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Peace talks aimed at ending decades of conflict in Sudan ongoing in Juba
October 20, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

President of Sudanese Transitional Council General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, left, and President of South Sudan Salva Kiir attend a meeting to endorse the peace talks between Sudan’s government and rebel leaders in Juba, South Sudan, on October 14, 2019. AFP

Juba – Peace talks between the Sudanese transitional government and armed and non-armed opposition groups have begun in South Sudan’s capital with parties showing eagerness to end the country’s long civil war.

South Sudan’s President Kiir is hosting the peace talks, where the transitional government and rebel groups signed a draft agreement last month that detailed a roadmap for the talks, trust-building measures and an extension of a cease-fire already in place, represents a turning point in ending war and bringing about peace to Sudan.

This followed former president Omar al-Bashir’s successful mediation of the South Sudan peace talks in Khartoum last year, September, before overthrow in April, 2019.

The peace initiative was also built into a power-sharing deal between Sudan’s army groups and its pro-democracy movements. That deal was reached after the deposed of longtime tyrant President Omar al-Bashir in April. The transitional authorities have six months to make peace with the rebels, according to the agreement.

Ethiopia and the African Union mediated the power-sharing agreement in August which ended months of violence and faltering talks between Sudan’s generals and protesters following the uprising against al-Bashir.

South Sudan gained independence from the north in 2011 after decades of civil war. But in the 2000s, Sudan was most known for al-Bashir’s brutal repression of an uprising in the western Darfur region.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Leader of Sudan’s transitional council, Abdel Fattah Al-Abdelrahman Burhan and South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir meet in Juba, South Sudan [Jok Solomon/Reuters]

Attaining peace is crucial to the transitional government in Sudan. It has counted on ending the wars with rebels in order to revive the country’s dilapidated economy through slashing the military spending, which takes up much of the national budget.

However, Sudanese military councils have introduced good-will signals. They dismissed death sentences against eight rebel leaders and released more than a dozen prisoners of war. They have also delayed the formation of the parliament and the appointment of provincial governors to allow time for the rebels to come on board.

President Kiir is trying to look for the best ways to end the war that has been raging in Sudan for the last 63 years – that’s to say since independence.

The peace solutions brokered in the past, starting by Addis Ababa 1972, Khartoum 1997, CPA 2005, Abuja, Cairo, Asmara and Doha agreements, failed to achieve a just, comprehensive and permanent peace.”

Sudanese warring parties accepted the mediation of president Salva Kiir and Juba as a venue for peace talks when the AUHIP failed to settle the conflict in Sudan in eight years and twenty-two rounds of talks.

Addressing the launch of the peace talks at the Freedom Hall in Juba, President Kiir called on the Sudanese parties to make compromises during the negotiations.

President Kiir said negotiations and compromises are ushered to settle any political conflict and reach a peace deal that will end the country prolong conflict.

He added that peace could not come to any country through armed conflict adding that it was possible if parties come together, discuss and find possible solutions.

President Kiir reiterated that lack of peace in his former country would lead to instability in the whole Africa and South Sudan particular.

“Time has come for us in Africa and in our region to rise up to the challenge of addressing our differences and conflicts,” said Kiir in the event graced by regional heads of states, including Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni and Ethiopian Premier Dr Abiy Ahmed.

“I have no doubt that we have the capacity, the ability and the required competence to do so if we have a strong political will. “Now for the Sudanese delegations for the peace talks, I wish them successful dialogue, negotiation and compromise so that we celebrate the achievement of peace in the Sudan,” said president Kiir.

Symbol of peace

The chairperson of the IGAD, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, also Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, called on the region to exert more efforts for peace building to create a safe environment for investment, adding that the horn of Africa should always address its challenges through inclusive dialogue.

The IGAD countries consist of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, Sudan and South Sudan. But Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan have been ruined down by years of conflict as a result of political and communal wrangles.

Dr. Abiy say the region has the potential to become a symbol of peace and economic in Africa as well as in the global.

“I believe there is nothing that we cannot achieve as a region. We have witnessed a peace between the Ethiopia and Eritrea; the silence of the guns in South Sudan and the successful Sudanese reconciliation; we are also hopeful that Kenya and Somalia will have to resolve their problem through dialogue. What we have achieved together are building-blocks for our region’s shared goals and collective prosperity,” said Dr. Abiy.

Dr. Abiy urged the leaders to engage youth in addressing the economic challenges in the region rather than recruiting them for civil war.

“It is time for our regions to focus on the inevitable journey of a robust economic integration,” said the 2019 Noble Prize Winner. “The time has come to give a better chance to our youth through pooling our cooperative advantages to common goals and developments – this, we can only do when all the stakeholders in each of our countries commits to peace.”

 “Ideological bankruptcy”

Meanwhile, the Ugandan President cautioned leaders against the use of religion and tribes to advance their political interests.

Yoweri Museveni says leaders in Sudan and South Sudan have sought leadership positions by turning their people against each other.

He says since 1962, Sudan has failed to address the underlying causes of wars and poverty because of lack of political ideology.

In 2011, Sudan split following 39 years of civil war between South Sudanese and the Sudanese government over lack of services and poor system of governance.

Museveni argues that the problems of Sudan and Africa can be attributed to the misguided use of tribal and religious identities as a means of resolving issues.

“People who are ideologically bankrupt have no alternative but to use opportunism of religion, tribe, and of race. This is a crime against Africa,” said the leader who has been the Uganda’s president since 1986. “If you don’t know what to do, go back home and mismanage your home. Don’t come to a public office to cause suffering for the people.”

While they applaud President Kiir’s efforts to help restore stability in the Sudan, critics and activists say the President should start the charity at home by ensuring that the revitalized peace agreement is fully implemented.

Commitment

For his part, the President of the Sudanese Sovereign Council, Gen. Abdul Fattah Al Burhan, expressed hopes that the Kiir-mediated peace talks will bring to an end years of conflict in the Sudan.

“We come to negotiate in good faith for the sake of the Sudan. This time is different from the past, in the past there was a government wanted to divide the country with armed groups, though the oppositions are in the country,” said Al Burhan. We are reiterating our full commitment that this round of talks will be the end to the problems of our Sudanese people – to put an end to the suffering of our people,” he promised, his government want comprehensive peace such that over five million Sudanese displaced both internally and externally return to their homes.

