Cameroon: Media Practitioners Told to Fight against Hate Speech, Xenophobia
June 18, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Boris Esono Nwenfor
Media managers, journalists have been educated on the need to fight against hate speech and xenophobia in society. This meeting with journalists as part of the National Commission for the Promotion of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism’s (NCPBM) communication campaign against Hate Speech and Xenophobia took place from June 15 to 18 2021 in Buea.
The campaign did not only focus on journalists but other actors on the field from Civil Society Organizations, Church Leaders, Traditional authorities and others. This campaign was launched back in March in Yaounde and aims at knowing the causes, manifestations, consequences and recommendations from people across the country.
Speaking to the journalists were two members of the Commission in Benjamin Itoe (former Minister of Transport, Justice and Tourism) and George Ngwane (Head of the working group on Bilingualism).
“The meeting is to intensify the combat against hate speech and xenophobia. No country even if it is mini-cultural can tolerate hate speech” Benjamin Itoe, Member of the NCPBM said.
“We need to consolidate our diversity by fighting against hate speech. If we allow it to go then the country will disintegrate and will no longer leave in peace and harmony that it needs to develop. Xenophobia and hate speech is perpetrated by individuals for their gains and the personal gains of their ethnic origins.”
From qualifying some tribes as more beautiful or intelligent than the others, the lack of resources to the frequent appointments of the same persons to the government or from one tribe were all avenues that the journalists brought forward as causes of the rise of hate speech in the country.
After taking part in a group exercise, the journalists brought out some vital points that should be implemented such as the education of the population and even the implantation of subjects from the primary school on hate speech and xenophobia.
Others looked at the need for sensitization campaigns to be carried out in villages to educate the population on the need to shun the practice of hate speech; the creation of programmes to address this issue, and addressing the root causes of people’s problems in the country.
Hate speech has continuously promoted conflicts in the communities despite the national and international instruments put in place to limits its effects. “Anglo-fool”, “Franco-fool”, “Bami”, and “Graffi” are all words that are being extensive use in the Cameroonian milieu.
In the past, it might have been looked at as a way of making fun but today, they are all regarded as derogatory words, words that instead cause divide than uniting the population together.
“We need to look at the policies and laws that were put that have resulted in hate speech. Hate speech is in various dimensions and we need to address the root causes of the problems and solve them. If not we will continue (having hate speech),” Dr Kingsley Ngange, Associate Professor and Head of the Journalism Department in the University of Buea said.
The use of hate speeches and many other derogatory statements are part of the causes of the ongoing Anglophone crisis that has been for the past four years and entering the fifth year. Many Anglophones feel that their Francophone brothers west of the Mungo “do not like them” or “do not understand the problems that they are going to.”
It is common to hear someone being referred to as “blackleg”, “ekelebe”, “Larrisa”, all being used in connection to the Anglophone crisis. When these slangs are used it only goes a long way to increase social tension in the country, observers have noted.
This rise in hate speech has equally been compounded by the extensive use of various social media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and others. Time without number individuals in the country and those in the Diaspora have been noted to have sent various derogatory messages to individuals especially as people have taken sides in the ongoing crisis.
The journalists have taken the firm commitment to become volunteers for a coalition against Hate Speech and Xenophobia. They have also called on the authorities to strictly implement the law on hate speech as a means to mitigate or curb the rise of hate speech across the country.
Mozambique denies using landmines to combat terrorists
June 15, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Jorge Joaquim
The Mozambican defence ministry has denied reports that security forces are using landmines in the fighting with terrorists in Cabo Delgado province, where the battle has left more than 2,500 people dead and 700,000 displaced since the insurgency began in 2017.
The spokesman Colonel Omar Saranga said that the defence forces were committed to acting in line with all the treaties and conventions ratified by the country, adding that if there had been any mine explosions, “they can only be the work of the terrorists”.
Mozambique was declared mine-free in 2015 after a major demining effort.
Although it was heavily mined before the 1992 peace deal between the government and the Renamo rebels, Mozambique ratified the Ottawa treaty on the prohibition of landmines in 1998, and the defence forces destroyed their stocks of landmines.
Colonel Saranga also urged everyone, particularly the media, to preserve Mozambique’s good name and image.
The last major attack in Cabo Delgado was recorded on 24 March in Palma town, which is still partially occupied by terrorists, according to refugees who fled the area to the city of Pemba.
Terrorist attacks in the district are continuing, over two months after the first attack on the town of Palma, and that almost the entire population is fleeing the district.
The town of Palma and several villages in the district had been abandoned, as terrorists were roaming through villages, kidnapping and decapitating people and burning down their houses.
S. Sudan Kiir Directs NPTC to Mobilize Funds for Graduation of Unifying Forces
June 9, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Deng Machol
Juba – The South Sudanese Presidency has directed the National Transitional Committee (NPTC) to mobilize the necessary resources needed to establish the unified security forces in effort to accelerate the fragile peace deal.
The NPTC, is a body established to oversee the implementation of the 2018 revitalized peace deal.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, President Salva Kiir and his deputies instructed heads of the NTC, Tut Gatluak to accelerate the process of graduating the unified forces and developing a unified command.
The meeting was attended by President Salva Kiir, First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar, and Vice Presidents Dr. James Wani Igga, Rebecca Nyandeng, Taban Deng Gai, and Hussein Abdelbagi.
“To accelerate the process of graduating the unified forces and developing a unified command; To relocate both government and opposition forces to the cantonment sites for further training,” said presidency.
There are thousands of SSPDF, SPLA-IO, and Opposition Alliance troops at various training camps across the country.
They have been at the cantonment sites for nearly two years, hundreds of soldiers reportedly deserted the camps over lack of food, shelter, and medication.
But Kiir’s government claimed it does not have weapons to give to the unified forces.
Juba also claims it does not have the necessary funds for logistics.
Due to lack of funds has resulted to the postponement for the graduation of more than 600 police trainees scheduled on 9th June until further notice in order to further prepare the necessary requirements for their graduation
The presidency further instructed former government and opposition forces to relocate to the cantonment sites for further training.
The revitalized peace deal expects the unity government to graduate 83,000 Necessary Unified Forces, unification of their command, and redeploy the forces to provide security and safeguard the gains of the peace deal.
In May, the UN Security Council set the conditions necessary for lifting the arms embargo on South Sudan; include the completion by the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity such as the swearing in of the national parliamentarians, appointment of the Council of States and state legislatures.
It also demands the completion of the country’s strategic defense and security review; the formation of a unified command structure.
Something that Juba government failed to honor, which resulted to extension of armed embargo sanction.
However, the presidency has now decided “to capacitate the transitional government in order to strengthen the country’s unity irrespective of people’s political affiliations,” created by the country’s five year conflict.
According to the 2018 peace deal, the unified forces – composed of oppositions and government forces were supposed to be graduated before the end of the pre-transitional period which ended in February 2020 with the appointment of Dr. Machar as First Vice President.
Divorce In View As Africa Oil Week Picks Non-African Venue
June 7, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
Initially scheduled for 1-5 November in Cape Town South Africa, there is growing furor across the continent following the relocation of the 2021 edition of the Africa Oil Week (AOW) to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates from 8-11 November 2021.
“Delivering the event to the high standard to which our audience is accustomed and ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our attendees has always been our top priority. We believe that hosting the 2021 edition in Dubai will enable us to ensure that the event experience is both safe and premium for our customers,” the AOW said in a statement posted on their website recently.
Reactions did not take long to come with the African Energy Chamber led by NJ Ayuk leading the charge in calling for a stronger commitment to conferences of African nature being held on African terrain.
Mothballing a conference in South Africa, an African nation that has handled the Covid-19 pandemic remarkably well, is a clear sign of opportunism and detachment from the pledge to support African venues and our continent, the Chamber lashed out.
“While Dubai is a fabulous venue in its own right, we do believe that events of African nature should show strong commitment to African communities, cities and the local workforce. An event of the magnitude of Africa Oil Week is a big local employer. Reneging on its long-standing partner, the African people and the continent, is a truly unfortunate sign of disinterest in African values of trust, loyalty and companionship, and is in fact very unscrupulous in nature,” said NJ Ayuk, Executive Chair of the African Energy Chamber.
“Keeping to Covid-19 travel restrictions and how they have particularly placed a strenuous burden on the conferencing industry, there are smart ways to hold hybrid conferences of both online and offline nature. Further, vaccination rates are increasing rapidly across the Northern hemisphere, which would allow business travelers to visit South Africa in a safe manner by November,” Ayuk added.
The discontent from the African Energy Chamber on the AOW decision has resonated with many Africans who are using diverse platforms to call for the prioritization of African venues for African events.
The event’s move from Cape Town to Dubai was wrong, short-term in its thinking, and sends a negative message about Africa, says Florival Mucave, President of Mozambican Oil and Gas Chamber (CPGM).
“The move underestimates our preparedness to host events that define our future economic and energy sector success. Imagine the Africa Cup of Nations football tournament being hosted in Dubai because one company says Africa is not the right place anymore because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mucave said in condemnation of the relocation.
The excuses and final decision to move the event are both unacceptable and wrong, and sends a message that when things are hard because of COVID-19, Africa should be abandoned for other locations irrespective of the loyalty and the sponsorship Africa has shown for more than two decades, Mucave charged.
“As a former Patron of the African Institute of Petroleum, I concur that a move of AOW from an African location to any other continent is not just disrespectful to Africans whose resources are being talked about but considerably delusional,” says Robin Vela, Chairman, Lonsa Group Limited, Mauritius.
“I thought I was the only one who saw something very wrong with this decision. Africa as a continent is the least affected by COVID in the whole world, we have lesser death rates, came up with several initiatives and innovations to tackle the scourge. In my opinion, Africa handled the pandemic even better than the rest of the world, so why should the continent be counted out on grounds of the global pandemic,?” Margaret Nongo -Okojokwu , a 2017 Mandela Washington Fellow and social entrepreneur from Nigeria questions.
To the CEO of Turaco Aviation Group Abdul Bigirumwami from Rwanda ,African events should stay in Africa, Rwanda has handled the COVID-19 pandemic well and can support such events.
For Senior Tax and Legal Counsel from Senegal Abdoulaye DIA, “we cannot make Africa without Africans and out of Africa.”
“This is so sad for our struggling South African Event/Expo Industry . It’s all about money and bugger everyone else. “Africa” Oil Week… Dubai has never been or will ever be in Africa. Change the name of the event,” Simon Aubrey Onsite, Project / Site Manager for Overlay of Exhibitions / Sport Events opines.
Given the relentless attack that the oil and gas industry is facing, there is no better time for the oil and gas industry to stand with Africa but now, says the African Energy Chamber as it pledges to continue pushing for discussions on energy transition, fiscal responsibility, free markets, upstream, midstream, downstream, renewables and petrochemicals in Africa.
Beyond the criticisms on moving the AOC to Dubai, the controversial decision has prompted the Africa Energy Chamber to start exploring other avenues on what it perceives as injustice.
“As a first step, the Chamber will encourage, advocate and provide support for an energy event in October or November this year with African ministries, entrepreneurs, NOC’s, IOC’s, Civil society and possibly four African heads of States. The Chamber will continue to be the voice of the sector and work towards building bridges that brings together governments and companies in the African energy industry to find a common ground.,” a recent statement read.
Kenya:President Uhuru Kenyatta’s cherry-picking of Judges sparks uproar
June 4, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
The appointment of 34 Judges and omission of six others by President Uhuru Kenyatta has elicited protests from political leaders, lawyers, activists, Judges, and Magistrates.
In the gazette notice dated June 3, President Kenyatta appointed 34 out 41 judges recommended by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC)-Judges’ and Magistrates’ employer in 2019.
The President appointed seven Court of Appeal Judges, nine judges in the employment and labour relations court, and 18 in the environment and land court.
However, he rejected Justices George Odunga and Prof Joel Ngugi, who were part of a five-judge bench that nullified the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) last month. Others included Justices Weldon Korir, Aggrey Muchelule, Makori Evans Kiago, and Judith Omange Cheruiyot.
Hours after Mr. Kenyatta confirmed the appointment, Katiba Institute (KI) moved to court seeking an order to bar the swearing of the 34 judges terming it unconstitutional and stigmatizing to those left out.
Katiba Institute is a lobby that promotes knowledge and understanding of Kenya’s Constitution and constitutionalism and defends and facilitates the implementation of the constitution.
Through lawyer Dudley Ochiel, KI said President Kenyatta has no power to tinker with the names given to him, noting that his action has the harmful effect of undermining the Judiciary’s functioning and independence.
“That the Court issue a further order of prohibition stopping the Chief Justice and the Judicial Service Commission, their agents or anyone whatsoever from assigning duties to judges appointed from a partial list of the 40 nominees — contrary to the recommendation of the JSC in 2019 and the orders of this court in February 2020, pending hearing of the application and Petition.
“The cherry-picking and selective appointment or swearing-in of judges undermines the functions and powers of the Judicial Service Commission and the functioning of the Judiciary. It also is an improper extension of the role of the Executive and has created a constitutional crisis,” reads the application.
At the same time, Kenya Magistrates and Judges Association accused the Head of State of setting a very bad precedent in Kenya, one of not following the rule of law and disobedience of court orders.
They demanded the names of the six be gazetted with immediate effect, saying the decision to leave them out was surprising, unfounded, and constitutional.
Kenyan-American Law professor Makau Mutua has challenged the newly appointed Chief Justice Martha Koome to protect the independence of the Judiciary; a sentiment also echoed by Senator Kipchumba Murkomen.
“BBI judges Joel Ngugi and George Odunga have been denied elevation to the Court of Appeal. Mr. Kenyatta can’t choose which provisions of the constitution to obey, or disregard,” Professor Mutua said.
“Our eyes are fixed on the liberation warrior, the Prayer warrior, the Chief Justice, and the President of the Supreme Court Justice Martha Koome. This a watershed moment in the history of our Judiciary and will define the legacy of CJ Koome. Over to you Madam CJ,” Senator Murkomen added.
South Sudan: Renewed Arms Embargo ‘Threatens’ Peace Process
June 1, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Deng Machol
Juba – The renewed arms embargo on South Sudan by the UN Security Council is a threat to the implementation of the peace agreement, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
Juba says the extension of the arms embargo poses a great threat to the country’s efforts to realize peace and stability.
Last week, the UN Security Council voted to extend the sanction regime for a year despite resistance from two countries—India and Kenya that absented from the vote, with a clause providing for a review of its relevance in April 2022.
The arms embargo prohibits the supply, sale, or transfer of weapons and the provision of technical assistance, training, and other military assistance to the territory of South Sudan.
It will remain active until 31 May 2022.
Reacting to the extension, Ambassador Thomas Kenneth Elisapana, the acting spokesperson in the South Sudan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said the sanctions impede the peace deal’s implementation.
“These punitive measures undermine the sovereignty of the nation and jeopardize the progress of the implementation of the revitalised agreement,” said Kenneth.
He stated that the action by the UNSC undermines the sovereignty of the country and will delay the graduation of expected unified forces since the country will not be in a position to buy arms for the peace soldiers.
Kenneth said “By extending the arms embargo, graduation of the National Unified Forces (NUF) will greatly be affected, and will eventually weaken South Sudan to ascertain herself socially, economically, politically and in any unprecedented aggression internally or externally.”
South Sudan, was just emerging from six years of civil war that claimed some 380,000 lives, and uprooted four million from their homes, according to a UN report.
The conflict was officially withheld with the creation of a government of national unity in February 2020, followed 2018 peace deal.
According to Kenneth, the government expected that the recent reconstitution of the national legislature would be enough to reverse the decision.
