AU Trade Commissioner Muchanga on the Game Changing Prospects of the AfCFTA
October 26, 2019 | 0 Comments
–Unprecedented Political Will Across Africa To See AfCFTA Succeed
By Ajong Mbapndah L
The AU could not have sent a better person to the USA to discuss the African Continental Free Trade Agreement with the diaspora. The schedule was hectic, at every stop, and at each event, Trade and Industry Commissioner Albert Muchanga had an infectious smile on his face. He listened attentively, addressed concerns, and responded to questions as best he could.
With its wealth of knowledge, networking, and finance, the African diaspora has a huge role to play in the African Continental Free Trade area, says Commissioner Muchanga. Speaking with confidence, Commissioner Muchanga indicated that things were on track for the market to go operational by July of 2020.
When reminded that the problem of Africa has never been in the treaties or projects but rather implementation, Mr. Muchanga said things are different this time around. The political will is so strong and the leaders, and people across Africa are keenly aware of the stakes, he said. The rapidity with which countries signed and ratified the AfCFTA gives every reason to hope for the best, Commissioner Muchanga said.
You attended the Making African Trade Easy event. How did the event go? And what message did you bring to the African Diaspora from the AU?
Commissioner Muchanga: The event went on very well. Basically, the key issues were on the emerging developments in the African continent and the diaspora are very happy because they see a role for themselves. We are saying that for us to implement the agreement we need all stakeholders to play their part – the African Diaspora needs to play their part, they are a source of knowledge, networking, and finance, so they can organize themselves to see how they can contribute to the success of the African Continental Free Trade Area. It is the biggest and most ambitious development program so far. It lays the foundation for present and future generations to develop an Africa they want.
Specifically, with the Continental Free Trade Area, where are we at this point?
Commissioner Muchanga: Our target is to start trading on 1st July 2020, and we are going to hit that target. At the national level, countries are producing trading documents which are going to be distributed to all the corners where there will be trading. We are sensitizing the business communities in their respective countries to be ready for the market. At the level of the African Continental Free Trade Area as a target we are finalizing work on tariffs schedules, land tariffs monetary systems, and the African Trade Observatory. We are also engaging the regional economic communities so that we collaborate effectively on all matters on facilitating trade across all Africa. We are very confident that come 1st July 2020, the market will start operating.
Expectations are so high; it has been billed as a game changer. Can you tell us about the potential, and what it will take for this Free Trade Agreement to make the desired impact you want to see on the continent?
Commissioner Muchanga: First requirement is that each and every African country should become a state party to the agreement. 54 countries have signed, and we are left with one which is Eritrea and we are sure they will sign. 28 countries have already posted the instruments of ratification and we are remaining with 28 including Eritrea, and we are in discussion with all these 28 countries and we are confident that come July 1, 2020, all of them will sign and ratify the agreement. So, the first requirement is that we create one African market by having all the 55 African countries be part of it.
Secondly, it is a task involving many stakeholders, the African governments are involved (they are coming up with the legal frameworks, the legal documents and policies), the African private sector also has a role to play (we want investments from them so they can supply the huge market we are creating), the academia also have a role to play (they need to come up with educational materials at appropriate levels so that all Africans from kindergarten to Universities ,everybody is involved with the AfCFTA), the CSOs have a role to play. The AfCFTA must filter down to the lowest level.
You are confident that Africa will succeed but Africa has not had a shortage of ideas, or projects, but there seems to be a problem with implementation. What makes you confident that the Continental Free Trade Agreement will work?
Commissioner Muchanga: First and foremost, there is a huge political will for the AfCFTA. When we started negotiations a lot of people expected the negotiations to take a minimum of six years but we were able to complete negotiations within two years which shows the huge political will. When the agreement was opened for signature, we were told it takes another five years for an AU legal instrument to be ratified, but with the support of member states we did our work in advocating for early ratification – within a period of one year we were able to get a minimum of 22 ratifications. The governments said we cannot end here and let us open the operational phase and they agreed that it should be July 1, 2020. They have said on the day we launch the operational phase it will be called the African Integration Day which is 7 July each year.
We are also working on a Secretariat which will be given enough resources- human and financial to be able to capture the whole of Africa. That inspectorate will collaborate with the regional economic community. We are coming up with a framework of collaborations so that there is alignment of operations, transparency, and confidence with each other.
What mechanisms are there to make sure that smaller countries do not get swallowed up by big ones?
Commissioner Muchanga: The first one is political. We are bringing to the attention of leaders that as we build the AfCFTA there should be a shift in the mindset. The new domestic market for Africa is the AfCFTA, the national market is receding, and all of us should work around the AfCFTA. When the mindset is changed, the issue of working in isolation will no longer work. One of the earliest steps we took was to come up with a protocol which is undergoing signatures so that we create a common African identity so that we ensure that Africans move in the continent without any restrictions. We are also creating an adjustment facility. It will take some time to come up with a fully fledge functional institutional arrangement. We are also working with the Afreximbank – they have put aside $2.5 billion for five regions in Africa – East, Central, Southern, Western, and Northern. Each one of them is going to be allocated $500 million so that companies that want to scale up productions will be able to produce to the scale of the AfCFTA. We are putting enough things to achieve win-win outcomes.
