADDRESS UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY .
September 20, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Alice Chisanga

President Hakainde Hichilema

President of Zambia Hakainde Hichilema is  scheduled to travel to the United States tomorrow for the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Mr. Hichilema is on Tuesday 21st September 2021 expected to deliver a maiden address to the UN General Assembly.

 He will also participate in high level summits such as; The 2021  Sustainable Development Goals Moment (SDG’s), High Level dialogue on Energy, UN Food and Security Summit and the Global COVID-19 Summit.

And United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres will be paid a courtesy call by the Zambian President whilst in New York.

He will also hold bilateral Meetings with other world leaders including the President to the European Council, His Excellency Charles Miche.

The President is also scheduled to travel to Washington D.C. where he will hold a historical meeting with the Vice President of the United States of America, Ms. Kamala Harris. 

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperations Stainley Kakubo said more than two decades have passed since a sitting Zambian President met with the top leadership of the United States of America.

Mr. Kakubo notes that the move to meet U.S leaders signifies the mark of confidence in the Zambian President, Mr. Hakainde Hichilema and his administration.

In line with the Government’s vision of turning around the economy, promoting trade and investment, among other strategies, the President will also hold meetings with the heads of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. 

The President will further engage with prominent and influential Congressmen and women as well Senators at Capitol Hill in order to share Zambia’s vision under the “New Dawn” Administration according to Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Stainley Kakubo.

Other engagements the head of state will have is with the US Institute of Peace, the US Chamber of Commerce and the Africa Business Centre where the President is expected to project the vision of the new Government in addressing the aspirations of the Zambian people.

Mr. Hichilema will be accompanied by Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Stainley Kakubo.

The President and his entourage are expected to return to Zambia on 27th September 2021.

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Rwanda: Private hospital shut down over negligence, death allegations
September 20, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti

Baho International Hospital

Baho International Hospital, a private Hospital operating in Rwanda’s capital city of Kigali was shut down after the Ministry of Health’s probe team found it ineligible to keep providing health services in the country.

The hospital has been on the spot over the past months for poor service delivery, poor hygiene and misdiagnosis cases that resulted in deaths.

Following several allegations including the recent ones filed early this month, the Ministry of health assigned a team of experts to carry out investigations.

The investigation followed a recent death by a mother who sought medical services from the hospital in question.

The Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) has said it arrested two doctors and was conducting investigations on the reason behind the death of a female patient who passed on in September 9, 2021 after she had gone to hospital for minor surgery.

An official from the Ministry of Health Told this Media outlet that the preliminary findings from the team of nine experts assigned to probe the hospital found out that there were “Repetitive alleged malpractices” at the hospital prompting the decision by the Ministry to close it down.

 The management of Baho International has earlier apologized to the general public and grieved patients for poor services and assured of better services.

 “We would like to express our sincere apology to the public and especially our patients whom we have let down recently in customer care,” reads a letter from the hospital, signed by Joseph Kayibanda, the Hospital Chairperson.

“BIH remains committed to implementing the necessary steps to ensure that all patients and customers are taken care of to the highest degree of excellence and in line with the development of Rwanda’s health sector,” it continued.

BAHO INTERNATIONAL HOSPITAL (BIH) Ltd is a private hospital that was established in 2015 and provides care to national, regional and international patients as a medical hospital implementation and knowledge transfer activities through its integrated care, training and clinical research, according to information from the hospital website. 

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Rwanda: Kagame names new Justice Minister.
September 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

Dr Ugirashebuja Emmanuel is the new Rwandan Justice Minister

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda has on this Friday, 17th September named  as  new justice Minister and Attorney General, Dr Ugirashebuja Emmanuel who replaces Johnston Busingye.

Busingye was kicked out from the government by the end of August and he was appointed as Rwandan envoy to the United Kingdom.

Dr Ugirashebuja, 45  was appointed Judge of Appeal by the Summit of the EAC Heads of State in November 2013 and subsequently, appointed the Judge President of the EACJ in June 2014 where he served seven years.

Ugirashebuja taught law in University of Rwanda, University of Edinburgh, and at the University of Dar es Salaam. He  served as  Dean of the Law School, University of Rwanda. He then served as a member of the Superior Council of Judiciary and member of the Supreme Council of Prosecution.

He comes into the justice Ministry when Rwandan prisons are overpopulated due to the high number of inmates, compared to the capacity of prisons.

Last year the Upper House urged government to consider decongesting prisons’ facilities by applying amnesty to those who are eligible, expanding prisons facilities, introducing electronic ankle monitors for those who are accused of committing minor crimes, among others.

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A Pillar For African SMEs In Ecobank.
September 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L*

Our strategic purpose which steers us towards growth and success, is to build a world-class Pan-African bank and contribute to the economic development and financial integration of Africa, says Josephine Ankomah

For small and medium size enterprises across Africa, there is no better partner today than Ecobank. From its roots in Togo, West Africa, Ecobank today has banking operations in about 33 African countries and counting. It therefore came as no surprise when the Ecobank Group was named as the 2021 African SME Bank of the Year beating a host of other banks at the African Banker Awards.

For Ecobank Group Executive, Commercial Banking, Josephine Ankomah, the unprecedented challenges triggered by the COVID -19 pandemic in 2020 required resilience and innovative ways to assist SME customers survive the enormous challenges. Gracious in victory at the Awards, Josephine Ankomah lauds the tremendous work of staff, and collaboration of customers and partners in the success of the robust response provided by Ecobank to SMEs.

“Since the onset of Covid-19, the Ecobank Group has considerably ramped up investments in programmes targeting SMEs by expanding SME-focused lines of credit, providing technical assistance to SME development institutions and building SMEs’ capacity via linkage programmes in partnership with its strategic partners, “says Josephine Ankomah.

From the support to SMEs, to the promotion of gender inclusion, perspectives on the African Free Trade Agreement, corporate social responsibility, historical insights, and more, Josephine Ankomah sheds lights on operations of Ecobank which is today one of the indispensable actors  in the business and development equations in Africa.