According to Juba’s government, Kiir’s mediation efforts is aimed at finding an end to the civil war in Blue Nile and Darfur regions.

The states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan – which both have large ethnic minority populations that fought alongside the South Sudanese during the two decades of scorched – earth civil war.

Over nine different armed and non-armed opposition groups are taking part in the talks including main opposition movements of Revolutionary Front and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army – North.

Dr. Alhadi Idris Ahmed, Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) Leader has expressed his willingness to cooperate in good faith with the interim government to bring solution to the conflict in Sudan.

“Time has come for us to stop war and killings in the Republic of Sudan. It is time for beginning of stability, peace, respect of human rights and economic development in Sudan,” said Ahmed, adding that they want to see a new Sudan with a democracy and equal opportunity to all the Sudanese people.

Cdr. Abdul-Aziz Adam Alhilu, SPLM-N, emphasized that they have come to the talks with a firm will and determination to achieve a new Sudan of freedom, justice and equality.

“We also believe that the success of the negotiations to bring an end to the war in Sudan depends on addressing the root causes of the problem that can be summarized in the two issues of national identity and relationship between religion and state,” said Abdul-Aziz. The two points of identity and theocracy are at the top of the contentious issues that divide the Sudanese people. We have to look for the commonalities that provide the basis for a just unity and permanent peace,” he added.

Despite the secession of South Sudan, there is racism in Sudan today. It is racial and religious double apartheid that resulted in 63 years of civil wars, where the state exterminated over 3 million of its own citizens in [then] South Sudan, Nuba Mountain, Blue Nile, Beja of the East, far North Nuba and Darfur.

“We, in the SPLM-N believe that the failure was due to the complicated nature of the conflict on one hand, and the insistence of the subsequent Khartoum governments to deal with it as a security problem on the other, while the conflict is basically political. We also believe that success of the negotiations to bring an end to the wars in Sudan depends on addressing the root causes of the problem that can be summarized in the two issues of national identity and relationship between religious,” said Abdul-Aziza.

The official launching ceremony of Sudan peace talks being mediated by president Kiir was attending by The president of Sudan Sovereign Council, Gen. Abdel AlFattah Al-burhan, the president of Uganda Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Dr. Abiy Ahmed and the Prime Minister of Arab Republic of Egypt, Mustafa Kemal Madbouly.

The presidents of Kenya and Somalia were not in attendance they have busy schedules in their respective countries.

Several peace talks have failed to end the internal conflict in Sudan and bring in a comprehensive justice and permanent peace, however, this is litmus – test for president Kiir whether to bring final solution to the Sudanese crisis or not. This peace talks will go on for two months.

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Peace talks to end decades of conflict in Sudan begin in Juba
October 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, right, with General Abdel Fattah Al Burhan, head Sudan’s sovereign council, and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed., left, arrive for a meeting in Juba on October 14, 2019. Reuters

Juba – Peace talks between the Sudanese transitional government and armed and non-armed opposition groups begun in South Sudan’s capital on Monday with parties showing eagerness to ending the country’s long civil war.

South Sudan’s President Kiir is hosting the peace talks, where the transitional government and rebel groups signed a draft agreement last month that detailed a roadmap for the talks, trust-building measures and an extension of a cease-fire already in place, represents a turning point in ending war and bringing about peace to Sudan.

This followed former president Omar al-Bashir’s successful mediation of the South Sudan peace talks in Khartoum last year, September, before overthrow in April, 2019.

The peace initiative was also built into a power-sharing deal between Sudan’s army groups and its pro-democracy movements. That deal was reached after the deposed of longtime tyrant President Omar al-Bashir in April. The transitional authorities have six months to make peace with the rebels, according to the agreement.

Ethiopia and the African Union mediated the power-sharing agreement in August which ended months of violence and faltering talks between Sudan’s generals and protesters following the uprising against al-Bashir.

South Sudan gained independence from the north in 2011 after decades of civil war. But in the 2000s, Sudan was most known for al-Bashir’s brutal repression of an uprising in the western Darfur region.

Attaining peace is crucial to the transitional government in Sudan. It has counted on ending the wars with rebels in order to revive the country’s dilapidated economy through slashing the military spending, which takes up much of the national budget.

However, Sudanese military councils have introduced good-will signals. They dismissed death sentences against eight rebel leaders and released more than a dozen prisoners of war. They have also delayed the formation of the parliament and the appointment of provincial governors to allow time for the rebels to come on board.

President Kiir is trying to look for the best ways to end the war that has been raging in Sudan for the last 63 years – that’s to say since independence.

The peace solutions brokered in the past, starting by Addis Ababa 1972, Khartoum 1997, CPA 2005, Abuja, Cairo, Asmara and Doha agreements, failed to achieve a just, comprehensive and permanent peace.”

Sudanese warring parties accepted the mediation of president Salva Kiir and Juba as a venue for peace talks when the AUHIP failed to settle the conflict in Sudan in eight years and twenty-two rounds of talks.

Addressing the launch of the peace talks at the Freedom Hall in Juba, President Kiir called on the Sudanese parties to make compromises during the negotiations.

President Kiir said negotiations and compromises are ushered to settle any political conflict and reach a peace deal that will end the country prolong conflict.

He added that peace could not come to any country through armed conflict adding that it was possible if parties come together, discuss and find possible solutions.

President Kiir reiterated that lack of peace in his former country would lead to instability in the whole Africa and South Sudan particular.

“Time has come for us in Africa and in our region to rise up to the challenge of addressing our differences and conflicts,” said Kiir in the event graced by regional heads of states, including Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni and Ethiopian Premier Dr Abiy Ahmed.

“I have no doubt that we have the capacity, the ability and the required competence to do so if we have a strong political will. “Now for the Sudanese delegations for the peace talks, I wish them successful dialogue, negotiation and compromise so that we celebrate the achievement of peace in the Sudan,” said president Kiir.

Symbol of peace

The chairperson of the IGAD, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, also Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, called on the region to exert more efforts for peace building to create a safe environment for investment, adding that the horn of Africa should always address its challenges through inclusive dialogue.

The IGAD countries consist of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, Sudan and South Sudan. But Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan have been ruined down by years of conflict as a result of political and communal wrangles.

Dr. Abiy say the region has the potential to become a symbol of peace and economic in Africa as well as in the global.

