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Rwandan community head in Mozambique shot dead
August 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Arnaldo Cuamba

 

Rwandan community head in Mozambique Louis Baziga was shot dead on Monday morning in Matola City, Maputo province, by unknown gunmen.

According to witnesses, Baziga, 47, was intercepted with 3 individuals armed with two pistols and one AKM and fired several shots at the victim, who was in a Toyota Prado-branded vehicle on an AIH 330 MC registration plate. The miscreants were transported by a cream-colored Toyota branded car.

The victim was rescued alive to the Maputo Provincial Hospital, but could not resist and died, a police officer told Pan African Visions adding that the measures taken by the authorities included the on-site examination, external examination of the corpse, vehicle examination. Six projectiles and cartridges were collected on site, he said.

Baziga was a pastor of Igreja Pentecostal de Reavivamento em Moçambique and businessman with commercial establishments and pharmacies.

In 2017 three Rwandan nationals, refugees in Mozambique, unsuccessfully attempted to assassinate Baziga, for political reasons and with the aim of subsequently assuming church leadership.

The accused alleged that Louis Baziga is in the country at the service of the Rwandan Government with a view to monitoring and harassing refugees in Mozambique, especially those supporting the former regime against Paul Kagame.

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Owendo Port leads a logistics revolution in Gabon
August 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

One of the questions that global investors and commentators often ask about Africa is what next after the continent’s vast natural resources have been exploited? Well, that question has been answered emphatically in Gabon through several initiatives that are modernizing and industrializing the Gabonese economy.

One of these initiatives is the GSEZ New Owendo Port that is revolutionizing the maritime industry in Gabon and broader Central African region. The Port is part of a unique and dynamic Public Private Partnership between the Gabonese Government, Olam International and Africa Finance Corporation that was formed with the aim of diversifying the Gabonese economy away from oil to other sectors of the economy.

While the oil industry has been good for this nation of 1.8 million people, boasting one of the highest GDP per capita in the region and one of the highest Human Development Index in Sub-Saharan Africa, overreliance on the turbulent oil markets is not sustainable for the country.

Other oil producing countries are setting up sovereign funds to capture oil profits and reinvesting them in other sectors of the economy as a way of diversifying their economies and boosting their revenues. However, Gabon is doing things differently by partnering with the private sector to organically develop the economy through investing in infrastructure and boosting the country’s industrial capacity.

Given that the oil industry accounts for more than 50 percent of Gabon’s GDP and 80 percent of the country’s export earnings, diminishing production and the oil price downturn have hurt the nation’s economy – giving rise to a need to grow other sectors of the economy.

On the back of Gabon’s vast timber resources, new productive industries are being developed, making Gabon the second biggest producer of veneer in the world. At the centre of this modernization of Gabon is a sophisticated logistics network that connects the ports, airports, rail and road networks in a seamless fashion to allow for the delivery of goods and services more efficiently and cost-effectively for local and global markets.

Théophile Ogandaga, GSEZ Deputy Director says: “The SEZ model has been groundbreaking in many respects for the country of Gabon. Our partnership with the Gabon government, has resulted in a package of attractive incentives for global investors to invest in the country. These include zero corporate tax for the first 10 years; the easy repatriation of profits out of the country, and others, has seen an increase in the number of foreign companies establishing operations in Gabon.

“We are replicating this model in other African countries to unlock their potential, create jobs and grow their economies.”

The GSEZ New Owendo Port offers a comprehensive logistics solution to customers. It is a multi-modal platform that is easily accessible by sea, road and rail. The goods can be distributed anywhere in the country and in the broader Central African region.

The words “efficiency” and “cost-effectiveness” are not only the buzzwords for Ogandaga and his colleagues at GSEZ but is a “mantra” that is gaining traction in the whole of the Gabon business world.

Conceptualized in 2012. The purpose was to offer comprehensive and cost-effective solutions for all businesses wishing to export or import their production to and from Gabon. The brand-new harbor facility has been so far a powerful key-driver for investors wanting to start production in the Gabon Special Economic Zone (GSEZ) of Nkok. From sourcing to exports, GSEZ is now offering them end-to-end solutions to make their business successful in Gabon.

