“Project Atlantis will contribute in making Lagos look like Dubai”-Dr Gerhard Staats of The Nigerian Business Club
January 28, 2014 | 1 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L German and married to a Nigerian, investing in Nigeria is almost like an obsession when you talk to Dr Gerhard Staats. He is so passionate about Nigeria, fascinated by the dynamic people he sees each time he visits Nigeria but equally disappointed at the corruption, administrative bottle necks and the negative label imputed on the country by scammers that have give Nigeria a bad name. It has been challenging to set up shop in Nigeria but Dr Staats and his Team are willing to keeping pushing on with plans underway to set up a permanent office in Nigeria. Already involved in sending cars to Nigeria, Staats is scouting for serious partners to launch a housing project in Lagos. The plan designed by his Atlantis firm, has plans for building a city that will host about one million inhabitants and a vibrant economic hub. While consultations are own going with credible partners in Nigeria, Dr Staats believes that the projects he has in mind will be of profound benefits to the people and authorities should take a second look at the revolutionary housing projects that he and his partners are offering. Dr Gerhard Staats you are German but we see you very involved in formulating projects across Nigeria and Africa before we get into specific projects, why are you so interested in Africa? The question you should ask me is why should I not be interested in Africa and Nigeria? Africa is a fascinating continent, it is a huge market with big investment potentials and the everyday people you see in the continent are very dynamic. Although I love Africa and will be working towards investing in different parts of the continent like Ghana where my friend Mike Baffour hails from, Nigeria is my first interest. Besides the potential there, I have been married for six years to a Nigerian and have been there a couple times and came back with very interesting experiences. I intend to use my expertise in Real Estate, Transport, Logistics, Mining, industry and Religion to see how far my plans for big investments in Nigeria can go. Lets discuss some of your projects and the motives or intended outcomes, the Nigerian Business Club you created has a membership of almost thirty thousand now on social media, how does this membership translate into concrete results that impact on business in Nigeria? Yes NBC is a project what we started on XING (German Business Network) and later on Facebook. Our goal was to create a business platform where all kinds of international business can meet, share perspectives, opportunities, network, and build mutually beneficial partnerships for more investments in Africa. The Nigerian Business Club now has a membership of about thirty thousand on social media and we will soon open an office in Lagos, Nigeria to better play a consulting role. The Nigerian Business Club has highlighted opportunities from big machines, to trucks, used cars, fashion, food, solar industry, and more, hopefully the office in Lagos will be able to offer better coordination so that all these opportunities and services can have better prospects been translated into concrete results in a way that a more positive impact is felt on the overall economy of Nigeria. May we know about your project company Atlantis and the Lagos Lagoon Project? The Project Atlantis is something similar to the Eko Atlantic City in Lagos. When one sees the efforts made by the Governor of Lagos Babatunde Fashola to draw investors and when one sees the potential available, it was hard to remain indifferent. The Lagoon has the space to build a new metropolis that is safe, clean, fun and booming with business. With the German know how that I and my partners can bring in, this is very feasible. A town for one million people can be created with independent water, electricity, garbage system, fast and affordable internet and telephone, a palm tree garden, hotels, shops and more. When do you actually start the implementation phase of the project? We have been trying to make our plans public and holding discussions with potential partners. One of our partners was asked about the prospects of 12.000 low cost houses and it is an idea we are looking at. This entails a lot especially with the absence of viable partners on the ground but we are working towards the creation of a permanent presence in Nigeria and hopefully once this is done, things will speed up. You have to know first that all Africa Experts in Germany work alone and there is no network what I can use for myself to talk with business partners in Africa for projects. There is no chance to meet real partners from Africa (Investors) in internet why they are afraid for scammers and 419 industries. All of this make a start in many projects very difficult and expensive. Like I mentioned earlier, we are very close to establishing a permanent presence in Nigeria for final talks with partners and investors. In 2013 alone, we sent over 1000 used cars and trucks to Nigeria and that is just a small indication of how huge the market is. For the used car sector we have trustful partners in Nigeria and they became rich in only 2 years. So that’s why I am optimistically for the project Atlantis, our homes which are standard, and low cost will have a big market. What are some of the challenges that you have faced so far as you conceive these projects, and based on the realities in Nigeria, do you think the projects can actually be implemented? [caption id="attachment_8164" align="alignright" width="219"] Dr Gerhard Staats[/caption] With its size, its might, its resources and very hard working people, Nigeria should be the envy of everyone; Nigeria should virtually be the Eldorado of Africa. Unfortunately this is not the case right now. Doing business in Nigeria or attempting to get a foothold is very challenging and very complex. You get people especially some who should be custodians of the public trust thinking about themselves first before the people there are suppose to serve. This has earned Nigeria a bit of a bad reputation with international partners who are skeptical about who there deal with in the country. Should the corruption and challenging business climate be enough to make me back off? Not yet, it is my intention to push ahead. As mentioned earlier, my wonderful wife is not only Nigerian but I have been there myself and continue to believe in its incredible potential. Many look at Dubai today and wonder in amazement how wonderful it is, but we tend to forget that about 40 years ago, Dubai was barely more than a little fishing village. Imagine what Lagos can be like in the next 25 years with the right planning, with the right vision, with people thinking about the common good of the people and not just themselves. With all its human and natural resources, many are disappointed with the way things are evolving in Nigeria , you have been there, you have an idea about how things, from the perspective of an outsider interested in investment that will help the economy, what recommendations do you have for the government, what can be done to facilitate investment initiatives like yours? I agree with you about the human and natural resources that Nigeria has and I believed I have mentioned that in the course of this interview. When you compare the potential that Nigeria has to the realities of today, there are like day and night. There are a number of problems from security, to corruption and the negative image that these and the activity of scammers have labeled on the country. The country needs to be more friendly and welcoming to foreign investors, do more to crack down on corruption and also do more to clean its image. I understand the policies of Europe in Africa have sometimes not been very helpful and full of the double standards that makes people doubtful of the kind of opinions I am sharing now, but I share them with all the love and interest I have in that country. If Nigeria gets its act right, it will be a power to reckon with not just in Africa but on the global stage. The resources