“I believe there is nothing that we cannot achieve as a region. We have witnessed a peace between the Ethiopia and Eritrea; the silence of the guns in South Sudan and the successful Sudanese reconciliation; we are also hopeful that Kenya and Somalia will have to resolve their problem through dialogue. What we have achieved together are building-blocks for our region’s shared goals and collective prosperity,” said Dr. Abiy.

Dr. Abiy urged the leaders to engage youth in addressing the economic challenges in the region rather than recruiting them for civil war.

“It is time for our regions to focus on the inevitable journey of a robust economic integration,” said the 2019 Noble Prize Winner. “The time has come to give a better chance to our youth through pooling our cooperative advantages to common goals and developments – this, we can only do when all the stakeholders in each of our countries commits to peace.”

 “Ideological bankruptcy”

Meanwhile, the Ugandan President cautioned leaders against the use of religion and tribes to advance their political interests.

Yoweri Museveni says leaders in Sudan and South Sudan have sought leadership positions by turning their people against each other.

He says since 1962, Sudan has failed to address the underlying causes of wars and poverty because of lack of political ideology.

In 2011, Sudan split following 39 years of civil war between South Sudanese and the Sudanese government over lack of services and poor system of governance.

Museveni argues that the problems of Sudan and Africa can be attributed to the misguided use of tribal and religious identities as a means of resolving issues.

“People who are ideologically bankrupt have no alternative but to use opportunism of religion, tribe, and of race. This is a crime against Africa,” said the leader who has been the Uganda’s president since 1986. “If you don’t know what to do, go back home and mismanage your home. Don’t come to a public office to cause suffering for the people.”

While they applaud President Kiir’s efforts to help restore stability in the Sudan, critics and activists say the President should start the charity at home by ensuring that the revitalized peace agreement is fully implemented.

Commitment

For his part, the President of the Sudanese Sovereign Council, Gen. Abdul Fattah Al Burhan, expressed hopes that the Kiir-mediated peace talks will bring to an end years of conflict in the Sudan.

“We come to negotiate in good faith for the sake of the Sudan. This time is different from the past, in the past there was a government wanted to divide the country with armed groups, though the oppositions are in the country,” said Al Burhan. We are reiterating our full commitment that this round of talks will be the end to the problems of our Sudanese people – to put an end to the suffering of our people,” he promised, his government want comprehensive peace such that over five million Sudanese displaced both internally and externally return to their homes.

According to Juba’s government, Kiir’s mediation efforts is aimed at finding an end to the civil war in Blue Nile and Darfur regions.

The states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan – which both have large ethnic minority populations that fought alongside the South Sudanese during the two decades of scorched – earth civil war.

Over nine different armed and non-armed opposition groups are taking part in the talks including main opposition movements of Revolutionary Front and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army – North.

Dr. Alhadi Idris Ahmed, Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) Leader has expressed his willingness to cooperate in good faith with the interim government to bring solution to the conflict in Sudan.

“Time has come for us to stop war and killings in the Republic of Sudan. It is time for beginning of stability, peace, respect of human rights and economic development in Sudan,” said Ahmed, adding that they want to see a new Sudan with a democracy and equal opportunity to all the Sudanese people.

Cdr. Abdul-Aziz Adam Alhilu, SPLM-N, emphasized that they have come to the talks with a firm will and determination to achieve a new Sudan of freedom, justice and equality.

“We also believe that the success of the negotiations to bring an end to the war in Sudan depends on addressing the root causes of the problem that can be summarized in the two issues of national identity and relationship between religion and state,” said Abdul-Aziz. The two points of identity and theocracy are at the top of the contentious issues that divide the Sudanese people. We have to look for the commonalities that provide the basis for a just unity and permanent peace,” he added.

Despite the secession of South Sudan, there is racism in Sudan today. It is racial and religious double apartheid that resulted in 63 years of civil wars, where the state exterminated over 3 million of its own citizens in [then] South Sudan, Nuba Mountain, Blue Nile, Beja of the East, far North Nuba and Darfur.

“We, in the SPLM-N believe that the failure was due to the complicated nature of the conflict on one hand, and the insistence of the subsequent Khartoum governments to deal with it as a security problem on the other, while the conflict is basically political. We also believe that success of the negotiations to bring an end to the wars in Sudan depends on addressing the root causes of the problem that can be summarized in the two issues of national identity and relationship between religious,” said Abdul-Aziza.

The official launching ceremony of Sudan peace talks being mediated by president Kiir was attended by The president of Sudan Sovereign Council, Gen. Abdel AlFattah Al-burhan, the president of Uganda Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Dr. Abiy Ahmed and the Prime Minister of Arab Republic of Egypt, Mustafa Kemal Madbouly.

The presidents of Kenya and Somalia were not in attendance they have busy schedules in their respective countries.

Several peace talks have failed to end the internal conflict in Sudan and bring in a comprehensive justice and permanent peace, however, this is litmus – test for president Kiir whether to bring final solution to the Sudanese crisis or not. This peace talks will go on for two months.

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Kenya introduces free cervical cancer vaccine
October 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma |@journalist_27

Kenya is set to roll out free cervical cancer vaccine for school girls on Friday, October 18 after the programme was launched yesterday in a ceremony that was presided by Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki.

The vaccine known as the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) will aid in hindering lethal infection as well as reducing chances of contacting anogenital cancer and genital warts. It will also reduce oropharyngeal cancer and maternal transmission of HPV infection to infants.

The main targets are 800,000 girls 10-years old and above in public, private and faith based schools across the country. The two doses of the vaccine will be administered to the girls twice in a year. A total of $8 million has been set aside to support the roll-out.

“The vaccine will be offered nationally alongside other routine infant vaccines through an existing network of more than 9,000 public, private, faith-based and NGO health facilities free of charge to 800,000 girls, who are currently aged 10 and subsequently to all girls as they attain that age in the future,” said Ms. Kariuki.

The Ministry of Health is working in partnership with Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (Gavi}, World Health Organization and Unicef to support the project which aims at eliminating cervical cancer which is the third cause of deaths in Kenya.

The project will see Kenya join the list of African countries like Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe and many others who have has already rolled out HPV.

Cervical cancer is the second dominant type of cancer after breast cancer in the East African country.

