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South Sudan’s President Kiir Declares Permanent Ceasefire
June 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Deng Machol
Salva Kiir and Riek Machar in Khartoum

Salva Kiir and Riek Machar in Khartoum

Juba – South Sudan President Salva Kiir has declared a permanent ceasefire across the country in what believed to silent a gun fires, end to the ongoing fighting.

This comes a day after President Kiir and arch-foe rebel leader Machar signed a permanent ceasefire deal on Wednesday in Khartoum, Sudan to take effect within 72 hours, raising hopes of a peace deal between the warring parties.

In a presidential order read out on state-run radio and television on Thursday evening, president Kiir declared a permanent ceasefire throughout the Republic of South Sudan with effect from June 30.

“I do hereby issue this republican order for the declaration of permanent ceasefire with effect from 30th June, 2018 and to continue in full operation permanently until otherwise,”  the order read in party.

However, president Kiir advised the SPLA army to remain vigilant in their defensive positions and to fight only in self-defense in case of an attacks from rebels side.

The South Sudanese leader also ordered his forces to allow unhindered access of humanitarian relief convoys to their targeted destination.

The latest push for peace in South Sudan comes as part of a fresh bid launched by East African leaders with the two fighting factions facing a looming deadline to avert UN sanctions.

Several previous ceasefire agreements since 2014 have been violated.

South Sudan returned to civil war after just two years of her independence from Khartoum regime, over power struggle in ruling party between president Kiir and rebel leader Dr. Machar, a conflict that in its four and half years has killed ten thousands of people and has displaced four million people from their homes.

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Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) announces Mozambique as host of 2019 U.S.-Africa Business Summit
June 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
CCA President and CEO, Florizelle Liser at a meeting with H.E. Filipe Nyusi, President of the Republic of Mozambique.

CCA President and CEO, Florizelle Liser at a meeting with H.E. Filipe Nyusi, President of the Republic of Mozambique.

Washington, DC – June 28, 2018: Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) will hold the 2019 U.S -Africa Business Summit in Maputo, Mozambique. The CCA Summit has been considered the essential conference on U.S.-Africa business and investment since its inception in 1997 and will be in its 12th iteration next year.

After a round of bidding from several African countries, the CCA Board of Directors selected Mozambique to host the 2019 Summit. CCA and Mozambique have a long-standing relationship, working together to grow and enhance the U.S.-Africa economic partnership. Most recently, CCA hosted H.E. Filipe Nyusi, President of Mozambique, at the 2017 U.S.-Africa Business Summit in Washington, DC, as well as the Africa Business and Investment Forum held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2018 on the sidelines of the African Union Summit.

During her trip to Mozambique, CCA President and CEO, Florizelle Liser, accompanied by U.S. Ambassador to Mozambique, Dean Pittman, met with H.E. President Nyusi. Ms. Liser said, “CCA believes Mozambique is a destination of choice and welcomes Mozambique as host of the 2019 U.S.-Africa Business Summit.” President Nyusi noted that Mozambique was ready to work with CCA to host a successful Summit.

While in Maputo, Ms. Liser met with Mozambique’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. José Condugua António Pacheco, and Minister of Industry and Commerce, H.E. Ragendra de Sousa as well as the Interministerial Commission, which is working to ensure a successful Summit.  Ms. Liser also met with key private sector stakeholders in a meeting with Confederação das Associações Económicas de Moçambique (CTA) – Mozambique’s umbrella business association.

Over the last 20 years, CCA has hosted more than 40 U.S and African Heads of State and over 13,300 participants at its Summits. Starting with the 2019 U.S.-Africa Business Summit, CCA will begin to hold its biennial Summits annually. As the U.S.-Africa business and investment landscape is rapidly evolving, CCA is making this strategic move with the aim of providing CCA members, investors, and key U.S.-Africa business stakeholders with the opportunity to stay abreast of the latest developments in business and investment across the continent.

The U.S.-Africa Business Summit serves as a platform for African and U.S. private sector and government representatives to engage on key sectors including agribusiness, energy, health, infrastructure, trade facilitation, ICT and finance; network with key private sector and government officials; explore new business opportunities, meet potential business partners; and forge new business deals.

The Corporate Council on Africa’s 12th U.S.-Africa Business Summit will be hosted in Maputo, Mozambique in June 2019.

About Corporate Council on Africa (CCA)

Corporate Council on Africa is the leading U.S. business association focused solely on connecting business interests between the United States and Africa. CCA uniquely represents a broad cross section of member companies from small and medium size businesses to multinationals as well as U.S. and African firms. Learn more at www.corporatecouncilonafrica.com

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ICC picks Ghana’s Marietta Brew
June 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah.

Marietta -Brew

Marietta -Brew

Ghana’s former Attorney General Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong has been appointed as a member of the International Court of Arbitration.

Her appointment takes effect from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2021, the appointment letter signed by Alexis Mourre, President
 of ICC International Court of Arbitration said.

“I am delighted that you have agreed to serve as part of the 1 July 2018 – 30 June 2021 term of office; the inauguration of this revitalized and fully gender-balanced Court opens a promising new chapter in the Court’s history with its largest, most regionally and generationally diverse network of members to date,” the letter read in part.

Below is the appointment letter:

Dear colleague,

Paris, 27 June 2018

I am writing to congratulate you upon your appointment as a member of the International Court of Arbitration following the ICC World Council meeting which took place in Paris on 21 June 2018.

I am delighted that you have agreed to serve as part of the 1 July 2018 – 30 June 2021 term of office; the inauguration of this revitalized and fully gender-balanced Court opens a promising new chapter in the Court’s history with its largest, most regionally and generationally diverse network of members to date.

In line with the Court’s decision not to permit members to serve for more than two consecutive full terms, close to half of the Court members are new entrants. The new Court is a unique group of outstanding professionals, and it will be a privilege and an honour for me to work with all of you over the next three years. We look to our renewed members to carry forward the Court’s unparalleled institutional knowledge and experience from the current term of office, as well as counting on incoming members to bring fresh enthusiasm and a broad range of new perspectives to the essential work of the Court.

