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Tillerson highlights sub-Saharan security challenges ahead of Africa visit
March 7, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Laura Koran*

U.S.Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

U.S.Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

(CNN)Secretary of State Rex Tillerson emphasized the real and potential threats posed by extremist groups in sub-Saharan Africa in a wide-ranging speech Tuesday, which centered on the administration’s plans to help African governments strengthen their institutions and governance.

Speaking at George Mason University just hours before he heads to the region for his first official visit, Tillerson spoke of the immense challenges and opportunities presented by huge population growth in Africa, which could threaten global security in the decades ahead.
“The growing population of young people, if left without jobs and a hope for the future, will create new ways for terrorists to exploit the next generation, subverting stability and derailing democratic governments,” said Tillerson. “Leaders will be challenged to innovate to manage limited financial resources they have.”
He recalled the attacks on the US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in the late 1990s and more recent attacks, such as those perpetrated by Boko Haram in Nigeria. He further pointed to the threat posed by ISIS and al Qaeda-affiliated groups on the continent.
“To prevail against such evil forces, the United States has committed to working with African partners to rid the continent and the world of terrorism by addressing drivers of conflict that lead to radicalization and recruitment in the first place, and building the institutional law enforcement capacity of African nations,” said Tillerson. “We want to help African states provide security for their citizens in a lawful manner.”
He praised the role the African Union and G5 Sahel Group have taken on the security and counterterrorism front. Last year, Tillerson pledged $60 million from the US to the G5 security force.
Tillerson said a central pillar of the Trump administration’s policy toward Africa is to make its countries “more resilient and more self-sufficient” to meet this challenge.
“The United States’ role in these and other regional and multilateral efforts is to build capacity — not dependency — so our partners can provide for their own security. That’s true of our approach to peacekeeping on the continent as well,” said Tillerson.
In his speech, Tillerson announced nearly $533 million in additional humanitarian assistance “to fight famine and food insecurity, and address other needs resulting from conflicts in Somalia, South Sudan, Ethiopia and the Lake Chad Basin.”
“The American people, as we always have been, are there to partner with African countries to ensure their most vulnerable populations receive life-saving assistance,” said Tillerson. “However, this assistance will not solve these ongoing conflicts, but only buy us time — time to pursue diplomatic solutions.”
Tillerson’s visit to the region is an opportunity for him to strengthen the administration’s relationships with leaders on the continent, some of whom were openly disturbed by President Donald Trump’s reported disparaging remarks in January about African countries and Haiti.

Many African countries ‘holding back’ on North Korea

Tillerson also spoke of the administration’s peaceful pressure campaign targeting North Korea, stressing — as he often does — the need to ensure the campaign is global in nature.
“North Korea threatens the entire global community through its unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile programs and proliferation activities, including its arms exports to Africa,” said Tillerson. “It doesn’t just involve our allies in Europe or Asia. It doesn’t just include countries with longstanding ties to the DPRK, like China and Russia. This is and must be a global effort.”
“Nations in Africa need to do more,” said Tillerson, noting that “many African nations are holding back.”
Governments across Africa have been conducting business with the rogue regime in Pyongyang for many years, recently attracting the attention of the United Nations Panel of Experts on North Korea.
The State Department has been pushing these governments to cut trade, military and diplomatic ties with North Korea, using a mix of carrots and sticks. Last year, for example, Sudan pledged not to pursue future arms deals with Pyongyang after the US government suggested such sales were standing in the way of major sanctions relief.

Threat posed by corruption and China

Tillerson ended his remarks with an appeal to African governments to tackle the threat posed by corruption and bad governance.
“Bribes and corruption keep people in poverty, they encourage inequality and undercut citizens’ faith in government” said Tillerson. “Legitimate investment stays away, and insecurity and instability grows, creating conditions ripe for terrorism and conflict.”
Tillerson also took aim at China, which has been investing heavily on the continent and is constructing its first overseas military base in Djibouti.
“The United States pursues sustainable growth that bolsters institutions, strengthens the rule of law and builds the capacity of African countries to stand on their own two feet,” said Tillerson. “This stands in stark contrast to China’s approach, which encourages dependency — using opaque contracts, predatory loan practices and corrupt deals that mire nations in debt and undercut their sovereignty, denying them the long-term, self-sustaining growth.”
“Chinese investment does have the potential to address Africa’s infrastructure gap, but its approach has led to mounting debt and few if any jobs in most countries,” he added. “When coupled with political and fiscal pressure, this endangers Africa’s natural resources and its long-term economic and political stability.”
*Culled from CNN
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United States Announces Additional Humanitarian Assistance for African Countries Facing Severe Food Insecurity
March 7, 2018 | 0 Comments
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson greets participants during a meeting of African leaders at the State Department in Washington

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson greets participants during a meeting of African leaders at the State Department in Washington

Today, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced nearly $533 million in humanitarian assistance for the people of Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, and Nigeria, as well as countries in the Lake Chad region, where millions are facing life-threatening food insecurity and malnutrition as a result of ongoing conflict or prolonged drought.  While humanitarian aid is truly life-saving, this assistance will not solve these crises, most of which are largely manmade.

With this new funding from the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, the United States is providing emergency food and nutrition assistance to help vulnerable populations, including tens of thousands of tons of in-kind food aid.  Additionally, the funding supports safe drinking water programs, emergency health care and hygiene programs to treat and prevent the spread of disease, and reunification of families separated by conflict.  This assistance also includes life-saving medical supplies, improved sanitation, and emergency shelter, and prioritizes programs that protect vulnerable groups.

Of the newly announced funds, nearly $184 million is for affected populations from South Sudan, more than $110 million for affected populations from Ethiopia, more than $110 million for affected populations from Somalia, and more than $128 million for affected populations from Nigeria and countries in the Lake Chad region.

