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…As ALM successfully hosts the African Anti-Corruption Roundtable, Washington DC

Amidst growing calls for renewed efforts from state and non-state actors in the fight against corruption – prompting the African Union, AU, to declare 2018 as the year, for “winning the fight against corruption,” African leaders have been urged to rethink current strategies towards the fight against corruption in the continent.

This charge was contained in the series of presentations made by business and political leaders during the African Anti-Corruption Roundtable, which held at the National Press Club, Washington DC, USA. The event which was organized by African Leadership Magazine, in partnership with Centre for Economic and Leadership Development, CELD, had as its theme: “Corrupt Free Africa-Recipe for Economic Growth & Development”. The Keynote Speaker, Hon. Calle Schlettwein MP, Minister of Finance for the Republic of Namibia, in his remark, maintained that, rampant corruption is a “matter of choice.” He further stated that, “to diminish and deter the rise of corruption, each country has the choice to define its tolerance stance and enforce it within the confines of its laws and checks and balances.”

Continuing, the Mr. Scheltwein, stated that, “Combating corruption encompasses a blend of measures across the mutually reinforcing dimensions of good governance, transparency, accountability and the strength of public institutions. African leaders therefore have diverse opportunities across these dimensions to diminish and deter corruption.”   

The Minister, whose country, Namibia, ranks 5th in the corruption perception index, also spoke about the country’s efforts towards combating corruption.

Also present at this includes: Honorable Sokonte Davies PhD, Executive Director, Marine Operations, Nigerian Port Authority, Monica N. Nashandi, Namibian Ambassador to the United States of America, Mark Marvey, Senior Associate, Heritage Partners & Associates Inc., Liberia, Macaulay Atasie, Chief Executive Officer, Nextzon Business Services, Nigeria, amongst others.

Forum also presented a platform for the business leaders to discuss the effect of corruption to the growth of business and how transparency contributes to sustainable business growth.

Awards were also presented to selected business and political leaders for their contributions towards stemming the tide of corruption and encouraging business transparency.     

About African Leadership Magazine:

The African Leadership magazine is published by African Leadership (UK) Limited, a company registered in the United Kingdom (Company No. 07435198). The magazine focuses on bringing the best of Africa to a global audience, telling the African story from an African perspective; while evolving solutions to peculiar challenges being faced by the continent today.

Since its maiden edition, African Leadership Magazine has grown to become a leading pan-African flagship leadership-focused publication read by over 1, 000, 000 targeted international investors, business executives, government policy makers, and multilateral agencies across Africa, the Middle East and Asia, Europe, and the US. It is distributed at major international and African Leadership events around the world. The magazine has over 850,000 subscribers/followers on Facebook and a virile readership on other social media platforms. It is a niche and unbiased African voice born out of a desire to ameliorate a lot of Africans by focusing on individuals and corporate bodies that are known for their legacy-based approach to leadership. We believe in building sustainable leadership in Africa through the exchange of ideas in tandem with global best practices. The magazine shall continually seek to herald the dawn of a new Africa as the continent of promise and global leadership, championed by people of integrity and resilience who are rising from the challenges of an unpleasant past; thereby preserving a legacy for future generations of our people.

More information, please visit www.africanleadership.co.uk or send an email to editor@africanleadership.co.uk

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President Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo has announced that about 35 Ghanaian companies have been shortlisted by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoTI) to receive stimulus package.

Speaking as the Special Guest of Honour at the 60th anniversary celebration of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), President Akufo-Addo noted that the package is to offer a new lease of life to viable but distressed companies in the country to bounce back into operation.

According to the president, some 16 companies have already benefited from the package to the tune of $237 million. This comes to an average of $14.1 million. He said the Trade Ministry is feverishly working out the details for the 35 companies.

The government has declared 2019 as a special year for the manufacturing sector. To this extent, the 2019 national budget statement allocated one billion cedis to private sector development.

Dr. Yaw Adu Gyamfi, president of the AGI, has welcomed the news and described it as a major boost for the private sector.

Under the government’s 1 district 1 factory (1D1F) programme, new companies are being established across the country whilst existing distressed companies are also being resuscitated.

