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Anglophone Group recommends 11-point special status proposal for Cameroon’s troubled regions
November 12, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

Attendees during the closing ceremony of the Major National Dialogue
Attendees during the closing ceremony of the Major National Dialogue

Faced with silence from the government since the National Dialogue ended, a college of English-speaking Cameroonians has tabled eleven recommendations towards an amicable arrangement to stem the ongoing political crisis in the country.

The recommendations put forward by civil society actors who tagged themselves as the Special Status Work group, say the ideas presented are what it takes to protect minorities and their interests in the country; a critical point that can be attributed to have triggered the crisis in the North West and South West regions.

Comprising educationists, religious leaders, politicians, lawyers, activists and human rights advocates among others, the group referenced a recommendation from the just-ended Major National Dialogue which pushes for granting a Special Status to the Northwest and Southwest Regions as a prerequisite to putting an end to civil unrest in the Anglophone regions.

Members of the work group include; Geoffrey Mbaku, Dr. Nick Ngwanyam, MD., Marceline Hoyle, Marilyn Ndua Bekima, Daniel Abwa Akwo and were supported by other participants among them; Barrister Agbor Nkongho Felix, Azong Wara Andrew, Eno Chris Oben, Joseph Fomba Fombason, Dr. Maxwell Mbah, Dr. Mafor Nono Edwan PhD, Bishop Dr. Leonard, Hon. Rev. Dr. Ayukachale Peter Egbe, and venerated journalist, Eric Chinje.

“The Major National Dialogue is the government’s first major attempt to engage in discussions that seek to bring peace and a return to economic activity in the area. The most important recommendation coming out of the MND in this regard is to effectively legislate a solution that recognizes the Special Status of the two regions”, a section of the resolution reads adding;

“This will be done based on the constitutional provision that allows the state to legally recognize the specificities of any parts of the national territory.”

Pointing out that the notion of “special status” is not specific to Cameroon or new to constitutional law, the group cited the experiences of Quebec in Canada, Hong Kong in

China and Northern Island in the United Kingdom as lessons that could be drawn upon in designing a similar constitutional arrangement for Cameroon.

“The State shall transfer to Regions, under conditions laid down by law, jurisdiction in areas necessary for their economic, social, health, educational, cultural and sports development…In line with the constitution which allows for Regionalism of the 10 provinces, the Northwest and Southwest will be considered, beyond the devolution of administrative authority that comes with decentralization, as two separate and distinct autonomous Regions within the special status regime.”

On a larger scale, the group advanced that each Region should determine its health, education, economic, social, cultural and environmental policies.

The proposal comes at a time of increasing pressure and scorn for those who attended the National Dialogue which many thought it was designed to fail. A month after the event, President who neither spoke at the opening session, nor the closing ceremony has largely remained mute leaving many wondering if his government has any intention of implementing the recommendations. In the meantime, the crisis continue to rage on with some two million people affected per recent UN reports.

Below is the list of recommendations as put forth by the Special Status work group;

1. The House of Assembly:

The House of Assembly will be the legislative body of the “Special Status” Region, deriving its powers directly from the people. It shall be comprised of representatives from all counties/divisions within the current North West and South West Regions. Each of the 2 regions will have its House of Assembly. All laws passed by both Regional Houses of Assembly take immediate effect after the (Elected) Governor signs the bill. There will be no ratification by National Parliament except as concerns those laws with specific application to border security, international relations and monetary policy.

Concerned citizens may constitute themselves and pursuant to a signature of at least 10,000 tax-paying citizens, table a motion for consideration by the Regional Houses of Assembly.

2. The House of Chiefs:

This institution will act as an advisory body to the House of Assembly like it did previously before reunification, with no legislative or veto power, as captured below:

The function of the House would be to consider and by resolution to advise on any matter referred to by the [Governor] or on any question or matter introduced by a member. The House would consider proposed (legislation) and important matters of police and its resolutions would be laid on the table of the House of Assembly when it would be open to the Government or any member to take them up.

Queen mothers and other female traditional royalty shall be eligible to sit in the House of Chiefs. Each of the 2 regions will have its House of Chiefs.

3. An Elected Governor.

The elected President of the Regional Council will serve as Governor. He/She will be the Regional Chief Executive. He/She will be assisted by a Lieutenant Governor who will also be elected. Each Region will have an elected Governor and a Lieutenant Governor.

4. Government Official/Liaison to the “Special Status” Regions:

The President of the Republic shall appoint a person as his/her representative to the

region, with offices within or without the Governor’s office, with the duty of observing and reporting to the President on matters of national interest within the region. This Liaison Officer shall be a Special Technical Adviser on areas of national domain like the borders, ports, parastatal corporations and national security. The Liaison will focus on the administration of national matters, as opposed to issues relating directly to the Region and shall not be above the elected Governor and Lieutenant Governor. Each Special Status Region shall have a Liaison officer appointed.

5. Judicial System:

A mix of inherited Common Law, Customary Law and an injection of modern law will form the exclusive judicial system of the Special Status Regions. The Regional Common Law Bar Association shall recruit legal candidates who understand and excel in Common Law to serve the Judicial System. The Judicial System shall recruit to serve as judges within the Regional courts, legal professionals who have practiced Common Law.

We also believe our Traditional rulers can serve as the first line of a functional local judiciary through the Customary Courts. Judges may refer cases brought to their benches to a local traditional ruler or customary court for mediation by persons duly trained and accredited to mediate the issues. If such mediation does not resolve the issue, the parties can then bring back the dispute before the judge.

