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Gambia:Covid 19 shutting down economies, President Barrow tells UN
May 30, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

President Adama Barrow
President Adama Barrow

President Adama Barrow has told the UN high-level virtual meeting on ‘Financing for Development on Covid-19’ that Gambia’s economy s among many others that are shutting down due to Covid 19 pandemic.

The impact of the pandemic has necessitated the world body to convene this high level event, to discuss strategies towards recovery of economies and financing development in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals.

“Our economies have been virtually shut down for the past several months as economic growth has become seriously compromised for the foreseeable future,” President Barrow told the meeting.

The Canadian and Jamaican Prime Ministers have joined the UN Secretary General in convening the meeting. The world leaders through this meeting have formed a consensus that Covid-19 is more than a global health challenge.

Rather, they consider it “a serious economic and social challenge” for the global economy, with devastating effects on most vulnerable countries such as The Gambia.

President Barrow told his colleague leaders that it has become more urgent for them to accelerate the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development in the Era of Covid-19 and beyond.

The Chairman of the African Union, President Ramaphosa of South Africa called for total debt cancellation for African countries. He further called on world leaders to honour their commitments to the Addis Ababa Plan of Action.

A global response package of up to $200 billion is targeted to finance this re-emergence plan. Mr. Ramaphosa expressed his commitment to lead the raising of this funds.

President Buhari of Nigeria and Kenyatta of Kenya were among those who gave strong support to debt cancellation for African countries.

The World Bank has called for extension of debt servicing, warning that creditors must not exploit the vulnerabilities of debtor countries during these times.

The IMF supported the G20’s debt scheme that puts moratorium on servicing debts by developing countries in order to support them build more robust and resilient economies.

The Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres said it was clear that many developing countries lacked the financial means to recover from the impact of Covid 19 pandemic. Their economies’ financial inflows, tourism, remittances, aviation services have hugely suffered that they need global partnership to emerge from this crisis.


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AFDB: Obasanjo Rallies Former African Leaders In Support of Akinwumi Adesina
May 28, 2020 | 0 Comments

-Read Full Letter

Adesina has placed the AFDB in a strategic position to fast track Africa’s development, says Obasanjo

Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo is rallying African leaders maintain support for African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina following whistle blower allegations and calls from partners like the USA for more scrutiny.

In a letter to former African leaders Obasanjo credits Adesina for taking the AFDB to unprecedented heights. Making the case to trust in Adesina’s leadership, Obasanjo says in 2020, he led the Bank to achieve a historic general capital increase, raising the capital of the Bank from $93 billion to $208 billion, an increase of $155 billion, the highest in the history of the Bank since its establishment in 1964.

Obasanjo goes further to highlight a series of other commendable achievements of Adesina that have placed the Bank in a strategic position to fast track Africa’s development.

“Despite these achievements and impressive leadership for the Bank and passion for Africa’s faster-paced development, and his clear endorsement by all of African countries for re-election for his second term, there are some attempts, led by some non-regional member countries of the Bank to frustrate his re-election,” Obasanjo says in the letter.

“We should speak against the introduction of alien practices being recommended by some parties given that such recommendation falls outside the laid down procedure, laws, rules and regulations of the Bank. It is also critical that we emphasize the need for the ADB to remain an Africa-focused development Bank rather than one which serves interests outside Africa,” Obasanjo said, while inviting former leaders to collectively issue a press statement to support the laid down procedures embarked upon to evaluate the allegations against the President of the Bank .

Full Letter Below

Your Excellencies,
I hope that you are keeping well in the midst of the current COVID 19 pandemic that we are all going through in Africa and all over the world. I am writing to you in respect of developments at the African Development Bank.

As you may be aware the President of the Bank, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina has performed very well in this position over the past five years. He has taken the Bank to great heights. In 2020, he led the Bank to achieve a historic general capital increase, raising the capital of the Bank from $93 billion to $208 billion, an increase of $155 billion, the highest in the history of the Bank since its establishment in 1964.

I have been made to understand that the Bank also successfully raised funds from donor countries of over $7 billion for the African Development Fund 15th replenishment for low-income countries, an increase of 35%. Under his leadership the Bank launched the Africa Investment Forum (AIF) to mobilize massive flows of capital to Africa.

The inaugural launch of the AIF held in Johannesburg, South Africa, secured 38.7 Billion of investment interests within less than 72 hours. The AIF event held in 2019 went even further and secured $40.1 Billion of investment interest in less than 72 hours. Africa has never seen these kinds of financial and investment interests.


The Bank has been effectively positioned as an effective global institution, ranked 4th globally in terms of transparency among 45 multilateral and bilateral institutions by Publish What You Fund, an outfit that consists of 19 developed economies. Dr. Adesina led the Bank to successfully launch at the G7 Summit in Biarritz, France, the Affirmative Finance Action for Women (AFAWA) to mobilize $3 Billion for women businesses and entrepreneurs in Africa, with strong support and resources from G7 leaders and nations.