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The message from all MPs, media and people in authority is that it is vital to our future stability and democratic credentials that everyone stays calm, quiet and responsible.”

Last week, in African Leadership magazine, I wrote that December 11th 2018 would be an especially historic moment in Britain’s long story. On that day the UK’s House of Commons was to decide whether vote in favour or reject the EU exit deal that prime minister, Theresa May, had reached with the European Union. In the event, Mrs May got cold feet and stopped the vote happening, for the simple reasons that her government was heading for a massive defeat. 11th December 2018 will not now be an especially historic day. Instead, it will be another day when Mrs May travels to EU capitals to try and get them to give her a deal she can persuade parliament to support.

The mood music from Europe’s leaders is that they might manage to make the language of the deal a bit more accommodating but changing the previously agreed legal fundamentals is not going to happen. Well, that’s what they say. It’s anyone’s guess what the final outcome will be.

There are now only 14 weeks before the UK formally leaves to European Union. What happens now?

  1. Mrs May has announced no new date for when parliament will get to vote on an amended deal. Some fear she will try to leave it so late that parliament is left with no option but to approve what she offers. The alternative is that the UK leaves the EU with no deal, a position that only the small, hard economic right wing wants. Most fear it would bring disaster to the UK economy, badly damage the EU’s prospects and may be a big enough shock to trigger a global recession.
  2. Parliament rejects Mrs May’s final deal and finds a mechanism to stop a no deal Brexit. Doing that would mean asking the EU for an extension to the UK’s membership. The EU might agree to this, though probably only on the basis that another referendum is called to see if the British people still want to leave or have changed their mind and would rather just stay in the EU.
  3. Mrs May losses in parliament and resigns. Depending on the closeness of the EU departure day, the Conservative party would have to organise a very quick leadership contest or agree on an interim leader and prime minister. All that could finally tear the Conservatives apart to form two new parties. Opposition parties would be daily demanding a general election. The Conservatives depend on the votes of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Of all parties, it feels most betrayed by Mrs May. If the opposition parties table a vote of no confidence in the government the DUP might just vote Mrs May’s government out of office. I’m beginning to think a general election is likely.
  4. For the Labour party, a general election is a huge gamble. It has been consistently behind the Conservatives in poll after poll. If it offers a second referendum on EU membership it can probably safely keep its seats in London and other metropolitan areas and in Scotland. In its many northern seats that voted Leave in the 2016 EU referendum, voters might see the offer of another vote on the EU as a betrayal and ditch Labour. In the big cities and Scotland, a solidly remain part of the UK, Labour would be punished if it failed to have a second EU referendum in its manifesto.

Make of this confusion what you will. The Conservatives are as likely to defeat Labour as Labour is to defeat the Conservatives. At the same time a hung parliament is entirely possible. If Labour, LiberalDemocrats and the Scottish National Party can put together a collation government calm may be, at least for a short time,  restored. The LiberalDemocart and SNP price would be a second referendum. With the Conservatives as the biggest party in a hung parliament we could see the DUP once again propping up the Tories. Remember too that a general election will bring new people to parliament and a new parliament is not bound by any of the legislation of old parliaments. A new parliament can repeal or enact anything it wishes.

Dear Reader, Brexit will run and run. Some of us not in the first flush of youth will go to our graves not knowing how the whole business turned out. God might know, though he’ll surely be as staggered as anyone else that the UK has allowed itself to reach this state of chaos it is in today.

Among some of the less smart and ideologically obsessed MPs it has become fashionable to warn of civil unrest and violence on the streets if Brexit is further delayed or a second referendum is approved by parliament. These are highly irresponsible voices. Suggesting violence is tantamount to inviting it. There are always hot heads in all societies who can be motivated to act irrationally and violently. The message from all MPs, media and people in authority is that it is vital to our future stability and democratic credentials that everyone stays calm, quite and responsible.  The world has watched the UK in recent times and seen its politicians lose the country its reputation as a steady, pragmatic, sober nation. What those very same politicians must now do is ensure that peace reigns supreme. That the law is observed. That the streets stay peaceful and safe. Brexit or no Brexit, nothing is worth exchanging a peaceful land for a broken land. That’s no bargain.