Empowering the Traditional rulers through Customary Courts will solve two issues: providing revenue to our Traditional rulers to remain financially viable while successfully handling community disputes, and at the same time getting them to remain apolitical.

6. Revenue sharing

The National Government and the Regional Administrations shall agree on a formula for revenue sharing as pertains to revenue from natural resources present within the Special Status Region, with a minimum percentage staying within the Region, and a commitment by the National Government for a minimum percentage of the national budget to be guaranteed for the region. There will also be an agreement on a minimum amount of revenue to be retained or redistributed to the Region from all parastatal corporations based in the Region. Revenue sharing will be applicable exclusively to natural resources, extractive industries and revenue from parastatals. Property and other local taxes shall remain with the Local Government and shall be used locally.

The Governors, his/her cabinet, the Mayors, and representatives from the House of Chiefs, the Regional Assembly, and the Government liaison form an Executive Council which oversees appointments to public companies in the Special Status Regions. This Executive Council could also serve in the capacity of an advisory and consent organ. This Executive Council will be engaged in negotiating revenue sharing with the National Government.

7. Representation in the National Government, Executive and Judiciary.

At least 10 Senators should be exclusively reserved for Anglophone Senators irrespective of those who run for election on a political party banner. This means that 10 out of the 30 members of Senate appointed by the Head of State should come from the North West and South West Regions.

At the National Assembly, a proportionate number of seats, based on the most recent internationally recognized census results, should be reserved exclusively for the Special Status Regions, irrespective of political affiliation.

The National Government will ensure quotas for citizens of the Special Status Regions so that they can be adequately represented in the Judiciary, Legislative and Executive branches of government.

8. Change in the country’s name

The country’s name should be changed from The Republic of Cameroon to the United Republic of Cameroon. There is no better moment in our history than now to rename our country with words that accurately capture our vision and desire to remain one and indivisible. A United Republic of Cameroon captures it perfectly.

9. ENAM, CUSS, ECOLE DES POSTES, IRIC and similar public institutions

Graduating from these faculties will not automatically lead to employment by right in the Special Status Regions. All recruits into the local civil service will be screened by the Department of Public Service that will administer exams/board certifications and take charge of human resource planning and management. All State universities in the Special Status Regions will have a faculty of Public Administration or Public Policy. Graduates from these faculties will also be recruited into the civil service through exams and board certifications. Cameroonians from East Cameroon (the other 8 Regions) can be recruited into the civil service of the Special Status Regions after they pass an English proficiency exam.

The Special Status Regions will define their own educational policies from nursery to the university. The education system shall be STEM oriented, giving youths the opportunity to be productive and be job creators with abilities to generate wealth and foster development.

10. Special Regional Commissions

Special Regional Commissions on critical aspects of communal living will be set up as required and come into force after approval by a two-thirds majority in the Regional House of Assembly. These may include the following:

A Commission of Inquiry for matters of governance and investigation of senior government officials.

 A Vehicle Inspection Authority to ensure road safety and the road worthiness of automobiles and all mechanized road users.

A Sanitary Inspection Unit to oversee matters of public health and sanitation as well as the urban environment.

11. Police, Gendarmes and Other uniformed agents

Local councils would have jurisdiction of police stations throughout the North West and South West Regions in order to ensure community policing. For far too long Anglophones have repeatedly complained about abuses and torture from police officers who in most cases can barely effectively communicate with them. Furthermore, with the ongoing crisis, the need for local police is needed to restore trust, safety, and order in the Anglophone regions. The police training facilities in Mutengene should be run by the Special Status Regions to train their own police forces. Each Special Status Region will have its own police academy. Prison Warden and Forest guards should be trained locally.

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When the Anglophone Crisis meets Elections: advice from a Constitutionalist
November 12, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Barrister Paul Simo, Esq*

Cameroon’s political firmament is at present gripped by two major quandaries: that of resolving the first major crisis bordering on armed conflict to have affected the country in close to 50 years (the Anglophone crisis), and renewing the 5-year electoral mandates of the members of its Lower House of Parliament (the National Assembly), as well as elected Municipal Councilors (who in turn vote local government Mayors). The said mandates have already been extended for one (1) year. Both are indisputably national priorities, and both affect the NW/SW Regions in a particular manner. However, as every manager knows, there is a distinction between what is important, and what is urgent. All important tasks are not urgent, but an urgent task (even if unimportant) left unattended to, may dramatically increase its importance.

In the coming days, we will be releasing a major, longitudinal study of Special Status, Special Regional Autonomy, and Special Administrative Regions in countries around the world, informed by the crisis affecting the Northwest and Southwest Regions. The said 40-page study contains proposals for a Legislative Whitepaper on the Special Status framework for Cameroon’s Anglophone regions. One of the fundamental pre-requisites we observe in Special Status regions around the world, is that for them to be created, and for their attributes to be modified, legislation adopted by the national Parliament is not enough. Due to the fact that they create a unique type of relationship between a region of the country and its central State, Special Status arrangements need to be ratified through a democratic vote by a constituent assembly or by the elected representative body (legislature) of the Regions in question.

Presently, the Northwest and Southwest Regions of Cameroon do not have elected Regional Councils (same with the country’s other Regions). Therefore, any crafter of Special Status arrangements for both regions needs to scan keenly for which elected, representative body will stand in their stead, to validate the Special Status law once it is enacted by the National Legislature. It does not take particular constitutional genius to discern that the only democratically-elected alternative in place is to have recourse to a sui generis (specially-constituted) group of elected representatives from both regions, namely their Senators, Members of the Lower House (National Assembly), and Municipal Councilors. The current composition of those representatives from the Northwest and Southwest regions, elected in 2013, hold a popular elected mandate.