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Negotiating for a better future: Why the good or bad of Russia’s presence in Africa will rely on the continent’s ability to make better deals
October 18, 2019 | 0 Comments
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (R) meets with Angola’s President Joao Lourenco on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Johannesburg, South Africa July 26, 2018.Photo SPUTNIK/ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/KREMLIN VIA REUTERS
Deal-making is what will shape the future of Russia-Africa relations and will tell whether Russia’s renewed influence in the continent is good or bad for its people
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, October 18, 2019/ — By African Energy Chamber

Russia’s return to Africa has been the subject of wide media coverage, governmental concerns and civil society reactions in recent weeks, especially as Sochi gears up to host the first ever Russia-Africa Summit next week. Most commentators have come from Europe and North America to voice concerns over Russia’s dodgy arm deals in Africa, political meddling with unstable African regimes, and its overall challenging of the status quo on the continent. The problem is, when these comments are not outright hypocritical, they are missing a key point: competition is good for business, which is just what Africa needs right now.

First, Russia’s presence in the continent cannot be summarized into sensationalism. It is complex and needs to be put back into context. Its modern relations with African governments and institutions started building up in post-independence Africa, time when the Soviet Union offered key diplomatic and military support to young African nations in need of it. This assistance was multi-form and much needed for countries seeking fast development following harsh independence wars and conflicts. “The Soviet Union provided significant economic assistance, including infrastructure, agricultural development, security cooperation, and health sector cooperation,” wrote Paul Stronski of the Carnegie’s Russia and Eurasia Program this week. Consequently, Putin’s vision for Africa is resuming and building up on a cooperation that started in the second half of the 20th century and was only put on hold by the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

In short, while arriving late to the party, Russia is no stranger to the African playground. Beyond military cooperation, its state-owned natural resources companies have already made inroads into the continent, and could be a game changer for many African countries in need of investment and electricity. Key Russia energy companies such as Gazprom, Lukoil, Rostec and Rosatom are already present in Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea or Uganda, while mining and minerals ones such as Nordgold or Rusal are developing world-class mines in Guinea and Zimbabwe. On a global stage, Russia’s involvement in OPEC has also sent strong signals that it is committed to market stability and global energy cooperation, which ultimately benefit African producers.

“Russia’s influence is increasing through strategic investments in natural resources, and such investments are welcomed by African governments and companies. They bring in key Russian capital and know-how to the continent which is seeking to diversify its investors basket and attract much needed investment into its energy industry,” said Nj Ayuk, Executive Chairman at the African Energy Chamber (EnergyChamber.org) and CEO of the Centurion Law Group. “The African Energy Chamber is supporting such efforts and has seen a definite uptick in Russian companies’ interests for the continent. We predict a lot of deals to be signed during and after the Sochi Summit for Russian energy companies to develop African resources and do business in Africa. This will be especially beneficial as Africa develops gas-based economies,” he added.

Amongst the most recent agreements are for instance the MoU between Atlas Oranto Petroleum and Rosneft in 2018, under which the pan-African E&P company agreed to explore the joint-development of its assets across Africa with the Russian state-owned giant. Another one is the signing of several agreements between Russia and Mozambique this summer, involving again state-owned Rosneft but also Nordgold. In Central Africa, Gazprom is also lifting gas from Cameroon’s the FLNG Hilli Episeyo, the world’s first converted FLNG vessel.

As such investments and activity picks up, the real game changer will be Africa’s ability to make deals that work for its people and its economies. Deal-making is what will shape the future of Russia-Africa relations and will tell whether Russia’s renewed influence in the continent is good or bad for its people. Rightly so, the ability and capacity of African governments to make better deals with investors is becoming central to the global business narrative on Africa.

In his much anticipated book coming up this month and already best-seller on Amazon, “Billions At Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals”, Nj Ayuk dedicates an entire chapter to the critical art of deal-making. “For Africa to truly realize all of the benefits oil and gas operations have to offer, we need to see good deal-making across the board,” he writes. “Clearly, good deal-making has far-reaching implications for African people, communities and business.”


Contracts negotiations is in fact the key element missing from the current debate on Russia’s increasing influence in Africa. There is no doubt Africa is welcoming Russia’s interest for doing business on the continent, not only because it comes without the conditionality of actors such as the IMF and the World Bank, but also because Africa needs critical energy investment and a giant oil producer like Russia has good technology and know-how to export. The only thing is, sub-Saharan Africa has seen several regulatory developments in the near future, with a particular focus on local content regulations across energy markets. Jobs creation, domestic capacity building and the growth of a strong base of local energy companies is high up on the African agenda. If African governments are able to negotiate contracts that deliver on these expectations and Russian companies are committed to see the continent grow, then the future is bright for Russia in Africa.

At the end of the day, it is all about how African governments and institutions will negotiate future contracts with Russian companies. As Nj Ayuk writes in Billions At Play, “governments must give investors a chance to generate income from the resources they are interested in and recoup their investments. At the same time, governments need to look at creating value for their country and its people. It’s a balancing act. It’s challenging, but it’s doable.”

Whether Sochi will result in that balancing act remains to be seen, but the challenge is given and Africa is up for it.
*Africa Energy Chamber
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African countries are still not doing enough to meet one of the UN’s most important development targets, according to a new report to be published next week
October 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

A girl reads in a classroom in Madagascar. CREDIT: GPE/Carine Durand

The eLearning Africa Report 2019, which provides a snapshot of the state of education, training and development on the continent, interviewed more than 900 education professionals and technology experts about key issues, including progress towards the United Nations’ goal of universal access to quality education by 2030. 

The goal (UN SDG 4) is set out in the UN’s list of sustainable development goals (SDGs), which every country should meet by 2030. However, the eLearning Africa Report’s survey of education and training professionals, working in almost every country in Africa, shows that a substantial majority believe that African countries are still not doing enough to ensure universal access to quality education for all Africans.

The finding, which is among the results in a survey in the report, will make uncomfortable reading for African leaders. The achievement of UN SDG 4 is not only an important UN goal, but also a major plank in the African Union’s plan for a ‘transformed continent’ by 2063. However, the survey shows that, by majorities of more than 12 per cent, experts believe that, in every major area of education, insufficient progress has been made.