“The government was expecting the international community to welcome the positive steps it has taken in the implementation of the R-ARCSS by lifting the sanctions. The government needs the encouragement of the International Community to do more towards the implementation of the agreement, instead of continuing renewing sanctions annually although they have proved unhelpful towards the stabilization of the situations in the country,” said Kenneth.
Juba further pointed out that if the international community needs change in South Sudan, then they should lift the sanctions.
“Lifting the sanctions would clear the image of the country and would accord it great opportunity to start acting again with the partners for the wellbeing of South Sudanese people,” said Kenneth. Therefore, South Sudan appeals world heartedly to the international community to review this untenable solution, as the country advances towards trust-building, reconciliation and healing, and peaceful resolution to the conflict.”
According to a report, the estimated total number of guns (both licit and illicit) held by civilians in East Africa’s youngest nation is 1,255,000 in 2017 and 3,000,000 in 2013.
Besides, the defense forces of South Sudan are reported to have 351,500 firearms.
However, the peace process remains fragile as the confrontation between the parties, including subnational violence still exists.
Rwanda:Kagame says Macron recognition of Genocide is risky but valuable
May 27, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Maniraguha Ferdinand
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda hailed President’s Emmanuel Macron ‘courage’ in recognizing the role of France into the history that lead to the genocide against the Tutsi in 1994.
Kagame was speaking at press conference with Emmanuel Macron, after the latter’s historic visit at Kigali genocide memorial on Thursday, May 27, 2021.
After touring the memorial, Macron said that French authorities of 1990s blindly kept helping a regime that was planning to exterminate part of its population in Rwanda.
“By engaging in a conflict in which it had no precedence in 1990, France failed to hear the voice of those who had warned it, or else it overestimated its strength by thinking be able to stop the worst” he said
“France did not understand that, by wanting to prevent a regional conflict or a civil war, it was in fact standing alongside a genocidal regime. By ignoring the warnings of the most lucid observers, France took overwhelming responsibility in a gear that ended in the worst, even though she sought precisely to avoid it.”
He went on asking apology. “As I stand with humility and respect by your side today, I come to recognize the extent of our responsibilities [..]Recognizing this past, our responsibility, is an unrequited gesture. Demanding towards ourselves and ourselves. Debt towards the victims after so many past silences. Gift to the living whose pain we can, if they accept, still ease. This journey of recognition, through our debts, our donations, offers us hope to come out of this night and walk together again. In this path, only those who have been through the night can perhaps forgive, give us the gift of forgiving ourselves”.
Macron is the first France’s president to recognize his country’s role into the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
President Kagame thanked Macron for such milestone aimed at normalizing relations of both countries which has been bad for past 27 years.
“This was a powerful speech, with special meaning for what is taking place now, and which will resonate well beyond Rwanda. His words were something more valuable than an apology: they were the truth.”
“Speaking the truth is risky. But you do it because it is right, even when it costs you something, even when it is unpopular. Despite some loud noises and voices, President Macron took this step. Politically and morally, this was an act of tremendous courage”, Kagame said.
For Kagame, Macron is different from other Western people who see Africa as a continent with losers.
“This is not to say that Africa has no bad actors. It does. They are there; they may even be numerous. But no more so than everywhere else in the world. The difference is that Africa as a whole comes to be defined by those bad actors, whereas elsewhere, these bad actors are exceptions.”
“This assumption creates a reference point where Africa is always down, while others are up. It secures those others in the conviction that they have a natural right to do and say whatever they want in relation to Africa, to give lessons and pass judgment on our choices.”
President Macron committed to redefining Rwanda and France relations that will benefit both sides.
He brought a donation of 100 000 Covid-19 vaccines to Rwanda and he promised more developmental agreements to follow.
African industrialist marks Africa Day with a video to “inspire and motivate” entrepreneurship as pandemic drags on
May 26, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Wallace Mawire
Noting the pandemic-fatigue setting in in many African countries, African industrialist and chairman of diversified company TRT Investments Adam Molai has produced an inspirational Africa Day video to motivate Africans.
“Over 14 months into battling the coronavirus epidemic, it is clear that citizens across the Continent are incredibly weary of the impact that Covid has wrought on their family and social lives, their children’s education and their livelihoods. Africa Day is intended to celebrate and acknowledge the progress that Africa has made in the last 58 years. As we celebrate Africa Day 2021, I thought it was even more important that we, as Africans, reflect on our progress and successes, despite the pandemic, which is why I commissioned the video,” says Molai.
The video titled This is Africa highlights African unicorns (start-valued at over $1-billion) as well as successful businesspeople and ideas originating from Africa.
Molai, who launched the $2-million Jua Fund to support African entrepreneurs in growing their businesses last year, says he wanted to focus on business as it is only through entrepreneurialism and business innovation that Africa will be able to throw off the yoke of economic oppression and prosper.
“The focus of Africa Day is often culture, arts and fashion and while there isn’t any problem with that and it should be celebrated, I believe that it is only through entrepreneurship and business that we will truly transform Africa. Unfortunately, Africa doesn’t have as many unicorns and successful businesspeople and ideas as the developed world can claim. But what is heartening it that the pace of business excellence and innovation has accelerated over the last five years as the video shows. I hope that Africans find this video inspirational and that it motivates all of them to think about solutions to Africa’s challenges that they can monetise,” he says.
A Friend For The Oppressed-Chief Charles Taku Reminisces On A Forty Year Law Career
May 20, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
From court rooms in Buea, Cameroon, to the Hague in Holland, Barrister Chief Taku has answered the call of the oppressed with the same verve in a law career that recently clocked 40 years.
From the perilous mission of defending Southern Cameroon’s activists in the 90s, to seeking justice for victims of the Rwandan genocide, and serving as a strong voice at the ICC against scapegoating Africans, Chief Taku has left an indelible mark in the course of his sterling career. In a walk down memory lane, the erudite Lawyer generously shares his experiences and offers his take on seminal developments in across Cameroon, Africa and the world at large.
Thanks for accepting to share with us forty years of legal services, and we would like to start with your career choice, why did Charles Taku decide to become a Barrister?
Barrister Chief Taku: Thanks so much for giving me once more this opportunity to share my experience with your teaming audience on matters about which I have personal knowledge.
My choice to apply to get into legal practice was deliberate and informed by circumstances which may be developed into a book.
A combination of circumstances and experience informed my choice to become a lawyer. Here are some of them.
Like many Southern Cameroonians of my generation, I lived my childhood formative years in systemic injustice. The transfer of the sovereignty of the Southern Cameroons from one colonial contraption to another had profound cultural, social, political and economic impact on me and my generation. My Bangwa ancestral homeland suffered from German devastating campaign and was neglected by the British colonial administration. The area briefly gained some spotlight during Southern Cameroons government and a short lived democratic space preceding and after October, 1, 1961.
The democratic space and the liberties it brought, were recklessly interrupted and eviscerated. Here is how it happened. Empowered by Ordinance no 60-20 of 22 February 1960, regulating the organization, administration and service of the National Gendarmerie and Military structure, Sadou Daoudou Minister of Defence under Ahmadou Ahidjo, signed Order No 65 of 13 February 1963 creating a Gendarmerie Company in West Cameroon. This effectively kick-started a reign of terror which was felt in my homeland. The terror intensified, with President Ahmadou Ahidjo signing Decree no 66-DF-133 on March 17, 1966, “extending the state of emergency in certain areas of the Federated State of West Cameroon”, particularly, Mamfe Division, Kumba Division, Victoria Division and Bamenda Division. My Bangwa homeland fell within the Mamfe Division and therefore, under the state of emergency. During this formative period in my life, I felt the effect of the brutality and abuse of power under the state of emergency.
While in Primary School, I was subjected to political victimization because of the political orientation of my mother. To remedy the situation, my mother withdraw me from that school and sent me to continue my primary education in CDC Laduma Mukonje Rubber Estate near Kumba where my aunt lived. On our way to Kumba, my aunt and I were subjected to harassment and humiliation by fierce looking French speaking Gendarmes in several control posts along the road. This occurred despite the fact that my aunt procured two laisser-passers at an exorbitant cost. The pain and shame of the humiliation we suffered endures in my mind.
While in the CDC plantation, I watched and live the injustices of everyday life. I prayed and asked God to give me an opportunity to come back one day to defend those labourers. The chances for the realization of my prayers occurred when I enrolled in the Faculty of Law in the University of Yaoundé.
I was among a majority of English-Speaking students who were denied scholarship. We decided to organize a strike to press for justice. I found myself leading the strike whose success changed my life. From thence, I convinced myself that I had to apply to do pupillage to enable me to become a lawyer. To answer your question, systemic injustices defined my life, opened my eyes and directed my destiny towards becoming a lawyer.
At the University, who were some of the prominent names you had as mates and lecturers in those days?
Barrister Chief Taku: I hesitate to characterize some of my lecturers and professors as prominent because of their involvement in the politics of deception, violence, injustice, pain and excruciating pain. Some of my professors and lecturers were Peter Yana Ntamark, Professor Joseph Owona, Stanislaus Melone, Nicole-Claire Ndoko, Aletum, Lekene Donfack Charles Etienne, Emile Mbarga, Charly Ndobede, Sanda Oumarou, etc. The most honourable of all was Professor Kisob. Several of my classmates are honourable people. They are too many to name. It saddens me that some of my classmates are active in prosecuting the genocide in my own homeland. However, Dr Christopher Fomunyoh and Hon Justice Nkengla are persons of extraordinary character, distinction and honour.
Coming from the English speaking of Cameroon, what were some of the challenges you faced?
Barrister Chief Taku: The challenges were many. We studied in a hostile environment. French Speaking students subjected us to ridicule by shouting and screaming, “Anglo, Anglo””Biafrais”Biafrais” every day we came to the Amphitheatre or University restaurant; indeed, everywhere in the University campus. We were disproportionately denied scholarship. English speaking lecturers were discriminated against in promotions and humiliated. It was a cultural, linguistic, political and economic warfront for our survival. In short, it was a laboratory for the actualization of the cultural genocide which has manifested itself in its most violent form on the watch of the free world. We struggled for our survival on a daily basis. Unfortunately, some among us became traitors and agents of the oppressor. In that capacity, they betrayed, persecuted and oppressed us. To this day, they have constituted themselves into so- called fringe power elites, elites associations, political party and intelligence spy operatives.
We came across a decree signed by President Ahmadou Ahidjo on April 14, 1981 authorizing you to become a Lawyer with the Chambers of Barrister BTB Foretia, was presidential dispensation needed in those days for you to practice?
Barrister Chief Taku: Yes indeed, a Presidential dispensation was required for an authorization to do pupillage to become a lawyer. Once a person was awarded a government scholarship, there was an inherent obligation to work for the government for ten years upon graduation from the university. That policy was enforced mainly for the private law practice which was tightly controlled by the President of the Republic. The persons I consulted before submitting my application advised me against, stating that earlier applicants had unsuccessfully waited for six years. I had an option to go to ENAM, the School of Magistracy but was apprehensive that the strike I led would stand in my way and I would never have a promotion as a magistrate. Besides the magistracy was very corrupt and used a tool of oppression. I preferred to defend the oppressed rather than become a potential corrupt tool of oppression.
Barrister BTB Foretia was a household name in the world of legal practice, how was the experience like learning and working with him?
Barrister Chief Taku: Hon Foretia was a very brilliant lawyer. People who knew him will testify that he was corruption free. He was disciplined, strategic and deliberate in every action he took.
There was no waiting or learning period under Hon. B.T.B Foretia. He prepared cases with me and provided me crucial advice on how to present cases in court. The first tool of great advocacy he told me, was demeanor towards the court, your colleagues and the participants in the case. He told me that as counsel, I should maintain my composure as natural and as calm as possible and must avoid trying to adopt the composure of someone else. While rendition was important, the organization of the presentation was the driving force for rendition to be effective. He was courteous to all participants in a court process and did not ever take advantage of the inexperience of young counsel to attempt to ridicule them.
My first case with him in the Court of Appeal, was before a panel of judges led by Chief Justice SML Endeley (as he then was). We were counsel for the respondent in a criminal appeals case. When the turn for counsel for the respondent to make submissions, he asked me to rise and respond to the submissions of the Prosecutor. I stood up, summon courage and began making my submissions, using appropriate language, demeanor and composure he has told me. I was calm, deliberate, organized and responded point by point to the Prosecutor, each of my points supported by authorities. Occasionally, I stop to invite questions from the panel. We won the appeal. From that moment when that Hon. B. T. B Foretia put me on feet in the Court of Appeal in Buea, I have never sat down or looked back.
One of the immediate causes of the current phase of the Anglophone crisis was a strike by Lawyers, in what way did the issues raised by Agbor Balla and others mirror the experiences or changes you noticed over your decades of practice in Cameroon?
Barrister Chief Taku:The issues which Barrister Agbor Balla and my English Speaking colleagues raised were not new. Learned senior lawyers from Gorgi Dinka, F.W Atabong, M.N , Weledji, B.T.B Foretia, Luke Sendze, Chief E.E Ebai, Ben Muna, N.T Tabe and thereafter our generation fought the same battle but were ignored. When Cameroon applied to join the Commonwealth, B.T.B Foretia submitted a petition to Chief Emeka Ayaokwu Secretary-General of the Commonwealth on behalf of the South West Lawyers in which the lawyers complained inter alia: “As a matter of government policy, there are persistent attempts to wipe out the common law system. At unification, we envisaged a system where the two legal systems will co-exist side by side……Under this system, there is the independence of the judiciary, guarantee of human rights, the courts play the rule of unbiased umpires between individuals and the state and regulate inter-state relationship especially in matters of international trade.” N.T Tabe writing on behalf of the Common Law Lawyers Association also complained inter alia: “There has been a systematic and deliberate erosion of the Common Law system, its ideals, principles, practices and procedures as obtained and intended to continue in the territory of the former West Cameroon. Agbor Balla and our colleagues were highlighting a systemic injustice which has defined the reckless impunity with which a once free people have been subjected to systemic abuse and persecution despite six decades of protests.
Can you situate the role that Taku chambers played in the first All Anglophone Conference of 1993?
Barrister Chief Taku: The records will show that the idea of AAC1 was first initiated by George Ngwane, Bate Besong, Francis Wache, Vincent Anu, Verwesse and my humble self. I had resources to move the idea ahead in two areas. I had my law office which would be used as the secretariat and the ability to obtain a permit directly from Governor Etame Massoma for the conference to hold. George Ngwane, the ultimate diplomat had the mandate to convince political party representatives for the Tripartite Conference to accept to host the conference as conveners purposively to obtain the collective views of our people for the conference. The AAC1 was a lost opportunity to avert the war several years after and a peaceful solution to the ongoing carnage and genocide.
May we know some of the high-profile cases you handled in Cameroon?
Barrister Chief Taku: I give equal prominence to all my cases. The most prominent cases which I handled are hundreds I did for the poor, the weak and vulnerable such as the pro bono cases I did for exploited CDC cases. CDC General Manager John Ngu preferred out of court settlements rather than face me in court. The CDC knew that, with me the labourers had a strong advocate on whom they could rely on to seek justice for the abuses they were subjected to. I defended Ebenezar Akwanga and about 83 Southern Cameroonians who were abducted from their homes and court-martialed in Yaoundé for alleged attacks against Gendarmerie Camps in parts of the North West. That case was a forewarning of the current crisis in many respects. This was not an isolated case. The Military Tribunal and court-martial of civilians has been around as a tool of oppression since 1962.
At what point and why did you decide to take on international practice?