Martin Roche is a graduate of the great and ancient University of Aberdeen, Scotland, where he read politics and international relations. He began his working life on a daily newspaper in Scotland and has since written for many newspapers, magazines and radio stations in the UK and internationally. As a communications consultant, he has advised political and business leaders in over 20 countries.

martinroche55@gmail.com

@cluthaman

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The British Prime Minister, Theresa May, recently made a three-country stop of Africa in her first visit to the continent.  The visit was designed to, among other things, boost Africa-UK relations and reassure the continent of the UK’s commitment to sustaining the enduring relationship that it has nurtured over the years with Africa. In this exclusive interview with African Leadership Magazine’s Ken Giami and Arvy Nahar, the UK Minister of Africa at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and DFID, Honorable Harriett Baldwin, talks about key outcomes of this visit and the future of Africa-UK relations. Excerpts:

1. Prime Minister Theresa May recently made her first visit to Africa as Prime Minister, in an effort to boost Post-Brexit Fortunes for the UK and deepen Africa-UK relations. How would you describe the outcome of this visit?

It was great that the prime minister was able to visit Africa during the month of August this year and she went to South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya. In Kenya, she was the first UK prime minister to visit that country in thirty years, and it was wonderful that she was able to go. In South Africa, she made a very important speech which I recommend that you read in great detail. But the key point, I think, for your readership with that speech was that she was saying we’ve got these very strong bilateral relationships, and we really want to strengthen those relationships and make sure it works for our mutual benefits, through our aspirations, as the UK, to be the largest G7 investor in African Economies. We are already the second largest G7 investor and we have made the commitment that in the next 4 years, we would be investing, of our own CDC money 2.5 Billion Pounds in African businesses. The real importance of that is around the recognition that we need extensive job creation in the African economies, and it’s going to be through leveraging on private sector investments. We have all signed up to the sustainable development goals (SDGs), that as a world, we can achieve this together.  So it was, I thought, a very powerful visit and she loved it. As you could see from her dancing she loved it and really appreciated the strength and the warmth of the relations that we enjoy between the UK and so many countries in Africa. I am hoping that I can encourage her to come again. I am also delighted that she was able to announce in her speech that we are going to hold a big UK government African Investment Summit next year here in London. The city of London is essentially a key part of what the UK has to offer to these mutually beneficial partnerships because there is 8 trillion pounds worth of investment that is managed out of London. If you could just shift 1% of that towards inward investment into African economies, you can just imagine the nature of impact that would have. And with the meeting point here between the world’s greatest investment opportunities and the world’s investors, we think we can play a really important convening role by having this big investment summit next year.

2. You recently returned from East Africa yourself, where you also made some very passionate calls. What in your view are the key issues for leadership in that region, going forward?

East Africa is at an absolutely crucial moment in history because we have had real progress in terms of the South Sudan peace agreement.  Also, in the six months that Dr. Abiy Ahmed has been the prime minister of Ethiopia, we have seen him really able to change some important things like the relationship with Eritrea and to resolve that long standing frozen conflict so that the people of Ethiopia and the people of Eritrea can begin to connect once again. This is an important and pivotal time for peace for East Africa. I also went to Uganda to speak to President Museveni who is playing a key role in terms of the peace discussions. Earlier in the summer, I was in Khartoum to speak to the Foreign Minister of Sudan about their role in the peace process. When I was in Kenya, I was also able to speak to the foreign minister about the important role that Kenya plays, and Ethiopia as well. So those four countries are really the crucial countries as far as this peace process is concerned. The UK plays a role, not only as a permanent member of the Security Council, but also as a part of this troika, with the US, and Norway, in terms of engagements with the South Sudanese Peace process.  We so passionately want to see this peace process successful and we want to play a constructive role in terms of encouraging the peace process. We have a very strong humanitarian commitment to South Sudan. This is the world’s youngest country, and we want to see it move beyond the terrible conflict, that has scared the first seven years, in to a peaceful future for the people of South Sudan. We will also play a role as a members of the Security Council in making sure that people that could potentially be spoilers to the peace process realize that there is a downside for them. So it’s a moment to be seized for East Africa. I was also in Somalia, and there is still a lot to do, and the prime minister announced extra funding for AMISOM, when she was in Kenya. Nevertheless, it is important to acknowledge that the country has also advanced a long way, and so we need to make sure that we continue to encourage that progress and play a constructive role as we possibly can, as steadfast friends of the people of Somalia, where we have a strong contribution to make on the humanitarian side as well as funding for AMISOM. I was encouraged by the leadership that has been shown particularly from Ethiopia but also by the Foreign Minister of South Sudan and President Museveni in terms of trying to sort out these long-standing difficult conflicts, and find an African solution, nevertheless one in which the UK can play a constructive part in ensuring peace for the people of these often very troubled countries.   