With the advent of the Continental Free Trade, what impact will it have on trade with external partners?
Commissioner Muchanga: We are going to transform African trading with external partners. Historically Africa has always been a trader of raw materials. Now we are going to add value to the ones already in Africa with the development of value added chains. When we do that, there are two things that will be involved – the products will have greater values and the companies that invest in value addition are going to produce to the scale of the AfCFTA. With that huge scale, they will be in a better position to be able to export to the world, and Africa is going to emerge as an exporter of manufactured goods to the rest of the world.
When you look at AGOA, there are two key problems that are faced in Africa. One is the standard (but a lot of Africa countries have not been able to meet that standard) and the other is the scale (quite a number of producers in Africa have not been able to satisfied the big US market). All of these are going to be resolved by creating the AfCFTA.
You travel the continent regularly; do you really think that African leaders and Africans get it and are willing to put in their all to make AfCFTA work?
Commissioner Muchanga: They are willing to make it work. One of the biggest problems we have in Africa is youth unemployment and Africa has a young population and the minimum age is about 19 years. Each leader knows that for them to create credibility in the eyes of the young population they should deliver decent lives to the people. It is not just about creating jobs but engaging the youths to really be entrepreneurs in their own rights. The youths are very knowledgeable with ICTs and each and every country should come up with incentives and structures to bring foreign investment to the continent.
Your boss the AU chairman was giving a Diaspora award. How much support are you getting from him?
Commissioner Muchanga: I have a very positive relationship with the chairman. Whenever I need support, I go to him and he has never said no. when the award came, he said he won’t be able to make it but said I would be able to represent him. When I get back, I am going to his office to present the award to him not just in his honor but the AU commission he heads. It is recognition from the Diaspora that our African body is producing good results. We are a Commission with 10 elected officials, and I also have a good working relationship with the other officials. Trade is about creating industries, it is about agro processing. One of the first things I did before coming from Nigeria was producing a matrix of the functional relationship between the Secretariat of the AfCFTA and all the departments of the AU so that they are going to see how we work. So, we are working as a team.
What expectations do you have from Nigeria and South Africa which are supposed to be leaders of the continent, Nigeria joined the AfCFTA late, and recently South Africa had this wave of xenophobic attacks, are the two continental giants playing their role?
Commissioner Muchanga: Nigeria said they needed to take a very broad-based stakeholder consultation. They went to the federal states, businesspeople, academia, youths and several people so it took them a while to undertake the process. After that they were caught up with elections and when they were ready, they signed and hopefully they are going to ratify in no distant time. With the case of South Africa, I said authorities needed to arrest the perpetrators and prosecute them so people do not think they can do anything they want. The issue is not just about foreigners as even South Africans were attacked.
Looking at everything, at what point should the everyday Africans expect to start getting the benefits of the AfCFTA?
Commissioner Muchanga: My vision is very clear. Come day one which is July 1. 2020, I will like to see a very active market and when that market is very active people should be able to say I am buying a product from country X. When they buy those products there should be two things the price is lower and the quality is very high. I also expect the business community to respond heavily by ensuring that they invest to produce to the scale of the AfCFTA. Without the investment of the private sector, we will achieve nothing. According to the International Chamber of Commerce, only 12 per cent of investment across Africa is accounted for by the African private sector. They need to scale up. Once we do that, we are on our way to creating the market that we want.
Any particular events surrounding the launch in 2020?
Commissioner Muchanga: I am meeting the Ministers this October where they are going to guide me on how the event will look like. I think there will be a symbolic launch.
USA Envoy, Brian Nichols Nails Zimbabwe Government on Corruption … not Sanctions.
October 25, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Nevson Mpofu Munhumutapa
Harare—-Brian Nichols USA Ambassador to Zimbabwe has scoffed Zimbabwe’s failure as not a result of sanctions but massive corruption, mis-management, failure to respect rule of Law and abuse of human rights. Contacted through call, Ambassador Nichols was asked a number of questions relating to whether he is ready to answer on the fumes of Zimbabwe to USA over the purported sanctions.
Ambassador Nichols refutes on any failure of Zimbabwe as a result of USA. He correctly puts it straight that Zimbabwe is just in scapegoat yet the truth is there. He recites, Zimbabwe as plunged in massive corruption, mis-management, failure to respect rule of Law and abuse of human rights.
‘’Blaming Sanctions is a convenient scapegoat to distract the public from the real reasons behind the country’s economic challenges. There has been true records of corruption, mis-management, failure to respect rule of Law and abuse of human rights.
‘’There is no USA Trade embargo on Zimbabwe. USA Companies are interested to invest in the country. There are blocked by corruption, economic un-certainty and weak rule of Law. The country has limitations for itself. These people are enemies unto themselves’’.
‘’Just imagine out of 175 countries on corruption ladder, Zimbabwe is number 160. Has that to do with corruption. It has failed to come up with reforms, utilise the land, make a way-forward to its problems and address challenges by successfully implementation of policies.’’
‘’It could be a shine for a US26 billion economy fighting to be a middle income economy of which is quite impossible owing attention to issues surrounding it . There are cases we have heard. But since my time here, the list is getting long.’’says Ambassador Brian Nichols .
