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African Development Bank is delivering for Africa: Adesina
April 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
Adesina

Adesina

Washington, DC,– In an impassioned speech delivered at the Center for Global Development in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, April 19, African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina spoke about Africa’s enormous potential, and the Bank’s ambitious development agenda, which he said was well underway.

The Washington think tank was an apt venue for Adesina to take stock of his first 19 months in office. Two years earlier, on April 16, 2015, the then Nigerian Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development participated in a debate in that same room with other candidates vying for the AfDB Presidency ahead of the Bank’s Presidential elections in May 2015.

“Africa was in the limelight for a very good reason,” Adesina said ahead of a panel discussion on “The Challenge and Logic of Greater Financing for Africa” on the sidelines of the World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings. “The African Development Bank set the leadership tone for all MDBs for the transparency in electing its President through an open and competitive process,” he added, referring to the Bank’s live-tweeting of the election results.

Two years on, Adesina told the packed room that the vision he outlined in his inaugural speech, the five development priorities known as the High 5s, are being rolled out across the continent.

“Our vision for Africa at the Bank is encapsulated in the High 5s: Light up and power Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialize Africa; Integrate Africa; and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa,” Adesina said, enumerating an impressive list of initiatives the Bank is undertaking.

“We launched the New Deal on Energy for Africa, with a commitment of $12 billion from the Bank over the next five years, with the goal of leveraging $45-50 billion. Our goal is connect 130 million people to the grid, 75 million via off grids and provide some 150 million with clean cooking energy.

“We’ve set up a whole new Vice Presidency just for Power and Energy: the first and only Multilateral Development Bank to do so. Last year, we financed $1.7 billion in the power sector across 19 countries, and will increase this to $2 billion this year, leveraging $5-7 billion. We’ve launched a $500 million Fund for Energy Inclusion with $100 million seed capital, to provide affordable finance for companies investing in renewable energy.

“Just as electricity powers an economy, so does food provide energy for people. Africa’s annual food import bill of $35 billion, estimated to rise to $110 billion by 2025, weakens African economies, decimates its agriculture and exports jobs from the continent,” Adesina said, noting that $35 billion is just about what the continent needs to close its power deficit.

“To rapidly support Africa to diversify its economies, and revive its rural areas, we have prioritized agriculture,” he continued. “The Bank has committed $24 billion towards agriculture in the next 10 years, with a sharp focus on food self-sufficiency and agricultural industrialization. The recent drought and famine facing some countries (South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda) deserve swift action, as 20 million face food insecurity and severe malnutrition. The Bank is taking action and is planning to deploy $1.1 billion, following Board approval, to address the crisis and ensure that drought does not lead to famine.

“We’re taking action to level the playing field for women in Africa. That’s why we launched the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) with the goal of mobilizing $3 billion for women entrepreneurs.

“We’ve taken on the biggest social issue facing Africa today: the high youth unemployment rates. Today, a third of Africa’s 230 million youths (about 20% of the global youth population) are unemployed or discouraged, another 1/3 are in vulnerable employment largely in the informal sector while only 1/6 are in wage employment.”

To tackle that problem, the AfDB has launched the Empowering Novel Agri-Business-Led Employment (ENABLE) Youth initiative for young ‘Agripreneurs’ in several countries, including Nigeria and Sudan. It has also partnered with the European Investment Bank to launch the Boost Africa initiative for young innovative entrepreneurs, and is investing in training for young people in science, technology and math to prepare them for the jobs of the future.

“Our vision for Africa is clear,” said Adesina as he outlining some of the institution’s successes in 2016:

  • 3.3 million Africans benefitted from new electricity connections;
  • 3.7 million Africans benefited from improved access to water and sanitation;
  • 5.7 million Africans benefitted from improvements to agriculture;
  • 9.3 million Africans benefitted from access to better health care services;
  • 7 million Africans benefitted from improved access to transport.

 

“The African Development Bank is delivering for Africa and it has the capacity to deliver more for Africa,” Adesina said. “It now needs substantial financing wind behind its sails. It’s time for speedy financing actions to accelerate Africa’s development.”

Read full Speech here

*AFDB

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Making Africa Great Again: Reducing aid dependency
April 21, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Angelle B. Kwemo*

In the first few months of his presidency, President Donald Trump has aggressively pursued his “America First” agenda. On Monday, March 6, the president outlined his first budget proposal, which largely reflects his bid to “Make America Great Again.” In doing so, he has proposed to increase military spending by around $54 billion while reducing government expenditure in non-defense programs. Although foreign aid only accounts for 1 percent of the federal budget, it will undergo some of the biggest cuts in spending.

As a region, Africa accounts for around 20 percent of U.S. aid, with Egypt, Kenya, and South Sudan being the biggest beneficiaries. Although critics argue that lowered public international spending will adversely affect development projects, this reduction should also be seen as an opportunity for the continent to rise and for the relationship between the U.S. and Africa to evolve.