3. Some analysts have argued that the reasons for these trips have been to promote the UK government’s interests and not necessarily in the interest of the continent. How would you react to this?

Well, I think that the UK’s interest is for a healthier, safer and more prosperous world. We all live on one planet and we are making significant contributions to tackling climate change worldwide. We are making significant contributions to the humanitarian needs of people who are often refugees. We are also making a significant contribution to the United Nations Peace Keeping. So we are a significant contributor to all of these different areas and we have deep friendships with these countries. And of course, we were fortunate earlier in the year to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, and it was the biggest event we have hosted here in the UK.  What we saw during this event was this alignment of countries that want to move forward in terms of some of these issues, whether it’s clean oceans, jobs for young people, among other important issues. So you will see that these are mutually beneficial links and partnerships. Yes, the UK is the champion of free trade because we think that it is through free trading relationships that the world can become prosperous, but we would always, also, be on the side of the very poorest, offering humanitarian assistance to refugees and also very importantly, focusing on how we as a world can end extreme poverty. As you know, that is what the sustainable development goals are about. I believe the UK can play a positive role, not just as a government but in terms of crowding in private sector investments. And so I would sincerely believe that these are the aspirations of our people right across our planet.

4. Some Africans have received the news of BREXIT with mixed feelings, not knowing what to expect. What does BREXIT portends for the continent?

The UK has made this political decision to leave the construct of the European Union and as you know we are in on-going negotiations. We are probably at sort of the negotiating part of the negotiations so to speak at the moment. But in that, In the White paper that we’ve published, we have tried to make very clear to our friends across the world that firstly, Global Britain is thoroughly engaged in the world. We are not stepping back from the world; we are stepping out into the world.  We are the only G20 country that has written into statute the 0.7% for Overseas Development Assistance, which is in the laws of this country. We also meet the 2% NATO target in terms of defense spending. We are on the Security Council as a permanent member, and we have an important engaged role to play in making the world safer, more peaceful, more prosperous and healthier place. The offer that we have put on the table to our friends in Europe is that we want to continue to work with them in terms of funding 15% of the EU development assistance, as an example, and we have put the offer on the table to continue doing that. We want to have a voice in it and make sure that UK NGOs are able to bid for it. So we hope we can successfully negotiate that. Secondly, In terms of trading arrangements, the political commitment that we have made is that where there is an European Economic Partnership Arrangement, EPA, in place already, we would seek to copy that across and use that as a platform for improving trade relations. A lot of countries in Africa already have the very best access to European markets, and we want to make sure that that very best access continues, and where we can improve that access we can do that. So there should be no deterioration – that’s the political commitment, and it should be a platform for further improvements in terms of our trade relations. I appreciate that it does mean that for some countries in Africa, we are going to have to do a bit of paperwork to make sure that those EPAs are refereed.  As the Prime Minister announced in South Africa, that has not been achieved in 6 countries in the southern area, and we are committed to making that happen and use that as a foundation for even better trading relationships going forward. We have agreed to roll over the Southern Africa EPA (SACU+M).

5. Some African leaders have at different times maintained that what Africa needs is more trade and not aid. What’s your take on this and how can the UK support this aspiration?