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After Steve Harvey, Hollywood star Danny Glover visits Ghana, advocating “Go Back Home”
August 26, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

Danny Glover (left) urges African American to reconnect with Africa. (photo: kasapa fm)

Danny Glover (left) urges African American to reconnect with Africa. (photo: kasapa fm)

Days after US famous comedian and host of The Steve Harvey Show, alongside his family visited Ghana urging Africans in the diaspora to return home, another American TV star, Danny Glover, a legend in Hollywood is advocating “Go Back Home” as he visits Ghana in commemoration of the year of return.

Speaking at the airport in Ghana, the movie director, producer and acclaimed humanitarian said it is important for the “African diaspora to reconnect with Africa” reason why he’s advocating the Go Back Home”.

“It was important for me to be part of this trip because I think it is important for all African Americans to build a strong relationship with the wider African diaspora and the continent of Africa itself,” he said in a tweet about his visit.

Launched last year in Washington, D.C., by Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo, for Africans in the diaspora to visit the West African country as part of the commemoration 400th year since the first African slaves landed in Virginia, the initiative has gain commendation with several celebrities and Africans in across the globe make their way into Ghana to learn more about their root.

Arriving Ghana alongside officials of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Danny Glover and his team travelled from Jamestown, Virginia in the United States of America to Jamestown, Accra, Ghana to commemorate Jamestown to Jamestown, on the same route the first slave travelled on.

‘Jamestown to Jamestown’ kicked off on August 18 in Washington, D.C. where participants travelled via bus to Jamestown, Virginia, for a prayer vigil and candle-lighting ceremony.

The ceremony marked the African “Maafa,” a term that describes the suffering embedded in the past four centuries related to enslavement.

“Jamestown to Jamestown represents one of the most powerful moments in the history of the Black Experience,” says NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson. “We are now able to actualize the healing and collective unity so many generations have worked to achieve in ways which bring power to our communities in America, Africa and throughout our Diaspora.”

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#VoiceandChoice & State of Women in SADC Barometers launched
August 23, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Gender activists from across Southern Africa will on 22 August launch the#VoiceandChoice 2019 Barometer alongside the  State of Women in SADC 2019 report.

The Barometer has been produced for the last eleven years by the Southern African Gender Protocol Alliance, a network of Women’s Rights Organisations that campaigned for the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development in 2008, its updating and alignment to the Sustainable Development Goals in 2016.

In keeping with global and regional trends, reflected in the #MeToo, #TimesUp, #TotalShutdown and related campaigns, the 2019 Barometer departs with past tradition in focusing specifically on Sexual Reproductive Health and Right (SRHR).

The 2019 #VoiceandChoice Barometer is the first civil society shadow report on the recently adopted SADC SRHR strategy.  It measures 100 indicators in seven thematic areas including Sexual and Reproductive Health; adolescent SRHR; safe abortion; GBV; HIV and AIDS; harmful practices and sexual diversity. The State of Women report details progress made against the provisions of the SADC Gender Protocol using two important yardsticks, the empirical SADC Gender and Development Index (SGDI) and Citizen Score Card (CSC) to measure progress made towards Gender Equality in the region.

The key findings of the two reports include:

  • With an SGDI score of 60%, just one percentage point higher than last year, the region needs to up its game if it is to achieve gender equality by 2030. Seychelles has the highest SGDI score and South Africa the third highest SGDI score in the region.
  • The CSC which measures citizen’s opinions and perceptions on government effort on addressing gender equality has increased from 62% in 2018 to 66% in 2019 for the region, showing that citizens are slightly more buoyant than what the actual figures show regarding the progress on gender equality.
  • The SADC Gender Progress score which measures gender attitudes has increased to from 53% in 2017 to 60% in 2019. Seychelles and Malawi (66%) have the highest GPS. 49% of respondents said that people should be treated the same whether they are women or men, yet 46% agreed or strongly agreed that a woman should obey her husband.
  • SRHR is now firmly on the Southern African agenda but gaps remain in data collection, legislation, policy, and service delivery for women and girls. The region has made significant strides with the adoption of the Mahe Declaration on SRHR (2016) and the SADC SRHR Strategy (2018) with an accompanying score card. Using the SRHR indicators in the SADC strategy for which data could be gathered, South Africa leads the way, with progressive laws and policies on abortion and sexual diversity, but still many challenges with implementation.
  • Only two SADC countries, Seychelles and Mauritius, meet the global target of less than 70 deaths per 100 000 live births for pregnant women and girls. The maternal mortality rate is ten times more in the DRC.
  • Adolescent fertility ratios in the region range from 27 per 1000 women in Mauritius to 152 per 1000 women in Angola.
  • Only six SADC countries (DRC, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, South Africa and Zambia) have stand-alone Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (ASRHR) policies or strategies. Only five countries (Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Tanzania) in SADC do not require parental consent for adolescents to access SRHR services.
  • The age of access to contraceptives in SADC ranges from 12 in five countries to 18 in one.
  • Only South Africa and Mozambique have legislation that allows abortion on demand in the first trimester. Abortion is available under certain circumstances in all SADC countries, with varying degrees of restriction.
  • Women, and especially young women, comprise the highest proportion of those living with HIV and AIDS, except for the islands (Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles) where intravenous drug needles are the main means of transmission.
  • Only six countries have valid National Action Plans (NAPs) on GBV, 10 have expired NAPS and only three have fully costed NAPs. South Africa broke new ground with a presidential summit on GBV in 2018, and is establishing a multi sector forum to tackle GBV head on.
  • While all SADC countries meet the requirement of the minimum age of 18 for marriage for men, only three countries (Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa) stipulate 18 as the minimum age of marriage for women and men with no exceptions, i.e. are compliant with the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development. In eight SADC countries (Angola, DRC, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe) over one third of all young women are married by the age of 18.
  • Homosexuality is now legal in one third of Southern African countries including South Africa, Seychelles, Angola, Mozambique, Lesotho, Madagascar and DRC. However, only South Africa allows for same sex marriages and civil unions.

 

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Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi holds talks with Vladimir Putin in Russia
August 23, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Arnaldo Cuamba

Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks with the Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi, who is in Russia on an official visit since Tuesday until friday. The leaders discussed issues related to the further development of Russian-Mozambican cooperation in various areas, as well as current international and regional issues, according to a press release seen by Pan African Visions.

Following the talks, Putin and Nyusi witnessed the exchange of documents signed during the a meeting at the Kremlin, Moscow.

The list of signed documents includes an intergovernmental agreement on mutual protection of classified information and an agreement on cooperation between the interior ministries of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Mozambique; as well as documents related to technical cooperation in geology and minerals’ extraction, as well as cooperation between Rosneft, the Mozambican National Institute of Oil and the Mozambican National Hydrocarbons Company, including on the development of natural gas deposits on the shelf of Mozambique. Inter RAO-Export and EdM (Mozambique) also signed a memorandum of understanding in power generation.

Putin told Nyusi that its government is ready to develop relations between both countries in all areas. “I am sure that your visit, Mr President, will give a boost to the ties between our countries” he said adding that “we are very happy to see you”

On April when Mozambique was severely affected by destructive Cyclone Idai, Russia has delivered 30 tonnes of humanitarian aid, following the the country appeal to the international community for help.

On Tuesday Nyusi thanked Putin for the help.

“I would also like to thank you for the material and moral support you have been providing us” Nyusi said, “We would like to thank all Russian people for this”

On wedsneday Russia has pardoned 95% of Mozambique’s debt, according to an announcement made by the President of the Republic, Filipe Nyusi at a meeting with Russian and Mozambican businesspeople.

Nyusi’s visit is the first by a Mozambican head of state to Russia since the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1991. The last Mozambican statesman to visit Moscow was Joaquim Chissano, in 1987.

 

 

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Arsenal and WorldRemit launch second edition of Future Stars
August 22, 2019 | 0 Comments
Two community football coaches, one male and one female, will attend an exclusive training programme with Arsenal Football Development coaches in London

LONDON, United Kingdom, August 22, 2019/ — Arsenal and online money transfer service, WorldRemit (https://www.WorldRemit.com), are offering one male and one female football coach from Africa or the Americas the chance to attend an exclusive training programme with Arsenal Football Development coaches in London.