Ambassador Nichols pointed out on Sakunda the recent corruption is evidence of going on massive corruption. ZINARA is involved in US 25 billion. NSSA has exposed its deviates and forced others on leave. It hangs around with Priscah Mupfumira’s corruption charges of which she was later involved in fresh new ones.
. ZESA is in US4, 9 million with Pito Investments. The deal was meant for Pito Investments to deliver transformers in 2016 which were never delivered. Zimbabwe Power Company paid 196,064 Rends to York Investments for Gas never delivered.
ZIMSEC was involved in 3, 1 million deal printing machine in 2016. Part of the amount 3,1 million disappeared and it added , paid on top 2,2 million in 2017. Africa gets 5 billion annually from USA for humanitarian aid. Since 1980 USA has paid 3,2 billion to Zimbabwe . PEPFAR has used I,I million on HIV treatment . It has paid US 8 million on cyclone Idai which hit the country in 2018. It has contributed US86,9 to alleviate hunger .
Russian Alrosa travels next month to Mozambique for talks on diamond mining
October 24, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Arnaldo Cuamba
Technicians from Alrosa, a Russian group of diamond mining companies that specialize in exploration, mining, manufacture, and sale of diamonds, will travel to Mozambique in November to start technical talks for possible prospecting work on the real quantity of the ore in the country.
The announcement was made to journalists by the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Sergey Ivanov, at the end of the meeting with the Mozambican President, Filipe Nyusi, held last night on the margins of the Russia-Africa Summit.
Ivanov said that the company’s intention was to carry out research in the areas bordering Zimbabwe, but Nyusi advised that they should also go to other areas of Mozambique.
In 2016 mozambican government confirmed the existence of diamonds in Massangena district, in Gaza province. However, So far, the occurrence of diamonds has been confirmed there, but the entire Save Valley is believed to be likely to have some diamond deposits.
On the other hand, Mozambique wants Russian support to join the Kimberley process that allows the commercialization of diamonds in the international market. Ivanov said that they would do their best to make the country part of the process.
“I am sure that even if Alrosa does not go to Mozambique and even if he finds nothing, Mozambique may become a member of the Kimberley Process, because other companies work there and it is important to negotiate and sell the diamonds” he said, “ And the Russian Federation will preside over the Kimberley Process next year and we will be ready to do our best so that Mozambique will also become a member of the process” he added.
Mozambique is already a signatory to the Kimberley Agreement. The Kimberley Certification Scheme was set up in 2003 to prevent “conflict diamonds” (also known as “blood diamonds”) from entering the mainstream diamond market. The purpose of the scheme was to ensure that the diamond trade was not financing violence by rebel movements seeking to overthrow legitimate governments.
Mozambique is a country rich in almost all types of mineral resources, including diamonds, gold, rubis, but unfortunately the country doesn’t had good fortune to make a thorough study and start exploration yet.
Cameroon:U.S Embassy awards 42 Million FCFA to organizations for health, community development
October 22, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Amos FOFUNG
U.S. Embassy in Yaounde, political capital of Cameroon on Thursday October 17, awarded over 42 million FCFA to seven Cameroonian organizations working for the development, health, and prosperity of their communities.
Ambassador Peter Barlerin announced the recipients at a ceremony at the embassy, as one example of the commitment of the United States to its partnership with Cameroon. This initiative complements much larger-scale U.S. health and humanitarian assistance to Cameroon.
“We know that Cameroonians are the ones best able to bring sustainable solutions to the challenges their country faces,” Ambassador Barlerin said.
The grants are part of two funds: The Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Program, which supports communities showing initiative to invest in their own development and growth, and The Julia Taft Refugee Fund, a fund to support gaps in larger assistance programs for refugees.
This year, six projects will benefit from the Self-Help Program. They will improve access to clean water, provide classrooms for children, and increase economic opportunities in the Adamaoua, East, South, and Southwest Regions. In the Self-Help Program, community members agree to provide labor, materials, technical, and/or financial contributions to the project, ensuring a high level of community investment and participation.
In one of the Self-Help projects, a community association will construct modern fish smoking stoves and train people in five villages in the South Region about microcredit and microfinance opportunities. In another project, a cooperative will disinfect eight water sources and teach people about safe water hygiene in three villages in the East Region.
The Julia Taft Refugee Fund, named after a former Assistant Secretary of State, will help give out-of-camp Central African Republic refugee women in the Adamaoua Region ways to generate income for themselves.
Gambia Foreign Minister Holds Talks with EU Special Representative for Human Rights
October 20, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Bakary Ceesay
The Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad, Dr. Mamadou Tangara, on Thursday received the European Union Special Representative for Human Rights, Mr. Eamon Gilmore and delegation in his office in Banjul.
He was accompanied to the Foreign Ministry by the Ambassador of the European Union, Attila Lajos, Ms. Breda Lee, Political Advisor, Ms. Luisa Ragher, Head of Division at the European External Action Service, Ms. Luigia Di Gisi, Policy Officer at the European External Action Service and Ms. Lidia Lapinska, Policy Coordinator at the European External Action Service.
