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Kenya to export the second consignment of crude oil in February
October 29, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma |@journalist_27

President Uhuru Kenyatta during the official flagging off of the Kenya’s first oil shipment

Come February, 2020 Kenya will export the second consignment of 500,000 barrels of crude oil, an increase from 200,000 barrels shipped in August 2019.

The East African joined the rank of the petroleum exporting countries after it released its first batch of 200,000 barrels to the international market under the Early Oil Pilot Scheme (EOPS), an initiative owned by the government. The oil was dispatched by the China National Chemical Corporation Ltd (ChemChina) at a cost of $12 million.

Addressing the press in Nairobi on Tuesday, Brian Muriuki an advisor to the State Department of Petroleum and mining reiterated that the government is aiming at establishing the demand for Kenya’s oil in the global markets.

“We want to sell crude oil in bigger consignments in future in order to achieve better prices at the international oil markets. Good performance of Kenya’s oil in the international market will also give confidence to the oil exploring firms to scale up investment to achieve commercial production,” Muriuki said.

Two thousand barrels are produced daily at the oil fields in Lokichar basins, Northwest of Kenya. The British firm Tullow had revealed that the onshore fields have approximately 560 million barrels which will see the country producing between 60,000 to 100, 000 barrels per day in near future.

According to Muriuki, the investment decision will be arrived at once some key factors such as the approval of the project’s environmental impact assessment by the Kenya’s National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and the completion of commercial agreements to new funding have been dealt with.

Kenya’s oil has been described as waxy since it needs heating at room temperature, sweet and light due to its low sulphur content.

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South Sudan: Training of VIP protection forces still to commence despite deadline
October 29, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Riek Machar.Photo Credit AFP

Juba – South Sudan ceasefire monitor body says the training of the VIP protection forces has not yet commenced despite the pre – transitional deadline, something that sets a fragile peace deal in peril.

Major Gen. Desta Abiche Ageno, Chairman of the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangement, Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM), says it is concerned about the “slow progress” in the training of the VIP protection forces and the registration of forces as the deadline approaches.

The Joint Military Ceasefire Commission has been working hard to register forces in the cantonment sites across since months ago, but Gen. Abiche says it is not yet complete at all sites.

“CTSAMVM observes that no training of the necessary unified forces – including the VIP protection force has taken place,” said Gen. Abiche, during the last, 16th CTSAMVM technical committee meeting in Juba on Tuesday.

3000 members of a VIP protection force would have supposed to be trained at now before November 12.

Of recently, President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar disagreed on the formation of a unity government by November 12.

Both Machar, and Lam Akol, leader National Democratic Movement called for further delays to all the signatories to the shaky peace deal to complete the outstanding issues of security arrangements and determination of number of states and boundaries.

But, the UNSC says there should be no more extensions……. the remaining issues of the number of states, the boundaries and other things can be discussed by inclusive South Sudanese government.

The other signatories insisted that the unity government must be formed by November 12 and outstanding issues addressed later.

However, the Ceasefire monitor body says the lack of sufficient logistic support to cantonment sites – especially food and medicine, has not been addressed and the CTSAMVM is observing many of those registered forces now leaving designated sites including MirMir, Kendila, Sue, Ngo Alimah and Pantiit respectively.

35 cantonment sites have been identified across the country by the Joint Military Ceasefire Commission to cantoned the rival forces, a move in line with a new peace deal

The cantonment is a critical foundation in enabling the security arrangements to be in place, but progress toward full cantonment before 12 November is now far behind schedule, said Gen. Abiche.

The ceasefire has been, and continue to be successful as there have been no clashes between the parties to the revitalized peace agreement for over a year, something the ceasefire monitor says it is a ‘major achievement’ and one for which the parties must be commended.’

Major Gen. Rabi Mujung Emmanuel, government representative says they are working toward the training of the VIP protection before the November 12.

“Government will response positively and the security mechanism could be in place [before the formation of a unity government],” said Mujung.

In May, the two principals agreed to form a unity government in six months and again, in September, due to the unfinished security arrangements, among others, further reiterated that they will establish a unity transitional government by November 12 as part of the deal.

The fragile deal has stalled due to lack finances to fund the security arrangements, disarmament and integration of the army.

South Sudan secured independence from north Sudan in 2011 after decades of a scorched – earth civil war that has killed two million lives but descended into its own conflict in late 2013 after president Kiir sacked Dr. Machar as vice president.

With latest peace deal, the warring leaders are trying to ending the country’s five – year conflict that has uprooted four million people from their homes and ruined the country’s economy.

With just a two weeks to the pre – transitional deadline, the parties have failed to train half of 83,000 troops needed for the national army, national security and the police services.

The region and international community is mounting pressure on the South Sudanese warring parties’ leaders to agree on outstanding issues and form a unity government by November 12, with no delays.

