Developments in Africa

Kenya Repays Sh257billion Eurobond Few Days to Deadline

Kenya has paid off the remaining $556.97 million (Sh71.5 billion) of its $2 billion (Sh257 billion) Eurobond ahead of the June 24, 2024, due date. According to the National Treasury’s Public Debt Management Office, this final payment was made on Friday, June 21, three days before maturity.

This repayment has boosted Kenya’s National Reserves, pushing them above the statutory four-month import cover requirement for the first time in five months.

The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) reported in its weekly brief that as of June 20, the usable foreign exchange reserves stood at $8.32 billion, equivalent to 4.3 months of import cover. This marks an increase of $1.31 billion (Sh168 billion), bringing the reserves to $8.32 billion (Sh1.07 trillion).

In February, Kenya had partially retired this note and issued a new Eurobond. The government received tenders worth $1.48 billion and accepted $1.44 billion in valid tenders. The National Treasury had indicated that the outstanding amount would be settled through a combination of syndicated, multilateral, and domestic financing. The new Eurobond, intended to retire the maturing one, was divided into three installments with an average life of six years and is set to mature in 2031.

In December, Kenya paid $68.7 million (Sh8.8 billion) in interest for the $2 billion (Sh313 billion) Eurobond. The Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) had previously stated that to fully repay the Eurobond, the government would need to secure new funding from external markets, whether through a buyback or using foreign exchange reserves. Possible funding sources included the IMF, World Bank, and syndicated loans via multilateral agencies.

NNPC to Complete OB3 Gas Pipeline by August

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd) announced on Saturday that the Obiafu/Obrikom/Oben (OB3) gas pipeline is expected to be completed by August, 2024. Olufemi Soneye, NNPC Ltd’s chief corporate communications officer, shared this update in a statement.

 

Mele Kyari, the Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPC Ltd, made this announcement during an inspection of the OB3 pipeline’s River Niger crossing operation in Aboh, Delta State. “This project is of monumental value to our country, crucial for delivering the gas revolution. I am confident that by mid-August, we will complete this project, as assured by the project team,” said Mr. Kyari. He added that the pipeline would bring approximately 2.2 billion standard cubic feet of gas into the network, which is expected to meet the country’s gas demand over the next one and a half years and support the gas revolution.

Mele Kyari, Managing Director, NNPC

The $700 million OB3 gas pipeline, under construction by NNPC Ltd for years, has faced several delays. Initially reported as 80% complete in December 2016, it was intended to be finished by the end of 2017. However, technical challenges, including horizontal drilling under major rivers, caused delays. Further complications from rain, flooding, and the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as changes in contracting agreements, pushed back the completion date.

 

In February, the Nigerian government projected a March 2024 completion. Now, NNPC Ltd aims to finish the pipeline soon, marking a significant step toward enhancing nationwide gas supply to drive industrialization and economic growth.

 

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Gas), Ekperikpe Ekpo, expressed satisfaction with the project’s progress, dubbing it “Renewed Hope at work.” He noted that he was initially doubtful of the December 2023 completion promise but is now confident the project will be finished by July or August, ready for commissioning by the President.

 

Special Adviser to the President on Energy, Olu Verheijen, is also optimistic about the project’s completion, having been assured by the technical team that the right technology is in place to overcome the River Niger crossing challenges. 

 

Ingo Justen, Managing Director of Tunnel Service Group (TSG), one of the project’s contractors, also expressed confidence in the current technology being used, anticipating a speedy completion.

 

The OB3 gas pipeline is designed to connect the Eastern gas pipeline network with the Escravos-Lagos Pipeline System (ELPS) in the West and the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) Pipeline in the North. The River Niger crossing has been the main obstacle to the pipeline’s completion for over three years, due to the failure of various technologies to install the 48-inch pipe under the river bed between Ndoni in Rivers State and Aboh in Delta State. However, with the new Micro-Tunnelling/Direct Pipe Installation technology, contractors HDD Thailand/Enikkom and Tunnelling Services Group (TSG) have made significant progress, completing about 860 meters of the 1,800-meter stretch so far.

 

Delegates unveil $1.2 billion initiative to manufacture vaccines in Africa

World leaders, health organizations, and pharmaceutical companies announced a $1.2 billion funding initiative to support vaccine production in Africa during Thursday’s Global Forum for Vaccine Sovereignty and Innovation in Paris.

The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare significant global disparities in vaccine access, particularly in Africa, grappling with multiple health challenges.

Addressing attendees, French President Emmanuel Macron emphasized the importance of the African Vaccine Manufacturing Accelerator as a critical step towards establishing a robust African vaccine market. He noted that currently, Africa produces only two percent of the vaccines it uses, aiming to increase production to sixty percent by 2040.

The recent resurgence of cholera across many African regions underscores the urgent need for local vaccine manufacturing capabilities. Senegal’s President Bassirou Diomaye Faye highlighted how the COVID-19 pandemic severely disrupted health systems and jeopardized vaccination programs, leading to a UNICEF report revealing that 23 million children missed out on essential vaccines during the peak of the pandemic in 2021.

Also discussed at the forum, the Gavi vaccine alliance, a key event organizer, announced its intention to raise $9 billion for its vaccine programs, which distribute vaccines for over 20 diseases to underserved countries.

Gavi aims to allocate up to $1 billion over the next decade to enhance Africa’s manufacturing capabilities, improve global vaccine markets, and strengthen preparedness and response to pandemics and outbreaks.

Based in Geneva, the alliance plans to channel funds into African manufacturers upon achieving supply and regulatory milestones. This approach seeks to leverage market dynamics to lower vaccine costs and stimulate investment in production capabilities.

The initiative will also address contentious issues such as technology transfer, which some Western nations with influential pharmaceutical industries have opposed.

 Additionally, it may explore establishing an African medicines agency and resolving regulatory challenges inherent in Africa’s diverse legal frameworks.

Nedbank Promotes the Use of Time as a Currency in South Africa

Nedbank’s latest campaign revolves around allowing customers to bank their time, and not just their money. This is based on the concept that time is more valuable than money.

The campaign is initiated by a film shot by Greg Gray of Romance Films. The story depicts an elderly man looking back at his younger self missing out on some key moments in his life. He watches his youth unfold in front of him and admits that if he could go back, he would spend more time doing the things that really matter.

Nedbank, together with Joe Public Johannesburg and Joe Public Durban, collaborated on a fully integrated campaign, which has a digital commerce platform at its heart, allowing consumers to turn saved time into a currency.

“We are proud of how smart our digital offerings are, allowing people to save time. This campaign encourages you to do the things you don’t usually have the time to do,” says Khensani Nobanda, a group executive at Nedbank.

Executive creative director at Joe Public Johannesburg, Martin Schlumpf, adds, “We’re grateful to have such a brave client. It is not often that you will hear a bank tell people that time is more valuable than money, and that you should spend it wisely.”

The mechanic behind the ‘Bank Your Time by Nedbank’ campaign is to drive people to use Nedbank’s innovative digital products and start saving time – ranging from opening an investment account to applying for a credit card.

The campaign has been further amplified on social media platforms, giving all South Africans the opportunity to #SeeMoneyDifferently.

Dangote Refinery Postpones Petrol Production Until Mid-July

Africa’s largest oil refinery, the Dangote Refinery, has rescheduled the commencement of premium motor spirit (PMS) production, commonly known as petrol, from June to mid-July.

Aliko Dangote, the President and CEO of the refinery, announced the revised production timeline during a press briefing at the $20 billion facility in Lagos on Monday. Dangote attributed the slight delay to operational factors, necessitating the shift from the initially planned June starts to mid-July. 

He mentioned that petrol production is set to begin between the 10th and 15th of July, with distribution to local marketers slated to begin in the third week of the same month.

“We experienced a slight delay, but PMS production is anticipated to commence between the 10th and 15th of July. However, we plan to allow it to settle in the tank before market release. Therefore, by the third week of July, we aim to introduce it to the market,” stated Dangote.

Simultaneously, the refinery has initiated the supply of jet fuel and diesel to domestic marketers in the country, leading to reduced prices of these products at the pump.

Additionally, Business Day reported that the $20 billion facility has initiated the export of its first jet fuel cargo to Europe. According to data from S&P Global Commodities at Sea, the initial shipment, loaded onto the vessel “Doric Breeze,” departed from the Lekki Free Zone in Lagos on May 27th and is currently en route to Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Vice President Kamala Harris Aims to Provide Internet Access to 80% of Africa by 2030

US Vice President Kamala Harris has unveiled plans to establish a new alliance aimed at extending internet access to 80% of Africa by 2030, a significant increase from the current approximate coverage of 40%.

The announcement, made on Friday, is a continuation of Harris’ previous engagements on the continent, including her visit last year, and aligns with the ongoing visit to Washington by Kenyan President William Ruto. Harris and President Ruto were scheduled to participate in a fireside discussion at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Friday, focusing on the role of public-private partnerships in fostering economic growth.

A preview of Harris’ initiatives, obtained by The Associated Press, outlines her commitment to advancing digital innovation, building on promises made during her visits to Ghana, Tanzania, and Zambia.

The challenges facing African development are also highlighted.

Africa has faced challenges in securing the necessary investment to bolster its industrial and technological domains. According to a United Nations report released last year, foreign direct investment in the continent dropped to $45 billion in 2022 from a peak of $80 billion in 2021. Despite comprising around 18% of the global population, Africa only attracted 3.5% of foreign direct investment worldwide.

In addition to launching the nonprofit Partnership for Digital Access in Africa aimed at enhancing internet connectivity, Vice President Harris, a member of the Democratic Party, is introducing a new initiative aimed at providing digital economy access to 100 million individuals and businesses in the agricultural sector across Africa.

The African Development Bank Group, along with Mastercard and other organisations, will collaborate to establish the Mobilising Access to the Digital Economy Alliance (MADE). This alliance will initiate a pilot program to grant digital access to 3 million farmers in Kenya, Tanzania, and Nigeria, with plans for further expansion.

Harris, the United States’ first female vice president, is also revealing that the Women in the Digital Economy initiative, aimed at bridging the gender gap in technology access, has garnered over $1 billion in combined public and private pledges. Some commitments from the U.S. await congressional approval.

South Africa’s Electricity Provider Postpones Closure of Coal Plants

South Africa’s state-owned power utility, Eskom, has decided to postpone the closure of several coal-fired power plants.

According to reports from local media outlet Engineering News on Monday (May 20), the Eskom board has approved the Camden, Krootflei, and Hendrina power stations to continue operations until 2030. Initially, these power stations were slated for retirement between 2023 and 2027.

Last year, South Africa faced one of its most severe electricity crises, resulting in daily power outages lasting up to nearly 10 hours, severely impacting the continent’s most developed economy. This crisis drew attention to the government’s energy transition strategy.

As developing nations are urged to prioritize environmentally friendly projects, various proposals and deals have emerged. One such deal, the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JetP) financing model, has sparked debate. This controversial deal was presented to South Africa.

In a move criticized widely, the Komati power plant in the northeastern province of Mpumalanga was decommissioned in October 2022. Plans are underway to repurpose it as a wind and solar power facility.

Opay Reaches a Market Value of $3 Billion as Nigeria Experiences Surge in Digital Payments

Over the past year, Opay experienced significant growth, mostly driven by a currency redesign that caused cash scarcity, prompting more Nigerians to turn to fintech apps like Moniepoint and Opay for transactions.

According to the Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement Scheme (NIBSS), annual digital payments reached N611 trillion by the end of 2023.

With Opay’s user base quadrupling and its revenue increasing by over 60% throughout 2023, it is safe to say that Opay experienced significant growth. However, Opay is faced by challenges related to fraud and customer safety. This has led regulatory bodies, such as the Central Bank of Nigeria, to enact stricter rules to ensure account safety.

The Central Bank of Nigeria reportedly directed fintech firms like Moniepoint, Opay, Kuda Bank and Palmpay to restrict new account openings. This move is aimed at preventing further illegal activities.

Burkina Faso: Ibrahim Traoré Dedicates Over 78 Billion CFA Francs in Equipment to Enhance Agricultural Sector

President Ibrahim Traoré of Burkina Faso has taken steps to boost agricultural productivity by allocating equipment valued at over 78 billion CFA francs to local producers. The distribution occurred on Monday as part of the government’s initiatives to foster food self-reliance and strengthen the agro-pastoral and fisheries sectors.

 

Under the guidance of the Transitional authorities, a significant increase in support for agro-sylvo-pastoral producers has been announced for the year 2024. President Traoré emphasized the notable expansion in resources, noting that the equipment and fertilizers provided this year far exceed previous allocations. 

 

“This year, we are allocating twice the amount of equipment compared to 2023 and over five times the average quantity distributed in the past 5 years. Similarly, the provision of chemical fertilizers will see an allocation of approximately 68,900 tons, more than double the amount distributed in 2023 and over five times the average of the past 5 years,” President Traoré remarked.

 

President Traoré, in his efforts to encourage youth participation in agriculture, highlighted the deployment of focal points in different regions that will offer support to aspiring producers.

 

This initiative underscores the government’s dedication to assisting local farmers and advancing agricultural development throughout Burkina Faso. The significant investment in agricultural equipment and resources reflects a renewed commitment to strengthening the country’s agricultural sector and fostering food self-sufficiency. 

 

The distribution of equipment and fertilizers is anticipated to have a substantial impact on enhancing agricultural productivity and enhancing the livelihoods of producers in Burkina Faso.

Borno State Governor Initiates 113km Maiduguri Ring Road Project

Governor Zulum Commences 113km Maiduguri Ring Road Project

Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, officially inaugurated the Maiduguri Ring Road Project on Monday. This project spans 113 kilometers and links the eastern, western, and southern sectors of the city.

This ambitious endeavor is part of Governor Zulum’s forward-thinking urban renewal strategy, aimed at easing traffic congestion, addressing housing shortages, fostering employment opportunities, and boosting economic growth in the region.