Barrister Chief Taku: The Court martial of Southern Cameroons civilians in the Military Tribunal in Yaoundé was intermittently reported by VOA with the news of the trials in Arusha. The confrontation between me and the President of the Court-martial Col. Manga who became very partisan was reported on the VOA. Col. Manga attempted to stop me from raising objections to the jurisdiction of the Court-martial over abducted civilian Southern Cameroonians from their homes out of jurisdiction for trial in a language they did not understand and without the possibility of calling witnesses. In error, he thought he could bully me. I reminded him it was not possible. In anger, he suspended the case and gave a long adjournment. The next day, I was at the Supreme Court where I filed a motion for conflict of jurisdiction on December 10, 1997 and left for Tanzania to enroll on the roaster of lawyers at the ICTR. I returned and left for Washington DC where I was interviewed several times over the VOA by Scot Steanne. I exposed the sham to the world. One day, a phone call was received in my Chamber in Buea asking me to report to ICTR, Arusha Tanzania I arrived on October 23, 1999, a week after Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere on October 14, 1999 to begin my international practice that has continued till date.
You handled cases on the Rwandan genocide in Arusha, what were some of the lessons you came back from that stint with and how useful could there be in contemporary Africa?
Barrister Chief Taku: The lesson from the trials in Arusha and the Special Court for Sierra Leone are that war is bad for everyone and that the sanctity of human life must be the preoccupation for all. Africa must have a robust mechanism for the early detection and prevention of conflicts on the continent. When conflicts occur, it must take prompt and transparent action to address their root causes. Finally, Africa needs to establish a transitional justice mechanism to fight impunity and atrocity crimes in the continent. Such a mechanism must target all perpetrators no matter their status. The sad reality is that the ghost of colonialism very much alive in Africa. Africa is in need of genuine freedom, economic sovereignty, democracy and visionary leadership.
The last few years for you have been at the ICC, is the court a friend or foe for Africa in the face of criticisms Africans are selectively targeted?
Barrister Chief Taku: I am one of the first persons to make the charge that the ICC was selectively targeting Africa. I repeatedly made the charge during international conferences. I was invited by Professor Richard Steinberg of the University of California Los Angeles to write a chapter on this matter in book he edited on the ICC with a forward by Fatou Bensouda the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC. The ICC is not a foe of Africa. There is no doubt that there are atrocity crimes are committed in Africa which warrant ICC intervention. My concern was the politicization of some of the cases such as the interventions in Cote D’Ivoire, Kenya and Libya. I was concerned about foreign influences and the manipulation ICC interventions to target and resolve political problems. When a court targets only the vanquish in a conflict, that becomes victor’s justice. I was also concerned that in its two decades of existence, the Court was still very much an African Court. It did not represent the face of our diverse universe that it was established to serve. I underscored the fact that even in African conflicts, the perpetrators of atrocity crimes are not all Africans. I cited the example of arms for minerals merchants who are the driving forces behind some African conflicts in which atrocity crimes are committed. Many of them are not Africans. They too must be prosecuted.
What is your reading of the current situation of the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon, and what proposals for a lasting solution?
Barrister Chief Taku: I avoided using the name Anglophone since it became a derogatory name used to stigmatize and ridicule us in the University of Yaoundé. My involvement in the search for solutions to the conflict and the genocide is well known. There are no realistic internal solutions to a conflict which is international in nature. The Government of Cameroon should submit to an international conflict resolution mechanism that is consistent with article 33 of the UN Charter for the resolution of this conflict such as the Swiss Mediation or any other credible international mechanism. There is no military solution to this conflict. Cameroon must accept an internationally endorsed mediation to address the root causes of this conflict. The war declared and prosecuted by Cameroon in which atrocity crimes are committed in a large scale shocking the conscience of humanity, is unjustified and unwarranted. Some persons have reduced the debate about the conflict into support of federalism and support of the actualization of the independence of the Southern Cameroons. Whether federalism or independence, the Republic of Cameroon has not accepted any of them. It has not even accepted a peaceful option to war and the ongoing genocide. So far, the historical basis of the case no matter what, is not yet acceptable to the Republic of Cameroon. Cameroon is under the illusion that it can impose a military solution to the conflict. Cameroon cannot and will never win in battle, in a mediation or an international court. Cameroon believes it is playing for time, but time is not on its side. Time will only crystalize and galvanize international opinion to seek accountability for the crimes committed in the war while the territory becomes ungovernable. Only an international mediation process to address the root causes may resolve the crisis and bring about peace.
To sum up the rich career that you have had, what gives you satisfaction and where do you think you fell short?
Barrister Chief Taku: I will first address where I fell short. I have dedicated so much time and energy working for peace in my homeland and in all African conflicts. The slow pace of international intervention in the crisis and genocide in my ancestral home in particular, is disturbing. The devastation of war is unwarranted. The crimes must stop, and perpetrators held accountable. It is disturbing for me to see massacres, genocide, butchery of innocent civilians in my homeland. I see young Africans fleeing Africa and dying in the Sahara, Mediterranean Sea and South America escaping dictatorship, mass murder and harsh economic conditions, in the midst of plenty, while their peers in other continents are being trained to become agents of development for better living conditions for themselves, their communities and their countries. I have spent a considerable amount of time fighting these injustices, but they are persisting.
I was elected by my peers from all parts of the world as President of the International Criminal Court Bar Association. I was also elected as a member for life of the Governing Council of the African Bar Association. I was the vice President when Karim Khan QC, the new Prosecutor of the ICC signed the very first cooperation agreement between the ICCBA and African Bar Association. I presented a historic address to the Assembly of State Parties Conference of the ICC on the 20th anniversary of the Rome Statute and also the Plenary of the opening of the judicial year of the ICC. I was invited by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons to make a submission on a discrete issue on the UK multilateral treaty regime. During my eventful professional journey, I was invited to address the annual conference of the Federal Administrative Judges of the United States. I have adviced and represented governments in international and national courts with respectable outcomes. My greatest satisfaction resides with my interaction and assistance to the poor, helpless people whom I found in conflicts in several parts of Africa. In Nyange Parish and Nyangasambu hill in Rwanda, with amputees in Sierra Leone, with refugees, who fled the scourge of war all over Africa and are in Europe, the human condition in Africa is not good at all.
What next for Barrister Chief Taku and to the young Lawyers out there who may want to emulate you, any words of wisdom?
Barrister Chief Taku: I will remind them what B.T.B Foretia told me when I embarked on this journey. I will advise them that honesty and hard work are the keys to success. That corruption kills the spirit and soul of humans. That character matters. And that although justice is administered by humans, true justice belongs to God and that with God, they will succeed. They must know that the frontiers of the world have expanded well beyond their town or country of origin. And that technology has brought the world into their bedrooms, their palms and their suitcases. They need to get out to the world and network with their peers in other continents. They must free themselves from the shackles of ignorance and break the asphyxiating chains of tyranny which have held a majority of people hostage.
Hopes and Fears For A Post Deby Chad
May 20, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
For President Idris Deby, his departure from power was eerily familiar with the way he came to power. A rebellion brought him to power, and he left the stage fighting to fend off a rebelling seeking to unseat him after over thirty years in power.
Fresh off a victory in the presidential election which was a little more tricky than usual with emergence of more voices calling for change in Chad, the news of Deby’s death left many stunned and perplexed. Any hopes that his long stay in power had resolved the issue of political stability in Chad were thrown to the wind as the established constitutional order of succession was shelved. The complex arrangement of sorts led to emergence of his 37-year-old son Mahamat Idriss Deby as the new leader.
PAV caught up with seasoned Chadian political analyst Amine Idriss to help dissect developments in the Central African country.
Thanks for accepting to answer our questions Mr. Idriss, could we start with your understanding of what happened to President Deby, while official sources say he was shot at the war front, there are others who say he was killed by those in his inner cycle, what did you hear from your own sources?
The official version is the one I know: President Deby was killed in the battlefield. Personally, I believe this version is plausible since Chad has a tradition of having the generals and heads of armies directly in the battlefield taking an active part in the fights.
Were there any warning signs you saw that could suggest such a fate befalling a leader who was considered as very courageous and had won re-election?
Any warning signs? Not necessarily but I noticed that during the campaign; he became quite frustrated with his opposition, pushing him to violently express his frustrations. He had also been for the first time visiting each and every province of the country, and even going house after house in some places in Ndjamena. Many people were astonished because that was the first time we saw Deby doing that.
On the other hand, the political situation of the country was becoming more and more difficult during the recent campaign, with a new opposition movement led by a youngster, who didn’t necessarily have the power to overthrow Deby through elections but represented a strong part of the public opinion views about the need for change. Succès Masra’s movement introduced a new dimension in Chadian politics, awakening the old political guards, and pushing even Deby and his team to join the internet and to add some more young people in the government. Besides that, the social situation was also more difficult, because of the COVID19 economic impact but also because corruption had never been so high than during the period. Lastly and more important, during the pre-campaign, some armed rebellions clearly declared their intention to stop the elections to happen. We all knew this time would be disturbed and predicted some serious social and political tensions; but nobody could predict that Deby would be killed in a battlefield.
Chad had a constitution with clear cut provisions on succession in case of a presidential vacancy, why was this not respected?
Good question… most Chadian politicians in the opposition were against the Constitution before the election. This constitution which was recently adopted clearly reduced the political space by limiting the youth participation in the electoral process. Most of the actors were then against it.
In addition to that, the parliament that voted the constitution had not been renewed for the last 5 years: MPs were supposed to be gone since 2015 or 2016! But despite that, the provisions of the constitution are clear: the President of the Parliament should have been vested to become the provisional President for 90 days then organize the elections. That was not the case, and the military preferred the option of seizing the power, arguing on the necessity to preserve the country’s security and unity.
Why the choice of Mahamat Idriss Deby to succeed his father when they were more senior military officials?
I have no idea why…
What kind of legacy does President Deby leave behind, he was in power for some thirty years, what changed for Chad under his leadership?
Under Deby’s leadership, what changed? Not many things to tell you the truth. The country followed the course of nature, with more people born (we passed from 5 million in 1990 to 16 million today) and we become poorer. Chad has had an opportunity to transform itself when we stated producing oil, but this was badly managed and became a mess, increasing corruption and bad administration. The country is today amongst the poorest and amongst the most corrupt in the world. So, what have changed? One could say that the biggest win of Deby is the military diplomacy… he has indeed managed to make Chad a kind of policeman for regional security and the world is lauding him for that. This is good for Chad’s image. But Chadians are still poor and have no access to basic amenities such as clean water and electricity, education, health, and others.
For the last thirty years, Chad had a semblance of political stability, void of frequent rebellions and military coups, are you afraid that the death of President Deby makes the country fragile again?
The country has always been fragile and unstable. Deby was indeed a kind of a stabilizer. I am not sure it would become worst. We may have this time the opportunity to discuss differently. The Chadian political space has opened, and this can be good for internal discussions.
What do you make of the way the opposition in Chad has reacted to the recent developments, what tangible alternatives are they proposing as a way forward?
I don’t think the opposition would make a big difference right now. They are too divided and too weak. The civil society also lost its independence aligning itself with the political power. But things could eventually change from all sides if Chad is suspended by the AU… this will push people and specially those controlling power to become more collaborative, and the opposition could start asserting some of her views. However, for the opposition to win anything they must learn to come together. For a country with such a high level of poverty and political instability, I am not sure that would happen anytime soon. But if the civil society receives the appropriate support and guidance, they may help in building an environment in which political parties may come together and discuss.
On the future of Chad, what gives you hope and what are your fears?
My main fear is the ethnic divide, and this has already started especially from some politicians. My hope is the civil society and especially the youth from the civil society. A change is on the way.
A last question on this phenomenon of family successions in Francophone Africa, we saw this in Togo, in D.R. Congo, in Gabon, now Chad and who knows which country will come next, how concerned should Africans be about this trend?
This is just what we called extractive regimes… extractive regimes tend to reproduce themselves…
Lady Justice Martha Koome is Kenya’s 15th Chief Justice.
May 19, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
President Uhuru Kenyatta has appointed Lady Justice Martha Koome to replace emeritus Chief Justice David Maraga.
“In exercise of the powers conferred by Article 166 (1) (ii) of the Constitution of Kenya, I, Uhuru Kenyatta, President and Commander in Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces appoint Martha Karambu Koome to be the Chief Justice of Kenya,” reads part of the Gazette notice dated Wednesday, May 19.
Lady Koome’s official appointment came few hours after the National Assembly unanimously approved his nomination as the first female Chief Justice in the country’s history.
During the debate, the lawmakers urged the judge to protect the independence of the Judiciary.
“We are going to have a Chief Justice who understands how to steer this country forward,” said Nairobi Woman Representative Esther Passaris.
Legislator Aden Duale added, “She must be at all times fidelity to the law and to the people of Kenya and that is what should guide her, it is not the executive, it is not this House or indeed any other public body.”
Last week, the National Assembly’s Justice and Legal Affairs committee vetted Lady Koome and found her fit for the job.
Koome has 33 years of experience in the legal profession. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Nairobi in 1986 before joining Kenya School of law the following year.
In 2010, she graduated with a Master’s degree (LL.M) in Public International Law 2010 from the University of London.
She worked as a human rights defender until 2003, when she was appointed High Court Judge. Eight years later, she got elevated to the Court of Appeal.
Rwanda:Kagame Receives receives Idriss Deby Itno’s son
May 6, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Maniraguha Ferdinand
President of Rwanda Paul Kagame on Thursday 5th May 2021 received Abdelkerim Deby Itno, the Director of Cabinet and Special Envoy of the President of the Transitional Military Council of Chad.
Abdelkerim Deby Itno, 29 is a young brother to General Mahamat Idriss Deby who heads Transitional Military Council of Chad after the sudden death of his father Idriss Deby Itno last month.
The content of the discussions between president Kagame and Abdelkerim Deby Itno has not been shared.
Rwanda and Chad are members of Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS). Rwandan troops also are key players in UN Peacekeeping mission in Central Africa, the neighboring country to Chad that has been shaken by insecurity for so long.
It seems that Mahamat Idriss Deby is seeking legitimacy and support from African heads of states while Chad’s internal opposition accuses him of a coup against legitimate institutions.
President Idriss Deby Itno was killed on battlefront last month, according to government.
He was replaced by a military council headed by his son, whereas speaker of parliament was the one to lead transition according to Chad’s constitution.
Government, parliament and constitution were dissolved for 18 months.
Kenya renews its relations with neighbouring Tanzania after Uhuru-Suluhu talks
May 4, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and visiting Head of State of Tanzania Samia Suluhu on Tuesday held bilateral talks in the State House, Nairobi.
During the meeting, the two Presidents agreed to do away with barriers hindering the smooth flow of trade and people between the two countries.
A joint team of experts will be set up to address the disjointed enforcement of cross-border Covid-19 containment protocols, one of the most pronounced non-tariff trade barrier between the two nations, said Kenyatta.
“Just as His Excellency the President has said, we have agreed that our Health Ministers need to sit down and come up with a structured system of testing our people at the border points to allow easy movement of our people so as to do their businesses,” President Suluhu said during a joint press briefing in the State House.
The two leaders said Kenya and Tanzania need to develop modalities for mutual recognition of COVID-19 test results, noting that the lack of harmonized protocols has hampered the free flow of goods and people.
Kenyatta said Kenya and Tanzania share a common culture, language, heritage and ancestry, assuring President Suluhu of the Kenyan government unwavering support.
At the same time, Kenyatta and Suluhu also agreed to reenergize their Joint Commission for Cooperation (JCC) to deal with trade issues. Ministers from the two countries were directed to regularly meet to sort out minor problems affecting people as they interact and do business.
“They (JCC) need to ensure that investors coming from either Tanzania or Kenya do not face hurdles by ensuring a structured system is put in place to help us build our countries for the mutual benefit of our people,” President Kenyatta reiterated.
The duo also entered into a ksh100 billion (approximately $931.5 million) deal that will see Tanzania construct a gas pipeline from Dar es Salaam to Mombasa.