Africans must identify priorities, define, and implement them—not be reactionary to the politics of the West.

REDUCING FOREIGN ASSISTANCE: A BLESSING OR A CURSE?

 African countries have been recipients of foreign assistance since their independence. It is undeniable that some U.S. development assistance programs, especially the people- and country-centered ones such as the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and the Africa Development Foundation (ADF), have shown lasting results in programs that stimulate local economies and reduce aid dependency (such as sustainable agriculture, youth entrepreneurship, and improved access to power). Despite these successes, many experts argue that the provision of foreign assistance has, at times, developed a culture of dependency in Africa and fostered paternalism—as opposed to partnership—by the U.S. and elsewhere.

Thus, African governments need to take this opportunity to scale up policies that spur democracy, creating the enabling environment to build prosperity in Africa through concrete priorities such as job creation, regional integration, and economic engagement.

PRIORITY NUMBER 1: JOB CREATION

Africa has the youngest population in the world, with 200 million aged between 15 and 24 (doubling by 2045 according to African Development Bank). Given that the continent will have a shortfall of 74 million jobs that need to be created by 2020, governments need to create policies and implementation plans that will allow for a more competitive private sector that favors business growth, job creation, and the stimulation of African economies—such as sound fiscal and monetary policies; good governance, transparency, and strengthened judiciary systems; an improved investment climate, and reduced corruption. In particular, long-term investment in the private sector, the infrastructure and manufacturing industries, and agriculture will address food insecurity and create the necessary employment opportunities for African youth. Boosting incentives to improve the quality of education will also be key to producing a skilled workforce.

PRIORITY NUMBER 2: REGIONAL INTEGRATION

In moving away from a reliance on Western assistance, African governments should seek to improve regional integration initiatives, which are key to sustaining development and encouraging long-term prosperity for the entire region. Increasing intra-African trade will be a key component to accelerating economic growth, as it will increase industry competition, improve productivity, and develop local infrastructure.

Africa’s Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) will establish free trade among all 54 states on the continent by 2017 (though the region is behind its timeline) and a continental union by 2019. This will be a pivotal moment for development in Africa. The current level of trade between African states is only 12 percent compared to 60 percent for Europe, 40 percent for North America, and 30 percent for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), according to the World Trade Organization (WTO). The CFTA, though, would establish the world’s largest single market and effectively boost trade between African states by 50 percent. When combined with good governance and political stability, intra-Africa trade and deepening market integration will significantly increase economic growth, job creation, employment, poverty reduction, inflow of foreign direct investment, industrial development, and better integration of the continent into the global economy. It will also decrease the continent’s current heavy reliance on the outside world for its growth.

 PRIORITY NUMBER 3: COMMERCIAL ENGAGEMENT AND TRADE 

The future of the African trade regime depends more on what Africa will negotiate and not on what Africa deserves, so leaders must actively seek commercial and trade engagement. The recent Trump administration trade report to Congress clearly reflects that the U.S. will unequivocally protect America first in future trade regimes.

Africa is not a U.S trade competitor, especially when it comes to claims of unfair practices that are costing American jobs. The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) has not stolen American jobs. It has actually created around 120,000 jobs in the U.S., and 350,000 direct and 1 million indirect jobs in Africa. Now, though, some experts speculate that the Trump administration will attempt to make U.S.-Africa trade agreements more reciprocal and envision negotiating bilateral agreements that parallel the Economic Partnership Agreements between African countries and the European Union to give American exports comparative advantages. Morocco already presents an example of a successful free trade agreement with the U.S. According to the International Trade Administration (ITA), average U.S. exports to Morocco have more than tripled since the U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Agreement (FTA): U.S. exports to Morocco increased from $482 million in 2005 to $2.1 billion in 2015. Morocco export goods totaled $977 million in 2013, a 119% increase since 2005.

Angelle Kwemo

Angelle Kwemo

Consequently, Morocco’s ambitious economic reforms positioned the kingdom as a gateway for U.S. companies to African and European markets, becoming the prime destination for foreign direct investment in Africa. Its successful completion the COP22 last year, its return to the African Union, and its massive investment in the continent (the second largest investor after South Africa) will bear even more dividends.

Then again, after U.S. trade negotiations with SACU and Egypt were suspended several years ago, the readiness of African countries to engage in these negotiations remains premature. Nevertheless, it is important that African nations prioritize greater dialogue between members of regional economic communities to implement necessary policies reform and with the U.S. in order to accelerate such reform and increase trade and investment between both continents.

As outgoing Assistant Secretary for Africa Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield emphasized, “The African continent has made enormous democratic and economic progress in recent years and now holds a growing place on the global stage.” African policymakers must work to continue this trend, largely through the promotion of African trade.

THE FUTURE OF U.S.-AFRICA ENGAGEMENT: TRADE, NOT AID?