In the Lake Chad region and South Sudan, years of conflict have led to acute food insecurity.  In Somalia, ongoing violence has exacerbated the humanitarian impacts of severe and protracted drought.  In Ethiopia, continued drought has worsened an already dire food security situation.  A swift influx of U.S. assistance, along with that of other donors, is helping improve humanitarian conditions in all of these countries.  But ultimately it is up to the leaders in these countries, particularly in South Sudan, to stop the violence and put the welfare of their citizens at the forefront of their actions.  Millions will continue to be at risk as long as parties to these conflicts continue to engage in violence.  The United States calls on all parties to allow aid workers safe and unhindered access to help communities in need.

The United States is the largest donor of humanitarian assistance for these crises in Africa, providing nearly $3 billion since the beginning of Fiscal Year 2017.  We commend the humanitarian contributions made by all donors, and encourage additional contributions to meet growing needs.

*State Department

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Top 10 Breathtaking Landmarks and Natural Wonders in Africa
March 6, 2018 | 0 Comments

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The African renaissance monument in Dakar,Senegal

The African renaissance monument in Dakar,Senegal

Africa is referred to as the cradle of mankind and a continent of cultural diversity. Some of the world’s most famous natural wonders and man-made phenomena are found on the continent. Here are a few breathtaking natural attractions and landmarks in Africa you should know about.

10. Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Mount Kilimanjaro is considered to be one of the tallest mountains in the world. This natural phenomenon is approximately 19,341 feet (Link 1) above sea level. The free-standing mountain is located in Tanzania and near the Kilimanjaro National Park which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site member. The mountain is a stratovolcano that began forming in layers of hardened volcanic ash about a million years ago. The last volcanic activity occurred some 200 years back. Thousands of tourists visit Mount Kilimanjaro every year and most visitors engage in hiking. The first people to ascend to the top of the mountain were geographer Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtscheller. Kilimanjaro is known as one of Africa’s ice-capped mountains and it takes approximately 6-8 nights to ascend the mountain.

Kilimanjaro is photo-friendly so please do not forget your camera for capturing memorable moments. After hiking, visitors can treat themselves to some fine East African cuisines served at various restaurants and hotels.

9. Table Mountain, Cape Town

The Table Mountain is a flat-topped mountain overlooking the city of Cape Town in South Africa. The highest point is 3,563 feet above sea level and the mountain is one of the most photographed places in the world. The natural wonder continues to attract millions of visitors from around the world.

Most people enjoy partaking in hiking to the top of the mountain.
Antonio de Saldanha was the first person (Link 2) to hike and reach the mountain peak in 1503. In addition, Saldanha named the mountain Taboa do Cabo which means Table of the Cape. Visitors who choose not to hike can use the cableway transport system which was first established in 1929. The transport system has the capacity to carry about 60 people. The mountain is believed to be one of the oldest in the world with rocks that are approximately 600 million years old. The types of animals found on the phenomena are snakes, birds, porcupines, lizards, and frogs. The plant life is mostly endemic and approximately 2,200 species of plants are found on the mountain.

8. The Fish River Canyon, Namibia

The Fish River Canyon is located in the south of Namibia close to the border of South Africa. The canyon gets its name from the Fish River in Namibia. The river is the longest in the country at approximately 403 miles making it one of the longest in Africa. The canyon formed through wind and water erosion with the help of tectonic plate movements.

The natural phenomenon stretches for 100 miles and approximately 550 meters (Link 3) deep. The formation is the second largest canyon in the world behind the Grand Canyon. The animal life includes zebras, leopards, scorpions, baboons and birds. Archeologists have found evidence of human existence dating back 50,000 years ago. The canyon is one of southern Africa’s most popular hiking trails with thousands of people visiting each year. Between the months of May to September, visitors can safely and comfortably hike the canyon. The river is seasonal and only flows from January to April.

7. The Sahara Desert, North Africa

This desert is the third largest in the world and stretches for approximately 3.6 million square miles across North Africa. Can you guess the name of this landmark? The Sahara desert has sand dunes that reach up to 590 feet in height making it a massive sea of soil. The desert covers parts of Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Sudan and Tunisia. The natural wonder is home to different animal species like cheetahs, scorpions, and camels among others.

The Sahara is made up of sand seas, sand dunes, stone plateaus, gravel plains, mountains, rivers, oases and dry valleys. The daytime temperatures are as high as 86 and 100 Fahrenheit respectively. Strong winds called the sirocco (Link 4) originate in the Sahara with winds blowing at 62 miles per hour. A dry landmark, the desert only receives about 3.9 inches of rain per year.

Despite the extremely dry conditions, plants and trees are still found in the Sahara. Acacia trees and palms are able to survive high temperatures. The first European explorers to tour the Sahara were Friedrich Horneman in 1805 and Mungo Park in 1806.

6. Pyramid of Giza, Egypt

Believed to be one of the most magnificent man-made structures in history, the Pyramid of Giza stands tall on the outskirts of Cairo. After approximately 4000 years, the pyramid is still generating debate as to who built the historical landmark. Approximately 2.3 million blocks of stone averaging about 2.5 tons each (Link 5) had to be cut and assembled to build the pyramid. The sides of the pyramid’s base average about 755.75 feet and a height of 481.4 feet. The phenomenon was constructed for Khufu who was the second of the eight kings of the fourth Egyptian dynasty.

The pyramid was used to bury Egyptian kings and establish a tradition. The angled sides symbolizing the rays of the sun meant to help the king’s soul ascend to heaven. To properly care for the king’s spirit, the corpse would be mummified and the body would be buried with everything it needed in the afterlife.

According to Greek historian named Herodotus, it took about 20 years to build the Pyramid of Giza and a workforce of 100,000 men. In recent years, archeological evidence has indicated that it took the labor of about 20,000 people. The pyramid continues to attract millions of visitors from around the world each year.