are there, the human potential is there with the best of Doctors, Engineers, Musicians, global business players like Dangote and others. There is no excuse for Nigeria to remain the way it is and I hope the leaders will come together, put Nigeria first before partisan politics, shun and eradicate corruption by showing the right example and punishing culprits and putting to shame all those who indulge in any forms of practices that tarnish the image of Nigeria. Do you have plans to invest in other parts of Africa or you are limited to Nigeria? I would say investing in other parts of Africa is a real possibility. The potentials are not limited to Nigeria and while that country has a special place in my heart and forms the corner stone of our investment plans, the challenges there are big and we will see how things go. There have be overtures from other West African countries like Ghana and a number of countries in East Africa. While we pursue our investment objectives in Nigeria, we will eventually be open to investing in other African countries as well. [caption id="attachment_8165" align="alignleft" width="300"] Dr Gerhard Staats with a truck destined for Nigeria[/caption] And I should also add that we are professionals in designing projects and there is one we have in mind that can be set up in any country called the International Music Hotel. The plan we have comprise up to 11 floors with different kinds of music and about 340 rooms that are for 340 different stars of music. We have a digital music studio and a stage for events. We have a music university and a Kindergarten. We have private flats for VIP buyers. We need 23.000 m² of land for this and about $ 300-500 million for such a project. Who knows, this is something we may eventually set up in Nigeria or another African country. So back to your question, while Nigeria is our focus now, we will eventually get to other African countries. ]]>
Norway provides an additional NOK 50 million in emergency relief to South Sudan
January 28, 2014 | 0 Comments
Mr Brende met South Sudanese President Salva Kiir to discuss the political and humanitarian situation in the country and Norway’s continued involvement. (Photo: Astrid Sehl, MFA)[/caption] “Over 4.4 million people in South Sudan are in need of emergency assistance. The conflict that broke out in December has made a difficult situation even worse. We are therefore doubling Norway’s funding for humanitarian assistance, from NOK 50 million to NOK 100 million,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende, who is in the South Sudanese capital Juba today. After armed conflict broke out between factions loyal to President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar in mid-December, over 575 000 people have been forced to leave their homes and over 112 000 people have fled to neighbouring countries. “The agreement on cessation of hostilities that was signed last week must be respected, so that emergency assistance can reach those in need. In order to alleviate the suffering as much as possible and prevent the situation from deteriorating further, it is essential that food and medical supplies reach remote areas quickly, before the rainy season sets in and accessing these areas becomes even more difficult. This is demanding work due to the security challenges in the areas concerned and the lack of road access to key locations,” said Mr Brende. The additional funding will be allocated to Norwegian aid organisations, the Red Cross and UN humanitarian organisations that have the networks and capacity needed to reach the hard-hit South Sudanese population. Norway has so far provided an additional NOK 8 million in assistance through the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). Having received only half of the funds that are needed to meet the acute humanitarian needs in the country, the UN will probably call for more support from the international community in the time ahead. Norway is following developments closely and will consider making further humanitarian contributions. Today, Mr Brende met South Sudanese President Salva Kiir to discuss the political and humanitarian situation in the country and Norway’s continued involvement. Norway also strongly supports South Sudan through its cooperation with the US and the UK in the Sudan Troika. Mr Brende met representatives of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the other Troika members, the EU and China. He also met UN Special Representative for South Sudan Hilde Frafjord Johnson, the leaders of UN organisations, representatives of Norwegian aid organisations, and Norwegian military officers and civilian police officers engaged in the UN peace mission UNMISS and UN Police (UNPOL). *Source Norway Ministry of Foreign Affairs/APO ]]>
Euronews to launch Africanews, 1st Pan-African multilingual news channel, in Congo Brazzaville
January 28, 2014 | 0 Comments
Euronews will bring to Africa its unique know-how as a multi-lingual and multi-cultural news channel, broadcasting around the clock [caption id="attachment_8143" align="alignleft" width="300"] Michael Peters, CEO of Euronews, and Jean Obambi, Managing Director of Télé Congo, signing on Saturday 25 January in Congo Brazzaville the cooperation agreement[/caption] In 18 months time, Euronews (http://www.euronews.com) will have a sister channel in Africa. In partnership with the national television channel of the Republic of the Congo, Euronews will bring to Africa its unique know-how as a multi-lingual and multi-cultural news channel, broadcasting around the clock. Starting with English and French, and then adding other languages widely-spoken on the continent, Africanews aims to become the first Pan-African rolling news channel. The headquarters will be in Brazzaville and regional offices will be set up across the continent. Africanews will adhere to the same editorial charter as Euronews, guaranteeing its independence. The two networks will share their news, creating a synergy that will give Africa its rightful place in the world of news and give the world the latest news from the continent. Michael Peters, CEO of Euronews S.A., and Jean Obambi, Managing Director of Télé Congo, signed on Saturday 25 January in Congo Brazzaville a cooperation agreement for the launch of a Pan-African news channel to be known as Africanews. Under the auspices of the President of the Republic of the Congo, Mr. Denis Sassou Nguesso, they formalised the partnership that will lead to the launch in the summer of 2015 of a bilingual news channel in French and English, to be followed by other major languages of the continent (Portuguese, Arabic, Swahili, etc.). The headquarters will be in Brazzaville and regional offices will be set up across the continent. Euronews, the top news channel in Europe, has developed a unique know-how in broadcasting. The channel produces 13 different language versions, 24/7. Its programmes are created by a newsroom of more than 400 journalists of 30 nationalities, and reach 400 million households in 155 countries. At the signing of the agreement for Africanews, Michael Peters stated: “Twenty 20 years after the launch of Euronews, we are breaking new ground in the world of news. Since 1993, Euronews has covered global news from a European perspective, speaking to viewers in their language. The company’s multinational shareholder base gives the channel the independence and the means to inform viewers without promoting any particular viewpoint. Its global success in terms of viewer numbers is proof of the channel’s professionalism and its ability to integrate diversity. Euronews has the experience, the reputation and the resources necessary to convey this model which respects the values and value of different cultures. It is precisely this model of tolerance in a world of diversity that we hope to share with Africa, via Africanews, the first independent and multilingual news channel on the continent. Africanews is different from existing channels because it aims to give Africa its rightful place in the world of news and to give the world the latest news from the continent which is itself a news market, in the same way and at