Thanks for accepting to answer our questions, for those who are not familiar with Ecobank could you start with an introduction, and business concept or vision around the Bank?

Ecobank is an innovation of our founders – members of the Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).  They imagined and actualized their idea of setting up a Bank that transcends country borders, in an era where most banks were either international or country based, to initially assist the business community in the West African Region and later the entire African continent.

Their aim was to break the artificial border barriers along the region and galvanize economic development and integration. A Pan African bank was consequently born dedicated to the continent and its people.  The parent company of the Ecobank Group, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated is headquartered in Lomé, Togo where the visionary Togolese leader agreed to host Ecobank on behalf of Ecowas.

The dual objectives of the Ecobank Group are to enable a modern pan-African bank to thrive and to contribute to the economic development and financial integration of the continent.

36 years on and with extensive footprint across 35 African countries in key geographical regions: Nigeria, Francophone West Africa (UEMOA), Anglophone West Africa (AWA) and Central, Eastern and Southern Africa (CESA), Ecobank is the largest Pan-African full-service banking group in terms of spread on the continent. we have banking operations in 33 African countries, representative offices in Ethiopia and South Africa, international operations in Paris (France) as well as offices in Beijing (China), London (The UK) and Dubai (The United Arab Emirates).

As a banking group, our strategic purpose which steers us towards growth and success, is to build a world-class Pan-African bank and contribute to the economic development and financial integration of Africa. Our mission is to provide all our customers with convenient and reliable financial products and services.

As of 31 March 2021, The Ecobank Group had $25.59billion in total assets and $1.95billion in total equity, a customer base of over 24million, 690 branches, over 76,000 Xpress points over 2600 ATMs, over 11million Mobile App users, 40 million digital transactions, a staff strength of over 14,000 with a 54: 46 ratio of male to female employees.

The Bank is also listed on three stock exchanges: The Nigeria Securities Exchange, The Ghana Stock Exchange and the BVRM in Cote d’Ivoire.  We also have Bonds trading on the London Stock Exchange.

In what parts of the continent does Ecobank have operations in, what are some of its leading products, and what kind of clientele does the Bank carter to?

The Ecobank Group has presence in 33 countries on the continent, what we refer to as middle Sub-Saharan Africa (outside of South Africa). In South Africa, we have strategic partnership with Nedbank, which is also a major institutional investor in our parent company.

The Bank has a diversified business model by which we manufacture financial products and services centrally, at the Group Level, and distribute them locally through our 33 banking affiliates in the four geographical regions. Our customers are segmented in line with our three Business segments namely: Consumer Banking, Commercial Banking and Corporate & Investment Banking.

Consumer Banking caters for individuals, offering deposit, loan and payment products. We deliver our services through two consumer sub-segments – Personal Banking and Direct Banking. Personal Banking focuses on our Premier and Advantage customers with moderate to high-net worth revenues, and Direct Banking focuses on the mass market and the youth. Through these sub-segments, we serve our customers through our unrivalled footprint in Africa, leveraging digital, branch and agency channels.

Commercial Banking caters for SMEs, Local Corporates, Local NGOs, Local Government Agencies, Faith-Based Organisations, Educational Institutions, Healthcare Institutions. These customers have access to working capital financing, asset financing, business prepaid cards, digital products for payments and collections. We also offer specialized programs such as Ellevate by Ecobank our gender financing product for women owned businesses and women focused businesses.

Corporate & Investment Banking caters to Governments, Regional and Global Corporates, Financial Institutions, International Organisations. Some of the products and services on offer to our Corporate Banking customers are Fixed income, currencies and commodities (FICC), Cash Management, Trade Finance and Services, Loans and Liquidity, Securities, Wealth and Asset Management (SWAM) and Investment Banking.

Josephine Ankomah says the mission of Ecobank is to provide all its customers with convenient and reliable financial products and services

The Ecobank Group recently won the ‘2021 African SME Bank of the Year’ award, for its significant contribution to the development of the SME sector during the coronavirus outbreak last year, how was the award received and what does it mean for the Bank?

We were delighted to receive this award particularly during this challenging COVID19 period. The award was in recognition of the collective hard work of all Ecobankers and our partners in responding quickly and providing the needed support to our SMEs from the onset of the COVID pandemic.

We had to rethink our business and provide innovative ways to assist our SME customers survive the difficulties brought about by the pandemic.  We were also at the forefront of promoting gender inclusion at this challenging time with a product for women owned and women focused businesses – Ellevate by Ecobank.

This award indeed serves as motivation to our staff that all their hard work in improving our products and services, providing the right level of support to our customers is appreciated and recognised.  Together, we demonstrated how we can positively impact SMEs and women during a crisis period.  As a Bank with a vision to promote economic development, we are proud of this achievement. 

What were some of the specific contributions that you made towards supporting or cushioning the impact of COVID 19 the SME sector?

Our customers, particularly the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – bore the brunt of the financial pressures as they had to contend with supply chain challenges, effects of the lockdowns on their businesses, consequently, decline in turnover, revenue loss and operational challenges in ‘getting back to normal’. 

Staying close to our customers and providing them with the necessary financial and non-financial support, was critical and served to demonstrate our commitment to them. We quickly identified the most vulnerable sectors impacted by the pandemic and with an understanding of what our customers required during this difficult period, we proactively put in place mitigating actions including tenor extensions and moratoriums on interest to assist our clients manage their loan repayments.  This also helped us manage our loan portfolio and avoid significant deterioration.

Our investment in technology, internet banking and digital transfers in prior years paid off making the transition from in branch services to digital quite seamless. Customers did not face disruptions in making and receiving payments for their goods and services. They were able to continue paying salaries to their employees using digital means and reducing the use of cash which could be a vector of transmission. These were some of the positive experiences. The tremendous uptake on our digital platforms and solutions was a major positive outcome.  

