Posts tagged as: energy

Togo: Yobo Studios Pioneers Short-Format Series Content for Broadcast and Online

London — If you’re a regular visitor to Discop Africa (the largest TV trade show in Africa), you may have noticed her. Or maybe you know ‘Zem’, her mini-TV series that was a hit in Africa and with the african diaspora.

Half Togolese on her father’s side and half from Guadeloupe on her mother’s side, Angela Aquereburu Rabatel founded the company YoBo Studios with her partner Jean-Luc Rabatel in 2009 (the year of the first Discop Africa’s edition). She explains her career and describes her productions to Sylvain Béletre/BalancingAct – April 2017.

Based in Lomé, Togo, YoBo Studios is an audiovisual production company – now one of the largest production companies in the country – whose “objective is to provide original and exportable content”. The other ambition of her team: to bring a different perspective on Africa today.

Q. Before becoming a producer, what was your background? Have you done other things?

A. I went through the ESCP (Ecole Supérieure de Commerce) in Paris to obtain my specialized Master in Entrepreneurship. I worked in measuring instruments and then in an HR consulting firm before turning to the audiovisual sector. I trained on the job: I read a lot of books and viewed many tutorials to learn the trade. Moving to Togo quickly became obvious.

Q. How did you land in the television sector? And why did you choose Togo to establish yourself?

A. My father is already a ‘television dinosaur’ in Togo, as he was one of the first to set up satellite dishes in the region for Canal + Horizon and CFI. My partner, Jean-Luc, was a comedian in Paris and had full-on projects. My father said to us: “Why do you waste your time in France when here the sector is damaged! Look at the mediocre content on television, which does not look like us! “That’s how we decided to do the Zem pilot.

My family lives in Togo and has developed facilities that I can benefit for my productions. Without this family base in Togo, I think we would have had a harder time getting started in audio-visual production …

Q. What were or are your biggest challenges? And your biggest hits?

A. Our greatest popular success: ZEM. Our ‘challenge’? The financing of our productions, our financial margins.

A. Tell us more about YoBo Studios.

Q. We produce fun, entertaining and aesthetic content: TV series, commercials, 3D animation and soon feature films. The company was called Caring International. We then changed our name to something more authentic. The Yo comes from the mina (Togolese dialect), the yovo which means ‘person with white skin’. And the Bo comes from the word ameyibo which means ‘a person with black skin’. A nod to our partnership – Jean-Luc and me – and on cinema … black & white.

Q.What are your main production projects today?

A. This year, we produce Zem Season 3, and “Oasis”, a new drama for Cote Ouest. In 2018, we plan to shoot the “EXPAT” series, which is currently under development, and another series project for the moment confidential. Beginning in 2019, we would like to produce long feature films that cross borders … broadcast on television and in cinemas.

Q. Please tell us more about these new projects.

A. Oasis and Expat are series projects under development. Oasis is a fictional 20-minute episode of 26 minutes in development for Cote Ouest, which has obtained support from the OIF. The series tells the story of a woman who integrates a real estate complex to do industrial espionage, but whose mission will be compromised when she goes back to a knowledge watch. Expat is a ‘drama’ of 10 episodes of 26 minutes that tells the story of a French couple who believes they are leaving in ‘expatriation’, while they land in Porto Novo, Benin …

Q. How would you define ZEM, this series which was the first success of your company?

A. ZEM is a short format series (3 minutes), whose purpose is to establish a humorous dialogue between several motorcycle taxi drivers and their entourage. I think this series was a success because it was the first time at the time that we showed on television in 2009 a short African format shot in HD with actors who had a smooth and fast rapport.

The pilot first made a buzz on Dailymotion France with more than 50,000 views on the first day (at the time it was a lot for African content!). It was also the first time that Canal + Overseas made co-production on a series. Season 1 of ZEM has 26 episodes, Season 2 is 50 episodes and Season 3 has 60 episodes (in preparation). The Season 1 was broadcast on January 4, 2010 on Canal + Afrique and on July 4, 2010 on Comédie (France), Ma Chaine Etudiante (France) and TV5monde in 2012, then the A+ channel in 2016. The Season 2 appeared to the public 12 September 2016 on TV5monde. Zem received a special prize at the Festival Vues d’Afrique in Montreal in 2012.

Q. Hospital IT (pronounced ‘Hospitalité’ in French) is about the medical world, correct?

A. This series of fiction describes a facet of the medical world in Africa. It shows the ambivalence between traditional medicine and Western medicine. The series is coming out this year.