The Bank has also substantially aligned its financing and operations to help accelerate Agenda 2063 and the High 5 agenda of the Bank (Light Up and Power Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialize Africa; Integrate Africa; and Improve the Quality of Life of the People of Africa) are achieving good results. Over the past four years, it is estimated that18 million people were provided with access to electricity, through “Light Up and Power Africa”: 141 million people gained access to improved agricultural technologies for food security, through “Feed Africa”; 13 million people benefited from access to finance from private sector investment projects, through “Industrialize Africa”; 101 million people benefitted from access to better transport through “integrate Africa”; 60 million people benefit from improved access to water and sanitation under “Improved quality of life for the people of Africa. In summary: in less than five years under Dr. Adesina’s leadership, the Bank’s investments have benefitted and impacted a total of 333 million Africans.


You will agree with me that these achievements are commendable and the Bank has been placed in a strategic position to fast track Africa’s development.

Finally, under Dr. Adesina’s leadership of the Bank, it has continued to maintain its Triple A (AAA) rating by all global rating agencies over the past five years.
As Africa faces COVID-19, Dr. Adesina again took bold measures to ensure the Bank can respond proactively to support African countries and got its Board of Directors to approve a $10 Billion crisis response facility to support African countries. In addition, the Bank successfully launched a $3 billion “Fight COVID-19” social impact bond on the international capital market, secured at 0.75% interest rate. The social bond is the largest US dollar denominated bond ever in world history. The bond is now listed on the London Stock Exchange where it has been oversubscribed at $4.6 billion.


Given these great achievements, Dr. Adesina was unanimously endorsed for re-election for a second term as President of the Bank by all Heads of State and Governments of the ECOWAS region. At the Africa Union
Summit in February of 2020, all 55 African countries endorsed him for reelection for his second term, as the sole candidate as President of the African Development Bank.


Despite these achievements and impressive leadership for the Bank and passion for Africa’s faster-paced development, and his clear endorsement by all of African countries for re-election for his second term, there are some attempts, led by some non-regional member countries of the Bank to frustrate his re-election. At issue are some allegations made by some whistleblowers that alleged that Dr. Adesina violated Code of Ethics as President. Dr. Adesina strongly denied the allegations as fabrications and misinformation to disparage and discredit him. The laid down due process at the Bank, the Ethics Committee of the Board of Directors, Chaired by the Executive Director from Japan and with members who represent shareholder member countries evaluated the allegations over a period of 3 months.

The Ethic Committee of the Board of Directors, after examination of each of the 16 allegations of the whistleblowers had dismissed each and all of the allegations as baseless and without any substantiation. The Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Bank following review of the Ethics Committee report exonerating Dr. Adesina concurred with the conclusions and exonerated Dr. Adesina of all the allegations. The Ethics Committee and the Chairman of the Board of Governors had performed their duties as laid down in the Rules and regulations of the Bank.


Unfortunately, the US Government, through the US Treasury Secretary, has written a public letter (that was also distributed to the Press globally) to disagree with the conclusions of the Ethics Committee of the Board of Directors and the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Bank. Instead of accepting the exoneration of the President of the Bank, they called for an “independent investigation”.

This is outside of the rules, laws, procedures and governance systems of the Bank. The US Treasury Secretary disparaged the Bank and ridiculed the entire governance system of the Bank, which has been in place since 1964. This is unprecedented in the annals of the African Development Bank Group. If we do not rise up and defend the African Development Bank, this might mean the end of the African Development Bank, as its governance will be hijacked away from Africa.


I therefore propose that we all collectively issue a press statement to support the laid down procedures embarked upon to evaluate the allegations against the President of the Bank and to recommend that the Board of Governors as well as the Ethics Committee of the Bank should firmly stand by their process and its outcome. We should speak against the introduction of alien practices being recommended by some parties given that such recommendation falls outside the laid down procedure, laws, rules and regulations of the Bank. It is also critical that we emphasize the need for the ADB to remain an Africa-focused development Bank rather than one which serves interests outside Africa.

cc:
H.E Boni Yayi
H.E Festus Mogae
H.E Hailemariam Desalegn
H.E John Kufour H.E Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
H.E Joyce Banda
H.E Joaquim Chissano
H.E Tandja Mamadou
H.E Thabo Mbeki
H.E Kgalema Motlanthe
H.E Benjamin Mkapa
H.E Jakaya Kikwete
H.E Mohamed Marzouki (Former President of Benin)
(Former President of Botswana)
(Former Prime Minister of Ethiopia)
(Former President of Ghana)
(Former President of Liberia)
(Former President of Malawi)
(Former President of Mozambique)
(Former President ofNiger)
(Former President of South Africa)
(Former President of South Africa)
(Former President of Tanzania)
(Former President of Tanzania)
(Former President of Tunisia)

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The African Development Bank: Tolling Bells for Humanity
May 25, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Cesar A. MBA ABOGO*

Cesar A. MBA ABOGO
Cesar A. MBA ABOGO

COVID-19 is severely testing Africa’s social, economic and political resilience. While it is true that our countries are taking bold actions to slow down and contain the spread of the virus, it is also undeniable that recession looms in our continent. 