Being mindful of the effects of the pandemic particularly on MSMEs, we partnered with AUDA-NEPAD, an African Union agency to support the agency’s 100,000 MSMEs initiative.  This led to the launch of the MSME Academy by both Ecobank and AUDA-NEPAD in 2020, in the midst of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The objective is to provide entrepreneurs, owners and managers of micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) with coaching, mentoring and business skills training courses.

Ecobank has also partnered with Google to equip African SMEs with the necessary digital skills to navigate the rapidly evolving business world. The aim is to assist African businesses remain relevant and fulfil their potential by embracing digital capabilities.

From your perspective and that of the Bank, how important are SMEs to the development of the continent, and additional support could Institutions like Ecobank, and others, governments etc provide to strengthen and support their growth?

A lot has been said about how SMEs are critical to economic development and rightly so, because they constitute 90% of businesses on the continent. In Africa the desire and determination to start a business is not in doubt. What is needed however is the means to unlock their full potential, grow these businesses in a sustainable manner and turn them to multi-million-dollar companies in the future. 

We have noted that there are three (3) key things that SMEs need namely, access to finance, capacity building and access to markets.

In terms of access to finance we continue to work at de-risking credit facilities extended to SMEs through credit guarantee schemes that can be provided by DFIs and Governments.  Through these risk sharing partnerships are able to lend to SMEs against reduced collateral requirements. We are also partnering governments in our markets to deliver support to SMEs e.g., MIFA and FAIEJ in Togo.

We recognize the need to strengthen and build the capacity of business owners to ensure efficient management of funding. Between June and July this year we provided training to over 800 SMEs under the MSME Training for Financing Programme. This programme proved to be very impactful with more than 90% of participants testifying that what they had learned would significantly help improve their business operations.

As with any major disruption, COVID 19 pandemic ushered in a period of both great risk and opportunity. One positive aspect was the exponential growth in digital paymentsBusiness owners quickly realized the need to close the digital skills gap within their places of work for a sustainable post-pandemic recovery. This is where our partnership with Microsoft through their Global Skilling initiative successfully offered digital training to our SMEs.

Finally, access to markets. We have developed eCommerce solutions to expand market access working through partners such as iPay, DPO, Flutterwave and with Google through the Google My Business platform. With these solutions our customers benefit from enhanced visibility for their business through a digital presence. They are able to expand their customer base with whom they can have access and interact 24/7

Positively contributing to the economic development and financial integration of the African continent can only be strengthened if we focus on women, says Josephine Ankomah

May we know what specific programs or activities that the Bank has in place or has in view to empower women?

Gender Financing is an area we are keen to support, and this led to the development and launch of our women’s program Ellevate by Ecobank in November 2020.

Women constitute roughly half of the population in Africa. One in four female adults in Africa starts or manages a business, Women also invest as much as 90% of their incomes into their families and communities. So, clearly our goal of positively contributing to the economic development and financial integration of the African continent can only be strengthened if we focus on women.

Ellevate by Ecobank is now on the market as a pilot programme in a few countries. We are convinced that the needs of women entrepreneurs are largely the same across the continent and should be addressed without exception. With this in mind, we launched Ellevate by Ecobank simultaneously in all our 33 markets. Today you will find dedicated Ellevate Desk Managers ready to attend to the needs of women all across our footprint.

The program is designed for women owned and women focused businesses. This means that any business founded by a woman or is 50% or more owned by a woman qualifies for Ellevate.  A business whose management or board is made up of 20% or more women also qualifies for Ellevate.  Another criteria we consider is the number of women employed. If the business employs more than 30% women it qualifies for the programme and finally companies who manufacture products specifically for women for example cosmetics, sanitary ware, mother care products also qualify for Ellevate.

The value proposition of Ellevate by Ecobank offers women an end-to-end partnership in which they gain access to financial services as well as non-financial services. This distinguishes us from other women’s programs where the focus is on either financial support or non-financial support. In the case of Ecobank we are offering them both.

We are committed to meeting the needs of women businesses with tailored loan products, at favourable lending terms as well as capacity building, providing access to markets, networking opportunities and recognition.

Still on COVID -19, may we know what impact it had on operations and business in general for Ecobank?

We were prepared having made significant investments in technology in the last 5 years to digitalise our operations and services.  We therefore ensured that we steadfastly provided our customers with 24/7 access to their financial service’s needs. For example, our call centres were open, and Rafiki, our artificial intelligence (AI) self-help bot, supported routine banking services. Our full suite of banking services remained available on all our digital platforms: mobile, online, Omni Plus and Omni Lite.

In the wake of COVID-19, businesses transitioned from cash towards e-commerce and digital payments. The gradual shift from physical to digital channels among consumers accelerated with the pandemic, which has changed the way that we work in so many ways.

ATMs and call centres remained open 24/7. We ensured that customers had the full range of banking services available on our digital platforms: Ecobank Mobile and Ecobank Online available to our consumer customers, and Ecobank Omni Lite and Ecobank Omni Plus to meet the needs of SMEs and large businesses. We took the decision to waive some fees on our digital channels.

To ensure the safety of our customers we adhered strictly to guidance from WHO, governments and health agencies making it safer for our customers to visit our physical locations by providing temperature checks, crowd control, hand sanitisers and social distancing, among other measures.

Our staff were also able to work from home with very minimal initial challenges.  Staff today can operate from wherever they may be. 

For our communities, we contributed circa $3 million in the form of cash, healthcare equipment and supplies and embarked on sustained and robust COVID-19 awareness campaigns across our footprint.

Ecobank remains a continental leader in building partnerships to enhance and sustain SME’s

What are some other challenges that Ecobank faces in countries where it has operations, and any plans to expand into more countries across the continent?