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How Europe’s Greedy Lending to Africa Is Driving the Migration Wave That Fuels the EU’s Xenophobic Politics
October 23, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Vijay Prashad*

Cameroon’s President Paul Biya (2L) speaks with French President Emmanuel Macron (C) next to Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbe (L), Luxembourg’s President Xavier Bettel (3L), Gabon’s President Ali Bongo (3R), Portugal’s Prime Minister Antonio and Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame (R) as leaders pose for a family photo during the 5th African Union – European Union (AU-EU) summit in Abidjan, on November 29, 2017..Ivory Coast President opened a Europe-Africa summit on November 29, calling for “all urgent measures” to end migrant abuses, including slave trading in Libya. / AFP PHOTO / ISSOUF SANOGO (Nov. 28, 2017 – Source: AFP)

If you ask an African migrant in Europe who came across the Mediterranean Sea in a boat if they would make the journey again, most of them would say “yes.” Many of them had been on vans and trucks that took them across the dangerous Sahara Desert, and many of them had beenon board vessels that struggled to get across the choppy waters. They might have seen their fellow migrants die of thirst or of drowning, but none of that halts their conviction that they’d cross the sands and the seas again.

Harsh treatment by European border guards and an overwhelming experience of racism inside European society do not bring regret or suggest that they would not do it again.

“It was all to earn money,” said Drissa from Mali. “Thinking of my mom and my dad. My big sister. My little sister. To help them. That was my pressure. That’s why Europe.”

Myths About African Migrants

A UN Development Program report, released on October 17, shows that 97 percent of the nearly 2,000 African migrants in Europe interviewed would take the same risks to come to Europe again knowing what they know now about the danger of the journey or what life in Europe would be like. What is powerful about this UN report is that it dispels the many myths about African migration.

There is a terrible view that Africans are somehow “invading” Europe, even worse “swarming” into Europe. Anti-immigration rhetoric speaks of building fences and creating a Fortress Europe. It is as if there is a war, and Europeans must arm themselves against invaders. A year ago, the UN’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng warned that European politicians fan the flames with hateful rhetoric that “is legitimizing hatred, racism and violence. While extremists spread inflammatory language in mainstream political discourse under the guise of ‘populism,’ hate crimes and hate speech continue to rise. Hate crimes constitute one of the clearest early-warning signs for atrocity crimes.” At the UN in Geneva this May, Dieng—a Senegalese lawyer—said, “Big massacres start always with small actions and language.”

The UN report shows that the hatefulness around the African migrant is misplaced. The reasons for major flows of migration to Europe actually come from within Europe itself. Those leaving war zones—Syria and Afghanistan in West Asia, but also Eritrea and Libya—come in expected numbers as they flee bombs that are often produced inside Europe. These numbers are much higher than for those Africans who come to Europe for work.

FILE: Migrants seen aboard a wooden boat on the Mediterranean sea. Picture: AFP.

In fact, more than 80 percent of African migrants stay on the continent. The proportion of African emigration out of the continent compared to Africa’s population “is one of the lowest in the world,” says the United Nations. Most of the migrants who go to Europe, according to European data, come by regular channels—with a visit to the embassy, an application for a visa, the granting of the visa, and then a flight into the country; irregular arrivals, many of whom might come by boat, are far fewer than those who come with a valid visa. It is racism that fails to acknowledge this reality.

Remittances

If you dig into the numbers from the UNDP report, you find that 58 percent of the African migrants in Europe were either employed at home or in school when they decided to leave; most of the migrants had jobs and earned competitive wages. What drove them is the insecurity in their countries, and the fact that they felt they could earn more elsewhere. More than half of the migrants had been supported financially by their families to make the journey, and 78 percent sent back money to their families.

World Bank statistics show that remittances to African countries are growing. In line with the global trend, sub-Saharan Africa received more foreign exchange from remittances than from foreign direct investment (FDI).

In 2018, according to the World Bank, remittances to sub-Saharan Africa totaled $46 billion—almost 10 percent more than in 2017. The countries that received high remittances were Comoros, Gambia, Lesotho, Cabo Verde, Liberia, Zimbabwe, Senegal, Togo, Ghana, and Nigeria.

The total FDI flow into sub-Saharan Africa, according to the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), was $32 billion, up by 13 percent from 2017, but a significant amount less than the remittance flows.

Migrants who send money home are more important than the corporations and banks that bring investment dollars into these countries. It’s too bad the bankers are treated better than the migrants.

African Debt Crisis 2.0

Africa is on the threshold of a major debt crisis.