The Central African sub region is one of the areas most exposed to an economic recession. We face a double danger. On the one hand, we are fighting COVID19 with a scarcity of financial resources and fragile health systems. On the other hand, we are trying to mitigate the adverse economic effects of this pandemic, and safeguard our economies – especially those extremely dependent on revenues from natural resources.

It is not a secret that the most affected countries in Central Africa are Sao Tomé and Equatorial Guinea. In terms of the impact on the economy, we have been punched by COVID19 like no other country.

COVID19 is an unprecedented challenge. But crisis moments also present opportunities. I frankly believe that COVID-19 could inadvertently spark a better future for Africa.

For that to happen we need Africa’s flagship development institution, the African Development Bank, to be stronger than ever, as it is the primary duty of the institution* to assist Africa at this critical time.

We therefore salute the AfDB’s bold response and its commitment to assist our countries by creating a $10 billion COVID-19 Response Facility to help cushion the economic and social impacts of the pandemic in regional member countries.

We are certainly satisfied with the Bank’s performance and the visionary leadership of its President, Dr Akinwumi Adesina.

I would like to commend the credible and exhaustive work of the  Bank’s Board-constituted Ethics Committee’s chaired by the  Honorable Takuji Yano. The Committee’s report referencing sixteen allegations by whistle-blowers against Dr. Adesina and other executives of the Bank, unequivocally stated that “these allegations are not valid and should be rejected”.

With regard to the whistle-blower’s rejection of the conclusions of the Ethics Committee, we express our deep concern about how this not only undermines and affects Dr. Adesina’s credibility but is also contributing to the erosion of the bank’s credibility, especially the strength of its internal institutions.

We believe that this is just the opposite of what humanity needs at this time when we are facing an unprecedented crisis. We therefore echo the call by the Chair of the Board of Governors, Honourable Niale Kaba, for “restoring peace and serenity within the Bank.”

In conclusion, and as a testimony of my support for Dr. Adesina and all the Bank executives who have personally and adversely affected by this situation and unfounded allegations, a few verses penned by John Donne (and popularized by Hemingway) come to mind.

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”

Today in the African Development Bank, the bells toll not for Dr. Adesina but for Africa … for humanity.

* Cesar A. Mba ABOGO is Minister of Finance, Economy and Planning of Equatorial Guinea

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World Bank Reveals 60 Million People Risk Extreme Poverty Due to Covid-19
May 21, 2020 | 0 Comments
President of the World Bank David Malpass in a hand shake with President of Mozambique Filipe Nyusi. Photo credit Twitter

By Bakary Ceesay

The World Bank Group announced in a statement Tuesday that 60 million people could fall into extreme poverty due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, which would erase three years of progress globally.

In 2015, there were 734 million people or 10% of the world’s population in extreme poverty, which is defined as living on less than $1.90 a day, according to the World Bank’s most recent estimates.

Previously estimating 49 million would be pushed into extreme poverty, the World Bank points to the pressure on healthcare systems as well as the impacts on both developing and advanced economic systems as factors for the increase.

“The health and economic impacts that the Covid-19 pandemic and shut down have inflicted on developing countries are severe,” World Bank President David Malpass said on a media call.

Malpas also shared the group is predicting a “deep recession” with the world economy falling 5%.

The World Bank is financing emergency programs in 100 countries representing 70% of the population, part of an initiative to spend $160 billion over 15 months to assist countries’ healthcare, economic systems and social protection programs.

Thirty-nine of the 100 counties are in sub-saharan Africa, while nearly a third are in conflict areas like Afghanistan and Haiti.

“To return to growth, our goal must be rapid, flexible responses to tackle the health emergency, provide cash and other expandable support to protect the poor, maintain the private sector and strengthen economic resilience and recovery,” Malpass said in a statement. 

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South Sudan’s vice President Dr. Machar, wife tested positive of COVID 19
May 20, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Dr. Riek Machar, First Vice President and Angelina Teny, Minister of Defense use elbow greetings during a recent event in Juba. PHOTO: Courtesy

Juba – South Sudan’s First Vice President Riek Machar Teny and his wife, Minister of Defense Angelina Teny, have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

However, the Ministry of Health said Dr. Machar and Angelina, including other government officials were tested on Wednesday last week.

Dr. Makur Koriom, the Undersecretary in the Ministry of Health said the First Vice President and his wife have not shown signs or symptoms for the disease.