The Court must continue on the path set by its outgoing members, to whom the Court is indebted for their invaluable expertise and input throughout the years, and continue striving to offer global excellence to users worldwide, in particular with respect to the Court’s signature service of award scrutiny. You will have ample opportunity throughout this term of office to contribute first-hand to this unique service by participating in the sessions of the Court and I look forward to counting on your active engagement in this regard. The Court’s success rests on the immense dedication of its members and I am confident that the Court will continue to provide users with a service of the highest quality, helping to secure ICC’s position as the parties’ preferred institution in every continent.

The ICC International Court of Arbitration is a unique organization. It is in fact the only truly global arbitral institution, administering arbitrations from its offices located in Paris, Hong Kong, New York, Sao Paolo and Singapore, with a Secretariat able to work in more than 20 different languages and Court members from over 110 different countries.

Before the next term begins, I would like to draw your attention to a change in ICC’s practice with regard to reimbursements for Court members. Up to and including the current term, reimbursements were made biannually to Court members. Please note that as of 1 July 2018 reimbursements will be discontinued due to internal operational reasons.

Court members remain responsible for making their own travel arrangements and any related expenses are not defrayed by ICC. A list of hotels with which ICC has negotiated rates for its members is attached for your reference. We do not offer video link participation for plenary sessions, however remote participation can be arranged for the weekly and special committee meetings of the Court, meaning that members need not systematically travel to Paris in order to be active in the role. Similarly, you are welcome to participate from the Hong Kong, New York, Sao Paolo and Singapore offices whenever convenient.

I attach the 2018 and 2019 Court schedules for your perusal and encourage you to attend regularly. In particular, I draw your attention to the importance of the Working Session which sees the full Court united in Paris once annually. Please mark your diaries as the Working Session provides a unique opportunity for the Court as a whole to discuss matters of ICC Court practice and policy.

In order to schedule your participation in any sessions of the Court, you are invited to contact Francesca Hill Caucat who will be delighted to provide you with all necessary information in relation to the organizational side of your new role and answer any questions you may have in this regard.

If you have not already done so, please verify that you have completed the administrative formalities requested at the stage of your nomination, in particular ensuring that your curriculum vitae and a signed copy of the non-disclosure agreement have been returned to the Secretariat before 1 July 2018.

I look forward to a fruitful collaboration in the coming three-year term and trust that you will make the most of this opportunity both to represent your region at ICC and also to promote ICC in your region.

Yours sincerely,

Alexis Mourre
, President, 
ICC International Court of Arbitration.

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Without Inclusive Dialogue, Cameroon is on the Highway to Civil War- Elie Smith
June 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Inclusive dialogue is part of any feasible solution says Elie Smith

Inclusive dialogue is part of any feasible solution says Elie Smith

The crisis in Cameroon are growing from bad to worse with ordinary masses bearing the brunt, says Journalist Elie Smith. Echoing what others like Justice Ayah Paul have said, Elie Smith says without inclusive dialogue, Cameroon is on the highway to civil war. Known for his unbiased perspectives to national issues, Elie Smith says the government must come to terms with the fact that it is dealing with a new generation of Anglophones resolute in righting historic wrongs and injustices suffered for decades. The solution lies in a sincere dialogue with Anglophones of all sheds and stripes with no taboo subjects, says Smith.

PAV: Elie thanks again for accepting to shed light on the ongoing crisis, where do things stand at the moment with the crisis?

Elie Smith:  The crisis is getting from bad to worst. But those who are the victims are first and foremost the ordinary masses in the two Anglophone regions otherwise known as Southern Cameroon’s.  You have thousands internally displaced people, most of them are now living in the bushes and others have relocated to neighbouring Nigeria in camps run by the UNHCR and Nigerian states, while others are in towns and cities in Anglophone Cameroon and beyond that seems to have a semblance of peace and safety from the Cameroonian security forces, hitherto, the main causes of human rights abuses and lately from the jumble of armed Anglophone nationalist movements.  In this crisis, very little is said about the fate of the elderly, women and children. Most girls are now out of schools and have become vulnerable to all kinds of abuses amongst which, rape is a major issue, sadly under reported.

PAV:There was a statement from one of the SDO from the North West and the fall of a locality under his command, though the statement was disputed, are there areas that the government has completely lost control of and if so which ones do you know from your findings?

Elie Smith:  No territory is the under control of the various armed Anglophone nationalist movements. It is not that, they can’t capture and control large chunk of territory, is just that, they are multiple, disorganized and divided. In short, they are still a bunch of amateurs who are quickly honing their trade as we have noticed recently in direct warfare with regular forces.  But what I have noticed is that, the morale of regular or government forces are down and secondly, in spite the divisions within the armed movements,  they still command and lot of support because government forces are still committing  human right abuses. The reality is that, any part of Anglophone Cameroon can be captured.

PAV: The bilingualism commission tabled a number of proposals to President Biya, what do you make of the discussions that took place during their meetings with people in the North West and South West, and how have people reacted to their recommendations in Cameroon?

Elie Smith:  First there is nothing new. The creation of that commission is an admission of failure and given the fact that, it has only a consultative position, her recommendations however brilliant it might have been is a late recommendation to solve an old problem. They should stop wasting tax-payers monies. The government should have the courage to call a Foumban 2 conference to correct the historic wrongs of the first unification constitution and secure the future.  Justice Ayah Paul has been advocating the need for a second Foumban conference as a panacea to solving the current crisis. If there is no “all inclusive dialogue”, we are on the highway to civil war. Even though I said before that the various armed groups are amateurs and under armed and disorganized, it is just a matter of time before they beef up their weaponry and start confronting the national army eyeball to eyeball. And when that, happens, they will control territory and I began to wonder how reconciliation will be possible at that stage. However, there is still time for things to be corrected.

