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Cameroon: A Heavy Toll On Journalists Covering The Anglophone Crisis
July 15, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung*

This group of journalists met with South West Governor, Bernard Okalia Bilai to demand whereabout of Samuel Wazizi after it was rumored that he had died in detention
This group of journalists met with South West Governor, Bernard Okalia Bilai to demand whereabout of Samuel Wazizi after it was rumored that he had died in detention

For over ten months, judicial and administrative officials in Cameroon’s English-speaking town of Buea, dribbled journalists, civil society actors, press advocates and international organizations in what is now described as one of its biggest cover-ups of the 21st century for the sub-Saharan nation.

This comes after journalists filed a habeas corpus in court demanding the whereabout of their colleague, Samuel Ajiekah Abuwe, popularly known as Samuel Wazizi. The said journalist who works for a local TV station, CMTV, was arrested in August 2019 for” criticizing the government’s handling of a separatist revolt” according to rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Journalists sought to make contact with the detained pressman but were told he had been transferred from police detention to a military holding site. After months without any necessary due legal process to charge or prosecute him, his colleague feared the worst might have happened and filed a habeas corpus.

The case was presented in court and suffered many adjournments. It was not until about ten months after his arbitral arrest that rumors emerged he had died in custody after he was brutalized by security forces. 

Faced with international condemnation and diplomatic pressure reinforced by protest from journalists in the country, the government of Cameroon in an attempt to save face said he died from a medical condition.

In June 2020, Cameroon’s army confirmed Wazizi died in detention but insisted that he died “as a result of severe sepsis”. In the statement, army spokesman Cyrille Atonfack Nguemo said the military took custody of Wazizi on August 7 after investigations revealed he was coordinating logistics for separatist fighters – charges his family and colleagues deny.

On August 13, Nguemo said, Wazizi was placed into the custody of the national gendarmerie – a military police force. Soon after, Wazizi became sick and was taken to hospital in Yaounde, where he died on August 17, Nguemo said.

“He clearly died from a severe sepsis and not from any acts of torture,” Nguemo said, rejecting accusations of torture made by the head of the journalists’ union.

Nguemo also said that Wazizi’s family was informed of his death. But Wazizi’s brother, Henry Abuwe, denied that.

His mortal remains are yet to reach the family and no autopsy results have been conducted. The government via the military spokesperson failed to explain why colleague of the deceased journalist were never informed of his death when they filed a case in court and continuously showed up in court for several months.

The Committee to Protect Journalist, CPJ, which has being monitoring the dilapidating state of press freedom in Cameroon wrote that for months following Wazizi’s “diasperance” before he was declared death, they tried to get in contact with Cameroon’s minister of Communication, Justice and even the Prime Minister’s office but all messages and calls were ignored.

CPJ’s Africa Program coordinator, Angela Quintal expressed her frustration with the silence from Cameroonian authorities saying, “the unbelievable cruelty of the Cameroonian government…just as with the death of journalist Bibi Ngota, it believes it can cover-up what happened by lying. We demand an independent inquiry into Samuel Wazizi’s killing and the conviction of those responsible.”

After meeting with Cameroon president, Paul Biya on June 5, 2020, French ambassador Christophe Cuilhou tweeted that the president had promised to open an investigation into the death of journalist Samuel Wazizi.

Anyone apt with the politics in Cameroon will know that investigations are always opened on paper – and ends there. Throughout president Paul Biya’s 38 years in power, a handful of his promised investigations have ever been completed, worst till made public.

The situation in Cameroon could not be worse. There are currently about seven journalists detained in relation to their work in the central African country that currently occupies the 134th position on Reporters Without Borders 2020 press freedom index.

Kidnapping of journalists on the rise

News about the abduction of journalist Ambe Macmillian Awa on February 21 2019, in Bamenda landed another blow on press freedom efforts in Cameroon.

Local media reports hold that the broadcast journalist was “kidnapped” by gunmen in Bamenda, chief town of the North West, region. His disappearance comes barely twenty days after the release of two other journalists, Theodore Tchopa and David Eyengue who were arrested while covering a protest against electoral hold-up in Cameroon.

Ambe Macmillian Awa is the Secretary-General of Cameroon Journalist Trade Union, CJTU, North West Chapter. He also serves as the North West President of Cameroon Association of English-Speaking Journalists, CAMASEJ. Both bodies advocate for better press freedom in Cameroon.

Reacting to the news, Fongoh Primus Ayeh, Secretary General of Camasej called on the perpetrators of such a “grievous act” to release him with immediate effect.

His arrest prompted journalists in Cameroon to launch a campaign dubbed #FreeAmbeMacmillian, twitting that “Journalism is not a crime.”

24 hours after his abduction, Ambe Macmillian was liberated by his abductors after a near-dead experience. Debriefing his colleagues at his Bamenda residence, Amba -explained that he was taken away at gunpoint by pro-separatist fighters who threatened him to cease from reporting about school resumption in the North West region.

In a public statement after his release, the Cameroon Association of English-speaking journalists, CAMASEJ said they, (separatist fighters) “accused” Ambe of advocating for school resumption.

Throughout his abduction, the government made no public statement concerning the situation. A situation which does take many by surprise as private journalists in Cameroon are said to receive little or no protection from the state.  