“Both are in good health, they have no symptoms, they are in high spirit,” Dr. Makur affirmed.

He said Dr. Machar, Angelina, their bodyguards and family members who recently came into contact with them will self-quarantine for 14 days.

“Among the 57 cases confirmed positive for COVID-19 is his Excellency Dr. Riek Machar Teny, and madam Angelina Teny, the Minister for Defense…they will go into quarantine at their official residence in Juba for the next 14 days,” he added.

Speaking on the state – based television on Monday’s evening, Dr. Riek Machar confirmed that him and his wife, Angelina Teny have both contracted the virus.

“I want to declare that, I, the deputy chair of the high-level task force has been tested [For COVID-19] and found positive. There are other members who are also tested and found positive. I can only say at this stage that Madam Angelina Teny, the minister of defense and veteran affairs is also found positive,” Machar announced in a televised address to the nation.

Machar, until last week, was the deputy chairman of the country’s high-level task force for COVID-19, while his wife was also a member of the COVID-19 team.

Machar and his wife are the first senior government officials in South Sudan who tested positive for COVID-19 and have come out to speak about their test results.

Dr. Makur Koriom stated that medical doctors will continue to monitor Dr. Riek Machar, Angelina Teny and those who have self-quarantined.

“Our doctors will conduct follow up tests after a couple of weeks, and if afterwards the tests return normal, they will then be discharged.”

South Sudan has 347 positive cases of COVID-19 with four recoveries and six deaths related to corona-virus pandemic. 

Analyst described that it is “frightening situation” as the disease has already spread to the country.

According to him, South Sudan is in a battle it cannot afford to loose.

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COVID-19 response must target African agriculture and the rural poor
May 15, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Olusegun Obasanjo and Hailemariam Desalegn Boshe*

.Agriculture contributes 65 per cent of Africa’s employment and 75 per cent of its domestic trade

Workers slice pineapples into small pieces at Tuzamurane Cooperative pineapple factory in Murehe Cell, Kirehe district, eastern Rwanda. The cooperative and factory which employs over 100 people, both directly and indirectly in rural Gahara sector, exports over two tonnes of dried pineapple snacks to Europe, earning just under $30,000 monthly

Africa has so far escaped the worst health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the continent looks like it could be the worst hit from the economic fallout of the crisis: 80 million Africans could be pushed into extreme poverty if action is not taken. And disruptions in food systems raise the prospect of more Africans falling into hunger. Rural people, many of whom work on small-scale farms, are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of the crisis. It is therefore vital that the COVID-19 response address food security and target the rural poor.

At this time, the international development agenda is prioritizing health, economies and infrastructure. But there must also be a focus on food security, agribusiness and rural development. This is especially important on the African continent.

Agriculture contributes 65 per cent of Africa’s employment and 75 per cent of its domestic trade. However, the rich potential of agriculture as a tool to promote food security and fight poverty is at risk from the effects of COVID-19.

In March, the UN Economic Commission for Africa predicted growth in Africa would drop from 3.2 per cent to 1.8 per cent in 2020. Within the continent, lockdowns are disrupting inter-regional trade. The effect of restrictive measures on food trade is especially worrying, in particular for food-importing countries, but also because of shrinking export markets for the continent’s farmers.

Across the European Union (the largest export market for Africa’s fresh fruits and vegetables), demand has dropped for popular produce such as Kenyan avocados, South African citruses and Moroccan vegetables. Kenya has also recorded an 8.5 per cent decline for tea exports to destinations like Iran, Pakistan and UAE. Within countries, we are already seeing that interruptions to transport and distribution systems are impeding small-scale farmers from accessing essential inputs – like seeds and fertilizer – and from getting their food to markets.

African governments have defined stimulus measures to mitigate national and regional economic impacts of COVID-19. As they do, they must remember that investments in agriculture can be up to five times more poverty-reducing than investments in other sectors. Investments in rural, small-scale agriculture are particularly important for the region’s food security, for safeguarding the livelihoods of some of its most vulnerable people and for sustaining the gains in poverty alleviation and wealth creation.

Small farms everywhere traditionally make a huge contribution to global food security. Around the world, small-farm dominated systems produce 50 per cent of all food calories on 30 per cent of the world’s agricultural land. In sub-Saharan Africa, however, the role of small-scale farms is even more significant: 80 per cent of farms are small in most of these countries.

Even before the current crisis, globally more than 820 million people were going hungry daily. And the majority of the world’s poor and hungry people live in the rural areas of developing  countries. In Africa, reliance on food imports, and lack of services and infrastructure to enable small-scale farmers to produce and market food, along with the shocks of climate change, have all increased the fragility of food access.