Discussions centered on Democracy and the general Human Rights situation of the country, priorities of The Gambia’s Foreign Policy, Security Sector Reform, drafting of the new Constitution by the Constitutional Review Commission and increased visibility for European Union activities in the Gambia.
The Honourable Minister also received in audience H.E. Cessouma Minata Samate, Commissioner for Political Affairs of the African Union Commission.She informed the Honourable Minister that the purpose of their mission to the country was to participate in the African Union – European Union Human Rights dialogue which was held from 15th to 16th October 2019.
This, she added will be followed by AU – EU human rights dialogue. She said the Special Technical Committee on Migration meeting will this year be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 8th to 11th November. She disclosed that The Gambia is slated to host the subsequent Special Technical Committee on Migration meeting.
Commissioner Samate renewed the AU’s commitment in supporting The Gambia in the areas of Transitional justice, Capacity building and Institutional reform.
Peace talks to end decades of conflict in Sudan begin in Juba
October 18, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Deng Machol
Juba – Peace talks between the Sudanese transitional government and armed and non-armed opposition groups begun in South Sudan’s capital on Monday with parties showing eagerness to ending the country’s long civil war.
South Sudan’s President Kiir is hosting the peace talks, where the transitional government and rebel groups signed a draft agreement last month that detailed a roadmap for the talks, trust-building measures and an extension of a cease-fire already in place, represents a turning point in ending war and bringing about peace to Sudan.
This followed former president Omar al-Bashir’s successful mediation of the South Sudan peace talks in Khartoum last year, September, before overthrow in April, 2019.
The peace initiative was also built into a power-sharing deal between Sudan’s army groups and its pro-democracy movements. That deal was reached after the deposed of longtime tyrant President Omar al-Bashir in April. The transitional authorities have six months to make peace with the rebels, according to the agreement.
Ethiopia and the African Union mediated the power-sharing agreement in August which ended months of violence and faltering talks between Sudan’s generals and protesters following the uprising against al-Bashir.
South Sudan gained independence from the north in 2011 after decades of civil war. But in the 2000s, Sudan was most known for al-Bashir’s brutal repression of an uprising in the western Darfur region.
Attaining peace is crucial to the transitional government in Sudan. It has counted on ending the wars with rebels in order to revive the country’s dilapidated economy through slashing the military spending, which takes up much of the national budget.
However, Sudanese military councils have introduced good-will signals. They dismissed death sentences against eight rebel leaders and released more than a dozen prisoners of war. They have also delayed the formation of the parliament and the appointment of provincial governors to allow time for the rebels to come on board.
President Kiir is trying to look for the best ways to end the war that has been raging in Sudan for the last 63 years – that’s to say since independence.
The peace solutions brokered in the past, starting by Addis Ababa 1972, Khartoum 1997, CPA 2005, Abuja, Cairo, Asmara and Doha agreements, failed to achieve a just, comprehensive and permanent peace.”
Sudanese warring parties accepted the mediation of president Salva Kiir and Juba as a venue for peace talks when the AUHIP failed to settle the conflict in Sudan in eight years and twenty-two rounds of talks.
Addressing the launch of the peace talks at the Freedom Hall in Juba, President Kiir called on the Sudanese parties to make compromises during the negotiations.
President Kiir said negotiations and compromises are ushered to settle any political conflict and reach a peace deal that will end the country prolong conflict.
He added that peace could not come to any country through armed conflict adding that it was possible if parties come together, discuss and find possible solutions.
President Kiir reiterated that lack of peace in his former country would lead to instability in the whole Africa and South Sudan particular.
“Time has come for us in Africa and in our region to rise up to the challenge of addressing our differences and conflicts,” said Kiir in the event graced by regional heads of states, including Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni and Ethiopian Premier Dr Abiy Ahmed.
“I have no doubt that we have the capacity, the ability and the required competence to do so if we have a strong political will. “Now for the Sudanese delegations for the peace talks, I wish them successful dialogue, negotiation and compromise so that we celebrate the achievement of peace in the Sudan,” said president Kiir.
Symbol of peace
The chairperson of the IGAD, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, also Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, called on the region to exert more efforts for peace building to create a safe environment for investment, adding that the horn of Africa should always address its challenges through inclusive dialogue.
The IGAD countries consist of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, Sudan and South Sudan. But Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan have been ruined down by years of conflict as a result of political and communal wrangles.
Dr. Abiy say the region has the potential to become a symbol of peace and economic in Africa as well as in the global.
“I believe there is nothing that we cannot achieve as a region. We have witnessed a peace between the Ethiopia and Eritrea; the silence of the guns in South Sudan and the successful Sudanese reconciliation; we are also hopeful that Kenya and Somalia will have to resolve their problem through dialogue. What we have achieved together are building-blocks for our region’s shared goals and collective prosperity,” said Dr. Abiy.
Dr. Abiy urged the leaders to engage youth in addressing the economic challenges in the region rather than recruiting them for civil war.
“It is time for our regions to focus on the inevitable journey of a robust economic integration,” said the 2019 Noble Prize Winner. “The time has come to give a better chance to our youth through pooling our cooperative advantages to common goals and developments – this, we can only do when all the stakeholders in each of our countries commits to peace.”