Q. Who distributes your programs globally?

A. Zem and Palabres belong to YoBo Studios, we distribute them. Mi Temps is distributed by Canal+. The rights of Hospital IT and Oasis belong to Cote Ouest which distributes them.

Q. Is brand placement important to the survival of your company? What percentage of the total budget?

A: Yes, it is important funding for some of our productions; today, our partnering channels deal with the placement of trademarks in our productions, when our content has been pre-purchased by a channel that is linked to an ad planning agency (e.g. Canal+ Advertising, FTP). Product or brand placement represents today about 5% of the budget of our productions, at best.

Q. Do you think that the development of the audiovisual sector is important for Africans, and if so why? (In comparison with other sectors and infrastructures – health, water, electricity …)

A. For us it is as important as the rest, but for governments it is not an urgent priority. However, audiovisual programs make it possible to pass on many messages to the population, and not only in an autocratic way. The development of the audiovisual sector is essential: Watching television is the only entertainment that exists for the big mass, outside drink… As a result, the audiovisual sector is a decisive tool to convey strong messages of health, ecology, democracy … In short, we can inform and educate the populations through audiovisual programmes. But it would require a real political will to improve this sector.

Q. How do you think the African audiovisual sector has evolved since 2009?

A. It is a sector in full evolution: I see programs of better quality with more variety. Financing and margins remain the weak point.

Q. What are the current trends in terms of audiences across Africa right now?

A. Mobile TV is growing all over Africa. African people watch a lot of videos on their mobile phones. Some – the most connected – subscribe to VoD services: iROKO, Netflix, etc.

Q. What challenges do you see in the sector? And how do we deal with them?

A. Financing is key. To make exportable and cost-effective content, a minimum investment is required.

Q. Who do you think are the main leaders of the sector in French-speaking Africa? Those who really invest …

A. Local producers and broadcasters, Cote Ouest, Bolloré / Canal+, OIF, TV5Monde, RTI … There are not enough, at least on the French-speaking side. TV5monde has a genuine investment policy on African productions, they also make local ‘coups’ with real action points. RTI (Radio TV Cote d’Ivoire) can be very aggressive in its content acquisition policy but focuses mainly on Ivorian productions when it comes to pre-purchase; The Canal+ group with Canal+ Afrique, the A+ channel, NollywoodTV are key buyers in the sector… And finally Cote Ouest, which has always been a leader in distribution in Africa, but for the last 2 years has started (co-)production.

South Africa: No Nuclear Energy Option – for Now At Least

analysisBy Hartmut Winkler, University of Johannesburg

A South African court has ruled that critical aspects of the country’s nuclear procurement process are illegal and unconstitutional. The outcome is a significant setback for a network of entities that had been aggressively promoting a 9.6 GW nuclear expansion programme in the face of popular opposition.

Over the past four weeks controversy over the proposed nuclear build has reached new highs. This was sparked by a major cabinet reshuffle in which President Jacob Zuma ousted both his finance and energy ministers, replacing them with individuals regarded as pro-nuclear.

The reshuffle prompted some of the largest and most diverse street protests since the dawn of the country’s democracy in 1994. While many factors contributed to the outpouring of public anger against the president, the nuclear question was a common motif in the protests.

Opposition to the nuclear expansion programme centred on two points: the first was its prohibitive costs – some estimates put it at R 1 trillion which is roughly equivalent to the government’s total annual tax revenue.

The second is that it has become contaminated by allegations of corruption, with evidence pointing to politically connected groups and individuals benefiting handsomely from it.

Back to the drawing board

The court’s ruling in effect means that the planners will have to go back to the drawing board.

The case in the Western Cape High Court was brought by two civil society organisations, Earthlife Africa and the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environmental Institute (SAFCEI).

The most far reaching aspects of the judgment were that it overturned ministerial proclamations made in 2013 and 2016 that enabled the development of 9.6 GW of nuclear power. It furthermore invalidated the intergovernmental nuclear collaboration agreements South Africa had signed with Russia, the US and South Korea.

The court’s ruling on the promulgations was damning and unambiguous.

South Africa’s Electricity Regulation Act requires the Minister of Energy to promulgate any energy generating capacity expansion through the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA). The regulator is required to vet the proclamation to ensure that it is in the public interest.