Closeup photo of Journalist Samuel Wazizi used by Reporters without Borders to campaign for press freedom in Cameroon
Closeup photo of Journalist Samuel Wazizi used by Reporters without Borders to campaign for press freedom in Cameroon

“Journalist Not Terrorist”

In its September 2017 report titled “Journalist Not Terrorist”, New York-based press freedom advocacy organization, Committee to Protect Journalist, CPJ, observed that “in Cameroon, anti-terror legislation is used to silence critics and suppress dissent.

Since 2016 with the commencement of civil protest in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions in what is today known as the Anglophone Crisis, media crackdown has taken central stage especially “as the government tried to control the narrative of information disseminated about the crisis.” A CPJ report about press freedom in Cameroon wrote.

Journalists in their numbers have been arrested, charged, detained, threatened and some forced to leave their jobs. Media organs and practitioners have suffered severe sanctions and suspension from Cameroon media watchdog, National Communication Council, NCC, whose members are all appointed by the government.

The body has on many occasions “threatened to suspend media organs and reporters” that report on the crisis; CPJ noted.

Worsen by the Anglophone crisis

On January 19, 2017, Mancho Bibixy, broadcast journalist with Abakwa FM, in the North West region became the first journalist to be arrested and jailed in relation to the simmering Anglophone crisis.

The mastermind behind the coffin revolution had before his arrest being very vocal of the government’s failure to carryout basic socio-economic developments and paraded the streets of Bamenda with a coffin stating that he is ready to die and be buried unless the government provide answers as to why the English-speaking parts of the region were grossly neglected on the country’s developmental agenda.

He is currently serving a 15-year sentence on anti-state charges and false news in relation to his advocacy for greater autonomy for the English-speaking minority in Cameroon. Bibixy was tried along with two other journalists, Tsi Conrad and Thomas Awah Junior both serving jail terms.

By the end of 2017, some eight Anglophone journalists were behind bars for covering civil protests in the North West and South West regions. Many have been forced into self-exiled for fear of persecution.

In November 2018, television presenter, Mimi Mefo Takambo who heads the English desk for privately-owned Equinoxe TV was released from jail after been charged by a military court for “publishing and propagating information that infringes on the territorial integrity of the Republic”.

She was arrested on November 7, 2018 and freed three days later. All charges levied against were dropped.

Her arrest was described by press freedom advocates as a tool to intimidate media practitioners covering the civil unrest in Cameroon’s restive English-speaking regions.

In July of 2018, then Cameroonian Minister of Communication, Issa Tchiroma Bakary insisted that no journalist was detained in Cameroon due to their work, even though the superfluity of evidence proved otherwise.

The government has continued to paint Cameroonian as a great respecter of press freedom even though journalist Akumbom Elvis McCarthy continues to languish in jail as he undergoes trail for reporting military excesses in the restive English-speaking regions of Cameroon.

Government’s altitude fueling attack on journalists?

Journalists in Cameroon receive very little protection from government and security forces while covering sensitive issues. A print journalist who spoke to this reporter noted said threats and assaults on media practitioners are hardly investigations.

The newspaper editor who pleaded for anonymity for fear of prosecution told us that the government needs to do more to protect journalists in Cameroon. He says governments actions and treatment of journalists spurs further attacks on the practitioners.

Calls on the government to investigate the stabbing of Cameroon Web reporter Paul Chouta who was assaulted with a knife outside his home in Yaounde in January 2019 has yielded no fruits.

A Deutsche Welle correspondent in Bamenda, Cameroon’s restive North West region was seriously beaten by soldiers May and was hospitalized.

Jean Marie Ngong Song received medical treatments after the military inflicted severe injuries on his body. According to the journalist his identification documents were seized by the soldiers who forced him to enter a military vehicle.

“I was beaten, my identity card collected. They asked me to go and enter their car, I asked them to tell me what crime I committed. They didn’t. I entered a taxi and left. They interviewed my friends and… they only sent my ID card later,” he narrated.

*July issue of PAV Magazine

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Sex for Aid – Kickbacks for Contracts: Leaked Review exposes widespread corruption in DRC Humanitarian Aid Operations
July 15, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati*

A child plays near a UN vehicle in 2014 in Beni in North Kivu province, where issues of fraud have been rife. Photo credit Abel Kavanagh, MONUSCO
A child plays near a UN vehicle in 2014 in Beni in North Kivu province, where issues of fraud have been rife. Photo credit Abel Kavanagh, MONUSCO

Corruption is rampant in DRC’s humanitarian aid operations as revealed in a damning leaked operational review. The operational review is part of the efforts by an anti-fraud taskforce created by UN agencies and several other aid groups in the DRC to reveal and stamp out corruption in humanitarian aid operations in the country.

Late in 2018, a non-governmental organization Mercy Corps discovered widespread corruption in the DRC’s humanitarian aid sphere. The revelations by Mercy Corps forced UN aid agencies through an anti-fraud taskforce to dig further into the rampant corruption claims and in its operational review leaked to The New Humanitarian do agree with the findings by Mercy Corps that there is rampant corruption and abuse in the country’s humanitarian aid sphere.

When it was commissioned, the UN’s anti-fraud taskforce did join hands with several other local aid groups and together they have been collaborating towards the release of the operational review. To ensure that the taskforce is fully funded and able to conduct its responsibilities efficiently and effectively, the taskforce received full funding from DFID, the government department responsible for overseas aid in the UK.

In the leaked review, it’s stated that the corruption in the humanitarian sphere is omnipresent in various sectors from staff recruitment to the procurement of supplies and delivery of aid.