Obviously, we respect the fact that there are 54 countries, which means 54 different economic development paths of economic development. So where as In South Sudan for instance, we would be focusing on what we would be doing to respond to the humanitarian crisis and the peace-building process; In Ghana, in response to what the president of Ghana has said – the country wants to go beyond aid to more of inward investments, we do that.  In fact, a UK company in Ghana called Blue Skies is the single biggest private-sector employer of labour in Ghana already. In fact, they are so fantastic, that if you go into some of the supermarkets in the UK, you could buy some of their produce, which is flown fresh from Ghana into the UK. So I think we want to partner along those aspirations and find ways through which the UK companies can benefit from these opportunities that inward investments brings to both sides. We are a very welcoming country for inward investment. I did an interview on this in Ghana, and I said I would like to see companies from Ghana invest in the UK, creating opportunities for employment and trade. We are one of the most open economies in the world. We love to have FDI into the country. It is a two-way process, and we would hope that exports and imports would increase on both sides and we would have an even stronger bilateral economic relationship than we do now. I have just mentioned these examples, as we are working with countries based on peculiarities and needs. I do like the work that our team is doing, representing the UK in-country across Africa. As you may have heard, we are opening new embassies, outposts and high commissions. We are opening one High Commission in Lesotho and ensuring we have complete coverage and presence in all the Commonwealth countries. We have announced Mauritania this year, Niger, Chad and we are boosting Mali. There will be more.  We would have the biggest diplomatic footprints of any EU country by the time we are done with this. So, it is a very great relationship that Global Britain has with so many countries, and Africa, and it is my job to build and strengthen them.

6. What does the future for UK-Africa Relations look like, going forward?

Well, I think I have the best job because clearly, this is a very exciting time, not only in terms of the renewed and increased presence of the UK within Africa, but we have very strong and enduring friendships with many African countries and also because it is a very interesting time for the UK. As you were raising earlier, we would be leaving the European Union and people don’t always appreciate the fact that behind the EU fund is the UKs 15%; behind the World Bank fund, we are putting 20%; and we are the 3rd biggest funders of the United Nations. Obviously, we fund a lot of peacekeepers as well. So I hope that the future presents a time where we can deepen those relationships, deepen those economic ties and pursue the direction of making the world a safer place for the future generation, much healthier and more prosperous for future generations. So for the 21st century, we can really look ahead, working together as the world, on these major challenges and also major opportunities for our children and grandchildren.

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Global payments and technology company Mastercard and Africa’s payment service provider, DPO Group have announced a collaboration to enable more than 40,000 African merchants to accept Mastercard payments, connecting more people and businesses to the global economy.

The collaboration will enable DPO to act as a Pan-African switch by using the Mastercard Payments Gateway Services (MPGS). DPO will now be able to independently authorise transactions without any bank integration required.

Through the solution, Mastercard enables payment partners like DPO to easily and securely accept a wide range of digital payment methods from all over the world and for numerous industries online, in-person and via mobile.

The collaboration seeks to enable both small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which are critical to the growth of the African economy and global enterprises, to better process payments across Africa via a simple integration to a single platform.

The collaboration between Mastercard and DPO will improve merchant benefits like seamless, secure digital payment acceptance; access to cutting-edge technologies; fraud management, and global connectivity through recognised payment methods.

“Mastercard’s partnership with DPO is an important milestone in our vision to financially include every African. Our partnerships with DPO and other key FinTechs across Africa, allows Mastercard to speed up building of the acceptance railroads that will drive the growth of secure and convenient electronic payments. This in turn acts as the engine that drives faster economic growth across the continent for the benefit of millions of Africans” says Raghav Prasad, Division President for Sub-Saharan Africa.

Eran Feinstein DPO Group CEO agrees. “By enabling both customers and merchants to transact securely online and offline we’re able to facilitate the growth of businesses across Africa. With the right pan-African technology partners, we’ve managed to turn online transactions to a preferred choice of conducting business across all industries.”