the same level as other regions of the world. Our strategic and highly ambitious project will not be a mere African “window” made by Euronews, as most international news channels do, but rather a full-fledged Pan-African network, with editorial choices made by Africans for an African audience. To develop this project, we were lucky to have the help of Stephen Smith, a recognized specialist on Africa (see below: Stephen Smith and Africanews). Stephen, former Africa Editor for two French daily newspapers Libération then Le Monde, is providing advice and recommendations for the editorial and strategic aspects of Africanews. The public television channel Télé Congo decided to join us in this adventure. Our teams will now begin the preliminary studies and organisational work to be ready to launch Africanews in 2015. We take great pride in announcing this emblematic cooperation project and we are eager to launch this new player on the world media scene,” he added. What will Africanews be like? Africanews will produce news content focused on Pan-African news, for its television channel and related products, both linear and non linear (see below: Africanews in other media formats). Africanews will have a team of 40 professional journalists and technicians based in Brazzaville, covering sub-Saharan news thanks to its regional offices and a vast pool of correspondents around the continent. As soon as the channel begins broadcasting, flagship programmes and special reports will help give Africanews its truly African identity. Africanews will freely choose, use and adapt the international news content produced by Euronews to create programmes for its own viewers. In the same way, Euronews will be able to pick up productions from its sister channel in Africa to round out the programmes it broadcasts around the world. Thanks to this synergy, Africa will benefit from wider international exposure as it becomes a key feature in the Euronews editorial line-up. In keeping with the Euronews model, Africanews will be available from the start in both French and English. The goal is to then expand to include the other widely-spoken languages in Africa (Portuguese, Arabic, Swahili, etc.), making it accessible to the largest number of African viewers. The news teams at Africanews and at Euronews in Europe will adhere to the same editorial charter. For all of its news teams, Euronews is the absolute guarantor of editorial independence and is responsible for the hiring of journalists; it continually monitors full compliance with the editorial charter. Will Africanews be available in other media formats? The content of Africanews will benefit from the extensive know-how of Euronews, making it as widely and easily accessible as possible for all types of users. Starting with linear formats, offering TV broadcasts 24/7, live streaming of the channel on the internet, and then with live mobile applications and perhaps digital radio programmes. The non-linear formats will start right away with the website and then gradually move into specific mobile applications, following the latest trends in media consumption on the continent. For example, Euronews, at the cutting edge of mobile applications, has been selected by Nokia to be included in its new operating system, S40, soon to be released in Africa, one of the most dynamic markets for mobile phones. Africanews will be accessible to a large number of people on the continent thanks to rebroadcasts by local partners and operators, with the support and expertise of Euronews’ international teams. What is the business model for Africanews? Africanews will be based on a model financed by advertising. It will then be able to develop by adding new public and private partners, in particular for the set-up of its regional offices around Africa and for adding new languages. Advertising opportunities on Africanews will enable African and international advertisers to reach the African audience via a complete communication package: advertisements spread across the 24-hour schedule will cover all time zones and all formats including Africanews.com and then mobile applications, along with opportunities for sponsorship of TV and key online programmes (business, special reports, weather…) or linked to business and cultural events covered by the Africanews team of journalists. Stephen Smith and the Africanews project Recognised around the world for his expertise in African affairs, Stephen Smith supported Euronews from the very beginning of this ground-breaking project to develop an African media network. He worked with the Euronews management team in all phases of building the project. His advice and recommendations range from editorial aspects to strategy for Africanews. In close coordination with the Euronews teams, Stephen Smith will participate in creating the channel and ensuring its future development. Stephen Smith, an American journalist, is most noted for his work as Africa Editor for Libération (1988-2000) and then for Le Monde (2000-2005), having earlier served as African correspondent for Reuters and RFI. He has written some 15 books and academic publications on the subject of Africa and, since 2007, has taught African Studies at Duke University in the United States. About Euronews Europe’s most-watched news channel, Euronews (http://www.euronews.com) provides rolling coverage of world news. Thanks to its 400 journalists from over 30countries, the channel is available 24 hours a day in 13 language services (Arabic, English, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Turkish and Ukrainian). An independent media hub, Euronews offers a unique perspective on, and factual analysis of, current events. Founded in 1993 in Lyon, France, the channel can be watched in 400 million homes in 155 countries, and delivers a complete range of products (websites, mobile applications, smart TV, radio, etc.). *Shared with PAV by APO ]]>
World Bank Group Announces US$100 Million in Crisis Response for the Central African Republic
January 24, 2014 | 1 Comments
Catherine Samba-Panza is the first female leader in the country’s history [AP][/caption]The World Bank Group announced today that it will mobilize US$100 million in emergency development funds to help restore key government services and provide much-needed food, healthcare, and other vital supplies for the people of the Central Africa Republic (CAR) after violence overwhelmed their country in recent months, and displaced more than 25 percent of the population. Briefing its Executive Board, the World Bank’s Vice President for Africa said that the funds would be released in the course of 2014 and only in line with a steadily improving peace and security situation in the country. Even before the latest crisis struck, CAR had one of the world’s highest poverty rates (62%) and suffered from a long history of political volatility and upheaval. “The people of the Central African Republic are facing one of their most profound tragedies in recent memory, which requires urgent support from the international community. We are moving quickly to mobilize US$100 million to help reestablish key government services and get people the life-saving supplies they need to survive this ordeal and resume their lives. We pledge to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of CAR in their time of need, and beyond,” says Makhtar Diop, the World Bank’s Vice President for Africa. Nearly one million people in the Central African Republic fled their homes after political and sectarian violence erupted in March 2013 following the overthrow of President Francois Bozize. More than 1,000 people have been killed in the violence and an estimated 100,000 are seeking refuge at the international airport in Bangui, the country’s capital. The U.N. has reported that 2.2 million people are in desperate need of live-saving assistance. Along with the African Union, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), and other development partners, the World Bank Group continues to monitor the security and development situation closely. The Bank will restructure its portfolio to help provide basic health services and food supplies, and mobilize