Though aid to Africa looks like it will get cut, it doesn’t mean that U.S. engagement will too. Trump must continue to engage Africa: The region is of paramount importance because of Western reliance on natural resources, trade, economic opportunities, and long-term security issues. In fact, American engagement in Africa largely serves American interests. For example, creating African jobs is not just important for economic growth; it affects national and global security. In particular, youth unemployment often serves as a powerful recruitment tool for insurgency and terrorist organizations.

Similarly, former President Obama’s Power Africa initiative aiming at addressing the much-needed power poverty in Africa created more jobs in the U.S. because of the opportunities given to U.S. companies. Additionally, the program will save American taxpayers $86 million over five years. The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), whose budget is also in jeopardy, had increased its energy portfolio for feasibility studies by 800 percent, creating U.S. export avenue for energy companies. Encouraging a mutually beneficial pro-business approach that will create jobs in the U.S. and Africa could be a very successful strategy. Greater private sector engagement will boost local economies and reduce long-term dependency on aid.

Trump continues to pursue policy that he believes would have the greatest return for the American people. In the same way, African leaders should not be dismayed by possible cuts in foreign aid, instead, they should actively seek to create the enabling environment necessary to boost local economies, attract foreign investment, negotiate transfer of technology, encourage private sector growth/competitiveness, and increase regional integration.

Whether the Trump administration slashes the aid budget or not, African governments must come to the realization that the continent’s prosperity is not primarily in the hands of White House officials. Africa holds the keys to its own development. It is our hope that U.S.-African engagement will remain nonpartisan, strong, and continue to make mutually beneficial partnership more palpable. As Mandela said, “It is always impossible until it is done.”

*Source Brookings. Note: This blog reflects the views of the author only and does not reflect the views of the Africa Growth Initiative. Angelle B. Kwemo is managing director for Africa of Washington Media Group, Founder, Believe in Africa, and other author of Against All Odds: How to Stay on Top of the Game.

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Africa telecom and finance leaders assess accelerating digital investment opportunities
April 15, 2017 | 0 Comments

Telecom and tech companies are increasing investment across Africa as the rapidly improving digital infrastructure and services, and the take up of smartphones, provide huge opportunities for business and revenue growth.

LONDON, United Kingdom, April 7, 2017/ — Leaders from Africa’s biggest telecom investment companies including MTN, Orange, Helios Towers, American Tower, Eaton Towers, Google, Microsoft, Liquid Telecom and SEACOM are meeting with investment bankers, investors and advisers in London on May 24 to discuss accelerating new investment opportunities in digital communications and infrastructure.

Telecom and tech companies are increasing investment across Africa as the rapidly improving digital infrastructure and services, and the take up of smartphones, provide huge opportunities for business and revenue growth.

“Telecom and tech companies are ramping up their investment plans for digital infrastructure and services across Africa as reach of service and demand is soaring,” commented an investment banker focused on Africa. “On the infrastructure side, operators are investing in spectrum, especially in the 700MHz band, as well as on strengthening their networks by migrating from 3G to 4G LTE-based services. Mobile tower operators are also investing heavily while submarine and terrestrial cable providers have been increasing the available backbone infrastructure.”

“Improving broadband speeds and access is also having a big impact on both business to business and consumer focused opportunities. Datacentre investment appetite is growing and Smartphone take-up is supporting the growth in m-commerce, m-money and m-banking services which presents a massive opportunity for vendors and application providers.”

Over 200 senior telecom, media and tech executives, including many industry CEOs, investment bankers and advisers will meet at TMT Finance Africa 2017  at the Hilton Hotel Tower Bridge in London on May 24 to discuss the new investment and partnership opportunities.

The executive only event, which is in its eight year in London, features over 70 speakers and 25 sessions on telecom, media and tech investment and partnership opportunities for Africa.

Participating companies include: MTN Group, Orange, Liquid Telecom, Eaton Towers, American Tower Corporation, Jumia Food, SEACOM, Savannah Fund, Fibersat, PayStack, Sliide Airtime, Connect Africa, Rack Centre, Citi, Helios Towers Africa, Standard Bank Group, Atlas Mara Ltd, Draper Dark Flow, Google, Microsoft, Ringier Africa, Norton Rose Fullbright, WorldRemit, IFC, Amadeus Capital Partners, WIOCC, Societe Generale Chanzo Capital, Africa Mobile Networks, African Broadcast Network, Intelsat, Digital World Capital, MainOne Cable, M-KOPA Solar, Flexenclosure, Hardiman Telecom and African Capital Alliance.

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Africa: Kenya’s Internet Speed Ranked Fastest in Africa
April 9, 2017 | 0 Comments

Kenya’s internet is faster, and cheaper as compared to many countries around the world a report by Akamai, a leading Content Delivery Network revealed. Out of the 108 countries sampled globally, Kenya ranked number 23, and the country is the top ranked African country, with the fastest internet connectivity speed. The fast and reliable internet in Kenya has significantly influenced the improvement of e-commerce, generating enormous social, and economic benefits for the country.