In April, the World Bank projected the pandemic would hit Africa the hardest of any region, pushing 23 million people into poverty. This raises the question of how small producers in Africa can get access to inputs and finance to grow and sell the food needed to ensure food security and support livelihoods. African leaders must be in the vanguard of funding solution

In April, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) (https://bit.ly/2WSOWbw) launched a multi-donor fund- COVID-19 Rural Poor Stimulus Facility (RPSF) (https://bit.ly/2AmoUpj) – to address the immediate fallout of COVID-19 for rural people in Africa and elsewhere. IFAD specializes in investing in poor rural people, targeting the poorest and most marginalized. Among other goals, the new facility will provide small-scale farmers and fishers with basic inputs, and help them access markets and maintain cash flow. IFAD committed US$40 million to the new fund, but aims to raise at least $200 million more from UN Member States, foundations and the private sector.

The Facility will complement and scale-up the work IFAD has  already been doing to repurpose existing project activities. In Malawi, for example, a programme is providing social cash transfers to ultra-poor farmers and delivering messages about    financial literacy and COVID-19 prevention. In Eritrea, vulnerable households are receiving small ruminants and seeds to strengthen, maintain production, access markets and safeguard household food security during the crisis.

These immediate actions are essential to mitigate the worst risks of the crisis. They are also important to safeguard IFAD’s past and ongoing investments to build the long-term resilience of rural livelihoods. Ultimately, we need to ensure that rural people and their businesses are the foundation of resilient rural economies and food systems across Africa. Then, when the next crisis strikes, the vulnerable people of today will be better able to protect their livelihoods and avoid the risk of falling into poverty and hunger.  

So while it’s urgent to feed people today, we also must look to the days, months and years ahead. This is one reason why IFAD     prioritizes long-term rural and agricultural development and building resilience to future shocks. It is also why we urge policy makers to adapt any relevant lessons from how previous outbreaks like the Ebola virus affected agriculture and food systems.

In the long term, this pandemic underscores the need for Africa to transform agriculture and agribusiness as the surest path to inclusive economic growth, wealth generation and greater resilience.

As Special Envoys, we believe in IFAD’s exceptional mandate and will continue to work closely with the Fund in mobilizing resources to support the most vulnerable on the African continent. The pandemic will expose the livelihoods of rural marginalized groups to unprecedented challenges. To restore hope to those affected, we commit strongly to the idea that no one will be left behind, especially in Africa.

*The authors are Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Hailemariam Desalegn Boshe, former Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Both are International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Special Envoys engaged to mobilize support and advocate for greater investment in rural areas.

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Rosgeo, Russia’s leading geological company, signed first contracts to start exploration and increase the potential of mineral and hydrocarbon resources in Equatorial Guinea
May 12, 2020 | 0 Comments
Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons
These contracts follow the signing of a Memorandum of understanding between both entities during the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi last October

JSC Zarubezhgeologia and JSC Yuzhmorgeologia, internationally operating subsidiaries of the Russia’s state-owned joint stock company Rosgeo and the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons (MMHof Equatorial Guinea have signed two services contracts for the initial phase of seismic acquisition in transit zone and state geological mapping in the Rio Muni area, Equatorial Guinea. These contracts follow the signing of a Memorandum of understanding between both entities during the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi last October.

JSC Zarubezhgeologia will be performing scouting works for state geological mapping, and JSC Yuzhmorgeologia will be performing scouting works for complex seismic acquisition in the transit zone of Rio Muni. The activities are notably aimed at analysing landscape conditions for geological surveying and prospecting, determining the scope of mapping drilling, researching the possibility of mineralogical sampling of channel deposits, analysing technical conditions for the arrangement of geological camp in Rio Muni, and other scouting necessary to prepare for next phases of exploration works. 

“Such exploration activities will help in extending additional natural resources potential and reserves in Rio Muni, notably crude oil, natural gas and minerals. This falls under the increasing cooperation between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, and will help in building a strong exploration base in the country,” state H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons.

“Russian geologists formed the basis of Equatorial Guinea’s geological exploration industry back in the 1970s, and we are delighted to be reviving this successful collaboration and bring in world-class geological activities to the Rio Muni area,” declared Sergei N. Gorkov, CEO of Rosgeo. 

The Rio Muni area is believed to be one of the most promising exploration frontiers in Equatorial Guinea, which could turn the country once again into a hotspot for natural resources exploration. Increased exploration is expected not only to help in sustaining and increasing domestic output of oil and gas, but also in proving additional reserves in key minerals to help Equatorial Guinea further diversify its economy.

*African Energy Chamber
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African leaders laud African Development Bank President for visionary leadership amid COVID crisis
May 5, 2020 | 0 Comments

Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank is lauded for his visionary leadership and bold initiatives to accelerate Africa’s development and to support the continent through the COVID-19 crisis.
President Ramaphosa expressed appreciation for the Bank’s commitment of $26 million for the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

South Africa’s President and African Union chairperson Cyril Ramaphosa and the Nobel peace laureate and former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf have commended Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org), for his visionary leadership and bold initiatives to accelerate Africa’s development and to support the continent through the COVID-19 crisis.