5. Kano City Walls, Nigeria

Built in order to provide security for a growing population, the Kano City Walls are an 8.69-mile radius man-made structure in northern Nigeria. Sakri Gijimasu initiated (Link 6) the construction of the walls from 1095-1134. The walls were completed in the middle of the 14th century during the reign of Zamnagawa. The man-made structure had gates that controlled the movement of people in and out of the city. Built using mud bricks and logs of wood, the walls stood at a height of about 50 feet after construction. Archeologists visit the walls to conduct research each year and make ground-breaking discoveries.

The Kano City Walls are a major tourist destination welcoming people from all around the world.

4.The Nile River

(Photo by Antonio RIBEIRO/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Africa is home to one of the longest rivers in the world. The Nile River is the world’s longest with a length of about 4,132 miles and spreading across an area of about 1,293,000 (Link 7) square miles. The Nile waters flow at an average of about 79.2 billion gallons per day.
The river basin includes parts of Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi, Uganda, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Egypt. The river is formed by three streams which are the Blue Nile, White Nile, and the Atbara. In ancient times, the Nile helped in the advancement of civilizations and transportation that made trade easy.

The Nile contains different species of snakes, hippopotamus, rhinoceroses and crocodiles. The name ‘Nile’ originates from the Greek word ‘neilos’ which means river. Millions of people visit parts of the Nile to take pictures, ride on boats and for sightseeing.

3. African Renaissance Monument, Senegal

(Kite Aerial Photography)

Located on a hill in Dakar, is a bronze statue overlooking Senegal’s capital city. The African renaissance monument stands tall at a height of 160 feet(Link 8) and represents the importance of family in African culture. The statue which was inaugurated in 2010 shows a man holding his child and a woman. The child points ahead indicating Africa’s glorious future, while the woman extends her arm behind to indicate the continent’s troubled past. A man with a bare chest torso holds the child in one arm while guiding the woman with the other arm.

The statue was designed by a Senegalese architect named Pierre Goudiaby Atepa and co-signed by former Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade. Today, the architectural masterpiece continues to attract visitors from all parts of the world. The must-visit monument contains conference rooms, cultural exhibitions and a floor at the top of the statue that allows visitors a bird’s eye view of the Atlantic Ocean.

2. Great Zimbabwe Ruins, Zimbabwe

Magnificent stone ruins of an African city are found in the southeastern part of Zimbabwe and situated about 19 miles from the town of Masvingo. The Great Zimbabwe ruins were built in the 11th century and were home to a population of about 20,000 local Shona people.
The construction of the ruins was carried out using granite boulders and rectangular rock blocks. The walls have a width of about 20 feet and a height of 36 feet (Link 9). In addition, the monument was built using no mortar but the large granite boulders are still stacked together after thousands of years.

The ruins are divided into three main areas which are the Hill Complex, the Great Enclosure, and the Valley Ruins. Soapstone figurines in the form of a bird were found at the ruins and later became a national symbol found on the country’s flag. Items like gold, Chinese porcelain, and metal ornaments provide evidence that Great Zimbabwe was engaged in extensive trade with other nations. The ruins became a national monument and selected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site member in 1986.

  1. Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda

The continent of Africa is blessed with numerous national parks and a variety of animal species. The Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda is located where the Nile runs through a narrow gorge that becomes a river. The park was established in 1952 and occupies an area of about 1,483 square miles.

The park contains a variety of vegetation comprised of savannah, woodland and riverine forests. In addition, the park is home to Africa’s “big five” animals which include elephants, buffalos, rhinos, lions, and leopards.

The nature wonder is halved by the Nile River and the falls are 120 feet in height and 23 feet wide. In addition, the water pours over the falls at a speed of around 11,000 cubic feet per second. Visitors can enjoy sailing on a boat or hiking.
Famous people who have visited the park include Prime Minister Winston Churchill and

President Theodore Roosevelt. Churchill described the park as “Kew Gardens (Link 10) and the zoo combined on an unlimited scale.”

*Previously published in All Black Media

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African broadband operators increase investment to meet soaring data demand
March 6, 2018 | 0 Comments
An urgent requirement for new investment into telecom and broadband infrastructure in Africa is driving a fresh flurry of deal activity across the continent, says TMT Finance
CAPE TOWN, South Africa, March 5, 2018/ — An urgent requirement for new investment into telecom and broadband infrastructure in Africa is driving a fresh flurry of mergers, acquisitions, IPOs, investment and financing activity, as the region’s key players jostle for position to meet the soaring demand for data across the continent, says global news provider, TMT Finance (www.TMTFinance.com).

Joseph d’Arrast, EMEA Editor, TMT Finance said: “The continent’s growth in the digital economy and the rising demand for data is helping to boost investor confidence in major broadband projects, of which there are many currently underway or in the pipeline. In response to this, many telcos, investors and specialised operators are looking to plough significant amounts of money into key projects, with a number of IPOs, new capex financing and M&A also in the pipeline,” he added.

To discuss the next wave of opportunities, chief executives and leading heads of finance and strategy from Africa’s key broadband infrastructure companies, private equity investors and telecom operators are meeting on a dedicated panel at TMT Finance Africa in Cape Town 2018 (www.TMTFinance.com/capetown) on March 15.

The TMT Broadband Infrastructure panel, which will discuss strategies for regional growth, includes: Nic Rudnick, CEO, Liquid Telecom; Brandon Doyle, CEO, Convergence Partners; Byron Clatterbuck, CEO, SEACOM; Brian Jakins, Managing Director of Africa, Intelsat; and Thomas Hintze, CEO, Wananchi Telecom; and will be chaired by Keith Webb, Investment Banking, Infrastructure Finance, Rand Merchant Bank.

Over 70 key speakers have been announced for the event, with CxOs and senior executives also confirmed from companies including Vodacom, Telkom BCX, MTN, Standard Bank, American Tower Corp, Millicom, Google, Econet Wireless, MainOne, Teraco, Alcatel Submarine Networks, DLA Piper, IFC World Bank, Rack Centre, Investec Asset Management, Citi and Credit Suisse.