PAV: We now see a growing number of kidnapped Police and military officials calling on the Biya government to rethink its strategy; do you see this having any impact?

Elie Smith:  Of course the recent spats of kidnapping of Police and military men and women are having an impact on the government and also on the majority Francophones.  For they had long been nourished about the invincibility of the Cameroonians army in general and its US trained elite unit, the BIRs or Rapid Intervention Brigade , in particular. They now have to rethink their strategy in Anglophone Cameroon because the current one of scorched earth policy has failed woefully.

PAV: Why was the government so rattled with statements from the American Ambassador Peter Balerin, what was the drama all about?

Elie Smith: I think the government never expected their friend, the United States to speak the way its ambassador spoke. Remember, the United States has always looked the other way while the government commits human rights abuses not only in Anglophone Cameroon, but first, its operations in the Far North. They have been embolden because, while the United States , especially under the  Obama administration refused to cooperate with the Nigerian government by refusing to sell them weapons because of suspicions that, the Nigerian Army was committing human rights abuses, the same US government was training and arming Cameroon’s elite military force, known as the Rapid Intervention Brigades or the BIR. So, Yaoundé was like the spoiled child of Washington DC under Obama. Its security forces could kill and maim under the guise of fighting against terrorism and they received no rebukes.  And since Frances Cook, all or most US ambassadors after her were kind of speaking from both sides of their mouths. Now, Yaoundé is shocked to find an outspoken ambassador and it is coming at a time when the regime is most vulnerable.  Fanatics of the regime want Biya, who is 86, to run again in the upcoming presidential election, that is why, they were not happy with the declarations of Peter Bellerin. Remember, Washington DC was their moral support when the same US ambassador declared that, those fanning the crisis were the Anglophone Diaspora, they was ululation in Yaoundé, but now that, the same ambassador talks only about legacy, there is wailing  in Yaoundé.

Smith shares the believe that Ayuk Tabe and other arrested leaders are alive .

Smith shares the believe that Ayuk Tabe and other arrested leaders are alive .

PAV: If the government could express such outrage on the Ambassador’s statements, why is it so hard for them to invest the same energy in trying to find solutions for the crisis or at least engaged in broad-based dialogue that many have called for?

Elie Smith: It is beyond comprehension why they will release such energy to denounce their erstwhile friend and not put such in seeking lasting solution to the current. But my humble opinion is that, they are not only overwhelmed but they have exhausted all the options that, they had. The only option that, they have now is to use violence and which is only going to fuel more discontent and also drive a wedge between Cameroonians along colonially inherited  cultures.

PAV: The UK government has been conspicuously silent on the crisis, but a company from there recently signed a lucrative contract to process gas, your take on this.

Elie Smith:  The United Kingdom has always stayed quiet. Remember, in 1992 when the US and Germany were banners upper for the stolen victory of John Fru Ndi to be upheld, the UK simply sent their spies here to find out whether the majority Francophones will accept Anglophone as their President. What I have just said is mentioned clearly in the book: “Dossier Noire sur le Cameroun”, written by Pierre Ella.  The UK is still angry that, Southern Cameroon’s opted to join La Republique instead of doing what part of German Togoland did by joining Ghana. Well as for New Age, I don’t think Her Majesty’s government had anything thing to do with the company coming to Cameroon, especially in west Cameroon.

PAV: In the last couple of weeks, we have seen the major international media outlets like the Guardian and Economist in the UK, and the Washington Post in the USA reporting on the crisis, any comments?

Elie Smith: Well, it is normal. When it bleeds, it leads. The killings in Anglophone Cameroon have reached a point that can’t be hidden from the international community in spite all the gymnastics in denial put in place by the government.

PAV: Any word about Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and others arrested in Nigeria are there alive and if so why has the government continued to keep them incommunicado?

Elie Smith:  They are alive. I have heard strange claims recently. It is left to the government to decide when to make them available. But your question is coming at a time when the government has decided that interrogations of 10 of the 47 arrested in Nigeria should start. It began on Monday June 25th. And I hear they all have the right to give the name of a person of their choice to visit them for a period of one month renewable. Now, it is left for the people of the Interim government to decide whether they want to have a formidable legal team that is free from their internal shenanigans, which will lead to the mitigation of their sentences or use them as a bargaining chip for their own political ambitions.

PAV: Taking the killings that took place in Menka as an example , one sees a wide gulf in the way the English media covered it, as opposed to the French media which largely relayed the government side of the story, as a media professional  what do you make of this?

Elie Smith:  Cameroon is officially a bilingual country with English and French, being its official languages, but in reality it is a French-speaking country and there are no other places to prove that, English is not an official language in this country than the judiciary and the Press. The judiciary is pure French-speaking and it will be demonstrated once again as the trial of the 47 starts. The other area is how this crisis is covered by the French language media. They are most supportive of the government partly because most French-speaking journalists and owners of French-language papers are sponsored by the government. And this is where the theory of ownership and control is put into practice. But, it is not a reflection of what most Francophones are thinking.

PAV: As the crisis rage on, so too are the elections approaching, if things continue this way, how will the situation in the North West and South West Regions impact on the elections? Will elections without these two regions be legitimate or will this just cement the broken bonds we see now?

Elie Smith: In my humble opinion elections, can’t take in both North West and south west regions anytime soon. Simply because, the government is not controlling those regions as they would want the world to think. Perhaps they are having control to a certain level of the following areas: Bamenda, Kumba, Buea and Victoria-Limbe. I say perhaps, because, when I am in the latter mentioned localities, you noticed that, there is a kind simmering tension and kind or unofficial cease fear. But if the government goes ahead and oragnises elections, then they will not only disenfranchising the people of both regions, they will be giving a legitimate  arguments to secessionists or restorationists, that, both region variously known as former west Cameroon or former British Southern Cameroon’s is not an integral part of Cameroon. Remember, the argument that the most hardcore Anglophone nationalists have been floating is that, there is no treaty officialising the current Union, which has been trampled upon and strangely the government has never shown any official document that shows that, there was any official union between both Cameroons. Ideally, it would be best for negotiations to start first and concluded before any elections are organized in Cameroon. What I don’t seem understand is why are some candidates eager to run, when they know they won’t be able to campaign in some parts of the country and  will be playing into the hands or to the advantage of the incumbent.