If elections were to be held in the Northwest and Southwest regions in February 2020, it must be assumed either that the current group of regional representatives will approve the Special Status content before the election, or that the February 2020 election will produce a democratically representative group of elected officials. And furthermore, that there will prevail a climate of sufficient calm and security in both regions, to allow a meaningful exercise of the most fundamental civic duty. None of the above assumptions sound feasible, let alone likely.

It must also be borne in mind that Special Status or Regional Autonomy arrangements, where undertaken to resolve a political crisis bordering on an armed conflict, must be embedded in a peace agreement which reaches out to, entices, and involves the belligerent armed groups. The August 2005 agreement signed in Helsinki, Finland, and brokered by the renowned Finnish Statesman and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Martti Ahtisaari, which brought to and end the separatist conflict in the Indonesian Island province of Aceh (fought for three decades between 1976 and 2005) is a shining example in this regard.

That peace agreement contained the prospect of regional autonomy, and succeeded to wean off the Free Aceh Movement (an armed insurrection that had received support for armed struggle from as far away as Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya), to renounce its separatist project and aspire for regional autonomy within a Unitary State of Indonesia. That peace agreement continues to hold to this day, 14 years later. The Peace Agreement (2005) was then reflected in a Special Status Law on the Governance of Aceh (2006). Special Status Legislation and Peace Agreement went hand in hand, whereas in Cameroon’s context, the Special Status process at national level, and the existing and undeniable early-stage peace process with armed groups are operating in silos, heightening the risk that the latter will later fundamentally revise the former.

To return to the timing of elections in the Northwest and Southwest regions, the most likely prospect, given current incidents, is that elections convened in February 2020 (even assuming a Special Status law has been passed) will meet hostile terrain. It is not the civic, traditional, and political Anglophone elites who met in Yaoundé from 30 September to 4 October (and endorsed the regional Special Status proposal) who are wreaking havoc in the two Regions, nor is it they who will disrupt an election therein. There is therefore the risk that an election held in the two Regions will have extraordinarily low levels of voter participation (anywhere from 1 to 2 % of the registered voters), casting a major doubt on the democratic, electoral legitimacy of the resulting Municipal Councilors and elected Lower House Representatives. To give such an unrepresentative group (since Regional Council elections are not also yet foreseen) the onus of endorsing and granting Regional imprimatur to the Special Status arrangements, is a way of killing this important prospect for peace in the two Regions.

It is therefore perennial that no-one who means well for resolution of the crisis should argue for elections to take place within those Regions without considering the dynamics above. Putting in place unrepresentative electoral “representatives” of both Regions, knowing fully well that those Regions’ representatives need to validate and endorse regional Special Status legislation to give it legitimacy, is culpable.

In order to address the counterargument that the entire country’s elected institutions cannot be left indefinitely in a limbo, the best approach for Cameroon will be to proceed with a split election. Hold the Legislative and Municipal elections in the other eight (8) regions of the country and defer the elections in the NW/SW for another year or so, pending the Special Status Legislation and Peace Agreement. (By the way, if deep insecurity blights parts of the Far North and renders elections materially impossible, they can be deferred, and by-elections conducted when security conditions improve). The practice of conducting by-elections is not anathema to democracies around the world – those are also convened when a local or regional election result is overturned in postelectoral litigation.

The argument that Cameroon is one unique national “constituency” and no citizen should be disenfranchised, falls on its face: Article 9 of Cameroon’s Constitution envisages both a State of emergency and a State of war, which can adequately, legally justify deferring elections. And it is questionable what “enfranchisement” of their residents occurs when those Regions have to hold “elections” amidst violence, impracticability of road transport, and massive internal displacement of their citizens across the country.

* The author specializes in the areas of constitutional, public, and international law. For 20 years (1999 to 2018) he worked on countries undergoing peace-processes and political transitions in East, Central, and West Africa. Between 2007 and 2018, he served the United Nations at Headquarters, and in multi-dimensional peace operations in Africa. He advised senior UN diplomats working on the following countries’ peace/reconstruction processes: Uganda (LRA conflict), DR Congo (regional conflagration in the 2000s), Burundi (2000s peace process), Sierra Leone and Liberia (Mano River region conflicts in the early 2000s), and the Central African Republic (escalation of politico-religious violence since 2013). He was Law valedictorian of the first graduating cohort of the University of Buea, Cameroon (LL.B. 1996) and holds a graduate law degree, summa cum laude, from the Catholic University of Notre Dame, Indiana. He is an Attorney at the Bar of New York (2001) and a Barrister in Cameroon (2010). The views expressed herein are solely those of the author. He is based in Douala and Yaoundé, Cameroon. Email: p_n_simo@yahoo.com.

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African Court Delegation Pays Courtesy Call On Zanzibar President
November 12, 2019 | 0 Comments

Zanzibar, 07 November 2019: The African Court Judges led by its President, Hon Justice Sylvain Oré, today paid a courtesy call on the President of Zanzibar, H.E Dr Ali Mohamed Shein, at State House.

The African Court is holding its 55th Ordinary Session from 4 to 29 November and 10th Extra-Ordinary Session from 2 to 7 December in Zanzibar.