Meanwhile, the Ugandan President cautioned leaders against the use of religion and tribes to advance their political interests.
Yoweri Museveni says leaders in Sudan and South Sudan have sought leadership positions by turning their people against each other.
He says since 1962, Sudan has failed to address the underlying causes of wars and poverty because of lack of political ideology.
In 2011, Sudan split following 39 years of civil war between South Sudanese and the Sudanese government over lack of services and poor system of governance.
Museveni argues that the problems of Sudan and Africa can be attributed to the misguided use of tribal and religious identities as a means of resolving issues.
“People who are ideologically bankrupt have no alternative but to use opportunism of religion, tribe, and of race. This is a crime against Africa,” said the leader who has been the Uganda’s president since 1986. “If you don’t know what to do, go back home and mismanage your home. Don’t come to a public office to cause suffering for the people.”
While they applaud President Kiir’s efforts to help restore stability in the Sudan, critics and activists say the President should start the charity at home by ensuring that the revitalized peace agreement is fully implemented.
For his part, the President of the Sudanese Sovereign Council, Gen. Abdul Fattah Al Burhan, expressed hopes that the Kiir-mediated peace talks will bring to an end years of conflict in the Sudan.
“We come to negotiate in good faith for the sake of the Sudan. This time is different from the past, in the past there was a government wanted to divide the country with armed groups, though the oppositions are in the country,” said Al Burhan. We are reiterating our full commitment that this round of talks will be the end to the problems of our Sudanese people – to put an end to the suffering of our people,” he promised, his government want comprehensive peace such that over five million Sudanese displaced both internally and externally return to their homes.
According to Juba’s government, Kiir’s mediation efforts is aimed at finding an end to the civil war in Blue Nile and Darfur regions.
The states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan – which both have large ethnic minority populations that fought alongside the South Sudanese during the two decades of scorched – earth civil war.
Over nine different armed and non-armed opposition groups are taking part in the talks including main opposition movements of Revolutionary Front and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army – North.
Dr. Alhadi Idris Ahmed, Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) Leader has expressed his willingness to cooperate in good faith with the interim government to bring solution to the conflict in Sudan.
“Time has come for us to stop war and killings in the Republic of Sudan. It is time for beginning of stability, peace, respect of human rights and economic development in Sudan,” said Ahmed, adding that they want to see a new Sudan with a democracy and equal opportunity to all the Sudanese people.
Cdr. Abdul-Aziz Adam Alhilu, SPLM-N, emphasized that they have come to the talks with a firm will and determination to achieve a new Sudan of freedom, justice and equality.
“We also believe that the success of the negotiations to bring an end to the war in Sudan depends on addressing the root causes of the problem that can be summarized in the two issues of national identity and relationship between religion and state,” said Abdul-Aziz. The two points of identity and theocracy are at the top of the contentious issues that divide the Sudanese people. We have to look for the commonalities that provide the basis for a just unity and permanent peace,” he added.
Despite the secession of South Sudan, there is racism in Sudan today. It is racial and religious double apartheid that resulted in 63 years of civil wars, where the state exterminated over 3 million of its own citizens in [then] South Sudan, Nuba Mountain, Blue Nile, Beja of the East, far North Nuba and Darfur.
“We, in the SPLM-N believe that the failure was due to the complicated nature of the conflict on one hand, and the insistence of the subsequent Khartoum governments to deal with it as a security problem on the other, while the conflict is basically political. We also believe that success of the negotiations to bring an end to the wars in Sudan depends on addressing the root causes of the problem that can be summarized in the two issues of national identity and relationship between religious,” said Abdul-Aziza.
The official launching ceremony of Sudan peace talks being mediated by president Kiir was attended by The president of Sudan Sovereign Council, Gen. Abdel AlFattah Al-burhan, the president of Uganda Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Dr. Abiy Ahmed and the Prime Minister of Arab Republic of Egypt, Mustafa Kemal Madbouly.
The presidents of Kenya and Somalia were not in attendance they have busy schedules in their respective countries.
Several peace talks have failed to end the internal conflict in Sudan and bring in a comprehensive justice and permanent peace, however, this is litmus – test for president Kiir whether to bring final solution to the Sudanese crisis or not. This peace talks will go on for two months.
Negotiating for a better future: Why the good or bad of Russia’s presence in Africa will rely on the continent’s ability to make better deals
October 18, 2019 | 0 Comments
|Deal-making is what will shape the future of Russia-Africa relations and will tell whether Russia’s renewed influence in the continent is good or bad for its people|
|JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, October 18, 2019/ — By African Energy Chamber|
Russia’s return to Africa has been the subject of wide media coverage, governmental concerns and civil society reactions in recent weeks, especially as Sochi gears up to host the first ever Russia-Africa Summit next week. Most commentators have come from Europe and North America to voice concerns over Russia’s dodgy arm deals in Africa, political meddling with unstable African regimes, and its overall challenging of the status quo on the continent. The problem is, when these comments are not outright hypocritical, they are missing a key point: competition is good for business, which is just what Africa needs right now.