Admittedly there are challenges operating in Africa, a large unbanked population high levels of poverty, unemployment etc.  However, we see these challenges as opportunities to positively impact the lives of people and their communities. This is what drives us to work with partners, leverage our strength and help to solve some of these challenges. For example, our focus on women through our gender financing programme Ellevate by Ecobank will not only set us apart, but more importantly, will touch the lives of one of the most vulnerable groups in Africa by providing them with tailor-made and relevant solutions that will empower them to continue to effectively contribute to Africa’s development.

The Ecobank Fintech Challenge affords us the opportunity to collaborate with Fintechs who are ready to scale. We provide them access and to 33 markets to provide payment solutions. Our own digital solutions like OmniLite, Ecobank Pay,Rapid Transfer s, Mobile App facilitate payments and collections seamlessly across our footprint and ensuring final inclusion is extended to a vast number of people on the continent  

There has been so much talk about the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, first, how does Ecobank view the AfCFTA, and what is the Bank doing to tap into opportunities that may accrue from it?

The Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) officially became operational in January 2021 paving a way for our clients to access a unified African continental market. Africa has six major customs unions and a number of trade agreements but that notwithstanding these trading arrangements and their related costs of doing business are far from conducive to the success of entrepreneurs seeking to trade beyond their national borders.

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement aims to improve cross border trade for both formal and informal service suppliers, with particular attention to micro-, small- and medium-sized operators and “women and youth service suppliers.”

As the pan African bank with the largest footprint in Africa, we have from our inception been prepared for AfCFTA.  We have the spread and the payment platform to help achieve the implementation strategies to operationalize the AfCFTA Agreement. We intend to leverage this initiative as it is directly aligned to our Group’s vision of contributing to the economic development and financial integration of Africa.

AfCFTA affords as the opportunity to use our skills and immense local knowledge across 33 markets to enhance our customers’ understanding of AfCFTA to enable them tap into the opportunities that this new single market covering 1,2Bn people and with a GDP of $3,5 trillion brings. 

Ecobank is able and does enable intra-Africa trade.  We are the go-to Bank for AfCFTA. 

As the pan African bank with the largest footprint in Africa, we have from our inception been prepared for AfCFTA

How does Ecobank give back to the community and are there a few specific examples of projects that you could share with us?

We recognize the importance of also giving back to the communities we work in and to drive social impact. Through the Ecobank Foundation, we are focused on staying relevant through social impact programmes related to health, education and financial empowerment.

The Ecobank Foundation has contributed to the NCD Alliance’s Civil Society Solidarity Fund to accelerate African NCD Alliances’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic for people living with Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). The Fund aims to ensure that the needs of people living with NCDs continue to be addressed during the COVID-19 pandemic as it strives towards achieving Universal Health Coverage, NCD prevention and control. It has awarded grants to ten NCD Alliances in Africa, of which nine are in Ecobank countries or regions: Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, East Africa, Mozambique, Nigeria, Togo, Uganda and Zambia.

Again, through the Foundation, we are collaborating with UNITLIFE, the UN initiative dedicated to fighting chronic malnutrition, to raise awareness and funds on this disease affecting a third of African children.

In partnership with Speak Up Africa and the UN hosted RBM Partnership to End Malaria we launched the Zero Malaria Business Leadership Initiative to drive private sector engagement in the fight against malaria in Benin, Senegal, Burkina Faso. This initiative is being expanded to include Uganda, Cameroon and Ghana.

The youth of the continent are important to Africa’s development. In view of this the Ecobank Group has partnered with Junior Achievement (JA) Africa to mobilize over 600,000 young people across the continent and educate them in financial literacy. The partnership taps into JA’s vast online community of over one million young social media followers. It seeks to grow financial inclusion for young Africans using Ecobank’s mobile and digital services. By educating young people in the importance of money management skills, we aim to empower them to build a culture of savings as part of their personal financial habits.

     This year, during our Ecobank Day celebrations, we will be partnering with various

     organisations to help raise awareness about the issue of Mental Health across Africa

     which has become a major concern with the rising cases of suicide, mental illnesses,

     sigmatisation and the general lack of understanding and compassion towards people

     who may suffer from mental health issues.

Through our innovative digital platform, we can help fundraise across Africa and mobilise capital in support of charities, disaster appeals, healthcare and other worthwhile causes.

As we wrap up this interview, any major developments in the pipeline that you want to share and to potential customers out there, why should there consider Ecobank as the first choice to do business with?

The Ecobank Group recently raised a US$350 million Sustainability Notes. This was a landmark issue which represents the first ever Tier 2 Sustainability Notes by a financial institution in Sub-Saharan Africa. An equivalent amount of the net proceeds from the notes will be used to finance or refinance, new or existing eligible assets as described in our Sustainable Finance Framework.

This is particularly important to us as it will help us push through our commitment to the sustainability of the continent. Our current area of focus i.e. on women, health and education can now be extended to other areas of opportunity such as affordable and clean energy, clean water and sanitation, quality education and housing. We see this as a testament to our clear strategy, solid positioning across the pan-African banking space as well as our deliberate and long-term focus on sustainable initiatives.

To all the potential customers out there, Ecobank is the leading pan African banking group with the widest footprint on the continent. A relationship with any one of our affiliates gives you access to 33 markets in Africa and a banking operation in Paris France. We highly value our relationship with our customers and work with them to consistently improve our products and services to suit their needs. In the area of digital solutions, we are pace setters as amply demonstrated during the Covid19 pandemic.

Our digital payments platform is robust and provides ease of payment to any country in which we operate.

Finally, our professionalism, product innovation and the level of support we provide to our customers has culminated in our winning numerous awards. We were adjudged the 2021 African Banker, African SME Bank of the Year.