During the discussions, the President of Zanzibar underscored the importance of human rights as a prerequisite for peace and stability and said that Zanzibar has attached special importance to it. He added that there cannot be any development without peace and stability. This, he said, has resulted in enormous economic, social and political achievements on the Islands.

He added: ‘’The success has also been contributed by the independence enjoyed by the three arms of government (the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary), which complement each other in the functions of state.’’

Dr Shein said he was pleased to receive the delegation of the Court. He assured them of the support of his government to ensure that the Sessions were conducted smoothly, and encouraged the Judges and staff to visit the many attractions in Zanzibar.

Hon Justice Oré thanked the Zanzibar government for hosting the sessions and especially for its commitment to peace, unity and the protection of human rights.

‘’The Court’s decision to hold the Sessions in Zanzibar is testimony of Zanzibar’s peace and stability and affirms the latter’s commitment to respect for human rights and the dignity of the human being”, Justice Oré said.

*African Court

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General Electric Appoints Selam Amare as Country Leader for Ethiopia
November 12, 2019 | 0 Comments
Selam Amare
Selam Amare
In this role, Selam will oversee General Electric’s (GE) operations in the country and strengthen our businesses presence in the market
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, November 11, 2019/ — General Electric (GE) (http://www.GE.com) has announced the appointment of Selam Amare as the Country Leader for Ethiopia. In this role, Selam will oversee GE’s operations in the country and strengthen our businesses presence in the market. She will also play a crucial role in implementing GE’s growth strategy for Ethiopia and leading the company’s public and private sector initiatives.

Prior to her appointment, Selam was GE Healthcare’s Life Care Solutions (LCS) Sales Manager for East Africa, responsible for defining strategy, growing the business through direct & indirect markets and driving clinical awareness for the LCS products for stakeholders in both public and private sectors.

Commenting on the appointment, Farid Fezoua, President and CEO, General Electric Africa said, “Ethiopia is a key country for GE. With projects in Healthcare, Aviation and Power, there is a huge potential to grow GE’s business. Selam’s experience, performance and reputation makes her the right person to continue our vision for the market, working closely with our government and private sector partners.” he said.

Selam joined GE in 2012 as the Product Manager for Interventional Radiology in Buc, France. She held several Global and Regional Product marketing roles in GE Healthcare while based in France and Turkey before moving to Ethiopia as the East Africa Sales Specialist for Maternal and Infant Care. She holds degrees in Electronic Engineering and Biomedical Engineering from Universite Claude Bernard Lyon, France. She also holds a degree in Medical Devices & Pharma Marketing from IAE de Nantes, France.

“I am excited about the appointment and the opportunity to work closely with our public, private and NGO sector partners to deliver solutions that help move, power, and cure the people of Ethiopia.” Selam said. “This appointment is also a testament of GE’s commitment to diversity and inclusion to drive true localization”.

GE has been doing business in Africa for 120 years plus and in Ethiopia for over 10 years investing in the healthcare, aviation and power sectors and driving capability and capacity building for local talent. This commitment is in line with the country’s five-year growth and transformation plan that aims to move the country towards middle-income status by 2025 by sustaining accelerated growth and speeding up structural transformation.
GE (http://www.GE.com) drives the world forward by tackling its biggest challenges: Energy, health, transportation—the essentials of modern life. By combining world class engineering with software and analytics, GE helps the world work more efficiently, reliably, and safely. For more than 125 years, GE has invented the future of industry, and today it leads new paradigms in additive manufacturing, materials science, and data analytics. GE people are global, diverse and dedicated, operating with the highest integrity and passion to fulfill GE’s mission and deliver for our customers.
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Halima Aliko Dangote Takes charge of Dangote Group Commercial Operations
November 11, 2019 | 0 Comments
Halima Aliko Dangote
Halima Aliko Dangote
Dangote Industries Appoints Halima Aliko Dangote as GED Commercial Operations
LAGOS, Nigeria, November 11, 2019/ — Halima Aliko Dangote has been appointed as the Group Executive Director, Commercial Operations of Dangote Industries Limited (DIL) (www.Dangote.com), one of Africa’s largest and most diversified business conglomerates.

According to a release by the company, Halima Aliko Dangote is returning to the Group after serving on secondment in several capacities across two of its Business Units over the last five years. She is also a Trustee of the Aliko Dangote Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the conglomerate. 

In her most recent role, Halima served as Executive Director of Dangote Flour Mills. Remarkably, she led the turnaround of the business from loss in turnover to a profitable status; a feat derived from consistent high performance over time.

Previously, she served as Executive Director of NASCON, a manufacturer of salt, seasonings and related consumer products, which are enjoying huge patronage among consumers. She continues to serve as a Non-Executive Director of NASCON.

Halima is the president of the Board of The Africa Center in New York, a uniquely focused center providing a forward-looking gateway for engagement with Africa, while encompassing policy, business and culture. She is a Board member of Endeavour Nigeria, and is also a member of the Women Corporate Directors (WCD).

She has over 12 years of professional experience and has held several executive management roles. In her new role, Halima will be responsible for leading the development and implementation of the Dangote Group’s customer strategy to drive customer growth, improve customer relationship management, enhance customer experience and increase long term customer value, according to the release.

She will also be responsible for the implementation of the Group’s shared services strategy with specific oversight for the following functions; Commercial, Strategic procurement, Administration and Branding & Communications.

Halima, who has a strong passion for women empowerment, holds a Bachelors’ Degree in Marketing from the American Intercontinental University, London, United Kingdom and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Webster Business School, United Kingdom.

