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A Lifeline for African and International Students In MPower Financing
October 15, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

The unique services are open to African students says Maureen Klovers pictured here with PAV’s Ajong Mbapndah L

For international students, and those who aspire to study in the USA and Canada, one of the biggest challenges remains how to secure funds. Traditional student loans end up been very costly and eligibility conditions are often stringent for them. In MPower Financing, international students and those from Africa aspiring to study in Canada and the USA now have a partner to help them live their dreams.

From the application, to eligibility criteria, and repayment, MPower Financing  is shaping up to be a dependable vehicle for them to fulfil their dreams of quality education.

“Any student from any African country except Sudan is eligible to apply provided that they go to one of our 350 schools in the US and Canada,” says Maureen Klovers, Director of Social Impact with MPower Financing. Interviewed in Washington,DC, Maureen Klovers said MPower is gaining grounds in countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Malawi, Kenya and Cameroon . Our motto is “when the borrower succeeds, we succeed,” said Maureen Klovers as she expressed the hope to see more African students benefit from  the unique services offered by MPower Financing.

You are Director of Social Impact with MPower Financing. What is MPower Financing and what do you do?

Maureen Klovers: We are the world’s only lender that provides fix rate education loans to international students from all over the world without requiring a US collateral or a US credit history. That is very unique and Nigeria is our second biggest market while Ghana is rising in the ranks- I think our 6th largest. So Africa is really important to us and we are happy to talk to you.

 Do you provide funding for students only in the US or do you also provide funding to students in Africa who are in need of funding?

Maureen Klovers: Most of our students are based in Africa and other parts of the world and are coming to the US for graduate degrees. So 80% of our students are pursuing graduate degrees. We can make loans to students pursuing graduate degrees or students in their last two years of undergraduate. We do have some students from the Diaspora who are permanent or are already working here who also get loans.

What is the cap or limit students can get?

Maureen Klovers: We can loan up to $25K at one time and $50K overall for any student.

What are the criteria for students to benefit from the loans?

Maureen Klovers: You first need to be eligible and we have very broad criteria. So any student from any African country except Sudan is eligible to apply provided that they go to one of our 350 schools in the US and Canada. You need to be within two years of graduation and for an MBA that is fine as it is a two year degree. For any kind of two year degree it will cover that and then if you are at your last two years of your undergraduate. Very simple and eligibility criteria and you can do a 30sec eligibility check on our website and it will tell you if you are eligible or not. It is just 3 questions and they will ask you about the cost of your degrees, where you are going and what you are studying. What is really unique about us is that we do not make our credit decision base on your family’s income or asset and so it is not a collateral loan. We make our decision base on your future earning potential so we are looking at your past earning history, your past professional experience, the school you are going to, the degree you are going to get and so if you are going to get an MBA degree, or an Engineering degree we are confident that you are going to get a good earning potential and be able to pay us back.

 How different are you from the other loan structures that are out there?

Maureen Klovers: Very different because most Africans right now are either using funding from their families which mean we are talking about wealthy individuals or while other lenders will ask you to mortgage your home for example. What is unique about us is that we do not require you to mortgage or to rely on your parents. Again, we are focusing on the future earning potential.

 Any idea of the number of African students you currently have?

Maureen Klovers: We have roughly 500 at the moment. Our biggest market is India but our second biggest market is Nigeria. Our 6th biggest market right now is Ghana, and other African countries include South Africa Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya and Cameroon.

With regards to loan payments, at what point do you require students to start repaying?

Maureen Klovers: Our loan product is unique in that students pay interests while they are in school interest only and then for 6 months after graduation. A lot of our students get like an on campus job to help make those small payments. The benefit is that you are not paying interest on interest so people do not realize that if you do not pay while you are in school it accrues and you end up paying more and the other thing is that it allows you to build your US credit history so that when you graduate you can get a credit card, car loan and pass a credit check for employment. After that 6 months grace period, there is a ten year repayment period where you repay the interest in principle.

With the experience that you have had, how prompt is the repayment process? How flexible are you when it comes to these repayments?

Maureen Klovers: We try to be really flexible because we are a social benefit corporation which means we are for profit, we are not a non-profit organization but we have social point objectives and our motto is. So what we do is that when a student gets into trouble, we can put them on forbearance for up to 24 months so we can put their payments on pause and we can also offer them a $25 credit billing option where they make $25 payment a month and we continue to report the loan current to the credit bureau. So we can do a variety of things and we also have a path to success initiative where we can do a free review of the student’s resume; how to ace an interview and those are for international students.

With regards to the students who live Africa and come here, do you help them with visa application?

Maureen Klovers: Thanks for asking. We provide visa support and the processes is that you go through most of our loan process and we conditionally approve you then we will provide you a letter to take to the US Embassy that says yes, this student has enough funds to be in the US. The process to get a student visa is that you need to show you have sufficient financial support, so we will provide a letter that we are providing loans and together with other savings and amounts that should be sufficient.

What are you doing to broaden your outreach in Africa since you have been in existence for five years now?