The last debt crisis was in the 1980s, as part of the broader Third World debt crisis. In the decolonization period, Africa—looted of its wealth by colonialism—had to borrow money for development; these funds were large, but worse was the manipulation of dollar-denominated debt by the London Interbank Borrowing Rate (LIBOR) and by the U.S. Treasury’s interest rates. Skyrocketing debt in the 1980s produced a long period of austerity and suffering. That debt simply could not be paid as long as multinational corporations effectively stole Africa’s resources and refused to pay taxes on that drain of wealth. This was the reason why initiatives such as the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) and Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) were created by the World Bank and the IMF in 1996 and 2005, respectively. By 2017, these initiatives provided $99 billion to reduce Africa’s debts from a debt-to-GNI (Gross National Income) ratio of 119 percent to 45 percent.

No change in the structure was made—no assault on transfer mispricing and base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS), mechanisms used by Western-based multinationals to continue their plunder of the African continent. When the 2014 commodity price shock came, many African countries slipped gradually toward a new debt crisis. The new debts are not all government debt, but they include very high proportions of private sector debt, which has tripled from $35 billion (2006) to $110 billion (2017) according to World Bank figures. Debt repayments have risen dramatically, which means that investments in health and education have declined, as has access to capital for small-scale private sector businesses.

Currently, according to World Bank numbers, half of the 54 states in Africa struggle with high debt-to-GDP (Gross Domestic Product)—with many of these over the 60 percent threshold that signals a crisis. The rate of increase of this debt has set off alarms across the continent.

What does this mean?

It means that if there is any financial crisis in the West, it will draw away financing from Africa, plunge the region into another major debt crisis, and set millions of people in search of better earning opportunities. Families and countries in Africa have come to rely upon these remittances. They are part of the structural fabric of finances.

Racism against the migrant is an enormous problem, and it must be tackled in itself.

But deeper than that is another problem that has grown as a result of no effective post-colonial policy—the structural problem of the ongoing theft of resources from Africa, and of the lack of financing for the continent to develop its own potential. Allowing multinational firms to steal African resources, and allowing foreign banks to lend to Africa at virtually usurious conditions, simply creates a cycle of crisis that results in migration and remittances as the band-aids.

Europe does not have a refugee or migration crisis. The real crisis is in Africa, where the thief—often a European firm—continues to undermine the continent’s ability to breathe.

*This article was produced by Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute.Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, editor and journalist. He is a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He is the chief editor of LeftWord Books and the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He has written more than twenty books, including The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World (The New Press, 2007), The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South (Verso, 2013), The Death of the Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution (University of California Press, 2016) and Red Star Over the Third World (LeftWord, 2017). He writes regularly for Frontline, the Hindu, Newsclick, AlterNet and BirGün.

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Africa and globetrotting leaders: Cause for Optimism or Concern
October 20, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

You have to engage people. If you don’t travel how do you engage them (donors)?” Former Malawi President Bakili Muluzi (2003)

After a long day which started as early as 4 am, I returned home around 7 pm. Just as is the case with many neighbourhoods in Zimbabwe, there was no electricity at home so I turned to my smartphone for some entertainment while preparing my body for sleep. I logged in to my Twitter account and started to catch up on all the latest headlines both local and international. While scrolling down, one tweet did catch my eye; the tweet was about Emerson Mnangagwa, the Zimbabwean President. The tweet stated that by January 2019, just one year and one month after becoming the president, Mnangagwa had embarked on 26 foreign trips! This staggering figure which now stands above the 30 point mark quickly forced me to draw comparisons between the president and his globetrotting predecessor, Robert Mugabe.

President Mnangagwa has clocked more than 30 foreign trips since he took over from Robert Mugabe

When Mnangagwa came into power, he promised that he would usher in a new way of doing business. Simply put, this, therefore, meant that as Mugabe was a globetrotter, Mnangagwa would be the exact opposite, that is, he was going to spend much of his time in the country with his people. With over 30 foreign trips travelled since December 2017, this, however, is not the case. As I was pondering about this issue, I began to remember all the headlines that I have read detailing how most African leaders have a penchant for travelling. I also came to realize that globetrotting is not solely a Zimbabwean ‘problem’ but its an African ‘problem’.

 Cameroonian President Paul Biya is nicknamed an ‘absentee president’ owing to his long stays in Switzerland as opposed to his home country. Last year, Paul Biya held his first cabinet meeting in more than two years. The reason behind the huge lapse in cabinet meetings being down to Biya’s long absence. Paul Biya’s foreign travels have been the subject of an online spat between the state-owned Cameroon Tribune newspaper and the Organised Crime and Corruption  Reporting Project (OCCRP), which calculated the amount of time the president spent abroad using reports from the daily newspaper. Biya is estimated to have spent nearly 60 days out of the country in 2018 alone. In 2006 and in 2009, Biya spent a third of the year abroad.