I will take this opportunity to high-light other awards we won recently:

Global Finance – Best Trade Finance Providers 2021

  1. Ecobank Côte d’Ivoire
  2. Ecobank Rwanda

The Digital banker – Middle East & Africa (MEA) Innovation Awards 

  1. Outstanding Digital Transformation in Cash Management

Global Finance – Innovators awards 2021

  1. Outstanding crisis finance innovations – Ellevate by Ecobank

Euromoney – Excellence awards 2021

  1. Best Bank in Ghana – Ecobank Ghana

**Culled from September Issue of PAV Magazine.

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Cameroon: Restructuring the Anglophone Dialogue.
September 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

‘The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war” Norman Schwarzkopf

By Mwalimu George Ngwane*

None else but the government can take the initiative of a constitutional dialogue and if it does the participants must be willing to comply and cooperate, says Mwalimu Ngwane

On September 10, 2019, the Head of State, President Paul Biya in a message to the nation convened a Major National Dialogue to address the crisis in the South West and North West regions. A crisis to quote him ‘that not only jeopardize the safety and wellbeing of the population living there but also far-reaching consequences for the national community as a whole’. President Biya continued ‘the entire national community has hopes that this will be an opportunity for our brothers and sisters in the North West and South West regions to close this particularly painful chapter, to forget their suffering and to return to normal life’. In his opening speech at the Major National Dialogue Prime Minister Dion Ngute challenged the attendants to ‘make history and find solutions to the problems that have separated us physically and intellectually in recent years”.

Two years after the Major National dialogue we have, as a people, reaped the psychological satisfaction that goes with talking with each other, mitigated the cacophony of violent extremism in the North West and South West regions, shown resilience in the adage that the greater the ability to handle adversity, the stronger the partnership that develops; and benefited from some institutional and structural reforms. But we are still ‘to close this particularly painful chapter, to forget their suffering and to return to normal life’. This can be understood. Dialogue is a process and not an event. Peace talks are a permanent feature in the landscape of conflict and as long as the war-war rages on, the jaw-jaw must forge ahead.

Some of the indicators that show that  normalcy has not completely returned to the two regions are the proliferation of arms in the hands of non-state armed actors, the armed confrontation between the military and non-state armed actors with innocent civilians being caught in the crossfire, the presence of the military in towns, roadblocks, arson, the timid return of schools in some rural and semi-urban areas, the religious loyalty to civil disobedience every Monday, and the presence of Internally displaced persons as well as refugees.

As far as non-state armed belligerents are concerned, I can categorise them into three groups –the Haram forces which have mainly financial/economic interest through kidnappings, gruesome murder, and ransom request; the Hydra forces which have an ideological interest through their quest for self-determination which sometimes vacillates between secession, confederation and federalism; and the Hybrid forces whose pendulum of interest swings between the first two.

After the 2019 Major National Dialogue, there have been calls for more dialogue, something which the Head of State mentioned during his 10 September 2019  as he said ‘since the outbreak of the crisis in the North West and South West regions, the term dialogue has never been so much talked about, used and even misused’. But were the principle of another dialogue (Dialogue 2) accepted, would it be just another format of the 2019 Major National Dialogue? I am not sure. Even if the Major National Dialogue provided a relative vista for frankness, sincerity and orientation to restoring sanity and normalcy to the fractured and fissured cohesion of the people living in the South West and North West regions, it cannot be seen as an end by itself but as an entry point into a journey, sometimes long, of conflict transformation. So before venturing into a ‘more of the same ‘dialogue format, it may be necessary to evaluate the gains and gaps made during the Major National Dialogue. In his 1st August 1964 Memorandum, Bernard Fonlon declared that ‘a traveler on the road stops from time to time to look back and see the ground he has covered; merchants close shops at intervals to take stock; and users of machines are bound to service and overhaul them now and again’. Therefore, going forward I propose four models of dialogue that can be implemented simultaneously or sequentially.

For many analysts, the persistence of the crisis in the North West and South West of Cameroon is an indication that the Major National was not the panacea expected

Community dialogue: the amicable

While the Hydra and Hybrid forces can be brought to the dialogue table, the Haram forces can either be confronted by the state armed actors or converted by community stakeholders. Community stakeholders include traditional, religious, security, administrative, education, youth, women, community media, and civil society groups which in their respective neighborhoods have an advocacy interest in transforming their immediate environments from conflict-prone to conflict-proof. In this vein the community creates Local Peacemaking Committees (LPC) which engage especially the Haram Forces to drop their arms as well as incentivize them with reintegration tools of development. This is what Prophet Isaiah referred to as beating swords into ploughshares. A community dialogue is a peaceful, proximity, palaver tradition that according to Dr. Dze-Ngwa Willibroad encourages community empathy, accommodation, healing, atonement and reintegration into society. Even the military are not left out as community stakeholders because as Dze-Ngwa suggests they can hold back their guns and harness or tap from their innate vocational skills (carpentry, building, engineering, medicine, teaching, sports etc) to promote community development. Local or Citizen Peacemaking is called Track1 approach as opposed to Track 11 approach carried out by the state.  Community dialogue believes in promoting the culture of peace in the neighborhood through an indigenous knowledge system. As in all traditional African societies, there exists a wealth of indigenous knowledge, norms, skills and practices which are relevant to establishing and maintaining peaceful relationships between individuals and groups to deal with differences and disputes.  Like the ujamaa ideology of Tanzania, the gacaca practice in Rwanda and the ubuntu philosophy in South Africa, community dialogue is a homegrown, participative, bottom up, truth and reconciliatory therapy that seeks to provide an enabling environment for renewed collective catharsis, revived economic sharing, repaired broken bonding, and restored confidence and trust within the community. However, it must be noted that community dialogue is relevant to cessation of hostilities and agreement on mutual security but does not resolve the root cause of the conflict. As a local ownership instrument, community dialogue is only important in demonstrating that grievances can be resolved without anyone resorting to gun violence.