Several allegations in the report suggest that staff and implementing partners have been demanding kickbacks. The selection committee of OCHA, one of the biggest agencies run by UN’s emergency aid coordination body was singled out to be one of the biggest culprits as they are said to have demanded kickbacks from local NGOs in exchange for contracts.

David McLachlan-Karr the UN’s humanitarian coordinator in Congo said that his organization is taking the allegations from the leaked operational review very seriously and all those who are implicated will have to answer to the authorities. “We look forward to the publication of the final report and we will carefully consider any recommendations made to improve the performance of humanitarian aid in the DRC…I give my assurance that any allegation of malpractice by either the implementing partner, or any staff working in the Fund, will be taken seriously and be thoroughly investigated.”

The same sentiments were echoed by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres spokeswoman Zoe Paxton who said, “Once the report is published, we will carefully consider any recommendations made.” 

The major exposes from the leaked operational review whose content was mainly drawn from interviews conducted in the whole of the country with staff at UN agencies, local NGOs, and International NGOs including also the recipients and members of civil society are that:

  • Staff at UN agencies demand kickbacks from local NGOs in exchange for contracts
  • Most suppliers of goods to aid groups are forced to pay bribes which are as high as 30 per cent of the contract value
  • All instances of corruption are hidden as aid workers responsible for evaluating projects are bribed
  • Sexual abuse perpetrators pay off victims and the Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) reporting mechanisms are redundant and rarely if ever used
  • Staff recruitment is largely skewed towards females in exchange for sexual favours
  • Individuals implicated for violating the SEA code are rarely punished
  • There has been a breakdown in trust between local communities and aid agencies as well as government officials owing to the widespread corruption

Joseph Inganji who is the head of OCHA said that “everyone will be shocked” when they get to go through the full operational review. He said that the humanitarian aid sector now has syndicates of fraudsters who have embedded corrupt practices in the sector. Further, he noted that owing to the embedded corruption, the systems designed to detect fraud are now basically redundant and useless.

Beneficiaries of a project supporting victims of sexual exploitation and abuse in Sake, North Kivu province.Source New Humanitarian
Beneficiaries of a project supporting victims of sexual exploitation and abuse in Sake, North Kivu province.Source New Humanitarian

The taskforce’s funder DFID in a statement refused to comment on the findings from the leaked operation review. DFID said that its main role was to simply provide funding for the review as it is committed to tackling fraud and corruption. If any response is to come, then it will come when the final version is published. The final version is expected to be published later this month.

While the operational review has indeed shocked the whole of DRC and beyond, Charles Kenny, an International Aid analyst of the Center for Global Development said that the review alone can never expose how deep rooted the corruption is as the content of the review was drawn from just one side of the spectrum. Kenny said relying solely on anecdotal information “doesn’t allow for an estimate of how pervasive corruption is in humanitarian relief aid in the DRC.” He called for a follow up survey this time targeting intended recipients to ask what they actually received.

Charles Kenny’s sentiments were echoed by a senior UN official in Congo Diego Zorrilla who said the review is not exhaustive but gives “clues of what could be happening.”

Kalungu, a town in eastern Congo where thousands of displaced people are living, is one location where corrupt practices flourished.Photo credit The New Humanitarian
Kalungu, a town in eastern Congo where thousands of displaced people are living, is one location where corrupt practices flourished.Photo credit The New Humanitarian

Despite the damning exposes from the review, David McLachlan-Karr said that the UN will continue its humanitarian work in the DRC. The UN said it pledges to “carefully consider” the recommendations of an operational review and would do “everything possible to maintain…trust by fighting fraud, corruption and abuse at all levels.”

“We look forward to the publication of the final report and we will carefully consider any recommendations made to improve the performance of humanitarian aid in the DRC,” McLachlan-Karr said. He further went on to say that “It is not acceptable for aid to be diverted and not to reach those who need it. And sexual exploitation and abuse can never be tolerated.” ‘

*July issue of PAV Magazine

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TradeDepot secures additional $10M to transform the informal retail supply chain in Nigeria
July 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

New investment will enable access to credit for retailers and Africa expansion.

Lagos, Nigeria. 14 July 2020 – TradeDepot, the B2B eCommerce platform for consumer goods in Africa, has raised a further $10 million in a pre-Series B equity round co-led by Partech, International Finance Corporation, Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) and MSA Capital. This is in addition to the $3 million Series A led by Partech in 2018. TradeDepot will use the new investment to continue its integration of the fragmented informal retail supply chain in Nigeria, expand into other African cities and launch a suite of financial products and credit facilities, to support its retailers

Since its launch in 2016, TradeDepot has built a network of more than 40,000 micro retailers in Nigeria. Working with global distributors and manufacturers including Nestlé, Unilever, GB Foods and Danone, TradeDepot makes household supplies, such as milk, soap, detergent and other essentials more accessible and affordable for the informal urban retail networks it operates in. 

Retailers order and pay for goods using TradeDepot’s mobile apps (Android and Whatsapp), USSD or a toll-free number and have them delivered directly to their stores via the company’s fleet of vans and tricycles. They can also order stock and manage their inventory online, with a number of ways to pay, including digital payments and cash. For consumer goods brands, TradeDepot enables direct-to-retail distribution in the massive informal sector in some of Africa’s busiest cities. TradeDepot also provides a CRM and data management system that enables suppliers to plan and monitor their sales routes in real time, as well as gain invaluable insights into trade and retail data.  