She has attended a number of high profile leadership development programmes including: the Programme for Leadership Development (PLD) at Harvard Business School; Executive Development Programme at Kellogg School of Management; Finance and Accounting for Non-Financial Executives at Columbia Business School.

The Dangote Group, which recently emerged as the Most Admired African Brand and the Most Valuable Brand in Nigeria for the second consecutive year (2018 – 2019) is actively involved in manufacturing cement, sugar, salt, flour, poly-products as well as logistics, oil & gas and real estate.
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2019 Africa Visa Openness Index: African Union Commission, African Development Bank report shows wins in visa restrictions across Africa
November 11, 2019 | 0 Comments

  • For the first time, on average, Africans can travel to approximately 27 countries visa-free or with a visa on arrival
  • Ethiopia moves up a record 32 places on the Index, entering the top 20 most visa-open countries in Africa

For the first time, African travellers have liberal access to over half the continent, the 2019 Africa Visa Openness Index published by the African Union Commission and African Development Bank, reveals. The report was launched on Monday on the sidelines of the Africa Investment Forum, which opened in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The progress on visa openness in Africa follows growing momentum for greater integration between countries and signals that policymakers across the continent are pushing reforms, making it easier for African businessmen and women, investors, students and tourists to travel.

This fourth edition of the Index shows that 47 countries improved or maintained their visa openness scores in 2019. African visitors no longer need a visa to travel to a quarter of other African countries, whereas visa-free travel was only possible to a fifth of the continent in 2016. Currently, 21 African countries also offer eVisas to make travel more accessible, up from up from 16 in 2018, 13 in 2017, and 9 in 2016).

The 2019 top performers on visa openness rank among the top countries for foreign direct investment in Africa, and benefit from strong levels of growth, including in tourism. The Index shows that Seychelles and Benin remain the top two countries on visa openness in Africa, with their visa-free policy for all African visitors. Ethiopia moved up a record 32 places on the Index and entered the top 20 most visa-open countries in Africa.

African Development Bank President Akinwumi A. Adesina said, “Our work on the Africa Visa Openness Index continues to monitor how Africa is doing on free movement of people. Progress is being made but much still needs to be done. To integrate Africa, we should bring down the walls. The free movement of people, and especially labour mobility, are crucial for promoting investments.”

The Visa Openness Index has inspired reforms in more than 10 African countries including Ghana, Benin, Tunisia, Ethiopia and Kenya, unlocking tremendous potential for the promotion of intra-regional tourism, trade and investments.

Despite the gains shown in the report, there is the need to move further.  In 2019, only 26% of Africans are able to get visas on arrival in other African countries, up by only 1% compared to 2016.

Countries need to make more progress on visa regimes, including introducing visas-on-arrival. By breaking down borders, Africa will be able to capitalize on gains from regional integration initiatives such as the African Continental Free Trade Area, the Single African Air Transport Market, and the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons.

“It cannot be stressed enough how crucial integration is for the development of the continent and the fulfilment of its people’s aspiration to well-being. I congratulate those member states that have taken measures to ease the procedures for the entry of African nationals into their territories, and urge those that have not yet done so to join this growing momentum,” said Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission.

About the Africa Visa Openness Index

The Africa Visa Openness Index measures how open African countries are when it comes to visas by looking at what they ask of citizens from other countries in Africa when they travel. The Index is tracking changes in country scores over time to show which countries are making improvements that support freer movement of people across Africa.

Download the 2019 Africa Visa Openness Index and find out more at www.visaopenness.org

*AFDB

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2019 Africa Investment Forum: There’s never been a better time to invest in Africa than now, infrastructure, agriculture investment opportunities abound
November 11, 2019 | 0 Comments

It was a presidential start on Monday to the African Development Bank’s Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Dignitaries and delegates from the continent and around the world gathered to listen to Presidents Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana and Prime Minister Agostinho do Rosario of Mozambique. 

They engaged in a discussion titled, Invest in Africa’s Space: Conversation with African Heads of State, moderated by Dr. Victor Oladokun, African Development Bank Group Director of External Relations and Communications.

The message from all is clear – Africa is better placed than ever for investment.
President Cyril Ramaphosa identified infrastructure, energy, manufacturing and tourism as the sectors where the most investment opportunities exist in South Africa. And as the tourism capital of the continent, the president claims when God created Africa, he spent more time on the southern tip.

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagama had a positive message to share, “There has been a lot of progress and activities taking place on the continent, raising Africa to a higher level. I have always thought it was Africa’s time – but in the past we have let ourselves down.” He says his country has created a conducive investment environment through good governance systems and security, and according to the World Bank, it is the second easiest African country with which to do business. Rwanda is focusing on three main areas – creating an agribusiness hub, the planned Kigali Innovation City and the Kigali Innovation Fund.

For Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo, the Africa Continental Free Trade Area remains a priority. He says his government is working to strengthen the country’s macro-economy, “We’ve managed to turn around rising inflation, curbed debt, and maintained discipline in the managing of public finances. In just 3 years, our economy is expanding to become one of the world’s fastest growing economies.” The country’s current priorities are infrastructure, agriculture and mineral resources.

Prime Minister Agostinho do Rosario representing the President of Mozambique, says his country has changed a lot. His government is open to investment, fighting corruption and has improved transparency. It has managed to control inflation, reducing it from 27% to 13%. The country has a youthful population, which is ready to work. Mozambique has many investment opportunities, particularly in oil and gas, agriculture and mineral resources.