 Special Status Dialogue: The Available

The Special status is the most visible and much talked about outcome of the Major National dialogue. Created by law No. 2019/024 of 24 December 2019 of the bill to institute the General Code of Regional and Local Authorities, the Special Status of the North West and South West regions constitutes Part V of Book IV containing the operational Rules applicable to the two regions. The content of the Status has been lauded by some because it is ‘a specific organizational and operational regime, based on the historical, social and cultural values of these regions, with due respect for the primacy of the state and national unity and solidarity (Section 327.2). In his credit to the content of the Status, the President of the Foundation for the Advancement of Regional Autonomy in Cameroon and policy Advocacy scholar, Azong-Wara Andrew writes ‘there are merits in the Special Status which some of our Anglophone compatriots are tending to brush under the carpet for lack of content’ (The Horizon newspaper, 12 August 2021,p.10). Meanwhile a frontline actor for Federalism Dr. Simon Munzu argues that the provisions of the Special Status do not contain anything that confers any meaningful ‘Special Status on the two Anglophone regions. It is hard to see how they can lead to the resolution of the Anglophone problem” (The Sun newspaper, 5 June 2020). Indeed, there have been diametrically polarized opinions on the present content of the status. Having a further discussion on it could be helpful. The format would simply be for the members of each Regional Assembly to take another critical and non-political partisan look at the Status so as to expand its administrative space and deepen its ideological content. A content that reflects the universal concept of Special Status regimes yet one that is contextualized to suit each Regional specificity and at the same time to embrace the overarching values of Education, Judiciary,Public Administration, Language policy etc. between the two regions.

Caucus dialogue: the attainable

In this message of 10 September 2019, President Paul Biya asked ‘Talking about dialogue per se, the issue has always been, with whom? ‘ He continues “New Information and Communication technologies, especially social media networks have unfortunately facilitated the advent of self-proclaimed leaders, extremists of all shades trying to achieve recognition using insult, threat, hate speech, violence and murder”.

Two years later we now know those toiling for peace and those spoiling for war. It is now possible to separate the oranges from the grapes among the interlocutors. There are credible interlocutors or stakeholders in the domestic and diaspora scenes who can constitute themselves as caucuses to identify the problem of the conflict and draft a peace framework to resolving it. Some of the caucuses that can be considered include Delegates that can be elected from each of the two regions, Delegates as an Anglophone bloc, Delegates from the various groups in the diaspora, Delegates from some of the Affirmative Action groups that are looking for peaceful means in ending the crisis, the clergy, traditional leaders, youth groups, women groups, rights-based groups etc. What this requires is that such caucuses be given an opportunity to hold their internal discussion meetings and come out with their blueprint or white paper for peace. It may be necessary that these caucuses with concrete agendas be invited to a multistakeholder conference to exchange views and find common ground towards a Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

Again, in Paul Biya’s own words on 10 September 2019 ‘Prior to the effective holding of the dialogue, the Prime Minister, Head of Government will carry out broad based consultations to solicit a wide range of views that will serve as a source of inspiration for the conduct of deliberations”. The need to use the pyramid caucus approach which is broad at the bottom and narrow at the apex would permit Delegates to address the core and substantive root causes of the Anglophone problem that has morphed into the crisis in the two regions. Our country is host to persons who can generate public pressure for the parties to listen to the people’s aspiration for peace and who can formulate a long-term agenda for restorative justice, positive peace and harmonious co-existence in Cameroon.

The caucus dialogue that moves from the micro to the macro level, believes in fixed goal but flexible method; it believes in unity of outcome but not uniformity in discussion; it believes in deep conversation based on rational thinking but not on erratic impulses and finally it believes in the protection of our bonding and not the promotion of our balkanization. Because caucus dialogue often has participants with different ideological leanings rooted in diverse interpretations of the history of the crisis, the panoply of participants need to be inspired by the following words of Nelson Mandela ‘One of the most important lessons I learnt in my life of struggle for freedom and peace is that in any conflict, there comes a point when neither side can claim to be right and the other wrong, no matter how much that might have been the case at the start of the conflict”. 

Peace talks are a permanent feature in the landscape of conflict and as long as the war-war rages on, the jaw-jaw must forge ahead, says Mwalimu Ngwane

Constitutional dialogue: the affordable

Cassam Uteem, former President of Mauritius once said that ‘conflict still impugns constitution; while older constitutions were the legacy of conflict with colonialism ,newer constitutions have aimed to end violent internecine rivalry between groups with comparing notions about state governance’. Constitutional dialogue is always loaded with the expectation that it will herald peace and enhance reconciliation and inclusion.

The Major National Dialogue was triggered by the unfortunate events that have made and continue to make the South West and North West regions the cauldron of bloodletting and the bastion of social dislocation. The objective of a constitutional dialogue is to provide long term institutional guarantees that would both stem the tide of any crisis and forestall the eventuality of any conflict.  Some politicians have been calling for another Tripartite Conference in the manner of the 31 October -15 November 1991 Tripartite conference. The 1991 Tripartite was orchestrated by grievances of a national dimension (draft of an electoral code and access of political parties to the official media). Those grievances were expressed in nationwide Ghost town and civil disobedience campaign initiated by the National Coordination of Opposition Parties and Associations. 

However, by the end of the Tripartite, proposals for a constitutional review were brought to the table leading to the present 1996 constitution. Can constitutional reforms through a constitutional dialogue lay to rest the subject on the form of state which was during the Major National Dialogue considered ‘the elephant in the room?’ Shall it vindicate Barrister Felix Agbor Nkongho’s declaration on October 2 2019 during the Major National Dialogue that ‘the dialogue would be pointless unless the form of state was discussed?’ Shall a constitutional dialogue see the present crisis as just emanating from Teachers and Lawyers socio-professional petitions in 2016 (which petitions government has largely addressed) or shall it consider this crisis as a Trojan horse carrying what has long been called The Anglophone problem? Shall it not be advisable for such a constitutional dialogue to allocate enough time, space and resources to answering two correlated questions: “Why is this crisis still persisting and how can it be given a sustainable constitutional solution?”