 During his speech, Zulum outlined the phased implementation of the project, starting with the construction from Maiduguri-K16.5 Road to Maiduguri-Monguno Rd. via Maid-Gubio Rd., covering an initial distance of 16.5km.

 “Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, is grappling with significant challenges due to the influx of internally displaced persons, which is exerting immense pressure on the city’s resources to meet the population’s needs, particularly in housing and shelter. We are taking proactive measures to alleviate the city’s congestion.”

The Borno State Government has opted to commence the initial phase of the project, covering approximately 16.5km.” By the grace of God, we are committed to expanding this endeavor to encompass the entire 113km of the ring road,” stated Zulum. 

The Governor also directed the Ministry of Works and Housing to ensure the delivery of high-quality work that can endure over time.”I implore you to handle this with utmost care and ensure that upon completion, the road maintains its durability for the next thirty years.” Do not prioritize costs over standards. I envision this road remaining resilient for years to come,” he emphasized. The Commissioner of Works and Housing, Engineer Mustapha Gubio, assured the governor of the project’s prompt completion while adhering strictly to all engineering specifications.

Providing an update to the Governor, Engr Sadu Auno, the Executive Secretary of Borno State Road Maintenance Agency, stated that the road features dual carriageways with a width of 7.3 meters, adhering to Federal Government standards and all engineering specifications.

 Additionally, Engr Adam Bababe, the Executive Secretary of the Borno State Geographic Information Service (BOGIS), mentioned that compensation totaling over N1.6 billion was disbursed to 732 individuals whose farmlands were affected by the project. He also highlighted plans to develop residential, commercial, industrial, recreational, and institutional areas along the ring road, covering approximately 2,000 hectares of land.

Africa’s Staggering Potentials Outstrip Western Counterparts’ in Business World

Africa is brimming with opportunities for economic expansion and development. With its abundant natural resources, young and growing population, and increasing consumer demand, the continent is attracting attention from investors and entrepreneurs globally. From agriculture and manufacturing to technology and renewable energy, various sectors in Africa have the potential to experience significant growth. As governments implement policies to enhance business environments and promote investment, the African market becomes even more enticing.

Therefore, if you’re looking to explore new business frontiers, Africa offers a promising landscape where business is brisk.
Africa have the resources, the ability and the people to grow into an economy superpower. In terms of natural resources Africa is the richest continent in the world. Over 30% of the world’s carbon, diamonds, gold and irons are in Africa. Africa is incredibly rich in oil , with Nigeria alone producing over 2.5 million barrels of oil per day in the global market; WTI crude oil spot price is $84.95 per barrel. Nigeria’s crude oil alone generates a tremendous income.

Further still, the pharmaceutical industries are not left out on the progress in Africa. The industries have been instrumental in fighting sickness, disease and infections in Africa and there has been remarkable success in this aspect.

Africa is the future. Children are going back to schools and are being taught properly on hygiene. That alone has tries to drop the rate of sicknesses and diseases in Africa. Education is the passport to the future.
Africa is not saddled with debt like other Western countries. Of course we might think Africa is helplessly indebted; Britain’s debt is over 80% of their GDP but most African countries have a debt rate of over 20% of their GDP. Almost all African countries can pay up their debt within a year.

Historically, Africa’s economy was centred around agriculture, with various civilizations engaging in farming, trade, and resource extraction. In the 19th century, Africa became a major source of raw materials for European powers during the colonial era. This period saw the exploitation of Africa’s resources, often to the detriment of local economies.

After gaining independence in the mid-20th century, many African nations faced economic challenges due to limited infrastructure, political instability, and external debt. However, over the years, there has been a shift towards economic diversification and development. African countries have made significant progress in sectors such as telecommunications, banking, manufacturing, and other services.

In recent times, Africa has experienced a steady economic growth rate, with some countries and individuals emerging as global leaders in specific industries. The African continent has produced prominent individuals who have not only affected the economy but have also changed a lot of things for good. Individuals such as Aliko Dangote, Mike Adenuga, Johann Rupert, Nikky Oppenheimer and many more.
African nations are also embracing technology and innovation, contributing to the rise of startups and entrepreneurship.

While challenges still exist, such as poverty, inequality, and infrastructure gaps, the African economy continues to evolve and show immense potential for growth. Governments and international organizations are working together to promote sustainable development, attract investment, and create opportunities for the continent’s vibrant and dynamic population.
With such amazing population and massive natural resources, Africa not only have the potential of gaining super power in wealth but also the ability to be at the top.
Africa to the world!

Government Lowers Electricity Tariffs for Consumers

The Federal Government has implemented a reduction in electricity tariffs specifically for Band A customers. Previously, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) required customers receiving a minimum of 20 hours of daily supply to pay N225/Kwh. 

However, following the approved review, Band A customers are now obligated to pay N206.80/Kwh. In a notice addressed to its customers on Monday, Ikeja Electric stated, “Please note the downward tariff adjustment of our Band A feeders from N225/kwh to N206.80/kwh effective May 6, 2024, ensuring a guaranteed availability of 20–24 hours of supply daily.” 

Tariffs for Bands B, C, D, and E remain unchanged.

On April 3, the NERC raised the electricity tariff for Band A users from N68 to N255 per kilowatt-hour, asserting that this adjustment would not affect other customers. Following the announcement of this additional multi-year tariff order, consumers categorized as Band A have expressed dissatisfaction, citing increased energy bills as a burden on their budgets and urging the Federal Government to reconsider the policy.

However, during an appearance before the Senate Committee on Power for an investigation into the tariff hike last Monday, the Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, cautioned that failure to implement the electricity tariff increase could result in a nationwide blackout within the next three months.

Global Citizen NOW advocates for investment in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Global Citizen NOW conference of this year emphasized the significance of making long-term investments in Africa’s growing youth population and the crucial support required for young changemakers worldwide.

The conference, which aimed to channel resources toward fighting poverty, emphasized the crucial role of political, business, and philanthropic leaders in backing education and healthcare in the least-developed nations.

Hugh Evans, CEO of Global Citizen, emphasized the importance of tackling these issues amidst the current volatile international landscape. Major appeals during the conference included requests for up to $6 billion for economic development in Africa and $600 million for a United Nations-led initiative supporting education during emergencies.

Evans emphasized the significance of offering straightforward, actionable steps for individuals to make a constructive impact on the world, especially amid increasing polarization and feelings of despair, as reported by The Associated Press during the New York conference.

In pursuit of its goals, the conference secured the backing of notable personalities such as Hugh Jackman, Michelle Yeoh, and Anitta. Moreover, a surprise appearance was made by Doug Emhoff, the spouse of Vice President Kamala Harris, who addressed the significance of male engagement in countering sexism and championing reproductive rights.

Danai Gurira, recognized for her performances in “The Walking Dead” and “Black Panther,” underscored the imperative for African nations to strive for self-determination and sovereignty over their resources, questioning the perpetuation of reliance on Western aid.

Osi Umenyiora, a retired NFL athlete, stressed Africa’s athletic prowess and deliberated on endeavors aimed at nurturing talent in the area, such as the NFL academies initiative.

Additionally, the conference unveiled intentions to host an economic summit in Ivory Coast, with the objective of boosting foreign assistance to Sub-Saharan Africa to tackle infrastructure and energy accessibility hurdles.

Former Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven promoted development aid as a mutually advantageous investment, stressing the significance of harnessing global capabilities to tackle urgent issues.

The conference also spotlighted endeavors to involve Generation Z, such as campaigns to enhance youth voter registration and stimulate online discussions on subjects like environmental preservation.

Actor Jordan Fisher explored the capacity of gaming platforms to raise awareness and funds for social causes, accentuating their genuineness and capacity to connect with diverse audiences.

 

In essence, the conference acted as a rallying cry for global leaders to prioritize investment in Africa’s youth and confront urgent global issues through united action and involvement.

Liberia’s President Joseph Boakai to Set up First War Crimes Court

A new war crimes court has been established in Liberia by an executive order signed by President Joseph Boakai, more than two decades after two civil conflicts that claimed 250,000 lives came to an end.

Liberia, according to Mr. Boakai, had “endured downpours of agony”. Atrocities throughout the hostilities that lasted from 1989 to 2003 included forced child military recruitment, rape, and mass executions.

The court’s establishment has been met with opposition in Liberia from those who fear it will revive old wounds. Mr. Boakai, however, asserted that the court will “assist in identifying the causes and consequences of the violence” and promote “justice and healing.”

This is a significant first step toward Liberia’s establishment of a war crimes tribunal.

Former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in 2006, but it was not a tribunal. The TRC produced a list of those who should face war crimes prosecution in 2009, but nothing came of it.

Since it mentioned prominent politicians like Senator Prince Yormie Johnson, it became entangled in political turmoil. Although there hasn’t been a trial in Liberia, some of the offenders have received convictions elsewhere.

Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, is presently serving a 50-year term in the United Kingdom for war crimes related to his involvement in the violence in neighboring Sierra Leone. 

 

COMMUNITY PROTECTION BY VIGILANTE GROUPS IN NORTHERN NIGERIA.

An increasing number of states in Nigeria’s conflict-stricken northern area are establishing community-based vigilante patrol teams to enhance security in villages plagued by frequent violent killings and kidnappings.

 With the ongoing Islamist insurgency in the northeast causing fatigue among the country’s security forces, they have faced challenges due to limited resources in combating armed gangs operating in remote areas where government presence is minimal.

In Kaduna, a northern city located just 100 kilometers away from where 300 school children were abducted last month, a local vigilante group known as the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) was established to safeguard the surrounding communities. Emmanuel Audu-Bature, who had been kidnapped previously, decided to join the group to assist in protecting his community from marauding gangs.

 “I was taken to their camp as a victim and spent a week there. It was a harrowing experience. I endured severe beatings and threats of death,” he recounted. Vigilante groups such as the CJTF are thought to hold an advantage over state security forces due to their intimate knowledge of the territories and forests where armed gangs operate. 

We are the primary security presence for the community. Whenever there’s a security issue, we’re the first to respond,” remarked Audu-Bature. Additionally, he emphasized the group’s capability to provide valuable local intelligence. “If someone is hiding within our community, just give us some time, and we’ll locate them,” he asserted. However, Audu-Bature expressed hope that the government would eventually offer support to the group, enabling them to create a peaceful society.

State administrations are increasingly relying on these community-based vigilante organizations to safeguard villages overrun by criminal gangs. However, a significant number of these groups lack proper equipment and operate without the resources and training afforded to official security forces.

Dickson Osagie, an expert on terrorism in Nigeria, emphasized the necessity for enhanced oversight. “If these armed individuals protecting their communities are not regulated, I believe criminal elements will exploit the situation for their illicit activities,” he stated.

 He advocates for government-provided training for vigilante groups permitted to bear arms. “He highlighted the necessity for them to undergo training in firearm handling and non-lethal tactics to prevent firearms from being misused against fellow community members,” he added.

Meanwhile, these groups persist in their dedication to their communities despite challenging conditions.

Kenya Power Implements Cost-Effective Electricity Billing for Residents

Kenya Power has recently declared a substantial 13.7 percent decrease in electricity charges, beginning this month, offering a welcomed respite to consumers nationwide.

 

The significant reduction is mainly credited to two pivotal factors: the Kenyan shilling’s robust performance against the American dollar and a marked decrease in fuel prices.

The decline in electricity expenses is predominantly influenced by a notable decrease in both the fuel cost charge and the foreign exchange fluctuation adjustment, crucial constituents of the total electricity invoice. Specifically, during March and April 2024, these variable elements saw a substantial decrease of 37.3 percent, signifying a noteworthy enhancement in affordability for consumers.

As an example, the fuel cost charge, previously at Sh4.64 in March 2024, has now decreased to Sh3.26 in April 2024, marking a substantial decline from its peak of Sh4.93 in January 2024. Likewise, the forex adjustment charge has experienced a significant decrease from Sh3.68 in March 2024 to Sh1.96 in April 2024, down from its highest level of Sh6.85 in January 2024.

Moreover, customers categorized under the Domestic Customer 3 (DC3) tariff bracket, who consume over 100 units per month, will witness a decrease from Sh4,127 in March 2024 to Sh3,728 in April 2024, benefiting from a significant 9.7 percent reduction in their electricity charges.

In general, the considerable decrease in electricity expenses brings favorable tidings for Kenyan consumers, providing essential relief amidst ongoing economic adversities.

NUPRC Mandates Oil Firms to Supply Domestic Refineries

Gbenga Komolafe

The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), issued a new policy aimed at boosting domestic refining capacity and drastically cutting down reliance on imported petroleum products.

Gbenga Komolafe, the Commission Chief Executive of NUPRC who disclosed this during a press briefing in Abuja on Monday, pointed out that this new policy makes it mandatory for oil firms to supply a portion of their crude oil to domestic refineries before exporting it.

“The move,” he said, is in line with Nigeria’s commitment to enhance its domestic refining capacity and ensure the sustainability of its oil industry.”

He went on to explain that as of January 1st, 2024, Nigeria’s crude oil and condensate reserves were at 31.56 billion barrels and 5.94 billion barrels respectively, totaling to 37.50 billion barrels while the Associated Gas and Non-Associated Gas reserves were at 102.59 Trillion Cubic Feet and 106.67 Trillion Cubic Feet respectively, accumulating in total Gas reserves of 209.26 Trillion Cubic Feet.

He added that in conformance with the provisions of Section 109(2) of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), 2021, the NURPC has come forth with a template guiding the activities for Domestic Crude Oil Supply Obligation (DCSO).

In the template, among the procedures for implementation of domestic crude oil supply obligations (DCSO), is the supply of crude oil requirements of refineries in operation to the Commission adding that where shortages or inadequate supply conditions occur, it must be reported accordingly.

It also indicated that the payments shall either  be made in USD ($) or Naira (N) or both, adding that where the payment is in both currencies, the payment split shall be as agreed in the SPA between the Producer and the Refiner.