PAV: You have been on TV panels with Messanga  Nyamding , what was he talking when he said Anglophones have a lower intelligence coefficient compared to Francophones, with friends like him and others, many are wondering if President Biya actually needs enemies Elie….

Elie Smith: Sincerely speaking, I don’t know what to say. I think Mr Nyamding can best answer this question. However, my interpretation is this and I have already told him in one of our debates. I think, it is his excessive love or desire to please the President of the Republic and the ruling CPDM that has made him and many other ordinarily brilliant people to ridicule themselves. I once told him in one of our debates on Balafon FM here in Douala, that his behavior was like that of a boy who loves a girl who doesn’t love him. He loves the CPDM, but the CPDM doesn’t love him. Beyond that, Mr Nyamding is a very good man.

U.S Ambassador Peter Balerin in visit to President Biya at the Unity Palace. The ruling seems to be rattled with everything Balerin says

U.S Ambassador Peter Balerin in visit to President Biya at the Unity Palace. The ruling seems to be rattled with everything Balerin says

PAV: Based on the situation on the ground as you see, how does this end, where do the solutions come from and who will the actors be?

Elie Smith:  It will only get worse if the government refuses to see the reality and stop being arrogant and stupid.  The government must understand that, they have for too wrong the Anglophones and now, the new generations who have nothing to lose won’t take what their parents took or accepted from the central government in Yaoundé. The solution lies in a sincere dialogue with Anglophones of all sheds and stripes and all subjects must be put on the table.

PAV:Thanks so much for granting this interview

Elie Smith: It is a pleasure to give me an opportunity to give my humble views on the current political situation prevailing in Cameroon.

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Snapping on safari: 5 tips to get the perfect shot
June 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

                                                                  Source

African safaris are the absolute pinnacle of what the natural world has to offer, and it is important to experience every facet of them. You need to make sure you are heading into your safari fully prepared to have the time of your life, and this means knowing what to expect. Yes, almost all safaris you go on are going to be different, but an adventure is half of the fun! What you need to know is what you should be bringing to enhance your safari experience.

It’s fair to say that capturing your adventure through pictures and video is a priceless way to document this amazing journey. There are many reasons why safari photography is so important, and you want to try to see as many amazing creatures as you can, while you still can! As many as 35,000 elephants are killed in Africa every year, and this is the tip of the iceberg! Taking snaps on safari gives you a chance to preserve the majestic beauty of these creatures, so here are 5 tips to get the best shot!

  1. Choose the Right Gear

Forget the term ‘All gear, no idea,’ when it comes to safari photography it is vitally important that you have the right gear. Interchangeable lenses are your friend here because you don’t want to have to be carrying too much stuff around with you. In fact, if you get the chance, you could set up 2 cameras, one with a long lens, and one with a wide lens. This is going to help you capture really crucial moments as soon as they happen, and you don’t have to miss things by switching over lenses. There are plenty of lenses you can choose from, but the Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM lens is considered one of the best choices on the market for capturing safari wildlife.

 

  1. Make Sure You Get the Right Location

It’s all well and good having the best gear money can buy, but if there is nothing to photograph it will all have been in vain. So, you have to think about the best possible location for your safari snaps. Taking a safari in Uganda is a great choice because you have 10 national parks to choose from. But, you might also like to consider South Africa, and, in particular, Madikwe game reserve, where you will have the opportunity to snap the Big 5, over 60 species of mammal, and more than 350 species of stunning bird as well. Getting the right location to allow for excellent safari snaps is so important.

 

  1. Travel Professionally

By this we mean don’t try to organize a budget safari experience yourself. This is something that might save you money, but your experience will certainly suffer as a result. Quality travel advisors arrange private safari tours in exotic places like Tanzania, and these are vital for your photography opportunities. Furthermore, professional guides have a great understanding of the area, and the wildlife, and can ensure you’re in the right place at the right time for the snaps you want.

  1. Light is King

As you will no doubt be aware if you are a hobby photographer, light is crucial for taking the perfect picture. In fact, the perfect time to shoot is considered to be around 2 hours prior to sunset, so you’re going to need to plan your photography session accordingly. Similarly, if you are keen to get some shots of the safe surroundings of the safari camp, it is important to wake as early as you can. Basically, you want to avoid the influence of the Sun too much when you are trying to get the right photos, especially when it comes to the animals.

  1. Patience is Key

Safari photography is a lot like fishing in the sense that you could be out there for hours waiting for just the right shot. It might take a long while to get just a few snaps, but if they are the best possible quality, it will have been worth it. If you’re going to be more patient, you have to make sure you are as comfortable as you can be. This means ensuring you have plenty of fluids and sunblock, and that you’ve brought a hat. You need to be attentive and alert as you wait for the ideal moment, and being more comfortable can help you with that.

These are five of the essentials you need to keep in mind when you want to capture the perfect safari snaps. You have to document your experiences in style, and this is the best way of achieving that. It is so important that you come up with techniques that are going to help you capture the ultimate pictures, and these are 5 things to consider that are going to help you with that.

 

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Congo Becomes The Newest Member Of OPEC
June 26, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

On 22 June 2018, the Democratic Republic of Congo became the 15th member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). OPEC is a grouping of oil-producing countries and it has major influences on the pricing of oil and its related products world over.