Bernard Fonlon often said, “a constitution is to the state what the soul is to man”. None else but the government can take the initiative of a constitutional dialogue and if it does the participants must be willing to comply and cooperate. In his book “Thoughts on Nigerian constitution” Obafemi Awolowo says that the formulation of a constitution for a country is a solemn and grave undertaking. Those who are privileged to be charged with this solemn and grave responsibility need much more than mere emotional impulses and unreflective patriotic sentiments as their equipment”

My four models of dialogue are premised on the urgency of heeding to the African metaphor that says “as long as the baby is crying its mother shall not stop singing”.  Whatever model or models we choose, it or they should be built upon a rock and not on sand.

*Culled from September Issue of PAV Magazine. Mwalimu George Ngwane is author of the book “Settling Disputes in Africa” (2001), Senior Chevening Fellow, Conflict Prevention and Resolution, University of York (UK) 2010, Rotary Peace Fellow, University of Chulalongkorn, Bangkok (Thailand) 2015, Commonwealth Professional Fellow, Minority Rights Group, London (UK) 2015, Bilingual Commission scholar, Cardiff, Wales 2015, United Nations Minority Rights Fellow, OHCHR, Geneva (Switzerland) 2016. He was elected Member since 2017 of the Board of Trustees, Minority Rights Group, London (UK) and Minority Rights Group, Africa (Uganda). He is also since 2021 a Senior Fellow with the United Nations Commission for Human Rights.  His blog is www.gngwane.com

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Zimbabwe’s Strive Masiyiwa, African Union Special Envoy and head of the African COVID-19 Vaccine Acquisition Task Team to address UN Food Systems Summit.
September 17, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Strive Masiyiwa,Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet and African Union Special Envoy and Head of the African COVID-19 Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT)

Strive Masiyiwa,Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet and African Union Special Envoy and Head of the African COVID-19 Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), is expected to address the United Nations Food Systems summit where at least more than 130 countries are also expected to announce their national commitments next week.

According to a spokesperson, at least 91 world leaders are set to participate in the Summit after the UN Secretary-General called on governments to ‘feed hope for a better future’. 

The event, which is the first of its kind and takes place during the UN General Assembly in New York on September 23, is due to hear from world leaders including President Alberto Fernández (Argentina),Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir (Iceland), and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (Japan).

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (New Zealand), President Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya), and Prime Minister Imran Khan (Pakistan) have also confirmed their participation. 

António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, who called for the Food Systems Summit in October 2019, urged world leaders earlier this week to bring to New York “ambitious commitments to feed hope for a better future”. 

“A well-functioning food system can help prevent conflict, protect the environment and provide health and livelihoods for all,” Guterres said in a call for ambition. “It is our moral imperative to keep our promise to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.” 

The Summit follows almost two years of dialogues at community, national and international levels involving more than 40,000 people around the world to share their needs, challenges and ideas for a more sustainable, resilient and inclusive food system.

During the Summit, countries are expected to announce the emerging outcomes of their national dialogues and their pathways for change, while supporting organisations from the private sector, academia, philanthropy and civil society will also make commitments. 

Agnes Kalibata, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Food Systems Summit, is expected to give opening remarks, with contributions from Pau Gasol, UNICEF Global Champion for Nutrition and Zero Childhood Obesity and NBA Champion, José Andres, Chef and Founder of World Central Kitchen, and David Malpass, President of the World Bank Group. 

 Also Melinda Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is also due to address the Summit. 

In light of the ongoing circumstances as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Summit will take a fully virtual format, following a hybrid Pre-Summit gathering in Rome, Italy, in July. 

The UN Food Systems Summit was announced by the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, on World Food Day in October 2019 as a part of the Decade of Action for delivery on the SDGs by 2030. The aim of the Summit is to deliver progress on all 17 of the SDGs through a food systems approach, leveraging the interconnectedness of food systems to global challenges such as hunger, climate change, poverty and inequality. More information about the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit can be found onlinehttps://www.un.org/foodsystemssummit

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Zimbabwe to benefit from sustainable solutions initiatives.
September 17, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

On International day of South-South Cooperation (12 September), the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) acknowledges the Global south’s important contribution to alleviate food insecurity and malnutrition in Zimbabwe. The Governments of Brazil, China, India and South Africa, have provided tangible transfer of information, resources and expertise to Zimbabwe over the past years, successfully administered through WFP, to support food security and nutrition in Zimbabwe.

The sharing of expertise that connects farmers to technology has been vital to support business development through e-commerce. China-Aid Agricultural Technology and Demonstration Centre led the exchange in partnership with Knowledge Transfer Africa (eMkambo), supporting up to 500 smallholder farmers with marketing and horticulture training. Additionally, several farmers and Agritex officers (government officers within the Ministry of Agriculture) were supported through a trainer programme, to ensure longevity of the project.

India’s recent contribution through the India-UN Development Partnership Fund focuses on climate change mitigation in Zimbabwe. Farmers will be trained on the advantages of growing drought-tolerant crops such as sorghum or millet, including techniques on how to reduce post-harvest losses. The programme aims to assist around 5,200 smallholder farmers in Chiredzi and Mangwe districts over the coming months.

Similarly, the Government of South Africa donated maize meal to assist families affected by Cyclone Idai in 2019. WFP provided warehousing services to facilitate this partnership. “Cyclone Idai was said to be the worst tropical cyclone on record to affect Africa and the Southern Hemisphere. It is in this regard that when Zimbabwe was one of the countries that were affected in our region in March 2019, the Government of South Africa immediately mobilized resources and pledged our joined support to the affected communities.”, said Dr. Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa, when handing over food aid to Zimbabwe. “As a close neighbour and regional member, South Africa has focused on supporting a humanitarian response to Zimbabwe in the face of natural disasters“, he added. 

Through WFP’s Centre of Excellence, Brazil provides research and policy support to homegrown school feeding programmes, which harness a range of elements including education, health, social protection and agriculture.