The template pointed out that “Crude oil produced by a lessee shall be subject to DCSO imposed by the Commission, provided that the lessee shall be entitled to export any volume of crude oil more than its domestic crude oil supply obligation. The Commission shall publish on its official website and in three national newspapers the domestic crude refining requirements of operating refineries in Nigeria based on the information provided to the Commission by the NMDPRA on the crude oil requirements of refineries in operation in Nigeria pursuant to section 109 (3) of the PIA 2021.

“Where a refinery cannot independently source crude oil from lessees, based on available information, the refinery’s crude preferences should be sent to the Commission before the 15th Business Day of the 3rd month.

“All DCSO allocated cargoes must be discharged into the refinery facility they are programmed for and shall not be diverted or swapped; utilization of any DCSO allocation by any refiner for any purpose other than domestic processing, without a written approval by the Commission shall attract suspension from DCSO allocation for a period determined by the Commission in addition to any other administrative penalty that may be imposed by the Commission.

“In the occurrence of a default in payment by the Refiner, the Commission shall not allocate DCSO to the defaulter for a period to be determined by the Commission in addition to the penalty contained in the Sales Agreement between the refiner and the lessee.

“In the event of failure to lift within the scheduled delivery window by the Refiner, resulting in tank top/production curtailment, the defaulting refiner shall be suspended by the Commission from receiving DCSO allocation for a period to be determined by the Commission; and will be liable to pay a fine equivalent to the delayed royalty from the deferred volume in addition to other failure to lift penalties.”

It also stated that where the lessee failed to supply the allocated DCSO resulting in shortages for the refinery (except in the event of force Majeure as defined in the SPA), the defaulting lessee will be liable to administrative penalty to be determined and imposed by the Commission.

Forbes Lists Two Tanzanians in its ’30 Under 30′ Class of 2024

Prisca Magori, the Co-founder and CEO of Smart EFD (Electronic Fiscal Device) and Calvin Usiri, the Co-founder and CTO (Chief Technology Officer) of Ramani, have been named in the Africa Forbes 30 under 30 class of 2024.

Prisca Magori

Prisca Magori, a petroleum engineer, driven by her passion for entrepreneurship, developed the module with her colleague, Hashim Kingu, a software developer. Smart EFD was built in order to help businesses flourish while abiding by tax laws and regulations.

With Smart EFD, businesses can easily issue electronic receipts using smartphones, laptops,  computers, and POS devices and is seamlessly integrated into the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) system. With it’s headquarters in Dar es Salam, Smart EFD has over 5000 active users, most of whom are small and medium scale business owners.

Calvin Usiri

Calvin Usiri who has garnered vast experience working in the US as a software engineer, co-founded Ramani with the help of his brother, Iain Usiri, who serves as the company’s CEO, and their friend Kibet Martin, who oversees the company’s finances.

Ramani was launched in 2019 and has grown to become one of the leading enterprises in Africa’s tech space, bringing structure in the continent’s supply chains by providing point-of-sale, inventory management and procurement of software for micro-distribution centers.

Ramani aims to fix what it calls a “broken system” as it aims to address the challenges of data transparency in Africa’s consumer-packaged good’s supply chain worth over $1 trillion. With well over 150 million investment capital in East Africa, Ramani continues tom provide solutions to a growing business landscape in the region.

This is the 10th anniversary of Africa’s 30 under 30 list. The list includes influential figures from various sectors ranging from tech, sports e-commerce fashion and entertainment.

 

Federal Government Establishes Committee for Implementation of Digital and Creative Enterprises Program

The Federal Government has inaugurated a technical committee to initiate the Digital and Creative Enterprises (I-DICE) program.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Vice-President Kashim Shettima led the inauguration of the technical committee on Wednesday in Abuja, heralding what he described as the commencement of a new era in the country.

 

The I-DICE program is a collaborative venture between the government and international partners, including the Bank of Industry (BoI), the African Development Bank (AfDB), the French Development Agency (FDA), and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB). It aims to support and empower enterprises in the digital and creative sectors.

Following the endorsement by the National Economic Council (NEC) on March 21, the $617.7 million i-DICE program is set to be implemented across the 36 states of the federation and Abuja.

 

Addressing the inauguration of the technical committee, the Vice President expressed confidence in the initiative’s ability to reshape the nation’s digital and creative landscape.  “We are embarking on a path of innovation, collaboration, and limitless opportunities – a path that has the potential to reshape the course of our country’s digital and creative environment,” Shettima remarked.

 

Furthermore, he disclosed that the Ministry of Finance has been tasked with ensuring prompt disbursement of funds for the i-DICE program, facilitating its swift execution.

Tope Kolade, Special Adviser to the President on Economic Matters (Office of the Vice President) and Chairman of the technical committee on the i-DICE program, emphasized the significant financial backing, underscoring the programmer’s potential to drive transformative change in Nigeria’s digital and creative sectors.

 

The i-DICE program is projected to generate 100,000 jobs per state and create 5.5 million indirect jobs nationwide.

African Development Bank Identifies Financing as Key Barrier to Rapid Transformation in Africa

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has underscored the persistent challenge of financing as a major hurdle to expediting transformation across Africa.

Kevin Urama, AfDB’s Chief Economist and Vice President for Governance and Knowledge Management, addressed this issue during a press conference held in Abidjan on Wednesday.

The press conference, spearheaded by Vincent Nmehielle, Secretary-General of the bank group, and Kevin Urama, alongside other vice presidents, aimed at outlining the agenda for the upcoming annual meetings.

 

Urama provided insights into the itinerary, revealing that the bank plans to host two thematic events focused on specific themes. These events emphasis the pivotal role of research in driving Africa’s transformation.

He emphasised a specific event focused on funding Africa’s evolution within the changing global financial landscape, remarking, “Our research has consistently revealed that securing finances remains a significant impediment to expediting transformation across the continent.”

 

Additionally, Urama mentioned that the annual meetings would feature various knowledge events, including the presidential dialogue and a high-level event to inaugurate the African Economic Outlook Report 2024, among others.

He elaborated on the theme of this year’s African Economic Outlook Report, which centres on Africa’s transformation and the reform of the global financial architecture, emphasizing the critical role of global financial systems in driving Africa’s development.

 

Additionally, Nmehielle stressed that the annual meetings serve as a statutory event of the bank, during which the boards of governors review the bank’s annual report, finances, operations, and other activities from the preceding financial year.

Nmehielle highlighted the significance of the governor’s dialogue, providing a platform for governors to engage with the president and senior management on the continent’s strategic issues.

He re-echoed that this year’s dialogue holds particular importance as the continent grapples with ongoing crises and will reflect on the bank group’s new 10-year strategy to accelerate Africa’s transformation in collaboration with other multilateral development banks.

 

The annual meeting is scheduled to take place from May 27 to May 31 in Nairobi, Kenya.

Rwanda Set for New $165 Million IMF Funding

The International Monetary Fund said on Friday, March 22, that a two-week mission to Rwanda had agreed to allocate another $165.5 million in funding to the country, even as it warned of vulnerabilities tilted to the downside.

While Rwanda’s economic outlook continues to be positive, IMF mission lead, Ruben Atoyan said that a number of risks remain that could potentially weigh on the outlook.

He cited a number of factors including the deepening of geopolitical fragmentation, another spike in global energy and food prices, as well as a slowdown in trading partners’ growth.

Under the new funding, Rwanda is set to gain access to approximately $76.6 million through the Resilience and Sustainability Facility (RSF) and $88.9 million through the Standby Credit Facility (SCF).

Atoyan announced the development following his two-week visit to Kigali, to, among others, discuss the authorities’ policy priorities and progress on reforms within the context of the third review of Rwanda’s Policy Coordination Instrument (PCI) and Resilience and Sustainability Facility (RSF).

It was also during the visit that the IMF made the first review of the Stand-by Credit Facility (SCF) arrangement. Consideration by the Board, according to Atoyan, is tentatively scheduled for May 2024.

“Rwanda’s growth momentum remained strong, notwithstanding the challenging external environment. The 2023 GDP growth continued to be robust at 8.2 percent year-on-year, on the back of strong performance in services and construction, as well as recovery in food crop production in the second half of the year,” he told a press conference in Kigali.

“Inflation decelerated sharply in recent months. Headline inflation was 4.9 per cent in February 2024, down from the peak of 21.7 per cent in November 2022, owing to an appropriately tight monetary policy stance and favorable developments in food prices as agricultural production rebounded at the end of last year,” he added.

Reacting on the climate agenda, Atoyan and his team hailed Rwanda’s “ongoing progress” in strengthening institutional capacity to integrate climate-related considerations.

“The authorities’ commitment to implement climate-related reforms under the RSF arrangement continued to be strong, with measures to implement climate budget tagging, integrate climate risks into fiscal planning, and strengthen disaster risk management being on track to be completed in the coming weeks.”

Uzziel Ndagijimana, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, maintained that Rwanda’s economy rebounded strongly despite external shocks and climate related setbacks.

“We will continue to collaborate closely with the IMF to ensure prudent management of our economy.”

This is not the first round of funding Rwanda has secured from the IMF.

In October, 2023, the IMF allocated a 14-month Stand-by Credit Facility worth $262 million as part of the efforts to deal with balance of payment pressures from climate shocks.

In the same year, the IMF said Rwanda and international development banks planned to raise an additional 300 million euros ($319.62 million) to, among others, adapt to climate change.

Kenyan President Signs Affordable Housing Bill into Law.

The President of Kenya, William Ruto, has formally signed a contentious bill into law, creating a path for the government to continue collecting a housing levy of 1.5% of a worker’s monthly pay. The signing ceremony was conducted in State House Nairobi and attended by key government officials.

The primary goal of the levy is to finance the building of affordable housing for low-income individuals although the implementation has drawn criticism from a wide range of sources. Many in the public and those in opposition have voiced their displeasure with the tax, seeing it as just one more tax among many others.

Legal obstacles have already prevented the bill from becoming law, with a judge stopping deductions because of insufficient legal support. Last Monday, members of Parliament changed and approved the bill in spite of protests from opposition politicians.

The tax was first proposed in President Ruto’s agenda for the 2022 election. It is a component of a larger financial bill that was passed in June of last year, along with a doubling of the fuel sales tax. A higher health insurance premium is also scheduled to be implemented shortly.

The administration argues that increasing tax receipts is necessary to reduce the budget deficit and pay for necessary public services.

Since last July, the government has been withholding the 1.5% housing charge from employees’ pay. But in the face of widespread outrage, one activist successfully sued the government, claiming that it had unfairly targeted Kenyans employed in the formal sector and receiving regular monthly pay.

The new law now extends the tax to additional workers and mandates that non-salaried Kenyans working in the informal sector pay the levy in order to meet the concerns brought up by the court. In addition, the new law created the Affordable Housing Fund, whose purpose is to oversee the funds the government would receive from the levy.

According to the authorities, the money that would have been paid if the plan had not been suspended would not be included in the deduction retroactively.

President Williams Ruto plans to generate over 600,000 jobs annually and build 200,000 affordable housing units.

Nigeria: Access Bank Acquires National Bank of Kenya from KCB Group.

On Wednesday, Access Bank and KCB Group signed a binding agreement to acquire 100 percent shareholding in National Bank of Kenya Limited (NBK) from KCB.

The successful finalization of the transaction hinges on meeting standard conditions typical for such deals, which include securing regulatory approvals from bodies such as the Central Bank of Kenya, the Central Bank of Nigeria, and the COMESA Competition Commission, and making necessary notifications to other pertinent regulatory authorities.

For Access Bank, this acquisition underscores its dedication to enhancing its footprint in Kenya and the broader East African region. Additionally, it builds on the bank’s expanding operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and its planned acquisitions of a majority stake in Uganda’s Finance Trust Bank Limited, a controlling interest in African Banking Corporation Limited (BancABC Tanzania), and the Consumer, Private, and Business Banking operations of Standard Chartered Bank in Tanzania.

In recent months, Access Bank has pursued strategic expansion through significant acquisitions. In January, the bank completed its acquisition of Atlas Mara Zambia, positioning it as one of Zambia’s top five banks by revenue, with aspirations to be among the top three by 2027.

Roosevelt Ogbonna, Managing Director/Chief Executive of Access Bank, commented on the transaction, stating, “The transaction represents a significant milestone for the Bank as it advances us towards the achievement of our strategic plan spanning five years, focusing on expanding our presence in the Kenyan market.    We are establishing a robust and sustainable franchise to support economic prosperity, promote African trade, enhance financial inclusion, and empower individuals to realize their financial goals.”

Ogbonna continued, “Trade flows in East Africa revolve around key trade corridors, with Kenya playing a pivotal role in the region. With the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, these corridors will continue to expand, and by offering our best-in-class financial solutions, we are strategically positioned to deliver sustainable value for our stakeholders. The consolidation in Kenya will help us achieve our vision of becoming Africa’s premier Payment Gateway to the World.   Following the completion of the transaction, NBK will be amalgamated with Access Bank Kenya Plc, creating an enlarged franchise to pursue our strategic objectives in the Kenyan and East African markets.”

Paul Russo, CEO of KCB Group, expressed his views on the transaction,  “This transaction presents a great opportunity to maximize value for our shareholders while strengthening the Group’s competitive position. The past four years have been transformative for NBK as a subsidiary of KCB Group, and this step marks the beginning of new opportunities.”

Russo continued, “Over this period, we have made significant investments in the Bank, and we are confident that this decision serves the best interests of the Group and advances its long-term sustainability.” “Our growth strategy is based on both organic and inorganic plans, and we will continue to seek opportunities that enhance shareholder value.”

All parties involved will work together in the coming months to fulfil the conditions precedent related to the proposed acquisition, including obtaining regulatory approvals from the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Central Bank of Kenya.

Access Bank will ensure the continuity of full banking services for its stakeholders, including employees and customers in Kenya. NBK customers will continue to access seamless services through various touchpoints, including branch networks and mobile banking platforms. Upon completion, stakeholders will benefit from an enlarged franchise with top-notch customer service and governance structures committed to empowering the communities where the Bank operates. The combined entity will leverage Access Bank’s commitment to economic development by extending financial services to the unbanked, thereby enhancing financial inclusion across the region.