Switzerland is the favorite destination of President Paul Biya of Cameroon

In Nigeria, President Buhari is known for his love for the city of London in the UK. Buhari has travelled to London on several occasions since 2015 when he first came into office. The Nigerian president mostly travels to London under the auspices of seeking medical attention. At one point, the president spent three months abroad in which time his deputy Yemi Osinbajo ran the country. According to the New York times, Buhari has “spent more than 170 days in London on official medical leave since becoming president in 2015.”

Former Malawian President Bakili Muluzi at one point responded angrily after being asked for the umpteenth time why he was so fond of taking foreign trips instead of trying to solve problems back home. After returning from a three week trip to Asia in 2003, the president received criticism from various circles within the country accusing him of being ‘ignorant’ and wasting the little resources the country had globetrotting. Realizing that the criticism was coming thick and fast showing no signs of ending anytime soon, the president had to call for a press conference where he criticized all critics saying it was of paramount importance that he spends much of his time globetrotting and it was the only way to engage the donors who primarily fund Malawi’s  budget. In his own words, Bakili Muluzi stated “You have to engage people. If you don’t travel how do you engage them?” while critics had a strong case in criticizing the president for his numerous foreign trips, in the case of the country as a whole, Muluzi can be justified for his travels as Malawi for the past two decades has seen donor-funded projects make up over 60 percent of the capital budget each year.

In profiling instances of African leaders who have a penchant for travelling, we can certainly go on and on as many African presidents both current and former are avidly known for loving the fast plane life. As such, besides looking at the obvious, let’s take a moment to examine if globetrotting is of any benefit to African nations or its just an illusion used by African leaders to hoodwink the citizens into believing that they are actually doing something.

The argument that has been used by many African leaders if not all when questioned about their numerous trips abroad is that foreign trips help them to engage and reengage with foreign powers most of whom possess massive influence and power that can be used for the betterment and development of Africa. On the front of engagement and re-engagement, it can be noted that indeed, Africa is now much more connected to the rest of the world in comparison to years gone by. Various leaders of the more powerful states and institutions including the U.S., China, Russia, Britain, IMF and World Bank have visited African nations in an attempt to consolidate and strengthen the ties that exist between them and Africa. This on its own paints a positive picture that indeed, foreign trips embarked upon by African leaders have managed to put Africa on the global map.

However, while still of the front of engagement and re-engagement, it can be noted also that the benefits from the ties between Africa and the rest of the world do not work in a reciprocal manner. Rather, Africa by engaging with the rest of the world has managed to give leeway to foreign powers to exploit Africa while she, on the other hand, has benefited nothing of true value. Most of the deals that have been reached as a result of engagement and re-engagement efforts have seen European powers come to Africa to establish their companies, plundering African resources, polluting the local environment and repatriating the profits back to the headquarters. Employment of the locals and availability of ready-made manufactured goods has been the only benefit to Africa; something that’s insignificant when compared to the benefits enjoyed by foreign powers.

The above therefore clearly shows that the talk of engagement and re-engagement has on the surface appeared as a good thing to Africa but when one takes a deeper look, it’s quite crystal clear that Africa is not benefitting as much as it should from the engagement approach. Earlier on, we stated that Bakili Muluzi supported his globetrotting adventures saying they were the ones responsible for bringing the much-needed finance used to sustain human lives in the country in the form of donor funds. While this is certainly true, what can also be seen is that donor funds have actually made Malawian leaders and the citizenry at large idle, dependent and some would say lazy. This is because instead of looking at ways to use what they have in creating a source of livelihood for the whole nation, the country is now much more concerned with appeasing the foreign powers so that donor funding keeps flowing at all times. The ingenuity of the locals has been suppressed and docility is praised.

For health and leisure, London is the favorite stop for President Buhari pictured here with ADP Chieftain Bola Tinubu while convalescing after medical treatment. Photo credit Channels TV

Moving on, globetrotting leaders have also used trade as one of the main reasons why they embark of numerous foreign trips. African leaders with a penchant for travelling state that they spend most of their time travelling and meeting with their foreign counterparts so that they can improve trade between their nations and other foreign powers. While its indeed true that trade figures between Africa and the rest of the world (Europe, Asian and America) have increased gradually since the 1980s, it’s also true that the increase has largely been necessitated by foreign powers instead of Africa. This is to say that the actions taken by African leaders have had little to insignificant value in terms of paving the way for the increase in trade figures. It is firstly down to Europe, America and Asia’s commitment to producing more products for export that has seen trade figures between Africa and the rest of the world increase. Secondly, it is also as a result of the numerous multinationals operating in  Africa seeking to exploit cheap human labour, relaxed environmental laws and favourable policies and taxes that have seen Africa produce more products for export. Products produced by Africans in Africa for sale in other parts of the world account for only an insignificant portion of export figures. This, therefore, shows that globetrotting African leaders have achieved so little when it comes to real benefits for the home countries.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The African Energy Chamber under the leadership our executive Chairman NJ Ayuk, joins the industry in congratulating President Macky Sall for taking the right steps to develop Senegal’s oil & gas sector and make energy work for all Senegalese citizens. With its partners, the Chamber will continue to assist Senegal in promoting good governance, attracting investments and building domestic capacity across the value-chain.
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UN SG Rep Ibn Chambas ‘satisfied’ with Gambia’s Ongoing Reforms
October 13, 2019 | 0 Comments
Dr. Ibn Chambas

By Bakary Ceesay

Dr. Muhammed Ibn Chambas, The United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel, said the United Nations is pleased with the Barrow government’s commitment to the ongoing reforms processes in The Gambia.