Working with TradeDepot, retailers across Nigeria have increased their revenue and improved their business outcomes as a result of better access to products for their stores. One retailer grew the amount of sales transacted by more than 15x. Another retailer who was barely breaking even and had seen no real growth in 15 years was able to increase her net monthly margin by almost 100 percent monthly, hire three new employees and is now considering expansion.

Using data and analytics to inform better retail decision making at each stage of the supply chain, TradeDepot has recorded considerable growth since its launch, activating a new store every three minutes, and receiving a retailer order every 4 seconds, on average. The company has also tripled its volume of trade in the last 12 months.

Onyekachi Izukanne, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of TradeDepot says, “We are excited to strengthen our team and welcome on board some incredible strategic investors and partners, as we double down on our mission to digitize and simplify retail distribution for the continent. Africa’s offline retail market is estimated at $1 trillion, and this new investment allows us to capture an even greater segment of that market. We will continue to use data to drive efficiencies and provide an easier stock acquisition service for our 40,000+ retailers, driving down costs for them by negotiating even better deals with our global manufacturing partners, whilst simultaneously providing a better, faster route to market for our suppliers.”

In a bid to help retailers grow their businesses, TradeDepot is set to launch a suite of financial products and credit facilities. Many retailers do not have the collateral that banks demand but by leveraging their trading relationship with TradeDepot, retailers can access the funds they need to buy more goods, scale their businesses and generate more revenue.

Wale Ayeni, Head of Africa Venture Capital Investment at IFC adds, “TradeDepot is a rising star in the African internet landscape, helping digitize a substantial underserved informal retail segment, which is the pillar of economic growth in Africa. The founders’ vision to build a digital platform that

improves the unit economics of serving the mass-market is one that we feel privileged to support.”

More than 75 percent of the retailers on TradeDepot’s platform are female entrepreneurs and TradeDepot will offer mentorship and opportunities to link with domestic and global markets, to further support its predominantly female customer base to grow and expand their own businesses. 

Hanh Nam Nguyen, Program Manager, speaking on behalf of IFC as implementing partner of We-Fi, said, “Women play a pivotal role in driving economies across Africa, but lack of access to capital, limited market linkages, cultural norms and other challenges often prevent them from achieving the success they want. We-Fi financing will incentivize TradeDepot to build stronger women-led small and medium enterprises (SME) retailer and distributor networks, which will support them to become drivers of economic growth in their communities.”  

Tidjane Dème, General Partner at Partech said, “we are proud to continue our partnership with TradeDepot as they continue their work to transform the huge informal markets that are present in Africa. The founders have a wealth of experience that puts them in a great position to execute on their vision, and their approach and results to-date are why we are so excited by the extraordinary entrepreneurs harnessing the power of technology to address issues across the continent.”

Ben Harburg, Managing Partner at MSA Capital said, “TradeDepot is leading the digitization of informal enterprise across West Africa at the most critical touch point – the distribution and sale of essential foodstuffs by SME retailers – driving efficiency improvements, increased service offerings, and costs savings to both consumers and merchants.”

About TradeDepot

TradeDepot is an end-to-end distribution platform that aims to connect the world’s top consumer goods companies directly to retailers on the streets of Africa’s cities. With a network of over 40,000 micro retailers across Nigeria, TradeDepot’s aim is to build the largest retail distribution network in Africa. 

TradeDepot was founded in 2016, with a mission to improve milk distribution to smaller retailers on the continent, using technology. Today, the company is scaling the same technology to improve the distribution of food, beverages and personal care products to retailers, and to improve livelihoods for these retail store owners.

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S. Sudan: UNICEF delivers 5 M USD worth of supplies to curb Covid 19 Surge
July 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Dr Mohamed Ayoya,  UNICEF Representative in South Sudan
Dr Mohamed Ayoya, UNICEF Representative in South Sudan

Juba – UNICEF – South Sudan has procured and distributed supplies worth 5 million USD to help contain the spread of the virus in the world youngest country, the organization said today. 

The UN agency, supplies include personal protective equipment (PPE) for front line health workers, pharmaceuticals to treat symptoms among infected people, water, sanitation and hygiene commodities to prevent and control infections among households and in health facilities, as well as information, communication and educational materials to sensitize and engage local communities on preventive public health measures. 

However, South Sudan with a fragile health system, has recorded 2,113 cases of COVID 19 pandemic with 40 deaths.

“From supply shortages to transport constraints, COVID-19 has brought enormous challenges to our supply operations,” said Dr Mohamed Ayoya, the UNICEF Representative in South Sudan. “However, with support from our partners, we were able to meet the most pressing needs and to deliver the supplies crucial for our COVID-19 response.”

So far UNICEF has shipped gloves, tunics, surgical masks, boots and sanitizer for use as personal protective equipment (PPE) worth 810,000 USD. 

To help with the case management of infected people, UNICEF procured 40 oxygen concentrators, 3000 clinical thermometers, as well as 100,000 packs of paracetamol and 8,000 packs of oral rehydration salts for home-based symptomatic treatment for people with mild and moderate symptoms.

As prevention remains the most effective strategy in South Sudan to avoid the spread of the COVID 19, UNICEF has distributed nearly 50,000 face masks and continues to focus a major part of its supplies into producing and distributing banners, posters, leaflets and stickers with preventive messages. 

UNICEF has also already produced and distributed throughout the country 1 million A4 posters with key messages in English and in different local languages.

To ensure the quick production and dissemination of key information, communication and education materials and to reduce freight costs, UNICEF has favored production inside the country, including, most recently, 120,000 posters and leaflets on the proper use of face masks.