“SDG 4 is perhaps the most important of the UN sustainable development goals and the disappointment about the lack of progress towards realising it is striking,” says the report. “It seems too that the further up the educational ladder you look, the greater the belief that insufficient progress is being made. 56 per cent of respondents do not believe that African countries are doing enough to ensure that, by 2030, all girls and boys will complete free primary and secondary education. However, the percentage of those believing that not enough has been done to improve access to higher education and vocational training or further education is as high as 65 per cent.”

In spite of the gloom about progress towards meeting the UN SDGs though, there is a sense of optimism about overall progress. More than two thirds (72 per cent) of the experts questioned said they think that the African Union’s 2063 vision is “realistic.”

“If our youth are empowered, believe in their own self-worth and think creatively,” said one of the experts, “Africa will be an inspiration to other continents with new inventions and original African solutions benefitting all.”

The eLearning Africa Report, which has been sponsored by GIZ, the German organisation for international cooperation, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), makes fascinating reading. With contributions from experts, practitioners, advisers, entrepreneurs and even students and artists, it provides an insight into how technology assisted learning and training are leading change and development throughout Africa. As businesses assess the implications of a ‘fourth industrial revolution,’ it looks at the state of education, training, development and technology at this moment of unparalleled change.

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Achieving Broadband Access for All in Africa Comes With a $100 Billion Price Tag
October 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

WASHINGTON, October 17, 2019- Across Africa, where less than a third of the population has access to broadband connectivity, achieving universal, affordable, and good quality internet access by 2030 will require an investment of US $100 billion. This is according to a report launched at the Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group, which calls for urgent action to close the internet access gap while providing a roadmap to reach this ambitious goal.

The report from The Broadband for All Working Group *gives practical insights and suggestions of what is needed to attain this objective, including an action plan for universal broadband connectivity in Africa. To achieve universal broadband access, African countries will need to bring about 1.1 billion more people online. This will require exceptional and coordinated efforts from governments, the private sector, development partners, and civil society, the report says, but the investment is worth it.

“The digital agenda is first and foremost a growth and jobs agenda,” says Makhtar Diop, the World Bank’s Vice President for Infrastructure. “The working-age population in Africa is expected to increase by some 450 million people between 2015 and 2035. If current trends continue, less than one quarter will find stable jobs. Broadening internet access means creating millions of job opportunities.”

While the number of broadband connections in Africa crossed the 400 million mark in 2018 (nearly twenty times 2010 levels), the regional average broadband penetration -including 3G and 4G connections- is only 25% in 2018. Mobile broadband coverage in Africa is still at 70% of the population. Even in North Africa, there is ample room for growth with 4G networks covering only about 60% of the population. Additional challenges, such as the lack of access to reliable and affordable electricity, make accelerating Africa’s digital transformation journey even more difficult.

According to the report, nearly 80% of all required investments are directly related to the need to roll out and maintain broadband networks. However, connecting the unconnected is about more than just infrastructure: about 20% of required investments consists in building the user skills and local content foundations, and another 2-4% should be allocated to setting up the appropriate regulatory framework, the report notes. While the private sector has driven most successful broadband initiatives, public agencies play a crucial role by implementing effective sector regulation, addressing potential market failures, and creating the conditions for an open, competitive broadband sector.

“In large parts of Africa, we are witnessing a lack of progress in extending access and network coverage. Affordability is also declining in many nations. Promoting greater digital inclusion is going to require more effective and innovative collaboration,” said Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Executive Director of the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development and Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau. “We need to leverage our strengths and expertise. Governments can help with policies enabling new technologies, new business models and investment. The right policies will, in turn, provide the private sector with the incentives to build out infrastructure and explore new technologies and applications that will drive demand.”

Connecting the 100 million people in rural and remote areas that live out of reach of traditional cellular mobile networks will require strong private sector involvement, innovative business models, and alternative technologies, such as satellite and Wi-Fi based technical solutions, the report notes.

“Let us be clear: no single actor will be able to meet Africa’s 2030 target and carry the burden of a $100 billion investment funding requirement alone. All stakeholders must work together to make sure that every African has affordable and reliable access to the internet”, says Hafez Ghanem, the World Bank’s Vice President for the Africa Region. This includes: the African Union and regional economic communities; African governments and respective public investment agencies; sector regulators; multilateral development banks and regional development banks; the United Nations and other development agencies; the private sector; and civil society groups and nongovernmental organizations.

* The Working Group on Broadband for All: A Digital Moonshot Infrastructure for Africa, led by the World Bank, was established in 2018 under the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development with the primary objective of identifying investment requirements and policy roadmaps to increase connectivity and to reach full coverage in Africa. This report draws upon the expertise of Broadband Commissioners and experts from around the world.

About the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development: ITU and UNESCO set up the Broadband Commission for Digital Development in 2010 with the aim of boosting the importance of broadband on the international policy agenda and expanding broadband access in every country as key to accelerating progress towards national and international development targets. Following adoption of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015, the Commission was re-launched as the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development to showcase and document the power of ICT and broadband-based technologies for sustainable development. Its members include top CEO and industry leaders, senior policy-makers and government representatives, international agencies, academia and organizations concerned with development.

Download the full report:

*Source World Bank

https://www.broadbandcommission.org/Documents/working-groups/DigitalMoonshotforAfrica_Report.pdf
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Investments in rail transport essential for the success of Africa’s free-trade area
October 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Aubrey Lekwane *

Aubrey Lekwane is Managing Director, South Africa, Bombardier Transportation

Africa is on the cusp of launching a free-trade zone that could meaningfully boost economic growth and unlock the continent’s vast potential.

Perhaps the most pressing requirement to improve economy in the region is the need for better transportation links between African states, particularly in the form of rail networks.

The establishment of a continent-wide trade bloc is an ambitious project, and one that could move the needle in terms of reducing poverty and promoting Africa’s industrialisation. Other regions, including the European Union (EU), offer good case studies on the benefits of economic integration, trade liberalisation, customs efficiencies, and the seamless movement of capital, goods and people across borders.

With its strong road, rail and air-transport links, the EU model reflects just how important it is to remove non-tariff barriers to trade. According to a May 2019 report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), non-tariff barriers in Africa are high “and represent a critical obstacle to trade”. The IMF says a reduction in ground transportation costs is “especially critical” to encouraging intra-regional trade and making a success of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The development of a comprehensive African rail network is the single biggest opportunity in that regard.