Kenya Tops Peers in Youth Digital Potential.

According to the 2023 Eastern Africa Youth Digital Readiness Index, Kenya is the nation leading the way in the digital revolution.

Kenya’s extensive usage of mobile money, government infrastructure spending, and digital literacy campaigns are all credited for the country’s rating.

Even having a score of 26.75, Kenya continues to struggle with unequal access to technology in rural regions, a problem that is shared by other countries in the region.

Ethiopia and Tanzania came in fourth and fifth, respectively, according to the survey, with Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Somalia coming in sixth, seventh, and eighth.

Eastern African nations’ digital potential and performance were evaluated in the Qhala 2023 Eastern Africa Youth Digital Readiness Index Report, a digital transformation company. It included South Sudan, Sudan, DRC, Somalia, Burundi, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda.

It examines elements including online safety, government assistance, and digital skills.

Its objective was to pinpoint regions in need of development and foster regional cooperation to close the digital divide and give young people more influence. The study found that the usage of mobile money increased in a number of nations, promoting financial inclusion.

According to the report, mobile money usage is increasing in Sudan, where services like MTN Mobile Money and Zain Cash are becoming more popular.

With services like M-Pesa and Orange Money, the use of mobile money is also increasing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The increase in the use of mobile money helps the Congolese people feel more financially secure and promotes a cashless society.

The founder and CEO of Qhala, Dr. Shikoh Gitau, says that the 2023 index is a useful tool for businesses, civil society, policymakers, and educational institutions. It offers a roadmap for strategic interventions to promote innovation and digital readiness while also offering nuanced insights into the digital landscape of Eastern African nations.

“Digital preparedness is more than just adopting new technology. It includes a nation’s capacity to develop into a digitally oriented, highly skilled, innovation-focused, and sustainable economy.

According to the report, young people are a major force behind the region’s digital development because of their propensity for entrepreneurship, love for digital tools, and flexibility with new technology.

 

Rwanda-Zimbabwe Ties Show Potential of Intra-Africa Trade.

The commencement of the Rwanda-Zimbabwe Business Forum on Monday is a compelling example of the transformative potential of cooperation between the South and the South. A remarkable success story, the 50% increase in trade between these two countries over the last two years offers important lessons for the whole African continent.

The annual forum, which is currently taking place for the third time, alternating between Kigali and Harare, is largely responsible for the rise.

Africa has been a net importer for far too long, with most of its trade going outside the continent. The interchange of commodities and services between African countries, or intra-African commerce, has enormous potential, as this forum illustrates. Through promoting alliances such as the one between the two nations, Africa can unleash its enormous economic potential and steer towards self-sufficiency.

Towards this end, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a significant step forward. AfCFTA creates a continental marketplace by removing trade barriers and simplifying trade laws, which promotes economic expansion and job creation throughout Africa.

The resolution of current impediments, however, is necessary for such attempts to succeed. Exorbitant airfare expenses continue to be a major barrier, impeding the effective transportation of commodities. Important efforts include encouraging more competition in the aviation industry and streamlining air travel regulations.

The relationship between Rwanda and Zimbabwe provides a road map for addressing these obstacles. Both countries have placed a high priority on streamlining trade procedures and developing their infrastructure, which has created an atmosphere that is favorable for economic growth. Enhancing cooperation in domains like as information sharing, technology, and logistics can augment these benefits even further.

Let Africa be guided by the commercial boom between Rwanda and Zimbabwe. Let’s embrace South-South collaboration, knock down trade obstacles, and unleash the enormous economic potential on our continent. Together, we can make the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) a reality and open the door to a wealthy and connected Africa.

Africa has a bright future because of trade, cooperation, and a common goal of prosperity. Let’s take advantage of this chance to write a new chapter in the economic history of Africa, one in which the continent assumes its proper role on the international economic scene and intra-African trade flourishes.

Hope for Bajuni Language as First Native Books Published.

There is a ray of hope for the Bajuni language in Lamu County and the Coast at large with the launch of books in Kibajuni.

This is the first time books in the Bajuni dialect have been published.

The books are meant to safeguard the cultural heritage of the Bajuni, oral traditions, and poetry.

The Bajuni language (Kibajuni), also known as Tikulu (Tikuu), is a Bantu language related to Kiswahili.

It is spoken mainly by the Bajuni people who inhabit the tiny Bajuni Islands in the northern part of Kenya’s Coast and Southern Somalia around Kismayu.

The launch was at the Mwana Arafa Hotel on Lamu Island. It was attended by renowned authors, officials from the National Museums of Kenya (NMK), Unesco, British Council officials, and Lamu elders.

The new books are part of a cultural heritage documentation project on the Bajuni language, oral traditions, and poetry.

It is being implemented by Twaweza Communications Centre in partnership with the Shungwaya Welfare Association and Swahili Resource Centre.

The project is funded by the British Council Cultural Protection Fund and the Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport.

It is the first time the language viewed as a dialect of Swahili has been the object of such books.

Twaweza Communications lead partner Prof Kimani Njogu said the documentation “will result in new records about the language and the history of the community”.

It will also lead to the creation of a vital resource for current and future generations, he said.

“I am happy to be part and parcel of this event to launch Bajuni language books. The Bajuni language is important because it is the root of Bajuni identity, history, and knowledge system. It defines who they are and should be protected and promoted,” Njogu said.

Shungwaya Welfare Association Secretary General Omar Lali said since the language is not taught in school, many Bajuni youth today cannot write it.

Lali challenged the Bajuni youth to value their language and speak it without feeling inferior.

“Your language tells the history of your people. It is your cultural resource,” Lali said.

Among the newly launched books is the Chusomeni Kibajuni for Grades 1, 2, and 3.

The book is expected to greatly promote literacy.

Mohamed Lali, the chairperson of the Shungwaya Welfare Association, hopes that a Bajuni Resource Centre will be built to increase learning and preserve the cultural heritage of the community.

“It will also contribute to more research and cultural tourism,” Mohamed said.

Other books launched are Mashairi a Kibajuni, an anthology of more than 100 poems in Kibajuni edited by Omar Lali, and Omar Maulana and assisted by Prof Kimani Njogu.

Shivulani ni Shaulani is a narrative poem in six parts by spoken word poet Mohamed Kombo, and a collection of essays Bajuni Land, Language and Orature edited by Kimani Njogu and Athman Lali Omar.  

These learners’ books are accompanied by teacher’s guides to ensure that skills are imparted according to the Competency-Based Curriculum guidelines.

The project also involved building a Bajuni cultural heritage website and training youth on how to document cultural heritage.

The project also contributes to the implementation of the Constitution of Kenya, which recognizes the importance of the languages of the people of Kenya.

Unesco regional adviser on culture Nagaoka Masanori said the Bajuni books launch is a crucial step towards the continued preservation and protection of culture and promotion of Lamu as a Unesco World Heritage site.

Lamu Old Town 2001 was named a Unesco World Heritage site due to its historical significance as an epicenter for trade in the East Africa Region.

Masanori called it the “living embodiment of Swahili cultural heritage”.

“The Bajuni language is part and parcel of the cultural heritage of this place. I am, therefore, happy to preside over this historic event to launch Bajuni language books,” Masanori said.

In attendance were British Council country director and East Africa lead Tom Porter, assistant director of the Kenya National Commission for Unesco Emily Njeru, implementing partners, Lamu county government representatives, and community members.

Nigeria: Mcaa Set for Her 6th Miniature Art Exhibition.

The sixth miniature exhibition, which will take place at the Arts Hotel in Lagos, has been set to take place from March 30 to April 14, 2024. During a press conference held at the Arts Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, this was recently revealed by Patrons Modern and Contemporary African Arts (MCAA), a renowned art consultancy and dealership firm.

The event’s subject, “Herstory Reframed,” was inspired by the direction of this year’s International Women’s Day celebration. It will allow women artists to use canvases to communicate their tales while reshaping the global narrative of African women.

The show seeks to reinterpret symbols, reclaim feminine narratives, and encourage inclusivity in the arts. Through their twenty pieces of art, three gifted and well-exhibited female artists from French-speaking nations will share amazing stories.

A fireside talk with women in business, finance, and the arts will also take place during the event to address what lies ahead for the African arts sector. Mama Nike, who is renowned for reviving African traditional practices through her arts and crafts, will chair the discussion panel. Opportunities in the arts sector, the funding gap, finance for the arts, assistance for female artists, and the export potential of art collections will be the main topics of discussion.

Speaking at the press conference, the Director at Patron MCAA, Miss Keturah Ovio, said, “We are always looking for projects that are exciting and often not ventured into by other art forms, and while art is big business all around the world, we realized in African it is not well popularised and we saw an opportunity there.”

“Other industries influence art for instance the Real Estate Sector. The way houses are built is getting smaller which means the wall spaces are getting smaller. As an artist, your work of art should also consider where the market is going.”

“For an artwork of 6×7 feet high and wide, someone who rents a one-bedroom apartment might not want to buy such considering the space it will occupy.”

“However, it is not a bad business for us, because we can help them store them, as we believe Arts should be displayed, discussed, and enjoyed.”

The musicians Falhone Ogoun from the Benin Republic, Kristine Tsala from Cameroun, and Asa Mansongi from the Republic of Congo are anticipated at the event.

Ovio notes that there is room for both governmental and private sector players to do more, pointing out that the African arts business is only worth roughly $13 billion, or 2.5 percent of the $520 billion worldwide art market.

Every artist has a distinct viewpoint that comes from their experiences and upbringings, according to Ms. Ovio.

Ms. Ovio stated, “Every artist provides a distinct perspective derived from their experiences and upbringing.

“Everyone must put money into it. Corporations need to invest in building, marketing, exporting, and art collections. Art in public spaces is essential. Art must be exported, not merely technology or other goods. People’s lives can be improved and changed by the values of the arts, she remarked.

Young people in Africa need to be interested in collecting art, according to Peter Imo, Director of Patrons MCAA, who emphasized that art can appreciate in value if stored properly.

“Art is a long-term investment. It is an asset you own that can exponentially grow wealth for generations,” he said.

He said that diversity has grown in importance on a worldwide scale and that women have demonstrated their extraordinary ability to contribute to the arts in a variety of fields.

Speaking at the ceremony, Miss Meme Osuocha, Marketing Director, said that it will highlight the potential of women and reinterpret African women’s stories for a global audience.

It’s a chance to use the arts to share the tales of African women. In addition to showcasing the creative talent of the female artists on display, HERstory Reframed paves the path for a more empowered and inclusive future for women in Africa and beyond, the statement reads.

Kenya, US to Cohost Global Food Hygiene Forum.

The 54th session of the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene has commenced with Kenya as host in collaboration with the United States. 

 

The forum was launched by Rebecca Miano, Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Investments, Trade and Industry, Susan Nakhumicha, CS Health, and Mithika Linturi, Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development.

 

Kenya’s collaboration with the US to hold this meeting highlights the country’s leadership in advancing food safety on the African continent. Effective communication and the incorporation of Codex standards into national regulations are guaranteed by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), which serves as the National Codex Contact Point.

 

Dr. Evelyne Mbandi, the Chairperson of the Committee on Food Hygiene graced the event with her presence together with Steve Wearne, Chair of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, Dr. Emilio Esteban the Under Secretary for Food Safety, among others.

 

Rebecca Miano stated that “This is a momentous occasion for Kenya just getting the opportunity to co-host it here with the US. It just demonstrates Kenya’s dedication and commitment to enhancing food hygiene and standards”.

 

She buttressed the essence of maintaining high food standards to facilitate trade, stating that “Trade in agriculture is a lifeline for Kenya, standards are a big deal for Kenya”.

 

Additionally, the occasion provides a forum for discussing the unique requirements of the African continent. The significance of flexible and locally applicable standards for food safety is emphasized by initiatives like the creation of regional standards to assist the African Continental Free Trade Area and leadership in food hygiene measures in traditional marketplaces.

 

Kenya is reaffirming its commitment to food safety standards through stringent market surveillance, according to Esther Ngari, Managing Director of KEBS. She emphasized Kenya’s proactive approach to guaranteeing the safety and quality of its food supply and gave participants assurances of high compliance levels across all food products supplied in the nation.

 

President Bio Applauds China for Ongoing Support in Sierra Leone’s Infrastructure.

Sierra Leone’s President, Julius Maada Bio, expressed gratitude for China’s ongoing support in infrastructure development during his recent state visit to China. President Bio, invited by Chinese President Xi Jinping, made his second visit to the country since assuming office. The diplomatic ties between China and Sierra Leone, established over five decades ago, have resulted in numerous successful railway and bridge projects under the cooperative framework.

 

Among these projects is the Second Juba Bridge, a significant achievement of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Named after Sierra Leonean hero Sendgbe Pieh, the 81.8-meter bridge, located in Freetown, has played a crucial role in easing traffic congestion and improving residents’ travel experiences. President Bio emphasized the bridge’s impact on safety during rainy seasons, particularly for vulnerable groups like women and children, who previously faced challenges crossing waterways without proper infrastructure.

 

In an interview with China Global Television Network (CGTN) in Beijing, President Bio acknowledged the vital role of bridges, highlighting the physical and social connections they provide. He described the obstacles faced during heavy rains, with schools and health facilities on opposite sides, emphasizing the dangers and accidents that occurred before the implementation of such crucial infrastructure.

 

President Bio extended his appreciation for China’s assistance in various projects that reflect the enduring friendship between the two nations. The Youyi building in Freetown, aided by China in the 1970s, still stands as the government office and a symbol of friendship, as “Youyi” translates to friendship in Chinese. Other notable projects include the ongoing renovation of the Sierra Leone National Stadium, funded by China and set for completion in November. Additionally, the China-Sierra Leone Friendship Road in southeastern Freetown has become a vital route connecting villages near the capital city.