Maureen Klovers: This interview is a start and we are also trying to bring more of our Nigerian borrowers and scholarship winners to raise our profile. We have a lot of scholarship programs but honestly Africans have dominated the winner’s list. We have had winners from Nigeria, Malawi, and Kenya and so through our scholarship program we are getting the word out there. We started a new Facebook group, and Africans are by far the number one demographics in that group and we have also been doing focus groups through our consulting firm to better understand the challenges facing African students and women. Only 35 per cent of our borrowers from Nigeria are females, so that is what we have been focusing on. In terms of overcoming the barriers for women in Africa we have recently partnered with the Malala Fund and we are going to be donating $25 from each of our loans to them to support access to secondary education for girls in India, Nigeria and other places around the world.

Which fields of study will easily  make students to meet your eligibility criteria?

Maureen Klovers: Actually we do not have any limit in the fields of study, you could be in any degree program but you are more likely to be approved at least for more money if you are in an MBA program or any STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) degree just because your future earning potential is that much better. But I do not want to dissuade anyone from applying because even if you are a communications major or in the Arts or in some other field you can still get funding. But it is just more likely if you are in a business or STEM field.

In the course of your studies maybe the cost becomes more than you anticipated, are there prospects for applying for additional loans?

Maureen Klovers: Our lifetime cap for borrowers is $50K. A typical borrower borrows 31K, so they are below that. So, let us say you borrow 30K and you have a shortfall, you could apply to borrow another $20K and we see that a lot. We have some students like in one of our scholarship we have people like Fulbright scholars, and they get a hundred per cent scholarship and they can get a loan from us like $20K to cover their lodging, food and everything.

*For more information visit Mpower Financing

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Strengthening Africa’s fragmented data landscape is key to meeting development targets, says new African Governance Report by Mo Ibrahim Foundation
October 15, 2019 | 0 Comments
Mo Ibrahim

African governments and partners need to step up efforts to close ‘data gaps’ in SDGs tracking and ensure Agenda 2063 can be monitored and measured

Dakar and London, 15 October 2019 – The African Governance Report, published today by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, draws on data from the Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) and shares new insights on progress towards the African Union’s (AU) Agenda 2063 and the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It points to where policy efforts can be focussed to tackle current governance challenges, and highlights the urgency of addressing the ‘data gap’ in Africa to ensure progress can be assessed and shortfalls addressed.

This is a critical time as Africa prepares to enter the last decade of the 2030 SDG Agenda and is halfway through the First Ten-Year Implementation Plan of Agenda 2063.

Overall Governance scores in the IIAG, the most comprehensive dataset on African governance, point to a strong correlation with performance in the Africa SDG Index, underscoring the importance of good governance to sustainable development in Africa.

Reviewing the themes with the highest overlaps between both Agendas and the IIAG – Access to and Quality of Education, Health and NutritionWomen and Youth InclusionProsperity and Economic Opportunity, and Security, Justice and Strong Institutions – the report highlights priority areas to address.

Quality of education needs to be addressed, aligning education with market needs can also be advanced if governments and partners take a closer look at prioritising active engagement with the private sector, to assess the requirements of the job market.

In health, special attention should be paid to the availability, quality, affordability and capacity of health services, while also tackling food security.

For prosperity and economic opportunity, the report notes that governments and partners should look at diversifying economies, accelerating progress in infrastructure – specifically physical transport, electricity and ICT –increasing investment in the rural sector, and strengthening regional integration, to make efficient progress.

Important correlations between IIAG measures are outlined to help create a more conducive environment for achieving development targets. For example, access to electricity shows a strong correlation to performance in both health and education.

Crucially, a concerning picture of data challenges emerge across the continent. Almost half of the targets for Agenda 2063 are not directly quantifiable and so far, fewer than 20% have an indicator to measure progress. On average fewer than 40% of the indicators for the SDGs have sufficient data to track progress accurately on the continent. The report highlights that over half of the data source types on SDG indicators on Africa are estimation, modelling or global monitoring. In particular, only one third of data sources on SDG indicators on Africa are from direct country sources. The ability to monitor progress towards development targets in Africa is compromised.

Since the adoption of both Agendas, coverage and frequency of publicly available data for key data categories in Africa have declined. Critically, one of the areas that has seen, on average, large deterioration is population and vital statistics. Further, only eight African countries have a birth registration system that covers 90% or more of the population over the last ten years (2009-2018), and only three have a death registration system that covers 90% or more of the population. The paucity of such vital data is in striking contrast with population growth – Africa is expected to be home to 1.68 billion people by 2030.

Without accurate and complete vital statistics, it is impossible to implement effective solutions to any development challenge and to deliver for citizens. Since 2008, little average improvement in statistical capacity has been made, according to IIAG data. This issue is compounded by low levels of independence of national statistics offices.

The report calls for Sound Data for Governance in order to ensure inclusive development: the ‘missing SDG’.

Mo Ibrahim, Chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, said: “We welcome continued efforts to improve governance, which is crucial to achieving the SDGs and Agenda 2063 goals. However, we are deeply worried by the inability to accurately monitor progress against these targets on the continent. Data is an essential foundation for effective policymaking and resource mobilisation. Without data, we drive blind – policies are misdirected and progress on the road to development is stunted. We must all act urgently to close the ‘data gap’, if indeed we aim to leave no one behind.”