Now in its second edition, the “Future Stars” programme was developed by WorldRemit and Arsenal to celebrate the positive impact that grassroots youth football coaches have on their communities, helping the children they train to develop life skills both on and off the pitch.

Future Stars is free to apply for and open to youth team (under 16s) coaches from across Africa and the Americas. WorldRemit will sponsor two winners, one male and one female, to fly to London for a personalised coaching programme with Arsenal Football Development coaches. Through the programme, 20 shortlisted coaches will be rewarded with Arsenal shirts for their youth squad.

Apply now

Entries are now open on https://www.FutureStars.WorldRemit.com/ or via a chatbot on the WorldRemit Facebook page (http://bit.ly/2ZeBf5O) until 4 September. To enter, coaches simply need to complete a short application form explaining why they deserve to be granted this unique training opportunity and how they would use it to build a lasting legacy of positive change through football.

How it works

1. From the online applications, 20 coaches will be shortlisted to receive Arsenal youth shirts for their team. Applicants will be assessed against the following criteria by a panel of judges including Catherine Wines, Co-Founder at WorldRemit; Simon McManus, Head Coach at Arsenal Football Development; and Marc Thorogood, Business Manager at Arsenal Football Development.

Selection criteria:

  • The commitment of the coach to improving the lives of their community
  • The impact the coach has had on young people within their community
  • The strength of the coach’s proposal to pass on their training on their return home

2. From the shortlist of 20, the judging panel will select eight coaches as finalists – four male and four female.

3. The eight finalists’ stories will be shared on https://www.FutureStars.WorldRemit.com/ and the winners will be chosen based on a public vote on the website.

Andrew Stewart, Managing Director for the Middle East and Africa at WorldRemit, said: “Our customers work hard every day to send money home to support their communities. Inspired by them, we developed the Future Stars programme with Arsenal to shine a spotlight on youth community coaches who use their passion for football to build a better future for others.

“The standard of applications for last year’s programme exceeded our expectations. We’re excited to build on this success and celebrate the incredible contributions of male and female coaches from across Africa and the Americas.”

Simon McManus, Head Coach at Arsenal Football Development said: “Community engagement has always been at the heart of everything we do and we continue to work hard to promote greater levels of participation in sport, both in north London and around the world.”

“The Future Stars programme is all about recognising youth coaches across Africa and the Americas who bring communities together and are changing lives through football. We are looking forward to celebrating them and welcoming the two winning coaches to train with us at the Emirates!”

Last year’s Future Stars winner was Hamisi Mohamed from Young Talents Soccer Academy. Hamisi founded Young Talents, a mixed academy outside Nairobi, Kenya, to bring young members of his community together and help them avoid falling into tribalism, drug abuse and crime.

Hamisi said: “Training with Arsenal Football Development was the opportunity of a lifetime. For my own coaching, it was amazing to hear about the Arsenal coaching philosophy and how it can bring teams of all levels together. The exchange of ideas and practices is beneficial for both sides and leads to a higher standard of football at a grassroots level. Good luck to this year’s Future Stars!”

 

https://youtu.be/qwf8GMlFWoE

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African Energy Chamber to Conduct Working Visit in Beijing and Discuss Energy Deals with Chinese Investors
August 22, 2019 | 0 Comments
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Kagame and Museveni agree to end hostilities
August 21, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

President Museveni (left) shaking hands with Kagame (right) after signing while João Lourenço looks on

President Museveni (left) shaking hands with Kagame (right) after signing while João Lourenço looks on

 

President of Rwanda Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda has come to the agreement after signing memorandum of understanding to end years of hostilities between the two countries.

The agreement was signed this Wednesday in Luanda the capital city of Angola before the host president João Lourenço; Félix Tshisekedi of Democratic Republic of Congo and Denis Sassou Nguesso of Republic of Congo.

Inside the agreement, both parties have agreed to respect the sovereignty of each other’s and of neighboring countries,  refrain from conducive to destabilization or subversion in the territory of other party and neighboring countries thereby eliminating all factors that may create such perception as well as that of acts such as financing, training and infiltration of destabilizing forces.

Rwanda has been accusing Rwanda of imprisoning, torturing Rwandans living in Uganda without giving them justice. It also accuses Uganda of supporting groups that aim at destabilizing Rwanda.