Kenya’s internet speed and connectivity is faster, and cheaper as compared to many countries around the world a report by Akamai, a leading Content Delivery Network (CDN) has revealed.

Out of the 108 countries that were sampled globally, Kenya ranked number 23, and the country is the top ranked African country, with the fastest internet connectivity speed. South Korea has the highest average connection speed globally at 26.1 megabytes per second (Mbps).

Akamai aims to make the internet fast, reliable, and secure for its customers.

In most African countries internet is expensive, and speeds are generally slow. In Kenya several internet providers such as Safaricom, Airtel and Orange have upgraded their speeds to the benefit of their customers, and such upgrades have had a positive impact on the economy.

The reliable internet in Kenya has significantly influenced the improvement of electronic-commerce. Many Kenyans are now able to bank and transact online, download music and videos while the uptake of e-learning resources and usage of social media platforms has also greatly improved over the past few years.

According to the report, Kenya overtook third-quarter leader Israel to gain the top spot for average connection speeds among the surveyed Middle East and Africa countries in the fourth quarter. The country has had a tremendous growth in high-speed connectivity in the past years.

The report further said, Kenya has an impressive average of 15mbps followed by Israel at 14.4mbps, South Africa recorded 6.6 mbps, Morocco 5.2 mbps, and Nigeria 4.1 mbps.

Kenya’s National broadband strategy

The improvement to Kenya’s connection speeds and broadband adoption rates is attributed to the successful implementation of the National Broadband Strategy (NBS). The vision of this broadband strategy has been to see the transformation of the country to a knowledge-based society driven by a high capacity nationwide broadband network.

The overall objective of this strategy is to provide quality broadband services to all citizens.

“The strategy has enabled the government to roll out the National Optic Fibre Broadband Infrastructure that has linked all the counties to the Internet by fibre cable. Fibre cable ground installation and provision of 4G network coverage has contributed to the high speeds and efficiency in connectivity,” Joseph Mucheru, the Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Information said.

 Access to fast and reliable internet has the potential to generate enormous social economic benefits for the country. The benefits include economic growth, job creation, growth of investment opportunities, access to online government services, improved education and training services, improved national safety and security services among others.

Top ranked countries with high speed internet connectivity:

South Korea: 26.1Mbps

Norway: 23.6Mbps

Sweden: 22.817.3Mbps

Hong Kong: 21.9Mbps

Switzerland: 21.23Mbps

Denmark: 20.7Mbps

Finland 20.6Mbps

Singapore: 20.2Mbps

Japan: 19.6Mbps

Netherlands: 17.6Mbps

*AllAfrica/This is Africa

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2017 AFRICA CEO FORUM: 20 AFRICAN BUSINESS LEADERS COMMIT TO PROMOTING WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP
April 7, 2017 | 0 Comments

Fostering female entrepreneurship in Africa and improving women’s access to decision-making positions in African companies: the African Women in Business working group met in Geneva at the 2017 Africa CEO Forum and made concrete commitments towards achieving these aims.

GENEVA, Switzerland, 4 April 2017 -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Building on the success of the African Women in Business initiative launched this year by the Africa CEO Forum, which took place in Geneva on 20 and 21 March, the organizers convened a special working group consisting of mainly female CEOs/managersfrom 20 African countries and various sectors. Among them were Janine Diagou of NSIA (Côte d’Ivoire), Binta Touré Ndoye of Oragroup (Togo), Fathia Bennis of Maroclear, Tunisian lawyer Donia Ellouze, Rosemary Yeboah of Ecobank (Ghana), and Tonye Cole, CEO of Sahara Group (Nigeria), the only male participant.

During this first session, moderated by Oulimata Sarr, UN Women Regional Economic Empowerment Adviser for West and Central Africa, the working group made resolutions to improve the status of women in companies. It also committed to putting forward several recommendations in order to come up with an action plan for women’s leadership in African business. The key takeaways were the following :


Three keys for fostering female entrepreneurship

* Give access to financial products specially designed for women entrepreneurs: the working group intends to bring this matter to the attention of financial institutions.

* Create women’s networks, drawing on Senegal’s Women Investment Club (WIC), whose 54 members raised half a million dollars to finance woman-run SMEs.

* Advocate to promote access to large public and private enterprise tenders for woman-owned SMEs

Emphasizing the fact that women hold 40% of mid-management positions in Africa, yet only 5% are CEOs, the working group selected four proposals for a fairer distribution of corporate power in African countries.

Four recommendations for improving women’s access to decision-making positions

* Systematic mentoring. Women and men who are in a leadership position in the business sector must devote time to mentor young women and develop their skills in order to optimize their career opportunities.