additional IDA resources to re-establish essential government operations. The earliest support will speed help to the many internal refugees and other people displaced by the conflict in the capital and countryside. The Bank’s undisbursed portfolio in the Central African Republic stands at about US$200 million, delivered through the World Bank’s fund for the poorest, the International Development Association or IDA*. The Bank Group will move quickly with its partners and civil society organizations to set up emergency health services and public works programs to prevent outbreak of diseases among the many displaced and provide people with jobs and desperately-needed income. Over the coming weeks, the Bank Group will also support feeding programs to stem the devastating effects of displaced communities and the collapse of agricultural production during the crisis. As basic government activities resume, the Bank will work closely with CAR and its communities to look at how to re-establish government functions and basic services, ensure timely salary payments, and rebuild public institutions. “Staying committed to the development needs of the people and government of the Central African Republic will be essential as the country moves through this tragic chapter towards rebuilding livelihoods, communities, and revitalizing the national economy,” said Greg Binkert, the World Bank’s Country Director for the Central African Republic. In addition to its immediate emergency support, the Bank will continue to work with CAR on existing projects and programs including the US$132 million Transport-Transit Facilitation trade and road connectivity project; the US$11.7 million Emergency Urban Infrastructure project; the US$5.5 million Emergency Power Response project; and the US$3.3 million regional Central Africa Backbone project, which will build capacity and increase access to regional broadband network services for Chad, Cameroon and CAR. *The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing zero-interest development financing for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 82 poorest countries, 40 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change for 2.5 billion people living on less than $2 a day. Since its inception, IDA has supported activities in 108 countries. Annual commitments have increased steadily and averaged about $15 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent of commitments going to Africa.Source World Bank/APO]]>
South Sudan’s Broken Promise?
January 17, 2014 | 0 Comments
Chairman Royce, Ranking Member Engel, Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today. As you know, Special Envoy Booth is unavailable to testify today as he is in Addis Ababa working tirelessly on the peace process. I know that the subject before us is one about which you and other members of Congress care deeply. Situation in South Sudan Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Engel, last week marked a major anniversary for South Sudan but one that few celebrated. January 9th marked three years since South Sudan’s historic referendum for independence and nine years since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Today, South Sudan again is riven by conflict – not with Khartoum, however, but with itself. The title of today’s hearing is “South Sudan’s Broken Promise?” While appropriately framed as a question, those words accurately capture what has been unfolding in the world’s youngest country, not just in the last few weeks but over many months. The fact that South Sudan faces internal challenges is not in and of itself surprising – internal political tensions were building for months; political space was shrinking; intercommunal tensions are long-standing; and the country’s institutions are weak. Nonetheless, the speed of this is nothing short of astonishing. Days after hosting an international investment conference on December 4-5, political struggles at a party meeting on December 14th and a still unclear clash on the 15th erupted into devastating broader conflict that now grips the country. It is heartbreaking for the people of South Sudan and for us as Americans who have made an enormous investment in this country and who so want to see it escape the terrible cycles of violence that marked its past and that threaten to destroy its future. This conflict is exacting a terrible price on the people of South Sudan, who already faced some of the most daunting development challenges in the world. The numbers are grim, and grow more so by the day. The International Crisis Group has estimated that more than 10,000 people may have been killed. For its part, the UN now believes that casualties are “much higher” than its earlier December 26 estimate of over 1,000. The simple fact is we don’t know the scale of the killing. We do know over 400,000 have fled their homes including 65,000 who have sought refuge in neighboring countries. There are reports of forced recruitment, sexual violence and the recruitment and use of child soldiers. Political rivalries have taken on ethnic dimensions, atrocities are being committed, and men, women, and children are caught in the crossfire. Lest there be any doubt, I would like to make crystal clear where we stand when it comes to this conflict. First, neither the United States nor the international community will countenance the armed overthrow of the democratically elected Government of South Sudan. Second, hostilities must stop, any and all violence directed at civilian populations must end, and those responsible for perpetrating abuses and violations must be held accountable. Third, this crisis will not be solved on the battlefield. Although fighting started less than one month ago, the roots of this conflict are much deeper, and resolution can only come through immediate and meaningful dialogue between the two sides and an inclusive reconciliation. Finally, all parties must permit immediate and unconditional humanitarian access to all in need, to the now hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese men, women, and children who are the real victims of this violence. The United States has engaged in an all-out diplomatic effort to help bring an end to the fighting, with engagement by Secretary Kerry, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Special Envoy Booth, Ambassador Page and other high-ranking past and present officials with President Kiir and former Vice President Machar as well as with the heads of state and foreign ministers in neighboring countries and around the world. We have: ï• galvanized support to end hostilities and open a broader dialogue between the two sides; ï• tracked reports of atrocities and called for accountability; ï• sought to secure the release of political detainees now being held in Juba; ï• supported the critical efforts of Sudan’s neighbors to end this crisis; and ï• taken significant steps to increase the capacity of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) to carry out its mandate of civilian protection. The immediate security situation remains critical – particularly for the thousands of civilians forced from their homes – and must be addressed. As the crisis began to unfold, we proposed and the Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution nearly doubling the authorized troop ceiling for UNMISS. In turn, we are now actively encouraging member states to provide additional troops and police units to the UN mission, including through the transfer of contingents from other missions in the region where they can be spared. As my colleague, Assistant Administrator Gast will discuss, we have just committed an additional $50 million in emergency humanitarian assistance to bolster the response to pressing new needs arising from the crisis. The President’s Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, Ambassador Donald Booth – who, as I noted, could not be here to testify today because he is in Ethiopia – is actively trying to help resolve this crisis. Ambassador Booth has been in the region since December 22nd, working around the clock. He has met repeatedly with President Kiir and other officials, traveled