Access the 2019 African Governance Report directly: mif.media/gr-2019

  • The Mo Ibrahim Foundation was established in 2006 with a focus on the critical importance of leadership and governance in Africa, by providing tools to assess and support progress in leadership and governance.
  • The Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) provides an annual assessment of the quality of governance in African countries and is the most comprehensive collection of data on African governance.
  • With ten years of data to draw from, the IIAG is uniquely positioned to measure trends in governance, providing in-depth analysis on how the quality of governance has changed over the past five years (2013-2017) within the context of the last decade (2008-2017), and what has or could be key to Africa’s transformation.
  • The Mo Ibrahim Foundation releases a new Index dataset with updated scores, ranks and trends every two years, while publishing an annual IIAG African Governance Report, focussed on African governance trends and challenges.
  • The next dataset update will be released in October 2020.
  • In every iteration, MIF – assisted by the IIAG’s Advisory Council – looks at improving the structure, components and methodology of the IIAG. Due to this revision, MIF recalculates all scores in the Index for each iteration.
  • The IIAG contains analysis across 102 indicators from 35 independent African and global data institutions to cover all 54 African counties in the areas of Safety & Rule of LawParticipation & Human RightsSustainable Economic Opportunity and Human Development.
  • The Africa SDG Index is produced by the SDG Center for Africa and Sustainable Development Solutions Network. The Index ranks countries on a scale from 0 (the worst score) to 100 (the best score). Tunisia’s score of 66.01, the highest score in Africa, suggesting that the country is 66% of the way towards achieving the SDG. The Index provides an overall performance score and a score for each of the 17 SDGs.
  • The Data Portal is a user-friendly interface that offers a bespoke analysis of governance ranks, scores and trends for each country. Users can create shareable charts and graphics from the data.
  • Access the IIAG Data Portal directly: http://iiag.online/

*Source Mo Ibrahim Foundation

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Mozambique’s Gas Projects Enter Implementation Phase
October 14, 2019 | 0 Comments

With a second FID in just 2 years, Mozambique has officially positioned itself as a key player in the global gas and LNG market for years to come. The latest FID on the US$20 billion Mozambique LNG project, makes it the largest sanction ever in sub-Saharan Africa oil and gas. Described by His Excellency President Nyusi as “one of the most important and transformational projects in the country’s history”, Mozambique LNG is set to be a game-changer for this East African nation of 31 million people. 

According to Wood Mac, from the early 2030s state revenue from Mozambique LNG alone will reach US$3 billion per annum, single-handedly doubling today’s revenue as calculated by the IMF and World Bank.

And this is not the only mega-LNG project on the drawing board. ExxonMobil’s Rovuma LNG project, which envisages a 15 million tpa two-train facility taking gas from its offshore area 4 block, is also lined up to take FID. Meanwhile, Italy’s ENI is already moving ahead with its 3.4 million tpa floating LNG facility, which will draw on 5 TCF of gas in waters more than 2,000 metres deep with first gas due in mid-2022.

“With strong LNG demand growth out of Asia, now is Mozambique’s time,” said Jon Lawrence, an analyst with Wood Mackenzie’s sub-Saharan Africa upstream team, as news broke of the Anadarko FID.

With FIDs signed, the projects are now moving from the planning into the implementation phase. Hundreds of contracts are expected to be tendered for the construction, infrastructure and services needed to build and develop the megaprojects.

More recently, on October 8th, Mozambique Rovuma Venture (MRV) Area 4 operator decided to move ahead with the midstream and upstream project activities of over US $500 million as initial investments. These investments include activities such as the construction of the pioneer camp, the development of resettlement activities, the construction of the airstrip and access roads, as well as the start of detailed LNG facility engineering project.

It makes this the ideal time to participate at the 6th Mozambique Gas Summit & Exhibition, in partnership with ENH, taking place on 13-14 November in Maputo. The event is the official platform to hear from key decision-makers in this fast-emerging LNG hotspot, including key Government figures, policy-makers and all the major project stakeholders who will be in attendance. This edition is taking place at a time of exciting change including; the construction of FLNG, the progress in drilling activities in Cabo Delgado and Angoche, and the infrastructure development in Pemba Logistics Base. The event is organised in partnership with ENH, with support from MIREME, INP and industry stakeholders ExxonMobil, Total Mozambique LNG, TechnipFMC, FNB, Sasol, Baker Hughes, Standard Bank and G4S.

More information at: https://www.mozambique-gas-summit.com/

About ENH:

The National Hydrocarbon Company represents the state in oil operations. It is a business group with competence to participate in all petroleum operations and in the respective phases of the exploration, exploration, production, refining, transportation, storage and marketing activities of hydrocarbons and their derivatives, including LNG and GTL inside and outside the country. Established in 1981, headquartered in Maputo and branches in Pemba and Vilankulo, ENH has adjusted its business structure to the needs of industry and the national and international market. ENH’s activities, as an integrated group, also take place through partnerships that it has established in the last years, in particular, that have allowed the main activity, Upstream, with actions focused on Oil and Gas research, development and production, achieve the goals of increasing discovery probabilities in the research phase and optimizing resource recovery in the production phase.

At the downstream level, ENH develops activities in the hydrocarbon value chain with the aim of diversifying and enhancing the gas use in Mozambique.

About CWC:

Headquartered in London, CWC Group has an impressive 22 years’ track record in delivering conferences, exhibitions and professional training globally that focus on oil, gas and infrastructure. With established relationships with over 60 of the world’s governments and national oil companies (NOCs), CWC has produced over 600 events and more than 400 training courses in the last two decades. CWC Group won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise – International Trade twice, recognising its continued contribution to international trade. This is one of the most coveted awards in the UK industry and it’s awarded by H.M. the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister, assisted by an Advisory Committee.