Uganda has accused Rwanda of sending spies on its territory.

Both countries have agreed to protect and respect the rights and freedoms of nationals of the other party.

Since March this year, Rwanda had advised its nationals to avoid crossing to Uganda, over ill treatment they may get if they enter. The busy Gatuna border was also closed on Rwanda side, thus bothering the movement of goods and persons.

The Agreement signed today urges both party  to resume as soon as possible the cross border activities including the movement of persons and goods.

 

After signing, President Kagame promised to act accordingly with the agreement, and he said it is not difficult to do so.

“I think it is not very difficult to address many of the problems we have had, it may take a bit of time to understand each other but I think we have come a long way”, said Kagame adding that “I see no problem in Rwanda working with President Lourenço, President Tshisekedi and more specifically with President Museveni to address what we have agreed to address.”

Kagame emphasized that  “when you have an open border, you have goods and people. When you create a problem for people to move across the border from one side to another, then you have closed the border to people and goods.”

For Kagame, respecting the agreement means respecting mediators who brought both countries together.

“We are not going to be found wanting in not only respecting the communique, but also our brothers who have brought us together to reach this understanding”, he added

President Museveni noted that even the problem was in the line of being resolved however the agreement comes as reinforcement.

“I was already in touch with President Kagame through our own channels, but this came as a reinforcement. We are just re-affirming what we have always held as principles of the African Union”.

The pact that was signed says that agreement enter  into force immediately upon signature.

 

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Cameroon: Serious Fair Trial Violations In Such A Rushed Process- ICC’s Charles Taku on Life Sentence for Ayuk Tabe & Others
August 21, 2019 | 1 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

The trial, conviction and sentencing to life imprisonment of Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and others may complicate the much sought after but so far elusive dialogue, says Chief Taku

The trial, conviction and sentencing to life imprisonment of Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and others may complicate the much sought after but so far elusive dialogue, says Chief Taku

 

Chief Charles Taku, immediate past President of the International Criminal Court Bar Association- ICCBA, says the trial and life sentence slammed on Julius Ayuk Tabe and others does little to foster the peaceful settlement of the current dispute as articulated by the international community. In an interview with Pan African Visions, the legal luminary says there were serious fair trial violations in the rushed process that culminated in the sentence for Ayuk and others arrested in Nigeria and brought to Cameroon .

To Chief Taku, the prompt condemnation of the sentences is a clear indication that the leadership of the struggle will unite no matter what to confront this and other challenges on the way towards attaining their defined objectives

“International justice may never entirely look  away from impunity and atrocity crimes;” Chief Taku said in warning to those excelling in gross human rights abuses.  

Chief Taku, what is your reaction to the jail sentences to Julius Ayuk Tabe and his co-detainees abducted from Nigeria?

The trial and its outcome do not advance the objectives of a peaceful settlement of the dispute favoured by the International Community.

From what you have learned, on what grounds did the court based its arguments in giving its verdict?

The information that I have about the judgment is incomplete. However, I have learnt that the trial, conviction and judgment took place in one day, underscoring the fact that the trial might have been rushed. I cannot second guess the reasons for the rush to convict and sentence them to life imprisonment.  There must be serious fair trial violations in such a rushed process.

Is there any legal precedent for this kind of cases in Cameroon?

Precedents exist within the legal framework that existed in the past. Since the enactment of a new Criminal Procedure Code a few years back, it is no longer possible to conduct a trial of this magnitude in a single day, deliberate, convict and enter judgment.  Each process in a trial requires procedural fair trial imperatives that may give rise to interlocutory appeals. Without a copy of the judgment before me, I am unable to ascertain the fair trial hurdles the tribunal panel surmounted to attain this feat.

What options are available for Ayuk and others, could the judgement be appealed?

This is one case where the integrity of the trial will be tested on appeal.  Fair trials and the due process of the law has taken central stage in the international human rights regime.  This appellate outcome of this trial and judgment will surely define the extent to which Cameroun is compliant with international human rights treaty obligations.

Looking at the whole conduct of the case, what does this tell the world about justice in Cameroon?