Other key session themes announced include: Telecom Leadership Africa; Digital Africa; Mobile Tower Strategies; Mergers and Acquisitions; Private Equity Africa; Spectrum sharing; Regulation and Policy; Financing TMT; Investing in Mobile Data and Services; Mobile Payments and Banking, Fintech and M-Health; and Media and Convergence.

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How electricity changes lives: a Rwandan case study
March 3, 2018 | 0 Comments

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Men transporting a large bag in the Muvumba river valley in Kigali. A massive Rwandan electrification programme sets out to benefit rural communities. Shutterstock

Men transporting a large bag in the Muvumba river valley in Kigali. A massive Rwandan electrification programme sets out to benefit rural communities. Shutterstock

More than 1.1 billion people in developing countries lack access to electricity. Some 590 million live in Africa, where the rural electrification rate is particularly low at only 14%.

A lack of access to electricity hampers development. It affects everything from people’s ability to learn to the creation of enterprises and the provision of public services like health care. This lies behind the United Nation’s goal of countries achieving universal access to electricity by 2030.

But the investment requirements to meet this goal are enormous. According to the International Energy Agency investments worth $640 billion will be needed if the UN goal is going to be met. About $19 billion is required every year in sub-Saharan Africa alone.

In spite of the importance of electrification, little evaluation has been done on the socioeconomic impact of investments into providing power. We set about plugging this gap in our paper that focuses on Rwanda. We looked at the effects of electrification on households, firms, health centres and schools in rural areas.

Rwanda has implemented one of the most comprehensive electrification programmes in the world. In 2009 only 6% of Rwandans had access to electricity. The government’s aim is to lift this to 70% by 2018.

We studied the connection behaviour and electricity consumption patterns of households and looked at socioeconomic outcomes – such as education, income and health. We also explored the effects of electrification on the uptake of appliances as well as on rural firms and on health centres.

We found that electrification had wide-ranging effects on the living conditions of households whose daily lives were made easier on a range of fronts. We also found that the supply of power had some positive effects on certain businesses and clinics. Overall, our research confirms the importance of electrification has for the rural poor.

Yet, in our final analysis we had two major reservations. The first was that the provision of electricity hadn’t significantly improved the economic lives of people – which is often used to justify the massive costs involved in expanding the grid to all areas of the country.

The second insight was that, given people’s very low levels of consumption (households consume on average around 2 kWh per month per person which is less than 6% of the electricity an average US-American consumes per day), it would make much more sense to extend electricity coverage by promoting off-grid solutions such as solar. This would lead to governments and citizens getting much more bang for their buck.

These reservations aside, our research showed how electricity in the home changes lives, sometimes in the most unexpected ways.

Impact on household level

Among the households we studied we found that lighting consumption had more than tripled among connected households around two years after connecting to the electricity grid.

We also found that having electric lighting yielded significant benefits for households who have done away with torches, wick and hurricane lamps. For example, kids’ study time at home increased by between 19 and 44 minutes after nightfall, although the total time children study did not increase. The reason is that children shift their study time from daytime to nighttime, which nonetheless is an important indication for increased flexibility.

Electricity also had an impact on access to information. The most frequently bought electrical appliances after connection were TVs, radios and mobile phones.

Another major effect of electrification was that it significantly reduced expenditures on energy. The average amount that connected households spent on grid electricity was 1,500 FRW (about $2) per month after they had replaced traditional energy sources like kerosene and batteries. And they no longer needed to spend money on charging their mobile phones outside their homes. In total, they reduced expenditures on energy by around $2.50, which is an equivalent of about 4% of their total monthly expenditure.

Impacts on enterprises and health centres

Another major impact was that it extended people’s average waking hours by nearly an hour. We found that people were awake for 50 minutes per day more on average because they had better access to lighting and entertainment devices.

People didn’t necessarily use this additional time to pursue income generating activities. In fact, we didn’t find that electrification affected how people, many of whom were farmers, generated income.

We found that it had only a tiny effect on micro enterprises like mills, hairdressers, copy shops and welding shops. Mills were the main beneficiaries of being connected to the grid. Most switched from diesel engines to electricity. And new mills emerged because input costs were dramatically reduced and productivity increased.

Hairdressing shops also benefited for cost and convenience reasons. They used electricity for razors, phone charging services and radio or TV to entertain. Before grid electricity they had used power sources such as car batteries which were expensive and cost a lot to run.

Small kiosks, bars and restaurants mostly used electricity for lighting and in a few cases for radio, TV or refrigeration. Electricity meant that they were more attractive to customers.

Overall, we observed only a slight increase in business activities in connected communities. Some enterprises emerged while existing operations marginally extended their operating hours or their range of products and services.

In the case of health centres, those that had been connected to the grid said their work had improved. According to answers to an open question, the main use of grid electricity was for lighting (100%), followed by use for medical machines (79%) and for administrative tasks (43%). Nearly 30% cited medicine storage and sterilising.

The most important benefit was that it reduced costs. Centres that weren’t connected paid three times more for power because they used diesel.

A mixed solution

Our research showed that electricity is highly appreciated by rural communities in Rwanda, often leading to cost reductions and increases in convenience. But it does not significantly transform economic activities and income generation in rural areas.

The fact that electricity consumption levels are generally very low raises the political question of whether the high investment cost of on-grid electrification is justified compared to the lower cost of off-grid solutions. Especially the cost of off-grid solar technologies have decreased considerably in recent years and, while their performance is obviously lower, they still improve the living conditions quite substantially.

These observations suggest that instead of rolling out the grid to every rural village, on-grid investments could be concentrated in certain thriving rural regions with high business potential to create industrial zones where firms could relocate to. Off-grid solar could serve as a bridging technology for the majority of rural areas, potentially accompanied by subsidies to ensure access for the poor who cannot afford paying cost covering prices. Such an integrated on-grid-off-grid strategy would enable industrial development and at the same time achieve broad access to electricity at relatively low cost.