The Minister of Energy issued two promulgations to establish 9.6 GW of nuclear energy generation. The first one was concluded in 2013 but only made public two years later. The second one, which delegated the nuclear procurement to the state electricity utility Eskom, whose leadership is strongly pro-nuclear, was hurriedly and stealthily implemented in 2016 on the eve of the first sitting of Western Cape High Court on the matter.

Neither of these proclamations allowed a public participation process.

The court ruled that both promulgations were illegal and unconstitutional. It found that the regulator had failed to carry out its mandate because it had endorsed the minister’s directives uncritically and hurriedly. In doing so it had not allowed public input nor had it considered the necessity of the nuclear build or the consequences of its delegation to Eskom.

The court was equally clear on the collaboration agreements. Unlike the relatively vague agreements concluded with the US and South Korea, the Russian agreement had a great deal more detail in it. It specifically committed South Africa to build nuclear power plants using Russian technology, set out a timeframe and placed specific liabilities on South Africa.

South Africa’s constitution stipulates that international agreements that will have a substantive impact on the country must be approved by parliament. The agreement with Russia clearly falls into this category and therefore needed to be submitted to parliament for debate and approval.

The judge was unequivocal that by slipping the Russian agreement through parliament as a routine matter for noting, the former Energy Minister Joemat-Petterssen had committed a gross error. In his judgment he said:

It follows that the Minister’s decision to table the agreement in terms of section 231(3) was, at the very least, irrational. At best the minister appears to have either failed to apply her mind to the requirements of sec 231(2) in relation to the contents of the Russian IGA or at worst to have deliberately bypassed its provisions for an ulterior and unlawful purpose.

This could open the door for further action against the minister as well as Zuma, who, according to the court papers, instructed her to sign the Russian agreement.

The US agreement was concluded in 1995 and the South Korean agreement in 2010. But they were only presented to parliament in 2015. The court declared them invalid in view of the inexplicable time delay.

The medium and long term impact

A judicial appeal is widely expected. But it’s unlikely that the government will succeed in overturning the essence of the judgement. And an appeals process will delay any legitimate future nuclear power procurement.

Any attempt to re-initiate a nuclear build would have to start from scratch. Based on the judgement it can safely be assumed that the regulator can only endorse nuclear expansion if it can demonstrate that it’s necessary and that it’s a better solution to any other energy option.

But given the prevalent suspicion around the nuclear expansion, the regulator will be hard pressed to show that the nuclear option is in the public interest.

It is therefore unlikely that any nuclear development will succeed in the foreseeable future.

Disclosure statement

Hartmut Winkler receives funding from the NRF. He is a member of Save South Africa and OUTA, but writes this piece in his personal capacity.

South Africa: Court Ruling On Zuma’s Nuclear Deal Is a Marker of South Africa’s Political Health

analysisBy David Fig, University of Cape Town

The South African government’s plan to bulldoze through a nuclear energy deal has been dealt what might be a fatal blow by the Cape Town High court which has declared the plan invalid. It found that the government had not followed due process in making the decision to pursue a nuclear power option, as well as in other critical areas.

The court’s decision has put paid to President Jacob Zuma’s hopes of clinching the nuclear build programme before leaving office in 2019 if he completes his term.

The case was brought to court by Earthlife Africa and the Southern Africa Faith-Communities’ Environmental Institute. The two NGOs were challenging the way in which the state determined the country’s nuclear power needs. The plan would have seen South Africa purchasing 9,600 megawatts of extra nuclear power.

The judge, Lee Bozalek, ruled the government’s action unconstitutional and found that five decisions it had taken were illegal. These included the government’s decision to go ahead with the nuclear build and the fact that it had handed over the procurement process to the state utility Eskom. The court also ruled that Eskom’s request for information from nuclear vendors, a step taken to prepare the procurement, which ended on 28 April 2017 was invalid.

If it still wants to pursue the nuclear deal the government will have to start all over again. To do so legally it would have to open up the process to detailed public scrutiny. The country’s electricity regulator would have to have a series of public hearings before endorsing what would be its highest ever spend on infrastructure. And any international agreements would have to be scrutinised by parliament.

All this will take time – something Zuma doesn’t have. And it’s unlikely that his successors will be as eager to champion a new deal as he has been. Meanwhile the facts about the deal will become public. This will undoubtedly demonstrate two of the biggest criticisms of the deal to be true: that the country can’t afford it, and that it’s energy needs have shrunk, making the vast investment redundant.