The 600 km pipeline will get to Mombasa through the port city of Tanga, ferrying natural gas from Songo Songo Island and Mnazi Bay gas fields in Southern Tanzania. Once constructed, the project is will reduce the cost of energy in Kenya.
According to President Suluhu, Kenya is Tanzania’s top investor in the East African Community and fifth on the continent. She cited 513 projects between Kenya and Tanzania which have created more than 50,000 jobs for Tanzanians.
In the deal, the two nations also had a Memorandum Of Understanding on animal health and sanitary measures, culture, the arts, social integration and national heritage.
Suluhu is on a two-day state visit in Kenya, and on Wednesday, she is expected to address a joint parliamentary meeting.
Malawi: Audit report exposes massive looting of Covid19 funds.
April 28, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Joseph Dumbula
There are managerial and administrative tensions in Malawi over revelations of careless plunder of about K6.2 Billion ($7 million) meant for the fight against Covid19 in the Southern African nation.
The revelations have forced President Lazarus Chakwera to fire his Labour Minster Ken Kandodo who was named in a report by the National Audit report to have used without purpose funds for his trip to South Africa.
Kandodo has however returned the money with Chakwera insisting that ‘such actions should not be condoned’.
At the moment, over 60 people have been arrested, most of whom stem from ministries, the private sector and administrative levels of ministries who oversaw release of contracts and purchase of various PPEs.
The audit followed massive reports of the misuse of funds at a time when cases soured.
Other revelations are that the Presidential Taskforce on Covid19 entered into a dubious deal with star hotel, Umodzi Park which saw the country lose about K8.3 million ($10,000) in unexplained expenses.
So far, the Labour Ministry has been given a week to ensure the money is returned to treasury accusing the ministry of maladministration after admitting that the release of the funds was done erroneously.
Last year, a report by the Ombudsman had stated that 79.8% of the total funding allocated to the cluster was spent on staff allowances or benefits.
Further, the report indicated that this spending was “a reflection of misplaced priorities,” and recommended that government allowances be made “more realistic, considerate to the country’s economy and clearer to avoid abuses.”
Zambian President Lungu hails Merck foundation’s efforts to improve healthcare services
April 27, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti
The Zambian President Edgar Changwa Lungu has hailed efforts by Merck Foundation to improve healthcare services in different specialties and assured continued support by his country and the continent as a whole to ensure the better health of the increasing number of Africans.
The president was speaking on Tuesday during the opening of the three-day meeting to discuss strategies and solutions for health challenges in different countries to contribute to improving access to quality and equitable healthcare solutions and building healthcare capacity in many critical and underserved medical fields.
The eighth edition for Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary 2021 also coincided with celebrations of the 4th anniversary of Merck Foundation.
Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary virtual meeting brought together different participants including First Lady from different countries from across the continent, health experts, academia, and media among others, according to Senator Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation
She said the meeting could focus on how diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular, endocrinology, Cancer, Research, Fertility Care, Women Health, Sexual & Reproductive care, Respiratory Medicines, and Acute Medicines among others can be dealt with.
More than 1100 doctor from 42 countries have benefited from Merck Foundation scholarship in the above fields, Dr Kelej said.
She added that more doctors could soon join in the next few years to benefit from more scholarships in more specialties such as internal Medicine, Gastroenterology, Mental Health, Orthopedic Trauma, Pediatric.
Others include emergency Medicine, Dermatology, Neonatal Medicine, Pain Management, Psychiatry, Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, Ophthalmology, Urology, Trauma, and orthopedics.
“To all first ladies in Africa who are actively involved with the Merck Foundation, I urge you to continue prioritizing human capital development through various capacity building programs which are aimed at supporting the work of the ministries of health in our respective countries,” Lungu said to the First ladies who were at the meeting.
He said that initially the meeting was to be held face to face, but it was unfortunate that it could not be possible due to COVID-19 pandemic that is ravaging not only the African Continent but the entire world.
He said that much as the meeting was held virtually, it could serve as an opportunity for participants to discuss different strategies to overcome health and social challenges, and find solutions to improve access to equitable and quality health care services in participants’ respective countries.
The virtual platform, he said had given an opportunity to over 2000 health care providers, policymakers, academia and media from 70 countries to share experience and learn lessons from one another.
A helpful meeting
President Lungu noted that the meeting could help participants to see how they could improve the lives of people in line with the United Nations Agenda 2030 on sustainable development.
He urged them to also not forget that COVID-19 pandemic is real stressing that all needed to adhere to the public health guidelines provided by health experts in various countries,
“As the population of Africa grows to almost 1.4 billion people, I urge African leaders and all of you to focus on building our health care providers in various specialties to keep the African population health and productive,” Lungu said.
Lungu paid glowing tribute to health workers for the role played during the COVID-19 pandemic which is ravaging the globe and ensured the lives of people were saved.
I believe that strong political commitment, purposeful and strategic partnerships are key to improving health outcomes and the wellbeing of all people in the world, especially in Africa. As political leaders, we are accountable to people for the decisions we make and the results we achieve.
He hailed the long-term partnership with Zambia and other African countries with Merck Foundation.
“I am impressed with the foundation’s smart strategy and flawless execution which is aimed at advancing capacity of our healthcare by providing critical and underserved specialty training for our local doctors across the country, hence ensuring quality ensuring quality and equitable healthcare to our people, a critical ingredient in the attainment of universal health coverage,” he noted.
To achieve the sustainable development goals, President Lungu noted that there was an urgent need for innovative, dynamic and purposeful partnerships stressing that it was only through effective coordination of collective efforts that these goals can be achieved.
“Today, there are achievements to celebrate, but also challenges to address. Now more than ever, we have realized the critical importance of our health sectors. With this realization, we must continue programs that build our health care providers at all levels,” he added.
He said he was happy and encouraged that Merck Foundation had partnered with African governments including, Zambia “To reshape our human capital development landscape in Zambia by providing more than 85 Zambian doctors with specialized training in many fields such as cancers, diabetes, hypertension and women health, reproductive health as well as respiratory and intensive care,” he said.
“There is no doubt that our partnership with Merck Foundation will continue to add immense value to our mission of building capacity and training of more healthcare specialists and experts to improve treatment for cancer, cardiac diseases, and artificial invitro-fertilization, renal and bone marrow transplant and other specialties,” he stressed.
“This will improve access to quality and equitable healthcare solutions nationwide and in Africa.This year’s luminary together with all of you and with Merck foundation will enhance our African and Asian cooperation as a catalyst to great integration between developing countries,” President Lungu said.
According to Rebecca Akufo Addo, the first Lady from Ghana, there is a need for building health care capacity and training more and more health care providers in many specialties.
“More than ever, we realize the significance of our public healthcare sector and we know very well that we have to focus our programs on building our healthcare capacity and train more and more healthcare providers in many specialties,” she said.
“Therefore, I appreciate our partnership with Merck Foundation and support their smart strategy and flawless execution to advance our professional healthcare capacity via providing specialty training for our local doctors across the country not only in Accra, so that they can provide quality and equitable healthcare required to our people at the time of need and at all times,” she said.
Top U.S. military officer holds talks with Gambia’s military leaders
April 26, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Adama Makasuba
U.S. Army Major General Andrew M. Rohling has held talks with The Gambia’s military leaders and senior government officials, and international partners on issues related to security sector reform, capacity development, peacekeeping operations, and U.S.-Gambia defense ties, during his visit in the country as part of his sub-regional tour.
The senior military officer, accompanied by U.S. Ambassador R. Carl Paschall, held meetings with Vice President Dr. Isatou Touray, Minister of Defense Sheikh Omar Faye, and Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), Lt. Gen. Yakuba Drammeh.
Speaking at the State House, Maj. Gen. Rohling said: “Part of my trip is to understand this important nation that helps bring stability to this region. The Gambia has a phenomenal record for peacekeeping operations across Africa and the world. So, as we continue to capitalize on the professionalism of the Gambia Armed Forces and its commitment to the United Nations, we look forward to encouraging and assisting in that regard over the course of time.”
Also speaking to reporters, Ambassador Paschall said the Security Sector Reform (SSR) is a significant part of the transition process in The Gambia. He said, “I think what is impressive is that the Government of The Gambia, under the leadership and guidance of President Barrow, has worked very hard to develop and launch the SSR Strategy and the National Security Strategy. They are hard at work now implementing a range of those plans.”
South Sudan: Kiir Mourns Dèby, orders flags to fly at half mast for three days.
April 22, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Deng Machol
Juba – South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has declared three days of mourning following the death of Chadian President Idriss Déby Itno, a day ago.
Mr Déby, one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, reportedly died of injuries from the frontline fighting rebels on Tuesday.
President Déby went to the front line at the weekend to visit troops battling rebels based across the border in Libya when he got Killed.
Two days before his death, provisional results from the election on 11 April projected Dèby would win a sixth term in office.
General Mahamat Kaka, President Idriss Déby ‘son, has been appointed the country’s new leader.
In his condolence message, President Salva Kiir described Déby as one of the figures who helped restore peace and stability in South Sudan.
“On behalf of South Sudan, I express my deepest sympathies to the Chadian people on the death of their president, who fell depending his country,” said Kiir. “I pray that God give all Chadians the comfort they need in this hour to endure this immense loss,” he added.
Kiir said Chad was among the High-Level Ad-hoc Committee established by the African Union in 2014 to help find ways of ending the South Sudan’s five years of conflict.
President also praised Déby for his pivotal role in supporting South Sudan mediate an end to the conflict between the Sudanese government and the various armed opposition groups.
“His behind the scenes work allowed us to achieve the historic Juba Peace Agreement in October, 2020,” said Kiir.
Déby attended the signing ceremony of that Juba peace accord in Juba last year.
“He will also be remembered across Africa for committing Chadian troops to G5 Sahel Joint Force and the Sahel Alliance, a multi-national force formed to deal with the threat posed by the Boko Haram and its affiliate militants in the region,” said Kiir.
Kiir further called on Chadians to “remain united both in action and purpose as they work to achieve meaningful transition that guarantees the stability in their country.”
Kiir ordered South Sudan’s flag shall fly at half-mast during the period of mourning.
Genocide suspect Beatrice Munyenyezi deported from US
April 17, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti
The United States yesterday deported Beatrice Munyenyezi who was wanted by Rwanda for Genocide related crimes.
Munyenyezi is suspected to have committed the alleged genocide crimes in the former Butare Prefecture, now Huye District in Southern Province.
He settled in US’s New Hampshire in 1998 with her daughters after telling the US that she was facing persecution in Rwanda.
According to Rwanda Investigations Bureau, Munyenyezi faces seven crimes namely murder as a genocide crime, conspiracy to commit genocide, planning of the genocide, complicity in genocide, incitement to commit genocide, extermination, and complicity in rape.
Over one million innocent lives were lost during the 100 days of 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.
According to accounts, Munyenyezi could stand on roadblocks and check identifications to identify Tutsi and ordered the Interahamwe Militia to kill them.
She is also accused of ordering Interahamwe militia to rape female Tutsi before killing them, according to officials.
Dr. Thierry B. Murangira, the RIB spokesperson told the media on Friday that Munyenyezi will be formally interrogated and the file will be handed to prosecution.
“Her deportation means a lot in terms of justice delivery to victims of the genocide against the Tutsi because our case files were already in place,” he said.
He noted that all the charges are supported by various acts wherein, on various occasions, she was seen on a roadblock, participating in checking of national IDs to identify Tutsis to be killed.
“Herself she got involved in the shooting, with a pistol, of a Catholic nun after handing her over to Interahamwe for rape,” Murangira said.
Munyenyezi was in the past sentenced to 10 years for fraudulently obtaining US citizenship and entering the United States and securing citizenship by lying about her role in the genocide against the Tutsi.
Munyenyezi also denied affiliation with any political party.
On one occasion, according to RIB, Munyenyezi commanded Interahamwe to rape one nun whom she later killed using a pistol.
Munyenyezi is the wife of Arsene Ntahobali, who, together with his mother Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, were sentenced to life in prison by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda for their role in the Genocide against the Tutsi.
RIB said the suspect will be detained at Remera RIB station as investigations continue, before sending her case to prosecution.
South Sudan:Central Bank Injects 5M USD Into Market To Stabilize Local Currency, Economy
April 14, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Deng Machol
Juba – South Sudan’s central bank has injected 5 million U.S. dollars into the local market in attempt to stabilize the local pound (SSP) and the country’s economy.
The money will be released every week to normalize the foreign exchange rate in the East Africa’s youngest nation.
In a press conference on Tuesday, Dier Tong Ngor, Governor of the Bank of South Sudan (BOSS), said they have allocated 3 million dollars to commercial banks and 2 million dollars to forex bureaus in order to stabilize the foreign exchange rate.
“This is the new way we will start to supply the market. We will be supplying an amount of $5 million every week – $ 2 million to forex bureau and $3 million to commercial banks,” Tong told journalists in Juba.
The money were auctioned to 22 commercial banks.
According to the bank’s governor, the move will prevent further depreciation of the South Sudanese pound against the US dollar. It would also have a positive effect on the prices of food and other basic commodities.
“So all in all, we will be supplying an amount of 5 million dollars every week,” said Tong. The allocations are aimed at cushioning the weak pound against the dollar,” said Tong.
“We want to control the excess liquidity in the hands of the public because that is the main thing that affects us and it affects inflation. We feel that the pressure on the pounds is because of excess liquidity in pounds and therefore when we are doing auctions, we are trying to mop up that excess liquidity,” said Tong.
The Governor further said that they will continue with the auctioning of hard currency until the foreign exchange market is developed.
“We will be in this for a long haul, we will do this auction until we develop the foreign exchange market so that the Bank of South Sudan can withdraw from the market-making role and we leave it to banks,” said Tong.
Since December 2020, the Bank of South Sudan says it has auctioned over $30 million to the market.
The bank’s governor insists this move has resulted in the stability of the pounds against the dollar.
1 U.S dollar sells at 195 South Sudanese Pounds as indicated on the Central Bank’s website but in the parallel market, 1 dollar sells at 620 pounds.
Governor Tong believes auctioning of hard currency will counter the black market by strengthening the pound.
“I think it has made an impact because it has at least stabilized the parallel market rated for a number of months now,” said governor.
However, an economist and observers advised the government to stop floating the rate of the currency arguing that it gives room for more speculations in the country. South Sudan’s economy is struggling amid hyperinflation caused by the more than six years of the county’s conflict since December 2013.
The conflict-affected oil production in the northern oil fields causing a reduction in oil revenue earnings. In addition, COVID-19 and the floods has also impacted the economy affecting both oil and non-oil revenue.
Challenging for Africa to Unleash Its Potential Without Industrialization-Adam Molai
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments
By By Ajong Mbapndah L
Unless Africa industrializes, it will fail to unleash the latent potential presented by its abundant resources and youthful population, says Adam Molai, African Industrialist, Founder of the JUA Fund, and Chairman of TRT Investments. Speaking in an exclusive interview with PAV, Adam Molai says the youthful population in Africa can either be its greatest asset if well leveraged, or its biggest threat if allowed to become restive owing to lack of opportunity.
“Africa is in a very poor state in as far as industrialization is concerned. We are still significant importers of finished goods and exporters of raw materials,” Molai says of the crusade on Industrialization that he has championed over the years.
“In 2018, Sub-Saharan Africa raw material exports amounted to $148 billion or 52% of total exports. That is a strong case for industrialization to convert a significant portion of our raw materials into intermediate goods or finished products, creating jobs and increasing the value of our GDP,” Adam Molai said.
On the JUA Fund which is his latest initiative to inspire the Continent’s entrepreneurial generation, Adam Molai expressed the hope that it will start a movement which will sweep across Africa. Describing the Fund as a ripple considering the enormous needs of the continent, Molai says the desire is to have a culture in the continent where entrepreneurs give back through facilitating the creation of more entrepreneurs.