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Liquid Telecom has reached an agreement with CDC Group Plc, the UK’s development finance institution, to invest $ 180m in the company. This investment will enable Liquid Telecom to expand its high-speed broadband connectivity to some of the underserved communities across the African continent, including supporting Africa’s thriving tech start-up ecosystem with high-speed internet and cloud-based services.

Owned and managed by the UK Government, CDC Group supports companies that help poor countries grow. Being aligned to a common purpose, the $ 180m investment will enable Liquid Telecom to increase its network expansion. This builds on the Liquid Telecom’s award-winning Cape to Cairo terrestrial fiber link – often referred to as “the One Africa” broadband network that also has a lot to do with the fastest network speeds in Africa – from Cape Town, through the Southern, Central, and Eastern African countries, with Sudan and Egypt. The network passes through some of the most remote corners of the planet and continues to provide new opportunities for underserved communities.

“Our vision is to give everyone on the African continent the right to be connected by reliable, high-speed broadband connectivity and cloud services to all. This includes businesses and communities in some of the most remote parts of the continent, ” said Nic Rudnick, Group CEO, Liquid Telecom. “We welcome CDC Group’s investment of $ 180m with Liquid Telecom since it will enable us to accelerate expansion along our award-winning Cape-to-Cairo route and further into Central and Western Africa. Once completed, it will bring significant economic and social benefits – from providing access to online educational resources to supporting national economies, creating more jobs and driving the adoption of new technologies. This is aligned to the vision of our Executive Chairman Strive Masiyiwa to not only connect Africa from North to South, but also from East to West. ” He added.

“Digital infrastructure is still a major problem for Africa ‘s governments, people and its businesses, and so is central to Africa’ s development and economic growth. Our investment in Liquid Telecom – which is one of CDC’s biggest ever investments – plays an important part in addressing infrastructure bottlenecks and helps gain access to internet access,” said Nick O’Donohoe, CEO, CDC Group Plc. “CDCs capital will enable Liquid Telecom to reach more countries in the continent, helping to connect millions more people and businesses. Africans have benefited hugely from the local mobile phone industry that CDC backed twenty years ago and we have similar hopes for our investments in Africa’s growing digital infrastructure. ” He added.

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President Uhuru Kenyatta has affirmed Kenya’s commitment to improving the civil aviation infrastructure, saying the industry plays a vital role in economic growth and national development.

The President pointed out that air transport, together with support services, contributed 0.4 per cent of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), translating into a turnover of $232.79 million last year.

President Kenyatta said the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport supports over 17,000 jobs for Kenyans directly and an additional 600,000 indirectly, making it the nerve centre of the national economy.

“On the whole spectrum our airports handled over 10.1 million passengers and over 290,000 tonnes of international cargo in 2017, an increase of 3.5 per cent compared to the previous year. This positive growth has been as a result of sound and resilient management and investment,” President Kenyatta.

The Head of State was speaking today when he presided over the official opening of the 11th forum of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Air Services Negotiation meeting at Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi.

President Kenyatta observed that about 80 per cent of tourists visiting Kenya use air transport, which also is the easiest and fastest means to transport perishable produce across the globe, such as horticulture produce and fresh flowers.

“It is for these reasons that my Government is committed to investing in the provision of suitable aviation infrastructure to facilitate the industry and enable it to play its critical role in boosting the growth of our economy,” President Kenyatta said.

Noting that Kenya acceded to the Convention on International Civil Aviation in 1964, he assured that the country will continue to be an active Member of the International Civil Aviation Organization.

“It is in this context that my Government has taken steps to improve civil aviation related infrastructure, safety oversight and security,” he said.

The President expressed satisfaction that Kenya now has been classified under Category 1 status by the Federal Aviation Administration and granted the Last Point of Departure status by the TSA, both agencies of the US Government. With the attainment of Category 1 status, the national carrier Kenya Airways can now fly directly to John F. Kennedy International Airport.

The inaugural direct flight took place on 28th October 2018. President Kenyatta informed the meeting that Kenya has significantly increased its levels of implementation on ICAO Safety and Security Standards.