‘’On Friday, we leave The Gambia very satisfied that the commitment is there on the side of the government and the people of The Gambia to move ahead with these reforms.’’

The UN Special Envoy also briefed the President on the consultations the team had with different stakeholders like political parties, Civil Society Organisations, and development partners, all of whom, he said, underscored the importance of moving forward with the reform process in The Gambia.

He went further to explain that the 2016 elections ushered in a new era in The Gambia, which saw various reforms programmes like the Constitutional Review Commission, the Truth and Reconciliation, and Reparations Commission, and the Security Sector Reform enjoys strong support from the Gambian people.

‘’We remain engaged, we remain committed, so on an occasion like this, we would like to reiterate that the President and The Gambian community can continue to rely on the UN and the International Community, which is still ready and willing to accompany Gambia through these reforms.’’

Dr. Ibn Chambas, who was accompanied by the UN country representative, said these remarks after an audience with President Adama Barrow at the State House in Banjul.

He was at the Presidency to express the UN’s gratitude to President Barrow for hosting this year’s West African Sahel Women’s Open Day on Peace and Security.

‘’We appreciate all the facilities and the excellent hospitality extended to us from the UN but also to the delegations from the different ECOWAS countries and the Sahel who were here to discuss on the role of women in peace and security and development in our sub region,” UNOWAS boss stated.

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Gambia:Barrow’s adviser on policy, governance resigns
October 11, 2019 | 0 Comments
Mai Fatty

By Adama Makasuba

Mai Ahmad Fatty presidential adviser on policy and governance has resigned his portfolio describing the decision as ‘his own principles, after feeling useless in holding the position of adviser to the president’.

His resignation came week after some leaders of the coalition extension of President Barrow’s mandate to 5 years amidst the controversial 3 years saga.

Gambia Moral Congress however rejected taking part in the decision made by those coalition leaders the former vice president Fatoumatta Jallow Tambajang.

The lawyer-turn politician said in a news conference on Friday at Kairaba beach hotel that: “I made the decision to resign on my own accord, and on my own terms, following thorough reflection, after having consulted my family and the relationship of my party in The Gambia and in the diaspora”

Mr Fatty who is also the leader of Gambia Moral Congress said the reason of his resignation came as a result of feeling being “useless” to continue serving the portfolio of a presidential adviser to Adama Barrow, saying “I didn’t feel useful as a presidential adviser anymore.”

He said nothing has happened between him and the president but that he feels not useful in holding the portfolio, adding that he only made the decision on his principles.

He called on Gambians to unit to archiving developmental goals for the country, saying he and his party are committed to venturing into anything that would contribute to the development of the country.

He said he will now go back to his former profession as a lawyer as well as do his political duties at his law firm to serve what he called “the interest of the people.”

Mr Fatty who was the first interior minister of the post Jammeh regime got sacked by the president Adama Barrow without any reason from the presidency after serving little above a year in office.

He was however reinstated as a presidential adviser to the president this year.

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African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina receives Emeka Anyaoku lifetime achievement award
October 10, 2019 | 0 Comments
Adesina
The Hallmarks of Labour Foundation presented the Outstanding International Icon Award to Adesina at a ceremony held in Lagos on October 6th
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, October 9, 2019/ — Former Commonwealth Secretary-General Emeka Anyaoku has presented a Lifetime Achievement Award to the African Development Bank (AfDB.org) President Akinwumi Adesina, describing him and the Bank’s work as “ legendary, unprecedented and worthy of emulation.”

The Hallmarks of Labour Foundation presented the Outstanding International Icon Award to Adesina at a ceremony held in Lagos on October 6th.

The Hallmarks of Labour Foundation is a non-profit that recognizes Africans who have achieved success through hard work, honesty, integrity, and justice in every field of human endeavour. Previous beneficiaries of the award include Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka.

Thanking the foundation for the recognition, Adesina said that the African Development Bank had helped 181 million people directly through its investments in the past four years

“There is still much to do. We have gone some way, climbing the steep mountainside of Africa’s development, yet there’s still a long way to go until we reach the mountaintop,” he told the gathering of top government officials, industry leaders, and diplomats.