*Source The Conversation.Dr Maximiliane Sievert from RWI – Leibniz Institute for Economic Researchcoauthored this article.

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African SMEs Set to Benefit from USD 74M Guarantee
March 3, 2018 | 0 Comments

SMEs in Africa’s infrastructure sector to benefit from African Guarantee Fund’s increased capacity through GuarantCo’s re-guarantee facility

Felix BIKPO- Chief Executive Officer , AGF and Lasitha PERERA- Chief Executive Officer, GuarantCo

Felix BIKPO- Chief Executive Officer , AGF and Lasitha PERERA- Chief Executive Officer, GuarantCo

LONDON, United Kingdom, March 2, 2018/ — The African Guarantee Fund for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (AGF) (www.AfricanGuaranteeFund.com) has today entered into a re- guarantee transaction of an amount of up to USD 74 million with GuarantCo (www.GuarantCo.com), to increase its guarantee capacity for SME financing. SME’s have a large and growing impact on GDP in emerging markets and are a key source of job creation. Strengthening Africa’s infrastructure is critical for development as it is through this that African countries become more competitive at a global level. With this increased capacity, AGF will be able to support larger local currency transactions for SMEs involved in infrastructure.

Over the past 6 years, AGF has led the guarantee market in Africa by issuing financial guarantees to a tune of USD 690 million. This has enabled its partner financial institutions to issue loans estimated at USD 729 million to about 7600 African SMEs. GuarantCo is part of the Private Infrastructure Development Group, (PIDG), and is a global guarantee fund that has issued over USD 900 million of guarantees since inception in 2005 with a mandate to enable local currency finance for infrastructure.

While commenting on the GuarantCo AGF partnership, Felix BIKPO, AGF’s Chief Executive Officer stated, “AGF is glad to be joined by GuarantCo in bridging the infrastructure financing gap. This partnership aims to put in place an even stronger collaboration that will work on the entire value chain of infrastructure projects in Africa. We are looking forward to supporting other SMEs that work with key players in the infrastructure sector.”

Lasitha PERERA, GuarantCo’s Chief Executive Officer said “We are delighted to be able to partner with the African Guarantee Fund and increase support to SMEs active in the infrastructure sector in Africa. This collaboration between two local currency focussed guarantors offers the potential for us to engage local financial institutions and investors in financing the entire value chain in an African infrastructure project.”

The transaction will enable AGF and GuarantCo to explore further partnership opportunities of working together in contributing towards economic growth in Africa.

About African Guarantee Fund
Officially launched on 1st June 2012, AGF (www.AfricanGuaranteeFund.com) is a Pan-African non-bank financial institution founded by the government of Denmark through the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), the government of Spain through the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Development (AECID) and the African Development Bank (AfDB). Agence Française de Développement (AFD) joined AGF in 2015 followed by the Nordic Development Fund (NDF) in 2016. AGF aims to promote economic development, increase employment and reduce poverty in Africa by providing financial institutions with guarantees and other similar or related financial products specifically intended to support SMEs in Africa. AGF has a rating of AA- by Fitch Ratings Agency. www.AfricanGuaranteeFund.com

About GuarantCo 
GuarantCo (www.GuarantCo.com) was established to mobilise local currency investment for infrastructure projects and support the development of financial markets in low income countries. GuarantCo is part of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG).
GuarantCo is supported by the governments of the UK, Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands and Australia and is rated AA- by Fitch and A1 by Moodys. www.GuarantCo.com

About PIDG
The Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG) (www.PIDG.org) encourages and mobilises private investment in infrastructure in the frontier markets of sub-Saharan Africa, south and south-east Asia, to help promote economic development and combat poverty. Since 2002, PIDG has mobilised $31.4bn from private sector investors and DFIs, supported 154 infrastructure projects to financial close and provided 222 million people with access to new or improved infrastructure. PIDG is funded by donors from seven countries (UK, Switzerland, Australia, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Germany) and the World Bank Group. www.PIDG.org

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Leila Ndiaye Joins the Initiative for Global Development as Executive Vice-President
March 1, 2018 | 0 Comments

Ndiaye brings 25 years of experience as an African affairs expert and accomplished senior policy and business strategist

Leila Ndiaye

Leila Ndiaye

WASHINGTON, D.C. – March 1, 2018 – The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) announced today the appointment of Leila Ndiaye to the position of Executive Vice-President of the Washington-based network of African and global business leaders who are committed to advancing sustainable development and inclusive growth through business investment.

Ndiaye, a native of Côte d’Ivoire and dual citizen of Senegal, will be responsible for driving the strategic direction for IGD’s programming and policy engagements, overseeing the growth of the Frontier Leader Network, and building strategic alliances with key stakeholders to advance organizational priorities.

With 25 years of experience as an African affairs expert and accomplished senior policy and business strategist, Ndiaye has a proven track record in policy design and implementation at the highest level of African governments and the private sector.

“Leila Ndiaye joins IGD at a time of when the organization is experiencing tremendous growth and impact in strengthening the private sector and boosting private investment on the African continent,” said Dr. Mima S. Nedelcovych. “Her vision and deep experience and connections will position IGD to be a leader in igniting innovation and action to fuel Africa’s economic progress.”

Prior to joining IGD, she served as the Senior Director of Policy for African Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In that position, she developed, promoted and executed the US-Africa Business Center’s program of work relating to trade policy and investment between the United States and African countries. She initiated and managed the US-ECOWAS Business Initiative and spearheaded the Chamber’s program in Western and Central Sub-Saharan Africa, from Angola to Mauritania.

Previously, she worked with the government of Côte d’Ivoire as special adviser to the former Head of State, where she advised the Head of State on a range of policy, national security and economic issues to ensure that all duties were carried out in the best interest of the country as a whole.

Ndiaye is an Advisor to McLarty Associates, where she advises clients on trade and investment in West Africa. McLarty Associates is an international strategic advisory firm headquartered in Washington, DC, that delivers diplomatic solutions and advises many emerging companies venturing abroad.