Generous in detail about the building of his companies, Adam Molai says opportunities for the continent are immense, but leaders will need to develop confidence in the ability of African entrepreneurs and stop seeing them as inferior to foreign entrepreneurs.
Could you start by telling us your own interest and journey into entrepreneurship, how did Adam Molai become an industrialist?
So, I am a true-blue entrepreneur; I was never interested in working for anybody else. I have never worked for anybody else.
I often share one of my fondest memories being a 10-year-old selling matches to earn pocket money and thinking – ‘I love this!’. This is when the entrepreneurial bug struck.
I embarked on my first entrepreneurial venture when I was just 10 when I sold boxes of in-demand matches for a profit to make pocket money. While at boarding school, I sold food to fellow pupils for spending money.
In my first summer in university in the UK, I joined a network marketing business which was really an entrepreneurial exploit where I would sell frozen food products in Buckinghamshire. I recruited other students to join and work with me raising significant cash that facilitated my move to Canada.
In Canada, I ran the university consulting service, literally as an entrepreneurial venture, and this, together with other work, helped fund my university studies in Canada. I made so much money that I was able to leave a significant sum which created the Adam Molai Small Business Consulting scholarship where the proceeds from this sum are given as a scholarship annually to a deserving student at my former alma mater.
When I returned to Zimbabwe after completing my studies, I knew I didn’t want to work for anybody else.
My first business, whose infrastructure I had started constructing whilst still in university in Canada, was a chicken business of 7,000 broiler chickens. I brought solar equipment with me from Canada, and this facilitated 24-hour feeding of our chickens facilitating faster development of the chickens. There was no power in the area and thus the utilization of solar power with a storage inverter, in 1997, was quite an evolution.
I then re-opened my late father’s service station and supermarket, whilst at the same time also creating a stationery shop and copy bureau in my home time. So, within my first year of being back in Zimbabwe from the diaspora I was running four businesses.
These businesses spanned a significant distance and so my first two years were highly sleep-deficient. I would start my early Monday morning in my hometown, drive to Harare to order supplies for the retail outlets and chemicals for the chicken business; a 150km return journey to my hometown where the stationery business and supermarket were, ensure the goods were priced and then at the closure of the stationery shop after 5pm start the 140km drive to where my service station was. I would then collect the cash takings, use them to buy more grain from the local farmers and maize grinding mills, which we would use to mix with the stock feed, and then drive another 180km to the farm where we were farming chickens. I would monitor the slaughtering, dressing, and packing of the chickens and by 2am start the drive back to my hometown which from the farm was 230km.
I would sleep on this third journey back to my hometown and get back in time to start another day. Without fail, by 7am I would be back at my stationery store where my main office was. This, routine I continued for a full two years.
I then got the opportunity to acquire the largest service station site in my hometown. I quickly converted what was the office and former car show room into the first 24/7 retail shop in Zimbabwe, taking a cue from the 7/11 concept I had been exposed to in Canada.
The move, which drew criticism from my own family and other businesspeople, led me achieve more than double the shop’s takings, transforming the retail landscape in Zimbabwe. Sixty percent of the retail sales happened in the hours when all the other shops were closed. To crown it off, which irresponsibility I didn’t understand then, we managed to get a liquor license for this shop and used to be the only 24/7 liquor retailer in the country, which resulted in inordinate sales. Within a year a 60 square metre shop was making more than US$1 million! That was the first million I made, at the age of 29.
Another transformation I undertook was transforming the chicken retail sector in Zimbabwe. When I grew up working in my father’s shop, only whole chickens and in some cases half chickens were generally sold in Zimbabwe. You could buy beef and pork in small and as-you-desired and as-you-could-afford portions, but not chicken. I didn’t understand why that was, so I started selling chicken pieces, not just whole chickens. That transformed the chicken retail sector and demand rose beyond our projections.
I also did some dealings in the petroleum sector before turning my attention to the tobacco sector. Zimbabwe experienced significant fuel shortages and I was fortunate to receive permission from Shell, the franchisor, to direct import own fuel. Fuel had always been a controlled product only available from to oil companies through the government monopoly. However, when shortages became severe fuel companies and private individuals could direct import. Through an old high school acquaintance, who was importing fuel, I was able to receive multiple tankers a week of direct import fuel. Our site never ran dry, and we were selling over a million litres of fuel a month and still couldn’t meet demand. Cars would drive from neighboring towns to fill up as we were receiving fuel non-stop!
I had also, with support of very experienced tobacco skills we had on board, pioneered contract growing of tobacco that transformed the tobacco industry from around 4 500 mainly commercial farmers and opened the way for more than 85 000 local small-scale farmers to enter Zimbabwe’s tobacco sector.
In 2002, I co-founded Savanna Tobacco Company, which has now been rebranded as Pacific Cigarette Company, which is acknowledged as one of only two of the world’s most significant African-owned cigarette manufacturers. The company enjoys a significant share of the Southern African cigarette market.
Our business interests cut across several industries – including energy, manufacturing, property development, transport and logistics, air transport, financial services and beverage bottling – and at least seven African countries, including the African economic powerhouses of Nigeria, South Africa and Mauritius. However, we are now streamlining our portfolio to focus only upon manufacturing and distribution, property development and sales, and technology.
Our business now has over US$200 million of assets under control.
In November 2020, we also launched the $2 million JUA Fund, making it the largest venture capital fund by a private African business individual to empower and support African entrepreneurs.
Today you are Chairman of the Pacific Cigarette Company and the TRT Investments, can you tell us a little more about this companies and how they fit in the vision that you have for Africa?
TRT Investments manages a diversified sector portfolio and operations in Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique and Botswana, and our latest interests have seen a foray into the US and European markets.
The aim is really to play our role in moving Africa from being on the menu to sitting at the global economic table. We believe this will only be achieved through production and productivity. So, we are aiming at driving the industrialization agenda for Africa.
TRT recently acquired, which is the largest non-food contract manufacturing business on the continent. It manufactures many leading multinational household FMCG brands. We aim to replicate this model into East and West Africa to create the largest non-food contract manufacturer in the world.
So, our ambitions are big, and we are committed to creating African institutions, with global recognition.
With the AfFCTA, we aim to leverage this opportunity to ensure localization of production on the Continent where currently there is only 18% inter-Africa trade compared to 80% Inter-Europe trade. So, just by trading more with ourselves as Africans we can grow our economies ad create the much-needed employment for our young population.
Our other area of focus is housing.
With the significant housing supply gap on the continent, and the growing population which is urbanizing at a rapid rate, it is imperative that affordable housing is availed to ensure that we help move from the squalid urban living conditions of the past.
Our final area of focus is technology.
Technology offers Africa the opportunity to leapfrog. It facilitates more efficacious and elegant solutions to Africa’s myriad challenges.
Pacific was born out of the industrialization agenda and fits into the TRT agenda. Having always lamented Africa’s over-reliance on agriculture for survival, I felt we needed to walk our talk and beneficiate this agricultural produce into finished goods and thus participate at a higher level of the value chain. Zimbabwe’s main agricultural export has been tobacco for a long time and therefore we took it upon ourselves to add value to this crop. There is a 15 to 20 times value multiplier from raw tobacco to cigarettes and that is what we have achieved in Pacific. So, the jobs and value which we were exporting in exporting raw tobacco, we are now retaining through producing finished goods. If we look at the $600 million of raw tobacco produced in Zimbabwe, if all transformed to cigarettes, Zimbabwe would have a $6-$12 billion tobacco industry.
For the attention of many out there who see in you a success story, what were some of the big challenges you face in building your companies and how did you successfully navigate them?
Success, to me, is a journey rather than a destination. It is a culmination of many failures and continuing to find different paths where one path has failed. Funding is always a challenge. I remember using $75,000 of my university entrepreneurial savings to start a small chicken business after university because I couldn’t get funding from the banks to augment this capital raise.
The challenge of raising money for my first business or to buy factory equipment, the challenges felt the same, and had the same ultimate impact – no funding – no business. We’ve mitigated fund raising challenges through performance. When you perform and develop a track record for performing, paying, and meeting your debt covenants, it becomes a bit easier to raise funding.
Another significant challenge faced was the dearth of African entrepreneurs available and willing to offer mentorship to others on their entrepreneurial journey. I failed to find takers, amongst those I approached, as unfortunately many in our society still see other people’s success as a threat to their success and attention.
So, the only option available became to be an avid reader, always reading both success and failure books as a way to understand.
You have been on a crusade for industrialization and entrepreneurship in what shape is Africa in now, and why do you think it is imperative for the continent to change course?
Africa is in a very poor state in as far as industrialization is concerned. We are still significant importers of finished goods and exporters of raw materials.
In 2018, Sub-Saharan Africa raw material exports amounted to $148 billion or 52% of total exports. That is a strong case for industrialization to convert a significant portion of our raw materials into intermediate goods or finished products, creating jobs and increasing the value of our GDP.
China has become the global behemoth owing to industrialization. Thirty years ago, China was where we are today as a continent but has transformed from a developing nation to being at the cusp of being the largest global economy through a deliberate policy of industrialization.
Unless we industrialize, we will fail to unleash the latent potential presented by our abundant resources and youthful population. This youthful population can either be our greatest asset if we leverage it, or our biggest threat if they become restive owing to lack of opportunity.
Late last year you launched the Jua Kickstarter fund to provide entrepreneurs with capital to kickstart or expand their enterprises, may we know what impact you anticipate for Africa for this initiative?
Lao Tzu is famously credited with the saying that “The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step”. The launch and subsequent Jua Olympic week are the start of a movement which I hope will sweep Africa. It is only but a ripple, given the enormous needs on the continent, but we are seeing the impact it is having on encouraging other business leaders to also start looking at how they too can assist entrepreneurs on the continent. Our hope is that this becomes a culture on our continent of entrepreneurs giving back through facilitating the creation of more entrepreneurs, creating a snowball effect. The quality of the finalists as well as the solutions being proffered by the businesses we have decided to invest in give us great confidence that there will be significant impact that will emanate from this initiative.
It was always the intention that the fund would go beyond providing money. Entrepreneurs always need money, that is not in question. But they don’t only need money. They also need mentoring, advice, access to networks, access to markets, people to stress test their ideas, advisors and mentors who can help them see the realities and potential of their businesses.
That is what Jua will provide.
Jirogasy and Bryt-Knowledge will be furthering education one through hardware the other through software, Side and Grow Agric, are disrupting the value chain of goods from farm to table, Powerstove Energy is saving the environment by their cooking stove innovation, Whispa Health is taking care of wellbeing, and Xetova is adding African flair to procurement.
Less than a year after it was launched, the first recipients were announced, may we know how the selection was done and your overall impressions on the applications and the eventual winners?
We had over 700 applicants who were shortlisted to 25 finalists, who met the criteria that their ideas had impact and were scalable.
The 25 finalists participated in the “Kickstarter Olympics”, a 5-day pitching session during which they were put through their paces by a high-profile panel of judges.
Eventually, we made offers to 7 recipients who all accepted.
We were immensely impressed by all our finalists, even those to whom offers were not made.
So impressive was the quality of the projects from the entrepreneurs that we felt compelled to increase the fund from the original $1m announced to $2m.
About four of the seven enterprises selected have either female founders or co-founders, what role do you see gender or women playing in the vision that you articulate?
Research is clear that empowering women has more impact on societies and communities than empowering men. I am delighted that the Jua Fund, which is aimed at empowering all entrepreneurs, regardless of gender, has been able to benefit females to the extent that it has.
What metrics and support system does the JUA Fund have in place to monitor the outcomes or progress of recipients?
As I indicated, Jua is not only providing monetary support but non-monetary support in the form of mentoring and advice, introductions to other potential investors and funders. Where applicable, we will sit on the boards.
The phenomenal experience of the JUA judges, who have kindly accepted to offer mentorship and coaching, will serve to really help the entrepreneurs unleash their potential.
Through well-established Key Performance Indicators, designed to facilitate milestone-based release of capital, we hope to see better resource utilization and less of the unintended waste of resources that culminates from non-results-based funding mechanisms.
The Jury had some powerful names in the African corporate world, how challenging was it to get these high profile and busy people to dedicate the required time in the selection process?
It wasn’t challenging at all because all the judges share our vision of the importance of entrepreneurship for ensuring that Africa gets to assume its rightful place at the economic table, and they all wanted to do their bit to pass on the knowledge they have gained as entrepreneurs or in business to these emerging entrepreneurs.
They were so keen that at times we had more judges than we anticipated and needed. We had judges from across the globe, some of whom woke up at 3am daily to listen to the pitches.
As you may be aware, most start-ups / SMMES fail within the first two years, for a myriad of reasons. The judges who participated are aware of the challenges and want to do their bit to reduce this number.
The applicants certainly appreciated it; many commented on how the judges’ questions and insight had helped them rethink parts of their business.
What next for the Jua Fund, there are many young entrepreneurs out there who would love to try their hand in the next round, what are the plans going forward?
What’s next is just to keep growing and to support more SMMEs. We will hopefully have more money to avail in the future and we can structure the non-monetary assistance better as well.
We have learned a lot from this inaugural VC round, and we intend to build on that going forward so that it has much greater impact.
Our hope is that the success of the initial projects will, as we exit, create an even larger pool of funds to support even more entrepreneurs, creating a snowball effect. We have invested $2 million, if they perform and this spawns $20 million on exit, as an example, we then invest $20-millionn to spawn $200-million and this multiplier effect is what we seek and what we believe will facilitate our dream of empowering thousands of entrepreneurs.
In terms of recommendations to African governments, what needs to be done by them to create the enabling environment for brilliant ideas and initiatives that millions of Africans have to thrive?
Well, entrepreneurs need the right regulatory environment to grow so all governments need to scrutinize the laws, rules and regulations that they have in place to see whether they help or hinder entrepreneurial activity.
Governments also need to realise that they cannot grow economies and create jobs, that that is the ambit of business and they need to ensure that the business environment is conducive to that. So, the economy and entrepreneurs are not dependent on who is in government, but rather that there is policy certainty and that their markets are open to all. If our governments truly embrace the intentions of the AfFCTA, we will see a significant explosion of economies on the continent.
We also need to relook at our education systems which are largely not suited to nurturing entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial activity.
We also need to encourage local investment. African governments bend over backwards for foreign investors but do not do the same for local investors which means that local investors must deal with an unequal playing field.
What is your take on foreign direct investment and what role do you see the African diaspora playing in the development of the continent?
I think all investment is good. Africa lags in terms of investment so the more people who want to invest, the better.
But I do think that governments elevate foreign investment above that of local investment and I think that this is to the detriment of the continent. The reality is that if locals show confidence and invest, foreigners will invest alongside them. So what we should be doing is giving local investors the same benefits that we give foreign investors, we should be levelling the playing fields for local investors as they have more impact on the lives of Africans. They not only invest their money on the Continent, but they spend their money on the Continent too. This provides jobs for others and opportunities for other Africans.
I think the diaspora can be used more meaningfully than it is now. We know that remittances contribute $48-billion or an average 4.17% of Africa’s GDP but we should be looking at how to make better use of the resources of Africans in the diaspora.
Instead of saving their money in low-interest bearing accounts, we should look at getting them to invest in local start-ups and enterprises. In that way entrepreneurs have access to money and the diasporans get better returns whilst positively impacting their home countries to develop.
Looking at the realities today, the challenges, and the potential, what are your hopes and fears for Africa’s future?
Africa is at a major crossroad. With a growing young population, if Africa continues to grow at its current rate, it is expected to double to 2.5billion people; a quarter of the world’s population; by 2050. All these people need food, clothing, transport, housing and many other goods and services.