 

The Sierra Leone-China Friendship Hospital, funded by China, stands as a testament to the strong ties between the two countries. It is recognized as one of the best comprehensive hospitals in Sierra Leone, hosting Chinese medical teams dispatched by the government, particularly during health emergencies such as Ebola and the COVID-19 pandemic. President Bio commended China’s leadership for supporting various initiatives, emphasizing the immense importance of Chinese infrastructure development in Sierra Leone.

 

The collaborative efforts between China and Sierra Leone extend beyond physical infrastructure, encompassing medical assistance and disaster response. President Bio’s acknowledgment of China’s contributions reflects the positive impact on Sierra Leone’s development and the enduring friendship between the two nations.

Dangote to Launch Oil Trading Arm for Lagos Mega Refinery.

 

 

Africa’s wealthiest individual, Aliko Dangote, is venturing into new territory by exploring the creation of an oil trading arm, potentially based in London, to facilitate operations for his upcoming refinery project in Nigeria, insiders disclosed. This strategic move has the potential to sideline major global trading entities, currently in lengthy negotiations to financially back Dangote’s refinery and supply crude oil in exchange for product exports. The anticipation is palpable within the trading community as Dangote’s colossal 650,000-barrel-per-day refinery gears up to reshape global oil and fuel dynamics.

 

According to reliable sources speaking to Reuters, Dangote seems prepared to take control of the situation. The newly proposed trading division is expected to be led by Radha Mohan, a former Essar trader who assumed the position of director of international supply and trading at Dangote in 2021, as per his LinkedIn profile. It is understood that the team is actively recruiting additional traders to strengthen its ranks.

 

The construction of the refinery, a nearly decade-long project, incurred costs of approximately $20 billion, surpassing the initial budget by $6 billion. Despite these challenges, the facility has commenced operations, refining an estimated 8 million barrels of oil between January and February. However, achieving full operational capacity will necessitate several more months.

 

To support the refinery’s crude procurement, Vitol reportedly pre-paid for specific product cargoes, while Trafigura engaged in crude oil swaps for future fuel cargoes, according to informed sources. Both Vitol and Trafigura, headquartered in Geneva, declined to provide official statements.

 

This bold move by Dangote to establish his own oil trading arm reflects his determination to navigate the complex landscape of global oil trade independently. By potentially setting up the headquarters in London, he strategically positions the trading arm in a key financial hub. This shift could disrupt the existing dynamics where major global trading entities play a crucial role in supporting refinery projects.

 

The appointment of Radha Mohan, with his background as a former Essar trader, indicates a deliberate choice to bring in expertise from the industry. The team’s active recruitment efforts further underscore the seriousness of Dangote’s commitment to building a formidable trading division.

 

The financial intricacies surrounding the refinery project, including the initial cost overrun of $6 billion, highlight the challenges faced during the lengthy construction period. However, the commencement of operations and the refined oil output in the initial months indicate progress despite these hurdles.

 

The involvement of Vitol and Trafigura in supporting Dangote’s refinery underscores the significance of established global players in the oil trading arena. Their pre-payment and crude oil swap strategies demonstrate the creative financial mechanisms employed to ensure a stable crude supply for the refinery.

 

As Dangote’s oil trading arm takes shape and the refinery inches towards full operational capacity, the global oil and fuel landscape is poised for significant shifts. The success of this venture could solidify Dangote’s position not only as a major player in the African business landscape but also as a formidable force in the global oil trade.

Nigeria And Russia Hold Talks in Moscow.

Russian and Nigerian foreign ministers engaged in talks in Moscow, emphasizing the significance of their future relations. Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, conveyed Moscow’s recognition of Nigeria as a priority partner in Africa, a sentiment echoed by Yusuf Tuggar, his Nigerian counterpart.

 

“The relationship will continue to grow. We feel that we are in the right position to have a very strong strategic relationship with Russia,” Tuggar asserted, underscoring the positive trajectory of their bilateral ties.

 

Lavrov, in turn, emphasized Moscow’s commitment to assisting countries in the Sahara-Sahel region, aiming to enhance their combat capabilities. This region, encompassing Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, and Guinea, has grappled with persistent political instability, exacerbated by the rise of jihadist groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and Islamic State over the past decade.

 

“Russia will assist countries of the region in increasing the combat capability of their national armed forces, security forces, and law enforcement authorities, to counter the threats that persist,” Lavrov declared, signaling Russia’s commitment to bolstering the security infrastructure in the Sahara-Sahel region.

 

Amid global scrutiny over Russia’s involvement in the conflict in Ukraine, Moscow is strategically seeking to amplify its influence in the global south. A forthcoming meeting with African foreign ministers scheduled in Sochi later this year is indicative of Russia’s broader diplomatic efforts to strengthen ties with African nations.

 

The talks between Russia and Nigeria reflect a mutual interest in expanding their partnership beyond bilateral dimensions. As Nigeria is viewed as a pivotal player on the African continent, Moscow’s prioritization of the nation aligns with its broader strategy of cultivating strategic alliances in diverse regions.

 

In addressing the security challenges in the Sahara-Sahel region, both nations recognize the need for collaborative efforts to counter the persisting threats posed by extremist groups. Russia’s commitment to assisting in enhancing the combat capabilities of national armed forces aligns with the shared goal of fostering stability in the region.

 

Against the backdrop of geopolitical tensions, Russia’s diplomatic engagements in Africa underscore its proactive approach to diversifying alliances and securing strategic partnerships. The meeting in Moscow serves as a testament to the countries’ commitment to fostering stronger ties, not only bilaterally but also within the broader context of regional security and stability.

Zimbabwean Government Commits to Transforming Agriculture Through Irrigation.

The Zimbabwean government has demonstrated its unshakable commitment to bolstering the farm sector’s resilience to climate change by promoting irrigation use and supporting private sector involvement in the schema’s actualization.

Professor Obert Jiri, permanent secretary for Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Development, stated that in order for farmers to increase yields during protracted dry spells, they needed support from irrigation infrastructure in a recent X (previously Twitter) post.

Prof. Jiri noted that irrigation development was crucial for Pfumvudza/Intwasa, village-youth-school business units, irrigation schemes, large-scale irrigation projects, and estates, among other things, at every level.

“It is therefore critical for the country to invest in the construction of many water reservoirs such as dams and weirs to ensure water for irrigation is readily accessible,” he said.

His remarks follow Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Development Vangelis Haritatos’ recent stakeholder engagement event in Harare. The purpose of the event was to persuade commercial entities to spend money on irrigation infrastructure in order to climate-proof agricultural practices, which are now endangered by unpredictable rainfall patterns.

As the nation took steps to guarantee the irrigation push was successful, Prof. Jiri also pushed farmers to collaborate with the corporate sector.

“Zvavachari Irrigation Scheme in Mberengwa District is a remarkable example of how the irrigation thrust, which the Government is aggressively pursuing is spearheading the rural development and rural industrialization agenda. More than 50 households are earning a living from irrigation activities,” he said in his post.

Regardless of the size of their fields, irrigation should be used by everyone, from backyard gardens to large commercial farms, according to Mrs. Wendy Madzura, head of agronomy at Seed Co.

“It is imperative for commercial farmers to invest in irrigation systems that utilize various technologies such as center pivots, irrigation guns, and different-sized sprinklers. Therefore, before deciding on their best match, farmers are urged to consult with experts,” she continued.

By 2025, the Agricultural and Food Systems Transformation Strategy and the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) program aim to increase the area under irrigation from the present 203 000ha to 350 000ha.

As it works to expand the area under irrigation, the government hopes to establish alliances with the corporate sector. Due to the capital-intensive nature of irrigation development, all parties involved in the agriculture industry must participate comprehensively.

Engineer Bezel Chitsungo, the director of the Department of Irrigation Development, stated that while the nation possessed competent professionals for dam construction, the majority of the water bodies required to be completely exploited for irrigation.

“The country has the potential to irrigate up to two million hectares of land if all existing dams and those under construction are fully utilized. We are also exploring transboundary water resources such as the Zambezi River in the north and the Limpopo River in the south and also unlocking the potential of the Pfungwe water system and the groundwater resources, which are regarded as unexploited. This could contribute to expanding the irrigated land area,” said Eng Chitsungo.

Out of a potential two million hectares, Eng Chitsungo stated, only 220,000 hectares had irrigation infrastructure. 203 000ha of the 220 000ha of irrigation infrastructure that are in use indicate that there is a 20 000ha equipment deficiency that has to be addressed.

The dams at Tugwi Mukosi, Manyuchi, and Mazvikadeyi are among the underutilized dams that collectively may provide to the irrigation of 40.000, 5,000, and 7,000 hectares of land.

The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) is involved in the government’s intentional policy strategy, the Agricultural and Food Systems Transformation Strategy, which speeds up irrigation development in order to fulfill the aggressive targets.

By working with the business sector, the government hopes to achieve the goal of 350,000 hectares of irrigation development by taking a holistic approach to the field.

Kenya Partners with UAE to Unveil Country’s First Geothermal-Powered Data Centre.

In an unprecedented move that positions it at the forefront of the global digital economy, Kenya’s EcoCloud has signed an MoU with UAE’s G42 for the development of the first-ever data center to be powered by geothermal power.

Strategically located in Kenya’s geothermal-rich region, the EcoCloud-G42 Mega Data Center is planned to have an initial capacity of 100 MW, but with the potential to build up to 1 Gigawatt, setting a new standard for sustainable data centers.

This initiative is not just an investment in technology but a bold statement of Kenya’s commitment to harnessing renewable energy for technological advancement. By leveraging the earth’s heat, the project dramatically cuts fossil fuel dependence, slashes carbon emissions, and stands as a beacon of environmental stewardship.

The collaboration between EcoCloud, a trailblazer in data center development, and G42, the leading UAE-based technology conglomerate, marks a significant leap in Kenya’s journey toward becoming a digital hub. This strategic partnership underlines a shared vision for fostering a robust digital infrastructure that not only accelerates the country’s digital transformation but also fortifies its position as a leader in technology-driven development.

This strategic agreement was signed by Eng. Amos Siwoi, CEO of EcoCloud, and Peng Xiao, Group CEO of G42, leading the UAE delegation, in the presence of His Excellency President William Samoei Ruto of Kenya, and Dr. Salim Ibrahim Binahmed Mohammed Alnaqbi, the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Kenya.

Eng. Amos Siwoi, CEO of EcoCloud said “This collaboration marks a significant milestone in our commitment to sustainability and innovation. By harnessing the power of geothermal energy, we are not only meeting the region’s data needs but also setting a new standard for eco-friendly infrastructure. This partnership underscores our dedication to a greener, more sustainable future for Africa and beyond.”

“This geothermal-powered data center is a milestone towards realizing Kenya’s potential as a global digital hub and fulfilling our mission of making intelligence accessible to everyone, everywhere,”  Peng Xiao, Group CEO of G42 added.

This development in Kenya comes at a time when data centers have faced scrutiny about their environmental impacts. Their rapid expansion in Africa has continued to raise concerns about their environmental impact, particularly in terms of energy consumption, carbon emissions, and waste generation. Over the years though several firms around the world have tried to make their data centers more eco-friendly.

‘’The collaboration between Kenya’s EcoCloud and the UAE’s G42 to construct a data center will catalyze Kenya’s emergence as a global digital hub. The first-ever data center powered by geothermal energy establishes a new benchmark for eco-friendly infrastructure and positions Kenya as a leader in sustainable industrialization.’’ President Ruto said.

 

Ghana Passes Bill in Protection of African Culture.

On the 28th of February, Ghana’s parliament passed a bill on the issues of anti-homosexuality that has attracted world condemnation, however, the country is unshaken by this criticism. The bill pushes to increase criminal penalties for consensual same-sex relationships and punishes advocacy for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.

The President, Nana Akufo Addo, is expected to reject the bill and refuse an appending signature to the bill without reservations. The president, however, has decided to wait for the Supreme Court ruling on its constitutionality before assenting to the bill. 

The bill “Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanian Family Values Bill” was initially introduced in 2021 by members of parliament. 

According to one of the main sponsors of the bill, Sam George posted on his X handle, “After three long years, we have finally passed the Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Act”.

Additionally, the bill criminalizes not only advocating for LGBT rights but also failure to report an LGBT person to the authorities and anyone using a social media platform to create, publish, or distribute content that promotes activities that are forbidden by the bill.

In Ghana, gay sex is already against the law and it is punishable by a three-year imprisonment sentence. However, the new legislation extends the maximum sentence by five years of imprisonment.

In an interview with Breakfast Central, Sam George, a member of the Ghanaian Parliament was asked for his take on the response of the Spokesperson of the United States Department of State, Matthew Miller, who said that the United States is deeply troubled by the passage of the legislation as it will affect a lot of Ghanaians in diaspora. 

MP George responded by saying that he does not expect the spokesperson to respect the tenets of democracy. He said; “The entire  United States government needs to bear in mind that Ghana is a sovereign country and we are opposed to cultural imperialism”.

He made reference to the Israeli campaign in the Gaza Strip when the US government was called on to intervene, the US department said it was not in its position to interfere in the local matters of sovereign states. 

MP George further noted that “Ghana is a sovereign state and not the 51st state of the United States. The sovereign parliament has passed a bill as they are not invited to the country’s local politics”.

Considering the treatment and measures meted out to Uganda after they had passed the anti-LGBTQ bill, MP George was asked if he fears that Ghana might meet the same fate, to which he responded, saying “as the first country to gain independence in sub-Saharan Africa and leads the light for the rest of Africa, he expects that the president of Ghana stand shoulder high and tell the American people to either do business with us on our terms or walk away”.

He noted that the American businesses that operate in Ghana are not in the country because of LGBTQ but because they make a profit. If saying no to the bill to protect the cultural value would cost losing $100 million in profit, then they should leave.

In addition, he said Africans should be able to stand up for their rights as they are not puppets and stooges of the West/European world.

Most countries in Africa expressed opposition to the UN General Assembly declaration for LGBT rights as it goes against the cultural values and norms of religion, traditions, and customs of African countries. 

In countries like Nigeria, Somaliland, Somalia, Mauritania, and Uganda, homosexuality is punishable by the death penalty or life imprisonment. 