Earlier in her career, Ndiaye held positions in the lobbying arena with Bayh, Connaughton, Fernsteinhem and Malone, law firm of former Senator Birch Bayh, in Washington, D.C. where she developed and managed the Africa portfolio and at the World Bank as a consultant.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce presented Ms. Ndiaye with the “US-Africa Business Center Outstanding Leaders’ Award 2018” in recognition of her exemplary leadership in US-Africa relations.

She is a recipient of the 2016 Excellence Award by the Women Ambassadors Foundation in Washington DC and was nominated in 2008 as one of the 50 most influential people of Côte d’Ivoire by the magazine l’Intelligent d’Abidjan and received the same year the Women’s Private Sector Initiative Award in Côte d’Ivoire.

In 1990, she was the first Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar from Côte d’Ivoire to South Africa during apartheid.  Leila Ndiaye is a member of the African Leadership Network, a membership community of the most dynamic and influential new-generation leaders in Africa.

Leila Ndiaye holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from the School of International Service (SIS), at The American University in Washington DC, earned a Master of Arts in Diplomacy with merit from the Diplomatic Academy of London at the University of Westminster, and a PhD degree in International Relations and Diplomacy, from the Centre d’Etudes Diplomatiques et Stratégiques (CEDS), Paris.

 The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) is a Washington, DC-based nonprofit organization that harnesses the power of the private sector to create sustainable development and inclusive growth in Africa. We bring together CEOs and senior executives from leading African and global companies through our Frontier Leader Network to catalyze greater business investment and impact on the continent

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South Sudan Close to Famine, Facing Toughest Year – Aid Groups Warns
March 1, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Juba – South Sudan is handy to face another famine, country’s humanitarian aid officials said on earlier this week, this came after more than four years of civil war and several failed ceasefires deal to returned stability in the world’s youngest nation.

Jointly statement issued by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP), the new report warned that progress made to prevent people from dying of hunger could be undone, and more people could be pushed into severe hunger and famine-like conditions during May-July if assistance and access are not made.

According to members of a working group including South Sudanese and U.N. officials, almost two-thirds of the population will need food aid this year to stave off starvation and malnutrition as aid groups prepare for the “toughest year on record.

“The situation is extremely fragile, and we are close to seeing another famine. The projections are stark. If we ignore them, we’ll be faced with a growing tragedy,” said Serge Tissot, from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in South Sudan.

A total of 5.3 million people, 48 percent of the population, are already in “crisis” or “emergency” – stages three and four on a five point scale, according to a survey published by the working group.

The U.N. declared a famine in two districts in February, but said that crisis had started to ease in June last year.

“We are expecting to face the toughest year on record,” U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator Alain Noudehou told a press conference in the South Sudanese capital Juba. Records for South Sudan began when it declared independence from Sudan in July, 2011.

Meanwhile, global humanitarian assistance, CARE also warned that more than 5 million people in South Sudan urgently need food assistance.

“What we’re witnessing is beyond human imagination. We’ve seen the hunger in South Sudan get worse every year, and every year agencies like CARE do their best to respond,” says Rosalind Crowther, CARE’s country director in South Sudan.

Particularly at risk, it CARE said, are 155,000 people, including 29,000 children, who are likely to suffer from the most extreme levels of hunger. “But the needs keep growing and we’re seeing more hunger in more places. We’re especially seeing a significant increase in malnutrition among children in communities where CARE is working.”

“Our resources are stretched,” says Crowther. “There’s an urgent need for donors and the humanitarian community to step up our assistance so we can reach more people. If we don’t, the repercussions could be catastrophic.”

The oil-rich east African youngest nation has been torn apart by an ethnically charged civil war since late 2013, when troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and then-Vice President Riek Machar clashed over leadership struggling in the ruling party, known as Sudan People Liberation Movement, SPLM.

Since then, more than 4 million people have been forced to flee their homes, creating Africa’s largest refugee crisis since the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Many farmers have abandoned their fields for the same reason.

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Speak Up Africa New York Announces New Name: The Access Challenge and New Policy Campaign Aimed at Achieving Universal Health Access
March 1, 2018 | 0 Comments
Together with Former Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, 
The Access Challenge Launches a High-Level Policy Campaign Centered on African Union and President-to-President Engagement
WHO Director General Dr. Tedros and HE Jakaya Kikwete

WHO Director General Dr. Tedros and HE Jakaya Kikwete

NEW YORK, United States of America, 1st March 2018, -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Speak Up Africa New York, a leading not-for-profit advocacy organization focused on universal access to healthcare and education for the world’s most vulnerable families, today announced its organization’s new name, The Access Challenge, and its first initiative, One By One: Target 2030.

The name change reflects the group’s mission to ensure that every person -wherever in the world he or she may be-has access to basic tools and services in order to survive and thrive. Speak Up Africa New York focused its efforts on Africa. The Access Challenge will continue this Africa-based work while expanding to other regions with a focus on high-level policy engagement.

In keeping with this new focus, The Access Challenge today launched a new campaign, One By One: Target 2030, in partnership with His Excellency Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, former president of Tanzania and a world-renowned maternal and child health advocate. One By One: Target 2030 will promote universal health access in Africa, focusing first on immunizations, maternal health and Neglected Tropical Diseases, ensuring that even the poorest families have access to critical health interventions.
President Kikwete and The Access Challenge have launched the campaign in support of the World Health Organization’s Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ call for Universal Health Coverage. President Kikwete is committed to making Universal Health Access a reality on the continent of Africa.
President Kikwete said, “Ensuring equal access to health – especially for the most vulnerable – is an issue very close to my heart. As I travel from country to country across Africa, I will work with the African Union and heads of state that have the power to put these issues at the top of the agenda.”
“We are eager to begin our initiative with President Kikwete. Over the past six years, we have driven awareness of critical health issues on national and global levels,” said Kate Campana, founder and CEO of The Access Challenge. “With Dr. Tedros’ mandate, we think that more leaders and more countries will be inspired to step up and effect real change. By broadening our geographic reach, we hope to reach even more of the world’s most vulnerable and provide a leadership platform that expands to South-South collaborative learning.”
The Access Challenge, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, inspired by a vision of a world where every person has an equal ability to survive and thrive regardless of where she or he is born, advocates for universal access to health and education. It works with heads of state and other public officials to understand and focus on particular issues; partners with cultural luminaries to bring key issues to the attention of government and corporate leaders who can galvanize support; produces high-profile public events that shine a spotlight on governmental commitments and hold leaders accountable; and launches powerful multimedia campaigns to raise broad awareness and change cultural expectations about critical access issues.
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Mastercard Uses Facebook Messenger To Help Small Businesses Go Digital
March 1, 2018 | 0 Comments