The Bank has connected 16 million people to electricity and provided 70 million people with improved agricultural technologies to achieve food security. The African Development Bank also gave 9 million people access to finance from private sector companies, provided 55 million people access to improved transport, and 31 million people with water and sanitation.

Adesina congratulated his fellow awardees and urged them to be relentless in their efforts to build humanity. 

“Recognition is never the expectation or endgame when you are passionate about your work. But when one’s modest contributions and efforts are found worthy of honor, it is both a surprise and a delight,” he noted.
*AFDB

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The Unrealized Oil Promise of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the era of “Billions At Play”
October 8, 2019 | 0 Comments

Standing in the 12th position amongst African oil producers, the DRC’s petroleum industry is miniscule at best, producing an average of 25 thousand barrels of crude oil per day

President Tshisekedi of D.R.Congo

 By NJ Ayuk *

It is no secret that the DRC’s mining industry is of vital importance in answering the country’s and the world’s mineral needs. Today, copper, cobalt and other byproducts represent the backbone of the DRC’s economic structure at about 85% of its exports. That has been the case for many years, through several regimes, with little change. Besides metals, diamonds and oil represent the remaining of all that the DRC sends abroad, the vast majority of its outbound trade balance being composed of raw unprocessed goods.

Standing in the 12th position amongst African oil producers, the DRC’s petroleum industry is miniscule at best, producing an average of 25 thousand barrels of crude oil per day off its coastal ageing fields. But that seems rather odd. While there is not much talk about this particular fact, when we think of it, it is somewhat perplexing that the DRC, which is bordered by so many oil producers and has territorial waters in the prolific Gulf of Guinea, has never really developed an oil industry or even seemed to be interested in developing one, despite its prospective reserves. With a population of around 80 million people, of which around 75%, most statistics indicate, live in extreme poverty, the DRC is today amongst the five poorest countries in the world. 

One would expect that the country’s leaders would strongly push for the exploration of the country’s natural resources to produce wealth and provide for better living conditions for its citizens. Yet, the DRC’s oil and gas reserves remain largely unexplored, while most studies estimate that there could be around 20 billion barrels of undiscovered oil in the country’s basins, both onshore and offshore. That is a tremendous amount of oil which, if confirmed, would place the DRC as the second biggest petroleum holder in Sub-Saharan Africa, behind only Nigeria, and far outdoing Angola’s reserves of 9 billion barrels of oil.

This is not the Africa we want, and this is not the DRC that we want.

First of all, keeping certain communities in poverty to retain power is a complete mistake. Power stability comes from generalized improvement of life conditions. If the country is wealthier and is capable of improving the lives of those that live in it, the more stable it will be and the more capable it will become of sustaining and giving continuity to that development.

Further, as I have extensively defended over the years, the sanctity of contracts is of paramount importance to attract investment and partnerships into any country. What company would want to invest in a country where a contract can be signed and then cancelled a few months later without further explanation or justification? And it is not just a matter of reputation, but of direct financial burden, lest not forget that just in March this year, an international court ordered the Democratic Republic of Congo to pay South African DIG Oil Ltd USD$617 million for failing to honour two oil contracts. That is 1.6% of the country’s 2017 GDP. How can any leader possibly justify such a loss to its economy. Not to, again, mention the enormous economic potential that could come from actually letting those contracts take shape and allow companies to explore the country’s oil regions.

Stability depends on investment, cooperation and development. To attract investment, conditions need to be created for the business environment to be enabling for industry development. Disrespecting contracts does not achieve that. Nor does keeping people from producing wealth.

Just in May, French super-major Total abandoned its exploration license in the DRC. Bloomberg’s article on the matter was titled “Congo’s Lone Oil Giant Quits Search, Partner Says”. That’s right, it was the last major oil and gas company to abandon the DRC’s oil plays. Others had been there over the years, Shell and Texaco for instance. About 10 years ago, Tullow Oil and partners tried to acquire a license for exploration, signed a contract, paid the bonuses, and saw the contract then cancelled and the same block then sold to yet another company just a few months later. Nothing has been done in the acreage since.

This is the absolute opposite of what must be done.

Oil and gas production can bring enormous wealth to the country and its people, not to mention the ability the country’s gas reserves could have to produce electricity to power homes and industry.

Since January 2019, the DRC is led by a new government. It now has the opportunity to change the status quo of the DRC within the global oil industry and to promote investment. The country’s oil and gas laws are fairly well developed and the potential for discoveries is huge; the problem is reputation. If the country’s leaders can reassure international investors that their contracts will be respected and if investments can be facilitated and transactions made transparent, there is little limit to how quickly the country’s industry could grow and how much its people could benefit. Better living conditions across the country would ease ethnic and social tensions and provide the basis for a level of socio-economic development that the country has never seen before.