to Jonglei state to meet with Dr. Machar, secured the first official visit with the group of political detainees in Juba, and sat down with local religious leaders and civil society members to help find a way out of this crisis. In Juba, Ambassador Page and her team have led an extraordinary diplomatic effort under extremely difficult circumstances. This is, as I said, an all-out effort on our part, and, especially given our special history in South Sudan, we are working closely with South Sudan’s neighbors, through East Africa’s Intergovernmental Authority on Development, who are spearheading mediation efforts. A special summit on South Sudan was held at the head of state level just 12 days after the conflict began, and, thanks to robust engagement, representatives of both parties arrived in Addis for negotiations just a few days later. We are encouraged by IGAD’s leadership in convening the parties and strongly support the efforts of former Ethiopian Minister Seyoum Mesfin and Kenyan General Lazaro Sumbeiywo to find a peaceful solution through political dialogue. Over this past weekend, Ambassador Booth traveled with the mediators and other members of the diplomatic community to Jonglei, South Sudan, where they met with Riek Machar to directly press him to enter into a cessation of hostilities immediately and unconditionally. The IGAD-led negotiations offer the best hope for South Sudan and the region. An agreement to end hostilities will provide much needed time and space for dialogue to begin on the core political and governance issues that are at the root of this crisis. Both sides must recognize that there can be no military solution. We have made clear to the rebels that we will not recognize a violent overthrow of a democratically elected government. At the same time, we have urged the government to open political space to allow for greater inclusion. The United States also strongly believes that the political detainees currently being held in Juba must be released. These individuals should join discussions in Addis to enlarge the chorus of those seeking constructive solutions to resolve this growing catastrophe. I would add that during a recent meeting between the IGAD negotiators and the detainees, they reiterated that their status should not prevent an immediate cessation of hostilities. Each day that the conflict continues, the risk of all-out civil war grows as ethnic tensions rise, more civilians are killed, injured, or forced to flee, the humanitarian situation grows more urgent, and those who have remained on the sidelines are increasingly pulled into the conflict. In addition to calling for an end to the violence, dialogue, and the release of political prisoners in Juba, the United States is exploring the possibility of appropriate pressures against individuals on both sides who interfere with the peace and reconciliation process in South Sudan or are responsible for serious human rights abuses. Let me conclude by saying that I am gravely concerned that the crisis in South Sudan has the potential to escalate even further. South Sudan’s leaders on both sides are, I fear, breaking their promises to their own people. While we do not know the scale of atrocities that have been committed thus far, there is clear evidence that targeted killings have taken place, with Dinka killing Nuer, and Nuer killing Dinka. Countless civilians, including women and children, have become victims of violence perpetrated by both government and rebel forces alike. Each violent act threatens to return South Sudan to the cycle of conflict and destruction that South Sudanese of all ethnicities and backgrounds voted to end when they voted for independence in 2011. But just as each act of violence may ignite retribution, each step towards peace offers the chance to rebuild. Breaking this cycle, and ensuring that Africa’s newest nation continues to move forward rather than backwards, is of highest priority to the United States and the international community. I want to thank you for your continued commitment to the people of South Sudan, and I look forward to your questions. * Linda Thomas-Greenfield is Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs.This was part of a Testimony to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Source State Department *]]>
Japan and China criticise each other's Africa policies
January 13, 2014 | 0 Comments
Shinzo Abe is visiting three nations in Africa[/caption]
China and Japan are criticising each other’s policies in Africa as each country pledges more money for the continent.Japan has suggested China is buying off African leaders with lavish gifts. Meanwhile China accuses Japan of courting African support for a place on the United National Security Council. Japan’s leader Shinzo Abe is touring three nations in Africa, the first trip there by a Japanese prime minister for eight years. Mr Abe is expected to pledge more than $14bn in aid and trade deals during his trip to Ethiopia, Ivory Coast and Mozambique. China has hailed Africa a “golden groun
Chinese foreign ministers are visiting East and West Africa this month.‘Beautiful houses’ Mr Abe’s spokesman Tomohiko Taniguchi admits Japan is lagging behind China in terms of investment in Africa. But he told the BBC that “countries like Japan, Britain and France cannot provide African leaders with beautiful houses or beautiful ministerial buildings”. The Chinese often pay for public buildings, including the African Union headquarters in Ethiopia, where Mr Abe is due to speak on Tuesday. Mr Taniguchi said: “Japan’s aid policy is to really aid the human capital of Africa.” He said many African leaders believed that through strong links with Japan they could obtain industrial expertise and know-how. China insists its aid and co-operation with Africa are completely selfless. The Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi told the Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao that China does not approve of “certain countries” which try to compete with others for their own interests and offer aid to Africa out of purely political motives. This appears to be a reference to Japan’s attempts to win the votes of African leaders in support of its bid to be a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, something China opposes. *Source BBC d” for foreign investment and has pledged to double its aid to the continent to $20bn a year. ]]>
East African states to share SIM card, national ID data
December 23, 2013 | 0 Comments
By CHARLES WOKABI*
Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan are working towards establishing a cross-border SIM card registration framework in a new effort to curb the rise in crimes perpetrated by the use of mobile devices.
Meeting in Nairobi last week, Information, Communication and Technology ministers from the four countries agreed to harmonise the different legislative frameworks guiding SIM registration in each country to spread the benefits of the exercise across the region.
A joint statement signed by Kenya’s ICT Secretary Fred Matiang’i, Uganda’s John Nasasira, Jean Philbert Nsengimana of Rwanda and South Sudan’s Rebecca Joshua Okwachi said the four governments would also interconnect national identification (ID) systems.
“SIM card registration is now a regional security issue and must be handled with the importance it deserves. A regional deadline for deactivation of all unregistered SIM cards will be set and strictly adhered to,” Mr Nasasira, who also chaired the meeting, said.
The interconnected national ID systems is meant to facilitate faster movement of people across the four countries, and at the same time ensure people moving from one country to another do not fake their nationalities and identities.
However, the absence of Tanzania in the meeting raises questions about the success of such an initiative given the borderless nature of technology.
The fact the country is not a signatory to the agreement means criminals can still use unregistered SIM cards within its borders to coordinate crimes in the region.
Mr Matiang’i said the meeting was intended for countries along the northern corridor, hence the absence of Tanzania.