* Promote flexitime in companies with the aim of giving employees the opportunity to achieve a good balance between their personal and professional lives.

* Encourage gender equality legislation for boards of directors, as Rwanda and some other countries on the continent have already done.

* Create databases listing high-potential female profiles to facilitate the recruitment of women to decision-making positions by African companies.

The first decisions taken by the members of African Women in Business working group were the following:

* Sahara Group, Nigeria-based energy conglomerate: reach a 40-60 female-male ratio on its board of directors.

* Tonye Cole, Chairman, Sahara Group, also pledged to bring other men to the next African Women in Business meeting, stressing that men also have a role to play in advancing gender equality.

* Oragroup, Togo-based banking group: improve the female-male ratio of its executive committee from the current 26-74 to 50-50 by 2020.

* Groupe Jeune Afrique: training the next generation of women leaders through the “Heroines’ Forum”, an initiative that will move from country to country, with its first edition in October in Abidjan.

* The Africa CEO Forum also set itself two objectives:

– Increase the number of women delegates from 20% to 30% over the next 3 years

– Increase the number of women speakers from 20% to 35% in the same time frame

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of the Africa CEO Forum.

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Morocco: Rwanda Eyes Over U.S.$100 Million Investments From Morocco
April 5, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Ivan R. Mugisha*

Rwanda is expecting more than $100 million in investments from Morocco.

Rwanda's Paul Kagame with the King of Morocco

Rwanda’s Paul Kagame with the King of Morocco

Acting head of investment promotion at the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) Winifred Ngangure Kabega said at a press conference Monday that the money would be invested in different sectors of the economy including tourism, energy and infrastructure.

Kigali hosted more than 100 Moroccan investors and government officials Monday in what was dubbed the “African Business Connect,” where the delegation from North Africa presented Rwanda with the multimillion dollar investment opportunities.

“We are looking at approximately $100 million worth of investments from Morocco,” said Ms Kabega. “Back in October we signed a partnership agreement for the avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal aversion with respect to taxes on incomes.”

She added: “We also signed an agreement on reciprocal investment promotion, tourism promotion and development of special economic zones.”

The two countries are seeking to boost trade flows and cement economic and political ties.

A 5,000 units low-cost housing project worth $68 million for example, was meant to kick-off in Kigali this year.

However, the groundwork for the project by Moroccan firm Palmerie Development Group, has been postponed to January next year, as the firm is winding up negotiations with the government.

 Morocco’s ambassador to Rwanda Youssef Imani noted that Kigali’s economic transformation had been profound.

“That is a major reason Morocco is seeking friendship and economic mutual benefits with Rwanda through private sector investments,” he said.

The $100 million investment opportunity comes a few months after King Mohammed VI of Morocco met President Paul Kagame, after which the two countries signed 21 bilateral pacts, particularly in investment promotion.

The visit also culminated in the planned acquisition of the majority shares in a local bank – Cogebanque – by Attijariwafa Bank, which is part of King Mohammed VI’s holding company the National Investment Company – Société Nationale d’Investissement.

But as of Monday, the deal had not yet been concluded, according to the director-general of financial stability at National Bank of Rwanda Peace Uwase.

“As of now I am not aware of any concluded deal,” she said in a phone interview.

Trade flows between Rwanda and Morocco have been on the lower end of the scale, standing at just one per cent of total volumes last year, according to RDB.

*Allafrica/The East African

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`Ten Things to Know About Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Candidate for WHO-Director General’
April 4, 2017 | 0 Comments
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus,

In May this year, the World Health Organization (WHO), the world’s premier international public health agency, will elect a new Director-General to lead the organization when Dr. Margaret Chan steps down in July. The importance of this role, cannot be underestimated. Pandemics, pollution, poverty and war all add to the complexity of preserving the health of the world’s almost 7 billion citizens.

A cool head, informed professionalism, and high-level organizational experience will be needed. While three candidates remain in the nominee field, Dr. Tedros Adhanom of Ethiopia – a champion for global health priorities both nationally and internationally – stands as the most experienced, visionary, and veteran `problem-solving’ leader to take on this most important public health position.

Why? Here are ten things you might not know about Dr. Tedros and his candidacy:

1. Over three decades, Dr. Tedros demonstrated a unique mix of political leadership and hands-on public health experience.

 2. As Ethiopia’s Minister of Health he has greatly improved health outcomes in a country/region hardest hit by many of the world’s biggest health challenges; his comprehensive agenda of reform dramatically transformed the country’s health system.

3. Dr. Tedros increased access to health care with limited resources and community engagement, using primary health care as a platform; investing in critical infrastructure, expanding the health workforce and initiating pioneering financing mechanisms.

4. By overseeing the training/deployment of 38,000 health extension workers, (a `health development army’) his efforts created a community-based system with nearly 3 million women at its core; leading to a seven-fold increase in health professionals and a capacity increase of doctor training from 3 medical schools to 33 schools.