The court’s ruling has turned the nuclear procurement issue into one of the key markers of South Africa’s political health. It’s not yet clear whether the South African government will appeal the Western Cape High Court’s decision, or comply with the judgement. A third option is that Zuma simply ignores the courts and continues to pursue the deal.

Demand and affordability

South Africa currently has more than enough electricity to meet its needs. This wasn’t the case about five years ago when widespread outages hit the country. Since then new electricity generation capacity has been added, through the the rapid roll out of renewables, and the opening up of two new giant coal burning plants. Consumption, particularly by industry, has steadily declined due to faltering economic growth and higher electricity prices. Demand has dropped so much that Eskom plans to close five coal burning power stations.

The argument that the country needs another 9,600 megawatts was identified in documents that produced in 2011. These are now widely acknowledged as being badly out of date. Recent studies by the University of Cape Town’s Energy Research Centre have shown that the country doesn’t need to consider nuclear for another 20 years.

A number of studies have also shot holes in the government’s argument that the country can afford the proposed nuclear build. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has developed models showing that new nuclear is likely to be much more expensive than coal or renewables. The price ticket for nuclear – which some estimates put at more than R1 trillion – doesn’t take into account the costs of operation, fuel, insurance, emergency planning or the regulation or decontamination at the end of the life of the reactors.

It would also impose a financial burden on the country’s fiscus which it can ill afford particularly now that the economy has been rated at junk status.

Ulterior motives

So why is Zuma still pushing for the deal to go ahead? One source of pressure might be the Russians. South Africa’s former energy minister, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, had been instructed to signed a deal with the Russian utility, Rosatom to build the reactors. South Africa has also already signed nuclear power cooperation agreements with other countries like the US and South Korea, which the court has declared void.

A more likely reason for Zuma’s zeal is the involvement of the Gupta family with whom he has close ties. The family’s web of interests around the nuclear deal are complex.

What is known is that the Gupta family controls South Africa’s only dedicated uranium mine. The family has developed close relationships with key individuals at Eskom. In November last year the country’s then Public Protector pointed to overlapping directorships between Gupta-owned companies and Eskom.

The report also suggested that Brian Molefe, Eskom’s CEO, had a close relationship with the family. These revelations led to his resignation shortly after the report was published.

Another strand in the complex web is the fact that Zuma’s son Duduzane is a business partner of the Guptas while other relatives are directly employed by them.

Despite his determination, Zuma has become increasingly isolated in his quest for nuclear procurement. The African National Congress is clearly divided on the issue. This is evident from the fact that Zuma has resorted to reshuffling his cabinet to make way for more compliant ministers without reference to party officials as would be the norm.

The private sector has also come out against the idea while the list of civil society organisations opposed to nuclear expansion goes well beyond the environmental lobby and includes a broad spectrum of foundations, faith communities, human rights campaigners and defenders of the country’s constitution.

High stakes

The nuclear judgement in Cape Town indicates that South Africa’s legal system has not yet been “captured” by private interests.

The key question is whether Zuma and Eskom will accede to the verdict, or whether they challenge it while continuing to ignore the rule of law. Not only would this subvert the country’s constitution and its democratic form of government, it would also deny the constitutional right to popular participation in energy democracy.

The stakes are high – for the country as well as for the president. Will he continue to treat the country’s energy future with impunity? Or will this judgement symbolise the rollback of the democratic dispensation envisaged by the authors of the country’s constitution?

Disclosure statement

David Fig has had a long association with Earthlife Africa, and serves on the steering committee of the African Uranium Alliance.

U.S. Hunt for Kony Over, Justice for Victims Remains

By Christina Okello

Six years after the US sent troops to Central Africa to help hunt down notorious warlord Joseph Kony, the US Africa command (AFRICOM) announced this week that its mission was over. Critics warn the Lord Resistance Amry (LRA) still poses a risk and that the withdrawal could create a security vaccum in the region.

The US decision to pull out of the Central African Republic this week came as no surprise.

It was announced earlier this year when new US president Donald Trump took over the White House, and began to review his country’s commitment in Africa.

The hunt for Joseph Kony has already cost the Department of Defense nearly 800 million euros in six years. An enormous amount for a rebel group perceived as little threat, according to some sources in AFRICOM.

Even so, analyst Joseph Ochieno says he’s baffled as to why the Americans are leaving empty-handed.