“We are in touch with our Tanzanian counterpart and will be sharing our agreements with the country so they are free to come on board. This is one area where we need the inclusion of Tanzania to achieve the objective.”
Kenya leads in the SIM card registration exercise, having switched off millions of unregistered subscribers from local networks in the first quarter this year.
The ICT cluster meeting follows a directive issued jointly by Presidents Kenyatta of Kenya, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Salva Kiir of South Sudan after the heads of state Integration Projects Summit held in Kigali, Rwanda in October.
The presidents also ordered their ministries to ensure international calling rates and roaming charges are reduced to speed regional integration.
“The ministers agreed to jointly explore ways of lowering the regional roaming charges, including defining wholesale and retail price caps for roaming charges based on best practices,” a communique signed by the four ministers read in part.
*Source Daily Nation
Iroko TV Raises Another $8 million in Funding
December 23, 2013 | 0 Comments
By Jason Njoku*
Bastian and I announced earlier today that iROKO, our little company which we co-founded back in 2010 raised another $8Mn in venture capital from our existing investors Tiger Global, Kinnevik and new participant, Rise Capital. That brings our total raised over the last 2 years to $21Mn (we quietly raised $5Mn in December ‘12). I know this makes us easily one of the most well funded internet startups in Africa and with a near $50Mn valuation, validates our original perspective of a valuable and globally relevant Nollywood film audience. A market which only required a product to fill that void. 2013 hasn’t been an easy year, the naysayers have recently been out in force predicting our demise, it’s definitely been one where I personally feel that the company, at large, has matured. But maturity in the public eye can be very taxing. We were negotiating the final clauses in this $8Mn whilst folks were mentioning our ‘structural issues’. I had a response blog post penned ready to set the record straight, to dash the naysayers on the rocks. My wife never allowed me to post it. She was right. Action always speaks louder than words. X8million. I am now a fully married father of a small man. I am working hard to evolve my former brash founder attitude and become more of a CEO. Still very much work in progress. But a step in the right direction.
But iROKO as a company has changed significantly in the last year. The shoot-for-the-moon tangent bets you make as a early funded young aggressive startup have been had, lessons learned and wounds licked. I believe we have now institutionalised all the failures and mistakes made over the last 3 years, yet allowing the capacity to move fast and break things, remains. Dollar for Dollar I believe iROKOtv has one of the best unit economics equations of any startup based in Nigeria. Nothing I have ever seen sways me from that. The quality of our recurring revenue is second to none. We focus on building value beyond a large free user base but pride ourselves in our cold, hard calculating journey to self sustainability. And profits. One day we will be a startup no more. In its place we hope to have built an actual company.
Last week, an investor who was visiting Spark told me that I had inherited a massive burden of needing to be successful. That iROKO had to have a big win or it would be seen as a failure. At this level of funding a big win would have to be a $100Mn+ exit. This is attainable. But not in the near future and internally at iROKO ‘exits’ are never discussed. We focus on building awesome.
With $8Mn in funding we allow ourselves the financial levity to make more strategic, longer, customer focused improvements to iROKOtv FREE/PLUS and the VOD marketplace at large. This funding definitely gets us to profitability as planned without constraining our ability to grow. Raising money is always difficult in Africa, especially Nigeria. Whilst we have a compelling narrative that is not enough to enable seasoned VC’s to keep funding a company unless we have given them the confidence we can execute the narrative. We have demonstrated our ability. No hype no voodoo. Just reality. The perspective. Bastian and I don’t work everyday to try and live up to the lofty expectations our funding has now set for us. We feel no pressure other than that we place on ourselves to build what we have always dreamed about. An awesome online home for Nollywood.
We are no longer a scrappy startup. In fact the word monopoly is usually mentioned when online and iROKO comes into debate. We now generate millions of dollars in revenue annually and have a global team of 68 people. With offices in Lagos, London, NYC and JoBurg scrappy doesn’t come to mind. Nonetheless we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to build a true giant of an African media company. With the fresh funding and the wind at our backs. It is our ball to drop.
In the end, all Glory goes to God, to my wife, son, family, my best friend Bastian and the whole team who quietly make iROKOtv sing minute by minute, hour by hour and day by day.
All we need to do is continue building awesome. Then we make our dent in the universe
Source Jason Njoku .com
ECOWAS MEMBER STATES TO RAISE US$50 MILLION FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF ABIDJAN-LAGOS CORRIDOR ROAD PROJECT
December 14, 2013 | 0 Comments
ABUJA, Nigeria, December 12, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – Five ECOWAS Member States involved in the Abidjan-Lagos road corridor project have agreed to contribute US$50 million in “seed money” to ensure speedy implementation of the 1028-km project.
The Steering Committee agreed at its third ministerial session in Yamoussoukro on 10th December 2013, that the money would help fund preparatory activities and provide further evidence of commitment by the countries for public and private sector operators interested in investing in the project, a six-lane highway expected to carry some 75 per cent of goods transported in the region, linking most of its major ports.
The Committee, comprising Ministers of the Road Infrastructure and Works of Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Togo, also mandated the ECOWAS Commission to engage with partners to submit proposals for transaction advisory services and the mobilization of external funding for the project.
In addition, it mandated the Commission to finalise a joint funding request for the five countries to the African Development Bank (AfDB) to be signed by their Ministers of finance.
The one-day meeting was convened to review the rules of procedure, which defines the institutional framework for the project, an integral part of its Treaty, particularly the options for funding to fast track the project, as well as the joint request to the AfDB and the signing of the Treaty.
Speaking during the opening session, Cote d’Ivoire’s Minister of Economic
Infrastructure, Mr Patrick Achi praised the road infrastructure, works and legal experts for the diligent finalisation of the working documents during their three-day preceding meeting also held in Yamoussoukro.
He highlighted the importance of the project, the first phase of the Lagos-Dakar highway project to link the eastern and western coastal extremes of the region, as a veritable road artery that would contribute to strengthening the implementation of the region’s integration programme.
The minister pledged the commitment of the country to the realisation of the project, conscious of the determination of regional leaders for its success because of its importance to the economic wellbeing of the region.