China’s growth was driven by a large population, creating significant consumption and ability to grow the economy phenomenally through the goods and services required by such a large population.
We dare not fail to rise to the occasion and create the businesses that will produce and provide all the goods and services that will be required by the continent. We certainly cannot afford to create a market for the rest of the world at our own expense. This is going to require significant unity and coordination across the continent to be realized.
China could easily achieve this growth because it is a unitary state. With 54 states, Africa will need significant regional and continental integration and harmonization to facilitate the remarkable infrastructural projects required to cater for such a huge population which is urbanising significantly.
So, the opportunities for the continent are immense, the challenges will really be from our own belief in ourselves to achieve for ourselves. Our leaders will need to develop confidence in the ability of African entrepreneurs and stop seeing our own entrepreneurs as inferior to foreign entrepreneurs.
Our people will need to also develop an appetite for local goods as opposed to foreign goods and our businesspeople will need to ensure that at all levels, our goods meet the exacting global standards for quality. Changing mindsets is a difficult process, as is establishing regional and continental trust; however, if accomplished, Africa could become the global powerhouse it has the potential to be.
South Sudan Peace Process Remains Fragile – UNMISS Chief
April 7, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Deng Machol
Juba – The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission South Sudan has urged the parties to the 2018 peace deal to speed up implementation of the unresolved tasks in order to achieve permanent peace and stability before elections by 2023.
On the eve of his departure after more than four years as the UN’s top envoy in South Sudan, David Shearer, said that the peace process remains fragile, despite the parties having registered some positive progress since the formation of the revitalized transitional government of national unity in February 2020.
“I urge the people and leaders of South Sudan to remain united and energized to push the peace process forward to fully implement the revitalized agreement and hold elections so communities across the country can finally enjoy true peace and prosperity,” said Shearer.
The national and state’s legislatives are yet to be established.
The UN chief added that the peace process remains fragile and there is still much to be done.
“While important progress has been made, the peace process remains fragile and there is still much to be done including picking up the pace on constitution-making, transitional justice and economic reform,” Shearer told journalists in Juba during his farewell speech.
Mr. Shearer will soon be replaced by South African Nicholas Haysom who was appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Jan. 15.
“I have been extremely privileged to support South Sudan as it makes the difficult transition from war to recovery and peace. As my four years of service comes to an end, I am proud of the progress that has been made, including the ceasefire, peace deal, formation of a transitional Government and the installation of local leaders in the states,” said Shearer.
“I have so much admiration for the South Sudanese who I have enjoyed working alongside immensely. They are tough, resilient, and remarkably patient. I am inspired by their seemingly endless hope as they fight against huge odds to achieve the much brighter future they deserve,” said David Shearer. “I will miss this young country and wish it well from the bottom of my heart,” he added.
He said that courageous decisions need to be made to unify the armed forces of all sides.
Shearer encouraged people still living inside the internally displaced person’s (IDP’s) camps to return to their homes.
According to UN agencies, close to one million people are living in IDP and U.N. camps in the country after being displaced during the outbreak of violence in December 2013 and July 2016 renewed violence respectively.
“I am also pleased and encouraged to see that most people who once fled in fear to UN Protection of Civilians Sites have either returned home or are living in newly transitioned displacement camps under the responsibility of the South Sudanese government,” said Shearer.
He called for an end to the brutal inter-communal violence in most affected areas like Warrap and Jonglei.
“I hope that there is an end to the sporadic but brutal violence that we continue to witness in parts of the country like Jonglei and Warrap, so that the communities can have the opportunity to recover and rebuild their lives,” said Shearer.
Shearer further thanked humanitarian workers for their provision of life-saving assistance to millions of people in need.
“Humanitarians are working in remote, difficult and, sometimes dangerous conditions to deliver much-needed support to vulnerable communities across South Sudan. I thank them for their courage in risking their own health and wellbeing to help others,” said Shearer.
Shearer, who paid tribute to the UN agencies which have stood by South Sudan for many years and the almost 20,000 UN peacekeepers who are helping reduce violence and are bringing diverse communities together to reconcile and build peace.
“UNMISS is a stabilizing force that extends well beyond our physical presence. Our independent surveys have consistently shown that we are welcomed by nearly 80 percent of South Sudanese,” he said. “We are fully committed to securing durable peace by working closely with all political parties alongside regional and international partners.”
UNMISS is also re-focusing its efforts to ensure it is fit-for-purpose in the evolving political and security situation.
“We are redeploying staff and resources to build the capacity of important local institutions, including the courts, the justice system and the national police, and prioritizing technical support for security sector reform as well as the election process. Protection is best done through fair and effective rule of law,” said Shearer.
African Energy Thriller Becomes a Wall Street Journal Best-Seller List and Tops US Market
April 6, 2021 | 0 Comments
|Billions At Play became number one on Amazon in several categories only a few days after its initial release in 2019|
Following the widely acclaimed release of NJ Ayuk, Managing Director of Centurion Law Group and Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber’s second book, Billions At Play: The Future of African Energy and Making Deals, the resourceful and bold book has become #1 Amazon Best Selling eBook overall, #2 Wall Street Journal Best Selling eBook, #4 USA Today Non-Fiction Business Best Selling eBook and #10 Wall Street Journal Non-Fiction Combined best seller.
Billions At Play became number one on Amazon in several categories only a few days after its initial release in 2019, making it one of Africa’s energy best-seller. This second edition, which opens once again on a foreword by H.E. Mohamed Sanusi Barkindo, Secretary General of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and features a new chapter dedicated to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on African oil markets, which is narrated by Adera Gandy and Boet Schouwinck.
In a strong indication of Ayuk’s popularity around the world, Billions At Play: The Future of African Energy and Making Deals sold 7,020 units with peak sales of 2,803 units in a single day. ‘’This is great news because we can still tell Africa’s complex energy story with a hopeful narrative and still be a bestseller in the US. We don’t have to be negative or continue the crab in a barrel mindset that has not helped us. Any achievement is meaningless without thanking all the hands and hearts who helped us get there. I thank you a lot and continue to express my thoughts and experiences the best way I know how,’’ NJ Ayuk said.
The Amazon bestseller outlines the continents road to recovery plan that seeks to dissect the need for energy policy legislation, the lack of access to power, the role that access to reliable, sustainable, and affordable power can play in the acceleration of economic growth and most importantly, why the continent’s energy industry needs more women.
The book is currently available through leading retailers including Exclusivebooks.com , TakeAlot.com , Google Books , eBooks.com , Kindle and many more!
NJ Ayuk is a leading energy lawyer and a strong advocate for African entrepreneurs. He is recognised as one of the foremost figures in African business today.
A Global Shaper with the World Economic Forum, one of Forbes’ Top 10 Most Influential Men in Africa in 2015, and a well-known dealmaker in the petroleum and power sectors, NJ is dedicating his career to helping entrepreneurs find success and to building the careers of young African lawyers.
As founder and CEO of Centurion Law Group, NJ strives through his work to ensure that business, and especially oil and gas, impacts African societies in a positive way and drives local content development. He is the current chairman of the African Energy Chamber and author of ‘Big Barrels: African Oil and Gas and the Quest for Prosperity’.
*SOURCE African Energy Chamber
Maximilienne C. Ngo Mbe: A Champion of Human Rights across Central Africa
April 1, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Boris Esono Nwenfor
Maximilienne Ngo Mbe has been with the REDHAC for the past ten years as Executive Director, championing and promoting human rights across the Central African sub-region. Her relentless pursuit of human rights has seen her win multiple awards across the world and with the mantra “NEVER GIVE UP” she has shown no sign of slowing down.
Maximilienne Ngo Mbe has won multiple awards in her fight for Human Rights with the biggest one being the U.S State Department’s 2021 Women of Courage Awards. Before this recent award, Maximilienne was in 2020 awarded “The Prize of Empowerment of African Communities” by the BBF and Heal The World Africa, an organization based in the USA.
In 2019 Maximilienne won the “Defend Defenders: Prize of Resilience and recognition for her exceptional impact for her works on Human Rights in Central Africa.”
Pan African Visions caught up with this vibrant Human Rights defender in her office in Douala this March 31, 2021, and began by asking her what she made of the recent award given to her in her fight for human rights.
Pan African Visions: May we know how Maximilienne Ngo Mbe received news of her selection amongst the 2021 Women of Courage Awards?
Maximilienne Ngo Mbe: It is not possible to know how the selection comes about. I was surprised by the US Embassy who told me that I am one of the Women who have been selected for the award but the first amongst the twelve women that were to be selected. I had the information at the same time as you when the US Government made the selection. I saw the information on Friday after the announcement was made on Thursday in the night that I am one of the Women of Courage 2021.
Pan African Visions: What does this award mean for you and your fight for human rights in Cameroon?
Maximilienne Ngo Mbe: First of all I was very happy when you fight against violations of human rights, fight for peace and reconciliation and when you receive the award you are happy. The award is not only for the work in Cameroon but the work in Central Africa to improve human rights and promote peace and reconciliation in Central Africa. It is a lot of responsibility and what now can I do to ensure that all these people who are suffering can do something? I do not have a lot of power to improve all these charges that have been given to me.
Can I have the power to finish all this work? I am not sure because you need a lot of things; financial (sometimes people do not know that you carry out activities without money); democratically challenged (we do not have democratically institutions. We do not have separation of power in the countries). We have a lot of injustices specifically in Cameroon now and we have a lot of arbitrary arrests. The terrorism law is in place that leads to activists being charged. It is difficult and the situation in North West and South West is not easy. We have a lot of threats and people who do not have security in their life. It is not easy for me; I am happy but afraid.
Pan African Visions: Can you shed light on the Central Africa Human Rights Defenders Network in Central Africa-REDHAC that you lead?
Maximilienne Ngo Mbe: It is difficult to talk about the Human Rights Defenders Network in Central Africa because it is a long road. For ten years now I have been the Executive Director and we make sure to protect, promote and advocate for the human rights defenders status and make sure that the government undertakes their role about the regional and international engagement and to make sure that the fundamental freedoms are respected. We make sure that peace and security can be improved which will lead to people having justice and living a good life.
All these things have been very difficult to achieve because it is the civil and political rights; when you fight for their respect it is not easy especially in countries that have not had democratically institutions. Some of our victims understand nothing that sometimes turns to attack us. But REDHAC status that is out to fight against human rights especially for CSOs turns to create an atmosphere of peace between the victims. For example, every six months, we report on the violation of the human right and also the protection and security of lawyers who defend these victims. This is because if you want CSOs to continue in this light you need to reinforce them with security assistance. For example, we have laws that govern lawyers at the Regional, National and International level. Lawyers who defend victims of human rights violation and fight for peace and reconciliation
We at REDHAC have proposed concrete solutions at the level of Cameroon and Africa in general for the respect of human rights. This is a vast area for us to handle in the protection of human rights. We also have manual functions and challenges like our laws in the country cannot surpass international laws. Analysis and recommendations have been done as well as publications on fundamental liberation and also following up defenders of human rights; aiding them protection and financially. For example, Mancho Bibixy was aided financially (REDHAC supported him by relocating his wife from Bamenda to Yaounde so she can easily pay him visits in prison) and May Ali who was relocated. We also give people the opportunity to air out their problems to the international community especially victims in the North West and South West. We have also produced documentaries on behalf of the victims.
Pan African Visions: What are some of the challenges the REDHAC network has faced in the field while doing its work?
Maximilienne Ngo Mbe: Some of our challenges are infrastructural and financial challenges. This is because sometimes we need to help our victims who are not financially stable to shelter them and also the majority of our financial partners are state-owned that sometimes delay the assistance. Also, the government system is another problem we faced coupled with the fact that in Central Africa all the Presidents are of age weakening the system as they try to maintain their positions leading to poor leadership.
States that do not practice democracy is another problem we faced resulting in poor decision-making. In Cameroon especially in the judiciary decisions cannot influence justice; same with the legislative decisions hindering sanctions on the government for wrong decisions taken. This also goes to the executive. This can be seen especially in the Ngarbuh massacre that to date government decisions have not been implemented on the perpetrators of the act. Meantime, we also have the case of Wazizi where to date his corpse has not been found. Despite our complaints, nothing has been done in all these instances. Sometimes, sanctions are levied on us when publications on such situations are made public. Our challenges to sum up rest on financial, undemocratic institutions, but all these can be solved.
Pan African Visions: Can you give us your perspectives on the situation of human rights in Cameroon, where have you seen progress and where have things been bad?
Maximilienne Ngo Mbe: The fact that REDHAC’s doors have not been shut down despite these challenges shows a level of respect for human rights. People are allowed to talk freely on TV stations without being arrested shows some positivity on the respect of human rights. We also have laws that have been respected in the country and it is good we encourage the government for such a move which will give them the ability to keep respect for human rights.
However, laws that are made by the legislative are not always being respected by the other bodies such as the executive and judiciary. There is some collaboration even though formal such as that of the Ministry of Justice and some human rights organizations including REDHAC. These small collaborations give us a supportive hand to continue our work.
Pan African Visions: Could you share some of the recommendations that REDHAC has in mind to improve human rights in Cameroon?
Maximilienne Ngo Mbe: In Cameroon, we have recommended the revision of so many laws and not its abolition such as the anti-terrorism law of 2014 against Journalists, civilians, politicians, activists and others. For example, the military court is not supposed to judge civilians or journalists and for this reason, we have recommended that the law be revised and we hope one day it will be considering that Cameroon is one of the members of the Commonwealth, Human Rights Commission in Africa and the UN. We are not saying that the law be abolished but revised concerning the rate of terrorism in central Africa.
The second recommendation we have made is that if you observed Western African countries, there is a law to protect the right of journalists especially in Mali, Ivory Coast which was voted for and this law should be adopted in the Cameroon National Assembly and the President signing it into law.
Our recommendations are not only on human rights violations but in a situation that we find ourselves in. Cameroon is facing various challenges, and we have been recommended that no war can be solved with the use of arms but negotiations should be the solution between the two parties. A commission should be created such as the Truth and Justice Reconciliation Commission should be created. With this being our best recommendation as human rights preachers it will be a better means to reconcile ourselves. A proposal for that commission had been written and sent to the appropriate quarters which will only hope for a positive reply.
Also, on the socio-political crisis ongoing in the North West and South West Regions, we have recommended for the liberation of all Anglophone detainees especially those who have not appeared before the court since they were arrested but are in prison. For this reason, if Cameroon wants to portray that she is out to protect the rights of its citizens, then persons like Mancho Bibixy have to be released and stop the arrest of journalists and lawyers who defend human rights violations. The conduction of transparent elections has to be effective which will minimize the rigging of the election, reducing violence and threats during elections in Cameroon.
Pan African Visions: A new leadership and new members were recently appointed by President Biya to the National Human Rights Commission, what is your take on that, and do you think they can make a difference?
Maximilienne Ngo Mbe: Yes I think so.In the past years, we were working with the Commission headed by its former President Chemuta Banda and we did a lot of things, be it in the North West, Central Region and everywhere in Cameroon. We fought for the promotion and protection of Human Rights. On the contrary, since we did the last nomination and with his hatred, he disposes of daily it has nothing to do with human rights. It is feared that this Commission is only an empty vessel. How can you think that Mrs Elangue née Eva Etongue Mayer who has served more than seventeen years in the Commission and a defender of Human Rights was removed at a time when we needed a Commission like never before? For us, there has not been a consensus concerning the National Human Rights Commission today. At the moment, all those present at the Commission represent their head and shadow and so we have nothing to do with the Commission.
Pan African Visions: What do you make of accusations of bias and opposition sympathies that are often linked to groups like REDHAC, Amnesty International, Human Rights Work and others?