Nevertheless, Ghana has not made the wrong decision to pass the anti-LGBTQ bill. It is proof that many African countries have seen the light and have decided to walk in that light.

Mozambican Government to Invest $100m for Rail Electrification.

The prototype rail electrification project in Mozambique will span 88 kilometers from Maputo city to the South African border at Ressano Garcia, requiring the government to invest roughly $100 million.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday in Maputo following a meeting with the Dutch ambassador, Elsbeth Akkerman, Transport Minister Mateus Magala stated that, in the context of the energy transition, it is widely agreed upon that clean, green energies are the most promising for the future, as they will ensure the welfare of future generations.

In an effort to promote the use of sustainable energy, the ambassador used this occasion to demonstrate her first electric car and its solar-powered charging system.

“We have a master plan that talks about how we should improve our mobility, the big challenge is the limited resources we have in terms of funding. Mass transport is the way to improve people’s mobility, Magala said.

Magala claims that one solution the government has discovered is to establish demonstration projects, one of which is promoting the use of railroads.

The ambassador, for her part, stated that a variety of man-made pressures are exerted on the earth, with climate change being the primary cause of these phenomena.

“It’s wonderful that the United Nations climate summit convenes annually to examine climate change on a global scale. Mozambique plans to establish itself as a prominent location for investments in renewable energy infrastructure and green industrialization, she said, having presented its Energy Transition Strategy at the COP 28 in Dubai.

In the Netherlands, the process of electrifying automobiles is presently underway, and by 2030, there will be 1.9 million completely electric passenger cars on the road that can be refueled at the same number of charging stations.

 

South Africa To Begin Construction Of Its Biggest Private Renewable Plant

In a significant breakthrough for South Africa’s renewable energy sector, the construction of Red Cap Energy’s Impofu wind farms in Kouga, Eastern Cape, will begin in March 2024.

Comprising three 110-megawatt (MW) wind farms, this project is the country’s largest privately owned renewable energy facility.

Jadon Schmidt, Business Development Manager at Red Cap Energy, emphasizes the comprehensive initiatives pursued since 2013 to acquire land parcels and foster collaboration with local stakeholders in the development process.

Since 2013, Red Cap Energy has secured agreements for 87 distinct land parcels to facilitate the power line infrastructure. Over the years, extensive negotiations with farmers have resulted in lease agreements for land dedicated to the construction of wind turbines. Jadon Schmidt, the Business Development Manager, highlighted these efforts in a press release, emphasizing the collaborative approach. The wind farm project will span 12 pieces of land, accommodating a total of 57 turbines. Schmidt underlines the positive impact on local landowners, who stand to benefit significantly from the project.

Moreover, the venture is expected to contribute to enhanced local agricultural output, fostering a symbiotic relationship between renewable energy development and the surrounding community. The intricate process of securing land and engaging with stakeholders reflects Red Cap Energy’s commitment to sustainable and mutually beneficial practices in the renewable energy sector.


The project’s triumph can be attributed largely to the intimate collaboration with landowners, pivotal in determining the strategic placement of turbines and ensuring minimal interference with ongoing agricultural activities. Through this close partnership, Red Cap Energy has navigated the intricate balance between renewable energy development and preserving the essential functions of the surrounding land. The involvement of landowners has not only facilitated the smooth integration of the wind farm but has also contributed to a harmonious coexistence, underscoring the significance of community engagement in fostering sustainable and mutually beneficial initiatives within the realm of renewable energy.

 Vernon Basson, proprietor of Vergaderingskraal, a leased land parcel for the Impofu project, highlights the meticulous planning and thoughtful attention to environmental aspects throughout the process.

The entire process unfolded seamlessly. I strategically voiced preferences, ensuring roadways didn’t compromise land usability. Additionally, I provided insights on suitable turbine locations, considering factors like excessive wetness or challenging accessibility in certain areas,” remarked Basson.

Upon commencement in 2025, the Impofu wind farms will deliver 330 MW of renewable energy to Sasol South Africa’s Secunda site. This will be facilitated by an innovative 116-kilometer powerline, marking the country’s longest privately permitted powerline for a renewable energy initiative.

‘Red Gold’ Lifts Women Out of Poverty in Morocco’s Rural Communities.

With the cultivation of saffron, Moroccan women living in rural communities have successfully overcome poverty and social and developmental vulnerability. The planting of this pricey crop popularly known as “red gold” has supported these women to become more financially independent and more involved in their local communities.

Many women’s lives in southern Morocco’s rural areas have improved, especially in Taliouine, which is referred to as “the saffron capital” of the nation. The goal of the Moroccan government is to increase saffron production, which is one of the most expensive and valuable spices worldwide.

Numerous parts of Morocco are well-known for their “red gold,” one of which is Taliouine, a town in the southern Taroudant province that is regarded as the nation’s saffron capital. In addition, saffron is grown in the town of Imilchil and the surrounding area of Taznakht, as well as in the Ikniouen commune in the southeast of the nation’s Tinghir province.

Production Process

Local Taliouine farmer Abdul Majid Ogelli describes the agricultural cycle of saffron cultivation in the area’s fields in an interview with Independent Arabia. He says, “Every year, it all starts in July or August with the first stage of weeding the fields to remove excessive and harmful weeds.”

As men and women on the field are all too aware, he says, this is an important stage. Many people are not aware of the procedures that must be followed in order to cultivate saffron.

He goes on, “The second stage of saffron manufacturing entails collecting saffron blossoms in October and November, and this task is typically performed by women. The harvest is very demanding and calls for a great deal of perseverance and labor.

The next step involves drying the red saffron crocus. Next, women employed in agricultural cooperatives refine the product by removing the red stigmas from the purple blossom of this valuable plant. Saffron is packed for retail sales in the last stage.

In remote Amazigh tribes, women are frequently tasked with harvesting while males tend to the plant’s bulbs. Women who labor in the “red gold” crop have come to define it, and this line of employment has helped many women in various ways, including emotionally, socially, and financially.

A Way to Alleviate Poverty

The leader of a women’s saffron cooperative, Fatima Takrkoucht, gave an explanation of why women participate more in the harvest than males. She stated that the primary cause was the tenacity of women in rural Amazigh villages, which enabled them to bear the arduous labor and lengthy hours associated with gathering and refining.

She went on to say that the woman who was picking saffron mostly worked for an agricultural cooperative and had to get up early in order to gather the saffron from the fields before daybreak. After that, they have to spend the evenings working on peeling the blooms.

She clarified that a large number of rural women had previously been unemployed and had just stayed at home, awaiting supplies and rations from their fathers, brothers, or spouses, if they were single or widowed. However, working with saffron increased their independence.

According to Takrkoucht, women who produce “red gold” now earn a meager but adequate living wage that covers their basic needs. Additionally, they work at a job that gives them a way out of unemployment.

The production of saffron in Morocco’s marginalized areas has opened up economic options that have helped women working in agricultural cooperatives combat poverty, unemployment, and home vulnerability. In addition, these women now have greater status in their households.

The Ministry of Agriculture of Morocco reports that the nation produces nearly 6 tonnes of saffron annually. Together with an economic interest group including 15 cooperatives, the sector’s professional organizational network comprises 42 cooperatives with 3041 members.

Morocco ranks fourth globally in terms of saffron production. By 2030, the nation hopes to have expanded its saffron crop to 3,000 hectares and produce 13.5 tons of the spice.

Rwanda Sees Surge In The Adoption Of Renewable Energy .

 

Despite Rwanda’s abundance of renewable energy resources, the sluggish pace of development is attributed to capital costs and the grid’s low electricity prices. However, installations are gaining momentum driven by increasing energy prices and a growing enthusiasm for collaborative initiatives between companies and the public sector. Diplomatic entities, local authorities, and the private sector actively invest, often in partnership.

With the escalation of energy prices and the diminishing reliability of predominantly fossil-fuel-based sources, the appeal of alternative, efficient, and environmentally friendly energy supplies is on the rise,” stated Gilbert Ntabakirabose, the Kigali-based country representative for Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), in conversation with pv magazine.

 Engaged in a project to establish feasible renewable energy installations and energy efficiency initiatives, GIZ adopts an approach that entails identifying local companies, evaluating their energy requirements, and presenting business cases to potential German suppliers.

 Under the German Energy Solutions Initiative led by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Action (BMWK), the Project Development Programme (PDP) concentrates on nations in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. Since Rwanda became a target market in 2021, the PDP has actively pursued 52 business leads.

 Presently, the PDP pipeline encompasses 31 active business opportunities within the commerce and industry sectors. GIZ notes that the program primarily engages with enterprises in agricultural product processing and packaging, tourism, hospitality, and healthcare.

 During the pre-development phase, these potential collaborations are anticipated to yield a combined output of around 12.5 MW. The PDP team in Rwanda has pre-developed a 432 kW PV rooftop system for King Faisal Hospital in Kigali, yet, owing to capacity restrictions, only 50 kW was eventually installed.

 Recently, the European Union and Rwanda entered an agreement focusing on sustainable and resilient value chains for critical raw materials.

 The potential is significant, and it’s plausible to anticipate increased investor involvement in the future. “Solar irradiation is substantial, ranging from 4 kWh/m2/day to 6 kWh/m2/day, but widespread adoption is hindered by the considerable initial cost and constraints on high-load usage,” explained Chacha Machera, Sales Manager and Administrative Support for Africa at Amerisolar USA.

 Adaptation of the grid is crucial, and Rwanda stands out as a prime investment destination, boasting an impressive growth rate of 8.2% – the second-highest in the East African Community. This rate is surpassed only by the Democratic Republic of Congo, where growth is predominantly tied to the mining sector, despite its inherent volatility.

 South Sudan experienced the most rapid deterioration in gross domestic product, contracting by 10.8%, with potential spillover effects. World Bank data for 2022 reveals a growth of 1.8% in Burundi and an expansion of 4.8% in Kenya. It’s unsurprising that there are foundations supporting both local entrepreneurs and expatriates interested in participating in this burgeoning market. In addition to investments in logistics and substantial infrastructure projects, such as the new stadium in Kigali, Rwanda is fostering a burgeoning investment community targeting various sectors, including energy.

Textile Artist Lizette Chirrime Launches Fashion Line in Cape Town.

In Cape Town, South Africa, renowned abstract textile artist Lizette Chirrime is showcasing her first creative fashion line as part of Art Africa’s inaugural Community Residency program.

Regarding her piece Remember, You are Unique, Chirrime remarked, “I noticed that people reject their own identity and instead embrace Western styles and traditions.”

Her most recent collection features a large assortment of African textiles with patterns influenced by her personal and spiritual travels. It also features metal jewelry that is handmade and native wood items manufactured in Mozambique.

“The pieces are intended to encourage African men and women to embrace their uniqueness – an exciting and thought-provoking alternative to Western and Eurocentric fashion,” Art Africa Founder Suzette Bell-Roberts said.

Of her textile art, Chirrime spoke of how abstract forms “evoke the human body” and how her art was born of pain.

“I re-fashion my self-image and transcend a painful upbringing that left me shattered and broken. I literally ‘re-stitched’ myself together. These liberated ‘souls’ are depicted ‘dancing’ on the canvas, bringing to mind, well-dressed African women celebrating.”

Chirrime was based in Cape Town, South Africa, for 16 years, then returned to her home country of Mozambique in 2021. Her use of art has been described as a “therapeutic and spiritual tool”, and “using after colored thread to inspire hope and healing”.

In keeping with her vision for her fashion line, she chose artists, musicians, celebrities, and everyday people as models for the fashion show, including her son Zawady, Zolani Mahola (The One Who Sings), Ethiopian restauranteur Senait Mekonnen, radio legend Shado Twala, storyteller Philippa Namutebi Kabali-Kagwa, Oliver Barnett (Artist), Nonhlanhala Mditshwa (Artist & Curator), martial arts instructor Márcio Lopes, Freshly Ground guitarist Julio Sigauque, Ernestine Deane (Musician and healer), David Mukania (Uber driver), artist Barbara Wildenboer, and TV journalist Yazeed Kamaldien.

 

Tanzania Sees Mega Projects as Key to Easing Dollar Crunch.

Minister for Finance Mwigulu Nchemba is confident that the supply of dollars in Tanzania will stabilize once mega projects are operational, easing the pressure of importing necessary equipment.

Dr Nchemba remarked during the “2024 Technical Level Strategic Dialogue” meeting that focused on Vision 2050.
The meeting, attended by experts, government officials, and development partners, looked at how Tanzania can accelerate resilience and ensure inclusive development in times of uncertainty.

Stakeholders identified key focus areas crucial for shaping the national development vision for 2050. They emphasized the government’s attention to investing in agriculture, education, and industries and the formulation of favorable policies to attract foreign investments, thereby bolstering the country’s economy.

Dr Nchemba emphasized the ongoing execution of significant projects such as the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) and the Julius Nyerere Hydropower Project, both requiring substantial foreign currency (dollars) for the procurement of raw materials.

“Once these projects conclude, the scarcity of dollars will be history. We are also focused on enhancing crop production and expanding the value chain to facilitate the sale of more products abroad, thereby increasing the availability of dollars,” he said at the meeting.

Tanzania has been grappling with a shortage of dollars since last year, which has largely been attributed to external factors such as the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the war between Russia and Ukraine, the US Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates, and climate change.

Such challenges have recently resulted in the emergence of the black market, which has hit hard at oil suppliers who claim to buy the dollar at higher than displayed prices.
The Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESARF) executive director, Prof Fortunata Makene, urged the government to prioritize sectors where many Tanzanians are employed to elevate their economic standards.

She also highlighted the importance of the education sector, emphasizing its role in stimulating creativity for individual contributions to the country’s development.
“The issue of education is paramount, and while stakeholders acknowledge policy reforms, there are still challenges,” she noted. Prof Makene also advocated for the empowerment of the agricultural sector, encouraging a shift from traditional production methods to align with advancements in science and technology.