President Ramaphosa expressed appreciation for the Bank’s commitment of $26 million for the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, its support in the procurement of critical medical supplies in Africa, and the financial instruments the Bank has provided to assist member countries through the pandemic.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) recently launched a $3 billion “Fight COVID-19” social bond, with bids exceeding $4.6 billion. It is the largest dollar-denominated social bond ever launched in international capital markets and the largest US dollar benchmark ever issued by the Bank. The Bank also launched a $10 billion Crisis Response Facility to support Africa and to address the pandemic.

Through these initiatives, the Bank is poised to deploy funds to provide African governments and the private sector with access to financing to reduce the economic and social impacts of COVID-19.

“I commend the AfDB for taking these bold initiatives and for the role played by the AfDB under your leadership during this challenging period,” President Ramaphosa, also the current chair of the African Union, said in a written message of support to Dr. Adesina.

Echoing President Ramaphosa’s statement, President Sirleaf said: “The leaders of Africa, and I dare say the world, have recognized the important changes that you have made in the Bank – reorganization of management and restructuring of Bank operations around the High 5s that represent a response to Africa’s more critical development needs.”

Acknowledging the Bank’s highest ever capital replenishment last year, President Sirleaf added: “Take heart, dear President, knowing that Africa respects your intellect and commitment and is pleased that through your leadership our premier institution has received worldwide acknowledgement and recognition for high-quality performance and impacting results.”

Under Adesina’s leadership, the African Development Bank has centered its mission around its “High 5” development priorities: Light Up and Power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialize Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the Quality of Life for the People of Africa.

The Bank’s shareholders in 2019 approved a landmark general capital increase of $115 billion, the largest in the Bank’s history, increasing its capital base to $208 billion.
*AFDB
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Coronavirus: Cameroon Government eases Lockdown Measures
May 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Prime Minister Dion Ngute
Prime Minister Dion Ngute

The Cameroon government has outlined plans to ease the restrictions it imposed weeks ago to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Prime Minister Chief Dr Dion Ngute said the measures will be relaxed as from May 1, with bars, restaurants, allowed to open after 6 pm. The compulsory wearing of masks has been maintained. Schools remain shut with the hope of reopening in June.

The easing of the measures put in place has been well received by the population across the country. Some have, however, questioned the opening of bars, restaurants, with nothing said about churches.

No information has equally been made about the resumption of sporting activities in the country. Professional football in Cameroon was put on hold mid-March due to the virus. It is still uncertain when football will resume. The coronavirus had a tremendous impact on Cameroon hosting some competition such as the CHAN, the CAF Champions League final, as the two events were pushed forward.

The latest number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Cameroon stands at 1,832, with 61 deaths, and 934 recoveries.

“Although screening tests reveal new cases of corona virus-positive patients, the number of people declared healed of this disease in our country has been on the rise,” PM Dion Ngute said in a press outing.

“Furthermore, the mortality rate from this virus remains low, compared to the number of positive cases.”

What has been announced?

The opening after 6 p.m. of bars, restaurants and leisure facilities, with the obligation for customers and users to respect barrier measures, in particular, the wearing of protective masks and social distancing;

The lifting of the measure reducing the mandatory number of passengers in all public transport by bus and taxi. The wearing of masks remains compulsory and overloading is prohibited;

The suspension for the second quarter of 2020 of general accounting audits, except in cases of suspected tax evasion;

The postponement of the deadline for filing Statistical and Tax Declarations, without penalties in case of payment of the corresponding balance;

The granting of moratoria and deferrals of payment to companies directly affected by the crisis, hence, suspending forced recovery measures against them;

Supporting the finances of companies through the allocation of a special envelope of CFAF 25 billion for the clearance of stocks of VAT credits awaiting reimbursement;

The postponement of the deadline to pay land taxes for the 2020 financial year, to 30 September 2020;

Full deductibility to determine the corporate income tax of donations and gifts made by companies for the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic;

The exemption from the Tourist Tax in the hotel and catering sectors for the rest of the 2020 financial year, as from March;

Exemption from the withholding tax and from parking fees for taxis and motorbikes, as well as from the axle tax for the 2nd quarter. This measure could be extended to the rest of 2020;

Exemption for the second quarter from the withholding tax and council taxes (market duty, etc.) for petty traders (bayam sellam); 

The temporary suspension for three months of the payment of parking and demurrage charges in the Douala and Kribi ports for essential goods;

The establishment of a MINFI-MINEPAT consultation framework, with the main economic actors, to mitigate the effects of the crisis and promote a rapid resumption of activity;

The suspension for three months, that is, April, May and June, of on-site inspections by the National Social Insurance Fund (NSIF);

The cancellation of penalties for late payment of social security contributions due to the NSIF, upon reasoned request;

Spreading the payment of the social security contributions for April, May and June 2020 over three instalments, upon reasoned request;

The maintenance, for the next three months, that is, from May to July, of the payment of family allowances to staff of companies which are unable to pay social security contributions or which have placed their staff on technical leave because of the economic downturn, particularly in the catering, hotel and transport sectors;

The increase of family allowance from CFAF 2,800 to CFAF 4,500;

The 20% increase of old pensions that were not automatically revaluated after the 2016 reform.