The Democratic Republic of Congo had for a long time been considering joining OPEC. Earlier on this year when Equatorial Guinea joined OPEC, the country’s energy minister Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima said that his country and three others (Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad and Malaysia) had decided to join OPEC after assessing the power of the organisation not only in influencing global oil prices but also in helping member states to maximise their profits from exporting oil.

The news about Congo joining OPEC came out soon after the end of the 174th Ordinary Meeting of OPEC.

The Minister of Hydrocarbons H.E. Jean-Marc Thystère-Tchicaya in the Democratic Republic of Congo announced the news in Congo stating that “The Republic of the Congo is thrilled and honoured to be joining OPEC and to do our part to preserve an equilibrium in global oil markets and ensuring a sufficient flow of investments into hydrocarbons.” He went on to state that  “Severe oil market downturns like the one the world experienced recently remind us of the essential role that institutions like OPEC in ensuring stability. We are proud to cooperate with the world’s oil leaders.”

Industry analysts said that the news on Congo joining OPEC does not come as a surprise if one considers the recent developments. Late last year, OPEC called on all member states and also other non-member states but oil producing countries to limit production so as to stabilise prices by preserving an equilibrium in global oil markets in the so-called Declaration of Cooperation. Congo and 10 other non-member states took heed of OPEC’s call and cut their production by as much as 1.8 million barrels of oil per day till the end of the year.

Taking a cue from this, industry analysts say it was just a matter of time before the Congo and the other 10 states joined OPEC as they were facing the same threats from ever rising volatility in oil prices.

The Declaration of Cooperation was a huge success in restoring the vitality of global oil markets and Brent oil prices reaching their highest level this year since 2014.

H.E. Jean-Marc Thystère-Tchicaya said that Congo wants to increase its oil production starting this month by 25%. This means that Congo will now start producing 350,000 barrels a day. If Congo manages to produce 350,000 barrels a day as it promises, it will rise to become the third largest producer of oil in sub-Saharan Africa.

Before Congo’s membership was confirmed by the 174th Ordinary Meeting of OPEC, Equatorial Guinea had been the latest African addition to OPEC having joined in May 2017 following in the footsteps of Gabon which had joined OPEC in 2016. As it stands, Chad is the only African country that supported the Declaration of Cooperation that is yet to join OPEC. Of the current 15 member states of OPEC, Africa is represented by seven countries.

Despite Africa now dominating in terms of member states, industry analysts believe that Saudi Arabia and Russia are still the ‘big boys’ in the organisation and it is these two countries that will propose any major decisions to be taken by all other member states. Be that as it may, Congo will still benefit immensely from OPEC.

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South Sudan foes in Khartoum for talks
June 25, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

President Salva Kiir with then Vice President Riek Machar (Photo: file)

President Salva Kiir with then Vice President Riek Machar (Photo: file)

Juba – South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and his former vice president, turned rebel leader Riek Machar are in Khartoum, capital of Sudan, set to hold a new round of peace talks today after a first meeting last week faded in Ethiopia.

President Salva Kiir left Juba to Khartoum on Monday morning, while Dr. Machar who arrived in Khartoum last evening are expected to hold discussions with over issues of governance and security.

President Kiir, rebel leader Machar’s meeting in Khartoum will be the first since fighting erupted in South Sudan.

This comes after South Sudan’s government declared that it “had enough” of Machar, dashing hopes of any breakthrough at the Addis Ababa talks.

On Friday, the IGAD Heads of State mandated the Sudanese Omar Hassan Al-Bashir to facilitate a second round of the face to face discussion between President Salva Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar within two weeks to build on the Addis Ababa talks.

In a communique, the regional leaders say the Khartoum initiative should discuss and resolve the outstanding issues on governance and security arrangements, including measures proposed in the revised Bridging Proposal of the IGAD Council of Ministers.

The second round of talks between the two rival principals, aimed at ending South Sudan’s fifth year brutal civil war. A first round brokered by Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa on Thursday but failed to achieve any breakthrough and progress on peace.

Regional East African leaders have launched new efforts to secure peace in South Sudan where warring factions face a looming deadline to avert UN sanctions.

The war has killed tens of thousands of people and driven about four million others from their homes.

The war erupted after president Kiir fell out with his then deputy Machar in December 2013, just two years independence of South Sudan from from Sudan.

“In this round of talks we are looking for a breakthrough to this thorny issue,” Sudanese Foreign Minister Al-Dierdiry Ahmed told reporters on Sunday.

Kiir and Machar’s meeting in Addis Ababa was their first face-to-face encounter in nearly two years after 2016 dogfight in presidential palace in Juba.

Also, government rejected Machar working again with President Kiir as first vice president in the transitional government.

“As the people of South Sudan, not the president alone, but as the people of South Sudan, we are saying enough is enough,” South Sudanese government spokesman Michael Makuei said Friday.

Makuei rejected Machar’s presence in any transitional government but did not rule out the involvement of other rebel figures.

They also authorized the meeting to discuss measures to rehabilitate the South Sudanese economy through bilateral cooperation with Sudan.

According to Sudanese press, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni also landed in the Sudanese capital this morning to help facilitate the face-to-face meeting.

The Sudanese President is expected to inform, Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta about the outcome of the discussion between the parties in Khartoum.

President Uhuru will then facilitate the third round of discussion in Nairobi to facilitate the revitalization process and report the outcome and way forward to the Ordinary Session of the IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government.

The IGAD Heads of State also instructed the regional Council of Ministers to give guidance to Special Envoy for South Sudan on the remaining tasks to finalize the IGAD bridging proposal at the sideline of the next African Union Summit.

They further agreed to allow free movement for Dr. Riek Machar on the duration of the peace process.

In May, the UN Security Council gave the two warring sides a month to reach a peace deal or face sanctions.

A landlocked state with a large ethnic mix, South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 after a long and brutal war.

Since a 2015 peace deal collapsed in July 2016 with Machar fleeing to South Africa, Kiir’s government has gained the upper hand militarily as the opposition has splintered into a myriad of factions.