Maximilienne Ngo Mbe: All over the world, human rights commissions are usually accused and so there is no exception when it comes to Cameroon especially on those Commissions who do their work effectively. The truth is that they (government) deform and lie against such commissions meanwhile in other countries such a thing cannot happen. In Cameroon, they deform, lie and corrupt and when they get to a level that they cannot corrupt they go to the extent of levying threats. Human Rights organizations are only doing what we are expected to do and nothing else.
During the Ngarbuh massacre, the Minister of Territorial Administration Paul Atangi Nji held a press conference saying that Human rights Commissions had taken five million to destabilize the country which was not true to the point of sending us a warrant of arrest. This went far in tarnishing our image both nationally and internationally and to this day an investigation is still open. This was a strong allegation from such a personality who did not have strong evidence.
This is what I have been talking about in countries that do not practice democracy. Such countries are characterised by deformation and even those who count on human right commissions like REDHAC, Human Rights Watch. REDHAC’s office is in Cameroon and all that the government does is criticise and deform. But this is very different from other Human rights Commissions like Amnesty International that has its Headquarters in Senegal; you can never hear the government criticise to this extent, same as Human Rights Watch in the USA, posing a threat to other human rights organizations coming up. It is a dictatorial system and a system that does not respect human rights.
Pan African Visions: What next for you and REDHAC after this award, what are some of the projects that you have in mind going forward?
Maximilienne Ngo Mbe: What I can say never gives up despite the huge challenge we face in our country. We have to continue to work for peace and protect human rights. We are continuing without any stoppage in preaching and protecting the human rights commission, the implementation of a democratic state with no fear despite all the threats by implementing all the mechanisms to promote peace for all and protect human rights defenders. It should be noted that these are areas giving less concern and our small shoulders are ready for the fight.
Pan African Visions: We understand that you were in Congo during the recent Presidential election, could you share with us what you saw, were there free and fair from your perspective?
Maximilienne Ngo Mbe: The situation in Congo is our preoccupation now but yesterday we were told that some protesters were arrested, showing no difference with Cameroon. You will see that when Sassou Nguesou discovered that his mandate will soon end he amended the constitution, changing it into a referendum favouring him during the election which provided him with a new mandate. Can you imagine that we were in Congo and were denied accreditation to observe how the elections were conducted? This is very dissatisfactory as during the election we carried out some teaching on the protection of human rights.
We were going to look at those rights that were violated and not who won. This same scenario also happened to the Human Rights Commission in Congo. This is just to show you that when a Human Rights Commission works for the people it is very possible to have problems with the government. It will surprise you that the next day ghost town was declared making some voters walk long distances to vote, violating the right of circulation in and out of the country. Even we had to walk from up to 5km just to look for food to eat. When ghost towns are declared, how do you expect people to vote including handicaps?
It should be noted that before the ghost town was declared the forces of law and order had voted two days before and these same military forces already had voting stations, showing some level of fraud. On that same night, the internet was seized even to the 27 that we returned and the internet had still not been regularized. The only excuse given was that the person that was working on it died of COVID-19.
Again, we were told that some of our members were arrested but we are working on it though worried and the only thing we can do is hope for a calm situation considering that Congo had once had a civil war and also pray that the population remain calm because it is a provocation.
Pan African Visions: Thank you for granting this interview, any last word you wish to make?
Maximilienne Ngo Mbe: NEVER GIVE UP. I want to thank everyone that has supported REDHAC and my staff who has been there in our difficult moments and that we have passed through it. I want to thank the American State Department as it is an award that comes to protect REDHAC and myself. I want to assure all Human Rights Organizations, journalists and the African community to continue to strengthen the fight in protecting and promoting Human Rights, and maintaining peace.
(Translation was done with the help of Sonita Ngunyi)
Kenya’s opposition Chief recovers from Covid-19
March 31, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
Kenya’s former Prime Minister Raila Odinga has tested negative for the coronavirus.
His Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party made this revelation through a statement posted on Twitter.
“We are happy our Party Leader Raila Odinga tested negative and is out of danger of Covid-19. We thank God for that. God bless him, God bless Kenya,” said the statement duly signed by the party’s Director of Communication Philip Etale.
Raila was admitted to Nairobi Hospital on March 10 after a five-day tour of the coast region to popularize the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI). Later, he revealed he tested positive for the deadly disease and proceeded to self-isolation in his Nairobi home.
The statement was followed by a meeting that brought together the opposition leader and the ODM top leadership comprising of John Mbadi (ODM chairman), June Mohammed (National Assembly Minority Whip), Edwin Sifuna (Secretary-General), Timothy Bosire (Treasurer), and Gladys Wanga (member of the top leadership of ODM).
They deliberated on the recent developments in the East Africa nation, the ongoing Covid-19 vaccination, and the country’s economy.
In the meeting, Raila reaffirms his commitment to handshake, dispelling speculations that he and his foe turn friend President Uhuru Kenyatta are not reading from the same script.
“We agreed the BBI must be subjected to a referendum because it entails a fundamental reorganization of the architecture of the Executive and Kenyans need to have a say in the reorganization. The party therefore fully supports a referendum on the document,” reads an excerpt from the AU envoy’s statement.
President Biden Invites 40 World Leaders to Leaders Summit on Climate
March 28, 2021 | 0 Comments
Today, President Biden invited 40 world leaders to the Leaders Summit on Climate he will host on April 22 and 23. The virtual Leaders Summit will be live streamed for public viewing.
President Biden took action his first day in office to return the United States to the Paris Agreement. Days later, on January 27, he announced that he would soon convene a leaders summit to galvanize efforts by the major economies to tackle the climate crisis.
The Leaders Summit on Climate will underscore the urgency – and the economic benefits – of stronger climate action. It will be a key milestone on the road to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) this November in Glasgow.
In recent years, scientists have underscored the need to limit planetary warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius in order to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. A key goal of both the Leaders Summit and COP26 will be to catalyze efforts that keep that 1.5-degree goal within reach. The Summit will also highlight examples of how enhanced climate ambition will create good paying jobs, advance innovative technologies, and help vulnerable countries adapt to climate impacts.
By the time of the Summit, the United States will announce an ambitious 2030 emissions target as its new Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement. In his invitation, the President urged leaders to use the Summit as an opportunity to outline how their countries also will contribute to stronger climate ambition.
The Summit will reconvene the U.S.-led Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, which brings together 17 countries responsible for approximately 80 percent of global emissions and global GDP. The President also invited the heads of other countries that are demonstrating strong climate leadership, are especially vulnerable to climate impacts, or are charting innovative pathways to a net-zero economy. A small number of business and civil society leaders will also participate in the Summit.
Key themes of the Summit will include:
- Galvanizing efforts by the world’s major economies to reduce emissions during this critical decade to keep a limit to warming of 1.5 degree Celsius within reach.
- Mobilizing public and private sector finance to drive the net-zero transition and to help vulnerable countries cope with climate impacts.
- The economic benefits of climate action, with a strong emphasis on job creation, and the importance of ensuring all communities and workers benefit from the transition to a new clean energy economy.
- Spurring transformational technologies that can help reduce emissions and adapt to climate change, while also creating enormous new economic opportunities and building the industries of the future.
- Showcasing subnational and non-state actors that are committed to green recovery and an equitable vision for limiting warming to 1.5 degree Celsius, and are working closely with national governments to advance ambition and resilience.
- Discussing opportunities to strengthen capacity to protect lives and livelihoods from the impacts of climate change, address the global security challenges posed by climate change and the impact on readiness, and address the role of nature-based solutions in achieving net zero by 2050 goals.
Further details on the Summit agenda, additional participants, media access, and public viewing will be provided in the coming weeks.
The President invited the following leaders to participate in the Summit:
- Prime Minister Gaston Browne, Antigua and Barbuda
- President Alberto Fernandez, Argentina
- Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Australia
- Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh
- Prime Minister Lotay Tshering, Bhutan
- President Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil
- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canada
- President Sebastián Piñera, Chile
- President Xi Jinping, People’s Republic of China
- President Iván Duque Márquez, Colombia
- President Félix Tshisekedi, Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, Denmark
- President Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission
- President Charles Michel, European Council
- President Emmanuel Macron, France
- President Ali Bongo Ondimba, Gabon
- Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India
- President Joko Widodo, Indonesia
- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel
- Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Italy
- Prime Minister Andrew Holness, Jamaica
- Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Japan
- President Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya
- President David Kabua, Republic of the Marshall Islands
- President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Mexico
- Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand
- President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria
- Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Norway
- President Andrzej Duda, Poland
- President Moon Jae-in, Republic of Korea
- President Vladimir Putin, The Russian Federation
- King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
- Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore
- President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa
- Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, Spain
- President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey
- President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, United Arab Emirates
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson, United Kingdom
- President Nguyễn Phú Trọng, Vietnam
- *Source White House
Biden Administration Puts Zimbabwe on Notice
March 27, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Nevson Mpofu
Following its policy of Democracy and social justice respect follow-up to its destination for the good of all , USA tighten screws end of this week accusing Zimbabwe ‘ s President of abuse of power , abuse of office by President Mnangagwa since 2017 , gross human rights violation , unwarranted arrests of Opposition officials , Closing of space for MDC Party .
‘’There are illegal recalls of MDC Parliamentarians, abuse of office and close of space for MDC Alliance. ‘’ The USA STATE Department, has been watching this since 2017. says US State Department Spokes-person , Ned Price
Price was quoted as well saying out that the US is keep watching Zimbabwe, following on events since the time President Mnangagwa got into office
‘’USA is following events. On 17 March this year ZANU PF tried to strip MDC ALLIANCE members of their elected seats. Since 2020 March, there are 39 ousted MPs and 81 elected local officials, Zimbabwe is undermining Democracy, rule of law ‘’ .
Since the start of covid-19, several tight regulations have been passed. These have been a blow to MDC Alliance political activities. The party was closed its space to do activities which were meant to bring change to the country, this has been said .
An official with the USA Embassy in Harare notes as well that there are several activities which were meant to be carried by MDC Alliance which were blocked in the name of covid-19 .
‘’ A number of MDC Activities were blocked in the hide of covid-19 . There are a number of regulations that were passed by the Government of Zimbabwe which were a benefit to MDC Alliance and the people.’’ says a pseudonym from the Embassy in Harare.
‘’Gatherings blocked since the time of covid-19 were meant to target MDC Alliance. ZANU-PF had a number of gatherings not disturbed. The party had gathered a move to bring change to the people, but nothing came out of that, Every move was blocked in the name of covid- 19. Says a Poi8ltica Activist Jairos Samombe .
Civil-Society Organisations lament lack of respect to Democracy and rule of Liberty and Law following the arrest of Job Sikhala , Johanna Mamonbe , Fadzai Mahere and Journalists who were taken as political activists . Due to several political un-rests, MDC Alliance lost its Party Head-Office in Harare.
‘’ USA State Department has watch since 2017 . President Mnangagwa has never fulfilled his promises. We keep watch to this ‘’
‘’We have added 4 security officials to the list of sanctions against Zimbabwe. Comes again Ned Price, Spokesperson for USA State Department .
Urgent International support needed to support the Government of Mozambique to Combat Terror in Cabo Delgado
March 27, 2021 | 0 Comments
By NJ Ayuk*
The terror attacks on Palma are not simply targets of opportunity. They are strategic targets. The goal is to destroy Mozambique’s government’s ability to produce, export gas, fight poverty, create jobs and to make it clear that the government cannot protect oil company personnel or assets.
This is terrorism and must be condemned in all forms. These terrorist attacks if not taken seriously will cost the Mozambican government billions of dollars in lost investment and LNG earnings.
The African Energy Chamber is encouraged by the response of the President Nyusi and the Mozambique government. We continue to closely monitor the situation in close co-ordination with authorities in Mozambique and the energy companies.
“The international community is slowly realizing that the issue of terrorism is not only a Mozambique problem but a global problem. A swift and coordinated global response is needed to confront these band of terrorist, whose only goal is to inflict pain and poverty into a population that is already in distress” stated NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber.
“President Nyusi and Mozambique should not be left to solve this alone. The International community must support President Nyusi with the needed assistance to secure peace and stability. After that the President can also start the process of rebuilding what has become quite a fractured population in Cabo Delgado.” conclude Ayuk
The tangible improvements to the security environment in Cabo Delgado have enabled energy companies to resume activities. The resumption is very positive, and credit must be given to the government and the energy companies who see their work as contributing to the growth of Mozambique. Investments of billions of dollars have already been made, but an escalation of violence is putting the future of these investments at risk.
We also note that the interruption will result in minor delays in development schedule of key projects however, we are confident that the operators can minimize those and continue a rapid ramp-up of the projects.
There will be peace in Mozambique. It is not impossible. The Mozambican people are resilient and understand what is at stake. It will take time, diligence and discipline on the part of the government, and buy-in by the oil companies. The Mozambican economy will benefit from LNG earnings and more exploration.
*Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber
Uhuru’s tough Covid-19 rules anger Kenyans
March 27, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
A majority of Kenyans have expressed their disappointment over what they term as a “strange” move by President Uhuru Kenyatta to review Covid-19 containment measures.
The irate Kenyans said the President should have stressed implementing the already existing measures instead of imposing tougher ones.
In a move to curb the surging Covid-19 cases in the country, President Uhuru Kenyatta, on Friday, March 26, restricted movement in and out of five counties: Nairobi, Nakuru, Machakos, Kiambu.
Kenyatta declared the Counties “disease-infected” zones saying they have accounted for 70 percent of Kenya’s total Covid-19 cases.
“In January 2021, 20 Kenyans were in intensive care unit wards. In February, the number rose by nearly 30. In March, the ICU admissions shot up to 930,” said President Kenyatta.
The five counties’ curfew hours have also been changed from 10 pm-4am to 8 pm-4am, effective Saturday, March 27. However, the curfew hours in other parts of the country remain 10pm to 4 pm.
The Head of the State also suspended Parliament sessions and County Assembly meetings in the mentioned areas until further notice.
Physical cabinet meetings were also brought to a halt.
Religious meetings were also banned in the “disease-infected” zones. However, other regions will go on with their worship services but must observe the third capacity rule.
In the new measures, the President also banned face-to-face learning in all universities, colleges, and vocational training institutions, except for final year students doing their exams.
Visitors jetting into Kenya must have a Covid-19 negative certificate taken 96 hours before the arrival date.
Owners of bars were ordered to close their premises until further notice, and restaurants were directed to provide takeaway services.
Social gatherings will have a maximum of 15 people, and only 30 Kenyans are allowed to attend a wedding ceremony.
The public service vehicles are ordered to carry 60 percent of their capacity, and public servants are asked to work from home.
On funeral arrangements, families were directed to bury their loved ones within 72 hours from the day of demise.
The announcement elicited fierce criticism from struggling Kenyans who have been hit hard by the pandemic. Others also used the opportunity to narrate their ordeals.
“I have been a waiter since I came back to Nairobi after losing my previous job. Now, chances are, I am likely gonna lose this one too. Where did i go wrong?” said Lawrence Kinuthia.
“Some directives by the way don’t make sense to me. You should give kenyans some time before imposing. Atleast 24 to 48 hours. Imagine having gone for a business meeting in Mombasa but you live in Nairobi. How are you supposed to stay in Mombasa UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE?” posed Bravin Yuri.
“President is destabilizing the business environment when it is just picking up yet he has no solutions or not offering any kind of amnesty to reduce the cost of running business with aspects like fuel being at all time high,” said Elli Chanzu.
Somalia: A Sustained Fight for Human Rights paying off for Mama Zahra
March 25, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
The task may be daunting but the crusade for better human rights in Somalia is one that Zahra Mohamed Ahmad better known as Mama Zahra has embraced whole heartedly. Under the canopy of the Somali Women Development Centre that she leads, Mama Zahra has worked tirelessly to empower women, counsel rape, war and victims of gender violence, provide free legal counselling, working on reconciliation and peacebuilding amongst many other human rights related initiatives.