The government has equally extended the measures taken on 17 March 2020, as part of the COVID-19 pandemic response strategy, for an additional 15 days, renewable if necessary.

Prime Minister Dion Ngute added: “I urge the population to continue to strictly observe the barrier gestures and all measures aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus in our country, in particular the systematic wearing of protective masks in all areas open to the public and the prohibition of gatherings.”

“I also call on public workers who have abandoned their duty posts, under the pretext of confinement due to COVID-19, to return without delay to their places of work, failing which they will be subject to the disciplinary sanctions provided for by the regulations in force.”

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Kagame refutes presence of Rwandan soldiers in Eastern DRC
April 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

D.R.Congo President Tshisekedi with Paul Kagame of Rwanda

President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame has refuted claims that Rwandan soldiers have crossed into neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, to fight armed group that are hostile to Kigali based government.

Since early April, it has been reported that in North Kivu Province, Eastern Congo Rwanda Defence Force elements were intercepted in the region of Rutshuru, the area that is believed to be the stronghold of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, FDLR, forces that are accused to have committed Genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda.

In a virtual press conference  held in Kigali on 27th April 2020, President Kagame denies any presence of Rwandan soldiers in DRC.

“The government of DRC knows that there is not a single soldier in eastern DRC. Take it from me that there is no single RDF soldier in that part of the world” he said

He said that instead, in North Kivu, Congolese soldiers have been acting on information Rwanda gives them.

“Fortunately we have a government in  DRC that has come to agree to work with countries in the region to resolve this problem that has been there for years. But according to some people, that is not even a good thing because it is a problem they want to preserve”, he added

President Kagame revealed that there are other voices behind such rumours that Rwandan soldiers are on DRC soil.

He said there are people outside Congo, who benefit in causing troubles in eastern Congo, and use Rwanda as a scapegoat.

“These actors don’t look at it that way, are only concerned about Rwanda being in DRC”, he adds.

Congolese government have not yet commented on Rwandan army being in that country, however Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, FARDC  have launched operations aimed at eradicating negative forces operating from the east.

Since September 2019, many FDLR  top commanders  have been killed in attacks led by Congolese army.

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Commonwealth Secretary-General welcomes findings of Cameroon Joint Commission of Inquiry and calls for speedy implementation
April 23, 2020 | 0 Comments
File picture.Audience with President Biya.I strongly condemn the recent killings of civilians, including women and children in the Northwest of Cameroon , said Commonwealth SG Patricia Scotland in a February statement

The Commonwealth Secretary-General has welcomed the findings of a Joint Commission of Inquiry into incidents in north-west Cameroon earlier this year.

An attack in Ngarbuh village on 13 and 14 February 2020 reportedly left 23 people dead, the majority of them children.

His Excellency President Paul Biya conveyed the findings of the joint commission on 21 April.

Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said:

“I welcome President Paul Biya’s decision to hold the perpetrators of this heinous act accountable. I further welcome the measures the President has ordered to ensure justice and dignity for the victims and their families. Justice is an essential condition for sustainable peace. I once again condole with the families of the victims and I encourage a speedy implementation of the Commission’s recommendations so that justice may be done.”

The Secretary-General added:

“The Government of Cameroon’s openness in addressing this incident is encouraging. When I visited Cameroon in November 2019 with the Secretary-General of the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF), Louise Mushikiwabo and the African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, we offered our joint support to the President in his ongoing leadership in finding a lasting and peaceful solution to the conflict in the North-West and South-West regions. I reiterate this offer. We stand ready to continue working with Cameroon in the promotion of our shared values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”

On February 18, the Secretary-General issued a statement condemning the attack

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South Africa:F.W. de Klerk and Deep Scars of Apartheid …Part I
April 20, 2020 | 0 Comments

By James N. Kariuki*

F.W. de Klerk and Nelson Mandela in 1994.Photo JUDA NGWENYA / REUTERS

Three months ago, I suggested in this Blog that fellow South Africans should consider honoring former President F.W. de Klerk’s contribution to ending apartheid as enthusiastically as African-Americans continue to idolize Abraham Lincoln for abolishing slavery in 1863. I hereby withdraw my appeal because de Klerk has steadfastly failed to acknowledge that apartheid was wrong and to sincerely apologize for it. In short, de Klerk has refused to face the evils of the past.