The world will surely not make an informed determination about the quality of justice in Cameroon and Cameroon’s commitment to its international human rights multilateral treaty obligations based on an informed evaluation of this and other judgments.  What I am certain is that, international human rights bodies have expressed strong reservations about submitting civilians to court-martials and military justice.  This type of justice is unconstitutional even under the operating Cameroun’s constitutional arrangement.

Just a hypothetical question Chief Taku, if this case was on trial in the kind of common law system that Anglophones Cameroonians clamor for, how different would the process have been?

A fundamental attribute of justice is fundamental fairness.  Through fair trials, the standards and precedents for future trials are established, including trials in which the judges themselves may be defendants some time along the line. This is the threshold on which the common law system that Southern Cameroonians once upon a time enjoyed and are clamoring for.  To underscore the rationale for this quest for a credible system of justice where rule of law and fair trials are well-founded, permit me to quote the memorable submissions of the Hon. Justice Robert H. Jackson of Counsel for the United States before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg established to hold Nazi war criminals accountable for the crimes that shocked the conscience humanity on November 21, 1945, reminded the Military Tribunal and the world at large that: “Fairness is not a weakness but an attribute of our strength. We must never forget that the record on which we judge these defendants today is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow. To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our own lips as well. We must summon such detachment and intellectual integrity to task that this trial will commend itself to posterity as fulfilling humanity’s aspirations to do justice”

At a time when people are calling for dialogue, what impact do you think the sentencing of Ayuk, and others could have on the present crisis?

The trial, conviction and sentencing to life imprisonment of Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and others may complicate the much sought after but so far elusive dialogue to examine the root causes of the crisis.  I strongly call for the vacation of these sentences and their release to facilitate the dialogue and the peace process.

Some people have mooted the idea of a Presidential pardon or the kind of amnesty that was granted to people like Issa Tchiroma, and others accused of plotting the 1984 coup d’état, do you see this as an option?

I cannot second-guess the political calculations of the government of Cameroon in pursuing this route when the international community is insistently calling for an all-inclusive dialogue with no preconditions to tackle the root causes of the conflict.  Most people believe that these sentences and others before and perhaps after, will not bring about an acceptable solution to the crisis that is claiming the lives and property of millions of civilians.  The sentences will complicate and aggravate the peace and security situation.  Will an amnesty or pardon attenuate the situation? I sincerely cannot tell.  What I believe is that a prompt vacation of the sentences no matter how, may be a palliative to calming the storm in attempts to averting an escalation in times when the mode of the international community is for a negotiated settlement.

The prompt condemnation of the sentences is a clear indication that the leadership of the struggle will unite , says Chief Taku

The prompt condemnation of the sentences is a clear indication that the leadership of the struggle will unite , says Chief Taku

There has been near unanimity from all segments of the fractured leadership in condemning the verdict, could this move have the unwitting effect of uniting the various leadership factions of the Southern Cameroons struggle?

Indeed, there were clear indications that the various components of the leadership were pussyfooting towards some form of unity towards the prosecution of the struggle and the proposed peace process.  This move towards unity might have been fast tracked had some activists not kept the fuel of disunity, needless rancor and misdirected antagonism alive.  Activists have played a critical role in this struggle and may continue to do so. However, they must be alive to the fact that their intended audience is more sophisticated that some of them can image.  They must finetune their language of delivery of their ideas or commentary to meet acceptable degrees of decency, respect and humility.  The prompt condemnation of the sentences is a clear indication that the leadership of the struggle will unite no matter what to confront this and other challenges on the way towards attaining their defined objectives.

And for all those perpetrating gross human rights abuses, could the ICC that you are part of hold them accountable someday?

I am just a lawyer at the international criminal court and other international criminal tribunals but I may venture to state that International justice may never entirely look  away from impunity and atrocity crimes.  

 

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Between extortion and the sanctity of Petroleum contracts in Nigeria, DRC and Senegal
August 21, 2019 | 0 Comments

Investors need to know that their investments are safe and that they will be protected by the law in case the other parties falter on their obligations

NJ Ayuk

NJ Ayuk

By NJ Ayuk*

Last week, a commercial court in the United Kingdom gave reason to a claim by engineering company Process and Industrial Developments Ltd (P&ID), which demands over USD$9 billion from the Nigerian government over a failed gas deal. The decision follows a 2017 arbitration award and turns it into a legal judgement, which could allow P&ID to seize Nigeria’s international commercial assets.