“The original objective was very specific: the mission was to catch and kill Joseph Kony and that hasn’t happened,” he told RFI on Friday, hours after American special forces began withdrawing from Central Africa.

The head of AFRICOM, General Thomas Waldhauser, told reporters that the Lord Resistance Army was living in “survival mode,” but pledged to continue training African troops to avoid leaving a void in the region.

“We are told that there are about 100 of his [Kony] men, and 100 can be a big number, considering what we know about terrorism these days,” adds Ochieno.

Simply put, the “mission is far from accomplished,” he says.

Hidden agenda

US special forces were deployed in 2011 by the former Obama administration to neutralize the LRA, one of Africa’s longest surviving rebel groups.

But Ochieno reckons there may have been more to it than that.

“Cynics have suggested very strongly that the US’ real interests were not about Joseph Kony, but about entrenching its hegemonic programme within East and Central Africa,” he says, suggesting that Kony was merely a way of getting America’s foot in a region, long controlled “by the French”.

In a way, the French will be the ones lumbered with the problem of tracking Kony down, reckons for his part Paul Jackson, a professor of African politics at the University of Birmingham.

“If he resurfaces again within the Central African Republic and starts recruiting again, then that becomes the problem of CAR and by proxy, the French, because of their historical ties and previous intervention; so it’s kind of passing the buck onto the French really,” he told RFI.

Kony the High Priest

Uganda has also pulled out its troops from Central Africa, saying “Kony no longer poses a threat”.

Jackson isn’t so sure: “Kony is the sort of individual that you need to be extremely careful with. Of all the sorts of African insurgency movements, this is the most mystical of all of them, and in a way he is the sort of high priest.”

The Africanist is convinced that as long as Kony remains at large, the LRA could relaunch fresh attacks.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to hear news of kidnappings from schools and all the rest of it, which is how they started to build up the LRA in the first place.”

Since it was founded by Kony in 1987, the LRA has slaughtered more than 100,000 people and abducted 60,000 children who were forced to become sex slaves and child soldiers, according to the UN.

No justice

“The war was devastating on this population,” Oryem Nyeko, the head of advocacy at the Justice and Reconciliation in Gulu, told RFI.

“Millions of people were displaced from their homes, countless numbers are missing,” he says.

Gulu, then the entry point for most of the vigilantes and seekers who became obsessed with Joseph Kony, is today safe.

“I think in the Ugandan context, people aren’t really afraid of the LRA, I think it’s kind of far removed from their lives,” adds Nyeko.

But the hunt for justice isn’t forgotten.

“I think that the question of justice for past crimes that were committed by the LRA is still very much on people’s minds here,” he says, highlighting that most have been surprised to hear about the US’ withdrawal.

The task of finding one of the world’s most notorious and elusive of warlords will now be up to the Central African Republic, if indeed that’s where Kony is.

Difficult hunt

“One of the difficulties about Kony is that he doesn’t just stick to one country,” explains Jackson of Birmingham University.

Although the warlord is most associated with Uganda, he hasn’t lived there for decades, having been reported in South Sudan, the northern DRC, and then in the Central African Republic.

“Finding any one individual or even a group of 100 people in an extremely difficult terrain is like finding a needle in a haystack,” says Jackson.

“The Ugandan military is by far the most capable, and yet they failed,” before adding, “so did the Americans.”

Nigeria: Malaria – Experts Advocate Good Hygiene

By Taiwo Adeniyi

Medical experts have said good personal and environmental hygiene is necessary in reducing the spread of malaria in Abuja.

A World Health Organisation certified level one expert malaria microscopist, Colonel Adeoye Abayomi (rtd), advocated for the continuous use of insecticides treated mosquito nets among measures for preventing malaria.

He said this during a malaria sensitisation and advocacy programme organised by a non-governmental organisation, Health Initiatives for Africa Safety and Stability (HIFASS), in Kado Kuchi.

At the event, held in collaboration with the Nigerian Ministry of Defence-Health Implementation Programme (NMOD-HIP) and Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria (MLSCN), treated mosquito nets were distributed to residents while malaria screening was also done.

“We can only reduce malaria through the cleanliness of our environment. Once we don’t get rid of the dirty areas we are not fighting malaria. Cover your windows to ensure that mosquitoes do not come in and sleep under treated mosquito nets,” he urged residents.

“Government should ensure the collection of refuse from where they are dumped,” he also said.