More information here: https://www.thecwcgroup.com/

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Mixed Reactions Trail Sack Of AU Ambassador to The USA
October 12, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

The decision to remove Ambassador Arikana has divided opinions.

By Ajong Mbapndah L

A few months shy of a third year in office, Ambassador Arikana Chihombori-Quao was notified by the African Union Chairman Moussa Faki that her stint had come to an end.

“In line with the terms and conditions of service covering your appointment as permanent Representative of the AU to the USA, I have decided to terminate your appointment with effect from 1st Nov 2019,” read the letter from Chairman Faki to Ambassador Arikana.

Sent from the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa on 7 October, the letter expresses appreciation to Ambassador Arikana for her constant commitment to African causes, and the great contribution she has made to the continental organization.

In the letter, Chairman Faki expresses confidence that Ambassador Arikana will continue to render services to Mother Africa in future endeavors.

While the decision from Chairman Faki may appear as a routine change considering that others have previously served before Ambassador Arikana, tongues are wagging in Washington,DC , and the decision has not gone down well with some of her partisans.

So furious are her partisans that the unprecedented move of creating on an online petition on Change.Org. Initiated by Prof. Apollos Nwauwa who  signed as Secretary of the African Diaspora Union, the petition is calling on the African Union to reinstate Ambassador Arikana.

“Dr. Chihombori-Quao has spoken globally to sensitize and empower all peoples of African Descent to come together and build the “Africa We Want” as adopted in African Union Agenda 2063,” the petition read.

“Not everyone is embracing her bold but honest discourses for effecting change for the betterment of Africa.  On October 7th, 2019, Ambassador Quao was relieved of her position as the “Permanent Ambassador” in a unilateral decision made by the African Union Commission Chairman without any hearing or explanation, and yet presented as representing the opinions of all 55 countries.”

The petition goes further to ask a series of questions surrounding her ouster. “why was she dismissed, or better, who benefits from her removal? Were African heads of states and governments consulted? Who called the shot? Or is Africa, and peoples of African descent, still facing the debilitating effects of modern colonialism or neocolonialism?”

Though no reason was given for the removal of Arikana nor were reasons always given for the departure of some of her predecessors, some of her supporters believe that it may not be unrelated to her hyper activism ,and blunt critique of the colonial legacy that still holds Africa hostage.

Making allusion to a widely circulated video in which she lashed out at the Berlin conference, and fingered the French for its monetary policies that have continued colonization of Africa in a different form, supporters of Arikana believe that AU Chair Moussa Faki may have been pressured by outside forces to terminate her appointment.They point to the fact that the video which was previously posted on the AU website was inexplicably pulled down within three weeks despite the excitement it generated.

Arikana who has not issued a formal statement, was viewed by some Washington players as blurring the line between activism and diplomacy. You are either one or the other, said a source.  While he lauded Ambassador Arikana for bringing more vibrancy to the AU Mission in Washington,DC, the source said the activist part of Ambassador was bound to ruffle feathers,in Washington and beyond,  and her departure was bound to come sooner or later. Still, the source said he will not like to read so much meaning into the decision to relieve Ambassador Arikana of her duties. Ambassadors come and go, and there is no reason for her to be an exception he went on.Citing the letter from Faki and the dynamism of Ambassador Arikana, the source said there definitely will be plenty of opportunities out there for her to be of high profile service to Africa especially in capacities where diplomatic niceties will not be a burden to her.

“I do not know how the letter that was supposed to be meant for Ambassador Arikana went viral,” said another source from the African -American Community in Washington, DC. She had great passion for Africa and we hope her replacement builds on her successes, he said.

On the profile of the ideal replacement, he said, Chairman Faki could appoint another female Ambassador, someone equally dynamic, with a better understanding of how Africa and Washington work. Washington has its dynamics, and the AU will be better served with the appointment of someone who has a through mastery of these dynamics ,he said.

Meanwhile as of press time, the petition on Change.Org had garnered some 2000 signatures.

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Centurion Moderates Discussion on Africa’s Downstream Sector at Africa Oil & Power
October 12, 2019 | 0 Comments
Zion Adeoye
The discussion centered on ways to make energy access more reliable and affordable for Africans and how to better balance supply and demand for key commodities
CAPE TOWN, South Africa, October 12, 2019/ — Centurion Law (http://www.CenturionLG.com) animated and moderated an industry discussion on Africa’s downstream sector and the continent’s shifting trade routes at the Africa Oil & Power Conference in Cape Town today. Led by Senior Associate Zion Adeoye, the discussion centered on ways to make energy access more reliable and affordable for Africans and how to better balance supply and demand for key commodities such as oil, natural gas and petroleum products.

The conversation was joined by leading African energy executives such as Mohsin Seedat, interim CEO at iGas, Eghosa Oriaikni Mabhena, Head of Africa at Puma Energy, Muzi W. Mkhize, Regulator Member for Petroleum Pipelines at the South African National Energy Regulator, SAR Managing Director Serigne Mboup, and Igho Charles Sanomi, CEO at the Taleveras Group.

Reminding the audience that Africa’s downstream sector is marked by outdated refineries and lack of refining capacities, Zion Adeoye led the participants to provide a detailed assessment of the continent’s current supply and demand scenario. “The market reach is diversifying,” declared Mohin Seedat. “Oil & gas is becoming more accessible and the retail segment is also evolving.”