Launches Masterpass QR bot for Messenger to enable Nigerian businesses to set up digital money accounts and accept QR payments

 

Barcelona, SPAIN – February 28, 2018 – At Mobile World Congress, Mastercard today announced that it will use Facebook Messenger to provide technology to small businesses in Africa and Asia to drive affordable acceptance of electronic and mobile payments. Access to digital payments will help these businesses expand to new markets, and unlock financial services and products that enables them to grow their livelihoods.

This Messenger experience will launch in Nigeria, where Mastercard will pilot a new Masterpass QR bot to help business owner’s move beyond cash transactions to accepting QR payments. Ecobank and Zenith Bank will support this inaugural program. The pilot in Nigeria is the beginning of a larger plan by the two companies to include more businesses into the digital economy.

According to research done by The Fletcher School and Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, of the $301 billion of funds flows from consumers to businesses in Nigeria, 98 percent is still based on cash.

“Every business owner is looking for ways to increase sales and draw new customers into their stores. By offering QR-based digital payments, smaller retailers can achieve these goals and create greater customer stickiness with little to no investment beyond the phone they already have,” said Jorn Lambert, executive vice president, Digital Channels and Regions, Mastercard. “Masterpass QR opens up new commerce channels for these merchants and enables them to create auditable transaction records. These advances open doors to other financial tools and products such as loans to drive added business growth.”

To get started, businesses can send a request to the bot to enable QR payments, receive approval from the bank, set up an account and start accepting digital payments in a fast, simple and secure manner. Once the account set up process is complete, business owners can print and display the QR code in their stores or save the code on their phones. Customers can pay by either scanning the code from their smartphone or by entering the merchant ID associated with the QR code into their feature phone.

“Brands and developers around the world are turning to messaging to connect with the 1.3 billion people who use Messenger each month,” said Kahina Van Dyke, director of Payments and Financial Services Partnerships at Facebook. “We are pleased that Mastercard is developing a service on the Messenger Platform to help small merchants use messaging to manage their business and connect with their customers.”

Launched in 2016, Masterpass QR provides people with any type of mobile phone the ability to safely accept and make in-person purchases without cash or a plastic card. It provides greater choice in payments and complements Mastercard’s investment in contactless payments to provide merchants of all sizes – from international chains to individual shop owners and street vendors – a fast, secure and inexpensive way to accept payments.

Quotes from partner banks in Nigeria:

 

“In line with our goal to serve 100 million Africans by the end of 2020, Ecobank is delighted to collaborate with Facebook and Mastercard to enable underserved and unbanked micro-merchants with the opportunity to open an Ecobank account almost immediately and begin to receive instant payments using Ecobank Masterpass QR on the Facebook Messenger platform. Micro merchants in Nigeria are already benefiting from Masterpass QR and will soon be in 32 markets across Africa, enabling them to move away from cash. That is true economic empowerment,” said Patrick Akinwuntan, Group Executive, Consumer Bank, Ecobank Group.

 

 

“Our Bank is partnering with Facebook and Mastercard to introduce Masterpass QR as a means of driving financial inclusion and creating a new payment ecosystem for MSMEs and consumers,” said Mr. Peter Amangbo, MD/CEO of Zenith Bank Plc. “This initiative will help us encourage financial inclusion within the country in line with the strategic thrust of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Buyers and sellers now meet and conclude transactions in-store, online and on social media, so we are ensuring payments can also be made on these platforms via QR codes, without having to log onto other solutions or even take a break from what you are doing on Facebook.”

 

About Mastercard

Mastercard (NYSE: MA), www.mastercard.com, is a technology company in the global payments industry.  Our global payments processing network connects consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories.  Mastercard products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone.  Follow us on Twitter @MastercardNews, join the discussion on the Beyond the Transaction Blog and subscribe for the latest news on the Engagement Bureau.

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Over 150 High-Level Speakers to Grace the Africa Trade & Investment Global Summit (ATIGS) 2018 in Washington, D.C
March 1, 2018 | 0 Comments
Over 150 High-Level Speakers to Grace the Africa Trade & Investment Global Summit (ATIGS) 2018 in Washington, D.C
“Driving Trade, Unleashing Investment and Enhancing Economic Development: the Gateway to African Markets”
WASHINGTON D.C., United States of America, February 28, 2018/ — Business leaders and prominent personalities are expected to speak at the Africa Trade & Investment Global Summit (ATIGS) 2018 (http://ATIGS2018.com) to be held on June 24 to June 26 at World Trade Center – Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C. The prestigious biennial business conference and exhibition will bring together delegates from more than 70 countries including government delegations, high-profile African leaders, project developers, and international investors. The event has a well-structured format for facilitating direct peer engagement, for more advanced deal-making, showcasing fundable companies, co-investments and financing engagements, strategic partnerships, and business networking.