The four presidents also responded to questions from the audience.
There was a common theme amongst the leaders – continuing governance issues need to be addressed, such as political stability, security and conflict. President Kagama says many African states know what needs to be done, which includes improving accountability, transparency and trust, while promoting the role of women.

Answering a question about the safety of foreign nationals in South Africa, President Ramaphosa reassured the continent that his country has always welcomed people from around the world, especially its neighbors, as South Africa is home to all.

He says his government is taking action and setting up an early warning system.

On agriculture and fisheries sector in Mozambique, Prime Minister Agostinho do Rosario said the industries are vital for job and income creation. He adds that only 10% of arable land in his country is being used. Modernization is needed, as well as expansion in crops like maize, cashew nuts and cotton. Mozambique’s government is also working to maintain peace in the country.

Asked about his government’s approach to the cocoa industry, Ghana’s President, Nana Akufo-Addo explained that his country and Côte d’Ivoire produce about 65% of the world’s cocoa, worth about $100bn. Of that money, the farmers producing the product, receive about $6bn. Both countries have decided to take action by forging a common policy with a set cocoa floor price, increasing the farmers’ earnings.

The Africa Investment Forum is an innovative, multi-stakeholder transactional marketplace conceived by the African Development Bank, aimed at raising capital, advancing projects to the bankable stage, and accelerating financial closure of deals.

The 2018 inaugural Africa Investment Forum secured investment interests for deals valued at $38.7 billion — in less than 72 hours.

The 2019 Forum runs from 11 to 13 November in Johannesburg, South Africa.

*AFDB

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2019 Africa Investment Forum kicks off delivering on the promise to redefine and unpack the continent’s investment opportunities
November 11, 2019 | 0 Comments
  • $500 million equity closed for the Africa Infrastructure Investment Fund to speed up investments in agriculture
  • Financial close for the Africa Guarantee Fund $175 Equity transaction to support Small and Medium Size Enterprises, and $350 million for South Africa’s beef agro-processing project

The 2019 Africa Investment Forum opened on Monday living up to its promise to move from commitment to action.

A $500 million equity deal presented by the Africa Infrastructure Investment Fund last year, to speed up investments in agriculture, and a $175 million equity transaction from the Africa Guarantee Fund for investors to support Small and Medium Size Enterprises, are among the transactions that found financial close over the past year.

The opening ceremony was attended by President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa; President Nana Akufo Addo of Ghana; President Paul Kagame of Rwanda; and Prime Minister Agostinho do Rosario of Mozambique. 

 “The time is now to move with speed to ensure that we unlock our potential…Indeed our continent is ripe for investments, but more importantly, it is also brimming with enormous profitable opportunities,” President Ramaphosa said in his address, as he urged investors to move beyond pledges.

The Africa Investment Forum is an innovative, multi-stakeholder transactional marketplace conceived by the African Development Bank, aimed at raising capital, advancing projects to the bankable stage, and accelerating financial closure of deals.

 “As the investor community, your presence here shows your unwavering will to help us and support us to succeed. I invite you, therefore, to join us as we pass the flickering torch of progress across every border of this great continent until the light of development and economic prosperity illuminates every African village, every African town, every African city, in every African household.” he said.

The inaugural Africa Investment Forum secured investment interests for deals valued at $38.7 billion in less than 72 hours. “A lot of progress has been made on these investment interests,” with a highly dedicated team of partners working around the clock to accelerate financial closure for transactions,” African Development Bank President Akinwuni Adesina said.

Another transaction tabled last year – a $600 million transaction for COCOBOD to help improve processing and value addition for cocoa – has also reached financial close, and will be signed during this edition of the Forum. Similarly, South Africa’s $350 million beef agro-processing project has reached financial close.

“Promise made, promise kept,” said Adesina. He noted that Mara Phones Ashish Takkhar made a commitment during the 2018 Forum. “In 2019, he delivered.”

“It is a new, more confident Africa. A continent now aware of its place in the world and determined to be a global investment haven. And Africa is harnessing investors’ interests and investments. Welcome to the Africa Investment Forum, the place to be for investors,” he said.

Several leading figures were in attendance including, the Premier of Gauteng province, David Makhura; Tito Mboweni, Minister of Finance and African Development Bank’s Governor for South Africa; Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Minister of Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs and Ibrahim Mayaki representing the chairperson of the African Union Commission. Minister Philip Mpango from Tanzania; Minister Jean Jacques Bouya from the Republic of Congo; Mr. Vital Kamerhe from the Democratic Republic of Congo were among the high-level delegates who took part in the opening ceremony. Executive Governors from Nigeria, including Kayade Fayemi of Ekiti State; Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, and Adulrahman Abdurazaq of Kwara State.

Shortly after the opening ceremony, Masai Ujuri, President of the Toronto Raptors; Ashish J. Thakkar, CEO of Mara Group and Tokunboh Ismael Managing Partner of Alitheaia IDF Fund shared their views on progress made since 2018.

The Africa Investment Forum inaugural edition was launched in 2018 in partnership with Africa50, Afrexim Bank, the Trade Development Bank, the Development Bank of South Africa, the Islamic Development Bank, the Africa Finance Corporation, the European Investment Bank.

The Forum runs from 11 to 13 November in Johannesburg, South Africa.