Most African oil nations are either revamping and expanding their existing refineries, or building and planning new ones. Such additional capacity will be transforming current industry dynamics, and the panel highlighted the opportunities that will be coming in terms of rebalancing fiscal deficits for big importers of petroleum products, and of further diversifying into petrochemicals and value added products. “Maintaining the balancing of demand and supply for traders is key to shifting Africa’s trade routes,” said Eghosa Oriaikhi Mabhena.

Concluding the discussion, the panelists were all in agreement that a downstream master plan for the whole of Africa is urgently needed to ensure that infrastructure efforts are not inefficiently duplicated, especially on a regional basis. 
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Cameroon contributes FCFA 3 Billion for HIV, TB, Malaria global fund
October 12, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

France’s President Emmanuel Macron shakes hands with Cameroon President Paul Biya, left, at the Lyon’s city hall, central France, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019, during the meeting of international lawmakers, health leaders and people affected by HIV, Tuberculosis and malaria. Lyon is hosting the two day Global Fund event aimed at raising money to help in the global fight against the epidemics.Photo Laurent Cipriani Gazettextra

Cameroon’s President Paul Biya has disclosed that the country has contributed 3Billion francs CFA to the Global Fund for the fight against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. He made the disclosure at the 6th Replenishment Conference of the Global Fund to fight HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria holding in France.

In an exchange with the media in Lyon, France after meeting with French counterpart Emmanuel Macron at day-two of conference Biya stated that “we have contributed to the tune of 3Billion frs CFA to the Global Fund since we also benefit from this fund in the fight against these epidemics.”

The discussions at the Lyon Replenishment Conference were aimed at raising 8,000 Billion Francs to fund the fight against HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria epidemics in the different countries involved, Cameroon being part of it.

At the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron, President Paul Biya and wife Chantal Biya travelled to France Tuesday October 08, 2019 to take part in this Conference attended by four other African Head of States and other delegations.

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37-year-old Cameroonian dies in US immigration custody
October 12, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

Refugees and migrants wait at the El Chaparral border crossing in Tijuana, hoping to enter the US [Walker Dawson/Al Jazeera]

A Cameroonian immigrant identified by news reports as Nebane Abienwi who was en route to the United States to experience the American dream has died while in custody of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE.

His death at an immigration facility in San Diego, California, has sparked outrage pushing a coalition of black immigration rights organizations to demand an explanation into the circumstances leading to his demise.

  The Cameroon American Council, CAC, on Monday, held a vigil to mourn Abienwi, who was seeking asylum in the U.S. after fleeing from his Cameroon.

According to Face2Face Africa, he died October 1, after being treated for a brain hemorrhage at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center.

ICE said Abienwi had been in detention at the Otay Mesa Detention Center.

In a statement wherein they describing the death of Abienwi as “devastating”, the black immigrant rights organization condemned the use of detention centers to “imprison our people.” It also demanded more information on the circumstances which led to his death.

“We demand to know the circumstances under which Nebane lost his life. Black immigrants, in particular, report horrific experiences of anti-Blackness, abuse, and harassment while in detention,” the organization said in a statement on October 3.

ICE says it is “firmly committed to the health and welfare of all those in its custody and is undertaking a comprehensive agency-wide review of this incident, as it does in all such cases.”

In a news release, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency which oversees immigration-related issues particularly in the Southern borders no said Abienwi did not have “proper entry documents” when he crossed through the port of entry.

The coalition, insisting he should not have been detained in the first place.

“No one should be locked up for seeking safety and wanting a better life,” the alliance said. “Black immigrants, in particular, report horrific experiences of anti-blackness, abuse, and harassment while in detention,” the group also said.

Death toll of immigrants in ICE custody continues to make headlines raising questions as to possible detention situation in the facilities. 

The number of Cameroonians applying for asylum to the U.S. increased from about 600 in 2012 to more than 1,300 in 2016, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees per latest data.

Since 2016 with the escalation of civil unrest in its English-speaking regions that has claimed the lives of hundreds, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees estimates that more than 30.000 Cameroonians have fled their home.

Most of them are said to be in neighboring Nigeria. Hundreds have made the painstaking journey via the Amazon forest in an attempt to cross over to the US through Mexico.

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Senegal University wins fourth International architectural prizes
October 12, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

view of the building (photo: IDOM)

A University in Senegal Bambey townhood has risen to fame after a makeover and sustainable extension of its infrastructure. 

The Alioune Diop University in Bambey, Senegal, established since 2007 has in recent years been ripping international awards and recognition after its transformation in 2012.

Established at the heart of the Sahara Desert which does not shy from blessing its inhabitants with immense radiation of the sun rising temperatures above 45°C, the 2012 works at the campus whose design is conceived as a tree is nothing short of an architectural marvel. 

The architecture 

Designed by IDOM, the new block at the University of Bambey features a double roof and a double skin that provide shelter and coolness without any energy consumption guaranteeing students with two basic assets in the desert-region; Shadow and water. 

The extension was built as a large tree to provide shelter, coolness, and comfort for students, without any energy consumption.

With a large roof and a second skin of blocks with triangular perforations, the direct radiation of the sun rays is avoided, allowing air circulation instead. The double roof and the double skin generate voids of one and three meters respectively. 