The Director-General, NMOD-HIP, Brig-Gen. Nurudeen Ayoola(rtd), called for more partnership with health care providers to reduce the spread of malaria.

Ayoola, who was represented by Commander Johnson Alabi, said more education and awareness would reduce the spread of malaria.

Nigeria

There’s No Boko Haram Resurgence, Nigerian Military Assures

Director, Defence Information, Maj.-Gen. John Enenche, briefing Newsmen during a Monthly News Conference on Defence and… Read more »

Nigeria: Customs Intercepts N4 Million Worth Foreign Rice in Jigawa

By Yusha’u A. Ibrahim

Kano — The Kano/Jigawa states’ Command of the Nigerian Customs Service has intercepted foreign rice worth N4, 167,825.45 in Jigawa state.

Briefing the newsmen on the seizure yesterday, the Command’s Comptroller, Mr Abutu Mathais Onoja, said a trailer loaded with the rice was impounded by the service at Shuwarin village in Kiyawa local goverment of Jigawa state.

Onoja, however, said nobody was arrested in connection with the intercepted goods.

He said the driver and conductor of the trailer abandoned the vehicle and ran away after they were ordered to disembark from the vehicle to witness a search on the goods they were carrying.

He said the smugglers covered the rice with some bags of Nigerian Sugar, used tyers and gallons of paints among other items.

“We have realized that the smugglers have nowadays changed tactics in their quest to smuggle foreign goods into the country, but we will continue to track them and bring them to justice,” he assured.

He, however, apealed to the headquarters of the service to look into the problem of the command’s warehouse which he said was filled up with seized goods.

Onoja said the command had donated 420 bags of rice to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) last year and that presently a total of 6, 143 bags of rice are being kept in the warehouse.

Nigeria

There’s No Boko Haram Resurgence, Nigerian Military Assures

Director, Defence Information, Maj.-Gen. John Enenche, briefing Newsmen during a Monthly News Conference on Defence and… Read more »

Liberia: President Sirleaf Breaks Ground for Construction of Ministerial Complex

Monrovia — President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has broken grounds for the construction of China-Aided Ministerial Complex and Capitol Building Annexes.

She termed execution of the two projects as a great relief for various ministries and agencies of the Government of Liberia, still operating from outdated buildings that do not meet current day reality.

According to an Executive Mansion release, President Sirleaf made the statement on Thursday, April 27, 2017 at the construction sites of the former demolished Defense Ministry Building in Congo Town, outside Monrovia.

The Liberian Chief Executive noted the contributions of former Chinese Ambassadors – Lin Songtian, Zhou Yuxiao and now Zhang Yue and acknowledged President Xi Jinping for working towards bringing to fulfillment the Ministerial Complex and Annexes at the National Legislature.

Speaking earlier, Chinese Ambassador to Liberia, Zhang Yue, welcomed President Sirleaf and delegation for gracing the ground breaking ceremony.

Ambassador Zhang Yue noted that the executions of these landmark projects represent another milestone of China-Liberia relations.

He described the projects as a result of mutual understanding between our two peoples and the outcome has further strengthened our friendship and cooperation.

Ambassador Zhang Yue alluded to Chinese Proverb: “It takes long to give good things; So, good things end up are around the corner after several years of hard work and patience on both sides.”

He said the Complex includes offices, meeting rooms, auditorium, multi-purpose halls, archives, canteen, and also auxiliary facilities such as water pump house, power distribution and generator room; sits on a total of 24,000 square meters and is designed to accommodate at least 1,300 people.

He noted that constructions of the Ministerial Complex and Annexes of the Capitol Building will improve working conditions of the Liberian Government and including the Legislature in order to better serve the Liberian people.

Also making remarks, Public Works Minister, William Moore said the construction of the Ministerial Complex and Annexes to the Capitol Building was not strange to him.

He said he became involved with the projects when he worked in the President Delivery Unit (PDU).

He said he was delighted at this time that the projects are being formally executed. He extended gratitude to former Public Works Minister, Samuel Kofi Woods and Antoinette Weeks who laid all the technical details for the projects prior to his appointment, as Minister.

Minister Moore then commended the Government of the Peoples’ republic of China for providing the Ministerial Complex and Annexes to the Capitol Building as China-Aided for Liberia.

In a related development, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf also received His Excellency, Mr. Adama Barrow President of the Republic of The Gambia who arrived in the country on a two- day official visit to Republic of Liberia.