In the same vein, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Infrastructure, Mr Ebrima Njie said the project’s realisation would facilitate intra-community movement of goods and persons, the bedrock of the region’s integration project. It would also contribute to stimulating the regional economy and help reduce impediments to intra-community movement of goods and persons through greater efficiency, he affirmed.
In his speech, Nigeria’s Minister of Works, Architect Mike Onolememen, who chairs the Committee, stressed the need for the countries to continue to demonstrate cohesion so as to realise the resolve of their Heads of State and Government towards the project which has attracted remarkable donor interest.
The ministers of Benin, Ghana and Togo also addressed the meeting, renewing their countries’ commitment to the project.
Previous meetings of the Committee were held in Abuja, Nigeria and Accra, Ghana with the fourth now scheduled to be held in Cotonou, Benin Republic.
A minute’s silence was observed at the meeting’s opening ceremony in honour of South Africa’s first black President, Dr. Nelson Mandela, who died last week.
Africa: Schneider Electric partners with DONG Energy for a more sustainable energy supply of remote islands in Africa
December 10, 2013 | 0 Comments
PARIS, France, December 5, 2013/ — Schneider Electric (http://www.schneider-electric.com), the global specialist in energy management, and DONG Energy, one of the leading energy groups in Northern Europe, announced today an agreement to cooperate on a technological and commercial partnership for a more sustainable energy supply of remote islands in Africa. The ambition is to enable African electric network operators of remote or isolated island grids to increase the share of renewable used while maintaining grid stability and reliability for consumers.
Of the world’s fifty-two Small Island Developing States (SIDS), six are in Africa. They include; Cape Verde, Comoros, Guinea Bissau, Mauritius, São Tomé and Príncipe and Seychelles. These countries range in size from the smallest, Seychelles, which is composed of 115 small islands representing the largest number among African SIDS, to the largest, Guinea Bissau, which comprises close to 80 islands.
In Africa alone, at least 300 remote islands distanced from mainland grids exist. These isolated island grids are often heavily diesel-dependent, incurring high electricity costs and subject to fluctuating fuel prices. This is a barrier for local economic development, for improving living standards and for reducing carbon emissions. Many island utility operators aim to replace diesel with renewable generation to reduce costs and reach renewable targets. However the main challenge of integrating intermittent renewable energy is the ensuing complexity of balancing the grid and maintaining reliability and stability. In effect this can cap the amount of renewable energy which can be efficiently integrated.
With Dong Energy’s virtual power plant technology and Schneider Electric’s market-leader distribution grid field devices and management systems, the partners will address these crucial environmental issues. The aim is to create a new platform offering real-time generation and demand forecasting, monitoring and control.
“DONG Energy has developed a virtual power plant system called Power Hub, which aggregates loads and generation capacity for network flexibility through a software platform. The system has already successfully demonstrated its capability and value in optimizing, balancing and improving the stability of remote micro-grids at the Faroe Islands. Integrating Power Hub with Schneider Electric’s power and grid management software platform will enable us to deliver a unique solution that address an important challenge of how to run an isolated electricity system in a safe, economically optimal manner, while making maximum use of renewables. Not only in Europe, but also in Africa and globally” says Evert den Boer, Senior Vice President in DONG Energy.
“Alongside DONG Energy, Schneider Electric will bring its market-leader expertise in grid field devices, network automation and grid management systems in a uniquely modular approach to virtual power plants in order to overcome the operational challenges of dynamically balancing supply and demand.” confirms Frédéric Abbal, Executive Vice President of Schneider Electric’s Energy Division. “Our joint architecture includes Advanced Distribution Management System (ADMS), Power Control System (PCS) and Renewable Control Center (RCC) applications offering real-time generation and demand forecasting, monitoring and control. Thanks to weather and load forecasting and fast load shedding capabilities, island utility operators will be able to operate sustainable, efficient and economically viable power systems and benefit local communities.”
Schneider Electric enjoys active collaborative partnerships with utilities to test and validate innovative solutions endeavoring to solve their operational, environmental and regulatory concerns. Schneider Electric’s global footprint in more than 100 countries and unique position on both the demand and supply side of the grid will connect all energy players (generators, network operators and prosumers).
About Schneider Electric
As a global specialist in energy management, with operations in more than 100 countries, Schneider Electric (http://www.schneider-electric.com) offers integrated solutions across multiple market segments. The Group has leadership positions in Utilities & Infrastructures, Industries & Machines Manufacturers, Non-Residential Buildings, Data Centers & Networks and in Residential. Focused on making energy safe, reliable, efficient, productive and green, the company’s 140,000 plus employees achieved sales of €24 billion in 2012 through an active commitment to help individuals and organizations make the most out of their energy.
About DONG Energy
DONG Energy is one of the leading energy groups in Northern Europe and we focus on providing energy and converting the energy system to a more renewable and sustainable production.Our business is based on procuring, producing, distributing and trading in energy and related products in Northern Europe. DONG Energy has approximately 6,500 employees and is headquartered in Denmark. The Group generated DKK 67 billion (EUR 9.0 billion) in revenue in 2012.
For further information, see www.dongenergy.com.
Innovative Project Improving Food Value Chain to be Launched in Monrovia
November 19, 2013 | 0 Comments
An innovative project aimed at reducing rural poverty and household food insecurity will be launched on November 19 in Liberia
MONROVIA, Liberia, November 18, 2013/ — An innovative project aimed at reducing rural poverty and household food insecurity will be launched on November 19 in Monrovia. The Smallholder Agricultural Productivity Enhancement and Commercialization (SAPEC) project is jointly financed by the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) (http://www.gafspfund.org) and the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) (http://www.afdb.org). SAPEC project is managed and administered by the AfDB.
The four-day event, to be launched by the Vice-President of the Republic of Liberia, Joseph N. Boakai, will bring together around 200 participants, including Government officials, Members of Parliament and the Senate, representatives from the donor community, agriculture organizations as well as farmers’ associations and beneficiaries from similar projects.