South Sudan descended into civil war after Kiir accused Machar of plotting a coup against him, sparking violence between the two factions that was fuelled by brooding ethnic tensions across the country.

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Life In A War Zone : 30 Days in Ambazonia/Anglophone Cameroon (5)
June 25, 2018 | 0 Comments

Amba Fighters and the Question of Anglophone Freedom in Cameroon

By Solomon Ngu*

The Red Dragons are one of the most dreaded groups.Picture culled from YouTube

The Red Dragons are one of the most dreaded groups.Picture culled from YouTube

When I began to look at the Amba Fighters, it flashed in my mind that fairly organized boys’ movements have existed before in Anglophone Cameroon. Over the past hundred years, beginning in the later part of the 19th century, various boys movements – some state-sponsored and others, disorganized – have challenged constituted authority and made their impact felt in what we now know as Ambazonia (plus the Western Region). Nicolas Argenti describes some of these movements in his research on violence and state formation in the Cameroon Grassfields.  First were the tapenda, a name derivative from the interpreter. These were either connected to, or imitative of, the interpreters of the early colonial days. These boys posed a threat to the kings (Fons) and the German colonial authority. Later, at the turn of the 20th century, there emerged the free boys, so called because they drew inspiration from the freed slaves. Some of them simply refused to provide labor to the elders as was required by tradition. There was also the Gendarmerie, a French paramilitary organization known for extortion, rape, murder, incarceration without charge, unlawful arrests, etc. They crossed the border into Anglophone Cameroon after the two countries formed a federation in 1961. Needless to mention that this organization still operates, unfortunately, as a state-sanctioned criminal gang.

What underlines these movements is their tendency to harass and intimidate an established order. The movements were and are out for themselves and in no way would a population admire or support gangs that extract what others have earned through hard labor. To put it clearly: their infringement into the daily lives of people was and is received with scorn.

There is a reason why I refer to these movements and this is it. When I visited Cameroon and after hearing positive stories about the existence of the Amba fighters, I began to ask myself the question: why would villagers feel comfortable harboring people who are fighting a well trained and organized army? At the present moment, it does not take long before one realizes among the Anglophones that the government soldiers are seen more as a trained boys’ militia sent to destroy the Anglophone zone of the country. And it is within this context that the Amba Boys are greeted with relief. They are lauded for resisting the Francophonization of Ambazonia. Come to think of a situation where young men and women are courageous enough to punch a fat bully on his nose.

Hardly did I meet an Anglophone who did not admire the Amba Boys. In fact, they were even described as Pikin Them (The Children), The Amba Soldiers, The Boys, Our Boys, etc. which is a way of making them ordinary and at the same time, affirming an intimate connection to them. Against a background where the government soldiers treat everyone in the Anglophone battlefield as an enemy, there was the popular narrative that these boys are out to protect the people. This is demonstrated by their readiness to pay the ultimate prize for Ambazonian freedom by standing on the front line to take bullets from the government soldiers. Ironically, the government soldiers hardly confront these Fighters; they go for easy targets – the civilians.

That people should be oppressed to the extent that they take up weapons to defend themselves, and in doing so, kill other human beings, is unfathomable. In all oppressive systems where violence is used to keep the oppressed in their place, the oppressors must develop enough reasons to believe or portray those they humiliate are less human. These reasons advanced by oppressors free their consciences when they go about dehumanizing the oppressed. In Cameroon, the oppressive government has always been aware that it is despised by the people. But it chooses to ignore this. The question of freedom has been fundamental in the Anglophone struggle in Cameroon. They just want the predatory bully called government to get out of their way. In Cameroonian pidgin, the Anglophones don’t want to be the kokoh of the Francophonized system.

To get glimpse of how this bully operates and to be more concrete about what I am saying here, read below a scary encounter I experienced in Cameroon:

In mid-April 2018, I traveled from Buea to Bamenda (two Anglophone cities), passing through the Francophone part of the country. My first bus from Buea dropped me off at Bekoko on the Francophone zone. From here I took a mini bus to Bamenda. In the car was this young military man, a guy so brutish that I never wish to meet him again in my life. He sat on the right front seat. First of all, just after three hundred metres or so, we got to a police checkpoint and he became irate that the police stopped our car. He went out of the car and almost started a fight with the policeman who was merely doing his job – the Cameroonian way. About an hour later, he threatened to beat a civilian. And this is the story. An obstacle on the main road caused cars to divert their course, passing through a dusty road in a village. The villagers started placing wood across the road to block the passing cars.

This young soldier, a member of the notorious American-Israeli trained (and equipped) elite Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR) unit, got out of the car and grabbed one of the villagers by his pants. So tight was the grip that one could see the genitals of the civilian bulge on the left side of his trouser. The villager winced with pain as the soldier tightened the grip, pulling his pubic hair in the process. As soon as he got back into the car, after the passengers pleaded for him to let go of the civilian, he said it was the Anglophones who were responsible for blocking the road. Pointing his finger warningly in the air, he shouted indignantly ‘C’est eux. C’est sont les Anglophone qui amenenent les problemes dans ce pays’ (It is them. It is the Anglophones causing problems in this country). This frightened the hell out of me and I could now understand why it took long for him to let go of the villager; he had in fact been torturing someone who belongs to a category of citizens he is trained to humiliate.

The young soldier saw himself as the law and had this belligerent courage and bullying attitude so characteristics of the so-called forces of law and order. They know the law isn’t for them. Surprising was that the passengers in the car praised the soldier and referred to him as l’homme de l’ordre (a man of order). The Francophones believed it was wrong for the police to stop a car carrying a soldier.  They went further to say the Anglophones (not the Amba Fighters) have themselves to blame for daring to stand up against the government forces. The soldier and the Francophones in the car plainly saw Anglophones as problem people and not as people with a problem. This would suggest the Francophone oppressive regime targets the problem people and not the problems that these people face. A recent video showing a military operation in the Anglophone farming town of Ekona tends to support this view that Anglophones are seen as the problem. In the video we see the military spraying bullets at buildings along the roadside. They did not care if there were people in these buildings. We do not even see counter fire coming from the buildings.