The heat is concentrated on the external facade and disperses from the roof, favored by the inclination of the latter. To further refresh the air and avoid the presence of malaria-bearing mosquitoes, citronella has been planted in the interstitial spaces. The constant flow of air reduces the temperature by 10-15°C compared to the external one – usually 40-45°C.

Regional and International awards

Impossible for such work of art to unnoticed, the Alioune Diop University has since the opening of its new extension made international headlines while bagging coveted awards the world over.

Recently it was awarded the highest honors at the “Aga KHAN” architecture award ceremony in Kazan, Russia. The prestigious architecture award given once every three years is awarded to projects that set new standards of excellence in architecture, planning practices, historic preservation, and landscape architecture.

Due to its self-sufficient infrastructure, the teaching and research department of the Senegal-based University emerged as one of the 5 Laureates of 2019 for setting new standards of excellence in architecture making it entitled to the cash prize of one million US dollars shared between the laureates.

In July of 2018, the extension project was selected out of hundreds of structures worldwide as winner at the Spanish Architecture and Urbanism Biennale prompting the architecture critic Anatxu Zabalbeascoa to commented that; “although it is true that many of the prizewinning buildings share an aesthetic based on the scarcity of means, the fashion of the povera would generate distrust if it were not so entirely sustainable and cost-effective. Drawing on, it indicates that tradition can be associated with technology both in the humblest projects and those signed off by large firms, such as IDOM, in its award-winning extension of the Alioune Diop University in Diourbel.” 

Barely three months later the University was again acknowledged as Best Regenerative Impact Building at the LEAF Awards, in Frankfurt, Germany. With the jury stating that the award was well merited “due to its exceptional contribution in terms of community impact, the sustainability in its construction and how waste was managed…with an elegant architecture rarely seen when using local materials.”

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African Development Bank partners with Senegal to host 2021 World Water Forum
October 11, 2019 | 0 Comments
The forum will take place in the Senegalese capital 22 – 27 March 2021, on the theme of ‘Water Security for Peace and Development’
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, October 11, 2019/ — A Senegalese government delegation, led by the country’s Minister of Water and Sanitation, His Excellency Serigne Mbaye Thiam, briefed the African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org) on Senegal’s preparations to host the World Water Forum (https://bit.ly/35mwCLg) in Dakar in March 2021.

Minister Thiam met with the Bank’s Vice President for Agriculture, Human, and Social Development, Jennifer Blanke, and her senior management team on 8 October to discuss the Bank’s participation in the event’s organization and delivery.

“The forum is a great opportunity for the Bank to showcase and advance its water and sanitation agenda, and we commend the government of Senegal for the preparatory work they have done so far,” said Vice President Blanke.

The forum will take place in the Senegalese capital 22 – 27 March 2021, on the theme of ‘Water Security for Peace and Development’.

Minister Thiam thanked the Bank for its contributions, including its sponsorship of women and youth delegates to the forum preparation meeting in June 2019. “Our government is counting on the African Development Bank to help mobilize the enormous resources that will be needed to make this first sub-Saharan-hosted World Water Forum a great success,” he said.

At a separate briefing for the Bank’s water development and sanitation department as well as other Bank staff, the executive secretary of the forum’s organizing committee Abdoulaye Sene offered a detailed presentation of event preparations and took questions about the forum known as the “world’s largest event on water.”

“The Bank, as a leader in supporting water sector development in Africa, will play an important role in supporting delivery of the forum,” said Wambui Gichuri, director of the Bank’s water development and sanitation department.

Sene told the Bank officials that Dakar is expecting more than 20,000 participants from more than 170 countries. “Awarding the hosting of this forum to Senegal is a testament to the urgency of the water issue for Africa and to the country’s commitment to the water agenda,” he said.

The executive secretary said the forum will be “a focused, inclusive, integrated, open-ended multi-stakeholder process, interacting and synergizing with international events,” Sene also said that the ‘Dakar 2021’ forum would address the present and future global issues for man and nature, serving as a catalyst and accelerator of universal access to water and sanitation, as well as for the Sustainable Development Goals for Senegal, Africa and the world.

The theme of the forum aligns with the Bank’s ten-year strategy for 2013-2022 (https://bit.ly/2fDF5V6), which confirms the importance of water security for Africa’s quality social and economic development. The strategy states that investments in integrated water development and management are central to sustainable water, food and energy security for green and inclusive growth.
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It Is Time to Create Aggressive Market-Driven Policies That Spur Economic Growth
October 11, 2019 | 0 Comments
The African Energy Chamber insisted on the need for fair regulations that are supportive of local industries whole encouraging international investments
CAPE TOWN, South Africa, October 10, 2019/ — The African Energy Chamber (https://EnergyChamber.org/) advocated for better regulatory frameworks, local content development, women empowerment and cross-border cooperation at the grand opening of Africa Oil & Power in Cape Town this week.

Attended by hundreds of senior government officials and energy executives from across Africa and the world, the Africa Oil & Power Conference & Exhibition is seeking solutions to make energy work better for Africans and investors. It was opened by leading industry figures such as H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons of Equatorial Guinea, H.E. Mouhamadou Makhtar Cissé, Minister of Petroleum and Energies of Senegal, and Nj Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber and CEO of the Centurion Law Group.