“We aim to work more closely with our partners to build the skills needed, so that Zimbabwe is able to meet its Agenda 2030 commitments “, said Ms. Francesca Erdelmann, WFP Zimbabwe Country Director and Representative. “Specifically, WFP aims to enhance market linkages between smallholder farmers and strengthen the capacity of national authorities. South-South Cooperation is key to this strategy, and we are determined to unlock its full potential,” she added.

In close collaboration with the Government of Zimbabwe, WFP is currently developing its 2022-2027 Country Strategic Plan, which will promote further collaboration with the aim of establishing sustainable, resilient and shock responsive social protection programmes with a food systems lens.

Agriculture accounts for up to seventy percent of the populations’ livelihood activity in Zimbabwe, which makes it critical to find optimal techniques to grow food sustainably and connect local supply to markets. Middle and low-income countries possess a rich trove of knowledge that can be shared and adapted to overcome development challenges.

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The President of Tanzania, Merck Foundation CEO, The Prime Minister of TOGO, and Vice Presidents of Uganda and Benin named as Most Influential African Women.
September 17, 2021 | 0 Comments

The President of Tanzania, SAMIA SULUHU HASSAN; Merck Foundation CEO, Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej; The Prime Minister of TOGO, H.E. VICTOIRE TOMEGAH DOGBÉ, The Vice President of Uganda, H.E. JESSICA ROSE EPEL ALUPO and The Vice President of Benin, H.E. MARIAM CHABI TALATA amongst 100 Most Influential African Women 2021; The list of 100 Most Influential African Women 2020, released by Avance Media group as part of ‘Be a Girl’ Initiative to acknowledges their efforts and accomplishments, which continue to inspire young people across the African continent and beyond. 

Senator, Dr. Rasha KelejCEO of Merck Foundation and President of Merck Foundation More Than a Mother has been featured in the list of 100 Most Influential African Women 2021, released by ‘Be a Girl’ Initiative, for the second consecutive year. Avance Media, a leading Rating firm, through its girls’ empowerment project, ‘Be A Girl’, launches this annual publication to highlight and celebrate the astounding accomplishments of 100 women from Africa dubbed.

Merck Foundation CEO, President of Merck Foundation More Than a Mother and Member of Egyptian Senate, Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej has been recognized for her efforts to transform patient care in Africa, breaking the infertility stigma through her poignant “More Than a Mother’ campaign and to empower girls in education so that they can reach their potential and pursue their dreams through ‘Educating Linda’ program.

This is for the fourth time, Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej has made it to the list of 100 Most Influential Africans (women and men). She has also been previously recognized by New African Magazine, UK in 2019 & 2020, for empowering women in general and infertile women in particular through the ‘More Than a Mother’ campaign.

Senator, Dr. Rasha is truly a force of nature and one of Africa’s unsung ‘sheroes’ of women empowerment and health advocates.

Speaking about this accolade, Senator Dr. Rasha Kelej emphasized, “I’m truly honored with the recognition and very happy to be included in the list alongside many prestigious and renowned African Women. I congratulate each one of them. This is a huge validation of my journey and my efforts to empower women of my continent, it will certainly motivate me to work even harder and more sincerely towards my goal of transforming patient care for the people of my beloved Africa.”

Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej is the brain behind the inspiring ‘More Than A Mother’ campaign – a rallying call against female infertility stigma. The campaign empowers infertile women through access to information, health, change of mindset, and economic empowerment. More than 20 African First Ladies appointed as Ambassadors of “Merck Foundation More than a Mother”, which is very impressive.

Hailed from Egypt, this versatile lady and a style icon is a trailblazer and influential in changing the perception of how fashion, film, music, and media can be utilized to address sensitive social issues through “More Than A Mother’ Fashion, Films, Songs & Media Awards as she strongly believes in the critical role of these fraternities in creating a culture shift.

She has also contributed to the future of hundreds of girls through her ‘Educating Linda’ Program  by supporting the education of many of the high performing girls by providing scholarships and grants that can cover school fees, school uniforms, and other essentials including notebooks, pens, and mathematical instruments, so they can reach their potential and pursue their dreams.

“Empowering women starts with education, to enable them to be healthier, stronger, and independent”, explains Senator, Dr. Rasha.

Moreover, she has been an inspirational pioneer in transforming Patient care in Africa. More than 1300 doctors from 42 countries are benefiting from Merck Foundation scholarships in critical and underserved fields such as Oncology, Diabetes, Preventative Cardiovascular Medicine, Endocrinology, Sexual and Reproductive Medicine, Acute Medicine, Respiratory Medicine, Embryology & Fertility specialty, and many more.

She emphasized, “During Coronavirus pandemic, it has been more important than ever to build capacity and train specialized doctors. In some of these countries, they have never had even one oncologist, for example. They may only have a general practitioner. We simply made history in these countries such as The Gambia, Burundi, Siera Leone, Botswana, Namibia, Chad, Niger, Guinea & Liberia, not only in Oncology but in many of critical and underserved speciality Such as Respiratory, Paediatric, Orthopedic, Psychiatry, Intensive care and more”.

The 2021 list of 100 most Influential African Women has a representation of the most powerful African women from 28 African countries, chosen from various career backgrounds including diplomacy, philanthropy, politics, activism, entrepreneurship, business leadership, and entertainment. It includes many famous names like; H.E. SAMIA SULUHU HASSAN, The President of Tanzania; H.E. MARIAM CHABI TALATA, The Vice President of Benin; H.E. VICTOIRE TOMEGAH DOGBÉ, The Prime Minister of Togo and H.E. JESSICA ROSE EPEL ALUPO, The Vice President of Uganda, amongst others.

Edited by Winnie Botha from ‘For Africa’ Media

Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej Facebook: https://bit.ly/3lw462B
Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej Twitter: https://bit.ly/3lPB6TV
Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej Instagram: https://bit.ly/39ibSYl
For more information on Merck Foundation, please visit: www.Merck-Foundation.com

To view the list of 100 Most Influential African Women 2021, please visit: https://bit.ly/3hGOYhS

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