Mr. Barrow, known as ECOWAS success story came to power in The Gambia on December 7, 2016, after defeating his predecessor – Yaya Jammeh who initially refused to step down.

He was pursued through diplomatic means and relinquished power on Thursday, January 19, 2017, paving the way for his inauguration.

Gambia: Standard Chartered CEO Adenowo Meets President Barrow

The President of the Republic of The Gambia, His Excellency Adama Barrow on Monday 24th April 2017 received Mr. Olukorede Adenowo, the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Standard Chartered Bank, The Gambia.

His Excellency President Barrow welcomed Mr. Adenowo to The Gambia and thanked him for paying a courtesy call to the Office of The President within the first week of taking office. “Standard Chartered is a household name in The Gambia and has been around for over a century. The Bank should continue playing the important role of encouraging good banking practices in order to rebuild the new Gambia”, President Barrow said. He assured the Bank to prioritise the security of The Gambia to foster investment.

The incoming CEO, Mr. Adenowo congratulated the President on his recent elections and pledged the bank’s support in complementing the Government’s efforts in the development of the country. He thanked the President for creating a conducive environment for investment in The Gambia and thanked him for granting him an audience for the courtesy call. Mr. Adenowo said that “Standard Chartered’s is here for good and will continue being a responsible investor in the country assisting in advisory, access to capital and support in the infrastructure investment plan. Standard Chartered Bank has more than 123 years experience in The Gambia and will help facilitate trade opportunities between Gambia and its trade partners because of its unshakeable belief in The Gambia’s future”.

He reaffirmed Standard Chartered’s support to ensure that the bank’s core business of banking supports sustainable growth. He committed to ensuring fair outcomes for our stakeholders and the bank’s unwavering support to the Government of The Gambia. The bank enables individuals to grow and protect their wealth. Help businesses to trade, transact, invest, and expand in addition to helping a variety of financial institutions with their banking needs.

About Olukorede Adenowo

Mr. K.O. Adenowo with 30 years post university experience joined Standard Chartered Bank in 1999, and was part of the founding team that helped start the Nigerian business. He has worked in various roles including Regional Head of Global Corporate Africa, Deputy Head of Origination and Client Coverage Nigeria, Head of Origination and Client Coverage, West Africa 4 and more lately Regional Head of Financial Institutions and Public Sector for West Africa.

In his most recent role as Regional Head of Financial Institutions and Public Sector for West and Central Africa, he provided strong leadership in building and managing key strategic FI relationships across West Africa for business success and growth in an increasingly stringent regulatory environment.

K.O. Adenowo is a Non-Executive Director of the Board of Standard Chartered Bank Sierra Leone and serves on the Board of a number of charities. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, has an MBA from the Lagos Business School (IESE) and graduated from the University of Ife, Ile-Ife Nigeria.

Gambia

Gambia’s Barrow Meets Sirleaf

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Gambia: FAO and Partners Commit to Improve Gambia’s Nutritional Status

FAO and partners commit to harness the potentials of Sustainable Food Fortification to improve the nutritional status of The Gambian populace.

24th April, 2017, Banjul – The Gambian Government has joined forces with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in a bid to sustainably reduce the menace of malnutrition, and in particular micronutrient deficiencies which remain both a major public health and development problem for the country. Through funding from The European Union, FAO in close partnership with the Department of Agriculture (DoA), the National Nutrition Agency (NaNA), the Food Safety and Quality Authority of The Gambia (FSQA), the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI), Private Sector Food Industries as well as Importers, the Consumer Protection Group and other stakeholders is set to develop and implement the sustainable integrated food fortification initiative. The initiative – “Improve Food Security and Nutrition in The Gambia through Food Fortification” aims particularly to improve micronutrient nutrition and health outcomes of vulnerable women and children in The Gambia.

This is a public private partnership initiative that will work with food industries and farmers involved in the production of staple foods to embark on industrial scale fortification, as well as the cultivation of bio-fortified food crops to increase access to essential micronutrients by the population in The Gambia, especially women and children. . Vulnerable children 6-59 months and pregnant and lactating women in food insecure households in the North Bank and Central River North Regions will have increased access to and consume more micronutrient-rich foods through both industrially fortified food staples and bio-fortified food commodities.