*AFDB

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Africa reminisced On 30th anniversary of Berlin Wall Fall
November 11, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Today in my native Cameroon, killings & atrocities are erecting new walls, literally & figuratively Dr Fomunyoh said at the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall organized by the Bertelsmann Foundation
Today in my native Cameroon, killings & atrocities are erecting new walls, literally & figuratively Dr Fomunyoh said at the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall organized by the Bertelsmann Foundation

As the world marked thirty years of the fall of the Berlin Wall, its ramifications on parts of Africa were part of an interactive discussion in Dickerson, MD, with people for whom division has been a reality.

Speaking at the event Dr Christopher Fomunyoh,  Senior Associate and Regional Director For Central And West Africa at the Washington,DC,based National Democratic Institute, NDI, started by reminding participants that before the Berlin Wall, the Berlin Conference of 1884 created its own walls from  which Africa is still to recover till date. Reverberations of the artificial boundaries that resulted from that conference are still very much present across many parts of Africa today, Dr Fomunyoh said.

On Cameroon, Dr Fomunyoh painted a graphic picture of the sad developments which have brought the country to the brink of a civil war.

“The killings and atrocities are erecting new walls, literally and figuratively,” Dr Fomunyoh said. Citing recent United Nations, Fomunyoh indicated that educational, and economic activities in the English-speaking regions have been grounded. The humanitarian emergency is now affecting close to 2 million people. Arbitrary arrests, burning of villages, wanton killings have become the order and the widespread insecurity has contributed significantly in keeping some 855,000 children out of school, Dr Fomunyoh said.

Echoing reports from some analysts who say believe that the situation in Cameroon remains one of the most under reported crisis in the world, Dr Fomunyoh said those who see a miniature of the Rwandan genocide in Cameroon may not be completely off the mark.

It is unfortunate that the government of Cameroon has continued with the logic of arrogance, bad faith, dishonesty, and mismanagement that have created profound mistrust between the Anglophones and Francophones in Cameroon, Dr Fomunyoh said, while affirming calls he has consistently made that only genuine dialogue, with the political will to push through profound political reforms can start the healing process in Cameroon.

Tony Culley-Foster sharing the Irish experience

The experiences and developments in Cameroon and Africa, shared by Dr Fomunyoh, mirrored challenges shared by other guest speakers from different parts of the world at the event which took place at a beautiful agricultural reserve  . Born in Germany, Ulrike Rodgers shared experiences growing up close to the wall. A Program Director for Francophone West Africa at the National Democratic Institute, Ulrike said both sides of the divide worked hard to drive the separation. Though her family lived less than an hour away from the wall, they and many others were clueless about life on the other side, she said.

Originally from Nashville Tennessee, and Lecturer of African and Security Studies at the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, Travis Adkins shared personal, and family experiences of life growing up in the segregated American South. Despite the significant progress that has been made, the scars are still there, and the challenges remain many, Travis said.

It was a lively discussion with people for whom division has been a reality.

Tony Culley-Foster ,who lived in Northern Ireland before the Good Friday agreement, shared the checkered history of his country of origin. Mr. Foster who brought the torch of the 2012 Olympics and a piece of the Berlin Wall, said his experiences contributed to the creation of a network of young Ambassadors to fight for peace.

Dubbed stories from the Other Side of the Wall, the event was organized by the Bertelsmann Foundation, a German think tank in Washington, DC, which shares transatlantic perspectives on global challenges. Serving as moderator for the discussions was Emily Rodriguez, communications director for the Foundation. Participants were in unison that  more was needed from people across the globe for the best in humanity to re-emerge.

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“News with a human face” in focus at African Development Bank and Thomson Reuters Foundation workshop for African journalists
November 11, 2019 | 0 Comments

“The training opened my eyes to see Africa as it is, and not as it is portrayed in the media,” said Thando Magudulela, a journalist with the South African Broadcasting Corporation, at the opening of the second edition of a reporting workshop hosted by the African Development Bank in South Africa.

Following the successful first edition in Abidjan last June, the African Development Bank and the Thomson Reuters Foundation organised the next phase of its collaboration from 6-8 November 2019,  in Pretoria.

“Let’s work together in creative ways to ensure accountability in our countries, and build a new Africa for future generations,” Victor Oladokun, the Bank’s Director of Communication and External Relations, said in a presentation at the programme.

“Permit me to say it is not all doom and gloom. Together, we need to tell the stories of some of the positive developments taking place on our continent and of a resurgent Africa,” Oladokun told participants.

The workshop was attended by journalists from 21 Southern and Eastern African countries.  The programme offered them specialised reporting knowledge and skills focusing on impact development placing people at the center of the continent’s development narrative.

The three-day programme delivers on a pledge that Bank President Akinwumi Adesina made at the Bank’s Annual Meetings last year in Busan, South Korea, where he promised to provide development training to journalists.

As part of the rigorous course, trainees visited Ekurhuleni East TVET College in Germiston, Gauteng Province, where the Bank‘s support has impacted 200 students, instructors and Small Medium and Micro Enterprise (SMMEs) in the local community. This has led to improved performance of students and productivity for SMMEs.

“I am impressed with the selection of trainers. I learnt a lot, and this is good for my career development. I will forever value this opportunity and will always be grateful to the African Development Bank,” said Doreen Chilumbu Nawa from the Zambian Daily Mail.

The African Development Bank’s High 5 priorities sharpen the focus and adapt the global agenda and the Paris Climate Agreement to the Agenda 2063 for Africa developed by the African Union.