If the dependency on the volatile prices of mineral commodities continues, as well as the uneven distribution of wealth, and if the generalized situation of extreme poverty is sustained amongst the population, instability, rather than stability, will be the end result.

Further, the DRC has the opportunity to seek the help and support of international institutions and partners in developing its oil industry, such as the World Bank, the IMF or the Norwegian government, which have vast experience in helping other African oil producers. They can also seek closer proximity with the US, where most of the major companies with the capability, technology and capital to help develop their industry reside. 

The US government also has an interest in promoting these developments in the DRC, as maintaining stability in the sub-continent and the Central African region is of particular strategic importance for US interests. 

It is astonishing to me that the leaders in Kinshasa are not willing to look from their windows just across the Congo river to Brazzaville and want to emulate the steps taken by their neighbour, the Republic of Congo, currently the third biggest oil producer in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Finally, good signs are coming from the current administration. In April, at the latest Africa Petroleum Producers Association’s Conference in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, the DRC’s oil minister announced the country would put 38 blocks on offer for bidding and negotiation, located in three different basins. This is an important step in order to call out investor attention to the country, and I applaud the initiative. Hopefully the regime change, the country’s adherence to the EITI, and the new block offer will help bring investment, but more will have to be done to reassure investors that entering this market will be a profitable and safe bet, and that their interests and rights are protected by the law.

I hope to see these developments happening soon and to be a witness to the fulfillment of the DRC’s oil industry’s full potential.

*NJ Ayuk is the CEO of Centurion Law Group, a pan-African law Conglomerate and the current Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber (EnergyChamber.org), the voice of the African Oil and Gas industry. He is the author is the upcoming book “Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals”.

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Gambia government discloses D50 million in reparations for Jammeh’s victims
October 8, 2019 | 0 Comments

Former President Yaya Jammeh

By Adama Makasuba

The Gambia government has disclosed fifty million dalasi (D50) reparations for the victims whose rights were grossly violated during the 22-year rule of former president Yahya Jammeh and that the money is from sales of Jammeh’s assets.

This revelation came two months after the launched of victims’ trust fund by the government and almost a year into the public hearings the Truth, Reconciliations and Reparations Commission into the past human rights violations and abuses occurred in the 22-year rule of former exile president Yahya Jammeh.

Speaking during a press conference on Monday in Banjul, Abubacarr Tambadou Minister of Justice and Attorney General told journalists that: “it is with great pleasure that I announce the decision of the government of the Gambia to contribute to the TRRC victims’ trust fund and initial amount of fifty million dalasis with immediate effects.”

He added: “this fifty million dalasi is being out of proceeds of sales of former president Jammeh’s assets which are currently being sold in accordance with the recommendations of Janneh Commission.”

He said the government is fulfilling its promise to grant reparations for the victims of human rights violations and abuses within the mandate of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission.

Mr Tambadou said the government deemed it just that ‘reparations for Jammeh’s victims should be granted directly come from his wealth and assets’ which he said come from Jammeh’s assets, and called for more donations to the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission’s victims’ trust fund.

Dr Lamin Sise, chairman of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission described the amount of money as splendid contributions by the government to the reparations fund established by the TRRC, describing that it as a “a very good gesture on part of the old Gambians to assist in healings, the reconciliations and hopefully bringing justice.”

He said: “the victims deserve this kind of attentions they are once, who really suffered enormously in the 22-years of dictatorship and the tyranny,” adding that every Gambian was a victim of the 22-years of Jammeh’s rule.

Sheriff Kijera, chairman of the victims centre commended the government to fulfilling its promise to repatriating the victims of human rights violations and called on private sectors to extend helping hand to the victims.

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Nigeria: David Cameron Got it wrong On Nigeria Under Me-Goodluck Jonathan
October 5, 2019 | 0 Comments

– My Response To David Cameron’s Claims

By Goodluck Jonathan*

British Prime Minister David Cameron (L) takes part in a press conference with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan at the State House on July 19, 2011 in Lagos, Nigeria. Photo credit Christopher Furlong/Getty Images Europe

I read the comments by former British Prime Minister, David Cameron, in his new book, For the Record, in which he accused me and the Nigerian Government, which I headed, of corruption and rejecting the help of the British Government in rescuing the Chibok Girls, who were kidnapped on April 14, 2014.

It is quite sad that Mr. Cameron would say this because nothing of such ever occurred. As President of Nigeria, I not only wrote letters to then Prime Minister David Cameron, I also wrote to the then US President, Barrack Obama, and the then French President, François Hollande, as well as the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, appealing to them for help in rescuing the Chibok Girls.

How could I write to appeal for help and then reject the very thing I appealed for?