P&ID’s claim is based on a 2010 contract signed with the government of Nigeria for the construction and operation of a “gas processing plant to refine natural gas (“wet gas”) into lean gas that Nigeria would receive free of charge to power its national electric grid,” the company’s website states. Under the deal, the Nigerian government should have provided the necessary infrastructure and pipelines needed to supply gas to the plant. P&ID would build the plant for free and then operate it and commercialize the output for a period of 20 years.

The company claims that over this period it would have earned USD$6.6 billion in profit, an incredible figure that becomes ever more fantastic as the company claims that the yearly 7% interest it is supposedly charging on this capital has now accrued to USD$2.4 billion, at the rate of USD$1.2 million a day, which closes the full amount at a perfectly round USD$9 billion. The whole situation is in itself extremely puzzling. Afterall P&ID, a company created specifically for this project, is claiming it is entitled to the full amount of what it would have gained over a period of 20 years of work, even though that period would not be over for another decade and some. Further, it is already charging interests on capital it would, if the project went forward, it would still be a decade away from generating. On top of that, it has chosen to pursue the matter in a British court, and has a separate law suite in an American court, when the contract was signed in Nigeria, under Nigerian law, and should be pursued in a Nigerian court, as the Nigerian legal team has repeatedly stated.

Nigeria is seeking an appeal to the decision, but P&ID is not wasting any time in trying to seize Nigerian assets abroad, and it might well manage to do so, at least in part.

Further, P&ID has never even broken ground on the construction of this power plant, which it claims would have benefitted so many thousands of Nigerians. The company has reportedly spent USD$40 million on preparatory work, although it is impossible to attest what that work has been.

Even just looking to the amount spent, work done and compensation sought, the figures seem simply absurd. USD$9 billion corresponds to 20% of Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves, it would be unthinkable that a nation state would pay that much capital to a small unknown enterprise that invested not but a small fraction of that amount in the country and done none of the contracted work. Further, it is perplexing that a British court would even consider such a decision.

However, this issue represents an important cautionary tale for African governments everywhere. Very few things matter more in the struggle to attract investment and build a favourable business environment that will push the economy forward than the absolute sanctity of the contracts signed.

Investors need to know that their investments are safe and that they will be protected by the law in case the other parties falter on their obligations, as it seems to have happened with the Nigerian government. It is by no means the first time a situation like this happens. Just in March, an international court ordered the Democratic Republic of Congo to pay South African DIG Oil Ltd USD$617 million for failing to honor two oil contracts. This is an unacceptable and unjustifiable loss of capital for the people of the DRC. Particularly taking into account that the loss is incurred because the country’s leaders failed to comply with a contract that could have brought a considerable amount of wealth for the country for many years to come, in both royalties and taxes, as well as help develop its oil industry.

Senegal’s government under President Macky Sall was very smart to avoid this kind of litigation when it was confronted with the issue of the Timis Corporation and its ownership of acreage that included the Tortue field, which is estimated to contain more than 15 tcf of discovered gas resources. If President Macky Sall would have proceeded with terminating a valid contract for the acreage, the Timis Corporation would have engaged in arbitration and would have probably gotten a favorable judgment against Senegal. In the process, the gas fields would have sat dormant and produced no returns for Senegal and its citizens. Sometimes leaders are confronted with tough choices and it takes a profile in courage to find solutions and still respect the sanctity of contracts.

Even with criticism from civil society groups, Equatorial Guinea has honored contracts with U.S. oil companies that many oil analysts believe are unfavorable to the state. This principle has kept Equatorial Guinea’s oil industry stable and US firms continue to invest in new projects like the EGLNG backfilling project with Noble, Atlas Oranto, Glencore Marathon and the state.

African leaders and African nations can not afford this sort of mistakes anymore. If on the one hand, contracts must be respected, protected and followed through, the people in charge of evaluating and signing those contracts must have the project’s feasibility as the dominant reasoning behind any decision. What is the purpose of signing contracts for fantastic projects where there is neither the capital nor the conditions to pull it through. Our economies live out of their reputation too. No investor wants to work in a system where contracts are not honored and where their investments are not protected.