It was simply disheartening to hear how the passengers in the car believed some people are not expected to comply with the laws of the land. But to despise them would be missing a point. A century of brutal dictatorship, first starting with the French and then the two post-colonial Francophone regimes, has produced these authoritarian-admiring subjects; they perceive authority and power mainly in terms of how those in control could subdue the less powerful. That Amba Fighters have picked up arms to fight for Anglophone freedom is precisely because the post-colonial Francophone regimes just do not know what it means to live in a free country where the rights and opinions of others are respected.

I will end with this note:

There are criminal gangs who now use the name of Amba to loot, kill, extort, revenge and intimidate adversaries. The respectability accorded this movement may diminish if such rogue elements are not identified, named and shamed. Still, we are aware that the ruling government has either infiltrated some of these groups or formed distractionist units that want to be identified under the general umbrella of Amba Boys.

*This is part of the series Life in a War Zone:30 Days in Ambazonia by  Solomon Ngu for PAV under the blog Kamer Blues

Life in a War Zone: 30 Days in Ambazonia/Anglophone Cameroon

Life In A War Zone : 30 Days in Ambazonia/Anglophone Cameroon (2)

Life In A War Zone : 30 Days in Ambazonia/Anglophone Cameroon (3)

 

Life In A War Zone : 30 Days in Ambazonia/Anglophone Cameroon (4)

 

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Obama to meet with Kenyan and South African leaders
June 23, 2018 | 0 Comments
Former President Barack Obama will meet with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, as well as former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga. | Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama will meet with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, as well as former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga. | Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama will meet with the leaders of Kenya and South Africa on a trip overseas next month, his office said Friday.

Obama will meet with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, as well as former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

 The meetings are the latest in a string of talks the former president has had with sitting world leaders since leaving office. The former president has drawn some criticism for meeting with sitting leaders.
Among the leaders Obama has met with are German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Argentinian President Mauricio Macri and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

For his latest trip, the former president will first visit Spain and Portugal. Obama will speak at the 2018 Circular Economy and Innovation Summit in Madrid, and then at the Climate Change Leadership Porto 2018 Summit in Porto that same afternoon. The trip will span from July 5 to July 7, according to his office.

The next week, Obama will travel to Nairobi on July 15 and meet with Kenyatta in that city. He will then go to Alego on July 16 to deliver “brief opening remarks” at the inauguration of the Sauti Kuu Foundation Sports, Resource and Vocational Training Centre before departing for Johannesburg.

The following day, Obama will meet with South Africa’s leader and deliver the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture to commemorate the anniversary of the revolutionary’s birth.

Rounding out the trip, Obama will hold a town hall event with the 200 newly-selected Obama Foundation Leaders in Africa on July 18.

 *Politico
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How Nigeria’s stylish in-demand World Cup jersey is making millionaires out of bootleggers
June 23, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Yomi Kazeem*

Nigeria’s stylish soccer kit has been one of the major stories of the 2018 soccer World Cup.

Since being unveiled in February, the kit has become a fashion item and have been voted the best jersey at the World Cup. Nigeria’s soccer federation claimed there were pre-orders of up to three million jerseys and sales matched the hype too: it sold out on Nike’s website within hours of release and there were long lines at Nike stores to get hold of one. The jersey has been selling for nearly double its retail price on secondary markets.

But the scarcity and the hype around the kit has been a boon for the international bootleggers doing brisk multi-million dollar business from Asia to Europe and Nigeria. The first sign came a week before the kit was officially released when several fans wore counterfeits during a pre-World Cup friendly game.

Sourcing supply

Alex, a Lagos-based businessman who has dealt in counterfeit jerseys since 2011, says current demand exceeds that of the last World Cup jersey by about “1000%.” Illegal factories in China, operating close to licensed manufacturers across Asia, are usually the first port of call for fake jerseys. With its production lines catering to both high and low grade fakes, Chinese factories offers bootleggers a range of options to satisfy local demand.

Thailand, a smaller source, is known more for producing top-grade fakes known as Thai AAA. Thai counterfeit makers have gotten better at the imitation game over the years as, at first glance, Thai AAA fakes look very similar to licensed versions. But upon a closer look, differences in “finishing and texture” become clear, says Alex who asked for his last name not to be used for this story.

With tens of millions of enthusiastic soccer fans who are known to support many top European soccer clubs but cannot afford expensive original jerseys, Nigeria is a bootlegger’s dream target market. Alex alone has brought in a shipment of 2,000 Thai AAA jerseys (valued at 20 million naira ($55,000) in sales) in the past two months. But his Guangzhou-based supplierjust one of many large scale producers of fakesconfirms that the business has shipped over 30,000 jerseys (worth up to 300 million naira ($830,000) in sales) to bootleggers in Nigeria alone, with another 20,000 shipped to sellers outside Nigeria.

However, while sourcing the kit is one thing, getting them to Nigeria is another as Chinese and Thai suppliers claim they can only move shipments at night to avoid seizure by local law enforcement clamping down on counterfeits.

Price dynamics

Thai AAA jerseys typically cost $8 before shipping. To get shipments to Nigeria, bootleggers have two options: regular shipping with a two week delivery window or express shipping which delivers in two daysat the cost of an extra $3 per kilogram. A crucial part of bringing them in and reducing the final landing cost is avoiding run-ins with Nigerian customs officers who levy arbitrary levies on incoming items. As a workaround, bootleggers often use shipping services that import a large volume of goods and, more importantly, already have existing relationships with customs officers. The fake jerseys hardly draw special attention from customs officers though as they “just look at it as textile,” Alex says.