Also, history contradicts Mr. Cameron. On March 8, 2012, when the same Boko Haram linked terrorists abducted a British expatriate named Chris McManus, along with an Italian hostage Franco Lamolinara, in Sokoto, I, as Nigerian President, personally authorised a rescue effort by members of the British military Special Boat Service supported by officers and men of the Nigerian Army, to free the abducted men.

So, having set a precedent like that, why would I reject British help in rescuing the Chibok Girls, if it was offered?

I also authorised the secret deployment of troops from the United Kingdom, the United States and Israel as a result of the Chibok incident, so how Mr. Cameron could say this with a straight face beats me.

Moreover, on March 8, 2017, the British Government of former Prime Minister, Theresa May, in a widely circulated press statement, debunked this allegation and said there was no truth in it after Mr. Cameron had made similar statements to the Observer of the UK.

In his book, Mr. Cameron failed to mention that I wrote him requesting his help on Chibok. Why did he suppress that information? I remind him that copies of that letter exist at the State Houses in Nigeria and London. He never called me on the phone to offer any help. On the contrary, I am the one that reached out to him.

He accused me of appointing Generals based on political considerations. How could that be when I fired my service chiefs twice in five years, to show that I would not tolerate anything less than meaningful progress in the war on terror.

I was completely blind to ethnic or political considerations in my appointments. In civil and military matters, I appointed people that I had never even met prior to appointing them, based on their professional pedigree. Though I was from the South, most of my service chiefs came from the North.

I do, however, know that Mr. Cameron has long nursed deep grudges against me for reasons that have been published in various media.

On July 24, 2013, while celebrating the passage of the United Kingdom’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, 2013, Mr. Cameron said “I want to export gay marriage around the world”.

At that occasion, he boasted that he would send the team that successfully drafted and promoted the Bill, to nations, like Nigeria, saying inter alia:

“I’ve told the Bill team I’m now going to reassign them because, of course, all over the world people would have been watching this piece of legislation”.

As President of Nigeria at that time, I came under almost unbearable pressure from the Cameron administration to pass legislation supporting LGBTQ Same Sex marriage in Nigeria. My conscience could not stomach that, because as President of Nigeria, I swore on the Bible to advance Nigeria’s interests, and not the interest of the United Kingdom or any foreign power.

As such, on Monday, January 13, 2014, I signed the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill into law after the Bill had been passed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority of Nigeria’s parliament, in line with the wishes of the Nigerian people. This happened shortly after a study of 39 nations around the world by the U.S. Pew Research Center came up with a finding which indicated that 98 percent of Nigerians were opposed to the idea of Gay Marriage.

Immediately after I took this patriotic action, my government came under almost unbearable pressure from Mr. Cameron, who reached me through envoys, and made subtle and not so subtle threats against me and my government.

In fact, meetings were held at the Obama White House and at the Portcullis House in Parliament UK, with the then Nigerian opposition to disparage me, after I had signed the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill into law.

On the issue of corruption, it suffices to say that Mr. Cameron is not as competent as Transparency International, which is globally acknowledged as the adjudicator of who is corrupt and who is not.

During my administration, in 2014, Nigeria made her best ever improvement on the annual Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, moving from 144 the previous year, to 136, an 8 point improvement. As a nation, we have not made such improvements on the CPI before or after 2014.

In line with these facts, I would urge the public to take Mr. Cameron’s accusations with a grain of salt. I will not be the first person to accuse him of lying on account of this book, and with the reactions in the Uk so far, I definitely will not be the last.

*Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, Chairman of the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation and President of Nigeria 2010-2015. Caption from PAV and response culled from his facebook page.

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Gambia: Coalition 2016 Vice Chair Arrested
October 4, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Musa Sonko Coalition 2016 deputy chair

Musa Sonko, Deputy Chairperson of Coalition 2016 has been arrested and currently detained at Kairaba police station since on Wednesday.

Recently, Sonko, reacted angrily to the extension of President Adama Barrow’s term in office from 3-5 years by certain Stakeholders of the Coalition 2016, describing the meeting was not all-inclusive as far as Coalition 2016 is concern.

On Monday Pa Touray Bajinka, administrative secretary of  National Reconciliation Party (NRP) wrote a letter to coalition 2016 executive requesting for Sonko’s nomination withdrawal as deputy chairperson, which was done accordingly and he was replace by Awa Bah, NRP women mobiliser is now deputy chairperson of coalition 2016.

When contacted by Pan African Visions, Assistant superintendent Lamin Njie, police spokesperson confirms Sonko’s arrest saying it is in connection with a vehicle which he is refusing to surrender to his party.

“We are investigating the whereabouts of the vehicle,” said Njie. The vehicle was given to the NRP by the coalition after the 2016 election. The NRP was given one vehicle.

Sonko, also former Gambia’s ambassador to Guinea Bissau recently critized NRP’s party leader Hamat Bah, as a selfish man who does not have the party at heart only for his pocket.

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