The engagement of local communities is crucial in containing the disease. To aid this, UNICEF procured 3,000 megaphones for social mobilisers who inform local communities about COVID-19 and distributed 750,000 bars of soap to promote hand washing within the communities.

“Supplies are essential for any humanitarian response to be effective”, said Dr Ayoya. “In the COVID-19 response we have set up with our partners and donors, our long-standing experience in South Sudan in procurement and distribution of supplies has proven to be an important asset. It allowed us to respond quickly and effectively to the specific challenges raised by the virus.”

Since the first case of COVID 19 was confirmed in restive country until today, the UN agencies, include others international organizations had been supported the youngest nation that emerged from the five year conflict with financial and materials to curtail the spread of deadly disease.

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DFC to Launch Regional Team Based in Africa
July 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

Africa Investment Advisor Program will help expand DFC’s engagement on the continent.

The new advisors will complement and enhance our deal teams at U.S. embassies across the continent to create more opportunities for U.S. and African companies says Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Tibor Nagy.

WASHINGTON – U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) today announced that it is launching the Africa Investment Advisor Program, which establishes a regional team based in Africa. The team will equip DFC to more proactively advance investments and expand its portfolio in this priority region, particularly as Africa continues to respond to both the health and economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The launch of this team at a time when many investors are skittish about emerging markets underscores DFC’s commitment to Africa,” said DFC Managing Director for Africa Worku Gachou. “Now more than ever Africa needs private sector investment. DFC continues to see significant opportunity on the continent and is eager to leverage its new regional footprint to unlock that potential.”

“The deployment of DFC investment advisors to Africa advances one of our top priorities: increasing trade and investment between the United States and Africa,” said Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Tibor Nagy. “The new advisors will complement and enhance our deal teams at U.S. embassies across the continent to create more opportunities for U.S. and African companies.”

The new regional team will consist of investment advisors based across East Africa, West Africa, Southern Africa, and the Horn of Africa. The advisors will be charged with sourcing investment opportunities across the continent, working alongside U.S. embassies and USAID missions, and supporting DFC colleagues in Washington by providing on-the-ground project due diligence and monitoring.

The launch of this team at a time when many investors are skittish about emerging markets underscores DFC’s commitment to Africa,” said DFC Managing Director for Africa Worku Gachou

The positions will be funded by the U.S. Department of State and contracted through CrossBoundary, which was competitively awarded the program contract. CrossBoundary is an impact-driven investment and advisory firm with a long track-record in Sub-Saharan Africa and frontier markets globally.

The announcement comes at an especially critical time as COVID-19 continues to impact communities across Africa, where cumulative loss to GDP due to the pandemic is estimated to be as much as $236 billion by 2021. DFC can play a powerful role on the continent as commercial capital flees emerging markets across the world in response to the uncertainty of the pandemic.

To submit an Africa-specific project proposal for investment consideration, email africa@dfc.gov.

Africa is a leading DFC priority: the agency currently has roughly $8 billion invested across more than 300 projects on the continent. These investments are building critical infrastructure; expanding access to healthcare, energy, and technology; and advancing financial inclusion, particularly for small businesses and women entrepreneurs. Africa is also the focus of multiple DFC initiatives including Connect Africa2X Africa, and its Health and Prosperity Initiative.

DFC’s efforts in Africa also advance the Administration’s Prosper Africa initiative, which aims to channel the tools and resources of the U.S. Government to substantially increase two-way trade and investment between the U.S. and Africa. In February, President Donald J. Trump selected DFC Chief Executive Officer Adam Boehler to serve as Executive Chairman of the initiative.

U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) is America’s development bank. DFC partners with the private sector to finance solutions to the most critical challenges facing the developing world today. We invest across sectors including energy, healthcare, critical infrastructure, and technology. DFC also provides financing for small businesses and women entrepreneurs in order to create jobs in emerging markets. DFC investments adhere to high standards and respect the environment, human rights, and worker rights.

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Meckanzy reaches out to West Africa’s youth to support the development of digital marketing capabilities
July 14, 2020 | 0 Comments
Donald Meckanzy President, Meckanzy INC.
Free virtual training and job opportunity.

Meckanzy Inc. today announced a free professional complete digital marketing training opportunity. It is a virtual training that will last for six (6) weeks, and cover copy writing, content creation, SEO, Facebook marketing, LinkedIn marketing, and many more areas needed to grow any business online effectively from scratch. The free professional digital marketing training also seeks to provide part-time employment opportunities as well as a certificate for those who may be interested in working with a fast-growing multinational company to serve her international clients.

“We are passionate about investing in people now because this is in time for them to make a lot of profit in the coming Christmas holiday season sales and beyond,” says Queen Benson, Quality Control Lead at Meckanzy. More so, due to the massive job loss during the pandemic, this skill training will aid many in earning a living.

Features and benefits of the free digital marketing training:
It is 100% Free.
Learn at your own pace for 1 – 2 hours per week.
Get certified from a fast-growing multinational company.
Secure a part-time job with us.
The application is ongoing and will end on the 20th of July, 2020. To apply visit: www.Meckanzy.com/careers

About Meckanzy:
Meckanzy is a fast-growing multinational marketing company aimed at giving a market share to our clients in their regions and industries.
*SOURCE Meckanzy
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Investment in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Infrastructure and Energy is Paramount: Africa Oil & Power 2021 DRC Investment Summit Launches
July 14, 2020 | 0 Comments
The DRC has one of Africa’s largest and most diverse endowments of mineral resources and a need to develop infrastructure nationwide.