Unwittingly, Nike’s $90 retail pricemore than most Nigerian soccer fans can affordand its limited production has boosted the value of fakes. “Initially, the price was 7,000 naira ($19) but when Nike ran out of stock, people upped the price to 15,000 naira ($41),” Alex says. Yet demand has not wavered. Indeed, in the past month, Alex has set up international shipping arrangements to deliver orders from Spain, Denmark, Dubai. South Africa, India and Egypt.

 *Quartz
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Akon wants to build ‘real-life Wakanda’ using a currency called AKoin
June 23, 2018 | 0 Comments

Akon says he’s planning to release a new cryptocurrency named after himself – called Akoin.

Speaking at the Cannes Lions Festival on Monday, the Locked Up singer said he believed cryptocurrency could be “the saviour of Africa”.

AKoin’s official website says the singer wants the app “on every mobile phone” between now and December.

And Akon says he’s also planning to build a “crypto city” in Senegal which he calls “a real-life Wakanda”.

Just like the fictional land of Wakanda in Marvel’s Black Panther, Akon promises says his city will be a “futuristic environment”.

The website says Akon has been “gifted” 2,000 acres of land by the President of Senegal to build the city – which is also named after himself.

Akon Crypto City will apparently be “a short drive” from Dakar, the capital of Senegal.

He calls it “the first 100% crypto-based city with AKoin at the centre of transactional life”.

AKoin's offical website details the plans for the new currency

AKoin’s offical website details the plans for the new currency

Under the “Akoin Ecosystem”, consumers will be able to buy, hold and spend cryptocurrency straight from their smartphones.

“It brings the power back to the people and brings the security back into the currency system,” Akon explained.

“It also allows the people to utilise it in ways where they can advance themselves and not allow government to do those things that are keeping them down.”

However, Akon admitted he didn’t know all the technical aspects of his new venture.

“I come with the concepts and let the geeks figure it out,” he said.

What is cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that operates independently from a central bank.

It uses cryptography (the conversion of information into an almost uncrackable code) to secure and verify transactions.

This makes it extremely difficult to counterfeit.

The first and probably most famous cryptocurrency is Bitcoin, which was created by an unknown person using the name Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009.

Several celebrities have endorsed or invested in cryptocurrency, including Katy Perry, 50 Cent and Ashton Kutcher.

Akon and Ms. Kine Gueye Thiam founded the Konfidence Foundation in 2007

Akon and Ms. Kine Gueye Thiam founded the Konfidence Foundation in 2007

Akon’s others ventures in Africa

AKoin is one of many projects Akon has announced in Africa.

While he was born in Missouri, Akon is of Senegalese descent and spent much of his childhood there.

In 2007 he co-founded the Konfidence Foundation, a health and education charity for underprivileged children in West Africa and the United States.

He also co-founded the Akon Lighting Africa project in 2014, which Akon’s site says has brought solar power to 18 African countries so far.

*BBC

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South Sudan’s President Kiir, Rebel Chief Machar Meet After Two Years
June 22, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

 South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir (centre), his former deputy-turned-rebel leader Riek Machar (left) and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed during their meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photo/AFP

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir (centre), his former deputy-turned-rebel leader Riek Machar (left) and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed during their meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photo/AFP

Juba – South Sudan’s president and rebel leader met on Wednesday for the first time since 2016, when a peace deal collapsed and fighting re-erupted between their forces, the Ethiopian prime minister’s chief of staff said.

The two principals embrace at dinner hosted by the Ethiopia Prime Minister, Mr. Abiy Ahmed.

“The PM Abiy Ahmed hosted a private dinner to President Salva Kiir & Dr Rieck Machar together,” Fitsum Arega said on his Twitter account.

The two rival leaders met for the first time in two years, since renewed fighting in Juba 2016, which forced rebel leader Machar to fled Juba.

Machar, who was released from house arrest in South Africa recently, travelled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on June 20 to hold face – face meeting with president Kiir in an efforts to ending civil war.

Observers says the peaceful future is possible with the two principals in South Sudan.

However, President Kiir and rebel leader Dr. Machar’s meeting had been billed by Ethiopia’s government a step towards ending a five-year-old civil war that has killed tens of thousands of people and forced more than three million to flee their homes in the world’s youngest country.

South Sudan, oil-rich producing nation gained independence in 2011 from north Sudan after two decades of civil war but fighting broke out two years later among South Sudanese over power struggling in ruling party, Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM).

Kiir and Machar met individually with Abiy before the three sat down together, South Sudanese opposition party officials and western diplomats said.

The Ethiopian government has been a key actor in the regional bloc IGAD’s faltering peace process for South Sudan.

Meanwhile, regional bloc leaders will meet today, June 21 to discuss the South Sudan peace process as they seek to finalise a conclusive peace deal before the African Union Summit on July 1 in Mauritania.

A several ceasefire the warring sides signed in the Ethiopian capital, including latest in December 2017 was violated hours later.

Both the government and rebel forces were accused of killing civilians and committed atrocities on civilians across the country, since the framework for the deal is not substantially different than it was in the 2015 deal.

That deal collapsed in the summer of 2016, when Machar’s return to Juba led to the resumption of fighting between his forces and the army in which hundreds died.

More so, a coalition of over 200 civil society groups is appealing to President Salva Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar to use the face-to-face meeting to end the 5-year civil war.

The South Sudan Civil Society Forum says if Kiir and Riek fails to reach a meaningful reconciliation at this meeting, all hopes for a united, stable and peaceful South Sudan will be shattered.

“At this critical moment where our nationhood and our collective future is at stake, we remind you of your moral and political obligations to meaningfully reconcile with each other as well as with all other political leaders in our country,” South Sudanese Civil Society Forum said in a statement.

Furthermore, President Kiir and rebel leader Machar would expected to negotiate a power-sharing, security and governance plan prepared by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) aimed at quelling the ongoing civil war in South Sudan.

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