Minister for Labour and Investment in Zanzibar, Mr. Sharif Ali Sharif, highlighted the Blue Economy Policy, emphasizing priorities such as fisheries and aquaculture, maritime trade and infrastructure, and energy.
“The recent dialogue with stakeholders emphasized the need for us to find proper channels to enhance the country’s economic performance and build an inclusive and resilient economy,” he remarked.

The Executive Director of the Research on Poverty Alleviation (Repoa), Dr Donald Mmari, acknowledged the Tanzanian achievements in reaching middle-income status but emphasized the persisting challenges. “To improve the business environment and reduce production costs, we need to collectively address challenges, enhance competitiveness and inclusivity, and create more jobs through private sector investments,” he said.

The Tanzania Development Vision for 2025 is concluding, and while progress has been made, concerted efforts are ongoing to overcome challenges and foster a more robust and inclusive economy.

Kenya Wins Bid To Host 2024 Transform Africa Summit.

Kenya was chosen to host the esteemed Transform Africa Summit (TAS-24) in 2024 on Tuesday.

The news was made public by Smart Africa, the co-ordinating secretariat for ICT programs and activities for the African Continent during the annual Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain.

ICT CS, Eliud Owalo who was president, expressed his happiness, pointing out that the win confirms Kenya’s position as a regional leader in advancing the transformative impact of ICTs on socioeconomic development and as a powerhouse in ICTs, strengthened by President William Ruto’s transformational leadership.

“This win is a testament to the confidence that the Smart Africa Alliance places in Kenya and its leadership. It solidifies our Nation’s tradition as a home for high-profile international conferences, an ICT investment destination of choice, and highlights Kenya’s commitment to advancing the Digital Agenda in Africa,” said Owalo.

Kenya’s determination to win the hosting rights and present the country’s capabilities to the world was evident when the Communication Authority opened the summit bidding process in November of last year.

Every year, the Smart Africa Alliance hosts the Transform Africa Summit, which is the premier continental gathering place for international and regional ICT leaders from business, government, and international organizations.

The goal of this partnership is to investigate novel strategies for directing, propelling, and maintaining Africa’s growing digital revolution.

This year’s Transform Africa Summit is slated to be in Nairobi on August 28–30.

ITU Secretary General Doreen Bogdan-Martin and African Union Commissioner Dr. Amani Abu-Zeid, who oversees infrastructure, energy, and digitization, were present at the ceremony in Spain.

ICT ministers from a number of African nations, including Zimbabwe, Ghana, Madagascar, Gabon, Rwanda, and Burundi, as well as Communications Authority chairperson Mary Wambui and DG David Mugonyi were also in attendance.

South Africa’s Debut AFCFTA Export To Ghana During Global Disruptions.

Philip Myburgh, the executive head of trade and Africa-China business at the Standard Bank Group, highlights the emerging opportunities for intra-African trade development under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. This comes as traditional trade routes face disruptions, shipping times become unpredictable, and freight tariffs soar due to conflicts in the Red Sea region.

With a combined gross GDP of approximately $3.4 trillion and a market connecting 1.3 billion people, the African continent presents lucrative business prospects for buying and trading goods. These opportunities provide alternatives in the current scenario and alleviate the dependence on importing goods from the rest of the world in the future.

In addition to diminishing the necessity for importing goods from beyond Africa, the preferential tariff rates foster the continent’s growth. Myburgh suggests that the AfCFTA holds the potential to enhance South Africa’s economy and generate new employment opportunities through increased economic participation.

In the past month, South Africa initiated its first export to Ghana under the AfCFTA agreement. The exported goods included forged grinding balls and high chrome grinding media products destined for the platinum, gold, ferrochrome, base metal, power generation, and cement industries. Myburgh notes that there are still numerous untapped markets awaiting exploration.

Ghana emerges as a robust trading partner due to its strategic west coast location and the presence of two deepwater ports, Takoradi and Tema. These ports provide logistical benefits for seaborne traffic from South Africa. Often referred to as the ‘Gateway to West Africa,’ Ghana facilitates convenient access not only to its domestic markets but also to other nations in the region.

Myburgh highlights that there are mutually advantageous opportunities between South Africa and Ghana, including:

South African poultry and meat products, where broiler products make up approximately 80% of Ghana’s meat imports, present significant opportunities. Given the substantial Muslim population, there are also prospects for importing halal-certified products.

South African poultry and meat products, where broiler products make up approximately 80% of Ghana’s meat imports, present significant opportunities. Given the substantial Muslim population, there are also prospects for importing halal-certified products.

Cocoa powder and cocoa paste, with an estimated value ranging between $10 million and $15 million.

Frozen fish, with a value of $20 million.

Shea butter, catering to the growing local hair care and skin care markets, witnessed imports of 6.4 million kilograms in 2022, equivalent to approximately $20.4 million.

“Myburgh emphasizes that our engagement with AfCFTA is centered on unleashing Africa’s potential by leveraging digital trade services and cutting-edge technologies such as data science, AI, and blockchain. Collaborating with the AfCFTA steering committee, we aim to offer valuable insights for the effective implementation of digital trade,” states Myburgh.

Our robust connections with Ghana encompass comprehensive banking operations, and notably, the country hosts the headquarters of AfCFTA. Ghana is committed to fostering growth and generating opportunities across the 20 African markets.

Myburgh expresses that with its youthful population, expanding markets, and prospects for intra-African trade, the African continent holds the potential to evolve into a significant global trading bloc. This commitment to the future of AfCFTA underscores our dedication to supporting African countries and their global exports.

 

Kenyan Electric Vehicle Company Unveils Latest Model in Rwanda.

Go Electric Ltd, an electrical and solar vehicle dealer, will introduce its newest models in Rwanda, marking a significant step forward in sustainable mobility.

The company reaffirmed its commitment to providing affordable and environmentally friendly transportation options when it received a shipment of several units of its latest model, called UTU saloon automobiles.

Known for being a leader in the electric vehicle industry in East Africa, the company intends to introduce more than 1,000 EVs into the market by 2025 and grow its fleet to meet its customers’ varied demands and preferences. In addition to saloon vehicles, this extensive range will also feature trucks, pick-ups, and three-wheelers.

The business has already arranged loans from several financial organizations to buyers of the units. The unit can be purchased for as little as Sh1.7 million ($12,000).

Go Electric’s Sales Director Evans Komen stated in a speech given in Kigali, Rwanda, that the goal of the UTU electric car line is to hasten the adoption of EVs by providing premium, reasonably priced solutions that meet the varied needs of their clientele.

He declared, “The company’s commitment to a cleaner, greener future for Rwanda and Africa as a whole is emphasized by the arrival of these new models.” As the world’s focus turned to e-mobility, we are investing Sh2.8 billion (USD 20 million) to import more vehicles and support the nation,” he added.

Go Electric recently shipped brand-new saloon cars to Rwanda intending to sell them to corporate fleets and ride-hailing services that are switching from gasoline-powered to electric cars.

According to Mr. Komen, the company sees a time when ecologically friendly and commercially feasible sustainable transportation is the norm.

“In addition to saloon cars, this extensive range will also feature three-wheelers, pick-ups, and trucks, demonstrating the company’s commitment to providing complete and sustainable transportation solutions.

“We will ensure accessibility and affordability in the local market by focusing on importing more vehicles, even as the world embraces e-mobility,” he continued.

The management of the company intends to implement driver training initiatives in East Africa in order to facilitate the shift to electric vehicles.

 

South Africa’s Budget2024 Promotes Unity For Lasting Economic Growth.

During the 2024 Budget Speech, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana made numerous promises and unveiled budget allocations for state-owned entities, provinces, and municipalities. The announcements encompass a range of financial commitments, signaling the government’s strategic distribution of resources across various sectors to stimulate economic growth and support local governance.

Russel Morena, Chief Executive Officer of the Southern African Institute of Government Auditors (SAIGA), thoroughly explores the Budget Speech, focusing on South Africa’s capacity to overcome challenges.

In his examination, Morena highlights the numerous weaknesses within the South African system, pinpointing challenges related to economic growth, employment creation, state performance, service delivery, and an escalating debt burden.

According to Morena, the intricate web of challenges suggests that South Africa is grappling with significant issues on multiple fronts. He underscores the ongoing struggle of the economy to achieve sustained growth, accentuated by the imperative need for job creation.

As he scrutinizes the Budget Speech, Morena emphasizes the pressing need for the country to address these complex challenges comprehensively. The analysis reflects a critical evaluation of South Africa’s current situation, emphasizing the importance of a holistic approach to foster robust and sustainable economic development.

Furthermore, the state’s performance and service delivery have raised concerns. Morena emphasizes that the increasing debt burden is exerting substantial pressure on the nation’s financial resources. Despite acknowledging South Africa’s efforts in a positive direction, Morena asserts that the country is essentially in survival mode. He highlights the Minister’s necessity to tap into the golden reserve account to manage state debt and diminish the borrowing requirement, a move aimed at alleviating the anxiety of ordinary citizens. This action serves as a stark indication of the challenging economic circumstances.

While recognizing the steps taken by South Africa, Morena underscores the prevailing survival mindset. The decision to access the Golden Reserve account demonstrates the severity of the situation, portraying the government’s measures to navigate economic challenges while maintaining a delicate balance to avoid unsettling the general populace. Morena’s assessment sheds light on the intricate financial intricacies and the delicate balancing act the country is currently undertaking.

In his evaluation of the Budget Speech, Morena recognizes the attempts to tackle challenges but conveys a perceived lack of urgency and the requirement for decisive action. He notes that utilizing the country’s reserve account to manage state debt signals a stringent fiscal environment and the necessity for prudent financial management. While acknowledging its necessity, Morena suggests that this move could underscore the gravity of the financial constraints confronting the nation. His fiscal critique emphasizes the importance of proactive measures and prudent financial decisions to navigate the challenges effectively.

Additionally, Morena underscored the necessity for efficient policy implementation, especially in crucial sectors like electricity, rail, and port infrastructure. Despite having the appropriate policy framework, he notes that the implementation pace has been sluggish, impeding both progress and economic development. Morena describes this “two steps forward, one step back” approach as worrisome, emphasizing the imperative for heightened efficiency and expediency in propelling economic reforms.

Advocating for economic synergy, Morena, as an auditor, urges a comprehensive strategy to address economic challenges. This involves not only focusing on tax policy and revenue collection but also tackling issues like state capacity, infrastructure investment, and economic growth. SAIGA emphasizes the necessity for a collaborative endeavor involving government, business, and civil society to drive sustainable economic development, fostering opportunities for all citizens. Morena underscores the need for a cohesive and coordinated approach to addressing the root causes of inequality and unemployment, ensuring transparent public expenditure. The institute commits to closely monitoring the country’s economic and fiscal landscape, offering valuable insights for informed decision-making and policy formulation. With concerted efforts, Morena expresses hope that South Africa can overcome financial obstacles and achieve lasting economic growth and development.


 

Egypt to Open Branches of Alexandria University in South Sudan

A pact to establish Alexandria University branches in the South Sudanese capital Juba and the town of Tonj was reached on Monday between Egypt and South Sudan.

South Sudan’s Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Technology, Gabriel Changson Chang, and President of Alexandria University, Abdelaziz Konsowa, signed the Memorandum of Understanding in Cairo, according to a release from Egypt’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.

“The South Sudan branch will open two campuses, one in Juba and one in Tonj. The message stated in part, “Tonj Campus will open first at any point in 2024.

According to the announcement, among other subjects, the intended university branches will include programs in biotechnology, engineering, business, nursing, veterinary medicine, education, and agriculture.

As per the agreement, students will be admitted in accordance with Alexandria University’s admission standards. If financial resources permit, exceptional students may be permitted to study for a full academic year on the campus in Egypt.

Establishing university branches will pave the way for further collaboration between the two nations in higher education, according to Egyptian Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Ayman Ashour, who made this statement during the signing ceremony in Cairo.

He stated that the Egyptian government is prepared to enhance collaboration between the institutions of the two nations and offer all required accommodations to South Sudanese students studying there.

Gabriel Changson Chang, for his part, thanked Egypt for continuing to support his nation in a number of ways and stated that the deal represents a significant step toward South Sudan’s development of higher education.

He further said this cooperation will strengthen the relationship between the two countries in the education sector. Arguably, he noted that as a result of this cooperation, South Sudan would be able to gain a lot through the exchange programs at the university.

He emphasized that the Memorandum of Understanding might take effect in 2024, but he did not specify when it would go into action. 

The MoU will give optimism to Tonj and South Sudan in general, according to Dr. Anei Mangong Anei, coordinator of the Alexandria University branch in South Sudan.

“As South Sudanese and the people of Tonj in particular, the signed Memorandum of Understanding gave us full hope regarding its nearest opening,” he stated.

The operationalization of Alexandria University in Tonj, he continued, is a much-anticipated initiative

 

AngloGold Ashanti Uncovers High-Grade Gold In A Game-Changing Find In The US.

 

AngloGold Ashanti Uncovers High-Grade Gold  In A Game-Changing  Find In The  US.he Obuasi mine in Ghana saw a positive recovery in Q4 2023, gaining momentum after a slowdown in Q3 2023.

AngloGold Ashanti has significantly discovered additional gold, and the quality is notably higher.

The precious metals miner generated $314 million (R6 billion) in cash inflows for the second half of 2023. They’ve unveiled a substantial gold resource discovery, totaling 9.1 million ounces, in Nevada, USA, a sought-after haven for the metal.

The market embraced the announcement, leading to a 3.66% increase in AngloGold shares, closing at R346.84 on Friday. Intra-day, the shares reached a peak of R356.73, marking a 6.6% surge. Over three years, the shares have gained 17.01%.

On Friday, AngloGold revealed that following a $73 million investment in brownfield exploration in Nevada and the completion of 129km of drilling, it has officially verified a substantial inferred mineral deposit of precious metal at the Merlin gold deposit under its Expanded Silicon Project.