Kinshasa will welcome a broad base of international and African investors to the first ever DRC Energy & Infrastructure Investment Summit, organized by Africa Oil & Power (AOP) , in 2021; the African Energy Chamber is a strategic launch partner and AOP will draw on its network in China, Europe and across Africa, including South Africa, to promote investment in oil and gas, power, mining and infrastructure; the DRC has one of Africa’s largest and most diverse endowments of mineral resources and a need to develop infrastructure nationwide. The event will highlight projects across all areas of the country.

Africa Oil & Power (AOP) is launching the Democratic Republic of Congo’s first ever DRC Energy & Infrastructure Investment Summit on 8-9 September 2021. With unrealized potential across all areas of the economy, the DRC’s development requires massive investment. AOP welcomes Chinese, European and African energy, mining, construction and power companies to the country.

AOP will be producing a special edition Africa Energy Series: DRC 2020 report this year, to examine the projects and sectors of most interest to the participants in the summit. The briefing will be distributed to AOP’s web, social, event and media audience of over 100,000 individuals.

In the petroleum industry, the DRC may hold around 20 billion barrels of undiscovered oil. Natural gas, when discovered and developed, could power the emerging economy as it has done in numerous African countries over the last decade. Exploration for oil and gas in the DRC has barely begun. In the mining sector, already the mainstay of the economy, the DRC presents an unrivalled opportunity on the African continent. Infrastructure, including support for extractive industries and civil engineering projects, is required on a national scale to link and uplift projects and populations, and bridge international frontiers.

“The scale of the challenge and the breadth and scale of the opportunity is unique on the African continent. AOP will be working with the government and private sector to showcase the projects and initiatives where investment can be most impactful,” said James Chester, Acting CEO of AOP. “The DRC targets universal power access by 2050, up from 9% now, and has just scratched the surface of its hydrocarbon potential, with 25,000 barrels per day of oil production. To build capacity and create more value in-country from its resources, infrastructure investment is essential.”

In producing the DRC Energy & Infrastructure Investment Summit, AOP is committed to bringing FDI to the DRC and to facilitating the plans of the new administration, in place since 2019, as well as actors such as the African Development Bank, the World Bank and others, in raising access to electricity, capacity building and creating jobs. AOP invites cross-sector collaboration between logistics, power, oil and gas, mining, engineering and construction firms to bring new solutions and enable growth in the DRC.
*SOURCE Africa Oil & Power Conference
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Africa Road Builders Babacar Ndiaye Trophy 2020: Egyptian president to receive Great Road Builder Award
July 14, 2020 | 0 Comments
Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara and African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina awarded special prizes.

Egyptian president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi was awarded the Babacar Ndiaye Great Road Builder Award it was announced Monday, a distinction for heads of state whose countries initiate outstanding projects or achievements in relation to the development of roads, transportation and mobility.

Al Sisi was recognized for his “personal leadership” in the development and construction of projects in Cairo such as the Heliopolis metro station, as well as a suspension bridge project on the Nile, George Orido, a spokesman for the selection committee of the Africa Road Builders said during a virtual inaugural meeting of the group, which saw global participation.

Each year, the Africa Road Builders Conference brings together representatives and stakeholders from the road and transport sectors to promote the development of roads, transport and mobility in Africa. This year’s theme is “Roads and transport to improve the quality of life of people in Africa.”

For their “remarkable contribution in the area of road infrastructure and connectivity,” Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara and African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina, were also awarded special prizes, Orido said.  

Presentation of the awards will take place during the final conference of the Africa Road Builders, organized every year on the sidelines of the Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank.

Speaking on behalf of Adesina, Solomon Quaynor, the Bank’s Vice President, Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization thanked the conference organizers for recognising the Bank’s role in road infrastructure on the continent.

“Road transportation is a critical enabler for productivity and sustainable socio-economic growth. Over the past 12 years, the Bank has financed more than $8 billion of regional transport projects. As a result, close to 13,000 km of regional highways have been built on 17 road corridors, along with 26 one-stop border post facilities,” Quaynor said.

Panelists at the event also included Prof. Carlos Lopes, President of the Bureau of the Conference, Ivorian Pierre Demba, Director General of AGERoute –Ivory Coast’s road management agency, Raoul Jaquand, Vice-President Strategic Business Developments and Partnerships for Africa Assault System, and Emile Fort, West Africa Manger for Lumiplan.

Fouad Safer, Director of Transport and Infrastructure Studies at the National Bureau of Studies and Development (BNETD) in Côte d’Ivoire said the challenges to be met, included the balance between the development of cities in Africa and that of transport, the promotion of professionalization of transport, renewal of vehicle fleets, promotion and restructuring of transport networks.

“There is an urgency to have new generation of mass transport to improve the quality of life of our populations,” Safer said.

Mamadou Faye, administrator of the Senegalese Autonomous Road Maintenance Fund (FERA) said: “Road infrastructure is the most expensive capital in Africa. Without proper and timely maintenance, the roads deteriorate. So it’s not just about building, it’s also about maintaining, having a funding model for road maintenance. In addition, we must invest in mass transport and innovation. It’s fundamental to improve performance.”

The awards were inspired by Babacar Ndiaye who was president of the Bank from 1985 to 1995. Each year the Africa Road Builders Selection Committee carefully evaluates ambitious and concrete projects that have a real impact on the mobility of populations.