Delivering the opening remarks, African Energy Chamber Executive Chairman Nj Ayuk addressed key issues facing the industry’s future, reminding the continent that it needs and must do better to provide energy and jobs to all Africans. “We are here at AOP not only to highlight success stories but also to have an honest conversation with each other on what needs to be done for our industry, and follow a roadmap to successful implementation on core issues such as regulations and local content policies, the empowerment of women, infrastructure development, cross-border cooperation and fiscal frameworks,” declared Nj Ayuk.

On the issue of regulations and the creation of a better enabling environment for investors and businesses, the African Energy Chamber insisted on the need for fair regulations that are supportive of local industries whole encouraging international investments. “Look to Ghana,” said Nj Ayuk. “The country has built an oil and gas regulatory framework from scratch and built a reputation for transparency and regulatory certainty. Its projects are getting off the drawing board and Ghana is already a serious African producer. Regulations have to be progressive, so what matters is to implement regulations that set the ground for the development of a sustainable, local content-oriented and jobs-creating industry.”

“On local content, look to Nigeria,” he added. “It has used its oil and gas as a jumping off point for overall economic development and building up domestic capacities from the ground up while providing the right opportunities for the establishment and growth of strong local companies across the value chain.”


At the core of the African Energy Chamber’s message was also a call to women empowerment across Africa’s energy industry. From creating strong educational and training programmes to implementing progressive policies in the workplace, the Chamber has advocated for better policies that provide women equal opportunities in the workplace and across the industry.  “On woman empowerment, look to South Africa, which boasts some of the strongest leaders in Africa’s oil and gas sector,” declared Nj Ayuk. “Diversity will change our industry for the best and needs to be a priority.”

The African Energy Chamber closed its opening remarks on the issues of infrastructure development and cross-border cooperation. In many cases, a lack of infrastructure is severely holding back economic and social development, including a lack of roads, pipelines, ports and airports is stopping exploration and production in its tracks; and delaying the progress of otherwise economically viable progress. Meanwhile, cross-border cooperation is the key to unlocking the potential of the continent. “On cross-border cooperation, look to Senegal and Mauritania,” said Nj Ayuk. “They both have already shown Africa that putting its differences aside and working towards co-developing projects is beneficial for African economies and their people. The GTA project is a landmark project in that regard, and one that will profoundly impact the socio-economic development in both countries. The major step to encourage future such collaboration and projects is to simply keep the dialogue open and engage more.”
*Africa Energy Chamber
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Funmi Iyanda’s adaptation of ‘Walking with Shadows’ premieres at the BFI London Film Festival
October 11, 2019 | 0 Comments
Cast and Crew with Folake Abdulrazaq

Veteran journalist and talk show host, Funmi Iyanda yesterday brought ‘Walking with Shadows’, a novel by Jude Dibia, to the big screen, with the movie enjoying a 2-day showing at the British Film Institute (BFI) London Film Festival.

Speaking on the premiere, Iyanda said, “It is an honour to premiere this movie at one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world. We are definitely thrilled by the opportunity to share this thought-provoking story with the international community and hope they are inspired by it as much as we are”.

Nana Otedola, Funmi Iyanda & Aoife (Film Director)

The film spotlights the life of lead character, Ebele Njoko, whose search for acceptance led him to create an alternate personality – one more pleasing and acceptable to society. However, as his secrets come to light, he is faced with the difficult choice to either keeping his family or accept a life of possible loneliness and rejection.

Iyanda explained that the movie is a timely appraisal of pressing societal issues, as it promotes the importance of love and self-acceptance in a cultural and religiously-charged environment.

At the BFI London Film Festival

Directed by Adife O’Kelly, ‘Walking with Shadows’ – which is set to premiere in Nigerian cinemas soon – features a sterling cast of actors including Funlola Aofiyebi-Raimi, Wale Ojo, Ozzy Agu, Zainab Balogun, and Funsho Adeolu.

Notable personalities who attended the BFI London Film Festival movie premiere include Nana Otedola, Folake Abdulrazaq, Christopher Schlaefer, and others.

About Walking with Shadows

In Lagos, Nigeria, Ebele Njoko has been running all his life. A search for acceptance and love from his family, has led him to recreate himself as Adrian Njoko, respected father, husband, and brother. Suddenly, Adrian’s past and secrets have caught up with him and his world soon begins to crumble as he frantically tries to control the growing ripple effect of a revelation.

Walking with Shadows is adapted from Jude Dibia’s 2005 book of the same title, which was awarded Sweden’s Natur och Kultur Prize.

Iyanda and Whittmey Aboyeji

*Courtesy of NigeriaPresslog , a media amplification and press release distribution platform connecting forward-looking brands to target audiences. It provides a gateway for brands with the goal of making inroads and establishing presence in the Nigerian media space and beyond.

NigeriaPresslog has worked with and delivered excellent service for local and international partners including Heinrich Boll Stiftung, Nigerian Economic Summit Group, Lagos Business School, Response Architects UK and others.

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Academics Urge US Government To Channel More Resources Towards Education And Scientific Research In Africa
October 11, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

Prof. Nkem Khumbah flanked by Ambassador Tibor P. Nagy (Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, US Department of State), Hon. Amro Adly (Deputy Minister of Education, Egypt), and Dr. Menna Demessie, (Vice President, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc) during the session on “Strengthening US-Africa Governments Academic Diplomacy and Research Cooperation Policies”

Professor Nkem Khumbah, Chairman of Africa Development Futures Group, ADFG, has urged the United States government to channel its foreign investment, resources and policies meant to develop Africa into fostering and professionalizing higher education in the continent.