Abraham Lincoln ended American slavery on the basis of a moral imperative: it was wrong in principle. For de Klerk’s the issue of morality never seems to arise; he has never genuinely addressed whether, to him, apartheid was right or wrong. His preoccupation has always been to evolve a political strategy to preserve Afrikanerdom. This explains why, until shortly after this year’s fiasco at the South African State of the Nation Address (SONA), de Klerk made a fool of himself by admitting publicly that he did not know that apartheid was ever internationally condemned as a crime against humanity. 

At the core of the parliamentary confusion on February 3rd was the fact that South Africans, and the world, do not agree on who or what brought about the collapse of South Africa’s draconian socio-economic disorder twenty six years ago. De Klerk and his loyalists are quick to claim that their man, de Klerk, single-handedly brought down apartheid.

The radical Economic Freedom Fighters are obviously unprepared to confer credit for South Africa’s freedom to de Klerk. In addition to being white, he is an Afrikaner who benefited handsomely from the racially-brutal system. He finally rose to the pinnacle of power by winning the leadership of all-white National Party in September 1989. As apartheid’s ‘Golden Boy,’ could de Klerk sincerely dislodge the system?

De Klerk’s life was indeed molded by apartheid and in the end he became president of the globally-loathed eco-system of unmitigated racial discrimination and white supremacy. Within the confines of South Africa, De Klerk slowly but surely evolved into a showcase of apartheid’s success. It was almost unthinkable that a man whose stature was so intertwined with apartheid could sincerely engage in its dismantling.

Non-white Africans tend to confer credit for apartheid’s collapse largely to friends and sympathizers who openly extended assistance to the anti-apartheid forces at their moment of need. African leaders and external sympathizers, their usually non-conformist ideologies notwithstanding, were true friends to the black South Africans to the extent that they supported anti-apartheid forces proudly and unconditionally.

Under these circumstances, was de Klerk pushed or did he choose to negotiate apartheid away in the late 1980s? Pose this question to any politically-aware black African and odds are the answer will be: he did not have a choice. In other words, de Klerk knew that apartheid was already en-route to its grave.

De Klerk was indeed part of the early realization of the wisdom to negotiate with ‘the enemy’ before apartheid collapsed altogether. However, he was by no means its originator. In January 1985 his predecessor, President P.W. Botha, had offered imprisoned-Nelson Mandela his freedom provided he renounced violence. Mandela declined the offer on the grounds that only free men make deals.

If de Klerk’s contributed to evolution of events at that phase, it was in refining and attempting to implement unconditionally a process which his predecessor had already tested. De Klerk’s task was considerably easier given that the disintegration of apartheid’s global boogeyman, the Soviet Union, was already underway.

De Klerk does deserve credit for realizing that race-based apartheid was doomed. Domestically and internationally, it was perceived as unsavory; it could not survive. The apartheid state could disintegrate voluntarily by design or lock horns in a protracted war of attrition that would have no winners. In the academicians’ jargon of the time, the latter alternative was “too ghastly to contemplate.”

Under these circumstances, the only viable option for the white-based rule was a negotiated settlement. If successful, even the former perpetrators of apartheid stood a chance to work out some kind of ‘acceptable deal’ to survive in the post-apartheid order. Even apartheid’s perpetrators would have carved the right of Afrikanerdom’s ‘soft landing’ in the ‘born-again’ South Africa. In this case apologies for apartheid would be gratuitous.  

A crippling contradiction still remained. While both de Klerk and the rest of the world craved for the demise of apartheid, their aspirations were vastly different. The world expected apartheid to vanish from the face of the earth on moral grounds. But De Klerk and apartheid enthusiasts were driven by a desire for a ‘born-again’ South Africa where sins in the dying order went unpunished.

It is understandable that de Klerk and his Afrikaner resisted excessive condemnation of apartheid for its past brutality. To him particularly, extreme reprimand of apartheid would have been an attack on a system that had produced and nurtured him to global prominence. And, to his loyalists, de Klerk’s success was testimony to the viability of their threatened system. Hence, de Klerk’s defiant psychological make-up adamantly resisted finding fault with apartheid.

In fact it was immaterial to de Klerk’s thinking that apartheid may have perpetrated horrific racial crimes in the service of Afrikaners’ nationalism. His instincts were not open to debating such devilish aspects of apartheid’s injustices or whether or not he was duty-bound to apologize for them. His radar was focused on formulating a political strategy to save his Afrikaner community, including those guilty of past transgressions.  

To de Klerk apartheid was generally fine. It was sentenced to death by a world that did not fully grasp the dynamics at work in his homeland, especially the racial component. Given this veneer, it was hardly a surprise that, as late as February 2020, de Klerk admitted publicly that he was not aware that apartheid was condemned worldwide as a crime against humanity. Unfortunately, a whole lot of people knew otherwise.

* James N. Kariuki is a Kenyan Professor of International Relations (Emeritus).  He comments on public issues in various international publications.He runs the blog Global Africa

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