The 2018 Summit will feature as panelist and speakers a wide array of senior officials and distinguished personalities including, Hon Senator Ike Ekwerenmadu, Deputy Senate President of Nigeria; H.E. Adonia Ayebare, Uganda’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations;H.E.Clyde Rivers Ph.D. Ambassador of Republic of Burundi, and Advisor to the President of Burundi; Hon Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, former Minister for Trade & Industry, and former Ambassador of Ghana to the USA; Hon. Ibrahim Awaal Mohammed, Minister for Business Development in Ghana; Hon. Sebastian Kopulande, CEO, Zambian International Trade and Investment Centre (ZITIC) in Zambia; Andrew Herscowit, Coordinator, Power Africa – U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in USA; Asma ALAOU, CEO, Africa Key Partners in Morocco; Arnon Rosenbaum, VP Global Projects, Netafim in Israel; Belarmino Van-Dúnem, Chairman of Angola’s Investment and Exports Promotion Agency (APIEX); Maria Goravanchi,Director, Overseas Private Investment Corporation in USA; Dr. Mohamed Doumbouya, Minister of Budget, Republic of GuineaRaj Kumar, Founding President of Devex in United States, Dr. Belachew Mekuria, Industrial Park Division Deputy Commissioner of Ethiopian Investment CommissionDr. Mima S. Nedelcovych, President & CEO of Initiative for Global Development in USA; Pablo Martín Carbajal, Deputy head for African Affairs, and CEO of Proexca, Government of the Canary Islands; Bernadette Fernandes, Founder of The Varanda Network in Canada; Chris Kirubi, Director, Centum Investment in Kenya; Chris Knight, Global Commercial Director for fDi Intelligence, Financial Times Group in UK; Dr. Richmond Annan, President, iRichie Group Inc in USA; Dr. Munir Ahmad Ch, President, Aspire World Investments LLC – United Arab EmiratesDr. Mima S. Nedelcovych, President & CEO of Initiative for Global Development in USA; Joseph Lititiyo, Deputy Executive Secretary of Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries in Rwanda; Matthew Downing, Chairman & CEO, Ethium Group in Australia; Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, President of Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Nigeria; Vanessa Adams, Director of Strategic Partnerships of DAI in France; Walid Loukil, Deputy Managing Director of Loukil Group in Tunisia; Xoliswa Daku, Founder & CEO, Daku Group of Companies in South Africa; Zekarias Amsalu, Founder and MD of IBEX Frontier, IBEX Financial Consultancy Ltd in Ethiopia, and many more.

For all speaker’s line-up and for all latest developments. visit www.ATIGS2018.com

ATIGS 2018 will feature unique activities, top rated speakers, and high-level participation. To register for the event, visit www.ATIGS2018.com/eventbrite, and for exhibition, contact ATIGS@gaadvancement.com

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WHY U.S. COMPANIES NEED TO INCLUDE AFRICA IN THEIR GLOBAL GROWTH STRATEGIES
February 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

Grant T. Harris, CEO of Harris Africa Partners LLC, makes a compelling case on why U.S. companies need to map out how Africa’s dynamic markets fit into their company’s business plan

By Grant T. Harris*

When it comes to talk of Africa’s economic outlook, do not believe the gloom – or the hype. The “Africa rising” storyline took a big hit when commodity prices crashed, but the truth is, no monolithic narrative could ever accurately capture the continent’s dynamism, challenges, and sheer economic potential.

Nonetheless, there are some clear regional trends that should compel American businesses to ask themselves, “How does Africa factor into my company’s growth strategy?”

Frankly, there is no need for a simplistic soundbite about Africa’s economic potential. The region is a complex and diverse ensemble of markets, opportunities, and political and investment climates which, for many different reasons, are undergoing what the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has described as “multispeed” growth. For instance, while the commodity-dependent countries are currently less buoyant, four economies in East Africa – Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Uganda – are predicted to see growth above six percent through 2020.

Nevertheless, even as we eschew sweeping generalizations that pretend to lump 54 African countries into one market, there are some region-wide trends that should make businesses sit up and take notice. To get straight to the point: Africa’s long-term economic outlook remains strong, underpinned by a young and growing population that is increasingly urban and technologically savvy. Consumer spending is projected to reach $2.1 trillion by 2025, while African economies as a whole are estimated to be valued at $3 trillion by 2030 – by which time half of the population will live in urban areas. Moreover, demographic shifts mean that Africa’s place in the global economy is only likely to grow. By 2034, Africa will have more working-age people than either India or China. With a current median age of just 19.5 years, Africa will make up a quarter of the world’s population by 2050, bringing inevitable social, cultural, and economic impacts.

Of course, there is no denying that African governments have a lot of work to do to improve investment climates at national and regional levels. According to a recent African Development Bank report, “the continent’s infrastructure needs amount to $130-170 billion a year, with a financing gap in the range of $68-108 billion.” In sub-Saharan Africa, roughly two-thirds of people lack access to electricity. And it is not just insufficient infrastructure; the recent commodities crash highlighted several other persistent challenges, particularly the need for resource-rich countries to diversify their economies. Many African governments would be wise to follow the IMF’s advice to enact “policies to enhance macroeconomic stability, improve education outcomes, bolster governance and transparency in regulation, and deepen financial markets.” Importantly, many countries are working hard to realize these changes. According to the World Bank, governments in sub-Saharan Africa carried out a record number of business reforms in 2016 and 2017 – more than any other region.

Above all, it’s time to realize that misconceptions about Africa’s economic potential – that it is too risky, too poor, or simply irrelevant to most businesses – amount to lost opportunities. As when considering any emerging market, investors must to do their homework, not fall victim to oversimplified narratives, and determine how to navigate political and policy risk. Armed with the right information and foresight, investors should map out how Africa’s dynamic markets fit into their company’s business plan. As the region’s demographic and economic trends make clear, Africa can no longer be considered an “optional” component of global growth strategies.

*courtesy of IGD.Grant T. Harris is CEO of Harris Africa Partners LLC and was President Obama’s principal advisor on sub-Saharan Africa in the White House from 2011-2015. Harris Africa Partners LLC is an organizational partner for IGD’s U.S. Roadshow Tour.

 

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