A reliable rail network would allow for the efficient movement of goods, businesspeople and tourists across the continent, while also improving Africa’s links to the rest of the world, particularly the continent’s landlocked nations. Rail is also a sustainable solution given that it is far more environmentally friendly than road and air transport – Africa’s natural environment is one of its greatest assets, and it must be protected. Rail investments stimulate economies while reducing carbon emissions and urban congestion – a major issue and growth impediment in many African cities.

As Africa is making investments in rail industry, green transportation and sustainable mobility should be a priority. Backed by new regulations and environmental groups, the global trend towards greener forms of transport is affecting multiple industries including the rail industry.

Several alternatives to diesel trains are currently being developed worldwide including:

  • Hydrogen fuel cells in trains: work by generating power through an onboard fuel cell that combines hydrogen and oxygen
  • Battery-powered locomotives: battery system that can be recharged by overhead wires on electrified tracks or by charging stations on non-electrified routes
  • Liquefied natural gas: (LNG) is being used in the rail industry as an option for dual-fuel locomotives

These investments will help develop a zero-emission, energy-efficient and cost-effective alternative to diesel trains. Deploying fuel cell and battery technology for rail transportation will usher in a new era for non-electrified routes.

Bombardier Transportation, which designed and supplied a fleet of 96 rail vehicles for South Africa’s world-class Gautrain system, sees a golden era ahead for Africa’s rail sector, which has suffered from chronic under-investment in recent decades.   

Today, African freight and passenger transport is heavily reliant on road infrastructure. In South Africa, the continent’s most advanced economy, nearly 90% of freight is moved by road, for example. That is a staggering proportion, and this overreliance means that our roads need to be constantly repaired while traffic congestion worsens in the face of urbanisation. Worse still, the lack of focus on rail until recently has placed a drag on South Africa’s exports.

Thankfully, the South African government is re-investing in the country’s rail links – a move that Bombardier Transportation fully supports. Going forward, these efforts need to be increasingly coordinated with the country’s neighbours. 

South Africa also has an opportunity to become a major rail manufacturing hub as the continent invests in railway infrastructure, including new trains, signalling systems and general maintenance. Rail will play an important role in Africa’s future, and Bombardier Transportation is keen to apply its global expertise and solutions to propel the continent forward.

Ultimately, rail’s contribution towards an integrated transport network will help Africa to attract investment and to be competitive in the global trade arena.  Rail is the only sustainable transportation solution to many of today’s environmental, social and economic challenges and Bombardier is looking forward to moving millions daily safely in the African region

*Managing Director, South Africa, Bombardier Transportation

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President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, brings African vision to the 17th Rhodes Forum of the Dialogue of Civilizations
October 18, 2019 | 0 Comments
President Issoufou
President Mahamadou Issoufou took the floor as a Special Guest to conclude the debates of a panel dedicated to partnership between Africa and the rest of the world
RHODES, Greece, October 15, 2019/ — The President of Niger, His Excellency Mahamadou Issoufou , took part in the 17th Rhodes Forum on the 11th and 12th of October 2019, organised by the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute (https://DOC-Research.org/), to discuss several national and regional issues and offer Africa’s vision on major international issues.

During the special session on the 11th of October, President Mahamadou Issoufou spoke with Stefan Grobe of Euronews Brussels in front of participants from more than 55 countries, presenting his vision for Africa and Niger. He also advocated for multilateralism, drew attention to the security situation in the Sahel region and Lake Chad Basin, the situation in Libya and support of the international community to combat terrorism in West Africa, and warned against the problems posed by climate change and illegal migration. The other points concerned the role that Niger will play as a non-permanent member of the Security Council from January 2020, tackling the market for fake medicines in Africa, reforms in global political and economic governance and win-win cooperation between countries.

On the 12th of October, President Mahamadou Issoufou took the floor as a Special Guest to conclude the debates of a panel dedicated to partnership between Africa and the rest of the world, led by Hannane Ferdjani of Africanews. Participants included the Founder of Transparency International, Africa Progress Panel Co-Chair Mr Peter Eigen (Germany), Founder and President of the Brazzaville Foundation Mr Jean Yves Olivier (France), former Prime Minister of Guinea Mr Kabiné Komara, Director of Education Projects of ABO Capital Mr Jaimie Graça (Angola) and South African Industrialist, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist Mr Ivor Ichikovitz.

In his speech, President Issoufou raised all the issues related to this theme and clarified his vision for the development of Africa. His Excellency Mahamadou Issoufou emphasised the challenges and prospects inherent in the development of the African continent, recalling the situation of Africa in various fields and underlining the efforts led by its leaders through, inter alia, Agenda 2063 and its various Plans and Projects, including ZLECAf.

President Issoufou again thanked the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute and in particular its Chairman of the Board of Directors, Dr. Vladimir Yakunin and Executive Director Mr. Jean-Christophe Bas, ‘for having provided him, as a Special Guest, at this 17th Rhodes Forum, a privileged place of reflection and analysis to help in the decision-making of political and economic world leaders.’
* DOC Research Institute

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Eurasia Center Open To Partnership Prospects With Africa
October 17, 2019 | 0 Comments
Ambassador Serge Mombouli with Dr. Jenco

Ambassador of the Republic of Congo and Dean of African Diplomatic Corps in the United States Serge Mombouli met on Tuesday with the President of The Eurasia Center Dr. Gerry Jenco.

This was a courtesy visit by Dr. Jenco designed to introduce his organization and its new program Uplifting Africa. During the meeting which took place at the chancery of Congo, he expressed interest in exploring partnership opportunities with leaders from Africa in building world peace and prosperity.


Dr. Jenco also extended a special invitation to Ambassador Mombouli to deliver a keynote address on panel Africa Rising as part of The Silk Road Summit – 3rd Annual Conference slated for November 4, 2019 in Washington.


In return, Mr. Mombouli -the most senior african Ambassador to the United States, congratulated Dr. Jenco for his initiative in creating Uplifting Africa program which, he said, would have a positive impact on US-Africa relationship. He invited Dr. Jenco to address the African Diplomatic Corps late next month.


The newly appointed Director of Uplifting Africa Program in the United States journalist Ben Bangoura participated in the meeting.


About The Eurasia Center


The Eurasia Center was founded to educate not only the American public but also the world community about the important relationship of America has with Eurasia (Europe and Asia) as well as Africa. It seeks to enhance American awareness, knowledge, and understanding of the European and Asian (Eurasian) countries, especially during these changing times.