The educationist cum lecturer at the University of Michigan outlined that Africa faces many challenges which can duly be addressed if more attention and resources are invested in its higher education systems, permitting Africans to better carry out scientific research, and finding solutions to their own problems without waiting and hoping on foreign aid.

Prof Nkem Khumbah with Ambassador Tibor P. Nagy ,Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, US Department of State at the AAU launch in Washington,DC

Speaking last week at the launch of the North American office of the Association of African Universities, AAU, in Washington, DC, Prof Nkem Khumbah did applaud US support to Africa but reiterated that it will be more beneficial if redirected into enhancing higher education in the continent, given that “it is the caliber of African universities’ graduates that will produce and manage the knowledge that gives relevance to its other institutions – government, trade, defense, agriculture, health, finance, energy and diplomacy”, that it is by “supporting Africa to vitalize its Higher Education systems that the continent may turn its increasing demographics into a dividend to drive its development agendas and enhance its democracies”.

In his address during the pre-launch season of the regional office, Prof Khumbah, who was sharing the stage with US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Tibor Nagy, pointed to the fact that attention is only paid to Africa based on its colonial past and its inefficiencies. Dissecting the continents inability to better bargain for itself due to the small size of its countries as opposed to those in Asia, he maintained that, thanks to the African Union, the continent now has that one voice, to better represent her regional interests.

“The challenge that I see is that resources and policy, have not so much accompanied the level of latent interest in that area…the US is the one singular country in the world that has the deepest roots in Africa and if you look around the continent, Africa is seen in terms of big brother, younger brother and this determines the policies that accompany actions.”

Holding at the premises of the African Union Mission to the United State, attendees included dignitaries from Africa and American Diplomats, academic and professional associations, higher education stakeholders in North America, and from Africa, including a large representation of the African diaspora; Nkem Khumbah said  higher education was one of the major keys to unlocking Africa’s enormous potentials .

Advocating for the harmonization of African educational systems so as to permit the exchange of ideas and research topics, thus facilitating intercontinental exchange of knowledge, Nkem Khumbah used the story of the Koreas’ to better disseminate his idea.

“We often talk about how Korea was receiving aid in the 1950s from Ghana and Cameroon; what turned the stakes around was higher education and scientific manpower, with significant US support through higher education and research cooperation,” he said.

He expressed hope that establishing the North American regional office of the Association of African Universities will strengthen the interface for linking higher education institutions and enterprises in the USA with their African counterparts.

Higher education “can be a powerful, strategic winning area for US foreign policy. While China is building the roads, putting Billions of Dollars on infrastructure and winning the hearts of African heads of states, helping develop its higher education can win the hearts of the entire population,” he said. 

With better cooperation between the US and Africa in higher education expected to shift gear with the establishment of the North American office, speakers and moderators at the launch were all unanimous that the bilateral relation between the two continents will flourish.

Speakers included H.E. Sarah Ayang-Mbi Commissioner, Human Resources, Science and Technology at African Union Commission, who shared information about regional cooperation in African Higher Education and relevant lessons for further collaboration, Ambassador Arikana Chimbori of the AU Mission to the USA, Prof. Orlando Quilambo,  AAU President and Vice Chancellor at the University of Maputo, Mozambique in company of Prof. Rungano Zvobgo, Southern Africa member.

Dr. Beatrice Khamati Njenga, Head of Education Africa Union Commission-Human Resource Science Technology, chaired the session centered on Strengthening US-Africa Governments Academic Diplomacy and Research Cooperation Policies” which had as panelist Ambassador Tibor P. Nagy (Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, US Department of State), Hon. Amro Adly (Deputy Minister of Education, Egypt), Prof. Nkem Khumbah (Prof. and Steering Committee, STEM-Africa Initiative, University of Michigan) and Dr. Menna Demessie, (Vice President, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc).

Forging “Strategic Partnerships among Key Stakeholders in Academia, Professional Associations & Research Institutions” was the focus of the third session moderated by Niamani Mutima, Executive Director Africa Grantmakers’ Affinity Group. Sharing insights on the topic were, Alma L. Golden (Executive Director, USAID Global Development Lab), Norman Fortenberry (Executive Director, American Society for Engineering Education, ASEE), John Boright (Executive Director, International Activities, US National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine), Tag Demment (Vice President, Association of Public and Land Grant Universities, APLU), Prof. Nicholas Nsowah-Nuamah (AAU Vice President for West Africa).

On how to better galvanize the Diaspora comprising some 20,000 African-born Academics, 105,000 African-American academics, 105 HBCUs and a larger community that Africa seeks to involve in its development, panelist presented view points on the topic; Advancing African Diaspora’s Academic Relation in a session chaired by Prof. Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang, Ghana’s Former Minister of Education .

The panel discussions and sessions were crowned by the official launching of the regional office by H.E. Sarah Ayang-Mbi Commissioner, Human Resources, Science and Technology at African Union Commission) and Prof Orlando Quilambo, AAU President and Vice Chancellor Eduardo Mondlane University, Maputo, Mozambique.

With the establishment of the regional office, AAU stakeholders hope to boast continental ties between Africa and North America and to identify key areas of partnership that can drive positive change in Africa through Higher Education, among others.

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