Her efforts got a big boost recently when she was one of three Africans selected as recipients of the U.S State Department International Women of Courage Award. Assisted by an interpreter in an interview with Samuel Ouma for PAV, Mama Zahra says the award will serve as an encouragement to women in Somalia to keep making a positive change in society.
May we start with a reaction from you on the recent Women of Courage Award you received, how did you receive news about this? How did Somalis feel about it, and what does this mean for the work you do?
Mama Zahra: First, I would like to express my gratitude to the Almighty God for enabling me to bag this precious award because it means a lot to me and my people, especially women and girls. The information about the award came directly from the US Department of State Department and was received with joy by Somalis. I am sure it will encourage women, particularly those doing social works, to make positive changes in society.
Talking about the work you do; can you tell us a little more about the Somali Women Development Centre-SWDC ?
Mama Zahra: SWDC is a non-governmental and non-profit organization established in 2000 to empower women and other vulnerable groups such as IDPs, victims of rape, war, gender-based violence, and any calamity, be it natural or human, through access to knowledge and economic and social independence. We also focus on the human rights protection of the vulnerable groups by providing free legal aid services, enhancing reconciliation and peacebuilding, lobbying with the involved parties, and building capacity.
What is the situation like for women and girls in particular and human rights in general in Somalia?
Mama Zahra: The situation is not encouraging at all. Unlike other countries such as Syria and Kenya, refugees in Somalia who are mainly women and children live in unfavorable conditions. Overcrowding and lack of social amenities are heart-breaking. Parents are being forced to live in small tents together with their children.
May we know some of the successes you have registered, what changes have taken place in Somalia as a result of your work with the SWDC?
Mama Zahra: I am proud of the accomplishments we have achieved since 2000. First, the People of Minnesota and I had formed Somcare to oversee the treatment of 250 seriously injured in the war. Through the partnership, these people were successfully treated in Kenya’s Kijabe hospital. Second, we have trained several women on legal matters, and they have been of great help whenever help is needed. Besides, we have trained female security guards in prison on how to handle female inmates. We have also offered support to people living with HIV/AIDS, orphans, blind children, and university students from a poor backgrounds. By agitating for an increase in women’s representation, the quota has increased from 11/12 percent to 24 percent. Somali women are highly represented in Parliament, making it one of the highest in the continent. Out of 275 lawmakers, over 80 are women.
In terms of challenges, may you know some of the most acute challenges you have faced?
Mama Zahra: There have been both personal and organizational challenges. As an organization, we were hard hit in 2013 after two male barristers who were mandated to train women lawyers were killed in a terrorist attack in a regional court in Mogadishu. It was a sad experience, but we had to move on. Later, I was expelled from a regional state of election for standing for what is right before losing my son under mysterious circumstances. My son, the founder of the first laundry shop in the Somali capital, was shot dead in the street. He also owned a start-up kind of organization that offered support to the young. I believe he was killed because he was innovative.
How is your relationship with the government in Somalia, how are your activities and those of the SWDC perceived, and what are they doing or not doing to improve on the situation of girls and women?
Mama Zahra: I work with many ministries in Somalia to achieve our objectives, and Somalis have embraced our activities beyond any doubt. We are doing a lot to improve the situation of women and girls. For instance, we have partnered with the government to offer free primary and secondary education; we own medical facilities where they receive treatment and provide finances to vulnerable individuals to help them settle down and feed their families.
In terms of policy proposals, what suggestions or recommendations do you have that could help improve gender and human rights in the country?
Mama Zahra: People should pay attention to both local and international laws on human rights to better women’s lives.
With all the work you have done and the growing international, is the thought of political leadership something you have thought of or something you may consider if Somalis call on you?
Mama Zahra: I have no political ambition, but I support women’s leadership; women should be represented at all levels of positions.
Any message to international partners out there on what and how there could support the work you have been doing on the ground in Somalia?
Mama Zahra: So far, we operate in two regions, but with well-wishers and partners, we can move to other regions to impact more lives. I plead with them to rally behind us to help us realize our goals.
What next for Mama Zahra after the Women in Courage award? What changes or developments should we expect from you and the SWDC?
Mama Zahra: I was awarded for what I did, but now through international help, I would love to improve the living standards of the IDPs, install DNA facilities that are only found in South Africa in the continent, and advocate for a high-quality healthcare system.
NJ Ayuk On Making The Most Of Africa’s Energy Potential
March 20, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
As many were wailing in disbelieve at the impact of COVID-19 on African economies, NJ Ayuk was one of those who rolled up his sleeves, put on his thinking cap and took the lead in proffering solutions and charting the way forward.
From robust engagement with OPEC, to a multitude of webinars to key stakeholders, helping governments navigate complex situations and building bridges with partners in Africa and the world, NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber spared no efforts in the quest for solutions to sustain and keep the African energy sector ticking.
“Africa’s voice must therefore be heard loud and strong as part of the global energy discourse. The Chamber has identified this and therefore has as one of its objectives to federate the different aspirations of Africans in the energy sector and articulate this in a constructive manner that will foster investment in the African energy sector, says NJ Ayuk in an interview with PAV magazine.
Bullish on the way forward, Ayuk believes that Africa must make the most of its energy potential and this starts with getting activity levels across the entire energy value chain in Africa back to pre-COVID-19 levels, says Ayuk. In a show of its seriousness on the way forward, the African Energy Chamber recently published its road to recovery book which provides practical guidance on how African countries can enhance compactivity globally to attract investment.
“The energy sector’s challenges, and the trials and tribulations have made the African Energy Chamber’s work more important now, more than ever. We are committed to helping Africa’s energy sector stakeholders navigate a complex and ever-changing global energy landscape. We will continue our mission to support the dynamic private sector and unlock the continent’s remarkable energy potential,” says Ayuk.
After a tough year, what do African countries need to do to get the energy sector back on the rails so it can continue playing its role in the economic development of the continent?
In order to change the tide and spur a post covid recovery in the energy sector that will also enhance overall economic growth in Africa, African countries must double their efforts to attract investment into their energy sectors. They must put in place timely and market relevant strategies to deal with external headwinds like the drive to decarbonize globally and evolving demand patterns for energy internally and hydrocarbons globally. They must end restrictive fiscal regimes, inefficient and carbon-intensive production, cut bureaucracy and other difficulties in doing business which are preventing the industry from reaching its full potential.
2020 was a year of unprecedented challenges for Africa’s energy sector. The target must be to get activity levels across the entire energy value chain in Africa back to pre Covid-19 levels and beyond. Companies in the oil and gas sub-sector for example responded by cutting costs and delaying projects, with planned capital expenditure for 2020-2021 dropping from $90 billion pre-COVID-19, to $60 billion.
As a leading actor in the Energy sector, may we get your assessment on the response from key power players in the continent like Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Angola, and others, what are they getting right and what are there missing or needs to be improved upon?
The response on the continent has been a mixed bag. A number of African countries were slow in responding to market realities, largely due to bureaucracy and the absence of generally agreed principles on how to deal with the COVID -19 pandemic. Others on the other hand, especially countries with a notable dependence on their oil and gas sectors responded swiftly to minimize disruptions in their countries.
For example, OPEC member Equatorial Guinea moved swiftly in the early months of the pandemic to implement best practice protocols that enabled the industry to operate uninterrupted during the pandemic. The government also suspended and deferred several fees usually borne by companies in the sector, in an attempt to support a reduction of costs in the sector. The result of these measures was that production in EG were kept at the levels projected prior to the pandemic and the sector did not witness mass retrenchment as was the case in several other oil producing countries.
Angola responded in a similar manner, after consulting with major stakeholders in the industry. Special health and safety protocols were adopted for the industry that allowed for undisrupted activity in the oil and gas sector. The government has also been able to maintain the momentum in its ongoing bid-round by facilitating access to seismic data and passing additional legislation that will facilitate exploration and drilling activity. Despite the associated economic crisis, the government has held on to its strategic power infrastructure projects like the completion of the Lauca dam and associated transition infrastructure which will boost power supply in the country significantly. The chamber believes that this project is key to enable the development of industry and the mass creation of jobs in Angola.
In Nigeria, there is a realization, across political lines, that the long-awaited Petroleum Industry Bill must be passed in order to give clarity and predictability to the industry, both key components that drive investment. The bill was therefore tabled in parliament and it is likely, that it shall be passed and enacted in law in the 3rd quarter of this year. Furthermore, the Nigerian government in response to the growing importance of Gas globally and also for power generation internally is investing significantly to enable gas to power infrastructure in-country. This is a good development for Nigeria and Africa, as we seek to reduce the number of those without access to affordable and reliable power and to promote industry that will provide jobs for Africa’s youthful population.
The energy sector’s challenges, and the trials and tribulations have made the African Energy Chamber’s work more important now, more than ever. We are committed to helping Africa’s energy sector stakeholders navigate a complex and ever-changing global energy landscape. We will continue our mission to support the dynamic private sector and unlock the continent’s remarkable energy potential.
What role has the African Energy Chamber played and/or what initiatives have been taken to help the continental wide response and recovery efforts?
The African Energy Chamber is at the forefront of Africa’s response to COVID-19, and the associated economic crisis. The Chamber is the voice of the African energy sector and is leading the industry’s response in a number of ways;
- Together with OPEC and other stakeholders, the Chamber is working on an initiative to combat energy poverty in Africa, which is increasing even faster in a post covid era.
- The Chamber together other partners like the International Association of Geophysical Contractors – IAGC championed the streamlining of permits for the obtention of seismic data in several African countries.
- The Chamber emitted several guidelines (AEC Common Sense Agenda) after consultations with industry stakeholders on how best to ensure continuity in the energy sector and increase investment post-COVID-19
- The AEC is a trusted advisor to key stakeholders in the industry. We engaged with several governments and advised them on ways to increase quality local participation in their energy sectors, in a manner that ensures global competitivity in a post COVID-19 environment.
- The Chamber launched a jobs portal to take opportunities to young Africans
As things stand now, and with everything that has taken place, how much of a factor or key player is Africa in shaping global decisions in the energy sector, how strong is the African voice in articulating and defending its interests?
According to The Africa Energy Chambers 2021 outlook, Africa consumes just over 710 terawatt-hours (TWh) presently. This is expected to triple in the next 3 decades. This represents just 6% of global consumption, and 7% of global production, despite Africa having 17% of the world’s total population. Africa also holds over 7% of total proven global oil and gas reserves. However, the continent is significantly underexplored. Recent discovery trends indicate that the continent is well placed to become a key global supplier of LNG, with major recent discoveries in Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania and Senegal/Mauritania.
Africa’s voice must therefore be heard loud and strong as part of the global energy discourse. The Chamber has identified this and therefore has as one of its objectives to federate the different aspirations of Africans in the energy sector and articulate this in a constructive manner that will foster investment in the African energy sector.
African stakeholders must federate around initiatives like those of the chamber in order to have the stance taken into account. `individual countries are unlikely to have an impact.
Under your leadership, the African Energy Chamber has sort to broaden its reach in Africa, with representations in Central and West Africa, how is this expansion shaping or moving the agenda of the Chamber forward?
The Chamber and our regional Presidents have done an amazing job with creating awareness about the Chamber and our work in their respective regions and beyond. Our footprints in Angola, East Africa, Mozambique, and Central Africa and their success allow us to keep abreast with the issues facing the energy industry in these regions and find solutions that work in these regions. The chamber will continue to grow regionally as we seek closer cooperation with the energy industry and stakeholders in-country. It is imperative, that the aspirations of every African and other stakeholders in each African country are reflected in what we do at the chamber. I want to take this opportunity to thank the regional teams for all what they do.
In an op-ed last year, you said now will be a good time for American independent oil and gas producers to consider opportunities in Africa, may we know what Africa stands to gain from more US presence?
I lived, studied and worked in the United States at the start of my career and one thing that has always stood out to me was this: The American sense of optimism and ingenuity that drives American entrepreneurship. In that same light, I think the ingenuity of American oil independents will lead to a win-win situation for both the companies and African countries in which they might operate. Africa’s energy sector needs that spirit of entrepreneurship which has led to the creation of tremendous wealth in America. Many of Nigeria’s major oil discoveries were made by such companies. In Senegal, AFRICA FORTESA Corporation, headed by US Upstream veteran Roger Beall is already producing and supplying gas to the domestic market. This is a trend that is expected to define the development and industrialization of Africa in the coming decades. Mr Beall founded Fortesa in 1997 and employs over 200 employees in his onshore E&P project in Senegal. Fortesa is exactly the kind of US company that we seek to attract to Africa. Not only do such companies create good paying jobs for young Africans, but they also provide training, tax revenue and most importantly demonstrate the kind of entrepreneurship that Africans must emulate in order to develop their continent.
The African Energy Chamber recently appointed a US-Africa Committee to serve in its advisory board, how would the committee help in growing and strengthening cooperation and investment between the US and Africa in the energy sector?
The African Energy Chamber appointed the US-Africa Committee to serve on its Advisory Board as a means to support the development of stronger energy cooperation and investment between the United States and Africa. Across the entire energy value chain, the committee aims to facilitate US investment into Africa’s energy sector and provide a platform for continuous dialogue between US energy stakeholders and their counterparts in Africa. America has long viewed African energy resources, especially oil and gas as key to its strategic interests. Africa has also cherished this relationship, though perspectives have changed over time due to the changing dynamics of each stakeholders’ economies and global demand patterns. The chamber sees the US as a key partner; and with the support of incredibly talented and experienced board members on that committee, commits to ensuring that frequent exchanges between US and African stakeholders lead to more investments in Africa. The committee is chaired by KearneyAfrica Legal Advisors President and former Deputy Assistant Secretary at the US Department of Commerce, Mr Jude Kearney.
To unlock future growth potential in the US-African energy cooperation, we will need to open up to SMEs and entrepreneurs and not be limited only to large and traditional corporations. The need to encourage African investments into the US was also brought to the table as a way to further support a win-win relationship that would support further capital flows going both ways.
What is your take on the issue of vaccines for COVID 19 and do you this has a role to play in the recovery that you envisaged?
I believe vaccines are the only solution for the world to return to some form of normality, similar to pre-covid -19 times. The pandemic has been devastating to the world economy overall and even more so to Africa in particular. Ending the pandemic rests on the successful delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to every country but the challenge goes beyond just having vaccines available. There is also significant convincing to be done for populations in Africa and globally to have confidence in the vaccine. Our assessment at the chamber, is that most of the developed world will have opened up their economies fully in the fourth quarter of 2021 in response to the majority of their populations having been vaccinated. Unfortunately, vaccination is likely to be slower in Africa mainly due to lack of access to vaccines. However, a rebound in economic growth in developed nations and china will spur activity in the sector in Africa.
We end with a last word from you on the way forward for Africa as the continent grapples with COVID-19, what gives you hope and what are you are your fears?
Africa’s oil and gas industry is facing extraordinary circumstances. An ongoing energy transition and new efforts to decarbonize the world are weighing on oil demand. The shale revolution exacerbated these pressures. And of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought havoc on markets around the world, accelerating and intensifying existing trends. External headwinds are forcing African petroleum producers and the entire African energy sector to re-examine their strategies. Conventional petroleum resources here must be globally competitive, if the industry is to compete and survive when compared to new frontiers like Guyana and Suriname. Growth has lagged because of conditions above the ground and not below. Restrictive fiscal regimes, inefficient and carbon-intensive production, and difficulties in doing business are preventing the industry from reaching its full potential. These conditions need to improve, if Africa’s energy industry is to remain competitive and thrive.
Africa’s young generation gives me hope. Studies show that the younger generation is more likely to hold their leaders accountable, a key component to demand and drive change that will propel development.