Through its Nine Programs for Eurasia and its important Conferences and activities, The Eurasia Center builds positive relations in areas and with peoples that are important for world peace and economic progress and development.


The Eurasia Center is a resource center which has provide US Presidents and many world leaders with current analysis that have helped them shape their knowledge of issues of importance regarding US-Eurasian relations. Many have lauded our efforts to seek solutions to issues where those in the bureaucracies of nations cannot. This Mission of the Eurasia Center serves to strengthen and expand positive relations throughout Eurasia and has greater impact for future generations.

*Courtesy of AlloAfricaNews

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Oil Industry and Civil Society Congratulate “Africa Oil Man of the Year” Macky Sall on Taking Bold Steps to Develop Senegal’s Hydrocarbons Industry
October 16, 2019 | 0 Comments
The award is a recognition of Macky Sall’s work and the efforts of his government to boost the development of Senegal’s economy
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, October 15, 2019/ — The African and global energy sector is rallying behind Macky Sall’s efforts to develop his country’s oil & gas industry, which are positioning Senegal as a new energy hub in Africa. Such efforts and achievements are being celebrated this week as the President of Senegal receives the Africa Oil Man of the Year from Africa Oil & Power.

The award is a recognition of Macky Sall’s work and the efforts of his government to boost the development of Senegal’s economy, create an enabling environment for investors and ensure that future oil & gas extracted from Senegal generate jobs and growth opportunities for Senegalese companies.

“Under President Macky Sall, Senegal continues to show its commitment to transparency, to engaging with those who disagree with him, to finding consensus on extractive industry matters, and to taking all necessary actions to avoid the natural resources curse,” said Akere Muna, former Vice President of Transparency International and former Chairman of the International Anti-Corruption Conference Council. “The Senegalese people understand what is at stake with these resources coming out of the ground and their President is showing a definite engagement to ensure a transparent distribution of revenues and resources for the benefits of the Senegalese economy and its citizens. The President should use this award to make Senegal a place where Africans can be proud of the natural resource sector,” added Muna.

“As Senegal gets closer to producing first gas and increase its production of oil, we congratulate its President Macky Sall and its government on adding yet another African nation to the list of global hydrocarbons producers,” added Mahaman Laouan Gaya, Secretary General of the African Petroleum Producers’ Organisation (APPO). “African producers stand ready to cooperate with Senegal to support its economic development, and we truly look forward to following the country on its renewed journey to prosperity.”

Soon after discovering oil and gas in 2014 and 2016, Senegal engaged in a nation-wide dialogue with the private sector, foreign investors and the civil society on the next steps to develop the industry. This resulted in the creation of new entities such as the Strategic Orientation Committee for Petroleum and Gas (COS-Petrogaz) but also in a brand new Petroleum Code in 2019 and new local content regulations to ensure the creation of local jobs and the procurement of local goods and services from the industry. As a result, foreign investments increased and several international majors, national oil companies and independents entered the market.

“What Senegal and its President Macky Sall have proven is that the power of political will and leadership cannot be underestimated in this industry,” said Prince Arthur Eze, Chairman of Atlas Oranto Petroleum, currently exploring in Senegal. “Sound regulations, good governance and a political leadership aligned towards a common target of economic development and of making energy work for the people is what is making Senegal a new African success story, I salute the President and the people of Senegal, the entire Africa is praying for you” he added. 

 Senegal is notably making headlines for fast-tracking the development of its industry and not loosing time on getting resources out of the ground. The industry is notably saluting the country’s authorities for the short time it took between the first discoveries of oil and gas in Senegal and the taking of relevant final investment decisions, which is remarkable for industry standards. As a result, Senegal is set to become a global gas exporter in the near future alongside African countries like those of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, including Algeria, Egypt, Angola, Mozambique, Tanzania Equatorial Guinea, Libya, and Nigeria.

“This proves the willingness of the Senegalese government to develop these resources and the industry at large,” declared Jude Kearney, former Deputy Assistant Secretary during the Clinton Administration and current President of Kearney Africa Advisors. “More importantly, doing so has not resulted in any detriment to good governance practices and developing a sound regulatory framework,” added Kearney.

“Senegal’s President Macky Sall has established strong relations with the world, including Germany, which will be very beneficial when it comes to attracting the right capital and technology to develop its energy sector,” added Sebastian Wagner, CEO of the Germany Africa Business Forum (GABF).

The African Energy Chamber under the leadership our executive Chairman NJ Ayuk, joins the industry in congratulating President Macky Sall for taking the right steps to develop Senegal’s oil & gas sector and make energy work for all Senegalese citizens. With its partners, the Chamber will continue to assist Senegal in promoting good governance, attracting investments and building domestic capacity across the value-chain.
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Much Ado About Nothing?- AU Pours Cold Water On Furor After Arikana Recall
October 16, 2019 | 0 Comments

-Her successor will build on the solid foundation she has laid- AU Chair Faki

By Ajong Mbapndah L

The replacement was normal diplomatic practice for political appointees, says AU Commission Chair Moussa Faki

After suffering a week of acerbic  criticisms over the decision to end the tenure of Ambassador Chimbori Arikana as Ambassador to the USA, African Union Chairman Moussa Faki has dismissed as “patently untrue” insinuations that her pronouncements,and opinions predicated the decision.

“Dr Chihombori has maintained a public presence freely without fear or prejudice to voice her opinions,” Ebba Kalondo, Spokesperson for Chairman Faki in a statement issued today.

 “Political appointees at the African Union, including Dr Chihombori, are appointed at the discretion of the appointing authority. The duration of such political appointments is also determined at the discretion of that appointing authority,” Kalondo said in the statement.

According to Kalondo, in the course of her three year tenure, the AU Commission never found any reason to sanction Ambassador Arikana over any of her public presence.

“Dr Chihombori has maintained a public presence freely without fear or prejudice to voice her opinions. Therefore to state or suggest that Ambassador Chihombori’s termination of service is due to any pronouncements she has made, or opinions she may have held during her three-year tenure, is patently untrue,” Kalondo said.

The replacement of Ambassador Arikana was normal diplomatic practice for political appointees everywhere, said Faki’s spokesperson, while expressing hope that her successor will build on the solid foundation she has laid.