The Africa Road Builders Babacar Ndiaye Trophy is organized by Acturoutes, an information platform on infrastructure and roads in Africa, and the organization Medias for infrastructures and finance in Africa (MIFA), a network of African journalists specializing in road infrastructure. The selection committee is made up of representatives of the media from the five regions of the continent on the basis of media and expert reports on issues related to roads, transport and sustainable development.

*AFDB
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US-Africa Energy Advisory Committee to Push Energy Dialogue and Investment
July 14, 2020 | 0 Comments
C. Derek Campbell, CEO, Energy & Natural Resource Security, Inc.
C. Derek Campbell, CEO, Energy & Natural Resource Security, Inc.
The members of the US-Africa Committee gather several decades of experience in government and the private sector from both sides of the Atlantic.

The African Energy Chamber has appointed a US-Africa Committee to serve on its Advisory Board and support the development of stronger energy cooperation and investment between the United States and Africa. Serving in their personal capacities, the members of the US-Africa Committee gather several decades of experience in government and the private sector from both sides of the Atlantic, and share a passion for Africa and its development. They include:

Reginal “Reg”​ Spiller, CEO, Azimuth Energy Investments LLC
Kola Karim, CEO, Shoreline Energy International
Rogers Beall, Executive Chairman and CEO, Africa Fortesa Corporation
Jude Kearney, President, Kearney Africa
C. Derek Campbell, CEO, Energy & Natural Resource Security, Inc.
Alicia Robinson-Morgan, Managing Director for Africa, Millenium Challenge Corporation
Akinwole Omoboriowo II, Chairman and CEO, Genesis Energy Group
Ann Norman, General Manager – Africa, Pioneer Energy
R. Dean Foreman, Chief Economist, American Petroleum Institute

The African Energy Chamber truly believes that the potential for capital, expertise and technology transfers between the US and Africa is under-exploited. While Power Africa remains to date the most successful initiative to develop Africa’s energy sector by tapping into American capital and technology, more can be done in light of the continent’s continued energy poverty.

From exploration to gas infrastructure, and from power technology to energy funding, the United States remain a global leader that has much to bring to Africa under the right partnerships and joint-ventures that can support local content development and jobs creation.

“The largest but also most recent discoveries in Africa were made by bold and capable American companies who have proven time and again that betting on Africa bears fruits. At times when the continent seeks to develop much stronger gas value chains and attract investment into midstream and downstream infrastructure, we need to look back at the United States and develop stronger partnerships. As Africa embraces energy transition, a substantial part of the capital needed to develop cleaner energy solutions also lies with American companies and institutions,” declared Nj Ayuk, Executive Chairman at the African Energy Chamber.

The US-Africa Committee is the first committee on the African Energy Chamber’s Advisory Board to be announced. The Chamber has put together leading industry experts, executives and public representatives to support several initiatives over the course of 2020 and 2021, such as local content development, natural gas and energy transitions, the promotion of an enabling environment and the expansion of exploration activities.

*African Energy Chamber

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Centurion hires new Business Development Manager to lead its European expansion
July 13, 2020 | 0 Comments
Paloma Gutiérrez Keever
Paloma brings years of experience as a legal marketing consultant advising leading European and Latin American law firms on their communications and marketing strategies.

German based on demand legal firm has appointed Paloma Gutiérrez Keever to support the firm’s lawyer on-demand offering, Centurion Plus, in Europe. From our Frankfurt office, Paloma will be supporting the growth of Centurion (https://CenturionLG.com) with a focus on Germany. She will be instrumental in growing partnerships with European firms, corporations and increasing the firm’s presence across Western and Eastern Europe.

Paloma brings years of experience as a legal marketing consultant advising leading European and Latin American law firms on their communications and marketing strategies. Having worked with the most prestigious legal publishers in Europe, Paloma understands the shifting dynamics behind the practice of law in the 21st century. She will be instrumental in diversifying Centurion’s offering and growing the firm’s practice across Germany, where Centurion has had an office since 2019. 

“Our model has been very successful in reshaping the legal advisory industry. It was almost inevitable to expand into Germany and Europe. Flexible legal services are undeniably the future of practicing law and with Paloma joining the team, the opportunities are endless. Embracing change and the ability to adapt thereto is a golden thread at Centurion. We are extremely excited to welcome Paloma to the team and we look forward to her contribution in not only expanding but also elevating the Centurion Plus model in a very competitive European market,” said Leon van der Merwe, Director of Centurion Plus. 

“The German market was always a key market in our plans to expand our CenturionPlus model. Naturally, this is a very important move for us at the Firm, and for the growth of on-demand legal services in the world. We could not be more excited to have someone as experienced as Paloma on board to drive this initiative and further cement our brand in Germany and Europe,” stated Oneyka Ojogbo, Team Lead, Centurion International AG.

Paloma has an MSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics and a Bachelor’s degree in Media and Communications from Goldsmiths College, University of London. In 2017, she completed a copyright law certificate with Harvard University. 

With more than 160 lawyers, Centurion Plus platform is providing flexible solutions to clients that address mounting workloads and budgetary constraints. Centurion Plus is a platform which provides on-demand-lawyers that can work with clients on site or remotely, on various flexible models such as secondments, special projects, rotational work or flexible support. Clients also get the benefit of expertise at a far more competitive rate that reflects the significantly lower overhead costs of this model.