5. Under Dr. Tedros leadership, the Ministry of Health developed an integrated, household-based information management system which documents the health history of each family member; resulting in improvements in data collection, monitoring and evaluation.

6. Health insurance in Ethiopia now provides people in both the formal/informal sectors with full coverage of health services; leading Ethiopia to be the first country to sign a global compact with the `International Health Partnership’.

7. Dr. Tedros also helped establish the pooled MDG Health Fund, facilitating the allocation of ear-marked/disease-specific funding to address pressing health needs.

8. With the establishment of `Ethiopia’s Pharmaceutical Supply Fund Agency’, Dr. Tedros instituted transparent and accountable business processes, ensuring the availability of a reliable supply of affordable, quality-assured medicines.

9. Dr. Tedros showed impressive leadership and broad understanding of valuable partnerships/relationships as Board Chair, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB & Malaria; Board Chair, Roll Back Malaria Partnership; Board Co-Chair, Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health; and Chair, UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board.

10. In being elected to lead the WHO, Dr. Tedros will make history as the first African to head the organization.

In a lifetime of service, Dr. Tedros Adhanom has used his proven political, diplomatic and negotiation skills to continue to build a healthier world for all people – a goal he will undoubtedly work towards when elected to be the next Director-General of the World Health Organization.

Dr. Tedros will be travelling in your part of the world soon and is available for phone and print interviews. For reference, the WHO election will take place on May 23rd in Geneva, Switzerland at the 70th session of the World Health Assembly.

Follow Dr. Tedros on his website: http://www.drtedros.com/, on Facebook.com/DrTedros.Official and follow Dr. Tedros on Twitter at @DrTedros.

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Fifa propose nine African World Cup spots
April 1, 2017 | 0 Comments
An African nation has never lifted the World Cup trophy in its 87 year history

An African nation has never lifted the World Cup trophy in its 87 year history

Fifa is proposing that Africa gets nine automatic places when the World Cup expands to 48 teams in 2026.

That would be an increase from the tally of five places that the continent currently holds.

A tenth African country will take part in a six-nation play-off tournament to decide the last two spots.

Football’s world governing body has revealed its plans for how all 48 places will be allocated, with 16 Europeans teams set to qualify.

“The Bureau of the Fifa Council, comprised of the Fifa President and the president of each of the six confederations, agreed on (the) proposed allocation,” said a Fifa statement.

The recommendations will be voted on by the Fifa Council at its next meeting on 9 May.

Fifa members voted in January to expand the World Cup from 32 to 48 teams, starting with the 2026 edition.

Proposed allocation:

  • Asia: 8 direct slots – increased from 4.5 (currently 46 members)
  • Africa: 9 direct slots – increased from 5 (currently 54 members)
  • North and central America: 6 direct slots – increased from 3.5 (currently 34 members)
  • South America: 6 direct slots – increased from 4.5 (currently 10 members)
  • Oceania: 1 direct slot – increased from 0.5 (currently 11 members)
  • Europe: 16 direct slots – increased from 13 (currently 55 members)
  • Final two places in 2026 decided by six-team play-offs

NB: Currently teams from Asia, north and central America, South America and Oceania play-off for two places hence .5 spots above.

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AfDB Calls for a “Revolution” in Providing Energy Access Solutions
March 31, 2017 | 0 Comments
Adesina

Adesina

The African Development Bank (AfDB) brought together more than 180 stakeholders across the off-grid energy sector on Tuesday, March 28, in the context of “Energy Week” at the Bank’s headquarters in Abidjan to discuss interventions to support the scale-up of energy access investments. The overarching objective was to unleash an “Off-Grid Energy Revolution”, to provide up to 75 million households and businesses not covered by the power grid with modern, clean and affordable electricity using decentralized solar technologies.

During the plenary session of the Off-Grid Revolution consultation workshop, opening remarks were given by Bank President Akinwumi Adesina; the Minister of Oil, Energy and Energy Development of Côte d’Ivoire, Thierry Tanoh; and the Minister of Energy of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Henry Macauley.

President Adesina said, “Africa’s energy potential is as enormous as its electricity deficit. We must move quickly to unlock this energy potential. We must be smart, efficient, sustainable and quick in our actions.” The Off-Grid Revolution stakeholder consultation comes under the framework of the New Deal on Energy for Africa, which aims to provide universal energy access to all Africans by 2025.

“Although we can employ mix of approaches, off-grid solutions must be at the core of our approach to achieve the ambitious electricity access targets that we have set,” Adesina added.

The future of off-grid energy solutions is bright. Amadou Hott, the AfDB Vice-President for Power, Energy, Climate Change and Green Growth, noted that millions of Africans have recently been connected to electricity by start-ups, driven by plummeting costs of solar photovoltaic (PV) and batteries, innovations in mobile payments and wireless communications technologies. “These businesses are increasing energy access across Africa faster, more cheaply, and more widely than conventional grid extension,” said Hott.