First, Russia’s presence in the continent cannot be summarized into sensationalism. It is complex and needs to be put back into context. Its modern relations with African governments and institutions started building up in post-independence Africa, time when the Soviet Union offered key diplomatic and military support to young African nations in need of it. This assistance was multi-form and much needed for countries seeking fast development following harsh independence wars and conflicts. “The Soviet Union provided significant economic assistance, including infrastructure, agricultural development, security cooperation, and health sector cooperation,” wrote Paul Stronski of the Carnegie’s Russia and Eurasia Program this week. Consequently, Putin’s vision for Africa is resuming and building up on a cooperation that started in the second half of the 20th century and was only put on hold by the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
In short, while arriving late to the party, Russia is no stranger to the African playground. Beyond military cooperation, its state-owned natural resources companies have already made inroads into the continent, and could be a game changer for many African countries in need of investment and electricity. Key Russia energy companies such as Gazprom, Lukoil, Rostec and Rosatom are already present in Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea or Uganda, while mining and minerals ones such as Nordgold or Rusal are developing world-class mines in Guinea and Zimbabwe. On a global stage, Russia’s involvement in OPEC has also sent strong signals that it is committed to market stability and global energy cooperation, which ultimately benefit African producers.
“Russia’s influence is increasing through strategic investments in natural resources, and such investments are welcomed by African governments and companies. They bring in key Russian capital and know-how to the continent which is seeking to diversify its investors basket and attract much needed investment into its energy industry,” said Nj Ayuk, Executive Chairman at the African Energy Chamber (EnergyChamber.org) and CEO of the Centurion Law Group. “The African Energy Chamber is supporting such efforts and has seen a definite uptick in Russian companies’ interests for the continent. We predict a lot of deals to be signed during and after the Sochi Summit for Russian energy companies to develop African resources and do business in Africa. This will be especially beneficial as Africa develops gas-based economies,” he added.
Amongst the most recent agreements are for instance the MoU between Atlas Oranto Petroleum and Rosneft in 2018, under which the pan-African E&P company agreed to explore the joint-development of its assets across Africa with the Russian state-owned giant. Another one is the signing of several agreements between Russia and Mozambique this summer, involving again state-owned Rosneft but also Nordgold. In Central Africa, Gazprom is also lifting gas from Cameroon’s the FLNG Hilli Episeyo, the world’s first converted FLNG vessel.
As such investments and activity picks up, the real game changer will be Africa’s ability to make deals that work for its people and its economies. Deal-making is what will shape the future of Russia-Africa relations and will tell whether Russia’s renewed influence in the continent is good or bad for its people. Rightly so, the ability and capacity of African governments to make better deals with investors is becoming central to the global business narrative on Africa.
In his much anticipated book coming up this month and already best-seller on Amazon, “Billions At Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals”, Nj Ayuk dedicates an entire chapter to the critical art of deal-making. “For Africa to truly realize all of the benefits oil and gas operations have to offer, we need to see good deal-making across the board,” he writes. “Clearly, good deal-making has far-reaching implications for African people, communities and business.”
Contracts negotiations is in fact the key element missing from the current debate on Russia’s increasing influence in Africa. There is no doubt Africa is welcoming Russia’s interest for doing business on the continent, not only because it comes without the conditionality of actors such as the IMF and the World Bank, but also because Africa needs critical energy investment and a giant oil producer like Russia has good technology and know-how to export. The only thing is, sub-Saharan Africa has seen several regulatory developments in the near future, with a particular focus on local content regulations across energy markets. Jobs creation, domestic capacity building and the growth of a strong base of local energy companies is high up on the African agenda. If African governments are able to negotiate contracts that deliver on these expectations and Russian companies are committed to see the continent grow, then the future is bright for Russia in Africa.
At the end of the day, it is all about how African governments and institutions will negotiate future contracts with Russian companies. As Nj Ayuk writes in Billions At Play, “governments must give investors a chance to generate income from the resources they are interested in and recoup their investments. At the same time, governments need to look at creating value for their country and its people. It’s a balancing act. It’s challenging, but it’s doable.”
Whether Sochi will result in that balancing act remains to be seen, but the challenge is given and Africa is up for it.
*Africa Energy Chamber
Eurasia Center Open To Partnership Prospects With Africa
October 17, 2019 | 0 Comments
Ambassador of the Republic of Congo and Dean of African Diplomatic Corps in the United States Serge Mombouli met on Tuesday with the President of The Eurasia Center Dr. Gerry Jenco.
This was a courtesy visit by Dr. Jenco designed to introduce his organization and its new program Uplifting Africa. During the meeting which took place at the chancery of Congo, he expressed interest in exploring partnership opportunities with leaders from Africa in building world peace and prosperity.
Dr. Jenco also extended a special invitation to Ambassador Mombouli to deliver a keynote address on panel Africa Rising as part of The Silk Road Summit – 3rd Annual Conference slated for November 4, 2019 in Washington.
In return, Mr. Mombouli -the most senior african Ambassador to the United States, congratulated Dr. Jenco for his initiative in creating Uplifting Africa program which, he said, would have a positive impact on US-Africa relationship. He invited Dr. Jenco to address the African Diplomatic Corps late next month.
The newly appointed Director of Uplifting Africa Program in the United States journalist Ben Bangoura participated in the meeting.