*SOURCE.Centurion Law Group
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Abbott Laboratories must understand that Africa has changed especially with Covid 19
July 13, 2020 | 0 Comments
Abbott Laboratories miscalculated the situation believing that they were dealing with the old Africa where there would be no consequences for their reprehensible actions.

When Centurion Law Group decided to take on this matter against Abbott laboratories, we knew the classic misrepresentation and bullying will come.

We are not surprised at Abbott’s assertion that it is unaware of claims arising out of the company wilfully breaching contracts, failure to deliver Covid test kits, using politically exposed persons to circumvent contracts with suppliers (serious compliance violations), and, ultimately, preventing African governments from helping the poor at this critical time.

Abbott acknowledged receipt of the lead claimants’ initial notice with respect to its dealings in two African countries on 19 June 2020, through Bassem Bibi, Vice President & General Manager, Abbott Rapid Diagnostics EM Africa, and is now in receipt of notices with respect to claims amounting to over US$50 million in 3 countries, with other claims currently being consolidated. (https://bit.ly/2DtHNIu)

At this stage, we are not taking more claims off the table and there is no reason not to seek punitive damages, even in African courts. This is bigger than a client, suppliers and governments. African lives do matter and do count. Abbott Laboratories miscalculated the situation believing that they were dealing with the old Africa where there would be no consequences for their reprehensible actions. It’s a new day and a new generation. 

The countries needing these supplies have a population with an average age of 22 years. Most of them are healthy with strong immune systems and therefore there is a significant number of asymptomatic cases of Covid-19. Only widespread testing could curb transmission of the virus, by confirming the positive cases and treating new cases in order to stop contamination and deaths that could be avoided if test kits were available.

They accepted the orders from African states and instead focused on delivering the kits to other jurisdictions once they got the products from China. Abbott Laboratories understands more than anyone that this is wrong. We do not take this case lightly because African Lives do Matter, especially when it comes to the fight against Covid 19.

While we will not comment further on the substance of the case, we will continue to use every legal means to get justice and to hold Abbott Laboratories accountable.

*SOURCE Centurion Law Group
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Cameroon: ABA Centre for Human Rights, CHRDA trains Lawyers, HR Advocates on Trial Observation
July 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

The two days training in Buea focused on Regional and international Fair Trial standards.
The two days training in Buea focused on Regional and international Fair Trial standards.

Lawyers and human rights advocates drew from Bamenda, Buea, Douala, Kumba, Limbe, Tiko, and Yaoundé converged in Buea for two days training on Trial Observation on Regional and international Fair Trial standards.

The event which took place July 10 and 11 was an initiative of the American Bar Association Centre for Human Rights, in partnership with the Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA).

The two days event was aimed at edifying lawyers and human rights advocates on fair trial monitoring while following international standards. It was co-facilitated by Barrister Nkongho Felix Agbor, who is vice president of the African Bar Association in Charge of Central Africa and former president of the Fako Lawyers Association (FAKLA), and Barrister Nkea Emmanuel, who has over 15 years in practice and has served as Judge in the courts of the Gambia.

To Barrister Nkongho fair trial constitutes fundamental tenets of any democratic society, through which other rights may also be realized.  This definition was drawn from the decision of the African Commission on Human Peoples Right (ACHPR) in the case of Kevin Mwanga Gunme et al v. Cameroon, May 2009). This was a Cameroonian case that went before the ACHPR in which the standards for a fair trial were set.  

Barrister Nkongho stated that the ICCPR is one of the most important legal instrument used by human rights advocates to demand a fair trial and justice. He also mentioned regional legal instruments such as the African Charter on Human and Peoples Right (ACHPR) and encouraged the lawyers and human rights advocates to master the laws and such provisions in their day to day work and in issuing statements so that they are well informed of which right is violated when monitoring trials.

Bar. Nkea Emmanuel on his part began his presentation with a statement ‘fairness means getting justice and justice means getting peace’. To him, if everyone is treated fairly and equally, there would be no chaos in society and everyone will be at peace with each other.

As per the preamble of the constitution, he noted three elements; a) that everyone has right on arrest and Detention, b) Assistance of Legal Counsel, c) Rights of the Accused Person.  He also reiterated to the lawyers that as human rights advocates, it is important to know the provisions of the law which can be cited when a right is violated.

To the lawyers, one of the most serious problems faced in court is the problem of language and interpretation. Everything at the military tribunal as well as at the level of the national gendarmerie is done in the French language, and lawyers, as well as their clients of the English speaking extraction, cannot understand or communicate in French. They also noted that the space provided in prisons for lawyers to meet their clients is too small and some times more than 5 lawyers are meeting 5 different clients in one spot and the issue of confidentiality between the accused and his legal counsel becomes difficult.

In the words of Barrister Awungjia Tets from Buea, “it was my pleasure to have been part of this great initiative. I thank the organizers and the facilitators (Bar. NKongho Felix and Bar. Nkea Emmanuel) like Oliver Twist, I shall be waiting for more to come.”

Bar. Nkongme Dorcas from Yaoundé expressed her gratitude in similar words by stating that “I want to thank the organizers and facilitators for the rich knowledge shared with us, God bless you”.

Concluding, Barrister Nkongho stated that 25 lawyers, human rights defenders and trial observers from all over Cameroon have been trained to monitor and report on the conduct of trials in Courts in their communities to ensure that justice is not only done but should be seen to be done. This would help do away with the public perception that there is no justice in the country, as a judge who knows that he is being monitored for every action or decision he takes in Court would do only what is right.

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