The mining company declared the completion of 129 kilometers of drilling in Nevada projects, incurring an exploration cost of $73.9 million, primarily focused on the Merlin deposit within the Expanded Silicon Project. These efforts yielded outstanding results, leading to the confirmation of an initial Inferred Mineral Resource of 9.1 million ounces.

AngloGold Ashanti’s pursuit of heightened cost-efficiency and mine life extension aligns with its decision to migrate its primary listing to the NYSE. This move aims to improve access to the world’s largest capital market and enhance its positioning among the most highly valued companies in the gold industry.

During the quarter ending September 2023, AngloGold Ashanti achieved a 3% rise in gold production, reaching 673,000 ounces compared to the preceding June quarter. This increase is attributed to higher processed ore tonnes, partially offset by lower grades.

Yet, for the nine months leading to September 2023, the production of 1.909 million ounces is less than the 1.971 million ounces from the same period last year. This decline is due to production challenges at the Siguiri mine in Guinea, leading to a loss of approximately 29,000 ounces of gold. Additionally, the suspension of waste deposition at the Cuiabá mine in Brazil resulted in the loss of around 5,000 ounces of gold due to the transition to gold-in-concentrate production.

AngloGold Ashanti CEO Alberto Calderon stated, “Gold production demonstrated improvement in the third quarter of 2023, and we anticipate a further increase throughout the remaining year, aligning with our guidance.

He mentioned that the company is intensifying efforts to boost competitiveness compared to its peers, with a heightened emphasis on the decarbonization of operations.

Advancements in the decarbonization program have been noted at the Geita site in Tanzania and the Tropicana site in Western Australia. AngloGold Ashanti is currently gearing up to link the mine site to the Tanzanian grid, which boasts a significant proportion of its power mix from renewable sources. Simultaneously, at Tropicana, initial project activities have begun for the establishment of a 62MW wind and solar facility.

Ethiopia: ‘First Digital Ethiopia Week to Take Place Next Week.

The Ministry of Innovation and Technology announced that the first national Digital Ethiopia Week will be held from February 26 to March 1, 2024.

The first Digital Ethiopia Week will be held from February 26 to March 1, 2024, with the motto “United efforts for digital Ethiopia,”

In a statement to the media, Yeshurun Alemayehu (PhD), State Minister of Innovation and Technology said that work is being done to enable technology to play a key role in the ten-year development plan. Therefore, Digital Ethiopia Week aims to raise the society’s culture of using technology by creating a movement on digital technology and increasing its contribution to development and the economy.

Yishrun said “We are happy to celebrate the first Digital Ethiopia Week, which aims to spread digital knowledge and empower citizens with technology, and to create the opportunity to increase digital knowledge in the society. Digital Ethiopia Week will play a typical role in informing the society of Ethiopia’s digitization activities to create a citizen who knows and uses digital technology. The world is entering full digitization. It is impossible to live in isolation from the world.”

During the week, a series of forums will be organized where stakeholders, policymakers, and industry leaders meet on one platform and discuss various topics, such as government online services, e-commerce strategy, personal data protection, and more, he stated.

He said that the platform is also an opportunity to create partnerships and collaborations in the use of digital technologies for growth and development. It will also provide an opportunity for participants to meet with various experts in the field, exchange technology demonstrations and learn about digital solutions in various fields.

He called on the media to contribute to the development of digital technology awareness in the society by reporting the events of the week.

Algeria Inaugurates Africa’s Largest Mosque: Great Mosque of Algiers

Ceremonies were held for Algeria’s massive mosque, poised to welcome worshippers during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

After years of political unrest, Algeria has opened the largest mosque in Africa on its Mediterranean coast, despite political setbacks and budget overruns.

According to World Union of Muslim Ulemas General Secretary Ali Mohamed Salabi, the inauguration on Sunday will lead Muslims “toward goodness and moderation.”

The mosque was officially opened by Algerian President Abdelmajid Tebboune, who kept his commitment to do so with much fanfare and ceremony.

However, the major purpose of the occasion was ceremonial. For around five years now, the mosque has been accessible to both foreign visitors and state guests staying in Algeria. There was a postponed ceremony previously.

                       

The schedule enables the mosque to formally open to the public in time for the nightly prayers that will take place during the next Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The Great Mosque of Algiers, which was constructed in the 2010s by a Chinese construction company, has the tallest minaret in the world, standing at 869 feet (265 meters). The $898 million project cost was the official figure.

With a prayer space that can hold 120,000 people, it is the largest mosque outside of the holiest cities of Islam and the third-largest mosque in the world. In addition to a helicopter landing pad and a library with the capacity to hold a million books, its modernist architecture honors Algerian tradition and culture with flourishes from the Arab and North African cultures.

In addition to its enormous size, the mosque is well-known for the controversies and delays that dogged its seven years of construction, including the site selection, which seismic experts cautioned was dangerous.

Former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was the one who originally envisioned the mosque, intending for it to be the biggest in Africa. Like the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco, he named it “Abdelaziz Bouteflika Mosque” because he wanted it to be his legacy. Once recognized as Africa’s largest mosque, it was named for the erstwhile King of Morocco, Algeria’s neighbor and regional competitor.

The demonstrations that erupted in Algeria in 2019 however, and forced Bouteflika to step down after two decades in office, prevented him from carrying out his intentions, naming the mosque after himself, and holding the planned February 2019 opening.

Franco-Senegalese Documentary ‘Dahomey’ Wins Berlin’s Golden Bear.

At the 74th annual event, Lupita Nyong’o, a Kenyan-Mexican Oscar winner and the first black jury president, revealed the seven-member panel’s selection among 20 Golden Bear award nominees during an extravagant ceremony.

The top prize at the Berlin Film Festival went to Mati Diop’s Franco-Senegalese documentary Dahomey, which explores the complex problems surrounding Europe’s return of looted treasures to Africa.

“It honors not just me but the entire visible and invisible community that the film represents,” Diop said of the award.

“Restitution is a prerequisite for rebuilding, but what does it entail? “To restore is to uphold justice,” she continued.

In Diop’s surreal video, 26 priceless treasures from the Dahomey kingdom are tracked as they return to Benin in 2021 from a museum in Paris.

In the film, Diop has one of the statues describe, in an eerie Fon-language voice-over, how the French pillaged his land, how he was forced into exile, and how he was eventually able to return home at the Cotonou museum.

Local students engage in fascinating, spontaneous debates about the historical significance of the restitution act and whether it should be celebrated or met with outrage upon the arrival of the collection.

The documentary was described as “some kind of miracle, packing an extraordinary amount of information, inquiry, and wild, persuasive imagination into a slim, 68-minute runtime” by the New York Times.

Variety described Dahomey as a “striking, stirring example of the poetry that can result when the dead and the dispossessed speak to and through the living”.

Diop became the first black woman to compete in Cannes 2019 when she won the runner-up Grand Prix for her eerie Netflix series Atlantique.

Diop acknowledged the significance of restitution, but she did not plan to “celebrate” the gesture made by French President Emmanuel Macron, she told French news agency AFP at the event.

She pointed out that only 26 antiquities had been returned “against the more than 7,000 works still held captive” in Paris.

Regarding the other awards, South Korean arthouse darling Hong Sang-soo, who has collaborated with French film great Isabelle Huppert on three occasions, won the Grand Jury Prize as runner-up for A Traveler’s Needs.

“Against the more than 7,000 works still held captive” in Paris, she pointed out that only 26 antiquities had been returned.

Regarding the other accolades, South Korean arthouse darling Hong Sang-soo, who has collaborated with French film great Isabelle Huppert on three occasions, won the Grand Jury Prize as runner-up for his film A Traveller’s Needs.

Regular attendee Hong praised the jury, joking, “I don’t know what you saw in this film.”

The Empire, an interplanetary conflict between good and evil that takes place in a French fishing village, won the third-place Jury Prize, which was accepted by French director Bruno Dumont.

The mysterious documentary Pepe, directed by Dominican filmmaker Nelson Carlo de Los Santos Arias, won best director. Pepe features the ghost of a hippopotamus that belonged to the late Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.

This year’s jury presided over by Lupita Nyong’o, Oscar-winner was made up of actor-directors Brady Corbet and Jasmine Trinca and directors Ann Hui, Petzold, and Albert Serra alongside Ukrainian writer Oksana Zabuzhko.

Lupita Nyongo, who is new to serving on film juries, expressed her enthusiasm for learning from and collaborating with her fellow jurors, saying, “It is an honor to be here, a deep pleasure.”

 

Nigerian Cinema Yields ₦7.2 Billion in 2023, With Akindele’s Film Contributing 14%.

 

 


In 2023, Nigerian cinemas generated over 7.2 billion naira in revenue from 2.6 million admissions, with Nollywood maintaining a 39% market share, as stated in a recent report.

 

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the reported earnings in 2023 exceeded those in 2022 by over 416 million naira, reflecting a 7% year-on-year increase in market share. Notably, the 2022 gross was derived from 64 locations, while the total locations increased to 70 in 2023.

 

Data insights from The Industry, a film insights publication, revealed that within Nollywood, Funke Akindele’s ‘A Tribe Called Judah’ accounted for over 14% of the total gross, marking the first Nollywood film to surpass one billion naira in cinema earnings. The success of this film contributed to the overall revenue growth, primarily attributed to higher ticket prices.

 

Despite the milestone, the journal highlighted that the increase in revenue is not keeping pace with admissions growth, which remains notably low. It’s worth noting that Akindele’s previous film, ‘Omo Ghetto: The Saga’ (2020), still holds the record for the highest number of admissions for a Nollywood film, standing at 449,901. The dynamics of both increased ticket prices and diverse film performances underscore the evolving landscape of the Nigerian cinema industry.

 

The project played a pivotal role in reinvigorating Nigerian cinemas post-lockdown and attracting new audiences. The impact is evident in the audience’s return and the successful conversion of new viewers.

 

Comparing the hypothetical scenario of releasing the project alongside ‘A Tribe Called Judah,’ using an average ticket price of ₦3,700, it suggests potential earnings exceeding ₦1.6 billion. This raises concerns about the relationship between ticket prices and actual cinema habit growth, especially considering the current ₦7,000 ticket prices in most city center cinemas. Despite annual increases in gross revenues, there’s a need to scrutinize whether this growth aligns with audience habits and accessibility.

 

Drawing parallels, the journal highlighted the case of the first Black Panther movie in 2018, which had over 200,000 more admissions than its sequel, ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.’ The latter, however, set a West African record as the first film to gross one billion naira, benefitting from increased ticket prices and expanded screening locations.

 

It’s noteworthy that the first Black Panther, with over 800 million naira in earnings, was released when there were 48 locations in 2018. By 2022, this number had grown to 64. This growth in screening locations underscores the industry’s expansion, reflecting both increased accessibility for audiences and the potential for films to achieve higher earnings.

 

The juxtaposition of ticket prices, audience habits, and location expansion demonstrates the multifaceted dynamics shaping the success of films in Nigerian cinemas, indicating a need for a balanced approach to ensure sustained growth and audience engagement.

 

The journal pointed out that cinemas have been staying afloat by significantly increasing prices, prompting audiences to carefully consider their choices. According to NAN, in 2023, nine additional films, including Malaika, Ada Omo Daddy, Orisa, Merry Men 3, Kesari, Something Like Gold, The Kujus Again, Afamefuna, and A Weekend To Forget, each grossed over 50 million naira in cinemas. 

 

This diverse range of successful films underscores the industry’s ability to attract audiences and achieve substantial earnings despite the challenges posed by escalating ticket prices.

Kenya Makes Efforts to Protect Pangolins from Extinction.

Pangolins are nocturnal, solitary animals that are threatened with extinction due to habitat loss caused by human activity and illegal trafficking. Their meat is regarded as a delicacy in some areas, and their scales are highly prized for use in traditional medicine.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified three pangolin species that are found in Kenya as Critically Endangered: the large ground pangolin, the Temminck’s pangolin, and the tree pangolin. Kenya is stepping up measures to protect its pangolin populations out of dread of what happened to the northern white rhino, of which there are now only two females.

To prevent the extinction of an elusive species pangolin, Kenyan scientists and conservationists are stepping up their efforts.

According to a research scientist at the National Museums of Kenya, Benard Agwanda, in order to understand how the scales lose their weight, we have been able to sacrifice one pangolin. As a result, if you are discovered at the airport carrying a suitcase or a bag of pangolin scales, we will be able to figure out how many pangolins you killed, removed the scales, and are attempting to sell or export. We can identify the species of pangolin if you are found with its scaled skin, and we are working to find out which population you must have taken this one from.

Expert in pangolin tracking Joshua Omele bemoans the problem of misplaced tracking tags: “Since then, we have lost a great deal of tags. This is one of the main obstacles. With only one tag, a pangolin can survive for up to one month before going extinct, which is a terrible loss.”

The Pangolin Project’s programs and habitat manager, Beryl Makori, clarifies the threats that electric fences put up by farmers pose to pangolins: “The Maasai community used to own parcels of land, but this area was recently demarcated and everyone was given their title deed. Everyone surrounded their plot of land with an electric fence. The only defence available to pangolins, who are unaware of this, when they are electrocuted is to curl into a ball. They act in such a way that they suffer constant electrocution until death.”

In order to lessen the threat to pangolins in this Nyakweri forest, Philemon Chebet, head warden at Kenya Wildlife Service Trans Mara Station, emphasizes the importance of raising community awareness before implementing law enforcement measures.

Conservationists are using creative strategies to address these issues, such as tracking pangolins using their scales and working with the local population to establish safe havens. Through the modification of electric fences and the implementation of the Habitat Lease Program, the non-governmental organization Pangolin Project is collaborating with landowners in the Nyakweri Forest to lessen conflicts between pangolins and farmers.

Notwithstanding these challenges, the Nyakweri Forest Conservation Trust was founded to protect the over 2,020 hectares of pangolin habitat. Kenya hopes to ensure that pangolins wander the African wilderness by achieving a balance between pangolin conservation and human needs through these joint efforts.

Kenya’s commitment to pangolin protection is a ray of hope for the future of these amazing animals as the globe marks globe Pangolin Day on February 17.