About The Eurasia Center
The Eurasia Center was founded to educate not only the American public but also the world community about the important relationship of America has with Eurasia (Europe and Asia) as well as Africa. It seeks to enhance American awareness, knowledge, and understanding of the European and Asian (Eurasian) countries, especially during these changing times.
Through its Nine Programs for Eurasia and its important Conferences and activities, The Eurasia Center builds positive relations in areas and with peoples that are important for world peace and economic progress and development.
The Eurasia Center is a resource center which has provide US Presidents and many world leaders with current analysis that have helped them shape their knowledge of issues of importance regarding US-Eurasian relations. Many have lauded our efforts to seek solutions to issues where those in the bureaucracies of nations cannot. This Mission of the Eurasia Center serves to strengthen and expand positive relations throughout Eurasia and has greater impact for future generations.
*Courtesy of AlloAfricaNews
US Congressional Delegation Arrives in Gambia to strengthen democratic institutions
October 15, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Bakary Ceesay
A congressional delegation from the United States of America arrived in The Gambia Sunday for a two day visit to promote responsive, effective government and to strengthen democratic institutions by assisting legislatures in emerging democracies
The U.S. legislators, traveling with the House Democracy Partnership (“HDP”), are led by the HDP Chairman, Representative David Price of North Carolina. The delegation also includes Representative Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma, Representative Barbara Lee of California, Representative Diana DeGette of Colorado, and Representative Alma Adams of North Carolina.
The US Embassy in Banjul said in a press release sent to Pan African Visions: “The mission of the U.S. House Democracy Partnership is to promote responsive, effective government and to strengthen democratic institutions by assisting legislatures in emerging democracies. Central to their work is peer-to-peer cooperation to build technical expertise in partner legislatures and enhance accountability, transparency, legislative independence, access to information, and government oversight.
“During their visit, Congressional members will meet with member of the National Assembly and learn about Gambian legislative priorities and consult on legislative procedures and structures that enhance representative governance.
“They will also meet with His Excellency President Adama Barrow and members of civil society, non-governmental organizations, Peace Corps Volunteers, and various members of President Barrow’s cabinet.
Before departing, they will pay their respects to Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara by laying a wreath at his grave in the National Assembly.”
It Is Time to Create Aggressive Market-Driven Policies That Spur Economic Growth
October 11, 2019 | 0 Comments
|The African Energy Chamber insisted on the need for fair regulations that are supportive of local industries whole encouraging international investments|
|CAPE TOWN, South Africa, October 10, 2019/ — The African Energy Chamber (https://EnergyChamber.org/) advocated for better regulatory frameworks, local content development, women empowerment and cross-border cooperation at the grand opening of Africa Oil & Power in Cape Town this week.|
Attended by hundreds of senior government officials and energy executives from across Africa and the world, the Africa Oil & Power Conference & Exhibition is seeking solutions to make energy work better for Africans and investors. It was opened by leading industry figures such as H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons of Equatorial Guinea, H.E. Mouhamadou Makhtar Cissé, Minister of Petroleum and Energies of Senegal, and Nj Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber and CEO of the Centurion Law Group.
Delivering the opening remarks, African Energy Chamber Executive Chairman Nj Ayuk addressed key issues facing the industry’s future, reminding the continent that it needs and must do better to provide energy and jobs to all Africans. “We are here at AOP not only to highlight success stories but also to have an honest conversation with each other on what needs to be done for our industry, and follow a roadmap to successful implementation on core issues such as regulations and local content policies, the empowerment of women, infrastructure development, cross-border cooperation and fiscal frameworks,” declared Nj Ayuk.
On the issue of regulations and the creation of a better enabling environment for investors and businesses, the African Energy Chamber insisted on the need for fair regulations that are supportive of local industries whole encouraging international investments. “Look to Ghana,” said Nj Ayuk. “The country has built an oil and gas regulatory framework from scratch and built a reputation for transparency and regulatory certainty. Its projects are getting off the drawing board and Ghana is already a serious African producer. Regulations have to be progressive, so what matters is to implement regulations that set the ground for the development of a sustainable, local content-oriented and jobs-creating industry.”
“On local content, look to Nigeria,” he added. “It has used its oil and gas as a jumping off point for overall economic development and building up domestic capacities from the ground up while providing the right opportunities for the establishment and growth of strong local companies across the value chain.”
At the core of the African Energy Chamber’s message was also a call to women empowerment across Africa’s energy industry. From creating strong educational and training programmes to implementing progressive policies in the workplace, the Chamber has advocated for better policies that provide women equal opportunities in the workplace and across the industry. “On woman empowerment, look to South Africa, which boasts some of the strongest leaders in Africa’s oil and gas sector,” declared Nj Ayuk. “Diversity will change our industry for the best and needs to be a priority.”
The African Energy Chamber closed its opening remarks on the issues of infrastructure development and cross-border cooperation. In many cases, a lack of infrastructure is severely holding back economic and social development, including a lack of roads, pipelines, ports and airports is stopping exploration and production in its tracks; and delaying the progress of otherwise economically viable progress. Meanwhile, cross-border cooperation is the key to unlocking the potential of the continent. “On cross-border cooperation, look to Senegal and Mauritania,” said Nj Ayuk. “They both have already shown Africa that putting its differences aside and working towards co-developing projects is beneficial for African economies and their people. The GTA project is a landmark project in that regard, and one that will profoundly impact the socio-economic development in both countries. The major step to encourage future such collaboration and projects is to simply keep the dialogue open and engage more.”