In break-out sessions, participants discussed the issues related to access to financing, risk mitigation, enabling environment and appropriate business models to scale up the energy access in Africa. Overall, stakeholders reiterated the need for a stronger political will by governments, ensure long-term integrated planning of off-grid and on-grid, and to develop the local ecosystem including manufacturing, skills development. Stakeholders also agreed on the need for more patient capital and local currency financing, hedging tools to mitigate foreign exchange risks, and to improve the credit scoring data.

The meeting was attended by leading and emerging businesses, country-representatives, civil society, industry bodies, local financial institutions, key development partners, technology providers, impact investors and AfDB staff.

About the Off-Grid Revolution

The AfDB – under its New Deal for Energy for Africa (NDEA) Strategy – has set an aspirational target of “off-grid” electricity access target of reaching 75 million connections by end of 2025. This can only be achieved through an unprecedented collaboration across a wide spectrum of committed partners. Against this backdrop, the Bank convened the “Off-Grid Revolution” workshop to define towards a suite of interventions to support the scale-up of “off grid” investment. The event is part of the Energy Week, a series of events, including high-level discussions and partnerships focusing on lighting up and powering Africa, and unlocking Africa’s huge energy potential co-organised and hosted by the AfDB. Energy Week runs from Monday, March 27 to Friday, March 31, 2017 in Abidjan.

About the AfDB’s Power, Energy, Climate Change and Green Growth Complex

The Power, Energy, Climate Change and Green Growth Sector Complex (PEVP), was created to fulfill the objectives of “Light Up and Power Africa” – principally achieving universal access to electricity by 2025. The Complex will accomplish this by building Africa’s energy systems while ensuring green growth. The entire development ecosystem for operational effectiveness, scale, socio- economic, and environmental impact will be taken into account. The New Deal on Energy for Africa, together with the inter-connected flagship programs is a top initiative of PEVP.

*AllAfrica. Read full Speech here

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Morocco Reaps Rewards of Major Changes in Its Diplomatic Strategy
March 31, 2017 | 0 Comments

King Mohammed VI of Morocco, (L) walks with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. Reuters/Tiksa Negeri

King Mohammed VI of Morocco, (L) walks with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. Reuters/Tiksa Negeri

At a time when the European Union is bemoaning the loss of the United Kingdom, Morocco has rejoined the African Union, ensuring that every African country is again a member.

Morocco has also served formal notice that it will apply to join the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas). At a time when there’s a growing northern backlash against free trade areas.Morocco has been actively negotiating with more than one of these in Africa.

What is going on? Morocco is now outflanking and outvoting Algeria, South Africa and their allies.

The main reason is that Morocco has been on a massive diplomatic drive, using both its political and economic muscle. Since his coronation in 1999, the king has led over 40 visits to African countries south of the Sahara. And 85% of Moroccan foreign direct investment is in other African countries.

Morocco is today the second largest foreign investor, after South Africa, in other AU countries. It’s also now in a position to grant foreign aid that swings AU votes in its favour.

Role of history

When the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was founded in 1963, one of its founding principles was to recognise all borders as they existed on the day of independence. Morocco and Somalia lodged objections – a premonition of wars to come. Both considered their precolonial territory, included neighbouring colonies, not yet independent.

When Spain withdrew from Spanish Sahara in 1975, Polisario, which waged an insurgency against Spanish colonialists and subsequently Morocco, proclaimed the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) in 1976.

Simultaneously, Morocco and Mauritania partitioned the SADR between them, with Morocco later occupying it all on the grounds that it had been part of the Moroccan empire two centuries earlier.

The SADR promptly applied for OAU membership. Diplomats resorted to their favourite tactic in cases of deadlock, to stall as long as possible. But after seven years this was no longer possible and the SADR was admitted in 1983 with Morocco withdrawing in 1984.

The Sahrawis waged a 16 year war, ending in a ceasefire. What’s often skated over is that the Sahrawis are outnumbered about sixty to one by Moroccans.

Diplomacy reaps rewards

Morocco is still en route to a constitutional monarchy. Parliament has no say over foreign policy and military affairs, both of which remain controlled by the monarchy.

We can infer though that a nationalist or irredentist policy towards the SADR probably enjoys wide popularity, and that a Moroccan withdrawal from the SADR would be met by some protests within Morocco.

When King Mohammed VI ascended the throne in 1999, he took cognisance of the fact that 16 years of boycotting the OAU had failed because the SADR remained an AU member in good standing. The new king used Morocco’s strengths as both an Arabophone and Francophone country to lobby zealously.

His success can be measured by the fact that Morocco’s application to rejoin the now strengthened African Union was supported by 39 out of 54 votes, with a majority of AU members, 28 out of 54, petitioning to suspend the SADR as a member. The SADR was only saved by the two-thirds rule which applies to suspension.