While P&ID’s request for USD$9 billion in compensations seems absurd, companies that see the contracts they sign with African governments, or any governments, disrespected, must have the right to claim compensation, just in the same way that African leaders must be responsible for the contracts they sign and must make sure that situations like this do not repeat themselves. Enough money has been wasted on lawsuits that could be used to benefit the lives of Africans. This is true for the oil and gas industry and in any other industries.

*NJ Ayuk is the CEO of Centurion Law Group, Executive Chairman of the Africa Energy Chamber, author of the upcoming book, Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals.

 

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EU Delegation Raises Concerns over human rights in Zimbabwe
August 21, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

President Mnangagwa with European Union Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Timo Olkkonen

President Mnangagwa with European Union Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Timo Olkkonen

 The Heads of Mission of the Delegation of the European Union, France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Romania, Sweden and the United Kingdom and the Heads of Mission of Australia, Canada and the United States of America have issued a statement raising concern over respect for human rights and freedom of assembly in Zimbabwe following recent demonstrations which rocked the country mainly in the capital Harare.

They said that intimidation, harassment and physical attacks on human rights defenders, trade union and civil society representatives, and opposition politicians – prior to, during and following the demonstration in Harare on 16 August – are cause for great concern.

The delegation adds that the Zimbabwean Constitution guarantees the right to personal security from violence and prohibits physical or psychological torture.

The Heads of Mission also  urged  the authorities to respect these fundamental rights, and to hold perpetrators of violence legally responsible.

The Heads of Mission also said that they called  on the authorities to respect the constitutional rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression as well as to peaceful protest, and urge all political party leaders and supporters to abstain from threats and incitement to violence as well as acts of violence or vandalism.

“The security forces must adhere to their Constitutional mandate and exercise restraint and proportionality while maintaining public order,” they said.

The delegation added that only by addressing concretely and rapidly these human rights violations will the Government of Zimbabwe give credibility to its commitments to address longstanding governance challenges.

“The Heads of Mission reiterate their calls for the implementation of the government’s political and economic reform agenda, underpinned by inclusive national dialogue and increased efforts to address the severe social situation,” the delegation added.

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ME, FARAGE AND BREXIT…
August 21, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Omar Arouna*

I was introduced to Nigel Farage in January 2017 by a friend and a business partner shortly after he pulled off the Brexit win. –For those who don’t know him, Nigel Paul Farage is a British politician, broadcaster, and political analyst serving as Leader of the Brexit Party since 2019 and has served as Member of the European Parliament for South East England since 1999— We will connect at events time permitting whenever he is in Washington DC.

At tonight reception honoring him, Nigel directed my attention to the picture below and asked, “Ambassador do you approve?” I guess Nigel wanted me to reach beyond the noise and grasp a deeper meaning of his fight for Brexit. I read the message on the picture and it got me thinking.  Think about it as well…

It is well documented that EU policies affect Africa’s ability to address its agricultural and food challenges: Tariff escalation; technological innovation and food export preferences are major challenge that the continent needs to overcome. African shouldn’t be viewed simply as raw material exporters. However, adding value to the exports out of the continent continue to be frustrated by existing EU policies.

According to Calestous Juma a professor of the practice of international development at Harvard Kennedy School “EU charges (a tariff) of 30 per cent for processed cocoa products like chocolate bars or cocoa powder, and 60 per cent for some other refined products containing cocoa.” The impact of such charges goes well beyond lost export opportunities. They suppress technological innovation and industrial development among African countries. The practice denies the continent the ability to acquire, adopt and diffuse technologies used in food processing. It explains to some extent the low level of investment in Africa’s food processing enterprises.

Such High import duties keep products from developing countries out of Europe. Highly processed products are taxed more heavily than raw products. Import tariffs increase the more processed a product becomes. This measure ensures that most imports to the EU are raw products like coffee, cocoa or pineapples which cannot be cultivated in Europe.

MAYBE BREXIT MIGHT NOT BE A BAD THING FOR AFRICA AFTER ALL…just a thought

*Omar Arouna is a Cybersecurity Technologist, Diplomat, International Relations and Africa market entry strategist

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