The SAPEC project will increase income for smallholder farmers and rural entrepreneurs particularly women, youths and the physically-challenged, thus empowering the rural communities and setting the scene for a transformation of agriculture from subsistence activities into revenue-generating business.
“We are excited that GAFSP’s contribution will enable Liberia to rebuild and implement their own food and agricultural strategy, which we believe will have a huge, sustainable impact on the livelihoods of smallholders around the country,” said Geeta Sethi, Program Manager, the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program. “This project will help Liberia set an example for other post-conflict countries on how to build a food secure, stable state with a vibrant agricultural sector that contributes to economic growth, increased incomes, and food and nutrition security, and poverty reduction. Congratulations to Liberia,” she said.
“Indeed, the SAPEC addresses Liberia’s fragility following 14 years of civil conflict that devastated the economy, decimated institutions, destroyed infrastructure and triggered massive rural-urban migration,” said Chiji Ojukwu, Director, Agriculture and Agro-Industry, AfDB. He further highlighted that “the project promotes pro-poor growth by investing in smallholder agriculture to reduce food insecurity, and fosters equity and inclusiveness by ensuring the participation of women, youth and the physically-challenged in agricultural activities. The SAPEC project thus contributes to the peace- and state-building goals of the country as it transitions from conflict and fragility to recovery and resilience.”
The project is expected to improve the food value chain through market development and access through the rehabilitation of 270 km of all-weather feeder roads. Twelve market centres are also expected to be rehabilitated, nine agribusiness centres constructed and three technology transfer centres refurbished.
The project will also increase the productivity of 4,000 ha and 1,000 ha of uplands that will be dedicated respectively to cassava and rice cultivation. The project will also make more land and water available for cropping with the rehabilitation of 1,000 ha of community-owned lowland.
GAFSP is a global effort to aid vulnerable populations afflicted by hunger and poverty. It takes up where emergency and recovery assistance leaves off, targeting transformative and lasting change in agriculture and food security within poor countries. Following commitments by G8 leaders at the L’Aquila Summit in July 2009 and reaffirmed by the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh in September 2009, GAFSP was established in April 2010.
To date, GAFSP expects to improve the incomes and food security of over 10 million beneficiaries, mainly smallholder farmers and their families and has allocated $912 million in grant funds to 25 countries and $50 million in financing packages to agribusinesses.
The World Bank manages the public sector part of the program and IFC manages the GAFSP private sector window. For more information, visit http://www.gafspfund.org.
For the AfDB, strengthening agriculture and food security through an integrated value chain approach can improve the livelihoods of Africans who live in rural areas. By continuing to invest in rural infrastructure (such as rural roads, irrigation, electricity, storage facilities, access to markets, conservation systems and supply networks), the AfDB will help countries increase agricultural productivity and competitiveness.
By investing in regional infrastructure and engaging in policy dialogue to remove trade barriers to importing food and inputs such as fertilizers, it will help restrict food price volatility and reduce food insecurity.
DHL and Engen announce major African retail partnership
November 19, 2013 | 0 Comments
· Engen service stations across Africa to serve as DHL Service Points
Two significant multinationals join forces to increase consumer access in Africa
CAPE-TOWN, South-Africa, November 18, 2013/ — DHL Express (http://www.dhl.com), the world’s leading international express services provider and Engen, Africa’s leading multinational fuel retailer and provider of convenience services, have signed a retail partnership, in a bid to provide customers with better access to global express services.
A consumer looking to send documents or parcels overseas can simply walk into an Engen service station to send their shipment, ensuring greater convenience and accessibility to the powerful global network which DHL offers. This includes all domestic and international shipments to major centres across over 220 countries worldwide.
The project, which will pilot at four Engen service stations in the Namibian capital Windhoek, will then be rolled out in phases. Botswana, Ghana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and Tanzania are earmarked for the second phase.
Consumers will also be able to take advantage of DHL’s new product offering, Express Easy, at the Engen outlets. Express Easy provides an easy way to send documents or parcels, as consumers can choose an envelope or one of seven box sizes and enjoy a fixed price for that size, rather than paying a rate based on the weight of the parcel. Consumers are simply able to pick their box, pay the fixed rate and send their document or parcel to any of DHL’s global destinations.
Sumesh Rahavendra, Head of Marketing for DHL Express Sub-Saharan Africa, welcomed the news, saying that it would have a great impact on consumers across the continent.
“The express logistics industry, and specifically retail services for consumers and small and medium enterprises, are becoming hugely important in Africa. For us to better service this market and open up global opportunities for students, small business owners and general consumers, we needed to both increase access to our express products but, simultaneously, make it easier and more affordable to use them. Engen is therefore an obvious partner for us – they are not only a solid African business but have an extensive retail network across the continent, which can benefit consumers. ”
“As one of Africa’s leading energy companies, we consistently look for ways to deliver on our brand promise of ‘With us you are Number One’,” said Nangula Hamunyela, Managing Director of Engen in Namibia “Partnering with DHL means that we can extend our capabilities and give our valued customers the access and affordability around express services that they need.”
The Namibian pilot includes four sites – Jan Jonker, Bonsmara, Eureka and Klingenberg.
Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Deutsche Post DHL.
Lee Nelson. Head: Advertising and Public Relations, Sub-Saharan Africa
Tel +27 21 409 3600 Mobile +27 72 361 0178
Engen Petroleum Limited, a subsidiary of Malaysian national oil and gas company PETRONAS, is an African energy company that refines crude oil, markets petroleum products and provides convenience services through an extensive retail network. Engen has a significant presence in 18 countries in Sub Saharan Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands. The company also exports its products to various other territories.
DHL – The Logistics company for the world
DHL (http://www.dhl.com) is the global market leader in the logistics industry and “The Logistics company for the world”. DHL commits its expertise in international express, air and ocean freight, road and rail transportation, contract logistics and international mail services to its customers. A global network composed of more than 220 countries and territories and about 285,000 employees worldwide offers customers superior service quality and local knowledge to satisfy their supply chain requirements. DHL accepts its social responsibility by supporting environmental protection, disaster management and education.
DHL is part of Deutsche Post DHL. The Group generated revenue of more than 55 billion euros in 2012