This is evidenced by Kenya’s good performance in recent audits under the Continuous Monitoring Approach mechanism, where they stood at 78.15 and 89 per cent respectively, the President said.

“This places Kenya among the top quarter States globally and among the top five in Africa in ensuring compliance with ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices in Safety Oversight and Aviation Security,” the President said.

Regionally, President Kenyatta said Kenya continues to play her role in the formulation and implementation of initiatives adopted for the safe, secure and sustainable civil aviation system throughout the African continent.

He emphasized that these initiatives are aimed at improving air connectivity, reduce the cost of air transport and ensuring the sustainable development of air transport in Africa that will further improve service delivery.

The President also noted that the wide-ranging international regulatory frameworks have helped in containing aviation incidents to sustain the confidence of the public in travelling by airlines and expressed the need to enhance cross-industry and multi-stakeholder dialogues.

“Indeed, with the number of air travellers projected to double in the next two decades, collaboration among stakeholders becomes even more critical so as to tackle new and shared vulnerabilities,” President Kenyatta said.

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The European Union is stepping up cooperation with Mali and the implementation of structural reforms to improve security, governance and access to basic services in the country.

This additional support of €50 million was formally agreed by Neven Mimica, the European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, and Kamissa Camara, Mali’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, in Nouakchott (Mauritania), on the fringes of the Partner-Donor Coordination Conference organised by the G5 Sahel.

Commissioner Mimica said: “These extra €50 million reaffirm the EU’s continuing commitment to peace and development in Mali and to its people. The purpose of these additional funds is to support the progress that the Malian authorities have undertaken to deliver to the people of Mali, in implementing structural reforms.”

The extra amount will increase the resources allocated to the budget support programmes under way in Mali aimed at implementing reforms in strategic sectors in the short term.

These reforms will make it possible to strengthen security in Mali, fight against corruption, improve access to elementary education, in particular for girls, improve access to a fair justice system, increase the provision of professional training, and reduce food and nutrition insecurity.

Several contracts have been signed under the European Development Fund including an additional €40 million to support state reform and consolidation, an additional €30 million for the contract for sectoral reform of food security, nutrition and agricultural development, a justice support programme worth €7 million, and a programme for access to drinking water and sanitation worth €11.5 million.

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has given the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) a licence to operate a microfinance bank.

The bank, which was commissioned last week by FCT Minister, Muhammed Musa Bello, would afford small-scale business owners opportunity to access loans without collateral and with little or no interest to boost their businesses.

The bank would also support economic empowerment among the less income earning AMAC residents, among other benefits, in line with CBN banking regulatory policy.

The Chairman of Board of Directors, Emmanuel Ohakim, recalled that the idea of the microfinance bank was mooted on June 12, 2017, when AMAC Chairman, Abdulahi Adamu Candido, inaugurated an eight-man implementation committee to source for private investors to liaise with CBN and establish the bank.

He described the microfinance bank as a dream come true and at a time the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) had taken a firm resolve to fight hunger and poverty in the land.

The institution comprises seasoned professionals drawn from both the public and private sectors.

Nzegwu Michael is designated the CEO of the board that comprises Henry Opara, Steve Nwadiuko, Musa Dauda, Candido and Dr Helen Jekele.

Candido, who lauded the experience of Ohakim to the project, assured that the microfinance bank would be run purely as an independent financial institution that is devoid of political interference, adding the projection is to have branches across the council for closer financial services.

He also acknowledged the CBN for its unflinching support in facilitating the process of certification of AMAC micro bank and for giving its approval to commence operation.

“We acknowledge the belief of our stakeholders in this project and assure of the safety of their money because all necessary steps pertaining to regulatory and supervisory guidelines pertaining for micro-finance bank in Nigeria have been followed,” Candido said.

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Tunisia’s central bank kept its key interest rate unchanged at 6.75 per cent on Tuesday.

Inflation stayed at 7.4 per cent in November, its third month in a row at that figure, official data showed. It fell from 7.5 per cent in August and 7.8 per cent in June.

In May, the central bank raised its key interest rate by 100 basis points to 6.75 per cent in a bid to tackle inflation – at the time the second hike in three months.

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