*Africa Energy Chamber
African Development Bank and partners launch pilot Cities Diagnostics tool in five cities
October 10, 2019 | 0 Comments
|The tool includes key environmental and urban sustainability indicators as well as disaster risk and vulnerability, and urban footprint growth|
|ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, October 7, 2019/ — “The urban opportunities far outweigh the challenges,” said Prof. Davis G. Mwamfupe, the Mayor of Dodoma, Tanzania, during his message to the Cities Leadership workshop, launching the City Diagnostics for five pilot cities in Africa, held on the 25th and 26th September 2019 in Abidjan.|
Five cities were chosen for the pilot phase of the Cities Diagnostics for 2019 -2020: Antananarivo (Madagascar), Bizerte (Tunisia), Conakry (Republic of Guinea), Dodoma (Tanzania) and Libreville (Gabon) and were represented by their respective authorities.
The African Development Bank (AfDB.org), the Urban and Municipal Development Fund (UMDF) and the Korea Africa-Economic Cooperation (KOAFEC) organized the workshop to review the cities diagnostic methodologies with city managers and international urban development experts. Amadou Oumarou, Director of the Bank’s Infrastructure and Urban Development Department said, “The new City Diagnostics tool of the Bank will enable city managers and development partners to have a clear understanding of the situation in all the various sub-sectors of the city and allow us to prioritise our work”.
The diagnostic tool includes key environmental and urban sustainability indicators; two baseline studies covering disaster risk and vulnerability, and urban footprint growth. It also includes a public opinion survey covering accessibility and quality of municipal services for water, sanitation, electricity. Drainage, solid waste management, and other measures of quality of life in cities are also included. The tool can measure and assess inclusiveness and resilience parameters, strategies, municipal resource mobilization, investments, and public accounts administration.
The Mayor of Bizerte, Dr. Ben Amara Kamel stressed the challenge of limited municipal budget resources for capital infrastructure and services investments as well the difficulty of recruiting qualified municipal staff to cities, especially given Bizerte’s ambitious projects such as 100% clean energy by 2030. Participants from Conakry and Libreville also mentioned problems of city governance, the low level of municipal tax collection, poor sanitation, and solid waste management.
The five pilot cities exchanged experiences at a panel headed by Ellis Juan, Senior Advisor to the Bank’s UMDF and former head of the Inter-American Development Bank emerging and sustainable cities program (ESC) . Juan highlighted some of the key lessons learned in Latin America which included the following:An integrated approach to city planning and management yields greater impact;Climate change should be integrated into city planning and management;Making cities for the people, or people-oriented cities;Order in the fiscal accounts, increased digitalization of city management and strong governance and transparency make for a credible partner;Efficient management of solid waste, sewerage and drainage systems, and water resources will preserve cities’ environmental assets for future generations while improving quality of life;Integrating mobility into urban planning and investing in quality public transportation services will drive productivity and create citizen-friendly cities;The City Diagnostics program is fully funded by the UMDF, which supports African cities and municipalities to improve their resilience and manage urban growth and development better through planning, governance, and efficient public services as well as improving the quality of life in urban environments in Africa.
Gambia Gov’t, Japan Signed Food Assistance Grant
October 8, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Bakary Ceesay
The Governments of The Gambia and Japan signed food assistance grant worth $2,337,650 at a ceremony held at Atlantic Hotel in Banjul on Saturday October 5th, 2019.
The rice assistance is part of Japan’s annual Official Development Assistance (ODA) to The Gambia. Following the signing ceremony, the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad, Dr. Mamadou Tangara said the ceremony is testament of Japan’s commitment to work closely with the Government of The Gambia to addressing Gambia’s food security situation and also part of efforts aimed at elevating Gambia – Japan bilateral relations.
Dr. Tangara thanked the Government of Japan for the level of support the country has so far received.
He said discussions have been done with members of Japan’s Parliamentary Council to the African Union on the margins of TICAD 7th in Yokohama, and The Gambia is working towards intensifying collaboration in the areas of agriculture, infrastructural development and capacity building for the youth.
He called on the Japanese private sector through the Japanese Embassy to invest in potential sectors of The Gambia’s economy, including agriculture and fisheries.
He assured Ambassador Tatsuo Arai of the principle of transparency and accountability adding that the government will ensure that the arrangements under this partnership is worked out to achieve Gambia’s common objectives and support Japan’s international commitment.
He commended Japan for interventions in education, rural water supply, health, youth and sports and other development.
For his part, Ambassador Arai told reporters that the two countries have fruitful cooperation in the areas of education, health, fisheries and food assistance. The food assistance, he adds, will alleviate food shortage, stabilise food price and socio-economic development through the utilisation of the counterpart fund. He assured that Japan will continue to work with the Barrow Government in order to address the needs of the population.
He said human security is one of the main pillars of Japan’s Official Development Assistance, ODA, policies and the establishment of food security and food self-sufficiency holds a special importance in these policies.