The decision to replace Arikana triggered a fire storm and some harsh words from her supporters towards AU Chairman Moussa Faki.While some seasoned professionals and Washington connoisseurs were not surprised with the decision to replace the outgoing Ambassador, her partisans thought the decision was engineered by the French government which did not appreciate her straight talk.

While the statement from Chairman Faki may put the controversy to rest, a Change.org petition to reinstate Arikana has so far garnered some 30,000 signatures.

Full Letter from Ebba Kalondo,Spokesperson to the Chairperson of the African Union Commission below.

Communiqué on the end of tenure of Ambassador Arikana Chihombori-Quao, AU Permanent Representative to Washington, DC

Addis Abeba, 15 October 2019: The African Union Commission is aware of reports circulating on social media making claims surrounding the circumstances of the recall of the Permanent Representative of the African Union Mission to the United States of America, Dr Arikana Chihombori-Quao.

Political appointees at the African Union, including Dr Chihombori, are appointed at the discretion of the appointing authority. The duration of such political appointments is also determined at the discretion of that appointing authority.

Dr Chihombori received a letter on 7 October 2019 bringing her tour of duty to an end, in line with the terms and conditions governing her contract of appointment, after serving three years as Permanent Representative of the African Union Mission to the United States of America, and appreciating her contribution to the Union during her tenure. This is normal diplomatic practice for political appointees everywhere.

Dr Chihombori has never been sanctioned by the Commission on any public pronouncements she has made during her three-year tenure and nor has the Commission ever thought the need to do so. On the contrary, Dr Chihombori has maintained a public presence freely without fear or prejudice to voice her opinions. Therefore to state or suggest that Ambassador Chihombori’s termination of service is due to any pronouncements she has made, or opinions she may have held during her three-year tenure, is patently untrue.

We wish our esteemed colleague the best in her future endeavours and trust her successor will build on the solid foundation she has laid.

Ebba Kalondo
Spokesperson to the Chairperson of the AfricanUnion Commission
Mobile: +251911510512
Email: KalondoE@africa-union.org

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With MPower African Students Can Dare to Dream Big- Georgetown Alum Grace Chimezie
October 15, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Thanks to a loan from MPower Financing,Grace Chimezie was able to complete her studies at Georgetown, University

Grace Chimezie was at the end stretch of her studies at Georgetown University in Washington when financial challenges struck hard. She was unable to complete her tuition, and her applications to traditional borrowers were not gaining much traction.

Faced with the real threat of putting her studies on hold, Grace Chimezie , originally from Nigeria was advised by her University to give MPower Financing a try. The application was hassle free, and Grace was granted the loan which enabled her to complete her studies. Upon Graduation, Grace had a job with the World Bank , and is now with the National Democratic Institute in Washington,DC.

Dynamic and ambitious, Grace started repaying the loan even before she officially graduated. Asked if she was under any pressure to start repaying the loans so soon, Grace indicated that the decision was solely hers. For African students who dream big but do not have the means, MPower  Financing can help turn those dreams to reality , she said.

 How did you hear about Empower Financing?

Grace Chimezie: I was studying in Georgetown University (Washington, DC,USA), and I had paid my first year tuition because I had like a two year degree program I applied for. I was in Georgetown for a Masters degree in Communications, Culture, and Technology and my focus was between Technology and Public Policy. So I had done my first year payment and I needed payment for the second year and I went to my school advisory board and they recommended MPower Financing as an organization that could help me get a loan.

How was your experience going through the loan process? What did you have to do?

Grace Chimezie: If you are getting a loan from an American bank, you needed a reference or someone who will support you. For MPower, you just needed to show approval that like possibility of repaying the loans or your statement of account that is the amount you are going to get from them and your resume. It was a very easy process compared to what I would have gone through if I was going through a federal or financial aid because I did not have collateral or someone who would provide that for me.

 Based on the experience that you had, is it a service that you are going to recommend to people?

Grace Chimezie: Definitely because they came at a time when I really needed it. I had one tuition left to kind of graduate and if I did not get that loan approved, I was not going to graduate, and this is someone who had done almost all her courses and having that one little fee I would  not have graduated. So I really do recommend them because within the first two weeks I had already gotten an answer about the loan process.

You graduated in May this year, when are you going to start repaying the loan?

Grace Chimezie: I have already started repaying the loan

 It is some 5 months after you graduated, did you get a job or were you pressured to start repaying the loan?

Grace Chimezie: I decided to kind of start repaying the loan as soon as possible. It is kind of important to know the budget for the schools you are going to and the loans you are borrowing because that will give you an understanding of what you have to do and the repayment of the loan is not as burdensome as someone will assume. The best advice I will say is do your budget to know that when you borrow the loan and what you have in your own account so you do not start offsetting that in your own account. I was not pressured to have a job as I am already working right now so it is just easier to start doing that (paying the loan) now.

Grace Chimezie with Maureen Klovers Director of Social Impact with MPower Financing

 So, the decision to start paying the loan was solely yours and not because MPower Financing pressured you?

Grace Chimezie:  Oh no, They did  not put pressure. You have to get into an agreement with them that this is when you will start repaying the loan. The repayment plan is not burdensome depending on how much you borrow.

 When you say it is not burdensome, what do you mean?

Grace Chimezie:  I borrowed $20K, and my repayment plan is around $193 a month so I think that is kind of lenient considering the amount I borrowed. And you have like an 11 to 12 year plan to repay the loan.

 With regards to the fixed payments that are done monthly, if there is a possibility to pay earlier is that an option?

 Maureen Klover chimes in: One of our features is that there is no prepaid penalty. Some lenders actually charge you to pay early because it is in the borrowers’ best interest because we kind of end up benefiting less overall. But again our motto is when the borrower succeeds we succeeds so borrowers can end paying us early that is fine and they end up paying less overall because they are paying under the principle or early. If someone gets an amazing job out of school and earns a hundred thousand dollars, they could pay the whole amount right away and that will be fine.

 You come from a country and continent with so many young people, what advice do you have for the young people with this kind of opportunity MPower Financing provides?

Grace Chimezie: The message will be do not limit your dreams because once your dreams are big enough there is always an answer for it and the bigger your dreams the bigger the opportunities for you to kind of achieve all of them. I will advice people to dream big because the more you dream big the more prospective answers you will have for the dreams.

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