During these two decades of Moroccan diplomacy, the kingdom had also joined the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), until this became dormant after Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s assassination in 2011. It also negotiated, but didn’t sign, a free trade agreement with the francophone UEMOA, the west African economic and monetary union.

Morocco has now formally stated that it will apply to join the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), as “part of the royal vision for regional integration”. (This is also a tacit admission that the Arab Maghreb Union is moribund, and going nowhere.)

If this seems startling, we should note that regional definitions are as much political as geographic, and are dynamic, not static. Rwanda, for example, moved from the central African grouping to the East African Community in 2007. Egypt and Libya have joined the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa, Comesa.

And the AU has urged other states to follow the Tripartite Free Trade Area precedent by amalgamating with Ecowas.

Economic success

We now need to consider the economic dimension. Morocco now has the fifth largest GDP in Africa.

In addition, Morocco has an economy as diversified as Egypt’s and South Africa’s unlike Nigeria and Algeria which are brutally affected by slumps in oil and gas prices.

In addition to tourism and food exports, Morocco has deftly used free trade area partnerships with the EU until it has, for example, built up over one hundred companies that are partners in aerospace global supply chains.

This niche surpasses both South African and Egyptian manufacturing. Morocco is also installing some of the largest solar power plants in Africa, monetising the Sahara sunlight.

The future will tell us what further diplomatic successes Morocco will achieve.

*The Conversation.Disclosure statement Keith Gottschalk does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.

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Africa: CAF Chief Backs Morocco World Cup Bid
March 31, 2017 | 0 Comments
Ahmad Ahmad

Ahmad Ahmad

NEW African football chief Ahmad Ahmad gave his backing on Tuesday to a potential bid from Morocco to host the 2026 World Cup.

The North African country has bid to host the global show piece on four previous occasions but missed out on the 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010 editions.

“We are convinced that Morocco could organise this competition just as was done by South Africa in 2010,” said Ahmad, who was elected president of the Confederation of African Foot ball (CAF) earlier this month to replace Issa Hayatou, at a press conference in Marrakesh.

Ahmad’s backing comes just a few months after Fifa president Gianni Infantino declared that the country has the necessary “infrastructure and organizational capacity” to host the World Cup.

But a year ago, Fifa had accepted that Morocco paid bribes to the former head of the North and Central American Confederation in trying to win the right to host the 1998 and 2010 tournaments – something that could prejudice any future bid.

*Tanzania Daily/Allafrica

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Moroccan Ministry of Energy, Mines, Water & Environment to join discussions at the Africa Energy Forum in Copenhagen
March 24, 2017 | 0 Comments
Mr. Abderrahim EL HAFIDI, Secretary General of the Ministry of Energy, Mines, Water and Environment of the Kingdom of Morocco, is the latest to confirm attendance at the Africa Energy Forum in Copenhagen from 7-9 June 2017
LONDON, United Kingdom, March 21, 2017/ — At the Powering Africa: Summit which took place in Washington DC from 9-10 March, Morocco’s ONEE presented their Gas to Power Programme and MASEN discussed their sustainable energy programme under the leadership of Mustapha Bakkoury, President and Chief Executive Officer. Both organisations are clearly focused on a broader role within Africa carrying with them the potential of building physical energy links between the continent and Europe. The support of the Ministry at the Africa Energy Forum (AEF)  this year underlines the commitment from the Kingdom of Morocco to explore energy partnerships with Europe and hasten the pace of foreign direct investment in Morocco.

AEF is set to bring 2,000 participants to Copenhagen this June for the annual gathering for government ministers, heads of utilities, project developers and global investors driving forward the development of Africa’s energy projects.

Other recent confirmations include H.E. Dr. Eng. Seleshi Bekele, Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity, Ethiopia, Ulla Tørnæs, Minister for Development Cooperation, Government of Denmark, Teresa Ribeiro, Secretary of State for Development, Government of Portugal, Hisham Sallam, Second Secretary – responsible for Economics and Energy, Government of Egypt, Mateus Magala, Chairman of the Board of Directors, EDM, William Amuna, Chief Executive Officer, GRIDCo, Ghana and Emmanuel Antwi-Darkwa, Chief Executive Officer of Volta River Authority in Ghana.

Speakers take part in a panel discussion at the Africa Energy Forum 2016 in London

Speakers take part in a panel discussion at the Africa Energy Forum 2016 in London

A new Platinum agenda stream will bring together senior level government officials with some of the world’s biggest investors in discussions on how to accelerate projects, whilst specific country sessions will explore the unique investment climates and priority projects for countries such as Nigeria, South Africa, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mozambique, Morocco, Ethiopia, and Kenya.

Organisers of the Forum EnergyNet  will host a city boat cruise along the canals of Copenhagen and pre-Forum golf championship day to build additional networking opportunities into this annual business Forum.

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