The initiative has integrated nutrition education as a key strategy to strengthen nutrition outcomes. It is also designed to strengthen public and private sector capacities, build public private partnership and advance the reinforcement of regulatory systems on food fortification in The Gambia. The intervention will ensure at least 65% of the Gambian population have increased awareness and access to fortified staple foods high in essential micronutrients such as vitamin A, iron, zinc, folic acid and other Vitamin B nutrients.

Dr. Sablah Mawuli, FAO Lead Technical Officer for the project from the FAO Regional Office for Africa in Accra, Ghana concluded a week-long Technical Assistance mission to Banjul on 22nd April 2017 focusing on capacity needs assessment. He also engaged with the various stakeholders to clarify the technical roles of different public and private sector stakeholders, and guide in the development of the detailed project implementation plan.

The FAO Country Representative to The Gambia, Dr. Perpetua Katepa-Kalala, has praised the initiative noting that Food fortification presents an attractive potential area of investment to address micronutrient deficiencies in vulnerable girls, women and children, based on its potential to provide a relatively low-cost, affordable, scalable and immediate tool in response to the challenge of eliminating hidden hunger from The Gambia. She expressed gratitude to the EU and the different stakeholders on their commitment to improving nutrition outcomes in The Gambia. She is enthused about this initiative which will establish the enabling environment through mandatory legislation with standards on food fortification, production and distribution of fortified foods, social marketing with nutrition education under effective public private partnership Gambia Alliance on Food Fortification. Dr. Kalala explained that various capacity building and awareness raising campaigns would be organized on fortification and bio-fortification with mixed farming systems that promote dietary diversification, nutrition education and sustainable strategies for ensuring high coverage of fortified foods to address vitamin and mineral deficiencies in populations in The Gambia.

Potentials for food fortification

Deficiencies of essential vitamins and minerals are widespread in The Gambia with substantial adverse effects on maternal and child health and development. The Gambia Demographic and Health Survey (DHS 2013) reported that 24.5% of children under five were stunted, 16% were underweight and 11.5% were wasted while 4.2% were severely wasted. Similarly, micronutrient deficiencies continue to be a public health challenge to The Gambia with Vitamin A deficiency in preschool children estimated at 54%, iron deficiency related anemia hovering around 72% in this age group and 60% in women of reproductive age.

Mr. Modou Cheyassin Phall, Executive Director, National Nutrition Agency NaNA explained that industrial scale food fortification and bio-fortification including bio-fortified orange flesh sweet potato, cassava and beans will play a critical role in sustainably combating micronutrient malnutrition in a manner easily accessible to food insecure communities. He noted that The Gambia Milling Corporation covering over 98% of the market with wheat flour has initiated voluntary fortification using industry standards which would now be aligned with harmonized Gambian standards to be developed on the broader ECOWAS Standard Harmonization Model (ECOSHAM). Mr. Phall also explained that the rice would also be fortified with essential micronutrient under the programme.

The Director General of the Food Safety and Quality Authority of The Gambia Ms. Zainab Jallow has also praised the intervention as timely noting that it will strengthen efforts aimed at enforcing standards and quality requirements on food fortification in The Gambia.

Source: FAO

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South Africa: No New Renovations At Nkandla – Dlodlo

No new renovation work is being carried out at President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead, Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo said on Friday.

“What might be happening is maintenance work, but no renovations,” she said at a post-Cabinet briefing.

“We did not discuss it in Cabinet. There are no renovations at Nkandla,” she said in answer to a question from News24.

She referred journalists to new Public Works Minister Nathi Nhleko’s statement earlier this week about reports that more renovations were being done.

Nhleko on Tuesday said none of the companies involved in the upgrades to President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead had been blacklisted.

The department had continued working with eight out of the 14 companies. They had been contracted between August 2014 to date, he said.

Nhleko was police minister when he compiled a report into the Nkandla saga that contradicted former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s findings that Zuma unduly benefitted from the upgrades costing R246m.

He said the department would place on the database those suppliers guilty of breaching supply chain management policies and/or Treasury regulations.

Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said the revelations were shocking, considering the Constitutional Court had found the upgrades were “fraught with corruption and unlawful enrichment”.

Meanwhile, the disciplinary hearing of one of the 12 public works employees accused of wrongdoing in the Nkandla saga was postponed in Durban on Tuesday. Sibusiso Chonco and 11 other officials are accused of acting unlawfully during the upgrades.

Chonco’s hearing was postponed to July 4 to 6. His lawyer Adrian Moodley said Chonco was not unwilling, but unable to participate in proceedings due to poor health.

Source: News24

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