“This training gave us opportunity to learn that we can also focus on changing and developing our communities through our profession,” said Kebadiretse Rasekhutla, from Gabz FM, based in Botswana.

The High 5s target inclusive growth and a transition to green growth through five priorities to improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation promotes impartial, independent evidence-based reporting.

To Elizabeth Akolde Malath, a mid-career journalist from the South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation, the training was “an eye-opener to upcoming journalists like me.”

*AFDB

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Why the Africa Investment Forum matters for the continent’s energy transformation
November 11, 2019 | 0 Comments

Wale Shonibare*

Wale Shonibare

The African Development Bank’s New Deal on Energy for Africa underlines the urgency to power the continent in order to end energy poverty, catalyze industrialization, and stimulate socio-economic growth. The strategy is grounded in the recognition that access to reliable, affordable and sustainable energy is central to Africa’s development, and lifting populations out of poverty. 

Close to 600 million people in the continent still lack energy access, despite Africa’s abundant energy resources, especially renewables such as wind, solar, hydro, and geothermal. Bridging the energy access gap, and catalyzing economic growth, requires substantial investments into Africa’s energy sector. The private sector sits on the bulk of the capital.

Investors recognize the opportunities in the energy sector, yet multiple barriers stand in the way of transformational private sector participation – including non-creditworthy utilities, the absence of cost-reflective tariffs, and capacity constraints throughout the energy sector value chain. Unlocking private sector capital, therefore, must be accompanied by resolving policy and regulatory issues, and other systemic bottlenecks, in order to create the right conditions for energy investments from outside and within Africa.

The impetus to mobilize and scale up private investment into the energy sector is what makes the Africa Investment Forum such a critical platform for the continent’s energy future. By leveraging the Bank’s convening power to facilitate public-private dialogue, we will move closer to our goal of universal energy access, primarily through reforms and financial instruments to de-risk transactions, enhance bankability, and fast-track project closure.

At this year’s forum, the Bank’s energy team will engage sector stakeholders in extensive consultations, knowledge exchange, networking, and peer-to-peer learning in order to address barriers to mobilizing and scaling up private investment into the energy sector. During various boardroom sessions, we will focus on a range of projects, including the Inga Dam in the DRC, the Baynes hydro plant in Angola and Namibia, and the Tulu Moye geothermal development in Ethiopia.

We will also continue discussions on the roll-out of the Bank’s transformative Desert to Power Initiative following its endorsement at the G5 Sahel Heads of State Summit on 13 September in Burkina Faso.

We will also engage further on mobilizing climate finance through the Africa Financial Alliance for Climate Change (AFAC) in order to shift portfolios of African financial institutions towards climate-friendly projects across the continent.

Earlier this year, the Board of the African Development Bank approved the Distributed Energy Service Companies (DESCOs) programme to support the deployment of off-grid solutions in Sub-Saharan Africa at scale. We will engage investors on our plans to innovate through the use of securitization financing techniques, which address access to finance barriers for DESCOs while supporting their growth and expansion into existing and new countries. We will also release the 2019 edition of the Electricity Regulatory Index (ERI), which is a diagnostic tool that highlights key areas in regulatory design and practice that require improvement.

Throughout the discussions, investors and stakeholders will be better able to understand market dynamics, policy, and regulatory frameworks, while learning first-hand about the details and potential of bankable projects, and what needs to be done to speed up financial close.

By facilitating mutually beneficial dialogue amongst stakeholders who can dramatically affect our energy landscape, the Africa Investment Forum is creating the requisite foundation for accelerated private sector investments to ultimately assure Africa’s energy transformation.

*Wale Shonibare, Acting Vice-President, Power, Energy, Climate Change & Green Growth, African Development Bank

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Kenyan Journalist Among Honorees at ICFJ Awards
November 10, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ben Bangoura*

ICFJ Awards Dinner,Photo Ben Bangoura AlloAfrica News
ICFJ Awards Dinner,Photo Ben Bangoura AlloAfrica News

The ICFJ 35th Anniversary Awards Dinner to honor the achievements of outstanding journalists around the world was held on Thursday November 7, in Washington, DC. The evening was emceed by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

Washington Post executive editor Martin Baron, accepted a top award in a key address. In an interview afterward with AlloAfricaNews’ Ben Bangoura, he reminded journalists about the First amendment of the Constitution of the United States which, he insisted, remains the foundation for journalism in this country.

“The idea is that there should be an institution outside that would hold accountable the government. Unfortunately, the Freedom of Press in US is under threat which is coming from the White House”, Baron said.

He called on journalists to execute the mission of truth telling.

Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron
Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron

“That is what we do everyday at Washington Post,” the editor lauded the legendary newspaper that uncovered the details of the Watergate scandal, leading to President Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974.

Other awardees include a features reporter with Kenya’s NTV and the 2019 ICFJ Knight International Journalism Award Winner Rose Wangui.

Speaking to reporter Ben Bangoura, Wangui said she was honored to be rewarded and recognized for her work tackling tough issues such as sexual bondage of young girls. She also shed some light on challenges facing journalists particularly in Africa.

Rose Wangui.
Rose Wangui.

ICFJ was founded in 1984 to support journalists abroad, especially those in countries with poor or non-existent free press systems. Founders include Tom Winship, Jim Ewing, and George Krimsky, three prominent U.S. journalists. 

International Center for Journalists is located in Washington, DC.

The 35th anniversary event was held at Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center and attracted hundreds of journalists and editors. Educators, press freedom advocates and business leaders were also in attendance.

*AlloAfrica News

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